Book Review: Genbaku de shinda Beihei Hishi
(Secret History of the American Soldiers Killed by the Atomic Bomb)  by Shigeaki Mori

Yuka Ibuki

It is little known that twelve American prisoners of war lost their lives by the Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A Japanese victim of the bomb (hibakusha) has recently written a book, which is the result of his years of research and communication with those related to the issue. The book has just been published by Kojin-sha Pub. Co. Tokyo on August 11, 08, for 2,000yen a copy.

Let me introduce the summary of the book.

The author, Mr. Shigeaki Mori, was eight years old when the Atomic bomb was dropped. He was on a small bridge in front of the Mt. Asahi Shinto Shrine in Koi-town, where his home was. It was 2.5km from the epicenter; being a child, he was blown off into the shallow river water by the blast create by the explosion. During those days schools had no summer vacation, so he was on his way to his class. Some medical doctors arrived at Koi Primary School, so the school was full of hibakushas, and during that night, it was a total confusion with screaming and crying of the wounded. Next morning, everything was quiet. Everyone had died. As a boy, Mori saw the bodies burned in the school ground. “History of the Atomic Bomb War Disaster of Hiroshima,” a five-volume series published by the city of Hiroshima in 1971, says it was 800 bodies. However, it seemed more than 2,000 to Mori, which remained as a question in the boy’s mind. After graduating from university, just before he turned forty, Mori made up his mind, and he started interviewing local homes of his area one by one on Sundays and National Holidays, while working for Yama-Ichi Stock Firm and then Nihon Musical Instrument Co. He had listened to nearly 1,000 people, which finally led him to the documents left by Mr. Sumio Fukushima, who recorded a precise counting of the bodies. It turned out that 2,300 bodies were cremated at Koi Primary School.

Meanwhile, NHK, Japan’s public TV broadcast, twice appealed to the public for donation of drawings and paintings on the Atomic bombing experience in 1974 and 2000. Mori carefully examined each of the first 2,000 and several hundred pictures, and made notes of them. Besides those on Koi area, which he had been interested, there was a completely new discovery. He found around twenty pictures, which depicted prisoners of war.

Hiroshima was one of the foremost military cities in western Japan, where military head quarters, provision storages, and military industry were located. But there was no POW camp in Hiroshima, and it was one of the important reasons why Hiroshima remained among the final three candidates, together with Kokura and Nagasaki, as a target city. However, actually twelve American POWs were there and killed by the Atomic Bomb. On July 28, 1945, the last of the sea battles between Japan and the US was fought off Kure, Hiroshima. The Japanese battleships the “Haruna” and “Tone” were sank, which were both active in the Pacific War. The US side lost two B-24 bombers, the Lonesome Lady with the crew of 9 and the Taloa with crew of 11, and 20 carrier-borne planes. What had become of the American soldiers, who parachuted down or floated out to sea in lifeboats, and were captured by the Japanese?

                   The  Lonesome Lady crew                                                     The Taloa crew

This book is a culmination of many years of research done by Mr. Mori, who studied materials offered by other researchers, including Messrs Keiichi Muranaka and Toru Fukubayashi. He listened to many eyewitnesses and sought information on the POWs who were in Hiroshima. The interrogation records on them carried out in Hiroshima were all destroyed in the Atomic Bombing. However, a few interrogators survived. Mr. Mori himself had also succeeded in a difficult search of some bereaved families of the victims, using the US telephone directories. He knew that the families were given no information at all about their loved ones. He finally contacted nine out of twelve families, and could register the victims with their photos at the Prayer of Peace Museum in Hiroshima.

Captain Cartwright, the pilot of the Lonesome Lady lost six of his crew in the Atomic Bombing, but survived because he was interrogated in Tokyo. After the war, he obtained a Ph. D. of Agriculture and, when he came to Japan for an academic conference, he once visited Hiroshima. But, without knowing anyone then, his trip ended up in a sad experience of leaving
POWs who died in the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima                                                                                    
Hiroshima as if fleeing from the spot. Later he exchanged letters with Mr. Muranaka and Mr. Mori for years. The villagers where his plane crashed sent him back some remains of the aircraft. Eventually he felt like meeting these people, and in 1999, he revisited Hiroshima with his wife and his son, and Mr. Matt Crawford , the commander of the bomber veterans association. Guided by Mr. Mori and Muranaka, he stood at the related sites such as the Memorial set by Mr. Mori at the former HQs where they were A-Bombed, and met the local people, who had surrounded the parachuted crew, and the person who interrogated one of them. Mr. Cartwright wrote about these experiences in his book, “A Date with the Lonesome Lady: A Hiroshima POW Returns.” (Earkins Press, Austin, Texas 2002). It was translated by Mr. Mori as “The Bomber Lonesome Lady: American Soldiers killed by the Atomic Bomb.” (NHk Pub. 2004)

In the summer of 2005, Mr. Mori hosted us in Hiroshima. The Imperial War Museum of London and the UK Lottery sponsored a project for high school students, “Their Past, Your Future,” in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of WWII. Students of seven schools, who won the essay contest, embarked on a trip to the former sites of the war in Europe or Asia. Twenty-four students and four teachers of Cheney School, Oxford, accompanied by four members of the Museum and one from the Big Lottery, came over to Thailand and Japan. Attendance on the group in Japan was coordinated by a former British POW Mr. William Rose, his son Graham with his wife Takako, Mr. Trever Underson with his wife Chizu, who was working then at the Education Board of Tenryu village, where Mr. Rose had been forced to labor at the Tenryu Dam construction site. After the program in Tokyo arranged by POW Research Network Japan, I accompanied the group to Hiroshima. Through the arrangement and guide by Mr. Mori, the group had a meaningful time of learning, and went down to Tenryu village for staying with the villagers. In Hiroshima, they attended the Memorial Peace Ceremony, visited the museums, met and talked with local high school students, and listened to Mr. Mori as he talked to them about his experience as a hibakusha. Mr. Mori’s sincere efforts for positive action touched our heart, knowing he was continuously fighting with the ill health-conditions caused by the Atomic Bomb radiation and fear of cancer. He also introduced an e-mail sent by Mr. Cartwrite that memorable morning, in which he expressed his wish for the abolition of nuclear arms.   

In “Post Script,” Mr. Mori writes as follows:

Even in Japan, the country damaged by the Atomic Bombs, virtually no one knows about the Allied POWs who were killed by Atomic Bombs. Being a hibakusha myself, I wanted to shed light on these POWs, who silently passed away; not only Americans, but British and Dutch as well, in order to let the next generation know of their bitter feelings. My wish was further strengthened by knowing Mr. Cartwright, former Captain of the Lonesome Lady, who unexpectedly survived under a miraculous fate. He strongly passed on to me his knowledge on cruelty of the war and appreciation of peace.

These words by Mr. Cartwright sound warm:

I am among a few of those Americans who lost someone close to them. The pain people of Hiroshima have is also my pain.

In Nagasaki, nine British and Dutch POWs were killed by the Atomic Bomb, and their names and dates of death, together with the photos of four of them, are included in the book.

A Newspaper Article and Mori’s Comments.

While preparing this book review, on August 17, an article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Mr. Shigeaki Mori sent his comments as follows, which is posted here with thanks to him, and all the people concerned.              

I truly appreciate the interest in the American soldiers who lost their lives in the Atomic Bombing. The dedication of the Memorial plaque was held in 1998. I asked Mr. Cartwright for the words to be engraved on the plaque, and he spent a full three days, without caring for sleep. As the plaque will be exhibited for years, Prof. Paul Sato, then at Michigan State University, and I helped Mr. Cartwright in completing the words, and making a Japanese version, which I have with me. I’m very glad both versions are introduced in this bilingual website. The layout of the plaque was done by computer; photos of the two crews of B-24s are arranged with the Chugoku Military Police site after the bombing as the background.

( Photographer Toshio Kawamoto, Courtesy of Mr. Yoshito Matsushige)

The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima August 6, 1945 devastated the city and its people with a force beyond any known before. U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy airmen interned as POWs at the Chugoku Military Police Headquarters which was located at this site, near the epicenter, were among the victims. This plaque is placed in the memory of these brave and honorable men. May this humble memorial be a perpetual reminder of the savagery of war.                       1998, 7, 29

(The Memorial is set at the back entrance of Takara Blg., 12-8 Moto-machi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-city; If enter the front door, go through Chuo-Shintaku Bank.)

Let me correct a few mistakes in the article. It was Chugoku Military Police HQs that was in Hiroshima. Mr. Shigeru Aratani, former curator of the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for Atomic Bomb Victims moved two years ago to the Atomic Bomb Section of Hiroshima City Office. Now there are 16,000 photos in the Peace Memorial Hall, including nine US victims. Cpl. John Long Jr. was the first American registered. It took sixteen years since I started looking for the bereaved families of those US victims before Nathan Long, a great-nephew of Cpl. Long Jr., contacted me through the information given to him by his father Mr. Robert Long. Actually, Robert is visiting his son in Tokyo early this September.