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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Toshiyuki Toyoshima (male)
'Chokubaku'  1.2 km from the hypocenter / 13 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. When I was thirteen years old, my family moved from Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, because of my father's transfer to Kyushu. On the way to Kyushu, we visited at my grandparents' house (my mother's parents) in Kaminagarekawa-cho, Hiroshima Prefecture, which was in front of Shukukeien Garden. It was two days before August 6, the date of the atomic bomb.

My family was hard hit when we lived in Hiratsuka. I remember one time when incendiary bombs were dropped on our house seven times and we worked together to stop the fire. On another occasion, I was machine-gunned by carrier-based aircraft when I was working in a munitions factory following the school student mobilization order.
And finally I was in Hiroshima when the A-bomb was dropped. I overwhelmingly suffered from disaster and misery caused by the war.

When we visited my Grandparents' home in Hiroshima, there were three more people already living there ---my mother's brother and younger sister and my oldest sister. Six more of my family members then arrived, including my mother, two elder sisters, two brothers and myself.
Two days after our arrival, we were hit by the atomic bomb. My mother, my eldest sister and the third elder sister were killed at the time of the blast. My grandfather escaped the disaster because he had left early that morning by bicycle to visit the evacuation shelter in Kamine in Takata-gun District. My aunt, my second elder sister, two brothers and myself were injured to some extent but managed to survive.

I did not understand the situation of my eldest sister because she was separated from us. We were inside the house when the A-bomb was dropped. My aunt and my younger brother escaped from the house immediately. Meanwhile, my elder brother, my second elder sister and I stayed there and looked around for the third elder sister. We could hear her faint voice. Eventually we found her and managed to lift her from the rubble to her waist. However, she was caught under a big beam and we could not do anything to rescue her. Fires were burning and we were surrounded by flames. My second elder sister told us to leave. We left our two sisters behind and ran to the estate of the Izumis to narrowly escape from the fires.

According to what my second elder sister told us later, she called the soldiers passing by for help but no one helped her. She went into an air raid shelter and found a hand-saw. She then tried to cut the beam with the saw but the flames surrounded her and her sister. Hearing her sister's desperate and sorrowful cry, "Help me! Help me!" she was forced to leave her younger sister behind to escape the fire.

We later moved to a safe house for evacuation but my sister was always remembering her younger sister and was distressed by guilt. My sister eventually died from radiation sickness from the bomb. She suffered from losing her hair and bleeding from the gums. I learned later that in those days, I was also sick. Most people believed that I would die earlier than my sister. As my tonsil swelled up and I was suffering from high fever, I couldn't eat anything for a long time. But fortunately, I survived.
Those who stayed outdoors at the moment of the bomb blast were killed or injured from burns caused by thermal rays. Those who stayed indoors were crushed under the fallen walls and ceilings and burned to death. Hearing desperate and sorrowful cries from the victims, "Help me! Help me!" many people were forced to leave them behind in the fire to survive.
In the sixty years since then, many people have died of A-bomb disease caused by radiation. We, the survivors, are always concerned when we may get diseases including cancer. I can never ever wipe away the experiences I mentioned above from my mind.