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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Junichi Kaneshige (male)
'Chokubaku'  4 km from the hypocenter / 21 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo
20003

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Memoir of the A-Bombing

Introduction

My memories of the Hiroshima catastrophe at that time regrettably remain obscure nowadays. The following is a record that I managed to compose on the basis of my own fragmentary memories, aided by the records and recollections of my old comrades, namely, members of the "Garyo-no Kai", or "Dormant Dragon's Group".

On January 9, 1945, I was admitted to the Army Armor Engineering School (then located in Setagaya, Tokyo) as a special staff cadet, and on July 27 of the same year, I was assigned to serve in the Apprentice Division of Army Marine Regiment Headquarters located at Ujina, Hiroshima, and arrived there in the early hours of the following day, the 28th.

That Infamous Day of August 6

At about eight o'clock on that fated morning, I finished breakfast and returned to the barracks (the former Daiwa Spinning Factory Dormitory, a two-story wooden building). Right after my entry into my room, oh, gosh!, I encountered a blinding flash, to be followed by an ear-deafening thunderous bang, coincidental with a violent bomb blast. Totally confused and at a loss, I dashed forward to lie down flat on the tatami mats. Anticipating another imminent bomb assault, I lay quiet for some time. Then I found a thick cloud of dust filling the room - the furniture and utensils scattered all over, windows stripped off, and my military cap blown away somewhere.

I looked outside to view the sky and found gigantic columns of clouds mounting on Hiroshima's horizon. Though alarmed by these extraordinary clouds, I came to attribute the scene to an explosion of some gas tanks or something of the sort.

About an hour later, I was assigned to join a rescue team rushing to bombed areas. Hurrying at double speed in formation to Hijiyama, we encountered refugee groups one after another. These hapless victims included women with their hair scalped and men and women, old and young, all with their skin burned and peeled off. Among them I witnessed one professor of the Hiroshima University of Science and Literature, his broken arm treated with bandages, jostled in the crowd. This was the very person who had given a talk on contemporary weapons several days before in the Vehicle Headquarters auditorium. In effect, he had said that, although atomic bombs were theoretically possible, it would have taken about ten more years before these theories were actually translated into practical weapons. True, I hadn't the faintest idea that the bomb befalling us that morning was none other than an atomic bomb. Initially, the government announced that Hiroshima suffered from bombing by a new type of bomb, and it was only afterward that we knew of the atomic bomb and its attendant horrendous radiation effect.

To begin with, we went to the Army Ship Communications Regiment at Hijiyama. The building stood unexpectedly quiet with scarcely a soul, but we were informed that a certain elementary school building had collapsed, leaving a schoolgirl trapped under its debris. In response to her call for help, we succeeded in rescuing her because the building was left fire-free despite its collapse.

After the sun-set we went back to the barracks and slept there that night.