Because of poor visibility this second atomic bomb (“Fat Boy”) missed its intended detonation point over Nagasaki by almost two miles, and the damage was less extensive than that in Hiroshima. An estimated 40,000 people were killed outright, less than half the number of the more than 80,000 people that were killed in the devastating firebombing air raids on Tokyo during the night of March 9/10, 1945.
My Father worked on the Burma Railroad (the Bridge on the River Kwai) as a POW of the Japanese and after the completion of the Burma Railroad the end of October 1943, was shipped from Thailand to Japan to labor in a coal mine in Nakama, Fukuoka, about 150 km (93miles) north of Nagasaki. Being a teacher of physics and chemistry, he knew that something had occurred of such a huge scale that he did not presume to guess what. He was familiar with the work of Frederic and Irene Curie on the radioactivity of atoms and the developing theories of nuclear fission in the late 1930’s, of course, but the connection to what happened in Nagasaki did not become clear to him until he made his way to Nagasaki a number of weeks later.
I will cover this story of my Father in a later blog post.
On Aug. 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. Japan had surrendered unconditionally, ending World War II.
We did not learn this until a week later when the Japanese Commandant of Camp Banyubiru 10 climbed on a wooden box and announced that the War was over. We had survived, we were free.