Prologue

1:45 a.m. August 6, 1945 (20th year of Showa)

A bomber began a mission from a runway on Tinian Island, situated 8 km southwest of Saipan. It was the Enola Gay, carrying an atomic bomb. Enola Gay was the name of the mother of the crew commander, Col. Paul Tibbets, Enola, being the first name and Gay, her middle name. Her name was marked on the forward side of the fuselage as the guardian angel of the plane.

 ON 6 August, 1945, the B-29 named  Enola Gay  , piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets, deployed the first nuclear weapon to be used in warfare on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, 

ON 6 August, 1945, the B-29 named Enola Gay , piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets, deployed the first nuclear weapon to be used in warfare on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, 

 The Great Artiste (an observation plane) and B-29 No. 91 (photography escort) followed the Enola Gay, taking off from the runway in the middle of the night.

 The primary target for dropping the bomb was Hiroshima. The secondary target was Kokura. The third was Nagasaki. Inside the Enola Gay, which was flying above the ocean, Col. Parsons was in charge of arming the atomic bomb. He had just completed connecting the wires of the fuse. However, at this point, it was not officially decided on which city to drop the atomic bomb. For the atomic bombs, regulations required visual confirmation of the target, and if that was impossible because of clouds above the three mentioned cities then they were supposed to disarm the fuse and return to Tinian.

An urgent Morse signal (Y2 Q2 B2 C1) reached the Enola Gay from the Straight Flush, a weather observation plane, which had departed for Hiroshima an hour before.

 This was a signal that the cloud cover above Hiroshima was below 3/10ths at all altitude levels of low, middle and high. (Note: With fine weather there were nearly no clouds, viz.,  Ruin From The Air, Gordon Thomas & Max Morgan Witts). The go-ahead was given to hit the first target, Hiroshima. It was this instant when the doomed fate of Hiroshima was sealed.

It’s (The target is) decided on Hiroshima!” Col. Paul Tibbets, the captain, notified every member through the interphone.  

 On hearing this, the crew members of the Enola Gay felt relaxed. Hiroshima was the city with which they were most familiar.

 After departing Tinian, the Enola Gay had a smooth flight, and reached Hiroshima with an incredible precision of seventeen seconds difference from the expected time. The T-shaped Aioi Bridge came in sight, which Maj. Ferebee, the bomber, had chosen as the target of dropping the atomic bomb.

“We are near the target!”, sounded Maj. Ferebee, the bomber’s excited voice, who had been staring into the bombsight in front ofthe cockpit. At that moment, the release button was pressed, and the A-Bomb dropped straight downward.

(The text above is quoted from “Seven Hours to Hiroshima: the Record of the Twelve, who carried the A-Bomb” Pub. by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.)

There I was, right underneath. It was the Hiroshima neighborhood of Koi, where I still live. The location was around 2.5 km from the epicenter. The Atomic Bomb made a sound above my head like thunder, and after a horrible flash of light, a fierce blast hit me. I was standing on a little bridge in front of the Asahiyama Shrine in Koi. A friend and I were walking. I remember it was a wooden bridge with no railings. In those days, we had no summer holiday, so we were on our way to school.

Today's Hiroshima. Shigeaki Mori's parents moved him from _ elementary school that was very close to the epicenter of the atomic bomb, ironically named Little Boy, to another  school that was further from the military complex and downtown Hiroshima. Mori and his friend were walking to school together when the atomic bomb exploded ~800 m above.  

With the blast, I was blown from the bridge into the river like a leaf. Fortunately, it was a shallow river with water plants growing densely in it, so I was saved. I was in the middle of the mushroom cloud of the Atomic Bomb. Inside the mushroom cloud it was very dark and it was not possible to see even ten centimeters ahead. Swirling in everything on the earth, as if it were inhaling, the mushroom cloud raised to the height of 10,000 feet, up to the edge of the stratosphere. After half an hour, the darkness became thinner, and my surroundings became brighter.  I hastily climbed up the bank of the river, from where I had been blown. A young woman came tottering towards me, looking as if she were going to fall at any moment. As I watched her, she was all covered with blood, her breast being all torn open. In both her hands, she was holding inner organs, perhaps her stomach. With all her might, she said, ”Where is the hospital?” At that moment, I heard again the droning sound of a B29. The Enola Gay appeared above the sky of Hiroshima, in order to confirm its war results. “They are dropping another bomb”, I thought. My whole body shook with fear. In the next instant, I was running, almost flying, towards the mountainside.

As I escaped, I saw people collapsed all over the road. I fled stepping on their faces and bodies. Screams of, “Help!” were heard from the houses along the road, one after another. There was no one who responded to those voices. No one could do anything other than try to flee. Among those escaping, we hibakusha (the atomic bomb victims are referred to as “bomb-affected people”), information spread that there were medical doctors at the Koi Elementary School. On hearing that, the fleeing survivors turned back toward where they had just come, and rushed to the school.

It was the second largest elementary school in Hiroshima City. The desks and chairs in the classrooms had already been thrown out on the school grounds. The floor of the classrooms was packed with seriously injured people on straw mats, and they were groaning. There were long lines of hibakusha at the door of classrooms where medical doctors were attending. The long lines of people continued until late at night.

Night fell on the elementary school. It was also the beginning of a hell. Though it was night, because of the fires burning throughout the city, the school grounds were as light as day and we could look out into the distance. The seriously injured were rolling over in great pain, hitting their limbs in vain. Their dying screams continued all night, “Pain, kill me please!”  “Kill me quick, release me from the pain.” “Send a telegram home for me!” “Give me some last water.”

The next morning, all the groaning had stopped. Everything was so quiet. All had died. The classrooms were overflowing with corpses. The civil defense unit members thrust hooks into the throats of the corpses one after another, dragging them out into the school grounds like carrying tuna to lay them out. Some members paired-up and with a wire attached around the neck of the corpses, were carrying them out. When those corpses were laid out without any cover, the cremation started. In front of my eyes, even someone who was still breathing faintly were cremated. That night the school grounds again turned into a hell. Starved wild dogs had gathered to eat half-cremated bodies. Enola Gay might have been a protector for the crew of the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb but it was exactly the name of the hell I saw. 

 

 Debris clouds above Hiroshima

Debris clouds above Hiroshima


 Iconic Atomic Bomb Dome depiction of ~9 or 10 September, 1945 by  Keiso Takamasu Donated by Fumio Takamasu. Obtained from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum database.

Iconic Atomic Bomb Dome depiction of ~9 or 10 September, 1945 by  Keiso Takamasu Donated by Fumio Takamasu. Obtained from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum database.