Silent Witness

Silent Witness: Pocket watch belonged to beloved husband

by Yuji Yamamoto, Staff Writer

Died on Ninoshima Island at the age of 37

The silver watch, still shiny, stopped working right after the A-bomb attack on Hiroshima. It is a memento that once belonged to Shigeo Nabeshima, who died on Ninoshima Island (now part of Minami Ward, Hiroshima) after experiencing the bombing. The watch was donated to the Peace Memorial Museum in 1985 by his late wife, Shiyako Nabeshima, who lived in the city of Fukuyama.

According to Record of the A-bomb Disaster, a book compiled by the City of Hiroshima in 1971, Shigeo Nabeshima was the head of the Hiroshima District 16 Special Police Squad. In April 1945, when he was 37 years old, he was drafted into military service for the third time and joined an army corps stationed in Takehara-cho, Kamo-gun (now part of Takehara City). From August 1, he became based in Kakomachi (now part of Naka Ward) to help tear down houses to create a fire lane. And on August 6, he suffered the atomic bombing.

Although the bodies of thousands of victims were in Kakomachi, the army corps that Mr. Nabeshima belonged to got word that he had been transported to Ninoshima Island. When army corps soldiers visited the island, they received Mr. Nabeshima’s remains, his pocket watch, pipe, belt, and other belongings.

A special cadet of the former Army Marine Transport Unit cared for Mr. Nabeshima after the bombing. In this soldier’s personal notes, he wrote that Mr. Nabeshima’s face appeared calm, and even noble, as if he had been preparing himself for death. His wife Shiyako donated his belongings to the Peace Memorial Museum in 1985. She said to reporters from the Chugoku Shimbun in 1991, “My husband would be glad if his belongings can help visitors to the museum gain a sense of the misery of war and the preciousness of peace.”

(Originally published on August 5, 2019)