Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Shoso "Sho" Nomura Interview
Narrator: Shoso "Sho" Nomura
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: December 14, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-nshoso-01-0003

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gky: So, and when did you graduate from Camp Savage?

SN: In June of '43.

gky: So what did you do in the month, I mean, in almost, I guess, over a year?

SN: Over a year.

gky: What did you do then?

SN: Well, from, after we graduated in June of '44, then we spent six weeks or two months getting basic training at Camp Shelby, and that brings us up to about August of 1944. And then, when we came back from Shelby, back to Camp Savage, but we didn't return to Camp Savage. They moved, they were in the process of moving all activities of the school to Fort Snelling, and so the school moved from Savage to Camp Snelling, and, in the meantime, we just kept brushing up on our, you know, study and all that sort of thing at Fort Snelling. And then out of the June 1944 class, we were the last twenty people to be assigned to go overseas. Everybody had left by the time they got to us. I don't know what they were trying to tell us, that we were the crumbs of the lot, but the runts of the litter, or whatever, but we were the last that got assignment to go overseas. And then, when we did get the assignment, it was two ten-man teams that were -- said, "Okay, now you're going to go overseas." And it took us forever to -- first we went to the port of embarkation, so that must have been about in February of '44. And we laid around there in the port of embarkation a good month, six weeks, before they found a ship to take us overseas. Then from leaving the Port of Los Angeles out of San Pedro, it took us forty-five days before we saw land again. We went to, down through the South Pacific and then on the underside of Australia, and the first land we saw was forty-five days later. We were all twenty of us on this liberty ship, and we landed in Perth in western Australia. Then from there we went to Colombo, Ceylon, which is now Sri Lanka, and from Sri Lanka we picked up a convoy and we went to Calcutta. And that brings us up to about April of '44, or something like that. And then from April, I mean from Calcutta, we took, we boarded a train to New Delhi and that's where they had the intelligence headquarters of Southeast Asia. Then a few months later, they split the Southeast Asia translation group, which would -- now is only the intelligence headquarters for India and Burma. Then they had the China Theater. And so, like I say, I guess it was about May or June that four of us was selected out of intelligence headquarters in Southeast Asia translation group and assigned to Chungking. So the four of us were the first four Nisei in China.

gky: Were you supposed to stay with the mission until it ended, until the...

SN: Yeah. I was the only one that stayed until it ended. I went up there in September of '44, and served until September of 1945.

gky: While you were there, did you translate documents or interrogate any prisoners?

SN: Towards the end, we was doing practically nothing. The barrel had run dry.

gky: It also seems that many of the Japanese prisoners had been there for quite a while.

SN: Right.

gky: So were you learning about indoctrination procedures?

SN: Beg pardon?

gky: Were you learning about indoctrination procedures?

SN: Not really. The thing was that a lot of those prisoners of war that were held by the communists, they were old timers. There was a couple of them that were in China since the Shanghai Incident. You know, finding out where they come from and what units they served, meant nothing. Their units had probably been sent to the South Pacific years ago, and so, like a lot of the intelligence, I mean interrogations that we made, weren't worth a hoot. But the recent ones did give us some fairly valuable information.

gky: So what kind of valuable information? Tactical information?

SN: Not tactical. Just principally of finding out what unit they came from and where that unit was stationed, and that was about the size of it. You know, for practical intelligence that -- and find out who they're commanding officers were, and all that sort of thing, because that sometimes is important.

gky: It seems that you were rubbing elbows with a lot of people who later became, I guess you could say, famous, well-known politicians in the Chinese communists and the Chinese Nationalist movement.

SN: Not -- I didn't meet any Nationalists that became world famous.

gky: But you did get to know Mao Zedong.

SN: Yeah, we got to know Mao Zedong and his -- the commander-in-chief, Juda, and then Zhou En-lai, you know, he was strictly a diplomat. But, actually, he was in second command and he was just under Mao.

gky: Of course, you never knew back then that world events would unfold like they...

SN: No. When the war ended, we had Chinese interpreters, you know, as the, the communists assigned us to help us observe, and, you know, their English-speaking fellows, liaison people between, with the Dixie Mission and Mao's headquarters, and they spoke excellent English. When the war ended, there was a guy, one of the liaison men that we called [inaudible], the old timer, and I asked him, you know, I says, "What's going to happen now;" in August of '45, I said, "What's going to happen now?" And he says, "There's going to be a war." I said, "What are you talking about? The war is over." "No," he said, "I'm talking about a war between us and Chiang Kai-shek." I said, "Then, then what happens then?" He says, "We're going to beat them. We're going to win that war." I says, "How can you see that. I heard that Chiang Kai-shek has been provided with all the armors, airplanes, and God knows what else in material and everything." And Lau says, "But you forget he doesn't have the support of the people and we're getting all kinds of support of the so-called, the masses." And sure enough, that's the way it turned out.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.