Memoir of the A-bombing:
My Experience of August 6th
||by Masahiro Kunishige
Atomic Bomb Witness
for This Foundation
Middle School Students during War Time
When the Pacific War was near its end, many adult men were conscripted to the front lines and to munitions factories. To cover the labor shortage, students at third grade of middle school and above were mobilized to weapons factories and the like throughout the year, while first- and second-year students took turns to work as volunteer labor for building demolition work and the like.
At this time, fire bomb attacks by B-29 bombers were destroying major
cities all over the country, one after the other. In the central part of
the military city of Hiroshima, 16,000 houses were demolished in an area
of 4 kilometers from east to west, to a width of 100 meters, to make a
vacant site. And by means of this site and the seven rivers, we intended
to prevent the spread of fires when such attacks occurred.
More than 8,000 students in the first and second years of middle and
girls school lost their lives in the A-bombing while they were involved
in the demolition work. The area where the buildings were demolished is
now known as Peace Boulevard.
On Aug 5, myself and other second-year students at Hiroshima Second Middle School were involved in building demolition work in the area near the former Hiroshima Prefecture government (currently known as Kako-machi), and on Aug 6 we were at East Drill Ground behind Hiroshima Station. Although this was a school day, the schedule was suddenly changed and we were sent to weed the potato field at the Drill Ground.
At 8:00 am, the teacher called "All assemble!" When around
300 second-year students formed lines, one of my classmates said "I
wonder why we can still hear the roar of a plane, after the air raid alert
has been lifted." When I looked up at the sky, a B-29 that had come
flying in from the east suddenly turned north, and in that instant, there
were two or three flashes...
I do not remember anything after that.
The next thing I knew, we were lying on top of one another in the middle
of the potato field, mown down by the heat waves and the bomb blast. When
I could finally see, through the white smoke, the shapes of squirming people
and the faces of my classmates, I found that the faces were all gray and
pale. I touched my friend's cheek, thinking that he was dirty from the
dust, and the skin from his cheek just peeled off. I could not stop my
hands trembling. My friend next to me said, "You look even worse than
him you know.", and when I gingerly touched my own cheek, the skin
just all peeled away and was left hanging down from my face.
| There was no way we were going to do any weeding. We were suddenly told to stop work and disband. However, I had burns to my whole face and my left arm, and for the time being I just sat in the potato field, without the will to move.
When I looked up at the sky, a cloud, which looked like a thunder cloud,
was rising up into the sky at an amazing speed, fanning up the red flames
as it did. The city center was a sea of flames, and there were soldiers
suffering burns to half of their bodies, women looking like they had rags
hanging off the lower half of their bodies, and a group of what looked
like prisoners being led by a policeman suffering from burns and bandaged...
they were all
|People fleeing in the direction of Yoshijima Army Airfield (‘A-bomb Drawings
by Survivors’, by Mr. Haruo Ikegame)
|fleeing with both their hands stretched out in front of them, like ghosts.
I think it was just after noon. There seemed to be no hope of getting treatment
or relief there, so I joined up with seven classmates who came from the
western part of the city and we set off for our homes, along a route passing
through Hesaka, Midorii and Koi, making a detour around the burning city
center. Along the side of the road, there were seriously injured people
on the verge of death, groaning "Please give me water", but it
was tough enough for us just to walk ourselves, let alone help anyone else.
After a while we, too, became unbearably thirsty, and stopped at a first-aid
station along the way to ask for water, but we were told that people with
severe burns would die if they drank water. So all they did was apply something
like oil on our burns, and we received nothing to drink. It was then that
we found a well behind a farm house. Thinking "I don't care if I die,
I can't bear it any longer", I was the first to drink the water from
the draw well. I will never forget the taste of that cold water. However
I had not walked more than ten minutes from there before my burns had swelled
up like water-filled rubber balloons, and I started to feel afraid of the
warning we had heard at the first-aid station.
I finally reached Koi Station when it was almost evening, and I got a
ride on a military relief truck to get back to my home in Hatsukaichi.
I Vowed to Avenge My Suffering
When I saw my parents' faces I could not stop crying. However that night
was to be the start of another hell. With my mother holding my head down,
my father used tweezers to peel off my burned skin. Four times a day, he
peeled off the scabs and applied white ointment. The pain I experienced
was like being scratched with the jagged edge of a can lid. Apparently
I was groaning at the time, "That hurts, I'll get them back for this."
Conveying My A-bomb Experience
For us, the second-year students who survived by the difference of one
day, we have lived with a constant sense of guilt towards the first-year
students who lost their lives in our place. Sixty-five years after the
bombing, I learned from the television about people born after the war
telling stories of A-bombing, and it made me realize that it was we who
survived the bombing, who should talk about what we witnessed. By doing
so, we can represent the sorrow of those first-year students, whose names
are carved in the stone cenotaph, and I believe that ridding this world
of nuclear weapons will also help me to avenge our suffering.
Born April 3, 1931. Experienced the A-bombing at the age of 14, as a second-year
student from Hiroshima Second Middle School, at the East Drill Ground,
approximately 2 kilometers from the hypocenter. Sustained burns to the
face and arms.
On August 5, the day before the bombing, was involved in Building Demolition
work around the former Hiroshima Prefecture government, and on ‘that fateful
day’, the 322 first-year students who were involved in that work, instead
of the second-year students, lost their lives in what is now known as Peace