Pair of child's Japanese tabi : Miss Evelyn Frewen, British Commonwealth Occupation Force

Accession Number REL35861.004
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Brass, Cotton
Maker Unknown
Place made Japan
Date made 1951
Conflict British Commonwealth Occupation Force, 1946-1952 (Japan)

Pair of white cotton tabi socks, featuring the traditional separation of the large toe and the other toes. A vertical join at the rear allows easy fitting and is secured by four brass tabs attaching to four two-row vertical cord catches. The tabi are lined with soft cotton and have a patterned cotton sole.

History / Summary

Child's pair of tabi, part of a traditional Japanese dress set (including kimono, obi, scarf and fan) given as a Christmas present in December 1951 to nine-year-old Evelyn Frewen by her parents, William ('Bill') and Jessie Frewen.

William Allen Frewen, born 8 July 1921 at Swan View, Western Australia. He enlisted in the Second AIF at Claremont, WA on 15 January 1942. Issued the service number WX19115, he rose to the rank of Lance Sergeant during the Second World War before signing on for service with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) in Japan, where he was promoted to Warrant Officer 1 with the Force Signals Regiment. He and his wife, Jessie, arrived in February 1946. Frewen served until December 1952, when the Korean War hastened their departure. The family were stationed at Kure, living in the small BCOF enclave of Niji Mura, with their two children William ('Buster') and Evelyn Anne.

Evelyn (born 22 June 1942) recalls that she had to be shown how to wear the kimono and obi correctly by a Japanese woman: 'Japanese dress and festivals and rituals were maintained with a great deal of respect and evident pleasure by young and old. A lot of our women engaged in activities with Japanese women such as wearing kimonos and learning flower arranging.' Evelyn attended the Children's School at Niji Mura and recalls that sugar, soap and wool were virtually unprocurable and that while some enterprising wives traded these goods, 'most simply gave their Japanese staff, who were viewed as friends, as much help as possible.' The family's diet included 'a lot of fresh oysters and fish, and fresh fruit and vegetables from Hiro. My brother or I would be sent on our bikes to do this. Mum had her hair done there, and we bought knick knacks from the shops. Kure was better for quality shopping.'