When did enscribing messages on bombs first happen?

When did enscribing messages on bombs first happen?

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I would like to know when and why, messages written on bombs appeared for the first time. In particular if only US crew members used it during the operations in war.

This was done since ancient times, and the practice simply carried on.

The Romans used to put witty little insults onto sling-stones, to add some extra bite when used against the enemy.


Some of these jokes were innocuous

Be lodged well
For Pompey's Backside

And some were more explicit.

I saw a TV programme where the presenter translated a few choice insults.

But basically, this sending of messages to the enemy has always happened. Soldiers get bored of sharpening swords, so let their imagination run riot in the interests of boosting morale by making up ruder jokes than your compatriots.

In terms of messages on plane-borne munitions, then it's going to be shortly after plane-borne munitions were first deployed…

Nuclear football

The nuclear football (also known as the atomic football, the president's emergency satchel, the Presidential Emergency Satchel, [1] the button, the black box, or just the football) is a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room or the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. It functions as a mobile hub in the strategic defense system of the United States. It is held by an aide-de-camp.

The Bombing of Hiroshima: August 6, 1945

Paul Tibbets and the Enola Gay. Courtesy of the Joseph Papalia Collection.

0000: Colonel Paul Tibbets gives a final briefing at one end of the crew lounge to the crews of Special Bombing Mission No. 13, consisting of the seven B-29’s. The target of choice remains Hiroshima. Tibbets is pilot, Robert Lewis is co-pilot of the weapon plane, the Enola Gay. The two observation planes (The Great Artiste and Necessary Evil) would be carrying cameras and scientific equipment and accompany the Enola Gay.

0015: Tibbets summons Chaplain William Downey, who invites the crews to bow their heads. Downey then reads a prayer that he composed specifically for this occasion.

“Almighty Father, Who wilt hear the prayer of them that love thee, we pay thee to be with those who brave the heights of Thy heaven and who carry the battle to our enemies. Guard and protect them, we pray thee, as they fly their appointed rounds. May they, as well as we, know Thy strength and power, and armed with Thy might may they bring this war to a rapid end. We pray Thee that the end of the war may come soon, and that once more we may know peace on earth. May the men who fly this night be kept safe in Thy care, and may they be returned safely to us. We shall go forward trusting in Thee, knowing that we are in Thy care now and forever. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

0112: Trucks pick up the crews of the two observation planes that will accompany the Enola Gay.

0115: A truck picks up the crew of the Enola Gay. Tibbets and Parsons sit in the front with the driver. In the back of truck are Dutch Van Kirk, Thomas Ferebee, Robert Lewis, Jacob Beser, Morris Jeppson, Bob Caron, Robert Shumard, Joseph Stiborik, and Richard Nelson. The crew wears pale green combat overalls. The only identification they have are the dog tags around their necks. Jacob Beser’s dog tag is stamped “H” for "Hebrew."

0137: The three weather planes, Straight Flush, Jabit III, and Full House, take off, each one independently assigned to assess weather conditions over Hiroshima, Kokura, and Nagasaki.

0151: Big Stink takes off to assume its stand-by role as the strike spare plane at Iwo Jima.

0220: The final Enola Gay crew photo is taken. Tibbets turns to his crew and says, “Okay, let’s go to work.”

0227: Enola Gay’s engines are started.

0235: Enola Gay arrives at her takeoff position on the runway.

0245: Enola Gay begins takeoff roll. Colonel Paul Tibbets says to co-pilot Robert Lewis, “Let’s go." He pushes all of the throttles forward. The overloaded Enola Gay lifts slowly into the night sky, using all of the more than two miles of runway.

0249: Necessary Evil takes off.

0255: Ten minutes after takeoff, Dutch Van Kirk writes his initial entry in the navigator’s log.

0300: Capt. William "Deak" Parsons taps Tibbets on the shoulder, indicating that they were going to start arming Little Boy. Parsons and Morris Jeppson, the Electronic Test Officer, climb into the bomb bay.

0310: Parsons inserts the gunpowder and the detonator into Little Boy.

0320: Parsons and Jeppson complete inserting the charge into Little Boy, and climb out of the bomb bay.

0420: Van Kirk provides an estimated time of arrival over Iwo Jima of 5:52am.

0600: The B-29s rendezvous over Iwo Jima, climb to 9,300 feet, and set their course for Japan.

0715: Jeppson removes Little Boy's safety devices and inserts the arming devices (changing from green plugs to red plugs).

0730: Tibbets announces to the crew: "We are carrying the world's first atomic bomb." He pressurizes the Enola Gay and begins an ascent to 32,700 feet. The crew puts on their parachutes and flak suits.

0809: The weather planes fly over the possible target cities. In Hiroshima, an air raid alert is communicated.

0824: The pilot of the Straight Flush weather plane sends Tibbets a coded message that states: “Cloud cover less than 3/10ths at all altitudes. Advice: bomb primary." Tibbets turns on the intercom and announces, “It’s Hiroshima.” Tibbets then asks Richard Nelson to send a one word message to William L. Uanna, squadron security chief on Iwo Jima: "Primary.”

0831: The weather planes depart their locations. In Hiroshima, the all-clear is sounded.

0850: Flying at 31,000 ft, Enola Gay crosses Shikoku due east of Hiroshima. Bombing conditions are good, the aim point is easily visible, and no opposition is encountered.

0905: Van Kirk announces, “Ten minutes to the AP." The Enola Gay is at an altitude of 31,060 feet with an air speed of 200 miles an hour when the City of Hiroshima first comes into view. It is high tide in the Sea of Japan, so the seven branches of the Ota River are completely full and still. Male students are on their way to work at the munitions factory. Schoolgirls are already demolishing more buildings to create additional fire lanes.

0912: Control of the Enola Gay is handed over to the bombardier, Thomas Ferebee, as the bomb run begins. A Radio Hiroshima operator reports that three planes have been spotted.

0914: Tibbets tells his crew, “On glasses."

0914:17 (0814:17 Hiroshima time): Ferebee's aiming point, the T-shaped Aioi Bridge, is in clear range. The 60-second sequence to automatic release of the bomb is engaged with the Norden bombsight. Luis Alvarez, one of the Manhattan Project’s senior scientists aboard The Great Artiste, releases two pressure gauges on parachutes in order to determine the bomb’s yield. People on the ground, looking at the single bomber six miles above, observe the small object as it floats down.

0915:15 (8:15:15 Hiroshima time): The bomb bay doors snap open, and Little Boy drops clear of its restraining hook. Ferebee announces, "Bomb away." The nose of the Enola Gay rises ten feet as the 9,700 pound Little Boy bomb is released at 31,060 feet. Tibbets immediately pulls the Enola Gay into a sharp 155 degree turn to the right. Ferebee watches the bomb wobble before it picks up speed and falls away.

On the ground, a second air raid alert is called for. For an additional 44.4 seconds, the Enola Gay continues to flies north as the bomb drops toward its aiming point. When the designated detonation altitude is reached, Little Boy explodes over the city of Hiroshima.

At the time of the detonation, the Enola Gay is already eleven and a half miles away. Tibbets, with his back to the explosion, observes a silver blue flash and experiences a strange feeling in his mouth, the same feeling as if he touched the lead and silver fillings in his mouth with a fork.

Bob Caron, the tail gunner of the Enola Gay, is the only crew member facing Hiroshima at the time of detonation. He sees a shimmer in the atmosphere coming towards the plane. Not understanding what is happening, Caron remains quiet. Soon after, the first of the three consecutive shockwaves strike the Enola Gay and the fuselage creaks and groans with the sound of crinkling aluminum foil.

0916:02 (8:16:02 AM Hiroshima time): After falling nearly six miles in forty-three seconds, Little Boy explodes 1,968 feet above the Dr. Shima’s Clinic, 550 feet away from the aiming point of the Aioi Bridge. Nuclear fission begins in 0.15 microseconds with a single neutron, initiating a supercritical chain reaction that increases the temperature to several million degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the surface of the sun at the time the bomb casing blows apart. The yield is 12.5-18 Kt (best estimate is 15 Kt).

It is the peak of the morning rush hour in Hiroshima. Above the city, the fireball is rapidly expanding.

.1 seconds: The fireball has expanded to one hundred feet in diameter combined with a temperature of 500,000°F. Neutrons and gamma rays reach the ground. The ionizing radiation is responsible for causing the majority of the radiological damage to all exposed humans, animals and other biological organisms.

.15 seconds: The superheated air above the ground glows. A woman sitting on steps on the bank of the Ota river, a half a mile away from ground zero, instantly vaporizes.

0.2-0.3 seconds: Intense infrared energy is released and instantly burns exposed skin for miles in every direction. Building roofing tiles fuse together. A bronze Buddha statue melts, and even granite stones. Roof tiles fuse together, wooden telephone poles carbonize and become charcoal-like. The soft internal organs (viscera) of humans and animals are evaporated. The blast wave propagates outward at two miles per second or 7,200 miles per hour.

1.0 second and beyond: The fireball reaches its maximum size, approximately 900 feet in diameter. The blast wave slows to approximately the speed of sound (768 miles per hour). The temperature at ground level directly beneath the blast (hypocenter) is at 7,000° F. The mushroom cloud begins to form.

The blast wave spreads fire outward in all directions at 984 miles per hour and tears and scorches the clothing off every person in its path. The blast wave hits the mountains surrounding Hiroshima and rebounds back. Approximately 60,000 out of the city's 90,000 buildings are demolished by the intense wind and firestorm.

Approximately 525 feet southwest from the hypocenter, the copper cladding covering the dome of the Industrial Products Display Hall is gone, exposing the skeleton-like girder structure of the dome. However, most of the brick and stonework of the building remains in place.

The ground within the hypocenter cools to 5,400°F. The mushroom cloud reaches a height of approximately 2,500 feet. Shards of glass from shattered windows are imbedded everywhere, even in concrete walls. The fireball begins to dim but still retains a luminosity equivalent to ten times that of the sun at a distance of 5.5 miles.

Nuclear shadows appear for the first time as a result of the extreme thermal radiation. These shadows are outlines of humans and objects that blocked the thermal radiation. Examples are the woman who was sitting on the stairs near the bank of the Ota River. Only the shadow of where she sat remains in the concrete. The shadow of a man pulling a cart across the street is all that remains in the asphalt. The shadow of a steel valve wheel appears on a concrete wall directly behind it because the thermal radiation was blocked by the outline of the wheel.

Russell Gackenbach, the navigator aboard Necessary Evil, at a distance of 15 miles from the atomic blast, is illuminated by light so bright that, even with his protective goggles on, he could have read the fine print of his pocket Bible.

On the ground, the firestorm continues to rage within an area which had now grown to over a mile wide. A gruesome, raging red and purple mass begins to rise in the sky. The mushroom column sucks superheated air, which sets fire to everything combustible. Bob Caron likens the sight to "a peep into Hell.”

A coded message drafted by Parsons is sent to General Thomas Farrell at Tinian. It stated: “Clear cut, successful in all aspects. Visible effects greater than Alamogordo. Conditions normal in airplane following delivery. Proceeding to base."

Enola Gay circles Hiroshima a total of three times beginning at 29,200 feet and climbing towards 30,000 feet before heading for home. It was 368 miles from Hiroshima before Caron reported that the mushroom cloud was no longer visible.

0930 (0830 Hiroshima time): The Kure Navy Depot sends a message to Tokyo that a bomb has been dropped on Hiroshima.

1055 (0955 Hiroshima time): The US intercepts a message from the Japanese 12th Air Division reporting “a violent, large special-type bomb, giving the appearance of magnesium.”

1100 (1000 Hiroshima time): A message from Hiroshima to the Army Ministry references information about a new American bomb and reports that “this must be it.”

1458: Enola Gay lands in Tinian Island at the North Field. The first atomic bombing mission has lasted a total of twelve hours and thirteen minutes.

1500 (1400 Tokyo time): The Domei News Agency telegram in Tokyo reports an attack on Hiroshima, but not the magnitude of the destruction.

Evening: A senior Japanese government administrator reports enormous destruction in Hiroshima.

When did enscribing messages on bombs first happen? - History

(Potsdam, Germany, July 1945)
Events > Dawn of the Atomic Era, 1945

  • The War Enters Its Final Phase, 1945
  • Debate Over How to Use the Bomb, Late Spring 1945
  • The Trinity Test, July 16, 1945
  • Safety and the Trinity Test, July 1945
  • Evaluations of Trinity, July 1945
  • Potsdam and the Final Decision to Bomb, July 1945
  • The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945
  • The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, August 9, 1945
  • Japan Surrenders, August 10-15, 1945
  • The Manhattan Project and the Second World War, 1939-1945

After President Harry S. Truman received word of the success of the Trinity test, his need for the help of the Soviet Union in the war against Japan was greatly diminished. The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, had promised to join the war against Japan by August 15th. Truman and his advisors now were not sure they wanted this help. If use of the atomic bomb made victory possible without an invasion, then accepting Soviet help would only invite them into the discussions regarding the postwar fate of Japan. During the second week of Allied deliberations at Potsdam, on the evening of July 24, 1945, Truman approached Stalin without an interpreter and, as casually as he could, told him that the United States had a "new weapon of unusual destructive force." Stalin showed little interest, replying only that he hoped the United States would make "good use of it against the Japanese." The reason for Stalin's composure became clear later: Soviet intelligence had been receiving information about the atomic bomb program since fall 1941.

The final decision to drop the atomic bomb, when it was made the following day, July 25, was decidedly anticlimactic. How and when it should be used had been the subject of high-level debate for months. A directive (right), written by Leslie Groves, approved by President Truman, and issued by Secretary of War Henry Stimson and General of the Army George Marshall, ordered the Army Air Force's 509th Composite Group to attack Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata, or Nagasaki (in that order of preference) as soon after August 3 as weather permitted. No further authorization was needed for subsequent atomic attacks. Additional bombs were to be delivered as soon as they became available, against whatever Japanese cities remained on the target list. Stalin was not told. Targeting now simply depended on which city was not obscured by clouds on the day of attack.

Colonel Paul Tibbets's 509th was ready. They had already begun dropping their dummy "pumpkin" bombs on Japanese targets, both for practice, and to accustom the Japanese to overflights of small numbers of B-29s. The uranium "Little Boy" bomb, minus its nuclear components, arrived at the island of Tinian aboard the U.S.S Indianapolis on July 26, followed shortly by the final nuclear components of the bomb, delivered by five C-54 cargo planes. On July 26, word arrived at Potsdam that Winston Churchill had been defeated in his bid for reelection. Within hours, Truman, Stalin, and Clement Attlee (the new British prime minister, below) issued their warning to Japan: surrender or suffer "prompt and utter destruction." As had been the case with Stalin, no specific mention of the atomic bomb was made. This "Potsdam Declaration" left the emperor's status unclear by making no reference to the royal house in the section that promised the Japanese that they could design their new government as long as it was peaceful and more democratic. Anti-war sentiment was growing among Japanese civilian leaders, but no peace could be made without the consent of the military leaders. They still retained hope for a negotiated peace where they would be able to keep at least some of their conquests or at least avoid American occupation of the homeland. On July 29, 1945, the Japanese rejected the Potsdam Declaration.

There is probably no more controversial issue in 20th-century American history than President Harry S. Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. Many historians argue that it was necessary to end the war and that in fact it saved lives, both Japanese and American, by avoiding a land invasion of Japan that might have cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Other historians argue that Japan would have surrendered even without the use of the atomic bomb and that in fact Truman and his advisors used the bomb only in an effort to intimidate the Soviet Union. The United States did know from intercepted messages between Tokyo and Moscow that the Japanese were seeking a conditional surrender. American policy-makers, however, were not inclined to accept a Japanese "surrender" that left its military dictatorship intact and even possibly allowed it to retain some of its wartime conquests. Further, American leaders were anxious to end the war as soon as possible. It is important to remember that July-August 1945 was no bloodless period of negotiation. In fact, there were still no overt negotiations at all. The United States continued to suffer casualties in late July and early August 1945, especially from Japanese submarines and suicidal "kamikaze" attacks using aircraft and midget submarines. (One example of this is the loss of the Indianapolis, which was sunk by a Japanese submarine on July 29, just days after delivering "Little Boy" to Tinian. Of its crew of 1,199, only 316 sailors survived.) The people of Japan, however, were suffering far more by this time. Air raids and naval bombardment of Japan were a daily occurrence, and the first signs of starvation were already beginning to show.

Alternatives to dropping the atomic bomb on a Japanese city were many, but few military or political planners thought they would bring about the desired outcome, at least not quickly. They believed the shock of a rapid series of bombings had the best chance of working. A demonstration of the power of the atomic bomb on an isolated location was an option supported by many of the Manhattan Project's scientists, but providing the Japanese warning of a demonstration would allow them to attempt to try to intercept the incoming bomber or even move American prisoners of war to the designated target. Also, the uranium gun-type bomb (right) had never been tested. What would the reaction be if the United States warned of a horrible new weapon, only to have it prove a dud, with the wreckage of the weapon itself now in Japanese hands? Another option was to wait for the expected coming Soviet declaration of war in the hopes that this might convince Japan to surrender unconditionally, but the Soviet declaration was not expected until mid-August, and Truman hoped to avoid having to "share" the administration of Japan with the Soviet Union. A blockade combined with continued conventional bombing might also eventually lead to surrender without an invasion, but there was no telling how long this would take, if it worked at all.

The only alternative to the atomic bomb that Truman and his advisors felt was certain to lead to a Japanese surrender was an invasion of the Japanese home islands. Plans were already well-advanced for this, with the initial landings set for the fall and winter of 1945-1946. No one knew how many lives would be lost in an invasion, American, Allied, and Japanese, but the recent seizure of the island of Okinawa provided a ghastly clue. The campaign to take the small island had taken over ten weeks, and the fighting had resulted in the deaths of over 12,000 Americans, 100,000 Japanese, and perhaps another 100,000 native Okinawans.

As with many people, Truman was shocked by the enormous losses suffered at Okinawa. American intelligence reports indicated (correctly) that, although Japan could no longer meaningfully project its power overseas, it retained an army of two million soldiers and about 10,000 aircraft -- half of them kamikazes -- for the final defense of the homeland. (During postwar studies the United States learned that the Japanese had correctly anticipated where in Kyushu the initial landings would have taken place.) Although Truman hoped that the atomic bomb might give the United States an edge in postwar diplomacy, the prospect of avoiding another year of bloody warfare in the end may well have figured most importantly in his decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.

  • The War Enters Its Final Phase, 1945
  • Debate Over How to Use the Bomb, Late Spring 1945
  • The Trinity Test, July 16, 1945
  • Safety and the Trinity Test, July 1945
  • Evaluations of Trinity, July 1945
  • Potsdam and the Final Decision to Bomb, July 1945
  • The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945
  • The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, August 9, 1945
  • Japan Surrenders, August 10-15, 1945
  • The Manhattan Project and the Second World War, 1939-1945

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CND's current strategic objectives are:

  • The elimination of British nuclear weapons and global abolition of nuclear weapons. It campaigns for the cancellation of the Trident programme by the British government and against the deployment of nuclear weapons in Britain.
  • The abolition of weapons of mass destruction, in particular chemical and biological weapons. CND also wants a ban on the manufacture, testing and use of depleted uranium weapons.
  • A nuclear-free, less militarised and more secure Europe. It supports the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It opposes US military bases and nuclear weapons in Europe and British membership of NATO.
  • The closure of the nuclear power industry. [3]

In recent years CND has extended its campaigns to include opposition to US and British policy in the Middle East, rather as it broadened its anti-nuclear campaigns in the 1960s to include opposition to the Vietnam War. In collaboration with the Stop the War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain, CND has organised anti-war marches under the slogan "Don't Attack Iraq", including protests on 28 September 2002 and 15 February 2003. It also organised a vigil for the victims of the 2005 London bombings.

CND campaigns against the Trident missile. In March 2007 it organised a rally in Parliament Square to coincide with the Commons motion to renew the weapons system. The rally was attended by over 1,000 people. It was addressed by Labour MPs Jon Trickett, Emily Thornberry, John McDonnell, Michael Meacher, Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn who voted against the renewal of Trident, and Elfyn Llwyd of Plaid Cymru and Angus MacNeil of the Scottish National Party. In the House of Commons, 161 MPs (88 of them Labour) voted against the renewal of Trident and the Government motion was carried only with the support of Conservatives. [4]

In 2006 CND launched a campaign against nuclear power. Its membership, which had fallen to 32,000 from a peak of 110,000 in 1983, increased threefold after Prime Minister Tony Blair made a commitment to nuclear energy. [5]

CND is based in London and has national groups in Wales, Ireland and Scotland, regional groups in Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, the East Midlands, Kent, London, Manchester, Merseyside, Mid Somerset, Norwich, South Cheshire and North Staffordshire, Southern England, South West England, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Tyne and Wear, the West Midlands and Yorkshire, and local branches.

There are five "specialist sections": Trade Union CND, Christian CND, Labour CND, Green CND and Ex-Services CND, [6] which have rights of representation on the governing council. There are also parliamentary, youth and student groups.

The First Wave: 1957–1963 Edit

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was founded in 1957 in the wake of widespread fear of nuclear conflict and the effects of nuclear tests. In the early 1950s Britain had become the third atomic power, after the US and the USSR, and had recently tested an H-bomb. [7]

In November 1957 J. B. Priestley wrote an article for the New Statesman magazine, "Britain and the Nuclear Bombs", [8] advocating unilateral nuclear disarmament by Britain. In it he said:

In plain words: now that Britain has told the world she has the H-bomb she should announce as early as possible that she has done with it, that she proposes to reject, in all circumstances, nuclear warfare.

The article prompted many letters of support and at the end of the month the editor of the New Statesman, Kingsley Martin, chaired a meeting in the rooms of Canon John Collins in Amen Court to launch the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Collins was chosen as its chairman, Bertrand Russell as its president and Peggy Duff as its organising secretary. The other members of its executive committee were Martin, Priestley, Ritchie Calder, journalist James Cameron, Howard Davies, Michael Foot, Arthur Goss, and Joseph Rotblat. The Campaign was launched at a public meeting at Central Hall, Westminster, on 17 February 1958, chaired by Collins and addressed by Michael Foot, Stephen King-Hall, J. B. Priestley, Bertrand Russell and A. J. P. Taylor. [9] It was attended by 5,000 people, a few hundred of whom demonstrated at Downing Street after the event. [10] [11]

The new organisation attracted considerable public interest and drew support from a range of interests, including scientists, religious leaders, academics, journalists, writers, actors and musicians. Its sponsors included John Arlott, Peggy Ashcroft, the Bishop of Birmingham Dr J. L. Wilson, Benjamin Britten, Viscount Chaplin, Michael de la Bédoyère, Bob Edwards, MP, Dame Edith Evans, A.S.Frere, Gerald Gardiner, QC, Victor Gollancz, Dr I. Grunfeld, E. M. Forster, Barbara Hepworth, Patrick Heron, Rev. Trevor Huddleston, Sir Julian Huxley, Edward Hyams, the Bishop of Llandaff Dr Glyn Simon, Doris Lessing, Sir Compton Mackenzie, the Very Rev George McLeod, Miles Malleson, Denis Matthews, Sir Francis Meynell, Henry Moore, John Napper, Ben Nicholson, Sir Herbert Read, Flora Robson, Michael Tippett, the cartoonist 'Vicky', Professor C. H. Waddington and Barbara Wootton. [12] Other prominent founding members of CND were Fenner Brockway, E. P. Thompson, A. J. P. Taylor, Anthony Greenwood, Jill Greenwood, Lord Simon, D. H. Pennington, Eric Baker and Dora Russell. Organisations that had previously opposed British nuclear weapons supported CND, including the British Peace Committee, the Direct Action Committee, [13] the National Committee for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Tests [12] and the Quakers. [14]

In the same year, a branch of CND was also set in the Republic of Ireland by John de Courcy Ireland, and his wife Beatrice, aiming to campaign for the Irish government to support international efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament and to keep Ireland free of nuclear power. [15] Notable supporters of the Irish CND included Peadar O'Donnell, Owen Sheehy-Skeffington and Hubert Butler. [16]

The formation of CND marked a significant change in the international peace movement, which from the late 1940s had been dominated by the World Peace Council (WPC), an anti-western organisation directed by the Soviet Communist Party. Because the WPC had a large budget and organised high-profile international conferences, the peace movement became identified with the communist cause. [17] CND represented the growth of the unaligned peace movement and its detachment from the WPC.

With a general election due in 1959, which Labour was widely expected to win, [18] CND's founders envisaged a campaign by eminent individuals to secure a government that would adopt its policies: the unconditional renunciation of the use, production of or dependence upon nuclear weapons by Britain and the bringing about of a general disarmament convention halting the flight of planes armed with nuclear weapons ending nuclear testing not proceeding with missile bases and not providing nuclear weapons to any other country. [12]

In Easter 1958, CND, after some initial reluctance, supported a march from London to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston (a distance of 52 miles), that had been organised by a small pacifist group, the Direct Action Committee. Thereafter, CND organised annual Easter marches from Aldermaston to London that became the main focus for supporters' activity. 60,000 people participated in the 1959 march and 150,000 in the 1961 and 1962 marches. [19] [20] The 1958 march was the subject of a documentary by Lindsay Anderson, March to Aldermaston.

The symbol adopted by CND, designed for them in 1958 by Gerald Holtom, [12] became the international peace symbol. It is based on the semaphore symbols for "N" (two flags held 45 degrees down on both sides, forming the triangle at the bottom) and "D" (two flags, one above the head and one at the feet, forming the vertical line) (for Nuclear Disarmament) within a circle. [21] Holtom later said that it also represented "an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya's peasant before the firing squad," (although in that painting, The Third of May 1808, the peasant is actually holding his hands upwards). [22] The CND symbol, the Aldermaston march, and the slogan "Ban the Bomb" became icons and part of the youth culture of the 1960s.

CND's supporters were generally left of centre in politics. About three-quarters were Labour voters [14] and many of the early executive committee were Labour Party members. [12] The ethos of CND at that time was described as "essentially that of middle-class radicalism". [23]

In the event, Labour lost the 1959 election, but it voted at its 1960 Conference for unilateral nuclear disarmament, which represented CND's greatest influence and coincided with the highest level of public support for its programme. [24] The resolution was passed against the wishes of the party's leaders, who refused to be bound by it and proceeded to organise to have it overturned at the next conference. [25] Hugh Gaitskell, the Labour Party leader, promised to "fight, fight, and fight again" against the decision, which was duly overturned at the 1961 Conference. Labour's failure to win the election and its rejection of unilateralism upset CND's plans, and from about 1961 its prospects of success began to fade. It was said that from that time onward it lacked any clear idea of how nuclear disarmament was to be implemented and that its demonstrations had become ends in themselves. [26] The sociologist Frank Parkin said that, for many supporters, the question of implementation was of secondary importance anyway because, for them, involvement in the campaign was "an expressive activity in which the defence of principles was felt to have higher priority than 'getting things done'." [14] He suggested CND's survival in the face of its failure was explained by the fact that it provided "a rallying point and symbol for radicals", which was more important for them than "its manifest function of attempting to change the government's nuclear weapons policy." [14] Despite setbacks, it retained the support of a significant minority of the population and became a mass movement, with a network of autonomous branches and specialist groups and an increased participation in demonstrations until about 1963.

In 1960 Bertrand Russell resigned from the Campaign in order to form the Committee of 100, which became, in effect, the direct action wing of CND. Russell argued that direct action was necessary because the press was losing interest in CND and because the danger of nuclear war was so great that it was necessary to obstruct government preparations for it. [27] In 1958 CND had cautiously accepted direct action as a possible method of campaigning, [12] but, largely under the influence of its chairman, Canon Collins, the CND leadership opposed any sort of unlawful protest. The Committee of 100 was created as a separate organisation partly for that reason and partly because of personal animosity between Collins and Russell. Although the committee was supported by many in CND, it has been suggested [28] that the campaign against nuclear weapons was weakened by the friction between the two organisations. The Committee organised large sit-down demonstrations in London and at military bases. It later diversified into other political campaigns, including Biafra, the Vietnam war and housing in the UK. It was dissolved in 1968. When direct action came to the fore again in the 1980s, it was generally accepted by the peace movement as a normal part of protest. [29]

CND's executive committee did not give its supporters a voice in the Campaign until 1961, when a national council was formed and until 1966 it had no formal membership. The relationship between supporters and leaders was unclear, as was the relationship between the executive and the local branches. The executive committee's lack of authority made possible the inclusion within CND of a wide range of views, but it resulted in lengthy internal discussions and the adoption of contradictory resolutions at conferences. [26] There was friction between the founders, who conceived of CND as a campaign by eminent individuals focused on the Labour Party, and CND's supporters (including the more radical members of the executive committee), who saw it as an extra-parliamentary mass movement. Collins was unpopular with many supporters because of his strictly constitutional approach and found himself increasingly out of sympathy with the direction the movement was taking. [30] He resigned in 1964 and put his energies into the International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace. [31]

The Cuban Missile Crisis in the Autumn of 1962, in which the United States blockaded a Soviet attempt to put nuclear missiles on Cuba, created widespread public anxiety about imminent nuclear war and CND organised demonstrations on the issue. But six months after the crisis, a Gallup Poll found that public concern about nuclear weapons had fallen to its lowest point since 1957, [12] and there was a view (disputed by some CND supporters) [32] that US President John F. Kennedy's success in facing down Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev turned the British public away from the idea of unilateral nuclear disarmament.

On the 1963 Aldermaston march, a clandestine group calling itself Spies for Peace distributed leaflets about a secret government establishment, RSG 6, that the march was passing. The people behind Spies for Peace remain unknown, except for Nicholas Walter, a leading member of the Committee of 100. [33] The leaflet said that RSG 6 was to be the local HQ for a military dictatorship after nuclear war. A large group left the march, against the wishes of the CND leadership, to demonstrate at RSG 6. Later, when the march reached London, there were disorderly demonstrations in which anarchists were prominent, quickly deprecated in the press and in parliament. [12] In 1964 there was only a one-day march, partly because of the events of 1963 and partly because the logistics of the march, which had grown beyond all expectation, had exhausted the organisers. [10] The Aldermaston March was resumed in 1965.

Support for CND dwindled after the 1963 Test Ban Treaty, one of the things it had been campaigning for. From the mid-1960s, the anti-war movement's preoccupation with the Vietnam War tended to eclipse concern about nuclear weapons but CND continued to campaign against both.

Although CND has never formally allied itself to any political party and has never been an election campaigning body, CND members and supporters have stood for election at various times on a nuclear disarmament ticket. The nearest CND has come to having an electoral arm was the Independent Nuclear Disarmament Election Campaign (INDEC) which stood candidates in a few local elections during the 1960s. INDEC was never endorsed by CND nationally and candidates were generally put up by local branches as a means of raising the profile of the nuclear threat.

The Second Wave: 1980–1983 Edit

In the 1980s, CND underwent a major revival in response to the resurgence of the Cold War. Wave after wave of new members joined as the result of a growing antinuclear movement, the strong motivation of its membership, and criticism of CND objectives by the Thatcher government. [34] There was increasing tension between the superpowers following the deployment of SS20s in the Soviet Bloc countries, American Pershing missiles in Western Europe, and Britain's replacement of the Polaris armed submarine fleet with Trident missiles. [23] The NATO exercise Able Archer 83 also added to international tension.

CND's membership soared in the early 1980s it claimed 90,000 national members and a further 250,000 in local branches. "This made it one of the largest political organisations in Britain and probably the largest peace movement in the world (outside the state-sponsored movements of the communist bloc)." [23] Public support for unilateralism reached its highest level since the 1960s. [35] In October 1981, 250,000 people joined an anti-nuclear demonstration in London. CND's demonstration on the eve of Cruise missile deployment in October 1983 was one of the largest in British history, [23] with 300,000 taking part in London as three million protested across Europe. [36]

Glastonbury Festival played a key cultural role in this period. The festival's long-term campaigning relationships have been with CND (1981–1990), Greenpeace (1992 onwards), and Oxfam (because of its campaigning against the arms trade), as well as the establishment of the Green Fields as a regular and expanding eco-feature of the festival (from 1984 on). The radical peace movement and the rise of the greens in Britain are interwoven at Glastonbury. The festival has offered these campaigns and groups space on-site to publicise and disseminate their ideas, and it has ploughed large sums of money from the festival profits into them, as well as other causes. June 1981 saw the first Glastonbury CND Festival, and over the 1980s as a decade Glastonbury raised around £1m for CND. The CND logo topped Glastonbury's pyramid stage, while publicity regularly proclaimed proudly: 'This Event is the most effective Anti-Nuclear Fund Raiser in Europe’. [37]

New sections were formed, including Ex-services CND, Green CND, Student CND, Tories Against Cruise and Trident (TACT), Trade Union CND, and Youth CND. More women than men supported CND. [10] The campaign attracted supporters who opposed the Government's civil defence plans as outlined in an official booklet, Protect and Survive. This publication was ridiculed in a popular pamphlet, Protest and Survive, by E. P. Thompson, a leading anti-nuclear campaigner of the period.

The British anti-nuclear movement at this time differed from that of the 1960s. Many groups sprang up independently of CND, some affiliating later. CND's previous objection to civil disobedience was dropped and it became a normal part of anti-nuclear protest. The women's movement had a strong influence, much of it emanating from the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, [10] followed by Molesworth People's Peace Camp.

A network of protesters, calling itself Cruise Watch, tracked and harassed Cruise missiles whenever they were carried on public roads. After a while, the missiles traveled only at night under police escort.

At its 1982 conference, the Labour Party adopted a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament. It lost the 1983 general election "in which, following the Falklands war, foreign policy was high on the agenda. Election defeats under, first, Michael Foot, then Neil Kinnock, led Labour to abandon the policy in the late 1980s." [38] The re-election of a Conservative government in 1983 and the defeat of left-wing parties in continental Europe "made the deployment of Cruise missiles inevitable and the movement again began to lose steam." [23]

Membership Edit

Until 1967, supporters joined local branches and there was no national membership. An academic study of CND gives the following membership figures from 1967 onwards: [39]

  • 1967: 1,500
  • 1968: 3,037
  • 1969: 2,173
  • 1970: 2,120
  • 1971: 2,047
  • 1972: 2,389
  • 1973: 2,367
  • 1974: 2,350
  • 1975: 2,536
  • 1976: 3,220
  • 1977: 2,168
  • 1978: 3,220
  • 1979: 4,287
  • 1980: 9,000
  • 1981: 20,000
  • 1982: 50,000

Under Joan Ruddock's chairmanship from 1981 to 1985, CND said its membership rose from 20,000 to 460,000. [40] The BBC said that in 1985 CND had 110,000 members [41] and in 2006, 32,000. [41] The organisation reported a rapid increase in membership after Jeremy Corbyn, a prominent member, became leader of the Labour Party in 2015. [42]

As of 2020, the UK Membership was around 35,000

Opinion polls Edit

As it did not have a national membership until 1967, the strength of public support in its early days can be estimated only from the numbers of those attending demonstrations or expressing approval in opinion polls. Polls on a number of related issues have been taken over the past fifty years.

  • Between 1955 and 1962, between 19% and 33% of people in Britain expressed disapproval of the manufacture of nuclear weapons. [43]
  • Public support for unilateralism in September 1982 was 31%, falling to 21% in January 1983, but it is hard to say whether this decline was a result of the contemporary propaganda campaign against CND or not. [35]
  • Support for CND fell after the end of the Cold war. It had not succeeded in converting the British public to unilateralism and even after the collapse of the Soviet Union British nuclear weapons still have majority support. [35] "Unilateral disarmament has always been opposed by a majority of the British public, with the level of support for unilateralism remaining steady at around one in four of the population." [24][44]
  • In 2005, MORI conducted an opinion poll which asked about attitudes to Trident and the use of nuclear weapons. When asked whether the UK should replace Trident, without being told of the cost, 44% of respondents said "Yes" and 46% said "No". When asked the same question and told of the cost, the proportion saying "Yes" fell to 33% and the proportion saying "No" increased to 54%. [45]
  • In the same poll, MORI asked "Would you approve or disapprove of the UK using nuclear weapons against a country we are at war with?". 9% approved if that country did not have nuclear weapons, and 84% disapproved. 16% approved if that country had nuclear weapons but never used them, and 72% disapproved. 53% approved if that country used nuclear weapons against the UK, and 37% disapproved. [45]
  • CND's policy of opposing American nuclear bases is said to be in tune with public opinion. [23]

On three occasions the Labour Party, when in opposition, has been significantly influenced by CND in the direction of unilateral nuclear disarmament. Between 1960 and 1961 it was official Party policy although the Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell opposed the decision and succeeded in quickly reversing it. In 1980 long time CND supporter Michael Foot became Labour Party leader and in 1982 succeeded in changing official Labour policy in line with his views. After losing the 1983 and 1987 general elections Labour leader Neil Kinnock persuaded the party to abandon unilateralism in 1989. [46] In 2015 another long time CND supporter, Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, although the official Labour policy did not change in line with his views. [47]

CND's growing support in the 1980s provoked opposition from several sources, including Peace Through Nato, the British Atlantic Committee (which received government funding), [48] Women and Families for Defence (set up by Conservative journalist and later MP Lady Olga Maitland to oppose the Greenham Common Peace Camp), the Conservative Party's Campaign for Defence and Multilateral Disarmament, the Coalition for Peace through Security, the Foreign Affairs Research Institute, and The 61, a private sector intelligence agency. The British government also took direct steps to counter the influence of CND, Secretary of State for Defence Michael Heseltine setting up Defence Secretariat 19 "to explain to the public the facts about the Government's policy on deterrence and multilateral disarmament". [49] The activities of anti-CND organisations are said to have included research, publication, mobilising public opinion, counter-demonstrations, working within the Churches, smears against CND leaders and spying.

In an article on anti-CND groups, Stephen Dorril reported that in 1982 Eugene V. Rostow, Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, became concerned about the growing unilateralist movement. According to Dorril, Rostow helped to initiate a propaganda exercise in Britain, "aimed at neutralising the efforts of CND. It would take three forms: mobilising public opinion, working within the Churches, and a 'dirty tricks' operation against the peace groups." [50]

One of the groups set up to carry out this work was the Coalition for Peace through Security (CPS), modelled on the US Coalition for Peace through Strength. The CPS was founded in 1981. Its main activists were Julian Lewis, Edward Leigh and Francis Holihan. [50] Amongst the activities of the CPS were commissioning Gallup polls [51] which showed the levels of support for British possession of nuclear weapons, providing speakers at public meetings, highlighting the left-wing affiliations of leading CND figures and mounting counter-demonstrations against CND. These including haranguing CND marchers from the roof of the CPS's Whitehall office and flying a plane over a CND festival with a banner reading, "Help the Soviets, Support CND!" [52] The CPS attracted criticism for refusing to say where its funding came from while alleging that the anti-nuclear movement was funded by the Soviet Union. [53] Although the CPS called itself a grass-roots movement, it had no members and was financed by The 61, [52] "a private sector operational intelligence agency" [54] said by its founder, Brian Crozier, to be funded by "rich individuals and a few private companies". [55] It is said to have also received funding from the Heritage Foundation. [56]

The CPS claimed that Bruce Kent, the general secretary of CND and a Catholic priest, was a supporter of IRA terrorism. [52] Kent alleged in his autobiography that Francis Holihan spied on CND. Dorril claimed [50]

that Holihan had organised aerial propaganda, had entered CND offices under false pretences, and that CPS workers had joined CND in order to gain access to the Campaign's 1982 Annual Conference. When Bruce Kent went on a speaking tour of America, Holihan followed him around. Offensive material on Kent was sent to newspapers and radio stations, and demonstrations were organised against him with support from the College Republican Committee.

Gerald Vaughan, a government minister, tried to halve government funding for the Citizens Advice Bureau, apparently because Joan Ruddock, CND's chair, was employed part-time at his local bureau. Bruce Kent was warned by Cardinal Basil Hume not to become too involved in politics.

Some of CND's opponents claimed that CND was a communist or Soviet-dominated organisation, a charge its supporters denied.

In 1981, the Foreign Affairs Research Institute, which shared an office with the CPS, was said by Sanity, the CND newspaper, to have published a booklet claiming that Russian money was being used by CND. [50] Lord Chalfont claimed that the Soviet Union was giving the European peace movement £100 million a year, to which Bruce Kent responded, "If they were, it was certainly not getting to our grotty little office in Finsbury Park." [57] In the 1980s, the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS) claimed that one of CND's elected officers, Dan Smith, was a communist. CND sued for defamation and the FCS settled on the second day of the trial, apologised and paid damages and costs. [58]

The British journalist Charles Moore reported a conversation he had with the Soviet double agent Oleg Gordievsky after the death of leading Labour politician Michael Foot. As editor of the newspaper Tribune, says Moore, Foot was regularly visited by KGB agents who identified themselves as diplomats and gave him money. "A leading supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Foot . passed on what he knew about debates over nuclear weapons. In return, the KGB gave him drafts of articles encouraging British disarmament which he could then edit and publish, unattributed to their real source, in Tribune." [59] Foot had received libel damages from the Sunday Times for a similar claim made during his lifetime. [60]

The security service (MI5) carried out surveillance of CND members it considered to be subversive and from the late 1960s until the mid-1970s it designated CND as subversive by virtue of its being "communist-controlled". [61] Communists have played an active role in the organisation, and John Cox, its chairman from 1971 to 1977, was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain [ citation needed ] but from the late 1970s, MI5 downgraded CND from "communist-controlled" to "communist-penetrated". [62]

In 1985, Cathy Massiter, an MI5 officer who had been responsible for the surveillance of CND from 1981 to 1983, resigned and made disclosures to a Channel 4 20/20 Vision programme, "MI5's Official Secrets". [63] [64] She said that her work was determined more by the political importance of CND than by any security threat posed by subversive elements within it. In 1983, she analysed telephone intercepts on John Cox that gave her access to conversations with Joan Ruddock and Bruce Kent. MI5 also placed a spy, Harry Newton, in the CND office. According to Massiter, Newton believed that CND was controlled by extreme left-wing activists and that Bruce Kent might be a crypto-communist, but Massiter found no evidence to support either opinion. [61] On the basis of Ruddock's contacts, MI5 suspected her of being a communist sympathiser. Speaking in the House of Commons, Dale Campbell-Savours, MP, said:

it was felt within the service that officers were likely to be questioned about the true political affiliation of Mrs. Joan Ruddock, who became chair of CND in 1983. It was fully recognised by the service that she had no subversive affiliations and therefore should not be recorded under any of the usual subversive categories. In fact, she was recorded as a contact of a hostile intelligence service after giving an interview to a Soviet journalist based in London who was suspected of being a KGB intelligence officer. In Joan Ruddock's file, MI5 recorded special branch references to her movements—usually public meetings—and kept press cuttings and the products of mail and telephone intercepts obtained through active investigation of other targets, such as the Communist party and John Cox. There were police reports recording her appearances at demonstrations or public meetings. There were references to her also in reports from agents working, for example, in the Communist party. These would also appear in her file. [64]

According to Stephen Dorril, at about the same time, Special Branch officers recruited an informant within CND, Stanley Bonnett, on the instructions of MI5. [56] MI5 is also said to have suspected CND's treasurer, Cathy Ashton, of being a communist sympathiser because she shared a house with a communist. [56] When Michael Heseltine became Secretary of State for Defence in 1983, Massiter was asked to provide information for Defence Secretariat 19 (DS19) about leading CND personnel but was instructed to include only information from published sources. Ruddock claims that DS19 released distorted information regarding her political party affiliations to the media and Conservative Party candidates. [65]

MI5 says that it does not now investigate this area. [62]

Brian Crozier claimed in his book Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941–1991 (Harper Collins, 1993) that The 61 infiltrated a mole into CND in 1979. [56]

In 1990, it was discovered in the archive of the Stasi (the state security service of the former German Democratic Republic) that a member of CND's governing council, Vic Allen, had passed information to them about CND. This discovery was made public in a BBC TV programme in 1999, reviving debate about Soviet links to CND. Allen stood against Joan Ruddock for the leadership of CND in 1985, but was defeated. Ruddock responded to the Stasi revelations by saying that Allen "certainly had no influence on national CND, and as a pro-Soviet could never have succeeded to the chair," and that "CND was as opposed to Soviet nuclear weapons as Western ones." [66] [67]

Civil Defense

In response to this threat, the government encouraged the American public to build fallout shelters in case of a nuclear attack. In a 1961 radio address, President Kennedy asserted, “In the event of an attack, the lives of those families which are not hit in a nuclear blast and fire can still be saved - if they can be warned to take shelter and if that shelter is available. We owe that kind of insurance to our families - and to our country.” The government also created numerous short civil defense films. To watch one such film from 1963, click here.

The government also instituted civil defense training for children. Although it predated the age of fallout, Duck and Cover (1952) featured the animated cartoon of “Bert the Turtle,” an icon of the civil defense era. Children practiced “duck and cover” exercises regularly in school. As activist Todd Gitlin remembered:

Every so often, out of the blue, a teacher would pause in the middle of class and call out, “Take cover!” We knew, then, to scramble under our miniature desks and to stay there, cramped, heads folded under our arms, until the teacher called out, “All clear!” Who knew what to believe? Under the desks and crouched in the hallways, terrors were ignited, existentialists were made. Whether or not we believed that hiding under a school desk or in a hallway was really going to protect us from the furies of an atomic blast, we could never quite take for granted that the world we had been born into was destined to endure. (109)

Civil defense also made its way to Hollywood. During a Cabinet meeting in December 1961, Leo Hoegh, the federal administrator of civil defense, criticized On the Beach as “very harmful because it produced a feeling of utter hopelessness, thus undermining OCDM’s [Office of Civil Defense Management] efforts to encourage preparedness.” State Department and U.S. Information Agency analysis added that its “strong emotional appeal for banning nuclear weapons could conceivably lead audiences to think in terms of radical solutions rather than practical safeguarded disarmament measures” (Fallout, 110).

The U.S. government preferred Hollywood films such as Panic in the Year Zero (1962). In the movie, the Baldwin family is going on a trip when they see strange flashes of light and then hear via CONELRAD (CONtrol of ELectronic RADiation, the emergency broadcast system used during this era) that Los Angeles has been bombed. Harry, the father, knows what to do in this emergency. He gathers supplies quickly, gets off the road, and keeps his family safe. At the end, the family is stopped by men with machine guns who turn out to be the U.S. military. “Thank God! It’s the Army!” declares Harry.

An “open world”

Early on during his exile, Bohr became convinced that the existence of the bomb would “not only seem to necessitate but should also, due to the urgency of mutual confidence, facilitate a new approach to the problems of international relationship.” The first step toward avoiding a postwar nuclear arms race would be to inform the ally in the war, the Soviet Union, of the project. Bohr set out on a solitary campaign, during which he even succeeded in obtaining personal interviews with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was unable to convince either of them of his viewpoint, however, instead being suspected by Churchill of spying for the Russians. After the war, Bohr persisted in his mission for what he called an “open world” between nations, continuing his confidential contact with statesmen and writing an open letter to the United Nations in 1950.

Bohr was allowed to return home only after the atomic bomb had been dropped on Japan in August 1945. In Denmark he was greeted as a hero, some newspapers even welcoming him with pride as the Dane who had invented the atomic bomb. He continued to run and expand his institute, and he was central in postwar institution building for physics. On a national scale, he took a major part in establishing the research facility at Risø, near Roskilde, only a few miles outside Copenhagen, created in order to prepare the introduction of nuclear power in Denmark, which, however, has never occurred. Internationally, he took part in the establishment of CERN, the European experimental particle physics facility near Geneva, Switzerland, as well as of the Nordic Institute for Atomic Physics (Nordita) adjacent to his institute. Bohr left behind an unsurpassed scientific legacy, as well as an institute that remains one of the leading centres for theoretical physics in the world.

When did enscribing messages on bombs first happen? - History

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Sunday, December 7, 1941

Aboard a Japanese carrier before the attack on Pearl Harbor, crew members cheer departing pilots. Below: A photo taken from a Japanese plane during the attack shows vulnerable American battleships, and in the distance, smoke rising from Hickam Airfield where 35 men having breakfast in the mess hall were killed after a direct bomb hit.


Above: The USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese air raid. Below Left: The battleship USS Arizona after a bomb penetrated into the forward magazine causing massive explosions and killing 1,104 men. Below Right: Dousing the flames on the battleship USS West Virginia, which survived and was rebuilt.

Sequence of Events

Saturday, December 6 - Washington D.C. - U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt makes a final appeal to the Emperor of Japan for peace. There is no reply. Late this same day, the U.S. code-breaking service begins intercepting a 14-part Japanese message and deciphers the first 13 parts, passing them on to the President and Secretary of State. The Americans believe a Japanese attack is imminent, most likely somewhere in Southeast Asia.

Sunday, December 7 - Washington D.C. - The last part of the Japanese message, stating that diplomatic relations with the U.S. are to be broken off, reaches Washington in the morning and is decoded at approximately 9 a.m. About an hour later, another Japanese message is intercepted. It instructs the Japanese embassy to deliver the main message to the Americans at 1 p.m. The Americans realize this time corresponds with early morning time in Pearl Harbor, which is several hours behind. The U.S. War Department then sends out an alert but uses a commercial telegraph because radio contact with Hawaii is temporarily broken. Delays prevent the alert from arriving at headquarters in Oahu until noontime (Hawaii time) four hours after the attack has already begun.

Sunday, December 7 - Islands of Hawaii, near Oahu - The Japanese attack force under the command of Admiral Nagumo, consisting of six carriers with 423 planes, is about to attack. At 6 a.m., the first attack wave of 183 Japanese planes takes off from the carriers located 230 miles north of Oahu and heads for the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor - At 7:02 a.m., two Army operators at Oahu's northern shore radar station detect the Japanese air attack approaching and contact a junior officer who disregards their reports, thinking they are American B-17 planes which are expected in from the U.S. west coast.

Near Oahu - At 7:15 a.m., a second attack wave of 167 planes takes off from the Japanese carriers and heads for Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor is not on a state on high alert. Senior commanders have concluded, based on available intelligence, there is no reason to believe an attack is imminent. Aircraft are therefore left parked wingtip to wingtip on airfields, anti-aircraft guns are unmanned with many ammunition boxes kept locked in accordance with peacetime regulations. There are also no torpedo nets protecting the fleet anchorage. And since it is Sunday morning, many officers and crewmen are leisurely ashore.

At 7:53 a.m., the first Japanese assault wave, with 51 'Val' dive bombers, 40 'Kate' torpedo bombers, 50 high level bombers and 43 'Zero' fighters, commences the attack with flight commander, Mitsuo Fuchida, sounding the battle cry: "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!).

The Americans are taken completely by surprise. The first attack wave targets airfields and battleships. The second wave targets other ships and shipyard facilities. The air raid lasts until 9:45 a.m. Eight battleships are damaged, with five sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels are lost along with 188 aircraft. The Japanese lose 27 planes and five midget submarines which attempted to penetrate the inner harbor and launch torpedoes.

Escaping damage from the attack are the prime targets, the three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga, which were not in the port. Also escaping damage are the base fuel tanks.

The casualty list includes 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians killed, with 1,178 wounded. Included are 1,104 men aboard the B attleship USS Arizona killed after a 1,760-pound air bomb penetrated into the forward magazine causing catastrophic explosions.

In Washington, various delays prevent the Japanese diplomats from presenting their war message to Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, until 2:30 p.m. (Washington time) just as the first reports of the air raid at Pearl Harbor are being read by Hull.

News of the "sneak attack" is broadcast to the American public via radio bulletins, with many popular Sunday afternoon entertainment programs being interrupted. The news sends a shockwave across the nation and results in a tremendous influx of young volunteers into the U.S. armed forces. The attack also unites the nation behind the President and effectively ends isolationist sentiment in the country.

Monday, December 8 - The United States and Britain declare war on Japan with President Roosevelt calling December 7, "a date which will live in infamy. "

Thursday, December 11 - Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. The European and Southeast Asian wars have now become a global conflict with the Axis powers Japan, Germany and Italy, united against America, Britain, France, and their Allies.

Wednesday, December 17 - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz becomes the new commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Both senior commanders at Pearl Harbor Navy Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and Army Lt. General Walter C. Short, were relieved of their duties following the attack. Subsequent investigations will fault the men for failing to adopt adequate defense measures.

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The isotopes uranium-235 and plutonium-239 were selected by the atomic scientists because they readily undergo fission. Fission occurs when a neutron strikes the nucleus of either isotope, splitting the nucleus into fragments and releasing a tremendous amount of energy. The fission process becomes self-sustaining as neutrons produced by the splitting of atom strike nearby nuclei and produce more fission. This is known as a chain reaction and is what causes an atomic explosion.

When a uranium-235 atom absorbs a neutron and fissions into two new atoms, it releases three new neutrons and some binding energy. Two neutrons do not continue the reaction because they are lost or absorbed by a uranium-238 atom. However, one neutron does collide with an atom of uranium-235, which then fissions and releases two neutrons and some binding energy. Both of those neutrons collide with uranium-235 atoms, each of which fission and release between one and three neutrons, and so on. This causes a nuclear chain reaction. For more on this topic, see Nuclear Fission.

Oklahoma City bombing

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Oklahoma City bombing, terrorist attack in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., on April 19, 1995, in which a massive homemade bomb composed of more than two tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil concealed in a rental truck exploded, heavily damaging the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. A total of 168 people were killed, including 19 children, and more than 500 were injured. The building was later razed, and a park was built on the site. The bombing remained the deadliest terrorist assault on U.S. soil until the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., in 2001. (See September 11 attacks.)

Although at first suspicion wrongly focused on Middle Eastern terrorist groups, attention quickly centred on Timothy McVeigh—who had been arrested shortly after the explosion for a traffic violation—and his friend Terry Nichols. Both were former U.S. Army soldiers and were associated with the extreme right-wing and militant Patriot movement. Two days after the bombing and shortly before he was to be released for his traffic violation, McVeigh was identified and charged as a suspect, and Nichols later voluntarily surrendered to police. McVeigh was convicted on 11 counts of murder, conspiracy, and using a weapon of mass destruction and was executed in 2001—the first person executed for a federal crime in the United States since 1963. Nichols avoided the death penalty but was convicted of conspiracy and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to life in prison. Other associates were convicted of failing to inform authorities about their prior knowledge of the conspiracy, and some observers believed that still other participants were involved in the attack.

Although McVeigh and Nichols were not directly connected with any major political group, they held views characteristic of the broad Patriot movement, which feared authoritarian plots by the U.S. federal government and corporate elites. At its most extreme, the Patriot movement denied the legitimacy of the federal government and law enforcement. One manifestation of the rightist upsurge was the formation of armed militia groups, which, according to some sources, claimed a national membership of about 30,000 by the mid-1990s. The militias justified their existence by claiming a right to armed self-defense against an allegedly oppressive government. In this context, the date of the Oklahoma City attack was doubly significant, falling on two notable anniversaries. April 19 marked both Patriots’ Day, the anniversary of the American rebellion against British authority at Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1775, and the date on which federal agents brought the Waco siege to a culmination by raiding the compound of the heavily armed Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas, in 1993. McVeigh claimed that the building in Oklahoma City was targeted to avenge the more than 70 deaths at Waco. Following the Oklahoma City attack, media and law enforcement officials began intense investigations of the militia movement and other armed extremist groups.

Speaking at a nationally televised memorial service in Oklahoma City a few days after the attack, U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton said, in part,

To all my fellow Americans beyond this hall, I say, one thing we owe those who have sacrificed is the duty to purge ourselves of the dark forces which gave rise to this evil. They are forces that threaten our common peace, our freedom, our way of life.

Let us teach our children that the God of comfort is also the God of righteousness. Those who trouble their own house will inherit the wind. Justice will prevail.

A chain-link fence that was erected shortly after the bombing to protect the site soon became a makeshift memorial to those killed in the incident and was festooned with condolence messages, poems, and countless other mementos. That fence became part of the permanent Outdoor Symbolic Memorial (which also includes a reflecting pool and a field of 168 empty chairs) that was dedicated in 2000. A year later the museum portion of Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum was opened.

East African Embassy Bombings

On August 7, 1998, nearly simultaneous bombs blew up in front of the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Two hundred and twenty-four people died in the blasts, including 12 Americans, and more than 4,500 people were wounded.

In the aftermath of the attacks, over 900 FBI agents alone—and many more FBI employees—traveled overseas to assist in the recovery of evidence and the identification of victims at the bomb sites and to track down the perpetrators.

These attacks were soon directly linked to al Qaeda. To date, more than 20 people have been charged in connection with the bombings. Several of these individuals—including Usama bin Laden—have been killed. Six are serving life sentences in U.S. prison, and a few others are awaiting trial.

The KENBOM and TANBOM investigations—as the FBI calls them—represented at that time the largest deployment in Bureau history. They led to ramped up anti-terror efforts by the United States and by the FBI, including an expanded Bureau overseas presence that can quickly respond to acts of terrorism that involve Americans.

The investigation continues, with the following fugitives still wanted for their alleged roles in the attacks:

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