Last Letters of Second Lieutenant Kantarō Tomoe to His Parents and Younger
On April 6, 1945, Second Lieutenant Kantarō Tomoe took off from Miyakonojō
West Airfield and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age
of 23. He was a member of the 1st Special Shinbu Squadron. He piloted an Army
Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After his death in a
special attack, he received a promotion to Captain. He was from Fukuoka
Prefecture, graduated from Nihon University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the
9th Class of the Army's Officer Cadet (Kanbu Kōhosei) training program.
On April 5, 1945, he wrote the following final letters to his parents, four
younger brothers, and sister-in-law:
Tomorrow morning I will depart as a Special Attack Corps member. It is a
young man's honor. I will seek an aircraft carrier and make a hissatsu
(certain-death) attack. I am glad to find out by letter about Mother's
health condition. Please take good care of yourself.
Today I found out about tomorrow's departure, and I had to rush around
with various preparations. The final letter also has such messy writing. I
regret it to the point of blushing. When I think about it, I caused you many
worries. Please forgive my lack of filial piety. Things from the distant
past come and go, but my state of mind is clear and serene. Please use my
remaining items. Please send the original sword belt in the Boston bag to
Hidemoto's place. Asking you to do this was delayed until today. With no
time I was not able to send letters to all of the relatives, so please give
them my regards. As for the matter of my younger brothers and sister-in-law, please
finish up admirably their upbringing. Until the end I am a cheerful person with
foolish talk. I only desire to hit the target. I pray for your happiness.
Father, do not collapse from overwork.
Mother, I hope you can become healthy quickly.
I am going.
To Younger Brother Hidemoto,
There is no excuse for my not being in touch with you for a long time.
There is nothing that surpasses the honor of a special attack. Since I will
send my remaining items to you, receive them at your house and use what you
need. My state of mind is like the sky. Fulfill your obligation by joining a military unit. I request your family members to take care of
things. I pray for your success.
I apologize for not writing for a long time until now.
Since I will depart for a special attack, I am determined to find big
game. Truly your older bother was me. I will not stop praying for your
happiness. Please do not lose your femininity. I ask that you handle things
concerning Mother. I request also that you give guidance to my younger
brothers. Please finish their upbringing to be fine Japanese persons. Since it
is one day before the order, even my last letter is as such. My luggage is
an officer's wicker trunk and a Boston bag. Since they will be delivered
soon, please use any needed items.
I am very busy with arranging my affairs, planning, and preparing my
aircraft and other things. Please forgive my messy writing.
Do not forget your femininity. I pray for your happiness.
To Younger Brother Kisaburō
Ki , I wanted to see you to try to talk
about various things, but now it has come about that I will not be able. I
have no regrets about becoming a Special Attack Corps member, and I actually
have a serene feeling. This is being a Japanese person. Kisaburō, you also
already are an adult. I ask that you take care of all of the family matters.
You must advance to my proper place. Even in the proper place, do it with
sincerity. As for guidance for our younger brothers, I request you to
provide it since you are the best at it. I will instantly sink a ship since
I will crash dive with a Type 4 Fighter. Please take care of yourself in
everything and work to resolve the country's crisis. I leave it to your
To Younger Brothers Yasushi and Takao
Yasushi and Takao, tomorrow morning I will go to Okinawa to sink an
enemy aircraft carrier. Please be friends, study, and become fine persons.
You two together take care of yourselves, be full of spirit, and show filial
piety to our parents. Yasushi, work for the time being. Takao, study.
Please stay in high spirits.
Letters translated by Bill Gordon
The letters come from Terai (1977, 5, 7-8). The biographical information in
the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō
Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 207), Osuo (2005, 207), and Terai (1977, 5).
1. Ki is a nickname for Kisaburō.
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.
Terai, Shun'ichi, ed. 1977. Kōkū Kichi Miyakonojō Hayate
Tokkō Shinbutai (Miyakonojō Air Base Hayate Special Attack Shinbu Unit).