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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Hamakichi Kubota (male)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 21 years old at the time / current resident of Gunma

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. When the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, I was attending an electrical engineering class as a trainee of the fourth graduating class of the electrical engineering study at Naval Diving School. We built a barracks with a domed roof on a low wooded hill near Onoura, about twelve kilometers west of Hiroshima. The electrical engineering class was the first class in the morning. I was suddenly dazzled by a blinding flash. What happened? What was that? Fifty of us trainees were stunned with serious fear and anxiety.

About two minutes later, the flash was followed by strong wind and loud noise as if four or five lightning strikes had hit the ground. The wind was so strong that I was almost blown away. My fellows dived under their desks without a word. It was about 8:17 AM when I looked at my watch.

No one spoke. About a minute later, our trainer said; "Kubota, I am going to the administrative office, so stay here", and he left. We did not hear from him until that night at 11:45 PM when he told us, "It appears that Hiroshima was attacked by a huge bomb. I will let you know what happened. Stay calm and wait here."

The next day, at eight in the morning on August 7th, we started to participate in the rescue and relief operation of the A-bomb victims at Onoura elementary school.

We dug a hole that was about five meters in width, ten meters in length, and half a meter in depth on a small hill located about 1.5 km away from the elementary school. I carried the victims' bodies from the school and burnt them in the field. In the relentless summer heat under the hot summer sun, with temperatures rising up to 34 degree Celsius, I knew it was cruel but being the person in charge, I had to order my fellows to do their job. I can never forget that.

Our working condition was harsh with blazing sun, and no medicine. Bandages ran out in a few days and we could not provide any care for the victims. The things that happened in those 20 days until we were relieved on August 27th were awfully tragic. It was we who named the bomb Pikadon (tremendous flash and sound). We were uncertain if we would ever see any plants grow there again. I was full of uncertainties even after I came back home. Since then I have not been able to talk about Hiroshima. In 1994, my health condition deteriorated. I finally reported my conditions to Hiroshima prefecture and received an A-bomb Survivor Health Book.

I was drafted into military service and was assigned to Yokosuka Marine Division. Soon after I joined the division, my boss suggested that I apply for Otake Diving School as there was a shortage of volunteers going to diving schools. I took an exam and passed. My foreman suggested that I volunteer to go to Otake Diving School as active duty. As a matter of fact, Japan was in desperate straits in the war at that time, and it seems that each marine division was required to send some volunteers to the diving schools.

[Notable things]
I can never forget the man who shouted as he fell dead, "I am a Korean, I do not want to die like this." It is stuck in my head. It happened when we were providing aid to A-bomb victims at Onoura elementary school, seven kilometers south from Hiroshima. The victims had evacuated from Otake. I am thinking about going back to the current Onoura elementary school. I am 86 years old and an old man now.