The Fatal Day - Atarashi Oshima
At that time I had been working in Tobata in Kita Kyushu City. In August days before the explosion I was drafted into the Engineering Brigade in Hiroshima.
The brigade had been divided into several groups of just over a dozen soldiers. We were residing in temporary housing at an elementary school at Gion-machi, Asa-gun. Being only three days since we had been drafted we still did not know each other well. On the fateful day the air raid warning was sounded at three in the morning. We were by the river bank until dawn and breakfast had been delayed by an hour. The Group Leader gave the command to eat. The very moment we picked up our chopsticks a light flashed. As I looked outside I saw a building 150 meters away collapse from a huge blast. We instinctively hit the ground.
The shattering glass from the windows flew into the room. I was lucky, as I was not so close and had my face down at the time. Finally I looked up and found out that I was all right and the ceiling was still intact. Looking outside I saw what looked like a yellow bluish-gray telephone pole swelling upwards, getting taller, bigger and mushrooming into a huge cloud.
About four kilometers away roof tiles had be blown away as if a typhoon had passed through. This bomb was different to anything we had ever known. Everything was a mess both inside and out.
Around 11 a.m. we decided to move to the same river banks. On the way we saw many forty and fifty years old laying next to the big trees in the woods of the Hachiman Shrine and wondered why they were taking a nap so early in the morning. As we arrived at the banks and began to discover the seriousness of the damage. People were arriving on the scene under the sweltering summer sunshine. It was like a parade of ghosts. Their faces were pale their eyes hollow. Hair dishevelled their clothes were torn. Some wore odd shoes, others were barefoot. Some fell down and stopped moving.
A few days after I went to a house for water to find a girl lying there with burns on her arms and back and swarms of flies on her wounds. On either the eleventh or twelfth of August we were dispatched to a temporary medical depot across the Ota River. On the ferry we were told by a Military policeman from Shimonoseki that the bomb was of some new type. On the bank of the Ota River I saw a man lying on a veranda. His face was so badly burned he resembled a grilled fish. The caretaker was having difficulty in pouring water into his mouth. We sat for a break in the sweet potato fields in front of the medical depot. I saw something and approached it to find a soldier. He was still breathing but had been left to die. Further away there was an enclosure of four poles with straw mats. Looking I found a pile of dead young soldiers. They were naked but there bodies were clean and showed no signs of burns or external injuries.
Since the day following the bomb we had also suffered a bleeding diarrhoea. So although we saw these horrible scenes, our reaction to it was not normal. We had lost our power to think normally and our physical strength had declined. It was not until, years later that I understood that those people in the Shrine woods and the bodies in the sweet potato fields were the victims from inside buildings. They were not directly exposed to the heat but had been instantly showered with an excessive amount of radioactivity.
The atomic bomb has a dreadful destructive power. It blasted away the big cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki instantaneously. It burned everything and dissolved glass, roof tiles etc. Even more dreadfully though, the radioactive power of it affected the survivors and their succeeding descendants for many generations.
I returned to Tobata on the 21st of September 1945 to resume my work. The very night I returned, I had a nasal hemorrhage that lasted for three days. I have also suffered from gum hemorrhaging for the past 30 years.
In 1974, 29 years from that day, mongolian spots have covered my back and waist. It was just after an operation for an intestinal blockage. At that time I spent 50 days in hospital. The doctors have no answer as to why I have these spots. I was in such a serious condition that they called my sister from Kansai and she brought her mourning dress with her.
Even now I catch colds too easily and my health is poor. I know of many of the A-bomb victims. Their problems vary based on how much they were exposed. The world needs to know and be reminded of the suffering to human beings that day caused
What tells he with the clod in hands on his last breath
A Girl being treated for burns covering her chest and hands that attract the flies
A face heavily burned and inflamed with no opening found to give water
Corpses unattended piled high and left in potato fields
The potatoes fields permeated by the smoke of cremations in early Autumn.
After the Interview: Mr. Oshita was the first person we interviewed. He had a slight cold but was gratified to tell us about his experience. He is Vice President of the A-Bomb victims clinic in Fukuoka Prefecture and devotes his time to the other victims. We were very moved to talk to him.
October 25th 1994 Interviewers - Yoshiko Kobayashi and Naomi Hashimoto of Yahata-nishi.
Thermic rays. The shadows of the parapets imprinted on the road surface of the Yorozuyo Bridge in Hiroshima.
That day 50 years ago - Takeo and Chizuko Hasegawa
At that time I was 38 years old. I had three sons and worked at the Hiroshima Post Office.
On the night of August 5th I was on shelter duty on rotation. Around 3 a.m. on August 6th, the air raid alert sounded all clear. I returned home to Ushida-machi and retired to bed. I was not scheduled to report back to work until 10 a.m. that day. At 8:15 a.m., I was woken by a roaring sound. The roof of our house was gone and the windows had been blown out. There were lots of pieces of broken glass stuck in my legs.
I saw a very strong light outside the window. The engineering brigade near my house was on fire. My wife had been washing clothes in the bathroom and glass flew into the washtub. Fortunately our house was three kilometers away from the hypocenter of the blast. My wife was uninjured and I was also safe with exception to the cuts on my legs.
I went to report to the Post office dodging my way between the sites of fires. The City was in panic. I saw people wandering around in search of water and women and children screaming in terror. Groups of soldiers were running towards the mountain shoutingWater, water! I could do nothing to help them.
The Post Office was about one kilometer from the hypocenter. Destruction was heavy and only it's skeleton remained. Inside was a terrible mess. Many people had died there because the time bomb had hit and exploded was at the start of the days business. I searched for my colleagues, helped survivors and conveyed victims back to their families. I was so busy I could not return home for a few days. I learned that there were a total of 496 victims at the Post Office.
My eldest son was a seventh year Junior High School pupil at that time. As a pupil he had been helping to relocate some school equipment as was bombed near the Tsurumi Bridge around Hijiyama. My wife and I searched for three days before we found him. He was taken to the School in Hinodemachi. He was badly burned. His hands were swollen like gloves and his chin was so badly blistered that the bottom part was barely hanging from his face. . I will never forget how awful he looked. After prompt treatment at the Communication Service Hospital I took him home. We sent him to my home town of Yanai City in Yamaguchi Prefecture for recuperation for 40 days. His treatment consisted of ointment being applied to his burns. The ointment was supplied by an Ophthalmic Surgeon my father was working for. He recovered after a year and underwent Orthopaedic surgery to his face. His burn scars were almost gone.
My other two sons were fortunate to escape injury has they had been evacuated to Yanai City the previous month. Since the house was gone we had to rent a room at a temple or at a friends house. Our family spent many uncomfortable days being separated in the post-war period.
Ever since the bombing, Hiroshima City holds an annual memorial service and appeals for world peace and the abandonment of nuclear weapons. Our Post Office has followed suit and has built a memorial post box. The box is located inside the Peace Park. Although this is a symbolic post box we are hoping to get the voices of Hiroshima victims heard. It is our duty to relentlessly continue to voice the inhumanity of the bomb. The world needs to renounce all arms, especially nuclear weapons.
After the interview: Mr. and Mrs. Hasegawa are both doing well. They did not suffer physical after-effects of the atomic blast. They have however, had many distressing experiences, but they have the strength to endure. They lost their eldest son to cancer several years ago. A-bomb survivors are dwindling and it is getting harder to hear eyewitness accounts. As symbolised in the recent Smithsonian controversy, interpretations of the war are also varied. It is important to listen to people with a different viewpoint and to fully realise the effects of war on human beings. We must learn from the past so as not to repeat it.
The interviewer was Fumio Okuma of Dazaifu City.