I received an email from Mark, who lives in the United States and is currently sorting through his father's World War II memorabilia. He's trying to piece together a time line. Mark wrote: "My father is a Veteran of WW2. He served for the US Navy in the Pacific Fleet during the War. He has some patches that he got during his service. One patch is written in Chinese . . ."
"The other patch says 'WANT FREE' 'BACK TO TAIWAN OR DIE.'
Both have blue, white and red insignia with the Taiwan's flag's star in the middle. My father can't remember who or how he got them but he thinks he traded some of his insignia for them. I would appreciate any info or advice you could give me about the origin of these patches."
I don't think either of the patches date back to World War II. First of all, Taiwan wasn't called Taiwan at that time. It was Formosa. Second, the Formosan (Taiwanese) people served in the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy up until September of 1945. Formosa's (Taiwan's) flag was the Japanese Rising Sun. After World War II, Taiwan was occupied by the KMT / R.O.C. (Republic of China) soldiers. The white sun on the top patch comes from their flag.
The first patch reads: "Fight the Soviet (Russian) Communists" and gives the soldier's ID number, 2906 (there might be a record for this man somewhere) across the bottom. By the way, soldier 2906 served in the Love Battalion. During World War II, the KMT's R.O.C. and the Soviet Union were allies. The Soviet Union didn't even declare war on Japan, hence Formosa (Taiwan), until August 9th, 1945. Three weeks later, Japanese officials were sitting down on the USS Missouri to sign the terms of Japan's unconditional surrender to the United States.
I've mentioned it before on this blog: From October 1945 to February 1947, thousands of Taiwanese men returning from WW II were recruited and redeployed to fight in China against the Chinese communists. The latter were supplied and financed, though probably not as much as they would have liked, by the Soviet Union. That's when the Soviets came to be viewed by the KMT as enemies (see upper patch once again). We should also keep in mind the redirected Taiwanese men were promised NT$2,000 a month. When they arrived in China, they were annoyed to discover they would be paid in the lower Chinese currency. Promised future government jobs, they later returned to Taiwan only to find the positions already filled by recent immigrants from China. Needless to say, the number of volunteers dried up after the 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan, as locals learned to distrust what they were being told. Then, in 1949, the communists defeated the KMT and drove their military out of China completely. The soldiers who had patches like the ones above retreated to Taiwan at this time. And Taiwanese soldiers no longer went to China.
I think, Mark, that your father came in contact with Taiwanese fighting in China during the late forties. You say he served on a submarine that refueled in Shanghai. That is where he probably got these patches. You also think his sub refueled in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. OK. But why would a Taiwanese soldier have a "back to Taiwan or die patch" in Taiwan? On second thought, this makes sense to me. Perhaps he didn't need the patches because he was already home, making them redundant.
I don't know anything about the trading of patches and insignias. I don't know on what level it took place, whether or not it was frowned upon and so forth. The possessions of POWs, on the other hand, were often stolen by their captors, but that's another story.
There are a few things to look into still:
1. Any records about your dad's submarine. Do you know the name of the sub, Mark?
2. I'd be curious to know who 2906 was. Can we look him up in the records here in Taiwan? I wonder how we do that.