Former Musashi Crew Member Recognizes Recently Discovered Japanese WWII Battleship Photos

Shizuhiko Haraguchi, former crew member of the Japanese WWII battleship Musashi, acknowledges the photos published by Paul Allen’s website about the vessel’s recently discovered wreckage under Philippine waters. 

In an interview Thursday, March 5, Haraguchi said the large gun turret and the catapult system which was used to launch planes were really of the Japanese WWII battleship. These were part of the underwater photos taken by Allen’s team which the American billionaire not only shared in his own website but in the social media site Twitter as well.

Aside from the photos, other details released by Paul Allen and his team convinced the Japanese veteran that it was really the Musashi that was discovered lying deep under Philippines’ Sibuyan Sea. According to him, one of the photos showed the round base located at the bow of the wreckage. He said that the round base was where a chrysanthemum decoration was placed, the Imperial seal that only warships were allowed to carry.

[Left] Japanese WWII battleship Musashi with its sister ship Yamato before their demise during WWII [Right] Musashi crew with the Japanese Emperor before the Battle of the Leyte Gulf.
[Left] Japanese WWII battleship Musashi with its sister ship Yamato before their demise during WWII [Right] Musashi crew with the Japanese Emperor before the Battle of the Leyte Gulf.
Shizuhiko Haraguchi had served in the Japanese WWII battleship Musashi as a gunnery officer. he was on board one of the biggest battleships throughout the entire naval history while it was being fitted in Japan. That was before its departure for war in 1943.

Haraguchi then added that he left the WWII battleship before it was due to leave as he was transferred to an aviation unit which was situated in eastern Japan.

“I recognized that main turret, which I was assigned to and it felt nostalgic seeing that,” the now 93-year-old former crew member of the WWII battleship stated in the interview via telephone. Haraguchi resides in Nagasaki, Japan, the same place where the Musashi was built, fitted and tested.

The discovery of the WWII battleship was really a surprise, the Japanese WWII vet went on to say adding that it was as if the crew members of the naval vessel who sank with her on her demise during WWII’s Battle of Leyte Gulf are calling out to the living to remember them for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

It was just this Sunday, March 1, when Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen let out to the world that he and his team have discovered the Musashi wreckage. The finding was very timely as this year also marks the  70th anniversary of WWII’s end.

Accordingly, the Japanese WWII battleship was found lying under a depth of one kilometer or 3,280 feet in the Sibuyan Sea. Allen found its remains after over eight years of study and employing an autonomous underwater vehicle.

Allen went on to describe the Japanese WWII battleship as an “engineering marvel” and stated that he was honored to find one of the important ships in naval history.

On the other hand, military experts and historians have lauded the find seventy years after WWII saying that it would really help promote interest in the said conflict. An organization supporting vets even went on to say that survivors want to hold a memorial service in the site.

Japanese WWII battleship Musashi was commissioned way back in 1942. Two years later, in October of 1944, it was sank by the American forces through repetitive hits of torpedoes and bombs in the Sibuyan Sea during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. About half of its 2,400 crew members went down with it and eventually, only a few hundred of the crew made it home alive.

The naval fight, considered to be the biggest during the Second World War, greatly paralyzed the Japanese Imperial fleet as it cut off its precious oil supplies. It also gave way for the US invasion of the then Japanese-occupied Philippines.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE