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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps
(1971)

 
Last Letter of Ensign Takashi Sōma to His Mother

At 2330 on June 21, 1945, Ensign Takashi Sōma took off from Ibusuki Air Base as observer in a two-man Type 0 Observation Seaplane (Allied code name of Pete) carrying a 250-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 12th Air Flotilla Two-Seat Reconnaissance Seaplane Squadron from Amakusa Naval Air Group in Kumamoto Prefecture. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 24. He was from Niigata Prefecture, attended Keiō Gijuku University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Mother,

I was able to read your postcard. I made a sortie to attack and destroy the enemy at Okinawa, so I left with a friend a lock of my hair, my last letter, and other items. I gave nearly all of my belongings to other persons and departed. Actually I am slightly troubled, since I returned alive due to various circumstances.

Disclosing all of my feelings to you and Momoe, until just before the sortie I lived calmly while singing songs and reading waka poems and putting them aside again and again.

When the moon comes out, please pray for me at the end of the southern sea. I am thinking that in the not-too-distant future the day will come to accomplish my goal. My future life is a godsend.

With full moon tonight a young warrior will launch attack
To scatter in pieces a large enemy ship with hissatsu (certain-death) taiatari (body-crashing) attack
Live bravely as should live, fall courageously as should die
Warrior who earnestly pursues true way

This is how my heart has been until now. At the same time I am living richly absorbed in taking delight in elegant cultural pursuits.

The fiancée of a friend in the same room came a long distance to Amakusa. It is a beautiful and sweet love. Admiring these two persons, I send you a poem. The woman is in Hondo Town about four kilometers from our unit.

Love going from and returning to Hondo, young couple in light of moon
Friend happily goes quickly after figure
In woods of local Shintō deity there is person who waits

"These friends also are not that different from me. They have lives where tomorrow cannot be known."

I, the one person who was left behind, with a feeling that I have become a respectable poet, stroll idly along a mountain valley path surrounded by much wheat. Masterful  things of nature and profound things are abundant though silent. One by one I am touched by the strings of my life, and joyful things are boundless. At the cliffs are mountain azaleas, and on the fences are red roses.

Time when mountain azaleas and deep crimson roses bloom
Hoping there is person thinking of me
Red flowers in sea of green with white clouds
Ghosts wipe off sweat until Hondo
Time when left Amakusa in May was clear
Living on, returned to base in rainy season
Whether Ensign Sōma dies or lives
Sea at Amakusa gently rolling

I pass every day in such a way. There have also been times when surrounded by village children we sing together. Whether elementary school, middle school, or high school, I feel like I want to become a teacher at any level.

Recently there was an expert palm reader among the troops. I showed my palm, and he said, "Whichever way you go, even if that is not what you like very much, since you are a person who can do things more than the average person, you will succeed in whatever job you do." I also was thinking the same, but when I was selected I could not help but grieve for the Imperial Navy [1]. He said that a person does three times when risking once. He said that my bride will be excellent.

He said that if it were peacetime, I would have had an extremely long life. Recently both my body and spirit have tended to become resolute. I am filled with laughter when I think that in the past there was time when I could worry about trial things.

Since I was not able to send to persons in Chiba a photo taken on the day of my sortie and a photo in my flight suit taken in Shikoku, I had duplicates made of the ones that I had and sent them. The original photos were larger, and I think that they show me best up to now as I really am, but it is disappointing that the duplicates were small and dark.

When you develop the photo of Masaru, please send it to me. When I spoke to the commander about Older Brother Osamu, he said that he is probably fighting shut up in the mountains in the Philippines. I feel like he will return unexpectedly. It is best to think that he is still active in good health until the end.

He said that there are persons who return after not being heard from for more than a year, so it is best to make inquiries properly to his unit about his monthly salary and other matters. You must surely know the regulations and make requests not only to the Ministry of the Navy but also at government offices wherever they may be located.

Recently there have been letters from persons like one named Tamiko Tanaka in Awaji. Besides hers I received ones from two or three persons who I did not know at all. I replied to them all at once.

Today there was a letter also from a small child named Chieko Tsuneishi who I know. All of them truly are dear people. I am filled with appreciation. When I lived longer, I want to see my relatives. I, who possess worldly desires and passions, am a distressed person.

I think that it would be a pleasure if Grandmother could communicate directly by letter, but this is impossible. If photos are taken, please send them.

Give my regards to Uncle and Aunt Takahashi and to Noriko. Please tell them to certainly not lose their cheerfulness.

I really appreciate the environment that I was blessed with.

Takashi


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
July 2019

The letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 189-93). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 189) and Osuo (2005, 240).

Note

1. The editor has a comment that this means that he thought that his skills may fall short.

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.