by Joseph Loong

(Part of a series of posts that will culminate on Father’s Day, highlighting why our dad, Paul Loong, is the Most Interesting Dad in the World.)

An iconic photo of the D-Day landings. US Govt photo.

Many people during World War II found out about the D-Day invasion that same day, June 6, 1944. For my Dad, it took a little longer, with a lot more risk. Here’s how it happened:

A few days after the Allies landed at Normandy, the POWs at Mitsushima, Japan were walking back to the prison camp, under guard, from the hydroelectric facility where they were being forced to work under harsh conditions.

One of the prisoners found a scrap of Japanese newspaper, featuring a story with a map of the European coast. Risking beheading if caught, he hid the newspaper and smuggled it back into the camp.

There, another prisoner who could read Chinese figured out from the characters (the Japanese written language uses Chinese characters) that the story was about the successful Normandy invasion.

According to Dad, while Japanese reporting of the Pacific War told of nothing except continuous Japanese victories, their coverage of the European theater of war was more truthful.

The newspaper was quickly destroyed to prevent the Japanese guards from discovering it, but Dad says the news “spread like wildfire” among the prisoners, who were starved of both food and information.

Much like the newspaper article, the June 1944 entries from my dad’s secret wartime diary didn’t survive to our time, but he remembers the story clearly, which gave all the prisoners a measure of hope that the Allies were winning the war.

And that’s how he learned about the successful D-Day invasion.