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Last letters from battlefield:
Final letters of 22 young
Navy officers and men

Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Makoto Kawahira to Aircraft Maintenance Worker

In the middle of night on July 29, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Makoto Kawahira took off from Miyakojima (Miyako Island) Airfield as pilot in a Type 93 Intermediate Trainer (Allied code name of Willow) carrying a 250-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Ryūko Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 20. He was from Shizuoka Prefecture and was a member of the 12th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

I hasten to send you a note. Now I am at a base in Taiwan. Soon I will make a sortie for a special attack with a Type 93 Intermediate Trainer. I could not have even imagined a sortie in a dearly-remembered Red Dragonfly. I found your writing under the compass, and I wanted to give my final farewell to you. I will go piloting the distinguished Red Dragonfly that you devotedly maintained.

I am doing whatever I can until I can stand it no more. Since this is an illegal letter that I asked a person in town to drop into a mailbox, I will use a pseudonym. After reading it, please burn and destroy it. I will die. I wish happiness for your future. In that future, please fit in just a little of my time.

July 23, 1945


Kawahira sent the following letter written in pencil to Hitachi Aircraft Haneda Factory in Tōkyō. Afterward, through a Yamaguchi newspaper journalist, the letter was received by 20-year-old Kaoru Furukawa, who at the time was working as an Army telegraph operator in the 31st Air Communications Regiment at Sasayama in Hyōgo Prefecture. Until 1944 his work at Haneda involved repair and production of Type 93 Intermediate Trainers, which had the nickname of Red Dragonflies. He engraved the following words with his own name under the compass of the last Red Dragonfly that he maintained at Haneda Factory: "While praying that you always have success in battle, I devotedly maintain this plane." Furukawa said, "I wanted to leave something. I was a little bit mischievous."

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
January 2019

The letter and the last paragraph about Kaoru Furukawa come from Shōguchi (2016, 110-2). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Shōguchi (2016, 109).

Sources Cited

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

Shōguchi, Yasuhiro. 2016. Senchi kara no saiki no tegami: Nijūninin no wakaki kaigun shōhei no isho (Last letters from battlefield: Final letters of 22 young Navy officers and men). Tōkyō: Kairyūsha.