Japanese Naval Officer's Kai-gunto sword and scabbard with leather battle guard : Lieutenant Colonel N L Fleay DSO, 2/7th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment

Place Asia: Borneo, Balikpapan
Accession Number REL39523
Collection type Technology
Object type Edged weapon or club
Physical description Animal hide, Cotton, Gilded brass, Leather, Stainless steel, Wood
Maker Kamakura Tenshozan Tanrenjo
Place made Japan
Date made October 1943
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Japanese Naval Officer's Kai-gunto sword and scabbard. The hilt has standard Japanese Navy gilded brass fittings of a fuchi (collar), kabuto-gane (pommel) and triple cherry blossom menuki (hilt ornament), under the brown handle binding, over black rayskin. The guard is a plain blackened brass tsuba with two large seppa (guard washers) of a sun ray pattern (one on each side) and two smaller seppa (one each side) with serrated edges. A brown sword tassel is attached to a webbing loop, through the kabuto-gane. The stainless steel blade is slightly curved, with a single edge that has a straight, but artificial, harmon (temper line). The tang has a single peg hole and is signed to indicate that the blade was made by the Tenshozan Forging Workshop at Kamakura in October 1943. The habaki (blade collar) is gilded copper. The scabbard is wood, covered in black polished rayskin and has gilded brass fittings to match the hilt. Two loose belt hanger rings are attached to the scabbard bands. The scabbard has a brown leather battle guard stitched down one edge and five press stud fitted around the upper hanger ring.

History / Summary

this sword was surrendered to WX361 Lieutenant Colonel Norman Lawrence Fleay, 2/7th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment by Captain Kareda, Japanese 22nd Special Naval Base Forces near Balikpapan, Borneo. The son of Walter William Edward and Elizabeth (nee Farmer) Fleay, Norman Lawrence Fleay was born at Wagin, WA on 2 December 1917. He was living in Maylands, WA and working as a printing compositor when he enlisted in the AIF on 7 November 1939.

Fleay embarked at Fremantle on 20 April 1940 with the 2/11th Battalion for service in the Middle East. He was quickly promoted to lieutenant and saw service in North Africa and Greece, where he was wounded in the leg in April 1941. Early in 1942, the 6th and 7th Divisions returned to Australia and Fleay, now a major, was seconded to the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles in April. He was soon promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel and appointed as commanding officer of Kanga Force.

Fleay was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his work around Lae / Salamaua in late 1942. His citation reads, 'Lieutenant Colonel Fleay was in charge of Kanga Force when I assumed command of New Guinea force. Up to that stage his Commando operations had been distinguished by vision, enthusiasm and the utmost determination to hamper the enemy to the greatest extent possible in the Lae and Salamaua area. Although it was not possible to reinforce Kanga Force before fresh enemy troops arrived towards the end of August , Lieutenant Colonel Fleay continued his offensive tactics with such force as was available. As a result little, if any, fresh penetration was made by the enemy. Lieutenant Colonel Fleay's general outlook, his personal gallantry and his powers of leadership combine to make him an inspiration to the troops who have kept going in spite of very great difficulties.'.

Fleay relinquished command of Kanga Force in August 1943, and after service with the 24th Infantry Battalion, joined the 2/7th Australian Cavalry (Commando) Regiment in January 1944. He was appointed commanding officer in May. The regiment remained with the 7th Division and its final campaign was at Balikpapan, Borneo, in July 1945. Lieutenant Colonel Fleay left Borneo on 23 December, arriving at Australia on New Years Eve. He was demobilised in January 1946 and his appointment terminated the next month. Norman Lawrence Fleay died at Mary Potter Hospice, North Adelaide on 7 March 2001.