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The Bombing of Chongqing


  The bombing by the Japanese which began in l939 continued in 1940 and in 1941 with increasing ferocity. As soon as the winter fogs lifted the planes came, and through the gruellingYangtze Cruise hot summer, until late in autumn, being bombed was part of the normal process of living. Our daily activities were geared to this predictable occurrence f one rose early, and since the nights were an inferno of heat and sweat, the rock exuding its day-stored heat, it was easy to wake when the sun rose , for dawn did not mean coolness, but another raging hot day. Quickly the fire was lit with sticks of wood and a fan to spurt the flame, water boiled for morning rice, and by nine o’clock the day's first mea1 (the before-the-bombing meal) had been consumed. The first alert then started. One went to the dugout, with some luggage in hand, kettle and iron pan
(irreplaceable after 1940, as metal became almost non-existent), and there one spent the day. Sometimes the bombs fell very near and we came to know the peculiar whistling sound they made. At other times the drone was further away, and the explosions faint. Sometimes the bombers came ovefive or sir times, on occasion up to twenty times a day. And once, in 194l, they continued without 1et for seven days and nights, and many people died, both in the bombings and also in the air-raid shelters, especially babies, from heat and exhaustion and diarrhea.

  The shelters were scooped--out tunnels in the rock, and since Chung-king was all rock, with juttings and small hollows and hillocks almost everywhere, the bowels of these promontories could easily be utilized. But some of the common shelters had been dug in softer earth, and were  unsafe. They caved in after a while. There was no ventilation in them,and the people who sat deep inside, away from the one and only outlet,the mouth of the tunnel, became anoxic if the raid was prolonged. They started to thresh about, or faint. In between the explosions, there was respite. While awaiting the next batch 0jbombs, everyone would come out of the dugout, sit round the mouth 0j the cave, fan, gulp the hot air;but this was almost as gruelling as sitting inside the dugout because there was hardly any shade, and if there was a single bush, it was monopolized in its thin narrow coolness by some police squad or some self-impoytant official and family.


Han Suyin, Bindles Summer, 1968


ChongQing Introduction

History Of ChongQing

What TO See In ChongQing

Sights Arourd ChongQing

• The Bombing of ChongQing