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For Those Who Pray for Peace
Student Mobilization Workforce
- Kimi Ohara (maiden name, Nishikubo)
52nd Graduating Class of Jogakuin High School before the war
Residing in Yokohama City, Kanagawa prefecture
Soon after the spring of 1944, when I reached the senior year at Hiroshima Jogakuin High School, I was assigned to work at the Navy shipyard in Hiro as a member of the Student Mobilization Workforce. I moved to the dorms where the students of Jogakuin lived on the second floor and the students of Kabe Middle School for Women on the first. Kabe Middle School was a very strict public school and I was surprised to learn how stern the students were. I used to take my time and would arrive late to assembly meetings. The House Masters would reprimand me and I remember poking fun because the House Master mistakenly called our school "Joshi gakushuin".
At the factory, the students were assigned to either work with springs at the lathe or in administration. I was chosen to work as an administrator. Every hour my duty was to go around the factory floor to count the machines that were working and to also keep track of productivity. That was the first time I used a hand-cranked calculator. The days were divided into three shifts, the first from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the second from 4 p.m. to midnight, and the third from midnight to 8 a.m.
At night, our way back to the dorms was quite dark due to the blackouts. There was a security guard whose job was to walk us back but he often walked way ahead of us.
There were about 20 of us on our shift and we walked in rows of four. The women from the Volunteer Service Corps walked in the front of the line, followed by the students of Kabe Middle School for Women and then we were at the end. My three roommates and I were always last in line. Usually we would start chatting and would get distracted, only to find out that we were far behind the rest of the group. We were afraid of the dark so we sped up our pace to catch up with the people in front of us. Then those in front of us started to pick up their pace, and then the people in front of them… Soon the whole group was running at full speed and wondering as to what had brought it on. The captain of the Service Corps "Stop, stop!" but nobody listened. She was concerned because when we entered the gates at the dorms, we were supposed to straighten up the lines and march to a cadence, like soldiers. The captain yelled at the top of her lungs. Once we entered the gate, she asked who it was that started running. The four of us, all out of breath, just looked at each other with an innocent look on our faces. Every time I remember this incident I can't help chuckling.
I also remember the day when one of our teachers (I think it was Ms. Toshiko Nishida) took us to the hills behind the dorms and we sang hymn #106. It was only a couple days after the end of the war, and it was still taboo to sing hymns out in the open.
I really meant to write about my brother who died of severe burns. I was hoping that writing a memoir about his death would give me the opportunity to heal my grief. But as soon as I picked up the pen, tears came out before the words and my hand trembled. I just could not bring myself to write about him. There is much more that I want to write about but for now, I will leave it on this lighter note.
… 77 years old