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Thread: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

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  1. #1
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    Sonny Cancún

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    WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    My father found this, on Peleliu (I think) just after the battle in 1944. He was a surveyor with the Seabees in the U.S. Navy.

    It is a pouch made of waterproofed fabric, now very brittle, containing what sounds like a powder when the pouch is shaken. My dad told me he thought it could be some kind of Japanese suicide powder. My gut tells me it's not that dramatic...perhaps some anti-malaria concoction or even a dried-up condom.

    Help, you guys.
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  2. #2
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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    Sonny, the Japanese soldier carried an assortment of medical supplies during the war including Peptic tablets ,Aspirin tablets,Morphine solution, Tincture of iodine, Iodoform, Zinc oxide, Boric acid, Atabrin, Rivanol solution, Quinine sulphate, Benzoin, Sodium bicarbonate, and in some theatres, malaria pills. It could be almost any one of these. As far as I know, the Japanese soldier did not carry suicide powder.
    johnnyi

  3. #3

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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    It looks to have a stitched rim, if thats the case, its designed to keep whats in between the layers of frabric in there.

    Id guess an early absorber of some kind, a pre curser to the sachets we have now in food and electrical goods. Its factory made, the cross shape is the clue I reckon.

    A slight chance it is sulphur powder or similar designed to be used as a band aid and either seep in or draw out. If you look at the size, 2 inches square, thats kinda bullet hole entry wound size.

  4. #4
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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    Well done Johnie I!

  5. #5
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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    Quote Originally Posted by 4-H
    Well done Johnie I!
    Well done on what?
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  6. #6
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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    "Well done on what? " Ha! yes buckleboy, 4-H was being too kind. I don't know which of those things I listed was in it; only that it was not 'suicide powder". Mick mentioned the shape being a clue. I wonder of it really is, as far as contents is concerned anyway. This was a "waterproof" container so it cannot be a dressing itself, and if it was a dressing, wouldn't it be damaged while trying to rip it opened (if the dressing conformed to the shape of the pouch)? No, I think that it is one of the medicines on the list, and the shape of the pouch's function was to allow a soldier to tear it open in battle without having to fumble for the correct "tear slot". On this bag he could tear any one of the four indentations without looking. mho
    johnnyi

  7. #7
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    Sonny Cancún

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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    There's an inscription stamped in black ink, but it's hard to photograph. I will look at the inscription and draw it, then post the drawing. There are about nine characters, including some numbers and parentheses.

    I've been to a few websites featuring collections of Japanese military medical supplies, but haven't seen anything close to this yet.

  8. #8
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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    Sonny, if you can get a clear photo or scan of the characters (that would be better than drawing them as these can be pretty subtle) sometime tomorrow, I'll be visiting someone who writes and reads Japanese and I'll get it translated if it can be. I must have the scans by Wed. night at the latest though. Thanks John
    johnnyi

  9. #9
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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    bump

  10. #10
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    Sonny Cancún

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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyi
    Sonny, if you can get a clear photo or scan of the characters (that would be better than drawing them as these can be pretty subtle) sometime tomorrow, I'll be visiting someone who writes and reads Japanese and I'll get it translated if it can be. I must have the scans by Wed. night at the latest though. Thanks John
    Thanks! It definitely looks to me like

    (#.39) 17.4

    (I'm substituting # for the Japanese character).

    But here's a better picture:


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  11. #11
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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    Does this help? It looks as if its stitched all the way around and may be hard to rip open. Could it be some kind of heat pad? Can you weigh it to see if it matches any numbers?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  12. #12

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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    Much bettter pics. Thats designed to stay shut, not be torn open. Its definately not for sprinkling.

    I am guessing it has dried out over the years. Possibly shrunk, dried and changed colour, but its in great nic. Was it just lying on the ground back when it was found or was it in something?

    Ya know, it almost looks like a tea bag. Maybe it is designed to be stuck in water? maybe its for taking something out of water, like a purification thing?

    Maybe its an early active carbon filter type thing from a gas mask? That sounds plausable to me.

    I reckon Ive nailed all the possibilities, but at the last minute, someone will produce a photo of a frectile from a jolistic goobecker and Im toast.

  13. #13
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    Sonny Cancún

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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    bigcypresshunter, I don't have a scale accurate enough to weigh such a light item.

    mickk, I can't remember where he said he found it, and he's not around anymore to tell me. He also said he saw a bone sticking out of a Japanese boot. I never pumped him for more gruesome battlefield info. He kept this item hidden away until he gave me all his war mementoes in 2004. This is the only memento of his that's at all unusual.

    It's very fragile. I think it would crumble if squeezed.

  14. #14
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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    This site has pictures of several Japanese WW2 medical supplies. http://drl.ohsu.edu/cdm4/results.php...&CISOSTART=1,1

    I didn't see anything just like it, although it has the "look" of the items in the pictures.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  15. #15
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    Re: WWII Japanese head-scratcher battlefield relic

    Quote Originally Posted by 72cheyenne
    This site has pictures of several Japanese WW2 medical supplies. http://drl.ohsu.edu/cdm4/results.php...&CISOSTART=1,1

    I didn't see anything just like it, although it has the "look" of the items in the pictures.


    What about the items in the right corner of your photo (direcly behind the right back corner of the pizza box )? They are the same color and packaging--maybe just the wings folded over and packaged up for easy carrying? They are also stamped in the same way.


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