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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Anonymous (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Toyama

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
I entered into the Nagasaki Shipbuilding Institute in April 1945. Until the end of the war in August, enemy aircraft often flew raids over the school, and at such times, even in the middle of lessons, we evacuated to air raid shelters. On August 9, when the atomic bomb was dropped, I was in class on Kouyagi Island, about eight kilometers away from the hypocenter. At first, there was that flash of light characteristic of an atomic explosion, and then a short time later, the window panes were blown out. I rushed down to the air raid shelter, in such a daze that I never even noticed I was stepping on glass splinters in my haste to get down there.

The sound of explosions continued incessantly, and even down in the air raid shelter I was not able to rest easy. Around 2 p.m, I went out of the shelter to have a look up at the sky, and saw a lot of warplanes flying over the sea. I did not know where the planes were going to attack. In the early evening, I again left the shelter, and heard a senior student saying that a new type of bomb had been exploded over the city of Nagasaki, and that the city had gone up in a sea of flame. I went by boat to into Nagasaki as one of the members of a rescue party. I found the downtown area of the city had been completely annihilated as I had already heard.

The Nagasaki prefectural government building had been completely destroyed without leaving a trace. The impact of the blast could be seen everywhere. There was damage as far as the eye could see, with many dead bodies wherever I went. While I was walking around the streets, I saw such things as a carriage horse which had dropped dead on its side; the river and various burned-out sites filled with corpses; and students with faces blackened by the blast. Unprotected sections of painted advertising displays on power poles were burned totally black. At a first-aid station, some victims were crying out and screaming, while other victims were badly burned and barely breathing. A navy physician was shouting at those who were having trouble breathing as he tried to provide emergency treatment.

A three-story elementary school building damaged by the atomic bomb had been almost totally obliterated, but at the corner of the building, where there were the slight remains of a dividing wall, I saw the bodies of children lying in the rubble. As a member of the rescue party, my assignment was to suppress all fear and carry survivors on stretchers from the bomb shelter to the first-aid station.
It was hard work because we had to go up and down due to the hilly terrain. While we were transporting the victims, we were sometimes aware of B-29 bombers flying high in the clear blue sky; however they did not drop any more bombs. They only flew overhead. They were performing reconnaissance flights. In the evening, as I was returning to join the other members of the rescue squad, I was buzzed by low-flying carrier based aircraft, and then I saw a survivor, whose whole body had been burned, wandering around like a ghost.
On August 15, I was told to listen to the Emperor's speech on the radio. There was a lot of interference on the radio, and while I was listening to the speech, I could only guess that we might have lost the war. I clearly remember that it was difficult to catch the words because the noise was so bad.

The next day, I felt anxious because some people were saying that if enemies landed in Japan, we would have to fight back with bamboo lances even though we had already lost the war. At the same time, most people seemed to realize that we couldn't engage in warfare because we didn't have even a single gun. So we were told to return to our hometowns while we still could, and we got two or three kilograms of rice each to take back with us. Nagasaki Station had been completely destroyed, and in its place on the burnt ruins had been set up a makeshift hut station where we could get tickets. I lined up there through the night and managed to get a certificate giving me permission to take a train, which was a piece of scrip stamped with the Nagasaki Station manager's seal. On August 17, which was the next day, I boarded a train bound for Osaka. Inside the train it was very crowded. I was with large numbers of crying people who were on their way back to their hometowns. I saw countless people who were sobbing or wailing in sorrow; perhaps they had gotten separated from their families or did not have any relatives left. Then the train started out at around 2 p.m.

We have a saying, "Our nation may be defeated but our mountains and rivers remain." Nevertheless, the end was really sad.

I arrived at Takaoka Station at 10 p.m. two days later, then I changed to a local train line and made it Fukuno Station. I wanted to sleep at the station and set out for home the next morning but I couldn't sleep because the mosquitoes were so bad. At last, I walked the last five kilometers and arrived back around midnight. My parents, who got up when I arrived, welcomed me home.