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Last letters, poems, and
writings of Navy Preparatory
Flight Trainees (1)

Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Masanobu Nagazawa to His Father

At 0556 on May 11, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Masanobu Nagazawa took off from Kanoya Air Base as chief pilot of a Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Betty) carrying an ōka rocket-powered glider bomb. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 20. He was a member of the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 8th Ōka Squadron from the 721st Naval Air Group. He was from Yamanashi 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 with a two death poems in haiku form at the end. The first haiku has the normal syllable pattern of 5-7-5, and the second poem has a 7-3-5 syllable pattern.

Dear Father,

I did not have words in particular to leave for you when you departed this morning, but my only comment as I talked about last night also is that from the beginning we just do not want to die in vain if for the Emperor we sacrifice our lives, which we do not know whether is today.

With repeated days of training I expect that it will be today, but for me who has lived long until now there is no life and death at all.

I am thinking only of making a taiatari (body-crashing) attack on an American aircraft carrier or warship.

I pray for everyone's health.

Blowing furiously
In East Asian skies
Blooming flower

Though now I go to fall
It is usual
For Emperor


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
September 2018

The letter comes from Kojima (2004, 24). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kojima (2004, 24) and Osuo (2005, 191).

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.

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