Helen Watson White
The Lost Pilot: A Memoir, by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman (Penguin, 2013), 320pp, $40.
You are now 30m from the target. You will sense that your speed has suddenly and abruptly increased … The moment of the crash. You are two or three metres from the target. You can see clearly the muzzles of the enemy’s guns. You feel that you are suddenly floating in the air. At that moment, you see your mother’s face. She is not smiling or crying. It is her usual face.
An extract from the training manual for Japan’s kamikaze pilots presents an unimaginable experience in a way that can only be called imaginative. The dive-bombing tokkotai (Special Attack Units) were warned ‘never to close their eyes as the enemy ship loomed up prior to impact – they might veer off course’ and fail in the specific hit they were trained to achieve. Hence the promise that the enemy’s guns will not be the last thing they see. [Read more…]