Skip to comments.BALKANS REPORT MASSING OF TROOPS BY TURKS, RUSSIANS, GERMANS, GREEKS (10/20/40)
Posted on 10/20/2010 5:18:19 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Richard Rhodes. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 1986. 790 pp. ISBN 0-684-81378-5.
On 16 July 1945, in the barren desert of Southern New Mexico called the Jornada del Muerto the world was changed forever. At 5:29 in the morning the work of physicists, chemists, and engineers paid a dividend of unparalleled proportion when the full force of the atom was released in the first ever detonation of an atomic bomb. The Making of the Atomic Bomb is an examination of the events leading up to this breakthrough as well as a look at the new world after the creation of this weapon and its use in combat over Japan.
Richard Rhodes does an excellent job in capturing the effort that went into the creation of the first atomic weapons. He begins his examination with a look at the previous generation of weapons that were the main terror in the beginning of the 20th century. The use of gas as well as the first attempts at strategic bombing during the First World War are described in detail by Rhodes in order to establish the increasing destructiveness of warfare over the last 100 years. From there he enters the developments in physics that led to the belief that an even more devastating weapon was possible. He examines some of the scientists thoughts on pursuing such a weapon and the varying opinions on why it should or should not be done. Niels Bohr felt that a weapon of such destruction would make war too terrible to be a consideration much in the same mold that Alfred Nobel thought when he invented TNT. Leo Szilard believed that if the western democracies did not pursue the new weapon that the Germans would become the only nation possessing it, giving Hitler an irresistible upper hand in Europe and the world. Edward Teller believed not only in beating the Germans to the bomb, but that research must continue to stand against what he believed was the next greatest threat, the Soviets. Whatever their motivations, men from all over the world found their way to the United States and began a project of mass proportion to develop this new weapon. Rhodes account of this project covers in great detail many of the difficulties that these men were faced with in making the bomb. These problems included the political issues, such as the efforts in getting the U.S. government to realize the urgency of this project, to the difficulties of separating the materials needed to actually making the working weapon. He also captures the misgivings of some of those involved in the development of such a destructive device.
This book is very well researched. Rhodes cites sources from all over the world and along with the use of official histories and declassified documentation; he also uses direct interviews with some of the surviving members of the project to help add the degree of detail needed for such a comprehensive work. Though sources are not directly annotated in the text, the notes at the end of the book make it very clear to the reader where the details related in the text have come from. He presents a very detailed account of the events leading to the atomic bomb, but presents it in such a fashion that it is very easy to read and understand. It does not require a degree in physics in understand the technical details that are presented as they are given in simple language with ample explanation. The one failing of this book lies in a somewhat one sided emphasis on the moral issues surrounding the bomb. While it goes without saying that the physical and psychological effects of the use of atomic weapons are a major issue when examining its history, this book does not take much of a look at some of the other consequences had this development not occurred. For example, Rhodes dedicates sixteen pages on just the reactions of individuals to the horrors they saw on the ground after the dropping of Little Boy on Hiroshima. At the same time spends only one paragraph on the estimated casualties that could have occurred had Operation OLYMPIC, the planned invasion of Japans southernmost main island of Kyushu, taken place. In fact this brief mention fails to cover the fact that OLYMPIC was only part of an entire plan for the invasion of Japan proper, named operation DOWNFALL, and that the estimated number of Japanese civilians that would be killed would likely have been in the millions. A more extensive look at the other side of the issue would give the reader a better understanding as to why the decision to use the weapon was made and give them the information to better form their own opinion on the moral right and wrong of the event.
Overall this book is probably the most comprehensive single work on the development of the atomic bomb and anyone how is interested in learning of this piece of history would be remiss if they did not read this book.
Plus a special guest map from Michael Kordas, With Wings Like Eagles, showing the air defenses of England and Wales, August 1940.
News of the Week in Review
Twenty News Questions 14
Where the Expanding Army of the U.S.A. will be Trained (map) 15
Answers to Twenty News Questions 16
The New York Times Book Review
For Whom the Bell Tolls, By Ernest Hemingway. Reviewed By J. Donald Adams 20
The Making of the Atomic Bomb, By Richard Rhodes. Reviewed by CougarGA7 21
Italians bomb Bahrain
Sunday, October 20, 1940 www.onwar.com
Over Bahrain... Italian planes from bases in East Africa bomb oil refineries.
In the Red Sea... There is a surface action between four Italian destroyers and the escorts of a British convoy. The convoy is escorted by a light cruiser, one destroyer and five smaller vessels. The Italians lose one ship.
October 20th, 1940
UNITED KINGDOM: Battle of Britain: High-flying fighter-bombers revert to mass attacks in place of streams.
Losses: Luftwaffe, 14; RAF, 4.
Corvette HMS Crocus commissioned.
Destroyer HMCS Margaree departed Londonderry as the sole escort for the 5-ship convoy OL-8. The OL series of convoys ran very briefly in the early part of WWII. They were relatively small convoys and often not included in references that list the major convoys. Some sources that deal with the sinking of Margaree indicate that the convoy was bound for Iceland. ‘OL’ stood for ‘Outbound from Liverpool’. The object with all early convoys was to get the ships clear of U-boat danger area around the UK. Once clear, the convoy dispersed and ships proceeded independently to their destination ports. There is no record of whether all or only part of OL-8 was bound for Iceland. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: Helmuth James, Count von Moltke, writes a manifesto for the liberal resistance group known as “The Kreisau Circle” after his estate; it envisages a democratic post-Nazi Germany.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Italian submarine ‘Lafole’ is sunk by destroyers HMS Gallant, Griffin and Hotspur, off Gibraltar.
EGYPT: Cairo: Italian planes bomb Cairo for the first time.
Cairo: Wavell orders an investigation into a possible attack on the Italian positions in the Sofafi-Sidi Barrani-Buqbuq area. The chances of success are rated high.
RED SEA: On the night of October 20th, 1940, the Italians sent their four smaller destroyers on a sortie to intercept a British Red Sea convoy, which was protected by a light cruiser, a destroyer, and five smaller escorts. Contact was briefly made, and there was a short and ineffective exchange of fire, mainly between the Italian destroyer NULLO and the British destroyer KIMBERLY. Shortly after beginning this indecisive affair, the NULLO developed a severe mechanical problem with its steering, and was forced to break off and head as best it could back toward its base. (Mike Yaklich)
Flying from bases in East Africa, Italian aircraft bomb oil refineries in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
CANADA: Corvette HMS Windflower commissioned Quebec City, Province of Quebec. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: A British submarine fired torpedoes at U-31 off Lorient, but without success.
U-124 sank SS Cubano and Sulaco in Convoy OB-229.
U-100 sank SS Caprella, Loch Lomond and Sitala in Convoy HX-79.
U-46 sank SS Janus in Convoy HX-79.
U-47 sank SS Whitford, SS La Estancia and damaged SS Athelmonarch in Convoy HX-79.
U-48 sank SS Shirak in Convoy HX-79. (Dave Shirlaw)
Day 416 October 20, 1940
Battle of Britain Day 103. Luftwaffe takes advantage of clearing mist to send 5 raids of fighters, some carrying bombs, over Kent towards London, between 9.30 AM and 3 PM. Luftwaffe loses 6 Bf109s and 1 Bf110 while RAF loses 3 fighters (none of the pilots are killed). Dover is again shelled by German heavy artillery in Calais but only 15 out of 50 explode. Italian BR20 bombers, Cant Z1007 long range bombers, G50 fighters and CR42 fighters are reported to be in Belgium to begin operations against England. From 7 PM to 1 AM, there is heavy bombing of London, Coventry and Birmingham.
U-46 and U-47 continue attacking convoy HX-79 50 miles Northwest of Ireland, joined by U-100 fresh from the attack on convoy SC-7. They sink 7 ships and damage 1 more between midnight and 7.20 AM. U-100 sinks British SS Loch Lomond (1 killed). 111 survivors, including all 72 men rescued last night from SS Matheran, are picked up by minesweeper HMS Jason. 200 miles further West, U-124 sinks Norwegian SS Cubano (2 killed) and British SS Sulaco (63 crew members and 2 gunners killed). 29 crew from Cubano escape in lifeboats and pick up the sole survivor from Sulaco, chief cook James Thompson Harvey. They are all rescued the next day by destroyer HMCS Saguenay.
Using papers captured from submarine Durbo on October 18, British destroyers HMS Gallant, Griffin & Hotspur locate Italian submarine Lafole in the Mediterranean off Mellila, Morocco. HMS Hotspur rams Lafole which sinks (37 crew killed, 2 rescued by HMS Gallant and 7 by Hotspur). Hotspurs bow is severely damage and she will be under repair until February 20 1941.
Date: 20th October 1940
Enemy action by day
There were five main attacks during the day, all in South East England, with some penetration to London. The bulk, if not all, of the enemy aircraft engaged would appear to have been fighters and fighter-bombers.
Patrols were maintained in the Channel and Straits, and several reconnaissance flights were made.
Reports so far received indicate that our fighters destroyed seven enemy aircraft, plus five probable and six damaged. Our casualties were three aircraft (pilots safe).
At 0935 hours, a raid of 20+ aircraft from Cap Gris Nez flew over Biggin Hill and Kenley to Central London and Harrow, and out again over Dover at 1035 hours. Eight Squadrons were despatched to intercept.
At 1100 hours, 50+ aircraft crossed the coast at Folkestone, flew to Maidstone and Biggin Hill and out again on a reciprocal course at 1140 hours. At the same time 30+ flew in at Lympne, on to Biggin Hill and Croydon and out again over the South Eastern route. Again eight Squadrons took off to intercept.
At 1315 hours, raids totalling 45+ aircraft came in at Dover and flew across Kent to South London. The raids split into two parts, one from South of Hornchurch going out by the Estuary and North Foreland, and the other over Kent and Dungeness, at 1350 hours.
While the latter attack was in progress further enemy aircraft were massing in the Straits, and at 1420 hours a wave of 50+ made landfall at Dover and headed for Maidstone and South East London. The attack was split up, part flying from Biggin Hill and out at Dungeness at 1450 hours, the remainder veering to Hornchurch and out by the Thames Estuary at 1445 hours.
A second wave of 40+ at 1430 hours flew behind the North Foreland into the Estuary, but did not penetrate inland and left by the same route at 1440 hours.
At 1500 hours, a raid plotted as 50+ came in near Dungeness and fanned out over Kent and the Estuary in five sections, the last finally leaving the country at 1600 hours.
Patrols were plotted in the Channel and the Straits of Dover from 0730 hours to 0900 hours. Between 0910 and 1029 hours three small groups crossed the coast, two at Dungeness and one at Folkestone, but penetrated only a few miles inland. At 1100 hours, 6+ enemy aircraft flew in at Hastings and out at Dungeness and 3+ flew parallel with the coast from Beachy Head to Shoreham. From 1145 hours, when shipping off Dover was visited, Channel patrols were almost continuously maintained until 1730 hours.
At 0630 hours a single enemy aircraft from Le Havre flew North over the Isle of Wight, Bristol and onwards over Sealand and out into the Irish Sea. It made landfall again at Kendal turned South over Lancashire and Shrewsbury and back to Le Havre. During the morning reconnaissances were made in the North Sea to a point 60 miles East of Spurn Head. During the afternoon a single raider was plotted from 100 miles East of the Firth of Forth over the Coast into West Perthshire and out over Kinnairds Head. This aircraft is reported to have attacked one of our trainers south of Wick. Enemy reconnaissance aircraft were also active off East Anglia, Portland and the Dutch coast.
Night Operations - 20th/21st October 1940
The first enemy night raiders were plotted leaving France at 1830 hours. The main concentrations were on London and the Midlands, notably the Birmingham District. Activity was heavy, and steadily maintained until about 0100 hours, when the numbers engaged against London began to diminish rapidly. Minelayers were active off East Anglia, and from the Humber to the Tees. It is reported that by 0300 hours AA had accounted for one enemy destroyed plus two probable; additionally one Do17 was destroyed near Shaftesbury, cause unknown.
1900 Hours to 2100 Hours
The first raiders from France crossed the coast at about 1900 hours, and those from Holland at 1918 hours. During the period 45 enemy aircraft crossed the South Coast and eleven flew to the Essex Coast, of which only two appeared to penetrate inland. The majority of raids from the South went to the London area, a few, however, passing West of London to the Northampton/Bedford area. Seen raids had Birmingham and Derby as their objective. Minelayers were very active from Shoeburyness to the Tees.
2100 Hours to 0100 Hours 21/10/40
Raids from the South Coast continued, 30 flying to the London area and Northern environs, and approximately a further 30 to the Midlands, with special concentrations on Birmingham, Coventry and neighbouring towns. Between 2350 and 0100 hours about 25 raids crossed the Essex Coast and also appeared to go to North London. Minelaying enemy aircraft continued active as before.
0100 Hours to 0300 Hours
Activity over London was slight, and by 0245 hours no new incoming tracks to the Inner Artillery Zone were showing. The stream to the Midlands continued unabated, with special concentration on Birmingham and Coventry. Individual raids were also plotted in the Catterick, Peterborough, Manchester and Cambridge Districts. It is noted that raids to the Midlands flew in due North, between Portland and Selsey Bill, but many return flights were on a more easterly course, over London and Beachy Head.
0300 Hours to 0600 Hours
The London area was practically clear throughout this period. Activity in the Midlands continued on a gradually lessening scale until 0530 hours, when the last raider left. In addition to Wolverhampton and Coventry, some activity was plotted over Manchester, Merseyside, Sheffield, Nottingham and Leicester. ________________________________________
Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours, 20th October 1940
|By Fighters By Day|
|6 Me109||5 Me109||5 Me109|
|By Anti-Aircraft By Night|
|1 E/A||2 E/A|
|1 Do17 (cause unknown)|
Serviceability of Aerodromes:
Air Intelligence Reports:
Home Security Reports
I have to admit, that last page has me confused.. How did a review of a 1986 book get in there?
By the way, LUV that ‘41 Packard. ..Comes with or without running boards!
I found this tidbit.
"2,463 gross tons, 1,577 net. Lbd: 306'4" x 45'1" x 20'1". Steel steamship built by W Gray & Co Ltd., Weste Hartlepool England for this concern. Triple expansion engines producing 231 horsepower and 2 coal fired boilers of 180 psi. Passenger - cargo vessel that serviced the ports of Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. 1924 sold to Japanese interests and renamed Fushimi Maru. Renamed in 1938 to Husimi Maru. October 14th 1944 she was torpedoed and sunk by an American submarine off Manilla"
I forgot to top off the plutonium tank on my last trip to 1940 so I had to stop on the way. As long as I was there I grabbed that review as a souvenir.
So, there was no actual NY Times story, ‘Uranium Bomb May Decide War Outcome’?
Sorry, no. That is just bit of fraud perpetrated by me.
I will be keeping us abreast on the development of our nuclear program as we go forward though. I wrote this review to give Homer’s readers some variety and admittedly, to keep my writing skills in practice. It also gives me an opportunity to recommend books that I feel really add value to our subject and hopefully ward people off from the ones that are not very good. I do plan on submitting more of these down the road provided they are useful.
I neglected mentioning the excellent book reviews.
I see out in California, at Paso Robles, there is already a camp set up. It doesn't yet bear the name Camp Roberts, as it will in about a year and a half when Homer's father arrives for basic and advanced infantry training. A little ways up the coast Camp McQuaide has become Fort Ord. Our friend Joe Stilwell is still whipping the 7th ID into shape as far as I know. The Barbara Tuchman bio I excerpt from now and then is silent for the moment, since he is out of China.
Speaking of Stilwell, I read a quote from him yesterday that makes me want to find the diary which it cam from. It may be an entertaining read.
In reference to FDR in early 1942 he says that “the Navy is the apple of his eye” and “the Limeys have his ear,” while Stilwell see FDR’s view of the army as “the stepchild” who has only “the hind tit”.
Apparently his writing is just as abrasive as his talking.