not unusually in
in August it was a warm sunny day with
a clear china blue cloudless sky; and though it was still early
in the day it was mild and warm as only a late summer morning can be.
It had been one of those nights when those, lucky enough to have a verandah,
had been able to sleep under cover outside in the balmy night air. Others had merely
flung their widows wide to get the benefit of any ventilation to cool them as they slept.
Had it not been for the wartime austerity, the oppressive sadnesses of mothers who had lost
sons, wives who had lost husbands, children who had lost fathers and whole families who were
without menfolk; that and the hunger from lack of basic foodstuffs, it would have been a grand
time to be alive. Wartime hardship had brought people together, friendships blossomed, it was not unusual for people to share their troubles, their food or other commodities, and their good fortune such as the occasional piece of meat, come by from a relative or friend with a farm.
People gave each other mutual support, partly out of a feeling of genuine empathy
and partly out of a mutual feeling of comradeship – everyone in it
together. What sense would there be in doing otherwise?
This was not the time for people to be
merely looking out for themselves.
Everyone knew that deprivation
was far easier to endure when
everyone felt part of a friendly
community which embraced them;
would provide care and support should
pain or hardships threaten to overwhelm
them. This was what in
called the ‘wartime spirit’, the
camaraderie of ordinary
people making the
best of adversity
not of their own
making but forced
upon them by rulers
who believed that ordinary
people were theirs to do with
as they wished, whilst they pursued
their own ambitions of conquest and dominance.
No one really knew what was going on as the news
was ‘managed’ by the administration, or the military
to be more precise. Of course there were always
stories glorifying our beloved Hirohito
which was supposed to make
us feel that sacrifice
we knew little
of what our
were fighting for;
nor how things were
going or when it would end.
We all wanted to see an end to the
shortages, and a time when our men would
return and normal life be restored. That day our
citizens went to work or school as usual despite lack of
food. People used bicycles and trams or walked across our
bustling city just as countless millions do all over the world.
There was nothing special or different about anything in
their ordinary lives. There had been an alarm and
we had taken what little shelter we
could. It had passed and
now we just got
on with our
Sure, there was a plane overhead, a single plane, probably just looking around. No one took any particular notice. We weren’t a military target. Little did we realise that we were seconds away from total elimination. We and our entire city would disappear and in our place would be total destruction; thousands barely human; grey gaunt, agonisingly dying; and dust, dust, dust;
A HUGE BLACK MUSHROOM CLOUD
In memory of Jim Addington,
peace campaigner; died