2 WWII Gun Caches Make Headlines A World Apart

Japanese work crews find 100s of WWII era firearms beneath school; safe of M1 Garand rifles stolen from VFW post in Ohio.

A WWII era Japanese Type 11 Light Machine Gun.
A WWII era Japanese Type 11 Light Machine Gun was part of the cache discovered beneath a school.Nishitokyo Municipal Government

He giveth and he taketh away: on one side of the globe in recent days, a cache of WWII-era weapons was unearthed from beneath a school in Japan. Meanwhile, a few thousand miles away in Ohio, a safe containing vintage M1 rifles was stolen in a most unusual manner.

An estimated 1,400 firearms, 1,200 edged weapons, and eight practice grenades were recently uncovered by construction crews at the Tanashi Elementary School in Japan. The Nishitokyo Municipal Government reports that the vintage weapons started to be uncovered when workers began drilling on July 27.

A pile of deteriorating Arisaka rifles
A pile of deteriorating Arisaka rifles. This was the Japanese military bolt action rifle that was in production from 1897 to 1945.Nishitokyo Municipal Government

The find included Type 11 and Type 96 light machine guns, Type 3 heavy machine guns, Arisaka rifles, grenade launchers, and bayonets.

The Mainichi newspaper reports that bullets and cannonballs were also found in the soil three to seven feet below the school. They note that "unexploded bombs and weapons are still sometimes found, even in residential areas. But it is rare for weapons used by the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Army to be recovered in such a large quantity at one time."

piles of guns
The piles of guns discovered beneath the school were stored with swords, bayonets, grenade launchers, and dummy grenades.Nishitokyo Municipal Government

In Ohio, a safe full of vintage M1 Garand rifles was taken from VFW Post 7200 in Farmington Township on Saturday night, WKBN27 reports in the video above. The thieves didn’t do any digging, but instead they opted to break through the cinder block wall to remove three safes containing the rifles plus thousands of dollars in cash.

Bob Anspach, the post’s quartermaster, called the theft “very unexpected,” and “devastating.”

"The gun safe was here. It contained nine World War II-era M1 Garands," Anspach says. The rifles are property of the U.S Army and eight of them are set up to fire blanks for ceremonies that the VFW participates in.

Police say the thieves didn't use the doors to the building, but entered and removed the safes through the hole they broke in the wall. The room they broke into did not have a motion sensor.

Anspach told [NBC 4 in Columbus](https://www.nbc4i.com/news/state-news/thief-broke-into-ohio-vfw-stole-wwii-era-rifles/13500789790, "Generally, the employees and most of the members are the only ones that had knowledge of the fact that there was no motion sensor in that room. Come through that door and there is. They didn't even attempt to come through that door."

The guns, as Army property, are on loan to the VFW post as part of the Ceremonial Rifle Program. The Civilian Marksmanship Program acts as armorers for Veterans programs such as this, servicing weapons as needed.

Guns.com reports that some 31,000 rifles are on loan to groups such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans. Organizations must follow safety and storage parameters and the Army provides blanks for use in ceremonies, such as memorials and funerals.

Anyone with information regarding the theft is asked to contact the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department at 330-675-7087.