Reverend Bob Walker recalls the horrors of Hiroshima.
Reverend Bob Walker recalls the horrors of Hiroshima.

'Flat burnt out mess': Reverend describes Hiroshima horror

"To see a city wiped out was just unbelievable."

That's how The Reverend Bob Walker describes the scenes of the horrific aftermath of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

He was just 18 years old when he joined the Army in the last year of World War II and was in the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan as part of the salvage unit after Japan surrendered.

"We went into all the mountains to get the enemy equipment and salvage what we could and destroy the rest," he said.

"We were living in one of the wrecks for a while, saw Hiroshima. It was a flat burnt out mess. The people, I think, in many cases were starving. We would feed them if we could with what we had."

Reverend Walker spent two years in Japan and was left hurt and angry when he finally returned to Australia.

Bob Walker when he first joined the Army at 18 years old.
Bob Walker when he first joined the Army at 18 years old.

"When we got back to Australia, and this is the part that hurt me and hurt most of our people, we got to Australia and they didn't want us," he said.

"They wouldn't acknowledge us, they wouldn't recognise us, even the RSL wouldn't accept us as members of the RSL until many years later because we had been in Japan."

He said the government only recognised the BCOF as an active service with a Gold Card a few years ago.

This year he will commemorate Anzac Day a little differently due to the coronavirus restrictions forcing services to be cancelled.

"I can see the need for it and I accept the fact, but I don't have to like it," he said.

While the days of the war are far behind him, the minister recalls Methodist church in Hiroshima standing tall among the rubble and wreckage of the town.

"Here across this vast ocean of wasteland was that church," he said.

"The minister there, Tanimoto, we got to know him very well. He was friendly."

Rev Walker went back to Japan a few years ago to find that church. When he arrived at where it should be standing he was met by a woman.

"I went in there and a lady came to me and asked me what I was. I explained I wanted to see if Tanimoto was around," he said.

"'No,' she said, 'He's died, but I'm his daughter.' And she welcomed me with open arms."

Read more stories from Paige Ashby.



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