The Japanese government cut short the studies of university students in
September 1943, and many volunteered to join the greatly expanded 13th Class of
Navy Flight Reserve Students. About one third of the 13th Class died in battle
with 449 of them losing their lives in special (suicide) attacks.
Jūrakuji Temple (meaning Temple of Ten Joys) in Tokushima Prefecture is one
of the temples on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage of Shikoku Island. The temple has a
Fudo Myoo statue that stands about 7 meters tall in order to remember the war
dead of the 13th Class of Flight Reserve Students. Fudo Myoo, meaning immutable one, is the Buddhist god of
fire usually depicted with a sword in his right hand and a rope in his left
The back of the monument, erected on September 23, 1987, has engraved the following history of the Flight
Reserve Students 13th Class:
In the summer of the school year of 1943, when the intensity of Japan's
future war effort was already made clear, as one strategy there was a plan
for a large increase in Flight Reserve Students (Hikoka Yobi Gakusei). An
appeal was made to expected September graduates of universities and
technical colleges in a shortened school year.
The 5,000 Flight Reserve Students of the 13th Class were selected from over
50,000 applicants and entered Naval Air Groups in the middle of September.
They received intensive training even though both time and gasoline were
short. In July 1944, the 13th Class completed their flight training and went
in high spirits to their assignments in various air groups.
They were soon sent out to battlefields. The 13th Class made strenuous
efforts and took the lead in the following critical air battles: off coast
of Taiwan, Philippines, Ulithi, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and in and around the
mainland. 1,609 men gave their lives, and among these are counted 449 who
died in battle during special attacks carried out primarily in squadrons
with small-sized aircraft. Suddenly the course of history came to a
standstill. For survivors who witnessed the end of the war, the great sorrow
for their comrades who died in battle is never-ending. During the period
when we have spent many years living in today's peaceful Japan, that feeling
has deepened even more. We erect here a Fudo Myoo for the pacification of their
spirits, and we pray that the spirits of our comrades who died in battle may
rest in eternal peace.
Jūrakuji Temple was located in Donari Town until 2005 when it merged with
three other towns to become Awa City.
The following last letters, diary entries, and other writings were written by
Navy Flight Reserve Students in the 13th Class who died in special attacks: