Eyewitness Memories of Hiroshima Bombing
On the 6th of August, 1945, one of the world’s first two atomic bombs was dropped on Hiroshima. The bomb was given the nickname ‘Little Boy’, a 9000-pound uranium-235 gun-type bomb exploding with thirteen kilotons of force par to 15000 tonnes of TNT. During the time of the bombing, Hiroshima was home to approximately 280500 civilians and 45000 soldiers. The U.S Department of Energy has estimated approximately 250000 citizens were affected either directly or indirectly by the effects of the bombings and aftermath. Including radiation related illness, burns, cancer and starvation.
Junko Morimoto was only a 13-year old school girl when B-29 plane carrying the Little Boy dropped the atomic bomb only 1.7km away from her house. Now aged 83, Junko Morimoto reveals, in an SBS interview, her personal experiences on ‘that day’ or ‘あの日’, as referred to by the Japanese.
I was supposed to attended school at Jo-gakuin high school, but I had a viral illness and was not feeling so well. My father told me to just stay at home for the day as even if I did go to school, the teachers would have made us complete war work and study.
It was 8:15am, a minute before the atomic bomb was to be dropped on Hiroshima, me and my sister were talking in my bedroom. My father had gone out to get a hair cut and my mother was having trouble with her lungs and had gone away to an island to recuperate. My brother was sitting by the window playing his guitar, he had just gotten back from work at the Japan Steel.
(A factory manufacturing weapons for the war) (It was the middle of summer, warm and humid so he wasn’t wearing a shirt.) My eldest sister was in the kitchen having a late breakfast. It was then we all heard a deafening aircraft noise, we were very informed and familiar with the sounds different aircraft made. I remember standing up and stating the aircraft could very well be an B-29. Almost immediately followed an explosion of blinding light and an oppressive wave of heat. I couldn’t see anything. With no time to even comprehend the situation, an ear-deafening explosion followed and everything around me collapsed. And in a blink of an eye we were all buried underneath the rumble, of the building I once called home. I thought to myself this is it ‘I’m going to die; this is the end’. Repeating it over and over I eventually fell unconscious. Waking up, I was underneath a blanket of debris. Looking up at the sky, all I could see was a horizon of grey smoke and dust. Me and my sister were grasping on to each other for dear life, slowly making our way to solid ground. I remember screaming on the tops of our lungs in search for our siblings, ‘Tei-chan, Aki-chan, where are you?’ I had found my eldest sister in what was still remaining of our kitchen. She was covered in blood, the force of the atomic bomb had caused the pair of chopsticks she was holding though her cheek and knocked out one of her teeth. My brother was by the window, pieces of glass scattered his body more specially his back. We were all desperate to get to solid ground, treading through the debris barefooted in hurry to get out into the yard. Then I saw. The city, Hiroshima. It was all gone. Where once was farms abundant of vegetation and animals, rows of dwellings the home to so many families, streets of markets and shops. It was all replaced with rumble and raging fires. I spotted my father pushing his bike through what was the remains of the railway, his face was glowing red. We had all thought it was just burns from the fire, no one knew about radiation much less the life threatening health factors. We all knew we had to go, as far away as possible. As everything we once had was gone.
Junko Morimoto is a survivor of the world war two Hiroshima bombing; she now lives in Sydney. But the horrors she had witnessed on the 6th of August, 1945 will never be forgotten. Leading to short impacts including mental illness (shock and trauma), injuries (radiation burns, excess absorption of radiation, impalement of debris). Resulting in long term impacts including mental illness (PTSD, anxiety and depression), scarring from past injuries, high risk of cancer.