Scottish CND      Magazine
One childs story
The bombing of Hiroshima
The bombing of Nagasaki
Hiroshima and Trident
Why was the atom bomb used ?
How were the targets chosen ?
How much damage was done
How many died ?
Hiroshima Never Again
"About 8.00 am we heard the peculiar roar of a B-29 in the distance. Our teacher shouted, 'B-29, B-29'.
We looked up and suddenly there was a terrific flash of lightning. We were blinded for the moment, and in a daze. What did I see when I regained my senses ? The whole area was in darkness. There were red flames licking towards the sky, getting bigger and bigger. The faces of my friends, with whom I had been working so hard minutes before, were burned and blistering, their clothes were in shreds. They wandered around shaking like frightened chicks. Our teacher gathered us up around him like a mother hen. Some of my classmates tried to bury their heads under his arms. His hair had turned white all of a sudden.
Within ten minutes I found myself standing alone in the midst of strangers. I was standing there in a daze when I heard my friends calling me, and I joined them. Some of them were sobbing over their burned faces, some were crying for their parents. Burned hand in burned hand, we went looking for our teacher.
The next thing I knew, we were jumping over tombstones to escape from the fire. The pine trees around us went up in flames with a cracking noise, and it looked as if we would be trapped. We did not know where to go. We just followed the crowd moving away from the flames.
There were children screaming for their mothers and mothers trying to find their children. burned people got into water storage tanks to escape the heat. We were all the colour of blood. I was with another girl. We had been going along with the crowd, but for some reason or other started going in the opposite direction. We ran along the river bank until we got to a small stone bridge. It was the Fujimi Bridge. All the stores and trees that had lined both sides of the street to the bridge until that morning had been burned to the ground. Power poles had fallen over and the electric wires were on the ground. There was a baby lying on the ground by the wires, his little hands clenched, his eyes closed. 'Hell on earth' is the only way to describe it.
My friend was going wild from the pain of her burns and her thirst. I put her on my back after we got to the Hijiyama Bridge, and we headed for the first aid station. It was just about noon when we reached the foot of Hijayama. There were hordes of people in the shade of the trees there. They were so badly injured I could not bear to look.
Our two teachers, who in spite of their own serious injuries helped us unselfishly, died because of the atom bomb, and my forty classmates died one after the other. I was the only one in my class who survived.
Setsuko Satamoto was a school girl when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Like many others of her age she was not in her classroom but working out in the open. Many were blinded when the bomb exploded above them. The bomb turned into a huge fireball 200 metres across. The heat all around was intense. Buildings, trees, vehicles and people were all burned. The blast from the bomb flattened homes over a wide area. Hours after the explosion the whole city was in flames. A sea of fire covered Hiroshima.
Those like Setsuko who had not perished instantly struggled through the flames looking for help. But most of the doctors and nurses were also dead or injured. At the First Army Hospital only one person survived out of 750 staff and patients. The Hiroshima Prefecture Hospital was totally demolished. The Red Cross Hospital was still standing, but inside everything had been devastated, most of the doctors and nurses were seriously injured or dead. Soon ten thousand people, most of them dying, had gathered there seeking help.
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima at 8.15 am on 6th August 1945 was the most horrific weapon which has ever been used. It was no ordinary bomb. In a few moments it destroyed a whole city. When the atom bomb was detonated there was a blast stronger than any hurricane, intense rays of heat and a blinding light. But there was also a new deadly danger - radiation. The invisible rays penetrated into the bodies of the people of Hiroshima. It made them sick. As the weeks went by many lost the hair from their head. Skin which had been burned took a very long time to recover, because of the effects of radiation. One 10 year old girl thought herself lucky that she had survived that day. She grew up, married and had one son and one daughter. But both her children died from leukemia, victims many years later of the atom bomb.
It is estimated that around 130,000 died on that day and in the first few weeks that followed. But the death toll rose as the years passed. By the time that 5 years had passed the total number of dead had risen to 200,000.
Soon after the atom bomb had fallen on Hiroshima, a journalist in the city of Nagasaki was reading a top secret official report which detailed the catastrophic effects of the explosion. It was 10.00 am on August 9th. One hour later he would experience for himself the horror of nuclear war.
Nagasaki was covered with cloud as the US Air Force bomber flew overhead carrying the second atom bomb. They had intended to drop it on the centre of the city but this was not visible. Instead the bomb was dropped on a secondary aiming point further North. Even so, a large part of Nagasaki was completely destroyed. Fires raged hours later. Thousands died instantly, many more died from the effects of burns and radiation.
The atom bomb exploded near Nagasaki Medical University and Hospital. Within a few seconds the buildings were devastated. Those who survived struggled up onto a nearby hill, but by dawn the next day half of them were dead. More than 1000 doctors, nurses, students and patients from the University Hospital died.
Some children had been evacuated out of the city, for fear of bombing, but many remained. 1,653 primary school children and 74 of their teachers died in Nagasaki, most of them in the suburbs within 2 kilometres of where the bomb fell. Many children who had been evacuated to the countryside returned distraught to find that their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters had perished.
Little 8 year old Matsuo had been happy that morning. Six older boys had allowed him to join in their game of hide and seek. Matsuo was in the centre of the yard trying to spot the others hiding. When the bomb exploded he neither heard nor felt anything when the heat rays focused on him and obliterated him. The other boys, huddling in gullies or crouching behind walls were untouched. They crept from their hiding places and walked over to where the remains of little Matsuo's body lay on the ground. In horrified silence they stared at each other. They were the lucky ones, or so they thought. But the invisible killer was at work. Within one week, three of the boys would be dead from radiation.
People were going about their daily routine when the bomb fell. At Ukanami Roman Catholic Cathedral 50 people were lining up for confession and 2 priest were in attendance. A short distance away a group had gathered for a Shinto wedding. There were no survivors from the wedding party or from the cathedral.
One man decribed the dreadful scene as he walked across the devastated city of Nagasaki. The closer he came to what must have been the bomb centre the quieter it became. On the outer edges of the circle of death, there were cries and shouts. As he moved inward, there were moans and soft groaning. As he approached the centre, there was utter silence.
The total death toll at the time was between 60,000 and 70,000 and a further 50,000 died over the next five years.
There is a Japanese belief that a sick person who, even on his deathbed, can fold a thousand paper cranes will be out of danger. Sadako Sasaki was an infant when the bomb fell on Hiroshima. When she was 12 years old she fell ill with leukemia. As Sadako's condition grew worse and worse she set about her task of folding cranes, and soon above her hospital bed ther arose a web of strings on which the little cranes fluttered. But when the little girl had just made her 600th little paper creation, her strength began to ebb away, and with number 644 she was forced to give up altogether.
Ten years after the atom bomb had fallen, Sadako died, yet another of its victims. In her memory her friends completed her one thousand paper cranes and all over Japan children began to make paper cranes and to raise money for a monument to the child victims of the atom bombs. The monument is a statue of a teacher holding a child in her arms. On it are the words: "The heavy bone would be that of the teacher; beside it lie bones of little heads".
Today schoolchildren in Japan and across the world make paper cranes to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Today a British nuclear submarine, or another like it, is at sea in the North Atlantic. At any time, given only 15 minutes notice, it can cause the same kind of total destuction which was seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
If the atomic weapons on this Trident submarine were used, then children would be burned, hospitals would be destroyed and schools turned to ashes. Elderly people, pregnant women, people in wheelchairs - all would be victims. The experiences of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki show that nuclear weapons do not spare people on grounds of age or sex.
If the missiles on the submarine were fired, then they would kill infants playing in the street, patients in their hospital beds, mothers nursing their offspring ... . There would be massive balls of fire which would engulf homes and shops and turn city streets to seas of fire. There would be more cries of anguish, chidren crying for their mothers and mothers searching for their children.
The devastation witnessed by the survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki left them numbed, it was beyond human comprehension, and yet the horrendous destructive power of a nuclear submarine today is on an even greater scale.
The degree of devastation is indicated in a 1985 US Intelligence Assessment which said that with Trident Britain would be able to almost wipe out the Soviet Union as a viable society. The Soviet Union had a population of 285 million people. The politics of Eastern Europe may have changed, but Britain's readiness to initiate the nuclear holocaust is not diminished.
The submarine carries 96 nuclear warheads mounted on long range missiles. Each warhead could destroy a city, in the same way that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were turned into ashes. In fact they are even more deadly. One Trident nuclear warhead is eight times as powerful as the bomb which devastated Hiroshima. This one submarine is carrying nuclear weapons which are the equivalent of more than 750 Hiroshima bombs.
The decision by the US to build the atomic bomb was taken during the second world war. The first bomb was tested on 16th July 1945 in the desert in New Mexico. At the time when the atom bombs were dropped the war against Japan was drawing to a close. Some Americans said that the bombs were dropped to bring the war to a swift end and that if they hadn't been used then many American soldiers would have been killed invading Japan. However by August 1945 Japan was on the point of surrender. Many parts of Japan had already been damaged by conventional bombing.
It has been suggested that the bomb was dropped more as a signal to Russia than to end the war. The war would probably have ended very soon anyway. Russia was due to enter the war against Japan on 8th August and the US were already anticipating a future confrontation with Russia.
The targest chosen were cities which had not already been badly bombed. The Americans wanted to be able to see quite how destructive the atom bomb was. It was seen as an "experiment". For this reason they chose targets where there were large numbers of buildings, ie houses, which could be destroyed. There were military facilities at both sites, large arms factories in Nagasaki, and soldiers in Hiroshima. However the targets were not chosen simply as military targets. The bombs were to fall where they could have maximum impact on the whole city. In the case of Nagasaki poor visibility meant that the bomb was not dropped on the centre of the city but further North.
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima contained Uranium, the one used on Nagasaki contained Plutonium. Part of the reason for dropping two bombs was because the Americans wanted to see the effect of both designs.
In Hiroshima an area of 13 square kilometres was reduced to ashes by blast and fire. In Nagasaki the area reduced to ashes was 6.7 square kilometres. In the city of Hiroshima 52,000 houses were completely destoyed and 18,000 more were badly damaded.
The percentage of people who died in Hiroshima was:
people less than 500 m from the bomb 99% died people 600 - 1000 m from the bom b 90 % died people 1000 - 1500 m from the bomb 45 % died people 1600 - 2000 m from the bomb 23 % died
A total of at least 120,000 died from the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and 90,000 died from the Nagasaki bomb.
" I heard children crying, buildings collapsing, men and women screaming. I saw the bright red of blood and people with dazed expressions on their faces trying to get away ...
I want to call out ' people of the world, do not let what Hiroshima has experienced ever be repeated ' "
Yohko Kuwahama, school girl from Hiroshima.
* B-29 is a US Air Force bomber.
Scottish CND      Magazine