On 29 June 1946, I was anxiously awaiting the first postwar atomic bomb test code-named Test Able scheduled for 1 July.
I was one of the 42,000 military, scientists, and civilian personnel stationed at Bikini in the Marshall Islands for Operation CROSSROADS. The Navy issued my shipmates and me special Operation Crossroads stationery with the suggestion to write a letter home. Maybe our last? No one knew what to expect.
In my previous post, I described the Crossroads envelope. In this post, I will share my letter home, written to my mother and oldest sister, Doris. If the letter sounds a bit casual considering the circumstances, remember, we were sworn to secrecy.
Bikini, June 29
Dearest Mother & Doris,
We have one more chance to write letters before the test and seeing as how they gave us these special envelopes to use, I thought I’d drop you a short line although they won’t leave these islands until after the first bomb is dropped.
There is quite a bit of suspense in the air around here. To top it off, we had as a special guest aboard today, none other than the Secretary of the Navy [James V. Forrestal]. He gave the ship quite an inspection.
The rehearsal we had last Monday went off okay and now everyone is anxious to get it over with. Well, there’s not much to write about so will make this a one page epistle. I’ll be home before long now.
Lots of love, Bill
Award-winning World War II military historian Bill McGee provides a complete account of his participation at Operation Crossroads in Operation Crossroads – Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account, Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946 by William L. McGee with Sandra V. McGee. (BMC Publications, 2016)