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Kokoro no sakebi
(Cries of the heart)

 
Last Letter of Flight Chief Petty Officer Masanori Yukimatsu to His Sister

At 1200 on February 21, 1945, Flight Chief Petty Officer Masanori Yukimatsu took off from Hachijōjima Airfield as a navigator/radio operator in a Suisei Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Judy) loaded with a 500-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Mitate Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Iwo Jima at the age of 20. He was from Ōita Prefecture and was a member of the 16th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Older Sister,

Today I received your letter of advice.

Please forgive me for the great worries that I caused you and for the letter where I informed you of my fall. I write the following with details. I who today am a man among men shed tears again. When you bid farewell to me for the last time and I think of parting again from you who are so innocent, I had tears in my eyes when I as your younger brother only departed without worries. When you said to me, "please go and come back," I was not able to say anything and had only tears.

It may be asked why as a man tears are shed, but compassion does not change. As I go, more than myself, I only am concerned when I think of your future as you have not yet become independent.

You saw me off until you could no longer see me, and regrettably tears were streaming down my cheeks without embarrassment or show. As for the letter with advice that you sent and that I saw when I returned, even though there were old proverbs with good pieces of advice that were harsh to my ears, I had only tears when I thought about the past until now. However, I took to heart your words in the letter. I cannot say that these really are big things for me, but please understand well the following things that I write. There is not a single day that I do not remember our deceased mother. However, after returning to this place, I spent money on sake even to the extent of being enticed by other persons. I also enjoyed my life's youth. My will that I have had until now has not been destroyed, but today's rosy cheeks in the evening will become white bones. When I went out, I was foolish to try to drink sake and to restore greatly my energy. Now when I think about it, sake destroys people. However, now that I am within ten hours of leaving the nest, without being ambiguous after the bird has left, I want to leave the nest squaring accounts once and for all. About 50 yen out of the 250 yen were sake expenses. When I was a trainee with the experiences of having paid, I realized that I needed money when I went out, and it has been 50 yen at the time of leaving the nest. What I can write for me and for a person who afterward has enjoyed his youth may appear to be foolish to you, but I knew this woman who at my sortie cut her little finger and made a hachimaki (headband) with writing in blood for me. After remembering my first love, I have not had relations with another woman. I spent a whole night listening to the shamisen [1] as the autumn breeze blew. Also, I was thinking fondly about our deceased mother. For the fun of it, I fell into a muddy field. It is strange for me to be writing about myself, but I think that you were very sympathetic. However, without seeing even the person who I miss, today I will devote myself entirely to complete destruction. Nevertheless, in my heart there remain old wounds. It was an act of debauchery, but I am focused after I received a hachimaki marked in blood. Please forgive me. I will go into battle with today's letter from you close to me. I am man who promises to not do again something like what I did. I pray for everyone's health.

I will not set foot again in our hometown. Please tell the reason to Father. Refreshed, I will make a jibaku (self-destruct) attack on an enemy aircraft carrier. Farewell.

I wrote the above words with blood from my left little finger. It indicates that a man's death is expected. Take care. Farewell.

Flight Chief Petty Officer Masanori Yukimatsu

February 21, 1945
8:23:51 p.m.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
October 2020

The letter comes from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (2003, 17). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (2003, 17) and Osuo (2005, 226).

Note

1. A shamisen is a three-stringed traditional Japanese musical instrument.

Sources Cited

Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (Kanoya Air Base Museum Coordinating Committee). 2003. Kokoro no sakebi (Cries of the heart). Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture: Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai.

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