Remember Hiroshima

Rev Nagase from the Battersea pagoda

I was only a few weeks old when the nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but was one of a generation that grew up very much in their shadow.  Both my brothers marched to Aldermaston in 1958, and my eldest brother sat down at the Ministry of Defence  in Whitehall in 1961 with the Committee of 100, though he wasn’t one of the original signatories. We all held our breath during the 13 days of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, but fortunately both Khrushchev and Kennedy came to their senses and came to a secret agreement. Both men realised that actually using nuclear weapons would be catastrophic not just for their nations but for the world; the US agreed secretly to withdraw missiles from Turkey and Southern Italy if Kruschev would publicly withdraw his from Cuba.

So the USA remains the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons in war, and it was able to do so only because it knew it could not face nuclear retaliation. By the time of Cuba the use of them had become unthinkable; only a crazed lunatic would press the button.

More recently our worries have begun to rise again. Could a man who so carelessly vents on Twitter decide early one morning that it would be a good thing to nuke those bad guys in Russia? We can only hope that there are people in the USA who have decided for safety reasons to undo one of the wires.

More recently I’ve taken part in protests and been to Aldermaston myself, walking much of the way there in 2004, and cycling to photograph to photograph the ‘Wool Against Weapons‘ 7 mile scarf from the atomic weapons factory at Burghfield to Aldermaston in 2014, as well as many other CND events. After Cuba, after the end of the Cold War it has simply become impossible to produce any military argument for the retention of a UK nuclear capability – as even many in the military now agree.

Rev Nagase pays his respects to Gandhi

Nuclear arms are useless, their use totally immoral and maintaining them a terrible waste of money that could be spent far better on health, on education and other social benefits. Their use against Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime – as was our firestorm bombing of Dresden together with the USAF which killed around 25,000 civilians including some refugees. But the effects of radiation made the linger on for much longer.

Cllr Jenny Headlam-Wells, Camden Deputy Mayor lays a wreath

The ceremony in Tavistock Square takes place every year on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, August 6th, and if I’m in London I go, and I take photographs. In 2017 there was perhaps a slightly smaller crowd than in previous years, and certainly rather fewer photographers than in 2015 when Jeremy Corbyn who had often chaired the event in the past was the main speaker.

Hiroshima Day 72 Years on


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My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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