All posts tagged radioactivity

Today we conclude this series of specific references behind the details in X-Day: Japan. These are not formal citations, as they are not all root sources and the book is not an academic volume. The use of real historical elements for X-Day: Japan serves to educate the reader about the time, add interest to the story, and honestly it just made the thing easier to write!

November 23, 1945
Jumbo air-to-ground rocket,

November 27, 1945
1st Cavalry Division,

December 3, 1945
M29 Weasel,

December 8, 1945
M26 Pershing tank next to M4 Sherman tank (models),

December 9, 1945
War Department Technical Manual TM-12-247,
Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel,

December 10, 1945
U.S. Army Center of Military History style guide,

December 11, 1945
Battle Formations – The Rifle Platoon, for NCOs (1942)

December 21, 1945
Hospitalization and evac plan for Operation Olympic,
Logistic Instructions No. 1 for the Olympic Operation, 25 July 1945
USS Sanctuary, hospital ship AH-17

December 22, 1945
Russian communists vs Chinese communists,
– Tom Clancy, The Bear and the Dragon
Chiang Kai-shek quote on the communists vs the Japanese,

December 23, 1945
Sakura-jima and its volcanoes,

December 25, 1945
USS Hazard, minesweeper AM-240 [MUSEUM SHIP],

January 17, 1946
Radiation detection equipment,

July 18, 1945
PBY-4/5 Catalina flying boat,
Consolidated Aircraft plant in San Diego,
Consolidated Aircraft plant production and products, B-24 and PB4Y-2,

December 24, 1945
Pearl Harbor survivors, trapped under USS West Virginia,


[The following is a portion of Tuttle’s entry for this historic day. He of course had no idea it was the day of the first atomic weapon test in history.]

I spent the afternoon idly shopping in town near the beach. The place is thick with servicemen, enough that the military has MPs out on patrol in addition to the local authorities. The retailers closest to the bases and barracks have adapted to cater to them, carrying supplies, trinkets, and services directly in the interest of a freshly paid solider or sailor. Prices that aren’t regulated are higher than they would be in a place not stuffed full of young men with new money burning holes in their pockets and little time to spend it.

I have my own agenda, which includes finding a new pair of field glasses, as mine got lent to a desperate young officer in France, who I expect kept them in use through a substantial portion of western Germany. I also want to add to my collection of local newspapers. It’s been a great way to make new friends, running a small lending library of home front newspapers.

It doesn’t matter where the it is from, or what size town, guys far away like to catch up on the little things that don’t make it into the news sheets that the military takes care to send forward. A race for county drain commissioner means more to a soldier than world geo-politics. A man in a dirt hole just wants to know that life back home is carrying on as always and waiting for his return.

My trip out is probably coming up soon, so I took a last stroll down the boardwalk, stopping in a souvenir stand to get my picture taken with my fake “medal.” After dinner in a crowded soda shop I picked up the photo print, headed back, and dumped the medal in a scrap bin at base – they say we need every bit of loose steel we can get.

Two of the afternoon papers I picked up have an identical short article off the wire about an explosion at an old weapons dump in New Mexico. It was north of Albuquerque, near a small town called Los Alamos. There were some chemical shells, and people are advised to stay away and possibly be ready to evacuate should the winds blow toxic fumes toward town. It’s disturbing to think about what might happen if unconventional weapons get unleashed in what remains of this conflict. They have been treated to undoubted technological development since the so-called “Great War.” I wonder to myself just what horrible weapons might still be unleashed in the fighting to come.


Could American commanders be forgiven for sending troops so quickly into nuclear bomb sites? We’re not here to judge. We found there were many studies and formal guidelines on radiation exposure in the workplace in pre-war years. But those standards refer to sustained exposure to low doses, often internal.

It’s another thing altogether to study short-term external exposure during a military maneuver. And the criteria are radically different in a combat situation which is a life-and-death situation to begin with.

Before any workplace standards were put out, there was certainly no shortage of misguided or catastrophic applications of radioactive materials. One famous example is the story of the Radium Girls.

The U.S. Radium Corporation had a booming business making glow-in-the-dark watches and instrument faces through world war I. The products picked up a good reputation and sold well after the war. Their technicians handled bulk materials with long tongs and protective gear. But the people painting the instruments were mostly young women working bare handed, and who famously took up the practice of pointing the fine brushes with their lips.

The build up of radioactive materials in their bodies, mostly inside bones, was devastating. Their tragic story has endured, largely as an early labor rights campaign. It even became an unlikely play.

It should be pointed out that women were not the only victims of the early 20th century radium fad. Contraptions like this make old fashioned snake oil salesmen, and new-fangled diet pill promoters, look like harmless clowns.