“The wooden structures were closely packed, quite numerous, you may be aware of housing in Japan, the interior walls made of paper so they burn very, very well. Temperatures in the city reached upwards of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Vehicle frames were melted; canals and ponds were brought to the boiling point. The air contained drops of liquid glass drifting in the wind. Citizens running for their lives spontaneously combusted; many were found charred beyond recognition or dead from heat or suffocation. Over a quarter of a million buildings were destroyed, 16 square miles, almost one-quarter of the city, were laid to complete waste — up to 100,000 people died in that raid,” said Philip Nash, an associate professor of history at Penn State University at the start of his Tuesday Interfaith Lecture.
Nash is the author of The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Jupiters, 1957–1963.
“What I just described is the conventional bombing raid — B-29 bombers on the night March 9 to 10, 1945 — that was not a description of Hiroshima or Nagasaki,” he said.