One of the men lost aboard HMS Vanguard was a liason officer from the Imperial Japanese Navy: Commander Kyosuke Eto (written "Ito" in British records of the period). His grandson, Susumu Eto, has generously provided the following information and photographs to honour the memory of his grandfather. "Sam" Eto and his family visited the Orkneys in 1984, and were taken to the site of Vanguard's wreck. Commander Eto was promoted to Captain posthumously.
(click here for the Japanese version of the following)
Kyosuke Eto, born on April 7, 1881, in the small village of Gonohe, Aomori Prefecture, at the northernmost tip of Japan's mainland, as the first son of a local sake brewer, was supposed to succeed the house business as the natural course under the primogeniture system, which was a common custom in Japan those days.
When he was a junior high school student, he told his father that he wanted to change to a high school in Tokyo, to serve in the Navy in the future. He is said to have fasted for three days and succeeded in persuading his stubbornly objecting father.
After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1900, his major achievement in his seventeen- year career came when he was only 24 years old, in the "Battle of Japan Sea" against Russia in 1905, Japan's first major war against world powers after Meiji restoration of 1867. He was the commander of the aft turret of the battleship HIJMS Azuma, and contributed a great deal to Japan's sweeping victory. He was conferred his first decoration later. I keep his handwritten draft of a speech he made afterward on the battle, vividly depicting the tense atmosphere of the historical gun battle.
The next major success was in the WWI, when he worked as staff officer of Navy's Heavy Artillery in the battle against Germany in Tsingtao, China. The battle also turned out to be a decisive victory for Japan and the artillery made an outstanding contribution to it.
He was a family man, a rare type in Japan's post- feudal era. Last year, before we sold a house and property, which had been bought by Kyosuke before his departure for the U.K. in 1916, I found, among grandmother's articles left behind, bundles of letters and postcards mailed to her during the one year stay in the U.K. I also found his written will, precisely and thoughtfully directing the survivors on the distribution of the assets he had inherited from his late father as the eldest son. A donation was made on his will in the name of my mother, then five years old, to the village of Gonohe.
In 1917 (probably Saturday the 23rd June, according to Brian Budge's research) Commander Eto was presented to King George V:
|1881||April 7||Born in Gonohe, Aomori Prefecture, Japan|
|1898||February||Enroll in the Naval Academy (Age 17)|
|1900||February||Enlist in the Imperial Japanese Navy (Age 19)|
|1902||September||Promoted to 2 nd Sub-Lieutenant|
|1903||September|| Promoted to Sub-Lieutenant
Served as a Judge at Kure Naval Base Court Martial
|1904||February||On board HIJMS Yugiri (First Class Destroyer), 2 nd Fleet (Age 23)|
|.||November||On board HIJMS Azuma (Armoured Cruiser) Divisional Officer, 2 nd Fleet|
|1905||January||Promoted to Lieutenant (Age 24)|
|.||May||Served in the Battle of Japan Sea|
|1906||February||Promoted to Staff Officer 1 st Fleet|
|April|| Decoration, Order of the
Golden Kite, 5 th Class
Decoration, Order of the Rising Sun, 5 th Sun
|1907||September|| Naval Staff College (Age
Naval Gunnery School
|1908||September||Promoted to Chief Gunner, HIJMS Otowa (Protected Cruiser)|
|1910||December|| Promoted to Lieutenant
Commander (Age 29)
Promoted to Chief Gunner, HIJMS Kashima (Training Cruiser)
|1911||June||Married to Kiyo Takahashi (Age 30)|
|November||Faculty, Naval Gunnery School|
|1912||May||Decoration, The 4 th Order of the Secret Treasure|
|1913||December||Promoted to Chief Gunner, HIJMS Kurama (Battle-cruiser)|
|1914||March||Joined the Bureau of Naval Affairs (Age 33)|
|.||September||Promoted to Staff Officer, Heavy Artillery, 2 nd Fleet|
|.||October||Served in the Battle against Germany at Tsingtao, China|
|.||December||Joined the Naval Bureau of Education|
|1915||July|| Decoration, The Order of
the Golden Kite, 4 th Class
Decoration, The Order of the Rising Sun, 4 th Class
|.||December|| Promoted to Commander
Join the Naval Bureau of Technology
|1916||May||Transfer to the U.K. via Siberia|
|.||August 15||On board HMS Vanguard|
|1917||July 9||Killed aboard HMS Vanguard, Scapa Flow, Scotland (Age 36)|
There is a small display about Commander Eto in the Gonohe Library:
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