The FSC brothers learning Japanese during World War II

By Brother Patricius O’Donovan fsc

“English was replaced by Nippon Go as the medium of education. After school, all teachers had to attend afternoon classes day after day to gain some proficiency in the language. What was learned in the afternoon was taught next morning in the classroom. […]

Once with our solemn Japanese instructor, our Kocho Sensei [Headmaster] Brother Joseph, as slow to learn as he was swift to damn their lingo, was asked in gentle tones to take his turn to read. He rose with stately gravity and stared at the wriggling characters on the page – ‘wriggling mosquito larvae’ he dubbed them. However he was not taken unawares. Behind him for this very contingency he had Brother Leonard strategically placed. Now in this moment of truth, Leonard, modestly proportioned, rose unobtrusively behind Joe’s giant frame and whispered to him the words of the text. With magnificent aplomb, Joe sailed full steam ahead through the sea of larvae to the admiration of the Japanese Instructor, to the wonder of the other pedagogues up front, but to the choking giggles of those at the back. ‘Yoroshi!’ [splendid] stammered the astonished instructor, lost in wonder at this aged Kocho speaking the language of the gods with such fluency. Our Kocho dropped to his seat with enhanced dignity.”

Excerpt from a publication titled “Under the Hinomaru” (2003), p 26. Based on the war time diaries of Brother Patricius O’Donovan fsc, edited by Brother Vincent Corkery.