WWII Roundtable: The bombing of Hiroshima

Larry Linderman

The SaddleBrooke World War II Roundtable will present a talk by SaddleBrooke resident Mark Klicker on the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on Thursday, April 25, at 1:00 p.m. in the West Ballroom of the MountainView Clubhouse.

World War II in the Pacific theater was a totally different kind of war than in Europe. Within a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan controlled vast areas of the western Pacific. Included in Japan’s conquests were many islands where the Japanese forces had plenty of time to develop fortifications which would make their liberation by the Americans bloody and costly. Islands like Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Okinawa and others are remembered by many Americans today as places where they or their neighbors lost loved ones whose sacrifices brought victory, but at a terrible cost. The cost to the Japanese was even higher as they fought virtually to the last man, the Japanese code of bushido demanding death before surrender.

In July 1945, the Allies demanded the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, the same terms agreed to earlier by Germany and Italy. Japan refused and the war continued. American war planners estimated that an invasion of the Japanese home islands would cost up to a million casualties including up to 250,000 deaths.

For many months the U.S. Air Force had been pounding Japanese cities to rubble with conventional bombs but surrender seemed far away. Dreading a land invasion, the U.S. decided to use a heretofore never deployed secret weapon: nuclear devices commonly known as atomic bombs.

Our speaker, Mark Klicker, will deliver a talk on the history of the decision to use these new weapons of mass destruction.

From Mark: Perhaps the first time you heard of Hiroshima was from your father, an uncle or maybe an older brother who was in the service during WWII and was one of those slated to invade Japan. Others may have heard about Hiroshima when they read the book Hiroshima by John Hershey. Hiroshima has quite a history in the years prior to the war. The bombing was controversial in the U.S. even before the bomb was dropped and has been controversial ever since.

One of the little-known stories about the bombing was the death of American POWs held captive in the city. The presentation briefly will cover the militarization of Japan and their expansion in the Pacific, planning for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the story of the POWs who died there.

Mark Klicker is a SaddleBrooke resident. He holds a BA in history from the University of California at San Diego. He is a retired Marine LDO and has visited Hiroshima a number of times, most recently in December 2014.

The Roundtable does not charge dues and all SaddleBrooke residents and their guests are invited to its talks. A one-dollar donation is requested so the Roundtable can treat its speakers to lunch at one of our restaurants and to reimburse speakers for gas expense.

Once again: Thursday, April 25, 1:00 p.m., West Ballroom of the MountainView Clubhouse.