War hero: A-Bomb 'a necessary evil'
PUBLISHED: 14:11 11 August 2010
Sixty-five years since the deployment of the first atomic bomb which ended WWII a 92-year-old Indian RAF hero, who knew one of the pilots on the world-changing mission, said it was 'a necessary evil'.
Mahinder Singh Pujji, of The Grove, Gravesend, is a celebrated pilot, having clocked-up more flying hours than any other in the war, and served in Burma from 1943 to ’45, where he fought the Japanese and carried out reconnaisance missions up to four times a day.
Sunday will see the 65th anniversary of VJ Day (Victory in Japan), when the US dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 220,000 civilians, but bringing the war in the Pacific to an end, three months after Victory in Europe (VE Day).
Squadron Leader Pujji, who once saved a regiment of 300 men in a Burmese jungle in a daring solo mission, said: “I knew the only RAF pilot who went in the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki — Leonard Cheshire. He’s got the VC, the DSO and DSC. I met him in Delhi after the war in 1954 because he wanted to go to Dehra Dun [he was in charge of the airport in Delhi at the time], so I flew him out there in a Tiger Moth.”
“I felt relieved when the war ended, because the Japanese were very, very cruel. It was a dirty war. We wouldn’t have won the war if they had not dropped the atomic bomb.
“People wonder whether these things are absolutely necessary, but they are. You cannot have peace without war. It is a necessary evil. There were thousands of British troops in POW camps and, ask anyone, the conditions were horrendous. The world had already changed, we were reacting to events.”
Despite six months of intense strategic fire-bombing of 67 Japanese cities, the Japanese government ignored an ultimatum given by the Potsdam Declaration and, by executive order of President Harry Truman, the US dropped the nuclear weapon on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and on Nagasaki on August 9. The Japanese surrendered 30 days later, on September 2, aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
“I don’t think VJ Day gets the recognition it deserves.There needs to be more emphasis on it in schools. Eduction is the key really and we should get the public involved. Because it’s only ever veterans at these things, what about everyone else?”
■ See Times Out for our review of
For KING AND ANOTHER COUNTRY -
a new biography about Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji