The villager's note and testimony / People of Hesaka village

2. The Drill Day of the Volunteer Citizen's Corps

On the morning of August 6, I was taking a break after having a military drill of the volunteer citizen's corps, coming home and having breakfast. On hearing a roaring sound, I looked out and saw something like a parachute flying towards the north. Then I saw a mushroom cloud. From the blast, all the fittings of my house fell down, glass was broken, the ceilings peeled off, the floor boards fell down, the sliding screens were broken, and the roof tiles were ruffled like fish scales. A house on the hill appeared to catch on fire, and later it seemed to be extinguished by some local people.

I rushed to the Village Office leaving behind things I wanted to do at home. Around 9:00, A-bombed people started reaching the village. The first was Mr. A., a resident of Kazuko in Hesaka. He was in Hakushima when the A-bomb was dropped. After leading the drill of volunteer corps, he had gone there to buy an iron pot. He was a leader of the corps. He said that Hakushima had been bombed. He died one month later. Mr. B. was also exposed to the bomb in Hiroshima and died after some while. Those coming back from Hiroshima were not able to walk by themselves without shoulders given by two men as well as words of encouragement. Hiroshima victimes said, “Chief, avenge Hiroshima for us!” Not so many people went to Hiroshima that day because of the drill, so few villagers were victimized. Some of them thanked me for deciding the date of the drill on that morning.

“A person with burned white hair and another with red underwear passed by in front of the temple. Since I had no idea what had happened in Hiroshima, I wondered if a costume parade or something took place there.” (speech by his wife)

Although Hesaka Elementary School was designated to accept Hiroshima citizens in case of emergency, we had contracted with the Army for using the building as a Military Hospital. People exposed to the A-bomb were arriving one after another. As military officers had precedence over them, we had to decline local people. After a while, we put a person at Amamizu to direct fleeing people to go to Koyo-cho instead, but in vain.

We had already determined what to do in case of emergency. I called all the chiefs of the community meetings and allocated five to ten soldiers to each household, according to the size of the house. Each family accepted several wounded soldiers as well as their own relatives and some local people.

The Women's Association prepared rice balls to distribute to each family, but because they were made of brown rice, they were too hard for weakened people to eat. At the Military Hospital, brown rice, soy-sauce, miso, canned oranges, seaweed, food boiled in soy-sauce and so on were provided by the Provisions Depot. At each individual house, food was provided by the family.

On the late night of August 6, a military officer came to the door of my house, asking me to let him stay overnight. He came late at night because he had been waiting for instructions from the headquarters on the riverside in Ushita despite his wounds. I lent him some money personally. Seeing that he never returned, he might have passed away. I was on the run all day, not being able to do any work at the office.

Some days later, about twenty medical officers came from Kokura, Kyushu. Among them, one stayed for about a month and visited houses to treat the victims. We applied grated cucumbers and tomatoes to the burns, which were given by farmers. We brought dokudami, a kind of herb, to the school. Victims who were getting better were sent to rural areas. Since many of them didn't have anything to wear, when leaving Hesaka, some were given something by their host families; others rolled army straw mats around them.

Cremations couldn't start until the situation was settled. The cremations were conducted by the District Guard Corps, collecting bodies, laying them three-tiered, putting firewood under them, pouring gasoline and then setting fire. About 360 bodies were cremated at each time. We cremated from the morning because we were afraid that the fire would be visible at night and we would be air-raided. People who died at villagers' homes were brought to the school grounds. Bodies lay about on the potato patches made in the school grounds. Those bodies swelled extraordinarily absorbing water in the rain.(speech)

Yutaka Kaneko (Village Chief)