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Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Yoshio Shibata to His Older Brother

On November 13, 1944, Sergeant Yoshio [1] Shibata took off from Marcot Airfield in the Philippines in a Type 4 Heavy Bomber (Allied code name of Peggy) and died east of Luzon in a special (suicide) attack at the age of 20 [2]. He was a member of the Fugaku [3] Squadron. After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Captain. He was from Tōkyō Prefecture and graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Air Academy in the 57th Class.

Shibata wrote the following last letter and two poems at Marcot Airfield:

Dear Older Brother,

With a pure heart, at last I will go. I will go smiling with the belief that other men will follow after me. I live for the Imperial state's eternity. Now autumn has come when there will not be stock phrases but rather real action. I am resolved not to bring shame to the Shibata name. At this late hour I cannot properly recognize the kindness of others shown to me, so remembering this I will quietly go.

While you were at Older Sister's house, it was regrettable that we were not able to have a life like brothers.

Please take care of your health and watch over the Shibata Family.

If the Empire is to be at rest, in the country
I will be one to guard the flowers

Some tears from a man, not a disgrace at parting

Translated by Bill Gordon
April 2022

The letter comes from Kawachiyama (1990, 219-20). The biographical information on this page comes from Kawachiyama (1990, 248), Osuo (2005, 189), and Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 254).


1. The kanji characters for his name can also be read as Tadao rather than Yoshio, and it is not known what is the correct reading for his name.

2. Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 254) indicates that he was born in 1924, so he could have been either 19 or 20 at the date of his death on November 13, 1944. Kawachiyama (1990, 248) gives his age at death as 20.

3. Fugaku means Mount Fuji.

Sources Cited

Kawachiyama, Yuzuru. 1990. On'ai no kizuna tachigatashi: Tokkō taichō Nishio Tsunesaburō no shōgai (Unbreakable bonds of kindness and affection: Life of special attack squadron leader Tsunesaburō Nishio). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

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.