WAR LETTERS: CONDITIONS - 1945 Nagasaki

LETTERS HOME FROM SOLDIERS AT WAR

In this section, we present letters written by soldiers who describe
non-combat situations and the living conditions they experienced.

1945 Nagasaki

Keith B. Lynch wrote this letter home to Crab Orchard, Nebraska from the U.S.S. Ruticulus. The letter was sent from Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan. His wife Lorraine tells us that her husband passed away on May 9, 1996.

September 23, 1945, Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan
Keith B. Lynch

USS Ruticulus AK-113
Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan

Sunday, September 23, 1945

Dear Folks:

Here it is Sunday, Holiday Routine again. Boy, does the time fly. It seems as if it were only yesterday that I sat out here topside of the veranda and wrote the last time. We've gotten mail twice this week, and I've my share, eight of them. The last one I got was mailed the 10th of September, the same day we left Okinawa. A letter in twelve days. That's not so bad.

Well, to come to one of the two main topics I am to discuss (like they say in the movies): yesterday I went on my first, and most likely, only liberty in Nagasaki. The crew was divided into six sections, and one went every hour. Each tour lasted two hours. We went to the beach and were put in trucks and given a tour of the city of Nagasaki. First we visited the main part of the city. It wasn't, but is now, as it wasn't hurt so much by the atomic bomb. The only activity you see is people walking, going nowhere, it seems. Just walking.

Now I know what they mean when they say, "a dead city." You remember when I first described the place to you? About the city being in two valleys going at right angles to each other from the harbor, with a string of mountains between them? The smaller of the two, about the same size and five or six times the population of Tecumseh, was the first we visited. It was damaged of course by the concussion of the atomic blast and also by two previous bombings. But the main part of the place, in the other valley, about the size of Lincoln I would say, and five or six times the population, was completely inundated. The sight I saw from the top of the hill, over which it was approximated the center of the blast, was a sight I hope my children, if I am so fortunate, will never have to see, hear of, or ever think of. It was horrible and when you get to thinking, unbelievable.

To think that a thirty-pound bomb the size of a basketball, exploding a thousand feet in the air, could cause such a holocaust was simply unbelievable. I shudder to think what these people underwent when the blast occurred. A blast that literally dissolved their homes, family, friends and any other material thing in the vicinity. A blast that pushed over huge steel structures a mile and a half away as if they were made of blocks. Now I can see what they mean when they say "Dead City." A city with no buildings, no trees, no facilities, and no people. All you see from the top of the hill is a ground covered with bricks, burned wood, twisted and pushed over steel frames of buildings for several miles in each direction. There is nothing for the people of this "Dead City" to do but walk around and think, "What manner of people would do such a thing to us, who are a peaceful, courteous, and civilized people?" I wondered what they thought when they looked at us as we were driving along. "Are these the barbarians who did such a thing to us? What can we expect now that we are at their mercy?" I only wish they could be made to suffer a tenth of the atrocities that they performed on our men whom they held prisoner. People can say these people are simple, ignorant of the facts, or under a spell, but a nation cannot wage war as they have without the backing of the majority of their people.

Such a thing as I saw yesterday cannot be described in words. You have to see it, and I hope no one ever has to see such a thing again.

Well, I found out that my enlistment expires next March. If I get out, then it'll just about be right. Here's hoping. Well, folks, I've got a couple other letters to write before the movie. I'll see if I can't get another letter off before next Sunday.

'Til then,

Love,
Son

HOMESICKNESS

CONDITIONS OF WAR

1944 Naples          1945 Nagasaki
1945 Okinawa          1990 Saudi Arabia

LEVITY