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Sinecure at Imperial College


Hiroshima and the end of Bomber Command
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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We were then going to have a strategic bombing force in Okinawa to bomb Japan. It was an arrangement between Churchill and Roosevelt that Britain should have a share in the bombing of Japan which Arthur Harris was very anxious to do. And so we were going to fly to Okinawa and have everything there, the Headquarters and the Operational Research and everything else. This was called Tiger Force, and it was all ready to fly in August 1945 and we were going to fly with it; and then of course Hiroshima came and so we didn't go - lucky for us - and so I welcomed Hiroshima, of course. It was clear, if we had gone to Okinawa, we would have killed more people in a couple of months than died at Hiroshima, so from our point of view Hiroshima was pure gain and put an end to the whole bloody nonsense. So, after that, the Command disbanded very rapidly, so the Operational Research section disintegrated within a few weeks.

Freeman Dyson (1923-2020), who was born in England, moved to Cornell University after graduating from Cambridge University with a BA in Mathematics. He subsequently became a professor and worked on nuclear reactors, solid state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics and biology. He published several books and, among other honours, was awarded the Heineman Prize and the Royal Society's Hughes Medal.

Listeners: Sam Schweber

Silvan Sam Schweber is the Koret Professor of the History of Ideas and Professor of Physics at Brandeis University, and a Faculty Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of a history of the development of quantum electro mechanics, "QED and the men who made it", and has recently completed a biography of Hans Bethe and the history of nuclear weapons development, "In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist" (Princeton University Press, 2000).

Tags: Hiroshima, Okinawa, Japan, 1945, WWII, RAF Bomber Command, Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt, Arthur Harris

Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008