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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
(1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
in 1970)

Last Letter of Corporal Ryōichi Toyoda to His Mother

On May 11, 1945, Corporal Ryōichi Toyoda took off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 20. He was a member of the 51st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and piloted an Army Hayabusa Type 1 Fighter (Allied code name of Oscar). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Ehime Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Class of the Army's Youth Pilot (Shōhi) Program.

He wrote the following final letter to his mother:

I am deeply ashamed that I advanced toward my own aspirations without even having considered sufficiently your experience. While dreaming about what is expected to occur today, I am working hard as normal.

Our classmates, one and two at a time, have gone and fallen being the first of the unit at Yasukuni [1]. I was determined to be a flower that has bloomed in order to fall, but my turn has not come. It is regrettable, and it can't be helped. Finally my aspiration has been realized, and I have received an Imperial command for the Special Attack Corps. At last the sortie is close at hand, and I will be able to spend  a pleasant evening with my comrades.

Mother, please be satisfied. I will certainly do it. Excuse me for causing you various worries. Farewell.

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter comes from Kitagawa (1970, 205-6). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 206), Kitagawa (1970, 205), and Osuo (2005, 198). The photograph at bottom comes from Osuo (2005, 114).

Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return) (Kitagawa 1970) is a book of last letters written by the Navy's Kamikaze Special Attack Corps members. However, Kitagawa does include also a few letters written by Army Special Attack Corps members such as this one by Toyoda.


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

Sources Cited

Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1970. Ā kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Ah, Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

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

51st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron.
Corporal Ryōichi Toyoda sitting second from right in front row.