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

4. Hesaka Senzoku at the Time of the A-bombing

August 6 was a beautiful day. Around 8 o'clock in the morning, people in the community gathered in front of my house, since it was the day for them to deliver barley. Three airplanes from the north flew over our heads, trailing white streaks. We shouted, “Bs! (meaning B-29s).” Running on the way to the air-raid shelter, there came a flash and simultaneously a huge boom!

When I came out of the shelter, it was twilight, just like early evening. Looking in the direction of Hiroshima, I saw dark smoke like a mushroom rising up, and the surroundings were a sea of fire. The fires continued throughout the following day, and the smoke continued for many days. When I stepped into my house, I found the windowsills out of place, glass shattered, and ceilings shoved up, leaving hardly any room for my feet.

Before long, an Engineer Corps soldier, who used to visit my house, rushed into my house, burned black all over. I could only recognize him by his voice. He kept shouting, “Water, give me water! Oil, dress oil on my burns!”

Then there was a procession of burned people; some with their eyes popped out and others with their back skin burned and drooping, faces and limbs badly burned and their clothes burned to rags. Inside the nearby empty silkworm factory, the burned people lay down on straw mats. At Hesaka Elementary School, people gathered, who were scorched black. They kept crying, “Water! Water!” But we did not give them water as we were told it was not good for them.

Women were engaged in boiling rice to feed those evacuees for many days. There were dead bodies alongside the road on the way to the school. Soldiers, too, who were talking this moment, leaned and collapsed the next moment and died. People went to the Ota River to drink water; some collapsed and died there, and others drowned in the water. Black bodies flowed like fish. Five or six vehicles carried away the bodies every day. The smoke and stench of burning them in the mountain filled the air, dimming the daylight for many days. On the second day, soldiers came from Kokura for help with a sheet of straw mat.

My family accepted five burned soldiers of the Second Unit. We fed them rice gruel spoon by spoon. A letter written by one soldier to his parents was soaked in the fluid from his burns.

The father of a girl who had been working at the sewing machine factory at Kanda-bashi, Ushita, searched for and found his daughter who didn't have a head or limbs. He brought home her body wrapped in a straw mat and wanted me to see his daughter looking like a log.

Other neighbors, having been found and brought home, also died, where no way of treatment was available. Families that had missing members went to search for them, walking around day after day for a long time.

In the direction of Hiroshima, only burned ruins spread as far as the eye could see, sparsely dotted with the remains of reinforced-concrete buildings. I saw mountains in the far distance, and smoke rising up for many days.

Hectic days went by. We did the clearing of our broken house and took care of the burned people and their meals. Then came August 15, the end of the war. In front of me, I saw and felt a living hell, “THIS IS WAR!” The atrocity was forever clearly imprinted deep in my soul and could not possibly be described by any words. I pray for the repose of the deceased souls, wishing that such a cruel war would never, ever occur again. (Memoir)

The moment of the explosion, along with the boom, it became dark like a moonlit night. We saw the mushroom cloud we often see the picture of in a book. The damages to my house were the ceilings blown off, window glass broken, wooden cross pieces of the sliding doors blown off, and the sills disconnected.

After 20 to 30 minutes, the A-bombed people from the Ushita area began to arrive in Hesaka, growing from a trickle to a stream. There was a person who managed to arrive in Hesaka and sat on a veranda, only to die an hour later.

As for Hesaka people, there was a man who went to Hiroshima to get manure after the Volunteer Corps drill and died. Another was Mr. A., who went to buy an iron pot for the village and died. I guess every family in Senzoku must have lost at least one member.

Thanks to the arrangements for emergency that had been made in the Village Office, injured soldiers were allotted to each household immediately. They had hair only where their caps had covered, and the rest was totally burned.

We spread straw mats in the silkworm factory to accommodate the injured. Some were scorched black, looking like grilled fish. Changing clothes was tough, because their clothes were soaked in the fluid from their burns and stuck to their bodies. The burned people said, “Give me water! Apply oil!” But, we had been told that giving water was not good. One soldier in my house wrote a letter to his family. The paper got thickly wet in no time due to the liquid from his burned hands.

The schoolrooms and halls were filled with the injured. So we spread straw mats on the playground and laid the people there, creating shade by setting up brief roofs of bamboo.

We took the dead in a cart, a few at a time, to Sakuragaoka, and cremated them there. Each household was asked to deliver a certain amount of wood for that purpose. Soon, however, we ran out of it. So, we cut the trees in the mountain, poured oil over them and burned 10 to 20 bodies at a time. Soldiers came from Kokura and dealt with the bodies. (Speech)

Soichi Takano (Chief of Senzoku Community Meeting)