UK

Hiroshima: Children Make Peace Symbols To Mark Bombing's 75th Anniversary

The attack on the Japanese city was the first use of the atomic bomb in warfare and caused unprecedented death and devastation.

Schoolchildren in Staffordshire have commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing by making peace symbols.

The attack on the Japanese city was the first use of the atomic bomb in warfare and caused unprecedented death and devastation.

Days later, a second US bomb hit Nagasaki, killing a further 70,000, bring the death toll from the two attacks to more than 200,000.

The attacks paved the way for the end of the Second World War, with Japan surrendering on 15 August. 

To commemorate the anniversary, schoolchildren gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas to promote peace and reconciliation.

They aimed to make 1,000 origami cranes to hang from the branches of the Japanese maple trees on site which mark the Anglo-Japanese Grove of Reconciliation.

One of the children taking part in the commemorations was nine-year-old William Saunders.

"They’re paper cranes, they represent when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima," he said.

"They all get hung together and it represents peace."

The pieces of art honoured a young Japanese girl who was making paper cranes of her own, on the day the bomb hit.

Descendants of those who fought in the Far East during the Second World War also attended the event.

A building in Hiroshima ruined in the aftermath of the atomic bomb (Picture: US National Archives).

Jenny Carter’s father was a Royal Marine during the war and spent three years in a Japanese prison.

Sergeant Francis Railey served mainly on battlecruiser HMS Repulse, and was on board when it was sunk by torpedo bombers in December 1941, killing 508 crew members.

He was rescued by HMS Electra, and fought on in Malaya in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to repel Japanese land forces.

While being evacuated from the area by another ship, he was again sunk by torpedo attack.

He was then captured and became a prisoner of the Japanese in Sumatra. 

But the end of the war, less than two weeks after the attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, led to Sgt Railey being freed.

Schoolchildren made the origami cranes at the memorial site in Staffordshire, England.

"We’ve come here today because it’s a very special day for us to remember what went on," Ms Carter told Forces News.

"My father said that if the Americans hadn’t dropped the bomb, then they would never have been freed or released and it would have been the end.

"But he appreciated also how horrific it was that they did that and, you know, how many people died from it and how it’s an everlasting thing for the people there."

Events in Japan were also held to commemorate the 75th anniversary.

The peace ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Less than 1,000 people attended the ceremony, one-tenth of the figure from previous years.

A group of Hiroshima survivors, pushing for nuclear disarmament, confronted the Japanese prime minister during the event. 

Shinzo Abe said in his speech that a nuclear-free world cannot be achieved overnight and it has to start with dialogue.