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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Masaru Hibino (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 19 years old at the time / current resident of Gifu

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. On the day when the atomic bomb (whose name was still unknown to us then) was dropped on Hiroshima, as a member of the Navy Land Forces, I was engaged in drills for launching closing-in attacks in the hilly areas of Kawaraishi and Yoshiura, adjacent to Kure. Then, a light flashed, followed a few seconds later by a roaring sound, and a plume of smoke (later known as the "mushroom cloud") rose beyond the rim of the mountains. Judging from the direction, we assumed that a powder magazine in Hiroshima must have exploded under an air raid attack.

After a short while, without giving any reason, a senior officer told us to suspend the drills immediately and return to the tent barracks where the headquarters was located. We lost no time returning to the barracks, where we were instructed to stand by, ready for any emergency alert. Ordered to go into action around 3:00 a.m. the following day, August 7, we left the barracks, walking down the mountain slopes to Kure Station. There, we got on a train heading for an undisclosed destination. When our train arrived at Kaitaichi Station, we got off since no train service was available beyond that point. We learned from citizens that the place attacked in an air raid the previous day was the city of Hiroshima. We walked to the city along the national highway. After passing through the area around Mukainada, we began to witness a stream of victims coming up one after another, with bandages over their heads, faces, and limbs. We also saw wretched scenes with roof tiles swelling up on top of local residents' houses, and window glass shattered.

Upon entering the city, we saw many demolished houses and places still in large flames. On the way, we spotted an approaching enemy aircraft, possibly a reconnaissance plane for surveying the results of the bombing. Everywhere, people who had been cleaning debris in fire-ravaged areas quickly got under what little cover they could find, apparently fearing that they might be bombed again as on the previous day. Seeing this, I could imagine how terrifying the previous day's bombing must have been.

At one point, we members of the Navy Land Forces assembled at the East Parade Ground, pitched our tents, and were soon assigned to respective missions. (It was around 9:00 a.m. on August 7.)

I was assigned to deliver meals to victims. I went out on a truck with some other members, delivering meals to people who had taken shelter at temples and schools that remained unburned, or at the parade grounds. On the way, I saw several bodies floating in rivers and dead horses left unattended on the road here and there, still tied to carts.

On the afternoon of the 7th, we were told to collect the bodies of those who had died while taking shelter at the East Parade Ground.

Everywhere on the parade ground, I saw a large number of people who had died, and next to them people who suffered burns to their heads, faces and limbs. Some had received temporary treatment, but not others. Among the victims were a mobilized student who was moaning by himself deliriously, "Mother, give me water," a soldier (probably an Army man) who asked for water while enduring pain, and a few members of a family who devoted themselves to taking care of injured persons. The ground seemed nothing but a hell on earth.