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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Hideaki Watanabe (male)
'Chokubaku'  4 km from the hypocenter / 20 years old at the time / current resident of Okayama

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Heisei*1― Memories of the Hiroshima A-bombing

The A-bombing
On August 6, 1945, I woke up later than usual at 7:30 a.m. due to the air raid that had occurred the night before. We were still on air-raid alert, so I remained on duty in the barracks. After the all-clear warning, I went to the dining room in the officers meeting place at the south side of the barracks, later than the others. It was sometime after eight o'clock. At the entrance of the dining room, I met a fellow soldier who had finished eating. He checked with me that the all clear had been sounded and I replied, "Yes it has," yet there was still the sound of a B-29 flying, and I am sure I saw at least one aircraft.

After that I entered the dining room and had finished two-thirds of my meal when a waitress there began screaming. She was facing the window to the north, and when I looked I saw a yellowish-red fireball, which looked like the round morning sun, in the upper part of the northern window*2, and then felt strong heat on my left cheek. Just as I rushed to cover my cheek, I had the image of the window brightly flashing and of hearing the dod-don sound of an explosion as I lost consciousness. I don't know how long had passed, but when I came round I was lying sideways over the right side of a bench. I could see nothing around me because the air had turned white with dust. After a while the dust started to settle, so I picked up my hat and went out of the building to return to the barracks.

The barracks were still standing but the right-angle part of the wall had been blown off and there were no fittings left. I couldn't find any belongings because the room was covered with dust.

For the time being, I started cleaning and collecting the items that had been scattered around the place. During the short break, I felt a burning pain on the back of my hands and my head, and when I looked there were countless small glass fragments piercing the back of my left hand, and from the top of my left ear to the top of my head. Even though many of my fellow soldiers pulled the pieces out in their free time, some fragments remained. The pain remained until the end of the war.

Having no clue about what had happened, I went up to an observation post on the top of the roof. There was a jellyfish-like thick white cloud on top of an inky-black layer above the roofs of the buildings to the north. It seemed that something had exploded. All the buildings and houses around me had been damaged; their roof tiles had been blown away and the walls were gone. It was just unbelievable. I didn't realize that the inky-black layer was the smoke from the huge fires that had immediately broken out beneath.