Sorties Cancelled Twice: Enjoyment of Long Life Due To Small Difference (Shutsugeki
chūshi nido: Wazuka na sa de inochi nagaraeru)
Researched and written by Shūji Fukano and Fusako Kadota
Pages 180-2 of Tokkō kono chi yori: Kagoshima shutsugeki no kiroku
(Special attacks from this land: Record of Kagoshima sorties)
Minaminippon Shinbunsha, 2016, 438 pages
The Shiragiku (meaning "white chrysanthemum"), made into a special
(suicide) attack aircraft from an onboard operational training aircraft, needed
nearly five hours to fly from a Kyūshū air base to Okinawa since it could fly
only at about 150 km/hr (93 miles/hr) with two 250-kg bombs under its wings.
Since its movement was slow, during the day it would make a good target for
enemy fighters. So it was necessary for Shiragiku special attacks to be
made in nighttime flights by single planes under the light of the moon.
Sadayoshi Kamioka (89 years old, Nakayamachō, Iyo City, Aichi Prefecture),
who in March 1945 had completed the flight training program at Kōchi Air Group
where he was trained as an observer responsible for aircraft navigation, was selected as a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit
Kamioka reflects back, "I felt proud and fulfilled as an observer in the
making who would have responsibility for accurately guiding my aircraft on a
long-distance night flight. I continually made efforts to improve my navigation
accuracy even a little."
However, there was not an opportunity for Kamioka to display the results of
his efforts. The two chances that he had to make sorties from Kanoya Air Base
were both cancelled just before takeoff.
The first time was May 25. On that day at 2 a.m., 20 Shiragiku
aircraft were ordered to take off so they could make crash-dives at Okinawa
between 6 and 8 a.m. When we were making departure preparations at Kanoya Air
Base, the following directions came, "Remove the bombs since the enemy task
force is approaching. Crewmen, stand by." After about an hour we were ordered
again to make sorties, but reattachment of the bombs took time, and nearly all
of the aircraft including Kamioka's could not take off by the designated 5 a.m.
Afterward, Kamioka returned to Kōchi for some time. He advanced again to
Kanoya on June 17, and his second sortie came on the 25th after the end of
organized resistance in the Battle of Okinawa. According to Kamioka, more than
ten planes, one every ten minutes, took off starting at 7:20 p.m.
"Our turn to take off was to be 5th or 6th. When we were waiting to leave for
the runway, temporary repairs had been completed for a Shiragiku that
previously had turned back due to engine problems, and this aircraft cut in
ahead in line and was taking off."
I had assumed that we would continue afterward, but a soldier dashed out to
the runway and told us, "We will end here today."
The crewmen of the aircraft that had cut in front of us were Flight Petty
Officer 1st Class Shigeru Haruki and Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Takeshi
Iwashita. These two from both Kōchi and Tokushima Air Groups were the last men
to crash dive and die in battle in a Shiragiku special attack.
Members of Kikusui Unit Shiragiku Squadron.
Among these men, 19 died in battle. Sadayoshi
Kamioka is 5th person from left on 2nd row.
(provided by Sadayoshi Kamioka)
Translated by Bill Gordon
Sorties Cancelled Twice: Enjoyment of Long Life Due To Small Difference