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.

The couple who kept Halse Lodge from falling down

PICTURE PERFECT: Paul Stagg holds up pictures of Halse Lodge from 1929 and 1989.

Before it was a backpackers, it was a guest house run by the Staggs

MakiMoto serves up flavour and style

FLAVOUR SENSATION: Tempt your tastebuds with traditional dishes with a modern twist at MakiMoto Noosa.

Chasing an authentic Japanese food experience? Visit MakiMoto Noosa

Noosa's mega luxury location

DREAM HOME: The luxury views of 29-31 Wyuna Dr, Noosaville.

A dream home only for most

Local Partners

Large donation to fund new Katie Rose Cottage hospice

Mystery benefactors have made a "significant donation” that will allow the Katie Rose Cottage charity to purchase property for a new hospice in the Noosa...

MIX FM concert brings much-loved hitmakers to one stage

Ross Wilson.

Hitmakers from the 1970s-'90s feature in a new concert series

A canine comedy that's much more than puppy love

The cast of Coolum Theatre Players' Sylvia.

When Greg meets abandoned dog Sylvia, it's love at first sight

The true cause of the Oscars bungle

THE Oscars have ended with a moment that left everyone speechless — but not in a way anyone expected.

HUGE OSCARS FAIL: Wrong film handed Best Picture award

Presenter Warren Beatty shows the envelope with the actual winner for best picture as host Jimmy Kimmel, left, looks on at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The winner was originally announced as La La Land, but was later corrected to Moonlight.

IN A monumental stuff-up, La La Land incorrectly named Best Picture.

Blue Heelers' Ditch Davey joins 800 Words cast

Ditch Davey joins the cast of 800 Words as Terry, the younger brother of George, played by Erik Thomson.

George Turner's brother, Terry, arrives to Weld with a 'few demons'

Oscars winners 2017: Full list of Academy Award winners

Viola Davis accepts the award for best actress in a supporting role for Fences at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

WHO won Oscars this year? Here’s a full list of every winner.

How Coast pilot helped an Oscar winner

OSCAR winner Andy Wright with his wife, has a Sunshine Coast connection that may have helped put him on the path to glory.

The Sunshine Coast link to Oscar winner

Why can’t Nicole Kidman clap properly?

Nicole Kidman's style of clapping has puzzled Oscars viewers.

FOR some reason, it seems Nicole doesn’t really know how to clap.

Muslim actor makes Oscars history

Mahershala Ali accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for Moonlight at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

MOONLIGHT star Mahershala Ali makes Academy Award history.

Questions asked about financial reporting for new CBD

QUESTIONS: Auditors have questioned some financial reporting for the new Maroochydore CBD.

Review agreed to over new CBD financial reporting

Coast one of Queensland leaders for house price growth

The Sunshine Coast has second highest house price growth in the state.

Sunshine Coast second highest house price growth in state

Mining homes dive: $600k homes sell for $120k-$300k

18 Yeates Street, Moranbah sold for $135,000 in December, after being repossessed by a bank. The owners bought for $545,000 in August, 2011.

The economy still has two speeds, but with a painful twist

Mackay's property market climbing like a Rocket Man

Renewed confidence in Mackay means more homes are being snapped up by those eager to plant their roots in the region.

There's movement in the real estate sector and it's all positive.

'Why we drove 800km to buy a treehouse with a disco ball'

The new owners have planned a few updates, but will stick with much of the original design.

A couple travelled almost 800km for the home of their dreams.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!