JUDY MCHENRY

THIS CURRUMBIN WA­TERS WOMAN SUR­VIVED THE ATOMIC BOMB­ING OF HIROSHIMA 72 YEARS AGO AND HARBOURS NO HATE

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - EYE | PEOPLE - AS TOLD TO SALLY COAT ES

“ALL YOU HEAR IS THE AEROPLANE COM­ING. THE NEXT THING EV­ERY­ONE GOES OUT­SIDE, WATCH­ING THE AEROPLANE.”

Igrew up in Hiroshima. I was 16 when the atomic bomb hit. I was only 2km away from where it was dropped. I es­caped and fled. All you hear is the aeroplane com­ing. The next thing ev­ery­one goes out­side, watch­ing the aeroplane. The next minute BOOM.

I don’t know what hap­pened, only that we heard a big boom. Then we es­caped, we ran for the moun­tains. We had to flee away from where it was hap­pen­ing.

When you die, peo­ple say you go to ei­ther heaven or hell. But that’s not what it is. I tell them “Here, when the atomic bomb go off, that ex­actly is hell.” Peo­ple run­ning around, par­ents call­ing their chil­dren, look­ing for their chil­dren.

No­body knew where their fam­ily was be­cause ev­ery­one es­caped. Ev­ery­one is yelling.

I was inside the house, so I was lucky. I had some of my fam­ily.

My fa­ther was a butcher. He sur­vived and came back af­ter it hap­pened, then one month af­ter he died.

It hap­pened to a lot of peo­ple. They didn’t die straight away but then af­ter, they died. I don’t know why. The air was not good af­ter the atomic bomb. Chem­i­cals in the air.

A lot of peo­ple got hurt, I got hurt. On my arm I have a scar. Even 2km away. But of course, three days af­ter it hap­pened, Na­gasaki hap­pened too.

I don’t hate any­one for it. War is war. Even to­day I say don’t hate any­one. That’s why I smile all the time. You can’t hate.

I met my hus­band in Ja­pan. There was another war, the North Korean War, and my hus­band went there but stayed in Ja­pan. He was a sergeant ma­jor in the Aus­tralian Army. He was an Aus­tralian war hero.

Be­fore the atomic bomb my grand­fa­ther bought a big house, we were al­ready rich. In Ja­pan I come from a line of Shinto princesses. My fam­ily was very rich. It was only af­ter the bomb I had to work.

I worked at the YWCA. The army sol­diers would come in and have a meal and we all served them. I was teach­ing the younger girls how to serve prop­erly.

Ev­ery­one would say “Judy, Judy, come over here”. Ev­ery­one wanted my at­ten­tion.

But I didn’t take no­tice of him. I was just work­ing and teach­ing the young ones. Some­times we would all go out to­gether, but then he wanted to marry me.

We got mar­ried in Ja­pan, oth­er­wise I couldn’t come here.

I was 23 when I came here with my hus­band. When we came to Aus­tralia we lived in the coun­try, at Mary­bor­ough, be­cause there were army bar­racks there.

Back then there was racism. I had to pull my son out of Catholic school be­cause even the priests were racist.

My hus­band died when he was hit by a car by a drunk driver. He was just cross­ing the street. I was 42 or 43. I never mar­ried again. I didn’t want to, I re­fused to. Ev­ery­one wanted to marry me, but I said, “No thank you”. I had three chil­dren, I was busy enough.

When my hus­band was alive we went to Catholic church but af­ter he passed I started go­ing back to Bud­dhism. So that’s why I say don’t live life think­ing of heaven and hell. Life is here in the world.

I be­lieve in yin and yang, there’s good and bad in ev­ery­thing. There is suf­fer­ing and there is still war go­ing on, but we are here.

I say to peo­ple, we must make sure it never hap­pens again, the atomic bomb.

When the An­zacs march in Bris­bane, some peo­ple called me Jap, be­cause I am Ja­panese. But I say, “Don’t you call me Jap, I am Aus­tralian.”

My hus­band was march­ing in Bris­bane in the An­zac march. He was a hero. I am Aus­tralian. But I don’t hate them, I don’t hate any­one.

That’s why I’m al­ways smil­ing and try to help peo­ple. You have to help peo­ple around you.

I’m very lucky, I had a lot of peo­ple help me when I needed it. And fam­ily is al­ways first.

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