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Nagasaki


kirispupis

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Last night I went to see Oppenheimer. It was a well-done movie that certainly makes you think and I highly recommend it. There were numerous scenes that got me, but one that was a bit more personal was when they were viewing photos of the aftermath of the atomic bombs in Japan. The scene doesn't show any of the photos, but instead zeroes in on the people's faces.

Shortly after the end of WW2, my grandfather - for whom I was named - was a photographer in the Signal Corps. Instead of being sent home with the other soldiers, he was shipped away to Japan to take photos. He was so upset about being kept from his family that some of the photos he didn't turn in. He passed away some time ago, but before the negatives went bad, they were developed and then scanned in. I've never been to either city, but I believe these are of Nagasaki.

Below are some of his shots. I've deliberately not included some of the more graphic ones. I originally titled this post "destroyed cities" and was going to include a coin of Mykalessos, where one of the worst atrocities in Greek history occurred, but I decided against it.

I think these photos speak enough for themselves.

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Horrible. It's hard to believe so much devastation came from a single bomb. And then you think, that just 15-20 years later we developed bombs that were 2,000 times more powerful than this...it's hard to comprehend such destructive power.

Remarkable piece of family history too. Thanks for sharing!

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They're certainly evocative, first-hand historical documents.  I would probably contact that museum.

The photos are probably no more gruesome than what we see weekly on the Walking Dead.  One can only imagine how gruesome the aftermath of ancient battles would have been.  However, I think you picked the right ones to show.

 

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I have tickets to see Oppenheimer tomorrow. From what I hear, it likely lives up to the hype.

I have a now deceased relative who was part of the Manhattan project, but he never spoke about it until just before his death. Most of what I know about it comes from the remaining family, who found his papers and materials. He's also listed on the Manhattan Project website. He was stationed on Tinian Island and he was very likely there when the Enola Gay took off for Hiroshima.

Those are some stark, disturbing, and important photographs @kirispupis. Though it sounds a little bit strange saying so, thank you for sharing them.

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Thank you everyone for the kind words. I'll look up the museum in Hiroshima.

17 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

What was going on with the bottom picture, a blown-out crypt?

I'm not sure about this. I believe as a kid someone asked my grandfather about this photo and he mentioned that someone put that skull up there (obvious), but he didn't know who. It was some sort of religious building AFAIK. The more graphic photos depict what the atomic bombs did to individual people. They are difficult to look at and I presume most of these people didn't survive long.

Here are some other shots (non-Nagasaki) that I have.

I remember my grandfather talking about this one. He was a POW who was so happy to have been released that he made the flag himself.

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I don't know much more about this one other than it was taken in the Philippines. Most of his photos are from there and he was one of the principal photographers of the Battle of Manila. Some years ago I saw a photo presentation of the battle online and I sent an email to the National Archives asking whether my grandfather had taken those photos and they confirmed my suspicions.

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I've always liked the framing for this photo. I've tried looking up the patrol boat but I couldn't find anything. I believe this is shortly before the Japanese surrender, but I could be wrong. As I understand, of the photos we have, some are duplicates of ones sent back to headquarters and some he kept himself. The Nagasaki images above were not handed in. He handed in about 90% of his shots and we have the rest.

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General Douglas MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito.

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As you can see, my grandfather was aboard the USS Missouri for the end of WW2. We have several photos of this event. In an interview one of my cousins did with him before he died, my grandfather mentioned it was no big deal. He remarked that there were a number of famous photographers right next to him and he didn't feel his were any different, so he never bothered turning the film in. Therefore, we have a kind of "private view" of one of the most important events of the 20th century.

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Some other random facts I learned from his interview:

The story I'd always been told is that my grandfather was extremely brave because the photographers were always the first ones on the beach during a landing. I also learned that he earned a Purple Heart from being wounded.

In his interview, I learned the truth.

- He did actually land first on the beach, but in his words that was because he "was a coward". The first wave didn't suffer very much because the Japanese were still guessing where the Americans would land. The second wave was the one that was slaughtered.

- He did receive a Purple Heart, but he was never physically wounded. He got malaria. In terms of combat, he had a pistol on him. He had to learn how to use a rifle during basic training, but he never fired his pistol in combat.

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Wow, that's another round of very professional and very historical photos!

I collect old time radio.  I used to be active in collecting the original transcription recordings until that became more of a burden than a pleasure.  I had a chance to buy a radio copy of the Japanese surrender, but never got around to it. My main focus was on dramatic and music programs, but came across a decent number of news and war stuff.

Your grandfather was perhaps lucky, but was certainly no coward.  Going into a radiation zone should have gotten a Purple Heart.

My grandfather was part of the rout at the Huertgen forest and was a POW. 

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These are incredible photos and stories, thanks so much for sharing!  Just the other day I saw an exhibit on Stanley Troutman, a correspondent for the Acme news agency during WWII, who took a number photographs for the Newspaper pool from the battles of Saipan, Corregidor, and others, as well as of the aftermath of Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Amazingly he lived to be 101, and only passed away in 2020. Probably the most compelling part of the exhibit was watching a video of him, filmed in 2019, sharing some of his recollections. Being a photographer during the war seems to have been an incredibly harrowing job; I can’t imagine the amount of bravery required by your grandfather and others in similar positions. That’s amazing that your family has some of these unpublished photographs of such historical importance! I’m sure there would be museums or other institutions that would be interested in them.

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