The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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Chiran Kamikaze Peace Museum
Ugaki Matome was born in Okayama prefecture and
graduated from the Naval
Academy in 1912 and
the Naval Staff College in 1924. He was a resident officer in Germany in 1928-1930 and later
commanded a cruiser and a battleship. He was promoted to
admiral in 1938, and by
late 1941 he was chief of staff of
He had opposed the Tripartite
but as Yamamoto's chief
of staff, he became a great proponent of the Pearl Harbor
Ugaki was promoted to vice admiral in 1942 and led a battleship division with Kurita’s forces at Leyte Gulf. He was in command of 5 Air Fleet during the Okinawa campaign and directed its kamikaze operations.
Ugaki had a pessimistic disposition,
which meant he was
sometimes more realistic than other ranking Japanese naval officers.
example, he he was one of the first to realize that the Japanese
position on Guadalcanal
untenable, but said nothing at first for fear of antagonizing the
Army. He was
also a worrier, who in times of stress suffered from gum
wife had died shortly before the war, a personal blow from which he
really recovered, and his diaries revealed an obsession with finding
time and place for his own death. His attitude is revealed in a diary
entry from shortly after the American conquest of Saipan (Hastings 2007):
It's only to be expected that fighting men should be killed, but for women, children and old men in such large numbers on a helpless, lonely island to prefer death to captivity ... What a tragedy! None but the people of the Yamato nation [Japan] are could do such a thing ... If one hundred million Japanese people could display the same resolution ... it wouldn't be difficult to find a way to victory.
To his subordinates, Ugaki was stern and impassive, so much so that he was nicknamed "The Golden Mask," after a Japanese comic superhero. He hid his opposition to war with the United States from all but his diary, and found solace in Buddhist philosophy. He was a heavy drinker when in port, the only time he let the mask came off around his brother officers.
Ugaki flew out on the last kamikaze mission of the war, on August 15, 1945, after removing all his rank insignia. His close friend, Joshima Takaji, was unable to talk him out of it (Inoguchi et al. 1958):
I know that, as commanding officer, you accept full responsibility for the Fifth Air Fleet. But, in addition to what is past, you must consider the future. There, too, you have duties and responsibilities. I have been told of your present intention and am in complete sympathy with your feelings. Nevertheless, for the good of everyone concerned, I urge you to call off this sortie.
Three and a half hours later, a flight of seven or eight aircraft was shot down near Iheyajima, an islet off Okinawa. One of the wrecked planes was found on the beach the next morning, and its three aircrew -- one of whom closely fit the description of Ugaki -- were unceremoniously buried in the sand by the Americans.
Ugaki was considered "one of Japan's best officers and a recognized authority on Japanese naval strategy" (Prange 1981). He was a tall, attractive man of great intelligence and a powerful speaker. Temperamental and creative, he was also possessed of an excellent memory. Ugaki's diary was discovered after the surrender, and it become an important source for historians of the war.
|1912-7-17||Midshipman||Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 9th in a class of 144. Assigned to CL Adzuma|
||Lieutenant junior grade
||Torpedo School Basic Course|
|1916-6-1||Gunnery School Basic Course|
|1918-12-1||Lieutenant||Gunnery School Advanced Course|
|1922-12-1||Naval College A-Course|
|1925-12-1||Navy General Staff
|1928-11-15||Resident officer in Germany
|1931-12-1||Staff, 2 Fleet
|1932-11-15||Instructor, Naval College|
|1935-10-30||Staff, Combined Fleet
|1936-12-1||Commander, CL Yakumo
|1937-12-1||Commander, BB Hyuga
||Navy General Staff
|1938-12-15||Chief, N1, Navy General Staff|
|1941-4-10||Commander, Cruiser Division 8
|1941-8-1||Chief of staff, Combined
|1945-2-10||Commander, 5 Air Fleet|
Dupuy et al. (1992)
Inoguchi, Nakajima, and Pineau (1958)
Materials of IJN (accessed 2008-7-15)
The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia © 2007-2009 by Kent G. Budge. Index
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