On 6th August 1945, Colonel Paul Tibbets, flying the ‘Enola Gay’ a B-29 Superfortress named after Tibbets’s mother, dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
The bomb, ‘little-boy’, devastated the city; exploding with the energy of approximately 15 kilotons of TNT. The explosion instantly killed thousands of people and in the next few months tens of thousands more would die from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition.
On the 9th August Nagasaki would be the next city to be hit by an atomic bomb.
The effects of the atomic bombs shocked even the US military. Even before the Japanese surrender, the US government and military had begun a secret propaganda and information suppression campaign to hide the devastating nature of these experimental weapons. For nearly a year the cover-up worked—until New Yorker journalist John Hersey got into Hiroshima and managed to report the truth to the world.
Hersey’s story would shape the postwar narrative of the atomic bombs, and the US government’s response has helped frame the justification for dropping the bombs which comes down to us today.
I’m joined by Lesley Blume author of the excellent Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World.