Crew of the Enola Gay

75 years ago today, on August 6, 1945, the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a five-ton bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. A blast equivalent to the power of 15,000 tons of TNT reduced four square miles of the city to ruins and immediately killed 80,000 people. Tens of thousands more died in the following weeks from wounds and radiation poisoning. Three days later, another bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Dad, and FIL were both training for the invasion in the Philippines. Both riflemen. Strong chance without the bomb my wife and myself would never have been born. If we had not used the bomb, and we had to invade Japan and take the losses, the people of the United States would have laid siege to Washington and hung Truman.

    • For Operation Downfall, U.S. Command had estimated one to three million Allied casualties in the invasion of the Japanese home islands. That estimate was based on intel of 3 Army divisions with no reserves defending the southern flank. It was assumed the civilian population, while fanatical was severely demoralized.

      After the war (after Allied occupation) it was revealed there were eleven Army divisions with perhaps as many in reserve defending the southern flank at the time of the scheduled invasion. And the civilian population was anything but demoralized. Not only the numbers of defenders but the level of their morale was severely underestimated.

      U.S. Army Generals and staff were very reluctant to provide revised estimates. From that one may suppose the casualties would be unimaginably high. It was fairly left to military historians to provide estimates.

  2. We are still issuing Purple Hearts minted for the Invasion. And what’s really scary is that after Surrender, analysis of planning and materials showed that we’d have been short big-time of Purple Hearts if we actually invaded.

    The other way we could have forced a surrender? Complete naval blockade, sinking anything that attempted to float, combined with carpet and fire bombing of every hamlet, village, town and city, combined with defoliants sprayed on all farms, and fire bombing all forests. Yes. We had all of that planned.

    Three ways to die –
    Atom Bomb – we only had enough material to hit 3 cities total, so casualties would still be lighter than the firebombing raids.

    Invasion – Okinawa and Iwo showed that the fighting wouldn’t have stopped until everyone on one side was dead or so whittled down the ‘race’ would have disappeared in a few decades. Plus fighting a war of annihilation would have destroyed the American heart. We would not have survived as a people, as a nation, except if we had become what we fought against, become basically Nazis or Japs. A pyrrhic victory that would have left us open for the death blow by the Soviets.

    Starvation – like Invasion, it would have killed us just as much as it killed the Japanese people. It takes a darkening of the heart to do inhuman things day after day after day.

    Me? I’m glad we used the bombs. As ‘horrible’ as atomic weapons were and are, they allowed all sides to survive and thrive, cutting out the tumor of the war cleanly. Any other way would have been a soul murdering terminal cancer.

    Just thinking about not using the bombs and going ‘more traditional’ gives me nightmares.

    Which is why I hate the idea of limited war. All limited war does is extend fighting to an unending low grade conflict and leaves more wounded and more dead and for absolutely nothing. Want to wage war? Make it swift, hard, mean, painful to the other side and make it a total win. With the promise of if it happens again, there will only be a bloody stump left. Sometimes shear brutality is the only way to get the point across, point brutality, quick, final, over. Not the low-grade brutality of endless suckiness. (At least that’s what it seems to me. Never actually been in harness in the military, never been shot at, never had to deal with enemies foreign and domestic trying to give me the shitty end of the stick, so, well, I only have a bystander’s view of the real world, though I have tried to educate myself.)

    • From a certain perspective, nuking the Japanese WAS limited war. As opposed to an invasion, that is.

      We would [have had to] become basically Nazis or Japs. A pyrrhic victory that would have left us open for the death blow by the Soviets.

      It’s looking to me like this nation has been taken over by the same sort of people that created the Soviet Union. The “eternal rebels” always seeking to “perfect” human society, and damn the actual cost, because they claim their intentions are noble. When the truth of the matter is that they are largely driven by envy, hatred, paranoia and neurotic self-loathing, all leading to a twisted desire to not merely punish, but to humiliate normal people. And all that without a single shot fired.

  3. This is probably a repeat comment – had a farming neighbor who flew B-29s in the Pacific and who probably was involved in ferrying one of those bombs, from reading between the lines of things he had said.
    Also have a son who married a gal whose family, on her mother’s side, lived in Hiroshima but were out of town visiting relatives when the bomb was dropped there.
    Interesting how, growing up in a farm community where you seldom went beyond 50 or so miles from home, you end up with sons marrying gals from different countries.

    • Yes, it is interesting how our lives can be interwoven in unsuspected ways.

      A tidbit of history concerns Nagasaki. It is widely known that Nagasaki was a secondary target. Less known is that Christians in Japan were centered in Nagasaki, that that city held the majority of Christians throughout Japan.

  4. One of the rapidly declining number of good things about R.I. – State holiday Monday; VJ Day.

    My dad was slated for the first USN airstrike wave into Nagasaki.

    -Kle.

  5. Both my dad(navy) and my father-in-law(marines) were in Okinawa in ’45 and likely both would have been involved in an invasion of Japan. Without the bomb there’s a real possibility that neither the wife nor I would be here . Screw the apologists.

  6. On a somewhat less serious note, there used to exist in Freeport, Texas (south of Houston) the Enola Gay Bar in the port/industrial area. It’s long gone now but was not “that kind” of place you might say.

  7. My Dad would have flown countless ground attack missions if we had invaded the Japanese home islands. He did not expect to survive.

    • Though it’s not progressive to point it out, the biggest beneficiary of the nuclear bombs was the Japanese themselves. The US was second. I realize that there are people today that live with grievances (real and imagined) that would have preferred that we invade and slaughter every living Japanese person as they resisted the invasion — because they hate the bomb. But as has been pointed out, above, it was the only way.

      And a lot of us are alive because our parents didn’t fight that total war that it would have been.

  8. First question to ask the apologists, “How many atomic bombs did it take to force Japan’s surrender?” Three wonderful things followed–

    1. World War II ended.
    2. We won.
    3. Nuclear weapons have not be fired in anger since.

  9. As a Thomist and all of that, I believe the atomic attack falls under “just war.” Others disagree and I think them wrong. For example, the least amount of force to achieve the objective — what would that, actually, have been? Apart from the bomb(s)?

    The utter, total, burning of Japan in its entirety, to say nothing of casualties on our side.

    So, perhaps it’s a case of thank Christ for the bomb.

  10. Years ago I worked with a former German U-boat captain.
    He had served in Tokyo and married a Japanese woman.
    They both agreed that America did the right thing. Stopped massive bloodshed on both sides.
    We would have been fighting women, children and old men on the beaches.

    • Took a class in naginata from a guy who took a class in naginata from a little wizened old Japanese lady. At 11 years of age, she was in command of a squad of children. She had a naginata, the kids had sharpened bamboo.

      My friend, the guy? Belted martial artist (real martial arts) and a mean hand with a nag. Got his ass handed to him by little old lady. She apologized for not giving him 100% as she was much slower and not as good as when she was 11.

      Seriously, she beat his ass from one side of the training room to the other. He was the only participant she went full speed and full power on. He was bruised and confused for days after. Needless to say, after the first time she ran him around beating him like a red-headed stepchild (are we even allowed to say or think that anymore?) the class paid much better attention to her.

      That… That right there… That is what we were going to be facing if we invaded. Everyone. EVERYONE was to fight to the death. Old people with limpet mines, hand grenades, suicide vests. Boobytrapped babies to be left in a retreat. Mass suicides for those who couldn’t fight.

      Yeah, those bombs weren’t necessary. Yeah…

      That little old lady? From Nagasaki. Still had some scars on her arms. Didn’t slow her down a bit.

      • I think that if you self-identify as a redhead and as a step child, you’re on firm ground. I’ve seem some 80 year olds who are able to do some really wicked work. Sōke Takayuki Kubota, 10th Dan Gosoku-ryū is one example. He’s 85 and you really wouldn’t want to tangle with him.

        • As the T-shirt says…”You’re First Mistake Was In Thinking I’m Just An Old Man“….

          Don’t poke old men. We can be quite nasty when we get pissed off…..

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