Tuesday 24 January 2012

A Diet of Rats, River Eels and Poisonous Toads

According to most people, World War II ended in 1945.  But for Japanese soldier, Schoichi Yokoi, the war did not end until January 24, 1972, exactly 40 years ago today.  Private Yokoi was drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army in 1941, the same year that Japan won the battle of Guam against the United States.  He worked his way up the ranks and eventually became a Sergeant.  He was transported to the island of Guam for battle in 1944 when the United States retook the island and he and his fellow soldiers retreated, many being captured by the enemy.  However, Sergeant Yokoi and ten other members of the Japanese Army, refused to be captured, found a cave on the island, and went into hiding.  At first the soldiers would hunt local cattle to survive.  Soon, seven of the ten soldiers moved to another part of the island while three remained.  Two of the three remaining soldiers separated from Sergeant Yokoi, although they would visit back and forth periodically.  Alone, the Japanese soldier had to carve primitive survival tools for himself; he would hunt at night, trapping poisonous toads, river eels and rats.  In 1952, he found pamphlets stating that World War II was over, but he believed them to be propaganda.  In 1964, he discovered his two fellow soldiers had succumbed to the elements, but he persevered.  Finally, in 1972, two natives to the island were trapping shrimp and discovered Sergeant Yokoi, who tried to attack them, thinking they were the enemy; however, the trappers managed to subdue him and brought him back to civilization.  Hailed a hero in his native Japan, Shoichi Yokoi's homecoming involved crowds of his countrymen excitedly waving flags as he passed by.  He was interviewed by television and radio broadcasters and attended many speaking engagements.  Several months after his return, the 56 year old Mr. Yokoi got married.  Guess where he took his bride for their honeymoon?  Back to the lovely island of Guam.

Note:  Read the book Private Yokoi's War and Life on Guam by Omi Hatashin & Shoichi Yokoi.

Photos courtesy http://news.bbcimg.co.uk.

No comments:

Post a Comment