06 August, 2012

06 August 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
6 August, 1945      1050
Dearest darling Wilma –

A late start this morning and this will probably be a shortie because I have several things to do today.

Yesterday was as quiet a day – Sunday – as we’ve spent in a long time. We played Bridge from 1300 to 1730 without a break. It killed the p.m. beautifully. In the evening we decided to go to the concert in the park. It was a pleasant evening and the music was light and enjoyable.

This morning has been quite busy so far and there’s more to do. But, darling, I wanted to take time out to tell you that I love you this Monday morning just as dearly, constantly, as every other minute of every other day. And miss you? Good Lord, dear – it’s awful. These past 2 weeks in particular have been very hard to take; I don’t know why exactly – but it’s probably because you are so near to me in every sense of the word – and yet so darned far!

Well – we lost one high point officer this a.m. – and the latest rumor – but it’s very likely a fact is that Col. MacW. will leave on the 14th. He has 121 points. That will leave Major Hoag in charge and the old 438th is disintegrating slowly but surely. I hope it stays together long enough for me to add on more good time. MC’s – from what I hear – are still being plucked from all over the place and hooked on to outgoing outfits. So far I’m safe and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I still haven’t heard from Lawrence. I wish I would – because I didn’t know what his shipping out APO number is and there’s no point in writing to Camp Beale.

Sweetheart – I have to stop now and run over to the Guardhouse and see some sick prisoner. I have to be there before noon – so will you excuse me for now? I hope you’re hearing from me fairly regularly now, dear. I know it helps.

Love to the folks – and remember – I am and will always be –

Yours alone –


about the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima

An area of Hiroshima near ground zero, before and after the atomic bomb struck.
Circles indicate 1000 feet (914 meters).

According to Alan Bellows in "Eyewitnesses to Hiroshima and Nagasaki", as posted on the "Damn Interesting" web site:
At 2:45 a.m. on 06 August 1945, the Allies' B-29 "Enola Gay" left the island of Tinian near Saipan. Its primary target was Hiroshima, where the 2nd Japanese Army stood poised to defend against an expected Allied invasion of their homeland. The Enola Gay was carrying "Little Boy," a 9,700-pound uranium bomb. Piloted by the commander of the 509th Composite Group, Colonel Paul Tibbets, the B-29 flew at low altitude on automatic pilot before climbing to 31,000 feet as it neared the target area. The weather over the target was satisfactory, and the bombardier, Major Thomas Ferrebee, was able to use a visual approach.

At approximately 8:15 AM Hiroshima time the Enola Gay released Little Boy over the city. Tibbets immediately dove away to avoid the anticipated shock wave. Forty-three seconds later, a huge explosion lit the morning sky as Little Boy detonated directly over a parade field where soldiers of the Japanese Second Army were doing calisthenics. The bomb's detonation point was only approximately 550 feet from the aiming point, the Aioi Bridge, an easily identifiable location near the center of the city. The bomb detonated at an altitude of 1800 feet. The yield of the bomb was equivalent of 12,500 tons of TNT.

Though already eleven and a half miles away, the Enola Gay was rocked by the blast. At first, Tibbets thought he was taking flak. After a second shock wave (reflected from the ground) hit the plane, the crew looked back at Hiroshima. "The city was hidden by that awful cloud . . . boiling up, mushrooming, terrible and incredibly tall," Tibbets recalled.

Those closest to the explosion died instantly, their bodies turned to black char. Nearby birds burst into flames in mid-air, and dry, combustible materials such as paper instantly ignited as far away as 6,400 feet from ground zero. The detonation formed a high-temperature, high-pressure fireball which rapidly expanded to a diameter of about 400 meters in the first second. The fireball emitted intense heat for three seconds, and glowed brightly for about ten seconds. The temperature on the ground near ground zero ("hypocenter") reached thousands of degrees Celsius. On the ground near the hypocenter the overpressure reached tons per square meter. The fireball created a supersonic shockwave, which was followed by winds blowing hundreds of meters per second. The shock wave traveled 6.8 miles (eleven kilometers) in 30 seconds.

Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall
before (above) and after (below) the atomic bomb struck.
The building was 175 yards (160 meters) from impact.

Those who survived called the A-bomb "pika don". "Pika" referred to the flash of light, and "Don" was an onomatopoeic reference to the tremendous sound. Survivors close to the hypocenter, the point directly beneath the detonation, heard no sound, and called it merely "pika".

The white light acted as a giant flashbulb, burning the dark patterns of clothing onto skin and the shadows of bodies onto walls. Survivors outdoors close to theblast generally describe a literally blinding light combined with a sudden and overwhelming wave of heat. The blast wave followed almost instantly for those close-in, often knocking them from their feet.

Those that were indoors were usually spared the flash burns, but flying glass from broken windows filled most rooms, and all but the very strongest structures collapsed. One boy was blown through the windows of his house and across the street as the house collapsed behind him. Within minutes 9 out of 10 people half a mile or less from ground zero were dead.

People farther from the point of detonation experienced first the flash and heat, followed seconds later by a deafening boom and the blast wave. Nearly every structure within one mile of ground zero was destroyed, and almost every building within three miles was damaged.

In the case of wooden houses, those which were within one kilometer of the hypocenter were smashed at the moment of the explosion. In the case of reinforced concrete buildings, the roofs of those near the center of the explosion collapsed. Some of the buildings were flattened and became piles of rubble. A fierce fire followed destruction by the violent blast caused by the explosion. Every building within one kilometer of the hypocenter was totally destroyed by the fire whether it was wooden or reinforced concrete.

Wooden houses in the area between one kilometer and two kilometers from the hypocenter were completely destroyed. The buildings located one to two kilometers from the center were mostly destroyed by the fire. Wooden houses in the area two to three kilometers away were severely damaged. Even houses three to four kilometers from the center of the explosion were badly damaged. The buildings two to three kilometers from the center were partially destroyed.

Less than 10 percent of the buildings in the city survived without any damage, and the blast wave shattered glass in suburbs twelve miles away. The most common first reaction of those that were indoors even miles from ground zero was that their building had just suffered a direct hit by a bomb.

The firestorm eventually engulfed 4.4 square miles of the city, killing anyone who had not escaped in the first minutes after the attack. One postwar study of the victims of Hiroshima found that less than 4.5 percent of survivors suffered leg fractures. Such injuries were not uncommon; it was just that most who could not walk were engulfed by the firestorm.

Yoshitaka Kawamoto was thirteen years old when the bomb exploded over Hiroshima, in a classroom less than a kilometer away from the hypocenter.
One of my classmates, I think his name is Fujimoto, he muttered something and pointed outside the window, saying, “A B-29 is coming.” He pointed outside with his finger. So I began to get up from my chair and asked him, “Where is it?” Looking in the direction that he was pointing towards, I got up on my feet, but I was not yet in an upright position when it happened. All I can remember was a pale lightening flash for two or three seconds. Then, I collapsed. I don't know much time passed before I came to. It was awful, awful. The smoke was coming in from somewhere above the debris. Sandy dust was flying around. I was trapped under the debris and I was in terrible pain and that’s probably why I came to. I couldn’t move, not even an inch. Then, I heard about ten of my surviving classmates singing our school song. I remember that. I could hear sobs. Someone was calling his mother. But those who were still alive were singing the school song for as long as they could. I think I joined the chorus. We thought that someone would come and help us out. That’s why we were singing a school song so loud. But nobody came to help, and we stopped singing one by one. In the end, I was singing alone.”
Approximately 80,000 people were killed as a direct result of the blast, and an equal number were injured. At least another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of the fallout. There were 90,000 buildings in Hiroshima before the bomb was dropped; only 28,000 remained after the bombing. Over 90% of Hiroshima’s doctors and 93% of its nurses were killed. 30% of Hiroshima’s population was killed immediately, with about 30% more wounded.

The oleander is the official flower of the city of Hiroshima because it was the first to bloom again after the explosion of the atomic bomb in 1945.


Debate after the war has centered around whether or not the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima was necessary to win the war, with scholars and historians divided.

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