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Last Letters of Captain Kisaku Kataoka to His Wife and Unborn Child

On April 22, 1945, Captain [1] Kisaku Kataoka took off from Chiran Air Base as leader of the 81st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 29. He piloted an Army Type 99 Advanced Trainer (Ki-55, Allied code name of Ida). He was from Ibaraki Prefecture. He was a member of the 1st Class of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program and the 21st Class of the Army's Second Lieutenant Cadets.

He wrote the following final letter to his wife with the names of his two daughters, Mieko and Reiko, included at the end:

Dear Shigeko,

The time for a miraculous deed has arrived. Now I will take off.

I have the sincere devotion of the squadron members listed on a separate sheet. I will go protected by an affection greater than that of a family. Also, we have been on stand-by for about ten days at Ozuki Airfield in Yamaguchi Prefecture and have received sincere hospitality from all of the villagers. We truly will go with happiness. I am expected to tell you of these conditions by Toshiko Toyoshima, Asako Sakurai, Nishiyama's wife, and others who live in the neighborhood of the barracks. (portion omitted). Please forgive me that I could not do anything for you like a husband. I will go happily. I pray that you will take of yourself so that you will be able to live for many years to come with the children.

9:00 on April 20
At command post

From Father Kisaku

The villager Toshiko Toyoshima also gave the squadron members a silk cloth with the following words written in blood: "Congratulations on first battle. Praying for success. Shinbu Squadron. Banzai! Toshiko." There is also the word Yamazakura (mountain cherry blossom) to the side, and its relevance is not known.

Kataoka wrote the following final letter to his child who had not yet been born:

To my child to be born,

For the Emperor, your Father as a special attack squadron leader will crash into an enemy ship with his plane and hit and destroy the targeted Americans and British. In your infancy you will part from Father, but Mother is truly a good mother. Since her heart is the same as mine, you will become a good child who follows carefully her teachings. Without sickness and with happiness, I will depart from you all. Farewell.

Shigeko gave birth to a son 35 days after her husband died in battle.

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
January 2020

The letters come from Yasukuni Jinja (1995, 62-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 162), Osuo (2005, 203), and Yasukuni Jinja (1995, 62).


1. Osuo (2005, 203) and Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 277) give Kataoka's rank as Captain, but Yasukuni Jinja (1995, 62) gives his rank as First Lieutenant.

Sources Cited

Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.

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

Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.

Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1995. Sange no kokoro to chinkon no makoto (Spirits of heroic dead and devotion to repose of souls). Tōkyō: Tentensha.