“Little Boy” – its name poking fun at its extreme size and weight – descended into history on August 6, 1945. This atomic weapon was the result of the most concentrated scientific effort of the first half of the 20th century. It punctuated the American war effort that started in 1941, with the Japanese attack on Hawaii.
Trying to minimize civilian deaths, the U.S. showered over five million of these leaflets on Japanese cities days before the attack: two of the cities that benefited from the paper blizzard were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Along with these leaflets, American troops on the island of Saipan broadcast similar messages to the Japanese public every fifteen minutes from U.S. controlled radio stations. Japan was saturated with advance warning of the approaching attack.
The message was as clear as it could be made. The front of the leaflet pictures a B-29 bombing group in action. Around the photo are names of cities that are potential targets. The reverse side of the leaflets reads:
“Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with American humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives. America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war. We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately.”
Early Monday morning, Lt. Col. Tibbets gingerly pulled back the yoke and eased his specially modified B-29, “Enola Gay,” skyward. Once airborne he and the crew settled in for a long day. The estimated round trip, from their base on Tinian to the Japanese mainland, would take 12 hours.
When the target came into sight Tibbets relinquished the aircrafts controls to his bombardier, Major Thomas Ferebee. At 9:17AM the bomb bay doors unfolded and “Little Boy” was released. It took just 43 seconds for it to plummet from the aircrafts 30,000 feet altitude, to its detonation point 1900 feet above Hiroshima.
The next day the sequence of dropping warning leaflets and continuous radio broadcasts continued. On August 9 “Little Boy’s” twin, the more aptly named “Fat Man,” was detonated over Nagasaki. Seven days later, on August 16, Emperor Hirohito’s recorded radio address announcing Japanese surrender was broadcast.
Mr. Lucky ?
Twenty-nine year old Tsutomu Yamaguchi was visiting the Hiroshima office of his employer, Mitsubishi, the morning of that fateful day. In the mist of a routine business meeting the blinding blast vaporized most of the city. Severely injured and burned from the searing heat, Tsutomu had only one thought – getting back to the safety of his home and family. Dragging himself onto an evacuation train, he made it back to his hometown, Nagasaki.
Tsutomu Yamaguchi is recognized by the Japanese government as the only survivor of the dual blasts. He died in 2010 at the age of 93.