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HASHIMOTO Yoshiko air raid account, August 2009, part 2

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Just then I realized that from the other side of the bridge as well another crowd of people was trying to cross over to this side. It was absolutely chaotic atop the bridge. There were sparks everywhere and the warehouses were burning... They were like the flames of a gas burner and the winds were blowing them stronger. The wind blew the flames right over all those people. It was terribly hot. In the beginning we'd warn each other: "Look out, the sparks are landing on you!" And we'd pat out the fires erupting on one another's bodies. But gradually this became impossible. All you could do was protect yourself. The sparks landing on your own body were just too numerous. I was carrying my baby son on my back. He'd been crying the whole way down. At this time he suddenly let out a particularly strange wail. I knew something was wrong and turned back to look. Because his mouth was open as he cried, large particles of burning matter had lodged in his mouth. I fished it all out with my finger. My mother yelled out: "Take carry him off your back and carry him in front!" I took him down and held him to the front of my body. I knew we'd die if we stayed here. I began to wonder just how painful death would be. Just as I thought, "This is the end..." I also felt a strong desire to live well up inside me. My family huddled there together under a covering and tried our best to endure the heat. I could hear my hair singeing. There was a smell like burning cloth. At this moment my father called out to me. "Yoshiko! You can swim. You've got to jump into the river!" Even so, it took a lot of courage to jump into the cold March river while clutching to my baby. As I hesitated, my mother screamed, "You've got to do as your father says!' Scolded by my father, encouraged by my mother, I held tightly to my baby and prepared to jump to the river below. Bridge girders are generally made of metal, right? However, this metal had even been conscripted by the military for use in weapons manufacture. The side of the bridge had therefore been reinforced with a log, which had also caught on fire and was burning rapidly. When I stood up to jump over this log, my mother took off her air raid bonnet and put it on my head. My son, Hiroshi, was my mother's first grandchild. She loved him very much. Without her bonnet, I know she must have ended up like so many others I had seen on the bridge. Hair on fire, writhing around on the ground... When I think of my mother writhing around like that and dying, it still tears at my heart... I rose up purposefully and jumped to the water below. It felt... ...jumping from the heat above to the cold below... like needles stabbing me all over. I made my way to a floating raft. The river was full of water in that season. I put my baby up onto the log and splashed him with water. There were fires in every direction. Strong winds fanned the flames. Sparks continued to rain down on us. Even in the river, it was necessary to scoop water over the exposed part of your body. I don't know how much time passed like that. I just kept wetting my son's and my body. A small boat passed by the log. There were two men aboard it. I yelled as loud as aI could. "Please help! At least take my baby!" The men drew the boat near and took my son onto the boat. Then they helped me up as well. These two men saved my life and when morning came I was still on the boat. All night, we could hear the moans and painful groaning that hovered over the river. With dawn, the two men found a cart somewhere and loaded me on it. They took me to a hospital. The whole time I was riding the cart I was in and out of consciousness. I don't remember it clearly. But as we traveled up the Mitsume-Dori toward a hospital I could see mountains of corpses like those in these paintings. So many people... looking like withered branches or worn out rags... Some of them had faces that had swollen to be two or three times their normal size. They were covered with blisters. All those people... ...just lying on the ground...

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 51 seconds
Country: United States
Language: Japanese
Genre: None
Views: 59
Posted by: japanairraids on Sep 14, 2010

HASHIMOTO Yoshiko air raid account, August 2009, part 2

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