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This Day in History: the Atomic Bomb

August 05, 2016

Suzanne Campbell of the West Texas Collection, has a personal tie to August 6, 1945, the day that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

The bomb, known as “Little Boy”, was the result of the work of military and civilian workers at Oak Ridge, TN.  In 1944 Clarke Orr, her father, was drafted into the Army; put into the infantry, but his course soon changed.  The brass called for all with a chemistry degree to report for an interview.  He was sent to Oak Ridge where he worked in the Y-12 plant with the process of removing U235 from uranium ore.  His brother, also a chemist, worked as a civilian in X-10, the pilot reactor.

What most did not know at the time was that they had extracted only enough U235 for one bomb.  The plant at Hansford, WA made the second bomb from plutonium.  Her uncle remained at Oak Ridge and retired from the Atomic Energy Commission, but her father returned to his wife in Abilene, TX.

Clarke lived with 3 roommates in what was known as “hutments” at Oak Ridge.  He is on the far right.

Clarke Orr

The X-10 reactor; Suzanne’s uncle on the right.  Photo appeared in Look magazine in 1946, the first time the general public saw anything in Oak Ridge.

 

Clarke Orr’s certificate from the War Department following the end of WWII.

The first time Clarke saw his daughter, Suzanne.