The Man Who Survived Two Atomic Bombs

The Man Who Survived Two Atomic Bombs


A Japanese man (Tsutomu Yamaguchi) survived both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings during WW2.


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Some 260,000 people survived the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, but Japanese engineer Tsutomu Yamaguchi was one of the very few who endured the horror of both blasts and lived to tell the tale.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was preparing to leave Hiroshima when the atomic bomb fell. The 29-year-old naval engineer was on a three-month-long business trip for his employer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and August 6, 1945, was supposed to be his last day in the city. He and his colleagues had spent the summer working long hours on the design for a new oil tanker, and he was looking forward to finally returning home to his wife, Hisako, and their infant son, Katsutoshi.

Around 8:15 that morning, Yamaguchi was walking to Mitsubishi's shipyard a final time when he heard the drone of an aircraft overhead. Looking skyward, he saw an American B-29 bomber soar over the city and drop a small object connected to a parachute. Suddenly, the sky erupted in a blaze of light, which Yamaguchi later described as resembling the "the lightning of a huge magnesium flare." He had just enough time to dive into a ditch before an ear-splitting boom rang out. The shock wave that accompanied it sucked Yamaguchi from the ground, spun him in the air like a tornado, and sent him hurtling into a nearby potato patch. He'd been less than two miles from ground zero.

"I didn't know what had happened," he later told the British newspaper The Times. "I think I fainted for a while. When I opened my eyes, everything was dark, and I couldn't see much. It was like the start of a film at the cinema before the picture has begun when the blank frames are just flashing up without any sound." The atomic blast had kicked up enough dust and debris to nearly blot out the morning sun. Yamaguchi was surrounded by torrents of falling ash, and he could see a mushroom cloud of fire rising in the sky over Hiroshima. His face and forearms had been badly burned, and both his eardrums were ruptured.


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