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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps

Last Letter of Ensign Katsuyoshi Takuma

At 0640 on April 16, 1945, Ensign Katsuyoshi Takuma took off from Kushira Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 26. He was from the 701st Naval Air Group and was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit Ten'ō Squadron. He flew as pilot in a Tenzan carrier attack bomber (Allied code name of Jill) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was from Yamaguchi Prefecture, attended Ryojun University of Technology (in southern Manchuria at important port formerly known as Port Arthur), and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:

Spring has come. With a pure-white silk muffler wrapped around my neck, I became sweaty. Even though one says that it is spring, now for Japan that is out of the question. The fighting has become only more intense. There is no longer a day to live and be able to see you. I consider flying an airplane to be my long-cherished desire. I pray for your health.

I will send a bad photo of me. I am the nearest person.

For Emperor
A shield
Now I
Do not rest my wings
In Yasukuni [1] forest

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 198-9). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 198) and Osuo (2005, 211).


1. Yasukuni Shrine in Tōkyō is the place of enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.

Sources Cited

Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.

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