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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps
(1971)

 
Last Letter of Ensign Yoshikage Hatabu to His Family

Sometime between 1535 and 1605 on April 28, 1945, Ensign Yoshikage Hatabu took off from Kushira Air Base as navigator/observer in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying a 800-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Hachiman [1] Shinchū Squadron from Usa Air Group. He was from Fukuoka Prefecture, attended Kyōto Imperial University, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter to his family:

Now I depart. I have no regrets. Father, Mother, Older Brother, and Older Sister, I hope for your happiness.

I will go without my military uniform. Since there is a brand-new one in the wicker suitcase, please take that for the family and send the old one to Toshiko's place. I ask that you certainly do this. When you find out about my death in battle, I think that it is fine if you call the family together one time and pass around my last letter and other things. Grandmother, Ryōchi, and Kazuko, everyone please take care. Japan certainly will win. I am glad that I have obtained a place to die for the country's prosperity.

With a refreshed spirit like the sky, a little while remains for me to feel this way. Farewell.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 169-70). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 169) and Osuo (2005, 219).

Note

1. Hachiman is the Japanese god of military power. Usa City in Ōita Prefecture has the first Hachiman Shrine, which was established in the early 8th century.

Sources Cited

Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.