Skip to comments.When the Sun Turned Black
Posted on 12/05/2009 6:00:32 PM PST by NYer
Major "Chuck" Sweeney had an extremely risky takeoff before dawn, loaded as he was with the 4.5-ton A-bomb, "Fat Man". Now they were over their primary target, Kokura. He had made three runs over the hopelessly clouded city when he made a shocking discovery: the auxiliary gasoline pipe was blocked. Unless they dropped the bomb soon, they would never get home. He turned his plane southwest for the secondary target, "Nagasaki, urban area".
His B-29 was over Shimabara just before
11 A.M. A radio announcer saw this and excitedly broadcast a warning, and Nagasaki people who heard him ran for their shelters. Moments later, Sweeney and his crew saw Nagasaki right below them through a cloud break, immediately recognizing the Urakami River and the Matsuyama Sports Ground. That put them almost two miles northwest of the planned drop, but time had run out. Bombardier Kermit released the bomb. It was just 11 A.M. when Fat Man went plummeting down onto the city of two hundred thousand souls, of whom more than seventy thousand would die, many without a trace.
Inside the Urakami Cathedral, Fathers Nishida and Tamaya were hearing confessions again after the all-clear. The cathedral was only a third of a mile from where Fat Man detonated and was reduced to rubble in an instant. No one would be sure how many perished inside.
Less than two miles away from the cathedral, Chimoto-san was working on his rice paddy on Mount Kawabira. He heard a noise, looked up and saw a B-29 emerging from the clouds. It disgorged a huge black bomb, and he threw himself to the ground. He waited a minute. Then came an awful penetrating brightness, followed by eerie stillness. He looked up and gasped at the huge pillar of smoke, swelling grotesquely as it rose. Suddenly he realized that a hurricane was rushing toward him. Houses, buildings, trees were being cut down before his startled eyes as if by some enormous, invisible bulldozer. Then came a deafening roar, and he was hurled like a matchbox into the stone wall sixteen feet behind. Shaken to his very soul, he gaped at the pines, chestnuts and camphor laurels torn from the ground or broken off at the trunks. Even the grass was gone!
Midori's nineteen-year-old cousin Sadako Moriyama had just found her two small brothers chasing dragonflies in the Yamazato school yard. She told them their mother wanted them. At that moment, she heard the plane and ran with them to the school shelter. As they entered, they were picked up and hurled to the far wall, and she blacked out. Coming to, she heard the two children whimpering at her feet and wondered why it was so dark. As a little light began to penetrate the gloom, she was paralyzed with terror. Two hideous monsters had appeared at the shelter's entrance, making croaking noises and trying to crawl in. As the darkness lifted a little, she saw they were human beings who had been outside when the bomb exploded. In less than seconds, they had been skinned alive, half a mile from the epicenter, and their raw bodies had been picked up and smashed into the side of the shelter.
She went outside. The light was weak, as if it were barely dawn. She cried aloud when she saw beside the sandbox four children, without clothes or skin! She stood there transfixed, her eyes involuntarily drinking in the hideous details. The skin of their hands had been torn away at the wrists and hung from their fingernails, looking like gloves turned inside out.
Feeling she was losing her reason, she dashed back into the shelter, accidentally brushing the two victims still squirming and moaning near the entrance. Their bodies felt like potatoes gone rotten. Their horrible animal croaking sound began again. She realized they were saying something. Mizu, mizu. Water, water. That cry was to run like a cracked record in the nightmares of Nagasaki survivors for years.
Michiko Ogino was ten years old and enjoying the summer holidays at home. Just after 11 A.M. she was terrified by a giant lightning flash, followed by a horrendous roar, and within seconds she was one of the thousands pinned under the roofs or walls of their homes. The blast of the bomb caused air to rush from the epicenter at over a mile a second, knocking houses flat. Almost immediately, an equally violent wind rushed back into the vacuum left at the epicenter.
Michiko was hopelessly pinned there, but her screaming brought a stranger who freed her. Outside, she was startled to see evil-looking clouds that twisted and writhed and blackened out the sun. 'What kind of new lightning had done this? Then she became conscious of a tiny voice becoming hysterical. It was her two-year-old sister trapped under a crossbeam. She turned for help and saw dashing toward them a naked woman, her body greasy, and purple like an eggplant, and her hair reddish brown and frizzled. Oh no! It was Mother! The speechless Michiko could only point to her sister under the beam. The mother looked wildly at the fires that had already started, dived into the rubble, put her shoulder under the beam and heaved. The two-year-old was free, and the mother, hugging her to her breast, collapsed onto the ground. There was no skin left on the shoulder that she had put under the beam, just raw bleeding meat. Michiko's father appeared, badly burnt too. He watched in dumb helplessness as his wife groaned and struggled to rise. Then all her strength ebbed away, and she collapsed, dead.
Nagasaki was now burning, and Sakue Kawasaki sat in disbelief inside the Aburagi air-raid shelter. He could see people staggering about outside, naked and swollen like pumpkins. Then came a babel of croaking voices piteously begging for mizu, mizu, but where could he get water? There was a puddle of dirty water outside the entrance to the shelter, and one of the victims crawled over, lowered his lips into it and drank with succulent noises. He tried to crawl to the shelter but collapsed and stopped moving. One by one, the others drank from the puddle and crumpled up motionless. What terrible thirst could drive men to act like demented lemmings?
The plutonium-239 bomb exploded in Nagasaki with the equivalent force of twenty-two thousand tons of conventional explosives but with vast differences. Setting aside for the moment the A-bomb's lethal radiation, there was its intense heat, which reached several million degrees centigrade at the explosion point. The whole mass of the huge bomb was ionized and a fireball created, making the air around it luminous, emitting ultraviolet rays and infrared rays and blistering roof tiles farther than half a mile from the epicenter. Exposed human skin was scorched up to two and a half miles away. Electric light poles, trees and houses within two miles were charred on the surface facing the blast. The velocity of the wind that rushed out from the epicenter was more than one mile per second, sixty times the velocity of a major cyclone. This caused a vacuum at the epicenter, and another cyclone rushed back. in, picking up acres of dust, dirt, debris and smoke that darkened the writhing mushroom cloud.
Young Kata-san was walking his cow on a hillside outside Oyama, five miles south of the epicenter. He was startled by the flash and watched, rooted to the spot, as a huge white cloud rose up like a grotesque organism fattening itself by some weird magic. The cloud was white on the outside but fired by some hideous red energy within. Then came alternating flashes of red, yellow and purple. Gradually the cloud went into a mushroom shape, and a black. stain grew on its stem. When the cloud reached a great height, it burst open and collapsed like an obscene grub that had gorged on more than its stomach could hold. The mountains all around were lit by the sun, but the area below the cloud was shrouded in darkness. Then came Kato's second shock, a roar of wind so strong that Kato mistook it for another bomb exploding nearby.
A Song for Nagasaki: The Story of Takashi Nagai, Scientist, Convert, and Survivor of the Atomic Bomb
On August 9, 1945, an American B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing tens of thousands of people in the blink of an eye, while fatally injuring and poisoning thousands more. Among the survivors was Takashi Nagai, a pioneer in radiology research and a convert to the Catholic Faith. Living in the rubble of the ruined city and suffering from leukemia caused by over-exposure to radiation, Nagai lived out the remainder of his remarkable life by bringing physical and spiritual healing to his war-weary people.
A Song for Nagasaki tells the moving story of this extraordinary man, beginning with his boyhood and the heroic tales and stoic virtues of his family's Shinto religion. It reveals the inspiring story of Nagai's remarkable spiritual journey from Shintoism to atheism to Catholicism. Mixed with interesting details about Japanese history and culture, the biography traces Nagai's spiritual quest as he studied medicine at Nagasaki University, served as a medic with the Japanese army during its occupation of Manchuria, and returned to Nagasaki to dedicate himself to the science of radiology. The historic Catholic district of the city, where Nagai became a Catholic and began a family, was ground zero for the atomic bomb.
After the bomb disaster that killed thousands, including Nagai's beloved wife, Nagai, then Dean of Radiology at Nagasaki University, threw himself into service to the countless victims of the bomb explosion, even though it meant deadly exposure to the radiation which eventually would cause his own death. While dying, he also wrote powerful books that became best-sellers in Japan. These included The Bells of Nagasaki, which resonated deeply with the Japanese people in their great suffering as it explores the Christian message of love and forgiveness. Nagai became a highly revered man and is considered a saint by many Japanese people. Illustrated
"Christians and non-Christians alike were deeply moved by Nagai's faith in Christ that made him like Job of the Scriptures: in the midst of the nuclear wilderness he kept his heart in tranquility and peace, neither bearing resentment against any man nor cursing God." -- Shusaku Endo, from the Foreword
Fr. Paul Glynn, S.M., a Marist Missionary priest from Australia, is the author of several books including the best-sellers The Healing Fire of Christ: Reflections on Modern Miracles and The Smile of the Ragpicker.
A good book to add to your shopping list.
It was a horrible thing but conventional bombing and an invasion would have resulted in the horrible deaths of millions more.
In every way, dropping the bomb was the best and most humane action of the entire war.
These accounts never seem to mention how many of these people cheered when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
I don't think I would characterize it as a disaster. Seems like it worked the way it was supposed to, and with the intended results. The disaster was allowing the Japanese government to rule the country and take it down the wrong road for most of the first half of the twentieth century.
Food for thought when contemplating an unprovoked attack.
I have concluded that when a socialist brings us tearful accounts of the victims, he is using truth to advance some other falsehood-based agenda. In this case, we are being tempted to have more compassion on the Japanese people than on those responding to their war-making.
Happily, my father spent his time in the Navy repairing radios and radar equipment of US forces occupying remote islands in the Pacific.
May humanity not suffer from nuclear weapons ever again. However, today’s news brings a report that Iran is talking about building almost two dozen processing sites. They appear hell-bent on initiating nuclear war, and the sooner we deal with it, the lower the cost will be for the world to remove this threat.
see Drudgereport for the story.
Ask the citizens of Troy.
Some say it was the declaration of war by the USSR which really motivated the Japanese to surrender. They knew we could be dealt with.
My Dad had just finished his role as an infantry officer in the defeat of Germany and his unit was being refitted for the expected invasion of the Japan home islands when the news came of the Japanese surrender after Nagasaki.
You’re right, it took not one but two atomic bombings to convince the Japs that further resistance was futile.
Dad was stationed in Japan, 1956-58. I was an eight year old kid who played baseball with Japanese kids and had no idea of the Pacific War until years later. Up till then, I thought World War Two was fought only with the Germans!
An invasion of Japan would have cost many lives on both sides.
Dropping the bombs helped save Japanese lives as well as American, British, Australian and others.
Total wars will always be fought, and it's always messy. Only the dead have seen the end of war.
I lean towards the view that dropping the bombs may have done what we wanted them to do, but at the same time, it is only right and fitting that we remember in every conflict, in every war, the casualties have real faces, feel real pain, and are God’s children too.
These weapons are so awful that perhaps remembering people’s stories will help us realize why it is important not to let crazy governments have access to them.
Correction: By virtue of the Nagasaki bomb they eventually gave up six days later but not before the largest air raid of WWII was executed on the night of 14 August 1945. Despite the devastation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tojo and many others wanted to continue to fight.
You don’t know what you’re talking about. Why would Japan think we “could be dealt with” after we just evaporated two of their cities?
It was the other way around - USSR waited until Japan was toast before declaring war on them. Such courage.
***Some say it was the declaration of war by the USSR which really motivated the Japanese to surrender.***
I heard this back in the 1970s, vladimer Posner on Radio Moscow, short wave broadcast. Consider the source.