On the 70th anniversary, rare Hiroshima images come to Fife in unique display

The photographs show the harrowing images of survivors after the blast
The photographs show the harrowing images of survivors after the blast

The 70th anniversary of the deadly Hiroshima nuclear attack in Japan is being marked with the unveiling of a unique collection of extremely rare photographs in St Andrews.

Scotland’s Secret Bunker revealed the photographic display today - exactly seven decades after the atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city on August 6, 1945.

It is understood to be the first time the collection, which captures the immediate aftermath of the nuclear attack, has been showcased in its entirety.

The photographs originally emerged ten years ago, thousands of miles away, in the small Fife town of Coaltown of Balgonie when a local man, John Ferns, revealed the incredibly rare pictures.

Mr Ferns’ late father, Clifford Fern, had stumbled across the undeveloped film of photographs after buying a second hand camera while serving in the RAF in Iwakuni, 15 miles outside of Hiroshima, six months after the bombings in 1946.

It is believed the camera’s original owner succumbed to the radiation after taking the photos as no-one could have survived the radiation levels within the area of impact so soon after the bombing.

The photos clearly capture the total devastation to the landscape and the decimation of buildings, but they also reveal the ghostly and harrowing images of survivors after the initial blast.

The display opened at 8.15 a.m. on Thursday, August 6 - which is thought to be the exact time 70 years ago when a US B-29 bomber called the Enola Gay dropped the uranium bomb, with the force of 20,000 tonnes of TNT, exploding some 600m (1,800ft) above Hiroshima.

On detonation, the temperature in the city reached 60 million degrees, killing and injuring thousands of people instantly.

On that day alone, at least 70,000 are believed to have perished but in total at least 200,000 died - this includes those who were killed on impact and the many thousands who succumbed to radiation poisoning in the weeks, months and years that followed the explosion.

There are copies of 11 images on display and the local exhibition will also be showing the critically acclaimed and controversial film, The War Game (1965).

Commissioned by the BBC and directed by Peter Watkins, The War Game depicts the fictional aftermath of a nuclear event.

The film was banned from being released by the BBC for over 20 years, although it did appear as a cinematic release which earned the film an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1966.

However, it was eventually broadcast to the public on July 31, 1985 - 40 years after the Hiroshima bombing took place.

Speaking about the photographic collection, James Mitchell, owner of Scotland’s Secret Bunker, said: “It is an immense privilege to display this rare and important collection of images at Scotland’s Secret Bunker.

“There are very few photographs of Hiroshima in the days after the bombing, so these images are as close as people can get to understanding the true nature and utter devastation of the nuclear attack.”

He added: “We hope that visitors will come here to observe, reflect and learn more about the events of 70 years ago.”

The photographic exhibition will run until November 1.