The following events took place during the second Mongol invasion of Japan in the Battle of Hakata Bay. The Mongols had already been routed to their ships and were fleeing, so the Japanese had to use boats to take the the fight to the Mongols and raid their ships.
Having been rewarded for doing very little during the first invasion [Takezaki] Suenaga was to be found on the shore of Hakata in 1281, ready to make a name for himself. Yet once again his aggressive personal stance did not endear him to his comrades.
Suenaga quickly discovered that the Mongols had not succeeded in landing on the beaches, so that the only way in which heads were to be taken and rewards were to be garnered was by taking the fight to the Mongol ships or against the tiny beachhead on Shiga Island. This, of course, was already being done by hundreds of eager samurai by the time Suenaga arrived to join them and gain his own 15 minutes of fame, and it is extremely comical to read Suenaga's own account of his difficulty in obtaining a place on one of the boats that set off to attack the Mongol ships.
Unlike Kusano Jiro and Kawano Michiari, Takezaki Suenaga had not come prepared. Most of the makeshift assault craft were already filled by the samurai who had placed themselves under the jurisdiction of officers, and none was willing to give up his place to someone of Suenaga’s assertive personality, arrogant individualism and questionable reputation. Time and again Suenaga tried to negotiate for a place while successive boats that were already heavily laden set off without him, and he had almost given up hope when he spotted a boat bearing the flag of Adachi Yasumori.
Suenaga commandeered a messenger boat to row him out to Adachi’s boat, where he proclaimed that he had been sent by the shugo [military commander] and had been ordered to get on to the next available boat. No one on board believed this falsehood. The occupants tried to prevent him from boarding so Suenaga jumped on to Adachi’s boat, at which several men on board tried to throw him back. It was only when he was officially ordered to leave that Suenaga reluctantly returned to the messenger boat.
Suenaga then spotted another likely vessel and made his oarsman draw alongside. Desperate for transport, Suenaga first claimed that he was on a secret mission from the shugo, hence his solitary role, and then that he was in fact the deputy shugo. The boat in question was already full, but the commander, who was eager to get into battle and did not want to be delayed through arguing with Suenaga, allowed him to clamber on board. There was, however, no room for his retainers to accompany him, but with the remark he had used during the first invasion that ‘the way of the bow and arrow is to do what is worthy of reward’, he cheerfully abandoned them.
A few moments later he realized that he had also abandoned his helmet, so he picked up a pair of discarded shin guards and tied them round his head to afford temporary protection. [...] Just then he saw a young samurai who had removed his helmet. Suenaga haughtily ordered him to hand it over, but the man refused, saying that his wife and children would be sorry for ever if he was killed having gone into battle without a helmet. Suenaga persisted, but the man then told him that he had made an oath that only he or his commander would wear that particular helmet, so Suenaga abandoned the struggle and threw away some of his arrows to lighten the weight upon him.
The Mongol Invasion Scrolls continue Suenaga’s narrative by means of a vivid picture. While the boatman holds his vessel steady a footsoldier steadies it against the Mongol ship by digging the claws on the end of his kumade [rake-like polearm] into the gunwales. Three brothers from the Oyano family are clambering on board at the stern and taking on the Mongol spearman with their swords.
Takezaki Suenaga, however, is already in the bows, where he is cutting the head off a Mongol. A nice point of detail is provided by the sight of his makeshift shin-guard helmet falling from his head onto the deck.
Turnbull, Stephen: The Mongol Invasions of Japan 1274 and 1281. (2010) p. 63ff