On 9 August 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. It followed the use of such a weapon on Hiroshima days earlier. Voices of War brings together first-hand accounts of what happened in Nagasaki, taken from IWM’s extensive sound archive and the archives of the Atomic Heritage Foundation.
"I remember saying to the Japanese ‘what have we done to you?’ The tears rolled down his eyes and he said, ‘what have we done to each other?’" - Sidney Lawrence, British POW.
Click on the audio player below to listen to our soundscape and reflect on the experiences of those who were there, from a Japanese schoolboy to British and Chinese prisoners of war.
Hear the voices of those who witnessed what happened in Nagasaki
WHO AM I LISTENING TO?
Served as civilian radio operator with the Merchant Navy in Atlantic. After his ship was sunk in 1942 , he was captured and became a prisoner of war. At the time of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, he was being held in Fukuoka No 14 camp, on the edge of the city.
A C I Belchen
A Malayan Chinese prisoner of war, held in a camp on the edge of Nagasaki.
Born in June 1917, he served during the Second World War as a British aircraftman with No. 36 Squadron RAF in the Dutch East Indies. He was captured on Java in March 1942. In November of that year he was transported to Japan and spent the rest of the war in prisoner of war camps, finally being held in Fukuoka camp No 14 at Nagasaki from January 1945 onwards. He was there on a working party when the atomic bomb was dropped on 9 August.
Worked as a civilian government official in Japan throughout the war, ultimately serving as Chief Cabinet Secretary in Tokyo at the time of the atomic bombs being dropped.
Towards the end of the war he was ordered by Prime Minister Suzuki to investigate and analyse the economic condition of Japan, and to provide a written confidential report. Sakomizu found that Japan‘s resources were rapidly decreasing, and that Japan would be unable to continue fighting the war for more than a few months. After the conflict, he became a member of the House of Representatives and then joined the Liberal Democratic Party.
Yoshiro was 11 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan on 9 August 1945. His father was instantly killed, while Yoshiro and his twin brother, who were 2.2 kilometres away from the hypocentre, survived. Today, Yamawaki shares his testimony widely and serves as a strong advocate for the elimination of nuclear weapons. In 2010 the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed him as a Special Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons.
Clip courtesy of Atomic Heritage Foundation.