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Last letters, poems, and
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Flight Trainees (2)

Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Manabu Matsumoto to His Parents

At 0525 on May 11, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Manabu Matsumoto took off from Miyazaki Air Base as pilot of a three-man Ginga bomber (Allied code name of Frances) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 9th Ginga Squadron from the 406th Attack Hikōtai of the 762nd Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19. He was from Ehime 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 to his parents with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:

I earnestly ask that you please forgive the lack of filial piety during my lifetime.

I am glad to be able to participate and am determined that I in high spirits will make a crash dive.

At this time of tribulations for the country, I pray that you take good care of yourselves and are able to make a livelihood.

I request that you please give my warmest regards and say thanks to persons who showed me kindness during my lifetime.

I pray to the gods and Buddha for the prosperity of the Empire of Japan.

By whose hand
Was it broken off
A young cherry blossom?
Only knowing
As humble shield

Manabu Matsumoto

Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
November 2018

The letter and poem come from Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai (2006, 37). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Osuo (2005, 237) and Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai (2006, 37).

Sources Cited

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

Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai (Unabarakai Editing Committee). 2006. Kaigun hikō yoka renshūsei isho • iei • ikōshū (2) (Last letters, poems, and writings of Navy Preparatory Flight Trainees (2)). Tōkyō: Unabarakai.