Commando News Spring17


A World War 2 Japanese Sword

By Richard Pelling, ACA Victoria

Before restoration: Jack’s Japanese sword and some of the ammunition rounds.

Scores of swords were brought back to Australia by

returning servicemen after WW2. The following

segment is about one that arrived from PNG on board

the HMS Implacable at the end of the war.

Jack Johanesen, a WW2 2/7th Cavalry Commando

veteran, has been in failing health and ACA Victoria

members Glenn MacDonald, Keith Johnston (WW2

2/10th Cav Cdo) and I paid Jack a visit. Jack asked us

if we would like a couple of items for the ACA Victoria

historical collection.

Jack’s items included a bag of ammunition of

various calibres, and a military sword. Jack recalled to

us how it came into his possession, and I share the

story with you and ask you to use some imagination

regarding the relief that the troops were feeling during

their journey home after such a dirty war.

Jack later did an oral history interview with an AWM

historian: “So when the time came to leave Wewak in

PNG, it was on the British aircraft carrier HMS

Implacable which had arrived at Wewak. With approxi -

mately two thousand troops we sailed south. It was a

magnificent experience. The ship was so immense to

us, thirty-two thousand ton and of course with the

flight deck and everything it was huge. You didn't feel

any waves or anything.”

“The British soldiers, some marines and the sailors

on board, treated us very well. And so it was

altogether a very happy time coming home. We sailed

south to Sydney. Coming through Sydney Heads I will

always remember the Royal Marine Band marching up

and down on the flight deck, and there were masses of

people lined up along the Heads - it was a very nice


Jack said that during the trip the Aussie soldiers

discussed how well the sailors treated them and

wanted to show their appreciation. A suggestion was

to hold a raffle with the proceeds to be handed over to

the crew, and one of the troops generously offered a

Samurai sword for the prize. The raffle was run, and

Jack was the lucky recipient. The proceeds of the raffle

were handed over to the crew as thanks, and the sword

remained stored in Jack’s shed for over 70 years.

ACA committee member Richard Godden carefully

restored the sword close to its former condition. I leave

to your imagination the life of this sword before it

arrived in Australia. The hilt is inscribed with the usual

Japanese markings that need to be researched to

discover its year of construction and its maker. This is

not as easy as it sounds.

After restoration

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition 11 I September 2017 23

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