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Hiroshima - Real Life Stories Of the Atomic Bomb Attack August 6, 1945

Updated on August 6, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

Peace Candles at Hiroshima Peace Park
Peace Candles at Hiroshima Peace Park | Source

A New Call for Nuclear Disarmament

On August 6, 2016 Hiroshima's Mayor, Kazumi Matsui, urged the nations of the world that have nuclear weapons to “have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.”

Background: 1945 Japan

Hiroshima, by John Hersey

Hiroshima tells the story of six Japanese and German victims of the atomic bombing of the 7-rivered city of Hiroshima under the Presidential administration of Harry S. Truman.

The book was published in article form in New Yorker magazine on the one-year anniversary date of the bombing of Japan. That magazine issue contained hardly another word save for this profound article, published without commercial ads.

The subscription circulation of 300,000 readers, largely outside NYC, was astonished with the stories, as were newsstand readers. The article was also read in its entirety on the radio.

Reconciliation Sstatue in UK; copy at Hiroshima Peace Park. Courtesy, UK Student Life.
Reconciliation Sstatue in UK; copy at Hiroshima Peace Park. Courtesy, UK Student Life. | Source

Controversial War Tactics Highlighted

John Hershey was a secretary for the great author Sinclair Lewis, and likely was influenced by the topics and writing style he witnessed.

Such provocative fiction as Elmer Gantry (a 1927 story of faith healing and fraud) and It can't Happen Here (a 1935 vision of America under a fascist regime) were highly controversial. Hershey wrote Hiroshima in a straightforward, objective manner to which readers are still drawn, although critics have accused him as a Japanese sympathizer. I see none of that in his writing.

A longer version of the book published four decades later followed up on the six victims highlighted in the first edition, illustrating the impact of the bombing on their later lives.

After VE-Day, named for the victory in Europe of the Allied Forces in WWII, President Truman called for the surrender of Japan to end the complete war timeline. Emperor Hirohito refused.

A city of 245,000 residents in 1945, Hiroshima, stood next in line after the federal seat of Tokyo to become the center of war direction and communications, should Tokyo fall to American forces. President Truman opted for bombing Hiroshima instead of Tokyo on August 6, as a show of strength and an extreme and deadly warning. Several days later, he ordered Nagasaki bombed.

B-29 H-Bomber Named After Pilot's Mother

Pilot Tibbets took command of the B-29 bomber and named it after his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets. The Japanese called it Mr. B (B-san).

Little Boy, The Enola Gay and Distruction

Click thumbnail to view full-size
B29 Enola Gay and bomb. National Museum of the USAF.  The bomb was called "Little Boy" and in 2015, an eponymous film was released. First image of the Little Boy model bomb casing ever released by the US government, 1960.
B29 Enola Gay and bomb. National Museum of the USAF.  The bomb was called "Little Boy" and in 2015, an eponymous film was released.
B29 Enola Gay and bomb. National Museum of the USAF. The bomb was called "Little Boy" and in 2015, an eponymous film was released. | Source
First image of the Little Boy model bomb casing ever released by the US government, 1960.
First image of the Little Boy model bomb casing ever released by the US government, 1960. | Source

On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM, B-san struck for the last time at Hiroshima.

Hiroshima Before and After the Flight of the Enola Gay

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Before the bombing.After the destruction - almost nothing is left.
Before the bombing.
Before the bombing. | Source
After the destruction - almost nothing is left.
After the destruction - almost nothing is left. | Source

The B-29 Enola Gay Or "Mr. B"

Source

A horse and his driver were vaporized, their shadow embossed on the nearby concrete, the driver's arm raised with a whip poised to strike.

Mr.B!

The Japanese were always on the lookout for B-san, the American B-29s through brought destruction. Children used to run out in to the streets to see them before they were pulled inside by adults to hide. "B-san, B-san!" they would shout (Mr. B, Mr. B!) as if they were at a fireworks display ready to ignite or watching the circus train come to town.

On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM, B-san struck for the last time at Hiroshima.

The entire local unit of the Hiroshima-based Japanese military was in the center of the city during the blast, which came silently. They were on their way out of town on a mission when they were overtaken by a sheet of sun power, as some of them described it.

A horse and his driver were vaporized, their shadow embossed on the nearby concrete, the driver's arm raised with a whip poised to strike. Soldiers were vaporized, or large portions of their skin blow off like a loose glove.

Another military unit, near a park about a mile away from the city to the west were stranded - looking toward the skies for Mr. B, their eyes melted from the white flash. People within 2 miles of the center city and with their backs towards ground Zero saw a heavy yellow flash, but heard nothing. Some felt a change in air pressure, but there was silence and then bright light.

Patterns Blasted into Skin

Kimono print's pattern blasted into the skin of a victim.
Kimono print's pattern blasted into the skin of a victim.

The Japanese Physician Observer

Dr. Fujii, a leading physician with his own small private hospital and attached home, was sitting on his back porch reading a newspaper when the flash occurred.

He awoke to find that his building had slid into the river below. He eventually walked to a suburb and a friend's house and it too, slid into a river. He went to another friend to recover fully form his many injuries.

After the war, he returned to Hiroshima, bought a small building for a clinic and befriended the occupying American forces, learning English and calling himself Dr. Mujii on his shingle.

Progress of a Nuclear Explosion

Click thumbnail to view full-size
"On June 5, 1952, a special camera with a shutter that worked incredibly fast captured this image of an exploding nuclear bomb, doing so an instant after the start of the explosion."Left) Hiroshima bomb, smoke and explosion. Right) Nagasaki explosion.
"On June 5, 1952, a special camera with a shutter that worked incredibly fast captured this image of an exploding nuclear bomb, doing so an instant after the start of the explosion."
"On June 5, 1952, a special camera with a shutter that worked incredibly fast captured this image of an exploding nuclear bomb, doing so an instant after the start of the explosion." | Source
Left) Hiroshima bomb, smoke and explosion. Right) Nagasaki explosion.
Left) Hiroshima bomb, smoke and explosion. Right) Nagasaki explosion. | Source

Ten Thousand Patients in an Instant

Only citizens and visitors some 20 miles away from Ground Zero could hear the explosion.

Miss Sasaki, a young and competent clerical worker in a tin works factory sat down at her desk and turned to the young woman on her right and saw the reflection of a yellow flash as big as the sky on the walls and window.

She awoke encased under heavy book shelves and books, weighed down by a heavy beam. Her left lower leg was broken in several places and bleeding (a multiple compound fracture).

Many hours later, soldiers dug her out, told her to finish digging herself and left. They returned, dragged her out from under the beam, and put her out into the rain, an aftermath of the explosion and climate changes resulting from it, under an iron roofing section set up as a lean-to.

Ms. Sasaki

They placed two other victims with her, both missing body parts and swelling with smelly, red, infected skin (the result of radiation exposure). Three days were spent in this manner.

She was roughly carted from hospital to hospital, her leg not yet set, because it was infected, swelling like a balloon up to the hip.

She was finally transported to the Red Cross Hospital, where a young Dr. Sasaki (no relation) was the sole surviving doctor, tending to 10,000 civilian victims crowding inside and outside a 600-bed facility.

Japanese Peace Park Over 70 Years Later

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Source

Hiroshima Peace Memorial, UNESCO World Heritage Site; CC by 3.0 via YouTube

© 2008 Patty Inglish

Comments

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    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      8 years ago from Guwahati, India

      It is a tragic human holocaust ever seen by human beings.

    • sudamaprasad profile image

      sudamaprasad 

      10 years ago

      yes, i agree, the sad part of history

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Yes, you are so right; thanks for adding that!

    • chabrenas profile image

      chabrenas 

      10 years ago from middle of France

      Good one, Patty. Now we've moved on, and minority groups blowing up civilians is the norm. Mankind's progress is slow.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I agree. I had seen the documentaries but until I read this book, I did not get the full impact.  Thank you Drax.

    • Drax profile image

      des donnelly 

      10 years ago from NYC....

      once upon a time there was a certain honour to war, even if it was still barbaric... every time I look at this I find it horrendous that such a bomb was launched on a civilian population... it is still as much of a disgrace today as then.... Drax..

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I sat stunned as I read this book - stunned at the will to survive. Thanks for the comment.

    • Guru-C profile image

      Cory Zacharia 

      10 years ago

      Great hub! A sad part of history important to remember.

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