To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the ending of World War II in 1945, the sale at Bonhams focused on material from battlefields. It has been the third annual World War II auction at Bonhams (New York, USA) to offer artefacts, documents and memorabilia relating to historic events of World War II and it took place on April 29.
One of the top lots was an extraordinary archive belonging to Robert Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. His collection included his personal manuscript flying logs, plans and notes for the mission, personal photographs, and two pilot log books filled in by Lewis.
Capt. Robert A. Lewis' Manuscript Bombing Plan for the Dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, [6 August 1945]
Provenance: Robert A. Lewis, co-Pilot, Enola Gay, 6 August 1945; and then as a gift to Steven K. Lewis
A single sheet of light-blue lined graph paper, drawn in pencil and in blue, black and red inks by Robert Lewis. The stylized plan shows the Enola Gay approaching Hiroshima from the left at 30,000 feet, and on dropping the bomb at 2 miles short of the target, veering and turning 150 degrees to the right to return at 28,500 feet. The plan shows the air burst at under half a mile up over the city and the subsequent shock waves that the explosion would create, verso blank and unlined.
An important Enola Gay bombing plan. A particularly poignant artifact from the Lewis archive, this plan undoubtedly derives from their final briefing with William "Deak" Parsons on the afternoon of 3 August 1945 when the pilots and navigators met with Parsons and Ramsay, at which Parsons presented the gathered crews with sketches of the turn-around maneuver at 30,000 feet in order to escape the blast and shock waves from the bomb. In Robert Lewis' forthcoming biography, he discusses this meeting on Tinian on 3 August quoting Parsons words: "now let's look at these sketches, and you will better understand this designed maneuver and why every second is critical." Parsons specifically discusses 30,000 feet as their fly-in height, but in the reality of the event the flight height was 30,500 feet and therefore had this plan been drawn up after the dropping of the bomb, Lewis would have been more accurate with his plan. It seems highly likely that after the briefing Lewis borrowed Parsons' sketch and copied it out to take with him on the mission before passing it on to the other two captains. The height for the atomic explosion was set at 1800 feet as this plan accords, and as the briefing with Parsons discusses.
The location of Parsons' original bombing plan is now unknown and it may well have been cast aside after the event. Lewis, however, kept much of his paperwork, and so in this plan, we probably have the only extant, contemporary Bombing Plan for the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, now presented to the public, some 70 years later.
Manuscript Training Notes and mimeographed copies ofRobert A. Lewis' Bomb plan and Survival Maneuver, [Tinian Island, late July and early August 1945]
Provenance: Robert A. Lewis, co-Pilot, Enola Gay, 6 August 1945; and then as a gift to Steven K. Lewis.
1. A 2 pp mimeographed copy of two plans drawn up by Lewis, 4to, the first a more expanded version of the bombing plan lot 289, the second the attack paths of all three planes as they approach Hiroshima, the photo and instrument planes hanging back as the Enola Gaygoes straight in.
2. A 1 p single sheet of manuscript notes by Robert Lewis, 4to, in ink on a 4to graphed-ruled sheet, detailing velocities of the shock wave, and time taken to hit the plane as it headed home. Slightly yellowed. 3. 2 pp manuscript lecture notes on a small sheet of ruled paper, 8vo, titled Interrogation Spaatz, Giles, etc, the second page with notes on the radio frequencies being used, the barometric fuses that start the reaction, and the back-up fuses if it does not air burst.
These notes represent fragments of Lewis's training in the build up to the Hiroshima Mission. The notes indicate that Lewis should have been more aware of what a strong blast wind and shock wave can do. The problem was, that most of the crew, apart from those that had seen tests in the lab, could not comprehend the concept that nature could create such energy by firing particle against particle, and the enormity of that energy remains beyond the comprehension of most people, even today.
A Collection of 10 Black and White vintage photographs of theEnola Gay, the Flight Crew, and the Ground Crew, [July to August 1945]
Provenance: Robert A. Lewis, co-Pilot, Enola Gay, 6 August 1945; and then as a gift to Steven K. Lewis.
A Group of 10 photographs of the Enola Gay and the crews, mostly official press corps shots, comprising 3 large format (8 x 10 in) shots of the Enola Gay, one a publicity shot of the actual roll out on the early morning of August 6th; 2 of the plane at rest at Tinian, one of which showing an early roster of the crew stenciled on the right side of the cockpit; a photograph of General Spaats' briefing to all the crews before the mission; another a USAAF photo of Tibbets, Lewis, Van Kirk and Ferebree standing in the Briefing Room; two photographs of the ground crew by the plane and in quarters; with three small official USAFF photographs of the crew, 2 of them all gathering around in the dark before they set off on the 6th August; and the final one a very happy Colonel Tibbets having just received the DFC on their arrival back in Tinian.
Capt. Robert A. Lewis' Original Computer: true airspeed circular dial AC Type G-1 manufactured by Crowe Name plate & MFG Co, Chicago, [issued and used July/August 1945]
Provenance: Robert A. Lewis, co-Pilot, Enola Gay, 6 August 1945; and then as a gift to Steven K. Lewis.
Computational airspeed disc, with two discs and a plastic pointer arm, in its original card board package as issued. An almost mint airspeed dial belonging to Robert Lewis and used on the Hiroshima bombing mission. It was likely issued to him when he got to Tinian as part of the equipping of the Enola Gay. This was a standard piece of equipment issued by the USAAF to all Navigators and Pilots and was essential for working out true airspeeds, taking into account the head, tail and side winds. Family tradition and Lewis's own testament to his family places this instrument in the Enola Gay on August 6th, 1945.
The Mushroom Cloud over Hiroshima, 6 August 1945
Vintage photograph taken from the town of Yoshiura on the other side of the mountain north of Hiroshima, and titled by Robert Lewis "Hiroshima-3 min AFTER Detonation 9:18 Aug 6 1945." A large format (8 x 10 in) black and white press photograph, slightly blow up from a wider shot, the image taped onto a white sheet of paper, with punch holes for filing on left side through the backing paper, but not affecting photograph. Verso blank.
This amateur photograph came to light soon after the bombing and was circulated widely in the press. The small spots on the cloud are caused by the excessive radiation on the negative, almost destroying the film. Lewis must have acquired an example from an official file and annotated it for himself. He dated it Tinian time but it was in fact only 8.18 am at Hiroshima. It appears that Lewis made some concerted efforts to find photographs of the bombing of Hiroshima, as to whether he found these and the AEC photographs in a file on Tinian we cannot say, but for 2 months or so he waited around in Tinian giving him ample opportunity to acquire such photographs as they came in.
Captain Robert A. Lewis' fair copy of the log book of the Enola Gay flight, 1945; 1971
Provenance: Robert A. Lewis, co-pilot, Enola Gay, 6 August 1945; and thence as a gift to his son, Steven K. Lewis.
Manuscript fair copy of Lewis' original 1945 log of the flight of the Enola Gay, 8 pp, small 4to. Upper cover titled "Bombing of Hiroshima Aug 6 -1945," inside front cover copying his statement of May 8, 1945 saying that this log was a last minute request of William Lawrence, Science Editor, New York Times, followed by 3 and a half pages in ink, with final 4 and a half pages in pencil (as in the original), the back cover with a pencil sketch of the mushroom cloud and initialled and dated 8/6/45, as in the original. Fawn wrappers. The original log was written out on the morning of the 6th August 1945 as Lewis flew out from Tinian Island to Hiroshima, and back to Tinian on August 6 1945. In it he disguises his report of the mission in a letter home to "Mom and Dad," and as the mission was top secret, there was to be no official account of the mission from the Enola Gay during the flight, excepting Lewis's original clandestine manuscript. This "fair copy No 6" was given to his youngest son in 1971, before the occasion of the auction sale of the original log in 1971.
Manuscript Flight Logs of Captain Robert A. Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay, 1942-1947
Two standard issue proforma pilot's log books, filled in entirely in manuscript by Robert Lewis, front pages with details of himself, the first logbook starting 3 June 1942 running through to 10 October 1943, oblong 8 vo, 56 pp, and two blank memorandum pages at the end, with Lewis' note at the end: "This book covers time from primary flying up to and including start of B-29 test work at Eglin Field. Proving grounds." The second log book starts 10 August 1943 and finishes on 9 Jan 9 1946, 55 pp, with repetition of the last 4 pages of the previous log book, and the absence of any entries for the month of April 1945(!); together with 12 pp of notified flying time with American Overseas Airline, 14 June 1946 to 11 January 1947, 225 pp blank at end, occasional additional annotation by Lewis at a later date in black or blue ink, in the second log each page signed by Lewis at lower right corner. Endpapers of the second log with other service notes and verso back endpaper titled "measles 5-9-51 schedule" listing Bobby and Susie's aspirin dosage. Both bound in original black cloth, the second volume slightly shaken with first 2 pp gathering detached.
An extraordinary series of log books carefully filled for every day that Lewis flew, the pages of proforma logging his flight plan, duration, type of plane, engines, and horsepower with a column for remarks. On combat missions from Tinian he adds in details of targets, bomb altitude and poundage dropped. His remarks are illuminating: at the end after the 9 Jan 1946 he adds "36 flights in Enola Gay #(6292). Tibbets was on 2 Flights." Although an official manuscript log for a pilot (something every pilot was supposed to do) this log is revealing in its suggestion that Tibbets was completely inexperienced at flying a B-29.
Against August 6, 1945 Lewis writes: "No#1 Atomic bomb a huge success 8900 lbs hit center of city." On December 13, 1944 his remarks against a 20 minute local flight "Paul checked me out." Later as an older man he goes over each page of entries in the months running up to the mission and adds near the bottom of each page the total of B-29 flights that page records, the addition of these flights on B-29s being 61 hours. The hand is shaky, as of an older man, looking back at the past at the injustice he had felt had been served out to some the crew that were forced out after training so hard with him. That injustice, the moment when Paul Tibbets joined the flight crew as "Commander"(with insufficient flying training on B-29s) and brought two of his friends with him to join the crew, seemed to Lewis to have been a flippant and dangerous move for the mission.
Of course he never spoke out. He wanted to object to Tibbets renaming the aircraft after his mother the night before the flight, and was appalled that Tibbets and Van Kirk joined the movie about the flight filmed in 1952 as advisors and then never shared any money they received amongst any of the crew. The way that Tibbets received his DFC, in front of cameras and invited media, then flew secretly to Guam to conduct a press conference on the Hiroshima Bombing on August 7th, while at the same time the rest of the crew flew a conventional bomb mission to Japan before they supported Sweeney on the Nagasaki mission that took place on the 8th August. Lewis was an honorable, quiet man, who remained aggrieved at the behavior of Tibbets that August in 1945 and following.
A Collection of color photographs taken of the crew of the Enola Gay on the plane, [late July 1945]
A Group of 5 color photographs, 3 vintage in larger format, titled under each photograph, "Aboard the 'Enola Gay ... 1945'," probably taken by Richard Nelson and showing the navigator Bud Rider, Bob Lewis, and radio operator Richard Nelson, all at work in the positions on theEnola Gay, the last photographed inscribed to Bob Lewis and signed by Richard Nelson.Together with 2 small format color shots, one a later smaller print of the Rider shot above, and another of the Enola Gay at an airfield in the USA with Tibbets, Lewis, and another unidentified officer standing beside it.
A fine group of color photographs collected by Robert Lewis of part of his original core team. The first three photographs appear to be special color shots done probably by Nelson while the crew were on practice runs from Tinian in late July 1945. They predate the arrival of Van Kirk who replaced Bud Rider as navigator on 29 July.
Official Flight Log and 201 File of Captain Robert A. Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay
An official pilot's log, comprising 41 pp typed carbon proforma leaves, starting 10 October 1942, and continuing in monthly sheets up to 31 January 1946, covering Lewis' complete career and including flying at Ellington Field, Texas; Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona; Great Bend, Kansas; Eglin Field, Florida; Grand Island, Nebraska; Wendover Field, Utah; Peterson Field, Florida; APO 247; APO 336 (Tinian) and Roswell, New Mexico; the majority of sheets signed off by the operations officer for each base, some signatures in carbon, most in ink; together with a 2 pp "record of combat duty" sheets, listing his 5 combat sorties in July and August 1945, both series of sheets with extra annotations by Lewis with observations of his training and ops. These leaves affixed by metal grips to the right hand side of the file. The left hand side comprising an original record of some of the numerous tests and certificates that Lewis achieved and took as part of his training throughout his career; the documents comprise B-29 FAMILIARIZATION COURSE EXAMINATION, 25 leaves written in pencil, 11 leaves of other certifications from 14 March 1942 up to 1 February 1946, a B-26 Series test, answers in ink, 13 leaves. The two parts bound in a cloth backed official manila open file, lettered on upper cover by Lewis: "Cap R.A. Lewis 509th Composite Gp, Tinian to Wendover APO #336," verso of lower cover with official stamp "received Oct 7 1944," 4to, together with his 201 file in an official manila card file, with 46 leaves from 10 October 1942 through to 3 June 1944, with numerous lists of crews, stamped restricted, and a second manila file with 19 leaves, including copies of his commission, his silver star award sheet, and his discharge, an original discharge certificate for his flying service dated 27 Sept 1947, and 15 leaves including copies of appointments, orders and other miscellaneous documents.
A fine series of official papers documenting the career of Robert Lewis from 13 December 1942 to his discharge on 31 January 1946. His was a career bound up with the development of the B-29 long range bomber, a prototype of which he saw crash in Seattle at the beginning of his career. He trained on B-29s and became an instructor on B29s, testing and passing hundreds of pilots who then set out to both Iwo Jima and Tinian to join the massed bombing Groups for the final bombing campaign against mainland Japan.
That the B-29 was chosen to be the delivery vehicle for the two atomic bombs meant that Lewis found himself in top spot to lead a specially trained crew to drop the first atomic bomb. Whilst at Eglin field the urgency for the success of the Atomic bomb mission began to tell and Lewis was often out flying twice a day checking every aspect of the plan and its dos and don'ts, and practiced bombing runs over objects in the Gulf of Mexico.
Included amongst the official paperwork is a nondescript proforma of a flight crew page with Lewis and Sweeney piloting a B-29 on January 21st 1944 at Eglin Field, the third and fourth signatures on the roster are Charles Lindbergh and John W. Myers, whilst on the back Lewis has written out Lindbergh's and Myers' addresses so he can send him something in the future. It was on Jan 20th, 1944 that Colonel Lindbergh and his friend, Northrop Aviation test pilot John Myers, came into the Eglin mess for dinner and Lindbergh came over to Lewis and asked him if he could go up on a test flight the following day. Lindbergh was Lewis's childhood hero, which made this small piece of paper very special to him.
Photographs of the Destruction of Hiroshima, AEC, [mid to late September 1945]
Robert Lewis's personal collection of AEC images of the city that he helped to destroy. On 15 September 1945, the crews that had dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were invited to visit Japan with a short trip to Tokyo and from there a flight to see the damage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On the third day they flew from Tokyo to Hiroshima where they flew low at 300 feet to view the damage. They were no airfields available nearby to stop off, and then they flew on to Nagasaki to stay the night. As Robert Lewis circled the remains of Hiroshima and the crumbled buckled wreckage, he writes in his forthcoming autobiography, "I have always had trouble describing this scene, and always now think that the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, described it best when he said in such a bombing, 'The living will envy the dead.' I am sure that the living in Hiroshima after the blast must have felt this way."
Lewis presumably acquired these from an official file somewhere in Japan or Tinian on that visit. The Army Engineers Corps took an exhaustive series of photographs of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki as soon as the surrender document was signed on 2nd September. Scientists poured over them analyzing and measuring the damage: reports were officially published the following year.
Copy of the Final Report of Mission FO 13, 6 Aug 1945, Filed by the Office of the Group Combat Intelligence Officer, signed off by Colonel Ernest Stevenson USAF; A photocopy taken after declassification on 3 Aug 1951
Lewis must have hunted this document down and waited for it to be declassified before having it copied. It is, of course, a clipped military report with no depth, although under item 14 (mission: "excellent"), there must have been some satisfaction in a mission accomplished.
Enola Gay Wartime Aviation Photographs Signed by Paul Tibbets and Others, with Hiroshima by Shogo Nagaoka, published 1956
A collection of seven photographs containing three color photos showing the return of the Enola Gay to Tinian, one photo of Colonel Paul Tibbets saluting General Carl Spaatz after receiving the Distinguished Service Cross as General Howard Ramey and several Enola Gay crew look on; one photo of several Enola Gay crewmen including Navigator Theodore Van Kirk and Captain William Parsons with strap across chest; and one photo of Van Kirk approaching Tibbets wearing the DSC; all photos autographed by Tibbets and other crewmen. The remaining photos comprise one black and white publicity photo of Colonel Tibbets, crewmen and two Class 43-3 and 43-4 Women Airforce Service Pilots before a B-29 signed by Tibbets and both female pilots, one autographed photo portrait in black and white of Colonel Tibbets standing before the nose of the Enola Gay, one black and white photo of the B-17 Bomber Memphis Belle with five crew signatures and one 1941 color photo of American Volunteer Group "Flying Tigers" Curtiss P-40's at Kunming, China, signed by 10 pilots and one ground crewman; together with a book on Hiroshima written by Shogo Nagaoka and published in Japanese and English by the Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima.
Official Photographs of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945 together with a 1979 Photo of Tibbets Wearing the Light Weight Summer Flying Suit Used on the Hiroshima Mission with a Signed Letter
A rare photo booklet issued by the Manhattan Engineer District, signed by Captain of the Enola Gay, Paul Tibbets, Bombardier Tom Ferebee, Navigator Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk and Radio Operator Richard H. Nelson on its cover page. The cover page is also signed "Property of A.H WAITE, S.C.E.L., RED BANK. N.J." The booklet contains 97 numbered photographs of the bombings with captions, two fold-out maps of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with bomb shockwaves displayed and a diagram of an atomic explosion.
The 1979 photograph portrays Tibbets wearing his Distinguished Service Cross on his war-issue the Light Weight Summer Flying Suit in a shot for Mobile Museums, Inc. with overleaf typed letter signed by Tibbets with a description of the photo and Hiroshima mission.
The unprecedented destruction caused by the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan in August, 1945, ended the Second World War and ushered in the nuclear age. The end result of years of planning and research by the scientists of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Manhattan Project, the full effects of the atomic bomb on a populated area were not understood at the time of its use. Accordingly, the Special Manhattan Engineer District Investigating Group was dispatched to Japan in September, 1945, in order to gather information on the level of physical devastation the bombings had caused. This official report offers grim testimony as to the sheer destructive power of the atomic bombs through its photos of flattened and burnt out cityscapes. Even 34 years later, Tibbets seems unaffected by the chance to wear his original uniform again, in this photograph taken for The Mobile Museums, Inc.
More than 300 lots of World War II memorabilia, the majority collected by veterans, were up for grabs in the auction. There were flags, uniforms, recordings, notes, cigarette cases and mementos of all kinds from Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Russia and the United States, as well as India, China and Japan.
Before at the auction, Tom Lamb, from the Books and Manuscripts Department and the specialist in charge of the sale, said, "From the dropping of the Atomic Bomb to the campaigns of Iwo Jima and Okinawa to the fall of Berlin and Surrender of the Japanese, the sale embraces the whole history of World War II, its tragedy and its glory. This year we will offer a wide range of battlefield-sourced pieces from veterans and their families, as we commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the events of 1945."