Today marks the 74th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. So much has already been documented about this, so therefore I will focusing more on the lesser known facts about that fateful day and the aftermath
The crew of the Enola Gay consisted of 12 men. Prior to the war in the Pacifc and taking command of the Enola Gay, Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr had flown the lead bomber ‘Butcher Shop'(aka Big Tin Bird) for the first American daylight heavy bomber mission on 17 August 1942, a shallow penetration raid against a marshaling yard in Rouen in Occupied France.
First Lieutenant Jacob Beser was the radar specialist aboard the Enola Gay, 3 days later, he was a crew member aboard Bockscar when the Fat Man bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. He was the only crew member to be on both missions.
It was a common practice before the war for American Issei, or first-generation immigrants, to send their children on extended trips to Japan to study or visit relatives.There was, therefore, a sizable population of American-born Japanese living in their parents’ hometowns of Hiroshima. It is estimated that up to 11,000 Japanese-Americans died that day.
However about 3,000 of them are known to have survived and returned to the U.S. after the war.Like other survivors they were called Hibakusha-person affected by a bomb’ or ‘person affected by the exposition to a bomb.
Before the atomic attacks, the US Air Force dropped pamphlets in Japan. They advised the citizens of “prompt and utter destruction” and urged civilians to flee.
The Lonesome Lady was shot down on 28 July, 1945 while bombing the Japanese Battleship Haruna, in Kure Harbor. Only the pilot, Thomas Cartwright, and Tail Gunner, Bill Abel, returned home from that mission.
Three planes that were flying missions over Hiroshima were shot down in the days before the bombing, with the crew of Lonesome Lady all managing to bail out and survive the crash… before being quickly captured and imprisoned in a base in Hiroshima. the instructions given to captured airmen was to tell captors the truth, as the US assumed that Japanese already knew what was planned, and telling the truth would possibly limit torture. But despite Captain Tom Cartwright telling his captors the truth, he was not believed and he was shipped off to Tokyo for a more ‘rigorous’ interrogation. This actually saved his life, as when the bomb hit Hiroshima. But six of his crew men died as a result of blast wounds and radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August, 1945.
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New York Times Magazine