not unusually in Japan

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 Britain was

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

was worthwhile

though really

we knew little

of what our

brave soldiers

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

Hiroshima that day – just ordinary people going about

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

busy daily


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;



In memory of Jim Addington, peace campaigner; died 21 June 2007. Noel Hamel. 5/10/07.