Japanese Phrase Book [together with] English-Japanese Phrase Card


£750.00  [First Edition]

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With diary entries of an identified soldier

First edition. 12mo. Original orange paper printed wrappers, backed in cloth, staple bound [with] printed tri-fold phrase card, a good copy (wrappers of phrase book faded, light rusting to staples, corners bumped). [viii], 184pp. Washington, War Department, February 28 1944; phrase card: Washington, War Department, May 

From 1944, each US soldier posted to Japan was handed a copy of the present phrase book. Pocket-sized and neatly type-set in four columns, for each phrase it provides the English sentence, followed by the pronunciation of the Japanese, Hepburn spelling and Japanese script. Alongside ‘Emergency Expressions’, there is guidance for ‘Location and Terrain’, ‘Reconnaissance’ and ‘Landing a Plane’.


While phrase books of this kind were printed in large numbers, it is rare to find one with diary entries. This copy belonged to Palmer L. Larson (1925–2012), who was aged 20 at the time of deployment. He arrived in Okinawa on 8th September 1945, after Japan's surrender, and was part of the 27th division, about which he writes "nick named "Tokyo Express". The Best div. in the army". He was among the first troops to be sent to Japan as part of the Allied Occupation. After serving in Fukushima and Tokyo, he was honourably discharged on 17th November 1946 and sent back to the States.


On pages with white space, Larson kept an occasional diary. His writing provides a fascinating glimpse of his experience of Japan and, more broadly, the activities of American soldiers in Japan – "Sept. 21 men from the 1 and 2 Br of 27 div placed the stars and stripes on top of Japanese volcano". Larson also writes about the more recreational activities – "Nov. 18. guys got drunk on sake again" followed by "Nov. 19. Seen movie 7 days ashore. Heard song Sioux City". Later in the month he writes "Nov. 21. Got turkey, fresh eggs and fresh butter for thanksgiving and got 3 pks. ciggarettes for it too". On the inside upper cover, there a list of women's names and addresses, most of whom were his family members.


After his time in Japan, he returned to his family farm in Humboldt County, Iowa. He never married, but lived a reclusive life on the farm with his brother Roger. He acted partly as a carer for Roger, who was legally blind for much of his adult life. In their will, they left all 150 acres of their land to the State of Iowa to be preserved as wetland and prairie. 


The entries are largely in pencil, with some parts traced in pen, most likely at a later date – below the Table of Contents he has written "save this" in pen, which would suggest the importance of this book to Larson, perhaps as a memento of a formative experience in his life.

Stock Code: 248461

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