私の空襲体験-My War Experienceby Issei Yasuoka

安岡一誠

これは本県の県視覚障害者協会の会報に投稿したものであるが、それに少し書き加えた私の空襲体験である。

私が旧制中学校に通っていたころは、戦時中で勤労奉仕として農作業を手伝いに行ったり飛行場を作りに行ったりしていた。食料不測や過労で肺結核を患い眼底出血で失明し、ちょうどその時は病院通いをしていた。忘れもしないが1945年(昭和20年)7月四日の未明であった。、高知市が米軍のB29の空襲を受け、焼夷弾によって市内の中心部が焦土となり、死者が430人程もあった。

それまでにも各地の都市が次々にB29の空襲を受けていたのでいずれ高知もやられるのではないかと予測はしていた。この時私は市内の中心部にあった叔父の家にいて空襲を体験した。前の晩から何度も高知公園の空襲を知らせるサイレンが鳴っていたが、切迫した感じはなかった。しかし、夜明け前に空襲のサイレンで叩き起こされた。B29の低空を飛ぶ爆音に、「これは凄いぞ」と枕元に置いていた服に着替え、家族の者たちと戸外へ飛び出した。もう電車どおりは焼夷弾が落ちて燃えていた。庭には頑丈な防空壕も作っていたが、まず公園の方へ逃げた。ここには横穴式の壕もあったが、すでに人で一杯だった。まだ燃えていなかった北の方へ走った。途中空を見ると、焼夷弾の火が無数に落ちていた。その私たちは火に追われるように走りに走って、市外ま逃げた。高知市は真っ赤な火で燃えていたが、 私の僅かな視力でも見ることが出来た。お昼ごろ市内に戻ったが、まだあちこちに燃え残った火が残っており、焦げ臭い煙が立ち込めていた。お城の東側にあった天理教の前で、炊き出しの握り飯とたくわんを貰い、やっと空腹を満たすことが出来た。

その時、若い女の人が、気が狂ったように泣いていた。彼女は逃げるとき、乳飲み子と救急袋を抱えてにげたが、途中重くなった救急袋を捨てて逃げたそうである。逃げた先で、子供に乳を飲ませようとしたが、抱きかかえていたのは、子供ではなく救急袋であった。必死で逃げる時、どこで捨てたのか何度も子供を探したが分からなかったそうである。焼夷弾の火に追われ生死の境に追い込まれた時、人は正常な判断を狂わせ、ただ必死に皆が逃げたのである。

もう一つ、隣に豆やさんがあったが、その家族は大橋通りを南に逃げて鏡川に行こうとしていた。途中で主人が金庫のことを思い出し取りに帰ったが、金庫を抱えた時は、もう周囲は火の海で、町内で作ってあった防空壕へ逃げ込んだ。そこには逃げ遅れた人が何人もいて、入り口を塞いだものの火力が強く蒸し焼きのようになり、皆黒焦げになっていた。家族は鏡川の水に浸かって助かっていた。ちょっとした人間の欲と判断が人生の分かれ目になることを知らされた。

市民は皆焼夷弾の爆撃を逃れるために必死で逃げた。防空訓練もやり、焼夷弾が落ちてきたら皆で消すのだと言ってもいた。また、空襲があれば防空壕へ入るのだと言って、どこの家でも庭や床下を掘って作っていたが、これを過信して入っていた人は、ほとんど死んだ。私たちはごめん(今の南国市)まで行くと、汽車が通っているとのことを聞き、歩いていたが途中で軍のトラックに乗せてもらった。御免でようやく汽車に乗り、生家へと逃れていったのである。

今年は終戦から64年になる。もう遠い昔のことになるが、どうしても忘れることが出来ない。毎年7月四日には「高知空襲展」が行われているが、あの日の体験を持った人もだんだん少なくなってきている。是非、皆さんにもあの戦争の一端を知っていただきたいと思って書いたのである。

今でも各地で戦争が行われており、多くの市民の犠牲者が出ている。本当に戦争は人類にとって何一つ良いことはない。いろんな理由はあっても、戦争は多くの人の命と平安を奪っている。どうか早く平和な年が来るように願わざるをえない。

 

以下、英訳

The following material was originally submitted to the Association of physically handicapped people in our prefecture. Since then, I have added some more to the material.

It was during WW II when I was a junior high school student, us students were sent to help farmers or to help construct air strip as part of service to the war effort. During those years, due to the lack of necessary food and proper nutrients, I contracted tuberculosis. I subsequently had fundal hemorrhage and lost my eyesight and I was getting treatments at a hospital. It was at that time, the dawn of July 4th, 1945, the city of Kochi was air raided by B29s. The center of the city was flattened by the incendiary bombs and as much as 430 people perished.

Since many other cities had been raided by B29s, I anticipated that sooner or later our city, Kochi, would be bombed, too. Surely, the air raid started when I was staying at my uncle’s house right in the middle of the city. We had heard warning sirens alerting us about the Kochi Park air raids since the night before, but we did not feel much urgency. However, I was wildly awakened by the urgent siren at dawn. Hearing the roaring sounds of the air planes, I got dressed quickly and ran outside thinking, “It’s going to be a disaster”. The incendiary bombs had already hit and burning the main street where the street cars had been running. In spite of the sturdy bomb shelter in our garden, we ran toward the park. But the bomb shelter there was already full. We decided to run toward north since that area was not burning yet. When I looked up, I saw numerous flames from the bombs raining down. We ran as if we were chased by the burning flame to the outside of the city. Even with my very weak eye sight, I could see Kochi City in blazing fire. We returned toward the city around noon but the city was still burning and filled with smoke. The stench filled the air. Finally, I got a rice ball and pickle at the soup kitchen in front of a Tenri Buddhist temple east of the castle and filled my stomach.

I saw, then, a young woman crying as if she was mad. She said she had run away from bombing carrying her new born baby and an emergency bag. On the way, she had to throw away the emergency bag because it became too heavy for her. When she had reached a safe ground, she tried to nurse the baby but to her horror, what she was carrying was the emergency bag instead of the baby. She had searched and searched but could not find the baby. People lose their senses and run for their lives when they are thrown into a life or death crises such as bombing fire.

In other instance, I remember there was a store that sold nuts and beans. That family was running south along the Ohashi Street toward Kagami-river. On the way, the head of the family remembered that he had left the cashbox and decided to run back to get it. By the time he got the box, the fire had spread all around him and had to escape into the town bomb shelter. Many people had already been there and even though they tried to cover and protect the entrance from the fire, they all died and blackened by the smoke. The rest of the family members survived submerged in the river water. I learned that just a tiny misjudgment or greed creates life or death situation.

All the citizens ran away from the bombing fire for their lives. They had exercises against air raids and had said that they would help each other when the bombing started. Many households dug bombing shelters in the yard or under the floor to run in for safety but most of those who overestimated the shelters died. As for us, hearing that the train would be running if we walked as far as the city of Gomen, we started walking toward the city. On the way, we were lucky enough to be picked up by an army truck. At the Gomen station, we were finally able to catch the train and reached safely home of my parents.

This is the 64th anniversary year since the end of the war. It has been a long time but I still cannot forget the experience. The Kochi Air Raid Exhibition has been held every year but the people who actually experienced it have been diminishing rapidly. I wrote this because I want many people to know even a tiny portion about the horrible experience.

Wars have been fought in different lands even now and creating lots of victims. There is nothing worthwhile for human race in any wars. Whatever the reasons, wars kill people and take away peace. I sincerely hope that the world peace would be realized as soon as possible.

Translation by Teruyo Matsumoto

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