The Great Train Robery

by Joe Beetar (ex MN)

I served in Yokosuka between Feb. '62 and Feb. '64. The Great Train Robbery was, and is, one of the greatest Mineman sea stories ever. While there, I became aware that one of the Minemen I served with was involved. About two years ago, I became aware that another Minemen I served with was also involved. I don't remember who the third one was.

Sometime in the 50s, three Bakashima [translates to "Crazy Island" (aka Azuma Island)] sailors went on liberty to either Tokyo or Yokohama. Tokyo was about one hour from Yokosuka and Yokohama was about half that. The train station was about a ten-minute walk from the main gate.

Thoroughly inebriated, our three "Sailors of the Year" boarded a train back to Yokosuka. Whether they boarded in Tokyo or Yokohama, they decided to take over the train in Yokohama. The motorman may have gone to take a leak (I'm not sure) and they proceeded to occupy his compartment and hijack the train.

There were other passengers aboard - most of whom were Japanese Nationals. These guys blew through every station between Yokohama and Yokosuka. But they were quasi-smart. There were contingents of Japanese policemen and Shore Patrol waiting for them at the Yokosuka station - the last stop on that line. Anticipating just such a maneuver, our guys stopped the train of terrified Japanese about a quarter-mile from the station and hopped off. They then ran (the back way) to the base. Miraculously, there were no accidents or arrests.