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



Visitor centre back-flip

EXTENSION: Coffs Harbour City Council voted to extend the retention of paid staff at the visitor centre by six months.

Visitor centre back-flip

All signs point to a better tourism plan

MISSED OPPORTUNITY? : Increasing tourism signage around the Coffs Coast is a major talking point among key community figures.

All signs point to a better tourism plan

Ghosts captain forced to cover for injured five-eighth

ROCK SOLID: Grafton Ghosts' centre Khan Williams will have his hands full today marking up against the Nambucca Heads Roosters' crafty centre pairing.

The Grafton Ghosts have several key changes for Saturday's clash.

Latest deals and offers

SIXTY MILES AHEAD sign with Eclipse Records, prepare new album 'Insanity'

Sixty Miles Ahead sign with Eclipse. Photo Contributed

Sixty Miles Ahead to release new album on Eclipse

Thy Art Is Murder are killing it

See Thy Art is Murder on their killer tour happening right now. Photo Contributed

We talk with Thy Art is Murder about touring, babies, and new music

Date announced for Prince tribute concert

A Prince tribute concert will take place later this year

Matt Damon is taking a break from acting

Matt Damon is taking a break to spend time with his family

Police foiled terrifying 1m plot to kidnap Katie Price

Police foiled a £1 million plot to kidnap Katie Price and her family

Kristen Bell's baby confession

Kristen Bell once pretended to be asleep when her baby woke up early

Queensland's $1 town goes under the hammer today

The township of Yelarbon is up for sale.

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

A home rich in history looking for a new owner

HISTORY: The circa 1920s home is being sold for the first time in 90 years.

Circa 1920s home being sold for the first time in 90 years