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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps
(1971)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Masahiro Nishimoto

Sometime between 1215 and 1224 on April 11, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Masahiro Nishimoto took off from Kanoya Air Base in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack south of Kikaijima at the age of 21. He was a member of the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 5th Kenmu Squadron from the 721st Naval Air Group. He was from Kumamoto Prefecture and was a member of the 11th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) at the end:

My short sword was given to me by his Excellency Navy Admiral Soemu Toyoda, Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet. I leave this short sword as the Commander-in-Chief said that he hoped that we would carry it with us until the end. My hope will be fulfilled if it will contribute to hearts that will vow loyalty among my younger brothers and descendants not yet seen. I intended to make a box to put the short sword inside, but it is as was without my making the box as expected. After you make one, please treasure it.

You can imagine my valiant figure and the dignity of my serene feeling at the morning line-up for the sortie as I wore a Jinrai hachimaki (Thunder Gods headband) on my head and gripped tightly the short sword in my left hand.

Take care of yourselves.

Masahiro

A luxury, thinking of hereafter rather than flowers
I go while seeing again those cherry blossoms


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
August 2018

The letter and poem come from Matsugi (1971, 120-1). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 120) and Osuo (2005, 195).

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.