IJN River Gunboat KOTAKA:
Tabular Record of Movement

©2010-2016 Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp
Revision 1

2 September 1929:
Tamano. Laid down at Mitsui Zosensho.

18 January 1930:
Launched and named KOTAKA.

1 November 1930:
Completed. KOTAKA is lifted by crane at the Tama Dock Yard and put on board transport SEITO, then transported to Shanghai. [1][2]

18 September 1931: The "Mukden Incident":
Liutiaohu, about 25 miles from Mukden (now Shenyang), the capital of Manchuria. Japanese soldiers detonate an explosive on the Japanese-owned Southern Manchurian Railway. Chinese soldiers retaliate with gunfire. The Japanese Kwantung Army reinforces their troops and settles the conflict. The Japanese continue N to Mukden, attack the city and win control the next day. The “Mukden Incident” is the beginning of the Pacific War.

16 April 1936:
LtCdr Hayashi Koichi is the CO.

7 July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge (The"First China Incident") Incident:
Hun River, Lukuokiao (Peking), China. Japanese troops at the bridge fire blank cartridges during night maneuvers. Chinese troops fire back. Later, the Japanese discover a soldier missing. They demand entry to the Peking (Beijing) suburb of Wanping to look for him, but the Chinese refuse. The Japanese shell the city and an undeclared war on China begins.

July 1937:
Hankow. Japanese residents in the Yangtze River area are guarded by the forces of Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanimoto Umataro’s (35) 11th Gunboat Division composed of flagship minelayer YAEYAMA, KOTAKA, gunboats HOZU and FUTAMI and a detachment of 292 troops of the Shanghai Special Naval Landing Force.

29 July 1937:
The Japanese capture the ancient Imperial Chinese capital of Peking (now Beijing).

July-early August 1937:
The 11th Gunboat Division evacuates Japanese civilians from the interior to Shanghai.

13 August 1937: The Second Battle of Shanghai
Shanghai. At 0900, more than 10,000 Japanese troops enter the suburbs. Fighting begins in the Zhabei, Wusong and Jiangwan districts. KOTAKA and the 11th Gunboat Division put ashore Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) reinforcements. At 1600, warships of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Hasegawa Kiyoshi’s (31)(former CO of NAGATO) 3rd Fleet in the Huangpu (Whangpoa) and Yangtze Rivers begin bombarding Chinese shore positions.

14 August 1937: "Bloody Saturday":
Shanghai. Flagship USS AUGUSTA (CA-31), carrying Admiral Harry E. Yarnell (former CO of SARATOGA, CV-3), CINC, U.S. Asiatic Fleet, arrives from Tsingtao and anchors in the Huangpu River. That same day, the Chinese Air Force (CAF), under retired Captain (later LtGen) Claire L. Chennault, launches aircraft to attack IJN flagship IZUMO and the Japanese fleet. The CAF mistakenly bombs British cruiser HMS CUMBERLAND, but their bombs fall wide. Two bombs also fall close alongside AUGUSTA, but no one is killed. Other CAF fliers also bomb Shanghai city, killing more than 1,700 civilians and wounding 1800 others.

19 August 1937:
In view of the increasing danger, it is decided to repatriate Shanghai’s Japanese women and children. About 20,000 of the total 30,000 residents are successively returned home.

23 August 1937:
50 km NE of Shanghai. The IJN lands General Matsui Iwane's 3rd, 8th, and 11th Divisions at Chuanshakou, Shizilin, and Baoshan under the cover of the 3rd Fleet's guns. The IJN also makes other large-scale landings of Matsui's troops at Liuhe, Wusong and Chuanshakou.

25 October 1937:
Chinese troops begin withdrawl from parts of Shanghai.

5-12 November 1937: - The Fall of Shanghai:
S of Shanghai. The IJN lands the IJA 10th Army in Jinshanwei, nearly unopposed. On 8 November, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek issues an order for a general retreat. By 12 November, Shanghai is cleared of Chinese troops. On 26 November, the Chinese Army fall backs to the capital of Nanjing (Nanking); thus the battle for Shanghai lasted three months.

1 December 1937:
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kondo Eijiro (36)(former CO of KAGA) is appointed CO of the 11th Gunboat Division.

13 June 1938: The Battle of Wuhan:
Yangtze River. The Japanese make a naval landing at Anqing with 100 vessels, including more than 40 destroyers, minesweepers, naval and river gunboats and blockade boats. KOTAKA and the 11th Gunboat Division take part in the battle. The landing force totals about 12,000 men and 80 to 90 guns. The Japanese begin the Battle of Wuhan to annihilate the Chinese Army and force them to surrender. The battle rages over four months and ends in a stalemate.

26 June 1938: The Battle of Madang:
Yangtze River. KOTAKA takes part in the battle with gunboats SETA and TOBA, minelayers TSUBAME, KAMOME, NATSUSHIMA and NASAMI. They takes part in the battle of Jiujiang and Madang, sweep mines, lay buoys and bombard Chinese positions. Chinese troops return fire with light arms, but cause many casualties among exposed crewmen. Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops land behind the fort and Madang falls.

February-May 1939: Operation “T” – Campaign to Occupy Nanchang:
KOTAKA and the 2nd and 3rd Gunboat Units comprise the Rear Guard of Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Goga Keijiro’s (38) force in riverine operations in support of the successful seizure of Nanchang, the capital of Kiangsi Province.

1 June 1940:
LtCdr Yoshizu Shinichi (55) is appointed CO.

Yangtze River. KOTAKA is in service as a passenger vessel.

KOTAKA's armament is reduced to two 7.7mm mgs, probably to free up space for other use.

31 May 1944:
Yangtze River. KOTAKA is bombed and sunk by Chinese aircraft while in use as a communications ship.

Removed from the Navy List at an unknown date.

Author's Notes:
[1] According to WW2 historian "Fontessa" of Japan, the IJN classified KOTAKA as a "chore ship" not a gunboat since she was quite small and equipped with only a few machine guns; however, at least one other well-respected Japanese source lists her as a "Kotaka class torpedo boat". She was treated as a gunboat in the foreign press.

[2] Because the draft of this type of boat was so shallow,even when the seas were a little high, there was a great danger of turning over, so it was transported disassembled and re-assembled at its operating locale.

Thanks go to Fontessa and Matthew Jones for help in identifying COs.

-Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp

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