Rear-Admiral Takeo Takagi
Rear-Admiral Takeo Takagi fought two of the Japanese Navy's biggest battles of the war's first six months. After commanding the naval forces supporting the invasion of the Phillipines in late 1941, Takagi headed the task force covering the Java landings in Dutch East Indies, and was therefore the Japanese commander in the Battle of the Java Sea. In that battle, Takagi's forces sank two light cruisers (Dutch) and three destroyers (one Dutch, two British), damaged a heavy cruiser (British), and killed the opposing commander (Dutch Rear-Admiral Karel Doorman), all while successfully maneuvering to protect the transports of the Java invasion fleet, and for the loss of a single destroyer. This must be termed a pretty good result, even if the battle was at times rather confused.
Takagi was also commander of the carrier task force (with fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku) which acted as covering force for the projected seaborne invasion of Port Moreseby, New Guinea, in May 1942. Thus he also commanded the Japanese forces in the battle of the Coral Sea. In that fight the Japanese arguably emerged as the victors tactically (sinking the carrier Lexington, the fleet tanker Neosho, and a destroyer Sims, while damaging carrier Yorktown, though not nearly as badly as they thought) but came out much the worst strategically speaking-- the Moresby invasion was "postponed" (forever, as it turned out), the Japanese Navy lost a ship larger than a destroyer for the first time in the war (light carrier Shoho, providing direct support for the landing force), and, perhaps most critically, Shokaku and Zuikaku both missed the Midway operation as a result of battle damage (Shokaku hit by three bombs) and loss of aircraft and aircrews (Zuikaku, undamaged, was able to accomodate up to 84 planes but had less than 40 operational after the battle).
Takagi was made commander of 6th Fleet (the submarine fleet, then based in the Marianas) in 1943, and was reported killed in action after the American landings on Saipan in 1944 (possibly a suicide).
Copyright © Klemen. L. 1999-2000
Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942