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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Masayo Nakaya (female)
'Chokubaku'  1.5 km from the hypocenter / 21 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. On August 6, 1945, I was working as a nurse in the Red Cross Hospital which was located back then in Senda-machi 1-chome in the city of Hiroshima. Most of the patients in the hospital at the time were military personnel. I was at the nurse's station, passing information to the person who would be covering the next shift. As soon as the dazzling light flashed, everything was covered in white smoke. When I came to, I was lying in the hallway. "I'm alive," I thought, and stood up from the floor, then heard a younger nurse calling "Chief, Chief," from the restroom. I went down there and found her; she had hit her face on a urinal, seriously wounding it. I don't remember what treatments I gave her.

I brought all 91 patients from the 3rd floor of the north building out to the courtyard. It took a while to move them all; we were afraid of a potential second attack, walls had collapsed, and broken glass was scattered everywhere. People from downtown came streaming to the hospital's front gate for help; exactly as exhibited in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, their burned skin was falling off, and they had also lost their sight. Immediately, the hospital was filled to the brim with patients, crying out at night for water to drink. I was told to give it to them, since we couldn't do anything for them anyway. I brought them water in two big kettles at a time, striding over one after another and pouring it into their mouths. Some of them grabbed the kettle and didn't let go. That evening, a blind middle school student said, "I might not look like it, but I'm in the first year at Dai-ichi Middle School (the current Kuniyasudera High School)." I still regret that I didn't talk to that boy. I should have at least asked him what his name was and where he lived.

Two weeks passed, and the hospital was full of young patients, about 15 or 16 years old, with their whole bodies burned and no treatment available. I think they were students from the Military Academy Preparatory School. Maggots crawled everywhere on their bodies, from their elbows, knees, and other joints to the backs of their ears. I washed the patients with cresol water, but they couldn't last long in the midsummer heat and passed away one after another. Then one day, a red cow ran into the hospital. The poor animal became our important source of food and light. We made candles out of the fat and used them when we went to check on patients at night in dark rooms with no lanterns.

By August 31, I was so exhausted that I was not able to work, and so I was allowed to take time off to go back to my hometown. After a month suffering from fever and diarrhea, my body was down to skin and bones. I thought I wouldn't make it, but was able to recover thanks to my mother's tender care and support. I received a call the following January to join the Hiroshima faction at Ohtake Hospital. Our mission was to help returnees from overseas. Since then, I thankfully haven't seen any signs or symptoms of radiation illness, being blessed to live in my hometown. I worked at Niwanosato Senior Health Facility until the age of 77, and at Hakuryuko Kanko Farm to maintain my health until April 2008, when I was 84; my husband was then hospitalized, so I took care of him until he passed away in 2009. Since then, I've been helping with the farming at home. Age exposed to atomic bomb radiation: 22

Exposure site: The 3rd floor of the north building of the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital, Senda-machi 1-chome, Hiroshima, along with 91 patients (from the Hiroshima Army Hospital).