Hiroshima Day

Mark Felton's story of the Japanese surrender and the possibility of having to use a third atomic bomb.



And an Aussie author claiming that the atomic bombs saved 32 million lives, 30 million of them Japanese.

 

PFGEN

GCM
That’s a very one-sided appreciation of a very much wider situation. It’s disingenuous to say “the A Bomb secret was given to the Americans“ when the US was already working on it. What really happened was that the UK realized it did not have the industrial might to construct, nor could the RAF assure the safety from bombardment, the facilities necessary in the UK, so the Quebec agreement sought to share the research thus far, and ensure that the weapons were built, but not to be used against each other nor shared elsewhere. See my post on page 2 or so of this thread concerning scale. It’s astonishing to this day.

The Lanc option was indeed an option, but the Silverplate mods to the B-29 obviated the need. Not to say that the RAF couldn’t have done the job, but it would have needed AAR, which was a bit of a new science For such aircraft. The (vanilla) B-29 program cost more than the weapons. Silverplate on top of that.

I agree that it was a bit of a poor outcome for the UK in the late 40s and 50s with the McMahon Act and termination of the information sharing, but in an era of Communist threat, McCarthyism and most especially the British traitor May, it’s understandable. Thankfully corrected in the 60s with the Nassau Agreement.
I do indeed agree that the idea for the A-bomb being given to the US by the UK is a bit far fetched, sure they helped in the overall effort. The UK had some good information on the German efforts for an atomic device. Given that most of the scientists working on the bomb in the US came from occupied countries its only an American effort in that they became US citizens. Oppenheimer, Seaborg and Lawrence were US born but the likes of Teller, Fuchs (spying rat), Bethe, Szilard and Fermi were imports from Europe. I had a rather surreal meeting with Teller in the 90's but that's another story.

Having the RAF do the job with Lancs and early AAR would have been tough. This was the reason the US wanted Saipan so badly (and followed with Guam and Tinian). The Marianas would give them a base from which the Superfortress could strike Japan. Locations for strike bases in China had been ruled out as the logistics/politics were reckoned to be extremely difficult.
 
I looked up Tinian a few months ago on Google Earth. The very definition of middle of nowhere. I felt quite sad looking at the massive overgrown airfield. Such pointlessness. If the Japs hadn’t done what they did at Pearl Harbor...
 

endure

GCM
I had a rather surreal meeting with Teller in the 90's but that's another story.
That must have been some meeting. The man had brain power to spare. Someday you should try to tell that story.
He was a Father of the (US) Hydrogen bomb (some say) although he himself didn't care for the term. He had a prominent part in getting J. Robert Oppenheimer's security clearance lifted in the 1950s when the AEC and the FBI were looking into Oppenheimer's dubious past associations.Caused quite a kerfluffle at the time, and some of Oppenheimer's associates never spoke to Teller again.
Reagan and Teller.JPG
 
The story of atomic bomb development in WWII is actually a bit more complex than has been discussed so far on this thread.

France, Britain, Canada, and the US all initially had separate programs. The French evacuated to Britain before the Germans reached Paris, and brought most of the world's supply of heavy water with them.

Canada had a program running in Ottawa. Here's their first reactor dating from 1941, intended to provide data for building a larger one.


Britain, Canada, and the US were sharing information, but were running independent nuclear programs. Britain were ahead of the US at the time.

By the spring of 1942 it was proposed to move the British research to the US, because the industrial resources required to scale up the research were already fully committed to other military purposes.

By that time however, the Americans had caught up with the UK, and didn't think they needed them any more. What is more, the Americans particularly objected to the scientists from continental Europe being involved.

Britain then proposed a joint Britain-Canada program to be established in Canada. The Americans then agreed to resume cooperation again, along the lines of exchanging information. In early 1942 plans were discussed by Britain with PM Mackenzie-King and C.D. Howe, the minister in charge of war production. Discussions continued with the Americans, but they apparently didn't go anywhere. In September 1942 the plans were finalised and approved, with a laboratory to be in Montreal operating under the NRCC (National Research Council).

At the end of 1942, the Americans built their first successful "atomic pile" in Chicago.

Also at the end of 1942, staff from the British program started arriving in Canada. This included scientists from France, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, and Austria, as well as the UK. They moved into a building first at the McGill University, and then to a large new building at the University of Montréal. More scientists and technicians arrived from Britain. More Canadian staff were also brought in to make up roughly half the total.

As an aside, Montreal was not new to nuclear research. Sir Ernest Rutherford had been a research professor at McGill University for 9 years, and his work there on radioactivity formed the basis for his Nobel Prize in nuclear physics, received a year after he moved to the UK.

The Americans began stalling with respect to sharing information again, and when the US Army took over the American project, they stopped all cooperation completely. The main objectors though weren't the army security people, it was the top scientific managers in the US program, Vannevar Bush and J.B. Conant.

The actual root of the problem seemed to be that the top French scientist (Halban) held patents on some of the most important peaceful applications of nuclear power, and the interest of Imperial Chemical Industries in these patents had the Americans concerned about a British company having a monopoly on the civilian use of nuclear power. If looking to post war advantage sounds odd, I should mention that the deciding factor that made Canada's CD Howe (a cabinet minister with almost total control over Canada's economy at the time) willing to put resources into the nuclear program wasn't the potential for a war winning weapon, it was because there was seen to be huge economic potential for nuclear power after the war.

At the Quebec Conference in mid 1943, Churchill brought up with Roosevelt the unsatisfactory state of British-US cooperation in nuclear energy, including the work of the Montreal lab. They agreed upon a committee under the U.S. Secretary of War H.L. Stimson, to coordinate the efforts. However the committee rarely met and cooperation remained limited.

None the less, research continued at the Montréal Laboratory, and they worked out means of extracting plutonium from reactor fuel, along with many other things. There were many nuclear, chemical, and other processes which had to be worked out, as well as the use of graphite as a moderator. The heavy water brought from France was very important in these experiments.

There was also research on breeder reactors, including using thorium as a fuel to produce U-233 as well as U-235 from U-238.

During this time they worked out the designs of reactors, including how to build them, cool them, control them, remove the fuel for processing, and protect the operators from radiation. They also worked out the chemical processes for separating plutonium from spent uranium fuel.

In April of 1944 the decision was announced that the UK-Canada program would go ahead with the construction of a heavy water moderated reactor in Canada. This was announced at a Combined Policy Committee meeting in Washington, in which Canadian officials were present (including CD Howe). The Americans agreed to resume cooperation, but demanded that non-British subjects be removed from the program. This was done, including the top French scientist (Halban) whose patents the Americans were unhappy about. Oddly enough the Americans didn't seem to object to Kowarski, who had worked under Halban in France and came to Canada with him to continue their work, continuing to be involved in very important roles. Sir John Cockcroft was made overall head of the program.

Chalk River, near Petawawa, was chosen as the site for the reactor. The reactor was to be known as NRX, National Research eXperimental. Before it could be finished though, they wanted a smaller one to verify the design of the reactor core. This was named ZEEP for "Zero Energy Experimental Pile"



On the 5th of September 1945, heavy water was pumped into the core and ZEEP became an operating nuclear reactor.

During 1945 and 1946, many of the British scientists returned home to work on Britain's nuclear weapons and power program. Sir John Cockroft, OM, KCB, CBE, FRS, and head of the program in Canada in the later period went on to be head of the UK's post war nuclear program, receiving many honours, including knighthoods as well as a Nobel Prize.


Chalk River was to become the centre of Canada's nuclear research program, and the CANDU heavy water natural uranium reactors which provide much of Canada's electricity descend from the work done there during the war.


Here is Dr. George C. Laurence's account of the above. He was directly involved in the above events, and after the war received various awards and honours (including an MBE). It's a bit long and technical in some spots, but if you plough through it you may find some additional details of interest.

Here's a scan of a document written by Sir John Cockroft very briefly describing his involvement in the management of the Montreal Laboratory, the building of Chalk River, and the re-starting of the UK nuclear program back in Britain, including the first UK reactors.

I should mention by the way that both documents make reference to supplies of uranium and heavy water from the US. Most of the uranium was actually mined in northern Canada (Saskatchewan and NWT), and the heavy water made in Trail BC. However, priority of access to supplies were promised to the US for their program, which made the French supply of heavy water particularly important in the early stages.
 
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endure

GCM
During 1945 and 1946, many of the British scientists returned home to work on Britain's nuclear weapons and power program. Sir John Cockroft, OM, KCB, CBE, FRS, and head of the program in Canada in the later period went on to be head of the UK's post war nuclear program, receiving many honours, including knighthoods as well as a Nobel Prize.

If you ever had an old fashioned TV then you benefited from the work of Sir John Cockcroft and his oppo Ernest Walton.
 
Whilst we are on the subject of the filthy vermin called the Japs, "World at War" is on the Yesterday channel. I've just watched their introduction into the war with some good footage of Pearl Harbour, then through to the fall of Singers.

If you'd have been in Percivals' shoes, would you have surrendered to the Nips?
 
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Whilst we are on the subject of the filthy vermin called the Japs, "World at War" is on the Yesterday channel. I've just watched their introduction into the war with some good footage of Pearl Harbour, then through to the fall of Singers.

If you'd have been in Percivals' shoes, would you have surrendered to the Nips?
ah Percival, he’d mentally surrendered even before the first boot crossed onto Singapore.

interesting to compare his behaviour with Wainright during captivity.

Percival never gave a thought to his men, and sat out the war in his own morose little world, happy to do the most menial jobs the Japanese gave him, they were so disgusted at him... things like herding goats, goats kept in a stockade. He should have been cashiered in disgrace at wars end.

meanwhile, Wainright never let up To pester the Japanese to get better treatment for his men, and never accepted better treatment, even at cost to himself, and beat himself up terribly as to wether he could have done better or done more. On his release, He was shocked to find he was a national hero, and the well deserved recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honour.
 
I am truly thankful for Sunshine (Bucket of) Qty x1, for otherwise I doubt myself and my brother would have existed and lived full and productive lives. I would've rated my ol' feller's chances of surviving an invasion of the Japanese home islands as less than zero. So...

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That's quite an LGBTQ+ friendly image. Perhaps if the B29 had been painted rainbow colour it wouldn't have failed the right-side-of-history test.
 
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