The official tolls are almost certainly an undercount. The morgues are overflowing. Those are the facts. But where is the grief? When we first started getting the news out of Italy, and then Spain, with frightening daily numbers comparable with what is now happening in New York, that news seemed to be delivered with holy awe. In the American papers, I usually have to do some searching to find how many people have died in the past day. The front pages here seem to often carry news of the financial markets or of the political squabbles of the day. But what I want is to be directly confronted with the fact, the enormity, the irreducible sadness of all these deaths.
Fuel was getting dangerously low and the hornets’ nest of defence they had stirred up below was an unacceptable risk for a plane carrying so destructive a weapon. Sweeney conferred by intercom with Beahan and the weaponeer, Lieutenant-Commander Frederick Ashworth. They decided to leave Kokura and head for Nagasaki, 160km to the south. The weather there didn’t look any more promising than Kokura, but the only other approved target, Niigata in northern Honshu, was too far away for their remaining fuel. Sweeney gathered his composure and asked the navigator, ‘Jim, give me the heading for Nagasaki.’