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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Kazumasa Matsushiro (male)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Nagasaki

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
At the time of the bombing, I was sixteen years old and in my third year at Shimabara Middle School (under the old government education system) and also had a post with the Second Torpedo Department, Kawatana Navy Arsenal. I was taking a nap at the school dormitory when the news reported that a new type of bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki. There had been a tremendous flash and sound. I'd jumped up and thought "What is going on?"

Night approached and as the sky high above Nagasaki turned a deep red, trains for transporting the injured began to arrive. Immediately, an order was given to all available students and factory workers to rush to Kawatana Railroad Station in order to help with relief efforts. Already the station was filled with military personnel, firefighters, nurses and female students hard at work. We carried the victims on our backs from the freight cars, and also guided them by hand to the trucks. A few of them had to be carried on two-wheeled carts.

The worst part for me was when I noticed an elementary school kid, probably around fourth grade, who had suffered a horrific burn. I tried to help and carry him on my back, but he screamed that his leg hurt, and I had to put him down. I noticed something sticking to my hands. Upon close examination, I realized that it was the burnt part of his skin peeling away. My only choice was to let him walk, but when he tried he could not. So, I had to put him on my back again, while trying hard not to touch his burns. The kid then said, "Big brother, give me a little water please." I recalled at that moment that my supervisor had already told me that water should not be given to such victims. So, while carrying him to the car, I told him that in his condition it was too dangerous to have any water. Looking back to that day, I am sure that the glass of water, if given to him, would have tasted very good, and I regret that I did not give him it to him since he wanted it so much. I think that poor lonely child went to heaven before he could ever meet his parents again.

What I can't forget from that time is the Kawatana Navy Arsenal being strafed by the Grummans' machine guns and the heavy bombing over the No.21 Aircraft Arsenal at Omura . Until a few years ago, my sleep was regularly disturbed by nightmares of those heavy attacks. Although the war has been over for many years, I still have nightmares almost once a year in which a tiny Grumman is coming after me while I am trying desperately to run away, finally escaping into the closet. But the Grumman still catches me there. This kind of terror of being machine-gunned as experienced in my boyhood simply cannot be forgotten.

We are living in peace today. The horrible disaster that occured in Japan more than 60 years ago - the result both of the atomic bombings and of the military rule of Japan - has come to an end. We should never allow such nightmares to happen a second time. We, the Japanese people and the people all over the world, should, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, prevent any such nuclear wars from ever happening again. For all eternity.

I am 80 years old now and very healthy. I want to say thank you to everybody. The direct distance between Nagasaki and Kawatana is about 40 kilometers.

It would be my greatest honor if this message to the future could serve as a warning that helps bring about peace all over the world. Thank you.