Silent Witness

Silent Witness: Cotton shirt

by Kyoko Niiyama, Staff Writer

Bloodstains on shoulders and side

The discolored brown, cotton shirt is dark with bloodstains on the shoulders and left side. It belonged to Tsutomu Doguro—a student at the Hiroshima Technical Institute, predecessor to the Hiroshima University Faculty of Engineering—who wore it on the day of the atomic bombing. Part of the shirt was cut away, as if someone had used scissors to remove the garment from him.

Mr. Doguro was 20 years old at the time. He experienced the atomic bombing on the way to a factory where he was mobilized to work for the war effort, at a bus stop in the district of Takanobashi (now part of Naka Ward, Hiroshima), located 1.2 kilometers from the hypocenter. Because their oldest son had failed to return home, his parents walked all around the city of Hiroshima looking for him. On August 10, they found Tsutomu at the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital (now Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital & Atomic-bomb Survivors Hospital) and brought him back to their home in the village of Ochiai-mura (now part of Asakita Ward).

For Mr. Doguro, August 6 was a day off from work at the factory as a mobilized student. However, Tsutomu left for work because he did not want to hurt the feelings of his mother, who had not been aware of the vacation and prepared a lunch for her son as usual. Due to the atomic bombing, Tsutomu was burned over his entire body so severely his skin peeled off and with it he lost his ears, making his face unrecognizable. Because of the burns on his face, he told his family he would never be able to go out and have fun. He died on August 27, with his family at his side, including Midori Doguro, his older sister.

In August 2002, Midori donated the shirt left by her younger brother to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, along with his school jacket, trousers, and shoes. She also digitized an album of photographs taken while he was alive and provided it to the museum. One of the photos was taken three months before his death and shows Tsutomu smiling in a white frock. What kind of future was his destiny? That shall never be known, as the atomic bombing robbed him of everything.

(Originally published on August 24, 2020)