Memorandum on the Use of S-1 Bomb

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Memorandum on the Use of S-1 Bomb  (1945) 
Ralph Austin Bard
A memorandum written on 27 June 1945 by United States Navy Under Secretary Ralph Austin Bard to United States Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson stating his opinion that Japan should receive "some preliminary warning" before the use of the atomic bomb, which was code-named "S-1." Bard, along with Stimson and six others, were members of the Interim Committee appointed to advise President Harry S. Truman on the use of atomic bomb.[1]

On 1 June 1945, the committee arrived at a consensus that the bomb should be used on Japan as soon as possible and without prior warning.[2] Bard, however, developed second thoughts. After conferring with George L. Harrison, Stimson's assistant who served as the committee's secretary, Bard expressed them in a one-page typewritten memorandum that Harrison sent to Stimson the following day.

Originally stamped "Secret" and "Top Secret," the memorandum was declassified in 1971.

Memorandum on the Use of S-1 Bomb:

Ever since I have been in touch with this program I have had a feeling that before the bomb is actually used against Japan that Japan should have some preliminary warning for say two or three days in advance of use. The position of the United States as a great humanitarian nation and the fair play attitude of our people generally is responsible in the main for this feeling.

During recent weeks I have also had the feeling very definitely that the Japanese government may be searching for some opportunity which they could use as a medium of surrender. Following the three-power conference emissaries from this country could contact representatives from Japan somewhere on the China Coast and make representations with regard to Russia's position and at the same time give them some information regarding the proposed use of atomic power, together with whatever assurances the President might care to make with regard to the Emperor of Japan and the treatment of the Japanese nation following unconditional surrender. It seems quite possible to me that this presents the opportunity which the Japanese are looking for.

I don't see that we have anything particular to lose in following such a program. The stakes are so tremendous that it is my opinion very real consideration should be given to some plan of this kind. I do not believe under present circumstances existing that there is anyone in this country whose evaluation of the chances of the success of such a program is worth a great deal. The only way to find out is to try it out.


[signature] RALPH A. BARD [3]

Notes[edit]

  1. The other members were: James F. Byrnes, former United States Senator soon to be United States Secretary of State, as President Truman's personal representative; William L. Clayton, Assistant Secretary of State; Vannevar Bush, Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development and president of the Carnegie Institution; Karl T. Compton, Chief of the Office of Field Service in the Office of Scientific Research and Development and president of Institute of Technology; James B. Conant, Chairman of the National Defense Research Committee and president of Harvard University; and George L. Harrison, an assistant to Stimson and president of New York Life Insurance Company.
  2. Log of the Interim Committee Meeting, June 1, 1945, pp. 8-9
  3. Source: Roll 6, file 76, Harrison-Bundy Files Relating to the Development of the Atomic Bomb, 1942-1946, M1108, Records of the Office of the Commanding General, Manhattan Project, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Record Group 77, National Archives and Records Administration. Description of contents available at National Archives: Guide to Federal Records. Facsimile of memorandum available at:George Washington University: National Security Archive
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).