In case you haven’t already noticed, our APO had been changed to 339 – the Ninth Army number. There’s not much significance to the change – as I see it. The First Army headquarters is no longer in Europe so we had to give up our First Army APO. But our attachment to the Ninth – is administrative only, and when the time comes I’m pretty certain that this outfit and this corps will be right back with the First Army – the best Army of them all. With this change, by the way, dear – this outfit has had something like two dozen APO numbers. For one reason or another we seem to have been attached to more outfits than you can shake a stick at. Don’t forget that for a while in England and in Normandy, our APO was 403 – and that, dear, is the Third Army APO.
Well – we finally got a rainy day here – and it’s quite refreshing. I guess this section of Germany needed it, too, if the crops were to get going.
We had a short, but very impressive ceremony for Memorial Day yesterday, darling. We held it out front and had a group down from each of the batteries. A symbolic casket was made and covered with the American Flag. Flowers were all around it. Our executive officer made a speech and then the chaplain spoke – honoring the dead of past wars and particularly those of our own battalion. Then he called out the separate batteries and as he did – one soldier from that battery came forward, knelt, picked up a wreath and waited while the Chaplain spoke out the names of the dead of that battery. Then the wreath was placed on the “casket”. It was all very well done and left a good impression on everyone.
I still have a few of your letters dear – as yet unanswered. I’ve just re-read one of them written 19 March. I mention that one particularly because in it you tell me your reaction to what I had written you – about going into business. When I wrote that, sweetheart – I can’t say honestly that I was purely kidding, although by no means was I entirely serious. I suppose I wrote it when I was particularly blue, fed up with the Army – and what not. But I have become terrifically rusty as a physician, darling, although I’ve been managing to read my medical journals which still come to me. They help a lot in keeping my medical vocabulary from becoming entirely extinct.
Sorry, dear. I was called away and I’ve just got back. Looks like a busy day coming up – but nothing especially important. I see that the barometer on my desk has climbed since I left – which means the weather ought to clear up later today.
Hell – we haven’t had a decent rumor in 2 or 3 days now. The question of points has died down in the discussions – and now the subject of when we get home leads them all. Most seem to think it will be sometime in July – which seems like a pretty good guess. It’s a sure bet the First Army won’t do a thing without 7th Corps.
Well, sweetheart, it’s a sure thing anyway – that one of these very fine days I will actually be on my way home to show you how much I love and want you. Tomorrow is June, it can’t be very far off now! I’ll have to stop now, dear, but keep thinking over and over again that I love only you and waiting perhaps won’t be so difficult.
Love to the folks – sweetheart
It was pointed out that one atomic bomb on an arsenal would not be much different from the effect caused by any Air Corps strike of present dimensions. However, Dr. [Robert] Oppenheimer [lead scientist on the atomic bomb project] stated that the visual effect of an atomic bombing would be tremendous. It would be accompanied by a brilliant luminescence which would rise to a height of 10,000 to 20,000 feet. The neutron effect of the explosion would be dangerous to life for a radius of at least two-thirds of a mile.
After much discussion concerning various types of targets and the effects to be produced, the Secretary [i.e., Secretary of War Henry Stimson] expressed the conclusion, on which there was general agreement, that we could not give the Japanese any warning; that we could not concentrate on a civilian area; but that we should seek to make a profound psychological impression on as many of the inhabitants as possible. At the suggestion of Dr. [James B.] Conant [Director of the National Defense Research Committee] the Secretary agreed that the most desirable target would be a vital war plant employing a large number of workers and closely surrounded by workers’ houses.
There was some discussion of the desirability of attempting several strikes at the same time. Dr. Oppenheimer’s judgment was that several strikes would be feasible. General [Leslie R.] Groves [military director of the project], however, expressed doubt about this proposal and pointed out the following objections: (1) We would lose the advantage of gaining additional knowledge concerning the weapon at each successive bombing; (2) such a program would require a rush job on the part of those assembling the bombs and might, therefore, be ineffective; (3) the effect would not be sufficiently distinct from our regular Air Force bombing program.