American Survey Team Member in Hiroshima

A member of the first American Survey Team explores the devastation near the financial district. Note radiators that survived fires in foreground, and complete destruction as a result of the firestorm. The first Americans arrived in Hiroshima on September 4, 1945, and immediately reported radiation sickness to scientists on Saipan. However, while radiation was expected, the possibility of overdose was discounted. US Army General Leslie Groves, manager of the Manhattan Project, ordered Brigadier General Thomas F. Farrell to proceed to Hiroshima with scientists and a medical team. They arrived on September 8 and immediately began to measure the city to determine the impact hypocenter by measuring the angle of the shadows of the people and objects incinerated by the bomb. Cooperation with Japanese scientists was marked by mutual distrust and discounting of the abilities of each side, complicated by the lingering war animosity. The Nagasaki physicians ordered their surviving nurses to hide, fearing they would be raped by the Americans. The teams were limited by the available transportation, which had to be flown or shipped by sea as the rail lines were jammed with refugees. Through 1947, American scientific teams examined Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but little effort was made to provide medical support to radiation poisoned survivors. A high death rate continued for several years, as radiation, injury, and poor diet and sanitation combined to kill thousands of people who survived the initial attack. Eventually the Japanese and Americans set up the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) at the end of 1945, but with most records destroyed, who had a legitimate claim to assistance remained in dispute. Survivors, known as hibakusha ("explosion-affected people") are still struggling with their injuries and cancers.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Saturday, September 8, 1945
Hiroshima Prefecture