Grandfather's Adventures on Hokkaido Island Just After WW2
As dictated from my grandfather about his time in the Navy during WW2:
This is how I acquired my two Japanese Swords and a stopwatch which I have given to my grandson, xxxxxxxxxxxx.
In World War II, I was stationed on an amphibian ship. I acquired the two swords in January 1946 when we were dispatched to the Hokkaido islands to help evacuate 48,000 Japanese. During this process, we got acquainted with a Major in the Japanese Imperial Navy who had graduated from Harvard University here in the United States. This Major, who spoke better English than I do, aided us in getting hair cuts of which we hadn’t had in about six weeks. He stated “well I’ve got a barber up here in the mountains.
When he took us to his “barber”, there was a big cave which could hold about six semi-trucks complete with electricity and anything else needed for life in a cave. This was a huge cave and it was very hair rising to have a Japanese cutting your hair with a razor down around you ear. You didn’t know if you would be minus an ear or not; however, all four of us had our hair cut and we all still have our ears.
But anyway, while we were up there, a Japanese soldier came over and he had a Japanese stopwatch that he wanted to sell. I wasn’t a smoker; but I’m no fool either, I always carried cigarettes with me for trading. He wanted a whole pack of cigarettes for that stopwatch and I bartered, argued and finally he wound up accepting just five cigarettes for the stopwatch. Recently, I had a jeweler look at it a nd he said it was worth quite a bit of money. You’ve heard of the brand Seiko; well this stopwatch was a Seikosha, an early name for the popular brand we all now know.
During further visits with that Japanese Major, we told him we’d like to have Japanese swords. He said well I know where a bunch of swords are, but the US marines have them. He went on to say that if we go there at about 2am we can get as many swords as we want.
So that night, he showed up at our ship which was run up on the beach. I was in the amphibian section of the Navy and we would just run our ship up on the beach, easy parking. He came around about 2:30 am and got the four of us. We then followed him and managed to get many, many Ja panese swords. We got into the Marine storage, took the swords and left as fast as possible. We took the swords back to the ship. We knew those Marines would start looking for those swords, so we hid them in water hoses on the outside of our ship. These hoses are proximately 20 feet long and 6 inches wide. We slid the swords down into those hoses and put the hoses back where they were stored.
Sure enough, the Marines, and their Officer in Charge came down to find those swords. Our Skipper had no idea we had these swords and we had them hidden well. So the Skipper gave the Marines permission to search the ship. They searched and searched but never did find our cachet of swords hidden in the water hoses.
We started sailing back to Iwo jima and when the ship was underway; I was the pilot of the ship and was up in the wheel house on that day. The Skipper came up and stated “I want to talk to you.” He stated “I know you guys took those swords, but where in the world did you hide them?” I said well if you promise me to keep the rest of the guys away from the swords, there’s a sword in there for everybody in the crew plus you. The skipper was pretty happy with that answer, and we stopped out there in the middle of the ocean. The four of us got those swords out of the water hoses and I got two of them. The other guys had one or two and the skipper got his and every other guy on the crew got a sword also.
We got back to Iwo jima and I proceeded to make a wooden crate for my two swords and a Japanese snipers rifle to ship them back home to my wife, xxxxxxxxxxxxx
That is how I acquired those swords and that stopwatch from the Japanese in 1946.
I still have everything. The swords were massed produced with no family ties. The rifle was one the last ditch thrown together conglomerates of parts that probably shouldn't even be fired. I figured that this is the perfect place to share his story for those who would appreciate it.
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