Hiroshima Day

It’s Hiroshima Day and instead of joining in the Left and Right chuntering relentlessly on about Pearl Harbour and the Burma Railroad and the Atomic Bomb horrors and the peaceful Japanese people, I thought that I would reprise a blog written by me some years ago.  My politics are probably somewhere between Attila the Hun and Margaret Thatcher but my feelings are just personal.

 ‘He who climbs Mount Fuji once is a wise man………………….

‘He who climbs Mount Fuji once is a wise man; he who climbs it twice is a fool’. That is a famous saying in Japan.  I went twice.

This article isn’t a very descriptive piece for a travel writer.  My excuse is that I was only a kid and how do you describe the indescribable?  Hiroshima City has now been rebuilt and is famous for its wonderful Peace Park, full of flowering cherry trees, a memorial to those who died. 

I was 10 years old when my Uncle Jack returned home.  He weighed just over 5 stones and looked like a living skeleton with huge dark eyes.  Not a bit like the hard man who had gone to fight with the Beds and Herts Regiment; he had spent his war as a slave prisoner of the Japanese working on the Burma Railway also known as the Death Railway.  You could say that I jumped at the chance to go to view the spot where our allies had kicked the butts of the “yellow devils”.  So I went to Hiroshima as a tourist feeling quite Gung Ho . . . . . . . . and of course I’d seen the films . . . . . . .

From the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli; We fight our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea; First to fight for right and freedom and to keep our honour clean; We are proud to claim the title of United States Marines

I saw the sound of silence; I saw a flattened city covered in white dust; I saw the shapes of human shadows, burned as a negative flash and left for eternity on one of the few walls left standing.  Utter, utter devastation.  No-one spoke on the bus which took us back to our ship from the spot where 70,000 souls had been taught a lesson in my name.  Where a further 100,000 died over the following five years from the effects of that terrible bomb.

I awoke the following morning after a troubled sleep to find that I had developed a high temperature and a sore throat, compounded by a painful cold sore on my upper lip.  I was convinced that I had radiation sickness.  I hadn’t of course, I was just sixteen and I had just had my first lesson . . . . . . . . Man’s inhumanity to man.


About Jake

Long retired travel writer, author and freelance journalist. Educated at Wolverton Grammar and Greenwich Naval College. Happily married since 1958, with a married son and daughter, a married granddaughter and an adult grandson. Hobbies rock-climbing, dinghy racing and ocean racing. Still regularly working out in the gym.
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