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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Yoshiyuki Toyota (male)
'Chokubaku'  1.3 km from the hypocenter / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
In those days I was a student from Nagasaki Teachers' College who had been put to work at the Mitsubishi Ordnance Plant in Ohashi due to the wartime mobilization of students for labor service. I was assigned to work at the Inspection Section. Our work was to conduct water pressure, weight, and other such tests on completed torpedos that had come off line from the manufacturing division.

After the surrender of Okinawa on June 23,1945, U.S. warplanes had control of the airspace over all of Kyushu. Their successive air strikes caused the factory no end of trouble with a series of air-raid alarms and red alerts, forcing it to dramatically reduce its output of arms and ammunition. We found ourselves afflicted with an odd, growing sense of despondency. All we were doing every day was going back and forth to the arsenal, cleaning the inspection stands, and polishing the apparatus and the test instruments.

The morning of August 9 was hot and languid. Stripped to the waist, I was as usual slaving away at my chores, polishing the test instruments dozens of times. I thought it must surely be lunch time and looked at the grandfather clock to find it was 11 am. I stood up to rest my hands and gazed at the clock's big hand for a moment, when I suddenly felt high wind pressure against my back and found myself thrown down against the concrete floor.

When I came to and staggered to my feet, the scene before me had been transformed into a view of complete hell.

I was taken by the first train from the emergency evacuation site on a hill in the Urakami district to Omura Naval Hospital around four p.m. Around eight-thirty p.m. one of the staff wearing a chief corpsman's armband announced, "You gentlemen are casualties of this war and are valued by the Imperial Army and Navy. I imagine you were not given enough water at the evacuation site, so we have prepared some clean water here in order to reward your toil and efforts. I would like you to drink your fill." Everybody, me included, drank a mug of water. That created a stir in the beds, each packed with five patients. I heard a voice saying, "That was good."

Soon the lights were turned off, which put me to sleep.

I woke up around 3:30 a.m. The ward was still quiet. I called out to a nurse in a loud voice. "I'm sorry to bother you, nurse, but I'm hungry. Do you have anything to eat?" The nurse who rushed over to me replied, " Oh, will you eat? Yes, we have something... some rice porridge. I'm glad we have it. I'll bring it right away for you."

I asked for a second helping. I said, "Thank you. It was good." Then I went on, "Say, nurse, has everybody else already left the hospital?" She shook her head from side to side and explained to me: "They are all on the truck parked outside. Everyone but you died once their lips were moistened for the last time. You have miraculously escaped death. I am happy to see you alive."