HIROSHIMA BOMBING

Hiroshima Bombing - Overview of the Hiroshima Bombing during World War II with atomic bombs.

During World War II, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, were destroyed by atomic bombs dropped by the United States military on August 6 and August 9, 1945, respectively, killing at least 100,000 civilians outright and many more over time. One of the primary reasons given for the use of the bomb was that it would force Japan to surrender unconditionally. Japan presented its formal document of surrender to the Allied powers on August 15. The survivors of the bombings are called hibakusha (被爆者), a Japanese word that translates literally to "bomb affected people."

Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Hiroshima Bombing - Hiroshima during World War II

At the time of its bombing, Hiroshima was a city of considerable military significance. It contained the headquarters of the Fifth Division and Field Marshal Hata's 2nd General Army Headquarters, which commanded the defence of all of southern Japan. The city was a communications centre, a storage point, and an assembly area for troops. It was chosen as a target because it had not suffered damage from previous bombing raids, allowing an ideal environment to measure the damage caused by the atomic bomb. The city was mobilized for "all-out" war, with thousands of conscripted women, children and Koreans working in military offices, military factories and building demolition and with women and children training to resist any invading force.

The centre of the city contained a number of reinforced concrete buildings as well as lighter structures. Outside the centre, the area was congested by a dense collection of small wooden workshops set among Japanese houses; a few larger industrial plants lay near the outskirts of the city. The houses were of wooden construction with tile roofs. Many of the industrial buildings also were of wood frame construction. The city as a whole was highly susceptible to fire damage.

The population of Hiroshima had reached a peak of over 380,000 earlier in the war but prior to the atomic bombing the population had steadily decreased because of a systematic evacuation ordered by the Japanese government. At the time of the attack the population was approximately 255,000. This figure is based on the registered population, used by the Japanese in computing ration quantities, and the estimates of additional workers and troops who were brought into the city may not be highly accurate.

Hiroshima Bombing - Impact

Hiroshima was the primary target of the first U.S. nuclear attack mission, on 6 August 1945. The B-29 Enola Gay, piloted and commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets, was launched from Tinian airbase in the West Pacific, approximately 6 hours flight time away from Japan. The drop date of the 6th was chosen because there had been cloud formation over the target previously. But at the time of launch, the weather was good, and the crew and equipment functioned properly. Navy Captain William Parsons armed the bomb during the flight, since it had been left unarmed to minimize the risks during takeoff. In every detail, the attack was carried out exactly as planned, and the bomb, with a 60 kg (130 pounds) core of uranium-235, performed precisely as expected.

About an hour before the bombing, the Japanese early warning radar net detected the approach of some American aircraft headed for the southern part of Japan. The alert had been given and radio broadcasting stopped in many cities, among them Hiroshima. The planes approached the coast at a very high altitude. At nearly 08:00, the radar operator in Hiroshima determined that the number of planes coming in was very small probably not more than three and the air raid alert was lifted. The three planes present were the Enola Gay (named after Colonel Tibbets' mother), The Great Artiste (a recording and surveying craft), and the Necessary Evil (the photographing plane). The normal radio broadcast warning was given to the people that it might be advisable to go to shelter if B-29s were actually sighted, but no raid was expected beyond some sort of reconnaissance. At 08:15, the Enola Gay dropped the nuclear bomb called "Little Boy" over the center of Hiroshima. It exploded about 600 meters (2,000 feet) above the city with a blast equivalent to 13 kilotons of TNT, killing an estimated 80,000 civilians.

Japanese realization of the bombing

The Tokyo control operator of the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation noticed that the Hiroshima station had gone off the air. He tried to re-establish his program by using another telephone line, but it too had failed. About twenty minutes later the Tokyo railroad telegraph center realized that the main line telegraph had stopped working just north of Hiroshima. From some small railway stops within ten miles (16 km) of the city came unofficial and confused reports of a terrible explosion in Hiroshima. All these reports were transmitted to the Headquarters of the Japanese General Staff.

Military headquarters repeatedly tried to call the Army Control Station in Hiroshima. The complete silence from that city puzzled the men at Headquarters; they knew that no large enemy raid could have occurred, and they knew that no sizeable store of explosives was in Hiroshima at that time. A young officer of the Japanese General Staff was instructed to fly immediately to Hiroshima, to land, survey the damage, and return to Tokyo with reliable information for the staff. It was generally felt at Headquarters that nothing serious had taken place, that it was all a terrible rumour starting from a few sparks of truth.

The staff officer went to the airport and took off for the southwest. After flying for about three hours, while still nearly 100 miles (160 km) from Hiroshima, he and his pilot saw a great cloud of smoke from the bomb. In the bright afternoon, the remains of Hiroshima were burning.

Their plane soon reached the city, around which they circled in disbelief. A great scar on the land still burning, and covered by a heavy cloud of smoke, was all that was left. They landed south of the city, and the staff officer, after reporting to Tokyo, immediately began to organize relief measures.

Tokyo's first knowledge of what had really caused the disaster came from the White House public announcement in Washington, sixteen hours after the nuclear attack on Hiroshima [3].

Radiation poisoning and/or necrosis caused illness and death after the bombing in about 1% of those who survived the initial explosion. By the end of 1945, it is estimated that 60,000 more people died due to radiation poisoning, bringing the total killed in Hiroshima in 1945 to 140,000. Since then several thousand more people have died of radiation-related causes.[4]

According to the city of Hiroshima, as of August 6, 2004, the cumulative death toll of atomic-bomb victims was 237,062, [5] but it remains uncertain how many of them exactly died of the effects of the bombing. There are about 270,000 hibakusha, "bomb affected people," still living in Japan.

(Article based on Wikipedia article and used under the GNU Free Documentation License)

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