LIFE (May 22, 1944)
Arizona war worker writes her Navy boyfriend a thank-you note for the Jap skull he sent her.
When he said goodbye two years ago to Natalie Nickerson, 20, a war worker of Phoenix, Arizona, a big, handsome Navy lieutenant promised her a Jap.
Last week Natalie received a human skull, autographed by her lieutenant and 13 friends, and inscribed: “This is a good Jap – a dead one picked up on the New Guinea beach.” Natalie, surprised at the gift, named it Tojo. The armed forces disapprove strongly of this sort of thing.
Well … that’s … awkward.
But back in those days … rather common.
That was important, because if your armed forces became something like the monster they have to destroy, you have lost the war.
When I was a kid we had a lot of Canadian and some American WW2 & Korean War veterans in the rural area I grew up in. Like any kid I wanted to know about war and shooting and so on which most veterans wouldn’t talk about but what most did like talking about was the trophies they brought home some of which I got to see.
The usual assortment of helmets, bayonets, knives, badges and then there was the more macabre items like a finger bone with ring imbedded in it, gold teeth(saw way more than I thought possible), German and Hungarian military medals and most fascinating for me was the entire lower jaw with imbedded shrapnel in it.
It wasn’t until I was much older that I finally started to understand how most of these items were gotten and realized war wasn’t glamorous or all Hollywood glamour.
War isn’t pretty nor is it kind.