Okinawa Invasion Battle Flag

Okinawa Invasion Battle Flag

While doing some research on a now deceased 6th Division Marine, I came across a fascinating memento from the Okinawa Invasion which this Marine, Robert G. Sproul, Wilmington, DE, had participated in. Among his souvenirs was a Japanese battle flag taken from a dead Japanese soldier during the battle. These battle flags, popular with many Japanes soldiers, were signed by family and friends with exhortations of good luck. The silk or cotton flags adorned with Japanese writings around the large red sun were worn around the soldier’s abdomen before going into battle. This particular flag has faded blood stains and what appear to be bullet holes. A poignant personal reminder of the Marine’s war in the Pacific during WWII.
Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

6 comments


  • Garent Gunther

    Thanks for the comments about the Battle Flag. The Japanese ‘Obon’ society assists in returning the battle flags to the surviving relatives of the deceased Japanese soldiers. Wonder if there is a similar organization that tries to return our dead Marine’s personal effects taken by Japanese soldiers during the War?


  • sgt. bob holmes……..usmc

    MY BROTHER WAS IN THE NAVY IN WW11, AND HAS A COUPLE OF THOSE FLAGS. HE GAVE THEM TO HIS SON….I WAS IN KOREA AND I SAW THE FLAGS WHEN HE CAME BACK HOME,.MAKES ONE THINK THAT THE ENEMY WERE NOT MUCH DIFFERENT THAN US…..


  • Sgt Ted K. Shimono

    Many veterans of WWII that obtained these battle from dead enemy soldiers and have tried, some successfully to return the flag to the family of the killed soldier. It is up to the person who found the item.


  • Sgt. Wolf aka Bob Rader

    A number of similar flags have been turned over to Japanese consulates to be returned to family members in Japan. Years ago, I would not. Now, as the years have passed, I have mixed feelings. But, it’s not mine so I can just ramble down here.


  • David Trojan

    There is a way to return the flag to the family of the Japanese Soldier. If somebody has a flag or something else that’s directly related to WWII and that can be identified as belonging to an individual soldier, then it can be sent to the person’s local Japanese Consulate or the Embassy (if in the DC region). Then, the information or the item – your flag info included – will be sent to Tokyo to the Social Welfare and War Victims’ Relief Bureau (http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/or…), which is within the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

    The Bureau will then research the item and see if they can find a living relative. Thereupon the relative will have the choice of accepting the item or not. There is also a presupposed notion of privacy, so the Japanese person and/or the American who is returning the item can both chose to be anonymous or not. The Japanese government is only there to facilitate the return of the item and will abide by the wishes of the returner. Under no circumstance will the Japanese government ask for an item, nor will it pay for an item. You have no idea how many people call asking for money for such things.

    Additionally, the search can take a very long time, years even. So, if you want to keep the item, it’s best to send pictures. However, you can send the actual item as long as you stipulate that you would like it returned if nobody can be found. Swords and such that have no identifiable marks are virtually impossible to place.

    There is also a private organization in Japan that does this type of work called the Non-Profit Organization Association of Peace and War Mourning, http://www.senbotsusya.com/en/.


Leave a comment