What would become known as – The Bomb

Pres. Harry S. Truman

In a 1958 interview, Truman was asked about the soul-searching decision he went through to decide on dropping the bomb. He replied, “Hell no, I made it like _ (snapped his fingers) _ that!” One year later at Columbia University, he said, “The atom bomb was no great decision.” He likened it to a larger gun.

The components for the 20-kiloton weapon were being shipped to Tinian Island, in the Marianas, aboard the “Indianapolis.” The top-secret package arrived at its destination a mere 24 hours after the official operational order for the bomb was sent to General Carl (“Tooey”) Spaatz.

Prince Konoye, after laboring two years for a route to peace, swallowed poison and died the day before he was to turn himself in as a war criminal.

The bomb, when it arrived, was a metal cylinder approximately 18 inches in diameter and two feet high, but when fully assembled, it measured ten feet long and 28 inches in diameter. It had originally been nicknamed “Thin Man” after the movie and the expected shape, but when it was completed, they changed it to “Little Boy” and gave the small bundle its own hiding place. The secrecy involving the bomb storage area was so secure that a general was required to have a pass to enter.

509th Composite Group, WWII

The other members of the 509th Bomber Group, not included in the mission, knew something was brewing, but they also were unaware of the exact plans. Hence, an anonymous writer was inspired:

Into the air the secret rose,
Where they’re going, nobody knows.
Tomorrow they’ll return again,
But we’ll never know where they’ve been.
Don’t ask about results or such,
Unless you want to get in Dutch.
But take it from one who is sure of the score,
The 509th is winning the war.

 

The crew of the ‘Enola Gay’ even received a humorous menu as they entered the mess hall for breakfast:

Look! Real eggs (How do you want them?)
Rolled oats (Why?)
Milk (No fishing)
Sausage (We think it’s pork)
Apple butter (Looks like axle grease)
Butter (Yep, it’s out again)
Coffee (Saniflush)
Bread (Someone get a toaster)

509th Composite Group, reunion

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Peter Bundy – Edgartown, MA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Captain, C-130 pilot

Michael Clamp – UK / US; US Army

Salvador Finazzo – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Korea / FL National Guard, Col., Medical Corps

Ray Harris – Nevada, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, B-29 navigator

William Krupicka – Stamford, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Stephen Potter

Robert LeMaire – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO,B-24 navigator/gunner

Mike Mauer – Kansas City, MO; USMC, WWII, PTO / US Army, Korea

Sidney Oxenham – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, CBI, 436th Squadron

Joyce Senne – Rochester, NY; US Navy WAVE, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., nurse

Jack Wattley – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Moffett and Melvin

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 22, 2018, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 106 Comments.

  1. pawprintsandmint

    Ahh, I love that image of “low flying planes”… quite a grounded nose dive

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In oorlog verliezen alle machtshebbers hun gezondverstand en gaat het om winnen en de eer.Maar beslissen de bom te gooien moet je heej je verdere leven meesleuren.Ik zou er niet mee kunnen leven .Zoveel doden en er is nets ver

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Was he being serious that it was a snap of the fingers decision, or could he have been being ironic? I can’t imagine someone would take that sort of decision so lightly. If the former, how appalling.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How easy it is to see the sheer folly of war . . . in retrospect.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hmmm… suspicious is he poisoning death of Prince Kinoye. Truman was a great president. The bomb was a bad idea. It was shared with myself that the USA had a choice of dropping “thin man/fat boy” (excuse impulsive errors) on the Nazis but instead choice the least threat (Japan) as a tester. And too, after the bombing, lots of illness came upon the USA and western world.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Completely unrelated to your post, but we wanted you to know that James R. Peterson, waist gunner on the B-17 Black Jack, died on October 12th. More here: http://b17blackjack.com/crew/peterson/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing yet another great post. Truman made a snap decision aye…. If he only knew the “score”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I suppose we’ll debate the ethical and moral issues forever. But what really caught me this time were the photos of the bombs. They look so small and ordinary, without even a hint of what they were capable of. Well, except for the secrecy. That would have been a hint — but only that. I don’t think anyone — including Truman — could have anticipated what actually happened when those bombs were dropped.

    Have you seen any of the videos of wildflowers blooming in Nagasaki and Hiroshima now? Here’s one.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. No matter the rights and wrongs of the decision, I just feel immeasurably sad when I read this.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. All of the attention goes to the bomb but in actual fact far more civilians were killed by the series of raids on various Japanese cities using fire bombs of various types. They seem to have been forgotten.
    I read recently that if your enemy treats your prisoners decently and behaves in a civilised fashion overall, then you tend to be the same. The Japanese, by their thousands of war crimes, lost all claim to humane treatment when they were on the losing side.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have tried to tell people that the fire bombs did as much damage. I have a picture of both Tokyo (fire raids) and Hiroshima (A-Bomb) and you can not tell the difference. It will be posted in the August 1945 posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Nice photos. Am I correct to say the Enola Gay is hanging in the Smithsonian? I believe I saw it at the Air & Space Museum, a fantastic place.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hard to believe the decision could be as quick as a snap of the fingers to drop a bomb of that magnitude. Was Truman on a power trip?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s difficult second-guessing people and their actions at a time of war.

    I’m just glad I got to see both plane in person. It’s something to stand in front of the actual planes.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I learned about Prince Konoye. Thanks for the history lesson

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Such an interesting study – what went into making and dropping that bomb. I read the book “Last Train from Hiroshima” and it gave me nightmares for weeks. And on a lighter note, you ALWAYS get a laugh out of me with your military humor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was and is a scary subject, hence children hiding their desks in the 1950’s and ’60’s. I’m glad the humor gets a smile. They sure do have a knack of getting a chuckle out of me!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Our Niels Bohr, a Danish Jew and scientist, was smuggled out from Denmark to Sweden and further on to England in 1943. He came to New Mexico in later in 1943 where he helped or supervised to the making of the bomb

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anyone who has studied science knows the name of your brilliant scientist, Maria. You must be proud that he helped to save so many!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you GP Cox. When I read about him yesterday (because of your post), I realised that he helped to save the Danish Jews as he appealed to the Swedish king to give them asylum after that most of our Jews got over safely. That’s, of course, another story. I have always heard that the atomic bomb was necessary to stop WWII

        Liked by 1 person

        • The bomb is still a touchy subject for many, but Paul Tibbets was assigned a job of assembling a whole new unit (the 509th Composite Group), train them and drop the bomb on Japan. Back then, they gave you a job and you did it and Tibbets was only 17 seconds late in his delivery!! We had amazing people back then (in my opinion).

          Liked by 1 person

  17. Was MacArthur in favor of dropping the bomb. I read two books on him, but I don’t remember.

    The cartoon of the “traffic enforcement” reminded me of going to the New England Airshow many years ago. Across runway from the tarmac, there were these little rolling hills. All of a sudden, five Apaches came up and around, flying straight toward the tarmac. Instantly, you realized how little time you would have if they were after you.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. These days of unthinking PCness it’s ‘the done thing’ to whimper and bleat about The Bomb and its use.

    But what was (if any) the alternative? Brrrr!

    Thank you, Yanks, for doing that—very much appreciated.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You would love the book I’m reading right now – “Duty” by Bob Greene. Bob goes home to say goodbye to his dying father and ends up meeting Paul Tibbets!!

      Like

      • Have just read a review … it looks like a powerful story.

        I’d add it to my list but sadly there’s already more there than I have years to read ’em all.

        It’s about time someone these days recognised Tibbets as ‘the guy who ended the war’… it wasn’t just him though—he was the guy who loosed that arrow but there were many hundreds who crafted it. Kismet, in fact.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I knew nothing about Prince Konoye, so I looked him up. Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I didn’t know that it was an easy decision for him and am glad to hear it. I guess when you know all the facts, have all the evidence, the right answer pops up. That’s a leader.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. The debate goes on, but there’s always a cost and in the end a difficult decision was made to prevent more losses on both sides.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. It must be horrible to see that “huge mushroom” coming up and the destruction it wrought but there would be more deaths and destruction on both sides if that bomb was not used. Truman was wise to use it and end the war.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This will always be a matter up for debate – I wonder if there truly is a right answer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe not. But I’m afraid I can never be PC on this issue. After reading Japan’s War by Edwin P. Hoyt, I’m more convinced that Truman did the right thing. The Japanese military wanted to fight to the end in spite of the Emperor’s wishes to surrender. It was a different mentality. After what my countrymen and especially my mother’s family suffered from the Japanese, nobody can convince me that it was wrong to drop the bomb.

        Liked by 1 person

    • That huge mushroom really is little different (aside from novelty) than all the other millions of mushrooms from those years. All horrible.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. President Truman appears to me to have been a man without a conscience. How can anyone take the decision to use the A-bomb so lightly?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • For one thing, FDR spent billions on the bomb, creating whole secret cities. Sooner or later Congress would find out about it (they were slow back then too haha). So, as I always say, no matter what the question, the answer is always – Money. He had to justify the expense.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Your pic of Truman – Using the microphone as a gauge; he had hands whose size resembled a catchers mitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Thanks again for this enlightenment, GP

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Always love the first person perspective you share GP Cox. Especially liked the archived pictures shared. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. My father might not have survived the war without “The Bomb.” Truman made the right decision, IMHO.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I believe in hindsight Truman wished he had not dropped the bomb. After they research both sides of the controversy, my students debate the infamous question: “Should we have or not have dropped the bomb.” Every year it is the same result. So much for the morality argument.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, we know that running a politically correct war doesn’t win anything, as so blatantly apparent with Korea, Vietnam and our countless current conflicts. So the two bombs I believe will be up for debate eternally.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Reading that Truman gave the matter so little thought not only further persuades me of what a mistake this was, it will also leave me sleepless, thinking of what rash decisions the current resident in the White House could make with so little thought and such long-lasting and horrific consequences.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. We can look back with the benefit of hindsight, and many modern commentators like to discuss the ethics of using the bombs. My uncle was a POW of the Japanese for almost three years. I know what he would say, if he was still alive.
    The 509th did indeed end the war in the Pacific. Well done to them.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 4 people

  31. I wonder if Truman knew we’d rebuild Japan after destroying it

    Liked by 2 people

    • He already knew we would be rebuilding Europe, feeding and housing their people, so I can only presume that he expected us to do the same for Japan. But he left it all to MacArthur to handle, I don’t think he cared to think about it.

      Liked by 2 people

  32. Thank you very much, Michael.

    Like

  1. Pingback: What would become known as – The Bomb — Pacific Paratrooper – Michael D. Turashoff

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