19. Tsuneo Was Gone after All His Agonies

  After my husband and my first two sons died some years ago, I lived in poverty with my third and fourth sons and four-year-old daughter. Some time after the war started, my fourth son was evacuated to Hiba-gun in a group. My third son Tsuneo was a second grader at the Second National Higher Elementary School, and went to the foundry west of Showa Ohashi Bridge in Minami Kanon-machi for labor service as a mobilized student.

  At about 7:30 on the morning of August 6, Tsuneo cheerfully left home with his friend, saying “See you later.” Soon after that, we heard the roar of a plane and then the siren of the air-raid warning, which was shortly lifted. We were relieved, but we soon heard another roar. When we went outside, we saw a flash of bluish, accompanied by a thundering sound. I got a violent blow on my head. In spite of our next door man's help, I lost consciousness. When I came to, I found the buildings all around had collapsed and fire had started from some of them.

  I was worried about Tsuneo and waited for him, not knowing what to do. Before long, he came back, suffering from burns. “Just leave everything here and let's escape in a hurry.” Tsuneo, my daughter and I fled to Municipal Commercial School, but Tsuneo said that he could not walk any longer. We had a mosquito net and a sleeping mat covered with a sheet, which I tore, and I dampened one piece of it with water in the fire cistern to bandage his wounds. Then I put the mat on my back and let Tsuneo lean on my shoulder. I started to walk with him, in mortal fear, taking my daughter by the hand. We met a person who told us that soldiers would give some treatment. After walking some hours, we finally got to the place which appeared to be a first-aid station, but there were so many injured and burned people that we had to wait very long. Moreover they did not have enough medicine. While waiting there, we had to go in and out of the air-raid shelter because the planes came many times. Tsuneo complained that the burns ached due to the heat in the shelter. After taking treatment we could finally be evacuated to the vacant company house of Mitsubishi Company around ten o'clock at night.

  That house had loosely-woven straw mats, instead of tatami mats, and those caused pains to the people when their injuries touched the mats. Some of them died in pain. I felt very sorry for them and wanted to do something for them, but could not. Tsuneo was infested with maggots, which made him cry with pain. I made a small spatula with bamboo, peeled off the skin of his feet, and pushed the maggots out with the spatula. I repeatedly did that everyday.

  On August 19, the soldiers came to us to tell that they would go back to their home town, and they kindly carried Tsuneo on the stretcher to another first-aid station in a national elementary school so that he could be cared for. The part of the roof of that school had been blown off and leaked badly when it rained. Injured people had to be dragged and moved around to avoid the rainfall and find a place for lying down. Despite all my tender care, he died at 11:58 on the morning of August 28, 1945. He was only fourteen years old. If only there had not been the war, children would not have been killed so miserably. May peace prevail on earth so that we all can live peacefully.

Written by Akio Mori (Konan, Hiroshima)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Tsuneo Mori (a second grader at the Second National Higher Elementary School)