Kamikaze pilots sank or damaged hundreds of ships during the latter part of the war. At the outset of the Second World War, Japanese pilots could often receive up to 500 hours of training. “What was provided us was a glider,” with trainees forced to use their imagination for the instruments on a plane, he said. By CHIYOMI SUMIDA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 25, 2015. That’s the way to fight a war. A kamikaze pilot was a Japanese pilot specially trained during World War II to fly an airplane full of explosives and crash it into enemy territories, knowing very well that he will be killed. As noted in Mako Sasaki’s paper, Who Became Kamikaze Pilots, and How Did They Feel Towards Their Suicide Mission, published in The Concord Review, some men were recruited to the program by way of a simple questionnaire. All that said, in an interview with an ex-kamikaze pilot named Tadamasa Itatsu, he notes that some young men were willing to lay down their lives simply because they genuinely “believed their actions could save their country from disaster“. Sonderkommando (Special Command) Elbe was a special unit of volunteers that deliberately collided into American bombers. By April 1945, though, it was apparent that many kamikaze pilots, perhaps because of fuel shortages that limited their training, possessed meager flying skills and could be easily shot down. He worshipped the emperor as god; offering his life to the emperor was the ultimate virtue. The enemy had them outgunned, out-manned, and possessed certain critical technologies that Japan didn’t have. In the first few days the pilots learned to take off. Nakamura was chosen for the latter. Further, many of the “boy-soldiers” who ended up becoming kamikaze pilots were brutally treated during their training, to the point that, based on firsthand accounts from the trainees, many lost any sense of patriotism. Screwed big time I’ll say ! Though the idea of sending pilots on one-way suicide missions is largely attributed to one, Capt. In a sense, there had even been a kamikaze attack in Japan's very first battle against American troops. Inflation quickly set in, and his money became almost useless. Adequately training new pilots fast enough simply wasn’t feasible. From here, reports of the day are that many more pilots than there were planes eagerly signed up (supposedly so many that they outnumbered the available planes 3 to 1). This article is from the May 2009 issue of WWII History Magazine. Further, many of the “boy-soldiers” who ended up becoming kamikaze pilots were brutally treated during their training, to the point that, based on firsthand accounts from the trainees, many lost any sense of patriotism. Pilots usually dropped their landing gear after takeoff so that it could be used by other planes. © 2020 Stars and Stripes. He was supposed to use this technique if he was trapped in a cave or in a trench surrounded by the enemy. It took the country’s near-death for him to find religion and become a priest. After a lengthy speech on patriotism, it was asked that anyone who didn’t wish to be a kamikaze step forward. Kamikaze pilots were not terrorists. Kamikaze pilots were trained to take off, but not to land. The priest cried with him and told him that Japan has dead, because if you could not feel the pain when your little finger was cut off, it meant that your body was dead. Anger and shock ran through him because no one seemed to be aware that Okinawa had been severed from the rest of Japan after WWII. While hearing about war experiences might not be rare for the Marines who hear Nakamura speak, listening to an account from the other side of the war was stirring for some. Even if we were to die, we knew it … The term “kamikaze” roughly translates to “divine wind”, which was previously a name given to a legendary typhoon that helped stop a Mongol invasion during the 13th century. These Nazi Pilots Were Germany's Version of Kamikaze Pilots. 4 0. “I had the faith of a martyr.”. All 23 pilots asked to join ultimately volunteered. “Also it is amazing for his big change in life from an attacker to now a bishop.”. Like many others, he became an ultra-nationalist who firmly believed in selfless devotion to his country. TYLER S. GIGUERE/U.S. However, it was Capt. So many students are gone. As the war trampled on, Japanese aircraft became increasingly outdated. This brings us to the Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (literally, “Special Attack Unit”), members of which are commonly called “kamikazes”. It was written there, lol. Alan Wolthekker, 24, of Tampa, Fla., heard war stories from his grandfather, who fought in the Pacific theater as a merchant marine. Kamikaze attacks were more accurate than conventional attacks, and often caused more damage. Many pilots were trained to become kamikaze. Honour has always played a big part in Japanese society. Kamikaze Pilots Were Given A Manual. Why Imperial Japan's Kamikaze Attacks Were Deadlier Than Any Missile . If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as: According to human psychology, it totally understandable that some would be crazy enough to go but I can guarantee you that most thought like the survivor that said ““Oh, I’m screwed”. The desperate operations killed thousands of young men — the kamikaze pilots and the sailors aboard the vessels. Kamikaze pilots were not expected to return from what was a suicidal attack on the enemy.Most Kamikaze pilots had little training, nor flew decent aeroplanes. They kept these manuals in their cockpit, which contained … An airplane shortage hampered preparations, he said… “Let me say that this was of no consequence because it was a way that I could serve,” he said. But he was only 10 to 12 years old and didn’t understand, he said. I would have been one of those but I certainly would have jumped off the landing craft with my weapon locked and loaded and with a faint hope that I might actually survive. Don’t be discouraged. About 19% of kamikaze attacks were successful. If he did not kill himself but tried to escape, he might be shot from behind, because his superiors and some comrades believed in the state dictum that one must never be captured by the enemy. The special suicide corps also consisted of suicide motorboats and human torpedos. He was discharged from the imperial army, but there was no way to return to Okinawa. Young Kamikaze Pilots Only Had 40 Hours Of Training. In the final stages of the war, however, it was clear that Japan was fighting a losing battle, so special suicide corps were organized. During WWII, thousands of Japanese pilots made the ultimate sacrifice for their country by becoming, essentially, flying suicide bombers. An airplane shortage hampered preparations, he said. A final element included intensive fighter sweeps over Japanese airfields, and bombing of Japanese runways, using delayed-action bombs to make repairs more difficult. This resulted in sending out relatively inexperienced pilots in outdated aircraft. On top of this, many of the men already flying by the time war broke out were older and more experienced, with many years in the air already behind them. When he looked back, he sees God’s hand in his life, he said. In fact, the manual given to kamikaze pilots stated: “In the event of poor weather conditions when you cannot locate the target, or under other adverse circumstances, you may decide to return to base. This plan also called for around-the-clock fighter patrols over Allied fleets, though the U.S. Navy had cut back training of fighter pilots so there were not enough Navy pilots available to counter the kamikaze threat. Does anyone know what the official name fora kamikase corps was. For instance, Irokawa Daikichi stated he was “struck on the face so hard and frequently that [his] face was no longer recognizable… I was hit so hard that I could no longer see and fell on the floor. The first such attack was carried out in October 1944 over the Philippines’ Leyte Gulf. He still vividly remembers the last words of a comrade — “You can have my dinner tonight.” — before he took off for a kamikaze mission. This was necessary as there was no way for the person inside to get out of the torpedo once sealed in. It also reflected the lack of well-trained and experienced pilots. The questionnaire comprised of a single multi-choice question that asked: “Do you desire earnestly/wish/do not wish to be involved in kamikaze attacks?” All the men had to do was circle the statement they most agreed with. Marines take a group photo with Paul Saneaki Nakamura, from Naha, Okinawa, Dec. 9 at Camp Hansen, Okinawa. If a soldier had managed to be courageous enough not to volunteer, he would have been consigned to a living hell. “I dug many holes and waited for my turn to come,” he said. 3 years ago. Nakamura is a retired Anglican Church bishop and a prior service World War II veteran with Special Missions Unit, Japanese Imperial Navy Air Corps, Imperial Japan. 1 1. There is no other way. "Publishers also played up the idea that the kamikaze were enshrined at Yasukuni and ran exaggerated stories of kamikaze bravery – there were even fairy tales for little children that promoted the kamikaze" (website #2) . The Allied troops were afraid of these kamikaze attacks because they could not defend themselves against them. All Rights Reserved. During Pearl Harbor, a pilot named Lt. Fusata Iida had deliberately crash… According to the U.S. Air Force, nearly three thousand kamikaze attacks took place, managing to damage 368 ships, sinking 34 of them, while killing 4,900 navy soldiers and wounding another 4,800, but with only about 14% of attacking kamikaze pilots managing to hit a ship. 3 years ago. He spent many nights on a railroad station bench. The 87-year-old retired Anglican bishop grew up on Okinawa as militarism swept across Japan. Training involved rigorous discipline and frequent beatings in order to craft a “fighting spirit” (攻撃精神, kōgekiseishin) within the soldier. Yukio Seki was born in a small village, Iyo Saijo, in Shikoku. Then he discovered that American occupation forces were not “demons,” as war propaganda had taughter him. PAMELA. I need it for an assignment and I can’t find it anywhere. Your email address will not be published. So, in that sense, plane for plane, it was tragically successful considering the Americans had radar, superior numbers and planes, and the kamikaze pilots were often woefully inexperienced. to use his toe to pull the trigger [of his rifle] while pointing the gun precisely at a certain point under his chin so that the bullet would kill him instantly. “We were taught that since we were such a small island nation and because we were one country fighting against many, great sacrifices were required,” he said. Even more importantly Kamikaze attacks were much more accurate than bombing runs allowi… But what was it that made these men so willing to lay down their lives in such a way? They also featured a self destruct mechanism if the person failed in their mission. This is not the case when they sting many other animals.). Eldest sons were allowed to live to continue their family lines. Hunger tortured him, but finding a job was not easy when the entire country was devastated. Pilots would attempt to crash their aircraft into enemy ships in what was called a “body attack” (tai-atari) in planes loaded with bombs, torpedoes or other explosives. Kamikaze Facts - 19: Kamikaze pilots were given special training for about one week. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. By the time he was attacked, the Japanese had been using kamikazestrategies for a little more than a month. According to the aforementioned Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, in Kamikaze Diaries, other methods of encouraging men to volunteer included putting them in a room filled with their peers. It was strictly a one-way trip; no fuel was loaded for a return flight. These were sentiments echoed by Lieutenant Yukio Seki, who commanded the first squadron of 23: “Japan’s future is bleak if it is forced to kill one of its best pilots… I am not going on this mission for the Emperor or for the Empire… I am going because I was ordered to.”. If a pilot’s plane developed a problem en route or if a suitable target didn’t present itself, there was nothing stopping him from returning to base to try again later. Why did headquarters continue such silly attacks for ten months! Fahey thought he was the first person to see a kamikaze attack in action — but he wasn't. The Seafires' best day was 15 August 1945, shooting down eight attacking aircraft for a single loss. The very low altitude approach demanded a certain dexterity, but … They lied!”. His only hope was to reunite with his parents, who were safe in Taiwan. No, they were not terrorists,they were japanese airmen. “At that time of my life, in despair and loneliness, I lost my dignity as a human being.”. This generally only happens when they sting humans, as their stingers get stuck in our fleshy skin. "We didn't think too much [about dying]," Hisao Horiyama, one of the last two surviving kamikaze pilots told The Guardian in 2015 at age 92. Nakamura and his fellow trainees drank water together with him from a sake cup, a Japanese ritual to see someone off for his final parting. As Sasaki points out, the pressure on young men to do something for their country during that time was significant, and the threat of retaliation if you said no was very real, as was the fear that there would potentially be retaliation against not only the soldier, but his family back home. Pilots did not have to be highly trained to undertake suicide missions. “It is interesting to learn that kamikaze’s mission was solely to attack the United States,” said Cpl. In fact, suicide pilots usually received only the minimum of flight training. For this reason, the training to become a Kamikaze pilot, despite its brevity, was very hard and included getting into the aircraft, take-off, formation flying and the actual attack. Nakamura spoke about being a World War II veteran and Anglican Church bishop. “I must admit that I really longed for my previous life when I was in the imperial army,” where there was no freedom, but he had food, warm clothes and a place to sleep. They then learned to fly in formation and the last days were focused in the study and practice of how to attack a target. Later in the war, Japan started suffering fuel shortages, and didn’t have the fuel to train pilots as well. This emboldened Japanese leadership to create the second type of kamikaze pilot - and the vast majority of those who flew from the Home Islands against the Allied fleets around Okinawa in 1945 - barely capable volunteer pilots. While there certainly were those who were willing to volunteer to die for emperor and country, and many more willing to die in this way simply because they felt, somewhat correctly, that they were the last line of defense to protect their families and friends at home, in truth many seem to have simply been pressured into it. The first official kamikazeplane had hit its target on Oct. 25, 1944, in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but the idea had been building in Japan for even longer. As Captain Motoharu Okamura stated, “There were so many volunteers for suicide missions that he referred to them as a swarm of bees… Bees die after they have stung.” (In truth, bees do not usually die after they sting things. Before Nakamura’s turn for a final drink came, the imperial navy ran out of airplanes for the operation. Instead, they provided food, supplies and medical care to his people. However, the official story of droves of zealous volunteers clamoring to sign up has been questioned by many historians, particularly with firsthand accounts from actual pilots popping up since, painting a decidedly less patriotic or eager tone. These kaitens were just modified torpedoes that allowed the person inside to control them. If one kamikaze pilot could blow up a vessel carrying hundreds of sailors, he would be a hero, and more importantly, Japan could win the war, he said. Motoharu Okamura, reports of Japanese pilots intentionally crashing their planes into the enemy, often when damaged too much to return to base, weren’t unheard of prior to the start of the suicide pilot initiative in 1944. After the creation of the kamikaze unit, Admiral Matome Ugaki was put in … Kamikaze attacks had distinct advantages: There was a critical shortage of pilots in Japan - and in a sense that's how the Kakikaze strategy ironically got started ie. How Were Soldiers Trained to Be Kamikaze? There is no way of knowing the *actual* percentage of allied forces who on D-Day said or thought, “Oh, I’m screwed.” However, I do not doubt for a minute that there was a percentage. After becoming a priest, he went on a missionary trip throughout Japan, urging people to come back to life through Jesus Christ. “Tokubetsu Kōgekitai”. Do not waste your life lightly.”. Some soldiers actually managed to say no, but their refusal was disregarded. But I reached a point of no return. Yukio Seki. “I became a beggar on the street,” he said. Takijiro Onishi and Motoharu Okamura both ended up taking their own lives after the war ended. Soon afterward, Nakamura entered a theological school. Determined to make his suicide squads a reality, Onishi personally made the very first announcement requesting volunteers for the “special attack force” at Mabalacat Air Base. In 18th Century warfare, the first set of troops to storm the castle walls was designated “The Forlorn Hope.” Those troops that did survive intact enough to fight some more were often promoted on the battlefield. “My earlier desire of wanting to return to the kamikaze and the imperial army was no longer with me,” he said. Kamikaze pilots were taught to divert and try to return to the base if there was engine failure or any other sort of mechanical issue. When I reflect on the hopes you had for my future … I feel so sad that I am going to die without doing anything to bring you joy.”. In March 1944, 17-year-old Nakamura volunteered to be a kamikaze pilot and left Okinawa for the mainland for training. Many who volunteered to the Kamikaze corp saw it as an honour to die for their country. So much for purposeful, heroic war deaths by *any* military force, (including the Praise Allah guys.) He also began to go to church, where the warm, friendly people made him feel at home. “You remember when the Israelites were wandering in the desert, they were always longing to return to Egypt,” he said. The right way is to attack the enemy with skill and return to the base with good results. One kamikaz. But other opportunities loomed. By the end of the war, as many as 3,800 kamikaze pilots died. Were they really bright eyed volunteers eager to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, as the war time propaganda stated, or were they forced into it? The Japanese built cheap planes with older engines for these missions. That said, it was not Okamura, but then Vice-Admiral of the Japanese Navy, Takijiro Onishi who is credited with creating the first squadron of kamikaze pilots. In Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney’s work, Kamikaze Diaries (accounts by the so-called “student soldiers” of Japan from their writings during the war- many of the prospective kamikaze volunteers were these “boy-pilots”), it stated one of the first things student soldiers learned was. Motoharu Okamura who is largely believed to have been the first high-ranking Japanese officer to propose the idea as a preplanned tactic. His parents owned an … Also, the Kamikaze's only needed to be in the air long enough to find a target. This led to many pilots needing to abort the mission in their unpredictable air crafts.