Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Kanji Eda to His Parents
On June 6, 1945, Second Lieutenant Kanji Eda took off from Chiran Army Air
Base as a member of the 165th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a
special attack west of Okinawa at the age of 22. He piloted a Hien Type 3
Fighter (Allied code name of Tony). After his death in a special attack, he
received a two-rank promotion to Captain. He was from Toyama Prefecture,
attended Waseda University in Tōkyō, and become a member of the 2nd Class of the
Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training Program.
Eda wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form
(31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables):
Dear Father and Mother,
Thank you for many things. There is nothing in particular to say, only
that I am grateful and happy. Until the end I will not forget your kindness.
All of my sisters, finally I truly give you my farewell.
Even now I am ranting to everyone like usual.
For me now only the contents of my writings have my opinions on life and
I deeply feel joy to die for the country. I remember one by one the
persons who cared for me during my life in this world. There is not time.
I just thank you from my heart.
In spring breeze
Cherry trees bloomed
Period to bloom no more
Only for Emperor
Glad to fall
Please give my best regards to the Tsugawa, Sakamoto, and Iwanaga
Smiling, now I go to bed. Good night.
June 3, 2300 hours
He wrote the following just before he made his final sortie from Chiran Air
In such beautiful greenery, it seems that I forget even that today now I go
Chiran in June, with the deep blue sky and white clouds dreamily floating
while the cicadas already are chirping, gives me the impression of summer.
While waiting for an operation order:
The voices of the small birds seem happy. "Next time I also will be a
small bird." Sugimoto , who is lying on the grass as the sun is shining, is saying
things like this. Do not laugh.
Today at 1335 I finally will take off from Chiran.
My dear homeland. Farewell.
I will send as a memento the fountain pen that I used.
Translated by Bill Gordon
Last letter - August 2018
Writing on day of sortie -
The last letter comes from Yasukuni (2000, 81-2), and the writing on the day
of the sortie comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 145). The biographical information
in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō
Kai (2005, 145, 179) and Osuo (2005, 206).
1. Akira Sugimoto was also a Second Lieutenant in
the 165th Shinbu Squadron. He died also in a special attack on June 6, 1945.
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.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 2000. Eirei
no koto no ha (6) (Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 6).
Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.