Bugle used to signal the start of Japanese POW breakout at Cowra : Toyoshima Hajime

Place Oceania: Australia, New South Wales, Cowra
Accession Number REL/04058
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Brass, Silver
Maker Boosey & Co
Boosey & Hawkes Ltd
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made c 1930-1939
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Long double-loop brass bugle, with a silver mouthpiece fitted with a chain and linked to the body of the bugle. There is damage to the bell end of the bugle, and the reinforcing loop has separated from the body. The bell is impressed 'Boosey & Hawkes Ltd Makers London no 278'.

History / Summary

Bugle recovered by the Camp Commander of the Cowra POW Camp, Major Edward Vivian Timms of Sydney, after the mass breakout attempt by Japanese prisoners on the night of 4/5 August 1944. The bugle was used at about 2 am by one of the leaders of the escape attempt, Toyoshima Hajime, to signal the start of the breakout.

Toyoshima was the first Japanese POW captured on Australian soil. After crashing his aircraft and surviving the traumatic impact (his face was badly hit by the machine gun breeches and 'dash board' of his aircraft) Toyoshima was captured by a traditional warrior of the Tiwi people living on Melville Island, Uncle Mattias Ulungarra. After being handed over to the Australian Army he gave a false name (Tadao Minami) and false story that he was the crewman in a recently shot down Japanese Navy patrol bomber.

Once the Cowra breakout was over, his body was discovered, dead by his own hand, in a ditch just outside the perimeter wire. How Toyoshima acquired the bugle is unknown, but Timms recovered it, took it home, and hung it in his sitting room. Timms served in the First World War under his stepfather's name (King) with 1 Battalion at Gallipoli and had returned to Australia by 10 October 1915. He re-enlisted for the Second World War on 7 June 1940 and was discharged on 21 June 1946.