Without Telegraph: No Way to Communicate Battle Results (Denshinki nashi:
Senka tsutaeru sube motazu)
Researched and written by Shūji Fukano and Fusako Kadota
Pages 189-91 of Tokkō kono chi yori: Kagoshima shutsugeki no kiroku
(Special attacks from this land: Record of Kagoshima sorties)
Minaminippon Shinbunsha, 2016, 438 pages
"No contact due to no telegraph. Result not known."
For about one month from May 24, 1945, during the final stage of the Battle
of Okinawa, the Tokushima Shiragiku Unit continued special (suicide) attack
sorties in five waves from Kushira Air Base. Such a message as in the first
paragraph appears frequently in the Tokushima Naval Air Group battle reports
that communicate results. This indicates that these Shiragiku onboard
operational training aircraft used for special attacks did not have a telegraph.
Based on numbers in battle reports, there were 35 out of 61 aircraft
without a telegraph. Wataru Miyazaki (90 years old, Nagata Ward, Kōbe City),
former Tokushima Shiragiku Unit, testifies to this, "Since the Shiragiku
was an aircraft made with the objective of training observers, originally all
planes had a telegraph installed. For some reason someone went to the trouble to
Usually special attack aircraft crewmen would communicate by telegraph when
they were diving toward an attack target, and the military would record an
assessment of the result and the position. For half of the Shiragiku
crewmen, their means of communicating results, obtained by exchanging their own
lives, had been taken away.
Removal of telegraphs brought about further tragedy. Flight Petty Officer 1st
Class Kōen Kita, Miyazaki's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program)
classmate who made a sortie from Kushira Air Base with the 3rd Squadron on May
28, 1945, had a plane without a telegraph and could not receive a wireless
message from base telling them to turn back since the operation had been
cancelled due to worsening weather.
Miyazaki laments, "Although aircraft with a telegraph properly turned back,
Kita kept flying as before since he did not know anything. It would have been
nice if he had not died."
Air Fleet Headquarters for the 5th Fleet, which directed Okinawa aerial special attack
operations, relied on results assessments of the Shiragiku Unit, but there were
intercepted wireless messages that the American fleet had been hit in special
attacks. There remain intercepted results such as the following in the 3rd
Squadron battle report: "Ship (type unknown) directly hit at 0135 (1:35 a.m. on
29th). Requested rescue. In process of being towed. (omitted) Confirmed that
there is considerable damage." "Furthermore, additional two ships (type
There is recorded in American military records that one transport ship was
damaged in a kamikaze attack on this day.
Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Sakae Hirashima, older brother of farmer
Akiyoshi Hirashima (84 years old, Otobōchō, Miyakonojō City), died in battle in
the sortie of the Tokushima Shiragiku Unit 1st Squadron on May 24, 1945. The
aircraft of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Sakae Hirashima also had its
After the war, Akiyoshi heard from his older brother's Yokaren classmates
that when his Shiragiku departed from Kushira Base, he shouted three
times from his observer seat, "farewell, farewell, farewell," and he sent a
flashing signal with his plane's blinker lights to his close comrades.
He thinks, "Before he flew for about five hours to Okinawa in a condition
where his mouth and ears had been taken away, did my older brother want to
express any feelings?" Also, he feels the inhumanity of Shiragiku
special attacks that he cannot forgive.
Tokushima Shiragiku Unit in photo taken at Tokushima Air Base
when went forward to Kushira Air Base in Kagoshima Prefecture.
Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Sakae Hirashima is holding a puppy
(2nd person from right on back row).
(provided by Akiyoshi Hirashima)
Translated by Bill Gordon
Without Telegraph: No Way to Communicate Battle Results