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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Anonymous (female)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 16 years old at the time

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, I was sixteen years old and was a student at the Nagasaki College of Education. Those days, the campus for female students was in Omura, about 15 km or 10 miles from Nagasaki as the crow flies, and they had to stay in the dormitory there. It was a sweltering midsummer day and we were studying in the hot classroom. Suddenly a horrible blaze of light flashed through the room. Everyone scurried under their desks. I don't remember how many seconds we stayed like that, but directed by the teacher, we all ran into the air raid shelter and held our breath in fear. That night we all slept under the open sky in the yard near the air raid shelter. Stars were shining brightly. We had heard of the "new-type bomb" that was dropped on Hiroshima, so we wondered if the one dropped on Nagasaki was the same kind of bomb.

Beginning the next day, we tended the A-bomb victims at the hospital, where more and more of them were brought from Nagasaki by train. They were all laid on the floors and packed tightly next to each other in the sickrooms, corridors and in the entrance hall. We had to step over the patients to look after them. We assisted the medical staff by putting bandages on the patients, removing maggots from the wounds, passing out food, and fanning the patients who were suffering from heat. Many of them were no longer able to talk. I still vividly remember them tugging at my clothes, moving their lips and begging for water.

Oftentimes, when we got to the hospital in the morning, we did not see patients who had been in severe pain the day before. We guessed that they had died, but we students were never given such information.

Those days the young man who would later become my husband was also a student at the same school, but the campus for male students was in Nagasaki, which means that they were very close to the hypocenter. On that day, all the male students had been mobilized to work at the Mitsubishi Armory. The building in which my husband worked collapsed in the A-bomb blast, and he lost consciousness under the rubble. A strong heat stirred him awake, and he found a fire coming toward him. Dragging himself out from the debris, he followed others and ran toward the mountain. He spent the whole night on top of the mountain, looking down at the city of Nagasaki burning. The next morning, someone helped him treat the wounds that covered his entire body.

My husband died at 51 because his body could no longer produce blood. The gloves he wore at the time of the A-bomb are smeared with oil and blood, but I have been keeping them as a keepsake in the household Shinto altar.