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Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Saburō Chiba to His Parents

On May 27, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Saburō Chiba died in a special (suicide) attack at the age of 19 when submarine I-367, which was carrying five kaiten manned torpedoes, launched his kaiten east of Okinawa. Only two of the submarine's five kaiten could be launched, since three had mechanical problems. On May 5, 1945, submarine I-367 made a sortie from Ōtsushima Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture with five kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten Special Attack Corps Shinbu Unit. Chiba was from Iwate Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program). He received a promotion to Ensign after his death by special attack.

He wrote the following final letter to his parents:

When I reflect on the honor that today there is for me to offer my life for the Empire, with deep emotion it is truly my long-cherished desire to repay with my death the great kindness of the Emperor, Grandparents, Father, and Mother.

In my mind there is only annihilation in an attack.

Stay in good health.

May 2, 1945

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
September 2018

The letter comes from Kojima (2004, 16). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kojima (2004, 16), Konada and Kataoka (2006, 235-48, 375), and Mediasion (2006, 60-1, 84).

Sources Cited

Kojima, Keizō, ed. 2004. Kaigun hikō yoka renshūsei isho • iei • ikōshū (1) (Last letters, poems, and writings of Navy Preparatory Flight Trainees (1)). Tōkyō: Unabarakai.

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: Kōjinsha.

The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.