Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Lieutenant Commander Hiroshi Tokuno was an officer of the Japanese Navy. For the final seven years of his career, he specialized in anti-aircraft gunnery. Between 1941 and 1942, he served aboard battleship Kirishima as the assistant gunnery officer, with which role he participated in the Battle of Midway and actions in the Solomon Islands area. He was injured in the night of 14-15 Nov 1942 when Kirishima was sunk at the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. He was then assigned to destroyer Minegumo as her senior gunnery officer, and was again injured when Minegumo was sunk at the Battle of Kolombangara in Jul 1943.
After recovery, Tokuno was assigned to Sasebo Naval Station, Japan as a gunnery officer briefly, then was assigned to the 3,800-strong Mili Naval Garrison in the Marshall Islands as the executive officer to commanding officer Captain Masanari Shiga. He served there beginning on 20 Jul 1943, with partial focus on drilling the anti-aircraft gunners manning the over one hundred 7.7mm, eight 12.7mm, thirty 13mm, twelve 20mm, and twelve 25mm guns. Mili, an atoll chosen to be bypassed and blockaded during the American island-hopping campaign, was bombed heavily. When the last reinforcement from Kwajalein arrived on 22 Dec 1943, the strength of Mili was increased to 5,000 men. However, the garrison was soon trapped at Mili as Americans acquired air superiority, making Japanese movements, whether offensive or otherwise, impossible. In Aug 1943, the radar station was destroyed, preventing Japanese from gaining early warning of American bombers. In Feb 1944, the airfield at Mili was damaged beyond repair. Tokuno remained at Mili until the end of the war, witnessing 2,400 men of his garrison dead due to battle wounds, disease, and malnutrition.
After the war, Tokuno was interrogated by Captain Steadman Teller of the United States Navy in Tokyo on 19 Oct 1945. Though nervous and bitter regarding Japan's defeat, Tokuno offered Teller honest and accurate information concerning Japanese strengths at Mili. On 25 Oct 1945, he was again interrogated, this time by Captain C. Shands of the United States Navy, who acquired information regarding the situations aboard Kirishima during the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Source: Interrogations of Japanese Officials.
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Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943