View Full Version : My 30 year war - Hiroo Onoda

2006-03-01, 09:59
Recently read this guy's memoirs of the above title. Bought it off of Amazon. Onoda was the last Japanese soldier to surrender. He surrendered on Lubang Island in the Philippines in 1974, having been placed there as a Lieutenant in charge of a guerilla platoon in 1944! (talk about army backpay!)

Whatever we think about our enemy from WWII writing books and the like and not being too apologetic about it (and it must be said, he had firefights over the decaded with Philippine forces in which not only his guys, but also Filipinos were killed -- he kind of skims over that stuff), his survival story is incredible as is his approach to jungle guerilla warfare.

He talks about the approach he took to make hootches in the rainy season (with diagrams), but more or less slept in the open otherwise (feet down a slope, rifle at his side, so he could be at the ready pronto), and how he effectively made ghillie shirts (I wouldn't quite call it a suit) with fishing line and local vegetation. Natch, he also "requisitioned" supplies from the locals, which is of course unsettling if yo think about how that must have felt to those folks.

He cleaned his rifle every day, and still had 900 rounds left over (some of it salvaged from the other guys he was with who got killed -- the last was only killed in 1972).

Well worth the read.

2006-03-01, 10:25
another tale of an 'enemy' who tells his story is in a book called 'the forgotten soldier', by a man named Guy Sajer. there is some controversy over whether it's true or not, but given the confused state of germany and her army at the time, any organizational or chronological discrepancies are acceptible in my opinion. ask anyone who's been sleep deprived for even a week what a sequence of events was, and you'll get different answers from everyone who was there... anyway, on to the summary:

sajer was an alsatian teenager when germany invaded france. his mom was german and his father was french. he joined the german army at 17, but due to his age couldn't go into a line unit. he spent some time riding trains in russia, pulling security, until he joined the 2nd motorized division, a brand new unit, in 1941/42 and spent the remaining 3 years in an endless cycle of "it was hard... then the chow truck failed to get through, and it started raining, and it was worse... then my friend ____ was shot, and we couldn't get him any help, so he died... then it got colder. the next day, it started again, but this time if was worse..." and so on... it's incredible that anyone made it through at all...

when i was a kid, my parents belonged to a german-american club, and within that club was a group called the german war veterans... it was open to any nationality and any veterans... mostly it was germans, but there were some US soldiers of german descent, who fought on the allied side... most of them are dead now, but i wish i'd been able to talk with more of them, knowing what i know now... incredible men, though i didn't know how incredible at the time...

anyway, whenever i get to feeling sorry for myself, i read some of sajer's book and feel a lot better...

2006-03-01, 10:59
Cool recommendation Seeker. Just looked at the read on-line excerpt for that book on amazon. Great beginning to the book, describing the variety of "Germans" in his platoon.

These survival stories are amazing, and go to show exactly how true all the stuff you hear about survival being "90% psychological" is. I mean with this Onoda guy, he survived for 30 years (about 20 odd year of that with two other guys) in what he really believed was Indian territory, waiting for reinforcements to arrive.

2006-03-01, 11:02
Totally different point but the Sajer book got me thinking about those old films of German soldiers from WWII. Saw one the other day on TV in fact. Darn me if it didn't look like they were had a variety of the Swedish army trangia hanging off of their backpacks...presum some sort of German variation? I thought that the German army used/invented the Esbit/hexmine stove, but these sure looked like Trangias.

2006-03-01, 14:19
don't know... soldiers of all nations are pretty free about adopting ideas that work... might be trangia, might be a german copy...