Last Letter of First Lieutenant Toru Shinomiya to His Mother and Older Brother
On April 29, 1945, First Lieutenant Toru Shinomiya
took off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack
west of Okinawa at the age of 22. He was Squadron Leader of the 19th Shinbu
Special Attack Squadron. He piloted an Army Hayabusa
Type 1 Fighter (Allied code name of Oscar). After his death in a special
attack, he received a two-rank promotion to Major. He grew up in Kumamoto
Prefecture and graduated in the 56th Class of the Army Air Academy.
He wrote the following final letter. The letter's end has a haiku
(poem with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern).
Dear Mother and Older Brother,
I make a sortie now. I am truly in high spirits. I remember excursions during
elementary school. Just like then I am waiting as my heart pounds with
excitement wondering what sort of prey there will be.
All men here are truly pure-hearted without the slightest doubt about
their resolve and determination.
In the morning when I went to elementary school, I remember I would say
when I left, "I am going." I am truly filled with happiness. Well, "I am
Hope you enjoy good health.
Encouraged by the moonlight
From the eternal heavens
Going to certain success
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō
Kai (2005, 120, 213) and Osuo (2005, 195).
On December 3, 1944, 86 B-29 Superfortress bombers took off from Saipan in
order to bomb Tōkyō. First Lieutenant Toru Shinomiya, who led a ramming unit
based at Chōfu Airfield, took off at 1245 in a Hien Type 3 Fighter
(Allied code name of Tony). Shinomiya rammed a B-29 and was able to land with a
damaged wing. He received a medal of honor (bukōshō) for his exceptional
valor in the attack, and his plane with a damaged wing was displayed at a Tōkyō
department store (see below).
First Lieutenant Toru Shinomiya's plane with
damaged left wing displayed at Matsuya Department Store
in Ginza District of Tōkyō until end of January 1945
Ramming unit of 244th Sentai led by First Lieutenant
Toru Shinomiya (far left) (November 1944)
The photographs on this page and the information on Shinomiya's
ramming attack on a B-29 bomber come from Takaki and Sakaida (2001, 34-6, 38,
42, 49, 52, 121-2).
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.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
Takaki, Koji, and Henry Sakaida. 2001. B-29 Hunters of the
JAAF. Botley, UK: Osprey Publishing.