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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

I.N (male)
'Chokubaku'  4 km from the hypocenter / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Iwate

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. The Iwate prefectural branch of the Japan Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers Organizations has been active in atomic bomb-related activities for more than a decade. Every August, they hold memorial services for atomic bomb victims, atomic bomb photo exhibitions, and testimonial sessions across the prefecture. Many high school students join to help the organizers with the events, and they themselves also listen attentively to the testimonies. At the end of the events, they write down what they think having attended the events, and they always write a single message: May peace come to the world with all wars and atomic bombs gone forever.

In my city, following the activities of the Iwate prefectural branch, the same event is organized every year in order to pass on the knowledge of those past tragic events to citizens. I am asked to tell of my experience to students at local elementary and junior high schools. Despite my age, I'm determined to continue to relate my experience as long as I'm alive in order to pass on the call for world peace to future generations.

My experience of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima

In February 1945, just a month before graduation from the Iwate Prefectural Tono Middle School, I applied to be a special officer candidate for the army marine regiment at the age of 17 and joined the regiment in Shodoshima, Kagawa Prefecture. On the 26th of the same month, I was transferred to Unit 16710 of the Army Ship Communications Reserve at Hijiyama-shita and took a distance-learning course. Between August 1 and 5, I was working for the Army Marine Regiment Headquarters at Ujina and was in training to implement communications with air raid shelters where we had set communications devices. At a roll call in the evening on the 5th, three out of six of us remained at the regiment headquarters, while the other three were sent back to the regiment. I remained in order to continue the training until the 10th. On the morning of the 6th, three replacements joined us to take the place of the three members who had gone back to the regiment. This determined our destinies.

On the morning of August 6, 1945, an air raid alert went off as B-29 bombers were said to have come. The air raid alert was soon changed to an air raid warning, making a huge sound, as three B-29s appeared in the clear, blue sky. The bombers were flying more than 10,000 meters high, drawing vibrant white contrails. I, together with other citizens, rushed to a nearby air raid shelter.

There was not a cat on a street or sound anywhere. Some ghastly time passed. Hiroshima in absolute silence was like a "town of death" and almost beyond description. I was staring up at the B-29s. They flew away from the city without executing a bombardment, and then the air raid warning was cleared and changed back to an air raid alert. Everyone was relieved and just as they came out from the shelter to go back to their normal lives, a spark of light flashed from 600 to 800 meters high above, and I heard people screaming. Then a thunder-like explosion and blast suddenly came and destroyed all houses and buildings across the city.

I was on my way to deliver a telegram to the regiment headquarters and was at the quay of Ujina Port when I got exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb on the left side of my body. In that instant, I jumped back into the shelter where I had just been. The whole shelter shook and the dirt walls and ceiling fell down, so I crouched near the entrance of the shelter for a short while. Then I looked outside to find that all houses 100 meters away from the shelter and beyond had collapsed, and the central area of the city was almost invisible with dark grey smoke drifting up everywhere. The smoke also blocked the sun light, making the whole scenery darker and darker.

I heard someone ringing a fire bell at the watchtower of a fire house in Ujina. I immediately rushed to the regiment headquarters where I saw officers in a state of panic in the messy office, with glass pieces piercing their faces covered with blood. I gave the telegram to an officer and went back to my group leader. He asked me whether I was all right, and I said I was. Soon after, a couple of military trucks left for emergency action, making rumbling engine noises. The leader also left the office to see if the regiment members were all right, while asking us to guard the office.

After a while, the trucks returned with lots of injured people. Their skin was burnt, feet bare, hair standing on end, and clothes tattered. They could not be identified as men or women, and they walked with their arms hanging down in front, saying in a quivering voice, "Soldier, please help us." We could not do anything but bring as many blankets as possible from a nearby clothing depot. Soon the sky became cloudy and a heavy shower started, but we did not care and kept delivering blankets in the rain.

I could not think about anything else but kept on taking care of the increasing number of injured people and making them lie down. The rain stopped after half an hour, and the sky was clear again with a white cloud several hundred meters high. I was informed some days later that the rain we had on the day was the "black rain" induced by the atomic bomb and the cloud was the so-called "atomic cloud." The cloud developed high up into the sky, to nearly 1,000 meters, then developed horizontally, too, to become a mushroom-shaped cloud, while constantly moving. At about 4 o'clock, the cloud began breaking and then dissolved. The number of injured people kept on growing and our office soon became completely crammed with victims who were screaming as if in a hell.