Continuation • Ah, Cherry
Blossoms of Same Class (1995)
Last Letter of Ensign Hiroshi Nemoto
At 0519 on May 11, 1945, Ensign Hiroshi Nemoto took off
from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack
off Okinawa at the age of 23. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps 6th Shōwa Squadron from Yatabe Naval Air Group in Ibaraki
Prefecture. He was from Ibaraki Prefecture, attended Chūō University in Tōkyō to study
law, 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:
When admiring Mount Kirishima above the clouds and viewing Sakurajima
from Ariake Bay, I arrived at a naval base at the tip of Kyūshū during the
afternoon of April 12. During the day or night my special attack squadron
will make a sortie.
This day there was also a ceremony to name the Yatabe Air Group special
attack units. I was delayed since my plane had mechanical problems. Even
though I held back tears of regret, on the next morning on the 13th, I
received a sake cup as an Imperial gift and shed tears of gratitude to die
honorably before the Emperor.
I am really in high spirits with the special attack unit that will cover
the Okinawan area to sink enemy ships. I also from now will live for an
eternal cause. When I look back over the 23 years since I was born, you
showed kindness by raising me with love and you troubled yourselves for my
benefit to the present. However, up to today I have not repaid anything to
you, so please forgive me for my lack of filial piety. However, now I will
accomplish an important mission to defend the country by attacking the enemy
task force at a single blow and breaking my five-foot body to pieces. Please imagine my smiling face.
I pray that everyone will be in good health. Sakiko, please take care of
our parents on my behalf and raise our younger sisters excellently. Makoto,
go to the battlefront after me.
April 13, 1945
While I am waiting for the order for a general attack, the cherry
blossoms are in full bloom, and I will complete my hasty last writing. All the best to you.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Kaigun Hikō (1995, 74-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1995, 74) and Osuo (2005, 204).
Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (Navy Flight
Reserve Students 14th Class Association), ed. 1995. Zoku
• Ā dōki no sakura (Continuation
• Ah, cherry blossoms of same class). Tōkyō:
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.