10 May, 2012

10 May 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
10 May, 1945      0830

My dearest sweetheart –

Well – another beautiful day and I’m settled at battalion and it’s not bad at all. If I can only keep track of the various places we’ve had our C.P. – dear – it would in itself make an interesting story, I think. We’ve been up and down the scale – and branched off too. Right now – we’re in a factory; I was led to believe it was an ammunition factory – but I’ve found that it was one of the largest wool factories in Europe. Now it must seem strange to you dear when I say we’ve got a good set-up – but it’s true. This is a very modern factory; the top floor is devoted to offices and we’ve got some beauties. Then there’s a long corridor lined by separate rooms the whole length of it – and each officer has his own. Mine is about the size of your living room, dear and it’s well furnished. There’s a sink in the room and plenty of plugs for radio, desk-lamp etc. Our kitchen is in the cafeteria and the officers have a separate room. My dispensary is the factory aid station and it’s excellently equipped and all in white. We have a shower room, projection room, etc etc and so you can see, darling, that it’s comfortable here.

Incidentally – my mentioning radios reminds me – since we now have electricity – I don’t use my little portable. I’ve got a swell electric set – which I picked up (with the help of a couple of my men.) It’s a beauty, dear – and takes 2 men to carry it. I got it in Halle and the price was right.

Well, sweetheart, when I got here yesterday, I found the topic of conversation to be the same as everywhere you go: do we get a chance to get to the States? When? How much red-tape? Could they possibly send us to the CBI without sending us home first? How long will we be in the States? What’s it like in China? etc. etc.

And when there are no more questions – the conversation goes like this: I heard about such and such outfit and they’ve been broken up; or – I heard such and such were going to be occupation troops, or another outfit is being relieved of this assignment and being given that one etc. etc.

I mention that sweetheart – so you’ll know that each of us is doing the same thing here that you are doing at home. In all discussions – I’m not sure where I fit. Will I stay with this outfit or will there be a reassignment? I’m going to float along and see what happens. My own guess is that with or without the outfit – I’ll get home for a vacation – anyway – and for whatever else you want to dear. Frankly, I’d like to get married. I wish I had known you a bit longer and we could be married already. Well – we’ll have to sweat that out – and this time, darling, the big decision will come from you. It’s nice to think about anyway – and while you’re thinking – just remember to think that I love you, darling, more than anything or anyone in the world – and I’m prepared to keep on loving you the same way for always. All for now, dear – love to the folks – and

All my sincerest love –


about Choosing Targets in Japan

In September 0f 1942, Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves, Jr., was appointed director of the effort to invent a nuclear weapon, known later as the "Manhattan Project". Groves selected J. Robert Oppenheimer to head the project's secret weapons laboratory.

J. Robert Oppenheimer
April 22, 1904 – February 18, 1967

Oppenheimer and Groves decided that for security and cohesion they needed a centralized, secret research laboratory in a remote location. Oppenheimer suggested and championed a site that he knew well: a flat mesa near Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was the site of a private boys' school called the Los Alamos Ranch School. The Los Alamos Laboratory was built on the site of the school, taking over some of its buildings, while many others were erected in great haste. There Oppenheimer assembled a group of the top physicists of the time, which he referred to as the "luminaries". The joint work of the scientists at Los Alamos resulted in the first nuclear explosion at Alamagordo on July 16, 1945, which Oppenheimer named "Trinity." Having proved their concept worked, a larger scale bomb was built.

Truman, unwilling to risk the huge amount of lives that might be lost on both sides should the Allies invade the Japanese home islands, ordered the usage of the new technology. The scientists presented them with two such weapons, while the military sought uranium to produce a third.

But prior to the trials and eventual development of the bombs, Oppenheimer led a committee which came up with a list of cities most potentially suitable as targets of atomic attacks, among other issues.

The second meeting of the Target Committee convened at 9:00 AM 10 May 1945 in Dr. Oppenheimer's office. During the course of the meeting panels were formed from the committee members and others to meet in the afternoon and develop conclusions to items discussed in the agenda. The concluding meeting was held at 10:00 AM 11 May.

The agenda for the meeting, presented by Dr. Oppenheimer, consisted of the following items: [Click here to read the entire agenda. Items D through H are reported below the list.]

A. Height of Detonation
B: Report on Weather and Operations
C: Gadget Jettisoning and Landing
D: Status of Targets
E: Psychological Factors in Target Selection
F: Use Against Military Objectives
G: Radiological Effects
H: Coordinated Air Operations
I: Rehearsals
J: Operating Requirements for Safety of Airplanes
K: Coordination with 21st Program
D. Status of Targets

1. Dr. Stearns described the work he had done on target selection. He has surveyed possible targets possessing the following qualification: (1) they be important targets in a large urban area of more than three miles in diameter, (2) they be capable of being damaged effectively by a blast, and (3) they are unlikely to be attacked by next August. Dr. Stearns had a list of five targets which the Air Force would be willing to reserve for our use unless unforeseen circumstances arise. These targets are:
(a) Kyoto - This target is an urban industrial area with a population of 1,000,000. It is the former capital of Japan and many people and industries are now being moved there as other areas are being destroyed. From the psychological point of view there is the advantage that Kyoto is an intellectual center for Japan and the people there are more apt to appreciate the significance of such a weapon as the gadget. (Classified as an AA Target)

(b) Hiroshima - This is an important army depot and port of embarkation in the middle of an urban industrial area. It is a good radar target and it is such a size that a large part of the city could be extensively damaged. There are adjacent hills which are likely to produce a focusing effect which would considerably increase the blast damage. Due to rivers it is not a good incendiary target. (Classified as an AA Target)

(c) Yokohama - This target is an important urban industrial area which has so far been untouched. Industrial activities include aircraft manufacture, machine tools, docks, electrical equipment and oil refineries. As the damage to Tokyo has increased additional industries have moved to Yokohama. It has the disadvantage of the most important target areas being separated by a large body of water and of being in the heaviest anti-aircraft concentration in Japan. For us it has the advantage as an alternate target for use in case of bad weather of being rather far removed from the other targets considered. (Classified as an A Target)

(d) Kokura Arsenal - This is one of the largest arsenals in Japan and is surrounded by urban industrial structures. The arsenal is important for light ordnance, anti-aircraft and beach head defense materials. The dimensions of the arsenal are 4100' x 2000'. The dimensions are such that if the bomb were properly placed full advantage could be taken of the higher pressures immediately underneath the bomb for destroying the more solid structures and at the same time considerable blast damage could be done to more feeble structures further away. (Classified as an A Target)

(e) Niigata - This is a port of embarkation on the N.W. coast of Honshu. Its importance is increasing as other ports are damaged. Machine tool industries are located there and it is a potential center for industrial despersion. It has oil refineries and storage. (Classified as a B Target)

(f) The possibility of bombing the Emperor's palace was discussed. It was agreed that we should not recommend it but that any action for this bombing should come from authorities on military policy. It was agreed that we should obtain information from which we could determine the effectiveness of our weapon against this target.

2. It was the recommendation of those present at the meeting that the first four choices of targets for our weapon should be the following:
a. Kyoto
b. Hiroshima
c. Yokohama
d. Kokura Arsenal
3. Dr. Stearns agreed to do the following: (a) brief Colonel Fisher thoroughly on these matters, (b) request reservations for these targets, (c) find out more about the target area including exact locations of the strategic industries there, (d) obtain further photo information on the targets, and (e) to determine the nature of the construction, the area, heights, contents and roof coverage of buildings. He also agreed to keep in touch with the target data as it develops and to keep the committee advised of other possible target areas. He will also check on locations of small military targets and obtain further details on the Emperor's palace.

E. Psychological Factors in Target Selection

1. It was agreed that psychological factors in the target selection were of great importance. Two aspects of this are (a) obtaining the greatest psychological effect against Japan and (b) making the initial use sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized when publicity on it is released.

2. In this respect Kyoto has the advantage of the people being more highly intelligent and hence better able to appreciate the significance of the weapon. Hiroshima has the advantage of being such a size and with possible focusing from nearby mountains that a large fraction of the city may be destroyed. The Emperor's palace in Tokyo has a greater fame than any other target but is of least strategic value.

F. Use Against "Military" Objectives

1. It was agreed that for the initial use of the weapon any small and strictly military objective should be located in a much larger area subject to blast damage in order to avoid undue risks of the weapon being lost due to bad placing of the bomb.

G. Radiological Effect

1. Dr. Oppenheimer presented a memo he had prepared on the radiological effects of the gadget. This memo will not be repeated in this summary but it is being sent to General Groves as a separate exhibit. The basic recommendations of this memo are (a) for radiological reasons no aircraft should be closer than 2-1/2 miles to the point of detonation (for blast reasons the distance should be greater) and (b) aircraft must avoid the cloud of radio-active materials. If other aircraft are to conduct missions shortly after the detonation a monitoring plane should determine the areas to be avoided.

H. Coordinated Air Operations

1. The feasibility of following the raid by an incendiary mission was discussed. This has the great advantage that the enemies' fire fighting ability will probably be paralyzed by the gadget so that a very serious conflagration should be capable of being started. However, until more is learned about the phenomena associated with a detonation of the gadget, such as the extent to which there will be radio-active clouds, an incendiary mission immediately after the delivery of the gadget should be avoided. A coordinated incendiary raid should be feasible on the following day at which time the fire raid should still be quite effective. By delaying the coordinated raid to the following day, the scheduling of our already contemplated operations will not be made even more difficult, photo reconnaissance of the actual damage directly caused by our device can be obtained without confusion from the subsequent fire raid, and dangers from radio-active clouds can be avoided.

2. Fighter cover should be used for the operation as directed by the 21st Bomber Command.
Clearly, the effects of these bombs were grossly under-estimated if follow-up incendiary raids were considered!

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