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WHEN NIGHT BECAME DAY


BRITAIN AT WAR


atomic bomb (named Little Boy) was dropped on Japan. The initial reaction from the Japanese was stunned silence. The scale of the destruction was so enormous that it was difficult for anyone to comprehend.


in a minimum of 3,000,000 deaths, of which 1,000,000 would be Allied servicemen.1


What was now absolutely vital was that the Allies demonstrated that Little Boy was not a one-off – it was the first of an endless stream of bombs that would be dropped on Japan until she surrendered. Shortly after the first bomb had been detonated President Truman broadcast a statement to the astonished Japanese explaining to them just what had happened and


Equally


worrying, was that in the occupied territories of Burma, Malaysia, Borneo, Java, Siam and Indo-China, the Japanese commander, Field Marshal Terauchi, had issued written orders for the execution of all prisoners of war held in those countries the moment that such an Allied offensive began. In almost all the camps under his command, the prisoners had been forced to dig trenches, at the intersection of which machine-guns had been posted, and under whose enfilade fire they would all die.


For some on the Allied side all of this was too much to contemplate. Perhaps the only possible hope was the atomic bomb. Maybe, just maybe, the unleashing of such a terrible weapon would shock the Japanese so much that they would be forced to surrender or face consequences far beyond human comprehension.


So, at 08.15 hours on 6 August 1945, the first what was likely to come:


“It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East … If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”2


As there was still no response from the Japanese a second bomb was to be detonated. This time the British, who had played such an important part in the development of the A-bomb, were invited to observe.


*


Pre-flight briefing for the crews involved in the second nuclear strike took place at 20.00 hours on the 8th, followed by a large meal for anyone that could stomach food. A little after midnight the crew members and observers changed into their light-green overalls and climbed aboard


ABOVE LEFT: Fat Man on its transport carriage on Tinian Island following its final assembly in preparation for its use against Japan. In keeping with its name, Fat Man was more than twice as wide as Little Boy which was dropped on Hiroshima. (Courtesy US National Archives)


ABOVE RIGHT: A mock-up of Fat Man, clearly showing its characteristic ellipsoidal aerodynamic bombshell. (Courtesy US National Archives)


FAR LEFT:


The temporary triangle ‘N’ tail markings (for Nuclear) on the B-29 Bockscar on 9 August 1945 – the day of its atomic bombing mission to Nagasaki. Bockscar was one of fifteen specially modified “Silverplate” B-29s assigned to the 509th Composite Group. In comparison with standard B-29s, the Silverplate variant retained only the tail turret and had its armour removed to save weight so that the heavy atomic bombs could be carried over a longer range. Bockscar is now on permanent display at the National Museum of the US Air Force, Dayton, Ohio. (US National Archives)


FAR RIGHT:


One of the USAAF’s 509 Composite Group’s B-29s pictured in the air – note the temporary triangle ‘N’ tail markings indicating that the aircraft is carrying a nuclear weapon. (Courtesy National Museum of the US Air Force)


The aircraft which delivered the atomic bomb to Nagasaki on 9 August 1945; the Boeing B-29 Superfortress nicknamed Bockscar. On the mission itself, Bockscar was flown without its characteristic nose art and the circled arrowhead tail markings, both of which can be seen here. Note the five mission symbols which can just be made out below the cockpit. Four of these, painted black, indicate a “Pumpkin Bomb” operation – the “Pumpkin Bomb” was a conventional high explosive aerial bomb developed by the Manhattan Project staff and deployed against Japan during the Second World War. The remaining symbol, fourth in the line and painted red, denotes the Fat Man attack. (Courtesy National Museum of the US Air Force)


BELOW:


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