Original Japanese WWII Naval Landing Forces Officer Cotton Forage Cap dated 1944 - SNLF
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a fantastic, perhaps even unissued, condition Japanese WWII tropical issue lightweight cotton Naval Landing Forces officer's forage cap. Features the classic four eyelet string closure to the back and a yellow embroidered Naval Landing Forces anchor to the front. There is also a decorative chin strap across the front, as is standard, with three vent eyelets per side.
The interior crown bears Kanji ink stamps, which would indicate size and production information. There is what looks to be a date of (三) 十 九 年, which would be the 19th year of the Showa Era, or 1944. The size seems to be around 57cm. One of the best tropical issue examples of a WWII Japanese officer cap we have ever encountered. Quality items of this kind are very rarely encountered.
History of the SNLF:
Before the late 1920s the IJN did not have a separate marine force, instead it used naval landing forces or rikusentai formed from individual ships's crews, who received infantry training as part of their basic training, for special and/or temporary missions.
In the late 1920s the navy began to form Special Naval Landing Forces as standing regiments (albeit of battalion size). These forces were raised at — and took their names from — the four main naval districts/bases in Japan: Kure, Maizuru, Sasebo, and Yokosuka. These SNLF units saw action in China from 1932 in the January 28 Incident and at the Battle of Shanghai in naval operations along the China coast and up the Yangtze River and its tributaries during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Soon, they became involved in successful Japanese seaborne assaults throughout South East Asia.
Other SNLF were later raised from IJN personnel in China, at Hankow, and Shanghai, for service in Canton and on the Yangtze River. On 7 December 1941 there were 16 SNLF units, this increased to 21 units during the war. The strengths of each SNLF ranged from the prewar peak of 1,200 to a later 650 personnel. There was also a special detachment in the Kwantung area, garrisoning the ports of Dairen and Ryojun.
Initially, the SNLF were not a marine force, but were instead sailors who had basic infantry training and were employed in landings during the Russo-Japanese War and the Boxer Rebellion. Soon their training and equipment were improved upon drastically, and their forces were given a variety of other operations as well. In 1941, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Yokosuka SNLF were converted to parachute units. They conducted more combat drops than Japanese Army parachute units during World War II. The SNLF paratroopers were used during the attack on Celebes and the Battle of Manado, to much lauded success by the Imperial government. Aside from the paratroopers, there were also elite squads who conducted reconnaissance and raid operations.
Since then, the Landing Forces have been influential in Japan's expansion of territories, and their tactics of surprising their enemies through sea invasions proved effective. The original SNLF personnel were well-trained, high quality troops with good morale and they performed well against opposition across Southeast Asia. However, like all landing forces they often experienced heavy casualties when faced with determined resistance, such as at the invasion of Timor and the Battle of Milne Bay. This is due to their unwillingness to surrender, and when completely out of ammunition, they would often resort to hand-to-hand fighting with their swords and bayonets. To combat highly defended positions in the Pacific, the Landing Forces created new tactics and techniques in order to overcome them that would later be adopted by the Allied in their sea-borne invasions.
In a well known last stand in 1943, 2,619 men of the 7th Sasebo SNLF and 2,000 base personnel at the Battle of Tarawa accounted for over 3,000 U.S. Marine Corps casualties.
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