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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Taichi Yoshida (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Osaka

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. The experience of being exposed to residual radiation from entering the city after the A-bomb during my career at the Japan National Railways.

At 8:15 a.m., August 6, I was on duty, riding a bank engine between Seno and Hachihonmatsu on the Sanyo Line. It was just when I was sidetracking from the middle line of Seno Station to the train depot that I saw the B-29 bomber dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was the first time in the history of the world that an atomic bomb had been dropped on a populated city. The details are omitted due to space constraints.

I was a steam locomotive fireman, seventeen years old, and was in the middle of sidetracking the bank engine when the atomic bomb exploded. A few seconds after the sharp flash, a huge blast resonated and caused the railway tracks to tremble some fifteen kilometers [9.3 miles] away from the hypocenter. A steam engineer activated the emergency brake so suddenly that he almost fell off his driver's seat.
(Note) The trembling of railway tracks was witnessed by those who were walking on the tracks in the yard.

A few minutes later, a mushroom-shaped atomic cloud like a large cumulonimbus appeared. After fifteen minutes or so, it became a gigantic fireball piercing the sky. The huge destructive power threatened to wreck all the houses in Hiroshima in an instant and fires were expected to break out. Before I knew it, I found myself shouting, "Oh my god, Hiroshima is being completely destroyed!" In the city a great number of citizens such as workers, girl students mobilized for the demolition of buildings and houses and others had gathered simultaneously.

That was why tens of thousands of people fell victim in an instant.

A steam engineer of the Seno engine depot who knew about chemistry said, "This must be an A-bomb" while the news releases referred to it as a new type of bomb.

In 1943 I started working at the Hiroshima engine depot, and became a steam fireman in February of the following year. In May I was transferred to the Seno engine depot where I came to experience the reality of the A-bombing. Since I was originally from the Hiroshima engine depot and used to board in Osuga-cho near Hiroshima Station when working as a steam fireman there, my junior steam fireman and I, on the 8:15 a.m. commuter train, entered the city center 48 hours after the A-bombing. There was already a stench of death around Kaitaichi Station on the Sanyo Line.

The terrible devastation caused by the atomic bomb that we saw near the station was far beyond our imagination. The tremendous suffering was more than we could ever have imagined. We were absolutely appalled by the thousands of victims as far as the eye could see.

There was almost nothing left from the front of the station to Hiroshima Ujina Port. Only Hijiyama Hill was intact but several steel - framed buildings such as the Fukuya Department Store and the Chugoku Shimbun [Newspaper] remained half-destroyed while wooden houses were completely destroyed, leaving only smoldering embers. Hiroshima Castle had disappeared into thin air as its castle keep had been blown up by the bomb blast and burned in the spreading fire, leaving nothing but its stone walls.

I saw a dozen or more child soldiers mobilized for disposing of the corpses at the front of the station where there were already piles of forty to fifty bodies that had been carried there on stretchers. The first two-car streetcar of Hiroshima Electric Railway Company was reduced to a skeleton in front of the station, leaving the charred corpses of morning commuters such as workers and mobilized citizens inside the cars. In the tragic corpses in front of the station, I saw an inferno that was worse than a scene from hell.