Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return (1983)
Last Letter of Corporal Hitoshi Shima to His Parents
On May 11, 1945, Corporal Hitoshi Shima took off from Chiran Air Base and
died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of
19. He was a member of the 51st Shinbu Special
Attack Squadron and piloted an Army Hayabusa Type 1 Fighter (Allied
code name of Oscar). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He
Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Class of the Army's Youth Pilot
He wrote the following final letter to his parents:
My greatest joy is to have been born a citizen of the Empire of Japan. As
to how I should repay your kindness in raising me until now, I will fall as
an Imperial soldier, as a member in the glorious Special Attack Corps, and
as a shield in the skies. There is nothing that surpasses this as the
long-cherished desire of a young man.
Your encouragement strengthened and made me a man. I am grateful that it
will be worthwhile. I promise hissatsu hitchin (certain death, sure
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Kitagawa (1983, 207). The biographical information in
the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 172),
Kitagawa (1983, 207), and Osuo (2005, 198). The photograph at bottom comes from
Osuo (2005, 114).
Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho
shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters
of youth that would not return) (Kitagawa 1983) is a book of last letters written by the Navy's Kamikaze
Special Attack Corps members. However, Kitagawa does include also a few letters
written by Army Special Attack Corps members such as this one by Shima.
Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack
Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu
kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special
Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima
Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.
Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho
shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps:
Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
51st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron.
Corporal Hitoshi Shima standing at right end in back row.