Thursday, April 21, 2016

Memoir by Survivor of Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

A lot of people know the Enola Gay but no one remembers the Bockscor.

"When the city sounded the air raid warning, I ran as fast as I could to the cave the government had dug into the side of a hill for us students. I always made it to the shelter ahead of the rest of my class. I say always because Nagasaki had been bombed five times before that day....
We thought the warning on August 9 would be like the others. That’s why a lot of the girls just hung around the school. At that point, the government had not announced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima three days before. The teachers made us all leave the classrooms, telling us to run to the shelter. I did, but most of the others just stood around talking in the schoolyard. It was not that unusual to see B-San [‘Mr. B’] flying over. That’s what most of us called a B-29. A single B-San had never caused trouble — just checking the weather or taking pictures of the coast, we assumed.
When the bomb exploded, it caught me standing in the entrance to the shelter, motioning for the pokey girls to come in. First came the light — the brightest light I have ever seen. It was an overcast day, and in an instant every object lost all color and blanched a brilliant white. My eyes couldn’t cope, and for a little while I went blind.
A searing hot flash accompanied the light that blasted me. For a second I dimly saw it burn the girls standing in front of the cave. They appeared as bowling pins, falling in all directions, screaming and slapping at their burning school uniforms. I saw nothing for a while after that.
Immediately, a powerful wind struck me. It propelled me farther into the cave; then in an instant it threw me out the front entrance. I guess the shockwave hit the back of the cavern and bounced. It took me with it and others who had sought refuge in the shelter. We came tumbling out onto the ground.
What a terrible feeling! I could see nothing. My hands and face singed, intense pain gripped my body. I tried to walk a little and stumbled over a fallen tree. I lay there, not knowing for sure where I was or whether something else might happen to me.
When my senses, including my sight, began returning, I heard crying from the girls in front of the shelter. ... The face and hands of the other girls quickly turned bright red. I guess my being partially inside the cave provided some protection because my stinging began to disappear before long.
... Fires started all around us. Flames leaped from paper and wood scraps, some from collapsed structures. Thick smoke and dust filled the air. The fires gave the only real illumination. Even the noontime sunlight, filtering through the clouds, darkened. ...
‘Let’s go back to the school. It’s only a couple hundred meters,’ one of the classmates suggested. We traveled slowly because each step caused pain. Our thoughts were that a bomb must have gone off near the shelter and burned a short distance around us. We didn’t even dream what devastation covered our entire city.
The route to the school seemed strangely flat and empty. Someone asked, ‘Weren’t there houses here when we came to the shelter?’ The whole world appeared so surreal we just accepted that structures could disappear off the face of the earth. We were living a terrible nightmare.
My classmate Fumiko scampered about 50 meters ahead of us. When I looked up to see why she was calling, I saw her pointing to a large form on the ground.
‘Look over there,’ she shouted. ‘It has escaped from the zoo. It’s an alligator.’ It lay in our path to the school, so we approached with caution. Fumiko found a rock.
She drew back the rock above her head as she approached the creature. Then, Fumiko froze in her tracks, screaming hysterically. I ran to her side. The face looking up at us from the crawling creature was human. The shrieking in my ear kept me from hearing what the face was trying to say. I could just see it pleading for something — probably water. No clothes or hair were visible, just large, gray scalelike burns covering its head and body. The skin around its eyes had burned away, leaving the eyeballs, huge and terrifying. Whether male or female I never found out.
The head fell forward — face in the dirt. It didn’t move after that. Fumiko crumbled to the ground and I dropped beside her.
We were both 15."

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