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.

Whitsunday Council to crackdown on holiday company

CRACKDOWN: Rooms and houses available to rent on Airbnb come in all shapes and sizes.

Council has announced a crackdown on a holiday company.

Bare-foot thief hits Cannonvale industrial estate

Pictures of the men wanted for questioning following a spate of break-ins in the Cannonvale industrial estate.

SIX premises have been robbed in a Cannonvale industrial estate.

Struggling Sea Eagles fall

ON THE MARK: Sea Eagles’ Jared Campbell kicked three goals on the weekend. Photo: Justin Van Heerdan

Struggling Sea Eagles fall short again.

Latest deals and offers

Struggling Sea Eagles fall

Taking on the top-of-the-ladder Eastern Swans was always going to be a massive challenge for the Whitsunday Sea Eagles.

Students planting to help save the planet

SAVE THE PLANET: Indiana O’Grady, Ava Grove, Tyson Williams-Allen and James Miller at Cannonvale State School where they will plant native flora for National Tree Day on Friday.

Cannonvale students will be planting to help save the planet.

Ellen captains the Young Endeavour

HANGING ON: Airlie Beach local Ellen Johnson, 23, on board the STS Young Endeavour. Photo contributed.

Airlie Beach girl Ellen captains the Young Endeavour.

"She's rarer than the dodo up here": Costigan responds to MP

Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan said if he had been the shadow minister for northern development, he would have been at North Queensland budget estimates today "with bells on and a lairy suit".

Jason Costigan denied the meeting was his responsibility.

Fun, skills take centre stage at netball carnival

SCORE: Sasha Taha shoots for goal against Bowen Cyclones.

Fun, skills take centre stage at Whitsunday netball carnival.

Council's planning scheme 2.0

NEW PLAN: Roger Down channels the anger in the room at a meeting in September 2015 over Whitsunday Regional Council’s original proposed draft planning scheme, which would have seen building heights lifted to eight and 12 storeys in parts of Airlie Beach.

Whitsunday will release a draft planning scheme for consultation.

Dr Karl, Barnaby Joyce and 'how to unf*** the planet'

Dr Karl will be at Splendour in the Grass 2016.

Controversy and laughs at Splendour in the Grass panels and forums

Kerri-Anne Kennerley to Sonia Kruger: "Stay brave"

She said her television peer should "stay brave"

Swimwear designer looking for love on The Bachelor

Noni Janur on her first day of filming.

The 25-year-old is one of 22 women vying for Richie Strahan’s heart

Elena wins MasterChef: “I’m ecstatic and eager to celebrate"

MasterChef Australia 2016 winner Elena Duggan, from Noosa.

NOOSA chefs survive marathon grand final dish by Heston Blumenthal.

Shannen Doherty shaves hair during cancer battle

Shannen Doherty has completely shaved off her hair

Brian McFadden makes daughters pay for own Christmas gifts

McFadden makes his daughters pay for half their presents

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

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

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

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

Chance to own an island

Keswick Island is for sale.

Keswick Island to go on the market