News

Flag unravels WWII history

Garry Heskett has a Japanese good luck flag that his father gained in a balttle in PNG in WW2. Photo: Rob Wright/ Coffs Coast Advocate
Garry Heskett has a Japanese good luck flag that his father gained in a balttle in PNG in WW2. Photo: Rob Wright/ Coffs Coast Advocate Rob Wright/ Coffs Coast Advocate

WHEN Vietnam veteran Garry Heskett was going through some of his late father's personal belongings last year, he never thought it would start a journey of discovery.

On that day Mr Heskett found a rare WWII Japanese military 'body flag' made of silk similar in design to the Japanese flag with handwriting on it.

Mr Heskett's only clue as to what the body flag was or meant was a note handwritten by his father saying:

"Japanese body flag worn into battle by Jap Soldiers. Autographed by his family. Wewak. New Guinea 1944".

The body flag was a mystery.

"I never knew they did that, we never did it," the local rugby identity said.

"Sometimes we'd take a photograph of our family or our wife or our kids or girlfriend, sometimes a letter but we didn't carry body flags like the Japanese did."

Mr Heskett sent an email and a photo of the flag to the Japanese embassy but the writing in the photo wasn't clear enough to decipher the original owner.

With the help of Miss Shiori Naka who is a Japanese student currently studying at the Coffs Harbour campus of Southern Cross University, the identity of the original owner of the body flag was found.

The family of Hajime Kawanaka has been contacted and although wishing to remain anonymous have happily accepted Mr Heskett's gesture of returning the body flag.

It is likely the flag's origin will probably never be known.

"The question as to whether Dad shot him and took it off him or there was one of the bodies there and he took it off him, I don't know," he said.

The decision to send the body flag was an easy one.

If the situation was reversed, the veteran said he'd like to receive something about his father even though it's now 68 years since the Aitape-Wewak campaign.

"That could've been his Dad," he said.

"I don't know if it is but it would be nice to know if it came off his body. They could say 'this is Dad's, there's his name and there's the neighbours from the village all signed it and said good luck for the war'. So I think it's a very sacred thing."

Topics:  anzac day


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Labels highlighting Aussie produce tested on Northern Rivers

Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker with staff at Woolies in Byrn Bay.

Shoppers: Look for a kangaroo in a triangle

Refugee 'unfairly' sacked from Byron Bay Superfoods

Company labelled "vindictive" after civil war victim bullied

Local Partners

Karl Stefanovic's rant about Schapelle Corby 'a bit rich'

The fact is Stefanovic is paid extremely well by a television network that lives and dies by ratings.

Could Schapelle be heading for Gladstone?

Australian Schapelle Corby is escorted by Bali Police at the parole office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, 27 May 2017.

Schapelle's mother teases her free daughter could be Gladstone bound

Six things you never knew about Men in Black

Mushu the pug

It's been 20 years since Men in Black first hit cinemas

10 strange stories behind famous sex scenes

Khaleesi and Khal Drogo in a steamy moment.

Every set has their own way of filming sex scenes

HBO spills new details on Game of Thrones’ final season

Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season will only have six episodes.

New details about what to expect from the eighth, final instalment.

Karl’s rant on Corby: ‘Made to look like idiots’

Karl Stefanovic is sick of hearing about Schapelle Corby.

Today co-host launched a tirade against Schapelle Corby media circus

Shot at the live shows slips through Sally's fingers

Sally Skelton and Bojesse Pigram pictured after their battle performance on The Voice.

Sunshine Coast singer's dramatic elimination from The Voice

This is real estate's billion-dollar man

Bob Wolff at AREC with John McGrath of McGrath Real Estate.

They don’t call him the “Billion dollar man” for nothing

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

Here's your chance to carp about feral pests

Carp might by great fun to catch but they're destroying Australia's watercourses.

Science in the Pub looks at carp and coral trees

SNEAK PEEK: What new shopping centre is going to look like

Artist impression of the proposed redevelopment of the cinema and shopping complex on Jonson St, Byron Bay.

Mercato billed as regional NSW's most sustainable shopping complex

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!