Forgotten Horrors: Ant-Walking Alligators of Hiroshima

“Every positive value has its price in negative terms… the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.” —Pablo Picasso

In a Nutshell

After the bomb went off, Hiroshima was transformed from a dull backwater city into a momentary vision of Hell. Among the horrors witnessed by survivors were the ‘ant-walking alligators’—creatures of the blast that seemed neither human nor animal, neither living nor dead.

The Whole Bushel

When the ‘Little Boy’ exploded 750 yards above Hiroshima during the Monday morning rush hour, no-one had ever seen anything like it. A great light filled the sky, a sound that could flatten buildings rolled across the city and 80,000 people died instantly. The statistics are rightly famous: up to 40% of the population dead, two thirds of the city destroyed and fires burning at 4,000C. But the experience of survivors in the immediate aftermath is less well-known, and far more disturbing.

In his book, Last Train to Hiroshima, Charles Pellegrino combed through thousands of eyewitness statements. Among the horrors of radiation poisoning and the initial firestorm, he uncovered one ‘creature’ unique to the atomic wasteland: the ‘ant-walking alligators’.

They had once been human. When the sky exploded, they’d had the misfortune to survive. Faces turned to the blast, the skin had been seared from their skulls; leaving only a black, leathery substance without eyes or features. All that remained was a red hole where their mouths had once been. They staggered about the outskirts of Hiroshima, avoided by other survivors – but the real horror was the sound they made. According to Pellegrino:

“The alligator people did not scream. Their mouths could not form the sounds. The noise they made was worse than screaming. They uttered a continuous murmur — like locusts on a midsummer night. One man, staggering on charred stumps of legs, was carrying a dead baby upside down.”

None of them survived for long. In most modern accounts of the bombing they’re noticeably absent. But the alligator people are a reminder of the human cost of our victory in the War – one we should never allow ourselves to forget.

Show Me The Proof

New York Times: After Atom Bombs’ Shock, the Real Horrors Began Unfolding
The Star: The Last Train from Hiroshima: Stories of Fat Man and Little Boy
Amazon: The Last Train From Hiroshima

  • lauro andrea

    Japan was already losing when they dropped the bomb. The US troops were closing in on all sides. The Japanese were using Kamikaze pilots because all they had left were barely trained cadets that couldn’t do dogfights so the MO was to just crash the plane into any target. It would have taken longer for the war to end but it was coming to a close.
    Maybe it was a good thing that the A-bomb saw its first inception in 1945. Killing people is never a good thing but if the world waited for a more desperate time to use the bomb, it could have ended up as an exchange. The horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki serve to remind the world how terrible a nuclear could be.

  • Leif Andersen

    The US should have never been involved at all in WW2. And that includes supplying the Allies and antagonizing Japan while remaining “neutral.” And Hitler was actually the good guy. Idiots can believe in anti-nazi propaganda all they want. The truth is there was no holohoax, and even if there was it wasn’t the stated reason for entering the war and nearly every European/American was on some level anti-jewish so no one really cared back then anyway. Also if all the Jews were forced to emigrate out of Europe, then how could the “nazis” have killed them? The truth about WW2 is this: Poland instigated a war with Germany, and all other nations went against Germany because Germany was strong and independent and the majority of the world’s leaders favored an interdependent world system where no nation could stand alone on its own feet, and that’s all. No fairy tales needed.

    • colt91

      Typical Neo Nazi statment. your an idiot.

  • Virginia Peiffer


  • If we are to only examine the horrors of war aside from motivations, alternatives and which country did what to whom, then there are numerous bombings that fit the bill of being as horrible as Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The firebombing of Dresden, the endless blitzkrieg on London, the obliteration of Berlin all contained horrors we can’t even begin to imagine. The worst of all was the bombings was Tokyo. Nearly the entire city was constructed from wood and rice paper which quickly spread fire from one end of the city to the other leaving a death toll of over 100,000 people.

    War is Hell and in the end we need to learn from our past so that we never repeat it. Can we love our common man? Rather then point blame at one another we should work hard to treat each other the way that we would want to be treated.

  • The Canadian.

    Nuclear weapons are wrong. They should not be used. Yes, hundreds of thousands of people may have died altering the course of our modern history. But murdering innocent people is wrong. What separates us from the Nazis if we are willing to murder innocent people to prove a point. I would gladly fight and die to help defeat an opposition who is willing to destroy my way of life, but I would not have any part in murdering innocent people on their way to school or the marketplace. Nuclear weapons should all be destroyed. The fire power is far to great to use without innocent casualties. If someone threatens to take what is mine I will kill them, not their brother who wants no part in it.

  • The truth of the matter is that every country has done things that are horrible and cruel. It is an extension of the evil in human nature. The Native Americans were slaughtered by the Europeans/Americans that took the land. Many Native American tribes helped slaughter other tribes during the same period. Slaves from Africa were sold by European and American slave traders. Many of the slaves were sold to them by other Africans. If you look at every horrible event in history you could assign blame to nearly everyone involved in one way or the other if you follow the trail of circumstances that lead up to it. But rather then point fingers and assign blame let us join together as people to celebrate our differences and forgive our mistakes. It is the evil and greed in the heart of mankind that is the true enemy we all need to face.

  • Pattonsboy

    I feel really bad for that guy.

  • jerod

    We are a nation that must survive. Our nation has a shared interest in being perhaps the best of all nations. Americans have that desire to be the best, and although it may be a collaberative fantasy, its within nearly every American. To achieve this unachievable stature we must ensure our nation and any friendly nation with similar pride, is safe. When war is upon us we must fight. We had and probably always will have enemies. What we did was ensure that our nation as well as our friends were safe by properly representing ourselves by standing in the face of war and acting as we always will. If you do not agree with the careful, calculated actions of your fellow countrymen then your resilience to convention and necessesity will most likely enslave you to your own mental entropy. Stupid dont wash off folks. Fight or be fed upon. Welcome to Earth.

  • Tom Martini

    how can i put it as they said it of there time … it would save more AMERICAN LIVES 10 TIMES OVER THEN WHAT IT COST ON D-DAY … A MEANS TO A END OF THE WAR WITH JAPAN … and with a invasion of japan shores it would of been house to house fighting with men, women , and children …. they learned that while taking Iwo Jima. the women were given order by there husband to kill there children and to take there won lives by throwing themselves over the cliffs or stabbing cutting there throats with knives, or blowing the selves up with hand grenades and if possible AMERICAN troops but that failed. a lot of women and kids lived from the fall from the cliffs and that is how they learned of Japan prep for the invasion to come … and how japan is will to go to defend the land and all of the people will to die for the empire and the emperor the great god man that was reborn … that is why the nuke choice was made … AMERICAN LIVES BEFORE JAPAN LIVES …. AS THEY CALLED IT THE GREATER GOOD OF AMERICA SOLIDER …. think about it how many of you would have been born if your grandfather had to go to fight in japan in hand to hand combat . with a country that has been doing that type of war fair for thousands of years , swords, spears, bows arrows …. and it is there home ground on top of it … think of how many lives this saved in the long run at that time of there thinking ………….. you can not change the past at all … just learn from it and look ahead and do not do it again ………………………. learn from it … be very wise from the screw up …

  • Rahul prasad

    It`s good to know our history, but would have been wiser if we learn from our mistakes. Humans and every living being on this earth lives by the basic instinct of survival. This instinct drove us to survive through over many a 1000 years of war and blood shed. Whether it be the first bronze spear made by man or nuclear bomb, it had only served one purpose our instinct to survive and outsmart the rest. But we have forgotten another important key to life evolution. Why are we not evolving from our petty differences and bond together to form a new world. Thinking any one of us is superior and can outsmart the world, makes you keen to Hitler, as he persude the same ideal of his race being superior and led to mass genocide and WW2. Obvisiously you would argue that you are not murdering anyone, but there are other people with same ideals raping, killing and bringing other kinds of social and ethical EVIL to our society. This evils are not born of any religion, country or ethnic, they are the result of the indifference in our society. As free man we are allowed to follow anything we have faith in. But instead of fear, agony, terrorism, despair, we can give them HOPE. Hope is which we should keep our faith in, that we will emerge of the present darkness. I am not a preacher. I am just a common human being who believes in the two keys of life Survive and Evolve.

    • Rahul prasad

      This is in response to the comments I read below

  • Robert Pearce

    So then why are we playing pussy like we scared of the rest of the world???? I’m more worried about racist police in chicago then, a Muslim blowing shit up

  • Cbarker

    As I am British I would like to be a mediator between these two sides. Those who would argue that America is not the most powerful country in the world are deluding themselves. However, Americans, I do understand the reasoning behind your actions at Hiroshima and it was for the greater good, but please respect that innocent people who had nothing to do with capturing and killing war prisoners were also killed as they went about their lives. Picking up children from school, working to afford their next meal, or even just enjoying the day, regular citizens killed without being given an explanation nor a warning. Those people did not deserve their fate, even if it was for the greater good.

  • Cesar Dalmeido

    all i can think of is… we should not take pride in conflict, any matter that leads to war ends up with everyone losing… the only victors in war are the rich because they will always win no matter which side loses, War is a business like any other business, its profitable for some and costly to others, and like most businesses its operated by the poor and owned by the rich… take all the money that has been spent on weapons in the last 100 years and we could of ended poverty world wide…. but there would be no profit in it!!!

  • Conny

    The bombs were wrong. The American’s did not known it then, but they and the rest of the world knows it now. It is as simple as that.

    • Conny

      The splitting of the atom has proven to be a dangerous thing in more than one way. One website I just looked at claimed that about 985 000 people have died from radiation caused diseases, due to the Chernobyl catastrophe. It mustn’t be too far off the mark in comparison with the death toll from Hiroshima.

      • Conny

        There are 450 active reactors in the world today. How many of these will explode if a big meteorite plummets into one of our oceans, causing Fukushima like tsunamis across the world? The word Chernobyl, by the way, as been claimed to mean “Wormwood” in Russian. “The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water—the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” Rev 8:10-11

        • Conny

          A google search of the phrase “radioactive water” resulted in a few interesting hits. “Radioactive Fukushima Waters Arrive At West Coast Of America” is just one example.

          • Rev 14:1 ‘Holy’ is that name.

            Considering that Japan is the most earthquake prone country on earth, it has to be the worst country of all for nuclear power. The American’s are kind of killing the innocent Japanese civilians all over again. Which of the two, if any, gives them the bad conscience.

          • Rev 14:1 ‘Holy’ is that name.

            I just did a google search on the words: “birth defects”, and “radiation”. I then looked at the images. Apparently, as also this page’s picture alludes to, there are many “living dead” walking around due to nuclear radiation. I don’t want to blame the American’s per se. If they wouldn’t have been the first country with nuclear power, most likely, some other country would. It was bound to happen, sooner or later, somewhere. Where they set up? Whatever the case may be, apparently an increase in birth defects is now taking place in the US states of Hawaii, and Washington, according to one website. So, I think we need to reevaluate the nature of nuclear power. We are playing with death.

          • Rev 14:1 ‘Holy’ is that name.

            To use of depleted uranium in weapon shells has apparently caused many birth defects in the countries were the US military used them. This has to be against the spirit of the ‘Hague convention’ that president Theodore Roosevelt initiated, and endorsed. That is, a crime against humanity.

          • Rev 14:1 ‘Holy’ is that name.

            According to one website, a quarter of all returning american soldiers in the Iraq war suffer from ailments, possibly related to depleted uranium radiation. And, apparently, returning war veterans have double as many incidents of birth-defects in their babies as the rest of the american population.

  • Jeanne Richard

    Man, I remember in an interview with Keiji Nakazawa, the childhood survivor of Hiroshima turned artist behind Barefoot Gen, he told of these poor people and how they were already dead and struggled still to walk to the river to try to quench their burns only to drown. Charred out walking corpses.

  • Conny

    The reason the public have emphaty with the Japanese is because they feel that in the spirit of ‘The Geneva Convention’ radiactive bombs should not have been used. They remember seeing pictures of napalm burning Vietnamese kids.

    They feel that racial discrimination took place. And many have the same empathy with the American blacks and Indians. The public smell KKK. Ruthless ‘White Supremacy’, in other words.

  • Jeanie

    My father had just arrived from Scotland before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He joined the US Marines, he served in the Pacific. 2nd Marine Division, Battle of Okinawa. Awarded the
    Purple Heart. His battle-scars were very visible through my childhood. I grew up surrounded by WWII Marines. Not
    one WWII Marine I knew, would do anything differently. The Japanese
    would skin their enemies alive, hang them in the jungle for others to
    find. They wouldn’t negotiate nor surrender. The Nazi’s and Japanese were evil personified. Estimate of 1 million lives were saved by ending the war. Two sides to every story.

  • batman

    when the Japanese bombed pearl harbour they woke the sleeping lion

  • Josie-Lee Harris

    The mass killing of civilians is wrong no matter what side you’re on. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because Hitler was worse, doesn’t make this ok.

  • Spartacus

    The two arguments:

    1.The bomb drop was the right thing to do
    2. The bomb drop was the wrong thing to do

    Outcome of 1: Thousands of people died and thousands more disfigured and put through hell, but the war was ended.

    Outcome of 2: The US and allied forces invade Japan, and every man, woman, and child fight the invaders and millions of people die before Japan is brought to it’s knees. Japanese culture back then dictated that you never surrender and fight until you stop breathing.

  • MickeyRat 1

    The A-bomb was crucial and needed. Without them, Japan would have killed,tortured and raped more people. I praise the US for standing against Imperial Japan in WWII.

  • Joseph

    Think about the way different sides treated POWs, less than one percent by the allies and more than 40 by the Japanese

    • Joseph

      Let’s just agree that every country has f***** up a time or two and that WWII was a collective victory

  • I just finished Pellegrino’s book. It is an excellent read, but not for the faint of heart. “Ant Walkers”were people in shock blindly following whatever was in front of them. Frequently, they would climb over piles of burnt out scrap mountains despite the fact that a perfectly good road was right next to where they were walking. “Alligator People” were those who had been severely burned and looked like their skin had been turned into a alligator hide or a piece of wood. Had the Americans not dropped the bombs on Japan, many more Japanese would have died and at least 1 million American soldiers would have died. The atomic bombs shortened the war. More Japanese were being killed by the fire bombing raids than ever died by the atomic bombs. Read Pellegrino’s book, you’ll enjoy it and you won’t be an ignoramus saying that it shouldn’t have been dropped.

  • Weygand

    This book is now discredited

  • Kendra Jacobs

    USA, the only country to ever use a nuke on people in history, and twice at that…The funny thing is, it’s no surprise. Many years later,it’s finally come to light that Japan was practically on the verge of surrendering anyways and the nukes weren’t needed at all. This was just another case of American rulers’ blood-thirst and war, power, and dominance obsession. What’s also utterly sickening is that som people have been so indoctrinated and brainwashed from their partly fabricated and definitely biased and twisited history books that, to this day, they’re still spitting out non-sense trying to justify the mass murders and suffering inflicted on masses and masses of Japanese men, women, and children ever since those two days at the hands of the USA.

  • Daryl Kemp

    As horrible as the bombings were they shortened the war and saved lives that would have bedn lost in the millions in a full invasion as those japs would have never surrendered what must be made sure now for all world powers is that these dreadful weapons will never be used on people again. the destructive power of the thermonuclear weapons of today dwarfs the little boy and fat man and makes them 2 atom bombs look like little firecrackers. and the technological means to deliver todays weapons make them even more terrifying ICBMs and SLBMs are equiped with MIRVS or multiple ‘independent targetable vehicles .an example is the US and royal navy trident 2 missile each missile is capable of delivering 12 warheads each one 20 times more powerful than the fat man bomb in 1 strike we are in a situation now that if there is a WW3 we will face extinction the planet will be plunged into a nuclear winter and if there is anybody who manages to survive that they will be sent back to the primitive years of the stone age

  • Shanette Ray Logan

    Hmmmmmm…maybe should have read the hundreds of thousands of propaganda sheets we dropped telling you it was gonna happen and in plenty of time to evacuate.

  • Shanette Ray Logan

    And we all need to stop the damn debate. We bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki because we had absolutely no other choice. Had absolutely nothing, nada, zilch to do with revenge for Pearl Harbor.

  • disqus_9xeDQGZZk4

    We were swayed by the military even then with propaganda..different day same story

  • Toshio Pendarvis

    We’re just cavemen with better clubs. If 100k years haven’t taught us about war, we weren’t meant to learn. Maybe we’re just a big Risk board for beings with “higher” intelligence.

  • Hello
    I am Nurcemal Birtay owner of the SAVEMYBABIES Org.991.114.599 vat – Braatakroken 3 – N 3490 Klokkarstua . HURUM – NORWAY -GSM : +47 95 42 73 – mail to:

    My association NGO is going to establish an expedition to find the HOLY NOAH`S ARK at the ARARAT / AGRI MOUNTAINS at the Northeast of Turkey.
    Testimonials :
    I need volunteers between age 20-30 years of old age and studying : Medicine,Seismology,Construction,Law Students,Biolofy and Religion to find the HOLY NOAH`S ARK at the ARARAT AGRI MOUNTAINS in the Northeast of Turkey.
    Date of apply is 1th January in 2018 and stat date is : 15th of March to 15th of August in 2018 in 5 mounths
    Accommodation : HUGE BUSSES consist field kitchen with a good COOK and 1 MEDIC .There might be as much as applying students ,Participants but every Buss should have 64 participants.
    Mobile Latrines and FIRST AID TENTs on the ground will taking place and good hygienic conditions in it.
    Dressing styles: Like in ancient period with covering the whole BODY and no disturb by presence
    The participants are allowed to take with their families who are willing to participate and all are welcome to apply under the circumstances with good health,non criminals and with a highly reccommondate CREDIBILITES.
    I have my own bitter experiences from former projects that BUDGET BLASTS VERY OFTEN.
    There is no limit how many are willing to participate but it is extremely important believers inside the CHRISTIANTY and ISLAM obey the rules for being a HOLY AREA LIKE KABA in philgrims periods in MEDINA.
    Requesting completely participants with honest faith and will be allowed singing GOSPEL during the project period.
    PRAY TIME for both religions in their right time by announcing with bells and singing will be allowed.
    FOOD and BEVERAGE : Non Alcohol and only good meal and healthy drinks and also VEGETARIANS will be served.
    FREE days and all depends to the requirement from participants will be followed.
    EVALUATION will be done after all has applied finished and some must calculate being rejected .
    Send CV / BIO to my mail address:
    Because of the high addition to the authorities all participants required to pay €1000,- into bank account before the participation of the project
    Bank Account: SAVEMYBABIES – NGO : 2240.05.15798 DnB BANK in Oslo-Norway
    Best wishes
    Org.991.114.599 vat
    Nurcemal Birtay
    Braatakroken 3
    N – 3490 Klokkarstua
    GSM: +47 95 00 42 73
    Mail to: