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.

Trio to face court after assault on woman and her dog

New Ipswich District Court Judge: After nine years in the role, Ipswich District Court Judge Greg Koppenol will move to Brisbane Court.He will be replaced by Judge Dennis Lynch QC. In court on Tuesday, Judge Koppenol was recognised for his "brisk and vigorous approach" to the role.

The group is facing a host of charges including animal cruelty

Lemons to race 24 hours at Willowbank Raceway

LEMON SEASON: Keith Lewis of Queensland Raceway and Mayor Paul Pisasale celebrate the upcoming 24 Hours of Lemons at Queensland Raceway.

Hotted up old bombs set to raise funds for prostate cancer

Local Partners

Kim Kardashian slammed over Manchester tribute

KIM Kardashian has been slammed by her followers after posting a tribute to the victims of the Manchester terror attack.

Top Gun 2 movie is happening, Tom Cruise confirms

Tom Cruise in a scene from the movie Top Gun.

TOM Cruise delights fans with announcement on Sunrise.

The first Baywatch movie reviews are in

From left, Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera in a scene from the movie Baywatch.

Critics were less than impressed.

Boyfriend loses it over sex lie

Stacey Louise’s sex lie destroys her relationship.

SEVEN Year Switch’s Stacey told a fib about her sex life.

Why Crowe’s thankful for those ‘bulls**t’ rumours

Russell Crowe and Terri Irwin in 2007.

Crowe and Terri Irwin have been dodging dating rumours for years now

MOVIE REVIEW: King Arthur - Legend of the Sword

Charlie Hunnam in a scene from the movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Why the critics have got Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur all wrong.

Concert death toll revised up to 22, tour suspended

There have been multiple confirmed deaths after 'explosions' heard at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

"We saw blood on people when we got outside."

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

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!