Air Raid on Kure by B29 on 1st of July in 1945

by Shigeru Hamamoto


The targets of the first air raid by FHF fighters on 14th of March supposedly were the warships in Kure Naval Harbor. So, we fortunately gained hardly any damage at all to the corners of Kure City where the citizens lived. 


After that, B29 raids from Saipan had been conentrating on Tokyo and Osaka.  The radio reported that the cities and towns had been reduced to ashes successively. Listening to the radio: "Please escape immediately and seek the safe places that we are telling you in order not to confront the dangerous situation", we who were living in Kure further from Tokyo and Osaka did not seriously feel the reality approaching us bit by bit, but the fateful day had at last come.


In the evening of the first day in July, it was very clear after the rain. When we heard the air raid alarm, as usual, we made light of it at first, but Kanbara district, exploded with a terrible explosive sound "Bam!" at 9:30 p.m. and the dark sky was lit up with flash. With an awful sound "Clap!, Kaboom!", Mt. Ishizuchi, Washo farms and houses were in a moment as bright as mid-day.


The self-defense firemen shouted "Run up the hill", to all the persons. I was quite at a loss to do for fear and got out of the house in confusion. I was not indeed aware of who had been the first one among the father, mother, younger sisters and myself. Besides, we had no idea to take any goods with us. We were overwhelmed by terror of shouting voice of the self-confidence leader: "Go up quickly."


As the house was near the hill, I myself escaped along the farm's path. On the way to the hill, I called my father in a loud voice looking into the shelter that had been dug by the town neighborhood peoples, but in vain to have any response. A lot of refugees were only jostling with each other enduring the crying and shouting for help in the awful dark shelter. I ran up to Furue Graves rapidly and got into a ditch to hide myself by keeping silent beneath the 2 meters of stone bridge for the time being. 


The sky was completely clear at that time and the white shadow of B29's was seen in succession with a constant interval in the light clouds. The big and wide wings seemed to be 80 cm up in the sky of 8,000 m high, perhaps. Being among those who escaped from the downtown one after another, I had only realized the long-lasting times under the incendiary bombs without any fear of so-called holy graves. When I got out of the under-bridge and looked down at the city streets, I first saw the whole city in agony from the tragic fire. It had changed its situation at least within an hour. I could not stop being choked with tears unconsciously. The live warm and hot winds had blown up with invisible dusty sand from the downtown.


I got down to my house, to my regret, to find it burning with a great flame and fire. I was standing up vacantly. Father who came back there already said only "It's burning." It was a kind of his own feeling for lost goods and wealth reduced to ashes in an instant. We lost everything. I heard that some 700 people had died in the shelters in Washo and Nanamagari respectively. It was in the early afternoon of the following day that I saw the dead people with burnt black bodies for the first time at the down cross road from my lost house. Rumor said they might have been overpowered by smoke and flames on the way uphill from the downtown. It is quite pitiful even now that I have reminded myself of having seen a young mother with a baby on her back and at the same time, my sister's classmate of primary school.


The sad and pitiable experience of having been burnt to the ground by the tragic fire only in one night had made me what I have been in a bitter everyday life lasting long in the future chiefly due to poverty and austerity.


Afterwards, I encountered B29 bombing against Kure Naval Ship Yard in the day time on the burnt street of Nakadori on 24th of July and I ran away into the shelter at the side of Temple Myohoji with might and main, but in shrinking from the bomb's exploding sound. 

Thus, the war ended after experiencing the Atomic Bomb tragedy.



Parkway  Vol. 2 No.5  September 1988

Parkway  Vol. 2 No.6 November 1988







7月1日の夕方、雨の後で空は澄み渡っていました。空襲警報を聞いたとき、いつものように、意に介しなかったのですが、神原地区で「ボン!ドカン」という大きな爆発音がしました。暗い空がパッと明るくなります。 「バリバリ、ドドンドン」という大きな音と共に、石鎚山、和庄の畑や家屋が、一瞬真昼のような光に照らし出されました。








家に帰ってみると、家は大きな炎に包まれていました。私はぼんやりと立っていました。先に戻っていた父が「燃えている」と一言だけ言いました。それは一瞬にして灰となってしまった全財産を思っての言葉でした。私たちはすべてを失ったのです。 和庄と七曲りの防空壕でそれぞれ約700人が死亡したと聞きました。翌日の午後早く、焼け落ちた我が家から少し降りた道路に焼け焦げた黒い死体がありました。死体を見るのは初めてです。市街地から丘を登って来る時に煙や火にまかれた人達だろうということでした。その中に赤ちゃんを背にした若いお母さんや、妹の小学校の同級生がいたことが今でも思い出され、気の毒に思います。