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I will die in a special attack:
Yokaren writings
(1973)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Masamitsu Takahashi

Sometime between 0620 and 0625 on April 16, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Masamitsu Takahashi took off from Kushira Air Base as radio operator/gunner in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying a 800-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 20. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Kōka Squadron from Hyakurihara Naval Air Group in Ibaraki Prefecture. He was from Aichi Prefecture and was a member of the 12th 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 lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables):

At last the day that had to come has come. Tomorrow at noon I will crash dive in an attack.

To Grandmother first and everyone, be in high spirits.

My hair grew until now.

Please give my regards to Father.

Shinshū [1] is indestructible, and heaven and earth are eternal.

In pressing crisis
Before Hachiman Shrine
I make vow
Emperor and country
Kamikaze will protect

Waki Unit Usa Hachiman Gokō [2] 1st to board (It's true)


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
November 2018

The letter and poem come from Orihara (1973, 309-10). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Orihara (1973, 309) and Osuo (2005, 223).

Notes

1. Shinshū refers to Japan and literally means "divine land."

2. Two Type 97 Carrier Attack Bombers from the 3rd Hachiman Gokō Squadron from Usa Naval Air Group took off from Kushira at the same time as four Type 97 Carrier Attack Bombers of the Kōka Squadron from Hyakurihara Naval Air Group (Osuo 2005, 218, 223), so this most likely explains the reference to "Waki Unit Usa Hachiman Gokō."

Sources Cited

Orihara, Noboru, comp. 1973. Ware tokkō ni shisu: Yokaren no ikō (I will die in a special attack: Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) writings). Tōkyō: Keizai Ōraisha.

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