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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Sadao Sasakura (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 18 years old at the time / current resident of Kanagawa

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I enlisted in the East 64 unit as a volunteer soldier when I was 19 years old. I then transferred to the Tenryu 2769 unit. On June 28 the same year, 1945, we left Sakura and arrived at the training ground at the Hachihon Matsubara-cho barracks in Hiroshima. After 6 a.m. on August 6 while I was training with other first year soldiers at the ground, I saw an air raid and two B-29s over in the direction of Hiroshima city. The first bomber dropped two parachutes. When the following plane came, there was a flash and a simultaneous thunderous boom and then a column of pink and white smoke. I could see clearly with the naked eye that the smoke formed a cylinder, twisting and climbing quite high.

It twisted for a long time without dispersing. I just knew that it was not a normal bomb because I had experienced the bombing of Tokyo. Soon, we got operation orders, armed ourselves and marched to Hiroshima. I think we arrived in the city at around 4 p.m. It was like dusk around Hiroshima Station. The sun was orange and its light was dim. The heat emanating from the ground was intense and the city lay in ruins. Many people were wandering about or lying down. Their clothes were tousled and their exposed flesh was blackish with fourth-degree burns. They just walked around in utter apathy.

1- The first year soldiers were paired up, carrying the dead and injured by stretcher. We took the injured to a park. We dug holes two meters deep and three meters long on vacant land and buried the already decaying bodies. There were no doctors around so we lay the injured on straw mats where there was space. Most of the burn victims died about two weeks later. The stretchers were dripping wet with blood. When we carried people on the stretcher, blood oozed from their bodies. We were ordered not to touch their bodies with our bare hands when we stretchered them because of sequela.

2 - We sorted the dead by their towns, and we transported them by their division. Our last mission was to retrieve bodies from the river and it was difficult. They had doubled in weight because they had decomposed. Those crushed under the burned debris were only half their weight with their imprints conspicuously left behind as oil marks.

3 - The shapes of the dead varied and I feel that describing them would be an insult to their spirits, so I cannot say anything about it. The expressions on their faces showed a living hell. No matter what the justification, people should not use nuclear weapons.

4 - When I saw a doctor about my high fever and hair loss, I was told I only had four to five years to live. That was in 1946.

- I was at the barracks in Hachihon Matsubara-cho, Hiroshima when the A-bomb hit. During artillery training with my battalion I saw a flash and felt a mild blast. I was 19 years and 8 months old. At around 4 p.m. on August 6 1945, we first year soldiers arrived at Hiroshima Station and spent the night outside.

- We carried dead bodies and rescued survivors from all around Hiroshima station. (I don't remember the names of those areas or towns because I was a first year soldier.) I couldn't hear any animals (dogs, cats, birds, cicadas or insects) anywhere in the city. In the paddy fields, the submerged parts of the rice plants were green, but above the water they had withered. (After we finished carrying bodies and survivors, we walked for about 30 to 40 minutes and spent the night outside on some open farmland.)

- The many bodies under bridges in the city near the hypocenter interrupted the flow of the rivers. Retrieving those bodies was our final task. Some had already decomposed.

- At the time, there were rumors that survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would not live long because of health complications, but I've made it to 84. Apart from a bit of trouble walking, I am doing well.