Type 99: Japanese Rifle My Grandfather Brought Home From the War
Both of my Grandfathers served in World War II. One of them left me with a piece of history.
Grandpa Rockley served in the army in Europe, landing in August of 1944 as a replacement in a recon platoon that saw heavy action. As many soldiers did, he came home with souvenirs. Among them was a German Walther P38 pistol. It wouldn't have been especially valuable today, but we'll never know because my grandmother, Dorothy, made him get rid of it after my dad and uncle were born. Bummer.
Grandpa Gordon was in the army on a troop ship on his way to fight in the Pacific when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. He served as part of the occupation force. He returned home with several souvenirs as well. He also brought a gun home, a Japanese Type 99 rifle.
This rifle isn't rare or worth a lot of money. As a World War II history buff, I just think it's neat.
Grandpa Gordon passed away in 2009. My grandmother Phyllis, who just turned 90 in December, moved out of her house and into a nursing home. As many things from her home were claimed by family members I lucked out and was able to get Grandpa's rifle.
I found a website that gives guidance on the markings to see when it was manufactured. The series marking was unreadable but the manufacturer marking signified that it was made at the Nagoya Arsenal, sometime between 1923 and 1945.
It was likely among the thousands of rifles confiscated after the war and taken home by American soldiers and Marines. It is missing the chrysanthemum stamp, a symbol of the Japanese Emperor, that was found on top of the receiver. All of those rifles taken from Japan had this marking removed. Those that still retained that mark were likely taken from a battlefield.
Grandpa Gordon had the original stock removed and replaced with a hunting stock. It also had a bayonet but that was often used to dig mud out of tractor tires on the farm and is likely sitting buried in one of the fields he farmed.
A unique feature I didn't know about was the rear sight came with a goofy feature, anti-aircraft calipers to fire at planes passing by.
I don't know if I'll ever fire this rifle. Not much ammo is made for it and what is made is on the pricy side, about $2 a round or more. I'd like to replace the sporter stock and put a nice looking original on it, so long as it isn't too beat up. But it's an artifact of history and that's what I like best about it.