|Born||17 Oct 1891|
|Died||29 May 1943|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseYasuyo Yamasaki (also romanized as Yamazaki) was born in what is now part of Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan to a Buddhist priest. He graduated from the Japanese Army Academy in 1913 and participated in the Siberian Intervention from Apr 1918 to Dec 1920. In May 1928, he was part of the Japanese expeditionary force to mainland China during the Jinan Incident. He was promoted to the rank of colonel in Mar 1940. Later in the same year, he was given command of 130th Infantry Regiment. In Feb 1943, he was named the commanding officer of the 2nd District Force of the North Sea Defense Force charged with reinforcing the defenses of the Aleutian Islands of the US Territory of Alaska. He arrived on Attu in Apr 1943 by submarine. With the understanding that there would be no additional reinforcements, he knew was facing a difficult battle against Allied troops seeking to reclaim Attu. He ordered the 2,650 men under his command to dig in on the high ground away from the shore. When the Americans came, the fighting became brutal on par with the later battles on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Shortly before a 29 May 1943 counterattack near Massacre Bay, which he considered to be the last, he penned the last letter to his wife.
ww2dbaseFarewell message to Shigeko:
ww2dbaseYou will probably learn that my bones have come to rest far away, in a barren battlefield in the midst of the Northern Seas. I will try to stop the onslaught of the British and American forces. If I fail, my spirit will come to eternal rest in the Buddhist paradise.
ww2dbaseAs this could be my last message to you, I would like to add a few personal thoughts. We have been married for more than thirty years and I would like to thank you for all the good time we could spend together. You have been an excellent wife to me and a gentle mother to our children. I will always think back of that time with much pleasure.
ww2dbaseTake care of your health, so that you could spend your old days safely. Also, please look after our children and all the relatives as well.
ww2dbaseYamasaki's counterattack on 29 May 1943, labeled by the Americans as one of the "banzai charges" conducted by the Japanese during the war, penetrated American lines and surprised rear echelon units. Once the Americans recovered from the initial shock, however, the Japanese were quickly overwhelmed. When all was nearly lost, he ordered a final suicide attack by all remaining troops and officers on Engineer Hill. He then committed ritual suicide late that day. Out of the 2,650-strong garrison, only 29 Japanese were captured by the end of the battle.
ww2dbaseSpecial thanks to Sander Kingsepp for the translation of Yamasaki's last letter. He also noted that the name Shigeko could also be translated as Hideko or Eiko.
Last Major Revision: Dec 2005
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|17 Oct 1891Â||Yasuyo Yamasaki was born in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan.|
|29 May 1943Â||Yasuyo Yamasaki led a final counterattack on Attu, US Territory of Alaska; when all was nearly lost, he committed ritual suicide to avoid capture.|
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