Posts Tagged ‘Mayor of Camden’

Hiroshima Day – 6th August

Saturday, August 6th, 2022

Hiroshima Day – 6th August

Hiroshima Day - 6th August
Rev Nagase, Japanese monk from the Battersea Peace Pagoda, 2011

While I was still teaching full-time I was usually away from London in August, often in Paris or on holiday with friends in different parts of England. But since 2004 I’ve usually been in London on August 6th and attended and photographed the annual Hiroshima Day Ceremony organised by London CND close to the Hiroshima Cherry Tree in Tavistock Square. The first year for which I used a digital camera was 2004, when the event was compèred by local MP Jeremy Corbyn and among those attending were Michael Foot and Tony Benn. There was a significant non-attender too, Mordechai Vanunu had been invited to come from Jerusalem where he is under house arrest for having made public Israel’s nuclear weapons, but was prevented from coming by the Israeli government.

Hiroshima Day - 6th August
Tony Benn, 2011

Back then I think the processing of digital files left something considerable to be desired, and the images on-line are rather dull, though I think could now be greatly improved if I found time to reprocess the raw files.

Hiroshima Day - 6th August
Bruce Kent, 2009

By the time photographed the ceremony in 2009, the pictures looked much better. Jeremy Corbyn was again introducing the speakers, who included CND stalwart Bruce Kent.

Bruce Kent spoke again in 2011, as did Tony Benn, but the star of the event was Hetty Bower who had begun her campaign against war in 1914 when she was a young schoolgirl, almost nine. Her’s was a remarkably powerful performance from a 105 year old who 97 years later was still taking part in every major UK anti-war march.

Nobo Ono, 2013

Hetty Bower was there again in 2013 and made a short speech. Other speakers included Bruce Kent, Peter Tatchell, Jeremy Corbyn, Walter Wolfgang, amd Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett as well as several peace activists, among them Val Brown from the London Guantanamo Campaign who talked about their work and the regular protests at the US Embassy, and Nobo Ono who spoke about the nuclear disaster at Fukushima and the weekly protests organised by Japanese Against Nuclear UK.

In 2014 my train to London was held up and I arrived after the event began, when a speaker was reminding everyone of the long life as a peace activist of Hetty Bower, and a several of those present were wearing t-shirts with her picture.

As usual, towards the end of the event there was a period of silence in memory of the dead and wreaths and flowers were laid at the Hioroshima Cherry Tree, planted in the garden here by the then Mayor of Camden in 1967.

In 2015, because of the Labour leadership contest, the event which usually attracts only a small handful of press was attended by several TV crews and a large number of photographers, many of whom more or less ignored anything but Jeremy Corbyn, seen in my picture standing for a few moments in thought after laying a sunflower at the foot of the tree.

Cllr Nadia Shah, Mayor of Camden lays a wreath, at left Anthony Flaum who had sung earlier, 2016

It was back to the usual lack of media interest in 2016, but the event was well attended with a number of familiar faces among the speakers, performers and the audience. Walter Wolfgang and Kate Hudson of CND, Mohammed Kozbar from Finsbury Park Mosque and Shahrar Ali from the Green Party were among those who spoke, and there were fine and very different perfomances from opera singer Anthony Flaum, radical folk singer Jim Radford and rap artist Potent Whisper, as well as the Raised Voices choir who as usual both performed on their own and led those at the event in singing some well-known peace songs.

Among the more memorable speakers in 2017 was writer A L Kennedy – but as usual all were worth listening to.

You can also see pictures and read the accounts from 2018, 2019 and 2021 on My London Diary.

I hope be again in Tavistock Square for today’s London CND Hiroshima commemoration – Saturday 6th August 2022 – starting at noon.


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Hiroshima Day – August 6th

Friday, August 6th, 2021

2018

On 6th August 1945 a US B-29 bomber dropped a atomic bomb, code name ‘Little Boy’, from a height of 31,000 ft over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It took almost 45 seconds to fall to a height of 1,900 feet where it detonated, by which time the bomber, Enola Gay was over 11 miles away.

2014

Hiroshima was a large city, a port with many industrial and military sites and a population of around 350,000. Because it had been selected as a target for a nuclear bomb it had not suffered the intensive conventional bombing of most other Japanese cities. The USA wanted to be able to see clearly the damage an atomic weapon could cause.

2019

Around 70,0000 people, 30% of the population were killed by the initial blast and firestorm which was caused, with around the same number badly injured. Around 70% of the city’s buildings were destroyed, an area of almost 5 square miles devastated. Those killed included over 90% of doctors and medical staff who were concentrated in the central area of the city.

2017

Two days later on August 8th the US decided to drop the second atomic bomb, one of a different design using plutonium rather than uranium, code-named ‘Fat Boy’. The intended target was Kokura, an ancient Japanese city with a huge arsenal, but dark clouds obscured the city, and the B-29 ‘Bockscar’ diverted to the city which was the secondary target, Nagasaki.

2016

The black clouds may have come from the the previous days US conventional fire-bombing of nearby Yahata, but workers at the steel works in Kokura had apparently decided to burn coal tar to try to make a smokescreen. Or it could just have been bad weather or some combination of all three than saved Kokura and condemned Nagasaki.

2009

There were clouds over Nagasaki too, but a patch of clear sky allowed the bomb to be dropped. The plutonium bomb was almost one and a half times more powerful than that which devastated Hiroshima but it exploded over a valley which slightly contained its effects. At least 35-40,000 were killed immediately, almost all of them civilians, including many foreign workers. Unlike in Hiroshima there was no firestorm as the area it was dropped on was less intensively developed.

2009

Although it was the US who dropped the bomb, the British government was deeply involved. Under the 1943 Quebec agreement between Roosevelt and Churchill which brought scientific development of atomic weapons by the two countries together, the consent of the UK was needed for these weapons to be used.

2011

Of course deaths continued after the explosions. Acute radiation syndrome killed many who survived the initial attack, mostly within 20-30 days. Radiation induced cancer and leukemia takes longer to emerge, reaching a peak around 6-8 years later. Radiation also causes miscarriages and birth defects.

2014

Around 650,000 people were recognised by the Japanese government as ‘hibakusah’, survivors affected by the bombs, and around 1% of these had illnesses attributed to their radiation exposure.

2015

Ceremonies in the two cities and around the world remember the bombings and call for the outlawing of nuclear weapons, a total of around 13,000 of which are now held by China, North Korea, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted by the UN in 2017 and entered into force on 22 January 2021. Countries voting for its adoption included two former nuclear states, South Africa and Kazakhstan, who gave up their weapons voluntarily and North Korea. So far 55 states have ratified or acceded to the treaty.

2016

The pictures, taken in various years, come from the annual Hiroshima Day event held every 6th August in Tavistock Square in London organised by London CND. The square is in the London Borough of Camden and take place next to the Hiroshima cherry tree planted there in 1967 by the then Mayor of Camden.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.