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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps

Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Katsuhiko Tokoo

At 1300 on April 1, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Katsuhiko Tokoo took off from Shinchiku Airfield in Taiwan as pilot in a two-man Suisei Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Judy) carrying a 500-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Chūsei Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack south of Ishigaki Island at the age of 21. He was from Nagano Prefecture and graduated in the 72nd Class of the Naval Academy at Etajima.

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

Shining examples of men stand on the grand battlefield, and they have worthy reputations.

I will serve as commanding officer of the Jinmu Special Attack Unit [1] Azusa Yumi (Catalpa Bow) Squadron.

Not knowing how to stop my deep emotions, I am jumping for joy and look forward to certain completion of my mission.

Even without having a bomb, my plane will be a bomb.

In the place where we are going and the place where there are the spirits of Japan, I look forward to a period of tranquility for the Empire.

However, now we truly face our greatest crisis.

Somehow with the country's total efforts, we will affect the war situation.

Do your best, do your best.

Catalpa bow, thinking that I will not return
I fight off and dispel these many thoughts

The first line is the same as the death poem by Kusunoki Masatsura, a military leader who lived in the 14th century.

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 164). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 164) and Osuo (2005, 174).


1. The Jinmu Unit was formed in November 1944 in the Philippines (for details see following web page on "Shinpū Tokubetsu Kōgekitai Jinmu-tai ni tsuite" (About Shinpū Special Attack Corps Jinmu Unit) <July 21, 2018>). Based on this, most likely Tokoo's letter was written during this month, although he did not finally make a sortie and not return until April 1, 1945.

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.