Hikogoro Inouye (1875-1918) was born on October 20, 1875, in Hiroshima, Japan. He was the son of Tanehachi and Nobu Inouye, also of Hiroshima. Before he immigrated to Canada, Inouye married a woman named Kume, who remained in Japan. He worked as a fisherman and enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) on August 15, 1916, in Calgary, Alberta. Across Canada, willing young men were turned away from the military because of their ethnicity. However, Calgary was known to be one of the very few places in Canada that allowed people of Asian descent to enlist. Like most Asians who joined the CEF, Inouye served in the 175th Infantry Battalion. He later transferred to the Canadian Medical Corps and was assigned to the No. 1 Canadian General Hospital at Étaples, France. On the night of May 19, 1918, Étaples, which was a major railway hub for the Allied Forces as well as the site of several hospitals, was hit by the German Bomber Group 6, which dropped a number of bombs on the hospital. Inouye was killed in that air raid. He was 42.
Service Record Details
Date of Birth: October 10, 1875 (Fukayasu-gen, Hiroshima-Ken, Japan)
Date of Attestation: August 15, 1916 (Sarcee Camp)
Age at Enlistment: 40 years, 11 months
Height: 5 feet, 2 inches
Weight: 145 pounds
Description: Dark complexion, black eyes, black hair. 4 vaccinations scars on each arm. Methodist.
Home Address: Calgary, Alberta
Married: Yes—Wife, Kume Inouye, living at 147 Shmoiwanarimura, Fukayasu-gen, Hiroshima-Ken, Japan.
Next of Kin: Wife (Kume Inouye)
Brother: Mr. Ryuzo Inouye, c/o His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Consulate, Vancouver, B.C.
Son: Kanco Ikeda
Theatre of War: France
Casualties / Medical History
- June 12, 1917 – Inouye is admitted to No. 4 Stationary Hospital at Arques, France, with a gunshot wound to the left arm. (Page 6)
- August 11, 1917 – He has pterygium, a relatively common and sometimes painful eye condition. In his case it is “double,” or in both eyes.(Page 9)
- August 18, 1917 – He is admitted to hospital for defective vision. Notes indicate that astigmatism is among the problems. (Pages 9 and 27)
- May 19, 1918 – Killed in action by “Hostile Aircraft.” (Page 5)
Interesting Details from the Service Record
- September 24, 1916 – In his military will he leaves all of his estate to his son, Kanao Inouye, of 147 Shmoiwanarimura, Fukayasu-gen, Hiroshima-Ken, Japan. The witnesses are two fellow privates with the 175th Battalion: T. Kaji and K. Takuaka. The document on file is a typewritten copy of the original will. (Page 5)
- October 10, 1916 – A file card indicates that death notices are to be sent to his wife and to the Canadian Japanese Association, 213 Hastings St. E, Vancouver, B.C. (Page 14)
- February 1, 1917 – He arranges for fifteen dollars from his pay to be sent to his wife in Japan each month. (Page 33)
- September 6, 1917 – He is sentenced to five days of “No. 1 field punishment” for “Eating Iron Rations in trenches Without Permission.” (Page 9)
- May 22, 1918 – He is owed $128.24 in pay upon his death. (Page 36)
- 1921 to 1922 – In 1921, his medals and decorations are sent to his widow. It turns out that she has died, however, and the medals are returned to the military. In 1922, his son Kanco Ikeda is located, and the medals, plaque, and scroll are sent to him. (Pages 18-21)
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Military Medals, Honours and Awards (1812–1969)