Remembering lives lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Two atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killed and maimed many thousands of people. This week the overwhelming devastation is being commemorated with vigils, prayers, peace walks and a determination to work for peace. Quakers around Britain will be among many remembering the lives lost.

a derelict building surrounded by green trees and tall modern skyscrapers
This building was one of very few left standing after the nuclear bombing. Photo by Terence Starkey on Unsplash.

On 6 August 1945, the US detonated the uranium bomb over Hiroshima. The firestorm destroyed five square miles of the city and killed an estimated 100,000 to 180,000 people. Three days later a second bomb on Nagasaki killed 50,000 to 100,000.

Oliver Robertson, Head of Witness and Worship for Quakers in Britain said, "Nuclear weapons are horrific, inhumane agents of death. We must not let the passage of time dim our awareness of how utterly destructive they are. A fitting memorial to the dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be ensuring that nobody else ever suffers the way they did."

He added: "We hope that this anniversary acts as a wake-up call to the world's nuclear-armed states to put in place strong safeguards around nuclear weapons, as a step towards their abolition. The collapse of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty last week is a very worrying development that we hope is reversed urgently. We are asking nuclear powers to lay down their swords for the benefit of all humanity."

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, will speak at a service in Coventry Cathedral on 6 August marking the anniversary. He will talk of Jesus's command to "love one another" and how we apply it to nations. "Promises and trust are slow to build and sadly so easy to destroy...

"Our planet faces a twin emergency. The crisis of climate change, and the crisis of nuclear arms. Both could destroy us all and render our planet uninhabitable – one through slow poison and the other a blinding flash. Both emergencies can only be resolved by people working together across our globe, reaching out our hands to one another in warm embrace. There is no room for a nuclear weapon in an embrace." (Update: Read the full text of Paul's reflection)


Glasgow: Scottish CND will hold a gathering in Glasgow on Tuesday 6 August from 1pm at the Peace Tree in front of the main entrance of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Edinburgh: Edinburgh CND will hold a gathering at Castle Street alongside Princes Street on Tuesday 6 August from 6pm until 7pm


Haverfordwest: 6pm Tuesday 6 August. Join Pembrokeshire Peace Group for a lantern floating ceremony.


Coventry: 5.30pm 6 August in Coventry Cathedral, a service for those of all faiths and none. Organised by the Mayor's Committee for Peace and Reconciliation and attended by Minister Okada from the Embassy of Japan. Reflection from Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, with poetry and music, including Taiko drumming. Schoolchildren retell the experience of Sadako Sasaki, before the congregation make Japanese origami cranes of peace.

Leeds: Friday 10.30am 9 August Park Square for Mayors Peace Memorial. Including two minutes' silence at 11.02am.

London: Sunday 4 August for peace trail through London. Meet at 2pm at the Gandhi memorial in Tavistock Square.

London: noon Tuesday 6 August in Tavistock Square. Readings, silence, laying flowers and message from the mayor of Hiroshima.

London: 6.30pm Tuesday 6 August in Friends House (opposite Euston Station). Hiroshima to Chernobyl: say no to nuclear. Includes video link up with Hiroshima.

Find out more about Quaker work on nuclear disarmament