A Former Red Cross Relief Nurse Shares Her Experiences of the Devastation of War

“I don’t want any of you to go through such suffering”

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Many participants listened attentively to her story of
her unimaginable experience with tears in their eyes.

On September 7 at Japanese Red Cross Society, the Japanese Red Cross Institute for Humanitarian Studies held a lecture meeting to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World WarⅡ, A former Red Cross relief nurse, Miki Kimura (87), told of her severe experience in the Philippines during the war.

Ms. Kimura entered the training school for relief nurses of Japanese Red Cross Saitama Chapter in April 1942. She completed the entire course in March 1944 and was drafted and sent to an army hospital in Manila as a relief nurse in August. She was still sixteen years old at that time. A month after she arrived in Manila, air raids by American Air Forces began. At the end of the year, her group moved to Baguio which was about 250 kilometers north of Manila. However, the air strikes were carried out every day, and her group began an escape journey through the mountainous regions, accompanying many patients.

“We ran out of medicine and food. Many of my fellow nurses died of hunger, illness or bombing during the four months just before the war ended. Every time we buried our fellow nurses with our weakened hands, each of the members thought that it might be herself that would be buried next. I myself also thought so. Tears rolled down my cheeks. “

Two days after the end of the war Ms. Kimura was stricken with a high fever of more than 40°C due to paratyphoid and malaria. When she was wounded in her leg and left behind in the mountains, she was prepared to die. She said, “But I had made up my mind not to die before I saw my parents again. So I bore the pain with clenched teeth and went down the mountain little by little.”

Sixteen members out of twenty-six of her relief party lost their lives. She reflected that if the war had ended 10 days later, all the members of her party, including her, would have died.

At the end of her lecture Ms. Kimura told, “I don’t want any of you to experience this kind of suffering. I’ll continue telling people about my experience in the battlefield as long as I live.”