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Category: Edwin T. Layton

Who decided who lives and dies

“I was brought into the secret of the atomic bomb because [Admiral] Nimitz insisted that his intelligence officer be fully briefed as to what was going on. This occurred when Major General Leslie Groves, the Manhattan Project’s director, arrived with representatives of the secretary of war’s ad hoc committee shortly after the first atomic bomb had been exploded in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on 16 July [1945]. After we had watched the movies of the Alamogordo test, I was convinced that if the bomb worked, it would give the Japanese a psychological ‘out’ from the terrible dilemma they were facing. Although they were defeated and knew it, they just could not surrender. I told the team from Washington that it was my firm opinion that only a decisive intervention from the emperor would end the war. The atomic bomb represented a new kind of warfare. It would give the emperor the chance to ‘turn off the faucet’ on the slaughter and end the war without loss of face. When I was asked my opinion of an appropriate target, I named Okura, an army arsenal city that had not yet been raided. Hiroshima, however, was selected.” – Rear Admiral Edwin T. Layton, U.S.N. (Ret.), And I Was There

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Taking secrets to the grave

“American suspicion of clandestine militarization had been aroused as early as 1923 when Earle Ellis, a marine corps undercover agent, had disappeared in the mandates after gaining passage to the islands on pretense of doing nature studies. Japanese authorities had informed our naval attaché only that Ellis had died of unknown causes on the island of Palau, in the western Carolines. Chief Pharmacist Lawrence Zembsch, of the American naval hospital in Yokohama that had been established in World War I, was sent to investigate the circumstances of Ellis’s death. Zembsch returned with the major’s ashes, but in a stupor, apparently drug-induced, and suffering from amnesia. He was hospitalized, with some hope that his recovery might clear the mystery. Unfortunately, Zembsch was killed in the naval hospital when it was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1 September 1923.” – Rear Admiral Edwin T. Layton, U.S.N. (Ret.), And I Was There

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And thereby hangs a tale

“In the navy she [Agnes Meyer Driscoll] was without peer as a cryptanalyst. Some of her pupils, like Ham Wright, were more able mathematicians but she had taught cryptanalysis to all of them, and none ever questioned her superb talent and determination in breaking codes and ciphers. She understood machines and how to apply them. . . . But her principal talent was her ability to get to the root of a problem, sort out its essential components, and find a way to solve it.” – Rear Admiral Edwin T. Layton, U.S.N. (Ret.), And I Was There

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