I spent years as a military padre and chaplain conferences repeatedly debated the morality of “Hiroshima” and “Dresden” (which had similar casualties) in the last days of the war.
The general opinion was that the pointless phosphor-bombing of refugee-packed Dresden was immoral while the war-ending destruction of Hiroshima could be defended – just!
There were alternatives which might have proved effective in prompting a Japanese surrender, such as modifying the unconditional surrender to protect the status of the Emperor.
But Truman’s decision at the end of the brutal war to save lives on both sides by using nuclear weapons worked and the Japanese did indeed surrender, bringing the Second World War to an end.
Responsibility for Dresden rests with Air Marshall Sir Charles Portal and the apology given earlier this year by his great nephew, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, was apposite.
(Rev Dr) John Cameron
Agnes Dougan (Letters, 7 August) puts the case for the ending of the war succinctly and movingly. I too am the daughter of a former “guest of the Japanese” (at Changai) and recall that shortly before his death in 1991, when compensation was first talked of in earnest, my father did not support the idea.
His view was that when we went to war with Japan we knew perfectly well of their disdain towards the Geneva Convention and indeed of their barbaric codes of warfare. We had “no cause for complaint”. This noble attitude reinforces the point that for such barbarity there is no possible compensation, which indeed would serve to diminish it.
I might add that the use of nuclear weapons as a deterrent has ironically been more effective for their having been used in 1945.