Reporters never know whether to refer to Tsutomu Yamaguchi as the luckiest or unluckiest man in the world; Yamaguchi is the only officially recognised survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb blasts at the end of the Second World War.
Yamaguchi was an engineer with the shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and on the 6th of August, 1945, he was in Hiroshima at the end of a short-term secondment with two of his colleagues. He would later recall that he heard a loud engine noise coming from the sky above him but initially thought nothing of it as Hiroshima was an industrial city and military base. However, what he had heard was the engines of Enola Gay, the US B-29 bomber that would moments later drop the first atomic bomb on the city. Yamaguchi then saw a flash of light before being knocked to the ground unconscious by the force of the bomb. Around 140,000 of Hiroshima’s 350,000 population died instantly. Thousands more suffered burns, Yamaguchi included.
Yamaguchi spent that night in an air-raid shelter which was filled with dying people. The next day, he caught a train 180 miles back home to Nagasaki, which was another industrial city and military base. On the 9th of August, Yamaguchi returned to work and told his colleagues about the horrors he had experienced. They were aghast to discover that one single bomb razed the entire city. Unbeknownst to them, another atomic bomb was heading towards Nagasaki. At around 11:02AM, there was another flash of light as the US Airforce stopped “Fat Man,” a 25-kiloton plutonium bomb which killed nearly 74,000 people and injured a similar number. Miraculously, Yamaguchi survived this second atomic bomb.
Yamaguchi was deafened in one ear and his wounds were bandaged for 12 years. His wife was poisoned from the radioactive fallout and died age 88. The couple’s son - also exposed to the radioactive fallout - died at 59. Yamaguchi’s hellish experience turned him into an anti-nuclear weapons campaigner. He later went on to give talks about his experience in which he expressed his wish for such weapons to be abolished. In 2010, Yamaguchi died at his home in Nagasaki.
Story time! My great grandfather was in the Resistance during the war (he was part of the FFI, French Forces of the Interior). He got arrested by french officers in May 1944, managed to escape from Loos-lès-Lille’s prison on July 14th (pretty badass), but was found back a dozen days later.
He was shot on August 16th, 1944 at Seclin Fort.
So here are some researches for a possible adaptation of the farewell letter he wrote before dying. There is still more to come :)
Morocco Still Loves A Good Medieval Cavalry Charge
The Moroccan tradition of Fantasia is a stylized reenactment of a wartime cavalry charge. If done perfectly, a group of horsemen charge in unison, then shoot their muskets at precisely the same time. The audience should hear only one sound. (For those worried, the guns are loaded only with gunpowder, no bullets.)
Also known as lab al baroud (Arabic for “gunpowder game”) or Tbourida, it is practiced in a couple of North African countries and dates back to the 700s CE. During the Islamic Golden Age, only the cavalry charge was practiced. Around the 1200s, the now-traditional musket firing was added.
Used to intimidate enemies or impress visitors, the stylized war game would be performed before sultans and kings as well as at local events, like festivals.
Today, Fantasia competitions happen at weddings and the harvest festival. It is practiced by both Arab and Berber communities. And, increasingly, by women. Making Fantasia a sort of unifying national sport in Morocco.
John “Chickie” Donohue, a merchant marine from New York City snuck into the war zone in Vietnam in the ’60s to DELIVER BEER to his three enlisted buddies from back home. It is known as the GREATEST BEER RUN EVER and has a documentary made about it.