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MatthewB93

Japanese Sword Ww2 Help

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Got my grandads katana he brought back from Burma after the second World War and I was hoping to find out more about it. Pics to follow.....

Thanks all, Matt.post-4424-0-28678000-1519668488_thumb.jpg

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As you all can see, there is a lot of rust on the tang so no signatures are visible, that's me presuming that there may be one underneath the rust.... ????

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Matthew,

 

It's a Japanese Type 98 Officer sword. "Katana" is a term that describes a sword style/length. WWII swords are commonly refered to as "gunto" and "shingunto" meaning "army sword" and "new army sword". The blade is in great shape considering the condition of the handle and tang! I'd take some time to clean the orange rust off that tang, if it were mine. Orange is active rust and will continue to cause damage. If you try it, try not to go past the orange and into the darker blackish coloration under it. That is valued by collectors as it helps, sometimes in dating a blade. You may find writing under that ugly rust that will reveal a swordsmith name, but it's not always there.

 

Do you know whether someone after the war repainted that scabbard? The green and red don't look original to me, but the corroded black toward the end make it look like the black was original.

 

If you are interested in learning more about these, there is a fantastic, FREE, website about the WWII swords here: http://ohmura-study.net/900.html

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Bruce, thank you for your reply!

As for the tang, I understand what you mean but I personally don't know the best way to go about removing the orange rust, any suggestions would be much appreciated. As for the green and red on the scabbard, that is also a mystery to me, seems its the dye of the leather and is not painted, although the red piece at the bottom is a very funny and odd fit! As far as I am aware I am the only person to handle the sword since it was brought back from the war, even my grandmother never recalls my grandad touching it, not after he put it behind there wardrobe in the late 40's-early 50's!

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Would you apply oil just to the blade or the tang as well? Will only see a signature if I remove some of the rust but I know from other sources that it is not the done thing...

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Removing surface rust from the nakago is fine. Wipe Wipewith aforementioned oily rag, don't scrub with an abrasive.

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Wow, I didn’t realize that was a leather cover! Knowing that - I’m surprised it is painted at all!!! Very peculiar! It’s not normal, as far as I know, to have the metal fittings like that on a leather cover.

 

A knowledgeable expert on another forum uses a deer antler to scrape active rust off. He says it won’t harm the rest of the patina and tang. I’ll be never tried it. My wife gets antlers at the pet store for our dogs to chew.

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Rare, but not unknown to have a leather covered saya with the metal mounts over all. Sometimes it's a light weight mount over wood, other times it looks to be over the standard metal saya.

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I have three with metal saya and leather covers.    I.   Ikkansai Kasama Shigetsugu.  2. Kajiyama  Yasunori (yasutoku). 3. Yasumasa (undocumented smith).

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Im sure you already know but just incase, dont use the oil rag on the blade if its touched the nakago. Use fresh oil cloth o blade each time.

 

Greg

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Got my grandads katana he brought back from Burma after the second World War and I was hoping to find out more about it. Pics to follow.....

Thanks all, Matt. _20180226_164324.JPG

Matthew, could I see a pic of the sword and scabbard on the other side - the side with the leather strap coming off the hand guard? Is there a snap on the leather scabbard cover by the leather strap?

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attachicon.gif DSC_0294.JPG

There's the requested photo, I'm guessing by that the gunto and scabbard aren't a pair..

Well, there's certainly a story that goes with this gunto. Without more info from your grandfather, all we have is speculation. All the parts are legit WWII Japanese, so no problems there. The arrangement is just odd. But gunto coming in from occupied lands are often non-standard. I don't know the history of Japan's troops in Burma, but in general, troops occupying islands and foriegn locations often had little to no logistical support. So repairs and parts often relied on locals. That's what I'm thinking when I see this.

 

The majority of it looks to be a standard Type 98 with metal saya (scabbard). The tsuba (handguard) and ashi (belt hanger loop) fit this style. The fuchi (handguard collar) and leather retention strap look added, as does the leather cover. Gunto with leather covers over a metal saya usually rely on the metal spring-clip styled locking device, so one speculation is that the spring clip on this gunto broke, and the officer had a leather strap put on to replace it; but there would be a metal snap on the saya leather cover for it to attach to. So, that sort-of doesn't make sense.

 

Another option is that there was a huge cottage industry at the end of the war, around the globe, putting gunto together from parts available to sell to G.I.s looking for souvenirs. This one has that look. Many swords were found on the battlefield without their scabbards. G.I.s and souvenir hunters picking one up, would simply match it to a scabbard the best they could find, to bring home (or in the case of the souvenir industry, replace missing parts like the leather strap, with what was on hand).

 

It's a real piece of the war, and as such should be preserved and cherished.

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Wow, that ment more than you'll know mate, I really appreciate your feedback.

As for a story to put to the sword, I have one my grandma told me as a child but I don't know how reliable it is, considering my grandad only told her this once and also, my grandad passed away before I was born so I have never had the chance to speak to him about the gunto and story personally.....

Within the last part of the war (1944-45) a officer /General of a fellow allied force presented my grandad and 4 others with a 'Japanese officers sword' for helping them with 'something'.

Very loose story I know, but that is all I know of the origins of the gunto.

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Mathew, that's not an impossible story your grandfather told your grandmother. At the end of the war in the Pacific there were a number of official surrender ceremonious during which the Japanese officers formally turned their swords over to officers of the allied forces, be they U.S., British, Australian, etc. Perhaps your grandfather helped out at such a surrender ceremony and was given the sword as a thank you by one of the allied officers in charge. The fact that the officer had 5 swords to pass out rather sounds like a surrender ceremony. I once owned a sword acquired that way along with the paper work describing how the sword was presented.  

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I'm unaware of any potential sources to search information about my grandad in the war, only know his name, don't know anymore details (regiment, rank etc)

His name was Stanley/Stan Hale from Birmingham, West Midlands, England. I'm guessing you guys might have a bit more of a reach when it comes to this sort of thing... Thank you all again for the amazing responses

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 To my mind this is a fully legit' shin-gunto. Mismatched scabbard, the sword originally had a wood and leather scabbard. No surprises there. according to the maintenance teams that went out to China in WW2 the scabbard was the most often damaged part. Battlefield pickups often also have mismatched scabbards, being put together on the field in the aftermath of combat. I have also seen some very odd but original leather covers, leather being a wartime shortage item.

 

  Not the prettiest piece, but to me the family connection trumps cosmetic considerations.

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