It has to be said.......
The Submarine force of Imperial Japan was not always the politest body of men in their conduct of WWII. Indeed, several (but not all..) I-Boat commanders became
bona-fide war criminals, responsible for some rather horrifying atrocities. This is unfortunate, but a fact.
To his credit...the subject of this small painting however, does not appear to have fallen into that rather disreputable company.
Meiji Tagami was the skipper of the famous Japanese submarine I-25, and from reading of his exploits, one soon gathers the impression that here was a skilled seaman
with determination and considerable courage. All the makings of a submarine 'ace' (had he been equipped with more effective tools...). The most recorded
incident with which he is associated was, of course, the celebrated bombing of Oregon by Nobuo Fujita in a "Glen" seaplane from I25 on September 9th 1942. (After which mission
he had the gall and presence of mind to evade US aircraft by sitting on the bottom for two days, inside the harbor of Port Orford ! Then, he went back, three weeks later
- and repeated the exercise !
..But few are aware that, earlier in the same year, this rascal
had calmly launched Fujita and his crewmate on reconnaissance flights over Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, over Hobart, Tasmania and Wellington, New Zealand !
...And on a previous patrol, had stalked and torpedoed an American tanker up the Columbia River - well and truly inside
the United States !
(It was on the way home, however, that he made one of his few mistakes when he located and sunk an American submarine off the Oregon Coast...
...except it wasn't American ! He had sunk a Soviet boat in error, and Soviet Russia was not at war with Japan at that time ! - Of course, he was no worse than the Royal Canadian Air
Force - they too had inadvertently sunk a Russian sub in the same area.... !)
For much of the information outlined above - including a photograph of Tagami which provided
source material for his portrait, I am indebted to Brendan Coyle's intriguing little book "War On Our Doorstep" (Heritage House Publishing Co. Ltd., Surrey BC, Canada, 2002) which is a "must read" if you're interested in the
Aleutian/Pacific Northwest theatre of operations.