Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return (1983)
Last Letter of Corporal Ryōichi Toyoda to His Mother
On May 11, 1945, Corporal Ryōichi Toyoda took
off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of
20. 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 mother:
I am deeply ashamed that I advanced toward my own aspirations without
even having considered sufficiently your experience. While dreaming about
what is expected to occur today, I am working hard as normal.
Our classmates, one and two at a time, have gone and fallen being the
first of the unit at Yasukuni . I was
determined to be a flower that has bloomed in order to fall, but my turn has
not come. It is regrettable, and it can't be helped. Finally my aspiration
has been realized, and I have received an Imperial command for the Special
Attack Corps. At last the sortie is close at hand, and I will be able to
spend a pleasant evening with my comrades.
Mother, please be satisfied. I will certainly do it. Excuse me for
causing you various worries. Farewell.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Kitagawa (1983, 205-6). The biographical information in
the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 206),
Kitagawa (1983, 205), 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 Toyoda.
1. Yasukuni Shrine in Tōkyō is the place of
enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.
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 Ryōichi Toyoda sitting second from right in front row.