Flag - Captured Japanese Flag with A.I.F. Signatures

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Object detail

Japanese Flag with the red circle on a white background. This flag has the Australian Army unit colour patch for 2/9th Infantry Battalion A.I.F attached to the centre. This colour patch was originally pinned on to the centre, but has now been sewn in place by a conservator.

The flag is also covered in hundreds of ink signatures of soldiers across the full body of this flag. All of these names are presumably from personnel from this same 2/9th Infantry Battalion which captured this flag. Each signature generally contains each soldier's serial number (i.e. QX1) and name, and in places there are also indications of particular soldiers who had been awarded bravery or other decorations. These include the "O.B.E." (Order of the British Empire), the "D.C.M." (Distinguished Conduct Medal), the "M.C." (Military Cross), and the "M.M." (Military Medal).

There is also the one significant example of a Victoria Cross gallantry recipient listed: QX1071 Corporal J.A. French. There are also references to indicate casualties as well (some as killed in action, or as deceased).
CH classification FLAGS Military
CH classification MILITARY Army battlefield souvenirs
CH classification CIVIC MEMENTOES Honour Boards
CH classification CIVIC MEMENTOES Souvenirs
CH classification MEMORIALS War Memorials
CH classification FLAGS National japanese
Production date
Production place
L1135 x W1550 x H75 mm
Media/Materials description
Canvas, rope
History and use
This Japanese flag was captured by Australian troops in the significant Battle of Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, in August-September 1942 during the Pacific War (1939-1942). It is signed by personnel of the 2/9th Battalion Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.).

The 2/9th Battalion was one of several infantry battalions which formed part of the 18th Brigade. These regular infantry battalions, as well as Australian Militia battalions, played an important role in the defeat of Japanese forces in the Battle of Milne Bay.

It was during this battle where Japanese forces suffered their first significant land defeat. At this time New Guinea was actually Australian territory, and Australian forces were in fact defending Australian soil against these Japanese invasion forces.

Many of the signatures which appear on the flag have a "QX" prefix, indicating they were Queensland enlisted soldiers. They include the first Queensland serial number prefix recipient: QX1 John William Archer, who enlisted 20 October 1939 at Albion, Brisbane, served in the 2/9th Battalion and was later discharged on 11 October 1945.

Another of the signatures is that of Lieutenant George Kenneth (Ken) Jackson. Ken was Assistant in Ethnology at the Queensland Museum from 1937. He volunteered for the 2nd A.I.F. at the outbreak of World War 2, and was posted to the Queensland-raised 2/9th Infantry Battalion. He served in the United Kingdom and North Africa, before returning to Australia from where he served in the South-West Pacific theatre with this battalion in 1942.

Ken Jackson was commissioned in the field at Milne Bay, where Australian military forces first stopped the advance of Japanese land forces in their drive towards Australia. Ken was killed in action at Sanananda, Papua New Guinea on 12 January 1943, while leading his company against the Japanese who had been turned back on the Kokoda Track. He was later awarded a posthumous Mentioned-in-Despatches "for Gallantry and Distinguished Service in the S.W. Pacific" on 13 May 1943.

Uploaded to the Web 27 May 2011.
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