Archive material of half-Japanese British war time airman at Ely auction

A cartoon of Percy Sekine by London Evening Standard cartoonist Jak - who Sekine trained.

A cartoon of Percy Sekine by London Evening Standard cartoonist Jak - who Sekine trained. - Credit: Rowley's

 An archive of a half-Japanese British World War II airman who was shot down, escaped, and later became a leading figure in judo is to be auctioned in Ely. 

Warrant Officer Percy Yasuyi Sekine’s mother was British and his Japanese father worked for The Mitsui Bank in London. 

On the outbreak of World War Two, Sekine, 19, already a judo black belt, immediately volunteered for the Royal Air Force. 

He served as a wireless operator and air gunner in No 83 squadron. 

letter

A LETTER FROM THE RED CROSS TO PERCY SEKINE ASKING FOR INFO ON THE OTHER MEMBERS OF HIS SHOT-DOWN CREW. IT IS SIGNED BY MARGARET AMPTHILL. - Credit: Rowley's

Included in the sale at Rowley's on May 7 is a first-person account of how his plane – a Hampden bomber – crashed over The Netherlands in January 1942. 

In it he tells matter-of-factly and in an understated manner how he bailed out at fewer than 3,000 feet, along with Harold ‘Ginger’ Holme after the plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire.  

The first and second pilots couldn’t get out and were killed when the plane crashed. 

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Sekine was captured after five hours and put in a PoW camp but a few months later he escaped by climbing over the wire. 

Recaptured, he was put in Stalag 383 in Bavaria where he set up a judo club, creating a dojo and putting on tournaments. 

Twice more he escaped from camps; once going under the wire and once through it.

PERCY SEKINE, LEFT, WITH FELLOW POW DOUGLAS BADER.

PERCY SEKINE, LEFT, WITH FELLOW POW DOUGLAS BADER. - Credit: Rowley's


While at liberty he joined the queue at a mobile German soup kitchen still wearing his RAF battledress, and enjoyed some soup before continuing his escape. 

He also marched in broad daylight through the town of Bad Tolz at the head of a squad of German soldiers before ultimately being recaptured. 

Roddy Lloyd from auctioneers Rowley’s, said: “After the war Sekine followed his mother’s occupation as a diamond polisher in Hatton Garden, but the lure of judo was too much. 

The Royal Air Force dress tunic of Percy Yasuyi Sekine, the half-Japanese British airman,

The Royal Air Force dress tunic of Percy Yasuyi Sekine, the half-Japanese British airman, PoW and judo expert. It is among an archive going under the hammer at Rowley's auction house in Ely, Cambs. - Credit: Rowley's

“He became an instructor and competitor, set up his own club in Hammersmith and trained the Royal Marines. 

“He represented and captained the British judo team through the 1950s and 1960s and although he was just 9.5 stone and judo didn’t have weight categories, he remained undefeated. 

A photo of Percy Yasuyi Sekine, the half-Japanese British airman, PoW and judo expert.

A photo of Percy Yasuyi Sekine, the half-Japanese British airman, PoW and judo expert. It is among an archive going under the hammer at Rowley's auction house in Ely, Cambs. - Credit: Rowley's

“In the 1960s he became the British judo team manager and was the first Briton to be appointed to the exalted rank of seventh dan in the martial art. 

“Among the items for sale are his Royal Air Force dress tunic and photographs and letters relating to his time in the war.  

“Pictures include one of his air crew in which Percy has noted which ones were killed or captured. 

“There are never-before-seen photographs from a PoW camp, one showing ‘my judo group’ at Stalag 383.

PERCY SEKINE’S ‘JUDO GROUP’ IN THE POW CAMP STALAG 383 IN AUGUST 1943.

PERCY SEKINE’S ‘JUDO GROUP’ IN THE POW CAMP STALAG 383 IN AUGUST 1943. - Credit: Rowley's


“There is also ephemera relating to him and his wife Hana, who was the daughter of Gunji Koizumi – the ‘father of British judo’. 

“Included are judo belts and other items including a cup and a picture of him with fellow former PoW Douglas Bader with whom he played golf. 

“Percy was an irrepressible character. He escaped and was captured three times in the war and made his mark on the sport of judo afterwards. 

A PHOTO OF PERCY YASUYI SEKINE, THE HALF-JAPANESE BRITISH AIRMAN, POW AND JUDO EXPERT.

A PHOTO OF PERCY YASUYI SEKINE, THE HALF-JAPANESE BRITISH AIRMAN, POW AND JUDO EXPERT. - Credit: Rowley's

“At his judoka he trained a number of notable people including Tommy Cooper and Stirling Moss. He was training people at his club until he was into his 80s. 

“Collectors of wartime memorabilia and of judo items will be interested in these items, relating as they do to a remarkable man who straddled the British and Japanese cultures with ease.” 

Percy died aged 90 in 2010 leaving his wife Hana, now deceased, and a son. The archive has come from the family. 

There are dozens of items in four lots which are expected to fetch hundreds of pounds at the sale on Saturday May 7.