74 years ago today, the Japanese city of Hiroshima was destroyed by an atomic bomb, ‘Little Boy’, carried by the USAAF B-29 Superfortress bomber, named Enola Gay. It caused the death of around 140,000 civilians. It wasn’t the first time that the allied forces turned to killing large amounts of civilians as the Dresden bombing already showed earlier that same year when four raids – carried out between 13 and 15 February 1945 – destroyed the city of Dresden killing an estimated 22,700 to 25,000 people.
Were these bombings war-crimes or a necessary evil thereby preventing casualties that an invasion of Japan would have involved (estimated at one million casualties)? Those who oppose the bombings believe that atomic bombing is fundamentally immoral, that the bombings counted as war crimes, and that they constituted state terrorism.
Also OMD’s anti-war song “Enola Gay” reflects on the decision to use the bomb and ask the listener to consider whether the bombings were necessary (“It shouldn’t ever have to end this way”). The phrase, “Is mother proud of Little Boy today?”, is an allusion to both the nickname of the uranium bomb, as well as the fact that pilot Paul Tibbets named the aircraft after his mother.
The track, taken from the band’s 1980 album “Organisation”, has since its release been considered as a perfect soundtrack to the yearly remembrance of the bombing.
The track was written by vocalist/bass guitarist Andy McCluskey and is an OMD’s signature song, the track does not feature a vocal chorus for instance and is recognisable by its strong, distinctive lead synthesizer hook.
Note that the song was also released during controversy surrounding Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s decision to allow US nuclear missiles to be stationed in Britain. However, McCluskey stated that he “wasn’t really politically motivated to write the song”, which was informed by a fascination with World War II bombers. He hoped the track “conveyed an ambivalence about whether it was the right or the wrong thing to do”.