Letters of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Norihide Uenishi to His Family
On August 11, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Norihide Uenishi died at the age of
18 when submarine I-366, which was carrying five kaiten manned torpedoes,
launched his kaiten at an enemy convoy about 500 nautical miles north of the
Palau Islands. The convoy was about ten kilometers away from the submarine, and
three of the five kaiten weapons launched successfully. Submarine crewmen heard
three explosions, which the captain concluded were from hits on enemy ships, but
American records do not indicate any hits. On August 1, 1945, submarine I-366 had made a sortie from
Hikari Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi
Prefecture with five kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten
Special Attack Corps Tamon Unit. Uenishi was from Fukuoka Prefecture and was a
member of the 13th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training
Program). He previously had been at Nara Naval Air Group. He received a
promotion to Ensign after his death by special (suicide) attack.
He wrote the following short letters to family members:
Your beard was painful.
Kindness does not go unrewarded.
Tadanori, my dear younger brother,
As a young Japanese man, become a shield. There is nothing else that I
have to leave
The sea is me. The blue calm sea is my normal self. On the contrary, the
rolling waves are my face when I am angry.
You are growing quickly. I always will be watching you.
The letters do not include a date. Based on this and the letters' contents
(e.g., no mention of kaiten mission), it appears that Uenishi did not consider
these to be his last letters before his death.
Letters translated by Bill Gordon
The letters come from Mediasion
(2006, 99). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Konada and Kataoka (2006, 279-84, 373-4) and Mediasion (2006, 68, 86, 99).
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.