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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return
(1983)

 
Last Letter of Corporal Hitoshi Shima to His Parents

On May 11, 1945, Corporal Hitoshi Shima took off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 19. He was a member of the 51st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and piloted an Army Hayabusa Type 1 Fighter (Allied code name of Oscar). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Tōkyō Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Class of the Army's Youth Pilot (Shōhi) Program.

He wrote the following final letter to his parents:

My greatest joy is to have been born a citizen of the Empire of Japan. As to how I should repay your kindness in raising me until now, I will fall as an Imperial soldier, as a member in the glorious Special Attack Corps, and as a shield in the skies. There is nothing that surpasses this as the long-cherished desire of a young man.

Your encouragement strengthened and made me a man. I am grateful that it will be worthwhile. I promise hissatsu hitchin (certain death, sure sinking).


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter comes from Kitagawa (1983, 207). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 172), Kitagawa (1983, 207), and Osuo (2005, 198). The photograph at bottom comes from Osuo (2005, 114).

Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return) (Kitagawa 1983) is a book of last letters written by the Navy's Kamikaze Special Attack Corps members. However, Kitagawa does include also a few letters written by Army Special Attack Corps members such as this one by Shima.

Sources Cited

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.

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

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


51st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron.
Corporal Hitoshi Shima standing at right end in back row.