Tag Archive | WWII

Mathias Ulungura captures Hajime Toyashima – 19th February 1942

Mathias Ulungura captures Hajime Toyashima – 19th February 1942, 2006, oil on linen, 167.5 x 254 cm

“The first prisoner of war captured on Australian territory was Hajime Toyashima, who crash-landed on the Tiwi Islands on the way home from bombing Darwin. He staggered to the beach where he saw lots of Tiwi women out crabbing in low tide. Hajime grabbed one of the babies left on the dry sand as a hostage. The Tiwi women just thought he was offering to carry the baby, so they returned to the community with Hajime following behind them, yelling in Japanese with a gun to the baby’s head.

When Hajime started to hear the Tiwi men, he handed the baby back to the grateful Tiwi women and ran off. Eventually he was caught by Matthias Ulungara who, before delivering him to the Whites, toured him around all the communities.

Tiwis only get bits and pieces of White culture, phrases that fall from the sky, like the leader of the tough gang who irons his Celine Dion tour T-shirt, or when a friend visited me from Germany, an old Tiwi woman wished her good luck and, “Heil, Hitler”.”

The link below takes you to an article about this true story. The first prisoner of war in Australia during WWII was captured on Melville Island by Mathias Ulungura. Click here to read the article by Catherine Schwerin.

Downed Japanese fighter aircraft A6M2, number 5349, source: Australian War Memorial. This image is in the public domain