Kato, Tateo, born on 29-09-1903 in Hokkaido
and raised in present-day Asahikawa Hokkaidō. His father Sergeant Tetsuzo Katō was killed in the Russo-Japanese War. He graduated from the 37th
class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy
in 1925, and enrolled in the Tokorozawa Flying School
two years later. In May 1927 he was posted to the 6th
Hiko Sentai (flight regiment) in Pyongyang, Korea. His flying skill with the Kawasaki Ko-4 biplane fighter (a license-built Nieuport-Delage NiD 29) was shown to be so outstanding that he was selected to become a flight instructor at Tokorozawa n 1928. In 1932, Katō was promoted to become head instructor at the Akeno Flying School, the premier air academy for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. In 1936, Kato became commander of the 5th
Rentai and with the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, he became commander of the 2nd
Daitai, equipped with Kawasaki Ki-10 ‘Perry’ biplane fighters, which quickly achieved air superiority over northern China. Katō claimed nine Chinese fighters during his rotation, making him the top-scoring Army pilot in China during the period 1937-41. Katō returned to Japan in 1939 to attend the Army Staff College and was assigned to the headquarters staff of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. He also visited Europe on assignment together with General Hisaichi Terauchi, Terauchi died of a stroke, age 66, on 12-06-1946, as a prisoner of war and inspected the Luftwaffe in Germany. Hisaichi Terauchi
. During this period he was also promoted to major. In 1941, with the start of the Pacific War, Katō was again given a combat command, this time as commander of the 64th
Sentai, based at Guangzhou, China and equipped with the latest Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa fighters. His unit participated in the early stages of the war, especially distinguishing itself during the Battle of Malaya. The 64th
Sentai was based at Duong Dong airfield on Phu Quoc Island to provide cover for the Japanese invasion fleet bound for Malaya and to attack ground targets in Malaya and Burma. The 64th
Sentais had first combat experiences of the Flying Tigers
on 25-12-1941, escorting a bomber raid on Rangoon. Under Katō’s command, the unit recorded over 260 aerial victories over Allied aircraft. He disallowed individual victory credits for the sake of teamwork. Katō was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in February 1942.
Death and burial ground of Kato, Tateo.
However, only three months later, on 22-05-1942, while over the Bay of Bengal, Katō, age 38, was killed in action while attacking a flight of Royal Air Force Bristol Blenheim bombers. Katō was posthumously promoted two steps in rank to that of Major General and was honored by a special State Shinto ceremony at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine as a “god of war” in mid-October 1942.
He was buried on the Tama Reien Cemetery, Tokyo and close by the graves of Commander 2nd Guard Regiment
, General Korechika Anami
, the Russian spy, Richard Sorge
General Kazushige Ugaki
, Japanese Fleet Admiral, Pearl Harbour, Yamamoto
, commander 4th
Fleet, the Principal of Naval Academy in Eta-jima, General, Shigeyoshi Inoue
and the “Tiger of Maleisië” Conqueror of Nederlands Oost-Indië, General, Tomeyuki Yamashito