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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Anonymous (male)
'Chokubaku'  1.5 km from the hypocenter / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Aichi
11305

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I remember seeing the charred body of a soldier in a sitting position on the river bank in Ushita, between Kanda Bridge and Kohei Bridge, with a piece of wood beside him on which the name, "Sergeant Fumoto" was written with charcoal.

My parents died of cancer. My wife and son had surgeries for stomach cancer, and my daughter had surgery for a benign tumor. My children have never married. I am worried about my family's physical wellbeing.
(2005)

I have enclosed the same memoir that I sent to Aiyukai, the Aichi A & H Bombs Victims Association. It is about my experience during the several days following the A-bombing.

Dear Aiyukai,

Thank you for your support.

For the last sixty years and more, I have struggled when I thought of the A-bombing of Hiroshima which is fading from people's memories.

I at last attended the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima and the floating lantern event which I had not been able to do for a long time because they reminded me of the horrible sights I had witnessed at the time of the A-bombing.

As I am getting older, I feel my body aging. I have only a few classmates who are still alive. I decided that now I should write what I am feeling.

This is my experience for the several days following the A-bombing, which I hope will be of some help to the younger generations.

August 6, 1945

When I was in the third year at the First Hiroshima Municipal Commercial School, the school was consolidated into the Hiroshima Municipal Shipbuilding Technical School. I was working at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Hiroshima Shipyard in Eba, Hiroshima.

My job was to check the water pressure of the tanks of kaiten, suicide torpedoes, where water came in when they sank into the water. On that morning, the air raid warning was lifted, and outside the factory, I was waiting for the compressed air to build up in the tank. I was leaning against one of the pillars of the factory which had only a roof and no walls.

A B-29 dropped a parachute and flew away at the fastest speed I had ever seen. I knew how fast it was flying because every day I saw P-38s, Grummans, B-24s and B-29s as they attacked Kure from the air.

The parachute disappeared over the opposite side of the factory. Immediately after it went out of sight, there was a furious blast. No sooner had I seen the slates coming off the roof of the factory than I was knocked down. Something probably hit me on the head and I lost consciousness for a while. I did not know what had happened.

After a while, I managed to run into the designated air raid shelter. I think there were four or five classmates with me at the time. I do not remember how long we were there. Our teacher came and gave soda and sea biscuits to all of us in the air raid shelter. He said, "There is a big fire in Hiroshima City. You should go home now, but if you cannot make it there, come back here by six o'clock and we will take you to the dormitory in Miyajima." After I drank the soda, I started for home.

I was trying to take the Eba streetcar line that I always used, but I could not reach it because of the fire. I then headed for Funairi along the bank of the Tenma River. On the way, there was a woman trapped under a toppled house and buried up to her shoulders, crying, "Please help." I could not do anything because the fire was right next to the toppled house and the heat was so intense. I steeled myself against pity and went on. Avoiding the fiercely burning town, I made my way along the river to the Hiroshima Prefectural Government offices. When I crossed Motoyasu Bridge at the side of the Fuel Hall, I was caught in the black rain and my shirt was drenched.

It was around noon when I arrived at the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the present A-bomb Dome, and the fire was dying down so I was able to rest there. At that time, I saw many people along the riverside and in the river, and heard them groaning, "Help!" "Give me water!" It was a living hell. Some people died in the water trying to escape the heat, and others died, whose arms looked twice as long because the skin of their shoulders and arms had peeled off and floated on the surface of the river, still connected to the tips of the fingers. I could not tell who was alive and who was dead. That scene traumatized me. It was so painful for me to remember what I saw after the A-bombing that I could not talk about it.

I don't know how long I observed the scene. I saw that the north side handrail of Aioi Bridge had fallen into the river and the south side one was over the bridge. Some parts of the streetcar railway running on the bridge had been raised about 20 cm. Motoyasu Bridge looked like a comb that had lost its teeth, as some parts of the handrails had fallen into the river. I wanted to go through Kamiya-cho to go back to Hakushima, but I could not, because Kamiya-cho and Tokaichi were enveloped in a sea of fire. As I was looking for a way to my home, I saw that Hiroshima Castle was gone. I crossed Aioi Bridge and went through Koami-cho along with many people who were burned and injured. When I crossed Tenma Bridge, I was caught in the black rain again. It came down hard enough to soak my shirt, just like the first time.

When I arrived at Fukushima-cho, the fire had spread there. One of the firefighters shouted, "You can get through the fire now and go to Koi. Run!" I frantically ran through the fire and got to Koi. I walked along the Sanyo railway through Uchikoshi to Yokogawa Station, again with many other people.

I saw a body covered with a tin sheet on the railway. I had grown so accustomed to the bodies that they had become just part of the scenery. I recognized that it was a body, but I did not feel anything. I noticed that the soles of my shoes had melted, exposing parts of my feet.

When I crossed the iron bridge and got to Hakushima, I ran into my friend B's mother who lived next door to my family. She said, "Your parents are all right." As I continued walking along the bank, I met my father who had come to look for me. We went home together. I think we got home around three in the afternoon.

Our house was burned without a trace, and the pumpkins my father had grown in the garden had been steamed and roasted. For dinner, my parents and I ate those pumpkins and the sea biscuits I had brought home. As we had no house to sleep in that night, we lay down on the bank alongside the barracks of the engineer corps. I heard a woman calling "Yoshiko, Yoshiko" all through the night and even today I can hear her voice.