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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps
(1971)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Toshimune Hattori to His Mother

At 0645 on April 16, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Toshimune Hattori took off from Kushira Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19. He was from the 701st Naval Air Group and was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit Ten'ō Squadron. He flew as radio operator/gunner in a Tenzan carrier attack bomber (Allied code name of Jill) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was from Mie Prefecture and was a member of the 12th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Mother,

At this time I was selected, and tomorrow I as a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Ten'ō Squadron will participate in an attack where I will not return.

There is nothing that surpasses this honor for a man by being able to participate in the glorious attack. In the two years that passed quickly since I joined the Naval Air Corps, I have been training until today and have given thought solely as to how we can die honorably and how we can fall splendidly as a shield for the Emperor. I appreciate that fortunately I have found a glorious place to die usefully that is the best for a man.

When I reflect back, for twenty years since I was born into the current world, I was raised with just the loving hands of my parents, and today I am in the Navy. I cannot help but be very, very regretful for going to die without having shown any filial piety at all as a son during that period of time. I apologize over and over again for this lack of filial piety. However, I will make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack against an enemy ship together with my plane carrying a bomb, and I will fall shattering as a jewel. With this battle result even though it is only a ten-thousandth of my lack of filial piety until now, if you forgive me, there is nothing else that will surpass my joy.

Although I am thinking about when I fall tomorrow, there are not any strong feelings about it. What comes to mind are my happenings from my youth until today, and there are particularly deep emotions about them.

There were events at Taura, Yokosuka, Hiratsuka, and Ōizumi. There was the story you told often about one day when I was very young and saw planes flying in the sky. While you were bathing me in the washbasin, I was surprised by their noise and made a large "bump" on my head. Even though now it has come about that I will try to pierce an enemy ship with my plane, for me it will be amusing. There are still many stories that I remember.

When you hear about my death in battle, please do not cry and praise me that I died splendidly so that I do not get discouraged at all. Also, please have Tadahiro [1] and Setsuko work hard without getting discouraged and let them push forward strongly on their own paths to advance.

Please send my warmest regards from you to Father who is on the battlefield. I was not able to send any other letter.

Also, since there was time en route to my duty, I visited the home of Uncle Okuno in Ōsaka. Aunt was on the way to Nabari [2], so regrettably I was not able to see her. However, Uncle made me exceedingly glad.

From you please give him my kindest regards.

As for my younger brother Tadahiro's future, please decide after consulting carefully with Uncle Owari and Uncle Okuno. The matter of Tadahiro is my only regret. Please decide on the best path for him. I ask this of you.

Like a cherry blossom that falls, I will fall splendidly into an enemy ship and shatter as a jewel. If Father hears the circumstances of my fall, I am assured that he certainly will gladly say, "Toshimune, you did well."

Mother, Father, Tadahiro, and Setsuko, at the same time that I will be praying from a corner of the skies that you may live happily forever and ever in good health, I will be watching over everyone's shining future. Now I will depart.

Praying for happiness for the family's future, I will stop writing. Thank you forever.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 104-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 104) and Osuo (2005, 211).

Notes

1. There are other pronunciations besides Tadahiro for the male given name of 恭宗. It is not known what is the correct pronunciation for the name of Toshimune Hattori's younger brother, so Tadahiro has been selected arbitrarily.

2. Nabari is a city in Hattori's home prefecture of Mie.

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.