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Last letters of youth: Writings
of "Yokaren" war dead

Last Letters of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Masayuki Ishii to His Family

At 2110 on May 27, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Masayuki Ishii took off from Kushira Air Base as pilot of a two-man Shiragiku trainer carrying two 250-kg bombs. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Tokushima Shiragiku Squadron from Tokushima Naval Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 18. He was from Hiroshima Prefecture and was a member of the 1st Toku Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following letter to his family near the time when Shiragiku trainer crewmen at Tokushima Naval Air Group were assigned in early April [1] to the Special Attack Corps:

It has become the season when cherry blossoms are blooming in profusion .

I ask whether there have been any changes in the lives of all family members. Since I am in high spirits and am working hard at my military duties, please rest assured. The war has become more and more intense.

It seems that it has become more severe as day and night enemy planes are penetrating Hiroshima, and I think that everyone is working hard at air defense during these times. I also am training every day.

The enemy also is getting near our mainland. Our more experienced men are attacking day and night and are achieving battle results.

I also am training day and night as I wait for the day when I will go to attack.

Like in the poem, if there are flowers that bloomed, they certainly are going to fall. I also am determined to fall bravely like those cherry blossoms. Now is the time when not only the military must fight but also all citizens will become special attack force members since we must win this Greater East Asia War.

I think that the town also has changed a lot. I am concerned since there has been no letter from the family for a long time.

Recently I took some photos, so I will send them.

I pray for happiness for everyone in the family.

He also wrote the following last letter:

I am resolved. I will accomplish my original desire and protect the Empire. I who live for an eternal cause want to send you my smiling face, and I will die joyfully.

Father and Mother, please see my success.

Younger Brother Teruo, please take my place in the family.

Certainly I will sink instantly an enemy warship.

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
September 2018

The letters come from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 212-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 212) and Osuo (2005, 241).


1. Nagasue (1997, 219).

Sources Cited

Mainichi Shinbunsha, ed. 1968. Seishun no isho: "Yokaren" senbotsusha no shuki (Last letters of youth: Writings of "Yokaren" war dead). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.

Nagasue, Senri. 1997. Shiragiku tokkōtai: Kaerazaru wakawashitachi e no chinkonfu (Shiragiku special attack unit: Requiem to young eagles who would not return). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

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