August 9th, 1945 (THURSDAY)
U.S.S.R.: Moscow: The Allies' steel ring around Japan snapped tight last night as Russia entered the Pacific War. Moscow announced its declaration of war on Japan at midnight. Ten minutes later and nearly 5,000 miles away a vast Soviet army, assembled in secret over the last three months, invaded Manchukuo (as Japan renamed Manchuria), intent on dividing the province and surrounding the Kwantung Army. By this morning Russian columns had made rapid progress as Soviet aircraft bombed strategic points behind Japanese lines.
At Yalta, Stalin had promised Roosevelt that Russia would join in the attack on Japan three months after the end of the war in Europe. And he has kept his promise, perhaps helped by the US decision to drop the atomic bomb on the Japanese mainland.
In Moscow, Mr. Molotov, the Soviet foreign affairs commissar, said that the Soviet Union had declared war because Japan was the only great power preventing peace. He said that it was in the interests of shortening the war and bringing peace to the world that Moscow acceded to the Allied request made at Potsdam to join the war. He said that the Russians had been asked to mediate by Japan, but that proposal had lost all basis when Japan refused to surrender unconditionally.
Japanese ambassador Sato receives the Soviet declaration of war from Molotov and, while en route back to the embassy, glumly tells an aide, "The inevitable has now arrived." (p. 191)(226)
The Soviet strike force, commanded by Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky, is numerically superior and includes experienced troops from the European front. It has 1.2 million troops, backed by 3,900 aircraft, 5,500 tanks and 26,000 field guns. Japan's Kwantung Army has 780,000 troops, 1,000 aircraft, 1,155 tanks and 6,620 field guns.
JAPAN: A second atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki. This bomb is a plutonium type. About 40,000 people die immediately.
US President Truman broadcasts about the atomic bombs and their use on Japan.
The Red Army attack Japanese Forces in Manchuria with an army of 1.5 million soldiers. The Japanese defence lines are soon smashed.
Vice Admiral Hoshina, Chief of Military Affairs Bureau for the Naval Ministry, discussed the worsening situation with Vice Admiral Onishi, the Navy Vice Chief of Staff. Onishi replies that there were "ample chances of victory for Japan." He minimizes the importance of the atom bomb and the Russian invasion, the dwindling resources. He stresses the effectiveness of "special attacks" and the suicide weapons.
Hoshina then sees Navy Minister Yonai. Yonai comments "I have given up the war."
During the morning (before the emperor had heard or digested news of the Nagasaki bomb), Hirohito has a meeting with Koichi Kido, Keeper of the Privy Seal. During the meeting the emperor says, "The Soviet Union declared war against us, and entered into a state of war as of today. Because of this it is necessary to study and decide on the termination of the war." (p.198)(226)
The Japanese Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, meets at 10:30 this morning. The SCDW is known as the Big 6 of the Japanese Cabinet. PM, FM, War Minister, Navy Minister, Army CofS, Navy CofS. They are notified of the Nagasaki bomb. By 1:00 pm they are still unable to agree on acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. The Military refuses to negotiate on the continuing existence of the Emperor system, disarmament and occupation.
At the Japanese cabinet meeting this afternoon, PM Suzuki is able to set the
stage for an Imperial Conference with the Emperor. The military are not aware
that it will be tonight. The discussion is deadlocked over two proposals. The FM
proposal is to accept the Potsdam Declaration. The military have added
1) A guarantee that the imperial family will continue to reign.
2) Disarmament of the armed forces by Japan herself.
3) Trial of war criminals by Japan herself.
4) Occupation of Japan to be limited to the minimum time and places.
The USAAF Twentieth Air Force flies 2 missions.
- Special Mission Number 16, the world's second atomic attack, is flown. At 0349 hours local, Major Charles W. Sweeney, Commanding Officer of the 393d Bombardment Squadron (Very Heavy), pilots the Martin-built, Boeing B-29-35-MO Superfortress, s/n 44-27297, Number 77, later renamed BOCKS CAR, off the runway at North Field, Tinian Island, Mariana Islands; at 2-minute intervals, 2 observation B-29s follow, Captain Frederick C. Bock in GREAT ARTISTE and Major James I. Hopkins in Number 91; on board the GREAT ARTISTE is William L. Laurence, a reporter for The New York Times who had been chosen at the inception of the Manhattan Project while RAF Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, Winston Churchill's official representative, is aboard Number 91.
Number 77 is carrying a plutonium implosion weapon, nicknamed
"Fat Man," with a yield in the area of 22,000 tons (19,958 metric
tons) of TNT. The bomb is 10 feet 8 inches (3.25 meters) long and 5 feet (1.52
meters) in diameter Six B-29s had been designated for the mission. One was a
spare that was to stand by at Iwo Jima where there were facilities for unloading
and reloading the bomb in case of an abort. Two were weather planes that had
been dispatched in advance of the attack to determine weather conditions over
the two proposed targets, i.e., Kokura, the primary and Nagasaki, the secondary.
Major Sweeney reaches the rendezvous point, Yakujima off the south coast of
Kyushu, at 0909 hours and was joined by Captain Bock at 0912 hours. Bock spotted
the second observation aircraft but lost contact; after circling for 45-minutes
waiting for Major Hopkins' aircraft, which had the cameras to document the
mission, Sweeney and Bock head for Kokura where the weather had closed in. The
crew spent 50 minutes making three runs from different directions over the city
without getting a
glimpse of the target and at this point, the flight engineer reported that the 600 US gallons (2,271 litres) in the bomb bay auxiliary tanks could not be transferred to the wing tanks.
Aircrews near Nagasaki when the bomb exploded said that it went up in a roar of smoke and flame visible for 250 miles. A huge yellow and orange fireball shot 8,000-feet into the sky and then turned into a whirling ten-mile-high column of black smoke. It spread out until it blotted out targets which B-29s were bombing 50 miles away. Fires were still ablaze last night over a ten-square-mile area.
Here are some additional anecdotes about the Nagasaki A-Bomb
mission flown on 9 August 1945. This mission could properly be described as
SNAFU, an acronym meaning "situation normal, all fouled up." Or, you
could replace the word "fouled" with another word beginning with the
In the bomb bay of the B-29, the black box containing the electrical switches that armed the bomb had a red light. As long as the light blinked in a regular rhythm, it meant that the bomb was properly armed. If it blinked irregularly, something was malfunctioning. As the B-29 was en route from to the primary target Kokura, the red light suddenly began to flash wildly. The two "weaponeers" aboard the aircraft frantically removed the black box's cover to search for the trouble. Quickly tracing all the
wiring, they found the problem: the wiring on two small rotary switches had been reversed somehow. They quickly hooked them properly. It could have been worse. If it had been the timing fuses, they would have had less than one minute to find the trouble before the a-bomb might have gone off.
As the B-29 left Nagasaki after dropping the a-bomb, the fuel was dangerously low. Major Sweeney changed course for Okinawa with everyone on the flight deck watching the fuel gauges on the flight engineer console. Sweeney had pulled the props back to a range-extending low rpm and leaned out the fuel mixture controls as far back as he dared while he descended;
he figured they would land about 50 miles (80.5 km) short of the island. Even when they spotted Yontan Field, it still seemed likely they would have to ditch short of the runway.
While Sweeney flew, the co-pilot called the tower for landing instructions. He received no reply. He broadcast a Mayday while the crew fired every emergency flare on board. No one seemed to pay any attention. In desperation, Sweeney took the mike and shouted, "I'm coming straight in!"
"Someone must have gotten the message," Olivi, a third pilot aboard, recalled, "because when we lined up on the approach, we could see emergency equipment racing out to the runway. We had only enough gas for one pass, so if we didn't make it, we were going to end up in the ocean.
"Sweeney came in high and fast--too fast. Normal landing speed for the B-29 was about 130 mph (209 km/h). We used up half the strip before we touched down at about 150 mph (241 km/h), a dangerous speed, with nearly empty gas tanks.
"As we touched down, the plane began to swerve to the left and we nearly plowed into a line of B-24s parked along the active runway. Sweeney finally brought the plane under control, and as we taxied off the runway the No. 2 engine quit. Ambulance, staff cars, jeeps, and fire engines quickly surrounded us and a bunch of very jittery people debarked, very glad to be
safe on the ground."
What Olivi did not mention was that the airplane used up all of the runway trying to come to a halt. Sweeney stood on the brakes and made a swerving 90-degree turn at the end of the runway to avoid going over the cliff into the ocean. Beser, the RCM specialist, recalled that two engines had died, while "the centrifugal force resulting from the turn was almost enough to
put us through the side of the airplane."
The flight engineer, before refilling the tanks, estimated that there were exactly 7 US gallons (26.5 litres) left in them.
While their Superfort was being gassed, Sweeney and the Navy weaponeer Ashworth commandeered a jeep and went to the base communications centre to send a report to Tinian. They were refused permission to send such a message without the commanding general's personal permission. Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle had been newly sent to Okinawa to oversee the arrival of Eighth Air Force units from Europe to prepare them for future combat.
Doolittle, not privy to any of the A-bomb plans or operations, listened intently as Sweeney and Ashworth explained what had happened. Both men were nervous about telling a three-star general that they did not believe the bomb had hit the target directly. As they talked, Doolittle pulled out a map of Japan where they pointed out the industrial area over which they thought the bomb had exploded. Doolittle said, reassuringly, "I'm sure General Spaatz will be much happier that the bomb went off in the river valley rather than over the city with the resulting much lower number of casualties." He promptly authorized the communications section to send Sweeney's coded after-action report. (NOTE: IMHO, Doolittle was always a "class" act!)
Sweeney and his crew, thoroughly exhausted, took off for Tinian after a three-hour layover, and arrived there about midnight.
- Mission 322: During the night of 9/10 August, 95 B-29s bomb the Nippon Oil Refinery at Amagasaki; 2 others hit alternate targets.
- US Far East Air Force (FEAF) B-25 Mitchells over Kyushu Island, bomb airfields at Kanoya, the town of Noma, shipping in Beppu Bay, bridges, factories, and oil storage at Tsurusaki, and shipping, coastal villages, and communications targets in the Tsushima Strait area; A-26 Invaders and A-20s hit Kanoya Airfield and the industrial areas of Kushikino, Minato, and Shimahira; B-24s over western Honshu Island bomb the airfield at Iwakuni; 200+ P-47s and P-51s hit numerous targets on Shikoku and Kyushu Islands, and in the Ryukyu Islands including airfields, barracks, harbour installations, bridges, shipping, vehicles, and various factories and storage facilities.
-USN carrier-based aircraft of Task Force 38 attack Japanese shipping and airfields in northern Honshu and Hokkaido; 9 ships are sunk.
-USN Rear Admiral Shafroth, with SOUTH DAKOTA, INDIANA, MASSACHUSETTS, BOSTON, SAINT PAUL, and (apparently) QUINCY and CHICAGO, again bombarded Kamaishi. The ships fired 803 16-inch and 1383 8-inch rounds. (Keith Allen)
A USN force consisting of the battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62), light cruiser USS Biloxi (CL-80) and 4 destroyers shell Wake Island while they are enroute from Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii to Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Japan: Lt. Robert Hampton Gray (b.?), RCNVR, led a raid on a destroyer. He sank it, but was shot down and killed. (Victoria Cross)
HMS Formidable 1841 RN Sqn,
a. Corsair aircraft #KD658, Lt (A) Robert Hampton "Hammy" GRAY RCNVR led an
aircraft attack on Japanese shipping in Onagawa Wan, on the island of Honshu
Japan, in diving to attack, shore batteries, and ships, opened fire on the
aircraft, GRAY attacked a Destroyer, and oblivious to concentrated fire made
straight for his target. His aircraft was hit a number of times, and caught
fire, GRAY pressed on to within 50 feet of the Destroyer and released his bombs,
scoring at least one direct hit and possibly more, the Destroyer sank almost
immediately, Lt GRAY failed to return to his ship, giving his life. b. Corsair
aircraft #KD548, Lt (A)(SB) Gerald Arthur "Andy" Anderson RCNVR, Lost, Hit
"round-down" during recovery, following an attack against Japanese targets at
Onagawa and crashed into the sea, (reputed to be last Canadian naval aviation
casualty of WW.II) "Round-down" is a RN
expression for the aft end of the flight deck. It is usually rounded off in a
bull nose and that gave rise to the term. Anderson, returning from the stress of
combat flying may have misjudged his landing pattern and came over the stern a
little short in altitude. His aircraft impacted on the "round-down". Perhaps he
was wounded in action; perhaps caught by a wind over the deck or a rising stern.
A Corsair aircraft demanded a continual banking turn on final to keep the deck
in sight just off the long large nose nacelle.
CANADA: Frigate HMCS Wentworth completed tropicalisation refit Shelburne, Nova Scotia.
U.S.A.: Destroyer USS Hollister
Hospital ship USS Solace commissioned.
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