Research & Articles by Lt. Col. Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired), JP
Research, Interviews and Articles about the Prisoners Of War of the Japanese who built the Burma to Thailand railway during world war two. Focusing on the doctors and medical staff among the prisoners. Also organised trips to Thailand twice a year.
    free hit counter

An individual perspective about the Atomic Bomb
Captain (Dr) David Hinder

The following is a letter written about the Atom Bomb by Captain (Dr) David Hinder in 1981.


When the atom bomb fell on Hiroshima 36 years ago, I was in a POW Camp at Niihama on the island of Shikoku.

August 6, two days after my birthday and two days before my sister’s, was a calm sunny day. Across the Inland Sea the mainland was peaceful and quiet and it was difficult to believe that the country was at war for there was neither sight nor sound of American planes overhead nor the distant thump, thump of exploding bombs and their rumbling echoes through the hills.

In my cubicle my back was to the window, which faced the mainland. There was a flicker of light like sunlight reflected from the windscreen of a passing car, but no cars went past our camp. Minutes passed.

A thunder clap seemed to split the very heavens with a tearing sound as though a huge sheet was being torn. The window rattled, the mud walls shook and little flakes of dirt fell to the ground. A rumbling echo faded into the distance. Silence and stillness as before.

I went outside and looked across the Inland Sea to the mainland: the scene was unchanged, no fires, no smoke, calm and peaceful as before. I knew something dramatic had happened but I had no idea what it was.

In the distance there was a curious, toadstool shaped cloud.

There were no more deaths in our camp.

The Japanese dug foxholes around their guardhouse and office. Whenever a Flying Fortress flew over, very high, with its long vapour trails betraying it, they waited in their foxholes until it had gone, morosely staring at us as we walked unconcerned about the camp wondering what made them so jittery.

At that time we were at the end of the road through starvation, untreated diseases, and overwork and very few would have survived the approaching winter. We hoped for an American invasion and expected it, but we knew that such an invasion would provoke the Japanese into fury, fear and hatred and we could expect a violent death. For us there was no way out.

A month after the end of the war a small party of Americans arrived in camp. They had all been in the tropics for some time and on the anti-malerial drug Atebrin, which stains the skin yellow and they were far yellower than any Japanese we ever saw.

They told us about the bomb and in Manilla some weeks later I saw photographs which confirmed my suspicions about the mighty bang and the unusual cloud formation of August 6.

The atom bomb saved our lives and it saved the lives of hundreds of other POWs. It saved the lives of thousands of Americans and the lives of more Japanese than it took, for if the Americans had invaded Japan and the Emperor had gone on the air and told his people that they were to die defending their homes, every man, woman and child would have done so, without questions and without exception.

The Japanese had one religion – Japan: one faith – the Japanese people; one God – the Emperor.

The atom bomb has kept the peace between the major powers, the longest period of world peace the century, and it may well be an illustration of Emerson’s statement “the first lesson of history is the good in evil.”

Pacifists demonstrating against uranium and nuclear bombs may be preparing the world to accept a non nuclear war as a lesser evil, when either would be disastrous.

Professor Toynbee writes “the divine irony of human affairs; the most tremendous of all the lessons of history.” The atom bomb has done more to keep world peace between the major powers than all the pacifists demonstrations combined.

David Hinder


Article provided by Dr David Hinder’s widow Mrs Laurice Hinder
and reproduced by Lt Col Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired) JP

E mail web

ezFrog Web Design. Copyright 2004.