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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Akira Nishihara (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima
10671

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. By describing the unforgettable sight, I would like to report what I did and witnessed on August 6, and on the day before and after, as an individual and as a factory worker.

It was three years and four months since I had started working at the Kurashiki Aircraft Equipment Factory. As the war situation was getting serious and it was predicted that Hiroshima would be exposed to air raids, the section in which I worked was relocated to Akikoshi in Takata-gun in early 1945. I worked as a miller, and did the installing and operating of machine tools.

The factory was closed on August 6, as it was a blackout day. I had gotten permission to take a two-day leave to attend the Buddhist memorial service for my late father on August 5. In the evening on August 4, I went back to my parents' home in Kochi-cho after work. The service was completed without much trouble on the 5th. Around 10 a.m. on the 6th, as I was preparing to leave so as to reach the factory before dark, it became noisy and busy near Kochi Station. The station had an unusual atmosphere. I saw a lot of injured people getting off at the station and being carried on stretchers to the Kochi Theater which was a few minutes away by walk.

I bought a train ticket, and asked the station employee about the train service to Hiroshima. He said that the train was not guaranteed to go to Hiroshima Station, but at least it would go up to Hachihonmatsu Station.I boarded the train anticipating that I could reach the factory on foot from Hachihonmatsu Station before the curfew time. On the way, there was an announcement that the train would go up to the Kaitaichi Station. I got off the train at Kaitaichi and started walking towards Hiroshima Station. Along the way, I saw a lot of injured people with bandages on their heads. Some walked on sticks, some leaned on the shoulders of the healthier ones and some crouched down on the ground due to weakness. They had lined up for as long as several kilometers. Seeing them, I wondered what had happened in the city. There were only a few going into the city, and I was one of them.

I came to the Taisho Bridge, one kilometer [0.6 mile, or almost 1100 yards] away from Hiroshima Station. Two soldiers stood guard with bayonets. I asked them if I could go to Yoshijima, but they said it was impossible to cross the bridge and go across the city. To my further inquiry about the condition of Hiroshima Station, they told that the station had been completely destroyed and disabled. I now understood why all the passengers on the train had got off at Kaitaichi Station, and I started to walk to Yaga Station on the Geibi Line as I had originally intended. There were not so many people walking. I managed to arrive at Yaga Station, and felt relieved to hear that there was a train service to Miyoshi. I saw a number of the injured at Yaga Station, including those on stretchers.

I boarded the train and arrived at Shiwaguchi Station, and finally reached the factory to report my return to the Factory Manager K. He praised me for returning to the factory despite the harsh situation in Hiroshima. As he requested me to explain the condition on the way, I described what I had actually seen and heard on the train including the rumors. Then he ordered that, on the next day, we should board the truck at daybreak and go to the factory's headquarters in Yoshijima for rescue work. Each of us was told to carry twenty rice balls,

Before dawn on August 7, we boarded the truck with twenty rice balls each as instructed. There were many workers from Hiroshima travelling daily to the factory. But the factory was closed on August 6 because of the blackout, and I could not see any of those workers around. The day broke as we reached the highway through Kabe. On the way to the south, I saw a number of injured people, weakened and exhausted, walking towards the north of Kabe, probably going to their home to take shelter and receive help. I could not do anything but tell them to keep on going, but hardly any resposded to me due to exhaustion. In the early morning light around 5 o'clock, they looked like ghosts from behind. As we were going into the city, I kept wondering about what must be happening there. The truck stopped short of Yokogawa Station, where we saw houses and warehouses burning in front of us. The Chief K ordered us to get off there and proceed on foot to our destination in Yoshijima. We saw a lot of bodies near the station as we crossed the Yokogawa Bridge and walked into Tera-machi and Tokaichi-machi. We found everything had been completely destroyed and burned, and we could see the roadways and sidewalks as far as Funairi.