Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance of Iwo Jima – conclusion

“Iwo Jima” by: Mark Maritato

Takahashi Toshiharu’s story continues….

I ran towards the sea.  The day got brighter.  When I jumped down, the enemy shot.  I felt as if I burnt a burned hot chopstick in my chest and I could not breathe.  There are plenty of US soldiers, but I was alive.  Blood flows a lot. Both shirts and pants were stained with blood.  I tried to stop blood even a little, but it didn’t work.

The enemy brought a flamethrower to the mouth of the hole.  The fire did not reach me. It was where I had been before.  The bullet was through, but it hurts because my body swells when I breathe.  It is a suffering to die.

I will die soon.  There is no doctor or medicine.  There is no food or water, death is near.  There was nothing I could do.  My eyes dazzle, I’m bleeding a lot. My body is cold.  I gave up, I knew that it was useless.  I visualized Japanese soldiers coming from the back of the cave.  I asked for water, but I only got tears of sorrow.  I rolled on the ground in pain.  The wound has come to suppuration. (infected).  The left hand stopped moving.

SE Asia map w/ Iwo Jima highlighted

The US military is blowing up the entrance to the cave.  A number of places have also blown up today.  It is a strategy to make Japanese soldiers buried in holes.   I do not have any food and I can not move to escape, I will die here, but I would rather die outside.  Now it is dark and I see a human approach.  If he is an enemy, it will lead to death.  My hand moved, but there is no gun.

It was a Japanese soldier.   I went down to the man.  There was a grenade noise.  A gunshot also happened.  I guess he met his enemy.  The area is covered with cannon-fire, but I can’t tell the direction.  The cliff which I’m on is as high as 30 meters is hit and shattered.   With  a slope of about 45 degrees and it becomes rough soil and stone.  I am going downhill.

Iwo JIma

I fell to the sandy beach.  The wound in my back breaks and the pus flows out.   Since no one is here, I can not even be treated.  Still I got up and walked down the sandy beach to the water.  I want to drink, but it is sea water.  Drums were flowing in the vicinity. I thought that it might be the drinking water of the US military, so I tried to hit it with a stone, but it will not open.

I have no guns, only one grenade for suicide but I can not use it.  I ran back in my original direction.  Footprints remain because they are sand.  I follow the enemy footprints. The scratch on the back is broken and it is becoming a null null. The left hand does not move perfectly.  I came where I fell before and try to climb the slope.  The left hand does not move at all.  I lost consciousness on my way.

Japanese POW

I slept in the hole without eating for 4 days.   I had been chased by the enemy, but collapsed among other dead Japanese and the enemy could not tell the difference.  I will die here today.  I think that it is March 18th. My birth is 18th March 18th in Meiji. Today is March 18th in Showa 20.  There is no better way than natural suicide, natural death, shooting out of the hole and being shot dead, or committing suicide with a grenade for suicide.  It is only clear that there is no life.

A US military airplane flew over me.  I want to see my wife, children, mother and brother but I can not even move.  I might as well be a soldier who went to the enemy’s camp and died.  Let’s do so.  All the fellow soldiers are dead.

The US Army soldier swings his head sideways and instructs by hand for me to sit down.  The tall, blue-eyed soldier keeps his gun at me.   The soldier gave me his water bottle.  I drank the water like a drunk.   Now I’m ready to be killed, but they tell me to follow them.

1945, wounded Japanese soldier cared for by U.S. Marines.

I arrived at the curtain where the military doctor was.  The surgeon told me to eat by motioning with his hands.   I understood it.  It was boiled soybeans from a can.  I ate it all.  The military doctor put white medicine on the wound.  I wondered if he was killing me, but a jeep came.  It had a drawer that they put me on and we left.

I arrived at a field hospital and was taken out from the drawer and the military doctor told me, ” I will give something to eat”, I thought this was true.   I thought that I came to the world after death.  I have heard that there are many US soldiers of Nisei so I asked. Iwo Jima occupied March 17th.  They say Japan has lost a useless war.  I do not know why I am alive, when I should have been killed by the US military.  Being a POW is a painful thing.

This is a condensed version of  Imperial Japanese Army Corps of Engineers Corporal, Takahashi Toshiharu’s diary.  To view the entire story, the link is at the top of Part One, posted on Monday.  The Cpl. was sent to Gum Island for 10 days and boarded a hospital ship to Hawaii.  When the war ended, he was returned to Japan.

Click on images to enlarge.


Military Humor – Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940-1945”






Farewell Salutes – 

Lino Agosti – Anchorage, AK; US Army Air Corps, WWII,  HQ/152 Artillery/ 11th Airborne Division

Bob Brown – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-26 pilot

Sam Gilman – brn: CAN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 26 y.)

James Henderson – Sydney, AUS; Korean War

Ed Kennedy – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; USMC, Korea, one of the “Chosin Few”

Roy Malmassari – Issaquah, WA; US Army, Korea

John Naples – Falmouth, ME; US Army, WWII

John Otten – Sioux Falls, SD; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Paul Smith – Clanton, AL; USMC, WWII, PTO

George Welsh – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, Chaplain


About GP

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

Posted on April 6, 2018, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 98 Comments.

  1. Thank you for sharing this story, GP and Nasuko.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had read that it was dishonorable for a Japanese soldier to be captured rather than killing himself. This story certainly backs that up.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A painful account of how so many (on both sides) suffered. Also, of how ultimate defeat must feel.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Amazing what the body can tolerate under normal circumstances, but in this case it is most exceptional when considering both physical and mental wounds.
    Great first hand, after War read gp

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Proves that we have a common denominator – we are all human. That some of us forget sometimes is sad, but there is the reassurance that most times we remember and that has to be a plus.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What a riveting story. Once I started reading it, I had to go on. Still not sure how he wrote that under those conditions, but good that the story was told. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for posting this…while we know that those opposing us are human beings with emotions like our own, we need reminding in the face of relentless propaganda.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I suspect part of the power of a story like this is that, even if subconsciously, we’re asking ourselves all the way through, “What would I do? Could I survive? Would I want to survive?” and so on. While another war precisely like this one probably isn’t going to happen, given technological advances and so on, there’s a very real possibility that other kinds of conflict may bring desperate circumstances: here or elsewhere. Tales like this not only are interesting, they’re instructive, and raise as many questions as they answer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are very insightful and I appreciate you expressing it so precisely, because every word is so true. It would be great if we could somehow get our politicians to read the words printed here by my readers and friends!! Maybe they would return to acting like logical human beings and learn something.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I should be thanking you,Dr.GP Cox.
    I am grateful for your polite response and I’m you who is grateful.
    Friend,The honor is more than I deserve.

    You must be sleepy or tired,Translation is a tough task.

    I was always grumbling about in your blog.
    But,You have been devoted yourself wholeheartedly to All.
    I could return your’s goodwill,I am really honored.

    This first hand note is not famous,so probably It has not been the political or other used,yet.
    The experiences of one person are written in a matter-of-fact,and the bad mouth of American is not written here.
    It is just his truly experience.
    If, in the future, even though someone rewrites this note, his grandson will has real note and knows the real thing.

    The War museum displays “collection Coral by Japanese soldiers” which was unusual at that time in Japan.
    When I saw it, I thought that Japanese soldiers gathered coral as a “souvenir” to their families.
    I think that Japanese soldiers hoped to return to their families after the war ended.

    I offer a silent prayer to all the soldiers who could not return from the battlefield.

    Thank you my Dear.


    • Nasuko,
      You are more than welcome. But as I said previously, I imposed on you for information and you more than answered it by supplying this diary. I would not have been upset if Takahashi Toshiharu had spoken ill of America, for we were at war. He stated the facts of what happened from his view and the effects of war on his unit. Nothing was or is supposed to be political here. I feel listening to all sides explains the events properly – not simply history written in one view.

      I has been a quick and rough week, but I am thankful for the experience. Hopefully we can do this collaboration again in the future.
      GP Cox

      あなたは大歓迎以上です。 しかし、私が以前に言ったように、私は情報のためにあなたに課し、あなたはこの日記を提供することによってそれ以上に答えました。 高橋敏春が戦争中だったので、私はアメリカの病気を話していたなら、私は怒っていなかったでしょう。 彼は自分の考えから起こったことの事実と、戦争が彼の部隊に与える影響について述べた。 ここでは政治的なことは何もなかったし、そうでなければならない。 私は全面的な意見を聞いていると思います。

      私は早くて荒い一週間でしたが、私はその経験に感謝しています。 うまくいけば、私たちは将来この共同作業をやり直すことができます。
      GP Cox

      Liked by 2 people

  10. An extraordinarily moving account of a man’s emotions. The futility of war and the sheer luck of one’s fate.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Riveting first hand account of being in and of a terrible conflict. I wish and hope our grand children and their offspring never have to be in such a living hell…but in fact war pitting human against human is a sad, continuing part of our existence. Thanks GP for this and your remarkable WordPress posts. M 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Very moving and touching account – thank you for posting and also for sharing what happened to him in the decades after the war.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Was moved to tears. Thanks so much for sharing and thanks to Nasuko!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. He was lucky it was not the other way round…that he was an American surrendering to the Japanese.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was probably in his mind that that was what would happen to him. People often judge others by the way they would react in the reverse. Thanks for following through on this story, John, I realize how long it was.


  15. Sometimes “falling like a radiant cherry blossom” doesn’t come easy.

    For some it doesn’t come at all … and as always it’s the little foot-soldier who pays the price. Although a few of the leaders (puppeteers a long way behind the lines) sometimes get nabbed, and growled at.

    But still, we must look to the future where yesterday’s disgusting enemy is tomorrow’s noble friend (and vice versa).

    Si vis pacem, parabellum

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Surrender for the Japanese was a matter of face loss. I was struck that he noticed the American’s blue eyes. Amazing story. Thanks, GP

    Liked by 1 person

  17. As others have commented, there is a poetic quality to Takahashi Toshiharu’s writing. Thank you for running this series, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. He clearly had a strong life urge, fascinating story and detail from a different view, but harrowing nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. What a glorious picture, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. This is a powerful story of human survival. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. This was such a moving story. Thank you for sharing it with us. It’s so hard to imagine being in a situation where these are the thoughts you are left with. I am glad he survived.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. So glad he didn’t do the suicide thing, I hope the post-war years were kind to him.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nasuko answered for us…
      After the war ended, he became a POW of US military,be treated his injury, be sent back to one’s home country Japan(1946) by USA.
      He came back home but his wife already died of disease ,so he could not meet his wife again.
      His children were raised by relatives, so he quickly returned to his house without cureing his injuries and brought up his children.
      He worked at the police office and died at the age of 74 in 1986.
      This diary which he wrote in1940s was released (in 2004)by his grandson.

      Liked by 3 people

  23. Thanks for the series GP. I wonder as POW if he suffered under US marines? When was he given freedom? Would you know?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nasuko has answered this for us…
      After the war ended, he became a POW of US military,be treated his injury, be sent back to one’s home country Japan(1946) by USA.
      He came back home but his wife already died of disease ,so he could not meet his wife again.
      His children were raised by relatives, so he quickly returned to his house without cureing his injuries and brought up his children.
      He worked at the police office and died at the age of 74 in 1986.
      This diary which he wrote in1940s was released (in 2004)by his grandson.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Add information only.

        On the last attack of Iwo Tou ,he was shot by enemy.
        The Japanese army was wiped out and was surrounded by enemies.
        He got out of the hole and was surrounded by the enemy and was pointed guns,
        so he putted the bravado by hitting his chest and said “shoot me”.
        The enemy said ” sit down “.
        He thought that anyhow he will die, so he gestured “drink water,pls”.
        The enemy gave him water battle, he drank it all.
        And when he said “kill me” again ,the enemy said “follow us”.
        The enemy took him to the place of the military doctor.
        American military doctor treated his injury.
        For the first time,he knew that the Japanese army were completely destroyed.

        In captive life, he was treated for wounds, given foods and exercised.
        In the evening, pow in Germany and Italy sang national anthem.
        He also sang Japanese national anthem, tears dropped.
        In captive life, one of the Japanese navy lynched one of the Japanese army,
        but no one could stop it. Even though,they are the same Japanese, the same soldier.

        He was moved to various prison camps places and was finally sent to Japan.

        「It is not easy for a man without a wife to support and feed with two children,
        there was no money at that time,
        there was no rice, it was a rationing system, there was nothing to eat.

        The war is over.
        I will not go to the army permanently.
        From now on I can live a life like a human being.
        At that time, why did God take away my wife from me?
        Even my wife is alive, I do not know how happy I am,No matter what hardships it is, the world will not bear it.
        ~ I will end the military memoranda until March 1942.」

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the share GP. Good to know he became a police officer. He served his country. 😃

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Mercy! Indeed, a very moving story. thank you for sharing it

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Julia C. Tobey

    Really fascinating. Thanks for the view from the other side.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. For one Japanese soldier there was a happy ending. A very touching story, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. It was a gripping story, and it was good to read of an American soldier handing the enemy his canteen, and then of a prisoner being given food and medical care, even when this almost certainly wouldn’t have been the case, if the roles were reversed. Despite a horrific battle and losses, the American soldiers maintained their discipline and decency. Thank you for posting this story, sir!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Incredible fortitude, and isn’t it odd yet reassuring that we all wanted him to live? He was “the enemy,” but as human beings reading his story, we identify with him nevertheless.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. A very moving story.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. A fitting conclusion, but it left me with some thoughts. Why didn’t he use the grenade to kill himself, I wonder? Perhaps the desire to see his family made him choose life, but even when he is humanely treated by the US medics, he thinks they are going to kill him.
    This shows the very different mindset of the Japanese soldier. Although they had the same fears and concerns as the Americans, they approached war very differently.
    Thanks for running this series, GP. It was very interesting.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thanks for following it to the end, Pete. I suppose the instinct for survival overpowered his upbringing to use the grenade. He went through all that, with pain, and still thought of his family. It seemed to me that every time he went to prepare for death, something would happen to stop him too.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Nasuko answered this for us…
      nformation only,Add.
      In The battle on Iwo Tou,he did not suicide because he thought that it was the last mission to defeat the enemy (American) by his bomb as much as possible.
      In other battlegrounds, since Japanese already had information of the US military’s cruel POW slaughter, he thought that he would be killed if he became a Pow.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. I knew he had survived, yet still I found myself willing him to live.

    Liked by 2 people

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