Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Saburō Chiba to His Parents
On May 27, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Saburō Chiba died in a
special (suicide) attack at the
age of 19 when submarine I-367, which was carrying five kaiten manned
torpedoes, launched his kaiten east of Okinawa. Only two of the submarine's five kaiten
could be launched, since three had mechanical problems. On May 5, 1945, submarine I-367 made a sortie from
Ōtsushima Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi
Prefecture with five kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten
Special Attack Corps Shinbu Unit. Chiba was from Iwate Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Kō Class
of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program). He received a
promotion to Ensign after his death by special attack.
He wrote the following final letter to his parents:
When I reflect on the honor that today there is for me to offer my life
for the Empire, with deep emotion it is truly my long-cherished desire to repay with my death the great
kindness of the Emperor, Grandparents, Father, and Mother.
In my mind there is only annihilation in an attack.
Stay in good health.
May 2, 1945
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Kojima
(2004, 16). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(2004, 16), Konada and Kataoka (2006, 235-48, 375), and Mediasion (2006, 60-1, 84).
Kojima, Keizō, ed. 2004. Kaigun hikō yoka renshūsei isho
• iei • ikōshū (1) (Last letters, poems, and
writings of Navy Preparatory Flight Trainees (1)). Tōkyō: Unabarakai.
Konada, Toshiharu, and Noriaki Kataoka. 2006. Tokkō
kaiten sen: Kaiten tokkōtai taichō no kaisō (Special attack kaiten
battles: Kaiten special attack corps leader's reminiscences). Tōkyō:
The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten
human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.