University Archives


Ashworth’s Signed Reminiscence of Dropping the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki by Mission Commander and Weaponeer

FREDERICK L. ASHWORTH, Typed Manuscript Signed, “The Atomic Bomb Attack on Nagasaki, 9 August, 1945,” ca. 1985. Endorsed on first page, “Frederick L. Ashworth / Commander US Navy / ‘Weaponeer’ – in crew / B-29 Bockscar / Nagasaki – 9 Aug. 1945.” 19 pp., 8.5" x 11". Very good.

In this riveting memoir, mission commander Ashworth provides details of the atomic bombing mission to Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. “In about twenty seconds he called out, ‘Bomb away!’ and we felt the jolt as the ten thousand pound bomb left the aircraft. With a violent turn to the left and a shallow dive the aircraft sped away from the target area in anticipation of the arrival of the shock wave. There was a brilliant flash of light visible even through the almost opaque goggles everyone on board was wearing, and I knew that the bomb had detonated as anticipated and probably at the desired height of burst. Shortly after the plane had reached the course away from the target the shock wave arrived, followed by a second and then a third.”

Frederick L. Ashworth (1912-2005) was the commander of the mission and weaponeer on Bockscar, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb “Fat Man” on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Born in Massachusetts, Ashworth graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1933. After service on a battleship and aviator training, he volunteered in 1939 for additional study at Annapolis as an aviation ordnance engineer. He graduated in June 1942 and flew torpedo and mine-laying missions in the Solomon Islands. In June 1944, he returned to the United States, and in November was assigned to the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. He flew to the Pacific in February 1945 to select a base for the 509th Composite Group, charged with delivering the atomic bombs. Ashworth selected Tinian. Ashworth remained in the navy after the war and retired in 1968 at the rank of vice admiral.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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