11. Burned People Looked Like Rags

My background

I was born as the first daughter to my parents, Kohei and Chiyono Yamaoka in Oasa-cho, Yamagata-gun on October 20, 1902. I have one younger sister. My parents were living on farming but my father died when I was 12.

I graduated from the local, higher elementary school in 1923. At the age of 20 I got married to Yoshinobu Ishiya and had a son, Toshio. Since my husband and I both were the eldest child to each family, our marriage had not been registered. Therefore, my son, Toshio was in his father' s registry. My husband was running a gas station in Misasa after we got married, but contracted typhoid and died in the Funairi Hospital in 1938. After that I attended Futaba Dressmaking School in Nagarekawa for about one and half years. I lived on sewing at home, sharing the house with my sister and her husband.

The situation at the time of the A-bombing

Around 1945, I was working at the sewing section of the Akatsuki Unit in Ujina. On August 6, I went to work early in the morning. I was sewing an officer' s uniform at the Shipping Headquarters when the A-bomb was dropped. I had injuries on my head with the fragments of window glass and unconscious for some time. So I don' t remember much of those moments. When I came to, I found my face and head covered with blood. As the bleeding didn' t stop, my colleagues took me to the Ujina Army Hospital. The hospital was packed with the injured. They were brought in on a truck from the downtown and those seriously burned looked like rags. Many of those were being left outside the building. I wasn' t given any better treatment than dressing with Mercurochrome since medicine was not available in the Hospital.

At noon, we received an order to go home. It took me two hours to get home, normally only 15 minutes, because enemy planes flew over so frequently I had to take shelter each time. On the way what I saw were; people whose flesh was drooping as if rags, the dead bodies burned looking like charcoal and people with their head thrusting in the water of fire cistern. I could not believe it was something that happened in this world. Our house was half-destroyed and no good to live in any more. We discussed, and evacuated to the countryside on August 9, counting on a relative of my sister' s husband in Daiwa-cho, Kamo-gun. My head injury healed in the meanwhile.

The life after the A-bombing

In 1958, I returned to Hiroshima and worked for a cotton factory in Danbara-hinode-machi for about three years, but went back to the countryside again. That' s because I fainted so frequently, and when happened, I remained unconscious for 10 to 15 minutes. It may have had something to do with the A-bomb exposure. When my niece entered a girl' s school in Hiroshima, however, she and I together came to live in Hiroshima again renting a house in Danbara-yamasaki-cho. I worked as a janitor at Danbara Junior High School for about six years. Then I returned to the countryside once again.

As for my son, Toshio, he was in the Junior Airforce in Shiga Prefecture when the war ended. Being demobilized, he got a job at Hiroshima Glass Co. and worked there for a long time. Currently he is working for a machinery factory. He and his family live in Yoshijima-konan-cho and my grandchild has grown. She is in the second year of a girl' s school.

Around the time of my entering the Home

Since around 1971, I was living with my sister and her husband in Daiwa-cho, but I was getting old and weaker. I went regularly to the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital for the treatment of my cirrhosis and chronic heart failure. My nephew then suggested an A-bomb nursing home for me and I made up my mind.

I became a resident of the Home in July 1979. Ever since, I have been free from worry and satisfied with everything. I' m glad that I made this decision. There is the Funairi Hospital next to the Home, so it is easy to go and see a doctor. Things can' t be better. My son and grandchild often come and see me. I am just having happy days in the Home, wishing it would last to my last day.

Written by Tsutayo Yamaoka (77)

The place of my A-bomb exposure
Ujina , inside of the Shipping Headquarters (3.5km from the hypocenter)
Acute symptom in those days
Injury on the head
The loss in my family
None