Dinner plate, atomic blast Hiroshima: Elsie May Rayner

Place Asia: Japan, Hiroshima
Accession Number REL/21011.004
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Ceramic
Maker Unknown
Date made August 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
British Commonwealth Occupation Force, 1946-1952 (Japan)
Source credit to This item has been digitised with funding provided by Commonwealth Government.

Blue dinner plate, the glaze of the plate has been distorted by heat. There is evidence of a significant break which has been glued back together on the edge of the plate.

History / Summary

This plate was owned by Elsie May Rayner. The damage was caused by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945. The temperature of the blast, which reached up to 6,000 degrees Celsius, distorting the glaze.

In the Allied occupation which followed the Second World War, Australians served as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) from February 1946 until the treaty in 1951 to assist with the demilitarisation and democratisation of Japan. Australian forces worked within the Hiroshima prefecture and day trips to the site were a common occurrence. With no understanding of the dangers of radiation in the area, Australians collected or purchased damaged items from the site as souvenirs to take home.

NF463879 Private Elsie Rayner had served in the Australian Women’s Army Service during the Second World War and was discharged in November 1945, so did not serve in Japan and it appears she was given this item by someone who served with BCOF. Or she, or someone she knew, travelled to Japan post war.