Isoroku Yamamoto: Commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet April 4, 1884 – April 18, 1943
The admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (April 4, 1884 – April 18, 1943) was the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during Pacific War. However, his plane was shot down on 18th April 1943 which was a severe blow to Japanese national morale during WW2.
There are some contradictory information about the causes of the failure of Japanese Intelligence and counter-measures. Or even whether it was a kind of conspiracy. But on the morning of April 18, despite some discussions by local commanders that suggested to cancel the trip for fear of ambush, Yamamoto’s two Mitsubishi G4M bombers escorted by Zeroes took off from Rabaul as scheduled for the 315 mi (507 km) trip. Soon, a squadron composed by sixteen Lightnings intercepted the flight over Bougainville and a dogfight ensued between them and the six escorting Mitsubishi A6M Zeroes. First Lieutenant Rex T. Barber engaged the first of the two Japanese transports which turned out to be T1-323 (Yamamoto’s aircraft). He targeted the aircraft with gunfire until it began to spew smoke from its left engine. Barber turned away to attack the other transport as Yamamoto’s plane crashed into the jungle.
The crash site and body of Yamamoto were found the next day in the jungle north of Buin, Papua New Guinea, by a Japanese search and rescue party, led by army engineer, Lieutenant Hamasuna.
According the reports, his staff cremated his remains at Buin, and the ashes were returned to Tokyo aboard the battleship Musashi, Yamamoto’s last flagship. Part of his ashes were buried in the public Tama Cemetery, Tokyo (多摩霊園), and the remainder at his ancestral burial grounds at the temple of Chuko-ji in Nagaoka City. He was succeeded as commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet by Admiral Mineichi Koga.