Japanese View from the IJN Musashi

Yamato and Musashi (artist unknown)

Yamato and Musashi (artist unknown)

This was originally published in “Sensō: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War”, edited by Frank Gibney.  Story by: Satō Kiichi, from Yokosuka, Japan.

The Last of Battleship Musashi

“Third attack,” came the warning.  The damage from the second attack had been terrible.  Lying on the deck were several wounded men receiving emergency treatment.  I was taking a brief break.  My two subordinates were on their way to the infirmary.  Just at that moment, a torpedo approached with a sinister hissing sound.  Shouting “Go on up!” I rushed to the upper deck.  I couldn’t see the two who had gone to the infirmary.

IJN Musashi (artist unknown)

IJN Musashi (artist unknown)

I had to get those two.  I looked down the hatch.  There was already close to a meter of water flooding the ship.  The infirmary was left isolated.  Neither my voice nor my concern could reach that far.  Was it too late?  My feeling of grief ran ahead of me.  Then I recalled that the exhaust vent ran through the pharmacy.  I frantically threw a rope from the deck down into the exhaust pipe.  But there was no response.  Still I continued to call out desperately.

I regained a bit of my composure.  I was crouching in the safety zone under the main gun turret.  The battle gained in ferocity.  I wondered what had happened to my two men.  To think that a single hatch would be the difference between life and death.  We had spent our days together as crew members on the battleship Musashi.  Looking back, I still agonize about their going to the infirmary.

IJN Musashi

IJN Musashi

After the fourth and fifth concentrated air attacks, the Musashi, once called unsinkable, finally sank into the Sibuyan Sea.  Its bow tilted.  Columns of water and flames spewed up into the sky.  I heard voices of my comrades singing “Umi Yukaba” [“Across the Sea”]* and other war songs amid the waves.  Even now I see clearly onto my eyelids the faces of my two subordinates.  I hear my war buddies singing as their heads bob in the waves.

* “Across the Sea” was the anthem of the Japanese Navy.  The verse went:

Across the sea, water-drenched corpses;

Across the mountains, grass-covered corpses.

We shall die by the side of our lord,

We shall not look back.

Two years ago….

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Abe – Appleton, WI; US Navy, WWII

Kenneth Bourke – AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Warramunga

Robert Futoran – Pompano, FL; US Navy, WWII, Lt., USS Black

Leslie Gibson – Dallas, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO,, LST-1040

Kenneth Ketron – Elsmere, KY; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Dallas Milton – Venice, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Nelson Sr. – New London, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

Frank Panzzie – East Meadow, NY; US Army, WWII

Teddy Sheean – Tasmania, AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Armidale, KIA

Lawrence Snowden – Charlottesville, VA; USMC, WWIII, Korea & Vietnam, LtGeneral (Ret.)

Click on images to enlarge.

Personal Note – My apologies for a late-in-the-day post and delayed viewing of your sites as I have been under the weather.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 6, 2017, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 88 Comments.

  1. So sad, the loss of life on all sides. I don’t like how militaristic our new president is being, disregarding diplomacy and favoring weapon buildup. I don’t resent money funding the military, but I dislike unnecessarily engaging the military when other options might prevent loss of life and the traumatizing of people. You help us remember that every soldier lost is a lost human being with poetry and possibility. Not a number.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will not comment on the current political view, but you are so right about losing men. I keep waiting for someone to bring our men home instead of shipping them out for yet another tour of duty!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your first hand accounts really get my imagination flowing gp, the story’s show just how horrific the moments are, not only that but they illustrate that either friend or foe, those images last for all time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A reminder that we are ALL flesh and blood, and mortal.

    Like

  4. I am sorry you are not feeling well, GP. Get better soon!

    The stories from both sides show how much we are all the same, no matter which “side” we are on, or what chaos our world leaders have thrown us into. I feel sorrow for Satō Kiichi, not being able to save his men. I am sure this vision does still haunt him.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for posting another view of the war from the Japanese perspective. I noticed that the Japanese had thought Musashi to be unsinkable. … hmmm… It’s interesting how these “unsinkable” ships always DO!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. To much work.Coming back tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry you’ve been under the weather. Sure hope you’re feeling better. There seems to be a lot going around just about everywhere these days. So, just take care of yourself and get well!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Human too?? We were taught otherwise.
    Alas.

    I’m still getting over my cold(?). The meds I took seemed to contain sedatives and I’m drowsy and not thinking clearly at times. Wonder if/when I’ll return to normal?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A very touching story, a thoroughly human story and account of the last moments of a battleship and her crew! Wasn’t the Titanic also considered unsinkable!?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sharing both sides adds great emotions to your posts. We are all humans sharing the same planet and must learn to respect and live with one another. Your posts add important reminders of the experiences both sides went through. The object is to LEARN to avoid such human devastation in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “I wondered what had happened to my two men. To think that a single hatch would be the difference between life and death.” That is powerful.

    Hope you feel better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Just want to add my voice to those who thank you for bringing us the Japanese view of the war.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve not been well. I do hope things are improving. Rest always is good. On the other hand, if laughter is the best medicine, you took care of any ailment I might have with that “Every Sailor a Deckhand” cartoon. I laughed aloud at that one, remembering the days when my response would have been the same as the sailor’s.

    The article was interesting, too, although that naval anthem was a little grim. I much prefer our “Naval Hymn.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sure am resting, Linda. Don’t know the last time I spent so much time in bed!!
      Happy I gave you a laugh with that cartoon, frankly I still don’t understand some of the language!! haha [and I do agree about the anthem].

      Like

  14. Interesting post from the other side. I liked it. Sorry to hear you are not well, my friend. Hope you feel better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Goodness me, GP, you have nothing to apologise for. Get well soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. After a whole month of the ‘Winter Virus’ in February, I am well-aware how debilitating it can be to feel ill for a long time.I will add my get well wishes to those of the others, and hope that you are fighting fit again very soon.
    The account of this sinking was sad to read. It could have come from any side in the war, I suppose, but at least the destruction of the Japanese ships saved many allied lives that could have been lost by their actions.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the get well!! If you had this, I sure don’t know how you were able to be so humorous for a whole month!!
      I was glad you saw how the sinking of the Musashi could very well have been a story from one of our men. People talk about war so haphazardly sometimes, but effects everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hope you are on the mend.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Get well soon, GP. We can wait for your posts. Take it easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. WOW… on the video! Feel better, my friend. We’ll see you on the other side. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It’s interesting to be learning more about the Japanese perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I have always been interested in hearing about the war from the perspective of the German Japanese or Italians

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Get well soon my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The stories these men had to tell…it gives me the shivers.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I just can’t imagine the emotions they felt. To be singing as their lives are sinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I hope you’re feeling much better. Please take care of yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. It’s always intriguing to read accounts from the Japanese side – it’s an aspect of WW2 that isn’t often seen in English. I think half the problem is the difficulty of translation. I recall seeing one, from a floatplane pilot, in New Zealand’s National Archives – the pilot had flown over Wellington after launching from a submarine in Cook Strait, and after the war our government was interested in finding his account. It was duly translated, but I’m sure that a lot of the best accounts and memoirs never were.

    Hope you’re feeling better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to hear that New Zealand had an interest as well. No one can get the whole story with looking at all sides.
      Thanks for the well-wishes, Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

      Like

  27. Hope you feel better soon, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. It seems you’ve been ill. Hope you are feeling better soon. And thanks for again posting something from the Japanese POV. Very sad to think of him grieving for his two crewmates.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Ultimately, it comes down to human beings and human stories. Maybe if we could read these in advance, we’d find a way to avoid war.

    I hope you’re feeling better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Soldier on, and get better quick!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Take care and hope you’re better soon! As always this is a fascinating post – but your full recover comes first!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Maybe the flu, GP! Watch out for high fever that doesn’t come down with meds. And you are not feeling better in a week. May have to see the doc! Good thoughts! 🎶 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Hope you feel better GP. Rest is the best medicine.

    Liked by 1 person

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