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Japan’s Atomic Bomb: We almost lost all

Japan’s Atomic Bomb
by Leon Thompson

(Reprinted with permission of Military magazine, 2122 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. A sample copy of Military may be obtained by writing to the above address)

While reading the article by William B. Breuer entitled “Hiroshima bomb saved lives” (Oct. ’94, pg. 39), I had to chuckle to myself, because he is on the right track, but doesn’t know the half of it; the bomb saved two nations!

I was a Medic Surgical-Medical Technician from 1947-49 in the 237th Med. Disp. where we headquartered in the Meiji Building on Avenue A in downtown Ibkyo, Japan and we took “cell slides” from victims of the Hiroshima bomb. I saw mutated vegetables grown in contaminated soil after the bomb and flew over Hiroshima two years after the bombit still looked like a garbage dump. I saw the Navy ships used in the atoll tests when I was in Hawaii on my way home in 1949. . . but the best was yet to come.

One hot summer day in the park outside Japan’s Imperial Palace, I met up with Mr. Papps, an OSS Officer. His office was just a few yards down the hallway from Gen. MacArthur’s office and he invited me to see his office. As I walked into his office, I saw three top American atomic scientists going over a large diagram of some kind of device. I asked Mr. Papps what it was and he said it was the actual diagram of the Japanese atomic bomb. I asked him if it was workable. He said, “Yes.” It was just like ours and very workable. He also showed me some Japanese orders to use the bomb on the Allies when they came into Japanese waters; how they would do this was not explained.

From what I could tell, a German transport submarine No. 234 was on its way to Japan with plutonium to make the bomb more powerful. It was supposed to dock at Hiroshima, but I later learned that the submarine gave up to the Americans in the AtlanticPortsmouth, NHso they never received the plutonium, but they did have enough uranium for one bomb and were ready to use it. We dropped our bomb first.

Had we waited two weeks, the Japanese atomic bomb would have been used on our Allied fleet, and this was one of the reasons they kept dragging their feet to give up. When it became known that a third bomb would be dropped on Tokyo, they began to talk peace.

I hope that William Breuer will find the papers I saw at the OSS office because it tells a bigger story. It was really a shock to our atomic scientists to learn that the Japanese had nearly beaten us to the draw, and this is one of the reasons they would not let the story be told. We nearly lost it all, and two weeks made a big difference. I know because I personally saw the actual diagrams to the Japanese atomic bomb and they did intend to use it on us first


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