Friday 6th December 2019

A West Wales historian has received a prestigious Japanese commendation to thank him for his work in creating a memorial in Pembrokeshire in honour of the 210 mariners who lost their lives when a Japanese merchant vessel, Hirano Maru, sank after being torpedoed by a German U-boat during the First World War. The memorial was unveiled last year in Angle Churchyard at a ceremony at which HRH The Duke of Gloucester was in attendance.

David James, 81, from Pembrokeshire, the Secretary of West Wales Maritime Heritage Society received the Japanese Ambassador’s Commendation at a special ceremony and reception that was held at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence in London on Friday 6 December.

Mr. James also initiated the idea of returning ‘Togo’s Ginkgo’ trees grown by local people in Pembrokeshire to Japan. About thirty Ginkgo trees have been cultivated in the National Botanic Garden of Wales. They are now fully-grown and large enough to transport to Japan next week. The project is being supported by volunteers in Japan, including private citizens and officials of the various destinations receiving trees which include cities which have or used to have military ports such as Kure, Maizuru, Sasebo and Yokosuka, the cities of Kagoshima and Chiyodaku and the Togo Shrine. The trees will be transported all the way from Wales to Hiroshima Botanical Garden.

Note: Photo shows Mr James receiving his Commendation from the Yasumasa Nagamine, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan. (photo: copyright "Embassy of Japan in the UK")