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What was the Role of Great Britain in the Bombing of Hiroshima?

The bombing of Japan left a big scar in humanity’s history. It devastated millions of lives and changed the course of Japan’s future in an instant. While the US did the deed, did you know that its ally, Great Britain, had a hand in it too?

There was a standing treaty regarding nuclear research and its eventual usage during battle during the second world war. The US had to have Great Britain’s consent before it leveled out Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki

During the second world war, the US already had a secret program, The Manhattan Project, already in place. It was one of the best-kept secrets the government had, and it was responsible for creating Little Boy and Fat Man, the atomic bombs which would be used later on. (Source: Fantastic Facts)

By 1945, the US launched the Target Committee, the meeting where they strategically chose the Japanese cities they were to target. One of its members was General Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project.

The committee agreed that the targets should be significant urban centers with a circumference of at least 3 miles and have a high strategic value. Amongst that who made the list were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Source: Fantastic Facts)

The meeting reached its conclusion, and on August 6, 1945, an American B-29 bomber named Enola Gay flew over Hiroshima. It dropped the atomic bomb over the city, marking the world’s first-ever deployed nuclear bomb. The explosion killed approximately 80,000 people, and a few more thousand would die afterward caused by radiation exposure.

Hiroshima’s bombing was followed by Nagasaki’s three days later. The death toll reached more than 40,000. This led to the Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s unconditional surrender as aired over the radio on August 15, 1945, citing the devastating power of the new and most cruel bomb. (Source: Fantastic Facts)

The Quebec Agreement

The devastation of the bombings was always credited to the US Forces, but little did we know that Great Britain had a hand in making this happen. At the same time as the Manhattan Project, the British secret Tube Alloys Project (TA) was also developing its atomic bomb. (Source: Manhattan Project Voices)

Upon discovering each nation’s efforts in creating nuclear weapons, the Americans and the British came into a mutual understanding, forming the Quebec Agreement. The agreement stipulated terms that both nations were to coordinate their developments with each other. Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt signed the deal on August 19, 1943, just two years before the second world war ended.

The British project handed over all of its research and documentation to the US government. They were to receive all copies of all progress reports concerning the nuclear weapons development as the TA Project was incorporated into the Manhattan Project.

The agreement had a section titled Articles of Agreement governing collaboration between the authorities of the USA and UK in the matter of Tube Alloys. The leaders agreed that they would never use the weapons developed against each other. They will not use it against third parties without each other’s consent and will not communicate any information about it to third parties except through mutual agreement.

With this stipulation in place, the US had to seek out consent from the British before they launched the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to which it was given to them. (Source: Military History)

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