Tokushima: German naval ensign to return home after 100 years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Daisuke Ogaki points to a naval ensign of a German S90 torpedo boat in Naruto, Tokushima Prefecture.

TOKUSHIMA — An ensign of a German Empire naval ship, which exchanged fire with the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War I more than 100 years ago, will be donated to a museum in Germany next year after it was found at private home in Tokushima Prefecture.

The German S90 torpedo boat ran aground after engaging in warfare with the Japanese Navy off the coast of China, and blew itself up.

From a document at the U.S. Naval Historical Center
A German S90 torpedo boat

Daisuke Ogaki, a 64-year-old resident of Tsurugi, had kept the naval ensign at his home in a plastic box. His late grandfather, Riichi, was a crew member of a destroyer that took part in the war against Germany in 1914. Records show that the crew aboard the destroyer searched the German boat and took back various items.

Riichi died in 1976 and the circumstances of how the ensign came into his possession remain unknown. Insects have partially damaged the ensign and one-third of it is missing.

“I heard that [my grandfather] shared the ensign with his war comrade,” Ogaki said.

Ogaki asked a museum in Naruto in the prefecture to examine the ensign. Naruto has a museum called Naruto German House to exhibit items related to a German POW camp that was located in the city during World War I. The museum concluded that it was an authentic ensign and Ogaki came up with the idea of donating it so that many people could see it.

The ensign will be on display at the museum through Dec. 27. It will then be donated to the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History in Dresden, Germany, as early as the beginning of next year. The German museum expressed its eagerness to receive the ensign, calling it a highly valued item.