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Viewing Page 1 of 10 (Total Entries: 100)
August 15th 2015
01:14:30 PM
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Plymouth veteran recalls horror of Hiroshima bomb on 70th anniversary
By PATRICK DALY Herald Reporter - Aug 6th, 2015



Click HERE To read a SURVIVOR\'S STORY written by: MR NORMAN LEWIS Royal Marine - HMS Fiji Musician


ON THIS day 70 years ago, Allied Forces used the nuclear bomb in warfare for the first time, dropping it on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Here a Plymouth war veteran explains what he saw in the aftermath.

A FLATTENED landscape as far as the eye could see. Utter devastation. The last imprints of a vapourised family.

These are the recollections of a Plymouth veteran when he visited the city of Hiroshima only a few months after August 6, 1945, that fateful occasion when the atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city by the Americans in the dying days of World War Two.

The modern debate over nuclear weapons and whether Britain should continue to arm itself will rumble on and on, but Norman Lewis, who saw the bomb’s devastation first hand, says he will never understand how anyone could bring themselves to inflict such cruelty in one swift act which is said to have killed about 160,000 people.

He survived the torpedoing of HMS Fiji in 1940 and its sinking in 1941 before being deployed on HMS Anson in 1942, serving in the Pacific towards the end of the war.

After Victory over Japan (VJ Day, August 15), the band corporal helped with the liberation of prisoners in Hong Kong and played the role of “a badly trained medic” at St Stephen’s Hospital, the scene of a brutal massacre where injured soldiers were murdered and nurses gang raped and mutilated by Japanese troops.

The horror of what Mr Lewis was to see did not stop there, however.

After spending some time entertaining the admiralty in the cities of Yokohama and Toyka, he and a friend called Bill decided to visit Hiroshima to see the result of the nuclear bomb that they had heard so much about.

“We were curious,” explained Mr Lewis, who lives in Plympton and taught at Hyde Park primary school for 27 years before retiring in 1982.

“We had heard about it [the Hiroshima bombing] over the ship’s radio at the time and we thought, ‘So what?’. We thought it was all part of war – we all dropped bombs.”

But nothing Mr Lewis had seen before would prepare him for what he would lay his eyes on during that trip.

“I had seen Plymouth bombed and my home town of Portsmouth bombed,” he said.

“Plymouth had pockets of destruction in its city centre and there were shells still standing in the street when I returned, and that is what I expected to see.”

After getting off at a nearby train station, American soldiers gave them a lift to the city but warned them: “Be prepared for what you are about to see.”

“It was like pulling back a curtain and seeing nothing but rubble,” he recalled.

“The city was absolutely devastated. There were three very small shells of buildings but otherwise it was completely flattened. I can still see it clearly now,” he recalled.

The bomb and its subsequent fires wiped out around 80,000 of Hiroshima’s 350,000 population during the first 24 hours, destroying almost everything within a mile of its epicentre.

Many thousands more would die from their injuries and the affects of radiation.

Mr Lewis and his friend spent around three hours walking around the ravaged city remains, during which he says they encountered only a handful of American soldiers, although there was signs of life with little makeshift huts stood around.

The Motoyasu River was diminished to just a trickle while Mr Lewis, only 23-years-old at the time, said he believes he saw the remains of a vapourised family on a wall in the city.

He says he saw the image of two adults and two children, aged between five and seven, which looked like “a very poor photo negative” on the wall.

“I may have been wrong as it was a bit blurred but I saw what I saw,” he trembled.

He would come back home in 1946 and says he did not mention the things he had seen to his wife Iris, who he married in 1949, or anyone else in his family.

But the retired primary school teacher believes the destruction he witnessed must be passed on to future generations.

“I would like to speak to the older school children and tell them about the events in Hong Kong and Hiroshima,” he continued.

“They will be the MPs and the leaders of the future and they should know what can happen. If they are involved in a war, it will be far worse. It is a sad old world.”

Continued Below:

   
August 15th 2015
01:07:34 PM
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HMSFA WEB ADMIN

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Article Continued From Above:

Some historians have argued that the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki three days later forced the Japanese to surrender, having previously refused to when Germany surrendered in May 1945.

While the heavily decorated veteran, who also served times on Russian convoy missions, admitted that the Japanese could be “tenacious warriors” who were a “fierce enemy who never gave in”, he could never find justification for the damage inflicted upon them. “I have never come to terms with what I saw in Hiroshima,” said the grandfather.

“I have spoken to many people, including church ministers, and I have never received a satisfactory answer as to how mankind could be so unkind.

“I can’t understand why anybody would want to destroy a population of any size, never mind killing 160,000 in one go.

“We always took pride in never targeting civilians [but] they wiped out a city in a tiny fraction of time. It doesn’t seem possible but it happened.

“I suspect I will never find a reason for why it happened until I leave this earth.”

IN AUGUST 1945 the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The two bombings killed at least 129,000 people.

The bomb named Little Boy exploded 2,000 feet above Hiroshima in a blast equal to 12-15,000 tons of TNT, destroying five square miles of the city. Roughly half of the deaths in Hiroshima occurred on the first day.

During the following months, large numbers died from burns, radiation sickness, illness and malnutrition. Most of the dead were civilians.

Click HERE To read a SURVIVOR\'S STORY written by: MR NORMAN LEWIS Royal Marine - HMS Fiji Musician


From: www.plymouthherald.co.uk



May 26, 2016 - Note From Norman Lewis:

A year gone by and so quickly as May 22nd has come and
gone. I was fortunate to join the relatives and friends of HMS
Gloucester Association on Plymouth Hoe to participate in their
remembrance service, starting at 11a.m.

Luckily, at 94 years, I was able to make it on my own and to be
warmly greeted as always by so many, and their must have been
some 40 or so there from all over and as far away as New Zealand,
Australia and South Africa.

The service was very warming and the minister spoke very warmly
about the part HMS Fiji played on that day, 75 years ago. He did
mention I was the sole survivor of Fiji\'s crew and that I was there
representing all those who have left us.

We retired to the Holiday inn not too far to walk to enjoy each
other\'s company and for the new comers, I was able to give them
an idea of what happened on that day in May so that they had more
understanding to their loved ones and I returned home happy to
have once again paid my respects to my shipmates lost and those
who have in the intervening years, have passed away.

Sincere regards,

Norm


   
July 17th 2015
08:54:15 AM
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Tom Gilbert

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Date: March 15th, 2017

It is with great sadness that I am posting to inform the HMSFA that my grandfather, Reginald George Kean, passed away on the 17th February 2017 aged 96. Reg was the HMS Fiji\'s barber, present on the fateful day of its sinking, and I suspect at this time, one of the few surviving members of the crew. His time in the Royal Navy in general, and on the HMS Fiji in particular always meant a huge amount to him, and given his quite astonishing memory he never ceased to amaze his family and friends with his stories of the time. His funeral was held on Monday 13th March, and he would have been thrilled with the send off he received from the Royal Naval Association - flags, salutes and the last post on the bugle. We will all miss him greatly.

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Date: March 5th, 2017

Name: Philip Morley

My name is Philip Morley, I am the grandson of Commissioned Gunner (T) Frederick Pannell Morley RN.

After the war, my Grandfather never spoke of his actions during the conflict, so non of the family even knew which ships he served on or what he did. By shear chance, I found a small box amongst my Mothers belongings when we were clearing her house after she died.

The box contained letters from my Grandfather to my Grandmother in the days after the sinking of the Fiji giving an amazing first hand story of the sinking and the loss of good shipmates. It also told of his rescue. With a broken foot, he could not climb the ropes of HMS Kingston when it returned that night to pick up survivors. He would not have survived had it not been for the bravery of Wireman Kirkpatrick who leaped in the water tied to a rope and rescued my Grandfather.

The box also contained all of his sign off papers from the 14 ships he served from 1924 to 1941. It shows him to have served on the Fiji twice and to have been blown off the boat on both occasions.

The (T) in his rank was for Torpedoes and Depth Charges. On both occasions he was in the process of disarming the depth charges (thankfully having completed the task) when he was blown into the water by the blast of the attacking aircraft on the second occasion and the torpedo

on the first. In doing so he risked his life and saved many more, in that when the Fiji sank had the depth charges not been naturalised almost everyone in the water would have been killed from the ensuing blast.

I am a very keen amateur videographer and would like to make a documentary film including as much information I can in order to honour those who lost their lives on the Fiji and keep the memory alive for coming generations. I am assembling all the information I can gather at the moment and would really appreciate any information or contacts with relatives of those that served on the Fiji. If you have such, Could I ask you forward any information/pictures to me. Thanks.

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DATE: November 8, 2016

Name: ETME Kuriuci

WE WILL RE-MEMBER THEM...Thank you very much for your sacrifice, courage and dedication...I am currently a serving member of the RN...At the moment I am preparing a brief for my Leadership training and I have chosen the life and dedication of the Men of HMS Fiji.

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DATE: July 17, 2015

Name: Tracey Stanton

I am writing to see if anyone has any information or knew of my late grandfather Reginald Leonard Bone who was an Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class. Unfortunately he died on that fatal day, we believe he went down with the boat when it sunk. I would love to find out more about him, especially for my father who was born that September, so never got to know him! Any information would be gratefully received.
Tracey

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September 8th 2014
06:27:22 AM
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Sara Hunt

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I’m interested to find any information or stories if possible about my late Grandfather Ralph Perrior Hunt, I believe he was in communications (Yeoman) on aboard HMS Fiji and although originally reported missing at sea turned up in the end. If anyone has anything that they can tell me that is related to my Grandfather i would really appreciate the contact.
Thank you, Sara.

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March 11th 2014
02:59:36 PM
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Lt Col Trevor Powell

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I have just learned that a cousin, Wilfrid Martin Powell, was the \'Chief Mechanician\' on the Fiji and lost his life on board. Any information regarding his last hours would be most appreciated.

Many thanks to all for your efforts on this site.

Kind Regards,

Trevor Powell

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December 28th 2013
04:43:05 AM
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Andrew Fraser, CMG

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Looking through family records, I have pictures from his \"survivor\'s leave\" of my (deceased) Uncle - Gilbert Fraser - who survived the sinking of the Fiji. He swam alone for over an hour before being picked up. He later settled in Queensland. I\'d be interested if anyone has any recollection of him.

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April 25th 2013
11:51:53 PM
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David Stephen

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John (Jack) Stephen was a boy seaman on HMS Fiji and joined her straight out of training. He served on a number of ships after the sinking and left the navy in 1954. Emigrated with family to Australia in 1966 and died in 1990 but had strong memories of the sinking and was happy to talk to his wife and 5 sons about it. His great wish was that none of us would have to go what he went through as a 16 year old and thankfully none of us has so far.

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April 14th 2013
12:39:23 PM
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Steve Kingsford

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Horace Gardner 1st class stoker was a resident of Chipping Norton and is on the town\'s war memorial. I am researching his life for our website above

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April 8th 2013
07:43:11 PM
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Revd David Simpson, RN

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On joining the RN, I was made aware of the story of the Revd Kit Tanner, RN - the Chaplain to HMS FIJI, whose story is superbly described in the link in the Heroes section of this web-site. Kit\'s conscious decision to save so many lives at great cost to himself is a fine example of rare altruism. His dedication to his men is a timeless inspiration and encouragement to all who serve, especially those who have the privilege of serving as Naval Chaplains. If any members can shed any further light on his living (as opposed to the manner of his death), I\'d be pleased to hear from you. My hope is to make his story, and that of other chaplains who laid down their lives for their shipmates, more widely known.

Revd David Simpson, RN

Instructor Navy,

Armed Forces\' Chaplaincy Centre,

Mil tel: 94391 4225 or

Civilian tel: 01264 773144, ext 4225

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February 28th 2013
01:48:53 AM
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Nigel Mainwood

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Hi - Would be really keen to hear from anyone who knew my grandfather, Robert, (Bob), Harrison who was a stoker on board Fiji when she was sunk off Crete. He was a lovely guy, but didnt talk about his experiences and I would love to hear from someone who remembers him from the ship.

Thanks

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