Japanese good luck flag : Naval engineer officer Kensaburo Kihara

Accession Number REL41180
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Flag
Physical description Rayon
Maker Unknown
Place made Japan
Date made c 1942-1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Printed rayon Japanese national flag presented to Imperial Japanese Navy engineer Second Lieutenant Kensaburo Kihara as symbol of good luck. Large characters across the top translate 'Going into the gate of life and death with a laugh', a statement characteristic of Japanese Zen Buddhism. The flag bears numerous signatures, including two by fellow engineers and short phrases such as 'hope you fight well', 'loyalty' and 'honesty'.

The flag also bears numerous signatures in pencil, of members of the Australian 2/10th Infantry Battalion, who captured it. Signatures that are still legible include those for NX117971 Lieutenant William Rex Chadwick; Corporals NX145587 George Stanley Fitzpatrick and NX203655 Stanley Leonard Albon; QX31061 Lance Corporal William Francis Glover; and Privates WX22788 Keith William Howes, SX28269 John Stephen Byrne, SX12655 Horace Andrew Gordon Todd, NX203342 Roy Joseph Shipley, QX18074 Malcolm Thomas Zeller, SX20541 Richard Martin, WX22825 George Antony Foggan, NX39512 Rupert William Roy and WX38144 Albert Edmund Braidwood Gray.

The flag has numerous tears and is partly torn away at the fly.

History / Summary

This flag is thought to have been captured by members of 2/10th Battalion during the operations at Balikpapan, Borneo in 1945, as two of the Australian soldiers who signed it enlisted in March 1944 and only joined the battalion after it had been withdrawn from New Guinea. The unit spent nearly a year training in north Queensland before deploying to Borneo.

The flag itself was 'rescued' many years later after it was found in a bin containing cleaning rags at a factory at Maribyrnong, Victoria.