Ms.Sakue Shimohira

Experience of A-bomb

In the Air-Raid Shelter

I was a ten year-old pupil in the fifth grade at time.Whenever an air-raid warning of alarm was sounded in Nagasaki,I fled with my younger sister and one year-old nephew into the large neighborhood cave shelter located about 500 meters from my house.
We had stayed in the shelter day and night since the bombing of Nagasaki in a conventional air raid on August 1,but we were allowed to go home on the evening of August 8.
The next morning the air-raid sirens wailed but for some reason I wanted to stay near my mother and deliberately lingered in the house.She told us to go to the shelter earlier than usual,saying that she had a feeling of danger that morning.It was about 8:00 a.m. when my younger sister,nephew and I put on our air-raid hoods and set off toward the shelter.Little didr I know as I waved good-by that I was bidding her an eternal farewell Upon arrival in the shelter,we took off our hoods and sat down.When the alarm was lifted a few minutes later,the boys in the shelter with us shouted joyfully and ran out to play.
My sister,nephew and I were playing inside the shelter when there was a sudden,brilliant flash of light.I remember nothing else.We were spared the heat rays generated by the explosion but everything went dark and I fell unconscious.I do not know how much time had elapsed whensomeone shook me and brought me back to my senses.When my vision cleared,I could not believe the sights before my eyes.People with gruesome wounds were filing jinto the shelter one after another.They were horribly burned,covered with glass splinters like pin cushions,and so disfigured that it was impossible to distinguish one person from another.
I began to cry hysterically and to scream ot for my mother.The minutes and hours went by but none of my relatives appeared.Although a child,I realized that something terrible had happened outside.
The stench inside the shelter became so strong that I could hardly breathe.In the evening I heard my father's voice at the entrance to the shelter,and my sister and I began to cry and call out his name at the to of our voice.
He came over to where we were sitting and told us to come with him out of the shelter.When we emeged,I was shocked to see piles of corpses and dozens of groaning injured people who had been unable to get inside the shelter.The whole area was strewn with people whose skin was burned and hanging down in shreds like tattered clothing.

The Death of my Mother and Sister

When he realized that my mother and older sister were not in the shelter,my father decided to search for them in the ruins of our house.But the neighborhood was a sea of flames.Later,he found the blackened corpse of my mother in the smoking ashes of the house.The body my older sister was also terribly burned,but strangely enough her face had remained unmarred.
Two days later,we collected broken lumber that had escaped the fires and built a funeral pyre for my mother and sister and then gathered around them for a last,tearful farewell.

The Death of my Two older Brothers

My oldest brother,a member of the special attack(kamikaze) unit,died in battle off the Philippines.My next brother was student at the Nagasaki Medical College.Although free from external injuries,he began to bleed from the gums and died four days after the bombing.
In this way, my relatives died in the ruins of Nagasaki or on the battlefields a long way from home. Why? The answeris, because of war.
"If only the war had not occurred...." When thoughts like this come to mind, a feeling of enormous rage and sorrow wells up inside me.

Back Together in the Spring of 1946

For several months my sister, nephew and I were cared for in three separate places, but in the spring of 1946 we were able to join my father and live together again.
My father built a small dwelling in the wasteland and it was there that we spent our childhood and adolescence. At the age of 18, my sister underwent a simple appendectomy operation, but because of a low white blood cell count due to atomic bomb exposure, the scar did not heal properly. The odor from the open wound was a great vexation for someone in the prime of young womanhood. Still only 19 years old, she committed suicide by throwing herself in front of a train. I still feel deep regret that I did not know about this problem and could not come to her help as an older sister.

Speaking Out

I began to speak about the atomic bombing eighteen years ago, partly because my father was serving as chairman of the Association of Bereaved Families of Atomic Bomb Victims. Although it is an experience I would perfer not to even think about, I now consider it my duty as a survivor to inform as many people as possible about the horror and misery caused by nuclear weapons. And I intend to continue speaking as long as there are people who are unaware of this reality.
Mathematically, one person saying something ten times is equal to ten people saying something once. But the combination of ten different voices is actually much stronger.
Let us strive together to protect the precious peace we enjoy today, to keep the message of the atomic bomb victims alive, and to ensure that our planet is blessed with the beauty of nature and the treasure of peace for centuries to come.