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Did I tell you this story? My dad was drafted right at the end of WWII. He made it out of training just as the war in Europe was over, so they put him on a boat to the South Pacific. They were (you probably know) putting together a hellacious huge force to begin a bloody inch-by-inch land invasion of Japan. A rookie lieutenant had pretty low odds of surviving that.

Then we dropped the bomb. Two, in fact. And that was that.

The anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima was yesterday. When it rolls around every year, I always say a little prayer of thanksgiving for all the lives saved by that bold and terrible act. Including, by a slightly tortured route, my life.

Have a good weekend, y’all.


Comment from mojo
Time: August 7, 2015, 9:51 pm

Estimated casualties of Home Islands invasion:
American: ~ 1 million
Japanese (incl. civ.): 5 million +

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: August 7, 2015, 10:13 pm

I am very glad your father survived the war, and also very glad one of the results is you.

Dropping two nuclear bombs on Japan was not the reason for it being unnecessary to invade. Although today it is so-called common knowledge that the bombs ended the war, there were many, many military and political figures then who argued that the use of those weapons was a very great and tragic wrong, and some even argue persuasively that Truman’s awareness that the bombs were about to become usable made him ignore efforts by the Japanese to surrender earlier in 1945, and that the bombs extended the war in the Pacific.

There are some eye-opening quotations by many famous people at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Yes, they are peaceniks, but their facts are well documented.

General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces Under President Truman:

It always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower:

I voiced to (Sec. Of War Stimson) my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at this very moment, seeking a way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face.’

Admiral William D. Leahy, Former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was taught not to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying woman and children.

Comment from technochitlin
Time: August 7, 2015, 10:22 pm

UncleAl, with all respect, Ace linked to an article written back in the Eighties on this very subject, and I think it addresses the misgivings and concerns quite well.


I think all these armchair quarterbacks are mighty cavalier about the deaths that would have happened had it come to an invasion of Japan.

For a good look at the nature of that war, and that enemy, I suggest reading “With The Old Breed”. Amazon has it.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: August 7, 2015, 10:27 pm

technochitlin, also with respect, I suggest reading “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” by Richard Rhodes. He won the 1987 Pulitzer for General Non-Fiction with this book.

(As an aside, I also recommend Rhodes’s “Dark Sun” about the development of the thermonuclear bombs that followed.)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 7, 2015, 10:31 pm

So why didn’t they surrender after the first bomb?

Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 7, 2015, 10:46 pm

THe Making of the Atomic Bomb is hands-down one of the best books I have ever read. For a complete demolition of the idea that Japan was on the point of surrendering prior to the bombs, read “Downfall” by Richard Frank and “Retribution” by Max Hastings. They were not, and it’s stupid revisionism to claim otherwise. We know this because we had to nuke them twice. The first one just got their attention (and it’s a counter to the claim that we should have detonated one bomb first as a demonstration.) What does ‘on the point’ mean, anyway? Within a few months or so? Quite apart from anything, every single day the war continued meant something like 13,000 deaths in Japanese-held territory. It doesn’t take long for that to exceed the death toll from the bombs.

My father was in the Middle East in 1945. He’d been lucky enough to be in a non-combat theatre up to that point, but he and his division were expected to be moved to the Pacific. Expected casualties were greater than Britain had suffered to that point since 1939. Everyone in his unit regarded the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a deliverance. It takes a crane shot to get the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren he produced in one frame. Frankly if the Japanese want to complain about the bombs after Nanking, Bataan, Peleliu and Okinawa they can get fucked.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: August 7, 2015, 10:50 pm

S. Weasel, the Japanese continued their attempts to negotiate a surrender but the Truman was unwilling to consider any conditions whatsoever; he demanded unconditional surrender. This achieved no clear benefits, and his adamance may well have prolonged the fighting.

Stewart Udall, WWII bomber gunner, lawyer, U.S. Congressman, and subsequently Secretary of the Interior under JFK and LBJ:

…I offer my belief that the existence of the first atomic bombs may have prolonged — rather than shortened – World War II by influencing Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and President Harry S. Truman to ignore an opportunity to negotiate a surrender that would have ended the killing in the Pacific in May or June of 1945.

BTW, my late father, Annapolis 1942, was submariner and in the Pacific in 1945. I have a dog in this fight, too.

Comment from JeffS
Time: August 7, 2015, 10:51 pm

Japan was indeed defeated by the summer of 1945, but it’s questionable that many Japanese knew it. Or, if they knew it, they didn’t want to believe it was so. There was a reason why the invasion of Okinawa was so bloody on both sides. All the best intentions of some diplomats and senior leaders did not mean the rank and file were in agreement. Or even the field commanders.

In any event, the bombs were dropped, and Japan finally surrendered as a consequence. It saved my father from being shipped over to Japan for the invasion. That’s good enough for me.

Comment from JeffS
Time: August 7, 2015, 10:58 pm

Uncle Al, I believe that unconditional surrender was a requirement of the Allies, not just Truman. He may have lead the pack, but no one, and I mean no one, wanted to cut the Axis powers any slack.

The world had been at war for 6 to 14 years, depending on just where one lived at the time, with millions of casualties from combat, disease, starvation, brutality, and outright murder. Anyone who looks backs and says, “Gee, we were pretty rough on those fellas!” needs to consider what lead up the nuclear bombings.

That doesn’t mean I *like* nukes. They are nasty weapons, and a terrible price was paid to avoid horrific causalities. But I decline to second guess the leaders of the time, just so I can indulge in some feel-good revisionism.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: August 7, 2015, 11:40 pm

War is a terrible thing. That is why no one should ever want to go to war. That is why a war can not be proportional. One side choose war, the other side will probably have war forced upon them and their choice is only die, surrender, or fight.

If war is forced on you, you must fight and make war so terrible that no one ever again wants to go to war with you.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 7, 2015, 11:41 pm

The extent to which we were reading Japanese diplomatic and military cipher traffic is underappreciated. Indeed it was highly classified until long after the war. But it gave us an unparalleled insight into the thinking of the Japanese War Council. The only way we could have had better intel would have been if we’d bugged the Imperial Palace. The Japanese rejection of the Potsdam Declaration was absolute. They used the technique of mokusatsu which means “to ignore with silent contempt”.

That Udall quote is retarded (not that I’d regard the word of a Johnson-era Democrat as anything other than specious rubbish). If what he said were true, the Japanese were apparently ready to surrender during the battle of Okinawa and immediately after Iwo Jima. That doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Why the hell would they do that? If anything, it was the ferocity of the fighting on Okinawa that convinced the Allies that nuclear weapons were necessary. If the Japanese were ready to surrender in early 1945, they did not act like it. The Allies did not have the luxury of speculation or 20/20 hindsight. They had a war-winning weapon at their disposal. To have failed to use it and thereby incur further Allied casualties would not merely have been militarily stupid. It would have been a morally bankrupt decision. The onus was not on the Allies to prosecute the war in a pussy-footing way that would save Japanese lives. It was to get it over and done with so that no more American, British, Australian and Indian soldiers would die.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: August 8, 2015, 12:36 am

As far as I am concerned, the fact that Stoaty might very well not have been here to entertain me had the Bomb(s) not been dropped is all the justification that is needed. So there. Pbbbt! (that’s a juicy raspberry sound).

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: August 8, 2015, 12:43 am

My dog in this fight is my father, whose unit went the farthest east of any American Army unit in the European theater. I’ve seen his unit’s orders in the unit history. They were packing up to go to the Pacific for the invasion, by way of the US for re-equipment and replacements. He had risen from a line private to a SGT leading an infantry squad. You rise like that by having the previous squad leader killed. He would not have survived the invasion.

Let me add another factor to what David Gillies said. Japan still occupied vast swathes of Asia, with tens or hundreds of millions of subject peoples. The Japanese reaction to defeat was to kill even more civilians than they did normally. Manila was militarily declared an open city, and the Japanese troops there tried to kill every Filipino in the city because of the defeat. They killed over 100,000. Add to that the tens of thousands of Allied prisoners in Japanese hands who would have been killed. My best friend in Jr. and Senior High School’s father was a P-40 pilot in the Philippines and went through the Bataan Death March, camps in the Philippines, the Hell Ships to Japan, and a year as a slave laborer in the coal mines in Japan. The ‘prep’ orders to kill all prisoners on command were already issued.

In war, there are not ideal “good” choices available that give an optimal happy ending for both sides. You do the least worst that you can, based on what you know, and what you have. And if it comes down to it and you have a chance to choose; the other side should be the ones who do the dying, rather than your own side. With the ratio as lopsided as possible in your own side’s favor.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: August 8, 2015, 1:23 am

Y’all some old folks here! I have a picture of my grandfather, sitting with some of his unit under a palm tree, smoking a cigarette. He was already in the pacific theater when the bombs were dropped. He survived to come home to his wife and 2 young daughters. I don’t know where or what year that picture was taken. No info on the back and he died when I was 10.

Comment from mojo
Time: August 8, 2015, 1:51 am

Talk is cheap, whiskey costs money.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: August 8, 2015, 5:22 am

As you all probably know, Mrs Vegetable is Japanese, and you may know that I lived in Japan for a little less than 10 years from 1979 to 1988. My Japanese skills are fair, and during those years I spent a lot of time drinking and talking with Japanese men, including veterans of the war and men who were teenagers or children during the war. Further, my wife is from the southern island, Kyushu, which would have been the invasion point after Okinawa. I would sometimes ask about the war, and sometimes they would volunteer things. Drunks, you know, are free to speak the truth in Japan – a blessing in an otherwise rigid and unquestioning society

I think anyone who is familiar with Japan recognizes that this is a disciplined society who -will- follow orders. You know about how few Japanese surrendered in combat. They would fight to the death, and in the most hopeless situations would ‘give up’ by dying in a banzai charge.
Now, recognize that Japanese women and school children in Kyushu were being trained to fight the American invasion – and would have done so. Every woman an assassin, every child a suicide bomber. Japan had never been successfully invaded, and it was not (is not) in their collective psyche to allow it. I talked with soldiers who made it home alive; they told me they had simply expected to die fighting and were confused about the idea of going home. Only the personal word of the Emperor made it socially permissible. Even then they had a hard time with returning. I talked to men and women who as school kids were taught how to fire-harden their spears and who were working making fortifications. My wife’s father had injured his leg as a youth, and could not get into the army. He was ashamed all his life that his brother had died in combat and that he did not get a chance himself. They will tell you that, yes, it sounds crazy now, but that’s who they were and it never occured to them that they could do anything else. The Japanese do not have our Western sense of ‘self’ as being more important than the group. Very, very few Japanese could have put themselves outside the society to cooperate with an invading enemy.

I honestly believe invading Japan would not have been like invading Germany where it was a battle of armies with the civilians standing by. It would have been the American Army against every man, woman, and child. Recall that Japanese women in Okinawa threw their children and then themselves off cliffs to die rather than surrender to the Americans.
Japan may have been militarily defeated but that has nothing to do with them surrendering. Every Japanese now over 50 will tell you this. Yes, there was great relief that they could honorably surrender with the Emperor’s permission, but every one will tell you that single every civilian would have fought to their death.

Are they happy about the Atomic Bombings? No. Their belief is that, as Non-whites, they were used as Guinea Pigs and that the bombs would never have been used in Germany no matter what. Do they agree that the bombs saved lives? Absolutely.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 8, 2015, 10:42 am

Thank you very much for that, Some Vegetable. What you have written confirms my experience (albeit considerably less) of the Japanese, from which I have drawn much the same conclusions.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2015, 11:54 am

Very interesting, Some Veg. It kind of shocked me that you referred to the Japanese as non-white. I don’t think of them that way, but I suppose my parents would have.

Comment from F X Muldoon
Time: August 8, 2015, 12:09 pm

The best analysis yet, two atomic bombs, ongoing fire bombing (which killed far more than the a-bombs), and the Japanese were no where near surrendering.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: August 8, 2015, 6:09 pm

Uncle Al: in 1945, the Japanese leaders were not trying to surrender. They were trying to negotiate a peace that would preserve their control of Japan and the continued existence of the Japanese army and navy. Their “minimum terms” included no Allied occupation of Japan and accused Japanese war criminals (including them) to be tried by Japanese courts.

And of course no change whatever in the God-Emperor cult.

During the post-Nagasaki meeting of the Supreme War Council, they were notified that the USSR had invaded Manchuria. Some of the hardliners seized on that as “good news”. They argued that the U.S. did not want the USSR to dominate East Asia, and therefore would now agree to preserve Japan as a military power to counter the USSR.

Fortunately, by that time the rest of the SWC had been shocked into relative sanity, as had Hirohito and his advisers. Thus the 3-3 vote on accepting the Allied term and Hirohito’s intervention.

Comment from Timbo
Time: August 8, 2015, 6:12 pm

I looooove armchair quarterbacking!

The fact is the war ended in 1945 after the bombs were dropped. Everything else is supposition. It could have gone on a few years more; the Russians would probably have got involved and maybe the communists would have been all over Asia like a cheap suit. No South Korea etc etc.

No Toyotas or Hondas either…..

Comment from Timbo
Time: August 8, 2015, 6:16 pm

Also Ike was running against the man who authorized the bombing. It would be almost as if he would say that because…. Nah.

Comment from mojo
Time: August 9, 2015, 2:14 am

MacArthur understood, he walked in and started acting like royalty, and the Japanese instincts took over.

Comment from windbag
Time: August 9, 2015, 4:31 am

Bill Whittle addresses the peacenik concerns here.

Sorry about the short commercial at the start of it.


Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: August 9, 2015, 8:22 am

By summer,1945, we had been taking islands away from the Japanese for almost 3 years. The Japanese are a very intellegent people, and knew what sort of beaches we would need, and the time of the month for the tides we would need. They knew the correct beaches on Kyushu, and were only 10 days off on the date.

The Imperial High Command went to the Emperor, and told him, ” You Majesty, they are coming, and we are not stopping them. We believe that we can inflict maybe a million casualties on the Americans, but it will cost us circa 20,000,000 Japanese dead. The Japanese race may no longer exist after this battle, but th world will remember that we stood up to the Americans” (HELL TO PAY, Operation Downfall, and the Invasion of Japan D.M. Giangrecio 2010.) So, by killing around 300,000 Japanese we avoided killing 20 million of them, and losses of one million dead and wounded US troops. There is NO credible evidence for not using the bombs. Indeed, IJN members that were involved in the IJN nuclear weapons project have said that if they had succeeded, they would certainly have used it against us.

I have only one qualm about the bombings. During the Shogunate, the Soguns wanted some contact with the outside world, so they allowed the Dutch to operate a trading outpost in Nagasaki. They only major Christian colony in Japan was there. In 1939, Nagasaki Cathderal recieved a new, copper roof. On 9 August, Kokura, the primary target was obscured by smoke from the fire bombing Yahata the day before. After 3 runs, radio traffic on the Japanese fighter control frequencies indicated that interceptors were approaching. BOCK’s CAR diverted to the secondary target, as she had lost a fuel pump, and could not stay any longer, especially with the interceptors coming nearer. They did not have enough fuel to reach either Saipan, Tinian, or Iwo Jima.

Okinawa had no interest in recieving a B-29 carying an armed A-bomb. So it was either drop it on Nagasaki, using a radar solution, or drop the bomb in the sea. They elected to drop it, and unfortunately, the strongest radar return was the roof of the cathederal, so it became Ground Zero. During 11:00 Mass. That does bother me, but the war ended, as did the killing. Remember, the A Bombs were nothing, compared to the Fire Raids, that killed hundreds of thousands, and burned out 16 square miles of Tokyo in one night. They started on march 1945, and only stopped when the war ended.

Comment from mojo
Time: August 10, 2015, 12:41 am

Seen this shit?


Ol’ Donnie’s got some admirers.

Comment from Davem123
Time: August 10, 2015, 3:43 am

My family is also thankful for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

My Step-father served in the 41st Infantry Division from 1943 on. He fought in New Guinea and made three landings in the Philippines: Mindoro, Mindanao and Palawan. His Division was training for the invasion of Japan when the bombs fell. He finished his service by doing 6 months occupation duty in Hiroshima.

What little he would tell of his experiences made it clear that there was no quarter asked or given by either side. He was convinced that he would have died during the invasion and that my sister would never have been born. God bless the crews of the Enola Gay and Bock’s Car.

Comment from Nina
Time: August 10, 2015, 6:29 am

Nobody in my family was the right age for WWII…my mom’s side didn’t Serve, and on my dad’s side the war came between my grandfather’s WWI and my dad’s Korea. These stories are fascinating to me!

Comment from dissent555
Time: August 10, 2015, 12:44 pm

Has nothing to do with WWII, but here’s some badass British military activity from the present day –


Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: August 10, 2015, 2:26 pm

My mechanic’s father was in the Pacific in the spring of ’45, and his unit was tuning up for the invasion. He said he’d never been so relieved and happy in his life as when he heard about the bombs, and the end of the invasion program.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: August 11, 2015, 5:34 am

Do be fair to Admiral Leahy. He was a Badger, being from Ashland, Wisconsin. Badgers are very moral critters.

Comment from Daniel616
Time: August 14, 2015, 1:14 am

Amen. My dad too: U.S. Navy, on an LST. They probably wouldn’t have lasted long during the attack on Kyushu. Cheers!

Comment from Davem123
Time: August 24, 2015, 4:18 am

Here’s a little twist I’m sure my Step-father had a laugh about in the hereafter.

The 41st Infantry Division (Jungleers) that he served with was removed from active service in Japan in 1945. The unit returned to the status it had prior to WW2, an Oregon National Guard unit. It has seen service in recent years as the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The Oregon National Guardsman who helped kick the ass of the jihadi on the french train was a member of that unit, and had seen active duty in Afghanistan recently. Go Jungleers!

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