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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Tamotsu Isoda (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Saitama

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
After the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki at 11:02 on the morning of August 9, I worked under the Student Mobilization program cleaning up the area around the University Medical School in Sakamoto-machi in Nagasaki. I also helped provide relief to bomb victims who had been transported to Isahaya City and were being housed at the Isahaya Middle School, directing them to the naval hospital near Isahaya Station to receive medical treatment there. Whenever I see the building that housed the victims I cannot forget the maggots that formed on the back of their bandages, nor the accompanying stench.

That's the kind of indelible memory I have of the bombing. Nuclear war must be avoided at all cost. This is my plea to the next generation.

Happiness Depends on Peace

At the time that the A-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, at 11:02 on the morning of August 9, 1945, I was at the entrance to a photography studio near the Shimen Bridge in Isahaya. I saw a B-29 emerge from the clouds and head for Nagasaki just moments after the air raid siren sounded. A short time later, just as I thought I had seen a flash of light, there was a huge jolt and the sound of window glass breaking, so I instantly threw myself down into the drainage ditch at the side of the road. I thought, this must be the new model bomb (the atomic bomb) that was dropped on Hiroshima.

I hurried back to my dormitory. It must have been around 3:00 when the western sky turned completely black and we had heavy rain mixed with ash for about 30 minutes. It wasn't clear after that what the situation was in Nagasaki, but that evening there was a radio broadcast over microphones in the city and we learned of the disastrous circumstances. The city had been bombed, injuries had been sustained, and trains and trucks were being used for transport to hospitals in Isahaya and Oomura.

Later, on August 19, I participated in public service activities directing victims from the Middle School (currently Isahaya High School) and also from the Elementary School (currently Isahaya City Hall) to the Isahaya branch of the naval hospital. The bomb victims in these temporary shelters were burned all over their bodies and, with the long hair of the women frizzled short, one could not distinguish women from men. If one got close enough in the wafting stench to look, one saw maggots clinging to the tops of victims' heads, one head after the other, and also swarming at the cuffs of their white shirts.
There were some victims who, in somewhat better condition than most, washed the maggots off of themselves in a small stream by the side of the schoolyard.

We worked together in pairs or in teams of four to transport the burn victims to the Isahaya branch of the naval hospital, using stretchers that normally carried compost. A nurse who had served previously at the battle front, first picked their bodies clean of maggots and then used tweezers to remove the hardened ash (made from straw) that had been smeared over their wounds to stop the bleeding. This caused them to start bleeding again. On the other hand, the burn victims screamed in pain when mercurochrome was sprayed on them, and it was like witnessing a scene from hell. I also witnessed some of those transported victims taking their last breaths. Many of the students who participated in transporting victims fell quite ill as well, and I myself lost my appetite due to that horrible odor and was laid up in bed for four days.

Still later, on August 21st or 22nd, our instructors Tagawa and Ogata took us by train from Isahaya Station to Urakami Station, leaving at around 10:00 a.m. and arriving around 11:00 a.m. We were shocked to see charred trees completely leveled against the mountainside by the radiation, and also to see that to the left of the foot of the mountain, now a burned-out wasteland, a torii (gate to a Shinto shrine) stood on only one post.

The route to the hospital affiliated with Fukushima Medical University had been bulldozed clear by the occupation forces, enough so that vehicles could pass, but corpses must have continued to burn in fires at the road's edge, as the smells of smoke and death lingered in the air. We arrived promptly at the hospital and carried skeletal remains from the vicinity of the hospital to some empty land above the hospital, where we burned them. In those miserable circumstances skeletonized remains were scattered about with the bones of horses, and we were struck by the destructive power of the A-bomb. We completed the work set out for us by our instructors, and at around 5:00 p.m. we boarded the train at Urakami Station, then got off at Isahaya Station and went back to the dormitory.

Looking back over these 60 years since the bomb, I've heard that in many cases exposure resulted in the development of cancer or leukemia. Among my school friends in a class of 50 students, about six have died from lung cancer or leukemia. And so the misery caused by exposure to the bomb will never fade from my memory. Our happiness depends on peace. I pray for a future of calm and peace.
(Previously published text received 2010)