(6 August 1945)
The U.S. XXI Bomber Command (MG Curtis LeMay) of the U.S. Twentieth Air Force was able to begin large scale strategic bombing of the Japanese mainland after enlarging the captured airfields in the Marianas (Saipan and Tinian). On the night of 9-10 March 1945, 334 U.S. B-29s dropped over 1,667 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo. The fire-bombing Raid on Tokyo was the most destructive single air raid in history (the 183,000+ casualties were greater than either atomic bombing). Meanwhile, the U.S. had detonated the first experimental atomic bomb at Alamogordo, New Mexico. Immediately, high-ranking U.S. government officials began debating whether this awesome new weapon should be used and, if so, how it would be used. After extensive study, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other senior government officials recommended that the weapon be used. They firmly believed that the Japanese military(still with over 4,000,000+ veteran combat troops in Japan, China and Manchuria) would not surrender prior to, and thereby forcing, an Allied invasion of the Japanese home-islands. The U.S. strategists theorized that over 1,000,000+ Allied casualties and several millions of Japanese military and civilian casualties would unavoidably result from any invasion of Japan. The decision by America's leaders to drop the atomic bombs was, therefore, based on the belief that the use of the weapons, terrible as they were, would help to quickly end the war and would undoubtedly save more lives, Allied and Japanese, than the bombs would take. Accordingly, the U.S. and Britain sent an ultimatum to Japan (the Potsdam Proclamation of 27 July 1945 demanding immediate, unconditional surrender or it would mean "...utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.") which the Japanese ignored. On 6 August 1945, a U.S. B-29 Superfortress (Enola Gay) dropped a single atomic bomb over Hiroshima, an important military headquarters, supply depot, and a city of over 300,000 inhabitants on Honshu, destroying over 60% of the urban area and inflicting over 149,000 total casualties.
Battles - Japan