Hatazō Adachi 安達 二十三 was born June 17, 1890 in Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan. His family was descended from samurai. Although his father was an officer in the Japanese Army, the family did not have the means to send him to prepatory schools for military service. He chose the kanji for "23" to represent his given name of Hatazō. His name is also spelled Hatazo Adachi in English sources.
As a youth, his test scores allow him a spot at the Tokyo Cadet Academy then entered the Imperial Japanese Army Academy graduating 22nd in the class of 1910. Afterwards, assigned to the 1st Imperial Guards Division, the attended the Army War College graduating 34th in his class in 1922. He served in various positions in the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff and as an officer avoided politics and did not side with any faction, unlike most Army officers of the era. In 1933 he was assigned to the Kwangtung Army Railway Guard unit in in Manchura tasked with protecting the South Manchuria Railway. By 1934 promoted to the rank of Colonel. In 1936 assigend to the 12th Infantry Regiment.
Second Sino-Japanese War
In July 1937 during the Shanghai Incident in Shanghai, Col. Adachi commanded from the front and was respected by his men, living with them on the frontlines and welcomed open discussions from the officers under his command. During September 1937 he sustained injuries to his right leg during a mortar barrage. In August 1940 promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and became the commander of 37th Division and participated in the Battle of South Shanxi. During 1940 became the Chief of Staff of the North China Area until late 1942.
On November 9, 1942 became the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the newly formed 18th Army based at Rabaul that would deploy to eastern New Guinea. A total of roughly 140,000 personnel were under his command including the 20th Division, 41st Division and 51st Division.
During the Battle of Bismarck Sea, the 51st Division was aboard destroyers and transports enroute from Rabaul bound for Lae. . During the voyage, the convoy was targeted by Allied aircraft with all eight transports and four destroyers sunk and the loss of thousands of Japanese troops. Adachi aboard destroyer Tokitsukaze that was damaged and was transfered onto destroyer Yukikaze.
On April 19, 1943 Adachi was flown from Wewak to Madang Airport to established his headquarters at Madang.
On August 2, 1943 took off from Madang Airfield as a a passenger aboard a Ki-51 Sonia from the 83rd Dokuritsu Chutai on a flight bound for Lae Airfield escorted by nine Ki-43 Oscars from the 24th Sentai. Flying at 4,900', the formation was spotted by P-38 Lightnings escorting B-25 Mitchells off Teliata Point on the north coast of New Guinea roughly 30 miles south of Saidor. The Ki-51 Sonia with Adachi aboard dove to low level and managed to escape flying eastward and landed safely at Cape Gloucester Airfield.
Afterwards, he moved his headquarters to Wewak.
While in New Guinea, the 18th Army suffered from Allied air attacks and were largely cut off from resupply aside from submarines and barges and faced Allied offensive operations against their positions. On April 22, 1944 the U. S. Army made suprise amphibious landings to the west at Aitape and Hollandia that isolated his forces in the Wewak area. In a despirate attempt to break out, Adachi ordered a counterattack to the west resulting in the Battle of the Drinimor River during July 1944 that failed to break the U. S. Army lines and resulted in defeat. Meanwhile, the Australian Army continued to advance up the north coast of New Guinea adding pressure from th east.
Bypassed, his tropps suffered from malaria and other tropical diseases and were hampered by the difficult terrain and bad weather. In an attempt to become self-sufficent, many of his troops planted crops for subsistance or commandeered local gardens. During late March 1945, after the Australian Army landing at Dagua, Adachi withdrew to Maprik where he established his headquarters. By April 1945 as Australian troops advanced, he withdrew his headquarters to Kiarivu. Into the middle of August 1945, the 18th Army contined to engage in combat against advancing Australan Army. On August 11, 1945 Australian Army 2/7 Infantry Battalion with the New Guinea Infantry Battalion reached Kiarivu supported by air drops and engaged the defending Japanese. Despite
their Despite their hopless situation, the 18th Army had less than 13,000 personnel but never surrendered.
On August 15, 1945 Japan surrendered but Adachi and the remainder of his 18th Army remained at Kiarivu. After the official surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945 they still did not surrendered.
On September 11, 1945 General Adachi accompanied by his staff arrived at the front lines occupied by C Company, 2/7 Infantry Battalion and were escorted to battalion headquarters at Kiarivu. On September 12, 1945 Adachi and his staff were escorted to Maprik. On September 13, 1945 at Hayfield Airfield embarked aboard a RAAF Dakota and flown to Wewak Airfield then by jeep to Cape Wom
Airfield for the official surrender ceremony and surrendered his sword to Australian Army Major General H. C. H. Robertson commander 6th Division. Afterwards, he attended meetings with Australian Army staff to discuss arrangements related to the surrender.
On September 14, 1945 passenger aboard DH.82A Tiger Moth A17-489 and flown to Kiarivu Airfield to provide instruction to his staff about the terms of surrender.
War Crimes Trial
Adachi became a Prisoner Of War (POW) and was taken into custody and charged as a war criminal. Although Adachi never issued any direct war crime orders, under his command his subordinate officers committed crimes including canabalism. He was put on trail by the United Military
Law Office (Allies) at Rabaul and found guilty. On July 12, 1947 he was sentanced to life in prison. On September 10, 1947 he wrote a confession letter taking responsibility and stated: "I
am solely responsible for the cannibal act that happened during the service." then committed suicide at age 57 using a paring knife in his quarters in the prisoner's compound at Rabaul.
In The Service of the Emperor (2003) profile of General Adachi
Australia–Japan Research Project (AJRP) Lieutenant General ADACHI Hatazô via Wayback Machine March 10, 2010