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Last letters, poems, and
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Flight Trainees (1)

Last Letter of Flight Chief Petty Officer Shigezō Kanno

At 2008 on June 25, 1945, Flight Chief Petty Officer Shigezō Kanno took off from Kushira Air Base as pilot in a two-man Shiragiku trainer carrying two 250-kg bombs. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 5th Tokushima Shiragiku Squadron from Tokushima Naval Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 22. He was from Fukushima Prefecture and was a member of the 17th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

It already has been one week since I left Tokushima Air Group. Due to the rainy weather at Kushira Air Base, we mainly have been fading, but at 1715 on June 21 plane after plane from the 1st Attack Squadron took off in the face of bad weather [1].

Good news came that all planes made hits on targets. With an aircraft carrier, battleship, or transport ship, my comrades did well.

June 25. We in the 2nd Attack Squadron who have been waiting eagerly will depart for battle.

The engine condition is excellent. It is in better and better condition.

The weather is not very good, but it is neither here nor there.

Currently I am resting after finishing lunch.

Now I will take a bath and nap. Until the sortie at 1900 I will go slowly and rest myself.

In the end, I have no regrets at all.

I am full of vigor.

I pray for the country's peace and security. I will fall smiling.

For us being able to die in an airplane is our long-cherished desire. We are not afraid of anything. I go believing that others will follow after.

A friend of Kanno at Tokushima wrote the following letter to his parents:

Dear Parents,

I am meeting you for the first time in a letter. I am a person who was treated kindly by Kanno.

We talked together about various things until his last day. I wanted to write to inform you a little bit about what happened.

At noon on June 17, Kanno departed from Tokushima Air Group. A little bit before that, he had leave from base and stayed at my home for one night. At that time he had been selected for the Special Attack Corps, but it had not yet been decided when he would make a sortie. Therefore, he said things like, "If at this rate, I may eat August pears."

However, when he returned to base, there was a telegram that arrived about an "order to make a sortie on 16th." He soon came again to our home and drank sake with my father. He said, "I wanted to drink sake like this with my father, but now at this late hour there is nothing that can be done. I feel like you are my real father, and now I am drinking happily." He cheerfully sang songs, and in the evening by our beds my mother and I got together with him and stayed up all night talking.

Kanno did not have the slightest desire to sleep. When he looked at his watch, he was saying, "How many hours do I have left in this world?"

Finally on the 16th in the early morning I asked an enlisted man to give him a letter of encouragement from me. I heard that it was handed to Kanno a few minutes before his sortie.

He departed from the base at 3 p.m. The weather was not very good, but he took off. He waved his wings in the sky above my house. After this final farewell, he went in high spirits together with other planes in his squadron.

Two hours later, among several planes that were supposed to go, Kanno's plane returned. As I was working in the fields, I told my mother, "perhaps it is due to the weather." Kanno came at about 6 o'clock, and he said to my mother, "Mother, I am ashamed but I returned. I did not think that we could meet, but …" I said, "What are you saying? Isn't it good if you are in high spirits even just one day? Not hurrying to die in such a way …" Kanno said, "It is troublesome if I live. I need to eat food and sleep." Dying was not on his mind, and he truly was like a god while he was living.

He stayed that night also. He held a photo of you close to him. In the morning he said that he would like hot miso soup one time, and my mother made it. Kanno and two of his comrades happily ate the soup.

He left with the following words to me, "Now with this I have no regrets. Since my house is at a hot spring, I hope that your family can go there just one time."

After that, every day my mother and I have been praying to the gods for him.

During the evening of June 30, a Petty Officer 2nd Class went out of his way to come to visit and informed us that "Petty Officer Kanno went in high spirits and said that he would hit an aircraft carrier."

Kanno was very open-hearted and was a very good person. He did things properly like a man.

I think that he had a splendid end and a splendid achievement.

Finally, the aircraft that Kanno flew in was called a Shiragiku (White Chrysanthemum).

I am happy if you could know with my poor writing a little bit about Kanno's circumstances.

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
Kanno's last letter - September 2018
Letter from friend in Tokushima to Kanno's parents - August 2020

Kanno's last letter comes from Kojima (2004, 52). The letter to Kanno's parents from his friend at Tokushima comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 170-1). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kojima (2004, 52) and Osuo (2005, 242).


1. Osuo (2005, 242) indicates that three Shiragiku trainers took off from Kushira Air Base on June 21, 1945.

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.

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

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