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The ways of a Kamikaze in the air is told by Harry Summers, of the Sydney Morning Herald staff, who saw much of them during a tour of duty as war correspondent. He says:

The practice is to go out with bomb-racks laden with high explosive or incendiary bombs and to crash an objective without releasing the load.

The origin of the suicide corps lies, no doubt, in Bushido, with maybe a desire to go one better than the Germans. Domei official propaganda agency tried to glamorise it. In the quaint way they have of expressing adulation, announcers emphasised how eager the bomb-jockeys were for their rash task: . . . They will never be given orders to crash bodily, but for the fulfilment of their duties they are adopting this alltime great tactic ... to act as carriers of bombs, to stick with our eyeless bombs until the very moment they strike their targets." Kamikaze means "Divine Wind." The corps is supposed to be volunteer, but there is ample evidence that most of its members are impressed.

One pilot whose body was recovered from the ocean in Ormoc Bay, West Leyte, after he had failed to strike his objective, was dressed in a garish yellow and red uniform and was ceremoniously ready for death, down to highly polished finger nails.

Not all of them die. One who parachuted over Leyte Gulf, after his two "escorting" fighters had been shot down by Americans, told a story. Given the Honour He had brought a new type of aircraft down from Formosa to Luzon in November, he said. It was regarded as something of a feat in that type of plane, so the commanding officer at the Luzon base said: "You have done well. Now you are going to be rewarded—you are going to be given the honour of dying for the Emperor."

Whereupon they loaded up an old machine with bombs, gave the hero a ritual farewell such as is reserved for those already dead, toasted him in sake and told him to pick out the biggest naval objective in Leyte Gulf. Two fighters would go along with him "to see that no enemy interfered with the fulfilment of his holy mission." When the trailing fighters were destroyed he jumped.

Rear-Admiral Kunishige Tawetomei disposed of the "volunteer" myth when he said: "These young pilots must go out on their one-way trips, colliding with the enemy, whether they like it or not."

The Japanese, in their racial vanity, would like the world to believe that the whole thing is actuated by spiritual force—"something qualitatively divorced from calculation and rationalisation of a prosaic world," as one flowery phrase-spin-ner has put it. But they descend from the purely spiritual to the material when, at the ceremony which marks a suicide pilot's departure, they require him to hand over all his pocket money to the national aircraft construction fund. And to make the spectacle more absurd, Tokyo would have us believe that the only worry on the minds of the Kamikaze boys is that there will not be any ships left for them to crash into when their turn comes!

The most naive, and probably the truest, thing said about them came from the pen of Sirya Hata, a Domei writer, when he wrote in all seriousness: "This bodily crashing tactic is not, of course, advantageous for our wild eagles. . .

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Bibliographic details

BOMB-JOCKEYS, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 174, 25 July 1945

Word Count

BOMB-JOCKEYS Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 174, 25 July 1945

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