Vice-Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa
Vice-Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa had no real air background, but he was named to command 1st Air Fleet (the sea-going Japanese Navy air component) in 1939. Nonetheless, he did an excellent job in helping to prepare the carrier fleet for offensive warfare. At the time of Pearl Harbor he commanded the Southern Expeditionary Fleet (combining the old 2nd or "scouting" fleet, based on Hainan, and the 3rd or "blockade and transport" fleet, based on Formosa, with further reinforcements from the 1st or "battle" fleet home-ported at Hiroshima), which directed the naval operations supporting the invasions of Malaya and Dutch East Indies. He then commanded the highly successful commerce raiding detachment (which sank 23 British merchant ships) during the Japanese foray into the Indian Ocean in March-April 1942.
In March 1944 he was appointed commander of the new 3rd Fleet (the old 3rd Fleet disbanded in the spring of 1942 after the completion of the opening offensive), which now incorporated most or all of the remaining Japanese carriers (the new 3rd Fleet was created as the main carrier force in late 1942). He led this command in the disastrous defeats of the Phillipine Sea and Leyte Gulf. In May 1945, when Toyoda assumed the duties of Chief-of-Staff of the Navy, Ozawa became the last wartime commander of Combined Fleet (or what was left of it by then...).
He survived the war and died in 1966.
Copyright © Klemen. L. 1999-2000
Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942