Last letters, poems, and
writings of Navy Preparatory
Flight Trainees (2) (2006)
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Manabu Matsumoto to His Parents
At 0525 on May 11, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Manabu Matsumoto took
off from Miyazaki Air Base as pilot of a three-man Ginga bomber (Allied code
name of Frances) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze
Special Attack Corps 9th Ginga Squadron from the 406th Attack Hikōtai of the
762nd Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of
19. He was from Ehime 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 to his parents with a death poem in tanka
form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:
I earnestly ask that you please forgive the lack of filial piety during
I am glad to be able to participate and am determined that I in high
spirits will make a crash dive.
At this time of tribulations for the country, I pray that you take good
care of yourselves and are able to make a livelihood.
I request that you please give my warmest regards and say thanks to
persons who showed me kindness during my lifetime.
I pray to the gods and Buddha for the prosperity of the Empire of Japan.
By whose hand
Was it broken off
A young cherry blossom?
As humble shield
Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and poem come from Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai
(2006, 37). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Osuo (2005, 237) and Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai (Unabarakai Editing
Committee). 2006. Kaigun hikō yoka renshūsei
isho • iei • ikōshū (2) (Last letters, poems,
and writings of Navy Preparatory Flight Trainees (2)). Tōkyō: