Tuesday, 6th November 2008

RETRO: Hiroshima and Enola Gay

Last week Brig Gen Paul W Tibbets, Jr, died at 92 years of age.


Source: Salt Lake Tribune

Which brings me back memories of my own pilgrimage to Hiroshima. It was Aug, 2004, during a trip to Japan ...

I start my journey at Tokyo station, boarding a bullet train to Kyoto, en route to Hiroshima.


I finally set foot in modern Hiroshima, on a hot balmy night of Aug 8, 2004, just 2 days after the 59th anniversary of that dreadful event.


The next day, in the sweltering heat, I board a tram ...


... along the wide streets of Hiroshima. The place was built from scratch after the 1945 obliteration, and reminds me of any modern western city, with blocks and wide roads. For example, Adelaide (Australia) comes to mind immediately.


The tram soon deposits me at the doorstep of a very famous landmark, the A-Bomb Dome.


A tragic tale unfolds.


This is how it looked 2 months after the bombing, in Oct 1945. Note the A-Bomb Dome, then a Hall.


Another view of the Dome/Hall.


A hundred metres up the road, near the epicentre of the explosion, I squint at the blue sky, imagining the A-Bomb detonating some 580m up. The weather on that fateful day of 6th Aug, 1945, must have been very similar to today's - hot, humid, clear blue sky. Visualise a blinding flash of intense white light up there ...


Fast-forward to Feb 2005, six months later. I'm in Washington DC, USA, and with time to kill, decide to pay the well-regarded Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center at Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum annex, near Washington Dulles International Airport. I spot something familiar ....


Yes, it's The Culprit, the Enola Gay, the machine which brought hell to the folks in Hiroshima - she was there, lurking in the sky, that fateful morning of 6th Aug, 1945.


To the right, a slender carpark is seen. The A-Bomb detonated 580m somewhere above the spot where this carpark is.


And it was delivered by this creature, a Boeing B29 Superfortress, now sitting harmlessly in its den on the other side of the planet.


I feel like being eyeballed by a monster. It's both eerie and spooky. Just six months ago I witnessed the remnants of utter destruction it caused 60 years ago.


At the A-Bomb Memorial Park, the Japanese flag is perpetually at half-mast.


The focal point of the park is this memorial.


People come to lay wreaths and pay respect to the dead.


The Culprit is like a knight gleaming in silvery armour.


Poignant juxtaposition.


Nearby, there's a nice museum, with a great view to boot. Note the carpark building 'P' to the right, which marks the spot where the A-Bomb exploded 580m up.


Inside the museum, sobering exhibits. Instantaneous destruction.




The T-shaped bridge above is the target for Enola Gay to drop it's deadly load, and here it is today.


Another display: before, ... (note the T-shaped bridge for orientation)


... and after.


The A-Bomb exploded (red ball) almost above the T-shaped bridge. Excellent aiming by Enola Gay.


Survivors, but not for long.


Fused ink bottles found at a decimated factory.


Intense heat melted and fused glasses.


"Letters of Protest" against the use of the A-Bomb, from all over the world, adorn the wall.


A letter from Nehru.


Names of the (identifiable) dead. Estimated dead: 70,000 instantaneously, another 70,000 due to injuries and radiation.


I've had enough, and on the way out, take a final look at the forlorn Dome.


At the Smithsonian, I take a finally gaze at Enola Gay. It brings a closure for me, after the Hiroshima visit 6 months ago.


After the traumatic trip to the A-Bomb Park, I take a short train ride to the sacred Shinto island of Miyajima, for a bit of therapy. :-)


Soon I am on another bullet train for another destination, but that's another tale.


EPILOGUE

Source: inRich.com

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