A government team attempting to recover the remains of Japanese soldiers who died during the Battle of Iwojima has found a radio transmitter believed to have been used to send the final telegram before the Imperial Japanese Army made its last organized stand against the United States, official sources said Sunday.
The transmitter was found in an underground bunker believed to have functioned as the army’s communications center, and may have been used to send the last message to headquarters by the commander on the island, Lt. Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi, they said.
In the farewell message, Kuribayashi described his troops’ dire situation on the island, now known as Iwoto, that would later become known as one the bloodiest battlefields of World War II.
About 21,900 Japanese and 7,000 U.S. soldiers died on the volcanic island in the Pacific about 1,250 km south of Tokyo during a month of fierce combat after U.S. Marines landed there in February 1945.
The team also found the remains of what appears to be a Japanese soldier near the bunker, which is in the northern part of the island close to where the Japanese had a command center.
Testimony by survivors also indicates the transmission base is most likely where the final telegram was sent. The transmitter had a plate bearing the name of a Japanese manufacturer, they said.