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Can you shed light on Black Dogs of Bougainville

Now this is an assignment for you amateur sleuths.

Ken Wright has a dilemma. He’s writing an article on the ‘Black Dogs’ of Bougainville in World War 2 – who I take it were renegade Japanese civilians.

But Ken’s having trouble finding information and is seeking assistance. Having done a cursory bit of internet research, I understand the problem.

Ken says he read a line or two in various books about the Coastwatchers that mention a Japanese civilian called Tashira who established and controlled a kind of vigilante group on Bougainville that was supposed to have raped and murdered locals who were friendly and who aided the Coastwatchers.

“I suspect the real name should have been Tashiro,” Ken says, “as Tashira is not a Japanese family name.

“The only one that fits the description is Tashiro Tsunsuke, who was tried as a war criminal by an Australian military court in Rabaul in 1947. He got ten years for assaulting a native, which was commuted to five years because of numerous good character references.

“There is no court reference to his involvement with the Black Dogs but it seems very strange he got ten years for a crime, if he did indeed commit it, when other Japanese did worse and got only a few months jail.”

If you’re able to assist Ken with his research, you can email him here.  And let me know too. I’m getting interested.


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Des Martin (ex Sgt.AIF and post war a Kiap in PNG)

I have been in touch with Ken Wright re the so called "Black Dogs". During the Japanese occupation in PNG the Kempei Tai a sort of Gestapo type Military police had responsibility for counter intelligence. Their naval counterparts, just as brutal and murderous were known as Tokkei-Tai. Both organisations recruited local natives who became known as "Kenpei" (corruption of Kempei)to seek out anti Japanese activity and suborn others to betray Coastwatchers and those small units working behind the lines using mainly ex pre-war Kiaps and native police running guerrilla type operations. If identified by the latter they generally got an on the spot execution ("pour encourager les autres)
The Japanese named Tashiro (sic)was probably a civilian working for the military in support of the Kempei-Tai or Tokkei-Tai. He is reputed to have been more sympathetic to the local people but obviously had no option other than to support his military masters. He was tried as a war criminal after the war.

Ken Wright

Your web page must be very popular as Don Hook's was the second response I received on this matter. This is great work. I'll email Don tomorrow. Thank you so much.

Don Hook

My good friend Alexander ‘Sandy’ McNab from 1 Independent Company spent 18 months on Bougainville and remembers Tashiro, although, fortunately, he never met him.

Sandy says Tashiro was a pre-war recruiter of labour on Bougainville who knew the people and the mountains very well. Apparently Tashiro left Bougainville just before the Japanese entered the war. He returned in 1943 (probably from Rabaul) and caused the coastwatchers a great deal of trouble,

Until Tashiro's return the Japanese troops rarely ventured into the mountains. Sandy says Tashiro turned villagers against the Australians, especially in the Kieta area. "He was a threat to us and we worried about him but as far as I know he never got close to us."

Sandy is - I'm almost certain - the last of the Independent Company section from Bougainville who is still alive. He is now 90.

He was editor of the 1 Independent Company's history, We were the First, published in 1998 by Australian Military History Publications. The book includes a very detailed account of the section's time on Bougainville.

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