Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Mitsuo Matsuda to His Mother
On April 27, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Mitsuo Matsuda died in a
special (suicide) attack at the age of 20 when submarine I-36 launched his
kaiten manned torpedo at a group of enemy ships off Okinawa. On April 22, 1945, submarine I-36 made a sortie from
Hikari Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi
Prefecture with six kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten
Special Attack Corps Tenmu Unit. Four of the six kaiten pilots died when
launched on April 27, but the kaiten weapons of two pilots did not function and
were unable to be launched. Submarine I-36 with the two kaiten pilots returned
to Hikari on April 30. Matsuda was from Ibaraki Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Kō Class
of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program). He received a
promotion to Ensign after his death by special attack.
He wrote the following final letter to his mother with a death poem in tanka
form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:
Before my sortie, my true feeling is that I wish that I could see you
Mother at home even for a little while. However, I am glad to go and fall
for the country as your child. If I were a mother, I would feel that my
child should be assured to be able to do his public duty.
Mother, ah Mother, I will become a spirit to protect the country. I pray
that on the horizon displayed in the periscope I will return home to see
With American fiends
Even if it sinks
Smiling I will return
In my mother's dreams
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 179). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Konada and Kataoka (2006, 221-8, 376), Matsugi (1971, 179), and Mediasion (2006,
Konada, Toshiharu, and Noriaki Kataoka. 2006. Tokkō
kaiten sen: Kaiten tokkōtai taichō no kaisō (Special attack kaiten
battles: Kaiten special attack corps leader's reminiscences). Tōkyō:
Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps).
Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.
The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten
human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.