On this day in 1945, in an attempt to avert an invasion of the Japanese islands by American troops and to force an end World War 2, US forces dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It was the first of its kind to be used in warfare, but another bombing followed three days later in Nagasaki.
On August 14, Emperor Hirohito broadcast to the Japanese people the acceptance of unconditional surrender outlined in the Potsdam Declaration. Occupation of the islands began in late August and the formal surrender signing ceremony took place on September 2, officially ending the fighting in the Pacific Theater.
The bomb that was dropped from the American Boeing B-29 Superfortress plane named “Enola Gay” (after the pilot’s mother) is estimated to have killed approximately 150,000 people.
All images courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, except where noted.
- Telegram from Admiral Richard Edwards to Admiral William Leahy Regarding the Hiroshima Bomb, August 6, 1945. President (1945-1953 : Truman). Office of the Personal Secretary.
- Pre-attack mosaic view of Hiroshima, Japan, April 13, 1945. War Department. U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey. Pacific Survey. Physical Damage Division.
- At the time this photo was made, smoke billowed 20,000 feet above Hiroshima while smoke from the burst of the first atomic bomb had spread over 10,000 feet on the target at the base of the rising column. Two planes of the 509th Composite Group, part of the 313th Wing of the 20th Air Force, participated in this mission, one to carry the bomb, the other to act as escort, August 6, 1945. Department of Defense. Department of the Air Force.
- Post-attack mosaic view of Hiroshima, Japan, August 11, 1945. War Department. U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey. Pacific Survey. Physical Damage Division.
- Thomas W. Ferebee, ca.1960. On August 6, 1945 during World War II, Davie County native and Enola Gay bombardier Thomas W. Ferebee released the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan contributing to the unconditional surrender by Japan eight days later. Courtesy Davie County Public Library via the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.
- Hiroshima ruins, 1945. Courtesy of Special Collections, Doheny Memorial Library, Libraries, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
- Boeing B-29 Superfortress (Enola Gay). Pictured are Mel Ericksen and Enola Gay pilot Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. Courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society via Mountain West Digital Library.
- "The patient’s skin is burned in a pattern corresponding to the dark portions of a kimono worn at the time of the explosion," ca.1945. War Department. Office of the Chief of Engineers. Manhattan Engineer District.
- Footage of the effects of atomic bomb detonation on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. (5 minutes) Courtesy of WGBH via Digital Commonwealth.
- Interview with Kiyomi Sasaki [Hiroshima bombing survivor, 1987. (24 minutes). Courtesy of WGBH via Digital Commonwealth.
Learn more about Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings at DPLA.