Was dropping two Atom bombs necessary?

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by joshposh, Jul 16, 2016.

  1. joshposh

    joshposh New Member

    Historians do have different opinions as to why the USA dropped two Atom bombs on Japan. Russia did make a push on Japan just before the first bomb was dropped. So there was support from allied troops. So why didn't the USA just land and make it's way to the capitol?

    My opinion is this, the USA dropped the bombs because they ran out of money to support the war. It was the most cost effective way to do it as a lengthy ground campaign was too taxing. Two bombs was more feasible then more American lives.

    Does anyone else have different opinions on the matter?
  2. GearZ

    GearZ Member

    This is a very hotly debated topic, as I'm sure you are aware.

    Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of the Japanese homeland, would likely have been successful, but it would have been a bloodbath for all concerned. And it is true that the American people were feeling serious war fatigue at that time.

    At least some onus rests upon the Japanese leadership though. At that stage in the war, the Japanese were beaten back to the home islands. Their Axis allies lay in ruins, capitulated, or both. Shipping, including food supply, in or out of Japan was curtailed due to Allied operations. The Soviets, finally, entered the war against Japan. There was, quite literally, no way they could win at that point. Truman famously declared at the Potsdam conference that unless Japan surrendered it would face, quote, "prompt and utter destruction". And yet they continued on despite the fact it was clear the war was over.

    So were two A-Bombs necessary? I'd say so, considering all the factors involved. It still couldn't have been an easy call. An anyone who disagrees on that point, well, I can certainly understand their perspective considering the awesome power of atomic weapons. Honest people can disagree on this one.
  3. joshposh

    joshposh New Member

    You should watch the documentary "Japan in Colour". It's color footage of the War through the eyes of the people. They talk about the end of the war and how every single person was going to fight with sticks in their hands when the Americans landed.

  4. GearZ

    GearZ Member

    Thank you for the video; I've got this one bookmarked. And, indeed, they were going to throw everything at the Allied forces in one last ditch defense. The Japanese Volunteer Fighting Corps was, in many respects, similar to the Nazi Volkssturm.
  5. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    The Russians had not the sea lift capability to invade the Japanese home islands. They had a vague plan for the invasion of Hokkaido while the fighting was still raging on Sakhalin to the north, but that plan only allowed for the lift of but a single rifle regiment at a time from a port on Sakhalin they had yet to fully secure. The Japanese had a division, plus, waiting for them. Not to mention that when Stalin messaged Truman that they had this plan in the works, Truman reminded him that the occupation demarkation line was the La Perouse Strait, between Sakhalin and Hokkaido, and Stalin needed to keep his forces on his side, thank you very much. Stalin told his far east command to forget about it. There would be no Soviet assistance to a US/Commonwealth invasion of the home islands.

    Actually there was some discussion of skipping the preliminary invasion of Kyushu (especially as the intel types watched the buildup of Japanese forces on that island) and striking a coup-de-main straight across the Kwanto to Tokyo, but it never got passed the " . . . you know, we should just bypass Kyushu and . . ." phase before being OBE.

    The US was not even close to being out of money to prosecute the war. Carrier forces were striking home island targets at will, roughly three strike days on, two replenishment day off. The B-29s from Saipan & Tinian had burned out major cities (except for a few, among which were Nakasaki and Hiroshima, which both the USAAF and USN were forbidden to strike) and was working down a list of lessor cities, rapidly headed for the village level. USAAF bombers and fighters out of Okinawa and Iwo Jima piling in on targets deemed unworthy of the B-29 efforts. In the meantime troops, tanks aircraft, and ships were on their way, or soon would be, from both Europe, where they had become somewhat superfulous, and the US mainland itself. Training of USN, USMC, and USA personnel continued apace at bases and stations across the country. An while all that was going production of all the wherewithal to continue the war continued at facilities across the country, including the nice folks with the Manhatten Project, busily building more bombs of their very special nature. No, money was not an issue.

    I hate this game, I really do. In a few short days, the beginning of August we will see the usual eruption of posts asking the same questions or bleating of accusations of uninformed, imaginary war crimes.

    My father was Lieutent Commander and assistant operations officer on Vice Admiral McCain's staff of the Fast Carrier Task Force operating off the coast of the Japan at the time. He wrote home in serial letter letters, each covering about a week or so, I have most of them, some snippets:

    The entry dated 7 August 1945:
    "Guess you have been reading about 'the bomb' as everyone else has. It has been quite an interesting and depressing topic for me. All I can say, I can't think of any other people who I would prefer to posses it and no better target upon which it should be used. Just the same, it can be quite a problem for the future. Then again, with the right control it may insure the future. All the same, it's dangerous and I just have my doubts whether we are ready to control such power. Such worries did not trouble the man who invented gunpowder."

    On the installment for the 8th, he continued:
    "Lots of news has been coming in about the big bomb, but not much to rely on as to the Jap reaction. They are too unpredictable to depend on even when bopped this hard. Press notice seems to give this bomb quite a bopping factor. Hope it never has to be used again.”

    On the 10th:
    “Things have been doing pretty well the last day or so and tonight’s news makes it look as though this war is about in its last hours. The news about the Russians coming into the fight seemed insignificant beside the news about the bomb and then both of them seem insignificant in the light of the news of a possible surrender. It’s too close to see just what effect that is going to have on our immediate movements, but, gosh, it is something and the possibilities leave me excited.”

    But the war went on. On the 11th:
    “Busy day as usual. Seems to be much expectation in the air but not much change of plans at this point.”

    On the 13th:
    “Looks as though I were dreaming just dreams the other night because we are back in business as usual without a let-up. Today was a pretty active one if you noticed. If these people want to fight, we are just the ones to oblige them. To coin a term I might say they will be obliged by experts.”

    Bottom line . . .

    Yes, the bombs, both of them, were necessary, absolutely, no question. And, no, they were not to impress the Soviets.

    The purpose the bombs were to slap the Japanese leadership hard enough that they would pay attention and realize that to continue the contest would mean eventual destruction of their entire country and people. The first one came close, but failed. The second got their attention.

  6. joshposh

    joshposh New Member

    Who said anything about impressing the Russians? Why would anyone suggest that nuclear bombs were to impress a country?

    War bonds were sold to help pay for the war. If that wasn't a indication that the war was too taxing then I don't know what is. People got tired of it and instead of landing in Japan the cut off and destroyed all trains and boats that tried to bring in supplies.

    If your a moderator then delete those redundant threads. If not maybe you should be a bit nicer to those that are having a peaceful dialogue. We were having a decent conversation til you came in the picture, Captian Buzzkill.

    Maybe we should all leave this forum and let you post to yourself.
  7. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Not being a moderator, I can respond to any thread I wish in any manner I wish so long as I do not cast personal aspersions. So, let me make sure I understand you . . . You invited comment, you did, did you not? Did you not write:
    Well, my goodness, you issue the invitation, but when someone writes something not in keeping with your world view you proceed to bluster, vilify and resort to name calling. That certainly does not sound like a
    I’d point out that you are the one calling names, not I, and then you have the audacity to be asking for a “. . . peaceful dialogue.”

    You asked about a direct invasion on Tokyo, and I provided some actual historical information, information that even supported, as far as it would go, your strategic concept. You are welcome.

    And true, you never mentioned impressing the Soviets, but sure as there are little green apples, sooner or later someone will raise that hoary fable. My comment was pre-emptive. Are you really that prone to perceive offense where there is none? I bet that makes life interesting, though not particularly a social enhancer.

    I’m truly sorry that, apparently from your writing, have not particularly looked into Soviet capabilities in the Far East. True, they rolled up the Japanese forces in Manchuria and northern Korea, but, so sorry, they had no capability for invading the home islands as you seem to want to imply in your initial posting as an assist to any invasion by the US & Commonwealth forces gathering for the invasion of Kyushu. Sorry, and no offense, but you need to read more on the subject. I could suggest some pretty good studies on the matter, but I am not in the business of doing research or providing research sources for people who resort to ad hominem attacks.

    Likewise, from your writings, I am sorry to say that you seem to have a basic misunderstanding of bonds, war or otherwise, sold by governments and in the US that means local, state, and federal, for the purpose of raising money . . . bonds that were and are sold to investors, even individuals, for a discount value with an expectation of a return on their investment at some point in the future, the future or face value. Taxes alone did not and will not cover the cost of major capital investments, thus the need to raise money through the sale of bonds . . . there was no great big safe in the US Treasury which was chock full of cash to pay for the war effort. And those war bonds? All were redeemed at their future value, there was no default. May I suggest that you sit in on some classes on government finance, money and banking, and the bond market? Truly, entire college semester courses are routinely offered on theses subjects . . . not the sort of things one could adequately explain in even the simplest terms in the basic internet forum . . . you may find such courses enlightening. Oh, and the various war bond offerings? They were all sell outs, that is investors, yes, the citizens, bought up each and every one of them.

    Between the sea mines sowed by the USN and the USAAF, the roving strikes of fighters and bombers from USN carriers or from USAAF forces on Okinawa, and USN submarines, Japanese commerce, the ability to move goods, especially food, had virtually ground to a halt. Coal shipments from the coal fields in Hokkaido (where, if you bothered to read up on it, most of the Japanese coal industry and all of its oil production were centered) had been brought to a halt by the 14 and 15 Jul 45 carrier air strikes on the coal train ferries and other vessels operating in the area of the Tsugaru Strait between Aomori on Honshu and Hakodate on Hokkaido. Warships sunk over the two days of strikes were not many as most of the IJN was in the waters of the Inland Sea:

    Tachibana, Destroyer, approx tons 1000
    Coast Defense Vessel No 65, Frigate, approx tons 800
    Coast Defense Vessel No 74, Frigate, approx tons 800
    Coast Defense Vessel No 219, Frigate, approx tons 800
    Minesweeper No 24, Minesweeper, approx tons 630
    Total 5 warships, 4030 tons approx displacement

    On the other hand, merchant vessels sunk in these strikes were:
    Hiran Maru, Coal train ferry rated 3459 tons
    Matsumae Maru, Coal train ferry rated 3129 tons
    Tsugaru Maru, Coal train ferry rated 3484 tons
    Seikan Maru No 1, Coal train ferry rated 2326 tons
    Seikan Maru No 2, Coal train ferry rated 2493 tons
    Seikan Maru No 3, Coal train ferry rated 2787 tons
    Seikan Maru No 4, Coal train ferry rated 2903 tons
    Seikan Maru No 10, Coal train ferry rated 2900 tons
    Shoan Maru, Coal train ferry rated 2900 tons
    Awa Maru, Cargo ship rated 1960 tons
    Eiho Maru, Cargo ship rated 741 tons
    Eireki Maru, Cargo ship rated 6923 tons
    Hokoku Maru, Cargo ship rated 1274 tons
    Hokuryu Maru No 23, Cargo ship rated 1550 tons
    Imizu Maru, Cargo ship rated 986 tons
    Nissen Maru No 6, Cargo ship rated 521 tons
    Kiodo Maru No 13, Cargo ship rated 1996 tons
    Toyu Maru, Cargo ship rated 1256 tons
    Unyo Maru No 1, Cargo ship rated 2039 tons
    Senzan Maru, Cargo ship rated 1151 tons
    Shimosa Maru, Cargo ship rated 887 tons
    Shoho Maru, Transport ship rated 3460 tons
    Taisei Maru, Cargo ship rated 884 tons
    Taka Maru, Cargo ship rated 887 tons
    Shoka Maru, Transport ship rated 1931 tons
    Hirano Maru, Cargo ship rated 1226 tons
    Tokai Maru, Cargo ship rated 3099 tons
    Shoho Maru, Cargo ship rated 1327 tons
    Taisho Maru No 1, Cargo ship rated 605 tons
    Total: 29 ships, 61,084 tons

    Merely listed as damaged were an additional 3 coal train ferries, 1 destroyer, 3 escort destroyers, 4 coast defense vessels, 1 submarine chaser, 3 auxiliary minesweepers, 3 auxiliary submarine chasers, 1 guard boat, and 19 transport/cargo vessels, 2 tankers and 1 harbor dredge.

    And you could justifiably ask, “No coal? So what? What makes that so important?” Well, first of all, most of Japan gets cold in the winter and, then, cooking for the average Japanese in those days meant coal, so there would be next to none. Then of course, though the US had no crystal ball to predict it, the rice crop failed in 1945, so one might guess a lack of coal would ultimately mean a large portion of the population having little, with next to nothing, to cook, but no problem, nothing to cook it with. Of course, the dearth of food stuffs and an almost complete inability to transport what food there was to where it might be needed (except to insure the army got first takes on rations before civilians) would tend to have an unpleasant impact on the population. One might suppose that had Fleet Admirals King and Nimitz had their way, absent either the atomic or an invasion, the Japanese would have eventually been starved into submission . . . of course, that means children, old people, and women would be the first to go, slowly, painfully. Not a very happy alternative and certain to produce more deaths than the bombs or, perhaps, even an invasion. One of the fears of the Japanese government was indeed the vision of impending mass starvation causing a popular uprising.

    And, I’m really sorry to burst your balloon, but the bombs, both of them, were indeed to impress that same Japanese government, to convince them that to continue would be tantamount to national total destruction. Unfortunately, it took two to do the job.

    I am truly even sorrier that real history annoys you to the point of shooting the messenger . . . maybe you should heed your own advice until you (a) grow a thicker skin or (b) actually know something about the subjects you raise.
    Showmethefacts likes this.
  8. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    @ R,

    Even if Japan were to starve to death slowly, there would not be any uprising.
    First, the Japanese civilians were very loyal to their government in general. They would rather blame the mass starvation on the enemies instead of their own government.

    Second, a uprising would do no good when there is no food whatsoever. The Japanese people were brainwashed so most of them would not surrender. Only a government issued official surrender would make them surrender.

    If no A-bomb were dropped, the Japanese government would continue to resist since they actually believed they could cause enough causality to invasion force to force more favorable ceasefire terms.

    Meanwhile, if the Japanese were not forced to surrender early, not only more Japanese would die, but also a lot more people in occupied areas would die. Some of the stories had mentioned that Japanese forces in East Asia committed more mass murder toward the end of the war.
  9. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    I am always amazed when people cannot or will not accept the simple and obvious answer. The bombs were dropped to force a surrender and avoid the certain bloodbath and huge US casualties that an invasion of the Japanese homeland would cause. One bomb did not have the desired effect, so a second bomb was dropped. It was not about money, it was not about the Russians, it was about avoiding US casualties and bringing the fighting to a swift end.
    Showmethefacts likes this.
  10. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Ockham's Razor . . . surely does seem to befuddle a lot of folks.
  11. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    And a Happy VJ day to one and all; 75 years ago today.
    aghart likes this.
  12. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    And just to come back around . . . and in truth stumbled on the tome noted below while looking today for something altogether different:

    Were one to bother to read up on the subject. rather than guess, results of the 8 war bond drives (1 thru 7 and an post-war “Victory Drive,”) were:

    First War Loan Drive - Nov 30 to Dec 23, 1942
    Sales Goal 9,000,000,000
    Total Sales 12,947,000,000

    Second War Loan Drive - Apr 12 to May 1, 1943
    Sales Goal 13,000,000,000
    Total Sales 18,555,000,000

    Third War Loan Drive - Sep 9 to Oct 1, 1943
    Sales Goal 15,000,000,000
    Total Sales 19,000,000,000

    Fourth War Loan Drive - Jan 18 to Feb 15, 1944
    Sales Goal 14,000,000,000
    Total Sales 16,730,000,000

    Fifth War Loan Drive - June 12 to July 8, 1944
    Sales Goal 16,000,000,000
    Total Sales 20,639,000,000

    Sixth War Loan Drive - Nov 20 to Dec 16, 1944
    Sales Goal 14,000,000,000
    Total Sales 21,650,000,000

    Seventh War Loan Drive - May 14 to June 30, 1945
    Sales Goal 14,000,000,000
    Total Sales 26,310,000,000

    Victory War Loan Drive - Oct 29 to Dec 8, 1945
    Sales Goal 11,000,000,000
    Total Sales 21,140,000,000

    So, as is evident, war bonds drives were somewhat more than sell outs.

    This information is easily available were one to lift one’s fingers to type like maybe, for a quick brush, https://librarydukeedu/specialcollections/scriptorium/adaccess/warbondshtml#:~:text=Over%20107%25%20of%20the%20individual,sales%20totaled%20almost%20%2419%20billion&text=Begun%20on%20January%2018%2C%201944,was%20set%20at%20%2414%20billion

    Or, just in case someone might really want to dive into the subject, go to here https://archive.org/details/payingforworldwa00mors?q=Paying for a World War Financing World War 2 and, there you go, 354 pages on the war bond programs.

    The internet makes researching so easy, makes you wonder why folks can't find things themselves.

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