Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseYasuyo Yamazaki assumed command of the Japanese garrison at Attu during the winter of 1942-1943, tasked with reinforcing the defenses of the island. Knowing he was facing a difficult battle against Allied troops seeking to reclaim the island, he braced his forces for defense and wrote his last letter to his wife. Historian Sander Kingsepp generously translated this letter for us:
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.
ww2dbaseSpecial thanks once again to Sander Kingsepp for his help with the translation. He also noted that the name Shigeko could also be translated as Hideko or Eiko.
ww2dbaseYamazaki's troops, as he had suspected, was overwhelmed by the invaders. When all was nearly lost he ordered a final suicide attack by all remaining troops and officers. He then committed ritual suicide on 29 May 1943.
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Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937