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WVTR's Sea Monster

By Ernest L Gunerious

WVTR's Sea Monster

image of WVTR live show studio

WVTR live show studio
© Ken Harriman Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

In the Year of 1947 I was serving in the United States Army posted to the Army of Occupation in Japan. I was stationed at Shonan Tomioka about 30 miles south of Yokohama in a former Japanese seaplane base, which had been made into the Headquarters and Battalion Barracks for the 753rd AAA Gun Battalion.

image of WVTR studio desk

WVTR studio desk
© Ken Harriman Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

The events which I am about to relate took place on a Saturday night in late July or early August in 1947, to the best of my recollection.

In the early evening, after a hot muggy day, at about 7:00 PM, a group of my fellow soldiers and I were listening to a music program broadcast from the Armed Forces Radio Station, WVTR Tokyo.

image of WVTR Listener QSL card [front]

WVTR Listener QSL card [front]
© Eugene Allen Collection, CPRV, Maryland.

For the next three hours, until lights-out, we listened with fascination as the program was repeatedly interrupted by news flashes which eventually included on the scene "live" reports with audio of the most amazing account of destruction, mayhem, gun fire, cannon shots, burning buildings, Army mobilization and an unknown "Beast from the Sea", roaring in the background.

image of WVTR Listener QSL card [back]

WVTR Listener QSL card [back]
© Eugene Allen Collection, CPRV, Maryland.

The first interuption occured as I said about 7:00PM with a report that some fishing boats were missing at sea, but near the coast, off a small fishing village south of Yokosuka on the western shore of Tokyo Bay.

A short time later a report of a village destroyed in that area was given. Followed by phoned in reports from eye witnesses claiming to have seen a huge "sea monster" moving inland and north up the coast.

So, with brief moments of music interrupted by news breaks, we were informed of a relentless beast, bent on destruction, moving north, up the coast toward Tokyo. With, eventually, Army Units called to the scene where they cornered the beast. Which they then proceeded to attack with cannon fire, rifles being inneffective.

image of Ken Harriman

Ken Harriman and WVTR Program Board
© Ken Harriman Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

The report which continued at a frantic pace, included harrowing rescues and escapes, remote radio links, movement of Heavy Weapons and Tanks and all of the stuff of which the truly epic stories are made. Accompanied by the terrifying screams, roars and shrieks of both the beast and the panic stricken populace. As well as the gun fire and bullhorns of the protectors.

The authors of this masterpiece made a serious mistake in all of their meticulous planning. It was reported later, by rumor, that the family of the commanding General of the Eighth Army, (General Eichleburger), was vacationing at a resort that was in the northward path of the "Monster".

image of Captain James B Teer

Captain James B Teer, CO. WVTR Tokyo
© Ken Harriman Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

It was rumored that General Eichleburger was not amused. General MacArthur was probably not amused either.

As lights-out time arrived, the "Beast" was still at large, unsubdued.

The next day we waited for a final report, to no avail. All we ever heard, by the grapevine, was that a Sergeant and a Corporal had been arrested and relieved of duty at the radio station.

We never saw a report in "Stars and Stripes", the official newspaper of the Occupation Force.

image of WVTR Staff

WVTR Staff outside Radio Tokyo building.
L to R: unknown, Ken Harriman, Paul ?, Miss Robinson, Ken Olsen, Mat Meyers.
© Ken Harriman Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

Thus the heroes of the hour, were deprived of undying fame as the inventers of "Godzilla". And the world is left with the false impression that the Japanese invented him.

As for the facts of the case:

  • The details are generally true as I have related them.
  • I know for sure that it happened and maybe there are others who remember as well.
  • I know it happened in the summer of 1947.
  • I think the radio station was called WVTR. It was the Armed Services Radio out of Tokyo, Japan in 1947.
  • This report is true to the best of my knowledge.

I have never in the intervening years heard any mention of this event. I think it deserves to be brought to light as a curiosity if nothing else.
image of WVTR St Louis Post Despatch articles

Articles from the St Louis Post Despatch. May 29 and May 31, 1947.
© Ken Harriman Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation

I remember this event quite clearly. I was stationed at WVTR in 1946 and part of 1947. Shortly after I was dischared in April of 1947, there was an article in the local newpaper with the story. One of the characters responsible was Art Bartick and his sidekick from the Records section of the station. The Officer in Charge when I left was Capt James B Teer.

By Ken Harriman, Program Director's Assistant, WVTR Tokyo

I was stationed at Yokohama in the 347 Harborcraft Company. We were in the harbor patrol group. We had a new CO at the time, although he didn`t stay long after that. He had us on standby and fully armed on all our patrol boats. He was going to send us after the monster.

By Wallace Covington

I just found your article on the Armed Forces Radio "sea monster" hoax of 1947, and remember it well. At that time, I was a member of the 720th Military Police Battalion stationed in the Nakano area of Tokyo. While the broadcast over WVTR did take place during the summer, my recollection is a bit different. As I remember, WVTR had been hyping some sort of special program dedicated to the Occupation forces but when the show aired, there was only some big-band music by Glenn Miller and others. I know the program was aired during the day, not in the evening, as our unit, complete with its armored car, was put on standby. The program was so believable that our commanding officer fell for it initially, and had the battalion put on alert. As the program progressed, there was a report that some chemical warfare unit in the Yokohama area had been mobilized to deal with the "beast," and that put up with someone in our company who had a buddy in the unit, and knew that they had already been sent stateside. Our headquarters finally confirmed the the program was merely another "invasion from Mars" type of spoof, and that fact was revealed to the listeners at the end of the broadcast. The supposed "gas attack" had finally overcome the "monster" and as it lay there breathing its last, the station said that a WVTR reporter was on the spot to let everyone hear its final gasp. There was much heavy breathing, followed by a raspy voice singing the theme song from Disney"s 1941 animated film, "The Reluctant Dragon." I thought it was all great fun, but General MacArthur an others did not... and heads rolled at WVTR.

Jack Marquardt
Tokyo, Japan


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