Matsuyama Air Raids 松山空襲

American B-29 Super Fortress bomber over Nakajima Aircraft Co., Musashino Plant, Japan. On the ground, smoke marks its bombing impacts, 1945. The image is from Everett Collection at ShutterStock.com (I paid to download). All rights reserved. 全ての写真は、ShutterStock.comのEverett Collectionにて購入いたしました。ブログやSNSに掲載する許可はもらいましたが、これらの写真を許可なく転載、複製などに利用することはできません。

76 years ago, today, my grandma's town was under an air raid attack by US B-29s.

One time, I asked her what it was like, and she shared the story below.

At that time, my grandma and my grandpa were living in Dogo town in Matsuyama, Ehime, not in the mountains where she spent most of her life as a farmer. My grandpa, was not drafted into the war since he was the first son. They had a two-year-old daughter, and my grandma was pregnant with their second child.

Whenever a siren roared, the people of Matsuyama evacuated to dugouts. Matsuyama was bombed 16 times between March 1945 and August 1945, according to a historical document listed on the Ehime Shinbun Co., Ltd.

My grandma could not run fast due to her heavy body, so her neighbor, who is in her late teens, always came to grab the two-year-old daughter, my aunt named Sachiko. My grandma said that it was very helpful and appreciated. I imagine what a scary experience it must have been for anyone but especially for young children – the roaring sirens, bombs falling on their heads, and a dark, hot, dusty dugout.

On July 26, 1945, they heard the siren at 11:30 pm; they ran to the dugout. That night, my grandma was near the entrance of the dugout since she was one of the last ones to get inside. She peeked outside for a second and saw an airplane approaching. She closed the door, and then there was an earsplitting noise. Later, when it seemed safe enough to come out, people who hid there found an unexploded bomb next to the dugout. If it had exploded, the small dugout would have probably been blown up, and I would not have been here in this way. The Japanese army came to retrieve the bomb.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the B-29s dropped 896 tons of incendiary on that night. Survivors described it as a rain of irons and fire. People's effort to put it out was nothing against the massive fire that burned 90% of the city. 14,300 houses were burned, and 251 people died.

The scale of the damage was much smaller than the Bombing of Tokyo, which took place four months before the Matsuyama bombing. It killed approximately 105,400 people and burned more than 70,000 homes. However, regardless of the size of the attack, the fear each individual experienced in both cities must have been tremendous. The night sky of Matsuyama-city my grandma saw from Dogo town was lit up red.

Tokyo, Japan, in ruins after B-29 incendiary attacks during World War 2. The image is from Everett Collection at ShutterStock.com (I paid to download). All rights reserved. 全ての写真は、ShutterStock.comのEverett Collectionにて購入いたしました。ブログやSNSに掲載する許可はもらいましたが、これらの写真を許可なく転載、複製などに利用することはできません。

After the war, US Army troops who were stationed in Matsuyama were seen on the streets. When things settled down enough, my grandma wanted to thank the helpful young neighbor, so my grandma took the young lady to a hair salon to have her hair done. My grandma still had traditional Japanese hair at that time. When they came out of the hair salon, some US soldiers approached them and said something to my grandma. Maybe they wanted to take photos. Who knows, but my grandma was scared and felt responsible for her young companion, so she took her hand and dashed home, taking small streets that only locals knew.

Soon after the war, my grandma and her family moved back to the mountain home where my grandpa's parents lived.

My grandparents had a relative who went to the war and came home with a bullet mark in his abdomen. The bullet penetrated his body, and he survived. I vaguely remember this great-uncle. When he was happily drunk, he laughingly showed us his bullet mark. He was laughing, but as a young girl, I was thinking, "It must have hurt."

This year marks 76 years since the war ended. Now, not many survivors are around us, and the reality of the war is fading away. Therefore, I feel our responsibility (especially those of us who had the war experiencers around) to carry these stories to future generations to avert repeating the same mistake.


Formation of B-29's releasing incendiary bombs over Japan in June 1945. The image is from Everett Collection at ShutterStock.com (I paid to download). All rights reserved. 全ての写真は、ShutterStock.comのEverett Collectionにて購入いたしました。ブログやSNSに掲載する許可はもらいましたが、これらの写真を許可なく転載、複製などに利用することはできません。





祖母は妊婦の体が重くて速く走れないので、10代後半になるお隣さんの娘さんがいつも2歳の娘(私のおばさん)を抱っこしに来てくれたそうです。祖母は「とても助かった、ありがたかった」と言っていました。 誰にとっても怖い体験だったと思いますが、特に幼い子供にとってはサイレンの音、空から降ってくる焼夷弾、暑く埃っぽく暗い防空壕は恐ろしい体験だったに違いありません。






親戚に戦争に行った人がいて、お腹に銃弾の跡をつけて帰ってきました。弾丸は彼の体を貫通し、彼は生き延びました。その大叔父を私は何となく覚えています。楽しく酔っ払っているときに、銃弾の跡を笑いながら見せてくれました。彼は笑っていましたが、小さかった私は 「痛かっただろうな 」と思いました。



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