The alumnae association of a girls’ high school in Okinawa has published a collection of testimonies by former students who survived the World War II Battle of Okinawa, officials of the group said Wednesday.
Girls at the prefecture-run school were mobilized during the war to serve as nurses’ aides for the military, and some of them died while roaming the southern battlefront in the closing days of the fighting.
The 326-page collection, titled “Shiraume” (“White Apricot”), includes memoirs describing scenes in which injured soldiers were brought to the hospital where the girls worked and how the girls managed to survive after the facility was closed down.
“I particularly want members of the younger generation who do not know about the war to read the collection. I hope it will convey to them how much we cherish peace and the preciousness of life,” said Sumi Matsumoto, head of the alumnae association.
Twenty-two of the 56 students mobilized as the “Shiraume unit,” named after their school’s insignia, died in the war.
The collection includes photos of the girls who died, chronologies and a layout of the hospital as well as testimony by the survivors depicting their fear of death, which they felt as they watched soldiers and schoolmates dying in front of them.
One reads: “I walked around praying to God to please let me die instantly in the event that I get wounded.”
The publisher, Creative 21, said it has received many responses, including one saying, “My uncle was taken care of by the Shiraume unit.”
There are plans to create a documentary film, theater play and a cartoon strip featuring the unit.