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Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Hiroshi Ōshima to His Parents

On May 25, 1945, Second Lieutenant Hiroshi Ōshima took off from Bansei Air Base as a member of the 433rd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 23. He piloted a Type 2 Advanced Trainer. After his death in a special attack, he received a two-rank promotion to Captain. He was from Tochigi Prefecture and was a member of the 2nd Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training Program.

He wrote the following final letter with three poems at the end:

Dear Parents,

Suddenly, now I will fall. As the cherry blossoms fall at Kudan [1], I trust that all of you will not be surprised and will not weep. It is surprising that a soldier who carries out his duty in the skies to live as long as 23 years.

You truly cared very well for my younger brother. I do not know what to say to you to express my thanks and how to best repay you. With the expectation of one plane to sink one ship, I will take off with the firm belief of hitting the target. Since our work is for men who really value honor, I (who am about to live as a spirit) believe that this will meet your expectations as parents and siblings.

When there is news of my hitting an enemy ship, I will be able to sleep in satisfaction if you offer a single stick of incense. If there is not news of my hit due to inexperience, then I think that I will have been downed by Grumman fighters before reaching my objective. The reason is that in the end I will be flying in the midst of 15 fighters.

At 23 years I am departing from this world, but more specifically this is progress to the next eternal existence as a stage in human life. Therefore, even though I die, I will return to live as an eternal spirit and will not stop beating in everyone's inmost heart.

Not knowing what I want to write and what I want to say, only if I could meet you one time. Ah, what to say? However, my life, seeming to be straightforward, had complexity and happiness.

Do not be disappointed that now I do not have anything to leave behind as a memento. Yōko, Fukuko, do not give into sickness, obey Father and Mother, and study.

I will stop writing here with prayers for the complete recovery of health of Older Brother and perpetuity for the Yamashita Family. Please pay close attention to your health.

May 1945

My spirit today serving
Glad to defend the gods and shatter as a jewel

A poem for Older Brother and Sister,

Already advancing forward to attack
Defending the Empire forever

Death Poem

Following my parents' teachings
I go now to the sea at Okinawa


Letter and poems translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter, poems, and biographical information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 170-1) and Osuo (2005, 207).


1. Kudan is a hill in Tōkyō where Yasukuni Jinja (Shrine) is located. Yasukuni Jinja is Japan's national shrine to honor spirits of soldiers killed in battle.

Sources Cited

Naemura, Hichirō. 1993. Rikugun saigo no tokkō kichi: Bansei tokkōtaiin no isho to isatsu (Army's last special attack base: Last letters and photographs of Bansei special attack corps members). Ōsaka: Tōhō Shuppan.

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