... and no lessons have been learned
At 8:15am on 6 August 1945, a nuclear bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima by an American B-29 Superfortress bomber, the Enola Gay, flown by Colonel Paul Tibbets.
- The blast and subsequent fire devastated an area of five square miles (13 square kilometres).
- More than 60% of the city's buildings were completely destroyed.
- An estimated 80,000 people died immediately, but injuries and radiation took the final death toll to around 140,000 from Hiroshima's population of 350,000.
Below, thousands of people were instantly carbonised in a blast that was thousands of times hotter than the sun's surface; further from the epicentre, birds ignited in mid-flight, eyeballs popped and internal organs were sucked from bodies of victims.
By the end of the day an estimated 160,000 were dead or injured and the bomb's "ghosts" walked the city - thousands of initial survivors who would die within days, often with the word mizu -water - on their lips. Many more subsequently died - and are still dying - from various cancers.
J Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant scientist who oversaw the building of the bomb, was more ambiguous about his creation. He famously said after the first test detonation: "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."
Truman's successor, President Dwight Eisenhower, also had reservations. In a 1963 interview with Newsweek magazine, he said: "The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."
Joe Stiborik remembered the crew sitting in stunned silence on the return flight. The only words he recollected hearing were Lewis's "My God, what have we done." He explained, "I was dumbfounded. Remember, nobody had ever seen what an A-bomb could do before. Here was a whole damn town nearly as big as Dallas, one minute all in good shape and the next minute disappeared and covered with fires and smoke. [...] There was almost no talk I can remember on our trip back to the base. It was just too much to express in words, I guess. We were all in a kind of state of shock. I think the foremost thing in all our minds was that this thing was going to bring an end to the war and we tried to look at it that way."
In 2005, Van Kirk came as close as he ever got to regret. “I pray no man will have to witness that sight again. Such a terrible waste, such a loss of life. We unleashed the first atomic bomb, and I hope there will never be another. I pray that we have learned a lesson for all time. But I'm not sure that we have.”