Last letters of youth: Writings
of "Yokaren" war dead (1968)
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Gensaburō Matsumoto to His Parents
At 0642 on April 16, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Gensaburō Matsumoto took off
from Kushira Air Base as radio operator/gunner in a Tenzan carrier attack bomber (Allied code name of
Jill) carrying an 800-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa
at the age of 18. He was a member
of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit Ten'ō Squadron. He was from
Fukushima Prefecture and was a member of the 12th Kō Class
of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).
Matsumoto wrote the following final letter:
Dear Father and Mother,
Finally I will make a sortie. Please forgive me for my lack of filial
piety up to now.
When this letter arrives, I will be fighting admirably. This probably
will be my last letter. I am writing this as now I am very busy.
In my prior letter I told you what was in my heart.
Everyone, please be well. I pray for divine assistance for this.
I am determined to fight admirably and die. When you receive
notification of my death in battle, please say "well done" and praise me.
The crews are switched for the planes. The crewmen already have been
aligned. I am working hard in high spirits.
Give my regards to everyone. Excuse me for the sloppy writing.
March 28, 1945, 1730
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha
(1968, 129). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1968, 129), Osuo (2005, 211), and Uchida (2008, 11).
The names of Gensaburō Matsumoto and the other two crewmen in his Tenzan
carrier attack bomber did not show up in the official notices of special attack
deaths. However, Uchida (2008, 11) explains that these three names should have
been included in the listing of special attack deaths of Kikusui Unit Ten'ō Squadron
members on April 16, 1945.
Mainichi Shinbunsha, ed. 1968. Seishun on isho: "Yokaren"
senbotsusha no shuki (Last letters of youth: Writings of "Yokaren" war
dead). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
Uchida, Tarō. 2008. "Kaigun Kushira kichi shutsugeki
senbotsusha" (Kushira naval base sortie war dead). Tokkō (Special
Attacks) 2008, no. 74 (February): 10-2. <http://www.tokkotai.or.jp/files/kikanshi/tokko_pdf/tokko_74.pdf>
(May 17, 2018).