Artefacts recovered from the ruins of Hiroshima to be auctioned

A rare enamel sign that survived the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945 is due to be sold at auction.

The piece of twisted metal, baring the words “check equipment” was recovered from the ruins of the Japanese city by a British serviceman in the aftermath of the bombing.

It is due to be sold at auction House Henry Aldridge and Sons, based in Devizes, Wiltshire, on Saturday, and is expected to fetch between £3,000 and £5,000.

The blue and white sign was found by Able Seaman John Davis, who was serving on HMS Bermuda in 1945.

In an account given to the British Legion in 2008, the veteran described the devastation he found when he reached the city.

“I recall standing near the centre of Hiroshima, near the main bridge, looking about where there was just nothing, not even great piles of rubble – most of the timber buildings had just been vaporised,” he said.

“One of our party commented: “You have a job to realise that you are now standing in the centre of a city the size of Birmingham.”

Able Seaman John Davis
Able Seaman John Davis (far right) and fellow his servicemen (Henry Aldridge and Sons/PA)

Able Seaman Davis and his party visited both Hiroshima and the site of the second bomb at Nagasaki, where he collected documents and plans from the ruins of a torpedo factory.

The account continues: “Much has been written about the after effects of these bombs so I will not try to say much more other than that it did shock us and there was very little talking as we returned from these two cities.

“One of our group saw what appeared to be the shadow of a person on a ladder on a wall – the blast had left this imprint just as sunlight would have done.”

Able Seaman Davis said: “There was a similar shadow of a vehicle on the main bridge at Hiroshima. The situation at Nagasaki was much the same, but Nagasaki is situated in a valley.

“One could still see all the trees burnt to stumps on each side of the town, but as for Hiroshima, it was utterly devastated.

“The only buildings that withstood the blast were the concrete earthquake proof buildings that the Japanese had built in previous years.”

The serviceman continued: “There were hardly any Japanese people at either site and all kinds of things were just lying about.

“Most of us picked up items as souvenirs. One friend picked up a glass bottle that had melted and twisted into a strange shape.”

He added: “We never thought that any of these items could be radioactive.”

Also included the lot is a Japanese silk flag obtained by another seaman, as well as a quantity of Japanese money collected from the sites.