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Last letters of youth: Writings
of "Yokaren" war dead
(1968)

 
Last Letter of Flight Chief Petty Officer Shinzō Tabata to his Father

At 1339 on April 6, 1945, Flight Chief Petty Officer Shinzō Tabata took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 20. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Shinken Squadron from Ōmura Naval Air Group. He was from Kanagawa Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

Tabata wrote the following final letter:

Dear Father,

Finally I will do it. Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Hirade from Kawasaki [1] is my wingman. Our spirits are one as persons from the same prefecture. Ah, it is truly joyful to make a sortie to the front line.

I pray for the health of you and everyone.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 122-3). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 122) and Osuo (2005, 201).

Note

1. Kawasaki is a city in Tabata's home prefecture of Kanagawa. Osuo (2005, 201) indicates that Kōji Hirade also died in a special attack on April 6, 1945, but his sortie time was 1610, about two and a half hours after Tabata's.

Sources Cited

Mainichi Shinbunsha, ed. 1968. Seishun on isho: "Yokaren" senbotsusha no shuki (Last letters of youth: Writings of "Yokaren" war dead). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.