09 August, 2012

09 August 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
9 August, 1945
My dearest sweetheart –

What with atomic bombs and the Russians declaring war on the Japs – it’s pretty difficult for me to write anything astounding, so I’ll have to say simply that I love you very much and miss you even more. With the rush of current events, things are really starting to look up and false hopes or no – the war should fold up. My own guess is that it will be within 10 weeks and if not then – in 10 months.

But to get back to the main subject – or as the French say ‘Revenon á nos moutour’ – I love you, darling, and if you’re not sure what that implies, I’ll tell you. It means that I think of you night and day, plan the things we’ll do together when I get back, reminisce about the past and dream of our future. And that goes on all the time, sweetheart – not just when I’m sentimental. That’s love, isn’t it?

Here – there’s not a thing to tell you about, dear. The days and nights are very unexciting. Last night we went to the movies and saw a farce. I was in the mood for it and enjoyed it. It was the “Royal Scandal” with T. Bankhead and I thought it ran off very smoothly. I don’t know whether or not we’re seeing recent pictures – but we’re getting a pretty good variety, anyway.

Ah – I was wondering when you’d start getting a bit jealous. I refer to “the blonde” mentioned in the itinerary of the 438th – as recorded in that little book you received, dear. Now I can tell all – she was very attractive – ahem – otherwise why should I have been so concerned about her welfare? But to tell the truth, darling, I don’t like blondes; I like brunettes – of a certain type – only – and the queer thing is that they have to live on 99 Mandalay Road only!

No mail again, dammit – although packages are coming thru, as well as periodicals. Boy I have a lot of letters from you still outstanding. But I can wait – so long as I know you’re still writing me and loving me. That’s what counts, sweetheart, the comfort of the thought.

Today it’s cold and drab – but if it warms up a bit this afternoon I’m going to play some tennis. I ran into a fellow who plays a good game and I think I’ll get a good workout.

No news from home either in some time – but I trust all is well.

I’ll stop now, sweetheart, and write again tomorrow. I sure hope I hear from you later today. My love to the folks, dear, and regards to Grammy B and Mary. For now – so long and

My deepest love and devotion –


about a Bad Day for Japan

On 9 August 1945, the same day the Soviet Union invaded Japanese-held Manchuria, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Japan in the hopes that surrender would result.

Moments after impact of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki

From the "Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered" web site comes this:
On August 6, 1945, The Enola Gay had lifted off from Tinian Island in the Northern Marianas at two A.M. The flight had been uneventful, the weather had cooperated, and, at 8:15 A.M. bombardier Major Thomas W. Ferebee had released Little Boy. The Enola Gay had landed uneventfully at Tinian. The crew had been greeted by an excited crowd. Generals Carl A. "Tooey" Spaatz and Curtis E. LeMay had flown in from Guam. Pilot Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by General Spaatz. Following the ceremony the fliers had been feted at a star-studded debriefing where General LeMay had told the men, "Kids, go eat, take a good shower, and sleep as much as you want!"

The Nagasaki mission couldn't have been more different.

When a second mission was approved, Kokura was the primary target Nagasaki was the secondary target. Originally scheduled for August 11, 1945, the mission was advanced to August 9 due to weather concerns. That day, when one would have expected all attention to be focused on the Nagasaki strike, yet another ceremony took place to honor Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay.

There was some confusion at the outset of the Nagasaki mission. Major Charles W. Sweeny was to command the mission in his plane The Great Artiste. But The Great Artiste was still outfitted with scientific gear left over from being the support plane for the Hiroshima mission and there wasn't time to outfit it to carry Fat Man. So Sweeney and his crew took over Captain Frederick C. Bock, Jr.'s plane Bock's Car, while Bock's crew switched to The Great Artiste.
Back (L-R): Capt Beahan, Capt Van Pelt, Jr., 1st Lt. Albury, 2nd Lt. Olivi, Maj Sweeney
Front (L-R): SSgt Buckley, MSgt Kuharek, Sgt Gallagher, SSgt DeHart, Sgt Spitzer
Sweeney and his crew were under orders to only bomb visually. When they got to Kokura they found the haze and smoke obscuring the city as well as the large ammunition arsenal that was the reason for targeting the city. They made three unsuccessful passes, wasting more fuel, while anti-aircraft fire zeroed in on them and Japanese fighter planes began to climb toward them. The B-29s broke off and headed for Nagasaki. The phrase Kokura's Luck was coined in Japan to describe escaping a terrible occurrence without being aware of the danger.

Nagasaki was a city on the west coast of Kyushu on picturesque Nagasaki Bay. It was famous as the setting for Puccini's beautiful opera Madame Butterfly. It was also home to two huge Mitsubishi war plants on the Urakami River. This complex was the primary target, but because the city was built in hilly, almost mountainous terrain, it was a much more difficult target than Hiroshima.

Clouds covered Nagasaki when Bock's Car arrived. Contrary to orders, weaponeer Ashworth determined to make the drop by radar if they had to due to their short fuel supply. At the last minute a small window in the clouds opened and bombardier Captain Kermit K. Beehan made the drop at 10:58 A.M. Nagasaki time.

Fat Man exploded at 1,840 feet above Nagasaki and approximately 500 feet south of the Mitsubishi Steel and Armament Works with an estimated force of 22,000 tons of TNT. Within a minute of Fat Man's explosion, a brilliant fireball boiled skyward. Sweeney banked sharply to avoid it. The two B-29s were battered by five successive shockwaves and the radioactive cloud surged toward them. Both planes turned away and headed home.

Cloud over Nagasaki as Bock's Car flew away

The crew of Bock's Car should have felt some release from tension, but they had only 300 gallons of fuel remaining—not enough to get them back to Tinian, and perhaps not even to Okinawa. Sweeney had his radio operator contact the air-sea rescue teams to alert them to the possibility of ditching. There was no answer. The rescue teams had shut down, apparently deciding Bock's Car had long returned to Tinian.

When they reached Okinawa, repeated attempts to raise the tower for landing instructions went unanswered. Sweeney watched other planes taking off and landing, but knew he didn't have enough gas for protracted circling. He set off flares and finally somebody on the ground noticed. Bock's Car landed at two P.M. local time. The number two engine ran out of fuel while they were on the runway. They had a total of seven gallons of fuel left. They refueled, took off for Tinian, and landed without further incident at 11:39 P.M. local time.

No one was on hand to greet them. There was no ceremony. No one had even thought to have food ready for the famished crews who hadn't eaten in almost twenty-four hours.

Unlike Hiroshima, there was no firestorm at Nagasaki. Despite this, the blast was more destructive to the immediate area, due to the topography and the greater power of Fat Man. However, the hilly topography limited the total area of destruction to less than that of Hiroshima, and the resulting loss of life, though horrifically high, was also less. The exact number of casualties was impossible to determine. The Japanese listed only those they could verify and set the official estimate at 23,753 killed, 1,927 missing, and 23,345 wounded. U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey figures were much higher, but still less than those for Hiroshima.

Like Hiroshima, the immediate aftermath in Nagasaki was a nightmare. More than forty percent of the city was destroyed. Major hospitals had been utterly flattened and care for the injured was impossible. Schools, churches, and homes had simply disappeared. Transportation was impossible.

Two years after the bombing, plants growing at ground zero presaged the frightening genetic aberrations in humans that were to come: sesame stalks produced 33 percent more seeds but 90 percent of them were sterile. For decades abnormally high amounts of cancer, birth defects, and tumors haunted victims.
Ground Zero in Nagasaki, today

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