The First Man To See The Damage Of Hiroshima Part II

Captain John Harvey
B-29 Flight Deck

Picking up the story from yesterday. This is narrative from a man named Captain John Harvey, a 25 year old B-29 pilot who flew bombing missions over the Japanese islands and recounts his one day flight to tour the damage wrought upon Japan in the last days of the war.

As I explained previously, I still have to fill in his career details, but John Harvey was a combat pilot, not n English teacher. So every grammatical and spelling error that I reproduced here only adds to the authenticity of the tale, and an understanding of the young people who comprised the Greatest Generation.


Between Shizuoka and Hamamatsu, we visited many of the smaller towns. In every town not burned, there were at least 3 and 4  bread lines.  Just off the coast here there were thousands of people wading, hunting for sea weed and snails to eat. It here we scared hell out of a group of Japs. Dove at them, chasing them all over the area. Went over one driving a byke down the road and the prop wash blew him and his byke head over byke for 10 feet. The women all seemed interested interested when we flew over, but the men, or I should say the older men, wouldn’t look at all. Workers in fields would stop work and start pointing up at us and some children would run.  I saw one fellow fall flat on his face when we went over, though we were at 600  feet then and my tail gunner reported he lay flat there for as far as we could see him. I might as well add here, that for five and one half hours I was flying over the Empire, it is a beautiful peaceful country, every bit of like pictures we see. Too bad Toyama got hold of it and the stupid people who inhabit the land.




Finally we got to Hamamatsu and as the rest, nothing  there except ruble. In Hamamatsu as in all the towns, there were no people or activity of any kind, just the bread lines in the smaller towns. Crossed the “Hamana To” over to Toyohashi and then up to Okazaki. All along the route we were going over airfields with the Jap planes lined up on the ground, but at Okazaki we found a flock of Bettys, so the General wanted to see them and down we went. Their airfields are very poor – runways are no good nor are the hangars. I used to see these runways on bombing missions and thought they looked good, however closer observation shows different. Concrete work is poor and the strips run opposite ours. We run our concrete strips parallel the direction of the runway and they do it crossways. Now we go up to Nagoya. This town we were given 21% destroyed. Well Nagoya is like Tokyo, factories are all burned out as is the city itself. The General, after thirty minutes over Nagoya, turned to me and said “I’ll give you 60% of this Major.” So we go along to Ise Wan to Yokkaichi and then to Tsu. From Tsu we flew overland to Osaka.


Now Osaka, Amo-GaSaki, Nishi-No-Miyo and Kobe were of great interest to us. We made many trips to that area – lost a lot of ships and gained some gray. Well they gave us 35% on Osaka and Kobe 50%. We always maintained they were ridiculously low. I am now convinced we got well above both. The Gen. mention that whoever estimated it was way off. These twons are ruined from the docks to the hills.  There is again, no life or activity at all in the town.

“We don’t like to think that the Atomic bomb had won the war. Not after taking that trip. I didn’t. As I see it, it is like an old man tumbling down a hill, the Atomic bomb just gave him a push and the old man fell.”


From Kobe, we visited various towns down to Hiroshima where my eyes had to tell me what the bomb had done. First, let me give you how it was dropped. This particular day we didn’t run a mission in spite of the fact that the Empire was clear.  So one B-29 was on it’s way to Hiroshima. The japsn never called alerts for single ships, partly because they knew one B-29 never carried bombs, but came up to photo and was too high to catch. The other reason was, their coast radar isn’t so hot. What I am getting at is the destruction I saw in Hiroshima caught every human in it. There was no crater in the town and no buildings in a five mile radius that wasn’t damaged. In a three mile area, everything was flat. In all the town there were two 2 concrete structures standing and both scorched. All bridges were left standing over the river, but super structure was blown clean of floor of the bridge. Ob the hills around there are some fresh forest burns. I could go on but I repeat myself.


All in all, the Japanese people are in trouble and as time goes on, I believe it will be much worse. However, the beauty of the islands of Hoydo, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu will not change. We don’t like to think that the Atomic bomb had won the war. Not after taking that trip. I didn’t. As I see it,  it is like an old man tumbling down a hill, the Atomic bomb just gave him a push and the old man fell.

By the way, I hear I might be taking another General up in a few days. This trip last 19 hours and 50 minutes.


An Infantry General, a prisoner for 3 years), was flown back to states via Guam after being released from a War Prison camp. When he reached Guam he wanted to be taken out to our field.  Well he got out of a staff car in front of a B-29, looked through and around it and then stood in front of this ship for about 5 minutes without saying a word and then just started to cry, got into the staff car and went back to the AIC Field.





Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *