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AUG 1 4 1985 

.S9§^^^ PUBLIC LIBRARY 
GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS DEPARTMENT 



MANHATTAN: 
THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, Officer in Gharge, Manhattan Project 



UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 



Special Studies 



MANHATTAN: 

THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



by 
Vincent C. Jones 




CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY 

UNITED STATES ARMY 

WASHINGTON D.C., 1985 



U.S. Army Center of Military History 

Brig. Gen. Douglas Kinnaid, USA (Ret.), Chief of Military History 

Chief Historian David F. Trask 

Chief, Histories Division Col. James W. Dunn 

Editor in Chief John W. Elsberg 



Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 

Jones, \'incent C, 1915- 

Manhattan, the Army and the atomic bomb. 

(United States Army in World War II) (Special 
studies / Center of Military History, United States 
Army) 

Bibliography: p. 

Includes index. 
1. United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. 
Manhattan District — History. 2. Atomic bomb — 
United States — History. I. Title. II. Series. 
III. Series: Special studies (Center of Military 
History) 

QC773.3.U5J65 1985 355.8'251 19'0973 84-12407 



First Printing— CMH Pub 11-10 



For salt- bv the Supcrintc-iulcm of Docunic-nts, l!.S. (.overniiK-nt Priming Offl 
Washington, D.C. 20402 



. . to Those Who Served 



Foreword 



The U.S. Army played a key role in the formation and administra- 
tion of the Manhattan Project, the World War II organization which 
produced the atomic bombs that not only contributed decisively to 
ending the war with Japan but also opened the way to a new atomic 
age. This volume describes how the wartime Army, already faced with 
the enormous responsibility of mobilizing, training, and deploying vast 
forces to fight a formidable enemy on far-flung fronts in Europe and 
the Pacific, responded to the additional task of organizing and adminis- 
tering what was to become the single largest technological project of its 
kind undertaken up to that time. 

To meet this challenge, the Army — drawing first upon the long-time 
experience and considerable resources of its Corps of Engineers — 
formed a new engineer organization, the Manhattan District, to take 
over from the Office of Scientific Research and Development adminis- 
tration of a program earlier established by American and refugee scien- 
tists to exploit the military potentialities of atomic energy. Eventually, 
however, the rapidly expanding project turned for support and services 
to a much broader spectrum of the Army, including the War Depart- 
ment, the Ordnance Department, the Signal, Medical, Military Police, 
and Women's Army Corps, the Military Intelligence Division of the 
War Department General Staff, and the Army Air Forces. These and 
other Army elements worked together in close collaboration with 
American industry and science to win what was believed to be a des- 
perate race with Nazi Germany to be first in producing atomic weap- 
ons. For both soldiers and civilians this history of the Army's earlier 
experience in dealing successfully with the then novel problems of 
atomic science seems likely to offer some instructive parallels for find- 
ing appropriate answers to the problems faced in today's ever more 
technologically complex world. 

DOUGLAS KINNARD 
Washington, D.C. Brigadier General, USA (Ret.) 

1 March 1984 Chief of Military History 



The Author 



Vincent C. Jones, after graduating from Park College (Parkville, 
Missouri) with a B.A. in history, earned an M.A. degree at the Universi- 
ty of Nebraska with a thesis on German public opinion in World War I 
and spent a year as a Sanders Fellow in History at George Washington 
University. Moving to the University of Wisconsin, he began work on a 
doctoral degree in modern European history just before the outbreak 
of W^orld War II in Europe. During the war, he was a noncommis- 
sioned officer in a heavy weapons company of the 81st Infantry Divi- 
sion, participating in the Peleliu-Angaur and Leyte campaigns in the 
Pacific Theater. He was in training in the Philippines in August 1945, 
preparing for the impending invasion of Kyushu, when the Army Air 
Forces dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Following 
the surrender of Japan, he served in the American occupation forces in 
that country before returning to the University of Wisconsin as an 
instructor in history. 

Completing his doctorate at W'isconsin in 1952, Dr. Jones served a 
year as a research associate in American history at the State Historical 
Society of Wisconsin and as an assistant professor of history at the 
Central State College of Connecticut. Since January 1955 he has been a 
historian on the staff of the U.S. Army Center of Military History, 
where he has been a major contributor to The Army Almanac and the 
ROTC textbook American Military History. In addition to the present 
volume. Dr. Jones is author of articles and reviews in professional 
journals and of biographical sketches of military figures in a number of 
encyclopedias. 



Preface 



During the nearly four decades since the atomic bombings of Hiro- 
shima and Nagasaki in August 1945, much has been written about the 
developments leading up to that climactic moment in world history. 
Within days of that event, the War Department released its official ac- 
count, the well-known semitechnical report by Professor Henry D. 
Smyth of Princeton University. Soon popular histories also appeared, 
and with the gradual opening of the archival records relating to the top 
secret World War II program known as the Manhattan Project, scholars 
began examining in detail the scientific, technological, strategic, and 
diplomatic story of atomic energy and the atomic bomb (see Biblio- 
graphical Note). Yet amid this outpouring of books, none has provided 
an adequate and full account of the United States Army's participation 
in the atomic program from 1939 to the end of 1946. It is the purpose 
of this volume to tell that story. 

Stated in its simplest terms, the achievement of an atomic bomb re- 
sulted from the highly successful collaboration of American science and 
industry carried out under the direction and guidance of the U.S. 
Army. This triad — scientists, industrialists and engineers, and sol- 
diers — was the product of a decision in early 1942 by America's war- 
time leaders to give to the Army the task of administering the atomic 
program. Convinced that the Allies were in a race with Germany to be 
the first to develop an atomic weapon, they decided that only the Army 
could provide the administration, liaison services, security, and military 
planning essential to the success of a program requiring ready access 
to scarce materials and manpower, maximum protection against espio- 
nage and sabotage, and, ultimately, combat utilization of its end 
product. 

In telling how the Army met the challenge of its unique assignment, 
eventually achieving results that would have the most profound impli- 
cations for the future of mankind, I have taken a broadly chronological 
approach but with topical treatment of detailed developments. The 
focus of the narrative is from the vantage point of the Manhattan 
Project organization, which functioned under the able direction of Maj. 
Gen. Leslie R. Groves and such key scientific administrators as Vanne- 
var Bush, James B. Conant, Arthur Compton, and J. Robert Oppen- 
heimer in compliance with policies established at the highest levels 
of the Washington wartime leadership, fhe volume begins with a 



prologue, designed to provide the reader with a brief survey of the his- 
tory of atomic energy and to explain in layman's terms certain technical 
aspects of atomic science essential to an understanding of the major 
problems occurring in the development of an atomic weapon. Early 
chapters describe the beginning of the Army's atomic mission, includ- 
ing the formation of the Manhattan District, the first steps in acquiring 
the means to produce atomic weapons, and the appointment of Gener- 
al Groves. Subsequent topical chapters trace the building and oper- 
ation of the large-scale process plants for the production of fissionable 
materials; the administration of a broad range of support activities, 
such as security and community management; and the fabrication, test- 
ing, and combat employment of atomic bombs. A concluding section 
describes how the Army dealt with the difficult problems arising during 
its unexpectedly prolonged postwar trusteeship of the project until De- 
cember 1946, when the newly created civilian agency — the United 
States Atomic Energy Commission — assumed responsibility for atomic 
energy matters. 

The Army did not program a volume on the Manhattan Project in 
its multivolumed historical series, the U.S. Army in World War II, until 
1959. Two developments in the late 1950's had made available the es- 
sential records for research by Army historians: the instituting of a his- 
torical program by the Atomic Energy Commission, with the objective 
of preparing an unclassified account of its own origins; and the open- 
ing of access to the Manhattan District records, the so-called General 
Groves collection, then located in the Departmental Records Branch of 
the Adjutant General's Office but subsequently retired to the National 
Archives and Records System. 

A great many individuals are deserving of mention for their assist- 
ance and support in the preparation of this volume. For aiding me in 
my task of researching the voluminous and widely scattered records 
controlled by the Department of Energy, I wish to thank Mr. Roger 
Anders, Dr. Richard G. Hewlett, and Mr. Thomas J. Pugliese in Ger- 
mantown, Maryland; Mr. Floyd F. Beets, Jr., Mr. William J. Hatmaker, 
Mr. Frank Hoffman, and Mr. James R. Langley in Oak Ridge, Tennes- 
see; Mr. Ralph V. Button and Mr. Milton R. Cydell in Richland, Wash- 
ington; Mr. King Derr, Mr. David A. Heimbach, Mrs. Lucille McAn- 
drew, and Mr. Robert Y. Porton in Los Alamos, New Mexico; 
Mrs. Eleanor Davisson in Berkeley, California; and Mr. E. Newman 
Pettit in Lemont, Illinois. For facilitating my use of the Manhattan 
Project records at the National Archives, I wish to thank Mr. Sherrod 
East, Dr. Lee Johnson, Dr. Herman Kahn, Mr. Wilbert B. Mahoney, Mr. 
Wilbur J. Nigh, Dr. Benjamin Zobrist, and, especially, Mr. Edward 
Reese, who on countless occasions rendered expert assistance in using 
the indispensable General Groves collection. And for making available 
interviews and photographs which they assembled for use in their own 
excellent account of the construction aspects of the Manhattan Project, 



I wish to thank Miss Lenore Fine and Dr. Jesse F. Remington, formerly 
of the Historical Division, Corp of Engineers. 

Adding another dimension to my understanding of the atomic 
project were my visits to several Manhattan research, production, and 
community sites, arranged by Mr. Tom Cox and Mr. William McCluen 
at Oak Ridge, Mr. R. M. Plum and Mr. James W. Travis at Richland, 
Mr. Charles C. Campbell at Los Alamos, and Mr. P. M. Goodbread at 
Berkeley. 

Many others gave generously of their time in reading and critiquing 
all or parts of the manuscript: Dr. James B. Conant, Col. William A. 
Consodine, Lt. Col. John A. Derry, Mr. Julian D. Ellett, Mr. Joseph R. 
Friedman, Dr. Crawford H. Greenewalt, Lt. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, Dr. 
Walter G. Hermes, Col. John E. Jessup, Jr., Dr. Richard G. Hewlett, 
Col. John Lansdale, Jr., Dr. Maurice Matloff, Col. Franklin T. Matthias, 
Maj. Gen. Kenneth D. Nichols, Mrs. Jean O'Leary, Mr. Robert R. 
Smith, Maj. Harry S. Traynor, and Col. Gerald R. Tyler. To each of 
them, I extend a special note of thanks. 

At each stage in the preparation of this volume, I also benefited 
from the unique combination of talents available among my colleagues 
in the Army's historical office. Fellow staff historians — Dr. Stanley F. 
Falk, Dr. Maurice Matloff, and Dr. Earl F. Ziemke — helped expedite ini- 
tial research into the atomic project records, serving with me as mem- 
bers of a team under the direction of Dr. Stetson Conn, the chief histo- 
rian; in addition. Dr. Falk conducted a number of interviews and wrote 
the first draft of the Prologue, Chapters I-IV, and Chapter X. Miss 
Carol Anderson, in the library, and Miss Hannah Zeidlik, in the records 
branch, cheerfully and expertly dealt with my many requests and kept 
me abreast of newly available records and publications on atomic 
energy. Mr. Arthur S. Hardyman designed the graphically handsome 
maps, some of them in color, and oversaw the layout of the photo- 
graphs. His colleague, Mr. Roger D. Clinton, provided the clearly 
drawn charts, which will help the reader understand the complex orga- 
nization of the Manhattan Project, and assisted in the selection of pho- 
tographs. The skillful typing of Mrs. Joyce Dean, Mrs. Margaret L 
Fletcher, Mrs. Edna Salsbury, and Miss Lajuan R. Watson, the eagle- 
eyed proofreading of Mrs. Rae T. Panella, and the meticulous indexing 
of Mrs. Muriel Southwick contributed to the efficient preparation of my 
technically difficult and heavily documented manuscript. Lt. Col. John 
R. Pipkin shepherded the draft manuscript through clearance by several 
government agencies in record time, considering the potential sensi- 
tiveness of its subject matter. Finally, Miss Joanne M. Brignolo edited 
the volume. She demonstrated a remarkable capacity for quickly grasp- 
ing the intricacies of atomic science, enabling her to make read- 
able my oftentimes obscure text and to give order and consistency to 
its complex documentation. I am obliged to her for whatever literary 
merit my book may have. 



For her understanding and unremitting support during the many 
years this volume was in preparation, I wish to thank my wife, Kay Cox 
Jones, who, as an employee at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chi- 
cago in the immediate post-World War II period, first brought my at- 
tention to the history of the atomic bomb. 

For the many others not here mentioned who, over the years this 
volume has been in the making, have contributed in some way to its 
ultimate completion, I express my gratitude. The author alone, of 
course, takes responsibility for the facts presented and the conclusions 
reached in this volume. 

Washington, D.C. VINCENT C. JONES 

1 March 1984 



Contents 



Page 

PROLOGUE: A HISTORY OF ATOMIC ENERGY TO 1939 3 

I 'ranium and Fission 8 

Efforts To Enlist Support of the U.S. Government 12 

Part One: Beginnings of the Atomic Mission 

Ctjapter 

I. THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 

1939-1942 19 

Origins of the Army's Role 19 

Decision To Develop Atomic Weapons 21 

Establishment of the NDRC and OSRD 26 

New Advances in Atomic Research, 1940-1941 28 

Top Policy Group: Preparing for Army Take Over 30 

Progress in Research and Development: The Xuclear Steeplechase 35 

II. ESTABI T^HING THE MANHATTAN DISTRICT 40 

Organizing the District 41 

Army-OSRD Planning Meeting 25 June 1942 .-. 46 

Progress in Research and Development 50 

III. FIRST STEPS FOR WEAPON DEVELOPMENT 55 

Securing an Architect-Engineer-Manager 55 

Obtaining Funds 56 

Securing a Priority Rating 57 

Procuring Essential Materials 61 

Site Selection 67 

Reaching Decisions: The Meeting at Bohemian Grove 70 

IV. GENERAL GROVES TAKES COMMAND 73 

Reorganization and the Selection of Groves 73 

First Measures 78 

Establishment of Los Alamos 82 

Manhattan Project Organization and Operation 88 



Chapter Page 

Part Two: Producing Fissionable Materials 

V. ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 95 

Plutonium Project 95 

Reassessment of Processes To Produce a Bomb 101 

Contract Xegotiations 105 

Hanford Engineer Works 108 

Plutonium Semiworks: Argonne vs. Tennessee Ill 

Program Funding 1 15 

VI. THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 117 

Electromagnetic Research and the Army, 1 942- 1943 118 

Research and Development, 1943-1945: Radiation Laboratory 120 

Design and Engineering, 1943-1945 126 

Building the Electromagnetic Plant 130 

Plant Operation 140 

MI. THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 149 

Gaseous Diffusion Research and the A rmy, 1942-1943 149 

Design and Engineering 150 

Building the Gaseous Diffusion Plant 159 

Plant Operation 165 

\ III. THE LIQUID THERMAL DIFFUSION PROCESS 172 

Research and Development: The Role of the Xavy 172 

Reassessment: Decision for Full-scale Development 174 

Plant Design, Engineering, and Construction 178 

Plant Operation 180 

IX. THE PILE PROCESS 184 

Research and Development: Metallurgical Laboratory 185 

Organization for Plutonium Production 198 

The Semiworks: Clinton Laboratories 204 

The Hanford Production Plant 210 



Part Three: Support Activities 

X. ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 227 

Breakdown of Interchange 227 

The Quebec Agreement 232 

Implementing the Agreement 242 

Xe-w Partnership Strains: Repatriation of French Scientists 248 



Chapter Page 

XI. SECURITY 253 

Early Aspects 253 

The District's Security System 254 

Counterintelligence Activities 259 

Safeguarding Military Information 268 

XII. FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS 280 

Organization of the ALSOS Mission 280 

ALSOS Operations in Italy 281 

Manhattan 's Special Intelligence Activities, 1944 282 

ALSOS Operations m Western Europe, 1944-1945 285 

XIII. THE RAW MATERIALS PROGRAM 292 

Geographic Search and Field Exploration 292 

Ore Control Agency: Combined Development Trust 295 

Ore Acquisition in Foreign Areas 299 

XIV. THE FEED MATERIALS PROGRAM 307 

Program Organization and Support Activities 307 

Feed Materials Procurement 310 

Feed Materials Production 314 

Quality Control Program 317 

XV. LAND ACQLHSITION 319 

Clinton Engineer IVorks 319 

Los Alamos 328 

Hanford Engineer IVorks 331 

Other Sites 342 

XVI. MANPOWER PROCUREMENT 344 

Personnel Organization 345 

Scientific and Technical Personnel 348 

Industrial Labor 350 

Civilian and Military Personnel 355 

XVII. MANPOWER CONSERVATION 363 

Labor Turnover: The Problem and Its Cure 363 

Special Problems With the Selective Service System 366 

Labor Relations: Union Activities and Work Stoppages 369 

XVIII. ELECTRIC POWER 377 

Power Requirements and Sources 377 

Implementation of the Power Program 386 

Distribution: Clinton Engineer Works 388 

Distribution: Hanford Engineer IVorks 39 1 



Chapter Page 

XIX. COMMUNICATIONS AND TRANSPOR lATION 394 

Communications 394 

Transportation 397 

XX. HEALTH AND SAFETY 410 

The Health Program 41 1 

The Safety Program 426 

XXI. THE ATOMIC COMMUNITIES IN TENNESSEE 432 

Oak Ridge: The Operating Community 432 

The Construction Camps 440 

Community Management 443 

XXII. THE ATOMIC COMMUNITIES IN WASHINGTON SI A IE... 450 

Selecting Sites 450 

Hanford: The Construction Camp 452 

Richland: The Operating Community 456 

Community Management 460 

XXIII. THE ATOMIC COMMUNITIES IN NEW MEXICO 465 

Los Alamos: The Operating Community 465 

Trinity: The Base Camp 478 



Part Four: The Bomb 

XXIV. THE LOS ALAMOS WEAPON PROGRAM 485 

Planning Phase 485 

Laboratoiy Administration 491 

Post Administration 496 

XXV. WEAPON DEVELOPMENT AND TESTING 503 

Building the Bomb 503 

Project Trinity: The Test of the Bomb 511 

XXVI. THE ATOMIC BOMBING OF JAPAN 519 

Preparations for an Atomic Bombing Mission 519 

The Decision To i-se the Bomb 530 

Dropping the. Bomb 534 

The Surrender of Japan 541 

Survey of the Bombing Effects 543 



Chnfjtey Page 

Part Five: Completing the Atomic Mission 

XX\ II. THE ATOMIC AGE AND ITS PROBLEMS 553 

The Atomic Story: Informing the Public 553 

Atomic Energy: Planning for Postwar Control 562 

XX\ III. IHE ARMY AND IHE A lOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 

1945-1947 579 

A Postwar Trusteeship 579 

The Final Act: Transfer' to Civilian Control 596 

EPILOGUE: AN ATOMIC LEGACY 602 

APPENDIX— EINSTEIN'S LETTER 609 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 611 

GUIDE TO ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS 627 

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 631 

INDEX 643 



Tables 

Xo. 

1. Stone and Webster Engineering and Design Personnel 127 

2. Land Acquisition at CEW, 1942-1944 321 

3. Comparative Estimates of Atomic Bombing Casualties 

in World War II 547 



Charts 

1. Organization of the Manhattan Project, April 1943 88 

2. Organization of the Manhattan District, August 1943 90 

3. Organization of the Manhattan District, January 1945 166 

4. Feed Materials Network, January 1945 309 

5. Estimated Officer Personnel Requirements for the 

Manhattan District, January 1943 356 



Maps 



1. Projected Site for Atomic Production Plants, Tennessee, 1942 48 

2. Manhattan Project, 1942-1946 63 

3. Clinton Engineer Works, Tennessee, 1943-1945 131 

4. Hanford Engineer Works, Washington, 1943-1945 213 



No. Page 

5. Los Alamos Site, New Mexico, 1943-1945 330 

6. Trinity Test Site, 1945 479 

7. The Atomic Bombing of Japan, August 1945 525 



Illustrations 

Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves Frontispiece 

Ernest O. Lawrence, Arthur H. Compton, Vannevar Bush, 

and James B. Conant 29 

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson 32 

Brig. Gen. Wilhelm D. Styer 41 

Brig. Gen. James C. Marshall 42 

Col. Kenneth D. Nichols 43 

Silver-wound Magnet Coils for the Electromagnetic Process 68 

Approach Road to the Los Alamos Ranch School for Boys 85 

Manhattan Project Emblem 89 

Mrs. Jean O'Leary and General Groves 90 

Col. E. H. Marsden 113 

Excavation at the Tennessee Site 135 

Alpha I Racetrack, Electromagnetic Plant, CEW 137 

Electromagnetic Plant Under Construction 140 

CEW Training Facilities 143 

Electromagnetic Plant in Full Operation 147 

Gaseous Diffusion Plant Under Construction, CEW 162 

K-25 Steel-frame Construction 163 

Completed Plant Section 168 

Completed Gaseous Diffusion Plant 170 

Richard C. Tolman 177 

Liquid Thermal Diffusion Plant, CEW 181 

Billboard at the S-50 Plant Site 182 

University of Chicago Physics Building 186 

Argonne Laboratory Near Chicago 187 

124th Field Artillery Armory in Chicago 188 

New Chemistry Building, Metallurgical Laboratory, Chicago 189 

Heavy Water Plant at the Wabash River Ordnance Works 192 

Maj. Arthur V. Peterson 195 

Clinton Laboratories Pilot Pile, CEW 207 

Clinton Laboratories 211 

300 Area, HEW 215 

100 B Pile Area, HEW 216 

Chemical Separation Plant Under Construction, HEW 219 

Completed Chemical Separation Plants 220 

Sir James Chadwick, General Groves, and Richard Tolman 244 



Changing of the Guard, CEW 259 

Security Sign at the Tennessee Site 269 

Farm at the Tennessee Site 322 

Typical Terrain of the Los Alamos Site 329 

Military and Civilian Workers, CEW 355 

Women's Army Corps Detachment, CEW 359 

Enlisted Men at CEW During Off-Duty Hours 360 

Large Troop Contingent at Los Alamos on Parade 361 

Power Plant, HEW 379 

K-25 Power Plant, CEW 384 

Unimproved Santa Fe-Los Alamos Road 399 

Improved Santa Fe-Los Alamos Road 400 

Oak Ridge Bus Terminal 402 

Gallaher Bridge Road at the Tennessee Site 405 

Col. Stafford L. Warren 414 

Hazardous Materials Storage Area, Los Alamos 421 

Oak Ridge Hospital 423 

Oak Ridge Shopping Mall and District Headquarters 437 

Black Workers, CEW 438 

Prefabricated Houses and Apartment Dwellings, CEW 440 

Enlisted Men's Barracks, CEW 441 

Gamble Valley Trailer Camp, CEW 442 

Oak Ridge Elementary School 444 

Main Post Office and Theater in Oak Ridge 445 

CEW Reservation Entry Point 447 

Chapel-on-the-Hill in Oak Ridge 448 

Hanford Construction Camp, HEW 452 

Camp Administrative and Residential Areas, HEW 453 

Richland Village, HEW 456 

Typical Building at the Los Alamos Ranch School 467 

Family Apartment Units at Los Alamos 470 

Military Mess Facility at Los Alamos 471 

Los Alamos Ranch Trading Post 472 

Street Scene in Los Alamos 473 

Pupils at the Los Alamos Community School 474 

Trinity Base Camp 480 

J. Robert Oppenheimer 486 

Lt. Col. Curtis A. Nelson 501 

Technical Area at Los Alamos 505 

Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Farrell and General Groves 512 

Trinity Control Dugout and Observation Post 515 

The Atomic Explosion at Trinity, 16July 1945 516 

Little Boy 522 

Fat Man. 523 

Col. Elmer E. Kirkpatrick, Jr 527 

General Groves Checking Location of Bombing Targets 531 



Page 

Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., and Ground Crew at Tinian 535 

Enola Gay at Tinian 537 

Mushroom Cloud Over Hiroshima 539 

Physical Damage at Hiroshima 546 

Atomic Bombing Casualties at Nagasaki 548 

Survivors of the Nagasaki Bombing 549 

General Groves Holding a Press Conference 557 

Henry D. Smyth and Richard Tolman 559 

Oppenheimer Congratulating the Troops 582 

Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson and General Groves 585 

Transfer of Control to the Atomic Energy Commission 600 



Illustrations courtesy of the following sources: p. 89 from Typogra- 
phy and Design Division, Government Printing Office; pp. 361, 474, and 
582 from Col. Gerald T. Tyler; and p. 600 from Wide World Photos. All 
other illustrations are from the files of the Department of Defense and 
the Department of Energy. 



MANHATTAN: 
THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



PROLOGUE 



A History of Atomic Energy 
to 1939 



The concept of the atomic structure 
of matter first emerged in the fifth 
century B.C. with the Greek theory of 
minute particles, or atoms, as the un- 
changeable and indivisible units com- 
prising all material things.^ This new 
idea, however, lay dormant for nearly 
two thousand years because Aris- 
totle's view that all matter is continu- 
ous and composed of four elements — 
fire, earth, air, and water — prevailed 
in the minds of men. Following the 
Renaissance in Europe such philoso- 
phers and scientists as Galileo, Des- 
cartes, Bacon, Boyle, and Newton 
supported the early concept, and in 
the nineteenth century chemists 
(somewhat later, physicists) trans- 
formed this atomic theory into a ma- 
terial reality. 

One of the first and important 
steps was the theory proposed by 
English chemist John Dalton in 1803 
that each element is composed of like 



' A simple but excellent explanation of the atomic 
concept, including a good historical summary, is 
Selig Hechl, Explaining the Atom, 2d ed. (New York: 
Viking Press, 1954). The already classic, semitechni- 
cal history is H. D. Smyth, A General Account of the De- 
velopment of Methods of Using Atomic Energy for Military 
Purposes Under the Auspices of the United States Goi'em- 
ment, 1940-194'y (Washington, D.C.: Government 
Printing Office, 1945), hereafter cited as Smyth 
Report. See Bibliographical Note. 



atoms, distinguishable from the atoms 
forming other elements primarily by 
differences in mass. He thus provided 
a practical and specific standard for 
nineteenth century scientists' descrip- 
tions of ninety-two chemical elements 
(substances that cannot be broken 
down or transformed by chemical 
means). By the end of the century, all 
known elements had been arranged in 
a table, with similar properties in re- 
lated positions, in numerical order ac- 
cording to atomic mass; it ranged 
from element 1, hydrogen, which was 
the lightest, to element 92, uranium, 
the heaviest. This "periodic table" 
not only enabled scientists to predict 
the properties of undiscovered ele- 
ments but also became the basis of 
chemical and physical knowledge of 
the elements. 

Beginning in the last decade of the 
nineteenth century, scientific discov- 
eries by those European and Ameri- 
can physicists who sought to explain 
the phenomenon of radioactivity 
opened the way for the modern de- 
velopment of atomic energy. This 
phenomenon is a property possessed 
by some elements to spontaneously 
emit radiation that ionizes gas and 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



makes it capable of conducting elec- 
tricity. Investigating electrical dis- 
charges in gases in 1895, German 
physicist Wilhelm Roentgen observed 
radiation emissions that penetrated 
opaque objects and also produced flu- 
orescence. Roentgen's discovery of 
these radiations, which he called 
X-rays, led French physicist Henri 
Becquerel to test fluorescent salts of 
uranium to see if they also would 
produce penetrating rays. In 1896, 
Becquerel demonstrated that uranium 
emits penetrating radiations that 
would ionize gas, proof that it was 
radioactive. 

In England, physicist J. J. Thomson 
and a young student from New Zea- 
land, Ernest Rutherford, used X-rays 
to ionize gases, providing further evi- 
dence that the penetrating rays were 
charged particles much smaller than 
atoms. In 1897, Thomson published 
data proving the existence of these 
particles, each having a mass of about 
one two-thousandth of a hydrogen 
atom. The following year he suggest- 
ed that these particles, subsequently 
designated electrons, formed one of 
the basic building blocks comprising 
all atoms. 

Rutherford's succeeding investiga- 
tions showed that the penetrating 
streams of emitted particles are com- 
posed of at least three different kinds 
of rays — alpha, beta, and gamma. 
Alpha ray particles are heavy, high- 
speed, positively charged bodies, later 
shown to be nuclei of helium atoms; 
beta ray particles are electrons; and 
gamma rays are similar in composi- 
tion to X-rays. In 1911, Rutherford 
proposed the theory of the nuclear 
atom, with its mass and positive 
charge at the center. The work of 
Rutherford, Niels Bohr, a Danish 



physicist, and others led to the con- 
cept of the atom as a miniature solar 
system, with a heavy positive nucleus 
orbited by much lighter electrons. 

Rutherford finally achieved, in 
1919, what man had been attempting 
unsuccessfully for centuries: the artifi- 
cial transmutation of an element. 
Since the discovery of natural radi- 
ation, scientists had known that disin- 
tegration of radioactive elements in 
nature caused them to change sponta- 
neously into other elements. Bom- 
barding nonradioactive nitrogen with 
high-energy alpha particles given off 
by naturally radioactive radium, Ruth- 
erford caused the nitrogen to disinte- 
grate and change into what subse- 
quently proved to be a form of 
oxygen. His achievement, although 
somewhat removed from the ancient 
alchemist's dream of transmuting 
base metals into gold, was far more 
valuable and important. It was not 
only the first artificially induced trans- 
mutation; it was also the first con- 
trolled artificial disintegration of an 
atomic nucleus. 

A further Rutherford achievement 
was isolation and identification of yet 
another basic building block of 
atomic structure. In addition to 
oxygen, nitrogen transmutation had 
produced a high-energy particle with 
characteristics similar to the positively 
charged nucleus of the hydrogen 
atom. Later study showed it was a hy- 
drogen nucleus, and scientists gave it 
the name proton. Such a positively 
charged particle as a fundamental 
unit in the structure of all atoms had 
long been hypothesized; demonstra- 
tion of its presence in nitrogen and 
other elements confirmed its identity. 



A HISTORY OF ATOMIC ENERGY TO 1939 



Discovery of the proton pointed 
toward the existence of a third parti- 
cle. In 1932, James Chadwick, Ruther- 
ford's co-worker at Cambridge Uni- 
versity, discovered this third particle, 
the neutron, an uncharged body ap- 
proximately equal in weight to the 
proton. 

Now the atom was viewed as com- 
posed of a positively charged nucleus, 
containing protons and neutrons, or- 
bited by negative electrons equal in 
number to the protons. The number 
of protons determined the atomic 
number, or numerical position, of the 
parent element in the periodic table. 
Thus hydrogen, element I, has but a 
single proton; helium, element 2, two 
protons; and uranium, element 92, 
ninety-two protons. For each proton 
there is a balancing electron. The 
mass, or atomic weight, of an element 
is the sum of its protons and neu- 
trons; the electrons, with negligible 
weight, do not materially affect the 
mass of the atom. The weight of each 
element is stated in relation to that of 
hydrogen, the lightest. Hydrogen, 
with a single proton and no neutrons, 
has an atomic weight of 1; helium, 
with 2 protons and 2 neutrons of 
equal weight, a mass of 4; and urani- 
um, with 92 protons and 146 neu- 
trons, a mass of 238. The chemical 
symbols for these elements are writ- 
ten iH\ zHe^ and 92U238. 

Thus far, three characteristics of 
elements had been identified: chemi- 
cal uniqueness, atomic number, and 
atomic weight. But scientists also dis- 
covered that many elements exist in 
more than one form, differing solely 
in the number of neutrons that each 
contains. For example, there are two 
forms of helium, each with two pro- 
tons and two electrons. Thev are 



chemically identical but one form has 
a single neutron, thus an atomic mass 
of 3, and the other, more prevalent 
form two neutrons, thus an atomic 
mass of 4. These substances are 
called isotopes (from the Greek words 
ISO, meaning alike or same, and topos, 
meaning place) because they occupy 
the same place in the periodic table. 
The chemical symbols for the helium 
isotopes are written 2He^ and 2He\ or 
simply He-3 and He-4; or they may 
be spelled out, helium 3 and helium 
4. Many other isotopes exist, either 
naturally or through scientific trans- 
mutations, and they are important in 
the story of atomic energy. 

James Chadwick's discovery of the 
neutron was not the only significant 
development in 1932. That same year 
British scientist J. D. Cockcroft and 
Irish scientist E. T. S. Walton, work- 
ing together at Cambridge Universi- 
ty's Cavendish Laboratory, used a 
particle accelerator to bombard lithi- 
um with a stream of protons, causing 
the element to disintegrate. Unlike 
Rutherford, who experimented with 
alpha particles from natural sources, 
Cockcroft and Walton, in effect, pro- 
duced their own protons through arti- 
ficial means. 

This artificially induced nuclear dis- 
integration, however, was only one 
aspect of Cockcroft and Walton's ac- 
complishment. As a hydrogen nucle- 
us, or proton, struck a lithium nucle- 
us, the latter body disintegrated into 
two alpha particles of helium nuclei. 
The hydrogen atom with a mass of I 
united with a lithium nucleus having a 
mass of 7, thereby making a total 
mass of 8, and then this body imme- 
diately divided into two helium 
nuclei, each with a mass of 4. Thus, 



MANHAIT^AN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



the two scientists were also the first 
to bring about atomic fission — or, in 
the popular phrase, to split the atom.^ 

Still another result of the Cock- 
croft-Walton experiment, and at the 
time considered most important, was 
its confirmation of Einstein's theory 
of relativity, proposed in 1905, that 
matter and energy are merely differ- 
ent forms of the same thing. The 
atomic weights of the lithium, hydro- 
gen, and helium nuclei expressed by 
Cockcroft and Walton in their experi- 
ment were only approximate. The 
combined mass of a lithium nucleus 
and a hydrogen nucleus is, in fact, 
very slightly more than the combined 
mass of two helium nuclei. Thus, the 
formation of two helium nuclei had 
resulted in a loss of mass. This lost 
mass was converted into energy in an 
amount that could be calculated by 
the Einstein equivalence formula 
E = mc^ (energy is equal to mass multi- 
plied by the square of the velocity of 
light) or derived from the speed of 
the helium nuclei as they flew apart 
from the lithium. Because the two cal- 
culations provided answers in very 
close agreement, they confirmed Ein- 
stein's theoretical projection and 
opened the prospect of using atomic 
fission as a major new source of 
energy. 

In the experiments conducted so 
far, however, the total energy re- 
quired to bombard the atomic nucle- 
us and produce fission was much 
greater than the energy released. This 
initially high input of energy enabled 
the charged particle to approach and 
penetrate the atom, overcoming the 



^Sir John Cockcroft, "The Development and 
Future of Nuclear Energy," Bulletin of the Atomic Sa- 
entuts 6 (Nov 50): 326. 



repulsion of their mutual electrical 
charges. Furthermore, even when 
high-speed particles were used, only 
one in a million succeeded in hitting 
its target. This inefficiency led Ruth- 
erford to describe using nuclear fis- 
sion as an energy source as practical 
as "moonshine," ^ and so it indeed 
appeared to many. 

But Chadwick's discovery of the 
neutron provided the solution. The 
neutron, because it was an uncharged 
particle, would not be repelled and 
therefore could penetrate a nucleus 
even at relatively slow speeds. Proof 
was to come from Italy, where in 
1934 Enrico Fermi and his co-workers 
set about systematically bombarding 
the atoms of all known elements with 
neutrons. They soon demonstrated 
that the nuclei of several dozen ele- 
ments could be penetrated by neu- 
trons and thereby broken down and 
transmuted into nuclei of other ele- 
ments. Their best results were ob- 
tained when the bombarding neu- 
trons were first slowed down by pass- 
ing them through such moderators as 
carbon or hydrogen. 

The most important result of 
Fermi's work was not fully under- 
stood for another four years. Among 
the substances he had bombarded 
with slow neutrons was uranium, 
which was naturally radioactive and 
the heaviest of all known elements. 
Theory and chemical analysis seemed 
to indicate that the substance pro- 
duced by uranium transmutation was 
nothing hitherto known, but was in 
fact a new and heavier element. Ura- 
nium is element 92; this new element 
appeared to be element 93, or possi- 



Ibid. 



A HISTORY OF ATOMIC ENERGY TO 1939 



bly even element 94. Fermi, so it 
seemed, had created transuranic ele- 
ments not present in nature, and the 
popular press hailed his achievement 
as a major advance in science.^ 

Yet many scientists were skeptical, 
and Fermi himself was uncertain. The 
properties exhibited by the new sub- 
stances were not those they had ex- 
pected to find in transuranic ele- 
ments. For the next four years, physi- 
cists and chemists were hard at work 
attempting to identify exactly what 
Fermi had produced. Progress was 
slow, exacerbated by the uncertainty 
of the times; fearing the advancing 
wave of political oppression, many 
scientists in Germany, Austria, and 
Italy fled to havens elsewhere in 
Europe and in the United States. Nev- 
ertheless, out of Nazi Germany, the 
answer finally came. Just before 
Christmas of 1938, the radiochemists 
Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann con- 
cluded that one of the products of 
Fermi's experiment was not a trans- 
uranic element at all. It was, rather, 
the element barium, with an atomic 
weight approximately half that of 
uranium.^ 

When Hahn informed his former 
co-worker, Lise Meitner, of the con- 



" Laura Fermi, Atoms in the Family: My Life With 
Ennco Fermi (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 
1954), Ch. 6 and passim; Enrico Fermi, United States. 
1939-1954, The Collected Papers of Enrico Fermi, 
ed. Emilio Segre et al.. Vol. 2 (Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press, 1965). 

^See Charles Weiner, "A New Site for the Semi- 
nar: The Refugees and American Physics in the 
Thirties," in The Intellectual Migration: Europe and 
America, 1930-1960, Perspectives in American Histo- 
ry, Vol. 2 (Cambridge, Mass.: Charles Warren 
Center for Studies in American History, Harvard 
University, 1968), pp. 190-234; Norman Bentwich, 
The Rescue and Achieiiement of Displaced Scholars and Sci- 
entists, 1933-1952 (The Hague: Martinus NijhofF, 
1953). 



elusions that he and Strassmann had 
reached, the Austrian physicist — who 
had recently escaped from Germany 
to Sweden — quickly comprehended 
the significance of the findings. Work- 
ing with her nephew, British (Austri- 
an-born) physicist Otto Frisch, she 
concluded that the bombardment of 
uranium by slow neutrons produced 
two elements of roughly half the 
weight of uranium. In the splitting 
process there was a tremendous re- 
lease of energy, far more than neces- 
sary to cause fission. Without delay 
she passed this exciting information 
on to Niels Bohr, who was about to 
leave Denmark for an extended stay 
at the Institute for Advanced Study at 
Princeton University. Thus, even as 
Hahn and Strassmann published the 
results of their work in Europe, Bohr 
carried news of their conclusions to 
the United States.^ 

Further experiments confirmed the 
discovery of atomic fission and raised 
the possibility that a practical means 
of obtaining atomic energy could at 
last be realized. Splitting the uranium 
atom released not only energy but 
also two or three additional neutrons. 
Perhaps, under the right conditions, 
these neutrons might smash other 
atoms, releasing more neutrons to 
bombard more atoms while simulta- 
neously generating a continuous 
emission of energy. This process, or 
chain reaction, would be self-sustain- 
ing and would continue for as long as 
uranium atoms were present to be 
split. 



^ Lise Meitner, "Looking Back," Bulletin of the 
Atomic Scientists 20 (Nov 64): 2-7; S. Rozental, ed., 
Xieh Bohr: His Life and Work as Seen by Friends and Col- 
leagues (Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Co., 
1967). 



8 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



During 1939, scientists in America, 
England, France, Germany, the Soviet 
Union, Japan, and other countries 
worked intensively to extend both the 
theoretical and experimental knowl- 
edge of atomic fission. By the end of 
the year, nearly one hundred papers 
on the subject had been published.^ 
In the United States, native Ameri- 
cans and a group of European refu- 
gees combined their energies and sci- 
entific talents to investigate various 
aspects of the complex problem, car- 
rying on their work at such institu- 
tions as Columbia, Johns Hopkins, 
Princeton, the University of California 
at Berkeley, and the Carnegie Institu- 
tion in Washington, D.C.® 

Uranium and Fission 

Uranium is considered a rare ele- 
ment, although it is a thousand times 
more prevalent than gold. Uranium is 
more widely dispersed and occurs in- 
frequently in a relatively concentrated 
form. Found always with radium, pri- 
marily as uranium oxide, it occurs 
mainly in pitchblende and in carnotite 
ores. Before World War II the main 
value of these ores lay in their radium 



^ Summarized in Louis A. Turner, "Nuclear Phys- 
ics," Rnnews of Modem Physics 12 (Jan 40): 1-29. 

^ Among the many scientists at work in the 
United States on fission research were Herbert L. 
Anderson, John R. Dunning, Enrico Fermi, George 
B. Pegram, Leo Szilard, and Walter Zinn at Colum- 
bia, Edwin M. McMillan at the University of Califor- 
nia, Berkeley; Edward Teller at George Washington 
University; and John A. Wheeler and Eugene 
Wigner at Princeton. In France were Frederic Joliot- 
Curie, Hans von Halban, and Lew Kowarski; in Eng- 
land, George P. Thomson, James Chadwick, Ru- 
dolph Peierls, and others; and in Germany, Otto 
Hahn, Fritz Strassmann, and Werner Heisenberg. 
The Soviet Union, too, had a number of able and 
active physicists in fission research. See Arnold Kra- 
mish. Atomic Energy in the Soviet I'nion (Stanford: 
Stanford University Press, 1959). Chs. 1-3. 



content, although uranium was also 
used for coloring glassware and ce- 
ramics, for tinting photographic film, 
and for making certain steel alloys. 
Uranium was rarely produced as a 
metal; metallurgists had not yet meas- 
ured its melting point accurately. 

Substantial radium-uranium con- 
centrations in the Shinkolobwe mine 
in Katanga Province of the Belgian 
Congo were owned by the Union 
Miniere du Haut Katanga, a Belgian 
firm that completely dominated the 
world market. So rich were the Shin- 
kolobwe concentrations that in 1937 
the company, having stockpiled suffi- 
cient ore to satisfy the anticipated 
world demand for radium and urani- 
um for the next thirty years, ceased 
mining operations. 

Important but less productive de- 
posits were located in the Eldorado 
mine at Great Bear Lake in northern 
Canada, and ores of much lower 
grade were found in the Colorado 
Plateau region in the western United 
States; however, Colorado Plateau 
radium and uranium producers were 
forced to close down because they 
could not compete commercially with 
those in the Congo and Canada. In 
addition, other uranium deposits of 
varying quality were located in 
Czechoslovakia, Portugal, England, 
Madagascar, and elsewhere.^ 

Natural uranium is composed of 
three isotopes: U-238, about 99.28 
percent; U-235, about 0.71 percent; 



^ "The Distribution of Uranium in Nature," Bulle- 
tin of the Atomic Scientists 1 (Feb 46): 6; Ms, Office of 
the Historian, Armed Forces Special Weapons 
Project, "Manhattan District History" (hereafter 
cited as MDH), ed. Gavin Hadden, 8 bks., 36 vols. 
(Dec 48), Bk. 7, Vol. 1, "Feed Materials and Special 
Procurement," pp. 1.1-1.7, 2.1-2.2, 3.1-3.2. 4.1- 
4.2, DASA, 



A HISTORY OF ATOMIC ENERGY TO 1939 



and U-234, just a trace. Experiment- 
ing with the isotopic properties of 
uranium, scientists eventually proved 
that U-235 was fissionable by both 
slow and fast neutrons, although 
more controUably so by the former. 

When U-235 fissions, it emits fast 
neutrons, which are captured by the 
U-238. The U-238 does not fission 
but becomes radioactive and disinte- 
grates. For a chain reaction to be self- 
sustaining, at least one neutron emit- 
ted by the U-235 has to penetrate 
another U-235 atom. Because the fast 
neutrons are most easily absorbed 
bv the U-238, the 140-to-l ratio of 
lT-238 to U-235 in natural uranium 
makes it even more improbable that 
the neutrons can escape the U-238 
and be captured by U-235 atoms. 
Many neutrons, moreover, escape al- 
together from the uranium and others 
are absorbed by impurities within it. 
This is why uranium does not fission 
in its natural state and why an emis- 
sion of neutrons does not occur in 
any ordinary lump of uranium. 

Proper conditions for achieving a 
chain reaction required that the 
number of neutrons absorbed by im- 
purities in uranium and the number 
of neutrons lost through its surface or 
captured by its U-238 isotope be kept 
to a minimum. Neutron absorption 
could be decreased by using a careful 
chemical process to remove the impu- 
rities, although the technique was dif- 
ficult and posed major problems. Be- 
cause the number of neutrons lost 
from a piece of uranium depends on 
the area of the surface and because 
the number of neutrons captured de- 
pends on its mass or volume, neutron 
escape or capture could be reduced 
by using a suitable shape and size. 
The greater the amount of uranium. 



the smaller would be its surface area 
relative to volume and thus, propor- 
tionately, the fewer neutrons that 
could be lost through the surface or 
captured by the U-238. During fis- 
sion, production of at least one neu- 
tron in excess of those lost or cap- 
tured would cause the uranium to 
reach its critical mass and possibly 
trigger a chain reaction. 

The dilemma researchers faced in 
1939 was ascertaining the exact size 
of this critical mass. The consensus 
was that a tremendous amount of ura- 
nium — far more than had ever been 
produced and concentrated — would 
be necessary. A practical solution to 
the supposed enormity of the prob- 
lem therefore was to reduce the size 
of the critical mass by decreasing the 
number of neutrons captured by the 
U-238. The U-235 could be separat- 
ed from the U-238, or the ratio of 
U-235 to U-238 could be increased 
artificially. 

Theories about what should be 
done, however, did not quite coincide 
with what could be done at this stage 
of the research. Because the two ura- 
nium isotopes were chemically identi- 
cal, their separation by chemical 
means was impossible. And the about 
1 -percent difference in mass between 
U-235 and U-238 meant that separa- 
tion by physical means would be most 
difficult. Although producing a suffi- 
cient amount of pure U-235 or 
U-235-enriched natural uranium to 
maintain a chain reaction in a critical 
mass of practical proportions ap- 
peared only barely possible, there 
were those who continued to work on 
the multistage problem of separating 
what were considered, in Fermi's 



10 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



words, "almost magically inseparable" 
isotopes. ^° 

All separation methods deemed 
possible were based on the difference 
in atomic weight. One process, the 
electromagnetic method, employed a 
mass spectrometer or spectrograph. 
In this process a stream of charged 
particles of a given element is project- 
ed through a magnetic field, which 
deflects them from their original path. 
Because the atoms of a heavier iso- 
tope will be more strongly affected by 
the magnetic field than those of a 
lighter isotope, the stream of particles 
will be separated into two or more 
streams, each containing a different 
isotope, which can then be collected 
in different receivers. Alfred O. Nier 
of the University of Minnesota did the 
initial work on this process. At this 
time, the electromagnetic method 
proved to be not only ridiculously 
slow but also quantitatively insuffi- 
cient. It would have taken twenty- 
seven thousand years for each mass 
spectrometer to produce a single 
gram of U-235 or 27 million spec- 
trometers a whole year to separate a 
kilogram of the isotope. 

Another process, the gaseous diffu- 
sion method, was based on the princi- 
ple that if two gases of different 
atomic weights are passed through a 
porous barrier, the lighter gas will 
diffuse through more readily. First, 
uranium would have to be trans- 
formed from its naturally solid state 
into a gas; then, because of the 140- 
to-1 ratio of U-238 to U-235, the dif- 
fusion process would have to be re- 
peated in order to produce any ap- 



preciable amount of U-235 or U-235- 
enriched uranium. Scientists in Great 
Britain performed most of the early 
theoretical and experimental work on 
this method. In the United States, it 
was not until late 1940 that physicist 
John R. Dunning and a small group 
of collaborators at Columbia Univer- 
sity began intensive research into the 
technical problems of gaseous 
diffusion. ^^ 

A third method was the centrifuge 
process, in which uranium in a gase- 
ous form is rotated rapidly in a cylin- 
der. Because centrifugal force causes 
the atoms of the heavier isotope to 
amass along the outer walls and those 
of the Hghter isotope to concentrate 
around the axis of rotation, the de- 
sired isotope can then be drawn off. 
Jesse W. Beams at the University of 
Virginia and others in the United 
States seemed to offer the best initial 
promise for separating uranium iso- 
topes, but the magnitude of the engi- 
neering problem was such that, as 
with the other separation methods, 
the centrifuge process offered no 
quick or easy solution. 

The avenues of research were not 
solely Hmited to isotope separation 
methods. At Columbia University, 
Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard, a 
refugee physicist from Hungary, ex- 
perimented with the possibility of 
achieving a chain reaction in urani- 
um without separating its isotopes — 
research that in the not too distant 
future would culminate in the world's 
first chain reaction. Basing their in- 
vestigations on research that Fermi 
had carried out five years earlier on 



'° Enrico Fermi, "Physics at Columbia University: 
The Genesis of the Nuclear Energy Program," Phys- 
ics Today 8 (Nov 55): 14. 



i» For Cunning's work see MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 2, 
"Research," pp. 3.1-3.2, DASA. 



A HISIORY OF AlOMIC ENERGY TO 1939 



11 



ihc use of moderators to slow down 
neutrons, they explored the likelihood 
that a moderating substance might be 
mixed with natural uranium in such a 
way that the high-speed fission-pro- 
duced neutrons could be sufficiently 
slowed before meeting other uranium 
atoms so as to escape capture 
by U-238 and remain free to pene- 
trate the U-235. 

The two most promising modera- 
tors were hydrogen and carbon. 
Water might make a good moderator; 
however, because hydrogen exists in 
two natural isotopes (light hydrogen, 
the more prevalent, with a mass of 1, 
and heavy hydrogen, or deuterium 
with a mass of 2), "heavy water," con- 
taining deuterium, should make an 
even better one. Scientists in France 
and England had investigated the use 
of heavy water, but it was extremely 
costly to produce and was highly vola- 
tile. Feeling that heavy hydrogen was 
in some ways less efficient as a mod- 
erator, Fermi and Szilard turned their 
attention to carbon, which was readily 
available in the form of graphite. 
Proving its feasibility through theoret- 
ical investigation and experimentation 
would take time, energy, and money, 
but the two scientists were confident 
they could achieve a chain reaction. ^^ 

Because such a chain reaction could 
provide a tremendous amount of 
energy in a form that might be con- 
verted into power, this uranium- 
graphite system promised to have 
ready military application for driving 



'^ For the activities of Fermi and Szilard during 
1939 see Enrico Fermi, "Physics at Columbia," pp. 
12-16: Ms, Leo Szilard, "Documents Relating to 
Period March 1939 to July 1940" (hereafter cited as 
Szilard Documents), Incl to Ltr, Compton to 
Groves, 13 Nov 42, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 201 
(Szilard), MDR. 



large ships or aircraft but seemed im- 
practical for use as a bomb. A bomb 
would have to be so large that the 
sudden release of energy in an un- 
controlled nuclear explosion would 
blow it apart before more than a 
small amount of energy was freed; 
that amount was not worth the great 
effort necessary to detonate it. 

Yet, if it were possible to separate 
U-235 from the naturally more preva- 
lent U-238 or to enrich natural urani- 
um greatly in its U-235 isotope, then 
a fast-neutron chain reaction might be 
achieved and extremely powerful 
bombs, far smaller than any explosive 
uranium-graphite system, could prob- 
ably be built. Controlled energy from 
a fast-neutron chain reaction could, of 
course, be used as a power source; 
but, uncontrolled, it would provide a 
far more powerful explosion than 
ever before attained by man. Though 
perhaps too heavy for a conventional 
bomber, a U-235 bomb could be 
brought by ship into an enemy port 
and exploded with devastating effect. 

In early 1939, however, the chances 
of constructing a bomb of U-235 ap- 
peared far less certain than those of 
building a power-producing uranium- 
graphite system. To use Fermi's 
words, there seemed "little likelihood 
of an atomic bomb, little proof that 
we were not pursuing a chimera." ^^ 

Nevertheless, possible military ap- 
plication of atomic energy was of in- 
creasing interest to a group of for- 
eign-born physicists now living and 
working in the United States. These 
men — including Enrico Fermi from 
Italy; Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, 
and Edward Teller from Hungary; 



'^ Laura Fermi, Atoms in the Family, p. 164. 



12 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



and Victor Weisskopf from Austria — 
knew that government-supported nu- 
clear research was under way at the 
Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, 
and the likely military consequences 
of a German breakthrough worried 
them very much. As most of them had 
only recently fled their homelands to 
escape fascist tyranny, they had no 
wish to see Nazi Germany acquire a 
means of dominating the whole 
world. Indeed, if any nations were to 
exploit atomic energy for mihtary 
purposes, they believed the democra- 
cies would do well to be first. 

These physicists therefore directed 
their energies toward two ends: keep- 
ing all advances in nuclear research a 
secret to discourage an all-out 
German effort, and obtaining support 
from the American government for 
further nuclear research. The group 
almost achieved one of its goals in 
early 1939, when leading physicists in 
the United States and Great Britain 
pledged not to publish the results of 
their work in the field. However, in 
France, Frederic Joliot-Curie refused, 
and his determination to publish his 
own research led to continued publi- 
cation by scientists in other countries. 
It was not until late 1940, after a 
large number of articles had appeared 
in scientific journals and the popular 
press, that publication on atomic 
energy generally ceased. 

Efforts To Enlist Support of the 
U. S. Government 

The atomic scientists' first attempt 
to gain support from the U.S. govern- 
ment for their atomic energy research 
came in March of 1939, even as 
German troops were completing the 
occupation of Czechoslovakia. Sched- 



uled to give a lecture in Washington, 
D.C., on the sixteenth, Enrico Fermi 
arrived in the national capital with a 
letter of introduction from Dean 
George B. Pegram of Columbia to 
Rear Adm. Stanford C. Hooper, di- 
rector of the Technical Division, 
Office of the Chief of Naval Oper- 
ations. On the morning of the seven- 
teenth, Fermi met with Admiral 
Hooper and other individuals, includ- 
ing Ross Gunn, a physicist and techi- 
cal adviser of the Naval Research Lab- 
oratory. Pegram, who was also a phys- 
icist, had explained in his letter what 
Fermi discussed in his lecture, 
namely, the importance of atomic 
energy and its possible uses for man- 
kind, although both men were pru- 
dent about making predictions. 

Gunn and his associates at the 
Naval Research Laboratory already 
were aware of the potentialities of 
atomic energy; however, they were 
more interested in the prospects for 
nuclear ship propulsion than in devel- 
oping an atomic bomb. Now Fermi's 
visit spurred them on to continue 
their own investigations, but it did 
not lead to any naval support for the 
scientists working at the universi- 
ties.^^ A second approach to Gunn, 
made by Szilard in June, was no more 
successful. While the Navy pursued its 
own program of research on uranium 
isotope separation, Gunn indicated to 
Szilard in July that "it seems almost 
impossible, in the light of the restric- 



i* Ibid., pp. 162-65; Testimony of Gunn in U.S. 
Congress, Senate, Special Committee on Atomic 
Energy, Atomic Energy: Hearings on S. Res. 179, 79th 
Cong., 1st and 2d Sess., 27 Nov 45-15 Feb 46 
(Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 
1945-46), pp. 365-67. Gunn testified that Army of- 
ficers were present at the 17 March conference, but 
this does not appear to have been the case. 



A HISTORY OF ATOMIC ENERGY TO 1939 



13 



tions which are imposed on Govern- 
ment contracts for services, to carry 
through any sort of agreement that 
would be really helpful to you." ^^ 

By mid-July, then, Szilard, Teller, 
and Wigner concluded that another 
channel had to be found. The results 
of ongoing nuclear research indicated 
that a chain reaction could very prob- 
ably be achieved in a uranium-graph- 
ite system, "and that this possibility 
had to be considered as an imminent 
danger." ^^ There was, moreover, 
ominous news from Europe of contin- 
ued German interest and progress in 
nuclear research. American scientists 
returning from visits to Germany re- 
ported a growing emphasis on the in- 
vestigation of isotope separation, with 
the apparent objective of achieving a 
fast-neutron chain reaction in U-235, 
the basis of an atomic bomb.^^ After 
moving into Czechoslovakia, the Ger- 
mans closed the door on the coun- 
try's uranium ore exports. Convinced 
that the need to keep other uranium 
deposits from falling into German 
hands required action at the highest 
level, Szilard, Teller, and Wigner ap- 
proached Einstein. At first, Szilard 
thought to have Einstein approach 
the Department of State and use his 
acquaintance with the royal family in 
Belgium as a means for stopping ura- 
nium ore shipments to the Germans. 
But, after further discussion, he de- 
cided a direct approach to the White 
House was necessary. Through a ref- 
ugee journalist friend, Szilard secured 
an introduction to Alexander Sachs, a 



Wall Street economist and student of 
international affairs who had long 
been an informal adviser of President 
Franklin D. Roosevelt. Sachs was fa- 
miliar with the subject of atomic 
energy, having read avidly Hahn and 
Strassmann's first report and having 
followed subsequent publications on 
atomic fission. Also, he had become 
acutely aware of the possible military 
applications of atomic energy during 
Niels Bohr's visit to the Institute of 
Advanced Study at Princeton. Indeed, 
the growing tensions in Europe and 
Germany's increasing threat to world 
peace eventually led him to discuss 
the Hahn-Strassmann report and its 
possible effect on the international 
situation in a brief session with 
Roosevelt early in March. 

Sachs agreed to help, and he and 
Szilard concluded that a letter from 
Einstein to Roosevelt would empha- 
size the importance of their message. 
The letter, primarily the work of Szi- 
lard, was drafted in Sachs's office. Szi- 
lard and Teller took it to Einstein, 
who was vacationing on Long Island, 
on 2 August. Sources disagree over 
whether Einstein rewrote the Sachs- 
Szilard draft or merely put his name 
to it; but, in any event, Szilard re- 
turned to Sachs with a signed letter 
from Einstein to the President.^® 



>^ Ltr, Gunn to Szilard, 10 Jul 39, Szilard Docu- 
ments, MDR. 

'« Szilard Documents, p. 7, MDR. 

'^ Arthur Holly Compton, Atomic Qiiest: A Personal 
S'arrative (New York; Oxford University Press, 
1956). p. 118. 



'^ Account of approach to President Roosevelt 
through Sachs based on Interv, Stanley L. Falk with 
Sachs, 18 Jul 60, CMH; Ms, Alexander Sachs, "Early 
History [of] Atomic Project in Relation to President 
Roosevelt, 1939-40" (hereafter cited as Sachs Histo- 
ry), 8-9 Aug 45, pp. 1-6, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
201 (Sachs), MDR; Testimony of Sachs in Atomic 
Energy Hearings on S. Res. 179. pp. 2-11 and 553-59; 
Szilard Documents, p. 7, MDR; Otto Nathan and 
Heinz Norden, eds., Einstein on Peace (New \'ork: 
Simon and Schuster, 1960). pp. 291-97; Nat S, 
Finnev, "How FDR. Planned To Use the A-Bomb," 



14 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



This letter, a milestone in the Ameri- 
can atomic energy program, states 
that "it is almost certain that this [a 
chain reaction in a large mass of 
uranium] could be achieved in the im- 
mediate future" and that this phe- 
nomenon could possibly lead to the 
construction of a new type of an ex- 
tremely powerful bomb.^^ 

To this letter, Szilard himself added 
a careful memorandum. In it he ex- 
plained in more detail the scope and 
effects of research on atomic fission, 
the unproved nature of its conclusion, 
and the need for financial support for 
further investigation. He pointed out 
that atomic energy released through a 
chain reaction achieved with slow 
neutrons could be utilized for ship or 
aircraft propulsion, and also raised 
the possibility that a fast-neutron 
chain reaction would result in a pow- 
erful explosive. Szilard also reempha- 
sized the need for acquiring large 
stocks of uranium ore from the Bel- 
gian Congo and suggested that an- 
other attempt to arrange for the with- 
holding of publications on the subject 
of nuclear research might be neces- 
sary. ^° Included with the letter and 
memorandum were reprints of two ar- 
ticles from the Physical Review that 
provided documentation of the scien- 
tific points raised by Einstein and 
Szilard. 

Look, 14 Mar 50. pp. 25-27; Geoffrey T. Hellman. 
"A Reporter at Large: Contemporaneous Memoran- 
da of Dr. Sachs," \eu' Yorker, 1 Dec 45, pp. 73-76; 
Edward Shils, "Leo Szilard — A Memoir," Encounter 
23 (Dec 64): 35-41; Eugene Rabmowitch, "1882- 
1964" and "1898-1964" (obituaries on James 
Franck and Leo Szilard, respectively). Bulletin of the 
Atomic Scientists 20 (Oct 64): 16-20. 

^* Ltr, Einstein to Roosevelt, 2 Aug 39, repro- 
duced in the Appendix to this volume. 

2° Memo, Szilard to Roosevelt, 15 Aug 39, Szilard 
Documents, MDR. 



Despite the agreed upon necessity 
for haste, almost two months passed 
before Sachs was able to bring Ein- 
stein's letter and its inclosures to the 
White House. "Mere delivery of 
memoranda was insufficient," he 
felt.^^ In the hectic days of August 
and September 1939, with war in 
Europe first an imminent danger and 
then a frightening actuality, there 
seemed little likelihood that Roosevelt 
could spare Sachs more than a few 
moments. Not until early October did 
Sachs find a time he felt was suitable 
to approach the President. 

The story of Sachs's visit to the 
White House has been told frequently 
and with several variations. Suffice it 
to say that Sachs met with Roosevelt 
for over an hour on 1 1 October. 
Reading aloud, Sachs prefaced Ein- 
stein's letter and Szilard's memoran- 
dum with a letter of his own in which 
he summarized and amplified the 
other material, emphasizing German 
nuclear research, the danger of 
German seizure of Belgian uranium, 
and the "urgent" need to arrange for 
American access to the uranium ore 
of the Belgian Congo. He stressed the 
necessity of enlarging and accelerat- 
ing experimental work, which could 
not be done on limited university 
budgets, and seconded the suggestion 
made in Einstein's letter for liaison 
between the government and the 
scientists. ^^ 

The President's initial reaction was 
one of skeptical interest. He was 
doubtful about the availability of 
funds to support nuclear research and 



^'Testimony of Sachs in Atomic Energy Hearings on 
S. Res. 179, p. 556. 

"Ltr, Sachs to Roosevelt. 11 Oct 39, Exhibit 3, 
Sachs Historv, MDR. 



A HISTORY OF ATOMIC ENERGY TO 1939 



15 



felt, moreover, that there were other 
aspects of national defense with a 
higher claim for attention. Neverthe- 
less, he invited Sachs to breakfast the 
next morning and, at this second 
meeting, was convinced of the neces- 
sity for action. 

President Roosevelt's 12 October 



decision to explore the potentialities 
of atomic energy eventually led to 
complete governmental direction of 
nuclear research in the United States. 
And, in the early years of its develop- 
ment, no single government agency 
was to play a more important role 
than the United States Army. 



PART ONE 
BEGINNINGS OF THE ATOMIC MISSION 



Chapter I 



The Army and the Atomic Energy 
Program, 1939-1942 



At eight o'clock on the evening of 
17 June 1942, Col. James C. Marshall 
received a teletype message from 
Washington, D.C., to report to Maj. 
Gen. Eugene Reybold, chief of the 
Corps of Engineers, "for temporary 
duty,"^ thus interrupting his present 
assignment as commanding officer of 
the Syracuse (New York) District. Ar- 
riving at General Reybold's office the 
next day, Marshall received further 
instructions to report to Brig. Gen. 
Wilhelm D. Styer, chief of staff to the 
commanding general of the War De- 
partment's Services of Supply, a 
major division newly created to over- 
see Army logistics. Late in the after- 
noon. Colonel Marshall learned from 
General Styer the precise nature of 
his new assignment: General Reybold 
had chosen him to form a new engi- 
neer district "for construction of a 
new manufacturing plant." ^ The lo- 



' Col James C. Marshall, Chronology of District X 
(hereafter cited as Marshall Diary), 17 Jun 42-31 
Oct 42, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, Groves Files, Misc 
Recs Sec, behind Fldr 5, MDR. On Marshall's earlier 
career see George W. Cullum, Biogiaplucal Register of 
the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy. 9 
vols. (1-3, 3d rev. ed. and enl., Boston: Houghton, 
Mifflin and Co., 1891; 4-9, aegis of Association of 
Graduates, U.S. Military Academy, 1901-50), 
6B:1978, 7:1298,8:366,9:258. 

2 Marshall Diary, 18 Jun 42, MDR. 



cation had not been selected but, 
Styer explained, the plant would be 
part of a project already in progress 
to develop atomic energy for military 
purposes. Thus the Army became di- 
rectly involved in a project in which it 
had been playing a minor and some- 
what intermittent role since the fall of 
1939. 

Oyigins of the Army 's Role 

The Army's expanded role in the 
American atomic energy program in 
mid- 1942 grew out of developments 
that had occurred as a result of the 
outbreak of World War II and the 
subsequent involvement of the United 
States in that conflict. On the morn- 
ing of 12 October 1939, persuaded by 
Alexander Sachs's urgent arguments. 
President Roosevelt agreed to investi- 
gate the desirability of providing 
some preliminary support for inde- 
pendent and private research. 
Roosevelt's military aide, Maj. Gen. 
Edwin M. Watson, immediately re- 
quested that the Army and the Navy 
send officers to the White House to 
talk to an "inventor" about a new ex- 
plosive. At two o'clock that same 
afternoon, the Armv sent Lt. Col. 



20 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Keith F. Adamson, chief of the Am- 
munition Division, Ordnance Depart- 
ment, and his chief civiHan assistant, 
Arthur Adelman; the Navy sent 
Comdr. Gilbert C. Hoover, also an 
ordnance specialist. In General Wat- 
son's office, Sachs repeated much of 
his earlier presentation to the Presi- 
dent. After some discussion, the 
group broke up with the understand- 
ing that Watson would advise them 
what specific action the President 
desired.^ 

The Army's Chemical Warfare 
Service (CWS) also received Sachs's 
material on atomic energy. Lt. Col. 
Haig Shekerjian, the CWS executive 
officer, and another chemical warfare 
officer may have been present at the 
meeting in the White House, or they 
may have been briefed later in the 
afternoon. General Watson's objective 
was to test Sachs's information 
against the knowledge and experience 
of the technical services most likely to 
be concerned with development of 
nuclear research and bombs. Ironical- 
ly, the technical service that eventual- 
ly had the most to do with develop- 
ment of the atomic bomb, the Corps 
of Engineers, was not consulted.'* 

The first reaction of the Army 
representatives to the military poten- 
tialities of atomic energy was not gen- 
erally enthusiastic. Colonel Adamson 
displayed a cool skepticism, although 



3 Intervs, Stanley L. Falk with Adamson, 22 Apr 
60, and with Sachs, 18 Jul 60; Ltr, Adamson to Maj 
Gen Levin H. Campbell, Jr. (Chief of Ord), 26 Jun 
44; Memo, Arthur Adelman, sub: Fission Explosives 
(hereafter cited as Adelman Fission Memo), 30 Jun 
44, p. 4. All in CMH. 

■* Adamson and Sachs Intervs, 22 Apr 60 and 
18 Jul 60; Interv, Falk with Shekerjian, 27 Oct 59; 
Ltr, Adamson to Campbell, 26 Jun 44; Adelman Fis- 
sion Memo, pp. 4-5; Ltr, Shekerjian to Falk, 1 1 Sep 
59. All in CMH. 



he later warmed to the subject. He 
apparently questioned whether nucle- 
ar research had advanced far enough 
for the government to support it with 
any reasonable hope of success. 
Moreover, with an eye to Sachs's Wall 
Street background, he was suspicious 
of the financier's motives in urging 
purchase of Belgian Congo uranium.^ 

A similar response came from the 
Chemical Warfare Service. Despite 
Colonel Shekerjian's favorable reac- 
tion, Maj. Maurice E. Barker, chief of 
the CWS Technical Division, ex- 
pressed a decidedly negative view. 
After studying Einstein's letter and 
Szilard's memorandum. Major Barker 
concluded that there was "no basis" 
for believing that the bombardment 
of uranium by neutrons would 
produce an explosion. While conced- 
ing that the proposed nuclear 
research "would be extremely inter- 
esting, and might have considerable 
scientific value," he thought that "the 
chance of anything of military value 
being developed ... so slight that it 
would not justify the expenditure of 
funds available for research for that 
purpose." ^ 

The Army's initial skepticism may 
be attributed to a number of factors. 
For all of Alexander Sachs's enthusi- 
asm, even the group of American and 
foreign-born physicists still regarded 
the potentialities of atomic energy as 
only a "reasonable possibility," ^ as 



5 Adamson and Sachs Intervs, 22 Apr 60 and 
18 Jul 60, CMH; Ltr. Adamson to Campbell, 26 Jun 
44, CMH; IVashmgton Post. 26 Mar 46. 

^ Quotation from Memo for File, Barker, sub: 
Uranium Activated bv Neutrons as an Explosive and 
Source of Power (Proj A 10), 13 Oct 49, Incl G to 
Adelman Fission Memo. Shekerjian Interv, 27 Oct 
59. Ltr, Shekerjian to Falk, 1 1 Sep 59. All in CMH. 

'' Louis A. Turner, "Nuclear Phvsics," Rei'iews of 
Modem Physics 12 (Jan 40): 21. 



THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 1939-1942 



21 



the tentative tone of Einstein's letter 
and Szilard's memorandum readily 
showed. Unlike the Navy, in 1939 the 
Army had no central research organi- 
zation that might have seized upon 
the abstract possibilities of atomic 
energy. Consequently, budget-minded 
Army officers, who had served 
through a period of extremely re- 
stricted military expenditures in the 
1930's, were not likely to lose their 
restraint over new and possibly far- 
fetched ideas. They had witnessed 
drastic cuts in funds, especially for 
Army research and development, 
which was allotted only 1.1 percent of 
military expenditures in fiscal year 
1939. Army policy called for immedi- 
ate development of critical items 
rather than eventual production of 
better weapons and equipment 
through prolonged research. Ord- 
nance and chemical officers were, of 
course, particularly aware of this situ- 
ation. Thus, it was hardly surprising 
that Sachs's proposals failed to trans- 
late their scientific conservatism into 
military enthusiasm.® Not until civil- 
ian research and development had 
buttressed the theoretical predictions 
of the physicists with undisputable 
scientific evidence and the nation was 
involved in war would the Army 
assume a principal role in developing 
the military potentialities of atomic 
energy. 



® Mark S. Watson, Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and 
Preparatwm (Washington, D.C.: Government Print- 
ing Office, 1950), pp. 31-32 and 42-44; Constance 
McLaughlin Green, Harr\ C. Thomson, and Peter 
C. Roots, The Ordnance Department: Planning Munitiom 
for War (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing 
Office, 1955), pp. 204-08; Leo Brophy and George 
J. B. Fisher, The Chemical Warfare Sennce: Organizing 
for War (Washington, DC.: Government Printing 
Offiice, 1959). pp. 37-38. All in the series U.S. Armv 
m World War IL 



Decision To Develop Atomic Weapons 

Through the President's Advisory 
Committee on Uranium, established 
on 12 October 1939, the Army had 
an opportunity to express its general- 
ly negative reaction to the military 
potentialities of atomic energy. This 
small group, charged with making 
recommedations on the ideas and ma- 
terials submitted by Sachs, was com- 
prised of Colonel Adamson, Com- 
mander Hoover, and, as chairman, 
Lyman J. Briggs. Briggs was director 
of the National Bureau of Standards, 
which was one of the principal gov- 
ernment agencies of the pre-World 
War II period concerned with re- 
search in the physical sciences.^ 

The first meeting of the Uranium 
Committee, as it came to be called, 
took place on the morning of 21 Oc- 
tober at the Bureau of Standards. The 
committee had invited Alexander 
Sachs and, at his suggestion, also Leo 
Szilard, Edward Teller, Eugene 
Wigner, and Albert Einstein to attend 
its session. Einstein was unable to be 
present but two other physicists, Fred 
L. Mohler of the Bureau of Standards 
and Richard B. Roberts of the Carne- 
gie Institution, attended to provide 
the committee with technical guid- 
ance. Szilard, Teller, and Wigner out- 
lined the steps they believed neces- 
sary to attain a chain reaction in the 
uranium-graphite system proposed by 
Fermi and Szilard. During their pre- 



9 Smyth Report, p. 32; Ltr, Sachs to Wigner, 17 
Oct 39; Exhibit 4, Sachs History, MDR; Ltr, Roose- 
velt to Einstein, 19 Oct 39, President's Secy's Files, 
Sachs Fldr, FDR; Sachs Interv, 18 Jul 60, CMH; 
Rexmond C. Cochrane, Measures for Progress: A Histo- 
ry of the Xational Bureau of Standards (Washington, 
D.C.: National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Depart- 
ment of Commerce, 1966), p. 362. 



22 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



sentadon, the three scientists request- 
ed $6,000 to purchase the graphite 
and emphasized the need for secrecy 
about ail activities relating to nuclear 
research. 

In the discussion that followed, 
three schools of thought became ap- 
parent. Colonel Adamson and Com- 
mander Hoover, generally skeptical, 
stated their belief that several years of 
further research would be needed 
even to determine whether the mili- 
tary possibilities of atomic energy 
were sufficient to justify government 
support. In contrast, Sachs, Briggs, 
and Teller were almost enthusiastic 
about the chances of success. Main- 
taining a more conservative approach, 
Szilard and Wigner portrayed the 
great possibilities of their work but 
also stressed the as yet tentative 
nature of their conclusions. ^° 

In spite of the cautious attitude of 
Adamson and Hoover, the Uranium 
Committee's report to the White 
House on 1 November gave the scien- 
tists in effect what they wanted. While 
conceding that the harnessing of 
atomic energy for power or bombs 
was still only a theoretical possibility, 
the committee nevertheless recom- 
mended that "in view of the funda- 
mental importance" and "potential 
military value" of nuclear research, 
"adequate support for a thorough in- 
vestigation of the subject should be 
provided." This support should in- 
clude funds for immediate purchase 
of 4 metric tons of pure graphite and, 



if the results of initial experiments 
warranted continuing the program, 
additional funds to obtain 50 tons of 
uranium oxide. ^^ 

The Uranium Committee submitted 
its report and recommendations to 
President Roosevelt through General 
Watson. Apparently viewing the 
report as preliminary, Watson asked 
Chairman Briggs for a special recom- 
mendation before he advised the 
President. Until then, no executive 
action could be expected. 

Consequently, the members of the 
Uranium Committee kept in touch 
with the nuclear research program at 
Columbia University, awaiting word 
of progress from the scientists. In the 
interim, the Naval Research Laborato- 
ry continued its interest in university 
research that pertained to its own in- 
vestigations into isotopic separation. 
At this stage, however, neither the 
Navy nor the Uranium Committee 
made any effort to coordinate or link 
the various nuclear research programs 
in progress. Such attempts as were 
made came from the scientific com- 
munity and from Sachs rather than 
from any governmental agency. ^^ 

Then, in January 1940, Briggs took 
the first concrete step to obtain gov- 
ernment funds for the university sci- 
entists. From the Navy, up to now 
more interested in nuclear research 
than the Army, Briggs obtained a 



*° Sachs History, pp. 6-7, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 201 (Sachs), MDR; Adamson and Sachs In- 
tervs. 22 Apr 60 and 18 Jul 60, CMH; Washiriglon 
Post, 26 Mar 46; Memo, Szilard, sub: Mtg of 21 Oct 
39 m Washington, D.C., 26 Oct 39, Inci H to Adel- 
man Fission Memo, CMH; Szilard Documents, p. 7, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 201 (Szilard), MDR. 



^'Quoted words from Memo, Briggs, Adamson, 
and Hoover to President, sub: Possible Use of Ura- 
nium for Submarine Power and High Destructive 
Bombs, 1 Nov 39, Exhibit 5, Sachs History, MDR 
(also in Adelman Fission Memo, following p. 5, 
CMH). Testimony of Sachs in Atomic Energy Heanngs 
on S. Res. 179. p. 560. 

'2 Sachs History, pp. 10-11, MDR; Ltr, Adamson 
to Campbell, 26 Jun 44, CMH; Adamson Interv, 
22 Apr 60, CMH; Testimony of Gunn in Atomic 
Energy Heanngs on S. Res 179, p. 367. 



THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 1939-1942 



23 



promise of $3,000. On 15 January, he 
called on Maj. Gen. Charles M. 
Wesson, the chief of Army Ordnance, 
and asked him to match this sum. 
Briggs outlined the potentialities of 
atomic fission. "It appears," reads the 
account of the conversation in Gener- 
al Wesson's office diary, "that this de- 
velopment has possibilities from an 
explosive viewpoint." These "possi- 
bilities" and Briggs's reference to the 
fact that the President was "interested 
in this project" were enough to make 
the Ordnance chief agree to advance 
$3,000 out of Picatinny Arsenal funds 
for the development of explosives. ^^ 

The Army and Navy funds went to 
the Bureau of Standards, which allot- 
ted them to Columbia University in 
mid-February. Fermi and his col- 
leagues used the money to purchase 
graphite in quantities that, at the 
time, seemed huge. They needed a 
sufficient amount of the highly puri- 
fied carbon substance to determine its 
capture cross section, that is, its ca- 
pacity to absorb neutrons. With this 
information they could then ascertain 
the practicability of achieving a slow- 
neutron chain reaction in a uranium- 
graphite system. ^^ 

Meanwhile, Alexander Sachs and 
the scientists exerted increasing pres- 
sure on the President and the Army 
and Navy. Einstein wrote to Sachs on 
7 March, summarizing the situation 
and suggesting that the information 
concerning new evidence of German 
interest in atomic energy be passed 



'^Min, Wesson Confs: Jan-Jun 40, 15 Jan 40, Ord 
Historical Files, Hist Br, OCO. 

'''Memo, Briggs to Watson, sub: Your Memo of 
Feb 8ih, 20 Feb 40, Exhibit 6b, Sachs History, 
MDR; Min. Wesson Confs, 15 Jan 40, OCO; Enrico 
Fermi, "Phvsics at Columbia," Physics Today 8 (Nov 
55): 15. 



on to President Roosevelt. This Sachs 
did, including also Einstein's recom- 
mendations that steps be taken to halt 
publication of articles on atomic sub- 
jects and that a "general policy . . . 
[be] adopted by the Administration 
with respect to uranium." But Ein- 
stein's views brought no immediate 
response from the White House. In 
fact, after discussion with Colonel Ad- 
amson and Commander Hoover in 
late March, General Watson accepted 
Adamson's suggestion that no further 
action be taken until an official report 
on the research at Columbia was 
available. ^^ 

The official report was not ready, 
however, when the Uranium Commit- 
tee held its second meeting on 27 
April 1940. The meeting took place 
as a result of several factors, includ- 
ing Sachs's continued urgings for 
greater support, the reports of prom- 
ising progress in the nuclear experi- 
ments at Columbia and elsewhere, 
and an ominous turn of events in the 
war of Europe. Since the first meeting 
in October 1939, the atomic scientists 
had proven definitely that fission oc- 
curred only in the U-235 isotope and, 
in experiments with the centrifuge 
system of isotopic separation at the 
University of Virginia, had been suc- 
cessful in enriching a gram of urani- 
um to 10 percent U-235. In Europe, 
the Germans had successfully invaded 
Norway in early April and, as a result, 
secured control of the Norsk Hydro 
plant, the only large facility in the 
world producing heavy water. Thus 



>^ Sachs History, pp. 11-12; Etrs. Einstein to 
Sachs (source of quotation), 7 Mar 40, Exhibit 7a, 
Sachs to President, 15 Mar 40, Exhibit 7b, Watson 
to Sachs. 27 Mar 40, Exhibit 7c, ibid.; Szilard Docu- 
ments, pp. 8-9. MDR. 



24 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



they had obtained a ready source of 
the substance they were suspected of 
using as a moderator to achieve a 
slow-neutron chain reaction. 

Chairman Briggs, Colonel Adam- 
son, and Commander Hoover now lis- 
tened more sympathetically to the ar- 
guments presented by Alexander 
Sachs, Enrico Fermi, George Pegram, 
Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, and 
Rear Adm. Harold G. Bowen, director 
of the Naval Research Laboratory. 
While the committee still did not 
make any formal recommendations, it 
reached general agreement that nu- 
clear research should be vigorously 
pursued, even if this required large 
sums of money, and that steps should 
be taken, as Szilard strongly urged, to 
halt further publications on atomic 
matters. ^^ 

Developments in May 1940 in the 
laboratory and on the war front 
brought further justification for pro- 
viding additional funds for nuclear re- 
search. Promising results at Columbia 
led scientists there to propose a plan 
to study methods of uranium isotope 
separation, hopefully with Navy sup- 
port, and to establish a large-scale ex- 
perimental program that would dem- 
onstrate beyond any doubt that a 
chain reaction could be maintained in 
a uranium-graphite system. The Ger- 
mans' successful invasion of Belgium 
and Holland in mid-May and new re- 
ports on their interest in uranium re- 



'* Smyth Report, p. 33, errs in giving the date 
of the Uranium Committee's second meeting as 
28 April. Sachs History, pp. 12-20, MDR; Szilard 
Documents, pp. 9-10, MDR; Testimony of Gunn in 
Atomic Energy Hearings on S. Res. 179, pp. 367 and 
370; Ltr, Pegram to Bowen, 7 Apr 40, Incl I to 
Adelman Fission Memo, CMH; William L. Laurence, 
Men and Atoms: The Discovery, the i'ses. and the Future of 
Atomic Energy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 
1959), pp. 73-74. 



search underlined Sachs's efforts to 
secure action on control of Belgian 
uranium and to obtain financial and 
administrative support for atomic re- 
search in the United States. ^'^ 

New funds came from a variety of 
sources. On 23 May, the Carnegie In- 
stitution of Washington allotted 
$30,000 for research on uranium by 
members of its own staff. A short 
time later. Colonel Adamson fur- 
nished $20,000 from Army Ordnance 
funds to combine with a substantially 
larger contribution from the Navy and 
some money from the Bureau of 
Standards, making a total of more 
than $100,000. This amount was 
more than sufficient to underwrite 
contracts at Columbia and the Univer- 
sity of Virginia and to increase sup- 
port of the work at the Naval Re- 
search Laboratory.^® 

German occupation of Belgium 
gave urgency to the question of how 
the United States could control and 
acquire the rich uranium ore in the 
Congo. Seeking a solution, Alexander 
Sachs met with President Roosevelt at 
the end of May and, a few days later, 
also with Uranium Committee Chair- 
man Briggs, Professor Harold C. 
Urey, a chemist on the staff at Colum- 
bia University, and Admiral Bowen of 
the Naval Research Laboratory. At 



''' Sachs History, pp. 20-25, MDR; Szilard Docu- 
ments, p. 10, MDR; Ltr, Pegram to Briggs, 6 May 
40, Incl K to Adelman Fission Memo, CMH; Lau- 
rence, Men and Atoms, p. 41. 

'^ James Phinnev Baxter 3rd, Scientists Against 
Time, Science in World War II (Boston: Little, 
Brown and Co., 1946), p. 423; Adelman Fission 
Memo, p. 6 and Incls A-E, CMH; MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 
4, "Auxiliary Activities," pp. 12.2-12.3, DASA; Ad- 
amson Interv, 22 Apr 60, CMH; Ltr, Adamson to 
Campbell, 26 Jun 44, CMH; Testimony of Gunn in 
Atomic Energy Hearings on S. Res. 179, pp. 367-71; 
Smyth Report, p. 33; Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 29. 



THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 1939-1942 



25 



Briggs's suggestion, Sachs began 
looking into the possibility of getting 
uranium directly from the Congo. 

For some time Sachs had been 
aware that Edgar Sengier was in New 
York. Managing director of Union 
Miniere du Haut Katanga, the Belgian 
firm that controlled the Shinkolobwe 
mine in Katanga Province of the 
Congo, Sengier had come to New 
York from Brussels in the fall of 
1939, aware of the rising importance 
of uranium from conversations with 
French and British scientists. He had 
ordered shipped to America all 
radium held by his firm in Belgium — 
some 120 grams worth nearly $2 mil- 
lion. At the same time, he had direct- 
ed that uranium ores stocked by 
Union Miniere at Oolen, Belgium, 
also be shipped to the United States, 
but little or none was sent before the 
German invasion made it impossible. 

Sachs and Urey went to see Sengier 
in New York in early June 1940. Sen- 
gier gave them considerable informa- 
tion on the status of Congo uranium 
but would not agree to Sachs's pro- 
posal that Union Miniere ship ore to 
the United States, even with the stipu- 
lation that U.S. officials would not re- 
export the ore without special 
permission. ^^ 

Failure to achieve an agreement 
with Sengier left the uranium re- 
search program dependent upon Ca- 



'» Sachs History, pp. 25-26, MDR; Ltrs, Sachs to 
Watson, 23 May 40, Exhibit 11a, and Briggs to 
Sachs, 5 Jun 40, Exhibit 18, ibid.; Eeslie R. Groves, 
\ow It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project 
(New York: Harper and Brothers, 1962), pp. 33-34; 
Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 96; Smyth Report, p. 33; 
Richard G. Hewlett and Oscar E. Anderson, Jr., The 
\eu' World. 1939-1946. A History of the United 
States Atomic Energy Commission, Vol. 1 (Universi- 
ty Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 
1962), p. 26. 



nadian sources. Fortunately, by the 
end of 1940, small amounts of Cana- 
dian uranium were available as a 
result of arrangements based on earli- 
er conversations between Dean 
George B. Pegram of Columbia Uni- 
versity and a representative of Eldora- 
do Gold Mines, Ltd., owner of the 
Canadian deposits. 2° 

Funds contributed in the summer 
of 1940 began a two-year period of 
rapid growth in the program to ex- 
ploit atomic energy for military pur- 
poses. During this time, American 
governmental leaders left develop- 
ment of the new energy source to ci- 
vilian organizations, in spite of its ob- 
vious application to military objec- 
tives and its close relationship to the 
expanding conflict in Europe and 
Asia. Army participation ceased 
almost completely, and the Navy con- 
tinued only a relatively small isotope 
separation project. Under civilian 
guidance, the work on atomic energy 
became a major component in the 
federal government's greatly broad- 
ened program to apply the achieve- 
ments of American science to the re- 
quirements of modern warfare. Thus, 
by early 1942, when the Army 
renewed its participation in the devel- 
opment of atomic energy, the pro- 
gram had evolved into a large 
research and development enterprise, 
with civilian scientists carrying on 



2° Memo, Szilard to Briggs, sub: Possibility of 
Large-scale Experiment in Immediate Future, 26 
Oct 39, Incl to Szilard Documents, MDR; Supreme 
Court of the State of New York, Eldorado Mining and 
Refining (formerly Eldorado Gold Mines) vs. Bons 
Pregel et al.. Statement to Pregel, 18 Oct 46, Investi- 
gation Files, Gen Corresp (Boris Pregel), MDR; 
MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, "Feed Materials and Special 
Procurement," pp. 3.1-3.3, DASA. 



26 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



program activities at a number of 
sites across the country. 

Establishment of the NDRC and OSRD 

The organizational framework of 
the American atomic energy program 
first began to take shape in the 
summer of 1940. In June, a number 
of the scientific leaders took the initi- 
ative in providing a more effective ad- 
ministrative organization. At Leo Szi- 
lard's suggestion and with the backing 
and approval of Admiral Bowen and 
Lyman Briggs, Harold Urey organized 
a committee of scientists to advise 
Briggs on atomic energy and to study 
the question of security. This group, 
the Advisory Committtee on Nuclear 
Research, met for the first time on 
the thirteenth under Urey's chairman- 
ship. One of its first actions was to 
formulate, with support of American 
scientific journals, a policy on secrecy 
that eventually halted publication of 
scientific papers on atomic energy in 
the United States. Thus, a beginning 
was made in solving what was to 
become another major and persistent 
problem — how to maintain a level of 
secrecy hitherto never attempted in 
so large and diverse a project. ^^ 

Even as the Advisory Committee on 
Nuclear Research was meeting, events 
were taking place that would increase 
effective leadership and direction for 
the entire American scientific war 
effort, including the atomic energy 
program. Since the invasion of Bel- 
gium, Sachs had been urging 
Roosevelt to establish a "Scientific 
Council of National Defense" to ad- 
minister "the testing and execution of 



technical projects of utility for nation- 
al defense." Another strong advocate 
for such a council was Vannevar 
Bush, president of the Carnegie Insti- 
tution of Washington since 1939. ^^ 
For some time he had discussed his 
ideas with several of the nation's fore- 
most scientists and had gained their 
support for the project. In addition, 
the country's military leaders, includ- 
ing both Army Chief of Staff General 
George C. Marshall and Chief of 
Naval Operations Admiral Harold R. 
Stark, strongly favored the proposal. 
Consequently on 15 June 1940, the 
President established the National De- 
fense Research Committee (NDRC), 
with Bush as chairman, to direct, co- 
ordinate, and carry out a national 
program of military research and de- 
velopment. Membership was drawn 
from the National Academy of Sci- 
ences, with Brig. Gen. George V. 
Strong, chief of the War Plans Divi- 
sion, representing the Army and Rear 
Adm. Harold G. Bowen, director of 
the Naval Research Laboratory, repre- 
senting the Navy. 

With establishment of the NDRC, 
the President made provision for con- 
tinuation of the atomic energy pro- 
gram. He asked Vannevar Bush to 
reconstitute the original Uranium 
Committee as a subcommittee of the 
NDRC. The new Committee on Ura- 
nium, reporting to Bush and with 
Briggs continuing as its chairman, in- 
cluded six other scientists but lacked 
the service representation that the 



21 Szilard Documents, pp. 10-11, MDR; Ltr, Urey 
to Sz.laid. 7 Jun 40, Incl to ibid. 



22 Sachs History, p. 24, MDR; Ltr, Sachs to 
Watson (source of quotation), 15 May 40, Exhibit 
15a, ibid. Bush enjoyed a distinguished career in ap- 
plied mathematics and electrical engineering at MIT 
in the two decades following WW I and achieved a 
reputation as a scientific administrator of great skill. 



THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 1939-1942 



27 



original committee had. Briggs was 
authorized "to maintain close and 
direct contact with those officers of 
the Army and Navy most directly in- 
terested," but only Ross Gunn of the 
Naval Research Laboratory continued 
to serve on the new committee. ^^ 

On 1 July, Briggs reviewed for 
Bush the earlier activities of the Com- 
mittee on Uranium. At the same time, 
he requested the $140,000 that he 
and Urey's Advisory Committee had 
agreed was necessary for purchasing 
uranium metal and pure graphite and 
for making further measurements of 
the fundamental nuclear constants. At 
its first formal meeting the next day, 
the NDRC considered Briggs's re- 
quest, but its members found them- 
selves in a dilemma. The basic NDRC 
mission was research and develop- 
ment of weapons and equipment with 
direct application to the war. NDRC 
scientists still regarded the chances of 
an atomic weapon as "very remote," 
in Bush's words, and even the possi- 
bility of nuclear power for battleships 
or submarine propulsion seemed a 
distant eventuality at best. Given the 
need for funds and trained scientists 
in other areas, there was grave doubt 
as to the wisdom of allocating money 
and energy to "what might eventually 
appear to have been wild research." 
Yet, there was a danger that German 
nuclear research might prove success- 
ful. Committee members concluded, 
therefore, that prudence demanded 
acquisition of knowledge of the fun- 
damental physics of atomic energy. 
Accordingly, the NDRC approved 



Briggs's request in principle and 
asked him for further definite propos- 
als for "a careful, but not elaborate or 
expensive program." ^'* 

Promise of NDRC funds opened 
the way for the future rapid expan- 
sion on atomic research in the United 
States. But until these new funds 
became available, the atomic program 
had to continue to draw upon money 
supplied earlier by the Army and the 
Navy. Even the $40,000 for the first 
NDRC contract for atomic research, 
an agreement signed with Columbia 
University in early November, came 
out of the remaining Army-Navy 
funds. 

Beginning with the NDRC's allot- 
ment on 25 October of the $140,000 
requested by Briggs on 1 July, there 
followed a series of contracts and 
transfer agreements arranging for nu- 
clear research by various institutions. 
By the spring of 1941, the NDRC had 
committed nearly $500,000 for work 
at Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, the 
University of Minnesota, the Standard 
Oil Development Company, Iowa 
State College, Cornell, the University 
of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, the Car- 
negie Institution of Washington, the 
University of California (Berkeley), 
the University of Virginia, the Bureau 
of Standards, and the Department of 
Agriculture. While the NDRC's ex- 
penditure for atomic energy was small 
compared with amounts allotted to 



"Quoted words from Ltr, Roosevelt to Briggs, 
15 Jun 40, Exhibit 19, Sachs History, MDR. Baxter, 
Snenlists Against Time. pp. 12-16; Ltr, Roosevelt to 
Bush, 15 Jun 40, HLH; Watson, Chief of Staff, pp. 
49-59; Smyth Report, p. 34. 



^^ Quoted words from National Defense Research 
Committee Report for First Year of Operation, 27 
Jun 40-28 Jun 41 (hereafter cited as NDRC Rpt, 
1940-41) pp. 34-35, Incl to Ltr, Bush to President, 
16 July 41, FDR. Szilard Documents, pp. 10-11, 
MDR; Irvin Stewart, Organizing Scientific Research for 
War. Science in World War II (Boston: Little, Brown 
and Co., 1948), pp. 120-21 and 230; Baxter, Scien- 
tists Against Time, pp. 423-24. 



28 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



other wartime scientific research, it 
represented a significant financial 
boost for the American program. As 
Alexander Sachs observed a few years 
later, the program had become "in- 
vested with the importance, the re- 
sources and the secrecy available to 
the Government of the United States 
. . . for the translation of the idea 
into a reality. . . ." ^^ 

While the NDRC was able to focus 
the energy and capabilities of civilian 
scientists on many aspects of military 
technology, it left certain gaps in the 
program to mobilize American sci- 
ence for war. Hence, at the end of 
June 1941, President Roosevelt estab- 
lished the Office of Scientific Re- 
search and Development (OSRD), 
with the NDRC as one of its subordi- 
nate agencies. Bush became OSRD 
director and James B. Conant, presi- 
dent of Harvard University, succeed- 
ed Bush as NDRC chairman. In this 
reorganization the Committee on 
Uranium under Briggs remained 
within the NDRC, but it was some- 
what enlarged and was renamed the 
Section on Uranium. Again it includ- 
ed no Army or Navy representatives, 
and even Ross Gunn of the Naval Re- 
search Laboratory was no longer a 
member. ^^ 

New Advances in Atomic Research, 
1940-1941 

In mid-July 1941, enthusiastic over 
reports that atomic scientists in Amer- 
ica and Great Britain were making 



^^ Quoted words from Sachs History, p. 27, MDR. 
Smyth Report, pp. 34-35; Stewart, Organizing Scientific 
Research for War, pp. 121 and 123; Baxter, Scientists 
Against Time, p. 424; Testimony of Gunn in Atomic 
Energy Hearings on S. Res. 179, pp. 367 and 371. 

^^ Stewart, Organizing Scientific Research for War. pp. 
34-40 and 121; Smyth Report, p. 35. 



significant progress in atomic re- 
search, Vannevar Bush reported to 
the President that "new knowledge" 
made "it probable that the produc- 
tion of a super-explosive may not be 
as remote a matter as previously ap- 
peared." ^^ At Columbia, supported 
by investigations at Princeton and the 
Universities of Chicago and California 
(Berkeley), researchers produced suf- 
ficient favorable data on the capture 
cross sections for the neutrons of 
U-235 and U-238 and on the ab- 
sorption qualities of graphite to justi- 
fy construction in July 1941 of the 
first lattice pile — a large graphite cube 
in which containers of uranium oxide 
were distributed at equal intervals. 
The research results also convinced 
many more scientists that a chain re- 
action in a uranium-graphite system 
eventually would be achieved. 

At Berkeley, physicists working with 
Ernest O. Lawrence on the bombard- 
ment of uranium with neutrons 
discovered that the capture of fast 
neutrons by U-238 transmuted that 
isotope first into element 93 and then 
into element 94, which they named 
neptunium and plutonium, respective- 
ly. After further investigation of these 
transuranium elements, neither of 
which was then known to exist in 
nature, Lawrence's group concluded 
that plutonium had the same fission 
characteristics as U-235; it could be 
split by neutrons and would, in turn, 
release more neutrons. U-238, hither- 
to regarded as worthless for energy 
purposes, was in fact a prime source. 



2 7 NDRC Rpt. 1940-41, p. 35, Incl to Ltr. Bush 
to President, 16 Jul 41, FDR. Except as indicated, 
following section on progress of atomic research in 
the United States during 1940-41 based on Smyth 
Report, pp. 26, 36, 38-41, 47-49. 



THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC 


ENERGY PROGRAM, 1939-1942 


29 


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JBf\|B 




^ 


n . 


H 


^^^' / -^^^^^^L •M^^ 


M^ • 2_i ^^g^ .^iV^i^M 


Ddl 


^^^^ '^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ IB^^^^^^^I 


^^j/Sj^^ 


1 




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h^^H 


^^^^^^^P^HjI^^^^^^^^Hfv'^ 




H 


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^^■991^^1 


1 



Ernest O. Lawrence, Arthur H. Compton, Vannevar Bush, and James B. 
CoNANT (left to right), four of the Manhattan Project 5 scientific leaders (1940 photograph) 



Furthermore, as there was reason to 
believe that chemical separation of 
plutonium from uranium might prove 
more practicable than isotopic separa- 
tion of U-235 from U-238, chances 
that an atomic bomb based on a fast- 
neutron chain reaction could be built 
were tremendously increased. 

American atomic scientists learned 
of encouraging British developments 
on isotopic separation by gaseous dif- 
fusion and on heavy water as a mod- 
erator in a slow-neutron chain reac- 
tion system through a scientific infor- 
mation exchange program, begun in 
the fall of 1940. With the support of 
the War and Navy Departments, 



NDRC members conferred informally 
with British scientific representatives, 
both in the United States and in Eng- 
land, achieving a limited exchange of 
data about the progress of nuclear re- 
search in each country. ^^ 



28 See Ch. X for discussion of a formal program 
of information interchange with Great Britain on 
nuclear matters. Margaret Gowing, Britain and Atomic 
Energy, 1939-1945 (London: Macmillan and Co., St. 
Martin's Press, 1946), pp. 115-26; J. G. Crowther 
and R. Whiddington, Science at War (London: His 
Majesty's Stationery Office, 1947), pp. 143-46; H. 
Duncan Hall and C. C. Wrigley, Studies of Ch'erseas 
Supply. History of the Second World War (London: 
His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1956). pp. 358-85 
and 405-13; Sir George Thomson, "Anglo-U.S. Co- 
operation on Atomic Energy," American Snenttst 41 
(Jan 53): 78. 



30 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



In the summer of 1941, a special 
reviewing committee of the National 
Academy of Sciences supported 
Bush's optimism. The committee, es- 
tablished at Briggs's suggestion that 
an impartial evaluation of the atomic 
program was needed, first met in May 
under the chairmanship of Arthur H. 
Compton, head of the physics depart- 
ment and dean of the Division of 
Physical Sciences at the University of 
Chicago. The committee's initial 
report was buttressed by supporting 
remarks from Briggs, and on 18 July 
the NDRC approved contracts and 
transfers amounting to nearly 
$400,000 for chain reaction, nuclear 
power, and isotope separation re- 
search. While the NDRC remained 
cautious in its estimate of whether 
atomic energy could be harnessed in 
time to affect the outcome of the war, 
it recognized that continued progress 
in nuclear research would eventually 
require establishment of a long-range 
program so vast and expensive that in 
wartime only the Army or Navy could 
carry it out.^^ 

The pressure of an all-out attack on 
the problem of atomic energy grew 
rapidly. At the University of Califor- 
nia, Lawrence was more and more 
convinced of the feasibility of using 
plutonium to make an atomic bomb 
and he communicated his enthusiasm 
to both Compton and Conant. Comp- 
ton was especially interested and he, 
in turn, talked with other nuclear re- 
searchers. From Urey and physicist 
John Dunning, who also was on the staff 
at Columbia, he learned of progress on 



isotope separation, and from Fermi 
he received encouraging news of the 
results of experiments with the lattice 
pile. Most of the scientists now in- 
volved felt that the atomic energy 
program should be pushed, and in 
mid-October, at Conant's suggestion, 
Compton reconvened his reviewing 
committee, now somewhat enlarged, 
to prepare another report. ^° 

On 3 October, Bush received the 
first official copy of a British review of 
atomic energy that had been complet- 
ed in mid-July, but he was not yet at 
liberty to disclose its contents to the 
NDRC. The British scientists had op- 
timistically concluded that a uranium 
bomb could be built with an explosive 
power of 1,800 tons of TNT. They in- 
dicated a rough idea of its critical 
mass and possible methods of assem- 
bly and fusing. They thought the gas- 
eous diffusion method offered the 
best answer to the problem of separat- 
ing a sufficient amount of U-235 and 
the uranium-heavy water system gave 
promise as a means for producing 
power and plutonium.^ ^ 

Top Policy Group: Preparing for 
Army Take Over 

Increasing conviction that atomic 
bombs were feasible prompted Bush 
to take immediate steps to obtain the 
high-level policy decisions he had 
foreseen would be necessary to assure 
aggressive pursuit of the uranium 
program. On 9 October 1941, almost 



^^ Baxter, Scientists Against Time. pp. 424-26; 
Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 45-49; Smyth Report, pp. 
35 and 49; Stewart, Organizing Scientific Research for 
War, p. 121; Hewlett and Anderson, New World, pp. 
36-43. 



30 Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 6-9 and 53-56; 
Smyth Report, p. 36; Hewlett and Anderson, New 
World, pp. 45-49. 

3» Smyth Report, p. 36; Crowther and Whidding- 
ton, Science at War, pp. 144-45; Thomson, "Anglo- 
U.S. Cooperation," pp. 78-79; Cowing, Bnlain and 
Atomic Energy, pp. 83-86 and 116-17. 



THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 1939-1942 



31 



two years to the day on which Alexan- 
der Sachs first informed the President 
about atomic energy, Bush had a long 
conversation with Roosevelt and Vice 
President Henry A. Wallace. In late 
July, Bush and Wallace had discussed 
the progress of the American pro- 
gram; now, supported with more con- 
crete evidence of possible success at 
hand, they were considering what the 
President could do to further develop 
the program. The OSRD director out- 
lined the current status of research in 
both the United States and Great 
Britain, pointing up the general opti- 
mism of the scientists in both coun- 
tries but, at the same time, emphasiz- 
ing that their predictions could not be 
guaranteed. He indicated, too, that 
much work would be required before 
success could be anticipated. 

President Roosevelt agreed that the 
atomic energy program must be pro- 
vided with a better organization and 
more funds and that arrangements 
should be made for a complete inter- 
change of information with the Brit- 
ish. He directed formation of what 
was informally designated the Top 
Policy Group, to be headed by him- 
self — although he never actually par- 
ticipated in its proceedings — and to 
consist of Vice President Henry A. 
Wallace, Secretary of War Henry L. 
Stimson, Army Chief of Staff General 
George C. Marshall, Vannevar Bush, 
and James B. Conant.^^ Thus the 
President took the first step in imple- 
menting a maximum effort to develop 
an atomic bomb as soon as possible. 
He also decided that the Army, and 
not the Navy, would be given the pri- 



mary responsibility for attaining this 
goal. 

The NDRC had concluded that no 
private institution or relevant govern- 
ment agency had the means or per- 
sonnel to carry out the extraordinarily 
large tasks of plant construction and 
administering development of a nu- 
clear weapon. The choice, then, was 
the Army or the Navy. When 
Roosevelt appointed Secretary Stim- 
son and General Marshall to the Top 
Policy Group that had no naval rep- 
resentation, he decided in effect that 
the Army was to manage the job. 
Why had the President selected the 
Army when the Navy had exhibited 
much greater interest in nuclear re- 
search? Indications are that Bush and 
his associates had decided that the 
Army was the more appropriate 
choice for the project. The end prod- 
uct was to be a bomb, presumably de- 
livered by an Army bomber. Also the 
Army, judged on the basis of its past 
experience and its organization, ap- 
peared better fitted to undertake the 
vast construction program. ^^ 

The President also had agreed to 
establish an effective exchange of in- 
formation with the British. On 1 1 Oc- 
tober he communicated with Prime 
Minister Winston S. Churchill, sug- 
gesting that they correspond or talk 
about atomic developments, inaugu- 



^^ Baxter, Scientists Against Time, p. 427; Smyth 
Report, p. 37; Ltr, Bush to President, 9 Mar 42, HB 
Files, Fldr 58, MDR. 



^^ Col. James C. Marshall, who would head the 
new Army engineer district that would administer 
the atomic bomb program, reported that Bush, in 
the fall of 1942, told him and other Army officers 
that the Navy "had been left out of the present 
project at the explicit direction of the President." 
See Marshall Diary, 21 Sep 42, MDR. The Navy, 
nevertheless, would continue to support research al- 
readv under way on liquid thermal diffusion. See 
Ch. VIII. 



32 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Secretary of War Henry L.Stimson 

rating a period of regular interchange 
between the two countries.^'* 

The President's efforts to strength- 
en the American atomic energy pro- 
gram were reinforced a few weeks 
later by Compton's National Academy 
reviewing committee. On 6 Novem- 
ber, the committee issued another re- 
port that, while not as optimistic as the 
earlier British study, nevertheless con- 
stituted a strong endorsement of an 
expanded atomic bomb program. Be- 
cause Compton's group had prepared 
its report without access to the British 
conclusions — Bush up to now had 



^^Ltr. Roosevelt to Churchill. 11 Oct 41, FDR; 
Churchill's reply quoted in Msg, Prime Minister to 
Harry L. Hopkins, 27 Feb 43, HLH; Crovvlher and 
Whiddington, Science o I l\'ar\ p. 146; Smyth Report, p. 
37. For detailed discussion of efforts to establish ef- 
fective interchange in late 1941 see Ch. X. 



been bound not to disclose them — its 
findings consisted of both a further 
verification of the British views and an 
independent recommendation. 

The committee report stated that 
"within a few years . . . military supe- 
riority" might be determined by 
U-235 bombs and that building these 
bombs seemed "as sure as any un- 
tried prediction based upon theory 
and experiment can be." The amount 
of U-235 needed for each bomb 
would be between 2 and 100 kilo- 
grams, producing an explosive energy 
per kilogram of U-235 equal to that 
of about 300 tons of TNT and a de- 
structive effect equivalent to about 30 
tons of TNT. Atomic bombs could 
thus be of "decisive importance" in 
defeating Germany and, based on an 
estimate that military and industrial 
targets in Germany could be devastat- 
ed with 500,000 tons of TNT bombs, 
from 1 to 10 tons of U-235 would be 
needed to do the same job. This 
much U-235 could be obtained, con- 
tinued the report, by one or more 
methods of isotope separation, of 
which the gaseous diffusion and cen- 
trifuge methods appeared to be fur- 
thest along in development. In ac- 
cordance with instructions from Bush, 
the committee did not discuss pluto- 
nium and it purposely played down 
the expense of producing U-235 
bombs to avoid arousing government 
fears of excessive costs. "If all possi- 
ble effort is spent on the program," 
the report concluded, "fission 
bombs" might "be available in signifi- 
cant quantity within three or four 
years." ^^ 



THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 1939-1942 



33 



This prediction came at a time 
when only infinitesimal amounts of 
plutonium had been produced and 
when no appreciable quantity of 
U-235 had been separated from 
U-238, no large amounts of uranium 
metal or moderators produced, and, 
as yet, no chain reaction achieved. 
Nevertheless, the committee report, 
as had its British counterpart, reflect- 
ed the substantial progress that had 
been made in research. Although 
some scientists were still no more 
convinced that atomic weapons were 
imminently possible than they had 
been a year earlier, the threat of 
American involvement in war now 
seemed far stronger, with the result 
that large expenditures of money and 
effort were no longer seen as ex- 
travagances but rather as necessary 
precautions. 

Bush's first action after receiving 
Compton's committee report was to 
show it to Secretary of War Stimson. 
Whether the 6 November meeting 
was Stimson's first word of his ap- 
pointment to the Top Policy Group is 
not clear, but there is no doubt about 
his reaction to the awesome possibili- 
ties of an atomic bomb. "A most ter- 
rible thing," he called it, sensing the 
grave responsibility falling upon those 
who would unleash the power of such 



^^Bolh quotations from Rpt, Academy Committee 
on Uranium, sub: Rpt to President of the Natl Acad- 
emy of Sciences, 6 Nov 41, OSRD. Portions of the 
report are reproduced in the following sources: 
Smyth Report, pp. 49-52; Smyth Ms (containing 
some material not included in final version). Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1 (Smyth Rpt), MDR; 
Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 56-59; Baxter, Scientists 
Against Time. pp. 426-28. 



a devastating weapon.^® 

During the next few weeks, Bush 
apparently reviewed the entire Ameri- 
can atomic energy program and, in 
compliance with the President's in- 
structions, devised a plan for an ad- 
ministrative reorganization designed 
to expedite efforts "in every possible 
way." ^' Finally, on 27 November, 
Bush forwarded the report of Comp- 
tion's reviewing committee to Roose- 
velt and, presumably, his own rec- 
ommendations for the new organi- 
zation. The NDRC endorsed these 
recommendations on the twenty- 
eighth. Then on 6 December 1941, 
the day before the Japanese attack on 
Pearl Harbor, Conant — speaking for 
Bush — announced the details of the 
new organization to those persons 
who would now join together in a 
maximum effort to develop an atomic 
bomb. 

Under the new organization, the 
atomic energy program was divorced 
from the NDRC and placed under the 
immediate supervision of Bush as the 
OSRD director. Bush reported direct- 
ly to the President, at the same time 
keeping Vice President Wallace and 
Secretary Stimson fully informed. The 
scientific group under Bush was now 
called the OSRD S-1 Section, drop- 
ping the word uranium for security 
reasons. Its function was to recom- 
mend and coordinate action on nucle- 
ar research, ensure that authorized as- 
signments were carried out, and, 
within six months, prepare a final 



^® Diary of Henry L. Stimson (hereafter cited as 
Stimson Diary), 6 Nov 41, HLS; Henry L. Stimson, 
"The Decision To Use the Bomb," Harper's 194 
(Feb 47): 98-99; Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 59. 

"Ltr, Bush to President, 9 Mar 42, MDR. 



34 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



report on the feasibility of building 
atomic bombs. 

Conant, acting as Bush's represent- 
ative, had oversight of the whole pro- 
gram. Briggs stayed on as chairman 
of the S-1 Section, with Dean Pegram 
of Columbia as vice chairman and a 
number of outstanding scientists serv- 
ing as consultants. In addition, three 
program chiefs, each a Nobel Prize 
winner, were in charge of three dis- 
tinct programs in physics. Arthur H. 
Compton of the University of Chicago 
headed the program of basic physics 
studies and measurements of nuclear 
properties pertinent to the chain reac- 
tion. His program also included ex- 
ploring the problem of plutonium 
production by means of the con- 
trolled fissioning of uranium. Ernest 
O. Lawrence of the University of Cali- 
fornia, Berkeley, had responsibility 
for producing the first small samples 
of fissionable elements, isotope sepa- 
ration by the electromagnetic method, 
and experimental work on the prop- 
erties of plutonium. Finally, Harold 
C. Urey of Columbia University had 
charge of isotope separation by the 
diffusion and centrifuge methods, as 
well as research on heavy water 
production. 

To supervise engineering procure- 
ment and production plant construc- 
tion — activities that Bush and his as- 
sociates knew must shortly be turned 
over to the Army — the OSRD director 
set up a planning board, headed by 
Eger V. Murphree, vice president of 
the Standard Oil Development Com- 
pany, an affiliate of Standard Oil 
Company (New Jersey). The OSRD 
would enter into and finance all con- 
tracts negotiated in support of the re- 
organized atomic energy program. 
The board would make recommenda- 



tions to Bush concerning those con- 
tracts for engineering, for develop- 
ment of the diffusion and centrifuge 
processes, and for the heavy water 
program. Briggs and Conant, with the 
interested program chiefs, would rec- 
ommend all other contracts. When 
the Army took over administration of 
much of the atomic energy program, 
many OSRD contracts had to be 
renegotiated.^^ 

America's entry into World War II 
hastened the move for the Army to 
take over the primary direction and 
control of the bomb development 
project. Concrete steps to bring about 
this change came up for discussion at 
a meeting of the Top Policy Group 
called by Vice President Wallace on 
16 December. In attendance were 
Secretary Stimson, Bush, Wallace, 
and, in addition, Harold D. Smith, di- 
rector of the Budget Bureau. Conant 
and General Marshall were unable to 
attend. According to Secretary Stim- 
son, that meeting was significant. The 
group discussed, he recorded, "some 
of the new inventions, many of them 
diabolical, that are coming out of the 
Scientific Research Commission" 
[NDRC] and "decided to go ahead 
with certain experiments." Bush him- 
self noted the group's strong opinion 
"that OSRD should press as fast as 
possible on the construction of pilot 
plants." ^^ He estimated this aspect of 



^*Ibid. and Incl; Smyth Report, pp. 53-55; Baxter, 
Snentuts Against Time. p. 428; Compton, Atomic Qimt, 
pp. 62-63 and 68-78; Stewart, Organizing Scientific 
Research for War, pp. 121-22; Hewlett and Anderson, 
Xeu' World, pp. 40-51; Charles Sterling Popple, 
Standard Oil Company (Xew Jersey) in World War II 
(New York: Standard Oil Co., 1952), p. 295. 

^^ Stimson Diary, 16 Dec 41, HLS; Bush quoted in 
Smyth Report, p. 55. 



THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 1939-1942 



35 



the work would cost $4 to $5 million 
and stated that the Army should take 
over when full-scale construction 
began, presumably when the pilot 
plants were ready. He recommended 
that a suitably trained Army officer 
should familiarize himself with the 
general nature of the program. 

The Top Policy Group then ap- 
proved Bush's reorganization of the 
atomic energy program and his plans 
and recommendations for action. 
They also agreed that the internation- 
al aspects were clearly a presidential 
responsibility, with Bush's function 
limited to liaison solely on technical 
matters. *° 

Progress in Research and Development: 
The Xuclear Steeplechase 

Two days later, on 18 December, 
the new OSRD S-1 Section held its 
first meeting, a session "pervaded by 
an atmosphere of enthusiasm and ur- 
gency." *^ Conant explained again 
the decision to proceed with the de- 
velopment of the bomb and stressed 
the necessity of a maximum effort. 
His words were seconded by Urey 
and Pegram, recently returned from 
England, who described British 
progress on the gaseous diffusion 
method of isotope separation and in 
experiments with heavy water. They 
also emphasized that Britain greatly 
feared Germany might produce 
atomic bombs before the Allies. Prob- 
ably the most enthusiastic presenta- 
tion was Lawrence's description of his 
success in testing the electromagnetic 
method as a possible process for sep- 



arating uranium isotopes. As a 
member of Compton's reviewing 
committee the previous summer, Law- 
rence had become convinced of the 
great potentialities of this method in 
spite of the widely prevailing belief 
among scientists that the so-called 
space charge limitation — mutual re- 
pulsion of ions, making sharp focus of 
a beam of particles impossible — made 
it impractical for large-scale separa- 
tion. Lawrence asserted that experi- 
ments at his Berkeley-based Radiation 
Laboratory with the mass spectro- 
graph proved that the technical diffi- 
culties that tended to reduce the effi- 
ciency of the electromagnetic process 
could be overcome. ^2 

A 184-inch cyclotron magnet, 
nearly five times wider than the 37- 
inch magnet used for previous experi- 
ments, had been under construction 
at the University of California, Berke- 
ley, funded by the Rockefeller Foun- 
dation. Work had stopped because of 
the war, but now an extra appropria- 
tion from the foundation permitted 
Lawrence to complete the project by 
the end of May 1942, providing a 
means, as Lawrence wrote later, that 
"made it seem possible that we might 
be able to get somewhere ... in time 
to be of value in this war." '*^ 

With the Radiation Laboratory re- 
searchers concentrating increasingly 
on electromagnetic separation, most 



*° Smvth Report, p 55; Ltr, Bush to President, 
9 Mar 42, MDR; Hewleii and Anderson, Xew IVorld. 
pp. 51-52. 

*' Smvth Report, p. 55. 



*^ Rpt, W. M Brobeck and W. B. Reynolds, sub: 
On Future Development of Electromagnetic System 
of Tube Alloys Isotope .Separation, 15 Jan 45, OCG 
Files, Gen Corresp, Groves Files, Fldr 10, MDR; 
Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 76-77; Hewlett and An- 
derson, \eu> Worlri, pp. 56-57. 

■•^ I.tr, Lawrence to Warren Weaver (Natural Sci- 
ences Div Dir, Rockefeller Foundation), 20 Aug 45, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 201 (W), MDR; Smvth 
Report, pp. 46, 49, 55, 136-40; Compton. Atomic 
Quest, pp. 73-74. 



36 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



of the work on plutonium was left to 
Compton's University of Chicago 
group that was investigating the feasi- 
bility of achieving a chain reaction. In 
January 1941, Compton decided to 
move the scientists working under his 
supervision at Columbia and Prince- 
ton to the University of Chicago. By 
early February, he concentrated the 
various research and development ac- 
tivities under what was called, for se- 
curity reasons, the Metallurgical Lab- 
oratory. Compton's group devoted 
itself henceforth to three main tasks: 
achievement of a chain reaction; study 
of the chemistry of plutonium, includ- 
ing development of a means for sepa- 
rating it from uranium; and the 
design of plutonium-producing piles. 
Because these tasks depended upon 
an adequate supply of uranium and 
graphite, representatives of the Metal- 
lurgical Laboratory also actively sup- 
ported the S-1 Section's planning 
board in the procurement program, 
contributing much to its success.** 

At the same time, research on the 
gaseous diffusion process and on the 
production of heavy water went for- 
ward under Harold Urey's direction 
at Columbia, and investigations on 
the centrifuge method of separation 
progressed under the general supervi- 
sion of Eger Murphree at the Univer- 
sity of Virginia, where physicist Jesse 
W. Beams directed the program, and 
at the Standard Oil Development 
Company in New Jersey, where re- 
search begun earlier at Columbia was 
continued. 

Work was also proceeding on still 
another separation method, liquid 
thermal diffusion, based on the tend- 



ency of one of two isotopes in a fluid 
to concentrate near the hotter of two 
opposing surfaces. Philip H. Abelson 
had started research on this process 
at the Carnegie Institution but later 
moved to facilities at the Naval Re- 
search Laboratory. While develop- 
ment of the thermal diffusion process 
was not a part of the OSRD program, 
it would prove highly useful to the 
atomic project at a later date.*^ 

Thus the OSRD was at work simul- 
taneously on five methods of pro- 
ducing fissionable materials — three 
isotope separation processes (electro- 
magnetic, gaseous diffusion, and 
centrifuge) for producing U-235 and 
two pile processes (uranium-graphite 
and uranium-heavy water) for manu- 
facturing plutonium — projects Conant 
referred to as five "horses" in a 
race.*^ Choosing a favorite and pre- 
dicting an outcome, however, were 
almost impossible because any one of 
the horses might encounter insur- 
mountable obstacles. Although con- 
centrating all resources on the most 
promising horse would have been 
more efficient and economic, playing 
this odd just might have enabled Ger- 
many to be the first to build an 
atomic bomb. 

In support of this nuclear steeple- 
chase, the OSRD, by early February 
1942, had entered into ten contracts 
with twelve institutions totaling more 
than $1 million, figures that roughly 
doubled in the next month. On the 



*'' Smyth Report, pp. 56 and 63-65; Compton, 
Atomic Quest, pp. 80-98. 



*^ Smvth Report, pp. 47 and 56; Testimony of 
Gunn in Atomic Energy Heanngs on S. Res. 1 79, pp. 
367-68. 

*^ In his account of the development of aUernate 
methods for producing fissionable materials in early 
1942, Compton counted only four "horses" in the 
race, perceiving the two pile processes as a single 
method. See Atomic Quest, pp. 77-78. 



THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 1939-1942 



37 



twentieth, Conant recommended that 
all five methods "be pushed vigorous- 
ly" until 1 July, by which time he 
hoped many of the contracts could be 
dropped or revised in accordance 
with whatever progress had been 
made. Indeed, Conant continued, if 
by then the electromagnetic method 
of separation demonstrated a clear ca- 
pability "of producing grams per 
day," work on other methods of pro- 
ducing fissionable materials might be 
dropped or at least continued at a 
slower pace. Furthermore, even if all 
five horses had to be kept running "at 
full speed down the course" until the 
beginning of 1943, the OSRD re- 
search program might still be com- 
pleted for between $10 and $17 
million.*^ 

The "intense scientific research and 
engineering planning now underway" 
was the subject of a guardedly opti- 
mistic progress report that Bush sub- 
mitted to the President on 9 March. 
"The possibility of actual production 
appears more certain," he wrote, but 
"the way to full accomplishment is 
still exceedingly difficult." A full-scale 
effort might achieve completion of 
the project in 1944, or possibly six 
months sooner, and success for either 
the Allies or the enemy could "be de- 
termining in the war effort." Bush 
pointed out that the work was "rapid- 
ly approaching the pilot plant stage," 
with selection of the best methods of 
production not too far off. The 
summer of 1942, he believed, would 
"find the matter ready to turn over to 
Army control, for actual production 



plant construction." A further reason 
for transferring "the whole matter . . . 
to the War Department," Bush 
added, was the necessity for institut- 
ing tight security measures once 
actual production began.*® 

With the Army's entrance into the 
atomic energy program only a few 
months off, it was time to assign a 
suitable officer to follow nuclear de- 
velopments. For this mission. General 
Marshall personally chose Brig. Gen. 
Wilhelm D. Styer, chief of staff of the 
Services of Supply (SOS). A graduate 
of the U.S. Military Academy, with an 
additional degree in civil engineering 
from Massachusetts Institute of Tech- 
nology and two decades of experience 
as a Corps of Engineers officer super- 
vising various kinds of construction 
projects, Styer was well qualified to 
lay the groundwork for Army partici- 
pation in the atomic energy program. 
He immediately began an intensive 
study of the project, in close coordi- 
nation with Bush and the S-1 Section. 
Despite the demands of his SOS 
duties, from this point until his depar- 
ture for an overseas assignment late 
in the war. General Styer would play 
an important part in the Army's effort 
to produce an atomic bomb.*^ 



■'■' Conant's words as quoted in Baxter, Scientists 
Against Time. p. 433; Smyth Report, p. 56; Rpt to 
President, sub: Status of Tube Alloys Development, 
9 Mar 42, Incl to Ltr, Bush to President, same date, 
MDR. 



■»« Ltr, Bush to President, 9 Mar 42, MDR. 

■»« 1st Ind, Stver to Chief of Mil Hist, 15 Aug 61, 
to Ltr, Chief of Mil Hist to Styer, 17 Jul 61, CMH; 
Memo, Bush and Conant to Wallace, Stimson, and 
Marshall, sub: Atomic Fission Bombs, 13 Jun 42, 
Incl to Ltr, Bush to President, 17 Jun 42, HB Files, 
Fldr 6, MDR (cf. Ltr. Bush to President, 9 Mar 42, 
and Incl, MDR). On Styer, see John D. Millett, The 
Organization and Role of the Ar7ny Serince Forces. U.S. 
Armv in World War II (Washington, D.C.: Govern- 
ment Printing Office, 1954). pp. 5, 32. 369. and 
passim; Cullum, Biographical Register. 6B:1806, 
7:1121-22.8:306,9:207. 



38 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Meanwhile, the five horses were in 
the running, four of them neck and 
neck, with a fifth one now bidding to 
join the race. This was the alternate 
method of producing plutonium by 
using heavy water instead of graphite 
as the moderator in a chain reaction 
pile, a process strongly championed 
by Urey. As work approached the 
pilot plant stage, the need to concen- 
trate on one or more of these horses 
was becoming increasingly apparent. 
To conserve time, design and con- 
struction of actual production plants 
should begin even before the pilot 
plants were finished. However, 
Conant believed there was "a desper- 
ate need for speed" to build the 
bombs before the Germans could and 
he only solution was to go ahead on 
all five.50 

On 23 May, S-1 Section Chairman 
Lyman Briggs met with Compton, 
Lawrence, LIrey, and Murphree to 
make final recommendations on the 
program. In a report submitted to 
Bush two days later, the group con- 
cluded that practical atomic bombs of 
either U-235 or plutonium, with an 
energy release equal to that of several 
thousand tons of TNT, were definite- 
ly feasible. Underestimating the 
amount of fissionable material later 
found necessary for each bomb, as 
well as the time required for develop- 
ment and construction, they believed 
the bombs would be available in small 
quantities by about July 1944. They 
recommended funding of all five 
methods, although, for reasons ad- 
vanced primarily by Compton, they 
gave the uranium-graphite pile a defi- 
nite priority over the heavy water pile. 
They also proposed a pilot diffusion 



plant and preparation of complete en- 
gineering designs for a full-scale dif- 
fusion installation. They advised con- 
structing a centrifuge plant by Janu- 
ary 1944, an electromagnetic plant by 
late 1943, a plutonium-producing 
atomic power installation by early 
1944, and, as an auxiliary to the 
latter, heavy water plants by May 
1943. 

Bush, Conant, and General Styer 
approved these recommendations 
and, on 13 June, Bush and Conant 
submitted them to the Top Policy 
Group with detailed plans to expand 
the atomic energy program. They un- 
derlined the danger of German suc- 
cess in building an atomic bomb and 
endorsed the proposal to continue 
work on all major methods of produc- 
tion. At the same time, they warned 
that such a course would interfere 
with other military research and 
called for careful judgment, when fur- 
ther study made it possible, to 
achieve a better balance.^ ^ 

Importantly, Bush and Conant rec- 
ommended that construction of the 
separation plants and development of 
the power project be turned over to 
the Army, specifically "to be in [the] 
charge of a qualified officer designat- 
ed by the Chief of Engineers and re- 
porting to him. . . ." They also sug- 
gested that this officer be assisted on 
a full-time basis by leading civilian 
scientists and engineers, "preferably 
in the status of officers." ^^ Funds for 



Quoted in Baxter, Scienlists Agonist Time. p. 434. 



^1 Ibid., pp. 434-35; Memo, Bush and Conant to 
Wallace, Stimson, and Marshall, 13 Jun 42, Incl to 
Ltr, Bush to President, 17 Jun 42, MDR; Smvth 
Report, pp. 56-57; Compton, Atomic Qimt. pp. 98- 
103. 

^2 Memo, Bush and Conant to Wallace, Stimson, 
and Marshall. 13 Jun 42, Incl to Ltr, Bush to Presi- 
dent, 1 7 Jun 42, MDR. 



THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM, 1939-1942 



39 



this work — $54 million in fiscal year 
1943 — should be made available to 
the Engineers chief who, to avoid 
delay, should be authorized to spend 
or overobligate any money under his 
control with the understanding that 
he would be reimbursed later. After 
consulting with the S-1 Section's 
planning board, the Engineers chief 
should also begin immediately to let 
contracts for the detailed design of all 
plants. 

Under the Bush-Conant proposals, 
the OSRD would continue to direct 
and control research and develop- 
ment, with $31 million directly 
available for this purpose and an ad- 
ditional $5 million held in reserve for 
contingencies in the next fiscal year. 
There would be frequent meetings 
between representatives of the OSRD 
and the Corps of Engineers in order 
to coordinate and report on research, 
development, and construction. Re- 
search and development on the actual 
military uses of atomic energy would 
be under the Joint Committee on 
New Weapons and Equipment of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff. In addition. 
Bush and Conant suggested that sites 
be selected, priorities established, and 
close security regulations imposed on 
the entire project. 

With the approval of Vice President 
Wallace, Secretary Stimson, and Gen- 
eral Marshall, Bush forwarded the 
proposed program to the President 
on 17 June 1942. "If you also ap- 



prove," he wrote, "we will proceed 
along these lines immediately." The 
President's initials — "OK FDR" — 
were affixed that day, signaling the 
decision to go ahead. ^^ 

The United States was now firmly 
and fully committed to an all-out 
effort to build an atomic bomb. From 
initial skepticism and only casual in- 
terest, the attitude of the government 
had changed gradually to one of 
active support. The ultimate decision 
to build the bomb was a presidential 
one and, as such, had been made at 
the meeting with Wallace and Bush 
on 9 October 1941. But laying the 
groundwork for that far-reaching de- 
cision were the intermediate steps 
taken by Bush and his scientific asso- 
ciates in early December 1941, rein- 
forced by Stimson and Wallace later 
that month, and confirmed by mem- 
bers of the S-1 Section and the Top 
Policy Group in the spring of 1942. 
As for the Army, the President's deci- 
sion on 17 June brought it back into 
the atomic bomb program, this time 
to participate on a far broader scale. 
Within hours of that decision, the 
Army designated Col. James C. Mar- 
shall, who had nearly twenty-five 
years as a regular in the Corps of 
Engineers, to begin the task of orga- 
nizing and carrying out its vast new 
assignment as administrator of all 
construction work for that program. 



>3 Ltr, Bush to President, 17 Jun 42, MDR. 



CHAPTER II 



Establishing the Manhattan District 



Undeterred bv the unusual nature 
of the atomic energy program, the 
Army Corps of Engineers in June 
1942 prepared to carry out its new 
wartime construction assignment. 
After his initial conference with Brig. 
Gen. Wilhelm D. Styer late in the 
afternoon of the eighteenth, Col. 
James C. Marshall experienced a cer- 
tain restlessness as he tried to com- 
prehend the scope of the new task at 
hand. The next day, he received some 
of the answers to his many questions 
when Styer took him to the Office of 
Scientific Research and Development 
to call on V'annevar Bush, fhe OSRD 
director gave the two officers several 
documents, among them a copy of 
the program for continued develop- 
ment of atomic energy that President 
Roosevelt had approved on the seven- 
teenth. From these papers Marshall 
learned that the Army was now 
charged with "all large-scale as- 
pects," ^ as Bush put it, of the atomic 
energy program, with the OSRD re- 
taining responsibility for scientific re- 
search and pilot plant experimenta- 
tion. The Army's mission included 
building both pilot and full-scale 
plants for producing fissionable mate- 
rials to be used in the manufacture of 



atomic bombs, letting contracts for 
these plants and others to be under 
OSRD direction, and extensive site 
selection, acquisition, and develop- 
ment — all to be carried out in close 
coordination with the OSRD. 

That afternoon, again in General 
Styer's office. Colonel Marshall re- 
ceived formal orders on the Army's 
phase of the atomic energv project. 
On the covering letter of the ap- 
proved program, Styer wrote the fol- 
lowing endorsement to Marshall: 
"This is referred to you for informa- 
tion and appropriate action in accord- 
ance with our discussion of this sub- 
ject with Dr. Bush this morning." ^ 
This simple statement constituted the 
basic directive to the C>orps of Engi- 
neers for its work on development of 
the atomic bomb. Styer also empha- 
sized that the orders had come direct- 
ly from the War Deparment's Services 
of Supply (SOS) and that Colonel 
Marshall would furnish all details of 
the new project to the Engineers 
chief, Maj. Gen. Eugene Reybold. 

hi the weeks that followed the hur- 
ried orientation of the past two days, 
Colonel Marshall became more famil- 
iar with the current status of the pro- 



' Memo. Bush K) (onaiii. sub: 
All<)%s| I'lf^m, 19 |un 42. HB Fik-s, 



luhcallov 11 
Fl(ir (i. MDR 



2 Isi lud, StNC-l 

Bush lo SIMM, sa 



Marshall. 19 |un 42, lo I.ir, 
date, HB Flics, FIdi (., MDR. 



ESIABLISHING IHE MANHAIIAN DISTRICT 



41 




Brig. Gen. W ilhelm D. St\er 

{1941 photograph) 

gram and what the Army's role was to 
be in the months ahead. He was to 
have broad authority to use engineer 
facilities, choose personnel, and take 
whatever steps were necessary to 
carry out his assignment. Marshall 
soon realized, however, that he was 
going to need all the assistance he 
could muster in order to have any 
hope of success in achieving his 
mission.^ 

Organizing the District 

1 he Engineers chief normally over- 
saw construction projects through an 
engineer district, the basic unit of the 



engineer field organization for super- 
vising construction work. The district 
engineer customarily was responsible 
to a division engineer, who headed 
one of the eleven geographical divi- 
sions in the United States (which, in 
1942, constituted regional administra- 
tive headquarters of the Engineer De- 
partment of the Corps). Because of 
the special character, scope, and im- 
portance of Colonel Marshall's mis- 
sion, however, the new district to 
oversee atomic energy construction 
would be directly subordinate to the 
Engineers chief and, unrestricted by 
geographical limitations, its field of 
operations would extend into other 
districts and divisions. Furthermore, 
although designated a district engi- 
neer, Marshall was to have all the au- 
thority, responsibility, and independ- 
ence regularly granted to a division 
engineer. Indeed, in many respects, 
he was to have far more.^ 

While Marshall's responsibility was 
to the Engineers chief, in practice he 
worked with Reybold's assistant. Brig. 
Gen. Thomas M. Robins, who was in 
charge of construction, and particu- 
larly with his deputy. Col. Leslie R. 
Groves. During the summer of 1942, 
Robins and Groves reviewed Mar- 
shall's plans and furnished him with 
the support and assistance necessary 
to get the project started. Appropri- 
ate agencies of the chief's staff also 
cooperated fully with Marshall, who 
was able to make good use of other 
engineer facilities and War Depart- 
ment assistance. On all important de- 



3 Marshall Diarv, 19 jun 42, OCCi Files. Gen Cor- 
resp, Ciroves Files, Misc Recs Sec, behind Fldi 5, 
MDR, 



"AR 100-20, l« Sep 42; Paul W. Ihonipson, 
What You Should Know About the Army Engineers (New 
York. W. W. Norton and Co., 1942), pp. 194-96. 
Subsection based primarily on Marshall I)iar\, MDR, 
and Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, pp. 11-18. 



42 



jftmKKi^^ 



^^ ^>^ 




Brig. Gen. James C. Marshall 

( 19-f6 photograph) 

cisions, Marshall consulted with Gen- 
erals Reybold and Styer; the latter, in 
addition to his many duties as SOS 
chief of staff, kept well abreast of cur- 
rent nuclear developments. To en- 
force strict secrecy, Army Chief of 
Staff General George C. Marshall 
originally had forbidden Styer to 
reveal to the SOS commander, Lt. 
Gen. Brehon B. Somervell, anything 
about the atomic energy program. In 
June, however, with the entrance of 
the Army into an active role in the 
project. General Marshall directed 
Styer to brief Somervell and to enlist 
his support.^ 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND IHE AI OMIC: BOMB 



In late June, Colonel Marshall 
opened a liaison office in Washing- 
ton, D.C., in the New War Depart- 
ment Building at 21st Street and Vir- 
ginia Avenue, NW. At the same time, 
he set up temporary district head- 
quarters at 270 Broadway in New- 
York, where he had ready access not 
only to the colocated administrative 
facilities of the Engineer Depart- 
ment's North Atlantic Division but 
also to the Manhattan office of the 
Stone and Webster Engineering Cor- 
poration, soon to become a major 
contractor for the atomic project. To 
staff the district. Colonel Marshall re- 
ceived authorization from the Engi- 
neers chief to draw on officers and ci- 
vilians who had served under him in 
the Syracuse District, among them Lt. 
Col. Kenneth D. Nichols, whom he 
appointed assistant district engineer. 
The Syracuse District recently had 
completed the major part of its war- 
time construction program and, as the 
volume of work decreased during the 
summer, Marshall was able to draw 
more and more personnel from his 
former command. Soon over a dozen 
men had transferred to the new dis- 
trict. Several who were civilians at the 
time subsequently received reserve 
commissions and went on active duty. 
To provide still more officers. Gener- 
al Robins directed other districts to 
give Marshall a priority on any sur- 
plus personnel they might have.® 



^ Styer's recollection is that he was not aiithoii/ed 
to bring in Somervell until September, but contem- 
porary evidence indicates Somervell was participat- 
ing in late June. 1st Ind, Stver to Chief of Mil Hist, 
\r> Aug (il, to I.tr. Chief of Mil Hist to Stver, 17 Jul 



61, CMH (cf. Marshall Diary, 26 Jun and 10 Jul 42, 
MDR). On the I-Lngineers organization in earlv 1942 
see Blanche D. C-oll, Jean E. Keith, and Herbert H. 
Rosenthal, Thf Corps oj Engineers: Troops and Equip- 
ment. r.S. Arniv in World War II (Washington, D.C.: 
Government Printing Office, 1958), pp. 1,S2-:U). 

^ Details on the engagement of Stone and Web- 
ster as a major contractor for the atomic project are 



ESIABLISHINC; IHK MANHA 1 IAN DIS IRId 



43 




Col. Kenneth D. Nichols { 1945 photograph} 



Engineer districts normally took 
their names from the city where they 
were located, bnt Colonel Marshall's 
new district lacked a permanent head- 
quarters. Some convenient designa- 
tion was needed, however, that would 
conceal the real nature of the project. 
On 26 June, Generals Somervell, 
Styer, and Reybold agreed on the 
elaborate cover name of Laboratory 
for the Development of Substitute 
Materials, or DSM. Within the next 



discussed laid on m this chapter. Interv, Slanlc\ L. 
Palk and Author with Clharles \'anden Bulck (former 
S\racusc District civihan emplo\ee before serving as 
Chief. Admin I)iv, MD) and his assistant Capt VV. R. 
McCaulev. 22 Jun 60. CMH; MDH. Bk. 1. \'ol. 1. 
■•(ieneral." p. 3.13. DASA. See also I.tr, Marshall to 
Robins. Hi Nov 42, Admin Files, Gen Corresp. 
231.2, MDR, in which Marshall's procurement prior- 
it \ was extended to supplies and equipment as well 
as personnel, and the word surplus was dropped. 



two weeks Marshall's plans and orga- 
nization for a new district were ap- 
proved and he submitted to Colonel 
Groves the draft of a general order 
establishing a DSM District. To 
Groves, the term DSM seemed likely 
to arouse attention and curiosity. Ac- 
cordingly, the two officers reached 
agreement that the name Manhattan, 
where Marshall had established his 
temporary headquarters, would be a 
better name. On 13 August, General 
Reybold issued a general order (effec- 
tive on the sixteenth) officially estab- 
lishing "a new engineer district, with- 
out territorial limits, to be known as 
the Manhattan District, . . . with 
headquarters at New York, N.V., to 
supervise projects assigned to it by 



44 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



the Chief of Engineers." ^ The term 
DSM continued in use as an official 
code name for the entire project, but 
the word Manhattan — symbolically 
representing the Army's contribution 
in the development of the atomic 
bomb — gradually superseded it.^ 

Meanwhile, Vannevar Bush carried 
out the necessary changes in the 
OSRD organization. Under the provi- 
sions of the newly approved program, 
the OSRD retained responsibility for 
pilot plants for the centrifuge, diffu- 
sion, and electromagnetic separation 
processes, as well as for further re- 
search and development on the latter 
method, for the heavy water project, 
and for additional miscellaneous re- 
search. Acting upon a suggestion of 
James B. Conant, based upon his 
review of past operating procedures 
of the uranium project. Bush abol- 
ished the S-1 Section and its planning 
board and, in their place, established 
the S-1 Executive Committee. Mem- 
bership of the new committee includ- 
ed most of the individuals who had 
previously served in the S-1 Section: 
Conant, as chairman; Lyman J. 
Briggs; Ernest O. Lawrence; Arthur 
H. Compton; Harold C. Urey; and 
Eger V. Murphree, with the addition 
of Irvin Stewart, the OSRD executive 
secretary. H. T. Wensel, formerly of 
the planning board, became technical 
aide. Only Dean George B. Pegram of 
Columbia dropped out. 

Bush charged the new S-1 Execu- 
tive Committee with recommending 
contracts and supervising contract op- 
erations and enjoined its members to 



begin work immediately, in close co- 
ordination with the Army Corps of 
Engineers. Bush particularly cau- 
tioned them on the importance of 
maintaining the "greatest secrecy" on 
all phases of the project, and stated 
that "we will continue ... to adhere 
to the principle that confidential in- 
formation will be made available to an 
individual only insofar as it is neces- 
sary for his proper functioning in 
connection with his assigned 
duties." ^ 

An additional, though temporary, 
responsibility of the S-1 Executive 
Committee was overseeing experi- 
mentation on the military applications 
of atomic energy. As outlined in the 
atomic energy program approved by 
the President, the Joint Committee on 
New Weapons and Equipment of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff had primary re- 
sponsibility for this administrative 
mission. Vannevar Bush also headed 
this committee. Serving with him 
were Brig. Gen. Raymond G. Moses, 
chief of the Supply Division (G-4) of 
the Army General Staff, and Rear 
Adm. Willis A. Lee, Jr., who held a 
similar position as Assistant Chief of 
Staff (Readiness), U.S. Fleet. With 
these officers Bush raised the ques- 
tion of establishing a subcommittee to 
consider military uses of atomic 
energy — formed, not hastily, but with 
"great care." Pending organization of 
this new group. Bush directed the S-1 
Executive Committee to continue its 
work on military applications. ^° 



'WD, (K.K, GO 33, 13 Aug 42. While the legal 
designation of the new district was Manhattan Dis- 
trict, it was often referred to as the Manhattan Engi- 
neer District. 

*Smvth Ri-port. p. 59. 



^Qiioted words from Memo, Bush to Conant, 
19 Jun 42, MDR. See also Stewart, Organizing Scien- 
lific Research fm War. p. 122; Smyth Report, p. 59. 

'"Ltr, Bush to Stver, 19 Jun 42, and Memo, Bush 
to Conant, 19 Jun 42. MDR; Min, 6th Mtg of JNW, 
16 Jun 42, 334, JCS: Ms, Vernon E. Davis, "Organi- 



ESTABLISHING IHE MANHA ITAN DISTRICT 



45 



The relationship between the Man- 
hattan District and the OSRD S-1 
Committee during the summer of 
1942 can best be described as a coop- 
erative one. While each agency had its 
assigned functions within the overall 
atomic energy program, they coordi- 
nated either formally or informally on 
all major decisions. But they did not 
act together as a joint directorate, for 
each organization was free to proceed 
as it wished to carry out decisions, or 
other activities, strictly within its own 
area of competence. 

Periodic meetings of the S-1 Com- 
mittee with Colonel Marshall and one 
or more other officers of the Manhat- 
tan District provided the formal link 
between the two organizations. Rep- 
resentatives of the principal engineer- 
ing or industrial firms connected with 
the project also attended frequently. 
During this period, the S-1 Commit- 
tee met at least once a month, usually 
in executive session in the morning — 
while Marshall was conferring with his 
military superiors — and then opened 
the meeting to the Manhattan repre- 
sentatives. These joint meetings en- 
couraged a free exchange of views, 
provided scientific briefings for Mar- 
shall and his colleagues, enabled the 
scientists to seek Army assistance 
where necessary, and generally en- 
hanced coordination.^^ 



zalional I^evelopmciit: Development of the JCS 
Committee Structure,"' The History of the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff in World War II, Vol. 2 (Washington, 
DC: Historical Division, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 
1972), pp. 308-12, NARS. 

"In addition to material from the Marshall Diary, 
MDR, detailed sunmiaries of the S-1 Committee 
meetings are included in the DSM Chronology, 
OROO. The latter is a rough first-draft summary of 
events relating to the Manhattan District, covering 
most developments in some detail through .April 
1943 and for the single month of July 1944, leaving 
a gap from May 1943 through June 1944. The chro- 



Army-OSRD links were further 
strengthened by cooperation between 
Manhattan officers and civilian scien- 
tists working together on specific 
projects. In the beginning these ties 
were kept inconspicuous, especially to 
conceal the Army's interest. In their 
visits to university or industrial lab- 
oratories. Army officers usually wore 
civilian clothing, and every effort was 
made to hide the relationship be- 
tween the Corps of Engineers and 
OSRD-directed projects. This effort 
was sometimes frustrated when a few 
scientists, unaccustomed to working 
under rigid security conditions, talked 
more freely than they should have 
about the Army's interest in their 
work. And despite Bush's warnings, 
even the S-1 Committee was careless 
on occasion. In mid-August, for ex- 
ample, Colonel Marshall had to point 
out that highly classified material 
should not be sent to him through 
the regular mail. In general, however, 
the good relationship between the 
Manhattan District and the S-1 Com- 
mittee helped to keep such occur- 
rences to a minimum. 

Details of the Army-OSRD meet- 
ings reached the Top Policy Group 
through twin channels: scientific and 
military. Conant reported to Bush 
and Colonel Marshall to his superiors 
in General Reybold's office, or some- 
times directly to General Styer. The 
latter then passed on information 
about the atomic project to Generals 
Somervell and Marshall. Secretary of 
War Henry L. Stimson appears to 



nology, apparently prepared in late 1944 bv Maj. 
Harrv S. Iravnor, a Manhattan staff officer, is based 
not onlv on sources cited in this volume but also on 
certain other materials not available to the present 
author. 



46 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



have received only limited data on de- 
velopments during the summer of 
1942; Vannevar Bush submitted only 
one formal report to Harvey Bundy, 
the Secretary's special assistant for 
scientific affairs. To what extent Vice 
President Henry A. Wallace received 
information on atomic developments 
is unclear; the Top Policy Group did 
not meet during this period and there 
is no other indication that reports 
were sent to Wallace. Even the Presi- 
dent's information and activities were 
evidently limited to the question of 
nuclear collaboration with Great Brit- 
ain, and he seems to have discussed 
that only with Bush. In effect, then, 
the S-1 Executive Committee and 
Manhattan District were free to act on 
any mutually approved decision. 
Their scientific or military superiors 
could always exercise the right of 
veto, but in the summer of 1942 they 
apparently did not do so. Only later, 
when major changes were to be made 
in the atomic energy program, would 
they once more actively enter the 
picture. ^^ 

Army-OSRD Planning Meeting, 
23 June 1942 

On the occasion of the first meet- 
ing of the S-1 Executive Committee, 
convened at the Carnegie Institution 
in Washington, D.C., on 25 June 
1942, General Styer, Colonels Mar- 
shall and Nichols, Vannevar Bush, 
and the regular members of the com- 
mittee reached several important de- 
cisions regarding site selection, con- 



tracting with engineering firms, and 
obtaining government priorities for 
needed materials and equipment. ^^ 

War Department policy normally 
required location of new munitions 
plants out of range of enemy carrier- 
based planes, in a great inland zone 
between the Appalachian and Rocky 
Mountains and approximately 200 
miles from the nation's borders with 
Canada and Mexico.^* General Styer 
stated that the main atomic energy in- 
stallations should be placed within 
this zone and that, to ensure secrecy, 
all manufacturing plants should be 
built at a single site. The group gen- 
erally agreed with Styer on plant con- 
centration, which would enable rapid 
and economical construction and fa- 
cilitate control over the work. To sup- 
port the extensive facilities, a continu- 
ous supply of approximately 150,000 
kilowatts of electricity would be 
needed by the end of 1943 and hun- 
dreds of thousands of gallons of 
water per minute. There would have 
to be a climate suitable for construc- 
tion in winter, a ready supply of 
labor, an accessibility to transporta- 
tion, a relative immunity from enemy 
attack, and a terrain cut up by ridges 
that would limit the effects of any ac- 
cidental explosion. 

Some steps for finding a satisfac- 
tory site already had been taken. An 
OSRD-directed study group in early 
April had picked out an area near 
Knoxville, close to the region under 
intensive development by the Tennes- 



'^ Smyth Report, pp. 58-60; Stimson Diary for 
summer of 1942, HI.S; Memo, Bush to Bundy, 29 
Aug 42. HB Files, Fldr 58, Mi:)R; 1st Ind, Styer to 
Chiel of Mil Hist, 15 Aug 61, to l.tr, Chief of Mil 
Hist to Slver, 17 Jul 61, CMH. 



"Subsection based primarily on Marshall Diary, 
25 Jun 42, MDR, and DSM Chronology, 25 Jun 42, 
Sec. 2(e), OROO. 

14 Lenore Fme and Jesse A. Remington, The Corps 
of Engineers: Conslruclwn m the United States, L'.S. Army 
in World War II (Washington, D.C.: Governmenl 
Printmg OflKe, 1972), pp. 134-35. 



ESTABLISHING THE MANHATTAN DISTRICT 



47 



see Valley Authority, as suitable for 
the full-scale centrifuge and diffusion 
separation plants. (See Map 1.) About 
the same time, members of Arthur 
Compton's team at the Metallurgical 
Laboratory in Chicago had been seek- 
ing a site for the full-scale plutonium 
production plant. They seriously 
weighed the possibilities of two loca- 
tions near Chicago, but finally con- 
cluded that the Tennessee Valley was 
also the best area for their purposes. 
In mid-June, Bush expressed his liking 
for the Tennessee site to General 
Styer, and Colonel Marshall, in one of 
his first moves as district engineer, 
also discussed its merits with Colonel 
Groves. Groves made a quick survey of 
the electric power situation and indi- 
cated his approval of the Knoxville 
area. Thus, Army representatives rec- 
ommended the Tennessee Valley loca- 
tion for all the large-scale production 
plants. ^^ 

All scientific leaders at the 25 June 
planning meeting accepted this rec- 
ommendation save Lawrence, who 
maintained that the electromagnetic 
separation plant ought to be located 
closer to his research operations in 
California. Bowing to his objections, 
the conferees agreed to postpone a 
decision on location of the electro- 
magnetic plant, pending further 
progress in basic research on this 
process. Even though research for the 
centrifuge and diffusion methods was 
still at a stage where firm planning 
for production installations was im- 
practical, the group decided that the 



plants for these processes as well as 
for the plutonium process would be 
located on a 200-square-mile site in 
the Tennessee Valley. The Army, the 
planning group agreed, should begin 
steps at once to select and acquire 
this site. 

The planners also considered sites 
for two other operations. The first 
was a pilot plutonium plant required 
by the Metallurgical Laboratory. This 
plant needed to be within commuting 
distance of the laboratory; but, for 
reasons of safety and security, it could 
not be built in heavily populated Chi- 
cago. Consequently, Compton and his 
colleagues selected an isolated area 
known as the Argonne Forest, a part 
of the Cook County Forest Preserve 
about 20 miles southwest of the city. 
This selection was tentatively ap- 
proved on 25 June and the next day 
Compton and Colonel Nichols 
reached final agreement on the gen- 
eral plan for the Argonne site.^^ 

In 1941, the OSRD had sponsored 
laboratory tests at Princeton Univer- 
sity, under the direction of British 
chemist Hugh S. Taylor, to develop a 
technique for large-scale production 
of heavy water by a hydrogen-water 
exchange process. Taylor had found 
that this process operated most effi- 
ciently when using the electrolytic 
method to produce hydrogen. The 
Consolidated Mining and Smelting 
Company, a Canadian firm, operated 
an ammonia plant at Trail on the Co- 
lumbia River, situated a few miles 



15MDH. Bk. 1, Vol. 12, "Clinton Engineer 
Works," pp. 2.1-2.6 and Apps. A140-A142, DASA; 
Compton, Atomic Qitesl. pp. 154-55; Ltr, Bush to 
Stver, 15 Jun 42, Admin Files, Cen Corresp, 600.3, 
MDR; Marshall Diary, 19 Jun 42, MDR; Croves, Xoiv 
It Can Be Told. pp. 13-14. 



'^ Ms, Arthur C-ompton, "Mr. Fermi, the .Argonne 
Laboratory and the University of Chicago," 28 Jul 
44, p. 1, Admin Files, Gen Conesp, 080 (Argonne- 
Univ of Chicago), MDR; Maishall Diarv, 26 Jul 42, 
MDR; Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 110-11; MDH, 
Bk. 1, Vol. 12, p. 2.5, DASA. 




MAP 1 



ESTABLISHING THE MANHATTAN DISTRICT 



49 



north of the Canadian-U.S. border, 
that was the largest producer of hy- 
drogen by the electrolytic method in 
North America. In an effort to tap 
this resource for heavy water, Taylor 
met with company officials to discuss 
the possibility of Consolidated Mining 
allowing its plant to be altered so that 
heavy water could be extracted from 
the hydrogen supply without using up 
any appreciable quantities of the hy- 
drogen. The reaction was favorable. 
The OSRD therefore made the final 
arrangements and, in May of 1942, 
engaged the Boston construction firm 
of E. B. Badger and Sons to proceed 
with the engineering and design work 
on plant alterations. During the 25 
June meeting, Army-OSRD represent- 
atives approved the plan for Trail 
and, on the twenty-sixth, shifted re- 
sponsibility for construction to the 
Army but left the financing and direc- 
tion of research with the OSRD.^^ 

A few days before the meeting. 
Colonel Marshall had talked with 
Groves about his urgent need for 
competent engineering advice in or- 
ganizing the atomic project and 
Groves had recommended Stone and 
Webster. The well-known Boston firm 
already was involved in an OSRD 
project on the diffusion method and 
was currently maintaining a good 
record on several contracts for the 
Corps of Engineers. Marshall pro- 
posed to the Army-OSRD group that 
it engage Stone and Webster as archi- 
tect-engineer-manager for the atomic 



project, to monitor site development 
and major construction.^® 

The Army-OSRD conferees ap- 
proved Marshall's proposal and 
agreed that Stone and Webster would 
be primarily concerned with site de- 
velopment and housing construction 
in Tennessee and with engineering 
and building the centrifuge and elec- 
tromagnetic plants. In addition, the 
firm would build the Argonne pilot 
plant and, eventually, the full-scale 
plutonium production plant. The 
group also decided to engage the 
M. W. Kellogg Company of New 
Jersey. This firm had extensive expe- 
rience in the design and construction 
of petroleum refineries and chemical 
installations and was already assisting 
the scientific team at Columbia on 
diffusion research under an OSRD 
contract. Kellogg would take respon- 
sibility for the diffusion plant and 
Badger and Sons would continue on 
the job at Trail. ^^ 

The Army-OSRD group decided 
that a substantial number of OSRD 
research contracts already in oper- 
ation should be extended at the dis- 
cretion of the S-1 Executive Commit- 
tee. To continue these contracts 
beyond the end of the fiscal year — 
less than a week away — the atomic 
program urgently needed $15 million. 
Marshall promised to obtain the 
money immediately from engineer 
funds. This sum represented slightly 
less than half of the $31 million in- 
cluded for the OSRD in the program 



'^ Hewlett and Anderson, Xew World, pp. 66-67; 
MDH, Bk. 3, "The P-9 Project," Sees. 1-2, passim. 
DASA; Marshall Diarv, 26Jun 42, MDR; DSM Chro- 
nology, 25 Jun 42, .Sec. 2(e). OROO. 



18 Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. pp. 12-13; Marshall 
Diarv, 25, 27, and 29 June 42, MDR. 

19 DSM Chronology, 25 Jun 42. Sec. 2(a). OROO; 
Stephane GrouefT, Manhattan Project: The Untold Story 
of the Making of the Atomic Bomb (Boston: Little. 
Brown and Co., 1967), pp. 22-23. 



50 



MANHAITAN: THE ARMY AND IHE AIOMIC BOMB 



approved by President Roosevelt on 
17 June. Yet it sufficed, for the Army 
gradually took over most OSRD func- 
tions in the field of atomic energy 
and the $15 million proved to be 
more than enough to finance all fur- 
ther OSRD expenditures for the 
atomic program. ^^ 

The final subject at the Army- 
OSRD meeting was the urgent need 
to obtain government priorities suffi- 
ciently high to ensure a ready supply 
of critical materials and equipment. 
Some required items were in ex- 
tremely short supply and the OSRD 
was having little success obtaining 
them. What was needed, OSRD rep- 
resentatives told Colonel Marshall, 
was some means of coordinating their 
requirements and gaining the neces- 
sary priorities to satisfy them. They 
requested that the Army designate a 
priorities officer to meet with them 
and to establish an office in Washing- 
ton, D.C. Marshall agreed and indi- 
cated that, as a first step, he would 
eliminate obvious competition by co- 
ordinating Army and OSRD procure- 
ment on the atomic project. 

The decisions of the Army and 
OSRD representatives had served to 
inaugurate officially a new phase in 
the atomic energy program, a period 
of Army-OSRD cooperation that 
would last until late spring of 1943. 

Progress in Research and Development 

For Colonel Marshall and his Man- 
hattan District associates, the summer 
of 1942 was a period of organization 
and planning to lay groundwork 
for developing an unprecedented 



2° Marshall Diary, 29-30 Jun 42, MDR; Stewart, 
Organizing Scientific Research /or War, p. 123. 



weapon. The scope of the problem 
was broad. To the normal administra- 
tive headaches of setting up a very 
large construction and manufacturing 
project were added the problems of 
expediting and coordinating research, 
experimentation, industrial applica- 
tion, and design of a weapon based 
on materials that in all probability 
would not be available for testing 
until the weapon itself had been built. 
Of all the problems to be dealt with — 
the execution of engineering, con- 
struction, and operating contracts; the 
selection and acquisition of sites; the 
obtaining of large sums of money and 
of adequate priorities; the procure- 
ment of materials; the maintenance of 
security — the first and most basic to 
the success of the whole project was 
that of continued progress in scien- 
tific development. On this rested the 
outcome of the entire atomic enter- 
prise. And, in mid- 1942, Marshall 
found that nearly all problems he 
faced were connected in one way or 
another with the vital task of research 
and experimentation. 

The program adopted on 17 June 
called for backing all five methods of 
producing fissionable materials — until 
one or more proved most certain of 
success. Thus, each process was sub- 
ject to intensive research efforts that 
summer. Objectives for the centrifuge 
process were a pilot plant and, by 
January 1944, a full-scale plant pro- 
ducing 100 grams of U-235-enriched 
uranium per day. A low-yield pilot 
plant and a 1-kilogram-per-day pro- 
duction plant were planned for the 
diffusion process and a 5-gram-per- 
day pilot plant and, by late 1943, a 
100-gram-per-day production plant 
for the electromagnetic process. The 



ESI ABLISHING 1 HE MANHA I I AN DISTRICT 



51 



plutonium project needed a 100- 
gram-per-day production plant, as 
well as heavy water plants producing 
0.5 tons per month by May 1943.^^ 
The diffusion and centrifuge meth- 
ods, which had seemed most promis- 
ing the previous autumn, now ap- 
peared less certain than the others. 
And of the pile and electromagnetic 
processes, the latter appeared to offer 
the best immediate hope. 

Although the feasibility of the gase- 
ous diffusion method had been dem- 
onstrated, two major problems stood 
in the way of achieving large-scale 
separation of uranium isotopes. First 
was development of a material that 
would be sufficiently porous to permit 
passage of uranium hexafluoride 
through thousands of stages, as well 
as be resistant to the exceptional cor- 
rosiveness of this gas and suitable for 
fabrication by mass production meth- 
ods. The second was to design and 
manufacture corrosion-resistant me- 
chanical equipment — a variety of 
pumps, valves, seals, and instru- 
ments — to move the gas through 
miles of pipe, maintaining required 
vacuum conditions, temperatures, and 
pressures. 

These problems were being studied 
mainly at Columbia University under 
John Dunning and Harold Urey, but 
also by the M. W. Kellogg Company, 
whose chief concern was major pro- 
duction of diffusion equipment and, 
eventually, construction of a full-scale 
plant. At a meeting of the OSRD S-1 
Executive Committee on 30 July 
1942, Urey reported his hope that the 
diffusion method would be producing 
enough enriched uranium by the fall 



of 1944 to begin using that material 
in an atomic weapon. ^^ 

Work on the centrifuge process was 
going equally slow. Under the general 
direction of Eger Murphree, theoreti- 
cal and experimental research contin- 
ued at Columbia University and the 
University of Virginia, respectively; 
design and development at the Wes- 
tinghouse Research Laboratories, a 
subsidiary of the Westinghouse Elec- 
tric and Manufacturing Company; and 
engineering studies at the Standard 
Oil Development Company. Feasibili- 
ty of the method had long been dem- 
onstrated, but major technical and 
mechanical difficulties prevented 
rapid progress. Nevertheless, a pilot 
plant had been designed at Standard 
Oil and actual production of parts 
and models for the pilot plant was 
under way at Westinghouse. Like the 
diffusion process, the centrifuge proc- 
ess would require many hundreds of 
stages to achieve large-scale separa- 
tion. Also by Murphree's estimate, the 
centrifuge method could not produce 
a sufficient amount of enriched urani- 
um for use in atomic weapons before 
autumn of 1944. ^^ 

Of all the programs in progress 
that summer, perhaps the most exten- 
sive was the pile process for manufac- 
turing plutonium under the leader- 
ship of Arthur Compton at the 
University of Chicago. The objectives 
of the Chicago program were to 
prove experimentally that a chain re- 



2> I.tr, Bush to President, 17 Jun 42, and Ind, HB 
Files, Fldr 6, MDR. 



22 Smvth Report, pp. 125-35; MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 3, 
"Design!" pp. 2.1-2.2. DASA; DSM Chronology, 
30 Jul 42, Sec. 2(e), OROO; Compton, Atomic Quest, 
p. 152. 

23 MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 4, "Auxiliary Activities," pp. 
14.1-14.24, DASA; DSM Chronology, 30 Jul and 
26 Aug 42, each Sec. 2(e), OROO; Marshall Diary, 
24-26 and 28 Aug 42, MDR. 



52 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



action was actually possible, then to 
devise a means to produce plutonium 
on a large scale and extract it chemi- 
cally from uranium, to work out the 
necessary data for bringing about an 
explosive chain reaction with either 
plutonium or U-235, and, finally, to 
design the atomic bomb itself. Investi- 
gations into all of these problems 
were being conducted simultaneously 
by large research staffs at the Univer- 
sity of Chicago and other institu- 
tions.^'* One particularly important 
group at the University of California 
(Berkeley) had been organized in 
June by J. Robert Oppenheimer, then 
widely regarded as "the leader of the- 
oretical aspects of atomistics and 
similar subjects of physics." ^^ Under 
Oppenheimer's direction a number of 
the nation's ablest theoretical physi- 
cists undertook a study that, in Op- 
penheimer's words, "for the first time 
really came to grips with the physical 
problems of atomic bombs, atomic 
explosions to initiate thermonuclear 
reactions." By the latter he meant the 
possibility of a hydrogen bomb, a 
matter that he raised with Compton 
and Bush that summer and that was 
to lie heavy on his mind for many 
years to come.^^ 

The University of Chicago's Metal- 
lurgical Laboratory staff also devoted 
most of its energies to theoretical 



** Account of work carried out at Chicago based 
on Compton's book Atomic Quest, pp. 80-98; Smyth 
Report, pp. 63-74; Testimony of Oppenheimer in 
Atomic Energy Commission, In the Matter of J. Robert 
Oppenheimer: Transcript of Hearing Before Personnel Secu- 
rity Board (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing 
Office, 1954), pp. 11-12 and 27-28. 

^* Testimony of Bush in Oppenheimer Hearing, p. 
563. 

^® Quotation from Ltr, Oppenheimer to Nichols, 
4 Mar 54, Oppenheimer Heanng, p. 11. See also 
Memo, Bush to Bundv, 29 Aug 42, HB Files, Fldr 
58, MDR. 



studies. Lack of basic materials — ura- 
nium, plutonium, highly purified 
graphite, and heavy water — made any 
extensive experimentation program 
impossible. Nevertheless, at the 
30 July meeting of the S-1 Commit- 
tee, Compton estimated that plutoni- 
um would be ready for use in an 
atomic weapon by fall of 1944.^' The 
process that appeared to offer the 
best hope for producing fissionable 
materials was the electromagnetic 
method under study at Princeton and 
at the University of California (Berke- 
ley), where Lawrence's work with the 
giant 184-inch magnet attracted the 
most attention. As with other ap- 
proaches, this method had been faced 
with major technical difficulties, but 
as the months passed Lawrence en- 
thusiastically reported success in 
meeting and overcoming these prob- 
lems. Most important, he had actual- 
ly achieved the separation of small 
amounts of U-235, even though only 
in milligram quantities. ^^ 

A visit in late July to Berkeley by 
Colonel Marshall and Stone and 
Webster representatives convinced 
them that, in Marshall's words, "Law- 
rence's method is ahead of the 
other[s] . . . and should be exploited 
to the fullest without delay." The 
colonel was anxious that work on "a 
sizeable pilot plant," as well as a full- 
scale production plant, begin as soon 
as possible. ^^ The S-1 Committee ap- 



" Smyth Report, p. 67; DSM Chronology, 30 Jul 
42, Sec. 2(e) OROO. 

^* Discussion of electromagnetic process based on 
Marshall Diary, 9, 20, 30-31 Jul and 5, 17-19, 22 
Aug 42, MDR; Smyth Report, pp. 136-41 and 143- 
45; DSM Chronology, 9 and 30 Jul 42, each Sec. 
2(e), OROO. 

"Marshall Diary, 20 Jul 42, MDR. 



ESTABLISHING I HE MANHAITAN DISTRICT 



53 



proved Colonel Marshall's recommen- 
dation on 30 July and decided that 
the Army, rather than the OSRD, 
would be responsible for building the 
pilot plant on land rented from the 
University of California. Lawrence es- 
timated that material from the elec- 
tromagnetic process would be ready 
to go into an atomic weapon by the 
spring of 1944. 

In mid-August, Colonel Nichols vis- 
ited Berkeley and gave his tentative 
approval to plans for the pilot plant. 
With him was Maj. Thomas T. Cren- 
shaw, whose job it was to set up the 
new California Area Engineers Office 
of the Manhattan District, to support 
and assist Lawrence, and to represent 
Colonel Marshall during construction 
and operation of the pilot plant. Nich- 
ols felt that Lawrence was "making 
great progress and that the whole 
project should be pushed into full- 
scale production as fast as possible," 
an opinion with which Lawrence 
agreed wholeheartedly. Indeed, be- 
cause Lawrence's only question con- 
cerned the actual efficiency of the 
separation units, he felt that construc- 
tion of the full-scale production plant 
should be started concurrently with 
that of the pilot installation. ^° 

At the 26 August meeting of the 
S-1 Committee, both August C. 
Klein, Stone and Webster's chief me- 
chanical engineer, and Colonel Mar- 
shall supported Lawrence's proposal, 
and there was general agreement, 
based upon Lawrence's optimistic 
report, that the electromagnetic 
method would probably be first to 



^"Qiiotation from Marshall Diarv. 17-18 Aug 42, 
MDR. See also Memo, Crenshaw to Hist Engr, sub: 
Weeklv Progress Rpt, 22 Aug 42, Admin Piles, Cien 
Corresp, 001 (Mtgs), MDR. 



yield material in substantial amounts. 
The plutonium process, though pro- 
gressing satisfactorily, was still 
months awa\ from even the pilot 
plant stage and the other methods 
lagged even further behind. Had a 
decision been made at this time to 
back a single horse in the nuclear 
race and to scratch the others, Law- 
rence very likely would have been the 
one rider left on the course. 

Yet no one was certain that the 
electromagnetic method would prove 
to be the best process in the long 
run. In fact, the group conjectured 
that the ultimate full-scale plant 
would probably have several times the 
capacity of the contemplated electro- 
magnetic production plant and was 
likely to be comprised of a combina- 
tion of methods, with one process 
producing enriched uranium and the 
electromagnetic method providing the 
final stage of separation. They 
thought a decision to proceed with an 
electromagnetic production plant was 
unrealistic and might be interpreted 
as a final decision in favor of the elec- 
tromagnetic process, causing the de- 
velopment of the other methods to be 
slowed down — or even eliminated. 

At last the conferees at the 26 Au- 
gust meeting agreed to continue work 
as rapidly as possible on the four 
pilot plants and on the production of 
heavy water at Trail. A start on a full- 
scale plutonium production plant 
would be delayed, pending the out- 
come of experiments at the Argonne 
pilot plant. Design and construction 
of an electromagnetic production 
plant would be postponed until mid- 
September, when the S-1 Committee 
was to visit the Berkeley project and 
make further recommendations. Van- 



54 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



nevar Bush approved these conclu- 
sions and passed them on to Secreta- 
ry Stimson with the warning that the 
time would soon be at hand for a 
major decision on the extent of the 



effort the United States should make 
on the atomic energy program. ^^ 



31 Marshall Diary, 26 Aug 42, MDR; DSM Chro- 
nology, 26 Aug 42, Sec. 2(e), OROO; Memo, Bush 
to Bundy, 29 Aug 42, HB Files, Fldr 58, MDR. 



CHAPTER III 



First Steps for Weapon 
Development 



In those incredibly busy two 
months following the planning meet- 
ing of 25 June 1942, the military lead- 
ers — working closely with project sci- 
entists and technicians — energetically 
set about not only to organize the 
operational requirements for the 
Army's administration of the project 
but also to carry out the specific steps 
for development of an atomic 
weapon. On the twenty-sixth Maj. 
Gen. Eugene Reybold, chief of the 
Corps of Engineers, held a briefing 
with Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Robins, 
the assistant chief; Col. Leslie R. 
Groves, the deputy assistant; Col. 
James C. Marshall, the new district 
engineer; and Lt. Col. Kenneth D. 
Nichols, the deputy district engineer. 
During the session Reybold reviewed 
some of the immediate problems of 
the atomic project, placing special 
emphasis on two that required 
prompt action: selection and acquisi- 
tion of a site for atomic production 
facilities in the 1 ennessee Valley, and 
securing a contract with the Stone 
and Webster Engineering Corpora- 
tion to serve as architect-engineer- 
manager (AEM). 



Securing an Architect-Engineer-Manager 

Consistent with Army policy that 
the industrial operator of a proposed 
installation should have a strong voice 
in selection of the specific site, the 
district engineer gave his first atten- 
tion to securing a working agreement 
with Stone and Webster, which was 
slated to have the chief responsibility 
for the Tennessee plants.^ Following 
Colonel Marshall's orders. Colonel 
Nichols went to New York on Satur- 
day, 27 June, to visit Stone and Web- 
ster President John R. Lotz. Nichols 
outlined the role projected for the 
firm and Lotz responded enthusiasti- 
cally. The following Monday, Lotz 
and other company officials met with 
Robins, Groves, Marshall, and Nichols 
in Washington, D.C. Lotz assured 
them the AEM job would not serious- 
ly interfere with the firm's work on 
other important Corps of Engineers 
contracts and that the firm could 
meet the strict security requirements 
of the atomic project. The group then 
drew up a letter of intent, which Lotz 



» Marshall Diary, 26 Jun 42, OCC; Files, Gen Cor- 
resp. Groves Files, Misc Recs Sec, behind Fldr 5, 
MDR; Fine and Remington, Corps of Enginens: Con- 
struction, p. 135. 



56 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



and Marshall signed, authorizing 
Stone and Webster to begin work im- 
mediately on preliminary investiga- 
tions and surveys, procurement of 
supplies, and initiation of design. The 
following afternoon, Vannevar Bush, 
director of the Office of Scientific Re- 
search and Development (OSRD), 
gave the Stone and Webster repre- 
sentatives a thorough explanation of 
the technical processes involved in 
the atomic project. This completed 
the preliminary discussions. 

Stone and Webster now became the 
Army's agent for managing the 
atomic energy project, charged with 
overseeing and subcontracting all re- 
search and development, procure- 
ment, engineering, and construction 
that fell within the Army's sphere of 
responsibility. Company officials es- 
tablished a separate engineering 
group to operate with the utmost se- 
crecy under the direct control of the 
firm's senior engineers. Project lead- 
ers had hoped that a single company 
could perform all AEM tasks; howev- 
er, by the time Stone and Webster 
signed the formal contract (backdated 
to 29 June) several months later, the 
Army had to seek the assistance of 
other major firms to share with Stone 
and Webster the vast and complex 
job.2 

Obtaining Funds 

The Stone and Webster agreement 
required immediate funds. The ap- 
proved program had allotted $85 mil- 



lion — $54 million for the Army Corps 
of Engineers and $31 million for the 
OSRD — but had not indicated the 
source of this money. ^ An effort in 
early June to obtain this sum from the 
President's Emergency Fund was un- 
successful. Marshall's pressing finan- 
cial obligations totaled $38 million: 
$10 million to cover the letter of 
intent issued to Stone and Webster, 
$15 million to repay the sum ad- 
vanced to the OSRD, $6 million for 
site acquisition, $2 million for the 
projected Argonne pilot plant, and $5 
million for the purchase of materials. 
He also required "practically unlimit- 
ed authority," as he put it, to spend 
it.4 

By 16 July, Marshall was able to ar- 
range for an allotment from the 
Office of the Chief of Engineers, spe- 
cifically from the Engineer Service- 
Army category of available funds. The 
$15 million for the OSRD had already 
been provided, $5 million was fur- 
nished immediately, and the remain- 
der became available a few weeks 
later at the time of the formal alloca- 
tion of the total sum. Marshall also 
received assurances from the War De- 
partment's budget officer that all re- 
strictions on the use of these funds 
that could legally be removed had 
been set aside. These included regu- 
lations on establishing title to proper- 
ty, the placing of government con- 
tracts, employment in the United 
States and abroad, rentals and im- 



2 Marshall Diary, 27, 29-30 Jun and 1 Jul-23 Oct 
42, MDR; Completion Rpt, Stone and Webster, sub: 
Clinton Engr Works, Contract W'-7401-eng-13, 
1946, pp. 6 and 143, OROO; Stone and Webster, A 
Report to the People: Stone and Webster Engineering Corpo- 
ration in World War II (| Boston]: Stone and Webster, 
1946), pp. 9-13; Smyth Report, p. 28. 



3 Ltr. Bush to President, 17 Jun 42, and Incl, HB 
Files, Fldr 6, MDR. 

•* Marshall Diary, 10 Jul 42, MDR. Section on 
funds based on entries in ibid, for 29-30 Jun, 9-11 
and 16 Jul 42; Memo, Marshall to Groves, sub: Al- 
lotment of Additional Funds to MD, 29 Sep 42, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 110 (Appropriations), 
MDR; Groves, Sow It Can Be Told. pp. 15-16. 



FIRST STEPS FOR WEAPON DEVELOPMENT 



57 



provements of property, and several 
other controls. Colonel Marshall ap- 
peared to be well on the way to at- 
taining the fiscal means and inde- 
pendence that the atomic project 
required. 

Securing a Priority Rating 

Even as fiscal problems eased, the 
atomic project encountered serious 
difficulties on the matter of priorities. 
In the summer of 1942, competition 
for critical materials was strong and 
unremitting as America prepared to 
halt the worldwide Axis offensive. 
With these conditions prevailing. 
Colonel Marshall soon realized that 
access to the scarce supplies and 
equipment needed for atomic re- 
search, construction, and production 
might be blocked unless he could 
secure a high-priority rating for the 
project. 

In the wartime economy, the estab- 
lishment of priorities for military and 
civilian demands was the responsibil- 
ity of the War Production Board 
(WPB), succinctly characterized by 
one World War II historian as "the 
supreme industrial mobilization con- 
trol agency." ^ The Army and Navy 
Munitions Board (ANMB) adminis- 
tered the priority system for military 
and related agencies, theoretically 
subject to WPB approval, but in 1942 
the War Department's Services of 
Supply (SOS) gradually began to take 
over the ANMB's responsibilities re- 



^ R. Elberton Smith, The Army and Economic Mobili- 
zation, U.S. Army in World War II (Washington, 
D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1959), p. 517. 
Discussion of DSM priority problems based primari- 
Iv on Marshall Diary, 25 Jun-16 Sep 42, MDR; DSM 
Chronology, Jun-Sep 42, Sec. 18, OROO; Memo, 
Bush to Bundy, 29 Aug 42, HB Files, Fldr 58. MDR; 
Groves, Now It Can Be Told, pp. 16 and 22-23. 



lating to the Army. The SOS, particu- 
larly through its staff divisions for re- 
quirements and resources that formed 
the ANMB's Army Section, controlled 
and coordinated all War Department 
procurement activities. SOS officers, 
moreover, served on WPB commit- 
tees. For example. Brig. Gen. Lucius 
D. Clay, the SOS deputy chief of staff 
for requirements and resources, had 
an important voice in the establish- 
ment of policy and would play a key 
role in the matter of assigning prior- 
ities to the atomic project. 

Major programs received ratings of 
AA-1 through AA-4, in decreasing 
order of precedence, whereas lesser 
projects received ratings in a more 
extensive category, the highest desig- 
nation of which was A-l-a. A special 
top rating of AAA, reserved for emer- 
gencies, could not be assigned to an 
entire program but was limited to 
expediting delivery of small quanti- 
ties of critical items. Although the 
program approved by President 
Roosevelt did not mention a specific 
priority designation for the new 
project, it did imply that the program 
should be given a relatively high 
rating, which was to be balanced 
against the needs of other critical 
projects.^ When Colonels Marshall 
and Nichols met with General Clay on 
30 June, they requested only an AA 
rating — without, apparently, asking 
for a specific classification within that 
category. Marshall assured Clay that 
the project "would issue such lower 
ratings as were possible whenever we 
did not need the A." "^ General Clay, 



^ Ltr, Bush to President, 17 Jun 42, and Incl, 
MDR. 

7 Marshall Diarv, 30 Jun 42, MDR. 



58 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



who had known Marshall since their 
days as West Point classmates, told 
Marshall and Nichols that all DSM re- 
quests would be given prompt atten- 
tion and the highest preference in 
processing, and that he personally 
would take immediate steps to obtain 
an AA rating for the project and 
would be available at any time for any 
specific request. 

Despite Clay's assurances, nearly 
two weeks passed with no priority 
rating forthcoming. Finally, on 13 
July, following some persistent prod- 
ding by Colonel Nichols, the ANMB 
approved a rating of AA-3 for the 
atomic project.® This rating, with 
which Clay concurred, came as a 
grave disappointment. It was based, 
however, on an ANMB directive that 
limited AA-1 and AA-2 ratings to the 
most essential and urgently needed 
weapons and equipment — airplanes, 
ships, guns, and tanks scheduled for 
production in 1942. Even AA-3 rat- 
ings were reserved for those items of 
military equipment and construction 
that constituted an essential part of 
the 1942 program or were required in 
1942 for the 1943 program. Under 
the circumstances, a rating of AA-3 
was the highest the atomic project 
could have received. Indeed, given 
the as yet unproved nature of the 
project, the cautious estimates of how 
long it might take to produce atomic 
weapons, and the absence of a specif- 
ic presidential directive assigning it a 
high priority, the wonder is that the 



^Written confirmation came ten days later. 1st 
Ind, Col Joseph L. Phillips (Priorities Br chief. Re- 
sources Div, SOS) to Chief of Engrs, 23 Jul 42, to 
Ltr, Nichols to Priorities Div, ANMB, Attn: Col Phil- 
lips, sub: Preference Rating [for] DSM Proj, 23 Jul 
42, in MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 9, "Priorities Program," 
App. A3, DASA. 



atomic program fared as well as it 
did. Because the ANMB was limiting 
AA-1 and AA-2 ratings. Clay told the 
protesting Nichols that an AA-3 
should be adequate for the atomic 
project. If difficulties did arise, he 
promised the project could obtain an 
AAA priority to pry loose certain 
critical items. With this assurance, 
the atomic project leaders had to be 
satisfied. 

The anticipated problems were not 
long in appearing. Badger and Sons 
soon reported that the heavy water 
reconversion work on the Trail plant 
was coming into competition with its 
commitments in the synthetic rubber 
program. Both projects had an AA-3 
rating, with the rubber program 
having first choice on materials and 
skilled workmen because of its earlier 
start. By mid-August 1942, Badger of- 
ficials estimated the Trail plant would 
probably not go into operation until 
August 1943, although an AA-1 
rating might better this date by at 
least two or three months. This, how- 
ever, would cause a delay in the 
rubber program and, as S-1 Commit- 
tee Chairman James B. Conant point- 
ed out to Colonel Nichols, it would 
be bad politics to push for a higher 
priority at Trail at the expense of 
such a critical project as synthetic 
rubber. As a matter of fact. General 
Clay had already indicated his opposi- 
tion to such a move. Thus, for the 
moment, the best policy seemed to be 
to go ahead at Trail under the AA-3 
rating. 

Procurement was generally an S-1 
Executive Committee responsibility, 
and only when the OSRD was unable 
to secure the necessary priorities did 
it turn to the Army for help. During 



FIRST STEPS FOR WEAPON DEVELOPMENT 



59 



July, difficulties in obtaining small but 
essential quantities of scarce materials 
held back progress on important ex- 
perimental work. Two much-needed 
nickel shipments totaling less than 85 
pounds, for example, were threatened 
with a delay of several months and 
were only cleared for delivery after 
two weeks of effort by OSRD mem- 
bers, General Clay, and Maj. Gen. 
Wilhelm D. Styer, the SOS chief of 
staff. 9 

On 30 July, the S-1 Committee 
raised this problem with Colonels 
Marshall and Nichols, and the group 
decided to urge OSRD Director Van- 
nevar Bush to ask WPB Chairman 
Donald Nelson for a blanket AA-1 
priority for all atomic project orders 
below a value of $1,500 or $2,000, to 
eliminate bottlenecks without interfer- 
ing unduly with other wartime pro- 
grams. The next day Marshall, accom- 
panied by Nichols, went again to see 
General Clay, making one last at- 
tempt to secure the desired rating 
before going over his head. Clay re- 
peated that the atomic project was en- 
titled to no higher rating than AA-3, 
except in very few specific instances, 
and said he would oppose any effort 
to secure a blanket AA-1 rating. That 
afternoon, Marshall, Nichols, Conant, 
and others met with Bush, emerging 
with an agreement that the OSRD di- 
rector would confer with the WPB 
chairman. Receptive to Bush's pro- 
posal. Nelson promised to discuss the 
matter further with Army Chief of 
Staff General George C. Marshall, but 
whether or not he actually did is un- 
clear. In the end, the matter was re- 



^ Correspondence relating to this incident, begin- 
ning with Ltr, Styer to Dr. H. T. Wensel (Natl Bur 
of Standards), 26 Jun 42, filed in AG 313.3 (22 Aug 

47). 



ferred back to the ANMB, which still 
refused to grant a higher rating but 
worked out a procedure that eliminat- 
ed the bottleneck on small orders. 

Meanwhile, the priorities situation 
worsened. Securing materials became 
progressively more difficult. Steel, for 
example, would soon be virtually un- 
obtainable with less than an AA-2 
rating. Without access to this basic 
material, the atomic project would 
come to a standstill. Marshall was al- 
ready receiving reports of delays in 
plant construction and, in mid- 
August, the ANMB questioned con- 
tinued assignment of even an AA-3 
priority to the Trail project. Prompt 
action by General Clay ended that 
threat, however. 

On 26 August, Marshall, Nichols, 
and Stone and Webster representa- 
tives met with the S-1 Executive 
Committee, and again priorities were 
a major topic. Most small orders were 
now being handled without undue 
delay, but there was serious general 
concern about the large-scale pro- 
curement soon to be required for the 
production plants. A limited number 
of firms had the organization and ex- 
perience needed to build and operate 
the major facilities, and they were all 
heavily engaged on other AA-3 pro- 
grams for which orders had been 
placed before atomic project orders. 
The only way to push ahead of other 
programs was to get a higher priority. 
With an AA-1 priority, the electro- 
magnetic separation pilot plant would 
probably be ready by April instead of 
August 1943 and earlier completion 
dates for other plants would also be 
assured. The effect of achieving this 
end, however, would be that of delay- 
ing the progress of other vital 



60 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



projects. Clearly a decision was 
needed, perhaps from the President 
himself, on the relative importance of 
the atomic project and other war pro- 
grams. Either atomic energy should 
be pushed with a higher priority, or it 
should remain an experimental 
project for postwar application, with a 
lower priority. 

As a result of these conclusions, on 
29 August Colonel Nichols again 
called on General Clay. With concur- 
rence from General Styer, Nichols 
now outlined the status of the atomic 
energy program and presented the 
unanimous opinion of its Army and 
OSRD leaders that a higher priority 
was necessary. If Clay would indicate 
exactly what procedure must be taken 
to secure an AA-1 priority from the 
ANMB and WPB, Bush would obtain 
a letter signed by the President and 
addressed to whomever Clay thought 
necessary. Clay suggested that a letter 
go from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to 
the ANMB and that it simply state 
that the atomic project should be 
granted a higher priority. But he him- 
self opposed this course. He did not 
believe that the presidential approval 
of 17 June ever implied the granting 
of an overall AA-1 rating and he was 
convinced that the project was less 
important than "tanks and other mu- 
nitions of war." Clay would support 
the AA-3 priority, but nothing higher. 
In Nichols's presence, he telephoned 
Brig. Gen. Theron D. Weaver — direc- 
tor of the SOS Resources Division 
and, thus, the ANMB's senior Army 
representative — and directed that the 
AA-3 rating assigned to the atomic 
project should not be questioned. ^° 



On the same day, Vannevar Bush 
wrote to Harvey Bundy, Stimson's 
special assistant who served as the 
Secretary's personal agent in scientific 
affairs. Bush knew that his memoran- 
dum would come to Stimson's atten- 
tion. He summarized the current 
status of the atomic energy project 
and its plans and hopes for the future 
in relation to the problem of prior- 
ities. He emphasized that if the 
ANMB persisted in its view that Man- 
hattan did not need a higher priority 
rating, the entire atomic bomb pro- 
gram would be delayed. The time had 
come, he continued, for weighing the 
relative importance of the atomic pro- 
gram against other wartime programs 
with which it might interfere and, on 
that basis, deciding the best way to 
expedite its development. "From my 
own point of view," he concluded, 
"faced as I am with the unanimous 
opinion of a group of men that I con- 
sider to be among the greatest scien- 
tists in the world, joined by highly 
competent engineers, I am prepared 
to recommend that nothing should 
stand in the way of putting this whole 
affair through to conclusion, on a rea- 
sonable scale, but at the maximum 
speed possible, even if it does cause 
moderate interference with other war 
efforts." ^^ 

Bundy showed Bush's memoran- 
dum to the Secretary a few days later. 



'"Marshall Diary, 29 Aug 42. MDR. Quoted 
phrase in Nichols's recollection, recorded in the 
diary, of what Clay told him. 

»i Memo, Bush to Bundy, 29 Aug 42, MDR. On 
Harvey Bundy's position in Stimson's office see 
Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active 
Sennce m Peace and War (New York: Harper and 
Brothers, 1947), pp. 343-44. Harvey Bundy, a 
Boston lawyer, served as Assistant Secretary of State 
under Stimson, from 1929 to 1933. 



FIRST STEPS FOR WEAPON DEVELOPMENT 



61 



but there is no indication that Stim- 
son took any immediate action. ^^ 
Meanwhile, Stone and Webster repre- 
sentatives reported that steel compa- 
nies had reacted negatively to their 
attempts to place orders and the 
ANMB warned Manhattan officers 
that the rating was scarcely sufficient 
to secure the steel needed for the 
projected electromagnetic pilot plant. 

Stone and Webster experienced a 
similar response to its effiDrts to 
obtain copper required for the Trail 
project. Capt. Allan C. Johnson, as- 
signed in August to head the project's 
liaison office in Washington, D.C., 
found that WPB and ANMB officials 
viewed the AA-3 rating as indicating 
that the atomic bomb program was, 
as he phrased it, "an unimportant 
miscellaneous type."^^ On 12 Sep- 
tember, Marshall asked the ANMB for 
an AAA rating for the Trail copper. 
Three days later, backed by Colonel 
Groves, the district engineer went to 
see General Weaver of the ANMB 
and the following day the board as- 
signed the rating, but only with the 
understanding that the metal would 
be drawn from the normal quota of 
the Corps of Engineers. Unfortunate- 
ly this delayed other engineer 
projects, but Marshall had no alterna- 
tive. His action opened the way for 
the work at Trail to proceed on 
schedule. 

Despite the victory on copper pro- 
curement for Trail, there was univer- 
sal agreement among those con- 
cerned with the atomic energy pro- 
gram that improvement in the whole 
priorities picture was an absolute ne- 



cessity if the entire project was not to 
founder. Groves felt that DSM leaders 
would be able to justify a higher pri- 
ority rating only after sites were defi- 
nitely selected, plans were firmly 
adopted, and actual construction was 
under way. He urged Marshall to 
move ahead on these matters with all 
possible speed. As chairman of the 
S-1 Executive Committee, Conant 
had concluded that nuclear develop- 
ments had become more important 
than the highly rated synthetic rubber 
program and now believed that they 
should be given preference. Bush, 
too, saw the immediate need and 
called for assignment of a higher pri- 
ority. The problem in mid-September 
1942, as Groves later recalled it, was 
"quite simple." If atomic energy "was 
really the most urgent project, it 
should have the top priority." ^* The 
solution to this problem was not far 
off, but it would not come before the 
atomic project itself had undergone 
major organizational changes. 

Procuring Essential Materials 

Certain materials essential to the 
program had never been in sufficient 
demand for industrial or commercial 
use to have been produced in quanti- 
ties. At the time the Army entered the 
atomic project, three such materials 
were urgently required: processed 
uranium feed material (chemical com- 
pounds and metal), highly purified 
graphite, and heavy water. The Man- 
hattan District had to develop its own 
sources of supply for these essential 
materials. 



12 Stimson Diary, 1 Sep 42, HLS. 

13 Marshall Diary, 2 Sep 42, MDR 



^* Groves, Now It Can Be Told, p. 22. 



62 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Uranium 

In early 1942, the OSRD S-1 Sec- 
tion's planning board had located suf- 
ficient raw uranium ore in North 
America to satisfy the anticipated re- 
quirements of the project for many 
months to come. But the means for 
converting this uranium into the vari- 
ous kinds of feed materials needed 
for the different methods of produc- 
ing fissionable materials were almost 
wholly lacking. While the OSRD had 
taken some steps to secure these ma- 
terials, the major task of procurement 
remained to be carried out by the 
Army. 

The most immediate demand was 
for processed uranium in the form of 
metal for the Metallurgical Laborato- 
ry. Raw uranium ore is customarily 
refined either as uranium oxide, com- 
monly termed black oxide, or as ura- 
nium salts. The oxide or the salts can 
be converted into metal by additional 
processing; however, at the beginning 
of 1942, this was still complicated and 
expensive and only a limited quantity 
was available in the United States — 
several grams of good quality pro- 
duced experimentally by the Wes- 
tinghouse Electric and Manufacturing 
Company and a few pounds in the 
form of pyrophoric powder manufac- 
tured by Metal Hydrides, Inc., of Bev- 
erly, Massachusetts. Both Westing- 
house and Metal Hydrides had ob- 
tained the black oxide from the Cana- 
dian Radium and Uranium Corpora- 
tion of New York. 

Canadian Radium's source was the 
mine owned by Eldorado Gold Mines, 
Ltd., at Great Bear Lake in Northwest 
Canada (Map 2). Eldorado processed 
the ore in its refinery at Port Hope, 
Ontario, and then marketed it in the 



United States through Canadian 
Radium. The mine itself had been 
closed and allowed to fill with water 
in the summer of 1940, because suffi- 
cient ore had been stockpiled to satis- 
fy anticipated demand for five years. 
The uranium for early atomic re- 
search in the United States had come 
from these stockpiles. When the 
OSRD placed a sizable order in 1941, 
it obtained additional equipment and 
supplies for getting the mine back 
into operation and, meanwhile, Cana- 
dian Radium continued to supply 
amounts of black oxide refined from 
the stockpiled ores.^^ 

As deliveries increased during the 
spring of 1942, project scientists in- 
tensified their efforts to develop 
better methods of purifying the mate- 
rial and transforming it into metal. 
Experiments at the National Bureau 
of Standards demonstrated that an 
ether process, long known, could 
remove all impurities by a single ex- 
traction method, greatly simplifying 
the conversion of black oxide into 
uranium dioxide, or brown oxide, the 
starting point for uranium metal pro- 
duction. Arthur Compton arranged 
with Edward Mallinckrodt, an old 
friend who owned the Mallinckrodt 
Chemical Works in St. Louis, to de- 
velop large-scale production of brown 
oxide, using the ether process. To 
ensure an adequate supply of urani- 
um oxide, Colonel Nichols directed 
Stone and Webster to buy 350 tons 
from Canadian Radium to cover the 
project's needs for the year ahead. ^^ 



*^ Smyth Report, pp. 65-66; Hewlett and Ander- 
son, Vw iVorld. p. 65; MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, "Feed 
Materials and Special Procurement," p. 3.1, DASA. 

>« MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, App. F2, DASA; Marshall 
Diary, 7 Jul 42; MDR; DSM Chronology, 7 Jul 42, 

Continued 




MAP 2 



64 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Thanks to these measures, by the fall 
of 1942 Mallinckrodt's production of 
brown oxide from Eldorado's ore had 
increased sufficiently to supply the 
project's requirements. Mallinckrodt 
and other chemical firms converted 
the brown oxide into uranium tetra- 
fluoride, or green salt, the feed mate- 
rial employed in most uranium metal- 
making processes. Westinghouse had 
abandoned a photochemical method 
in favor of a faster process using 
green salt and soon was producing at 
a satisfactory rate. At first Metal Hy- 
drides was less successful, failing to 
provide a metal of sufficient purity 
with pyrophoric powder. 

Intensive research during the 
summer at Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology, Iowa State College, and 
the Bureau of Standards had devel- 
oped new and improved metal- 
making techniques. Most important 
was a steel-bomb process for reduc- 
ing green salt to metal, employing 
highly purified calcium — and later 
magnesium — as a reduction agent. By 
early 1943, using this method, Iowa 
State had developed a manufacturing 
program and Metal Hydrides had sig- 
nificantly increased its output. New 
Army contracts with the Electro Met- 
allurgical Company of Niagara Falls, 
New York, a subsidiary of Union Car- 
bide and Carbon Corporation, and 
with E. I. du Pont de Nemours and 
Company further increased produc- 
tion, and the acute metal shortage 
was largely relieved by 1944.^"^ 

Sec. 20, OROO; Memo, [RuhofT] to Groves, sub: 
Summary of Ore Contracts, 15 Feb 44, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 161 (African Metals), MDR; Compton, 
Atomic Qimt. pp. 93-95. 

i^MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, pp. 10.1-10.9, DASA; 
Hewlett and Anderson, Neu^ World, pp. 87-88 and 
293-94; Memo, Nichols to Groves, 21 Dec 44, 



In September 1942, Colonel Mar- 
shall placed Capt. John R. Ruhoff in 
charge of all uranium metal produc- 
tion. Ruhoff had been a chemical en- 
gineer at Mallinckrodt, assisting in the 
uranium oxide program, and when he 
was inducted into the Army that 
summer, Manhattan officials had ar- 
ranged his assignment to the District 
as its area engineer in St. Louis, with 
headquarters at the Mallinckrodt firm. 
Then in October, Marshall formed a 
Materials Section in the District office 
to administer the whole feed materi- 
als program. He selected Lt. Col. 
Thomas T. Crenshaw of the Califor- 
nia Area Engineers Office to head the 
section and had Ruhoff transferred to 
New York to serve as Crenshaw's 
assistant.^® 

Meanwhile, project leaders knew 
the reopened Eldorado mine would 
probably not be able to produce and 
ship ore for at least another year and 
that stockpiles at the Port Hope refin- 
ery were insufficient for the 350 tons 
of oxide ordered for the project in 
July. They urgently needed a source 
that could provide high-grade urani- 
um on short notice. Such a source, in 
fact, had long been close at hand. 
Late in 1940, when German seizure of 
much of Africa appeared likely, Edgar 
Sengier — head of Union Miniere with 
whom Alexander Sachs of Wall Street 
and Harold Urey of Columbia had 
earlier conferred — had ordered ship- 
ment of approximately 1,200 tons of 
high-grade ore from the Shinkolobwe 
stockpile in the Congo via Portuguese 
West Africa to New York. Storing the 



Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1, MDR; DSM Chro- 
nology. 4 Sep 42, Sec. 20, OROO. 

18MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, pp. 1.16-1.17, DASA; 
Compton, Atomic Qufst, pp. 95-96. 



FIRST STEPS FOR WEAPON DEVELOPMENT 



65 



ore in a warehouse in Port Richmond 
on Staten Island, Sengier apparently 
made no effort to call it to the atten- 
tion of American government officials 
until after the United States entered 
the war. Attending a meeting in 
Washington, D.C., in March 1942, he 
mentioned his Staten Island cache to 
Thomas K. Finletter and Herbert 
Feis, State Department officials con- 
cerned with international economic 
affairs, but neither state nor defense 
officials indicated any immediate in- 
terest in the ore — why is not entirely 
clear. Nevertheless, it was soon 
common knowledge in trade circles 
that Sengier was interested in selling 
the ore.^^ 

It was early September 1942, how- 
ever, before word of the Congo ore 
reached Manhattan District officials. 
The Standard Oil Development Com- 
pany, working on the centrifuge proc- 
ess, had opened negotiations with 
Sengier for procurement of the ura- 
nium oxide it needed. Through 
Standard Oil, Metallurgical Laborato- 
ry staff members learned of the 
Staten Island ore and sought to pur- 
chase additional quantities. Through 
his Union Miniere outlet in New 
York, the African Metals Corporation, 
Sengier had submitted a request to 
the State Department for a license to 
ship ore from Port Richmond to El- 
dorado's refinery in Ontario, for 
processing into black oxide. On 7 
September, Colonel Nichols received 
a query from Finletter concerning the 
request from African Metals — his first 
inkling of the existence of the Congo 
ore. Nichols acted promptly; he met 



with Finletter and Feis at the State 
Department on 12 September and 
then dispatched Captain Ruhoff to 
consult with Stone and Webster in 
Boston and Sengier in New York, 
while he himself hurried to California 
for the meeting of the OSRD S-1 Ex- 
ecutive Committee on the thirteenth 
and fourteenth. The committee rec- 
ommended that all Sengier's ore be 
acquired. 2° Thus, at just the time 
when an acute shortage of uranium 
threatened to seriously delay the 
atomic project, the store of rich 
Congo ore became available to pro- 
vide most of its wartime 
requirements. 

Graphite, Heavy Water, and Silver 

Either highly purified graphite or 
heavy water to use as a moderator in 
the atomic pile was essential for the 
plutonium program and the other 
work under way at the Metallurgical 
Laboratory. Ample graphite was al- 
ready being produced commercially 
in the United States; the question was 
one of "purity and priority." The 
main quality required in the graphite 
was low-neutron absorption, which 
was directly dependent on its purity. 
Unfortunately, the standard product 
had too many impurities, particularly 
boron. Scientists at the National 
Bureau of Standards traced the boron 
in commercial graphite to the coke 
used for its production. By substitut- 
ing petroleum for coke and altering 
certain manufacturing techniques, 
both National Carbon Company and 
Speer Carbon Company were soon 



•9 Groves, Sow It Can fif Told. pp. 33-35; Hewlett 
and Anderson, Xnf World, pp. 85-86; Lewis L, 
Strauss, Mm and Den.sions (Garden Citv. N.\ '.: I^ou- 
bleday and Co., 1962), pp. 181-82. 



2° Groves, A'oir // Can Be Told. p. 36; Marshall 
Diar^. 7 and 12-13 Sep 42, MDR; DSM Chronology, 
13 Sep 42, Sees. 2(e) and 20, OROO. 



66 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



producing highly purified graphite 
that absorbed 20 percent fewer neu- 
trons and satisfied the stringent re- 
quirements of the Metallurgical Labo- 
ratory. With the WPB's cooperation 
in arranging the necessary priorities, 
the OSRD was able to place large 
orders with these firms, essentially 
solving the atomic energy program's 
graphite problem. ^^ 

Heavy water was another matter. 
Scientific leaders knew that heavy 
water could not be available in large 
quantities for many months or even 
years. Researchers at the Metallurgi- 
cal Laboratory had directed their pri- 
mary interest toward developing a 
uranium-graphite pile, viewing heavy 
water as an alternate solution should 
the problems with graphite prove 
insuperable. Meanwhile, the OSRD 
moved ahead with its plans for a 
heavy water plant at Trail (see Map 2), 
but priority difficulties delayed con- 
struction and the plant did not begin 
operating until June 1943. ^^ 

A store of approximately 400 
pounds — almost all the heavy water in 
the world outside of that being pro- 
duced by the German-controlled 
Norsk Hydro plant in southern 
Norway — was in the hands of British 
scientists. This heavy water had an in- 
teresting history. Nuclear research in 
France by Frederic Joliot-Curie and 
his collaborators, Hans von Halban 
and Lew Kowarski, had concentrated 
on using heavy water as a moderator 
to achieve a slow-neutron reaction. In 



'^ Smyth Report, pp. 65-68 (quotation from p. 
68); Compton, Alomir Qimt, pp. 97-98; MDH, Bk. 1, 
Vol. 4, "Auxiliary Activities," pp. 12.7-12.9, DASA. 

22 Smyth Report, p. 65; Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 
79 and 98-99; Marshall Diary, MDR, and DSM 
Chronology, OROO, for the summer of 1942, 
passim; MDH, Bk. 3, "The P-9 Project," pp. 4.1-4.7 
and 5.4, DASA. 



March 1940, just before the German 
attack on Norway, Joliot-Curie had se- 
cured about 160 to 165 liters (169 to 
174 quarts) of heavy water from 
Norsk Hydro. Shortly before the fall 
of Paris in mid-June, he sent von 
Halban and Kowarski with most of 
this precious store to England, where, 
after a hazardous trip, the two men 
joined the growing team of British 
and refugee scientists doing atomic 
research. Work with this stock of 
heavy water had contributed to the 
optimistic British reports on a urani- 
um-heavy water system. When the 
group relocated to Canada at the end 
of 1942, the heavy water went 
along. 2^ 

The need for large quantities of 
silver had not been anticipated. At 
the Army-OSRD meeting on 9 July, 
Ernest Lawrence of the University of 
California, Berkeley, pointed out that 
he needed several thousand tons of 
copper for magnet coils. Because 
copper was high on the list of critical 
materials and might be impossible to 
obtain, he thought that silver, a good 
electrical conductor and not on the 
critical materials list, would do as 
well. Accordingly, Colonel Nichols 



23 H. D. Smyth, "British Information Service 
Statement, 'Britain and and the Atomic Bomb,' 
August 12, 1945," in Atomic Energy for Military Pur- 
poses, 8th ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University 
Press, 1948), p. 276; Cowing, Britain and Atomic 
Energy, pp. 49-51; Crowther and Whiddington, Sci- 
ence at War, pp. 144-45 and 148; Sir George Thom- 
son, "Anglo-U.S. Cooperation on Atomic Energy," 
American Scientist, 41 (Jan 53): 77-78 and 80; Glas- 
stone. Sourcebook on Atomic Energy, 3d ed. (Princeton, 
N.J.: D. Van Nostrand Co., 1967), n. on p. 513. The 
figure given for the amount of heavy water that the 
French secured from Norsk Hydro varies somewhat 
in the different accounts. Most state that there were 
about 160 to 165 liters, an amount that would have 
weighed about 176 to 182 kilograms (388 to 410 
pounds). 



FIRST STEPS FOR WEAPON DEVELOPMENT 



67 



visited Under Secretary of the Treas- 
ury Daniel W. Bell to find out if silver 
would be available. Although Nichols 
did not provide specific details of the 
DSM project, Bell appeared receptive. 
"How much silver do you want?" he 
asked. "About fifteen thousand tons," 
answered Nichols. Visibly startled, 
Bell exclaimed: "Young man, ... I 
would have you know that when we 
talk of silver we speak in terms of 
ounces." ^'* 

Ounces or tons, that the DSM 
project would get what it wanted was 
soon clear. With relatively good 
speed, considering the need for secre- 
cy and the number of clearances re- 
quired, the Department of the Treas- 
ury, the ANMB, and the WPB ap- 
proved the necessary arrangements. 
On 29 August, in a letter to Secretary 
of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, 
drafted jointly by Manhattan and 
Treasury representatives, Secretary of 
War Stimson requested the transfer 
of 175 million fine troy ounces (about 
6,000 tons of silver) "to the War De- 
partment to be used as a substitute 
for copper" for an "important 
project" that was "highly secret." "At 
this time," read Stimson's letter, "the 
interests of the Government do not 
permit my disclosing the nature of 
the use." ^^ 



**As related by Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 157. 
Subsection based on Marshall Diary, 9 Jul-29 Aug 
42, MDR; MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 4, "Silver Program," 
DASA; Groves, Now It Can Be Told, pp. 107-09. 
Groves gives the impression that Marshall himself 
visited Under Secretary Bell, but Marshall s 3 Aug 
42 entry in his diary indicates that he sent Nichols 
to confer with Bell on the question of securing 
silver for the Manhattan Project. 

^*Ltr, Stimson to Secy Treas, 29 Aug 42, in 
MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 4, App. B-1, DASA. 



The endorsement of the Treasury 
Department on a second letter that 
day constituted an agreement be- 
tween the two agencies for the trans- 
fer. It provided that the silver would 
remain in the United States; would be 
returned to the Treasury in five years, 
or sooner if required; would be uti- 
lized in government-owned plants es- 
sential to the war effort; and would 
be protected against loss. Subsequent 
agreements in 1943 and 1944 would 
raise the quantity involved to roughly 
14,700 tons, worth about $304 mil- 
lion. ^^ Under constant heavy guard, 
the bars of silver were transferred — 
after being melted, cast in cylindrical 
billets, rolled into strips, and finally 
fabricated into magnet coils. Because 
the electromagnetic process seemed 
the most promising in the summer of 
1942, this turn of events was indeed 



encouragmg. 



Site Selection 



Project leaders in the summer of 
1942 were well aware that acquisition 
of suitable sites was as important to 
the success of the atomic program as 
obtaining adequate priorities. At the 
Army-OSRD meeting of 25 June, they 
had confirmed an earlier decision to 
build a heavy water plant at the Trail 
site and approved location of the pro- 
posed plutonium pilot plant in the 
Argonne Forest near Chicago. The 
Army delayed actual acquisition of a 
specific area in the Argonne Forest 
preserve pending receipt of further 



^^The Atomic Energy Commission did not return 
the last of the 14,700 tons of silver to the U.S. 
Treasury until May 1970, a quarter of a century 
later. See news item in Washington Post, 29 May 70. 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Silver-wound Magnet Coils for the Electromac.np.tk: Process 



information from the Metallurgical 
Laboratory concerning the size of site 
needed for the plutonium pilot plant. 
In early July, Colonel Nichols ob- 
tained clarification of the specific Ar- 
gonne requirements in discussions 
held in Chicago with Stone and Web- 
ster officials and Compton and his 
staff, opening the way for lease in 
August of 1,000 acres from Cook 
County. At the same time, the Univer- 
sity of Chicago agreed to provide an 
additional acre on the campus for 
future construction of additional labo- 
ratory space. To administer the site 
acquisitions and oversee construction 
activities, Colonel Marshall estab- 
lished the Chicago Area Engineers 



Office in August and assigned Capt. 
James F. Grafton as area engineer. ^^ 

For the main production plants, 
Colonels Marshall and Nichols and 
representatives of Stone and Webster 
and the Tennessee Valley Authority 
(TVA) began a survey of possible 
sites in the Knoxville area on I July.^® 



"Marshall Diarv, 6-7, 10, 13, 17 Jul and 13 Aug 
42, MDR; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 2, "Research," Pt. 1, 
pp. 2.5-2.7 and 7.2, DASA. 

^* Paragraphs on Tennessee site based on Mar- 
shall Diarv, 1-3, 9, 10, 14. 15. 23, 29, 31 Jul and 3, 
17-19, 26-27 Aug and 2-5, 10 Sep 42, MDR; MDH, 
Bk. 1, Vol. 10. "Land Acquisition CEW." pp. 2.3- 
2.4 and 2.20-2.21, and Vol. 12, "Clinton Engineer 
Works," pp. 2.2-2.4, DASA; DSM Chronology, 9, 
30 Jul and 26 Aug 42, each Sec. 2(e), OROO; 
Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, p. 15; Memo, Crenshaw 
to Dist Engr, sub: Weekly Progress Rpt, 22 Aug 42, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 001 (Mtgs), MDR. 



FIRST STEPS FOR WEAPON DEVELOPMENT 



69 



{See Map 1.) Requisite conditions for 
the site were a nearby source of a 
large amount of continuous electric 
power, enough for a fair-sized city; 
availability of a very large quantity of 
water for cooling and processing as 
well as construction and operating re- 
quirements; and proximity to a main 
line railroad and good access roads, 
to ensure delivery of heavy construc- 
tion materials and supplies. Topogra- 
phy, too, was important. An area 
bounded by natural barriers, such as 
rivers and hills, would be securer and 
individual plant sites separated by 
ridges far safer in case of an explo- 
sion, although the slopes of these 
ridges should be gentle enough for 
easy construction. The substratum 
should provide adequate foundation, 
yet not be so full of rocks as to make 
excavation unnecessarily difficult and 
time-consuming. Finally, there should 
be adequate and suitable space for a 
town with facilities for housing and 
serving thousands of workmen and 
technicians and their families. 

The survey and subsequent investi- 
gations filled nearly three days, 
during which Colonel Marshall and 
his colleagues examined several possi- 
ble sites. None seemed at first glance 
exactly right, but one, at least, had 
possibilities. TVA officials seemed 
certain that the 150,000-kilowatt 
power requirement of the plants 
could be met if Marshall could hasten 
the delivery of some badly needed 
heavy-generating equipment. As 
project priorities were indefinite at 
this time, Marshall agreed to look 
into the matter; however, he empha- 
sized that because an entirely suitable 
site had not been found, he would 
have to consider an area near Spo- 
kane, Washington, where the Bonne- 



ville Power Administration might 
more easily meet his requirements. 

Site problems were a key issue at 
the next Army-OSRD meeting on 
9 July. John R. Lotz, head of Stone 
and Webster, reported that his firm 
had surveyed the Spokane area and 
concluded that it lacked sufficient 
transmission lines to supply the re- 
quired power. The group reaffirmed 
in principle its earlier decision for a 
site in Tennessee. Also, Marshall and 
the Stone and Webster engineers 
agreed that half of the 200 square 
miles previously believed necessary 
would be adequate, and even a site of 
this size would not be required were 
it not for the plutonium plant. The 
danger of highly radioactive fission 
products escaping, or even of a nucle- 
ar explosion, dictated building this 
plant 2 to 4 miles from any other in- 
stallation and an equal distance in 
from the boundaries of the site. 

The 9 July Army-OSRD meeting 
ended without a decision on a specific 
Tennessee site or any indication of 
when one might be made. Nor was 
there, for that matter, any clear fore- 
cast of scientific developments that 
might help determine the choice. 
Only a tentative and, as soon became 
clear, excessively optimistic construc- 
tion schedule emerged. As Colonel 
Groves pointed out to Colonel Mar- 
shall that afternoon, a general air of 
vagueness seemed to pervade the 
whole atomic project, with the start- 
ing dates for development of many of 
its phases still too indefinite. He 
urged Marshall first to insist upon the 
prompt and complete programming 
of all contemplated steps and then to 
see that this schedule was adhered to 
as far as possible. An obvious neces- 



70 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



sity was a swift decision on the major 
production site. 

Shortly thereafter, Marshall and 
Stone and Webster officials agreed to 
try to obtain a site in Tennessee by 
10 August so that construction on the 
project administration building and 
some housing facilities could begin, 
even if plant construction could not. 
Stone and Webster drew up a formal 
site report on the most promising 
area, about 12 miles west of Knox- 
ville, and prepared maps indicating 
the exact tracts of land to be ac- 
quired. To avoid having a public 
highway run through the site, an ob- 
vious security hazard, the firm also 
studied the possibility of relocating 
Tennessee 61, which then crossed the 
northern portion of the area. The 
Ohio River Division of the Engineer 
Department then prepared an ap- 
praisal of the cost of acquiring the ap- 
proximate 83,000 acres in the area, 
comprised of land in the Roane, 
Loudon, Knox, and Anderson Coun- 
ties of Tennessee. On 30 July, at the 
next Army-OSRD meeting, Colonel 
Marshall reviewed the steps taken 
toward acquisition of the site and the 
entire group agreed that the Tennes- 
see Valley seemed the best location, 
although some of the scientists felt 
that a site farther east in the Great 
Smoky Mountains, where the climate 
was not as warm, might prove more 
desirable in the future for a proposed 
permanent central laboratory. 

Hardly had the way been cleared 
for immediate acquisition of the Ten- 
nessee site when Colonel Marshall, 
with the approval of General Robins, 
decided to postpone carrying it out. 
He knew that the site and making the 
necessary pre-construction changes 
and improvements, not including re- 



location of Tennessee 61, would cost 
an estimated $4.25 million and 
require resettlement of some 400 
families living in the area. Marshall 
reasoned there could be no harm in 
delaying acquisition until more defi- 
nite information on the plutonium 
process was available. At worst, a 
postponement would cause only a few 
weeks delay, for the Engineers' Real 
Estate Branch was sure that the land 
could be acquired to the point of 
right of entry within ten days of his 
order to proceed. Meanwhile, he 
would try to get the TVA the needed 
priorities and, when scientific devel- 
opments warranted, order acquisition 
of the site. 

Although Ernest Lawrence indicat- 
ed he was now willing to have the 
full-scale electromagnetic separation 
plant built in Tennessee, locating the 
plants in the Shasta Dam area of Cali- 
fornia was seriously studied and the 
proposal was not completely aban- 
doned until early September. Never- 
theless, Colonel Marshall felt he was 
"about ready to recommend purchase 
of at least part of the Tennessee site" 
by 26 August, the next S-1 Executive 
Committee meeting. When the com- 
mittee, however, delayed a decision 
on production facilities, acquisition of 
the site was postponed, despite the 
urgings of Robins and Groves to the 
contrary. ^^ 

Reaching Decisions: The Meeting at 
Bohemian Grove 

About 10-12 miles northwest of 
San Francisco, across the Golden 
Gate and amidst the giant redwood 



=>« Marshall Diary, 26 Aug 42, MDR. 



FIRST STEPS FOR WEAPON DEVELOPMENT 



71 



trees of the Muir Woods National 
Monument, there is a beautiful area 
known as the Bohemian Grove. In 
this impressive setting, not too far 
from Lawrence's laboratory at the 
University of California, Berkeley, the 
S-1 Executive Committee met on 13 
and 14 September 1942 to consider 
at length and in detail the major 
problems of the DSM project. ^° 
Present along with the committee at 
this fifth Army-OSRD meeting were 
Colonel Nichols and the California 
area engineer, Maj. Thomas T. Cren- 
shaw — both in civilian clothes to mask 
from casual observers the Army's in- 
terest in the work at Berkeley — as well 
as J. Robert Oppenheimer and two 
other scientific consultants. 

The first major decision was to ac- 
quire the Tennessee site immediately. 
But on which plants could construc- 
tion begin? The gaseous diffusion and 
centrifuge separation methods still 
appeared feasible and promising, but 
neither had produced any appreciable 
amounts of U-235 and both would re- 
quire hundreds or thousands of pro- 
cess stages for large-scale separation. 
The plutonium process had yet to see 
a self-sustaining chain reaction, much 
less production and separation of plu- 
tonium. Thus far, only the electro- 
magnetic method had achieved signif- 
icant production. Because one elec- 
tromagnetic unit could separate 10 
miUigrams of U-235 per day, it was 
not inconceivable that fifty thousand 
units could separate a pound, and, in 
the same period, a billion units could 
separate a ton. To design and build 



'"Section on Bohemian Grove meeting based on 
Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 150-54 and photograph 
facing p. 140; Marshall Diary, 13 Sep 42, MDR; 
DSM Chronology, 13-14 Sep 42, Sec. 2(e), OROO; 
Smyth Report, pp. 140-41. 



these units would be difficult and ex- 
pensive, and the full-scale plant 
would require considerably more re- 
search and engineering development 
as well as the training of large num- 
bers of skilled operators. But the 
process appeared sufficiently feasible 
to justify starting work on a produc- 
tion plant. After a visit to Lawrence's 
laboratory, where the Executive Com- 
mittee viewed experimental separa- 
tion units in actual operation, the 
group agreed to proceed with the 
construction of a large-scale electro- 
magnetic plant. 

This 100-gram-per-day (the output 
specified in the 17 June program) 
electromagnetic installation would be 
erected in Tennessee at an estimated 
cost of $30 million. Design and pro- 
curement for the plant were to begin 
immediately, subject to cancellation at 
any time before New Year's Day of 
1943 if further developments so war- 
ranted. On that date, the group 
hoped, design would be frozen and 
construction could begin. At the same 
time, a small electromagnetic pilot 
plant was projected for Tennessee; 
however, at a later date, this plan was 
dropped. 

The experimental plutonium plant 
planned for the Argonne Forest site 
was now switched to Tennessee. This 
change was necessitated by growing 
evidence that operations at this 
plant — including chemical studies on 
extracting the plutonium, training of 
operators, and testing of equipment 
and processes — would be on a scale 
too large for the Argonne site. Stone 
and Webster would arrange a subcon- 
tract with a chemical company to 
develop and operate the chemical en- 
gineering equipment needed for plu- 



72 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



tonium separation. Now the experi- 
mental pile from the Metallurgical 
Laboratory could be relocated from 
the heart of south Chicago to the 
safer Argonne location. In further 
support of the plutonium project, 
construction of the heavy water plant 
at Trail would be pushed as rapidly as 
necessary to complete this work by 
I May 1943. 

The meetings on 13 and 14 Sep- 
tember brought an end to much of 
the indecision that the course of 
events had imposed on the atomic 
energy program during the summer 



of 1942. The decisions reached at the 
Bohemian Grove, in the words of one 
participant, "were destined to shape 
the entire future development of the 



project. 



Indeed, even as these de- 



cisions were taking form, changes 
were under way that would have a 
profound effect on the organization 
and direction of the atomic bomb 
program. The early period of Army 
participation, marked by a slow and 
deliberate entrance into the project, 
was coming to an end. 



^'Compton, Atomic Qiml, p. 150. 



CHAPTER IV 



General Groves Takes Command 



As the son of an Army chaplain, 
Leslie R. Groves spent many of his 
boyhood years on different military 
posts in the western United States. 
During these formative years, young 
Groves often listened to the old Indian 
fighters who frequented the posts 
recount many a stirring tale of how 
the West was won. Their tales fired 
the boy's imagination, yet he lament- 
ed that those days were past and that 
there were no more frontiers left for 
him to conquer. He could not know, 
of course, that the opportunity to re- 
alize his youthful dreams to lead in 
the exploration and conquest of a 
new frontier — his to be a scientific 
and technical one whose develop- 
ments would have a decisive impact 
on the future and fate of all man- 
kind — would come as the result of the 
administrative reorganization of the 
American atomic energy program in 
the summer and fall of 1942 and his 
selection as a 46-year-old career Army 
officer to be officer in charge of the 
project.^ 

Reorganization and the Selection 
of Groves 

On 17 June 1942, President 
Roosevelt had approved the propos- 



Groves, Now It Can Be Told, p. 415. 



als, made by Vannevar Bush and 
James B. Conant to the Top Policy 
Group, that the Army assume overall 
direction of the atomic program and 
that the Joint Committee on New 
Weapons and Equipment (JNW) es- 
tablish a special subcommittee to con- 
sider the military application of 
atomic energy. Bush, however, who 
served as JNW chairman, did not see 
any need for immediate appointment 
of the subcommittee and thus waited 
until 10 September to propose to 
Secretary of War Stimson that a small 
group of officers be assigned the task 
of considering possible strategic and 
tactical uses of atomic energy. When 
Stimson informed Army Chief of Staff 
General George C. Marshall of Bush's 
request, the general indicated that he 
felt it was premature and expressed 
grave concern about the increasing 
problem of security as more and 
more people became aware of the ex- 
istence of the atomic energy program. 
Despite Marshall's reservations, it 
soon became evident that a special 
committee was needed not only to 
consider the ultimate uses of atomic 
energy but also to determine general 
policies and supervise the growing 
project. The sequence of events in 
September 1942 that led to formation 



74 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



of a policymaking committee and to 
strengthening the mihtary leadership 
of the project seems to have been 
about as follows. ^ 

Early that month — almost certainly 
before learning the results of the Bo- 
hemian Grove meeting and possibly 
even before Bush made his recom- 
mendations to Stimson — General 
Styer discussed the status of the 
atomic energy program with his com- 
mander, Lt. Gen. Brehon B. Somer- 
vell, Services of Supply (SOS) com- 
manding general, and then with 
General Marshall. In outlining devel- 
opments in the program, he empha- 
sized that the Army's responsibilities 
were now becoming increasingly 
large. Then on the sixteenth, or pos- 
sibly a day or so earlier. Bush, Styer, 
and Somervell met to discuss the top- 
level organization of the atomic 
project. Under Secretary of War 
Robert P. Patterson also may have 
been present, or perhaps Somervell 
saw him separately. At any rate, two 
decisions were reached: A policy com- 



^ Description of events through 22 Sep 42 recon- 
structed from Memo, Bush and Conant to Wallace, 
Stimson, and Marshall, sub: Atomic Fission Bombs, 
13 Jun 42, Incl to Ltr, Bush to President, 17 Jun 42; 
Ltr, Bush to Styer, 19 Jun 42. Both m HB Files, Fldr 
6, MDR. Stimson Diary, 10 Sep 42, HLS. Memo, 
Bundy to Stimson, 10 Sep 42, HB Files, Fldr 5, 
MDR. 1st Ind, Styer to Chief of Mil Hist, 15 Aug 
61, to Ltr, Chief of Mil Hist to Styer, 17 Jun 61, 
CMH. Groves, AW // Can Be Told. pp. 3-5 and 21- 
23. Marshall Diary, 16-21 Sep 42, OCG Files, Gen 
Corresp, Groves Files, Misc Recs Sec, behind Fldr 5, 
MDR. Memo (penciled note), VB [Bush] to Bundy, 
in envelope marked 9/17, HB Files, Fldr 7, MDR. 
Diary of Lt Gen Leslie R. Groves (hereafter cited as 
Groves Dairy), 17-22 Sep 42, LRG. The diary was 
an office record maintained by Groves's secretaries 
to list visits, telephone calls, etc. It covers the 
period from 1 Jan 42 to 7 Nov 45. Entries of later 
years are more complete than for the early period of 
the Manhattan Project. No entry was written by 
Groves, nor was each one necessarily seen by him. 
It appears to be accurate, although incomplete. 



mittee would be formed to oversee 
the program, and an Army officer 
would be chosen to carry out the 
policies established by this committee. 

Anxious to counteract General So- 
mervell's tendency to favor giving the 
Army dominant control of the 
project, thus relegating the scientists 
to a lesser role. Bush proposed that 
the committee should be organized 
first. Styer and Somervell, however, 
wanted to choose an officer immedi- 
ately. The obvious choice was Styer 
himself, but the job was a full-time 
one and Somervell was unwilling to 
lose his chief of staff. Styer then, 
without hesitation, proposed Colonel 
Groves, a recommendation readily ap- 
proved by Generals Somervell and 
Marshall. 

In addition to his impressive gener- 
al qualifications,^ another factor made 



^ Leslie R. Groves entered the U.S. Military Acad- 
emy in 1916 following three years as a student at 
the LJniversity of Washington (1913-14) and the 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1914-16). 
His class at West Point did not graduate until No- 
vember 1918, too late for him to see active duty in 
World War I. Assigned to the Corps of Engineers, 
for more than a decade after the war he held a vari- 
ety of engineer positions in the United States, 
Hawaii, and Nicaragua. During the 1930's, he at- 
tended the Command and General Staff School at 
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Army War Col- 
lege in Washington, D.C., and also served in the 
Office of the Chief of Engineers (OCE), on the Mis- 
souri River Division staff, and on the War Depart- 
ment General Staff. Beginning in 1940, he held im- 
portant administrative posts in the rapidly expand- 
ing military construction program, moving quickly 
from the rank of captain to full colonel. As chief of 
the Operations Branch, Office of the Quartermaster 
General (OQ_MG), he acted as special assistant to 
the quartermaster general for Army construction. 
When the Construction Division was transferred 
from OQMG to OCE at the end of 1941, he became 
deputy chief of the division under Brig. Gen. 
Thomas M. Robins. Having an excellent background 
of experience on a variety of major construction 
projects, the best known being the huge Pentagon 

Continued 



GENERAL GROVES TAKES COMMAND 



75 



Groves the logical choice to head the 
atomic project: As deputy chief of the 
Engineers' Construction Division, he 
had spent considerable time advising 
District Engineer Marshall in his 
quest for power resources and in his 
selection of sites for the Manhattan 
District facilities. Furthermore, with 
military construction in the United 
States past its wartime peak, Groves 
was seriously considering taking an- 
other assignment, probably overseas. 

On the morning of 17 September, 
Groves had to testify on a military 
housing bill before the House Military 
Affairs Committee. When he left the 
hearing room, he encountered Gener- 
al Somervell and learned of his new 
assignment. Groves later recalled that 
his first reaction was one of great dis- 
appointment at the prospect of miss- 
ing overseas duty. Somervell, un- 
doubtedly sensing Groves's lack of 
enthusiasm for his new job, expressed 
the opinion that a successful conclu- 
sion to the atomic energy program 
could well have a decisive impact on 
winning the war.'* 

Shortly after leaving Capitol Hill, 
Groves, accompanied by Colonel 
Nichols (Colonel Marshall was on the 
West Coast), reported to General 
Styer for orders. Styer explained the 

building, Groves earned the reputation among his 
professional colleagues as an able, aggressive, and 
industrious ofTicer who repeatedly demonstrated su- 
perior engineering, administrative, and organiza- 
tional abilities. See 1st Ind, Styer to Chief of Mil 
Hist, 15 Aug 61, to Ltr, Chief of Mil Hist to Styer, 
17 Jul 61, CMH; WD Press Release, Oct 46, CMH; 
Groves, Now It Can Be Told, p. 465; Fine and Rem- 
ington, Corps of Engineers: Construction, pp. 158-59 
and 254-55. A detailed listing of Groves's military 
assignments may be found in Cullum, Biographical 
Register, 6B:2010, 7:1338, 8:382, 9:271. 

■• Groves, Sow It Can Be Told, pp. 3-4; Fine and 
Remington, Corps of Engineers: Construction, pp. 586- 
603. 



new high-level organization of the 
project and Groves's role in it. 
Groves was to be relieved of his posi- 
tion in the Construction Division. He 
was, however, to continue to exercise 
control over construction of the 
nearly completed Pentagon. In this 
way he would avoid arousing public 
curiosity at his sudden absence from 
this project, which was viewed with 
great interest by Congress. After the 
Pentagon job was finished in a few 
months. Groves was to devote himself 
entirely to the atomic energy 
program. 

The directive for Groves's new as- 
signment — Styer had consulted with 
him on its wording — ordered the En- 
gineers chief, General Reybold, to re- 
lieve him "for special duty in connec- 
tion with the DSM project." ^ The di- 
rective emphasized, however, that 
Groves was to operate closely with 
the Construction Division and other 
elements of the Corps of Engineers. 
He was to have full responsibility for 
administering the entire project and 
to make immediate arrangements for 
priorities, for formation of a commit- 
tee to formulate military policy gov- 
erning use of the project's product 
output, and for procurement of the 
Tennessee site as the location for its 
major activities. He was also instruct- 
ed to make plans for the organization, 
construction, operation, and security 
of the project and, after they had 
been approved, to undertake the 
measures necessary to carry them out. 



^ Memo, Somervell to Chief of Engrs, sub: Re- 
lease of Groves for Special Assignment, 17 Sep 42, 
OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, Tab B, 
MDR. Directive to Groves reprinted in his book Now 
It Can Be Told, App. I. pp. 417-18. 



76 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Styer also informed Groves that 
General Marshall had directed that he 
be promoted to the grade of brigadier 
general. As the list of new promo- 
tions would be out in a few days. 
Groves suggested (and Styer agreed) 
that he should not take over the 
project officially until he had received 
his star. "I thought that there might 
be some problems in dealing with the 
many academic scientists involved in 
the project," he wrote later, "and I 
felt that my position would be strong- 
er if they thought of me as a general 
instead of a promoted colonel." The 
new military chief of the atomic 
project, however, seems not to have 
considered that for several months 
Colonel Marshall and other officers 
had been dealing successfully with 
project scientists in spite of their rela- 
tively low military rank.^ 

Following the conference with 
Styer, Groves delivered the directive 
covering his new assignment to Gen- 
eral Reybold and also stopped in the 
office of his erstwhile chief. General 
Robins, to brief him on its contents. 
He then sat down with Colonel Nich- 
ols to learn from the deputy district 
engineer more about the actual status 
of the project. He was not very 
pleased with what he learned. "In 



* Groves received the grade of brigadier general 
on 23 Sep 42 and, subsequently, the grade of major 
general on 9 Mar 44, a rank he continued to hold 
for the rest of the time he served as commander of 
the Manhattan Project. He moved up to the rank of 
lieutenant general, effective 24 Jan 48, but shortiv 
thereafter (29 Feb 48) retired from active dutv on 
his own application. .At the time of his retirement. 
Congress enacted a special measure giving him the 
honorary rank of lieulcnanl general, effective 16 Jul 
43, in recognition of his services in directing the 
atomic bomb project. .See C.ullum, Bwgtophiral Regis- 
ter. 9:27 1 . Quotation is from Groves, Xow It Can Be 
Told. p. 5 



fact," he recalled subsequently, "I 
was horrified. It seemed as if the 
whole endeavor was founded on pos- 
sibilities rather than probabilities." "^ 

On the afternoon of the same day 
(17 September), Groves and Nichols 
called on Bush. Unfortunately, no one 
had yet officially informed the OSRD 
director of Groves's assignment to the 
project. Furthermore, Bush was dis- 
turbed that this action was additional 
evidence that Somervell was intent on 
having the Army take over control of 
the atomic energy program to the 
complete exclusion of the scientists. 
Consequently, he was most reluctant 
to answer Groves's questions and the 
whole conversation was somewhat 
one-sided, relatively brief, and, in 
Groves's words, "far from satisfactory 
for both of us." ® 

As soon as Groves departed, Bush 
hurried over to see Styer. He repeat- 
ed his views that the proposed policy 
committee should choose its own 
agent; he "doubted whether he 
[Groves] had sufficient tact for such a 
job." Bush recollected later that Styer 
disagreed with him on the first point 
and, while acknowledging that Groves 

was "blunt etc [he] thought his 

other qualities would overbalance." 
Styer went on to explain that Groves's 
assignment already had been approved 
by General Marshall. Returning to his 
office. Bush wrote to Harvey Bundy, 
Stimson's assistant for scientific mat- 
ters: "I fear we are in the soup." ® 



^ Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. p. 19. 

*Ibid., p. 20. See also Hewlett and Anderson, \eu< 
World p. 81. 

'Paragraph on Bush's reaction to Groves's assign- 
ment based on Memo. Bush to Bundv, in envelope 
marked 9/17, MDR 



GENERAL GROVES TAKES COMMAND 



77 



For the next few days, Groves was 
busy preparing for his new assign- 
ment, including conferences with 
Colonel Marshall and Generals Styer 
and Robins. Robins made a point that 
the Engineer Department of the 
Corps of Engineers would have no 
further responsibility for the program 
and that the Manhattan District would 
henceforth report to Groves rather 
than to the Engineers chief. 

On 21 September, Colonels Groves 
and Marshall called on Bush. This 
time the OSRD director was cordial 
and open. He explained his earlier re- 
luctance to talk freely, then briefed 
Groves thoroughly on the scientific 
and historical background of the 
project and cautioned him on the 
need for tightening security measures. 
Thus, from what Groves himself later 
termed an "inauspicious beginning," 
relations between the two leaders of 
the atomic project soon grew into a 
firm and fruitful friendship, with each 
expressing the greatest respect for 
the other's capabilities.^*^ 

On the afternoon of 23 September, 
a few hours after Groves had been 
sworn in as a brigadier general and 
had taken official charge of the 
atomic project, he went to a meeting 



'"Qiioted phrase from Groves, \oit< It Can be Told. 
p. 21. Bush acknowledges in his memoirs that Styer 
"was right when he insisted that Groves was the 
man for the job" [see \'annevar Bush, Pieces of the 
Action (New York: W'illliam Morrow, 1970), p. 61]. 
Groves implies in his account (pp. 21-22) that his 
second meeting with Bush occurred on 19 Septem- 
ber, whereas the Marshall Diary, 21 Sep 42, MDR, 
indicates that the meeting actually took place on the 
twentN-fiist. Groves saw Styer again on the twenty- 
second, but he fails to mention this meeting in his 
book. Curiously enough, however, the two pages de- 
scribing the events of that date are missing from 
both copies of the Marshall Diary, and although the 
Groves Diary, 22 Sep 42, LRG, records the fact that 
the meeting took place, no other details are given. 



convened by Secretary Stimson at the 
War Department. Present also were 
Bush, Conant, Bundy and Generals 
Marshall, Somervell, and Styer. The 
group agreed to establish a small 
Military Policy Committee, responsi- 
ble to the Top Policy Group, to for- 
mulate project policies on research 
and development, construction and 
production, and strategic and tactical 
matters. Bush was chosen chairman, 
with Conant as his alternate; the 
other members were General Styer 
and Rear Adm. William R. Purnell, 
who had replaced Rear Adm. Willis 
A. Lee, Jr., on the JNW Committee. 
General Groves was to sit with the 
committee and to act as its executive 
officer in carrying out its policies. 
The new committee was directed to 
report periodically to the Top Policy 
Group. The OSRD S-1 Executive 
Committee was to continue to advise 
on scientific aspects of the program, 
with most of the research activities 
under OSRD direction. ^^ 

As soon as the Military Policy Com- 
mittee had received written approval 
from the Top Policy Group and the 
JNW Committee, it assumed virtually 
complete control of all aspects of the 
atomic energy program, acting 
through General Groves as, to use 
Stimson's phrase, "the executive head 
of the development of the 
enterprise." ^^ 



''Rpt, Bundv, sub: S-1 Mtg at Secv War's Ofiice, 
23 Sep 42; Memo A, signed bv all lOp Policy Group 
(except President) and JNW members, 23 Sep 42, 
Ltr, Bush to Patterson, 13 Oct 45. All in HB Files, 
Fldr 6, MDR. DSM Chronologv, 26 Sep 42, Sec. 
2(e), OROO. Smvth Report, pp. 59-60. 

'2 Stimson Diarv, 23 Sep 42, HI.S. 



78 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



First Measures 

Acquiring the Tennesssee Site 

Making a hurried departure from 
the 23 September meeting at the War 
Department, Groves went directly to 
Union Station and caught an over- 
night train for Knoxville, Tennes- 
see.^^ {See Map 1.) The next morning 
he met Colonel Marshall, who had 
been rechecking the proposed site for 
the project. Groves and Marshall 
spent the day going over the site as 
carefully and thoroughly as was prac- 
ticable on existing roads. "It was evi- 
dent that it was an even better choice 
than . . . [he] had anticipated." ^^ 
Well satisfied that the site would meet 
all requirements, and knowing that 
preliminary steps for acquisition were 
under way. Groves telephoned Col. 
John J. O'Brien of the Engineers' 
Real Estate Branch to proceed at 
once with formal acquisition. 

The roughly rectangular site, about 
16 miles long and 7 miles wide, cov- 
ered substantial portions of both 
Roane and Anderson Counties. It was 
located approximately midway be- 
tween the two county seats, Kingston 
and Clinton, and about 12 miles west 
of Knoxville, the nearest citv. Bound- 



•^ Subsection based on Marshall Diarv, 29-31 Jul 
and 19, 23, 24, 26 Sep 42, MDR; Ur, Robins (Act 
Chief of Engrs) to CG SOS, sub: Acquisition in Fee 
of Approx 56,200 Acres of Land for Demolition 
Range Near Kingston, Tenn., and Inds, 29 Sep 42, 
Incl to Memo, O'Brien to Lt Col Whitney Ashbridge 
(CE Mil Constr Br), sub: Land Acquisition in Con- 
nection With MD, 17 Apr 43, Admin Files, Gen 
Corresp, 601 (Santa Fe), MDR; Groves, Sow It Can 
Be Told, pp. 24-26; MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 10, "Land Ac- 
quisition CEW, " p. 2.21 and App. Fl, and Vol. 12, 
"Clinton Engineer Works," pp. 2.6-2.8, DASA; 
George O. Robinson, Jr., The Oak Ridge Story (Kings- 
port, Tenn.: Southern Publishers, 1950), p. 27. 

'*Groves, \ow It Can Be Told, p. 25. 



ed on three sides by the meandering 
Clinch River and on the northwest by 
Black Oak Ridge, the terrain of the 
site was typical of the region. 
Wooded ridges, running more or less 
parallel to its long axis, rose generally 
about 200 feet above narrow valleys. 
Of the approximately one thousand 
families, most resided on farms or in 
one of several small hamlets. 

On 29 September, Under Secretary 
of War Patterson authorized the Engi- 
neers to acquire the some 56,000 
acres at an estimated cost of $3.5 mil- 
lion. Subsequent additions brought 
the total to about 59,000 acres. On 
7 October, a court-approved condem- 
nation for the whole area went into 
effect, and within a month the first 
residents began to leave. Construc- 
tion began almost immediately. Ulti- 
mate acquisition of the entire site 
would not be completed without 
many problems, but now, at least, the 
first essential step toward building the 
great plants for producing fissionable 
materials had been taken. ^^ 

For security reasons earliest public 
references to the site indicated it was 
an artillery and bombing practice 
area, and for several weeks it was 
known as the Kingston Demolition 
Range. The official designation, how- 
ever, and the name that was released 
to the public in late January 1943, 
was the Clinton Engineer Works. 
Project leaders chose the name of the 
town located a few miles northeast of 
the site as being least likely to draw 
attention to the atomic energy activi- 
ties at the site. The Clinton Engineer 
Works continued to be the Tennessee 



Land acquisition problems are dealt with in Ch. 



GENERAL GROVES TAKES COMMAND 



79 



area's official designation as long as it 
remained under Army control. In 
mid- 1943, when permanent housing 
for the site's growing population was 
erected along Black Oak Ridge, the 
townsite became known as Oak 
Ridge, and this name was used as the 
post office address. ^^ 

Procuring Uranium 

Whether the Manhattan Project had 
sufficient uranium ore to fulfill its 
mission. Groves felt, was of para- 
mount importance. ^^ Immediately 
after his 17 September departure 
from the Corps and before he official- 
ly assumed his new position as Man- 
hattan commander, he took steps to 
ascertain the availability of uranium 
to the project. Informed by Colonel 
Nichols of the contracts already made 



^^ KnoxvUle Joimial. 31 Jan 43; Groves, \ou> It Can 
Be Told, pp. 25-26. Groves notes that not until es- 
tablishment of the AEG in 1947 did the name Oak 
Ridge become the official designation of the Tennes- 
see project. 

'''Subsection based on Memo for File, Merritt, 
sub: Foreign Sources of Material Which Should Be 
Further Investigated, 23 Feb 43; Memo, Merritt to 
Nichols, sub: Resume of Production of Uranium 
Products for MD in Golorado Plateau Area, 26 Jan 
45. Both in Admin Files, Gen Gorresp, 410.2 (I'ra- 
nium), MDR. Rpt, Military Policy Committee to Top 
Policy Group, sub: Present Status and Future Prgm 
(hereafter cited as MPC Rpt), 15 Dec 42, Incl to Ftr, 
Bush (for MPC) to President, 16 Dec 42, OCG Files, 
Gen Gorresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, Fab B (original of 
covering letter, with Roosevelt's approval, filed 
herein), MDR. Marshall Diary, 14 Sep-15 Oct 42, 
MDR. Ltr, Bush to Styer, 11 Sep 42, OSRD. Memo, 
[RuhofT] to Groves, sub: Summary of Ore Contracts, 
15 Feb 44, Admin Files, Gen Corresp. 161 (African 
Metals), MDR. Contract W'-7405-eng-4 (signed by 
Nichols and Sengier), 19 Oct 42, OROO. Kenneth 
D. Nichols, Comments on Draft Hist "Manhattan: 
The Army and the Atomic Bomb," Incl to Ltr, Nich- 
ols to Chief of Mil Hist, 25 Mar 74, CMH. MDH, 
Bk. 7, Vol. 1. "Feed Materials and Special Procure- 
ment," passim, DASA. Smyth Report, p. 66. Comp- 
ton. Atomic Qiiest. pp. 96-97. Groves, Sow It Can Be 
Told. pp. 33-37. 



with Edgar Sengier of Union Miniere 
and of the Bohemian Grove decision 
to acquire the company's reserve of 
ore on Staten Island, Groves directed 
Nichols to press the negotiations with 
the mining executive. 

During the previous week Colonel 
Nichols, Capt. John R. Ruhoff, assist- 
ant chief of the District's Materials 
Section, and officials of the Standard 
Oil Development Company and the 
Stone and Webster Engineering Cor- 
poration had agreed that Ruhoff 
should arrange for a test of the Staten 
Island ore to determine the percent- 
age of recoverable UaOs (uranium 
oxide) and, on the fifteenth, Ruhoff 
had secured Sengier's release of 100 
tons for shipment to Eldorado Gold 
Mines' Port Hope refinery. In the 
meantime, Nichols had obtained the 
necessary export licenses through the 
State Department. 

In follow-up negotiations with Sen- 
gier on 18, 23 and 25 September, 
Nichols arranged for procurement of 
the Staten Island ore. The time re- 
quired to work out the necessary 
arrangements with both Eldorado 
Gold Mines and its marketing agent, 
the Canadian Radium and Uranium 
Corporation, delayed signing of the 
contract until 19 October. It called 
for purchase by the United States of 
the uranium content of 100 tons of 
ore, with Union Miniere's African 
Metals retaining ownership of the 
radium in the ore. Also, the United 
States was to have an option to pur- 
chase the remaining 1,100 tons of 
uranium ore on Staten Island, assayed 
at 65 percent uranium oxide, as well 
as about twice that amount of ap- 
proximately 20 percent ore in storage 
in the Belgian Congo. Except for that 



80 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



ore shipped immediately to Port 
Hope for processing (the first 100 
tons reached there in November), all 
Staten Island ore was to be trans- 
ferred to Seneca Ordnance Depot at 
Romulus, New York, for safekeeping. 
Subsequent contracts covered pur- 
chase of additional Congo uranium 
on terms similar to those set forth in 
the 19 October agreement. 

Working in close consultation with 
Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross, the 
Army's Transportation chief, Manhat- 
tan officials arranged for shipping the 
ore from Africa by the safest and 
swiftest means available. Based upon 
Sengier's recommendations, fast 
motor ships traveling out of convoy 
were employed to traverse the subma- 
rine-infested South Atlantic. Because 
the ore arrived at the port of New 
York considerably faster than it could 
be refined, it was assayed and stored 
in a warehouse at Middlesex, New 
Jersey, especially leased by the Army 
for that purpose.^® 

In a move to further expedite the 
uranium progam and, at the same 
time, to relieve overburdened Stone 
and Webster of part of its extensive 
assignment, the Manhattan District as- 
sumed responsibility for procurement 
and preliminary refining of the ore. 
Capt. Phillip L. Merritt, a trained ge- 
ologist who was already on the staff, 
was assigned to monitor these activi- 
ties. Working under the general guid- 
ance of Colonel Nichols, Merritt gave 
special attention to the project's 



worldwide search for possible addi- 
tional sources of uranium. 

Toward the end of 1942, the Eldo- 
rado mine in Canada resumed oper- 
ations. Meanwhile, the District made 
arrangements for uranium extraction 
from tailings of Colorado Plateau car- 
notite ores mined originally for their 
radium and vanadium content. In Jan- 
uary 1943, the War Production Board 
(WBP) issued orders (subsequently 
amended in August) that future sale 
or purchase of uranium compounds 
was limited to the atomic program, 
except for essential military and in- 
dustrial applications. Even before the 
board acted, Manhattan's Military 
Policy Committee had reported opti- 
mistically to the President that the 
project had "either in hand or on the 
way, sufficient uranium for the entire 
program up to and including military 
use. ^^ 

Obtaining Prionty Ratings 

In June 1942, President Roosevelt 
had endorsed a recommendation by 
the Top Policy Group that the atomic 
energy program should be assigned 
the highest priorities to facilitate pro- 
curement of the tools and materials 
required to produce an atomic 
bomb. 2° Yet, by September, as 



^* During the war only two shipments of ore, to- 
tahng 200 tons, failed to reach the United States- 
one aboard a vessel torpedoed in late 1942 and the 
other on a ship that sank as a result of a marine ac- 
cident in earlv 1943. See MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, p. 2.5, 
D.AS.A. 



19 MFC Rpt, 15 Dec 42, MDR. 

20 Except where indicated, discussion of priorities 
based on MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 9, "Priorities Program," 
D.\SA, with many of the basic documents relating to 
the priorities problem reproduced in •A.pp. A. Ibid., 
p. 2.5 and App. Bl, DASA; Ltr, Weaver (Resources 
Div Dir, SOS) to Groves, sub: Special Priorities Au- 
thoritv for Dist Engr, 26 Sep 42, copy in ibid., App. 
A5, DAS.^; Memo, Marshall to All Area Engrs, sub: 
Requests for Out-of-line Ratings, 16 Oct 42, copy in 
ibid., App. A 12, DASA: Marshall Diarv, 17, 19, 26 
Sep and 1 Oct 42, MDR; Memo, Johnson to Groves, 
sub: Current Events, 30 Sep 42, Admin Files, Gen 

Coniinued 



GENERAL GROVES TAKES COMMAND 



81 



Groves assumed overall administra- 
tive leadership of the project, it was 
evident that the AA-3 base rating 
Colonel Marshall had secured in July 
was not going to be adequate to 
ensure the uninterrupted develop- 
ment of the atomic program. Conse- 
quently, following consultation with 
General Styer, Groves moved imme- 
diately to obtain for the project the 
priority rating he believed was essen- 
tial for its successful continuation. 

Both generals had decided to seek 
broad authority for the District to 
issue an AAA priority whenever there 
was a need to break a bottleneck. 
When Groves called on WPB Chair- 
man Donald Nelson on 19 Septem- 
ber, he had with him the draft of a 
brief letter — addressed to himself and 
to be signed by Nelson — in which he 
had incorporated the idea of assign- 
ing the desired AAA authority to the 
project. As Groves later recalled. Nel- 
son's first reaction was negative; how- 
ever, when the general threatened to 
take the matter to the President, the 
chairman changed his mind. Whether 
or not other pressure already had 
been brought to bear on Nelson is 
not known, but he did agree to sign 
the letter as Groves had written it. 

I am in full accord [it read] with the 
prompt delegation of power by the Army 

Corresp, 319 1. MDR; DSM Chronology. 26 Sep 42, 
Sec. 2(e), OROO; Groves, Xoiv It Can Be Told. pp. 
22-23; MPC Rpt, 15 Dec 42, MDR; Groves. S-1 Ex 
Committee Mtg (hereafter cited as MPC Min — actual 
summaries of actions required and decisions 
reached at MPC meetings), 5 Feb 43, OCG Files, 
Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 23, Tab A, MDR; 
Memo, Weaver to C^hief of Engrs, sub: Priority 
Rating for MD, 22 Mar 43, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 322.011 (LC), MDR; Memo, Denton, ASF, to 
Chief of Engrs, Attn: Groves, sub: MD, 1 Jul 44, 
.■\dmin Files, Gen C-orresp, 400.1301 (Priority), 
MDR. 



and Navy Munitions Board [ANMB] 
through you to the District Engineer, 
Manhattan District, to assign an AAA 
rating, or whatever lesser rating will be 
sufficient, to those items the delivery of 
which, in his opinion, cannot otherwise 
be secured in time for the successful 
prosecution of the work under his 
charge.^ ^ 

On 26 September, the ANMB 
issued the District a blank check to 
assign the AAA priority. But General 
Weaver, senior Army representative 
on the ANMB, warned Groves that 
use of this AAA authority must not 
interfere unnecessarily with other 
high-priority programs and that, with 
each use of the rating, a written 
report must be submitted within a 24- 
hour period. That same day, at his 
first meeting with the S-1 Executive 
Committee, Groves explained to the 
group that the AAA priority would 
not be used for the entire project, but 
only when progress would be unduly 
delayed by employment of any lower 
rating. And to ensure retention of 
AAA authority, an AA-3 or lesser pri- 
ority would be utilized whenever pos- 
sible. Before adjourning, the confer- 
ees agreed that the OSRD would con- 
tinue to deal with its own priority 
problems as far as possible, with the 
Army lending assistance when neces- 
sary, and that the Washington Liaison 
Office of the Manhattan District 
would handle the general administra- 
tion and coordination of priorities for 
all future procurement for the atomic 
project. 

Now that the District had AAA au- 
thority as a backup to overcome pro- 
curement obstacles, both Groves and 



2'Etr, Nelson to Groves, 19 Sep 42, OCG Files, 
Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, Tab B, MDR. 



82 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Styer believed that development of 
the atomic program could continue 
with the AA-3 base rating. By 1943, 
however, the project's unfolding re- 
quirements revealed that for even 
routine procurement the AA-3 rating 
was inadequate and the AAA rating 
unnecessarily high. To remedy this 
situation, Groves wrote to General 
Weaver in early February and re- 
quested that the District's priority 
"authority given in [the] letter of Sep- 
tember 26, 1942 be amplified to in- 
clude use of AA-1 and AA-2 rat- 
ings." ^^ Although the Nelson letter 
had referred to the use of lesser rat- 
ings than AAA whenever these would 
suffice, the fact that the Joint Chiefs 
of Staff had forbidden use of AA-1 or 
AA-2 for construction projects had 
ruled out their earlier use by the Dis- 
trict. Weaver officially responded on 
22 March, upgrading the rating of 
AA-3 to AA-2X — a new priority cre- 
ated to provide supplies and services 
for urgent foreign and domestic in- 
dustrial programs. 

Groves, however, still was not satis- 
fied and, in the months that followed, 
continued to press ANMB officials to 
assign the maximum AA-1 base 
rating. Time passed, but the general 
persisted in order to achieve his ob- 
jective. Finally, on 1 July 1944, the 
District received AA-1 authority. 

Following District policy, the Wash- 
ington Liaison Office was to use the 
lowest rating that would bring about 
the required delivery of materials. But 
to counter the threat from other 
urgent wartime programs during the 
District's massive procurement and 



"Ltr, Groves to Weaver, sub: Out-of-line Ratings, 
7 Feb 43, copy in MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 9, App. 7, 
DASA. 



construction phase between 1943 and 
early 1945, the officer assigned emer- 
gency priorities at the AAA level for 
more than $77 million worth of 
orders. At times, the Manhattan 
Project was using more AAA ratings 
than the combined total for all other 
Army and non-Army programs. Yet, 
through the exercise of discretion, 
Groves and his staff were able to 
avoid not only strong criticism of 
their actions but also attempts to 
revoke the District's AAA authority. 
Groves's success in obtaining the suc- 
cessive advances in the priority status 
of the Manhattan Project ensured 
that, despite occasional problems and 
annoyances, procurement needs for 
the atomic program were met. 

Establishment of Los Alamos 

In the late summer of 1942, 
J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Univer- 
sity of California physicist who was di- 
recting the theoretical aspects of de- 
signing and building an atomic bomb, 
became convinced a change was 
needed. Studies under his direction 
had been going on in various institu- 
tions that were equipped for fast-neu- 
tron studies. Now Oppenheimer and 
his associates felt that further 
progress could be best achieved by 
concentrating everything in one cen- 
tral laboratory devoted exclusively to 
this work. Taking this step would not 
only eliminate waste and duplication, 
but it would also permit a freer ex- 
change of ideas and provide for the 
centralized direction of all work, in- 
cluding studies of chemical, engineer- 
ing, metallurgical, and ordnance 



GENERAL GROVES TAKES COMMAND 



83 



problems that so far had received 
little or no attention. ^^ 

Groves first met Oppenheimer in 
early October while on his initial trip 
to familiarize himself with the atomic 
programs at the Universities of Chi- 
cago and California (Berkeley). The 
general heard a report from Oppen- 
heimer on the eighth and the two 
men hit it off at once. Groves was in- 
terested in Oppenheimer's proposed 
central laboratory and, a week later 
when the two met again with Marshall 
and Nichols on a Chicago-New York 
train, Groves asked Oppenheimer to 
come to Washington, D.C., to explore 
the idea. There, they talked with 
Arthur Compton and Vannevar Bush, 
and on 19 October Groves approved 
the decision to establish a separate 
bomb laboratory. Pleased with what 
had been accomplished and confident 
that Groves's support in this step 
would "bear good fruit in the future," 
Oppenheimer left immediately for 
Boston to brief Conant at Harvard, 
where the latter held the post of uni- 
versity president.^* 

Oppenheimer and Compton had 
spoken of placing the laboratory at 
the Tennessee site, or possibly in 
Chicago, but neither they nor General 
Groves were satisfied with these 
choices. For this most secret part of 
the secret Manhattan Project isolation 
and inaccessibility were most essen- 
tial, and neither the Clinton Engineer 



^'Testimony of Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer Hear- 
ing, pp. 12 and 28; Smyth Report, p. 74. 

^"Quotation from Ltr, Oppenheimer to Groves, 
19 Oct 42, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 322 (Los 
Alamos), MDR. See also Testimony of Oppen- 
heimer in Oppenheimer Hearing, p. 28; Nichols, Gom- 
ments on Draft Hist "Manhattan," Incl to Ltr, Nich- 
ols to Chief of Mil Hist, 25 Mar 74, CMH; Marshall 
Diary, 15-16 Oct 42, MDR; Groves Diary, Oct 42, 
LRG; Groves, \ow It Can Be Told, p. 61. 



Works nor Chicago offered these. In 
addition to the obvious requirements 
of a climate that would permit year- 
round construction, safety from 
enemy attack, ready transportation, 
and access to power, fuel and water, 
there were several other important 
considerations. The site would have 
to provide an adequate testing 
ground; it should be in a sparsely 
populated area, for reasons of safety 
as well as security; the land should be 
relatively easy to acquire; and it 
should already have sufficient build- 
ings to house most of what was antici- 
pated would be a comparatively small 
staff. 2 5 

Groves briefly considered two other 
sites. One near Los Angeles, he re- 
jected on security grounds; the other, 
near the California-Nevada border, on 
the east side of the Sierra Nevada in 
the vicinity of Reno, he found unsatis- 
factory because it was too inaccessible 
and heavy snows would interfere with 
winter operations. He agreed with 
Oppenheimer that the region around 
Albuquerque, New Mexico, seemed to 
offer the most attractive possibilities. 
Oppenheimer owned a ranch in this 
vicinity, and his general knowledge of 
the countryside contributed consider- 
ably to making an accurate appraisal 
of the area. Air and rail service to Al- 
buquerque were excellent; the climate 
was moderate throughout the year; 



2^ Paragraphs on selection of bomb laboratory 
site based on Groves, Sow It Can be Told, pp. 63-67; 
MDH. Bk. 8, Vol. 1, "General," Sec. 2, DASA; Rpt, 
U.S. Engrs Office, Albuquerque Dist. sub: Proposed 
Site for Mil Proj at Los Alamos Ranch School, 
Otowi, N.Mex., 23 Nov 42, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 600.03, MDR; Groves Diary, Nov 42, LRG; 
Testimony of Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer Hearing. 
pp. 12 and 28; Inlerv, Author with Edwin M. McMil- 
lan (Rad Lab, Univ of Calif at Berkelev), 8 Jul 64. 
CMH. 



84 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



and the area was not only isolated but 
also sufficiently far inland from the 
West Coast to be beyond any serious 
danger from the by now remote pos- 
sibility of Japanese interference. 

At the end of October, Maj. John 
H. Dudley, one of Colonel Marshall's 
assistants who was familiar with the 
general area, made some preliminary 
surveys. He recommended a site at 
Jemez Springs, about 50 miles north 
of Albuquerque. {See Map 2.) Engi- 
neers from the Albuquerque District 
surveyed the site and, on 16 Novem- 
ber, Groves met Oppenheimer and 
several others for a personal inspec- 
tion of the area. They soon conclud- 
ed, however, that the Jemez Springs 
site would not do; the land would be 
difficult to acquire and the nature of 
the terrain would prevent later expan- 
sion of the installation.^® 

Stiil hoping to find a suitable loca- 
tion in this general area, Groves and 
the others drove east and slightly 
north toward the tiny settlement of 
Los Alamos. This community, atop a 
high, level tableland, actually consist- 
ed of little more than the Los Alamos 
Ranch School for Boys. Otherwise the 
area was virtually uninhabited, with 
the nearest town located some 16 
miles away. The school buildings and 
the complete isolation of the site were 



^** Account of inspection of sites in Los Alamos 
area based primarily on Groves, S'ow It Can Be Told, 
pp. 65-67, and Testimony of Oppenheimer in Op- 
penheimer Heanng, p. 28. Another member of the in- 
spection party was Edwin M. McMillan, a physicist 
on the faculty at the University of California, Berke- 
ley, and a long-time associate of Oppenheimer. As 
McMillan recalled, he, Oppenheimer, and Dudley 
had gone on horseback to the Jemez Springs area 
earlier in the day and then had been joined by 
Groves in the afternoon. McMillan had been a guest 
at Oppenheimer's ranch on «.;;rlier occasions and 
was therefore generally familiar with the Los 
Alamos area. See McMillan Interv, 8 Jul 64, CMH. 



arguments in its favor. There ap- 
peared to be sufficient water, if the 
supply were carefully used, and all 
other characteristics seemed satisfac- 
tory. The only question was how will- 
ing the owners of the school would 
be to give it up to the Army. If they 
seriously opposed government acqui- 
sition, the resultant publicity would 
run counter to the secrecy desired by 
the project leaders. 

While Groves and Oppenheimer 
headed back to Washington, D.C., 
Dudley and engineers of the Albu- 
querque District began a formal 
survey of a proposed site at Los 
Alamos. The desired area consisted of 
about 54,000 acres in Sandoval 
County, somewhat more than 20 
miles airline distance northwest of 
Santa Fe, of which all but about 8,000 
acres was in national forest land al- 
ready owned by the United States 
government. Grazing lands and the 
Los Alamos Ranch School comprised 
the rest of the area. Because the 
school was having some difficulty get- 
ting instructors during the war and 
was in serious financial trouble, the 
owners were willing to sell. As for the 
grazing lands, there appeared to be 
no problem in acquiring them. 

Even before the reports of this 
survey came in. General Groves had 
called a meeting in Washington to 
confer about the site with Oppen- 
heimer, as well as with two of his sci- 
entific colleagues from California, 
Ernest Lawrence and Edwin McMil- 
lan, and with Arthur Compton. Then, 
on 23 November, with the reports in 
hand, Oppenheimer, Lawrence, and 
McMillan again inspected the area 
with Major Dudley and made recom- 
mendations on possible locations for 



GENERAL GROVES TAKES COMMAND 



85 













#. ^ 






-A 






Approach Road to the Los Alamos Ranch School for Boys 



laboratories and housing. "Lawrence 
was pleased by the site," Oppen- 
heimer reported to Groves, "and so, 
again, were we." ^"^ 

And so, again, was Groves. Two 
days later he approved the Los 
Alamos site and began steps to ac- 
quire the land. Right of entry to the 
heart of the site had already been ob- 
tained from the school director and, 
although the actual legal acquisition 
would take several months, Groves 
was able to authorize the Albuquer- 
que District to proceed with construc- 
tion on 30 November. The whole 
business was carried out, to use Op- 
penheimer's words, "with unbeliev- 
able dispatch." ^® 



^^ Llr, Oppenheimcr to Groves, 23 Nov 42, 
Admin Files, Cien Corresp, 600.1 (Santa Fe), MDR. 

^* Memos, Groves to Albuquerque Dist Engr, sub: 
Proj Gonstr at Los Alamos, N.Mex., 30 Nov 42, and 
Groves to SWD Div Engr, sub: Gonstr in Vic of Al- 
buquerque, N.Mex., 30 Nov 42, Admin Files, Gen 



As with the Clinton Engineer 
Works, the Los Alamos site in the be- 
ginning also was referred to, for secu- 
rity reasons, as a demolition range — a 
somewhat ironic reference for a labo- 
ratory where an atomic bomb would 
be built. The site also had several 
names, the most common being Site 
Y, Project Y, Zia Project, Santa Fe, or 
simply, Los Alamos, its official title 
and the name by which it would be 
most widely known in the future. ^^ 



Corresp, 600.1 (Santa Fe), MDR; Ltr, Robins (Act 
Chief of Engrs) to CG SOS, sub: Acquisition of 
Land for Demolition Range at Los Alamos, N.Mex., 
25 Nov 42, Incl to Memo, O'Brien to Ashbridge, 
sub: Land Acquisition in Connection with MD, 17 
Apr 43. MDR: MDH, Bk. 8, Vol. 1, Sees. 2-3, 
passim, DASA. Quoted words from Testimony of 
Oppenheimer in Oppenhemer Hearing, p. 28. For de- 
tailed account of land acquisition at Los Alamos see 
Ch. XV. 

2^ Memo, Groves to CG SOS, sub: Activation and 
Administration of Los Alamos, 27 Feb 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 319.2 (Los Alamos), MDR. 



86 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Once the choice of Los Alamos had 
been made, events moved swiftly. 
"The last months of 1942 and early 
1943," recalled Oppenheimer later, 
"had hardly hours enough to get Los 
Alamos established." ^° Vigorously 
supported by Groves, Compton, 
Conant, and others, Oppenheimer 
launched an extensive recruitment 
program. He traveled all over the 
country, urging scientists of recog- 
nized ability to join the new laborato- 
ry. Restricted to revealing only what 
was absolutely necessary about the 
project, Oppenheimer faced no easy 
task trying to arouse the interest of 
scientists, technicians, and mechanics 
in the program, in indicating its sense 
of urgency, and in persuading them 
to sign up for work at a military post 
in the middle of the New Mexico 
desert, where they and their families 
might have to remain isolated for the 
duration of the war. Nevertheless, he 
was highly successful in these efforts. 
Recruits from Princeton, Chicago, 
California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and 
other universities joined the program, 
the first contingent arriving at Los 
Alamos with Oppenheimer in March 
1943, long before construction at the 
site was completed. 

With the university scientists came 
their equipment: a cyclotron from 
Harvard, two more particle accelera- 
tors from Wisconsin, another from Il- 
linois. Locating and securing this es- 
sential equipment was difficult 
enough; shipping it to New Mexico 
was an additional problem. "Every- 
body," Oppenheimer later recalled, 
"arrived with truckloads of junk and 



equipment." Under a contract with 
the University of Cahfornia, erection 
of the first cyclotron began at Los 
Alamos in mid-April, and the first ex- 
periment was performed early in July. 
Already, Oppenheimer continued, 
"we were finding out things that 
nobody knew before." ^^ 

Los Alamos was officially activated 
as a military establishment on 1 April 
1943, with Oppenheimer as its scien- 
tific chief and Col. John M. Harman 
as its military head. It was unique 
among Manhattan Project installa- 
tions in that it was established as a 
separate organization, directly re- 
sponsible to General Groves. It came 
under the district engineer only for 
routine administrative matters. As its 
civilian director, Oppenheimer had 
broad authority and administrative re- 
sponsibility. In charge of all scientific 
work as well as "the maintenance of 
secrecy by the civilian personnel 
under his control," ^^ he was respon- 
sible only to Groves and Conant. This 
arrangement relieved Compton and 
the Metallurgical Laboratory of the 
responsibility for bomb design and 
construction and left them free to 
concentrate on plutonium production. 
The relations between Oppenheimer 
and Colonel Harman were based on 
close cooperation, rather than con- 
trol. Harman, who also reported to 
Groves, had little or nothing to do 
with scientific matters. His primary 
responsibility was to oversee Los 



^° Testimony of Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer 
Hearing, p. 12. This and following paragraph based 
on ibid., pp. 12-13 and 28-29; Smyth Report, p. 151; 
Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 130. 



*' Quoted words from Testimony of Oppenheimer 
in Oppenheimer Hearing, p. 29. See also Memo, Op- 
penheimer to Groves, 7 Nov 42, and Styer corre- 
spondence with Univs of 111 and Wis, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 400.12 (Equipment), MDR. 

*^Ltr, Conant and Groves to Oppenheimer, 25 
Feb 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 (Los 
Alamos), MDR. 



GENERAL GROVES TAKES COMMAND 



87 



Alamos as a military reservation, in- 
cluding those housekeeping and 
guard functions necessary to support 
Oppenheimer's program. ^^ 

The other major element in the ad- 
ministration of Los Alamos was the 
prime contractor, the University of 
California. Under a War Department 
contract, its role was largely to 
provide business management and 
technical procurement. For reasons of 
security, the university had no repre- 
sentative at Los Alamos with authority 
comparable to that of Oppenhcmier 
or Colonel Harman. 

Project leaders wanted to make the 
work and the living conditions at Los 
Alamos as attractive as possible; how- 
ever, for reasons of security and 
safety. General Groves wished to 
maintain as much control as he could 
over the scientists. One idea he fa- 
vored was to put key civilians in uni- 
form as army officers. This plan 
seemed attractive to Oppenheimer 
but aroused strong opposition from 
many of the other scientists. The Mili- 
tary Policy Committee finally agreed 
to drop the idea for the period of ini- 
tial experimental studies, but insisted 
that the scientific and engineering 
staff be composed entirely of commis- 
sioned officers when final experi- 
ments and the construction of the 
bomb began. Yet, when this time ar- 



" Except where noted, this and following para- 
graphs based on ibid.; Memo, Groves to CG SOS, 
sub: Activation and Administration of Los Alamos, 
25 Feb 43, MDR; Testimony of Oppenheimer and 
Groves in Oppenheimer Hearing, pp. 28 and 171-72; 
Compton, Atomic Qitest. pp. 129-30; Memo, Marshall 
to Groves, sub: Major MD Contracts, 27 Apr 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 161, MDR (also see 
WD-Univ of Calif Contract W-7405-eng-36, 
20 Apr 43, LASL); MDH. Bk, 8, Vol. 2, "Techni- 
cal," pp. 1. 5-1.6, III.6, App. 7, DASA; MPC Min, 5 
Feb 43, MDR. See Ch. XXIII for further discussion 
of the administrative organization at Los Alamos. 



rived. Project Y had grown so large 
that the plan was dropped as being 
impractical and unnecessary. 

The most important personnel 
problem at Los Alamos was choice of 
a scientific director, and Oppen- 
heimer's appointment was no simple 
matter. While he had been the leader 
of the group studying the theoretical 
aspects of constructing atomic bombs, 
the Los Alamos program was to be a 
practical operation, and carrying it 
out would require considerable ad- 
ministrative and organizational abili- 
ties. The chiefs of the three other 
major Manhattan laboratories — 
Compton, Lawrence, and Urey — were 
all Nobel Prize winners. Oppenheimer 
was not, and there was some feeling 
among the scientists that this might 
disqualify him as head of the Los 
Alamos Laboratory. General Groves, 
while impressed with Oppenheimer's 
great intellectual capacity, also was 
not entirely certain. Bush and Conant 
shared his hesitation; Lawrence, 
Compton, and Urey all indicated 
some reservations. 

Nevertheless, a tentative decision in 
favor of Oppenheimer appears to 
have been made quite early, because 
neither Lawrence nor Compton — the 
only other candidates — could be 
spared from his own vital project. Op- 
penheimer's appointment as "Scien- 
tific Director of the special laboratory 
in New Mexico" was formalized on 25 
February in a letter to him from 
Groves and Conant; ^'' it did not. 



^'' Quotation from Ltr, Conant and Groves to Op- 
penheimer, 25 Feb 43, MDR. See also Groves, Sow 
It Can Be Told. pp. 60-64; Compton, Atomic Qitest. p. 
129; Testimony of Bush in Oppenheimer Hearing, pp. 
560-61; Ltr, Conant to Groves, 21 Dec 42, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 334 (Postwar Policy Committee- 

Coniinued 



88 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



however, become final until mid-July 
because of security clearance prob- 
lems. As was well-known to most of 
the project leaders, Oppenheimer had 
an extended history of supporting 
Communist-front organizations and 
causes and of association with Com- 
munists and fellow-travelers. Only 
through direct action by Groves was 
Oppenheimer, who was already at 
work in Los Alamos, finally cleared. ^^ 

Manhattan Project Organization 
and Operation 

With the establishment of Los 
Alamos on 1 April 1943, the basic 
structure of the Army's organization 
for administering the atomic bomb 
program was essentially completed. In 
the months that followed, detailed 
and sometimes substantial changes 
were made in that organization.^® For 
example, in mid-August, the Manhat- 
tan District moved from its temporary 
location in New York to permanent 
quarters at Oak Ridge, and Colonel 

Chicago), MDR; Leslie R. Groves, Comments on 
Draft Ms "Now It Can Be Told: The Story of the 
Manhattan Project," LRG; Interv, British writer 
Hailey with Groves, 13 Dec 57, LRG. 

*^See Ch. XI for full story of the security investi- 
gation and clearance of Oppenheimer. 

^^ Subsection based on Org Charts, U.S. Engrs 
Office, MD, 27 Jan, 1 and 30 Apr 43, OROO; Org 
Charts, U.S. Engrs Office, MD, 15 Aug and 1 Nov 
43, 15 Feb, 1 Jun, 28 Aug, and 10 Nov 44, and 
26 Jan 45, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 020 (MED- 
Org), MDR; Gen Corresp, Dist Engr to MD Subor- 
dinates. Sep 42-late 43, OROO [e.g., see Memo, Lt 
Col Thomas T. Crenshaw (Mat Sec chief) to Dist 
Engr, sub: Org Chart, 13 Nov 42, and Memo, Lt 
Col Robert C. Blair (Ex Off, Engr and Opns, MD) 
to Dist Engr, sub: Proposed Org for Maint and Opn 
of Gen Facilities, 22 Jan 43]; Interv, Fine and Rem- 
ington (Hist Div, OCE) with Marshall, 19 Apr 68, 
CMH; Interv, Stanley L. Falk and Author with 
Charles Vanden Bulck and Capt W. R. McCaulev, 
22 Jun 60, CMH; MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 1. "General," 
pp. 3.13-3.21, DASA; Groves, \ow It Can Be Told. 
pp. 2 and 27-32. 



Nichols, the deputy district engineer, 
replaced Colonel Marshall as district 
engineer when the Corps of Engi- 
neers reassigned Marshall to a post 
where he might receive his long over- 
due promotion to the rank of briga- 
dier general.^' But these subsequent 
changes in key personnel and in the 
location of certain elements would 
not significantly affect the basic struc- 
ture of the Manhattan Project, the term 
that by mid- 1943 most accurately de- 
scribed the Army's overall administra- 
tive organization for the atomic bomb 
program. 

The administrative elements that 
comprised the Manhattan Project 



'' Marshall's new assignment was as commanding 
officer. Engineer Replacement and Training Center, 
Camp Sutton, N.C., with the rank of brigadier gen- 
eral. He remained in this assignment only until No- 
vember 1943, when he went overseas to the South- 
west Pacific Area to serve in a variety of positions in 
Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines (Decem- 
ber 1943 to February 1945). Marshall had first sug- 
gested to Groves that he be relieved as district engi- 
neer of the Manhattan District at the end of 1942, 
after realizing that Groves was not going to function 
simply as a liaison officer in Washington, DC, but 
intended to take a very direct and active role in the 
detailed administration of the District. Marshall later 
recalled he thought having two senior and experi- 
enced engineer officers exercising the command 
function was unnecessary duplication. Furthermore, 
Marshall, who was senior to Groves in permanent 
Regular Army rank, realized his own chances of pro- 
motion to general officer rank were remote as long 
as he remained in a subordinate position under 
Groves. Groves, however, responded negatively to 
Marshall's request, stating he felt that he must have 
an officer of Marshall's experience and capabilities 
in the key district engineer position. Thus, Marshall 
resigned himself to serve as district engineer for the 
duration of the project; however, in August 1943, 
Groves unexpectedly informed him that his request 
for relief had been approved. For further details on 
Marshall's relief and reassignment see Marshall 
Interv, 19 Apr 68, CMH; Marshall Diary, 19 Sep 42, 
MDR; and Groves, Sow It Can Be Told. p. 29. In his 
account of Marshall's reassignment. Groves errs in 
stating that Marshall was relieved for an immediate 
"key assignment overseas," overlooking Marshall's 
intervening assignment to command Camp Sutton. 



Chart 1 — Organization of the Manhattan Project, April 1943 



CHIEF OF STAFF 



SECRETARY OF WAR 



OFFICE OF SCIENTIFIC 
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT 



OFFICER IN CHARGE, MANHATTAN PROJECT 



DISTRICT ENGINEER, MANHATTAN DISTRICT 
DEPUTY DISTRICT ENGINEER 

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT 



CONTRACTORS 



TECHNICAL STAFF 



m:^ 



NIVERSITY OF CHICAGO 



COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 



PROJECT DIRECTOR 



'■9 UINT CHIEF 



MORGANTOWN 



COLUMBIA (LIAISON) 



SPECIAL MATERIALS 



X-10 UNIT CHIEF 



HANFORD 
ENGINEER WORKS 



CHICAGO (LIAISON) 



CLINTON 
ENGINEER WORKS 
X-IOSEMIWORKS 



PROJECT DIRECTOR 



Y-12 UNIT CHIEF 



CLINTON 
ENGINEER VI/ORKS, Y-12 



SPECIAL ACCOUNTS _ 



CLINTON AREA 

DEPUTY DISTRICT ENGINEER 

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT 



ADMINISTRATIVE 
DIVISION 



CALIFORNIA (LIAISON) ^- 



ALL SPECIAL 
MATERIAL AREAS 



K-25 UNIT CHIEF 



NEW YORK AREA 



MILWAUKEE AREA 



COLUMBIA (LIAISON) 



INTELLIGENCE 



PROTECTIVE SECURITY 



LABOR RELATIONS 



CLASSIFIED FILES 



MILITARY PERSONNEL 



AUDITS ACCOUNTING 



OFFICE ADMINISTRATION 



PRIORITIES & MATERIALS - 



WASHINGTON LIAISON — 



Sources: MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 12. App. C21. DASA; Org Charts, U.S. Engrs OfTice. MD, 27 Jan and 1 Apr 43, OROO. 



GENERAL GROVES TAKES COMMAND 



89 




Manhattan Project Emblem 

{unofficial circa 1946) 

were divided into two major catego- 
ries: those that functioned as integral 
elements of the Manhattan District 
and those that operated outside the 
structure of the District, mostly in the 
area of high-level policymaking or in 
the executive direction of the atomic 
project (Chart 1 ). The central element 
in the high-level administrative hierar- 
chy of the Manhattan Project was 
General Groves's personal headquar- 
ters. The headquarters organization 
consisted of only a very small group: 
Groves; Mrs. Jean O'Leary, his secre- 
tary who served as his administrative 
assistant in lieu of an executive offi- 
cer; and several clerical employees.^® 
Shortly after becoming Manhattan 
commander, and knowing from expe- 
rience that any effort on his part to 
expedite important project activities 
would require access or negotiations 
with government agencies and offi- 
cials. Groves decided to locate his 
personal headquarters in rooms adja- 
cent to those already occupied by the 
Manhattan District's Washington Liai- 



^* Through most of the war, the headquarters or- 
ganization remained small. Then in 1945, in antici- 
pation of employment of atomic bombs against 
Japan, Groves enlarged it to include a public infor- 
mation group. 



son Office in the New War Depart- 
ment Building on Virginia Avenue, a 
few blocks from the White House. 
Considered at first to be temporary, 
time proved that location especially 
well suited to the project's need, and 
Groves's office remained there for the 
duration of the Army's administration 
of the atomic bomb program. 

When Groves replaced Marshall as 
the Army's project director, the Engi- 
neers chief pointedly removed himself 
from any further administrative re- 
sponsibility for the program. Although 
the Corps of Engineers continued to 
assist the project, the latter functioned 
as a basically independent organiza- 
tion, with the Manhattan commander 
having responsibility to the Army 
Chief of Staff and Secretary of War 
and through them to the President. 

Committees continued to play an 
important role in guiding, advising, 
and instructing the Army administra- 
tors of the project and, to some 
extent, limiting their authority. Begin- 
ning in late 1942, the group most in- 
volved in providing guidance for the 
day-to-day administration was the 
MiHtary PoHcy Committee, which de- 
rived its authority for policymaking 
from the Top Policy Group. Although 
the group never formally convened, it 
continued, as during the OSRD 
period, to review and ratify all major 
policies and decisions relating to de- 
velopment and employment of atomic 
energy for military purposes in World 
War II. The OSRD S-1 Executive 
Committee also continued to function 
as an advisory group until the transfer 
of most atomic activities from the 



90 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Mrs. Jean O'Leary Reviewing Project Reports With General Groves 



OSRD to the Army was completed in 
mid-1943.39 

Responsibility for execution of the 
plans, policies, and decisions made by 
the various advisory groups of the 
Manhattan Project devolved first 
upon General Groves and through 



^^ Subsequently, three other advisory groups con- 
tributed significantly to administration of the 
project. These were the Combined Policy Commit- 
tee (CPC), formed in late 1943, which was con- 
cerned with collaboration and exchanges of infor- 
mation on atomic matters with the British and Cana- 
dian governments; the Combined Development 
Trust (CDT), established in June 1944, which was 
involved in the international aspects of procure- 
ment, supply, and control of uranium and thorium 
ores; and the Interim Committee (IC), organized in 
May 1945 by the Secretary of War with approval of 
the President to advise on postwar control of atomic 
energy at home and abroad, on release of informa- 
tion to the public, and on employment of the bomb 
against Japan. See Ch. X for a detailed discussion 
on the establishment and work of the CPC, Ch. XIII 
on the CDT, and Ch. XXVI on the IC. 



him upon the Manhattan District. 
Groves, as officer in charge of the 
atomic bomb program for the Army, 
exercised command authority over 
the District, but he was not its chief 
executive officer. That position was 
held by the district engineer, who re- 
ported to Groves. 

The district engineer presided over 
an organization that was, as it 
emerged in mid- 1943, similar in many 
respects to the engineer districts that 
had been formed by the Corps of En- 
gineers in the past to carry out special 
assignments (Chart 2). Its administra- 
tive elements were grouped into two 
major categories: operating units, 
which were involved primarily in the 
day-to-day monitoring of contractor 
operations; and staff units, which 
were engaged in overseeing and pro- 



OPERATING UNITS 



Chart 2 — Organization of the Manhattan District. August 1943 

district engineer 
special assistant 
executive officer 



MEDICAL SECTION 



LEGAL SECTION 



MADISON SQUARE AREA 



SPECIAL PRODUCTS 



NEW YORK AREA 



TECHNICAL DIVISION 



CALIFORNIA AREA 



CONSTRUCTION 

DIVISION 
(Y.12, K-?5, X-10) 



COLORADO AREA 



BEVERLY AREA 



CHICAGO AREA 



COLORADO AREA 



LEGAL SECTION 



ROCHESTER AREA 



JRRAY HILL AREA 



LMINGTON AREA 



ST. LOUIS AREA 



EM DETACHMENT 



TONAWANDA AREA 



WILMINGTON AREA 



IOWA AREA 



WILMINGTON AREA 



BOSTON AREA 



SPECIAL ACCOUNTS 



WAC DETACHMENT 



-i 



Some. Org Chan. I'.S. Kngrs Olficc. MI), 1.5 Aug 43. Adniiu Files. Gen Corrcsp. 020 (MED-Org). MDR. 



GENERAL GROVES TAKES COMMAND 



91 



viding services. In both types of units, 
military personnel headed virtually all 
administrative elements down to the 
section level, although many of the 
District employees filling positions 
that required special knowledge or 
training were civil service workers. 
The chiefs of each of these units re- 
ported directly to the district engi- 
neer, who functioned with the assist- 
ance of a small headquarters group 
comprised of an executive officer, two 
administrative assistants, and legal 
and medical advisers. 

Operating units, each headed by a 
unit chief or an area engineer, were 
formed to monitor each of the major 
contractor-operated activities. The 
number and precise character of these 
operating units varied considerably 
due to the quantity and type of con- 
tract operations under District super- 
vision. Thus, in the early period of 
the District's operation the units con- 
formed to the emphasis on construc- 
tion activities, whereas later they re- 
flected the shift to plant-operating ac- 
tivities. By the time of the District 
headquarters move in August 1943 
from New York City to Oak Ridge, 
five major operating units — Madison 
Square Area, Hanford Engineer 
Works, Clinton Engineer Works, New 
York Area, and Special Products — had 
been established. 

The elements concerned with over- 
seeing project operations and services 
were divided among seven major staff 
components: the Y-12 (electromag- 
netic), K-25 (gaseous diffusion), X-10 
(plutonium), and P-9 (heavy water) 
unit chiefs; and the Technical, Service 
and Control, and Administrative Divi- 
sions. The four unit chiefs were re- 
sponsible for the overall supervision 
of the construction and operations 



phases of the production processes. 
The Technical Division had responsi- 
bility for the major contractor-operat- 
ed research and development pro- 
grams at Columbia and the Universi- 
ties of California (Berkeley), Chicago, 
and Rochester; *° the Service and 
Control Division, for control func- 
tions, intelligence and security mat- 
ters, labor relations, safety, and mili- 
tary personnel; and the Administra- 
tive Division, for procurement and 
contracts, fiscal matters, civilian per- 
sonnel, priorities and materials, corre- 
spondence and the library, classified 
files and mail and records, and the 
District's Washington Liaison Office. 
Additionally, the latter division pro- 
vided the Los Alamos Laboratory with 
specified routine services. 

With the rounding out of the 
Army's organization for administra- 
tion of the American atomic energy 
program in mid- 1943, General 
Groves and his District staff were in a 
much firmer position to convert the 
OSRD-inherited research and devel- 
opment organization into an industri- 
al complex for producing fissionable 
materials for atomic weapons. During 
the months that followed, the Army 
had to make further internal reorgani- 
zations to meet the new requirements 
resulting from the shift from plant 
construction to plant-operating activi- 
ties and the addition of new facili- 
ties.'*^ But with Groves at the helm, 



^^ In early 1943, Groves selected Professor Staf- 
ford L. Warren of the University of Rochester to 
direct a medical research program on the effects of 
radiation. See Ch. XX. 

''While from mid-1943 until the end of World 
War II the basic pattern of the Manhattan District's 
administrative organization remained relatively 
fixed, the district engineer in 1944 established new 

C.onlinued 



92 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



carrying out the Military Policy Com- seemingly insurmountable obstacles, 
mittee's decisions and overcoming the atomic project moved ahead. 



operating units for specific functions — for example, 
to administer divisions charged with supervising op- 
eration of community and site facilities in Tennes- 
see, to supervise construction and operation of the 
third major production plant (thermal diffusion), 
and to expedite production in all of the project's 
major plants. He also abolished the staff unit's Serv- 
ice and Control and Technical Divisions, placing 
part of their functions in the Administrative Division 
(for example, labor relations) and shifting the rest 
into special staff elements that reported directlv to 



him. Thus, by late 1944, the special staff included 
control, research control, safety, and historical 
record sections, medical and naval detachment ele- 
ments, a public relations and special services office, 
a legal adviser, a district inspector, and a special as- 
signments officer (cover designation for officer re- 
sponsible for liaison with Canadian atomic program 
officials). Not on the special staff but functioning as 
units in the District headquarters were intelligence 
and security, patents, fire protection, and liaison 
elements in Washington, D.C. 



PART TWO 
PRODUCING FISSIONABLE MATERIALS 



CHAPTER V 



Organizing for Production 



In June 1942, the Army took its 
first step to form a production organi- 
zation for the manufacture of fis- 
sionable materials with negotiation of 
an AEM (architect-engineer-manager) 
agreement with the Stone and Web- 
ster Engineering Corporation of 
Boston; however, as the complexity of 
the AEM job became evident in the 
following months, attempts were 
made to involve a number of other 
leading American industrial and con- 
struction firms. The Army's task of 
getting the skilled manpower and 
technical know-how required to 
produce fissionable materials in quan- 
tities sufficient to fabricate atomic 
weapons was not easy. It was compli- 
cated greatly by the absolute necessity 
for speed, which meant that contracts 
had to be let before the customary 
preliminary plans and technical data 
were available. This lack of specific 
information — blueprints, specifica- 

tions, and similar data — was an added 
handicap because many of the scien- 
tific and technical processes involved 
were virtually unknown in industrial 
circles. Also, because many industrial 
organizations already had committed 
most of their resources to war pro- 
duction, the managers and engineers 
of these organizations were reluctant 
to take on additional responsibilities 



for a project of such unusual and un- 
certain character. The Army therefore 
was faced with the problem of some- 
how convincing them that the success 
of the program was so crucial to the 
outcome of the war they simply could 
not refuse to participate. 

Plutonium Project 

The question of who should have 
responsibility for carrying through the 
plutonium program to the production 
stage had been a matter of contro- 
versy for some time at the Metallurgi- 
cal Laboratory.^ Some of the scien- 
tists had proposed that they them- 
selves direct the design, development 
and engineering, and construction of 
the plutonium plant. Metallurgical 
Laboratory Director Arthur Compton, 
who early in his career had worked as 
an employee and consultant for large 
electrical companies, knew that this 
proposal ran counter to the proce- 
dure customarily followed in Ameri- 
can industry, namely, the assigning of 
research, development, and produc- 
tion to separate departments — a prac- 



* Paragraphs on the Metallurgical Laboratory 
based on Compton, Atomic Qiiesl. pp. 108-10; 
Groves, \ou> It Can Be Told. pp. 44-46; DSM Chro- 
nology, 25 Jun 42, Sec. 2(e), OROO; Hewlett and 
Anderson, Xeiv World, p. 184. 



96 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



tice that experience had shown gener- 
ally brought the most efficient results. 
He suggested that time would be 
saved by securing an experienced in- 
dustrial firm already accustomed to 
carrying out large-scale projects, leav- 
ing the research to the Metallurgical 
Laboratory staff. 

The staff's reaction, he recalled 
later, "was a near rebellion." ^ The 
younger scientists pointed out that 
they had demonstrated their ability to 
supervise development of processes 
to the stage of large-scale production 
by the success they had so recently 
achieved in increasing the output of 
pure uranium metal and graphite. 
After having contributed so much to 
its initiation and development, they 
wanted to see the plutonium program 
through to final fulfillment. And sol- 
idly backing them were those labora- 
tory scientists who had been born and 
educated in Europe. Most of them 
were inclined to suspect the motives 
of large industrial firms. Also, most 
had a more extensive knowledge of 
engineering techniques than their 
American counterparts learned as a 
regular part of their scientific 
training. 

By early summer of 1942, progress 
in research required that a decision 
soon be reached. Compton assembled 
some seventy-five members of his re- 
search and administrative staff to 
agree on a plan of organization. It 
soon became apparent they were not 
going to reach a consensus, so Comp- 
ton announced he would proceed 
without their approval. At the OSRD 
S-1 Executive Committee meeting of 
25 June, Compton supported the de- 
cision to assign AEM responsibility 



Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 109. 



for the plutonium as well as the other 
processes to Stone and Webster. 

Although the S-1 Committee had 
suggested that the University of Chi- 
cago might operate the pilot facility 
to be built in the Argonne Forest area 
southwest of the city, no action had 
yet been taken. In mid-August, 
Compton urged Colonel Marshall that 
an operator should be selected 
promptly as construction of this unit 
was about to begin. He also pointed 
out that the operator of the Argonne 
chemical facility probably would have 
responsibility for the separation works 
of the main plutonium plant; there- 
fore, the operator's engineering and 
design personnel should have an op- 
portunity to observe construction of 
the plant at Argonne. 

As possible operators, Compton 
recommended that Marshall approach 
E. I. du Pont de Nemours Company, 
Standard Oil Development Company, 
or Union Carbide and Carbon Corpo- 
ration. For reasons of security, Mar- 
shall wanted to hold to a minimum 
the number of firms to be brought in 
to build and operate project facilities. 
He proposed that for the time being 
Stone and Webster add operation of 
the Argonne separation plant to its 
other responsibilities. Both Compton 
and the engineering firm promptly ac- 
cepted this arrangement — the latter, 
however, with a proviso that it be per- 
mitted to secure technical assistance 
from other organizations. 

At the Bohemian Grove meeting in 
early September, the S-1 Committee 
recommended that Stone and Web- 
ster get the technical assistance it re- 
quired. General Groves, newly ap- 
pointed as Manhattan commander, 
and Stone and Webster agreed on 



ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 



97 



26 September that Du Pont should 
be approached and the S-1 Commit- 
tee accepted their decision. Two 
weeks later, Du Pont assented to 
design and procure not only the 
chemical separation equipment but 
also part of the pile equipment for 
the plutonium pilot plant. At first Du 
Pont had resisted taking on any re- 
sponsibility for the piles, pleading 
lack of experience and strain on its fa- 
cilities as a result of its other govern- 
ment projects. But Groves and Comp- 
ton finally persuaded the company 
that this was the logical solution to a 
difficult problem.^ 

Because Du Pont's contract covered 
only design and procurement of 
equipment and because Stone and 
Webster would operate only the Ar- 
gonne separation installation, the 
most important plutonium production 
problem — securing an operator for 
the other pilot facilities and the pro- 
duction plant — remained to be solved. 
Both Groves and Compton were 
moving rapidly toward the view that 
the size and complexity of this task 
required the selection of a company 
other than Stone and Webster. The 
Manhattan chief paid his first visit to 
the Metallurgical Laboratory in early 
October 1942. Reviewing the plutoni- 
um program with Compton and his 
senior staff. Groves quickly concluded 
that to bring this process into produc- 
tion was going to be a far greater 
project than anyone had anticipated. 
After further consultation. Groves 



=» Marshall Diary, 14, 18, 26 Sep and 2, 9 Oct 42, 
OCG Files, Gen Corresp. (iroves Files, Misc Recs 
Sec, behind Fldr 5, MDR; DSM Chronolog\, 14-15 
Aug 42. Sec. 16, 13 Sep 42, Sec. 2(e), and 26 Sep 
42, Sec. 15(b). OROO: Ms, Leslie R. Groves, "Now 
It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan 
Project" (hereafter cited as (iroves Ms), pp. 95-96, 

c;mh 



and Compton decided that Stone and 
Webster should be relieved of all re- 
sponsibility for the plutonium project, 
a decision concurred in by both Van- 
nevar Bush and James B. Conant.* 

As General Groves learned more 
about the plutonium process, he also 
came to the conclusion that it would 
be preferable to turn the entire 
project of design, engineering, con- 
struction, and operation over to a 
single firm. If the proper organization 
were chosen, the gain in efficiency of 
operation would ease his own task of 
coordination. One Du Pont policy, in 
particular, impressed Groves. Unlike 
most American industrial firms, the 
company had a long-established prac- 
tice of building its own plants. Hence, 
Du Pont had the resources and expe- 
rience necessary to carry out all as- 
pects of the plutonium production 
plant, an advantage from the stand- 
point of both security and speed of 
getting into production. 

When Groves proposed to Comp- 
ton, Bush, Conant, and other leaders 
that Du Pont be asked to assume sole 
responsibility for the plutonium pro- 
duction project, replacing Stone and 
Webster, he received a generally fa- 
vorable response. But the Manhattan 
chief was fully aware that several key 
members of the Metallurgical Labora- 
tory, with whom Du Pont engineers 
would have to work quite closely, re- 
mained unreconciled to any course 
that would take plutonium production 
out of their hands. Furthermore, 



■* .Account of negotiations with Du Pont drawn 
primarily from Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. pp. 46- 
52; Memo, sub: Prelim Negotiations . . . Between 
I'nited States of America and Du Pont . . . , Incl to 
Ltr, R. E. DeRight (Du Pont) to Groves. 30 Oct 43, 
OCG Files. Gen Corresp. MP Files, Fldr 2F, MDR; 
DSM Chronology, 10 Nov 42, Sec. 23(b), OROO. 



98 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



some members of this dissatisfied 
group would be especially upset over 
the selection of Du Pont, which in 
many ways seemed to them to epito- 
mize big industry. 

Groves, nevertheless, decided to 
take immediate steps to negotiate an 
agreement with Du Pont. On 30 Oc- 
tober, he invited Willis Harrington, 
senior vice president of the firm, to 
meet with him and Conant, who him- 
self once had served as a consultant 
to Du Pont. Harrington came the next 
day, accompanied by chemist Charles 
Stine, also a vice president of Du 
Pont and a friend of Conant. Groves 
and Conant gave the two Du Pont ex- 
ecutives data on the pile program and 
general information about the other 
processes and the military objectives 
of the project, emphasizing the ur- 
gency of the program and frankly ad- 
mitting there were serious questions 
as to its feasibility. 

Harrington and Stine were appalled 
at the idea that their company should 
assume major responsibility for this 
phase of the atomic program. As they 
perceived it, the technical require- 
ments were formidable, the operating 
conditions unorthodox, and the scien- 
tific field one in which Du Pont had 
no special experience and compe- 
tence. Faced, however, with Groves's 
insistence that Du Pont was the only 
industrial organization in America 
with the capacity to build the plutoni- 
um plant, they reluctantly indicated 
the company might be able to do the 
job. But a final decision could only be 
made by Du Pont President Walter S. 
Carpenter, Jr., and other members of 
the firm's executive committee follow- 
ing an investigation by company 
chemists and engineers. Consequent- 
ly, a day or two later. Groves granted 



the company permission to send a 
team of experts to the Metallurgical 
Laboratory to see the work in 
progress. 

On 10 November, General Groves, 
Colonel Nichols, the deputy district 
engineer, Arthur Compton, and 
Norman Hilberry, who was associate 
director of the Metallurgical Labora- 
tory, went to Wilmington, Delaware, 
to plead further for Du Pont's assist- 
ance. Groves emphasized to Carpen- 
ter that the project was of utmost im- 
portance to the war effort, adding 
that President Roosevelt, Secretary of 
War Stimson, and Chief of Staff Mar- 
shall also shared this opinion. Fur- 
thermore, he continued, there was 
reason to believe the Axis states 
might soon be producing fissionable 
materials in quantities sufficient to 
manufacture atomic weapons. The 
only known defense against such 
weapons was "fear of their counter- 
employment." ^ If the United States 
could develop such weapons before 
the enemy, it could materially shorten 
the war and potentially reduce Ameri- 
can casualties by the tens of 
thousands. 

Following his conference with Car- 
penter, Groves went to a meeting of 
the Du Pont executive committee. 
There, he was joined by Nichols, 
Compton, and Hilberry. With Car- 
penter presiding at the meeting. 
Groves repeated what he had said 
earlier to the Du Pont president. 
Some committee members expressed 
reservations, many of them traceable 
to the report of the team of company 
chemists and engineers who had just 
returned from a visit to the Metallur- 



^ Groves, Now It Can Be Told. p. 49. 



ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 



99 



gical Laboratory. The team had re- 
ported that the laboratory scientists 
had neither demonstrated a self-sus- 
taining chain reaction nor furnished 
adequate information concerning the 
basic problem of controlling and re- 
moving the tremendous amount of 
heat that would be generated in a pile 
operation. And though they were at 
work on three different pile designs, 
none — at least when judged in terms 
of practical engineering — seemed 
likely to provide a prototype for a 
large-scale production pile. Progress 
on the plutonium separation process 
did not appear much more encourag- 
ing. The scientists had yet to demon- 
strate a method that would separate 
more than microscopic amounts of 
plutonium from radioactive fission 
products. On the basis of its observa- 
tions, the Du Pont team estimated 
that only minute amounts of plutoni- 
um could be produced in 1943, not 
much more in 1944, and only 
enough, possibly, in 1945 to fulfill the 
planned rate of production for 
weapon purposes. 

The pessimistic tone of the Du 
Pont executive committee's evaluation 
was not surprising; they concluded, 
nevertheless, that the pile method was 
probably feasible. To be certain of 
this, however, they felt Du Pont must 
have control over all aspects of the 
project. Furthermore, the government 
should guarantee the company 
against loss from the obviously great 
hazards inherent in the process. Car- 
penter informed General Groves on 
12 November that Du Pont would 
take the job, and the Manhattan com- 
mander immediately directed Colonel 
Nichols to draft the terms of a 
contract. 



With Du Pont's participation appar- 
ently assured, the Military Policy 
Committee cautiously endorsed going 
ahead with plans to build a plutonium 
plant capable of producing 1.0 kilo- 
gram of fissionable material per day. 
It also directed that Du Pont take 
over from Stone and Webster at Chi- 
cago, relieving the Boston firm of vir- 
tually all of its AEM responsibilities 
for plutonium project activities.^ 

Hardly had that question been set- 
tled when important new data cast se- 
rious doubt on the explosive charac- 
teristics of plutonium. Wallace A. 
Akers, technical chief of the British 
Directorate of Tube Alloys (corre- 
sponding to the S-1 Executive Com- 
mittee), was in Washington, D.C., on 
14 November to discuss information 
exchange with Conant. During a 
luncheon conversation, Akers re- 
vealed that British atomic scientists 
had discovered that plutonium had 
premature fissioning tendencies that 
might make it unsuitable for use in a 
weapon. Greatly disturbed, Conant 
checked with Ernest Lawrence and 
Arthur Compton. When they told him 
that both Oppenheimer and Glenn 
Seaborg, a chemist who had done ex- 
tensive research on plutonium at the 
University of California, Berkeley, ex- 
pressed some concern about the pos- 
sibility of obtaining material of suffi- 
cient purity to ensure the fissioning 
qualities in a weapon, Conant got in 
touch with General Groves. The Man- 
hattan chief responded immediately 
by setting up an investigating team 
composed of Lawrence, Compton, 



« MPC Min, 12 Nov 42, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, 
MP Files, Fidr 23, Tab A, MDR. 



100 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



and Oppenheimer, as well as physicist 
Edwin McMillan."^ 

On 18 November the four scientists 
reported back to Groves in optimistic 
terms.® Basing their recommenda- 
tions on the conclusion that despite 
"many difFicult but solvable problems 
it should be possible to produce a sat- 
isfactory bomb . . . from 49 [plutoni- 
um] probably during 1945," they 
urged maximum speed in building a 
plutonium production plant. The sci- 
entists supported their recommenda- 
tions with Oppenheimer's estimate of 
the degree of plutonium purity re- 
quired for a bomb. 

Instead of convincing Conant and 
Du Pont of the feasibility of plutoni- 
um, Oppenheimer's data had the op- 
posite effect. By chance, the Harvard 
University president had just received 
figures on plutonium purity require- 
ments from British scientist Sir James 
Chadwick, and when he compared 
these with Oppenheimer's, he was 
shocked to find that the latter's esti- 
mates allowed for a degree of impuri- 
ty ten times as great. This discrepancy 
was so large that Conant momentarily 
suspected American scientists had 
erred seriously in their calculations. 
Not until he received additional data 
and written assurances from Compton 
and Lawrence was his confidence in 
the feasibility of plutonium fully 
restored.^ 



^ DSM Chronology, 14 Nov 42. Sec. 2(a), and 19 
Nov 42, Sec. 23, OROO; Hewlett and Anderson, 
Xeu' World, pp. 109-10. See Ch. X for details on 
problems with information interchange between the 
British and American atomic programs. 

* Team's report in Memo (for File), Lawrence, 
Compton, Oppenheimer, and McMillan, 18 Nov 42, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 401.1-410.2 (Materials), 
MDR. 

^ Hewlett and Anderson, Xeu> World, pp. 109-10; 
Llr, Lawrence to Conant, 23 Nov 42, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 201 (Conant), MDR; Ltr, Compton to 



As for Du Font's engineers, Oppen- 
heimer's estimate appeared so exact- 
ing that it would be unattainable in 
any reasonable period of time. In 
Groves's office on 18 November, 
Charles Stine and Crawford H. 
Greenewalt, a chemical engineer serv- 
ing as chemical director of Du Font's 
Grasselli Chemicals Department, com- 
plained with some feeling that the 
Manhattan commander was asking the 
firm to undertake the most difficult 
and unpromising of the processes for 
producing fissionable materials and 
suggested the company might be 
better qualified to carry out one of 
the other processes. Greenewalt's lack 
of enthusiasm at this juncture can be 
traced to his pessimistic interpretation 
of some information he had received 
a short time before, leading him to 
conclude that there was only about a 
60-percent chance that a sustained 
chain reaction would be achieved. ^° 

Compton, who was also present, 
was shocked by Stine's assertion that 
the odds were 100 to 1 against 
achieving plutonium production in 
time to be of any value to the war 
effort. For the Metallurgical Laborato- 
ry chief this marked the beginning of 
a gradual disillusionment with Du 
Font. By the end of December he 
would be seriously suggesting that 
some other firm be brought in to 
build the production plants. Compton 
later recalled that he "probably took 
Stine's words much more seriously 
than they were intended." Neverthe- 



Conant, 8 Dec 42, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1, 
MDR. 

10 Groves, Xow It Can Be Told p. 52; Ltr. Law- 
rence to Conant, 23 Nov 42, MDR; Compton, Atomic 
Quest, pp. 132-34. Du Pont purchased the Grasselli 
Chemical Company of Cleveland in 1928 and incor- 
porated it as a separate department in the firm. 



ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 



101 



less, under those immediate circum- 
stances, he felt that he could not 
"have drawn such a conclusion with- 
out considering the task a waste effort 
as far as the present war was con- 
cerned." Therefore, Compton deter- 
mined immediately to try to change 
"their [Du Font's] point of view to 
one of optimism." ^^ 

Reassessment of Processes To 
Produce a Bomb 

At the meeting on 10 November, 
the Du Pont executive committee sug- 
gested that a reappraisal of all aspects 
of the project would help the compa- 
ny in determining the precise role it 
should play in the atomic energy pro- 
gram. Seeing the logic of this sugges- 
tion. Groves and Conant thought the 
time was appropriate for a reassess- 
ment because project emphasis was 
shifting from research and develop- 
ment in scientific principles to practi- 
cal application on an industrial scale. 
Furthermore, the Military Policy 
Committee shortly was going to have 
to prepare a progress report to the 
President on the project. ^^ 

Leu'is Reviewing Committee 

Groves acted promptly to imple- 
ment reassessment of the project. On 
18 November, following close con- 
sultation with Conant, he appointed 
a five-man reviewing committee, 
headed by Warren K. Lewis, a highly 
respected professor of chemical engi- 



" Quotations from Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 134. 
See also ibid., pp. 132-33, and Groves, Now It Can 
Be Told. pp. 55-57. 

12 MPC Min, 12 Nov 42, MDR; MPC Rpt, 15 Dec 
42, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, Tab 
B, MDR. 



neering at Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology (MIT). Groves made cer- 
tain that Du Font was well represent- 
ed on the committee, appointing 
Crawford H. Greenewalt, who had 
been a student under Lewis at MIT 
and was an expert on research; Tom 
C. Gary, manager of the Design Divi- 
sion in the Engineering Department 
and a specialist in construction; and 
Roger Williams, chemical director of 
the Ammonia Department, who was 
an expert on plant operations. The 
fifth member, Eger V. Murphree of 
Standard Oil Development Company 
and former head of the OSRD S-1 
Section's planning board, became ill at 
the last minute and was unable to par- 
ticipate in the committee's activities. ^^ 
The committee's mission was to re- 
view the entire project from a manu- 
facturing standpoint. To accomplish 
this, committee members would visit 
Harold Urey's project at Columbia 
University, investigate Arthur Comp- 
ton's research on the pile process at 
the Metallurgical Laboratory, and as- 
sess Ernest Lawrence's work on the 
electromagnetic process at the Radi- 
ation Laboratory. They would not 
evaluate the centrifuge method. The 
consensus was that this process was 
unlikely to produce U-235 in suffi- 
cient quantities to be of use during 
the war. The Military Policy and S-1 
Executive Committees agreed that all 
work, including that on a pilot plant, 
should be reduced to the minimum 
necessary to establish the feasibility of 
the method. Although some support 
for the centrifuge process still per- 



'^DSM Chronolog>', 19 Nov 42, Sec. 23, OROO; 
Groves Diary, 18, 19, 21 Nov 42, LRG; Groves, Xow 
It Can Be Told, p. 52; Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 
134-35. 



102 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



sisled, in lime it would be dropped as a 
major method for producing fission- 
able material for the bomb. 

After conferring briefly with Groves 
and Conant in Washington, D.C., on 
21 November, the Lewis reviewing 
committee began its toiir in New 
York. There, committee members met 
with leaders of the gaseous diffusion 
project and inspected the experimen- 
tal equipment in the laboratories at 
Columbia University, as well as con- 
ferred with respresentatives of the 
M. W. Kellogg Company which had 
been assigned work on the diffusion 
process. Leaving New York by train, 
the committee reached Chicago on 
the twenty-sixth. Thanksgiving Day.^'* 

Compton had first heard about the 
committee's impending visit on the 
nineteenth. Sensing that the occasion 
would afford him the chance to con- 
vince Du Pont and the leaders of the 
Manhattan Project that plutonium 
could be produced in quantity, and 
also that the rest of the atomic pro- 
gram was feasible and of great impor- 
tance for the war, he and his scientific 
staff immediately had directed all pos- 
sible resources into a twofold effort: 
completing as soon as possible the 
chain reaction experiment under way 
since October, and preparing a report 
to demonstrate conclusively the feasi- 
bility of the plutonium project. ^^ 

Unfortunately the experiment was 
still in progress when the committee 
arrived, but a hundred-page feasibility 
report was ready for study. This care- 
fully organized and documented 
report presented a most optimistic es- 
timate of the situation. Plutonium 



could be produced in one or more of 
several types of chain-reacting piles, 
of which a uranium-graphite system 
cooled with helium, preferably, or 
with ordinary pure water seemed to 
offer the most practical solution. 
Also, chemical extraction of plutoni- 
um in a sufficiently pure state to be 
used successfully in a bomb was feasi- 
ble. Moreover, this bomb would prob- 
ably be more effective than previous 
estimate had indicated. Provided the 
plutonium project received adequate 
support, the goal to produce suffi- 
cient fissionable material in 1944 and 
to attain the production stage in 1945 
should be possible. Report in hand, 
the committee left for Berkeley 
Thanksgiving evening. ^^ 

Achievement of the Chain Reaction 

The Lewis reviewing commitee re- 
turned from the West Coast via Chi- 
cago on 2 December. Stopping over 
between trains, they consulted further 
with the Metallurgical Laboratory 
staff. "Lm sorry," Compton ex- 
plained, "but Enrico Fermi has an im- 
portant experiment in hand in the 
laboratory and has asked to be 
excused." ^^ 

The "important experiment" was, 
of course, the continuing attempt to 
achieve a controlled chain reaction in 
the experimental pile then under con- 
struction at the Metallurgical Labora- 
tory. In October, after laboratory sci- 
entists had accumulated a sufficient 
amount of uranium metal and graph- 



'^MPC Min. 12 Nov 42. MDR; DSM Chronology, 
14 Nov 42, Sec. 2(0, and 19 Nov 42, Sec. 23, 
OROO. 

^^Compion, Atomic Qiust, p. 135. 



"^Ibid., pp. 135-36; Rpt, Compton, sub: Feasibili- 
ty of "49" Proj, 26 Nov 42, OSRD; Smyth Report, 
Ch. 6, especially pp. 64-65 and 74-76. Smyth based 
this chapter largely on the feasibility report. 

"Compton, Atomic Qiiest, p. 140. 



ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 



103 



ite of requisite purity, two alternating 
teams began piling graphite blocks in- 
termixed with lumps of uranium in a 
carefully devised pattern atop a 
timber framework on the floor of a 
squash court under the West Stands 
of Stagg Field, the University of Chi- 
cago football stadium. When news of 
this ongoing experiment reached 
Groves and Conant during the 14 No- 
vember S-1 meeting, both men ex- 
pressed great alarm; however, but- 
tressed with evidence from several 
tests carried out while the pile was 
under construction and supported by 
the senior scientists on his staff, 
Compton assured Groves and Conant 
that the experiment posed no great 
hazard to the heavily populated area 
adjacent to the university. Although 
Groves decided not to interfere, he 
nevertheless alerted the area engineer 
at the Metallurgical Laboratory to 
inform him immediately of any signs 
or developments that indicated the 
Chicago scientists were underestimat- 
ing the element of danger. ^^ 

Based on the results of earlier ex- 
periments, the scientists constructing 
the pile knew that when it reached a 
certain size it would become critical, 
thus initiating what was hoped would 
be a self-sustaining chain reaction. To 
prevent the possibility of premature 
fission and also to be able to control 
the reaction once it began, the scien- 
tists inserted several neutron-absorb- 
ing cadmium strips as control rods. 
Removal of these control rods would 
release the flow of neutrons in the 
lumps of uranium and permit the 
chain reaction to begin; their reinser- 
tion would halt the process. Various 
measuring instruments also were at- 



'» Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, pp. 53-54. 



tached to or placed in the pile, and 
the whole setup was watched over by 
Fermi and his colleagues with all the 
care and nervous intensity that so 
unique and critical an experiment 
inspired. 

Late in the afternoon of 1 Decem- 
ber, Fermi's crew placed the last lump 
of uranium and layer of graphite 
blocks on the pile, by now a massive 
structure, essentially square in shape 
and solid-appearing from the floor up 
to about two-thirds of its height, and 
from that point to its top near the 
high ceiling, a series of setbacks. 

On the morning of 2 December, 
the entire experimental group assem- 
bled for the crucial test. Most of 
those present were on the balcony of 
the court, either as observers or oper- 
ators of the instrument control cabi- 
net located there. Norman Bilberry, 
equipped with an axe, was prepared 
to sever a rope tied to the balcony 
rail, which would drop into place an 
emergency safety rod suspended over 
the pile. A young scientist from the 
laboratory staff, George Weil, re- 
mained on the floor of the court to 
handle the final control rod. On a 
platform above the pile, three men 
stood ready to flood it with a cadmi- 
um salt solution, which would absorb 
sufficient neutrons to halt a runaway 
reaction if the pile's other control 
mechanisms should fail. A hundred 
feet away, behind two concrete walls, 
another group monitored the test by 
means of instruments and an inter- 
communication system. Should any- 
thing go wrong on the squash court, 
incapacitating the group there, the 
"remote control" men could throw a 
switch to activate electrically operated 



104 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



safety rods and halt the chain 
reaction. 

In midmorning, Fermi sent word to 
Compton that the test was about to 
begin and the Metallurgical Laborato- 
ry chief, accompanied by Crawford 
Greenewalt, whom he had selected as 
the representative of the Lewis re- 
viewing committee, hastened from 
nearby Eckhart Hall to the stadium. 
As they arrived, Fermi was testing the 
pile systematically. As Weil slowly 
withdrew the final control rod, Fermi 
carefully checked the recording in- 
struments. With each foot the rod was 
pulled out, the pile came closer to 
criticality, and the instruments meas- 
uring the neutron activity clicked 
faster. By about 11:30 a.m. the grow- 
ing tension among the scientists in 
the squash court had become obvi- 
ous. "I'm hungry," said Fermi, sud- 
denly breaking the spell. "Let's go to 
lunch." 

Shortly after 2:00 p.m. the tests 
were resumed. Faster and faster 
clicked the neutron counters as the 
control rod was slowly withdrawn. At 
about 3:25, Weil moved the rod an- 
other foot. Fermi made a rapid com- 
putation with his slide rule and, turn- 
ing to Compton, exclaimed: "This is 
going to do it." As the neutron count 
ran faster, it was obvious Fermi was 
right. The rate of rise of the count 
was now constant. "The reaction is 
self-sustaining," announced Fermi, 
meaning that the slow fissioning of 
uranium atoms in the pile would con- 
tinue to produce enough neutrons to 
keep the process going. 

After nearly half an hour of oper- 
ation, when the radiation around the 
pile began to rise to dangerous levels, 
Fermi ordered the control rods rein- 
serted. The world's first self-sustain- 



ing nuclear reaction had been initiat- 
ed, allowed to run, and then stopped. 
Man had accomplished the controlled 
release of atomic energy. ^^ 

Lewis Reviewing Committee Report 

While practical demonstration of a 
chain reaction did much to relieve the 
hesitancy of Du Pont, the company's 
management was perhaps even more 
encouraged by the report of the 
Lewis reviewing committee, submitted 
on 4 December. On the premise that 
"production must be substantially 25 
kilos of '25' [U-235] or 15 kilos of 
'49' [plutonium] per month," the 
committee felt that the diffusion pro- 
cess had the best chance of producing 
enough fissionable material of the de- 
sired quality and, equally important, 
that it would probably be the first to 
attain full-scale production. They 
agreed that the electromagnetic pro- 
cess was probably the most immedi- 
ately feasible of all methods under 
consideration, but it seemed least 
likely to produce U-235 in the quanti- 
ty that would be needed. Despite 
problems, the pile process now had a 
much better chance of success and 
might even provide "the possibility of 
earliest achievement of the desired 
result." Accordingly, the committee 
recommended construction of a diffu- 



'' Quotations from WD Press Release, "Back- 
ground Material for L'se in Connection With Ob- 
servance of the Fourth Anniversary, December 
Second, of the Scientific Event of Outstanding Sig- 
nificance in the United States Program of Develop- 
ment of Atomic Energv," 1 Dec 46, pp. 10-11, 
CMH. See also Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 136-43; 
Smyth Report, pp. 70 and 177-81; Enrico Fermi, 
"The First Pile," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 18 
(Dec 62): 19-24. Many of the other published works 
cited in this volume also contain lengthy descrip- 
tions of this event. 



ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 



105 



sion plant, of a pile pilot plant and 
several full-scale production piles, 
and of facilities for producing heavy 
water. It urged continued develop- 
mental work on the electromagnetic 
process, including building a pilot 
plant to produce small quantities of 
U-235 for use in experiments. Finally, 
the committee recommended that 
companies with appropriate experi- 
ence be given the responsibility nec- 
essary for operating all these projects. 
There no longer seemed any doubt 
concerning the feasibility of produc- 
ing sufficient quantities of fissionable 
material. ^° 

When the Military Policy Commit- 
tee met on 10 December in General 
Groves's office, it had before it the 
report of the Lewis reviewing commit- 
tee. The effect of this report and the 
events that had taken place in Chicago 
a week earlier were evident. At its 
meeting on 12 November, the Mili- 
tary Policy Committee had agreed to 
proceed with the construction and op- 
eration of a small electromagnetic 
separation plant; a pilot diffusion 
plant and, if practicable, a small pro- 
duction plant; and a plutonium 
plant. ^^ Now a month later, the com- 
mittee's decisions were far more opti- 
mistic. The pile method for produc- 
ing plutonium, it decided, would "be 
carried forward full blast." Design for 
the pilot diffusion plant was well ad- 
vanced and construction of test units 
was already under way at Columbia 
University. But rather than await com- 



pletion of the pilot plant, the commit- 
tee decided that work on the design 
and construction of a full-scale pro- 
duction plant should begin at once. 
The electromagnetic plant would be 
comprised of only 500 tanks "in 
order to get the earliest possible pro- 
duction of material, even though it 
may be in small quantities." ^^ Thus, 
the Military Policy Committee had 
opened the way to rapid development 
of those processes that seemed most 
likely to provide large-scale produc- 
tion of fissionable materials. 

Contract Negotiations 

In rapid sequence during the next 
few weeks. Groves and the Manhattan 
staff oversaw negotiation of construc- 
tion and operation contracts. The 
first of these was a letter contract for 
Du Pont on 21 December (effective as 
of 1 December 1942), pending com- 
pletion of negotiations for a formal 
contract. It provided that the com- 
pany secure designs, procure equip- 
ment, and erect facilities for a large- 
scale plutonium production plant, 
which it would also operate. Although 
the agreement of I December super- 
seded the letter contract of 3 Octo- 
ber, which had provided that Du Pont 
design and procure equipment for 
plutonium pilot installations, it did 
not specify that the firm would build 
a pilot plant. New location problems 
had made temporary postponement 
of settling this aspect expedient. ^^ 



^° Conclusions of Reviewing Committee, 4 Dec 42, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 334 (Special Reviewing 
Committee), MDR. These conclusions, but without 
the statistical analysis portion, are also in the MPC 
Rpt, 15 Dec 42, MDR. See also Compton, Atomic 
Quest, p. 145. 

2> MPC Min, 12 Nov 42, MDR; Groves Diarv, 
10 Dec 42, LRG. 



" MPC Mm, 10 Dec 42, MDR; MPC Rpt, 15 Dec 
42, MDR. 

23 Ltr Contract W-7412-eng-l, 1 Dec 42 (accept- 
ed 21 Dec 42), Tab B; Ltr, E. B. Yancey (Gen Mgr, 
Explosives Dept, Du Pont) to Lt Col J. M. Harman, 
21 Dec 42, Incl to Memo, Maj A. Tammaro to Maj 

Continued 



106 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Du Pont did not want to manufac- 
ture plutonium after the war and 
made ckar it was agreeing to do so 
now only because of the expressed 
desire of the Army. Accordingly, in 
the cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, Du 
Pont waived all profits and accepted 
the assignment on the basis of reim- 
bursement for the company's ex- 
penses on the project, plus a fixed fee 
of $1.00. However, arrangements 
were made to protect the firm from 
financial losses that might arise, be- 
cause the hazards concomitant to the 
new process were not yet fully known 
or understood and conceivably could 
result in catastrophic losses for the 
company. Du Pont requested that the 
contract be submitted to the comp- 
troller general of the United States 
for approval, particularly the sections 
covering reimbursement and indemni- 
fication, which the company feared 
might otherwise be upset by a future 
ruling. General Groves agreed and, as 
further assurance to Du Pont, Vanne- 
var Bush also forwarded a letter to 
President Roosevelt, explaining the 
basis upon which the government was 
assuming responsibility for the unique 
hazards involved in the project. ^^ 

The Army had to negotiate with a 
number of companies for design, con- 
struction, and operation of the gase- 

Claude C. Pierce, Jr. (Washington Liaison OfTice), 
sub: Du Pont Contract W-7412-eng-l, 5 Dec 44, 
Tab G. Both in OCG Files, Gen Corresp, Groves 
Files, Fldr 19, MDR. Copies of formal contract, 
completed on 8 Nov 43, on file in OROO. See also 
amendments and amplifications to this contract, 
same file, and Du Pont, Stockholders Bulletin, 13 Aug 
45, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 161 (Du Pont), 
MDR. 

2* Groves, \ow It Can Be Told. pp. 46-59; Memo, 
sub: Prelim Negotiations . . . , Incl to Ltr, De- 
Right to Groves, 30 Oct 43, MDR; DSM Chronolo- 
gy, 10 Nov 42, Sec. 23(b), OROO; Compton, Atomic 
Quest, pp. 131-34. 



ous diffusion plant. Because the M. W. 
Kellogg Company had been work- 
ing for nearly a year on research and 
design for a pilot plant, the Military 
Policy Committee decided at its 
10 December meeting that this firm 
should also design and engineer the 
production plant. Hence, on the 
twelfth. General Groves requested 
Kellogg to act as architect-engineer 
for the diffusion project and, two days 
later, the company signed the neces- 
sary letter contract. To simplify oper- 
ations and for reasons of security, 
Kellogg created a wholly-owned sub- 
sidiary, the Kellex Corporation, ^^ for 
the project. After consulting with 
Kellex representatives, the Manhattan 
commander asked Union Carbide and 
Carbon Corporation to operate the 
plant. By late January, the Carbide 
and Carbon Chemicals Corporation — 
a subsidiary of Union Carbide — had 
signed a Manhattan letter contract 
and its engineers had begun working 
closely with Kellex on difficult design 
problems. 

While earlier plans had called for 
Stone and Webster to build the diffu- 
sion plant, it soon became clear this 
job would overburden the engineer- 
ing firm's already heavily taxed re- 
sources. Some consideration also was 
given to having Kellex construct the 
plant, but Groves decided that organi- 
zation would have its hands full with 
the design and engineering problems. 
Groves remembered that he had been 
favorably impressed by the manage- 
ment, skill, and integrity of the J. A. 
Jones Construction Company of 
Charlotte, North Carolina, which had 



25 The name Kellex was derived from "Kell" for 
Kellogg and "X" for secret. 



ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 



107 



built several large camps for the 
Army. The company accepted a letter 
contract covering this assignment on 
18 May 1943.26 

Arrangements already had been 
made for Stone and Webster to build 
the electromagnetic plant; however, 
because project leaders had decided 
that the task of operating the plant 
would be beyond the firm's practical 
capabilities, Groves offered the job to 
the Tennessee Eastman Corporation, 
a subsidiary of the Eastman Kodak 
Company, which had considerable ex- 
perience in chemical processes. On 
5 January 1943, Tennessee Eastman 
informed Groves that it would accept 
the job and the next day signed a 
letter of intent, pending negotiation 
of a formal contract. Within a few 
days key personnel of the company 
went to the Radiation Laboratory at 
Berkeley to familiarize themselves 
with Lawrence's experimental electro- 
magnetic separation units. ^^ 



26MPC Min, 10 Dec 42 and 21 Jan 43. MDR; 
DSM Chronology, 12 Dec 42, Sec. 4, 28 Dec 42, 
Sec, 15(b), 30 Dec 42, Sec. 16, 14 Jan 43, Sec. 2(f). 
OROO; Groves, \ow It Cati Be Told. pp. 111-12; 
MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 3, "Design," Sec. 3, Vol. 4, "Con- 
struction," Sec. 3. and Vol. 5, "Operation," pp. 2.1- 
2.4, DASA. Copies of formal CPFF contracts execut- 
ed with M. W. Kellogg Co. on 1 1 Apr 44 (Contract 
W-7405-eng-23, efTective 14 Dec 42), with Carbide 
and Carbon Chemicals Corp. on 23 Nov 43 (Con- 
tract W-7405-eng-26, efTective 18 Jan 43), and with 
J. A.Jones Construction Co. on 2 Mar 44 (Contract 
W-7421-eng-ll, effective 18 May 43) on file in 
OROO. See also l.ist. sub: Signed Prime and Sub- 
contracts Over $100,000, Incl to Memo, 1.1 Col K. 
H. Marsden (Ex Off, MD) to Groves, 31 Aug 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 161, MDR. 

" Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. pp. 96-97; DSM 
Chronology, 28 Dec 42, Sec. 2(e), OROO; MDH, 
Bk 5, Vol. 6, "Operation," Sec. 2, DASA. Groves 
Diarv, 30-31 Dec 42 and 5 Jan 43, l.RG. Copv of 
formal CPFF contract executed with Tennessee 
Kastman Corp. on 7 Jun 43 (Contract W-7401-eng- 
23, effective 6 Jan 43) on file in OROO. 



Upon examining the plans for vari- 
ous types of piles at the Metallurgical 
Laboratory in early November 1942, 
Du Pont engineers had rated the pile 
with a heavy water moderator second 
only to the helium-cooled graphite 
pile. It now appeared to be the logical 
choice "as a second line of defense" 
in case the graphite pile should fail. 
Accordingly, Du Pont recommended 
that the Manhattan commander take 
immediate steps to increase the 
monthly production of heavy water to 
approximately 3 tons per month: 0.5 
tons to be produced by the electrolyt- 
ic process at the Trail plant already 
under construction, and 2.5 tons by 
the distillation process at new plants 
to be built by Du Pont as adjuncts to 
ammonia-producing facilities already 
under construction by the company at 
government-owned ordnance plants. 
(At the request of the S-1 Committee, 
Du Pont earlier had investigated and 
ascertained the practicability of em- 
ploying the distillation process to 
produce heavy water.) ^^ 

Both the Military Policy and S-1 
Committees endorsed Du Pont's rec- 
ommendations. Under the terms of a 
letter contract of 16 November, Du 
Pont agreed "to select a process and 
provide facilities for the production of 
heavy water in order to make avail- 
able a supply of this material at the 
earliest possible date." ^^ Groves au- 
thorized the company to expand fa- 
cilities under construction at Morgan- 
town Ordnance W'orks, near Morgan- 



's DSM Chronologv, 10 Nov 42. Sec. 23(i), and 
14 Nov 42. Sec. 2(0(k-m), OROO; MDH, Bk. 3, 
"The P-9 Project," p. 2.4, DASA. 

29 Copv of I.tr Contract W-74 12-eng-4, 16 Nov 
42, on file in OROO. See also MPC Min, 12 Nov 
42. MDR. 



108 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



town, West Virginia; the Wabash 
River Ordnance Works, adjacent to 
Newport, Indiana; and the Alabama 
Ordnance Works, near Sylacauga, 
Alabama. {See Map 2.) Du Pont would 
build and operate the facilities, 
making as extensive use as possible of 
existing steam plants and other instal- 
lations. Because Du Pont already had 
contracts with the Army's Ordnance 
Department for construction and op- 
eration of munitions-making facilities 
at each of these ordnance plants, it 
was agreed the additional work could 
be covered by supplements to these 
contracts, thus eliminating the need 
for the Manhattan chief to negotiate 
new agreements. Nevertheless, for 
reasons of security, each heavy water 
plant was to be built and operated 
almost entirely under the immediate 
supervision of the local area engineer 
and general supervision of the Man- 
hattan District. The Ordnance De- 
partment, in Colonel Marshall's 
words, was "not to be involved in the 
design or knowledge of use of the 
product." ^° 

Hanford Engineer Works 

Until November 1942, project lead- 
ers had assumed that the main pluto- 
nium production plant would be 



30Di.st Engr, Monlhlv Rpt on DSM Proj, 21 Jan 
43, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 28, Tab 
A, MDR, DSM Chronolog>, 29 Dec 42, Sec. 4, 
OROO; Memo, Brig Gen R. F. Handy (Asst, OCO) 
to Maj G. W. Boush (Ord Ammo Prod Office), sub; 
New Goustr at Alabama Ord Works . . . , 13 Jan 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 161 (Du Ponl), MDR; 
Memos, Handy to Alabama, Morgantown, and 
Wabash River Ord Works CO's, sub: New Constr at 
Alabama [and other] Ord Works, 1 Jan 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp. 600.1 (Constr), MDR; MDH, Bk. 
3, Sees. 2-3. DA.SA; Groves Ms, pp. 214-15, CMH. 



located at the Tennessee site.^^ How- 
ever, Du Pont was greatly concerned 
about the hazards of manufacturing 
plutonium on a large scale. An atomic 
explosion might devastate an area 
surrounding a plant and send a lethal 
cloud of radioactive dust and gases 
over a much larger zone. Such an ex- 
plosion less than 20 miles from Knox- 
ville could be a catastrophic disaster. 
Groves himself already had qualms 
about placing a hazardous operation 
adjacent to electromagnetic and gase- 
ous diffusion plants and near other 
important war production facilities in 
the Tennessee Valley Authority 
(TVA) region. Even if the physical ef- 
fects were limited, an explosion 
would compromise the security of the 
whole project. If the plant were to be 
built at the Tennessee site, more land 
than originally contemplated would 
have to be acquired, a time-consum- 
ing process. Furthermore, there was a 
strong possibility that a power and 
labor shortage in the TVA area might 



*' Section based on Groves, Sow It Can Be Told, 
pp. 69-77: DSM Chronology, Nov 42-Jan 43, 
passim, OROO; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 3, "Design," Sec. 
2, and Vol. 4, "Land Acquisition," Sees. 1-2, DASA. 
Diary of Col Franklin T. Matthias (hereafter cited as 
Matthias Diary), prior to 1 Feb 43, OROO; Rpt, Du 
Pont, sub: Special Investigation of Plant Site Loca- 
tion, 2 Jan 43, Incl to Ltr, E. G. Ackart (Engr Dept 
chief, E)u Pont) to Groves, sub: Pio 9536. 5 Jan 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.03, MDR; Rpt, OCE, 
sub: Basic Data on Hanford Engr Works, 19 May 
43, same files, 601 (Hanford), MDR; Ltr, Robins 
(Act Chief of Engrs) to CG SOS, sub: Acquisition of 
Land for Cable Proj, Pasco. Wash., 8 Feb 43, Incl to 
Memo, O'Brien to I.t Col Whitney Ashbridge (CE 
Mil Constr Br), sub: Land Acquisition in Connection 
With MD, 17 Apr 43, same files, 601 (Santa Fe), 
MDR; Smyth Report, p. 81; MPC Rpt, 15 Dec 42, 
MDR; Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 166; Ltr, Groves to 
Herbert S. Marks (Power Div, WPB), 7 Feb 43, and 
related correspondence. Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
675, MDR. 



ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 



109 



interfere with construction and oper- 
ation of the plutonium plant. 

All of these factors entered into the 
decision of the Military Policy Com- 
mittee on 10 December that "a new 
plant site [for plutonium production] 
will have to be selected in an isolated 
area, but near power and water." ^^ 
Groves sent Colonel Nichols and Lt. 
Col. Franklin T. Matthias to Wilming- 
ton on the fourteenth to discuss 
choice of a new site with Du Pont of- 
ficials and with Compton and other 
representatives of the Chicago 
project. Matthias, an experienced civil 
engineer in civilian life, had been 
working with Groves on various prob- 
lems, including the atomic energy 
program, and, while he had not yet 
been officially assigned to the Man- 
hattan District, he was Groves's tenta- 
tive choice for the key position of 
area engineer on the plutonium 
project. The Wilmington conference 
concentrated on developing guide- 
lines, with the main emphasis on 
safety limitations, for the new site. 
When Matthias returned, Groves di- 
rected him to make an inquiry con- 
cerning sites where sufficient electrici- 
ty would be available. 

Matthias consulted first with those 
Corps of Engineers officials whom 
Groves had indicated would know a 
great deal about the wartime power 
situation. As a result, when he sat 
down with Groves and two Du Pont 
officials on 16 December to draw up 
more specific plans, he had consider- 
able information about potential sites. 
The precise criteria that emerged 
from this discussion indicated that the 
site selected would have to be rela- 
tively large, isolated from centers of 



32MPC Min, 10 Dec 42. MDR. 



population, easily acquired, and with 
access to a large amount of water and 
power. Based on the estimated space 
needed for six atomic piles and three 
separation plants, an area 12 by 16 
miles would be necessary for the pro- 
duction facilities alone. This amount 
of space would allow for contingen- 
cies well beyond the then anticipated 
requirements. It would permit a dis- 
tance of 1 mile between each of the 
piles and 4 miles between each of the 
separation plants. Laboratories would 
have to be at least 8 miles away from 
these separation plants, and the work- 
ers' village and nearest railroad or 
highway at least 10 miles away. About 
100,000 kilowatts of continuous 
power would be required, as well as 
25,000 gallons of water (preferably 
soft) per minute for use in cooling 
the piles. A relatively mild climate, 
level terrain, a ready supply of sand 
and gravel, and ground and subsur- 
face conditions favorable for heavy 
construction were also desirable for 
speed and economy in building the 
various facilities. And finally, along 
with other considerations, an area of 
comparatively low land values would 
reduce costs and facilitate acquisition. 
As Groves, Matthias, and the two 
Du Pont representatives visualized it, 
the site would contain at least 700 
square miles, with no main highway 
or railroad traversing it. This central 
area would consist of a restricted 
zone, 24 by 28 miles in size, in the 
center of which would be a 12- by 16- 
mile plant area. If possible, the site 
should be centered in a sparsely pop- 
ulated area, 44 by 48 miles in size, 
with no towns of more than one thou- 
sand inhabitants. The outer 10 miles 
of this last-named area would consti- 



110 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



tute a buffer zone from which all resi- 
dents would be removed, although it 
would not necessarily have to be pur- 
chased by the government. 

Groves favored the Pacific North- 
west, convenient to the growing 
power resources of the great Bonne- 
ville Power Administration (BPA) on 
the Columbia River. {See Map 2.) In 
this he was supported by Brig. Gen. 
Thomas M. Robins, the assistant chief 
of the Corps of Engineers, and Carl 
H. Giroux, the Corps' chief power 
expert, who also suggested possible 
sites in the southwest as alternate 
choices. 

Matthias and the Du Pont repre- 
sentatives investigated possible site 
locations from the California-Arizona 
border near Hoover Dam to the great 
Grand Coulee Dam in northeast cen- 
tral Washington. They checked a 
score of potential locations and stud- 
ied maps and detailed reports pre- 
pared by the Los Angeles, Sacramen- 
to, and Seattle district engineers. 
Four sites appeared promising: two in 
Washington — one near Grand Coulee 
Dam and the other in the vicinity of 
Hanford, a community in the south 
central part of the state; a third on 
the Pit River, near the almost com- 
pleted Shasta Dam in northern Cali- 
fornia; and the last on the California- 
Arizona border in the Needles-Blythe 
area, easily accessible to power from 
Hoover Dam. Because Matthias and 
his colleagues strongly favored the 
Hanford location. General Groves 
directed Col. John J. O'Brien, head of 
the Engineers' Real Estate Branch, to 
begin a preliminary appraisal of the 
site. Meanwhile, Groves also made a 
personal inspection of the area on 
16 January 1943 and gave it his 
approval. 



Before asking for War Department 
authorization for acquisition of the 
Hanford site. Groves sought and re- 
ceived the BPA's assurance that it 
could provide adequate power when 
needed. The site selection team had 
found that the BPA's only recently 
completed trunk transmission line 
running between Grand Coulee and 
Bonneville Dams traversed the west- 
ern portion of the projected Hanford 
site, with a major substation located 
at Midway, just outside the site area. 
This meant that a connection into the 
BPA system could be made quickly, 
guaranteeing an initial power supply 
for plant operations as soon as 
needed. 

The Hanford Engineer Works, as 
the plutonium production site was 
designated officially, comprised about 
670 square miles (slightly smaller 
than contemplated) in an isolated part 
of the south central Washington 
region near the confluence of the Co- 
lumbia and Yakima Rivers. It lay pri- 
marily in Benton County, but also in- 
cluded parts of Yakima, Grant, 
Adams, and Franklin Counties. Very 
sparsely settled, the site included only 
three tiny communities: Hanford, 
White Bluffs, and Richland. A few 
miles to the southeast was the larger 
town of Pasco, an important rail 
center. Yakima, some 20 miles to the 
west, was a small city serving as a 
trade center for a surrounding rich 
agricultural area. 

The major population centers of 
Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, and Spo- 
kane were all more than 100 miles 
distant. The Columbia River provided 
ample cold water of unusually high 
purity for cooling; the terrain and cli- 
mate were close to ideal. Bounded 



ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 



111 



generally on the south by the Yakima 
River, on the east and north by the 
Columbia, and on the west and south- 
west by a steep 3,500-foot ridge line, 
the site was, for the most part, flat or 
slightly rolling, with only the 1,000- 
foot-high Gable Mountain rising to 
the north from the otherwise unbro- 
ken terrain. Excellent rail transporta- 
tion lines ran nearby and a fairly ex- 
tensive, existing road system could be 
extended without much difficulty over 
the level terrain. 

The shape of the site was irregular, 
but roughly circular, extending on a 
north-south line about 37 miles at its 
widest point and with a maximum 
east-west breadth of about 26 miles. 
The tentative plan called for purchase 
of a little less than half of the land 
and for lease of the remainder. The 
outer 10-mile security buffer zone was 
no longer considered necessary, but 
two smaller areas totaling some 60 
square miles, adjacent to an impor- 
tant sector of the site, were to be 
leased for security purposes. The esti- 
mated cost of acquiring the entire site 
was slightly over $5 million. 

With Under Secretary of War Pat- 
terson's approval on 9 February, ac- 
quisition began immediately. By late 
spring much had been acquired, but 
gaining control of the entire site 
would be a long process. Had Gen- 
eral Groves been able to foresee the 
troubles that lay ahead, he might well 
have selected another site.^^ 



Plutonium Semiworks: Argonne 
vs. Tennessee 

The decision to shift the site of the 
main plutonium production plant 
from Tennessee to the Pacific North- 
west threw open to question once 
again the location of the semiworks 
for the pile process.^'* In December 
1942, after learning that the main 
production facilities probably would 
not be built at the Tennessee site, 
Arthur Compton and his Metallurgi- 
cal Laboratory staff favored going 
back to the original plan of centering 
plutonium experimentation, testing, 
and pilot plant production of fission- 
able material at the conveniently situ- 
ated Argonne Forest site.^^ {See Map 2.) 
But Du Pont, having full respon- 
sibility for the plutonium program, 
strongly opposed this alternative. Du 
Pont engineers placed considerable 
emphasis on the hazards involved in 
setting up operations near a large 



^^ See Ch. XV for a detailed account of land 
quisition at the Hanford site. 



^^ A semiworks is a developmental plant in which 
the equipment and the amounts of materials used 
are larger than those employed in regular laboratory 
research. In the context of this discussion, the term 
semiworks refers to the intermediate stage for trans- 
forming research data into a large-scale production 
process. See MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 1, "General Fea- 
tures," App. A3, and Vol. 2, "Research," Pt. 2, pp. 
2.1-2.3, DASA. 

^^ Subsection based on Compton, Atomic Quest, 
pp. 150-52 and 170-72; Groves, Now It Can Be Told, 
pp. 68-69; DSM Chronology, 13-14 Sep 42, each 
Sec. 2(a), OROO; ibid., 6, 8-9 Jan 43, each Sec. 3. 
OROO; ibid., 16 Jan 43, Sec. 5, OROO; Min. Tech 
Council, 10 and 28 Dec 42 (Rpt CS-371), ANL; 
Hewlett and Anderson, Aw World, pp. 190-91; 
Supp. No. 1,4 Jan 43. to Ltr Contract W-7412- 
eng-1, 1 Dec 42, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, Groves 
Files, Fldr 19, Tab B, MDR; Completion Rpt, Du 
Pont, sub: Clinton Engr Works, TNX Area, Contract 
W-7412-eng-23, 1 Apr 44, p. 2, OROO; Ltr, Wil- 
liams to Yancey, 12 Jan 43, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 337 (Univ of Chicago), MDR; Groves Diary, 9- 
11 and 16 Jan 43, LRG; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, 
pp. 3.1-3.2, DASA. 



112 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



metropolitan area; they did not think 
there would be enough room at the 
Argonne site; and they also saw cer- 
tain disadvantages in having the 
semiworks readily accessible. 

Du Pont also objected to the Metal- 
lurgical Laboratory staff assuming it 
could dictate plans and policies on 
matters that the company held to be 
its own prerogatives. Compton had 
already detailed physicist Martin D. 
Whitaker, who had worked with Fermi 
on the first pile, and other staff mem- 
bers to supervise development of re- 
search facilities that would operate in 
connection with the semiworks. Du 
Pont, however, had a long-established 
policy that a research staff must not 
be permitted to exert too much con- 
trol over the design and construction 
phases of a project. When this hap- 
pened, the company had found, the 
staff had a tendency to keep making 
changes that seriously interfered with 
construction progress. In the world of 
industry, Du Pont felt, the research 
laboratory was the servant of manage- 
ment, not its master. 

General Groves realized that if the 
differences between the Metallurgical 
Laboratory scientists and the Du Pont 
industrial engineers could not soon 
be resolved, there was serious ques- 
tion as to whether they would ever 
function efficiently as a team. From 
the Army's point of view, achievement 
of a harmonious working agreement 
on the design, construction, and loca- 
tion of the semiworks was crucial, not 
only for present operations but also 
for future plans regarding the main 
production plant. Now that Du Pont 
had made significant progress on its 
design and procurement of essential 
equipment for the works, both Groves 
and Du Pont officials felt that no fur- 



ther delays could be tolerated. Fur- 
thermore, the efforts of Crawford 
Greenewalt, Du Pont's liaison repre- 
sentative, to establish an agreement 
with the Chicago scientists had not 
been too successful. Consequently, on 
4 January 1943, Du Pont accepted the 
Army's alternative solution that the 
company design and construct the 
buildings to house the pilot pile and 
chemical separation facilities. 

The Army-Du Pont agreement, 
however, still left the question of the 
location of the semiworks unsettled, 
and this issue was the main item on 
the agenda of a conference held in 
Wilmington on 6 January. Hoping to 
get a prompt decision. General 
Groves sent two of his ablest officers 
from District headquarters — Colonel 
Nichols and Lt. Col. E. H. Marsden — 
to assist the area engineer at Wilming- 
ton, Maj. William L. Sapper, in pre- 
senting the Army's views to the repre- 
sentatives of Du Pont and the Metal- 
lurgical Laboratory. The Manhattan 
chief's strategy succeeded; the meet- 
ing closed with a tentative agreement 
that the semiworks be erected at the 
Tennessee site. 

The tentative agreement almost, 
but not quite, settled the issue. Under 
a previous agreement governing rela- 
tions between Du Pont and the Metal- 
lurgical Laboratory, all important de- 
cisions had to receive final approval 
from both Compton and Greenewalt. 
Greenewalt's assent was a foregone 
conclusion, but Groves knew that 
Compton was not likely to give in 
without at least an effort to salvage 
something for the Argonne site. In 
anticipation of this, he sent Colonel 
Nichols to Chicago. 



ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 

■.Mtm 



113 




Col. E. H. Marsden ( 1946 photograph). Marsden became executive officer of the 
Manhattan District in July 1943. 



Conferring with Compton and his 
assistant, Norman Hilberry, Colonel 
Nichols stressed the greater safety of 
the Tennessee site. Nichols's argu- 
ment, however, failed to alter Comp- 
ton's conviction that the Argonne site 
was adequately safe and eminently 
suitable. Furthermore, he contended, 
to shift to Tennessee now would be a 
severe blow to the morale of his labo- 
ratory staff. The Metallurgical Labo- 
ratory did not have enough scientists 
and technicians to staff another major 
research center in addition to those at 
Chicago and Argonne. If the decision 
was going to be to erect the 
semiworks in Tennessee, Compton 
concluded, then the Argonne Labora- 
tory should be authorized to build for 
its own use a pile of sufficient size to 



produce the supply of plutonium it 
needed for experimental purposes. 

Nichols suggested to Groves that a 
meeting between Compton and Roger 
Williams, head of Du Font's TNX Di- 
vision (the company's special organi- 
zation for carrying out its atomic 
energy program commitments), might 
pave the way to an agreement. Sens- 
ing that the time had arrived for deci- 
sive action on his part. Groves imme- 
diately arranged to meet with Wil- 
liams, Compton, Hilberry, and Fermi 
on 11 January in Chicago. Colonel 
Marshall also came from District 
headquarters in New York to assist in 
pressing for a decision. 

The meeting opened with Williams 
reiterating Du Font's opposition to 
Argonne. Then the group considered 



114 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



alternative sites. Williams warned that 
a site other than Tennessee or Ar- 
gonne would result in a further seri- 
ous delay. Location at Hanford, for 
example, would require too much 
time, would very likely interfere with 
construction of the production facili- 
ties, and would place the installation 
too far away from Wilmington and 
Chicago. Finally, with Compton still 
reluctant, the group agreed that the 
semiworks should be built in 
Tennessee. 

The question of who would operate 
the semiworks also came up for dis- 
cussion at the Chicago meeting. 
Taking advantage of Williams's pres- 
ence, both Groves and Compton pro- 
posed that Du Pont operate as well as 
build the semiworks. But Williams, 
pleading lack of authority, avoided 
making a commitment. 

The next opportunity for discussing 
the semiworks problem came at a 
conference on pile project policies, 
held in Wilmington on 16 January. 
General Groves was away on an in- 
spection trip at the Hanford site, but 
Colonel Nichols and Maj. Arthur V. 
Peterson, the Chicago area engineer, 
were on hand. Compton, accompa- 
nied by Hilberry and Whitaker, came 
determined to persuade Du Pont that, 
as builder and operator of the main 
production plant, it logically should 
also perform both these functions for 
the semiworks. But Williams, acting 
again as spokesman for a strong Du 
Pont delegation, had ready some ef- 
fective counterarguments. In perfect- 
ing any new technical process, he 
pointed out, Du Pont always left op- 
eration of the experimental plant 
stage to the research staff. Further- 
more, WiUiams continued, Du Pont 
felt especially unqualified to operate 



the semiworks because it involved 
major processes entirely outside the 
field of chemistry, the company's 
normal area of specialization. Wil- 
liams thus proposed that the Universi- 
ty of Chicago operate the semiworks 
and Du Pont furnish the university 
with engineers, accountants, and simi- 
lar personnel. 

Compton obviously was profoundly 
shocked by Williams's proposal. Nei- 
ther in terms of its fundamental pur- 
pose nor of its proper function, he 
said, could a university operate an es- 
sentially industrial enterprise at a lo- 
cation some 500 miles from its 
campus. The Du Pont representatives 
countered with the observation that 
the university would be performing at 
least one appropriate function: edu- 
cating company personnel in the spe- 
cial art of making plutonium. Comp- 
ton knew that the Army would prefer 
not having Du Pont take on operation 
of the semiworks because it believed 
the firm's resources would be taxed 
to the limit in building and operating 
the plutonium production plant and 
in carrying out its other war con- 
tracts. He agreed to consult with 
Conant in Washington, D.C., and 
with the administration of the Univer- 
sity of Chicago. 

There can be little doubt that 
Compton still held serious reserva- 
tions on the task of operating the 
semiworks. He was even more dubi- 
ous that the University of Chicago ad- 
ministration could be persuaded to 
agree to the task. Conant gave him no 
encouragement; the Harvard presi- 
dent took a dim view of a university 
running an industrial plant. Hence, 
perhaps no one was more relieved 
than Compton when the University of 



ORGANIZING FOR PRODUCTION 



115 



Chicago agreed to accept a contract 
for operation of the plutonium 
semiworks. An exchange of letters be- 
tween Groves and University of Chi- 
cago President Robert Maynard 
Hutchins in March 1943 provided the 
necessary formal agreement for nego- 
tiation of a War Department contract. 
Hutchins, who happened to be absent 
from the campus at the time the 
actual decision was made, remarked 
to Compton the next time he saw him 
on the street: "I see, Arthur, that 
while I was gone you doubled the size 
of my university." ^^ 

For General Groves, successful res- 
olution of the plutonium semiworks 
problem was a major administrative 
achievement. As the program devel- 
oped, this accompHshment set the 
standard for future cooperation be- 
tween Du Pont and Compton's pluto- 
nium research and development ac- 
tivities — a key factor in working out 
the far more complex problems of 
building and operating the great plu- 
tonium production works at Hanford. 

Program Funding 

As the size and complexity of the 
atomic energy program increased, the 



^® Quoted in Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 172-74. 
See also Dist Engr, Monthly Rpt on DSM Proj, 21 
Jan 43, MDR. In his report the district engineer al- 
ready refers to the University of Chicago as the "op- 
erator" of the plutonium semiworks, more than six 
weeks before the university had formally agreed to 
take this responsibility. Other items pertinent to 
negotiation of the semiworks operation contract are 
Ltr, Conant to Compton, 4 Mar 43, OSRD; Ltrs, 
Groves to Hutchins, 10 Mar 43, and Hutchins to 
Groves, 16 Mar 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 161, 
MDR; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, p. 2.3, and Ft. 2, 
pp. 3.1-3.2, DASA; WD-Univ of Chicago Contract 
W-7405-eng-39, 1 May 43, OROO, with pertinent 
extracts found in Cert of Audit MDE 179-46, E. I. 
du Pont de Nemours and Co., 30 Jun 46, Fiscal and 
Audit Files, Cert of Audit (Sup), MDR. 



Army had to face the problem of ad- 
ditional funding. The decision to de- 
velop four processes was obviously 
going to cost a great deal more than 
could be covered by the original fi- 
nancial commitment. A few days after 
Groves took command of the Manhat- 
tan Project in September 1942, Colo- 
nel Marshall discussed with him the 
necessity for speed in appropriating 
the remainder of the $85 million ear- 
lier approved for the program. Only 
$38 million had actually been allocat- 
ed during the summer, and the rest 
would soon be needed. Groves, how- 
ever, did not take any immediate 
action. In early November, Marshall 
again raised this question but now re- 
ported that future needs would total 
around $400 milHon. Agreeing with 
this estimate. Groves earmarked the 
remainder of the $85 million for the 
Manhattan Project and laid the 
groundwork for a drastic increase in 
its funding. 

On 15 December, the Military 
Policy Committee forwarded the $400 
million estimate to the President, rec- 
ommending that the necessary addi- 
tional funds be made available early 
in 1943. Also, the committee urged 
that General Reybold, the Engineers 
chief, be authorized to enter into con- 
tractual obligations beyond the funds 
then under his control, should obsta- 
cles arise to prevent an early appro- 
priation of additional money. 

Roosevelt approved the commit- 
tee's recommendations, and prepara- 
tions were begun to secure the funds 
confidentially within regular Army ap- 
propriations. By April 1943, the need 
for General Reybold to exercise his 
authority to spend additional money 
was clear. Some $50 million would be 



116 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



required by the end of June and an 
additional $286 million within an- 
other six months. In late May, Gener- 
al Somervell, the Army Service Forces 
commander, ^"^ authorized Reybold to 
make available to the Manhattan 
Project $300 million from engineer 
funds; however, by this time, an addi- 
tional $400 million was needed to 
carry the project through to the end 
of 1944. This sum, too, was soon 
made available under disguised pur- 
poses in the Military Appropriations 
Act of 1944. At least for the immedi- 
ate future, it appeared fiscal require- 
ments had been met. When the prob- 
lem rose again in the following year, 
new means would have to be devised 
to solve it.^® 

By spring of 1943, approximately 
six months after General Groves's as- 
signment to the Manhattan Project, 
major advances in the atomic pro- 
gram provided more promise than at 
any time in the past of success in 



^^ Initially called the Services of Supply (SOS), 
the name was changed to Army Service Forces 
(ASF) by WD GO 14, 12 Mar 43. 

^^ Correspondence (Sep 42-May 43) on this sub- 
ject filed in Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 110 (Appro- 
priations), MDR. See also MPC Rpt, 15 Dec 42, 
MDR; ibid, 12 Aug 43, Incl to Memo, Groves (for 
MPC) to Chief of Staff, same date, OCG Files, Gen 
Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, Tab E, MDR; MPC Min, 
5 May 43, MDR; MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 5, "Fiscal Proce- 
dures," App. B2, DASA. 



building an atomic bomb. These in- 
cluded achievement of a self-sustain- 
ing chain reaction in the pile method; 
assurance of an adequate supply of 
uranium ore; selection of plant sites 
and work on their acquisition; letting 
of contracts for construction and 
plant operation; and appropriation of 
requisite funding through 1944. Work 
on the design of a bomb was pro- 
gressing, bolstered by satisfactory 
progress in the research and develop- 
ment of methods to isolate a suffi- 
cient quantity of U-235 and of the ap- 
parent feasibility of obtaining and 
using plutonium as a fissionable ex- 
plosive. Project officials now believed 
there was a good chance that the pro- 
duction of bombs on a one-per- 
month basis would begin in the first 
half of 1945. By mid-1943, the Man- 
hattan District had taken over admin- 
istration of most of the OSRD re- 
search contracts and was preparing to 
assume responsibility for the rest in 
short order. ^^ Now that the period of 
joint Army-OSRD administration of 
the program was coming to an end, 
all work on the development of the 
atomic bomb would continue under 
the direction of the Army. 



39 Dist Engr, Monthly Rpt on DSM Proj, 23 Apr- 
24 May 43, MDR. 



CHAPTER VI 



The Electromagnetic Process 



Considered from the viewpoint of 
basic mihtary objectives, the single 
most important problem of the Man- 
hattan Project was how to produce 
fissionable materials in the quantity 
and of the quality required to make 
an atomic bomb. By the end of 1942, 
because project leaders were reason- 
ably certain that a considerably great- 
er amount of fissionable materials 
than had been previously estimated 
would be needed, the Military Policy 
Committee decided to proceed with 
full-scale development of three pro- 
duction methods: for plutonium, the 
pile process; for U-235, the gaseous 
diffusion and electromagnetic proc- 
esses. Of the three, project leaders 
agreed that the electromagnetic 
method most likely would be the first 
to produce an appreciable quantity of 
fissionable material, although not 
nearly enough for an atomic weapon. 

There remained, however, some 
major reservations concerning the 
feasibility of the electromagnetic 
method as a large-scale production 
process. In its recommendation that 
the Army initiate construction of a 
1 00-grams-per-day electromagnetic 
plant, the S-1 Executive Committee 
indicated that all contractual arrange- 
ments should be drawn up so that 
they could be readily canceled should 



"subsequent developments warrant 
... a change of plans." ^ Similarly, 
following its fact-finding tour of the 
project's research laboratories, the 
Lewis reviewing committee reported: 
"We do not see that the electromag- 
netic method presents a practical so- 
lution to the military problem at its 
present capacity. . . ." ^ An electro- 
magnetic plant capable of producing 
1 kilogram of fissionable material per 
day would require at least twenty-two 
thousand separation tanks, whereas 
the same output could be achieved by 
a diffusion plant of only forty-six hun- 
dred stages or three 250,000-kilowatt 
plutonium piles. These figures im- 
plied that an electromagnetic plant 
would take longer to build, use up far 
more scarce materials and manpower, 
require more electrical power to op- 
erate, and cost a much greater sum 
than either a gaseous diffusion or plu- 
tonium plant with equivalent produc- 
tion capabilities.^ 

In spite of the drawbacks of the 
electromagnetic method as a large- 



» DSM Chronology, 13 Sep 42, Sec. 2(e), GROG. 

2 Rpt of Lewis Reviewing Committee, in MPC 
Rpt, 15 Dec 42. OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, 
Fldr 25, Tab B, MDR. 

^ Conclusions of Reviewing Committee, 4 Dec 42, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 334 (Special Reviewing 
Committee), MDR. 



118 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



scale industrial process, each of the 
three committees concluded that the 
method presented advantages which 
outweighed its obvious defects. Based 
on a proven laboratory tool, the mass 
spectrograph, the electromagnetic 
method was the most certain of the 
processes to produce at least some 
fissionable material, albeit not very ef- 
ficiently. Also, a mass production 
level could be more rapidly attained 
because an electromagnetic plant 
could be built in relatively small, self- 
sufficient sections, each of which 
could begin producing material as 
soon as it was completed. Neither the 
gaseous diffusion nor pile methods 
had this advantage. Finally, too, Gen- 
eral Groves and S-1 Chairman James 
B. Conant, as well as several of the 
other project leaders, perceived the 
leadership of Ernest Lawrence as 
giving a distinct advantage to the 
electromagnetic process. The Univer- 
sity of California scientist repeatedly 
had demonstrated an ability to find 
quick, practical solutions to even the 
most difficult technical problems that 
had arisen in development of the 
process.* 

Electromagnetic Research and the Army, 
1942-1943 

Only weeks after Colonel Marshall's 
assignment as district engineer, the 
Army began to take over administra- 
tion of engineering, construction, 
procurement, and related aspects of 
the electromagnetic program, leaving 
to the Office of Scientific Research 
and Development (OSRD) continued 



supervision of research and develop- 
ment activities and fiscal and budget- 
ary matters. In August, Marshall 
opened the California Area Engineers 
Office at Berkeley and assigned Maj. 
Thomas T. Crenshaw as area engi- 
neer and Capt. Harold. A. Fidler as 
his assistant. Crenshaw soon estab- 
lished himself in the university's 
Donner Laboratory, adjacent to Law- 
rence's office.^ 

During the fall and winter of 1942- 
43, Major Crenshaw's office became 
increasingly involved in procurement 
of materials and equipment for the 
research and development program 
and with providing liaison between 
the Berkeley program and other ele- 
ments of the atomic project. In this 
period, an important phase of the 
staff's liaison function was arranging 
visits to the Radiation Laboratory for 
the various individuals and groups in- 
volved in trying to decide what the 
role of the electromagnetic process 
should be.^ 



*MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2, "Research." pp. 1.6-1.8, 
DASA; Groves, Now It Can Be Told, p. 96; Smyth 
Report, pp. 145-46; Stone and Webster, A Report to 
the People, p. 18. 



5 MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2, pp. 2.1-2.2, DASA; Memo, 
Crenshaw to Dist Engr, sub: Weekly Progress Rpt, 
22 Aug 42, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 001 (Mtgs), 
MDR; Interv, Author with Fidler, 6 Jul 64, CMH. 

^Subsection based on DSM Chronology, 13-14 
Sep 42, Sec. 2(e), 11 Nov 42, Sec. 2(d), 14 Nov 42, 
Sec. 2, OROO; Hewlett and Anderson, New World, 
pp. 96, 112, 141-47, 157-58; Rpt, Capt Arthur V. 
Peterson, sub: Visit to Berkeley Proj, 17 Oct 42, 
Admm Files, Gen Corresp, 680.2 (Berkeley), MDR; 
Groves Diary, 1-9 Nov 42, LRG; Rpt, sub: R & D at 
Univ of Calif Rad Lab, 24 Apr 45 (prepared as Bk. 
5, Vol. 2, of MDH), Figs. 6 and 7, SFOO; MDH, Bk. 
5, Vol. 2, pp. 1.4, 3.9-3.10, 4.1-4.3, and Vol. 3, 
"Design," pp. 2.6-2.10, 3.5-3.6, App. C6, DASA; 
MPC Min, 10 Dec 42, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP 
Files, Fldr 23, Tab A, MDR; Memo, Lawrence to 
Fidler, 8 Mar 43, LRL. For a detailed discussion of 
the electromagnetic process, see the appropriate 
volumes in Division 1, Electromagnetic Separation 
Project, of the National Nuclear Energy Series (see 
Bibliographical Note). 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



119 



These visitors came to learn first- 
hand more about Lawrence's method 
and how it was progressing. After 
clearances by Crenshaw's staff and 
the laboratory's security officials, 
Lawrence and his technical staff 
showed them the impressive physical 
facilities and equipment. They toured 
the conventional laboratories on the 
university grounds and then the great 
domed cyclotron building with its ad- 
jacent shops and facilities located in 
the hilly area east of the main 
campus. There they observed the in- 
tensive investigations under way into 
the physics and chemistry of separat- 
ing U-235 from ordinary uranium by 
the electromagnetic method. Law- 
rence had committed the largest part 
of his staff and resources to the phys- 
ics or physical aspects of the separa- 
tion process, centering this research 
in two buildings, one housing a 37- 
inch magnet and the other a 184-inch 
magnet. The availability of these cy- 
clotron magnets, which were excep- 
tional in size and strength, was the 
single most important factor in 
making possible research into the fea- 
sibility of the electromagnetic method 
as a production process. Research 
into the chemical aspects of the sepa- 
ration process under Lawrence's di- 
rection was a much smaller program, 
with laboratory investigations in 
progress at both the Berkeley and 
Davis campuses of the University of 
California.'^ 



'' Not all research into the chemistry of the elec- 
tromagnetic process was located at the University of 
California, Berkeley. The OSRD also had contracted 
with Brown, Purdue, and Johns Hopkins to investi- 
gate some aspects. Subsequently, too, the electro- 
magnetic production plant operator, the Tennessee 
Eastman Corporation, carried on chemical research 
for the process in Eastman Kodak laboratories in 
Rochester, N.Y., and near the plant site in Oak 



Lawrence and his scientist col- 
leagues repeatedly emphasized to visi- 
tors that their ultimate success or fail- 
ure depended on development of the 
calutron — a name derived from the 
words California, university, and cyclo- 
tron, ff they could redesign the calu- 
tron, a novel hybridization of two 
well-known laboratory tools — the 
mass spectrograph and the cyclotron 
magnet — so that it would operate not 
only intermittently, as in the labor- 
atory, but also on an around-the- 
clock, day-after-day, month-after- 
month basis without breakdown, then 
they would have the means for pro- 
ducing a significant amount of en- 
riched uranium for an atomic weapon. 

Lawrence had made some design 
modifications in the first calutron, in- 
stalled in the 37-inch magnet, follow- 
ing successful experiments in Febru- 
ary 1942. He found, however, that he 
was unable to test the validity of these 
changes until he had access to a more 
powerful magnetic field. This became 
available in the spring with comple- 
tion of the 184-inch magnet. The re- 
designed calutron became the proto- 
type for the first production units at 
the Tennessee plant. Mounted on a 
metal door, this calutron could be 
taken out of its vacuum tank as a 
single unit, which greatly facilitated 
recovery of any of the valuable urani- 
um feed material adhering to compo- 
nents and also expedited reloading 
and maintenance. 

At the same time, Lawrence's group 
had also developed the essential 
supporting components — magnet, 

vacuum pumps, cooling systems, and 



Ridge, Tenn. See MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2. pp. 1.1-1.2, 
3.1,4.1, DASA. 



120 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



electrical power and control equip- 
ment. While these components were 
more conventional in design and 
function, they still had to be adapted 
to conform to the requirements of the 
electromagnetic process. The design 
engineers, for example, decided that 
the most efficient layout for the mag- 
nets and tanks was in an oval-shaped 
pattern, thus creating the racetrack 
configuration that characterized each 
major element of the production 
plant. A special system of pumps 
achieved and maintained the required 
vacuum equivalent of one one-hun- 
dred-millionth of normal atmospheric 
pressure in hundreds of calutron 
tanks. 

Involving less space, fewer person- 
nel, and mainly conventional proce- 
dures, the chemical aspects of the 
electromagnetic process must have 
appeared far less important; neverthe- 
less, both the first and final stages of 
the process were essentially chemical 
operations and required new tech- 
niques and chemical substances about 
which relatively little was known. For 
the first stage the chemists had to de- 
velop a method of large-scale produc- 
tion of uranium tetrachloride, the 
most promising feed material for the 
calutrons. For the last stage they had 
to devise an efficient method to ex- 
tract the enriched uranium produced 
by the calutrons and prepare it for 
use by the Los Alamos Laboratory 
scientists in developing an atomic 
bomb. By early 1943, the chemists 
had made substantial progress on 
both the feed material and extraction 
techniques. 

Virtually all who visited the Radi- 
ation Laboratory at Berkeley came 
away impressed with the feasibility of 
the electromagnetic research program 



and with the eminently empirical 
approach of Lawrence and his staff. 
This approach, characterized by a 
frequently demonstrated talent for 
finding practical solutions to every 
problem, inspired project leaders with 
further confidence in Lawrence's 
process as they prepared to transform 
the research data and devices into an 
industrial production plant at the 
Tennessee site. 



Research and Development, 1943-1945: 
Radiation Laboratory 

As the electromagnetic program 
shifted from basic research to the 
problems of designing, building, and 
operating a major production plant, 
the Army brought the project more 
directly under its administrative juris- 
diction. Replacing OSRD contracts 
with War Department contracts was 
an important step in attaining this 
goal. 

The University of California accept- 
ed a letter contract from the district 
engineer, effective 1 April 1943, 
pending the working out of details of 
a formal War Department contract. 
Then on the sixteenth, representa- 
tives of the Manhattan District, 
OSRD, and the university's Board of 
Regents reached final agreement on 
terms of a new prime contract cover- 
ing most aspects of the atomic re- 
search program in progress at the Ra- 
diation Laboratory. The new contract 
went into effect on 1 May, bringing to 
an end the OSRD's formal connection 
with the California project. Hence- 
forth, until the Army terminated con- 
trol of the atomic energy program at 
the end of 1946, this new agreement, 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



121 



renewed annually, provided the con- 
tractual basis for continuing the re- 
search and development activities req- 
uisite to construction and operation 
of the electromagnetic plant in Ten- 
nessee. In recognition of the overrid- 
ing requirements of security, the re- 
gents assented to leaving all details of 
managing the program as they related 
to the university to their secretary, 
Robert M. Underbill, and to Law- 
rence. Some subsequent modifica- 
tions in the prime contract relating to 
health and chemistry activities did not 
result in major changes in the Radi- 
ation Laboratory program, nor in the 
Army's relationship to it.^ 

In general, fiscal arrangements re- 
mained the same as they had been 
under the OSRD contract, with one 
significant exception. The War De- 
partment contract provided that an 
amount equal to 25 percent of the 
total funds allotted for salaries and 
wages could be used by the university 
to defray its overhead expenses in op- 



* Ltr Contract W-7405-eng-48, Marshall to Univ 
of Calif, Attn: R. M. Underbill, 1 Apr 43, copy in 
MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2, App. C3, also see pp. 2.1-2.3, 
DASA; Historical Summary of Contract W-7405- 
eng-48, May 43-Aug 47, comp. by Russell H. Ball, 
Jan 48, witb significant correspondence on subcon- 
stracts W-7405-eng 48A (health) and W-7405-eng 
48B (chemistry) under Tab 6, pp. 35-49 and 50-60, 
SFOO; NDRC and OSRD Contracts with Univ of 
Calif, Jun 41-Sep 42, SFOO; Rpt, sub: R & D at 
Univ of Calif Rad Lab, 24 Apr 45, pp. 19-28, SFOO; 
Fidler Interv, 6 Jul 64, CMH. The Radiation Labo- 
ratory health reseach program, directed by J. D. 
Hamilton, functioned as a part of the project-wide 
health program of the Manhattan District, which was 
centered at the Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago. 
A chemistry program, directed by W. M. Latimer, 
had grown out of the participation of the University 
of California's chemistry department in the early 
phases of atomic research at Berkeley. When the 
OSRD contracts for these programs came up for re- 
newal in June 1943, the Army continued them as 
separate projects operating under the prime 
contract. 



erating the Radiation Laboratory; the 
OSRD contract had provided 30 per- 
cent for this purpose. Partly in reac- 
tion to this reduction in overhead al- 
lotment, in November 1943 business 
representatives of the University of 
California, University of Chicago, and 
Columbia University requested the 
Manhattan District to include a provi- 
sion in prime contracts guaranteeing 
the universities, in view of their non- 
profit status, against a profit or loss 
in administering atomic research pro- 
grams. Following several months of 
negotiation with the universities, the 
District agreed in May 1944 that the 
government would compensate them 
if their overhead costs should exceed 
their 25 percent allowance and, con- 
versely, they would return to the gov- 
ernment any surplus that might result 
from this allowance. 

At the same time, the District 
added a provision in the prime con- 
tracts with California, Chicago, and 
Columbia for a so-called welfare fund. 
Thus, in the case of California, the 
government established a fund of 
$500,000, which was to continue in 
existence for a period of ten years 
after termination of its contract with 
the War Department. Any claims 
made by Radiation Laboratory em- 
ployees or their relatives during that 
time because of death or disability re- 
sulting from a specified list of unusual 
hazards in atomic research activities — 
for example, radioactivity, high vol- 
tages, and movement of objects by 
magnetic forces — would be paid from 
this fund. The government provided 
the money for the fund and the uni- 
versity administered it with assistance 
of a private insurance company. The 
welfare fund took the place of the 



122 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



OSRD's private indemnification insur- 
ance, which the District had contin- 
ued only until such time as a gov- 
ernment-financed system could be 
established.^ 

The Army's first major administra- 
tive task after the formal contract 
became effective was to supervise 
preparation of the program's fiscal 
year (FY) 1944 budget. As of mid-1943, 
cost of the program had reached about 
$500,000 a month, and was following 
an upward trend. District and univer- 
sity officials agreed upon a request for 
$7.5 million (an average of $625,000 
per month) for FY 1944. By November, 
however. Regents Secretary Underbill 
was warning Captain Fidler, who had 
replaced Major Crenshaw as area engi- 
neer, that even this increased sum was 
not likely to be enough to meet mush- 
rooming costs. Underbill estimated 
that the university would need an addi- 
tional $1.5 to $2 million in the remain- 
ing months of FY 1944. Consequently, 
the District approved a supplementary 
appropriation, bringing total cost to 
$9.5 million. 

The Army's negotiations with the 
University of California for the FY 
1944 budget set the pattern for sub- 
sequent years. Even after the electro- 
magnetic production plant began op- 
erations in the spring of 1944, the 
electromagnetic research program 
continued to require a large staff to 
solve production problems and make 
improvements in plant operations. 
Thus, for the FY 1945 budget, the 
Army scheduled $8.5 million, al- 



though only $6.5 million was actually 
expended. By the time the war ended 
in August 1945, total outlay for the 
electromagnetic research program 
had reached about $20 million — some 
$3.7 million under OSRD con- 
tracts before 1 May 1943 and the 
remainder under the War Department 
contract. ^° 

Increases in cost reflected the very 
rapid expansion of the Radiation Lab- 
oratory, both in terms of personnel 
and physical facilities. In May 1943, 
when the Army assumed full responsi- 
bility for the research program, the 
laboratory was occupying a number of 
buildings in two different locations on 
the Berkeley campus. Starting out 
modestly in 1941 in the prewar Radi- 
ation Laboratory building, atomic re- 
search activities gradually had spread 
into four adjacent structures, includ- 
ing the new Donner Laboratory, and, 
by mid- 1942, to the new 184-inch- 
cyclotron building in Berkeley Hills. 
Soon the circular-shaped cyclotron 
building, standing on the slope of a 
hill some 900 feet above the campus 
proper, was ringed with smaller addi- 
tional structures housing a machine 
shop, chemistry laboratories, ware- 
houses, and other facilities essential 
to operating and testing calutrons 
and other equipment prototypes de- 
signed for the production plant in 



9 Rpt, sub: R & D at Univ of Calif Rad Lab, 24 
Apr 45, pp. 24-27, SFOO; MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2, p. 
2.3, DASA; Ltr, Underbill lo Nichols, 13 Mar 44, 
Tab 6, Historical Summary of Contract W-7405- 
eng-48, SFOO; Ltr and Incl, Nicbols to Lawrence, 
15 Apr 44, Tab 9, ibid. 



10 Rpt, Underbill, sub: Hist of Contract W-7405- 
eng-48, [probably 1948], Tab 1; Ltr, Underbill to 
Fidler. 10 Nov 43, Tab 5b; Ltr, Fidler to Underbill, 
16 Feb 44, Tab 5e; Memo, Fidler to Dist Engr, sub: 
Contract W-7405-eng-48, 18 Feb 44, Tab 5d; 
Memo, Priestly to O. Lundberg, sub: Budgets for 
1944-45 for Projs 48, 48A and 48B, 29 Jun 44, Tab 
7; Ltr, Nichols to Univ of Calif Regents, Attn: Un- 
derbill. 20 Mar 45, Tab 8a. All in Historical Summa- 
ry of Contract W-7405-eng-48, SFOO. See also 
Ltr, Lawrence to Nichols, 24 Mar 44, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 001 (Mtgs), MDR. 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



123 



Tennessee. Part of the chemistry pro- 
gram, too, had overflowed facihties 
on the Berkeley campus and been 
moved to the University of Califor- 
nia's School of Agriculture at Davis. 

For each new structure or renova- 
ton, Lawrence and his staff laid out 
preliminary plans and estimates, 
which went to the area engineer's 
office for approval and checking. De- 
tailed supervision of construction was 
left to Radiation Laboratory business 
manager Kenneth Priestly. To expe- 
dite the work and minimize security 
problems. Priestly let contracts to the 
local firms that the university had em- 
ployed extensively in the past. For the 
same reasons, most contracts were of 
the fixed-fee or lump-sum type. By 
mid- 1945, Priestly had allocated for 
various types of construction more 
than $300,000 from funds allotted 
under the University of California's 
War Department contract. ^^ 

By far, the largest expenditures 
were for salaries and wages of the re- 
search staff and for the laboratory 
equipment and materials they needed. 
Annual payroll costs were running at 
a level of nearly $3 million in May 
1943, when the Army assumed full 
control of the Manhattan Project, and 
had reached a high point of about 
$3.7 million a year later. Equipment 
and other expenses, although some- 
what less than personnel, attained a 



*^ Constr Completion Rpt, Univ of Calif Rad Lab, 
sub: Contract W-7405-eng-48, 1 May 43-1 Aug 46, 
comp. by Calif Area Engrs Office, 1 Sep 46, SFOO 
(with maps of the two campus areas where major 
laboratory facilities were located and with selected 
photographs of important buildings); Rpt, W. B. 
Reynolds (Rad Lab Man Engr), sub: Notes on 184- 
inch Cyclotron, 16Jun 45, SPOO; "Domed Building 
Fitted to Research Needs," Engineering News-Record, 9 
Apr 42, pp. 64-66; MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2. pp. 2.7-2.8, 
DASA. 



maximum of nearly $300,000 a month 
in November 1943. ^^ 

Starting in 1941 with personnel of 
the University of California's Radi- 
ation Laboratory, which Lawrence 
had been building up since the 
1930's, the staff at Berkeley grew rap- 
idly. By May 1943, as primary empha- 
sis began to shift from basic research 
to engineering and developmental 
problems and training of operational 
personnel for the Tennessee plant, it 
numbered almost nine hundred scien- 
tists, technicians, engineers, mechan- 
ics, clerks, skilled workers, and others. 
By mid- 1944, there were nearly 
twelve hundred on the Radiation Lab- 
oratory payroll, and total employment 
remained well above one thousand 
until the end of the war.^^ 

The basic organization of the Radi- 
ation Laboratory had taken shape 
under Lawrence's guidance in the 
years immediately preceding the out- 
break of World War II and con- 
formed, more or less, to the conven- 
tional pattern for peacetime academic 
research programs, with a major divi- 
sion into research and administrative 
staffs. While Lawrence, as director, 
theoretically exercised equal control 
over both divisions, he devoted his 
energies to the research staff, delegat- 
ing to the OSRD and then the Army 
the administration of nonscientific ac- 
tivities. Major responsibilities for 
these activities devolved upon Cap- 
tain Fidler, the area engineer. Fidler 
worked closely with Regents Secretary 
Underbill, and also with Priestly who. 



12 Chart, Proj 48 Expenses Estimated by Months 
to Nearest $5,000, in MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2, App. Bl 1, 
DASA. 

13 Chart, Lab Personnel by Months (UCRL), in 
MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2, App. B2, DASA. 



124 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



as the laboratory's business manager, 
supervised administration of finances 
and personnel. ^^ 

In providing personnel, security, 
and other administrative services for 
the research staff, the area engineer 
dealt with teams of scientists and 
technicians organized along function- 
al lines under three broad areas of in- 
vestigation. The physics division, by 
far the largest, worked on the experi- 
mental calutrons, vacuum problems, 
mechanical and electrical design, reas- 
sembly of equipment, and fundamen- 
tal physical research. The chemistry 
division, much smaller, investigated 
problems of preparing feed material 
for the calutrons and recovery and 
purification of their output of U-235 
and ordinary uranium. The biological 
group constituted a subsidiary ele- 
ment of the Manhattan District's med- 
ical research program that had its 
headquarters at the Metallurgical Lab- 
oratory in Chicago. The area engi- 
neer provided its director with admin- 
istrative support in coordinating the 
activities of his group with Lawrence's 
program, based upon primary guid- 
ance from the Chicago medical scien- 
tists. The Army was helpful, too, in 
assisting the laboratory in recruitment 
and maintenance of a staff of several 



** Paragraphs on the Radiation Laboratory based 
on Rpt, Peterson, sub: Visit to Berkeley Proj, 17 Oct 
42, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 680.2 (Berkeley), 
MDR; Directory of Personnel, MD and Univ of Calif 
Personnel of R & D Group, 20 May 43, SFOO; Rpt, 
sub: R & D at Univ of Calif Rad Lab, 24 Apr 45, pp. 
30-46, SFOO; MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2, pp. 5.2-5.4, and 
Vol. 3, pp. 5.1-5.3 and App. B5 (Org Chart, Univ of 
Calif Lab Proj), DASA; Interv, Author with Reyn- 
olds, 6 Jul 64, CMH; Visitors Permits [Rad Lab], 
Oct 43 through 1946, Visitors Info File, SFOO; 
Fidler Interv, 6 Jul 64, CMH; Min, Coordination 
Committee Mtgs, Oct 42-Mar 44, Admin Files, Gen 
Corresp, 337 (Mtgs and Confs-Univ of Calif), MDR; 
Hewlett and Anderson, New World, p. 150. 



hundred technicians and skilled work- 
men, who supported the work of the 
scientists and engineers. 

Adding to the complexity of admin- 
istering the Radiation Laboratory 
were the periodic influxes of scien- 
tific, engineering, and other technical 
delegations not only from the major 
American contractors but also those 
from abroad. Such firms as the Stone 
and Webster Engineering Corpora- 
tion, Westinghouse Electric and Man- 
ufacturing Company, and especially 
the Tennessee Eastman Corporation 
sent their personnel to Berkeley to 
assist in plant development, or for 
orientation and training in the elec- 
tromagnetic process. And in Novem- 
ber 1943, Australian physicist Marcus 
L. E. Oliphant, who had played a sig- 
nificant role in the development of 
radar, and thirty of the British scien- 
tists who had come to the United 
States to aid in the atomic project 
were assigned to the laboratory — 
some until the end of the war — to 
work on various aspects of electro- 
magnetic research. 

The arrival and processing of each 
of these groups presented special 
problems to the area engineer in se- 
curity and safety, to the laboratory 
business manager in personnel and fi- 
nance, and to the laboratory director 
in program and staff coordination. 
These problems were further multi- 
plied and magnified by their high 
turnover rate, the result of the 
project's need for scientific expertise 
at other facilities. As early as 1943, 
the Army had begun to send many of 
the contractors' specialists to the 
Clinton Works to assist Tennessee 
Eastman in preparing to operate the 
electromagnetic plant. The area engi- 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



125 



ncer's staff facilitated their transfer, 
eventually permanently reassigning a 
sizable number. Again, in September 
1944, the staff oversaw the move of 
one-third of the British scientists to 
the Tennessee site. 

For the most part, the area engi- 
neer's staff was not directly involved 
in the many meetings of committee 
and group leaders who planned 
research, assessed the results of ex- 
perimental work, and advised on reas- 
signment of technical and scientific 
personnel. But the area engineer and 
other Manhattan representatives did 
participate in one key group, the Co- 
ordination Committee. Business and 
scientific leaders of the laboratory 
and representatives of the major con- 
tracting firms attended the weekly 
meetings of this committee, which 
Lawrence had established to ensure 
coordination of effort between his 
program and the many outside orga- 
nizations collaborating on design and 
construction of the electromagnetic 
production plant. After each session 
Captain Fidler, who had extensive 
training and experience in both engi- 
neering and science, prepared a writ- 
ten report of the entire proceedings 
to keep General Groves, and other 
District personnel, up to date on the 
progress of research and development 
activities at Berkeley. Whenever 
Groves visited the laboratory, usually 
once a month during the crucial 
period from October 1942 to Novem- 
ber 1943, Lawrence convened the 
weekly committee meeting to coincide 
with the commander's itinerary. Feel- 
ing that the meetings provided an ex- 
cellent means of communication with 
the key members of the laboratory 
staff, Groves took an active role in the 



free-for-all discussions of electromag- 
netic problems. 

The area engineer's staff also car- 
ried on a number of other activities, 
most of them of a routine character. 
It took part in the negotiation and in- 
terpretation of contracts and the 
review of fiscal plans and policies; as- 
sisted in those aspects of personnel 
administration involving military 
problems, especially the obtaining of 
deferments for key scientific and tech- 
nical employees; expedited procure- 
ment of equipment and materials, 
particularly those in scarce supply; 
and supervised the more ordinary as- 
pects of security. For example, to 
avoid any possibility of revealing the 
connection of the University of Cali- 
fornia with the Army and the atomic 
project, Groves always conducted his 
inspections of the laboratory in civil- 
ian clothes. When he arrived at the 
San Francisco airport, Fidler met 
Groves clandestinely and whisked him 
off to his own house so that the gen- 
eral could change from military into 
civilian attire before going to the 
university. 

Even the remarkably smooth course 
of the collaboration between the Uni- 
versity of California, Berkeley, and 
the Manhattan District — a testimony 
to the success of Captain Fidler's liai- 
son efforts, Groves's strenuous en- 
deavors to keep himself fully in- 
formed, and Lawrence's exceptional 
administrative capabilities — on occa- 
sion was punctuated with a few prob- 
lems, primarily because the university 
administration had to accept Manhat- 
tan's substantial requirements largely 
on faith for reasons of security. In 
mid-January 1943, sensing a disrup- 
tion to normal university activities. 



126 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



William J. Norton, the university busi- 
ness manager, complained to Groves 
in no uncertain terms: "To date I 
have not seen the scratch of a pen — 
one written word setting forth the 
suggestions or directives of the gov- 
ernment representatives in regard to 
the conduct of the Radiation Labora- 
tories on the Berkeley campus. . . ." 
Noting that he was aware that in the 
past half year several Army officers, 
including Groves, had visited the 
campus, Norton continued that "in- 
variably, after one of these visits, . . . 
[my] office is deluged with requests 
by numerous persons for more office 
space, laboratory space, entire build- 
ings, shops, more guards, more of 
this and that — all in the name of the 
General or the colonel, or the captain 
who has just visited the various 
plants. But for some reason I am 
never in on the discussions at the 
start." Norton then assured Groves 
that he wished to have the project run 
smoothly, an objective that could be 
much more easily achieved, he said, if 
the general would only let him know 
the importance of the project and 
who on the campus officially repre- 
sented the Manhattan District. ^^ 

Groves wrote to University of CaH- 
fornia President Robert G. Sproul, 
carefully explaining the reasons for 
the secrecy of the project and for the 
complicated and sometimes confusing 
relationships that existed between the 
Army, the university, and the con- 
tracting firms. He then outlined brief- 
ly the anticipated requirements for 
further space in university buildings. 
"Captain Fidler has been instructed," 
he stated, "to keep you [President 



Sproul] fully informed ... at all 
times" concerning the physical needs 
of the project. ^^ Groves also had re- 
quested that the War Department ex- 
plain to Sproul the importance of the 
work in progress at the Radiation 
Laboratory. "[Its] energetic prosecu- 
tion . . . ," Secretary of War Stimson 
wrote, "is a vital military necessity, 
for it is one of the foundation stones 
of an extremely important, probably 
the most important, development 
project in our war activities." ^' 

Not all basic research for the elec- 
tromagnetic process was done under 
the University of California contract. 
In June 1943, District representatives 
arranged with Tennessee Eastman to 
carry out research on certain aspects 
of process chemistry, using laboratory 
facilities (leased from Eastman Kodak) 
in Rochester, New York, and at the 
plant site in Tennessee. Cost of these 
research contracts, as well as those 
for process improvement in 1944 with 
Johns Hopkins and Purdue Universi- 
ties, were small by comparison with 
the expenditures at the University of 
California, totaling considerably less 
than $2 million. ^« 

Design and Engineering, 1943-1945 

At its 25 June 1942 meeting, the 
S-1 Executive Committee decided 
that Stone and Webster would have 
primary responsibility for basic design 
and engineering of both buildings 



'5 Ltr, Norton to Groves, 14 Jan 43, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 161 (Univ of Calif). MDR. 



'«Ltr, Groves to Sproul, 27 Jan 43, Tab 2, Histor- 
ical Summary of Contract W-7405-eng-48, SFOO. 

*'Ltrs, Stimson to Sproul, 27 Jan 43, and Groves 
to Fidler, 8 Feb 43, Tab 2, Historical Summary of 
Contract W-7405-eng-48, SFOO. 

'«MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2, pp. 1.1, 2.5-2.10, Apps. 
B4, B6-B9, B12-B15, DASA; Hewlett and Ander- 
son, New World, p. 158. 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 

Table 1 — Stone and Webster Engineering and Design Personnel 



127 



Date 



At Boston 



At Berkeley 



In the 
Field" 



Total 



1 January 1943 

1 July 1943 

1 January 1944 

1 July 1944 

1 January 1945 

1 July 1945 

' Clinton and elsewhere. 

Source: MDH. Bk. 5. Vol. 3, "Design," p. 3.52 



239 
738 
743 
685 
463 
338 



277 
770 
789 
772 
520 
381 



and equipment at the Tennessee 
site.^^ For security, the company 
formed a separate design organiza- 
tion, which by mid- 1944 had nearly 
750 employees occupying thirteen 
floors in four buildings in Boston 
and, in addition, a subordinate unit at 
the Berkeley campus and a liaison 
office at the Tennessee site {Table 1). 
To monitor the Stone and Webster 
design group, the district engineer es- 
tablished in August 1942 the Boston 
Area Engineers Office and assigned 
Maj. Benjamin K. Hough, Jr., to head 
a relatively small staff. From the be- 
ginning, one of Major Hough's most 
important responsibilities was to 
ensure that the Stone and Webster 
design group functioned under maxi- 
mum security conditions. The special 
group thus worked separately from 
other company employees, and over- 
all knowledge of the electromagnetic 
project was limited to a few key offi- 
cials and to August C. Klein, the com- 
pany's chief mechanical engineer and 



newly appointed project engineer for 
the electromagnetic plant. The area 
engineer's staff also assisted the com- 
pany in developing special security 
control measures in distribution of 
thousands of drawings to General 
Electric, Westinghouse, and other 
firms providing equipment and mate- 
rials. The designs reflected the em- 
phasis on security and speed in every 
phase of development. Wherever fea- 
sible. Stone and Webster designers 
planned to use standard items of 
equipment and customary methods of 
construction, primarily to save time. 
There was, however, a limit to the 
extent that standardization would be 
possible because of the special char- 
acter of the processes; the need for 
exceptionally close tolerances and 
performance capabilities; and, as 
proven by experience, inevitable 
changes in equipment design.^® 



'^In addition to the main production facilities. 
Stone and Webster also designed most of the elec- 
tromagnetic plant auxiliary, service, and support fa- 
cilities — including experimental racetracks to tram 



plant operators, shops, steam plants, a foundry, 
warehouses, cafeterias, and community utilities. 

20 Cert of Audit MDE 177-46, Boston Area, 
26 Apr 46, Fiscal and Audit Files, Cert of Audit 
Registers. MDR; Org Charts. I'.S. Engrs Office, 
MD, 15 Aug 43, 28 Aug and 10 Nov 44, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 020 (MED-Org), MDR; List of 

Continued 



128 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



By the turn of the year, Lawrence 
and his staff at the Radiation Labora- 
tory had made significant progress 
not only in their electromagnetic re- 
search but also in the areas of prelim- 
inary design and engineering of plant 
facilities, the results of which they for- 
warded to Stone and Webster. But 
before design of the plant could pro- 
ceed very far, company engineers 
needed answers to two important 
questions: How rich in U-235 must 
the final product be and would a 
single-stage electromagnetic plant 
achieve that degree of enrichment? 
On 4 January 1943, Oppenheimer 
furnished Lawrence with a tentative 
answer. The goal, he wrote Lawrence, 
must be near-perfect separation, that 
is, production of practically pure U- 
235 as the final product. Any lesser 
enrichment, Oppenheimer believed, 
would require such a large amount of 
the very heavy uranium that its weight 
would make it unacceptable for a 
weapon. 2^ The degree of enrichment 
possible with a single-stage plant was 
not definitely known, but it would not 
be enough to meet such stringent 
standards. A second-stage facility 
might take uranium processed in the 
original 500-tank plant and bring it to 
the required higher degree of 
enrichment. 



Key Personnel, MD Area OfFices (ca. Nov 44), 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 231.001 (LC), MDR; 
MDH. Bk. 5, Vol. 3, pp. 3.51-3.52, DASA; Tables 
(Employment by MD on Design, Research and 
Constr as of 31 May, 31 Jul, and 31 Oct 43) in Rpt, 
sub: MD Proj Data as of 1 Jun 43 (most items as of 
1 Jun 43, but tables appear to have been added at 
later date). Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 (Projs 
and Prgms), MDR; Completion Rpt, Stone and 
Webster, sub: Clinton Engr Works, Contract W- 
7401-eng-13, 1946, p. 143, OROO. 

2* I.tr, Oppenheimer to Lawrence, 4 Jan 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 201 (Lawrence), MDR. 



At the Coordination Committee 
meeting in early February, Lawrence 
expressed the view that design of the 
second-stage might reasonably be de- 
layed for another two months, pend- 
ing receipt of data on the degree of 
enrichment attained in the experi- 
mental XA calutrons nearing comple- 
tion at Berkeley. If this data indicated 
eventual achievement of 70- to 80- 
percent enrichment, no second stage 
would be necessary. Groves dis- 
agreed. There always had been the 
possibility that the electromagnetic 
process would be coordinated with 
some other isotopic separation proc- 
ess (he probably had in mind the gas- 
eous diffusion plant), and he believed 
the second-stage facility would be 
necessary either as a supplement to 
the first stage of the electromagnetic 
plant or as part of a plant for enhanc- 
ing the slightly enriched product from 
another plant. 

As Groves departed from Berkeley 
on 14 February, he urged that prompt 
decision should be reached on the 
Beta process, as it now came to be 
called to distinguish it from the first 
stage, or Alpha process. The Radi- 
ation Laboratory staff had convinced 
him that the Beta tanks could prob- 
ably be designed to make maximum 
use of Alpha-type equipment, but he 
needed further assurance from Stone 
and Webster that a second stage 
would not delay completion of the 
first stage. 

General Groves and Colonel Mar- 
shall conferred with Stone and Web- 
ster on 17 March. Marshall took the 
initiative in securing a firm agreement 
that the first five Alpha racetracks at 
the Clinton Engineer Works (CEW) 
would be identical in design and 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



129 



equipment, to guarantee their com- 
pletion at the earliest possible date. 
When the company assured Groves 
that Beta construction would not 
delay the Alpha units, he gave his ap- 
proval for the second stage. ^^ 

By late spring, design development 
for both stages was in full swing. The 
Berkeley, CHnton, and Boston design 
staffs worked under constant pressure 
from Groves and other project lead- 
ers to produce thousands of blue- 
prints for five Alpha and two Beta 
racetracks. The emphasis on speed 
took its toll. Frequently, General 
Electric, Westinghouse, and the other 
firms manufacturing components for 
the racetracks had to incorporate es- 
sential design changes after equip- 
ment was fabricated and installed, 
and inevitably some equipment fail- 
ures occurred. Everyone connected 
with the electromagnetic project soon 
realized design, redesign, and process 
improvement would continue long 
after the first major units of the plant 
began production operations. ^^ 



^^ Min, Coordination Committee Mtgs, 3 and 13 
Feb 43, MDR; Excerpt from Memo, M. P. O'Brien 
(Rad Lab Ex Engr) to Fidler, 14 Feb 46, quoted in 
par. Id of Memo, Fidler to Groves, sub: Initiation of 
Work on Y-12 Beta Process, 22 Oct 46, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1, MDR; Hewlett and An- 
derson, New World, pp. 151-52. 

2^ This and following paragraphs on electromag- 
netic design based on MDH, Bk. 5, Vols. 2-3, 
DASA; Hewlett and Anderson, New World, pp. 149- 
67; Ltr, Lawrence to Groves, 14 Jun 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 440.17 (Mfg-Prod-Fab), MDR; 
Lawrence to Groves, 3 Aug 43, Admin Files, Gen 
Corresp, 095 (TEC LC), MDR; Memo, Maj Wilbur 
E. Kelley (Y-12 Opns Div chief, CEW) to Lt Col E. 
H. Marsden (Ex Off, MD), sub: Summary of Y-12 
Proj as of 9 Aug 43, same date. Admin F'iles, Gen 
Corresp, Misc File, MDR; Min, Coordination Com- 
mittee Mtgs, 2, 9, 30 Sep and 17 Nov 43, MDR; 
MPC Min, 13 Aug 43, MDR; Rpt, sub: R & D at 
Univ at Calif Rad Lab, 24 Apr 45, pp. 17 and 23, 
SFOO; Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Sep 



By summer, with most blueprints 
for Alpha I completed and procure- 
ment contracts for plant equipment 
arranged. Groves approved design 
changes in the fifth Alpha I racetrack. 
In September, he authorized con- 
struction of Alpha II, comprised of 
four additional racetracks incorporat- 
ing the improved design (a step rec- 
ommended earlier by the Military 
Policy Committee). He also approved 
two more Beta racetracks, to process 
the additional output from Alpha II. 

Thanks to experience gained on the 
Alpha racetracks, design of the Beta 
racetracks posed fewer problems. 
Beta chemical equipment, however, 
was quite a different story, because of 
the small quantities of material under- 
going processing and the fantastically 
high value of U-235. To prevent even 
a minimum loss of output, the design- 
ers made the equipment as small as 
possible and used corrosion-resistant 
materials and special devices to recov- 
er the last traces of U-235. 

With the start of plant construction, 
continuing design activities assumed a 
secondary role. Lawrence and his col- 
leagues continued to propose innova- 
tions and design alterations in the 
racetracks, but General Groves con- 
sistently followed a policy of approv- 
ing only changes that clearly would 
speed up progress. Hence, Radiation 
Laboratory scientists, in 1944 and 
1945, were relegated largely to the 
role of consultants to Stone and Web- 
ster, Tennessee Eastman, and the 
other contractors, assisting them to 
improve design and operation of the 
existing plant facilities. 



and Nov 43, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, 
Fldr 28, Tab A, MDR. 



130 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Building the Electromagnetic Plant 

Actual construction began in Febru- 
ary 1943 on a tract of 825 acres locat- 
ed in Bear Creek Valley, some dis- 
tance southwest of the rapidly grow- 
ing community of Oak Ridge (Map 3). 
Project engineers had selected this 
location because they hoped the 
wooded ridges paralleling the valley 
would limit possible lethal effects of a 
major explosion or similar accident. 
There was more than ample room be- 
tween ridges to permit adequate spac- 
ing of the numerous plant facilities 
that, at the height of plant operations, 
would include nine main process 
buildings and some two hundred aux- 
iliary structures, comprising nearly 80 
acres of floor space. ^'^ 

Construction Procurement 

Stone and Webster had primary re- 
sponsibility for procuring the materi- 
als, equipment, and field construction 
force needed for building the produc- 
tion plant; however, the Army had di- 
rected that the firm consult regularly 
with the Radiation Laboratory and 
with the major manufacturing con- 
tractors in carrying out materials and 
equipment procurement. ^^ Both 
Stone and Webster and Manhattan of- 
ficials had agreed that, because of the 
special nature of much of the equip- 
ment required for the electromagnetic 
process, only the leading manufactur- 
ing firms in the electrical equipment 
field were likely to have the resources 
and capabiHties necessary to supply it. 



Consequently, in early 1943 Stone 
and Webster, with considerable assist- 
ance from District officials, negotiated 
subcontracts with General Electric, 
Westinghouse, Allis-Chalmers, and 
several smaller firms to design and 
manufacture such items as regulators, 
rectifiers, calutron tanks, diffusion 
pumps, magnet coils, and vacuum 
valves that would meet the project's 
high standards for workmanship and 
performance and, at the same time, 
comply with its stringent procurement 
deadlines. 2^ 

As Stone and Webster negotiated 
contracts, it also developed an elabo- 
rate purchasing organization at its 
Boston office. This organization 
worked closely with the Boston Area 
Engineers Office and, through a pro- 
curement unit established at the Ten- 
nessee site, with the CEW Construc- 
tion Division. In addition to the 150 
persons employed in Boston and 
Tennessee, Stone and Webster main- 
tained another 250 representatives in 
the field at contractor plants and in 
major industrial areas. These field 
workers checked equipment for con- 
formity to specifications, expedited 
deliveries, and assisted in locating 
scarce materials for subcontractors. 
Stone and Webster's procurement or- 
ganization also worked closely with 
the Washington Liaison Office, espe- 
cially in obtaining critical materials, 



^* A detailed discussion of most aspects of elec- 
tromagnetic plant construction may be found in 
MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 5, "Construction," DASA. 

^* A detailed discussion of the procurement of 
manpower for the electromagnetic project appears 
in Ch. XVI. 



26 Subsection based on MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 2, pp. 
3.3, 3.9, 4.6, Vol. 3, pp. 4.1 and 4.3-4.24, and Vol. 
5, pp. 6.1-6.2, DASA; Completion Rpt, Stone and 
Webster, sub: CEW, Contract W-7401-eng-13, 
1946, pp. 19, 21-23, 146-48, OROO; Org Charts, 
U.S. Engrs Office, MD, 15 Aug and 1 Nov 43, MDR; 
Fine and Remington, Corps of Engineers: Construction, 
p. 678; Min, Coordination Committee Mtgs, 23 Dec 
42 and 23 Jan, 6 and 13 Feb, 29 Apr, 21 Oct 43, 
MDR. 




MAP 3 



132 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



on which it achieved an excellent 
record of placing most orders within 
a few days of construction authoriza- 
tion. Maj. Wilbur E. Kelley, a young 
engineer from Indiana who was re- 
sponsible for overseeing electromag- 
netic activities for the Manhattan Dis- 
trict, and Lt. Col. Warren George, 
head of the CEW Construction Divi- 
sion, also kept a watchful eye on pro- 
curement. (5^^ Chart 2. ) 

The sheer quantity and variety of 
materials and equipment that rolled 
in by the trainload over a recently 
built spur track to the construction 
site taxed the monitoring capabilities 
of the CEW Construction Division. 
Starting in the spring of 1943, the 
builders of the plant moved into the 
site more than 2,157 carloads of elec- 
trical equipment; 1,219 of heavy 
equipment; 5,389 of lumber; 1,407 of 
pipe and fittings; 1,188 of steel; 257 
of valves of all sizes; and 1 1 of weld- 
ing electrodes. The Construction Di- 
vision was responsible for seeing that 
all of this material was brought to the 
site as nearly on schedule as possible. 
If items arrived early, the division had 
to help find storage space — not 
always an easy task because of limited 
warehousing facilities. 

Because parts and machinery could 
not be fabricated on schedules that 
dovetailed precisely with construction 
progress, much had to be accepted as 
the manufacturers were able to turn it 
out. Those items that arrived ahead 
of schedule had to be closely guard- 
ed; protected from dirt, corrosion, 
and other kinds of damage; and care- 
fully inventoried so that they would 
be immediately available as needed. 
Chemical equipment posed problems 
because of special manufacturing and 
handling requirements, and the 



equipment often arrived late or just 
barely on time. 

Schedules had to be adapted to 
last-minute changes in design and to 
many uncertainties. Discouragingly 
few items were commercially avail- 
able. Tanks, magnets, vacuum pumps, 
cubicles, and most of the chemical 
equipment, for example, were either 
completely new in design or so much 
larger or so much greater in capacity 
that nothing of the kind previously 
had been manufactured. Many less 
obvious items also carried perform- 
ance specifications that far exceeded 
anything ever attempted on a com- 
mercial scale. For instance, the calu- 
trons required electrical cable that 
could carry a high-voltage load con- 
tinuously. The only commercial prod- 
uct that came near meeting this speci- 
fication was the heaviest X-ray cable, 
and it was designed to operate inter- 
mittently. Even when the commercial 
equipment could be used, suppliers 
often had to add to their productive 
capacity or build entire new plants to 
furnish the items required in the 
enormous quantities they were 
needed. Thus, in the first equipping 
of the racetracks some eighty-five 
thousand vacuum tubes were re- 
quired. In the case of one type of 
tube, procurement officials ordered in 
advance the entire national output for 
1943 as well as that from a plant still 
under construction. In the early 
months of plant operation, when 
tubes burned out faster than predict- 
ed, some feared the racetracks might 
prove inoperable simply through in- 
ability to maintain the tube supply. 

New methods had to be developed 
for machining and shaping the graph- 
ite in those parts of the calutron sub- 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



133 



ject to intense heat. No standard ma- 
terial would endure the high poten- 
tials, mechanical strain, and tempera- 
ture changes to which bushings in the 
high-voltage elements in the sources 
were continuously subjected. After 
months of investigation, Stone and 
Webster found an insulator made of 
zirconium oxide, a new and still very 
expensive substance. Similarly, use of 
large quantities of liquid nitrogen to 
condense moisture created a demand 
for a substance hitherto not produced 
on a commercial scale anywhere in 
the country. 

Nowhere were Manhattan District 
personnel more spectacularly in- 
volved in procurement than in the 
project's need for vast amounts of 
silver. ^^ Because copper was in great 
demand for all kinds of wartime uses 
and because silver could serve as a 
substitute in electrical equipment. 
Colonel Marshall in the summer of 
1942 had detailed Nichols to negotiate 
an agreement with the Treasury for 
withdrawal of silver from the United 
States Bullion Depository in West 
Point, New York. 

District officials arranged to have 
the silver processed through the De- 
fense Plant Corporation, which was 
conducting a silver program of its 
own in connection with other war in- 
dustries. The silver, in 1,000-ounce 
bars, was moved by guarded truck to 



^■' Paragraphs on silver procurement based on 
MDH. Bk. 5. Vol. 4, "Silver Program," DASA. For 
details on Nichols's role in the silver negotiations, 
see Ch. III. Groves presents a good, brief account in 
his own book Xow It Can Be Told, pp. 107-09. Dis- 
trict officials had to account for and protect nearlv 
one-third billion dollars of silver ultimately with- 
drawn from the Treasury for the use in the electro- 
magnetic plant. 



Carteret, New Jersey, where it was 
cast into billets, and then to Bayway, 
New Jersey, where it was extruded 
into strips %'s of an inch thick, 3 
inches wide, and 40 to 50 feet long. 
From Bayway, under the protection of 
Manhattan District guards, the coiled 
strips were moved by rail freight to 
the Allis-Chalmers plant in Milwau- 
kee. There, some 258 carloads of 
silver were fabricated into coils and 
bus bars, then sealed into welded cas- 
ings, and finally shipped on open, un- 
guarded flatcars, by various routes 
and on irregular schedules, to the 
Clinton Works. 

A central control section in the 
New York Area Engineers Office ad- 
ministered the silver program, but as 
a double check the District retained 
the services of a firm of auditors and 
a metallurgical concern. Some precau- 
tions taken to avoid unnecessary loss 
included weighing the silver each 
time it entered or left one of the 
plants, storing the pieces in stacks 
that would permit minimum handling 
during each eight-hour accountability 
check, and painstakingly collecting 
the scrap — even the minute amounts 
that might accumulate on a worker's 
clothing or shoe soles. ^® 



2* When the time came to return the silver to the 
Treasurv after the war was over, Manhattan District 
workmen disassembled and cleaned part by part the 
machines where it had been used, dismantled the 
furnaces in which it had been melted, and even took 
up the burned wooden floors to recover every trace 
possible. As a result, in the final accounting, less 
than one thirty-six-thousandth of 1 percent of the 
more than 14.700 tons borrowed by the District for 
the atomic project was missing, most of which was 
an unavoidable melt loss. See MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 4, 
pp. 4.1-4.5, DASA; Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. p. 
109; Hewlett and Anderson, .V^i World, p. 153. 



134 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Playit Construction 

As work crews began excavating 
building sites and laying foundations 
early in the summer of 1943, Stone 
and Webster foremen knew plant con- 
struction must move ahead with maxi- 
mum speed during the prime summer 
building season, to meet the extreme- 
ly short deadlines projected by the 
Army. Reluctantly, Stone and Web- 
ster officials agreed to have the first 
Alpha racetrack building ready to turn 
over to Tennessee Eastman, the plant 
operator, by November and the re- 
maining Alpha units at approximately 
monthly intervals thereafter. Project 
leaders were convinced that only ad- 
herence to this rigorous schedule 
would produce sufficient fissionable 
materials to fulfill the requirements 
for design and fabrication of an 
atomic weapon in time to affect the 
outcome of the war. 

Stone and Webster had little diffi- 
culty in maintaining force-draft con- 
struction schedules for the plant 
buildings, mainly designed along the 
lines of structures in common use by 
industry. The only unexpected delay 
was the discovery of unfavorable sub- 
soil conditions; excavation crews thus 
had to do some extra blasting and 
mucking and laying of 6-foot-thick 
concrete mats to ensure firm founda- 
tions for the enormously heavy elec- 
tromagnetic machines. Through use 
of more thorough soil-sampling tech- 
niques, Stone and Webster was able 
to minimize the time lost in providing 
adequate footings for the later race- 
track buildings. 

Internal construction of the plant, 
however, was characterized by uncon- 
ventional methods and unorthodox 
problems that seemed certain to 



cause delays and setbacks in working 
schedules. Project leaders had antici- 
pated some problems. They knew, for 
example, that installing equipment 
while the building shells were under 
construction was likely to lead to 
complications because riggers, pipe 
fitters, and mechanics were not ordi- 
narily accustomed to working elbow 
to elbow with concrete pourers, form 
builders, and other building construc- 
tion workers. Also, security measures 
and the need to maintain extreme 
cleanliness in certain areas would re- 
quire guards and a pass system to 
limit access to some parts of the 
buildings. And they well understood 
that assembling the complex racetrack 
and other production units involved 
demanding and time-consuming 
measures. ^^ 

Consequently, Manhattan District 
officials were pleasantly surprised 
when Colonel Nichols, who had re- 
placed Marshall as district engineer, 
reported to General Groves in 
September that the electromagnetic 
construction was about 34 percent 
completed, including the turnover to 
Tennessee Eastman of the first oper- 
ational facilities. These were the two 
tanks and three magnet coils of the 
XAX development plant with auxiliary 
supporting units to be used for train- 
ing production plant workers. At the 
same time. Colonel Nichols noted 
that construction on the crucial main 
Alpha equipment was no more than a 
few weeks behind the ambitious 
schedules set up by Groves earlier in 
the year. Stone and Webster engi- 
neers had reported to him that they 



29MDH, Bk. 5. Vol. 5, pp. 3.1 and 3.9-3.10, 
DASA. 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



135 




Excavation of Typical Rocky Substratum at the Tennessee Site 



expected the first Alpha racetrack to 
be operational by 1 December 1943. 
The only disquieting note in Nichols's 
optimistic September estimate was 
mention of discovery of some "bugs" 
when the XAX tanks underwent their 
initial test operation. ^° 

Partly on the basis of this impres- 
sive progress, General Groves author- 
ized start of work on four of the im- 
proved Alpha Il-type racetracks and 
two additional Beta units in Septem- 
ber. Stone and Webster organized a 
whole new field force and the district 
engineer reorganized the CEW Con- 
struction Division, enlarging its per- 
sonnel and establishing separate con- 



30 Dist Engr, Monthly Rpt on DSM Proj, Sep 43, 
MDR, MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 5, p. 3.16 and .App. Dll 
(Chart. Employees on Stone and Webster's Payroll). 
DASA; Memo, Kellev to Marsden, sub: Summary of 
V-12 Proj as of 9 Aug 43, same date, MDR. 



struction divisions to monitor the 
three major building projects in 
progress at the Tennessee site: the 
electromagnetic, gaseous diffusion, 
and plutonium semiworks facilities. 
Colonel George continued as head of 
the newly formed Electromagnetic 
Construction Division, but with addi- 
tional officers assigned to branches to 
monitor Stone and Webster's nine 
construction subunits and a special 
expediting section. Thus, as Stone 
and Webster's engineers prepared to 
carry out a test run of the nearly com- 
pleted Alpha I unit, District officials 
were confident that the electromag- 
netic project was well on the way to 
successful completion. Had they taken 
more careful note of the "bugs" that 
persisted in the XAX calutron test op- 
erations, they might have been better 



136 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



prepared for setbacks the project was 
to suffer in the months ahead. ^^ 

The first of the unanticipated prob- 
lems with the newly completed Alpha 
I racetrack was reported to Colonel 
Nichols in early November. A few 
days after they had started test runs, 
plant engineers discovered that the 
14-ton calutron tanks, which stood 
back to back between the coils, had 
moved apart as much as 3 inches, 
causing a tremendous strain on the 
piping used to maintain a vacuum in 
the tanks. After investigation they de- 
termined that the powerful magnetic 
field set up in the racetrack had cre- 
ated such a force between the tanks 
that they "walked" away from each 
other when they were jarred, as 
during installation or removal of a 
door. Following a few days study of 
the phenomenon. Stone and Webster 
reported that the adverse effects of 
the magnetic field could be overcome 
by installing heavy steel tie straps to 
hold the tanks firmly in place. ^^ 

No such simple solution was possi- 
ble, however, for the second major 
problem that the November test oper- 
ations revealed. The symptoms were 
intermittent electrical shorts with 
wide fluctuations in magnetic field 
strength as successive magnet coils 
were energized. Colonel Nichols re- 
ported the problem to General 
Groves in early December, by which 
time the complete failure of several 
coils seemed to threaten the whole 
future of the process. Plant engineers 
indicated that dirt in the oil coolant 



inside the coils was probably the 
major cause of the malfunction and 
the only sure cure was to drain the oil 
and dry out the coils. Very much 
upset by the ominous developments, 
the Manhattan commander directed 
Nichols to take all measures neces- 
sary, pending his own arrival at the 
site to discuss such other steps as 
might be required, including "a reor- 
ganization of personnel in charge of 
the Y-12 [electromagnetic] construc- 
tion work so that similar occurrences 
[would] be avoided in the future." ^^ 

Groves arrived at the Clinton 
Works on 14 December for a hurried 
two-day inspection visit. On hand al- 
ready were project engineer August 
Klein from Stone and Webster and a 
team of experts from Allis-Chalmers, 
where the unsatisfactory coils had 
been manufactured. Their further 
checking. Groves learned, had re- 
vealed that the trouble stemmed not 
only from mill scale and rust in the 
cooling oil but also from moisture in 
the cloth and fiberboard insulation, 
and too close winding of wire. Groves 
set in motion a thorough reorganiza- 
tion of the Clinton electromagnetic 
administrative team and reemphasized 
his earlier directive to Lawrence that 
he concentrate Radiation Laboratory 
resources on finding a solution for 
the defects in the racetrack 
equipment.^'* 



3>Org Charts, U.S. Engrs Office, MD, 15 Aug 
and 1 Nov 43, MDR; MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 5, pp. 6.1- 
6.4 and Apps. D7 and DIO, DASA. 

^^Min, Coordination Committee Mtg, 11 Nov 43, 
MDR; Dist Engr, Monthly Rpt on DSM Proj, Nov- 
Dec 43, MDR. 



"Msgs. Nichols to Groves and reply. 6 Dec 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp. 412.41 (Motors), MDR. 

^''Msg, Nichols to Groves (at Hanford), 6 Dec 43; 
Msg, Lt Col Thomas T. Crenshaw (Ex Off, CEW) to 
Groves, [probably 7 or 8 Dec 43]; Memo, Peterson 
to Groves, 9 Dec 43. All in Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 412.41 (Motors), MDR. MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 5, 
pp. 3.10-3.11, DASA. Groves Diary, 14-15 Dec 43, 
LRG. 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



137 




Alpha I Racetrack, Electromagnetic Plant, CEW 



A new administrative hierarchy re- 
sulted from the reorganization of the 
eletromagnetic team, which took 
effect in January 1944. Lt. Col. John 
S. Hodgson, who had considerable 
experience as a civilian contractor, re- 
placed Colonel George as chief of the 
Electromagnetic Construction Divi- 
sion; Maj. William A. Bonnett moved 
up from a position as a liaison officer 
with Stone and Webster field units to 
be Hodgson's assistant; and Maj. 
Walter J. Williams, who had had as- 
signments on a number of ordnance 
plant construction projects, took over 
responsibility for completion of the 
original electromagnetic plant. Only 
Maj. Mark C. Fox, who had served as 
area engineer on other Corps of En- 
gineers projects, continued in his re- 
cently assigned task of overseeing 



construction of extensions to the 
original electromagnetic plant. At the 
same time. Stone and Webster 
brought in Frank R. Creedon from 
the synthetic rubber progam to be 
general manager of all the company's 
operations at the Clinton Works. 
Creedon had had an earlier associa- 
tion with General Groves, having 
worked as a civilian employee of the 
Army's Construction Division on ord- 
nance projects before 1942. 

The first big task facing the new 
team was how to solve the technical 
defects in the Alpha I electrical equip- 
ment. Project technicians decided the 
only sure remedy was to return the 
malfunctioning magnet coils to Allis- 
Chalmers' Milwaukee plant for clean- 
ing and rewinding, as well as to have 
equipment crews disassemble and 



138 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



clean all oil lines in the racetrack 
building. It took about three months 
to complete these corrective meas- 
ures, and thus the first Alpha I race- 
track was not hilly operative again 
until early March 1944.^^ 

With the distressing days of techni- 
cal problems in the past, by spring 
the somber mood of Manhattan and 
Stone and Webster officials concern- 
ing the electromagnetic method had 
dissipated, and they were enjoying a 
revived sense of optimism. One argu- 
ment in favor of the process had been 
that the production plant could be 
built in segments which would 
become operational as soon as they 
were completed, making possible the 
early detection of defects and the ad- 
dition of indicated improvements. 
And now, because the trying experi- 
ences of Stone and Webster engi- 
neers with the first Alpha I racetrack 
had enhanced their understanding of 
the problems and the reasons for 
them, they were able to make changes 
in equipment handling and installa- 
tion techniques for subsequent race- 
tracks. On the second Alpha I race- 
track, for example, the engineers in- 
troduced much more rigid standards 
of cleanliness, including such meas- 
ures as drying out pipe lines by circu- 
lating preheated oil through them 
and adding filters for each coil.^^ 



»^Org Chart, U.S. Engrs OfTice, MD, 15 Feb 44, 
MDR; MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 5, pp. 3.10-3.11 and 6.1, 
DASA; Fine and Remington, Corps of Engineers: Con- 
struction, pp. 684-86; Groves, \ow It Can be Told, p. 
102 and 427; Dist Engr, Monthly Rpt on DSM Proj, 
Mar 44, MDR. 

'«MDH. Bk. 5, Vol. 5, pp. 3.11, DASA; Memo, E. 
W. SeckendorfT (Y-12 Process Engr) to T. R. 
Thornburg (Gen Supt, V'-12, Stone and Webster), 
sub: Detailed Method ot Cleaning and Altering Pipe 
at Racetrack B-Bldg 9201-1, CEW, Area V-12, 30 
Dec 43, Incl to Memo, Crenshaw to Groves, 1 Jan 



Initial failure of Alpha I also reaf- 
firmed a cardinal principle of General 
Groves's administrative policy for the 
atomic project. For months, the Man- 
hattan commander had been empha- 
sizing that the major resources and 
personnel at the atomic research lab- 
oratories should be concentrated on 
the single objective of securing pro- 
duction of militarily significant 
amounts of fissionable materials in 
time to be of use during the war. On 
more than one occasion during his 
visits to the Radiation Laboratory in 
the fall of 1943, Groves had reminded 
Lawrence's scientific staff that the 
Army was not interested in advancing 
pure science. Their mission, he 
stated, once the research and devel- 
opment for the production plant was 
completed, was to support in what- 
ever way was necessary the design, 
construction, and operation of that 
plant. The natural tendency of the 
Radiation Laboratory scientists was to 
resist limiting themselves solely to so- 
called debugging activities for the 
Tennessee plant, but the crisis caused 
by Alpha I's failure forced Lawrence 
to push new research entirely into the 
background and, in December, to 
completely redefine laboratory prior- 
ities in terms of two objectives: in- 
creasing the output and efficiency of 
the electromagnetic plant; and devel- 
oping new ideas, methods, and engi- 
neering designs for expanding that 
plant. ^"^ 



44. Admm Files, Gen Corresp, 337 (Kellex LC), 
MDR. 

^^ Min, Coordination Committee Mtg, 17 Nov 43, 
MDR; Dist Engr, Monthly Rpt on DSM Proj, Nov- 
Dec 43 and Feb 44, MDR; Ltr, Lawrence to Nichols, 
22 Mar 44. MDR. 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



139 



The Army's prompt administrative 
measures to counter the adverse con- 
sequences of Alpha I's failure proved 
to be highly effective. The engineers 
were successful in making the second 
Alpha I operational by the end of Jan- 
uary 1944, the first Beta and the first 
and third Alpha I in March, and the 
fourth Alpha I in April. Impressed 
with the rapid progress being 
achieved, Colonel Nichols reported to 
Groves that he was now convinced 
that the prediction given to President 
Roosevelt in December 1942 — com- 
pletion of an atomic weapon by early 
1945 — would be realized if persisting 
manpower shortages could be 
overcome.^® 

Meanwhile, Stone and Webster had 
been moving ahead with construction 
of other major elements of the elec- 
tromagnetic plant. Construction time 
for building the extension units — the 
Alpha II racetracks — was far less in 
comparison to that required for 
Alpha I. The Stone and Webster 
crews' rapid progress was in part due 
to certain design modifications, such 
as using cement asbestos brick for the 
outer siding of buildings and making 
the racetrack shape rectangular rather 
than oval. Also, the experience gained 
on Alpha I expedited installation of 
equipment in Alpha II. The first race- 
track in the extension plant began op- 
erating in July 1944 and all four were 
ready for operation by 1 October. ^^ 

At the same time. Stone and Web- 
ster and its subcontractors construct- 
ed the Beta units, where the Alpha- 



^^ Disi Kngr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Jan and 
Mar 44, MDR, Rpt, Nichols, sub: Info for Groves, 8 
Apr 44, OCX; Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 28, 
Tab A, MDR. 

39MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 5, pp. 3.17-3.20, 3.22, 5.2, 
DASA. 



processed material would be further 
enriched, and built the facilities for 
chemical preparation and recovery for 
both Alpha and Beta plants. In spite 
of several changes in plans, resulting 
in considerable expansion of the Beta 
and chemical facilities, the Electro- 
magnetic Construction Division kept 
the work on or even ahead of sched- 
ule, avoiding delays in processing ma- 
terial from the Alpha plants. From 
original plans in 1943 for only a 
single Beta unit to process Alpha I 
output, the number grew to four: one 
for Alpha II; another to handle addi- 
tional output from Alphas I and II 
that resulted from using partially en- 
riched feed material from the gaseous 
diffusion plant; and still another in 
1945 so that there would be enough 
Beta facilities to process enriched ma- 
terial coming directly from the diffu- 
sion plants. Similarly, each expansion 
of the Alpha and Beta units required 
an increase in the number of chemical 
and other processing facilities, giving 
the division additional work in expe- 
diting procurement, monitoring revi- 
sion in contracts, and inspecting com- 
pleted construction. This continuing 
high-level of construction activity oc- 
casioned Colonel Hodgson to reorga- 
nize his division in late 1944 and to 
establish five separate branches 
(structures, electrical, expediting, 
process piping, and mechanical). Not 
until early 1945, when the Military 
Policy Committee decided that the in- 
dicated successful operation of the 
gaseous diffusion and plutonium 
plants would make further large-scale 
expansion of electromagnetic produc- 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Electromagnetic Plant Under Construction 



tion facilities unnecessary, did the di- 
vision's workload ease significantly. ^° 

Plant Operation 

Terms of the June 1943 contract 
for operation of the electromagnetic 



*°Ibid.. pp. 3.13-3.15, 3.20-3.23, App. D6 (Tab- 
ulation of Bldg Statistics), DASA; Dist Engr, Month- 
ly Rpts on DSM Proj, Oct 43 and Aug and Nov 44, 
MDR; MPC Min, 10 May 44 and 25 Feb 45, MDR; 
Completion Rpts, Stone and Webster, sub: CEW, 
Contract W-7401-eng-13, 1946, pp. 49-50, and 
Contract W-14-108-eng-60, 1946, pp. 6-8, OROO; 
Rpt, W. M. Brobeck and W B. Reynolds, sub: On 
Future Development of Electromagnetic System of 
Tube Alloys Isotope Separation, 15 Jan 45, OCG 
Files, Gen Corresp, Groves Files, Fldr 10, MDR. 



plant provided that Tennessee East- 
man operate it on a cost-plus-fixed- 
fee basis, serve as a consultant on 
plant design, obtain and train operat- 
ing personnel, and carry on research 
to improve the process and its prod- 
uct. For performing these services, 
the government agreed to pay the 
firm a basic operating fee of $22,500 
each month plus $7,500 for each 
racetrack up to seven and $4,000 for 
each one over that number.*^ 



"» WD Contract W-7401-eng-23, 7 Jun 43, with 
supps., OROO; MDH, Bk, 5, Vol. 6. "Operation," 
pp. 2.2-2.5 and 3.1-3.5, DASA. 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



141 



Preparations 

In early 1943, when Tennessee 
Eastman initiated preliminary oper- 
ational activities at the Tennessee site 
and at the Berkeley and Rochester re- 
search facilities, the district engineer 
formed a CEW Division in the New 
York office and assigned Major Kelley 
as division chief to supervise electro- 
magnetic operations. Kelley's division 
not only monitored the contractor's 
activities relating to administration, 
chemical processes, electrical process- 
es and plants, and special accounts 
but also established liaison with its 
Berkeley and Boston administrative 
units that coordinated with the Radi- 
ation Laboratory and Stone and Web- 
ster. Tennessee Eastman's Boston 
staff, however, moved to the Tennes- 
see site in August, in keeping with the 
firm's frequently expressed desire to 
center its plant operations activities 
there. *2 

During construction Major Kelley 
and his operating unit staff were busy 
assisting Tennessee Eastman in re- 
cruiting and training personnel to op- 
erate the Alpha, Beta, and chemical 
process equipment. Early estimates of 
the number of employees needed 
were far too low and requirements 
were repeatedly revised upward. Al- 
though recruiting was carried on in 
all sections of the country through re- 



*^ Subsection based on Org Chart, U.S. Engrs 
Office, MD, 1 Nov 43, MDR, MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 5, 
Sec. 3, and Vol. 6, pp. 3.3-3.5 and 8.1-8.3, DASA; 
Min, Coordination Committee Mtgs, 23 Jan, 6 Mar, 
and 24 Jun 43, MDR; Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on 
DSM Proj, Sep 43 and Mar 44, MDR; Min, Special 
Progress Mtg, 5 Aug 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
337 (Mtgs and Confs-Univ of Calif), MDR; Hewlett 
and Anderson, S'eu< World, p. 162; Rpt, F. T. 
Howard, sub: The DSM Proj, Synthetic Catalyst Diy, 
22 Apr 43, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 
28, Tab A, MDR. 



gional offices of the United States 
Employment Service, the best results 
were attained in Knoxville and vicini- 
ty. For the many jobs requiring tech- 
nical knowledge and background, the 
electromagnetic project had to resort 
to procurement through military 
channels. Many of the scientifically 
trained personnel in the Manhattan 
District's Special Engineer Detach- 
ment (SED) at the Clinton Works 
were assigned to work in the plant, 
reaching a total of 450 SED enlisted 
personnel by August 1945. The Dis- 
trict also assisted in the temporary as- 
signment of technically trained Navy 
officers to the plant in 1944, their 
number reaching a maximum of 143 
in July of that year.*^ 

Tennessee Eastman made a major 
effort to develop a training program 
for the thousands of operators who 
would be required when the plant was 
ready for full-scale operation. Work- 
ing closely with Radiation Laboratory 
scientists, the firm's Berkeley staff laid 
the groundwork for systematic train- 
ing of workers and supervisory per- 
sonnel. While many practiced with 
the Alpha experimental equipment at 
Berkeley, others went to the Univer- 
sity of California's Davis campus to 
learn chemical processing techniques. 
Radiation Laboratory scientists and 
Manhattan District representatives 
carefully reviewed all training materi- 
al, the latter group giving special 
attention to the security problem. 
Tennessee Eastman technicians delib- 
erately compiled the training material 
to give the would-be operator only 
the information needed to perform 



*^ For a more detailed account of manpower re- 
cruitment, and the SED's formation and organiza- 
tion, see Ch. XVI. 



142 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



the job, without reveaHng the true 
character or purpose of the end prod- 
uct. Experimentation demonstrated 
that trainees with prehminary orienta- 
tion in the nature of the electromag- 
netic process made the most rapid 
progress. Meanwhile, by September 
1943, intensive recruiting efforts by 
the company had resulted in the 
hiring of some eighteen hundred op- 
erator trainees, most of them from 
the Knoxville area. 

Some preliminary instruction took 
place in facilities of the University of 
Tennessee, because the large-scale 
training program at the plant site did 
not start until early fall. By that time 
hundreds of trainees were on hand to 
begin training on two experimental 
XAX electromagnetic production 
tanks that had started operating in 
the development plant. Tennessee 
Eastman moved all but a few of its 
personnel from Berkeley to the Ten- 
nessee site to participate in training 
the twenty-five hundred operators 
deemed necessary for the five Alpha I 
racetracks. With the addition of the 
Alpha II and Beta buildings, the train- 
ee program expanded to provide sev- 
eral times that many operators. By 
early 1944, Tennessee Eastman's pay- 
roll had increased to ten thousand 
and by mid- 1945 it would rise to 
more than twenty-five thousand. 

The typical operator trainee was a 
woman, recently graduated from a 
nearby Tennessee high school, with 
no scientific training whatsoever. 
Using one of the XAX electromagnet- 
ic tanks in the development plant, the 
instructional staff taught her how to 
operate complex control panels in the 
calutron cubicles adjacent to the race- 
tracks. They gave her only informa- 
tion essential to her task as an opera- 



tor and, for security reasons, actually 
mislead her as to the real purpose 
and character of the product. The 
training program was surprisingly 
successful, supplying operators on 
schedule for each Alpha and Beta 
racetrack as it went into operation. 

Production Activities 

Starting up in late 1943, the elec- 
tromagnetic chemical units eventually 
were producing thousands of pounds 
of the charge material necessary for 
the production operation of the race- 
tracks. The first really effective pro- 
duction of the U-235-enriched final 
product came in late January, when 
the second Alpha I racetrack began 
operating. In the five-month period 
following, as the remaining three 
Alpha I and the first two Beta tracks 
became fully operational, production 
steadily increased. And by mid- 1944, 
the Army could view the electromag- 
netic start-up operations as, in the 
main, successful.'*'* 

Manhattan District officials, howev- 
er, were unprepared for the almost 
continuous problems that arose as the 
electromagnetic plant moved into the 
sustained production phase of its op- 
eration. One mechanical or equip- 
ment failure after another plagued 
plant operations; short circuits and 
shortages, breakdowns and breakages 
cropped up on all sides. In spite of 
the best efforts of Tennessee Eastman 
and District procurement officials, the 
spare parts situation skirted the edge 
of chaos for months. Lack of experi- 
ence, of standardization, and of a suf- 



""MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 6, pp. 4.2 and 4.4-4.5, 
DASA; Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Jan- 
Jun 44, passim, MDR. 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



143 




CEW Training Facilities (background ), where electromagnetic plant employees received 
preliminary instruction. District headquarters buildings are in the foreground. 



ficicnt number of suppliers all con- 
tributed to the severe parts procure- 
ment difficulties. Nevertheless, the 
District's electromagnetic staff and 
Tennessee Eastman — working in close 
coordination — managed sufficiently to 
overcome the adverse effects of these 
many problems so that in March 1944 
plant workers shipped the first of sev- 
eral hundred grams of Alpha product, 
containing 13 to 15 percent U-235, to 
Los Alamos. Three months later the 
first shipment of the much more 
highly enriched Beta product reached 
the New Mexico laboratory.*^ 

But Manhattan and Tennessee 
Eastman officials were well aware that 
this output of sample quantities rep- 
resented only the first steps in bring- 



*s MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 6, pp. 4.2 and 4.4-4.5, 
DASA; Memo, J. C. White (Gen Mgr, Tenn East) to 
Groves, 28 Jun 44, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 095 
(TEC), MDR. 



ing the electromagnetic plant up to a 
maximum rate of production, a com- 
plicated undertaking with pitfalls at 
every turn.*^ They readily perceived 
that part of the difficulty was inherent 
in the basic nature of the process that 
used large complex machines and sig- 
nificant quantities of electric power 
and raw materials to isolate an infin- 
itesmally small amount of final prod- 
uct. The basic feed material, orange- 
colored uranium oxide shipped in 
from refineries operating under direc- 
tion of Manhattan's Madison Square 
Area Engineers Office, moved 
through a series of very complex 
steps. A chemical preparation process 
converted it into a gaseous form, ura- 
nium tetrachloride, which plant work- 



*® Paragraphs on electromagnetic plant oper- 
ations based primarily on MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 6, Sec. 
4, DASA. 



144 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



ers then fed into the Alpha racetracks. 
Here part of the feed material sepa- 
rated, while the rest adhered to vari- 
ous parts of the interior of the calu- 
tron, where it had to be recovered for 
recycle. The separated portion went 
to the Beta chemical preparation 
stage and then into the Beta race- 
tracks for further separation. That 
separated portion emerged as U-235 
final product and, after concentration, 
workers shipped it to the Los Alamos 
Laboratory. The rest had to be re- 
covered, recycled through the Beta 
racetracks, and concentrated for 
shipment. 

Only 1 in 5,825 parts of charge ma- 
terial fed into the Alpha racetracks 
emerged as final product; 90 percent 
of the charge material was left in the 
feed bottles or scattered around the 
tanks. Of the 10 percent that passed 
into the ion beams, only a very small 
quantity entered the receivers. The 
amount reaching the receivers was 
limited by the capacity of the calu- 
trons. It could not be increased 
except through use of enriched 
charge material, or by construction of 
more racetracks. Furthermore, the 
amount actually recovered from the 
receivers, because of its minute quan- 
tity and the essentially violent nature 
of the process, could not be made to 
reach 100 percent even by the most 
practicable methods. 

Because of the high intrinsic value 
of the final product, recovery had to 
be as complete and thorough as pos- 
sible, yet with no undue holdup time 
in the chemical apparatus to slow 
down the process. The Beta chemistry 
facilities included a salvage depart- 
ment which used batteries of extrac- 
tors, reactors, filters, centrifuges, 
evaporators, and driers so that the 



very last traces of enriched uranium 
might be recovered. Justification for 
these intensive efforts was demon- 
strated when worn-out carbon receiv- 
er parts from the calutrons were 
burned. They yielded enough en- 
riched uranium to raise the January 
1945 production a full 10 percent.*"^ 
Even under the best of conditions, 
a small amount of U-235-enriched 
product always remained in solutions, 
or bound in solids, or adhered to 
costly and scarce equipment parts; 
however, it was economically unfeasi- 
ble for this material to be recovered. 
A certain percentage also remained in 
that part of the uranium feed matter 
which passed through the ion beam 
but did not enter the receivers. It was 
imperative that this material — consti- 
tuting nine-tenths of the uranium fed 
into the Alpha calutrons and seven- 
eighths of that going into the Beta 
racetracks — be prevented from con- 
taminating the enriched uranium and 
be recovered and stored for possible 
future reprocessing. To keep losses at 
a minimum and to prevent theft, Ten- 
nessee Eastman instituted a strict ma- 
terial accounting system. Stock room 
employees inventoried the Alpha 
stocks every four weeks, the Beta 
every two weeks. In spite of this care- 
ful check, surprisingly large amounts 
of material (17.4 percent of Alpha 
product by September 1945 and 5.4 
percent of Beta product by December 
1946) were lost unavoidably in the 
various kinds of wastes created by the 
separation process itself.*® 



*'' Memo, Kelley to Groves, sub: Present Status of 
Beta Chemistry Opns, 8 Sep 44, Admin Files, Gen 
Corresp, 600.1 (Constr CEW), MDR; Hewlett and 
Anderson, Xew World, pp. 295-96. 

^^ Data concerning losses of feed materials and 
recovery problems is derived from MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 

Continued 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



145 



The most crucial phase of the re- 
covery operation took place in Beta 
chemistry. Alpha workers moved the 
final Alpha product, stored in receiver 
pockets on the removable doors of 
the Alpha calutrons, to the Beta 
chemistry buildings. After dismantling 
the pockets. Beta workers first 
scraped, bleached, and burned the 
graphite parts and then leached and 
electrostripped the metal parts. Final- 
ly, chemists processed the resulting 
solutions and solids to extract all en- 
riched uranium. They then purified 
this enriched uranium and converted 
it into Beta feed material. 

The Beta preparatory chemical 
process proved to be one of the most 
persistently troublesome operations 
in the electromagnetic plant. The 
process was slow, requiring, even 
under optimum conditions, about 
three weeks. More worrisome, howev- 
er, only about 60 percent of the en- 
riched uranium brought from Alpha 
was showing up as an end product of 
the Beta chemical process, causing a 
serious shortage of feed material for 
the Beta racetracks. In July 1944, 
Groves himself went to the Clinton 
Works to discuss the problem with 
plant and District officials. As a result, 
Tennessee Eastman temporarily shut 
down all Beta production in August 
so that company engineers and out- 
side consultants could thoroughly 
analyze the process and equipment. 
Their investigations revealed that the 
trouble lay in the overly complex 
piping and equipment and in the 
tendency of certain materials in this 
equipment to absorb too much 
uranium. 



6, pp. 4.16-4.17 and App. C (with illustrations), 
DAS A. 



District and Tennessee Eastman of- 
ficials immediately instituted changes 
in equipment, techniques, and organi- 
zation to overcome these weaknesses 
in Beta chemistry. Project engineers 
set about removing, cleaning, and re- 
designing piping; replaced glass-lined 
tubes with pyrex; put in more parts 
made of graphite from which ab- 
sorbed uranium could be recovered 
by burning; and made other changes 
to speed up the process. For varying 
periods during the fall of 1944, ex- 
perts like Frank H. Spedding, the 
metallurgist who headed Manhattan's 
research program at Iowa State Col- 
lege, and John P. Baxter, one of the 
British scientists assisting in the bomb 
development program, came to the 
Clinton Works to study Beta chemis- 
try with an eye to improving tech- 
niques employed in the process. And, 
in December, District officials negoti- 
ated contracts with Johns Hopkins 
and Purdue Universities to study 
methods for increasing recovery and 
reducing holdup time in the Beta 
process. Tennessee Eastman, now 
more fully aware of the chemical diffi- 
culties of isotopic separation, com- 
pletely reorganized its Clinton chem- 
istry division and greatly increased 
the number of personnel. 

In spite of the difficulties with Beta 
chemistry operations, in January 1945 
the district engineer reported to the 
Manhattan commander that there had 
been a dramatic increase in Beta pro- 
duction during the second half of 
1944, with output being about 60 
percent greater at the close of De- 
cember. This increase was attributa- 
ble primarily to the much higher pro- 
ductive capacity of Alpha II calutrons, 
and the fact that all Alpha II's were 



146 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



fully operational by November. Con- 
sequently, Beta output in November 
was more than ten times the July rate, 
increasing even more in December to 
twice the November rate. The Alpha 
II's, however, were far from trouble- 
free. The major problem experienced 
had to do with the insulators burning 
out at a high rate, but the engineers 
quickly corrected this defect by rec- 
ommending that zircon be substituted 
for the less durable material in the 
bushings. ^^ 

Not all of the production problems 
of the electromagnetic project were 
mechanical or technical in nature. 
When the spare parts crisis occurred 
in June 1944, Groves looked into 
project management by Tennessee 
Eastman and District officials. Follow- 
ing a visit to the plant, he wrote to 
Conant that he had observed a 
number of ways in which he thought 
production might be increased. Su- 
pervisors ought to make more fre- 
quent inspections, especially in instal- 
lation and servicing of calutrons. 
More should be done to build up and 
maintain employee morale. Lack of 
sufficient organization charts and the 
presence of "too many people" in the 
operating rooms gave Groves the im- 
pression that the plant managers were 
not making the most efficient use of 
personnel. Also, he wondered if Fred- 
erick R. Conklin, the Tennessee East- 
man works manager, and Major 
Kelley, chief of the District's Electro- 
magnetic Operations Division, were 



*^ Memos for File, Kelley, sub: Notes on 3 and 14 
Jul Confs, 4 and 15 Jul 44, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 337 (LC), MDR; Memo, Kelley to Groves, sub: 
Present Status of Beta Chemistry Opns, 8 Sep 44, 
MDR; Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Jul 
44-Jan 45, passim, MDR; Hewlett and Anderson, 
Xeu' World, pp. 295-96; MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 6, pp. 4.9- 
4.10 and 5.3, DASA. 



"too similar in disposition," noting 
that neither Conklin nor Kelley was a 
"hard driving, optimistic executive. 
Instead of setting an impossible goal 
and then breaking their hearts to 
almost achieve it, they set a nice, 
comfortable goal making plenty of al- 
lowances for difficulties and then feel 
very proud of themselves for having 
been proven right in their pessimistic 
outlook." ^° 

General Groves took no immediate 
steps to institute major changes in 
management. He could not overlook 
the fact that Major Kelley got along 
extremely well with the key executives 
of Tennessee Eastman and also was 
held in very high regard by Lawrence 
and the staff of the Radiation Labora- 
tory. It was not until September, with 
the spare parts problem partially re- 
lieved and the Beta chemistry bottle- 
neck on the way to solution, that the 
Manhattan commander directed the 
district engineer to replace Kelley. 
Colonel Nichols selected Lt. Col. 
John R. Ruhoff, a chemical engineer 
by profession, because of his familiar- 
ity with electromagnetic problems; he 
had been assistant chief of the Dis- 
trict's Materials Section and, since 
1943, chief of the Madison Square 
Area Engineers Office where he was 
responsible for overseeing the provi- 
sion of feed materials for the electro- 
magnetic process. In early 1945, 
Ruhoff assumed responsibility for 
overseeing all electromagnetic activi- 
ties at the Clinton Works and contin- 
ued in that post until the end of the 
war. Major Kelley did not leave the 



^° Ltr, Groves to Conant, 5 Jun 44, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 400.17 (Mfg-Prod-Fab), MDR; Ltr, 
White to Groves, 28 Jun 44, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 095 (TEC LC), MDR. 



THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PROCESS 



147 




Electromagnetic Plant in Full Operation 



Manhattan Project, but replaced 
Ruhoff as head of the Madison 
Square Office. ^^ 

Although there was a gradual, but 
not spectacular, improvement in elec- 
tromagnetic production, intermittent 
expressions of dissatisfaction with the 
way the plant was operating contin- 
ued. For example, British scientists 
working at the Radiation Laboratory 
came away from a visit to the plant 
highly critical of certain design fea- 
tures of process equipment and of the 
alleged gross inefficiency of the serv- 
ice crews. Marcus Oliphant, head of 
the British group, also found serious 
fault with personnel and organization. 



He wrote to Sir James Chadwick in 
November 1944, expressing concern 
at the "poor quality of the higher 
grade personnel in TEC [Tennessee 
Eastman Corporation] . . . [and] the 
clumsiness of the army organization, 
which neither controls nor checks the 
operation except in a very desultory 
and inefficient manner." ^^ 

Partially as a reaction to this con- 
tinuing criticism, but chiefly as a re- 
flection of frayed nerves under the 
long strain, Tennessee Eastman ex- 
ecutives complained bitterly in April 
1945 to Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Farrell, 



^' Llr, Lawrence to Nichols, 12 Jul 44, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 020 (MED-Org), MDR; MDH, 
Bk. 5, Vol. 6, p. 8.1, DASA. 



"Ltr, Oliphant to Chadwick, 2 Nov 44, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 201 (Chadwick, J), MDR; 
Baxter, Notes on Alpha and Beta Output, 6 Nov 44, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 {V-12), MDR. 
See also Interv, Author with Dr. Elkin Burckhardt 
(physicist, V-12), CMH. 



148 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



who had been serving as Groves's 
deputy since February, that the firm 
was not getting the recognition it de- 
served for what it had accompHshed 
at the CHnton Works. Operation of 
the electromagnetic plant should be 
viewed for what it actually was, a 
huge pilot plant, not a normal indus- 
trial operation. While, undoubtedly, 
there were deficiencies that the firm 
could correct, there were also handi- 
caps which it could not possibly over- 
come. The plant had been designed 
with few interchangeable parts; the 
damage to equipment had been 
greater than projected; and the pro- 
gram had been constantly changing, 
as in the case of the recent shifts to 
thermal and gaseous diffusion feed 
materials. In the light of all these 
mitigating factors, they were especial- 
ly disturbed by the implication of 
General Groves's remark to the oper- 
ating supervisors that "they should 
work until they fell into their graves 
just as the war was over." ^^ 

The criticisms and complaints 
began to lose some of their sting by 
late spring of 1945 as rapidly increas- 
ing production provided concrete evi- 
dence that the plant was going to be 
a success. In January, all the race- 



tracks had demonstrated their ability 
to perform at predicted capacity, even 
though delays in servicing, chemistry, 
and procurement of parts still im- 
posed a drag on full production. In 
February, the first slightly enriched 
(1.4 percent) uranium feed had come 
from the new thermal diffusion plant, 
and in March the first enhanced 
(5 percent and up) material from 
the gaseous diffusion plant. In April, 
the gaseous plant began turning out 
uranium sufficiently enriched to go 
directly into the Beta racetracks, 
gradually increasing product enrich- 
ment until it reached 23 percent on 
5 August: the day before the first 
bomb was dropped on Japan. 

Because of the higher enrichment 
of the Beta feed material, the Alpha 
stage was no longer necessary. In 
early September 1945, with the occu- 
pation of Japan going forward suc- 
cessfully, plant officials ordered the 
Alpha racetracks shut down. They 
had produced more than 88 kilo- 
grams of final product with average 
enrichment of 84.5 percent. Beta con- 
tinued in operation until the end of 
the year, producing an additional 953 
kilograms of final product with an en- 
richment of about 95 percent. ^"^ 



"Memo, Farrell to Groves, sub: Apr 18th Conf at 
Clinton, 19 Apr 45, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 337 
(CEW), MDR, 



5''MDH, Bk. 5, Vol. 6, pp. 4.13-4.14 and Top 
Secret App., DASA. 



CHAPTER VII 



The Gaseous Diffusion Process 



By late 1942, atomic project leaders 
had authorized development of four 
technically and theoretically different 
processes — the electromagnetic, gase- 
ous and liquid thermal diffusion, and 
gas centrifuge — as potential methods 
for producing sufficient U-235 of a 
quality to be militarily useful in 
World War II. Work on these proc- 
esses had been in progress for about 
two years, long enough to make appar- 
ent the relative advantages and disad- 
vantages of each. 

Because no single method appeared 
capable by itself of producing the 
badly needed U-235, Manhattan lead- 
ers conceived the possibility of em- 
ploying two or more of the processes 
in combination. They readily en- 
dorsed the electromagnetic as one of 
the methods; unlike the other three, it 
could begin producing adequately en- 
riched U-235 from an only partially 
completed plant. Selection of the 
other process for full-scale develop- 
ment in tandem with the electromag- 
netic came in early December. The 
Lewis reviewing committee gave the 
gaseous diffusion process a solid en- 
dorsement, recommending construc- 
tion of a 4,600-stage plant capable of 
producing 90 percent U-235 in sub- 
stantial quantities. Meeting on the 
tenth, the Military Policy Committee 



then approved this recommendation, 
basing its decision upon the conclu- 
sion that even though project scien- 
tists had yet to satisfactorily design 
the key components for a gaseous dif- 
fusion plant, the process was, never- 
theless, more likely to produce a suffi- 
cient quantity of fissionable material 
suitable for an atomic weapon than 
either the liquid thermal diffusion or 
centrifuge processes.^ 

Gaseous Diffusion Research and the 
Army, 1942-1943 

Research and development on the 
diffusion process, which had started 
in 1940, centered at Columbia Uni- 



1 The Military Policy Committee approved contin- 
ued but limited support for research and develop- 
ment of the liquid thermal diffusion and centrifuge 
processes. The detailed arguments for and against 
full-scale development of these processes may be 
found in Memo, Richard C. Tolman (Groves's scien- 
tific adviser) to Groves, sub: Visit to Centrifugal 
Plant at Bayway, N.J., 20 Dec 43, Admin Files, Gen 
Corresp, 201 (Tolman), MDR; Draft Rpt, Lt Col 
John R. Ruhoft", sub: Summary on Atomic Energy, 
17 Jun 46. Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 
(Atomic), MDR; MPC Min, 12 Nov and 10 Dec 42, 
OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 23, Tab A, 
MDR; MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 3, "Design," pp. 3.1-3.2, 
DASA; Conclusions of Reviewing Committee, 4 Dec 

42, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 334 (Special Review- 
ing Committee), MDR; Ltr, Urey to Conant, 4 Sep 

43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 201 (Urey), MDR. 
See also Chs. VI and VIII. 



150 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



versity under the direction of two 
members of the faculty, Harold C. 
Urey, an eminent physical chemist 
and Nobel Prize winner (1934), and 
John R. Dunning, a young physicist. 
Supported since 1941 by funds from 
the Navy and an OSRD contract, dif- 
fusion research by December 1942 
had made substantial progress toward 
development of a large-scale expan- 
sion of the process. On the basis of a 
theory provided by Karl P. Cohen, a 
young mathematician on the Colum- 
bia staff, the Columbia research 
group had built Pilot Plant No. 1, a 
small twelve-stage apparatus, in the 
university's Pupin Hall. And oper- 
ation of this unit in the fall of 1942 
had furnished valuable data on the 
major elements of a diffusion plant, 
most significantly, the material for the 
barrier component that filtered the 
process gas in each separating stage. ^ 
When the Army began taking over 
direction of the atomic bomb project 
in the summer of 1942, the Columbia 
diffusion research program continued 
to operate under OSRD contracts. 
Beginning in the fall, the Manhattan 
District gradually extended its control 
over administration of the program, 
culminating with Columbia's accept- 
ance of a War Department contract 
on 1 May 1943. Shortly thereafter 
university and District representatives 
reorganized the diffusion research 
program, redesignating it as the SAM 
(for Special Alloyed Materials) Lab- 
oratories and appointing Urey as di- 
rector. (See Map 2.) Maj. Benjamin K. 
Hough, Jr., who had come to Colum- 
bia in the spring as area engineer for 



the program, reorganized his office to 
conform to the SAM organization and 
moved with most of the rapidly ex- 
panding research activities from 
campus laboratories to more spacious 
facilities in the university's Nash 
Building, a few blocks north of the 
campus.^ 

Design and Engineering 

The Military Policy Committee, 
after deciding to give priority to full- 
scale development of the gaseous dif- 
fusion process, selected the M. W. 
Kellogg Company to design and engi- 
neer the production plant, designated 
K-25 for security reasons. The choice 
was a logical one, for the firm was al- 
ready extensively involved in diffusion 
research under OSRD contracts, in- 
cluding design of a ten-stage pilot 
plant for barrier development. On 14 
December 1942, Kellogg accepted a 
letter contract from the Manhattan 
District, with some unusual provisions 
that reflected the unique character of 
the project. The Army required no 
guarantees from the firm that it could 
successfully design, build and put into 
operation a gaseous diffusion produc- 
tion plant. For reasons of security, the 
company agreed to set up a separate 
corporate entity, the Kellex Corpora- 
tion, to function as a self-sustaining 
and autonomous organization for car- 
rying out the project. Because of the 
great uncertainty regarding the pre- 



2 Smyth Report, pp. 125-26 and 132-33; Hewlett 
and Anderson, New World, pp. 97-101; MDH, Bk. 2, 
Vol. 2, "Research," pp. 4.11-4.12, 4.14-4.15, 7.2- 
7.3, DASA. 



3 Cert of Audit MDE 103-46, Columbia Area, 
27 Feb 46, Fiscal and Audit Files, Cert of Audit 
Registers, MDR; MDH, Bk. 2. Vol. 2, pp. 2.1-2.2, 
11.1-11.3, App. B (Org Chart, Columbia Area, 
4 Aug 43), DASA; Groves, Now It Can Be Told, p. 111. 
Groves remembered the code name SAM as stand- 
ing for Substitute Alloy Materials rather than Spe- 
cial Alloyed Materials. 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



151 



cise scope and cost of the project, the 
District and Kellogg also agreed to 
defer fixing any financial terms until 
later execution of a formal fixed-fee 
contract. (This was not actually ac- 
complished until April 1944, when 
Kellogg accepted payment of about 
$2.5 million for its work.) * 

Kellogg provided the Kellex Corpo- 
ration with its own research, engi- 
neering, expediting, accounting, and 
service divisions. It designated one of 
its own vice presidents, Percival C. 
Keith, a Texas-born chemical engi- 
neer and graduate of Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology, to be execu- 
tive in charge at Kellex. Keith, who 
had already gained considerable fa- 
miliarity with the atomic bomb 
project through his service on the 
OSRD S-1 Section's planning board, 
not only drew upon managerial and 
technical employees of Kellogg but 
also borrowed personnel from other 
firms in order to staff Kellex. Kellex 
employees — some thirty-seven hun- 
dred at the height of the firm's activi- 
ties in 1944 — worked in the New York 
area at Kellex's headquarters in the 
downtown Manhattan Woolworth 
Building, at Columbia University's 
laboratory facilities in the Nash Build- 
ing, and at Kellogg's Jersey City 
plant; and in Tennessee at the Clin- 
ton Engineer Works. ^ 



* Ltr Contract W-7405-eng-23, 14 Dec 42, and 
Formal Contract W-7405-eng-23, 1 1 Apr 43, both 
in Contract Files, OROO; MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 2, pp. 
3.4-3.6 and App. A, DASA; Memo, Nichols to Car- 
roll L. Wilson (Ex Asst to Bush), sub: Background 
on P. C. Keith, 10 Jan 47, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 201 (Keith), MDR; Ltr, Keith to WD. Attn: 
Groves, 25 Jan 44, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 167, 
MDR. 

*Memo, Nichols to Wilson, sub: Background on 
P. C. Keith, 10 Jan 47, MDR; Groves, Xow It Can Be 
Told, pp. 112 and 428; Ltr, M. W. Kellogg to 
Groves, 9 May 45, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 



To oversee the work of Kellex, as 
well as to handle the administrative 
details relating to the large number of 
Special Engineer Detachment person- 
nel assigned to the firm (nearly one 
hundred by mid- 1944), the district 
engineer in January 1943 established 
the New York Area Engineers Office 
in the conveniently located Wool- 
worth Building and assigned Lt. Col. 
James C. Stowers not only as the new 
area engineer but also as the unit 
chief for the entire K-25 project. At 
the start Stowers supervised a military 
and civilian staff of less than twenty; 
it remained small, never numbering 
more than seventy. While monitoring 
performance on the Kellogg contract, 
this New York staff also coordinated 
the unusually complex developmental 
diffusion research of numerous con- 
tractors — including Princeton Univer- 
sity working on barrier corrosion; 
Ohio State University on chemical 
compounds as feed materials and proc- 
ess gas; and Union Carbide's Carbide 
and Carbon Chemicals Corporation, 
Linde Air Products Company, and 
Bakelite Corporation, Western Elec- 
tee's Bell Telephone Laboratories, 
and Interchemical Corporation, all on 
suitable barrier fabrication.^ 



231.21 (Kellex), MDR; Ltr, Keith to WD, 25 Jan 44, 
MDR; MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 3, pp. 18.5-18.7 and Apps. 
C14-C15 (Org Charts), DASA. 

^Ltr, R. B. Van Houten (Asst Proj Mgr, Kellex) to 
John H. Arnold (Kellex R&D Dir), sub: SED Per- 
sonnel Assigned to Nash Bldg (with attached ros- 
ters), 28 Jun 44, Army Personnel Files, Box 73A (1- 
A), Kellex, OROO; Cert of Audit MDE 202-46, New 
York Area, 1 Nov 45, MDR; Memo, Groves to Dist 
Engr, sub: List of Personnel, 27 Sep 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 201 (Gen), MDR; Org Chart, 
Kellex Corp., 8 Apr 45, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
231.21 (Kellex), MDR; Org Charts, U.S. Engrs 
Office, MD, 15 Aug and 1 Nov 43, 10 Nov 44, 
26 Jan 45, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 020 (MED- 

Conlinued 



152 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Theoretical and Practical Problems 

The complexities and difficulties in 
gaseous diffusion plant design arose 
from the nature of the process itself, 
which required a stable compound of 
uranium that would exist as a fluid at 
ordinary temperatures, and also from 
the almost total lack of any adequate 
data on what would happen when the 
process was transformed from a labo- 
ratory phenomenon into a mass pro- 
duction operation.' In 1941, Karl P. 
Cohen had worked out the fundamen- 
tal theory of the gaseous diffusion 
process by applying the well-estab- 
lished Graham's Law to the only 
known gaseous compound of urani- 
um, the highly corrosive uranium 
hexafluoride. Briefly stated, Graham's 
Law holds that if a mixture of two 

Org), MDR; MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 2, pp. 2.2-2.5, Vol. 3, 
pp. 18.2-18.5 and Apps. C7-C13 (Org Charts), and 
Vol. 4, "Construction," App. C16 (Org Chart), 
DASA; Ltr, Keith to Nichols, 6 Aug 43. Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, Misc File (unmarked fldr), MDR; Ltr, 
Tolman to Groves, sub: Visit to Bell Tel Labs To 
Discuss Work on Barrier Problem, 9 Oct 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1 (Rpts), MDR. 

^Subsection based on MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 2 (espe- 
cially pp. 2.4 and 8.5-8.6) and Vol. 3, and Bk. 7, 
Vol. 1, 'Teed Materials and Special Procurement," 
pp. 9.6-9.9, DASA; Hewlett and Anderson, \eu< 
World, pp. 125-131; Gowing, Bntain and Atomic 
Energy, pp. 57-58 and 218-25; Completion Rpt, M. 
W. Kellogg Co. and Kellex Corp., sub: K-25 Plant. 
Contract W'-7405-eng-23, 31 Oct 45, pp. 5 (re- 
vised)-6, OROO; Interv, Author with Cohen, 8 Jul 
82, CMH; Karl Cohen, The Theoiy of Isotope Separation 
as Applied to the Large-scale Production of U-235, ed. 
George M. Murphy, in Division IH, Special Separations 
Project. National Nuclear Energy Series, Vol. 3 (New 
York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1951), pp. 5-29; 
Memo, Dunning to George T. Felbeck (K-25 Proj 
Mgr, Kellex), Albert L. Baker (Kellex Chief Engr), 
and Keith, sub: Importance of Low Humidity at K- 
25 Plant Site, 17 Apr 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
601 (CEW), MDR; Safety Committee. Bull SM-2, 
Safety Committee Regulations for Handling C-126 
(Fluorine), Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 729.31, 
MDR. On the question of cooler design, see Calen- 
dar of Events, Internal vs. External Coolers, 6 Mav 
44, Admin Files. Gen Corresp. 001, MDR. 



gases of unequal densities is placed in 
a porous container surrounded by an 
evacuated space, the lighter gas will 
tend to escape at a more rapid rate 
than the heavier. If the process can be 
controlled, separation can be carried 
forward by stages until an almost 
pure concentration of the hghter 
component is achieved. How much 
more of the lighter than the heavier 
component passes through a single 
stage depends upon the density of the 
gases and the difference in their mo- 
lecular weights. In the case of urani- 
um hexafluoride, the difference is 
very small indeed, the lighter U-235 
constituting only 0.85 percent. 
Hence, the highest enrichment of the 
lighter isotope in a single stage is 
1.0043 times that of the heavier. 

In practice, the degree of single- 
stage separation actually attainable is 
affected by the size, number, and dis- 
tribution of the apertures, or pores, 
in the barrier through which the proc- 
ess gas passes and the variations in 
the pressure of the gas itself. After in- 
vestigating whether these limiting fac- 
tors could be overcome sufficiently to 
make possible construction of an effi- 
cient plant in terms of time and 
output, Cohen proposed building a 
plant of forty-six hundred stages to 
produce 90 percent U-235. This 
plant would operate as a single cas- 
cade, with each stage feeding en- 
riched material to the next higher 
stage and depleted material to the 
stage below. Operating at a relatively 
high pressure, the plant would have a 
low holdup of material in the barrier, 
thus reducing the equilibrium time — 
that is, the time required to complete 
the process. 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



153 



The single cascade design contrast- 
ed with the diffusion plant design on 
which British atomic scientists had 
been working since 1940. Their pro- 
posed plant would employ a cascade- 
of-cascades arrangement with low 
pressure and high holdup. Such a 
plant had certain advantages over the 
American design; its lower-operating 
pressure and temperature made the 
solution to the barrier problem easier 
and reduced the corrosive effect of 
the process gas. The British scientists 
also claimed their cascade-of-cascades 
plant would have greater operating 
stability and present fewer mainte- 
nance problems, but American engi- 
neers rejected the design because its 
high holdup would increase the equi- 
librium time substantially. 

With the results of Cohen's studies 
and the British experiments at hand, 
SAM scientists and Kellex engineers 
worked as a team to design the basic 
gaseous diffusion production unit. 
This unit, designated the stage, had 
three main elements: a converter, 
control valve, and centrifugal pumps. 
The converter consisted of a barrier, 
its most central feature, and a cooler. 
The highly porous metallic barrier, 
initially comprised of flat plates but in 
final design made up of annular bun- 
dles of small tubes arranged and sup- 
ported in much the same fashion as 
the conventional shell-and-tube heat 
exchanger long employed in steam- 
powered engines, filtered the process 
gas to separate uranium isotopes; the 
cooler, a circular bundle of finned 
copper tubes in the head of the con- 
verter, removed the process-generat- 
ed heat and controlled the stage tem- 
perature. The system's control valve, 
an adaptation of the conventional 
butterfly valve, maintained the re- 



quired stage pressure, and its centrif- 
ugal pumps, consisting of a booster 
and blower, transported and fed the 
process gas from one stage to 
another. 

The Columbia-Kellex designers 
considered combining the stage's con- 
verter, control valve, and pumps in a 
completely sealed unit. This design 
offered certain advantages, especially 
with respect to maintaining a vacuum 
and preventing leaks. The unit, how- 
ever, would be bulky and its compo- 
nents difficult to service. And, more 
importantly, its fabrication would re- 
quire more time than separate fabri- 
cation of its component parts. To 
overcome these disadvantages, the 
designers modified their original dif- 
fusion stage concept. Final equipment 
designs called for the control valve 
and the pumps and its motors to be 
outside the converter. Although Car- 
bide and Carbon engineers had sug- 
gested that the cooler be removed 
from the converter and manufactured 
as a separate unit, the Columbia- 
Kellex team rejected this proposal, 
feeling that such a change would slow 
down delivery of the converters. 

This modified stage design, never- 
theless, forced the Columbia-Kellex 
designers to contend with another 
mechanical problem — how to prevent 
leakage. After extensive testing they 
proposed that both pumps and 
motors be encased in a vacuum-tight 
enclosure containing inert gas, there- 
by eliminating the primary obstacle in 
centrifugal pump design: the need for 
seals. The Westinghouse Electric and 
Manufacturing Company built several 
models of this design, which Colum- 
bia scientists later successfully em- 
ployed in laboratory tests. But before 



154 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Columbia could develop a production 
model, researchers at the Elliott Com- 
pany in Pennsylvania had invented a 
radically different type of seal for cen- 
trifugal pumps. When tested at Co- 
lumbia in early 1943, the designers 
determined that this new type of seal 
met all the requirements for the K-25 
plant. 

Some of the most difficult design 
problems arose from the necessity of 
using the highly corrosive uranium 
hexafluoride as the process gas. Be- 
cause earlier efforts by the OSRD to 
find a substitute for uranium hexa- 
fluoride had failed, the Army expand- 
ed research by SAM, Princeton, and Du 
Pont scientists in an effort to devise 
ways to cope with the corrosive char- 
acter of the gas. These investigations 
established that the adverse effects of 
corrosion could be inhibited through 
pre-installation conditioning of the 
process equipment and contributed to 
the design of treatment methods. 

The Barrier Problem 

The heart of the gaseous diffusion 
system was the barrier, the compo- 
nent that proved most difficult to 
design and fabricate.® Two objectives 



» Subsection based on MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 2, pp. 
4.1-4.30 and 4.32-4.33, DASA; DSM Chronology, 
16 Jun 44, Sec. 10, OROO; MPC Min, 13 Aug 43, 
MDR; Ltr, Tolman to Groves, sub: Visit to Bell Tel 
Labs To Discuss Work on Barrier Problem, 9 Oct 
43, MDR; Ltr, Edward Mack, Jr. (SAM Labs), to 
Urey, 31 Mar 44, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1 
(Kellex and Others), MDR; Ltrs, Urey to Groves, 
10 May 43, and Urey to Hough, 10 Nov 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 201 (Urey), MDR; Ltrs, Keith to 
Groves, 23 Oct 43, and W. A. Akers (British group) 
to Stowers, 26 Jun 44, and Min, Follow-up Review 
Conf (K-25), 5 Jan 44, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
001, MDR; Memo, Stowers to Groves, 7 Jan 44, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 095 (Kellex), MDR; 
Hewlett and Anderson, \ew World, p. 139; Memo, 
Tolman to Grove, sub: Status of Work on Pilot 



guided barrier research and develop- 
ment at Columbia University, as well 
as at Kellex: find a material that 
would efficiently separate U-235 and 
U-238 in a hexafluoride compound, 
and develop mass production meth- 
ods for making the material into bar- 
riers. Ongoing tests soon revealed 
that this material had to have certain 
essential characteristics, namely, be 
highly porous; resistant to the reac- 
tive nature of uranium hexafluoride; 
capable of withstanding the stresses 
of fabrication, installation, and utili- 
zation; and suitable for mass 
production. 

Columbia research had experiment- 
ed with a great variety of metals and 
alloys over a two-year period (1941- 
42), testing many of them in Pilot 
Plant No. 1, but with repeated disap- 
pointment. Finally, in December 
1942, the experiments of researchers 
Edward Norris and Edward Adler 
with a form of corrosion-resistant 
nickel revealed the material's highly 
promising characteristics for satisfying 
the exacting and rigorous barrier re- 
quirements. To manufacture the 
Norris-Adler barrier material in a 
continuous process, as well as to test 
other equipment under conditions ap- 
proaching those anticipated in a 
large-scale diffusion plant, the re- 
search team at Columbia in January 
1943 started building Pilot Plant 
No. 2, a six-stage cascade unit, in the 



Plants, Barriers, etc., in N.Y., 13 Mar 44, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 201 (Tolman), MDR; Memo, 
Nichols to Groves, sub; Requirement for Nickel 
Powder, 2 Mar 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
600.12 (Research), MDR. In response to the atomic 
program's need for large quantities of powdered 
nickel. International Nickel Company built addition- 
al manufacturing facilities in West Virginia, New 
Jersey, and New York. 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



155 



Nash Building. In early summer, this 
pilot plant began producing the 
Norris-Adler barrier material. Initial 
tests, however, revealed distressing 
structural weaknesses and production 
deficiencies; the nickel material's brit- 
tleness made fabrication into tubes 
difficult and the complex character of 
the manufacturing techniques created 
problems in achieving uniform quality 
of production. 

Manhattan leaders, nevertheless, 
continued to be confident that the 
barrier problem would be solved sat- 
isfactorily. They intensified barrier re- 
search and testing efforts of the Co- 
lumbia team, as well as those of the 
Kellex-Bell-Bakelite barrier research 
group experimenting with a powdered 
nickel barrier. The progress and re- 
sults of these ongoing barrier-develop- 
ment experiments were reviewed and 
discussed in August, when the Military 
Policy Committee convened on the 
thirteenth. With cautious optimism, 
the committee concluded that a suita- 
ble — if not ideal — barrier would soon 
be designed and fabricated, an im- 
proved version of either the Norris- 
Adler or Kellex barrier. But ensuing 
results from months of testing dashed 
the Columbia scientists' hopeful ex- 
pectations of producing good-quality 
barrier material; their Norris-Adler 
prototype, though much improved, 
was still too brittle and lacking in uni- 
form quality. The Kellex-Bell-Bakelite 
team's experiments, however, particu- 
larly those with a material that com- 
bined some of the best features of the 
Norris-Adler and the powdered nickel 
barriers, demonstrated that its new 
barrier achieved good separation char- 
acteristics and presented fewer fabrica- 
tion problems. 



In early November, Groves endeav- 
ored to reach a workable solution as 
to the direction barrier development 
should proceed. After listening to ar- 
guments from Urey and the Columbia 
scientists in support of the latest bar- 
rier they had devised and to Keith 
and the Kellex group concerning the 
advantages of their improved pow- 
dered nickel barrier, Groves decided 
that the most feasible policy was to 
continue work on both types, the 
Kellex barrier providing insurance 
against the possible failure of the Co- 
lumbia barrier. Predictably, this com- 
promise was unpopular with both 
sides. Urey, in particular, who from 
the start had resented the diversion of 
effort from his own project to the 
Kellex group to accelerate barrier de- 
velopment, saw it as further indica- 
tion of Groves's intention to exclude 
Columbia from all useful work on the 
atomic project, and he reminded the 
Manhattan commander that he had al- 
ready transferred both the pile ex- 
periments and the heavy water re- 
search from Morningside Heights to 
Chicago. 

Contributing to Urey's harsh judg- 
ment of the intent of Groves's action 
was his awareness of the discourage- 
ment felt by many of those working 
on the barrier problem. In fact, by 
the end of 1943, morale had plum- 
meted to a very low point. Not the 
least of the factors causing this pre- 
vailing pessimism was adverse criti- 
cism of the Columbia-Kellex plant 
design by some members of the Brit- 
ish delegation of scientists assigned to 
the atomic project. The British ex- 
pressed decided preference for the 
cascade-of-cascades design of their 
own plant, arguing that the single cas- 



156 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



cade design of the American plant 
would not eliminate the "surges" — 
sudden, sharp variations in gas pres- 
sure — that might well make the Ten- 
nessee plant inoperable. While also 
stating a preference for Kellex's im- 
proved powdered nickel barrier over 
Columbia's, the British considered 
even the Kellex barrier to be far from 
perfected. Finally, too, the visiting sci- 
entists indicated great skepticism that 
Kellex would have the production 
plant in operation by the projected 
date, 1 July 1945. Groves sharply dis- 
agreed with the British on this last 
point, holding that, if Kellex was rea- 
sonably certain the plant would be 
operating by that date, it probably 
would be in production even sooner. 

Keith and his Kellex colleagues par- 
ticularly resented the visit of the Brit- 
ish scientists. In January 1944, the 
Kellex chief asserted that the British 
had set progress back a month be- 
cause of time spent answering ques- 
tions and assisting them in making 
studies, many duplicating studies 
made by his own engineers months 
earlier. At the same time, he com- 
plained to the New York area engi- 
neer that Groves appeared to be 
avoiding a decision on the barrier 
question and also seemed to be trying 
to push back the plant completion 
date. Colonel Stowers wrote hurriedly 
to General Groves, expressing anxiety 
at the alarming decline of enthusiasm 
he noted in the normally ebullient 
and confident Kellex chief. 

But much of the gloom prevailing 
at Kellex and Columbia was dispelled 
by developments in the early months 
of 1944. On 16 January, Groves met 
with representatives of Kellex, Car- 
bide and Carbon, SAM Laboratories, 
and the Houdaille-Hershey Corpora- 



tion to discuss progress on the bar- 
rier. The group convened at Decatur, 
Illinois, where Houdaille-Hershey was 
building a new plant for the manufac- 
ture of barriers of the Norris-Adler 
type. At the conclusion of the meet- 
ing Groves announced that the Deca- 
tur plant would be converted immedi- 
ately so that it could produce Kellex's 
improved powdered nickel barrier, 
because it was considerably easier to 
fabricate and manufacture than the 
Norris-Adler. Fortunately, a lot of 
precious production time was not lost 
during the conversion process. Most 
of the equipment and many of the 
procedures for producing the Norris- 
Adler barrier were readily adapted for 
producing the Kellex type. 

An important factor in Groves's de- 
cision to go ahead with mass produc- 
tion of the Kellex barrier was his 
knowledge of the International Nickel 
Company's successful production of a 
high-quality powdered nickel, thus 
providing a ready source of the type 
of nickel out of which the Kellex bar- 
rier could be best fabricated. In what 
proved to be a most fortuitous move, 
the Manhattan commander had di- 
rected Colonel Nichols in the spring 
of 1943 to have the company build fa- 
cilities for the manufacture of barrier 
material. And because of this early 
start, company technicians by early 
1944 had developed a process for 
producing powdered nickel of a type 
and quality especially suitable for fab- 
ricating the Kellex barrier. In fact, by 
April, the firm had accumulated in its 
storage facility some 80 tons, more 
than enough for immediate shipment 
to the diffusion pilot plants in New 
York. 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



157 



Meanwhile, barrier developments at 
Columbia also provided more reason 
for optimism. Pilot Plant No. 2 had 
begun turning out sizable amounts of 
a good-quality Norris-Adler barrier. 
Thus, before receipt of the District's 
orders in April to convert No. 2 to 
manufacture Kellex's improved pow- 
dered nickel barrier, Columbia scien- 
tists had the satisfaction of being the 
first to achieve quantity production of 
their material. 

Pilot plant testing and production 
of barrier materials continued apace 
into the summer of 1944. While pro- 
viding the first opportunity to ascer- 
tain the separation qualities of the 
Kellex barrier under conditions simu- 
lating large-scale plant operations, 
these pilot plant tests demonstrated 
the need for more improvements. 
But, at this juncture, with the con- 
tinuing lack of barrier components 
threatening to hold up further 
progress in design and construction 
of the main diffusion plant at the 
Clinton site, Manhattan Project lead- 
ers knew the time for experimentation 
was at an end. They now felt the ur- 
gency of directing all of their efforts 
to expediting Houdaille-Hershey's 
mass production of the less than ideal 
Kellex barrier in sufficient quantity to 
equip each of the thousands of stages 
of the Tennessee plant. 

Plant Design 

In the early stages of planning, ev- 
eryone had assumed that the objec- 
tive was to design and build a gaseous 
diffusion plant capable of producing 
a 90-percent-enriched product. But 
data that became available to the 
design teams from ongoing research 
and pilot plant studies indicated that 



considerable time in design and engi- 
neering would be saved if the cascade 
equipment were limited to that pro- 
ducing a product of lower enrich- 
ment. Theoretically, a cascade con- 
structed with tubular barriers would 
be efficient up to the point of a 36.6- 
percent concentration; for higher 
product enrichment, quite differently 
designed barriers would be necessary. 
Furthermore, the plant designers 
soon discovered that, because of the 
greater capacities required, the cen- 
trifugal pumps under development 
for the lower stages could not be 
used above the 36.6-percent level. In 
other respects, too — for instance, in- 
creased likelihood of critical product 
accumulation — the design of the 
upper stages presented special 
problems. 

General Groves, as early as Febru- 
ary 1943, cited an alternative solution 
that would save much time and 
seemed certain to work: Why not take 
the output from the lower stages of 
the gaseous diffusion plant and feed 
them into the Beta phase of the elec- 
tromagnetic plant? By mid-year, elec- 
tromagnetic plant construction was 
going so well that this solution 
seemed all the more feasible. Groves 
therefore asked Kellex to submit esti- 
mated completion dates for 5-, 15-, 
36.6-, and 90-percent plants. On the 
basis of these estimates, he then in- 
structed Keith and the Kellex design 
teams to draw up plans for a 36.6- 
percent plant. Meanwhile, research on 
the upper stages continued on a re- 
duced scale. 

As a consequence, by late 1943, 
project design was making substantial 
progress in most directions. The 
knottier aspects of pump design and 



158 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



procurement appeared to be solved; 
soon, the Allis-Chalmers Manufactur- 
ing Company and several smaller 
firms would be able to satisy all of the 
District's requests for pumps in what- 
ever quantities needed. Also, the 
pump seal problem appeared to be 
well on the way to solution.^ 

Although lack of a really suitable 
barrier had prevented development of 
adequate equipment for testing the 
diffusion operation on something ap- 
proaching production plant scale, it 
had not held up completion of Kellex 
designs for the overall plant. These 
designs projected as the main gaseous 
diffusion production unit a cascade of 
2,892 stages, connected in a single 
series. Ideally, Kellex engineers might 
have incorporated into the plant 
design a requirement for a converter 
and pumps of slightly smaller size at 
each successive stage in the cascade. 
Because this, however, would have re- 
sulted in extremely complicated and 
costly manufacturing and installation 
problems, they compromised. They 
provided for five different-sized 
pumps and four different-sized con- 
verters, thus dividing the whole cas- 
cade into nine variably pressurized 
sections. The sections normally would 
function as a single cascade, although 
each could be operated individually. 
Within each section the smallest oper- 
able unit was the cell, containing 6 
stages enclosed in a sheet metal cubi- 
cle that would be supplied with dry 



^Min, Coordination Committee Mtg, 13 Feb 43, 
and Ltrs, S. B. Smith (Kellex) to Stowers, 7 Sep 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 337 (Univ of CaliO and 
(Kellex), respectively, MDR; Ltr, Oppenheimer to 
Nichols, 1 Jul 43, and Memo, Arnold and Dunning 
to Keith, sub: The Diffusion Plant, 28 Apr 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 (Projs and 
Prgms: K-25), MDR; MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 2, pp. 5.1- 
5.28, and Vol. 3, pp. 7.1-7.3 and 8.12-8.14, DASA. 



air and kept heated to a uniform 
temperature. ^° 

Design of the cascade unquestion- 
ably constituted the single most im- 
portant and difficult feature of the 
gaseous diffusion production plant. 
But for the Kellex engineers it was 
only a small part of the job. Working 
in cooperation with numerous equip- 
ment and supply contractors, they 
also had to prepare blueprints and 
specifications for a vast array of sup- 
port and control facilities. Cascade 
operation, for example, required 
purge cascades, process gas recovery, 
surge and waste, and product removal 
systems, as well as a large number of 
instruments for maintaining a con- 
stant check on all conditions through- 
out the plant. Plant instrumentation 
had to be extremely reliable, for even 
slight variations in such factors as 
pressure or temperature could 
produce adverse effects. 

To house the main cascade and its 
auxiliary facilities, Kellex engineers 
designed a huge structure of fifty-four 
contiguous units, or buildings, ar- 
ranged in a gigantic U-shaped pat- 
tern more than half a mile long on 
each side and a quarter of a mile 
wide. They laid out the interior of 
these buildings on four different 
levels: a basement housing lubricating 
and cooling equipment, ventilating 
fans and ducts, and transformers and 
electrical switchgear; a cell floor con- 
taining the steel-encased cells lined 
up in two parallel rows extending the 
length of a building; a pipe gallery 
carrying the main process lines and 
numerous auxiliary lines; and an op- 



'OMDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 3, Sees. 8 and 9, DASA; Com- 
pletion Rpt, Kellex Corp., sub: K-25 Plant, 31 Oct 
45, pp. 5(revised)-8, OROO. 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



159 



crating floor, the location of most of 
the control devices and meters for 
cascade operation. At the operating 
floor level they placed a central con- 
trol room at the base of the U , with 
instruments to keep track of the 
whole process and remote controls 
for all motorized valves. 

After completion of the cascade 
design for the plant at the Clinton 
Engineer Works (CEW), most of the 
research and development teams at 
Columbia and Kellex, and elsewhere, 
turned their primary energies to engi- 
neering and testing equipment and 
support facilities. With Groves's per- 
mission, however, a few SAM and 
Kellex researchers and engineers con- 
tinued work on developing diffusion 
equipment that could achieve a 
higher product enrichment. In sup- 
port of this investigation, in late 
summer of 1944 Kellex placed a 10- 
stage pilot plant in operation. By mid- 
January 1945, Kellex was ready to 
begin engineering and procurement 
for an extension to the upper stages 
of the K-25 plant that would bring 
the level of its product to an enrich- 
ment of approximately 85 percent. 
Groves authorized Kellex to proceed, 
but canceled the extension when data 
showed a greater product output 
could be achieved by increasing the 
amount of uranium of a lower per- 
centage of enrichment for feeding 
into the electromagnetic plant. To 
achieve this goal. Groves directed 
Kellex to design and engineer a 540- 
stage side-feed unit (later designated 
K-27) in which the waste output from 
the main K-25 cascade could be com- 
bined with natural uranium to 
produce a slightly enriched product. 
By feeding the K-27 output into the 
higher stages of K-25, plant designers 



estimated the total production of 
U-235 could be increased by 35 to 
60 percent. Kellex hoped to get the 
K-27 extension into operation early in 
1946.11 

Building the Gaseous Diffusion Plant 

The Tennessee site for the gaseous 
diffusion plant consisted of a tract of 
5,000 acres in the northwest corner of 
the CEW reservation, approximately 
15 miles southwest of the town of 
Oak Ridge. 12 {See Map 3.) Enclosed 



i^Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Mar- 
Apr 45 to Mar 46, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP 
Files, Fldr 28, Tab A, MDR; MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 3, 
Sec. 14, DASA; Completion Rpt, M. W. Kellogg Co. 
and Kellex Corp., sub: K-27 Extension, 31 Jan 46, 
p. 3 (revised), OROO. 

^2 Subsection based on Completion Rpt, Kellex 
Corp., sub: K-25 Plant, 31 Oct 45, pp. 4, 8-10, 14- 
28, 30-31, 33 (revised), and maps following p. 40, 
OROO; MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 4, pp. 2.6-2.7, 3.3-3.9. 
3.46-3.51, 3.73-3.75, 5.1-5.4, 7.1, and Apps. CI 
(Chart, Actual K-25 Constr Progress), C7 (Chart, 
Process Area Constr Progress), C16 (Org Chart), 
C25 (Chart, Daily K-25 Constr Forces), and Vol. 5, 
"Operation," pp. 6.3-6.4, DASA; Memo, Dunning 
to Felbeck, Baker, and Keith, sub: Importance of 
Low Humidity at K-25 Plant Site, 17 Apr 43, MDR; 
Groves, Now It Can Be Told, pp. 12 and 116-17; 
Completion Rpt, Kellex Corp., sub: K-27 Extension, 
31 Jan 46, p. 21 (p. 2 of attached cost statement), 
OROO; Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, 
1 Jul-9 Aug and Sep 43, Apr, Jun, Aug and Oct 44, 
and Mar and Sep 45, MDR; Org Charts, U.S. Engrs 
Office, MD, 15 Aug and 1 Nov 43, and 15 Feb 44, 
MDR; Maj William T. St. Clair (MD officer who 
monitored K-25 plant construction). Daily Diary, 
9 Nov 43-13 Sep 45, passim, Kellex Records, Box 
748, OROO; Draft Article, Maj Gen Leslie R. Groves, 
"Development of the Atomic Bomb," Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 000.74 (Mil Engr), MDR; Ltrs, Keith 
to Stowers, 6 Oct 44, Stowers to Dist Engr, sub: 
Change of Estimate Opn Date of Case I, 10 Oct 44, 
and Groves to Dist Engr, 1 Nov 44, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 600.12 (Projs and Prgms: K-25), 
MDR; Ltr, Tolman to Groves, sub: Status of Case V, 
1 Feb 45, Admin Files, Gen Corresp. 319.1 (Rpts). 
MDR. 



160 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



on the north, south, and east by thick- 
ly wooded ridges and on the west by 
the Clinch River, the site had few 
roads, no railroads (although a main 
line was located a few miles to the 
north), and only one substantial struc- 
ture (a country schoolhouse). Project 
engineers would have preferred a dif- 
ferent location, especially one with 
lower average humidity; however, be- 
cause the land at Clinton had been 
available for immediate purchase in 
early 1943, Manhattan leaders did not 
perceive the engineers' concern as 
critical as their own desire to get 
plant construction under way. Fur- 
thermore, they felt that the site satis- 
fied other major requirements. It had 
a readily available water supply and a 
relatively level area of about 1,000 
acres for the plant facilities, and its 
location was distant from the other 
production plants and the densely 
populated areas. 

Under terms of the prime contract 
with M. W. Kellogg, Kellex was to not 
only design and engineer the K-25 
plant but also supervise its construc- 
tion, using its own large field forces 
plus numerous contractors and sub- 
contractors. The prime construction 
contractor was the J. A. Jones Con- 
struction Company of Charlotte, 
North Carolina, whose reputation on 
other Army projects had impressed 
Groves. Typical of the more than 
sixty subcontractors were the D. W. 
Winkleman Company for grading and 
drainage of the site, the Bethlehem 
Steel Corporation for steel work, and 
the Interstate Roofing Company for 
installation of heating and ventilating 
systems. 

Wherever possible, Kellex delegat- 
ed to Jones and the other contractors 
specific procurement of equipment 



and supplies needed in construction. 
Similarly, it contracted out thousands 
of orders for process and auxiliary 
equipment. Major equipment manu- 
facturers were AUis-Chalmers for cen- 
trifugal pumps and motors of all 
kinds; the Chrysler Corporation for 
converters; and Houdaille-Hershey, 
Linde Air Products, and Bakelite for 
barrier material. Some of these 
firms — for example, Allis-Chalmers, 
Chrysler, and Houdaille-Hershey — 
had to build entirely new plants or 
undertake extensive conversion of ex- 
isting facilities. 

Through its rapidly expanding 
Manhattan District organization, the 
Army monitored and reviewed the 
many hundreds of agreements negoti- 
ated by Kellex, Jones, and other firms 
in late 1943. During the first few 
months of relatively limited oper- 
ations at the building site, District En- 
gineer Nichols exercised control over 
the project through the New York 
Area Engineers Office, whose staff 
maintained constant contact with the 
Kellex and Columbia University 
groups, and through the CEW Con- 
struction Division. But rapid expan- 
sion of construction and procurement 
activities eventually compelled Colo- 
nel Nichols to reorganize his Tennes- 
see headquarters staff, establishing 
construction and operations divisions 
for each major production project. In 
his capacity as the K-25 unit chief, 
and in keeping with normal Corps of 
Engineers practice, Colonel Stowers 
organized the new K-25 Construction 
Division to parallel the organizational 
structure set up by the principal con- 
struction contractors — Unit I for the 
power plant. Unit II for the condi- 
tioning facilities, and Unit III for the 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



161 



the process plant — and assigned Maj. 
William P. Cornelius as division 
chief. 13 

Actual construction started on the 
day after Memorial Day 1943, when a 
survey party began laying out the 
power plant site at an area adjacent to 
the east bank of the Clinch River. 
Two months later grading began in 
the area for the conditioning facili- 
ties — a large structure to house the 
treatment apparatus for coating proc- 
ess equipment with fluorine gas, thus 
providing protection against the ex- 
tremely corrosive action of the urani- 
um hexafluoride process gas, and a 
number of smaller buildings for the 
generation and storage of fluorine, 
production of gaseous nitrogen, and 
neutralization. To ensure these facili- 
ties would be ready in time so that 
K-25 workers could treat the process 
equipment before installation in the 
main production plant, Kellex and 
District authorities decided to engage 
a second major construction contrac- 
tor — the firm of Ford, Bacon, and 
Davis — to build them. 

Ground preparation on the main 
plant site did not start until 20 Octo- 
ber 1943. Although relatively level by 
comparison with the surrounding ter- 
rain, the site was broken into ridges 
and valleys that required cuts up to 
50 feet and fills averaging 25 feet. 
The great weight of the buildings that 
would house the cascade and its com- 
plicated, interconnected equipment 
made exceptionally stable foundations 
necessary. Ordinarily, such founda- 



tions would have been carried down 
to bedrock, a procedure that would 
have required thousands of concrete 
columns of different lengths. But, to 
save time, Kellex used the then novel 
method of compacted fill. Foundation 
workers put down earth in 6-inch 
layers, constantly checking in a field 
laboratory for proper moisture con- 
tent and soil mixture. Then they com- 
pacted the fill with sheepsfoot rollers 
to a density slightly greater than that 
of undisturbed soil.^"* Next they 
poured the foundation footings di- 
rectly on top of the undisturbed earth 
in the cut sections and on the com- 
pacted fill in the filled-in sections. In 
spite of the abnormally rainv weather 
in the fall of 1943, the K-25 workers' 
use of innovative construction tech- 
niques enabled them to complete 
laying down the foundations far more 
quickly than would have been possi- 
ble with more traditional methods. 

Kellex engineers also employed 
other time-saving methods, consistent 
with their basic goal of completing 
the production plant as rapidly as 
possible. Thus, wherever feasible, 
they overlapped activities normally 
carried out separately. The day grad- 
ing began, J. A. Jones crews also 
poured concrete for the first building. 
And, as soon as the foundations had 
hardened, crews moved in heavy 
gooseneck cranes (the foundations 
had been deliberately designed to 
carry their weight) and began lifting 
the structural steel frames of build- 
ings into place. 



*^The conditioning area was comprised of facili- 
ties for preparing process equipment for installation 
in the process buildings. See Ch. XVIII for a fuller 
description of the design and construction of the 
K-25 power plant. 



*■* Used to compact clay soil, a sheepsfoot roller is 
a towed roller with a large number of 4-inch-long 
steel bars welded radially to the surface of the roller 
drum. See Diclwnary of Civil Engineering, s.v. "sheeps- 
foot roller." 



162 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Gaseous Diffusion Plant Under Construction at CEW 



Another objective of Kellex's 
speedup techniques was to get some 
sections of the huge plant into oper- 
ation as soon as possible. The firm's 
initial construction schedule, adopted 
in August 1943, provided for, first, 
completing one cell for testing; 
second, finishing one building as a 
so-called 54-stage pilot plant; and 
third, completing enough of the plant 
to produce an enriched product con- 
taining 0.9 percent U-235. The 
schedule designated this first produc- 
tion section. Case I. Three additional 
cases, with outputs of 5-, 15-, and 36- 
percent product enrichment, ^^ would 



be finished as of 1 June, 15 July, and 
23 August 1945, respectively. As con- 
struction progressed, Kellex engi- 
neers revised the original schedule to 
conform to changing conditions. 
Thus, the schedule of August 1944 
called for completion in 1945 of Case 
I (0.9 percent) on 1 January, Case II 
(5 percent) on 10 June, Case III (15 
percent) on 1 August, Case IV (23 
percent) on 13 September, and a new 
Case V (36 percent) as soon as possi- 
ble thereafter. 

To ensure adherence to this highly 
complex and, in many respects unor- 
thodox construction schedule, Kellex 



'^ In their projections of estimated output the 
Kellex design engineers reduced the original 36.6- 
percent level of product enrichment to 36 percent. 



See Completion Rpt, Kellex Corp., sub: K-25 Plant, 
p. 3, OROO. 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



163 




K-25 Steel-frame Construction 



adopted a variety of rigid control 
measures. Typical were the two com- 
plete and identical charts the firm 
maintained, one in its New York 
office and the other at the construc- 
tion site, on which it recorded the 
current manufacturing and delivery 
status of the hundreds of thousands 
of items required for building the 
plant. 

There were times, however, when 
labor shortages, especially in the 
skilled categories, were acute. The 
contractors endeavored to overcome 
some of the shortages by on-the-job 
training and simplifying construction 
tasks wherever possible. Fortunately, 
too, because each stage of the plant 



was comprised of similar basic com- 
ponents, construction crews gained 
skill and speed from the repetitive- 
ness of their work. With the Army's 
support, J. A. Jones and Ford, Bacon, 
and Davis also sought to improve 
living conditions and undertook other 
ameliorative steps for their workers, 
which reduced labor turnover and 
limited work stoppages to about 0.1 
percent of total man-hours. ^^ 

One unusual feature of the con- 
struction work on the K-25 plant was 
the exceptionally stringent emphasis 



16 See Chs. X\'I and XVII for a more detailed dis- 
cussion of manpower problems. See Ch. XXI for a 
description of efforts to improve living conditions 
for K-25 construction employees. 



164 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



on cleanliness. Because even minute 
amounts of foreign matter would have 
highly deleterious effects on process 
operations, construction workers had 
to cleanse all pipes, valves, pumps, 
converters, and other items of equip- 
ment thoroughly before installation. 
Workmen in a special unit performed 
this vast operation in the large condi- 
tioning building, using equipment for 
solvent degreasing, alkaline cleaning, 
acid pickling, scratch brushing, sur- 
face passivation, and a variety of 
other procedures. When they fin- 
ished, they sealed all openings to in- 
terior surfaces and kept them sealed 
until installation teams put the equip- 
ment into place. 

To make certain no dust or other 
foreign matter polluted the system 
during installation, J. A. Jones insti- 
tuted a rigid schedule of surgical 
cleanliness in installation areas. Iso- 
lating these areas with temporary par- 
titions, the workers installed pressure 
ventilation, using filtered air. Then 
they cleaned the areas thoroughly, 
and inspectors carefully checked all 
personnel and material that entered 
them. Maintenance crews with mops 
and vacuum cleaners continued to 
remove any foreign substances that 
seeped in. When trucks had to enter, 
workers hosed them down at the 
entrances. 

Workers wore special clothes and 
lintless gloves. Because certain work 
on equipment to be used in plant in- 
stallations could not be done in the 
dirt-free areas, such as welding pipes 
and other small jobs, J. A. Jones in- 
stalled special inflatable canvas bal- 
loons and the work was done inside 
them. The cleanliness control meas- 
ures required many additional guards, 
inspectors, and supervisors, but they 



did not appreciably slow down the 
work. In fact, in some ways the good 
housekeeping actually facilitated the 
progress of construction. 

Even more painstaking was the in- 
stallation of more than 100 miles of 
pipe without flanged joints, and with 
welds that had to meet tightness spec- 
ifications more severe than any ever 
encountered before in commercial 
construction. Pipe-fitting crews devel- 
oped fourteen special welding tech- 
niques. Individual welders then learn- 
ed the techniques, each specializing in 
those required for a particular type of 
installation. At the height of construc- 
tion, there were some twelve hundred 
welding machines in use. All of the 
work required rigid control and tedi- 
ous inspection to ensure joints were 
tight and no internal scale formed 
that might later find its way into the 
process system 

At last, on 17 April 1944, the first 
6-stage cell of the main plant was 
ready for test runs. Brief trial oper- 
ations of this unit continued in May. 
During the summer months, as con- 
stuction crews finished additional 
stages, technicians put them through 
trial runs. Although barrier tubes 
were not available (installation of the 
first did not begin until fall of 1944), 
these tests permitted assembly of val- 
uable data concerning performance of 
other plant components and detection 
of mechancial defects, such as leaks 
and sealant failures. Approximately 
two months behind schedule, equip- 
ment contractor workmen completed 
Case I (402 stages) to the point where 
processing of feed material could 
begin, but at least another month 
passed before the unit attained the 
0.9-percent level. The other cases 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



165 



were completed either on time or 
ahead of schedule. Kellex and J. A. 
Jones transferred the last K-25 plant 
unit to Carbide and Carbon, the op- 
erating contractor, on 1 1 September 
1945. Total construction cost, includ- 
ing the 540-stage side-feed extension 
(K-27) unit completed after the war, 
was $479,589,999. 

Plant Operation 

In late 1942, when the atomic 
project leaders were considering po- 
tential operators for the gaseous dif- 
fusion plant, Kellex's Percival Keith 
expressed a strong preference for the 
Union Carbide and Carbon Corpora- 
tion.^'^ In this leading chemical firm 
Keith saw a versatile organization 
with skilled personnel who would be 
able to not only operate the complex 
diffusion production process but also 
provide design, engineering, and con- 
struction assistance to hard-pressed 
Kellex engineers. Satisfied with 
Keith's opinion. Groves directed Man- 
hattan representatives to commence 
negotiations with Union Carbide offi- 



" Subsection based on DSM Chronology, 12 Dec 
42, Sec. 4, OROO; Hewlett and Anderson, \eu< 
World, pp. 120-22, 298-302, 374, 624-25; Dist 
Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Dec 44 and Jan- 
Sep 45, MDR, MDH, Bk. 2. Vol. 1, "General Fea- 
tures," pp. 4.6 and 5.7, Vol. 2, pp. 2.2-2.3, and Vol. 
5, pp. 2.1-2.7. 3.1-3.6, 4.3-4.4, 8.1-8.16 (especially 
table following 8.3), 10.1-10.5, 12.1-12.2, and 
Apps. Bl (Chart, K-25 Vacuum Testing Opns and 
Progress), B22 (Org Chart, Ford, Bacon, and Davis, 
31 Mar 44), F2 (Key Personnel, Carbide and 
Carbon), DASA, Sm\\h' Report, p. 133; Org Charts, 
U.S. Engrs Office, MD, 15 Feb 44, 1 Jun 44, 28 Aug 
44, 10 Nov 44, 26 Jan 45, MDR; Memo for File, Maj 
Wilbur E. Kelley (V-12 Opns Div chief), 23 Sep 44, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 (Projs and 
Prgms: K-25), MDR; Completion Rpt, Kellex Corp., 
sub: K-25 Plant, p. 3, OROO; Memo for File, Brig 
Gen Thomas F. Farrell (Grovess Dep), sub: Jul 12th 
Confs in New York, N.Y., 13 Jun 45, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 337 (LC), MDR. 



cials. Finally, in January 1943, Union 
Carbide agreed to become the prime 
operating contractor — but through its 
subsidiary, the Carbide and Carbon 
Chemicals Corporation — and selected 
one of its vice presidents, physical 
chemist and engineer George T. Fel- 
beck, as project manager in charge of 
K-25 operations. 

In the letter contract with Carbide 
and Carbon, Keith made certain that 
there was a provision for Kellex to 
obtain help in plant construction. 
Later modifications in the formal con- 
tract, signed in November 1943, ex- 
tended the operating contractor's 
area of responsibility to include co- 
ordination of barrier research and de- 
velopment, construction and oper- 
ation of a plant for producing nickel 
powder, conversion of Bakelite facili- 
ties to produce special barrier materi- 
al, and assumption in February 1945 
of the SAM Laboratories research 
program, hitherto operated by Co- 
lumbia University. 

Under terms of the prime contract, 
Carbide and Carbon was to receive an 
operator's fee of $75,000 per month 
for full plant operation, and addition- 
al payments as warranted. Although it 
would shoulder principal responsibil- 
ity for production activities, it did not 
agree — as did Du Pont with the 
plutonium plant and the Tennessee 
Eastman Corporation with the elec- 
tromagnetic plant — to serve as sole 
operator of the gaseous diffusion 
plant. Carbide officials did not want 
responsibility for conditioning the 
process equipment against the corro- 
sive nature of the uranium hexafluor- 
ide process gas, nor did they want the 
potentially hazardous task of manu- 



166 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



facturing the volatile fluorine gas 
used for conditioning. 

As an alternative, District officials 
had arranged with Chrysler, already 
under contract for manufacturing the 
converter component of the diffusion 
system, to do the conditioning. But 
when Kellex and Army authorities 
came to working out details of the 
equipment contract with the automo- 
bile firm, they learned that it lacked 
the necessary facilities for fluorine 
conditioning in its Detroit plant. Fol- 
lowing months of delay, Manhattan 
and Carbide officials resolved the 
problem in November 1943. Based on 
recommendations by Union Carbide, 
Carbon and Carbide officials tempo- 
rarily assigned responsibility for oper- 
ating the conditioning facilities to the 
building contractor. Ford, Bacon, and 
Davis, and building and operating re- 
sponsibility for the fluorine produc- 
tion facilities to the Hooker Electro- 
chemical Company. Up until early 
1945, when Carbide and Carbon as- 
sumed full operational control of 
these facilities, this arrangement per- 
mitted the prime operating contractor 
to concentrate its efforts on the proc- 
ess and power plants. 

Preparations 

During 1943, with gaseous diffu- 
sion plant production activities on a 
limited scale, the Manhattan District 
monitored the work of the several op- 
erating contractors through its K-25 
Construction Division. When oper- 
ations began to expand rapidly in early 
1944, the district engineer established 
a K-25 Operations Division, headed 
by Maj. John J. Moran (Chart 3). 
For months Moran's division func- 
tioned with only eight officers and 



five civil service employees. Then as 
the main diffusion plant became oper- 
ational in 1945, the division acquired 
some additional personnel and, by 
the fall of that year, was operating 
with fourteen officers, nine enlisted 
men, and twenty civil service employ- 
ees. But this was a relatively small 
staff to oversee the multifarious activi- 
ties of a production plant that at the 
peak of its operations employed more 
than eleven thousand workers. It 
proved adequate, however, because 
Colonel Stowers, the K-25 unit chief, 
employed the staff of the New York 
Area Engineers Office, which he also 
continued to head, to assume a con- 
siderable part of the load of maintain- 
ing liaison among the major compa- 
nies involved in gaseous diffusion 
operations. 

In the spring of 1944, about the 
time construction crews were com- 
pleting the first cell in the main proc- 
ess building. Carbide and Carbon 
began setting up its production orga- 
nization at the plant site. The firm 
had been recruiting personnel for an 
operating force since late 1943, but 
with only limited success. And be- 
cause recruitment difficulties also ex- 
tended to supervisory and technical 
positions, the district engineer even- 
tually had to augment the K-25 
technical staff with skilled personnel 
from the District's Special Engineer 
Detachment.^® 



'® On specific problems in recruitment of supervi- 
sory and technical personnel see Memo, Stowers to 
Marshall, sub: K-25 Proj Requirements, 21 Jan 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600 12 (Projs and 
Prgms: K-25), MDR; MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 5, pp. 2.1- 
2.4, DASA. 



Chart 3— Organization of the Manhattan District, January 1945 



DISTRICT ENGINEER 

DEPUTY DISTRICT ENGINEERS 

EXECUTIVE OFFICERS 



SPECIAL PROJECTS 



EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT 



WASHINGTON LIAISON 



REPORTS S STATISTICS 



SPECIAL STUDIES 



SPECIAL STAFF 



EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT 



INTELLIGENCE S SECURITY 



INTELLIGENCE. SAFEGUARDING 
MILITARY INFORMATION t 
\ BRANCH OFFICES 



NAVAL DETACHMENTS 



COORDINATOR 



PRODUCTION 



MADISON SOUARE AREA 



Colorado 
H3 S. St Lo 



Alabama Ordnance Works 
Morgantown Ordnance Works 
Wabash River Ordnance Works 



Delroit 
Milwaukee 



HANFORD ENGINEER WORKS 



EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT 



ADMINISTRATION 



FISCAL BRANCH 



ADMINISTRATIVE BRANCH 



CONTRACTS S CLAIMS 



Contracts & Procurement 
Engmeenng 



PRIORITIES S EXPEDITING 



I GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE ^ 



EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT 

FOR 

OPERATIONS 



SAFETY BRANCH 



MAINTENANCE t, UTILITIES 

BRANCH 
CLINTON ENGINEER WORKS 



SERVICE BRANCH 



Redistribution t, Salvage 
Clinton Engineer Works 
Redistribution & Salvage 

Classified Material 



Clinton Engineer Works 



EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT 

FOR 

PERSONNEL 



MILITARY PERSONNEL 



Hanford Engineer Works 



WASHINGTON REPRESENTATIVE 



, US. Engrs OHice. Ml). 26 Jan 45. AcJniin Files. 



iirrcsp. 020 (MED-Org). MDR. 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



167 



As newly recruited workers report- 
ed in, Carbide and Carbon made 
preparations for their orientation and 
training. By October 1944, a suffi- 
cient number of instructors and train- 
ees were on hand to establish an op- 
erations training center in a building 
formerly occupied by the local public 
school. At the start, the center's cur- 
riculum consisted of two major cours- 
es: process training and vacuum test 
training. Later, courses were added 
for process maintenance men and in- 
strument mechanics. In the begin- 
ning, only men were enrolled, but the 
continuing shortage of workers com- 
pelled Carbide and Carbon to recruit 
a large number of women as process 
operators. After employees had re- 
ceived more than eighty hours of 
formal classroom training, they un- 
derwent a period of on-the-job train- 
ing before final assignment to an op- 
erating position. 

In August 1944, some new workers 
had the opportunity to acquire practi- 
cal experience on the operation of the 
54-stage pilot plant, an experimental 
unit located at the base of the U in the 
main process building. The barrier 
tubes were not yet available, so the 
cell stages were fitted with steel ori- 
fices instead of converters. This 
meant, of course, that no isotope sep- 
aration could occur. But, using either 
nitrogen or "test fluid," ^^ the opera- 



^^ "Test fluid," the chemical compound n-per- 
fluoroheptane (CtFis) project chemists had devel- 
oped for process building test runs, was a nonhy- 
drogenous gaseous material with characteristics 
similar to the process gas, uranium hexafluoride, 
except that it was noncorrosive. During test oper- 
ations in the first three buildings, however, C7F16 
exhibited a number of technical deficiencies. Conse- 
quently, in February 1945, project chemists decided 
to discard it in favor of using the process gas in 
final test runs, realizing that the latter — although 
highly corrosive — would provide the same test infor- 



tor trainees simulated actual plant op- 
erations and plant managers were 
able to develop operating techniques, 
provide realistic training for foremen 
and key operators, and test perform- 
ance of seals, pumps, and valves. In 
January 1945, Carbide moved all 
training activities from outlying build- 
ings to the 54-stage pilot plant. 

Production Activities 

By the end of 1944, J. A. Jones 
construction crews were ready to turn 
over the first 60 of the 402 stages of 
Case I — the first major section of the 
production plant. Jones employees 
tested pumps, instruments, and other 
equipment for operability in the pres- 
ence of Carbide and Carbon repre- 
sentatives, noting in an acceptance 
report all deficiencies that would re- 
quire adjustment, repair, or replace- 
ment. Witnesses from both firms then 
had to approve the report before a 
completed plant section could be 
turned over to the operating staff for 
another series of tests preliminary to 
actual production. 

A typical preoperation test was to 
make certain no leaks existed in the 
process system, because the separa- 
tion process would operate effectively 
only under conditions approaching an 
absolute vacuum, with an infinitesi- 
mally small pressure buildup. SAM 
Laboratories vacuum technicians and 
Carbide and Carbon employees, all 
specially instructed in detecting leaks, 
worked together to carry out the deli- 
cate preoperation test. The test teams 
pumped down the process equipment 



mation with a considerable savings in both time and 
labor. See MDH, Bk. 2, Vol. 5, pp. 3.4-3.5, DASA. 



168 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Completed Plant Section with corrugated steel sheathing 



to a high vacuum and then played a 
stream of helium water over every 
welded joint, instrument, and valve. If 
there were leaks, helium would enter 
the system, where a mass spectrome- 
ter would detect it. Some four hun- 
dred to six hundred test personnel ul- 
timately had to devote about eight 
months to complete a check of the 
whole gaseous diffusion plant. 

As soon as a unit, or building, suc- 
cessfully passed the leak-test require- 
ments, plant operators prepared it for 
a test run with regular process gas. 
Before they could do this, however, 
they had to make a thorough check 
and calibration of all instruments and 
carry out final conditioning of equip- 
ment. The 130,000 instruments in the 
main process area — probably up to 
that time the largest number ever in- 



stalled in a single production plant — 
included many that were of special 
design and development and some 
that (for example, the mass spectrom- 
eters) were extremely delicate and 
complicated. Many, too, never before 
had been used routinely in a commer- 
cial-scale plant. Consequently, months 
of painstaking testing, calibrating, and 
checking were necessary before the 
final steps to put the plant into 
operation. 

Units in the production plant cas- 
cade began operating for the first 
time on regular process gas in Febru- 
ary 1945, testing procedures that sub- 
sequently were employed throughout 
the plant. The initial step was vapori- 
zation of the feed material — solid ura- 
nium hexafluoride from the Harshaw 
Chemical Company in Cleveland — by 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



169 



subjecting it to a series of hot baths 
to convert it into a gas. The feed ma- 
terial then entered the process stream 
in its gaseous form at any convenient 
feed intake point and flowed through 
the cascade of enriching stages. 
Emerging from these stages, the proc- 
ess gas went through a stripping sec- 
tion that carried depleted gas from 
the higher enrichment stages back to 
the lower part of the cascade for 
recirculation. 

By early March, construction crews 
had completed sufficient additional 
cells to permit start-up of a two-build- 
ing cascade. Unfortunately, on the 
ninth, as the actual start-up procedure 
began, nitrogen flooded the two- 
building cascade, because a worker 
had failed to close a valve in a bypass 
line. But quick purging action by 
plant crews soon cleared the system 
and, by the twelfth, they not only had 
the two-building cascade in partial 
production but also had connected 
two more buildings to the system. On 
the twenty-fourth, the whole of Case I 
went on stream. In the months fol- 
lowing, Cases II through IV were fin- 
ished at the rate of a case per month, 
until in mid-August the full plant cas- 
cade of 2,892 stages was in operation. 

From the start, production results 
were much better than anticipated, 
despite occasional minor interrup- 
tions because of equipment failures 
and operational errors. ^° By May 
1945, Cases I and II were turning 
out a product containing 1 percent 
U-235. In the following month, using 
slightly enriched material from the 
liquid thermal diffusion plant as feed. 



^° For a detailed listing of these interruptions 
during the period of getting the K-25 plant into full 
operation in the spring and summer of 1945 see 
ibid., pp. 8.4-8.7, DASA. 



operators drew off some product con- 
taining nearly 7 percent U-235. After 
the full plant cascade went on stream, 
product concentration increased to 23 
percent. During the fall, the plant 
demonstrated a productive capacity 
far higher than its designers had pre- 
dicted. Contributing to this increased 
rate of output was a cell stream effi- 
ciency and barrier performance great- 
er than expected. 

In early 1945, the District's Produc- 
tion Control Committee, appointed 
earlier by Colonel Nichols to coordi- 
nate production by the diffusion proc- 
esses and the electromagnetic proc- 
ess, had worked out a plan to achieve 
the maximum feasible output of 
U-235. Based upon a careful analysis 
of each process, the committee direct- 
ed that K-25 would not be brought 
into the production chain until it 
demonstrated a capability of produc- 
ing a product enrichment of 1.1 per- 
cent. The K-25 plant attained the 1.1- 
percent level in April, and project 
workers began sending the output to 
the electromagnetic plant for final en- 
richment. At the same time, thermal 
diffusion plant workers who had been 
sending the plant's output to the rela- 
tively inefficient Alpha I stage of the 
electromagnetic plant now began de- 
livering the entire product output to 
K-25. Thus, the gaseous diffusion 
process became an integral part of 
the U-235 production chain and, 
during the spring and summer of 
1945, contributed substantially to 
the manufacture of the fissionable 
material used in the fabrication of 
atomic weapons at the Los Alamos 
Laboratory. 

The Army's success in bringing the 
vast and complex gaseous diffusion 



170 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Completed Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The K-27 extension unit subsequently was 
erected adjacent to Poplar Creek, at the upper right. 



plant into full-scale production was to 
a considerable extent due to its 
having formed in the union of Kellex 
and Carbide and Carbon an effective 
organization with the requisite re- 
sources, industrial knowledge, and 
skilled personnel. Fortunately, during 
most of the 1943-45 period when 
first the K-25 plant and then its K-27 
extension were being brought from 
the draftsman's table to fully operat- 
ing production units, the various 
Kellex-Carbide elements functioned 
together surprisingly smoothly and ef- 
ficiently considering the unrelenting 
pressure of time and the frustrations 
created by all kinds of wartime short- 
ages in material and manpower. 

Inevitably, however, there were oc- 
casional misunderstandings and per- 



sonality conflicts that threatened to 
disrupt the teamwork of the organiza- 
tion. One such incident occurred in 
June 1945, when Kellex was phasing 
out participation in the project and 
leaving primary responsibility for 
plant operation to Carbide and 
Carbon. At this time, a dispute arose 
over the role of Kellex's strong- 
minded executive in charge, Percival 
Keith. The problem seemed to be 
that Carbide officials thought Keith 
was no longer devoting as much time 
to gaseous diffusion as he should, 
whereas Keith felt that he should be 
the judge of how much of his time 
should be spent on the project. After 
exceptional effort on the part of Gen- 
eral Groves and his staff, Keith yield- 
ed to persuasion and agreed to stay 



THE GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS 



171 



on in an advisory capacity to assist 
Carbide and Carbon in operating the 
production plant. 

Considered in terms of its ultimate 
production capabilities, the gaseous 
diffusion plant did not attain a signifi- 
cant level of output until the fall of 
1945, after World War II had ended. 
This was not the result of poor plan- 
ning or a failure to fulfill, in the main, 
established construction and produc- 
tion schedules. Rather it stemmed 
from the fact that when Groves and 
the other leaders of the atomic energy 
program were working out the plans 
for the plant in 1943, the consensus 
of opinion was that the war against 
Japan would last at least until mid- 
1946. Had this been the case, the 
K-25 plant would have attained the 
level of maximum output at the time 
when U-235 would be needed in 
large quantities for the weapons fabri- 
cation program. Events, of course, did 
not unfold quite as the atomic project 
planners had anticipated, and the war 
ended in August 1945. Consequent- 
ly, full-scale operation of K-25 and its 
K-27 extension constitutes an episode 
in the immediate postwar history of 



the Manhattan Project rather than its 
wartime aspect. In this postwar period, 
the great industrial complex so hur- 
riedly designed, erected, and placed in 
operation, employing largely inexperi- 
enced personnel working under far 
from favorable conditions, demon- 
strated that it was the most efficient 
and productive of all the process 
plants built to manufacture U-235. 

Shortly after the war was over, the 
Manhattan District shut down the 
liquid thermal diffusion plant and the 
Alpha units of the electromagnetic 
plant. But the gaseous diffusion plant 
continued in operation as the basic 
source of U-235 for the entire atomic 
project. And in the postwar era, the 
great plant at the bend of the Clinch 
River became the prototype for new 
facilities built elsewhere in the United 
States to increase output of U-235, 
and also for the production units built 
in other countries to manufacture fis- 
sionable uranium for atomic energy 
programs. ^^ 



^'See Ch. XXV'III on the closing down of the 
liquid thermal diffusion plant and the Alpha units of 
the electromagnetic plant. 



CHAPTER VIII 



The Liquid Thermal Diffusion 
Process 



Leaders of the atomic energy pro- 
gram had decided against large-scale 
development of the liquid thermal 
diffusion process in early 1943, partly 
because they judged the process in- 
feasible and partly because transfer of 
a Navy project to the Army-directed 
Manhattan Project was likely to result 
in major administrative and security 
problems. By the spring of 1944, 
however, significant progress in ther- 
mal diffusion research — coupled with 
the threat of not reaching the requi- 
site production level of fissionable 
uranium because of delays in getting 
the electromagnetic and gaseous dif- 
fusion plants into full operation — 
opened the way for serious reconsid- 
eration of this method as a means for 
providing a supplementary supply of 
partially enriched material for the Los 
Alamos Laboratory weapon program. 

Research and Development: 
The Role of the Navy 

One advantage of the liquid ther- 
mal diffusion method of separating 
isotopes was its relative simplicity. 
When a liquid containing isotopes of 
a given element is placed in the annu- 
lar space between two vertical con- 



centric receptacles, the inner one 
heated and the outer one cooled, 
thermal diffusion — that is, the passage 
of heat from the hot to the cold 
wall — tends to concentrate lighter iso- 
topes near the hot wall and heavier 
isotopes near the cold wall and, si- 
multaneously, because of convection, 
to carry the hotter liquid upward and 
the cooler fluid downward. The result 
is accumulation of lighter isotopes at 
the top of the receptacle and heavier 
isotopes at the bottom, thus permit- 
ting extraction of both fractions. 

This method, first tested in the late 
1930's by German scientists using 
zinc salts dissolved in water, had pro- 
duced a small amount of separation; 
however, the phenomenon remained 
a little-known scientific curiosity until, 
in 1940, wartime events precipitated 
intensive research by American scien- 
tists to secure the fissionable materi- 
als necessary for the atomic project. 
In Washington, D.C., chemist Philip 
H. Abelson of the Carnegie Institu- 
tion and physicist-technical adviser 
Ross Gunn of the Naval Research 
Laboratory simultaneously sought fi- 
nancial support from the government 
for a liquid thermal diffusion research 



THE LIQ.UID THERMAL DIFFUSION PROCESS 



173 



program. Abelson, who had worked 
with chemist Glenn Seaborg on pluto- 
nium chemistry at the University of 
California, Berkeley, wrote to Urani- 
um Committee Chairman Lyman 
Briggs at the National Bureau of 
Standards and described how urani- 
um isotopes might be separated by 
thermal diffusion, and Gunn, also a 
member of the Uranium Committee, 
passed on to other committee mem- 
bers his own interest in the potentiali- 
ties of the process. Acting on Briggs's 
suggestion, the Navy decided to sup- 
port research in hopes that it might 
provide fuel for a nuclear power plant 
suitable for submarines. 

Abelson started his research at the 
Carnegie Institution, but in October 
1940 moved his experiments to the 
Bureau of Standards. Then in June 
1941, at Gunn's suggestion, Abelson 
became an employee at the Naval Re- 
search Laboratory, which had been 
providing funds for his experiments 
since September 1940, and shifted his 
equipment to that institution. Using 
36-foot columns consisting of two 
vertical concentric pipes, the inner 
carrying hot steam and the outer 
process liquid, Abelson began actual 
tests with uranium hexafluoride, a 
compound so little known at the time 
that he had to devise his own method 
for producing the substance in quan- 
tity. Results were disappointing at 
first; however, by changing the spac- 
ing between the hot and cold walls of 
the columns, Abelson was able to 
demonstrate that a separation factor 
as high as 21 percent could be 
achieved and an equilibrium separa- 



tion could be attained in about two 
days.^ 

In August 1942, when Abelson's re- 
search had progressed to the stage 
where he needed a pilot plant to as- 
certain the feasibility of operating a 
large-scale plant, the Navy undertook 
the task of building the first thermal 
diffusion pilot plant at its Anacostia 
Station near the Naval Research Lab- 
oratory facilities. Completed by No- 
vember, the original pilot plant con- 
sisted of five (later others were 
added) 36-foot columns and the req- 
uisite pumps, piping, and other 
equipment; a recently installed 20- 
horsepower gas-fired boiler provided 
the necessary steam. From the start of 
operations in December, the plant 
proved amazingly reliable, running 
for days at a time with scarcely any at- 
tention from the operating staff. 
Then in early 1943, the staff discov- 
ered that greater operational efficien- 
cy resulted from increasing the tem- 
perature of the hot wall. Although the 
higher temperature complicated 
design because of the high pressures 
required for hotter steam, it largely 
overcame the excessively long equilib- 
rium time required for the plant to 
reach the stage of producing signifi- 
cant amounts of U-235. 



' On the early history of the Hquid thermal difTu- 
sion method see Progress Rpt, Philip H. Abelson, 
sub: Liq Therm DifT Research (Rpt 0-1977), 5 Jan 
43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600 12 (Therm DifT 
Proj), MDR: MI^H, Bk. 6, Sec. 2, "Research and De- 
velopment," pp. 2.1-2.4, DASA, Hewlett and An- 
derson, \eu' World, pp. 32 and 168-70; Smyth 
Report, p. 47. 



174 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Reassessment: Decision for Full-scale 
Development 

For a time in late 1942, the liquid 
thermal diffusion method appeared to 
have been eliminated from further se- 
rious consideration for the atomic 
weapon program. In September, Gen- 
eral Groves and Colonel Nichols had 
visited the Naval Research Laboratory 
and had talked to Gunn, but the small 
size of the project and the apparent 
lack of urgency of its developmental 
program had left the Manhattan com- 
mander unimpressed. Groves, too, re- 
called that Vannevar Bush, director of 
the Office of Scientific Research and 
Development, had just told him that 
in March President Roosevelt had di- 
rected that the Navy be excluded 
from the S-1 program. Yet in late No- 
vember, the S-1 Executive Committee 
reassessed all of the more promising 
methods for mass production of fis- 
sionable materials and, at the last 
moment, decided to include Abel- 
son's project in its review.^ 

General Groves and the S-l's reas- 
sessment group, the Lewis reviewing 
committee headed by MIT Professor 
Warren K. Lewis, visited the Naval 
Research Laboratory on 10 December 
and were sufficiently impressed with 
Abelson's progress to recommend 
continued support of the thermal dif- 
fusion project. Bush took steps to get 
continued support from the Navy, 
channeling his efforts through Rear 
Adm. William R. Purnell of the Mili- 
tary Policy Committee to avoid con- 



flict with the President's directive to 
keep the Navy out of the S-1 project. 
Purnell had Abelson's latest scientific 
reports sent to S-1 Committee Chair- 
man James B. Conant, who turned 
them over to the S-1 Executive Com- 
mittee. An S-1 subcommittee, com- 
prised of Lyman Briggs, Eger V. 
Murphree, and Harold C. Urey, re- 
viewed the reports and visited the 
Navy project. On 23 January 1943, 
they informed Conant that "the Naval 
Research Laboratory . . . [had] made 
excellent progress in the separation 
of isotopes by liquid thermal diffu- 
sion . . . ," ^ but expressed concern 
over the lack of solid production data 
and the excessive length of the equi- 
librium time. Consequently, the sub- 
committee limited its recommenda- 
tion to suggesting that a commercial 
organization be invited to prepare 
preliminary designs for a production 
plant, a stage of development that the 
gaseous diffusion and centrifuge 
projects had attained nearly a year 
earlier. But two days later Murphree 
reviewed his own estimate of Abel- 
son's project and proposed that the 
Manhattan leaders consider substitut- 
ing liquid thermal diffusion for gase- 
ous diffusion in the lower stages of a 
U-235 separation plant. ^ 

At the beginning of February, Gen- 
eral Groves submitted the various 
proposals concerning thermal diffu- 
sion and the reports from Abelson to 
the Lewis reviewing committee. After 
due consideration the committee sug- 



^Ltr, Briggs, Murphree, and L'rev to Conant, 
23 Jan 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 
(Therm Diff Proj), MDR; Marshall Diary, 21 Sep 42, 
OCG Files, Gen Corresp, Groves Files, Misc Recs 
Sec, behind Fldr 5, MDR; Groves, \ow It Can Be 
Told. p. 23; Hewlett and Anderson, Sew World, pp. 
169-70. 



^Ltr, Briggs, Murphree, and Urey to Conant, 
23Jan43. MDR. 

■•Memo, Nichols to Groves, 20 Jan 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1 (Liq Therm DifT), MDR; 
Hewlett and Anderson, Xew World, p. 171 (based on 
Ltr, Murphree to Briggs, 25 Jan 43, OSRD). 



THE LIQUID THERMAL DIFFUSION PROCESS 



175 



gested continuing with a limited pro- 
gram of research and preliminary en- 
gineering designs. The S-1 Executive 
Committee accepted this recommen- 
dation on the tenth, and another 
review by Lewis, Briggs, Murphrec, 
and Urey toward the end of the 
summer resulted in essentially the 
same recommendation.^ 

From September 1942 until April 
1943, there was an almost complete 
loss of contact between the Navy pro- 
gram and the Manhattan Project. This 
temporary exclusion from the main 
arena of atomic energy activities did 
not, in the long run, seriously impede 
continued development, although 
Groves's refusal in October to ap- 
prove Abelson's request for addition- 
al supplies of uranium hexafluoride 
momentarily threatened the program. 
Groves soon relented, however, when 
Navy officials reminded him that 
Abelson was the scientist who had de- 
vised the process for producing large 
quantities of uranium hexafluoride. 
Abelson needed the increased quanti- 
ties of the compound for the three- 
hundred-column high-pressure pilot 
plant he planned to build at the Phila- 
delphia Navy Yard, where there was 
an adequate supply of steam avail- 
able. The Navy finally authorized con- 
struction of the new plant in Novem- 
ber and work started on a one-hun- 



n.tr, C. H. Greenewalt (TNX Tech Div chief. Du 
Pont) to Groves. 8 Feb 43, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 600.12 (Therm DifT Proj). MDR; Hewlett and 
Anderson, Xeu' World, pp. 171-72; Rpt, Murphree 
and Urey, sub: Prgm for Experiments To Be Car- 
ried Out on Therm Diff Method, 19 Feb 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1 (Liq Therm Difi). MDR; 
Ltrs, Briggs, Urey, Murphree, and Lewis to Conant, 
8 Sep 43, and Conant to Purnell, 15 Sep 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 334 (Mil Policv), MDR. 



dred-column segment in January 
1944.6 

The final impetus for full-fledged 
development did not come from the 
Army or the S-1 Committee, but 
from that element most vitally con- 
cerned with obtaining an early and 
adequate supply of fissionable mate- 
rials: the Los Alamos Laboratory. 
In particular. Laboratory Director 
J. Robert Oppenheimer was constantly 
on the alert for any means that gave 
promise of speeding up large-scale 
production of fissionable materials. At 
a time when the electromagnetic plant 
at the Clinton Engineer Works was 
just beginning to produce a sizable 
amount of enriched uranium and 
completion of the gaseous diffusion 
and plutonium production plants still 
was many months away, Oppen- 
heimer reviewed certain fragmentary 
data received earlier on the thermal 
diffusion project. His information in- 
cluded two nearly year-old reports by 
Abelson and some oral reports re- 
ceived from Capt. William S. Parsons, 
the naval officer in charge of ord- 
nance at Los Alamos. 

Parsons had just returned from a trip 
to the East, during which he had made 
inquiries about the pilot plant under 
construction at Philadelphia. He had 
learned that the plant was scheduled 
to begin operating on 1 July, using 
one hundred columns to produce an 
estimated 5 grams per day of an en- 
riched product containing 5 percent 
U-235. Oppenheimer knew that par- 
tially enriched material in such small 
quantities would not begin to fulfill 
the requirements of the atomic 



^Hewlett and Anderson, Xnt' World, pp. 171-72; 
MDH, Bk. 6, Sec. 2, pp. 2.4 and 2.9, DASA; Smvth 
Report, p. 147 



176 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



project; however, the thought oc- 
curred to him that if the one hundred 
columns of the plant could be con- 
nected in parallel rather than as a 
fractionating pyramid, they might be 
made to produce something like 12 
kilograms a day of an enriched prod- 
uct containing about 1 percent U-235. 
And this output would be tripled 
if Abelson carried out his plan to 
erect a total of three hundred col- 
umns, the number that could be oper- 
ated on the steam available at the 
Philadelphia Yard. On 28 April, Op- 
penheimer wrote to Groves that de- 
velopment of the thermal diffusion 
process to provide partially enriched 
uranium feed for the electromagnetic 
process would give "hope that the 
production of the Y-12 [electromag- 
netic] plant could be increased by 
some 30 or 40 percent, and its en- 
hancement somewhat improved, many 
months earlier than the scheduled 
date for K-25 [gaseous diffusion] 
production." ^ 

Groves did not reply immediately. 
In later years he stated he did not 
know why he or someone else had 
not suggested thermal diffusion as a 
feeder process for the electromagnet- 
ic plant at least a year before; per- 
haps, he conjectured, this occurred 
because everyone at first had thought 
of using a single process to achieve a 
final product enrichment and, as a 
single production system, thermal dif- 
fusion had certain technical draw- 
backs. But by August 1943, Manhat- 
tan leaders had adopted the feeder 
concept for the gaseous diffusion 
plant, proposing to use its output to 



feed the Beta cycle, and in this new 
context they were then able to per- 
ceive the potentialities of thermal 
diffusion.® 

Unquestionably, too, development 
by an organization outside the Army- 
administered Manhattan District was 
an important factor contributing to 
the delay. For this reason it did not 
attract the active interest of most of 
the scientists and engineers who orga- 
nized the bomb project, and the Army 
administrators feared security prob- 
lems from bringing outside agencies 
into the Manhattan Project. That the 
latter consideration created at least 
some reservation in Groves's mind as 
to the feasibility of Oppenheimer's 
suggestion seems borne out by the 
fact that the Manhattan commander, 
who was not characteristically a man 
to allow grass to grow under his feet, 
let a whole month pass before acting 
upon it. Finally, on 31 May 1944, 
Groves appointed a committee con- 
sisting of Lewis and Murphree, who 
had previously investigated the Navy 
project, and physicist Richard C. 
Tolman, who was serving as his scien- 
tific adviser. This committee con- 
firmed Oppenheimer's information, 
except they found his prediction re- 
garding the potential output of the 
one-hundred-column plant overly op- 
timistic. Groves informed Oppen- 
heimer that he did not know yet 
whether the Manhattan District would 
avail itself of the Navy's facilities but 
that "arrangements have been made 
for this eventuality if it should be 
desirable." ^ 



' Ltr, Oppenheimer to Groves, 28 Apr 44, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 (Therm DifTProj). MDR; 
Oppenheimer Hearing, pp. 164-65. 



^ Oppenheimer Hearing, pp. 119-20. 
^ Ltr, Groves to Oppenheimer, 3 Jun 44. See also 
Memos, Groves to Lewis, Murphree, and Tolman, 

Continued 



THE LIQIHD THERMAL DIFFUSION PROCESS 



177 




• \ F . .^ 

Richard C. Tolman {1945 photograph) 

On 5 June, Groves sent Conant and 
Lewis to District headquarters to 
confer with Colonel Nichols concern- 
ing the practical feasibility of using 
the Navy pilot plant at Philadelphia 
and constructing a thermal diffusion 
plant at the Tennessee site, employ- 
ing steam available from the K-25 
powerhouse. The two scientific lead- 
ers ultimately concluded the thermal 
diffusion plant "would probably be a 
feasible [and] desirable adjunct to the 
Y-12 process." ^« 

Then on the twelfth. Groves re- 
quested that Murphree, who had ex- 
tensive industrial experience, make a 

sub: Possible Utilization of Navy Pilot Therm DifT 
Plant, 31 May 44, and Lewis, Murphree, and 
Tolman to Groves, same sub. 3 Jun 44. All in 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp. 600.12 (Therm DifT 
Proj), MDR. 

'"Memo, Nichols to Groves, 11 Oct 44, Admin 
Files, Gen Gorresp, 600.12 (Projs and Prgms), 
MDR. See Ch. XV'III for a detailed description of 
the K-25 powerhouse. 



Study to determine the cost, construc- 
tion time, and amount of high-pres- 
sure steam needed for a thermal dif- 
fusion plant capable of producing 50 
kilograms a day of enriched uranium 
with concentrations of U-235 ranging 
from 0.9 to 3.0 percent. Murphree 
asked Tolman and the scientists Karl 
P. Cohen and W. L Thompson, both 
of whom had participated in previous 
investigations of the Navy project, to 
assist him in making the study. They 
concluded that the 1.25-million 
pounds per hour of steam that the 
K-25 powerhouse (with some modifica- 
tions) could supply would be approxi- 
mately sufficient to operate a thermal 
diffusion plant of sixteen hundred 
tubes, costing about $3.5 million, and 
capable of enriching 50 kilograms of 
uranium a week to slightly less than 
0.9-percent concentration.^^ 

Groves decided on 24 June to go 
ahead with construction. Such a plant 
promised to be relatively cheap. It 
could use the already available steam 
capacity at the gaseous diffusion plant 
site at least for several months, pend- 
ing completion of the K-25 cascade. 
While its product would contain only 
about 20 percent more U-235 than 
natural uranium, this enrichment 
would be translated into a vital 20- 
percent-greater output by the electro- 
magnetic plant. But Groves decided 
against the recommendation to in- 
clude the existing Navy facilities, be- 



*'Ltr, Murphree to Groves, 22 Jun 44. See also 
Rpt, Thompson and Cohen, sub: Process Design for 
Liq DifT Plant. 17 Jun 44; Rpt, Thompson and 
Cohen, Sub: Rough Prelim Estimate of Plant Cost, 

19 Jun 44; Ltrs, Tolman to Groves, subs: Further 
Info as to Steam C^apacitv at Tenn., 19 Jun 44, and 
Still Later Info as to Steam Capacity at lenn., 

20 Jun 44. All in Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1 
(Liq Therm Difl), MDR. 



178 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



cause the Navy installation would not 
be under direct control of the Army 
and because he was convinced that 
the Manhattan District would build 
the thermal diffusion plant more 
quickly if it were not diverted by the 
problems of operating the Navy plant. 
Both Groves and Nichols held to the 
view that the key factor was getting 
the plant into operation at the earliest 
possible date to fill the anticipated 
gap between the time the electromag- 
netic plant reached full capacity and 
the gaseous diffusion plant began 
producing large quantities of en- 
riched uranium feed.^^ 

Plant Design, Engineering, and 
Construction 

The need for exceptional speed in 
both design and construction of the 
thermal diffusion plant, designated 
S-50 for security reasons, was an im- 
portant consideration in Groves's se- 
lection of the H. K. Ferguson Com- 
pany as the prime contractor. In earlier 
defense projects, the Manhattan com- 
mander had been greatly impressed 
with the Cleveland firm's ability to 
complete a job on schedule. Against 
the advice of his advisers, who 
thought six months was an optimistic 
schedule, Groves determined that the 
plant must be in full operation in four 
months. Furthermore, the first pro- 
duction unit should begin operating 
only seventy-five days after start of 
construction. Groves offered the 
high-pressure services of Manhattan's 
Washington Liaison Office for expe- 
diting procurement; instructed the 
company to place its orders without 



competition and by wire or tele- 
phone, using wherever practicable the 
same manufacturers who had supplied 
equipment for the Navy pilot plant; 
and ordered that plant components 
be identical copies of those developed 
for Abelson's project. ^^ 

To further ensure that Ferguson 
would have access to all available as- 
sistance the Army could provide, 
Colonel Nichols in June 1944 estab- 
lished an S-50 Division in the Man- 
hattan District office. {See Chart 3) He 
assigned Lt. Col. Mark C. Fox as unit 
chief for the thermal diffusion project 
and Maj. Thomas J. Evans, Jr., as his 
assistant, with special responsibility 
for overseeing plant construction. In 
anticipation of the need for special 
measures to enable Ferguson and its 
subcontractors to successfully carry 
out the extraordinarily demanding 
terms of the S-50 contract. Colonel 
Fox organized an Expediting Branch 
in the division, which functioned 
through District procurement officers 
in industrial centers throughout the 
United States.^'' 

With only a few weeks in which to 
complete blueprints and let procure- 
ment contracts, the Ferguson Com- 
pany had no alternative but to adhere as 
closely as practicable to the Naval Re- 
search Laboratory design. Ferguson 
engineers visited the laboratory and 
the Navy turned over to them all of 
the drawings and blueprints needed 



^^Memo, Nichols to Groves, 11 Oct 44, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 (Projs and Prgms), 
MDR; Groves, Sow It Can Be Told. pp. 120-21. 



"Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. p. 121; MDH, Bk. 6, 
Sec. 3, "Design and Construction," pp. 3.15-3.17, 
DASA. 

'■•MDH, Bk. 6, Sec. 6, "Organization and Person- 
nel," p. 6.2, DASA; Org Chart, U.S. Engrs Office, 
MD, 28 Aug 44, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 020 
(MED-Org), MDR. When Colonel Fox was assigned 
to another part of the Manhattan Project in March 
1945, Major Evans replaced him as S-50 unit chief. 



THE LIQUID THERMAL DIFFUSION PROCESS 



179 



for construction of the columns and 
racks. They modified Navy designs 
and developed new ones for certain 
elements of the auxiliary equipment 
only to the extent necessary to meet 
the different conditions existing at the 
Tennessee location. To save time 
they based much of the construction 
on simple field sketches, postponing 
completion of detailed drawings until 
after the plant was built. ^^ 

As laid out in the Ferguson engi- 
neers' designs, the plant consisted of 
2,142 columns, each 48 feet in height, 
distributed in twenty-one racks. ^^ 
Each of the columns had three con- 
centric tubes, comprised of a 1 Vi-inch 
nickel pipe inside; a slightly larger 
copper pipe in the middle; and a 
4-inch galvanized iron jacket on the 
outside. In the small (one one-hun- 
dredth of an inch) annular space be- 
tween the outer wall of the nickel 
pipe and inner wall of the copper 
pipe the diffusion process would 
occur. Steam, under a pressure of 100 
pounds per square inch and at a tem- 
perature of 545 degrees Fahrenheit, 
would circulate downward through 
the nickel pipe while water at 155 de- 
grees Fahrenheit would flow upward 
through the iron jacket; simultaneous- 
ly, uranium hexafluoride would flow 
into the base of each column from a 
reservoir, specially designed to main- 
tain at the bottom of each column a 
concentration of LI-235 approximat- 
ing that in natural uranium. Designed 
into the top of each column was a 
system of freezing coils; this feature 
eliminated the need for complicated 
mechanical valves, and would permit 



'^MDH, Bk. 6, Sec. 3, p. 3.6. DASA. 

'®Thi.s and following paragraph based on MDH, 
Bk. 6, Sec. 4, "Description of Plant," pp. 4.1-4.5, 
DASA. 



plant employees to draw off small 
amounts of the enriched product at 
frequent intervals. 

All the racks, each with 102 col- 
umns, occupied a single main process 
building, a huge black structure 522 
feet long, 82 feet wide, and 75 feet 
high. Running the full length of the 
west side of this building was a mez- 
zanine partitioned into eleven control 
rooms, one for each two racks, and an 
equal number of transfer rooms con- 
taining process equipment for supply- 
ing feed material and removing en- 
riched product and depleted uranium 
hexafluoride from the columns. The 
engineers designed the final rack with 
separate control and transfer rooms 
so that it could be used for employee 
training and experimental work. 

On 9 July 1944, Ferguson workers 
began clearing the S-50 plant site in 
the area adjacent to the K-25 power- 
house. In less than three weeks they 
had completed foundations for the 
main process building and by mid- 
August were installing the process 
equipment. Pipe fitters and welders 
concentrated on the major task of 
erecting the twenty-one racks of col- 
umns during September and October. 
Test operations, however, soon re- 
vealed that many of the columns 
leaked at the top and bottom and 
would require additional welding; yet 
in spite of this delay, all racks were 
ready for start-up operations by Janu- 
ary 1945 and became fully operation- 
al by mid-March. In the meantime, 
the District had closed out the Fergu- 
son construction contract, assigning 
completion of subcontracts for re- 
maining insulation and electrical sys- 
tem work to other firms available in 
the Clinton area. These subcontrac- 



180 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



tors also completed auxiliary build- 
ings, including a new S-50 steam 
plant to supplement the K-25 
powerhouse. ^^ 

Plant Operation 

Because time was so short, and to 
avoid endangering security by bring- 
ing in yet another outside firm. Gen- 
eral Groves insisted that the H. K. 
Ferguson Company also operate the 
plant. ^^ At first Ferguson officials ob- 
jected, stating that as an engineering 
construction company it maintained a 
closed shop and, therefore, could an- 
ticipate union trouble on its other 
wartime jobs if it attempted to carry 
on a nonunion operation at the Clin- 
ton Engineer Works, where security 
regulations prohibited employee 
unions. But District representatives 
soon overcame this objection by re- 
sorting to a corporate fiction similar 
to that which had worked so well with 
the M. W. Kellogg Company on the 
gaseous diffusion project. They per- 
mitted Ferguson to form a wholly 
owned subsidiary, designated the Fer- 
cleve (from the words Ferguson and 
Cleveland) Corporation. Fercleve then 
accepted a letter contract on 1 July 
(and a formal contract in late 1944), 
according to which it would procure 
supplies and materials; train person- 
nel; and inspect, supervise, and oper- 
ate the thermal diffusion plant in 



"Ibid., Sec. 3, pp. 3.18-3.20, DASA. To equip 
this boiler plant, the District acquired twelve surplus 
boilers from the Navy, fabricated for use in destroy- 
er escort vessels, and the Washington Liaison Office 
secured a number of 25,000- and 482,000-gallon 
tanks from excess Army stocks. 

^* Except as otherwise indicated, section based on 
ibid.. Sec. 5, "Operations," DASA; Org Chart, U.S. 
Engrs Office, MD, 10 Nov 44, MDR. See also 
Groves, \'ow It Can Be Told, p. 120, n. 8. 



return for a fee of $11,000 a month. 
To monitor the Fercleve contract, 
Colonel Fox established an Oper- 
ations Branch in the S-50 Division. 

While Fercleve wasted no time in 
taking steps to set up an operating 
organization, its late start presented it 
with some difficult problems. When 
company personnel officials attempt- 
ed to recruit an operating force, they 
found the other plants had already 
cut deep into the local labor market. 
And they could not offer housing on 
the reservation, a main inducement 
used by the other operating compa- 
nies. Problems also arose in Fer- 
cleve's efforts to train operators. As a 
beginning step, the company sent 
four of its own employees and ten en- 
listed men from the Manhattan Dis- 
trict's Special Engineer Detachment 
to Philadelphia to receive training 
from Abelson. This group acquired 
some experience in conditioning tech- 
niques but learned little about oper- 
ations because the Navy plant was not 
yet completed. Then, on 2 Septem- 
ber, an explosion wrecked a large 
part of the Navy pilot plant, injuring 
several of the trainees. This unfortu- 
nate incident not only ended the ini- 
tial training program but also raised 
for a time some severe doubts con- 
cerning the design of the Clinton 
plant. Subsequently, however, Abel- 
son and fifteen of his experienced 
staff moved to the Tennessee site, 
where they gave valuable assistance, 
first in conditioning the production 
plant and then in getting it into 
operation. ^^ 

In spite of recruiting difficulties, 
Fercleve by April 1945 had an operat- 



'9 Groves, \ow It Can Be Told, p. 122. 



THE LIQUID THERMAL DIFFUSION PROCESS 



181 




Liquid Thermal Diffusion Plant (long, dark building) at CEW. The adjacent K-25 
power plant drew water from the Clinch River. 



ing force, exclusive of military per- 
sonnel, of about 1,600 at the Clinton 
Engineer Works. In addition, Special 
Engineer Detachment enlisted per- 
sonnel, comprised primarily of men 
trained in engineering or science, 
served as operators and supervisors 
in the plant, their number reaching 
a total of 126 at the height of 
operations. 

While plant construction was still in 
progress, Fercleve crews began condi- 
tioning Rack 21 for start-up oper- 
ations. When they opened the valves 
to let high-pressure steam from the 
K-25 power plant flow into the rack, 
great quantities escaped with an ear- 
splitting noise, and parts of the rack 
were soon shrouded in hot vapor. 
Under ordinary conditions such clear- 
ly demonstrated indications of defec- 



tive equipment would have resulted in 
an immediate shutdown. But faced 
with Groves's insistence that the first 
units must be in operation by early 
fall, Fercleve's plant manager had no 
choice but to proceed with start-up 
activities. Consequently, in the last 
months of 1944, operating personnel 
pressed ahead with start-up of addi- 
tional racks, and soon plant employ- 
ees came to accept the noise of escap- 
ing steam, accompanied by great 
clouds of vapor, as almost normal op- 
erating conditions. 

There can be little doubt that the 
haste to get into production increased 
already inherent operating hazards in 
the thermal diffusion plant. In the 
confined spaces of the diffusion col- 
umns, high-pressure steam and urani- 
um hexafluoride, which expanded 35 



182 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



« FERCLEVE FIREPOWER^ 




Billboard at the S-50 Plant Site 

percent in passing from a solid to a 
liquid, created highly explosive 
forces. During the period of full oper- 
ation, the plant did have a somewhat 
higher accident rate than the other 
Manhattan production units, but the 
incidence of really serious accidents 
was not as great. Most were attrib- 
utable to lack of training and the 
inevitable confusion occasioned by 
construction and operating crews hav- 
ing to work in the same area 
simultaneously. ^° 

During the first months there were 
times when results scarcely seemed to 
justify the risks. The combined disad- 
vantages of largely inexperienced per- 
sonnel and numerous equipment defi- 
ciencies seemed to forebode many 
months of low output and work stop- 
pages before the plant attained an ac- 
ceptable level of production. Thus, 
Colonel Nichols reported to General 



Groves that total output in October 
1944 was only a token 10.5 pounds of 
uranium containing 0.852 percent 
U-235. While production increased to 
171.8 pounds in November, it fell 
back to 20 pounds the following 
month, when steam leaks forced nu- 
merous shutdowns. With six racks in 
operation during the first half of Jan- 
uary 1945, production for the first 
time approached predicted levels, but 
shutdown of some of the K-25 steam 
units for repairs in the last half of the 
month reduced output again. Febru- 
ary production reached a total of 
3,158 pounds in spite of an inad- 
equate steam supply — an anticipated 
deficiency eventually overcome 
through the prompt construction of 
the S-50 steam plant. In the spring 
and early summer of 1945, plant 
output went up rapidly, reaching a 
peak of 12,730 pounds in June. It 
dropped back briefly in July because 
of the changeover to the S-50 steam 
plant, but by that time the thermal 
diffusion process had served its pur- 
pose for the wartime program. The 
slightly enriched material it pro- 
duced — sent first to the electromag- 
netic plant for further enrichment and 
then, beginning in late April 1945, di- 
rectly to the gaseous diffusion plant — 
added enough to the total output of 
U-235 to guarantee a sufficient 
amount for one bomb of an appropri- 
ate design by the end of July. ^^ 

Operational studies made after the 
surrender of Japan in August 1945 
showed that, except in an emergency, 
the gaseous diffusion plant, which was 



^° For data on injury rates on the thermal diflu- 
sion project as compared with those on the other 
CHnton projects see MDH. Bk. 6. App. D8, DASA. 
See also Ch. XX. 



2 1 Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Jul 44- 
Jul 45, passim, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, 
Fldr 28, Tabs A and B, MDR; Smvth Report, p. 147; 
Hewlett and Anderson, Sew HorW, pp. 299-301. 



THE LIQUID THERMAL DIFFUSION PROCESS 



183 



just approaching full production, 
could henceforth handle the lower de- 
grees of enrichment alone and do it 
more economically than the thermal 
diffusion plant. Consequently, operat- 
ing crews made preparations for shut- 
ting down the thermal plant. After 
continuing in production long enough 
to extract the last product from mate- 



rial remaining in the columns, the 
plant ceased operating on 9 Septem- 
ber 1945, less than a year after its 
first unit had started up in the fall of 
1944.22 



22 Dist Engr, Monthly Rpt on DSM Proj, Sep 45, 
OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 28, Tab B, 
MDR. 



CHAPTER IX 



The Pile Process 



Of the three fissionable materials 
production processes (electromag- 
netic, gaseous diffusion, and pile) 
endorsed by the Military Policy Com- 
mittee in 1942 for full-scale develop- 
ment, the greatest gamble of all 
appeared to be the pile method, pri- 
marily because of a number of diffi- 
cult technical problems facing project 
scientists.^ Experimentation with re- 
search piles at the University of Chi- 
cago's Metallurgical Laboratory had 
revealed that plutonium production 
on a large scale would require the 
design and engineering of special 
process techniques and equipment to 
cope with radioactivity and energy, 
mostly in the form of heat, more in- 
tense and pervasive than ever before 
encountered in an industrial process. 
Similarly, investigations into the 
chemical separation of plutonium 
from the transmutation residual of 
natural uranium and highly radioac- 



1 MPC Rpt, 15 Dec 42, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, 
MP Files, Fldr 25, Tab B, MDR. The original nucle- 
ar reactor that Fermi and his scientific colleagues 
constructed at the University of Chicago's Stagg 
Field in late 1942 consisted of a cubic lattice of 
lumps of uranium and graphite piled one layer upon 
another. Hence, the structure came to be called a 
pile, a convenient designation for reasons of securi- 
ty because it did not reveal the purpose of a chain- 
reacting system. The term nuclear reactor did not 
come into general use until after the end of World 
War II. 



tive fission products had demonstrat- 
ed that there were still many unan- 
swered questions as to the best way 
to carry out this ancillary phase of 
plutonium production. 

The Military Policy Committee had 
taken these problems into account 
when it decided in December to pro- 
ceed with mass production of plutoni- 
um. Several factors contributed to 
this affirmative decision. The commit- 
tee was much impressed by the 
progress of research and development 
in the plutonium process at the Met- 
allurgical Laboratory and elsewhere, 
and also was convinced that the vast 
potential of the process warranted the 
undoubted risks inherent in its devel- 
opment. From a military standpoint, 
project scientists told the committee, 
the process would produce not only 
fissionable material for an atomic 
weapon but also, as a by-product, ra- 
dioactive fission materials that prob- 
ably could be utilized as an exception- 
ally deadly chemical warfare weapon. 
Even if the scientists and engineers 
failed to develop the process in time, 
the plutonium pile with its enormous 
capabilities for producing heat could 
become a major source of power for 
peacetime uses. Given all of these 
considerations, the Military Policy 



THE PILE PROCESS 



185 



Committee could see no alternative to 
continuing full-scale development of 
the process. 

Research and Development: Metallurgical 
Laboratory 

Following consolidation of most 
plutonium research and development 
at the Metallurgical Laboratory in 
February 1942, Director Arthur 
Compton formed an organization that 
consisted of an engineering council, 
headed by chemical engineer 
Thomas V. Moore from industry, 
and nine major divisions — physics, 
theory, technical, chemistry, pilot 
plant, fast neutron, clinical-biological 
(subsequently health) physics, defense 
measures, and engineering.^ One of 



^Section on Metallurgical Laboratory based on 
Org Chart attached to Rpt, Capt Arthur V. Peter- 
son, sub: Visit to Chicago Proj, 29 Sep 42, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 (misfiled under Therm 
DifT Proj), MDR; Memo, Maj Peterson to Groves, 
sub: Met Proj Org Chart, 14 Oct 43, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 201 ((^en), MDR; Smvth Report, pp. 
63-65 and 92; Interv, Author with Norman Hil- 
berrv, 3 Jan 63, CMH; MDH. Bk. 4, Vol. 2, "Re- 
search." Pi. 1, pp. 2.5-2.8, 7.1-7.3, Apps. B3, B5- 
B7, D2 (Constr Rpt Extracts), DASA; Completion 
Rpt, Stone and Webster, sub: Clinton Engr Works, 
Contract W-7401-eng-13, 1946, pp. 6-11, OROO; 
Rpt, Compton, sub: Opn of Met Proj, by Univ of 
Chicago, and Ms, Compton, sub: "Mr. Fermi, the 
Argonne Laboratory and the University of Chica- 
go," both 28 Jul 44,' .Admin Files, (k-n Corresp, 080 
(Argonne-L'niv of Chicago), MDR; Tables (Employ- 
ment by MD on Design, Research and Constr as of 
31 May, 31 Jul, and 31 Oct 43) in Rpt, sub: MD Proj 
Data as of 1 Jun 43 (most items as of 1 Jun 43, but 
tables appear to have been added at a later date). 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 (Projs and 
Prgms), MDR; DSM Chronologv, 13-14 Sep 42, 
Sec. 2(a), OROO; Compton, Alonuc Quest, pp. 82-86, 
110-11, 114-15, 151-52, 157, 170-71, 185-86; Mar- 
shall Diarv, 25 Jun-5 Sep 42, OCG Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, Groves Files, Misc Recs Sec, behind Fldr 5, 
MDR; Interv, Author with J. M. McKinley, 4 Jan 63, 
CMH. Captain McKinley served as deputy area engi- 
neer at Chicago from about November 1943 to July 
1945 and as area engineer until about November 
1945. 



these divisions, fast neutron, was ac- 
tually located at the University of 
California, Berkeley, with work in 
progress at several other institutions. 
Other divisions, too, had some as- 
pects of their work under way at 
other sites (for example, chemistry, at 
Iowa State, where metallurgist Frank 
Spedding was testing the metallurgi- 
cal properties of uranium; and at 
California, where chemist Glenn Sea- 
borg was investigating the virtually 
unknown chemistry of plutonium). 

Under Compton's supervision and 
direction, the Metallurgical Labora- 
tory scientific staff moved ahead effec- 
tively with devising and testing pile 
and chemical separation designs for a 
large-scale plutonium production 
plant. With this experimental activity 
proceeding apace, Compton reported 
to District Engineer Marshall the 
pressing need for additional research 
facilities. Marshall immediately con- 
tacted Stone and Webster and had 
the firm draw up plans to expand the 
laboratory's physical facilities, direct- 
ing that subcontracts be let to Chi- 
cago area construction companies. At 
the same time. Deputy District Engi- 
neer Nichols worked out with Comp- 
ton the land and building require- 
ments for the Argonne Forest pilot 
plant site, located southwest of the 
city, and cleared the way for its acqui- 
sition by the Corps of Engineers' 
Great Lakes Real Estate Office. 

By the fall of 1942, the Army had 
become an active partner in the Chi- 
cago program. To provide liaison 
with the Manhattan District, as well as 
to assist Compton in procurement 
and personnel matters, Marshall 
opened the Chicago Area Engineers 
Office in the University of Chicago's 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




University of Chicago Physics Building 



physics building, which was adjacent 
to Compton's own headquarters and 
the laboratory's administrative and 
business offices, and assigned Capt. 
James F. Grafton as area engineer. 
Shortly thereafter, the decision to 
reduce Stone and Webster's responsi- 
bilities for Metallurgical Laboratory 
construction to limited architectural 
and engineer services shifted much of 
the burden of administering the ex- 
pansion program upon Captain Graf- 
ton and his modest staff. The in- 
creased work load of letting and over- 
seeing the great number of University 
of Chicago subcontracts forced Graf- 
ton to enlarge his staff, which gradu- 
ally increased in size from nearly 100 
in the summer of 1943 — when the 
Army took over all OSRD-sponsored 



research and development contracts — 
to a total of approximately 250 in July 
1945. To provide additional space for 
the expanding Chicago area staff, the 
Manhattan District leased the state of 
Illinois' massive grey 124th Field Ar- 
tillery Armory, located only a short 
distance from the university campus. 
Sharing the quarters with the area en- 
gineer's staff were the laboratory's 
administrative personnel, an arrange- 
ment that facilitated closer coordina- 
tion between the two groups in such 
matters as security, labor and materi- 
als procurement, personnel, prior- 
ities, patents, and finances. 

During the Metallurgical Laborato- 
ry building and remodeling program, 
which continued uninterrupted until 



THE PILE PROCESS 



187 




Argonnl LABOKAroR\ Near C^hicago, one of the Metallurgical Project's 
research facilities. 



late 1944, the Chicago Area Engi- 
neers Office oversaw construction 
that provided the Chicago program 
with more than 500,000 square feet 
of space, including an entirely new 
chemistry building with an annex, 
several new buildings at the Argonne 
site, and extensively remodeled facili 
ties in existing structures, all at an ul- 
timate total cost of about $2.15 mil- 
lion. In carrying out this expansion, 
the Army received the constant and 
effective support of the University of 
Chicago's administrative staff, which 
consistently adhered to the policy set 
forth at the beginning of the program 
in 1942, namely, that it would "turn 
the University inside out if necessary 
to help win the war. Victory is much 



more important than survival of the 
University." ^ 

Pile Design 

In late 1942, as Army leaders 
gradually became more familiar with 
the plutonium phase of the atomic 
bomb project, they realized that 
progress in pile development at the 
Metallurgical Laboratory was likely to 
be the key factor determining how 
soon large-scale production of fission- 
able material would be possible. ** In 



^Rpt, Compton, sub: Opn of Met Proj bv l'ni% of 
Chicago, 28 Jul 44, MDR. 

■* Subsection on pile designs based on Rpt, Peter- 
son, sub: Visit to Chicago Proj, 29 Sep 42, MDR; 
Min, Conf at Met Lab, 15 Oct 42, Admin Files, Gen 

Continued 



188 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




124th Field Artillery Armory in Chicago 



September, General Groves, newly 
appointed as Manhattan commander, 
sent Capt. Arthur V. Peterson, a civil 
engineer by profession, to visit the 
Chicago scientists. Then using the de- 
tailed information in Peterson's 
report as a guide, Groves arranged a 
series of personal visits to Chicago in 



early October, during which he at- 
tended the policymaking meetings of 
the Metallurgical Laboratory Techni- 
cal Council and conferred with mem- 
bers of its engineers and scientific 
staff. 

The Manhattan commander was im- 
pressed with the way in which Comp- 



Corresp, 337 (Univ of Chicago), MDR; Min, Tech 
Council, 5 Oct 42 (Rpt CS-286), 12 Oct 42 (Rpt 
CS-294), 13 Oct 42 (Rpt CS-306), 15 Oct 42 (Rpts 
CS-309 and -311), 23 Dec 42 (Rpt CS-397), 22 Jan 
43 (Rpt CS-414), ANL; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, 
pp. 3.1-3.16, and Pt. 2, pp. 4.2-4.7, and Vol. 3, 
"Design," pp. 5.14-5.35, DASA; Hewlett and An- 
derson, New World, pp. 174-82 and 193-98; Smyth 
Report, pp. 42, 75, 81-83; Groves Diary, 5, 10, 15 
Oct 42, LRG; Groves, Now It Can Be Told, pp. 40-41 
and 80-81; DSM Chronology, Nov-Dec 42, passim, 
OROO; Memo, Peterson to Nichols, sub: Reassess- 
ment Sess at Chicago (12/2/42), 4 Dec 42, Admin 



Files, Gen Corresp, 410.2 (Uranium), MDR; MPC 
Rpt, 15 Dec 42, MDR; Rpt. Mtg with Grccnewalt, 24 
Feb 43 (Rpt CS-2644), ANL; Ltr, Greenewalt to 
Groves, 8 Jul 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 080 
(Argonne-Univ of Chicago), MDR; Compton, Atomic 
Qiirsl. pp 161-63 and 167-70; Completion Rpt, Du 
Pont, sub: CEW, TNX Area, Contract W-7412-cng- 
23, 1 Apr 44, p. 303, OROO; Dist Engr, Monthly Rpt 
on DSM Proj, 23 Mar 43. OCC; Files, Gen Corresp. 
MP Files, Fldr 28, Tab A. MDR. For a detailed 
discussion of the plutonium production process, see 
appropriate volumes in Division 4, Plutonium Project, 
of the National Nuclear Energy Series. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



189 




New Chemistry Building, Metallurgical Laboratory, on the University of Chica- 
go campus. Barely visible is the gothic tower (at far left) of the football stadium where Ennco 
Fermi achieved the first chaw reaction in a graphite pile. 



ton had organized the laboratory and 
with the exceptional capabilities of 
the scientific staff. He indicated his 
general approval of the research pro- 
gram, expressing but one major criti- 
cism: The program was not moving 
fast enough to permit a decision on 
which proposed pile design should be 
adopted for full-scale development. If 
necessary, he said, the research scien- 
tists should develop more than one 
design, regardless of the cost, be- 
cause the earliest start possible on de- 
tailed design and construction was 
tremendously important. Groves re- 
called later that he had quickly con- 
cluded that "the plutonium process 
[of all the methods proposed] seemed 
to offer . . . the greatest chances 



for success in producing bomb 
material." ^ 

At the time of Groves's first visits. 
Metallurgical Laboratory scientists 
had achieved only limited progress in 
transforming the results of pile re- 
search into concrete blueprints for 
pile design. Seriously handicapped by 
the lack of pure uranium metal in the 
quantities needed for essential experi- 
ments, the research teams barely had 
made a start on a program for pile 
development that called for pile 
design and engineering in three 
stages: a 10,000-kilowatt experimental 
unit, to ascertain whether a chain re- 
action could be sustained; a 100,000- 
kilowatt pilot pile, to test helium cool- 

^ Groves, \ow It Can Be Told. p. 41. 



190 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



ing and the mechanical techniques of 
loading and discharging; and a 
second 100,000-kilowatt pile, also 
helium cooled, to be the first unit of 
the large-scale production plant. Each 
of these piles would employ graphite, 
now available in ample quantities 
from commercial sources, as a moder- 
ator. The pile designers would have 
preferred heavy water, which com- 
bined in a single element the moder- 
ating and cooling factor required, but 
its continuing scarcity made design of 
a pile employing that hydrogen iso- 
tope impractical. 

Groves found, too, that project sci- 
entists had not reached agreement on 
what was, in some respects, the most 
crucial problem in pile design — how 
safely and efficiently to disperse the 
intense heat that would be produced 
by the fissioning process in a high- 
wattage pile. Under the three-stage 
plan, Compton had given helium 
cooling a priority position. At the 
same time, however, physicists 
Eugene Wigner and Leo Szilard, as 
well as other staff scientists, were still 
giving serious consideration to a 
number of other coolants, including 
diphenyl and bismuth.^ Even water, 
with its corrosive reaction to uranium 
and high-neutron absorption, could 
not be discounted. 

Groves and the Manhattan District 
officers who visited the Metallurgical 
Laboratory in the fall of 1942 quickly 
learned that the feasibility of all pile 
designs would have to remain in 
doubt until physicist Enrico Fermi 
and his colleagues had completed 



construction of an experimental pile 
capable of a sustained chain reaction 
and also had accurately measured the 
neutron-absorbing characteristics of 
each pile component (lattice, controls, 
loading and unloading mechanism, 
shielding, and coolant). At this stage 
the pile researchers felt that attaining 
a state of criticality was possible with 
a properly designed and assembled 
lattice of sufficiently pure graphite 
and uranium metal. But what they 
were uncertain of, and could not as- 
certain until a chain reaction was set 
going, was the actual size of the 
multiplication factor k — the excess 
number of neutrons above unity re- 
quired to barely sustain fissioning in a 
critical pile. And lacking this data, 
design engineers found themselves 
not knowing how much leeway they 
had in selecting the materials for the 
mechanical structure and coolant 
system of the large-scale production 
piles. "^ 

Spurred by the Army's insistence 
on moving into engineering and con- 
struction as rapidly as possible and by 
the impending participation of E. L 
du Pont de Nemours and Company as 
a full-time partner of the Metallurgi- 
cal Laboratory, Compton and the pile 
researchers decided to modify earlier 
plans. Under the revised program, 
Fermi and his staff were to complete 
as quickly as possible a low-powered 
pile, to demonstrate the feasibility of 
a chain reaction and furnish the 
much-needed data about the k factor; 



® Diphenyl is a white crystalline hydrocarbon that 
melts at 160 degrees Fahrenheit and readily con- 
ducts heat. Bismuth (Bi-83) is a grayish white metal, 
with a reddish tinge, that absorbs relatively few neu- 
trons and, like diphenyl, has a low melting point. 



^ Criticality; or critical size, in a pile fueled with 
uranium may be defined as the condition in "which 
the number of neutrons produced in the fission 
process just balances those lost by leakage and by 
capture." See Glasstone, Sourcebook on Atomic Energy, 
p. 518, par. 14.45. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



191 



and another team was to begin work 
on a second pile of low wattage at the 
Argonne site, to provide project 
chemists with the additional small 
quantities of plutonium they urgently 
needed to test methods and equip- 
ment for separating the element. Pile 
designers now would design only a 
single 100,000-kilowatt helium-cooled 
pile capable of producing an estimat- 
ed 100 grams of plutonium daily; this 
pile, they hoped, would function as 
both the testing unit and the first unit 
of the full-scale production plant. Fi- 
nally, they were to continue testing 
designs for piles cooled by water, di- 
phenyl, and bismuth. 

Fermi, achieving the historic first 
sustained chain reaction on 2 Decem- 
ber,® found that the k factor was con- 
siderably larger than he had anticipat- 
ed. This discovery removed a chief 
objection to water, diphenyl, or even 
air as a coolant in high-powered piles, 
since the greater margin of k would 
permit more neutron absorption with- 
out reducing the efficiency of pile 
operation. Also, the larger k factor 
indicated a much greater choice in 
materials of coolant pipes, the control 
mechanism, and for load and dis- 
charge equipment. 

Nevertheless, in view of the ad- 
vanced status of the helium-cooled 
pile design, both Du Pont and the 
Army continued to favor its develop- 
ment as the prototype for the produc- 
tion units, even though Fermi's new 
data and other Metallurgical Labora- 
tory scientists' encouraging research 
into alternate methods had made 
liquid or air cooling seem far more 



^ See Ch. V for a fuller description of the historic 
first sustained chain reaction on 2 I^ec 42. 



feasible. By the time the Military 
Policy Committee decided on 10 De- 
cember to shift the location of the 
large-scale plutonium production 
plant from the Clinton Engineer 
Works in Tennessee to a more isolat- 
ed area, preliminary designs for the 
100,000-kilowatt helium-cooled pile 
were sufficiently complete to provide 
the Army with the requisite criteria 
not only for determining the safety, 
power, water, and other site require- 
ments but also for compiling the 
specifications list of materials. 

An unresolved point of concern to 
project engineers, especially those 
from Du Pont, was the feasibility of 
operating a graphite-moderated pile 
on an industrial scale, whether cooled 
by helium or any other type of cool- 
ant. Because so many technical uncer- 
tainties still remained, Du Pont scien- 
tists emphasized to Groves the need 
for developing an alternate pile 
design, as insurance against total fail- 
ure, and expressed particular interest 
in the technical and engineering ad- 
vantages of a pile that could be both 
moderated and cooled with heavy 
water. The Military Policy Committee, 
therefore, decided to continue the 
heavy water research already in 
progress, recommending the expan- 
sion of heavy water facilities. Some 
weeks earlier, Du Pont had suggested 
that the manufacture of heavy water 
by the distillation method could be 
carried out by modifying certain fa- 
cilities at the Morgantown (West Vir- 
ginia), Wabash River (Indiana), and 
Alabama Ordnance Works, where the 
company was manufacturing muni- 
tions for the government. Conse- 
quently, in late December, Groves ap- 
proved negotiation of contracts with 



192 



W^ 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




-.. ,^^^ 






-L,^ 



- ' .^ .if ^' 

Heavy Water Production Plant at the Wabash River Ordnance Works 



Du Pont to build and operate heavy 
water plants at these facilities. {See 
Map 2.) 

From the standpoint of pile engi- 
neering development, completion of a 
pile design as quickly as possible was 
a matter of considerable importance 
to Du Pont. In January 1943, Du Pont 
was still giving first priority to the 
helium-cooled pile for the production 
plant, even though company design- 
ers were experiencing little success in 
resolving complex technical prob- 
lems. A hopeful portent, however. 



was Fermi's latest research finding 
into the value of k, which revealed 
that the margin of neutrons in a ura- 
nium-graphite pile was probably suffi- 
cient to make either liquid or air cool- 
ing feasible on a large scale. Encour- 
aged by Fermi's data, Wigner and his 
research team had pushed ahead on 
designs for a water-cooled production 
pile and were able to complete ac- 
ceptable preliminary blueprints by 
early January. At the same time, also 
partly in response to Fermi's revela- 
tion, a team of Du Pont and Metallur- 



THE PILE PROCESS 



193 



gical Laboratory engineers and scien- 
tists began intensive work on design 
of an air-cooled pilot pile of moderate 
wattage. In spite of minor difficulties, 
the team completed virtually all pile 
engineering designs and specifications 
by the end of April. That same 
month, in accordance with the earlier 
decision to move the location of the 
plutonium semiworks from Chicago 
to Clinton, Du Pont commenced pile 
construction at the Tennessee site. 

Meanwhile, Wigner's group submit- 
ted the preliminary designs for the 
water-cooled production pile to Du 
Pont. Du Pont engineers at first were 
skeptical about the feasibility of the 
water-cooled pile, because they seri- 
ously doubted the problems of leak- 
age and the water's corrosiveness 
could be overcome; however, continu- 
ing problems with the helium-cooled 
pile designs finally persuaded them 
that Wigner's pile might be the 
answer for the plutonium produc- 
tion plant. Terminating all helium 
pile research in mid-February, Du 
Pont design teams worked at an accel- 
erated pace through the spring, 
summer, and early fall to complete 
blueprints for a water-cooled pile. In 
October, as the early stages of build- 
ing the plant at the Hanford site in 
south central Washington State were 
rapidly nearing completion, delivery 
of the design specifications precluded 
serious delays in meeting pile con- 
struction schedules. 



Chemical Separation Process Design 

In the fall of 1942, the problems of 



developing the second stage of the 
plutonium production process — the 
chemical separation of the new ele- 
ment from irradiated uranium — ap- 
peared less formidable to General 
Groves and Du Pont officials than 
those relating to development of the 
pile and separating the isotope U-235 
from LI-238, because chemical sepa- 
ration generally involved techniques 
already familiar to chemists and 
chemical engineers. But time proved 
this optimism was not warranted; 
project scientists and engineers spent 
almost as long developing an indus- 
trial-scale separation process as they 
did to complete design and engineer- 
ing of a pile production process. 
Since the beginning of the year, re- 
search teams at the Universities of 
Chicago and California, Berkeley, and 
at Iowa State College had worked 
without letup to design a suitable sep- 
aration process. Handicapped at first 
by the unavailability of more than mi- 
crogram quantities of plutonium, the 
teams had tested a variety of meth- 
ods, all of which had required han- 
dling the intensely radioactive by- 
products by remote control. Deciding 
finally in favor of a precipitation proc- 
ess employing lanthanum fluoride in 
solution as the carrier, project chem- 
ists convened in Chicago on 15 Octo- 
ber to present the results of their re- 
search to representatives of the Army, 
Du Pont, and Stone and Webster.^ 



^ For a fuller account of development of a process 
for the chemical separation of plutonium consult 
Met Lab Monthly Rpts, CN-I14, -239, -250, -261, 
-299, -343, -359, -419, -421, mostly 1942, ANL; 
Min, Lab Council (Met Lab), 31 Mav 43 (Rpt CS- 



194 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



General Groves, Colonels Marshall 
and Nichols, and Captain Grafton 
joined with officials from the two 
firms serving as prime contractors on 
the plutonium project and members 
of the Metallurgical Laboratory staff 
to hear leaders of the separation 
process research teams describe why 
they believed the lanthanum fluoride 
method was feasible for a large-scale 
production plant. Impressed by the 
practicality of the research teams' 
proposed separation process based on 
the precipitation method, both Army 
and industry representatives approved 
going ahead with further tests. They 
also were duly impressed by the evi- 
dence of intense radioactivity in the 
separation process, a fact that subse- 
quently contributed to the Military 
Policy Committee's decision in De- 
cember to shift the plutonium pro- 
duction plant from Tennessee to an- 
other location. 

As further research in the winter 
and spring of 1943 revealed that lan- 
thanum fluoride presented certain 
chemical problems not previously dis- 
cerned, project scientists began test- 
ing other substances and found that 
bismuth phosphate gave the best re- 
sults. In May, Du Pont managers de- 
cided in favor of designing the chemi- 
cal separation units at the Clinton 



694) and 3 Jul 43 (Rpt CS-749), ANL; Min, Conf at 
Met Lab, 15 Oct 42, MDR; DSM Chronology, 14 
Dec 42, Sec. 25, OROO; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, 
pp. 6.1-6.8, and Pt. 2, 5.2, and Vol. 3, pp. 6.5-6.6 
and 6.9, DASA; Smyth Report, pp. 71-73, 86-88, 97- 
100; Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 50-52, 55-56, 100- 
101, 175-76; Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. pp. 41-42; 
Glenn Seaborg, The Transuranium Elements (New 
Haven: Yale University Press, 1958), pp. 20-27; 
Hewlett and Anderson, Xew World, pp. 182-85 and 
204-05. 



semiworks and the Hanford produc- 
tion plant to employ bismuth phos- 
phate, with the possibility of lantha- 
num fluoride as a backup choice, 
because both chemicals could be 
employed in the same type of 
equipment. 

Du Pont Collaboration and 
Other Problems 

Steady progress on development of 
pile and chemical separation process 
designs in early 1943 demonstrated 
the basic validity of the Army-orches- 
trated arrangements for collaboration 
between the Metallurgical Laboratory 
and Du Pont. On occasion, however, 
some differences surfaced between 
the two organizations that posed a 
possible threat to fully effective joint 
cooperation. When such instances oc- 
curred, the Army promptly intervened 
and endeavored to provide the direc- 
tion and guidance essential to main- 
taining viable collaboration. In Janu- 
ary, for example. Major Peterson, 
who recently had replaced Captain 
Grafton as the Chicago area engineer, 
joined with Compton in developing a 
plan to move the first chain-reacting 
pile from the University of Chicago's 
West Stands squash court to the Ar- 
gonne site. Fermi and his fellow sci- 
entists wanted to keep the pile on 
campus; however, Army and Du Pont 
officials considered pile operation in 
the heavily populated university dis- 
trict much too hazardous. A short 
time later, the Army also acted as ar- 
bitrator for Du Pont and the Univer- 
sity of Chicago, securing an agreement 
from the latter that it would operate 
the Clinton semiworks. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



195 




/ 



Maj. Arthur V. Peterson 

While collaboration between the 
Metallurgical Laboratory and Du Pont 
proceeded harmoniously on most 
matters, the emergence of seemingly 
innocuous misunderstandings in Feb- 
ruary portended more serious dis- 
agreement in the future. ^° One of the 
first "minor" disputes erupted over a 
question on the extent the physicists 
who had designed the water-cooled 
pile at the Metallurgical Laboratory 
should participate in drawing up the 



^"Memo, Compton to Groves, sub: Opn of Piles 
I, II, and III, 19 Jan 43; Memo, Compton to Groves, 
sub: Chain-reacting Unit on Univ of Chicago 
Campus, 2 Feb 43; Rpt, Compton, Fermi, and 
Robert S. Stone (Clinical-Biological Physics Div 
chief. Met Lab), sub: Public Hazards at West Stands, 
3 Feb 43. All in Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 
(Projs and Prgms), MDR. Hewlett and Anderson, 
Sew World, pp. 200-201. Ltr. (Compton to Groves, 5 
Feb 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600 12 (misfiled 
under Therm Diff Proj), MDR. 



detailed engineering blueprints and 
specifications for the production 
plant. Crawford H. Greenewalt, Du 
Pont's liaison representative to the 
Metallurgical Laboratory, pointed out 
that Du Pont's customary policy was 
to rely primarily upon its own staff 
for detailed design and that, while Du 
Pont would want to have continued 
access to the Chicago scientists for 
occasional assistance, the initiative in 
requesting such help should come 
from the company. Eugene Wigner, 
who had considerable training in en- 
gineering as well as physics, dis- 
agreed. He contended that his team 
was entitled to an active role. When 
Wigner learned Du Pont did not plan 
to invite his group to Wilmington, he 
concluded that his own earlier ex- 
pressed opposition to having the firm 
participate in the plutonium project 
was the reason. He offered to resign 
as group leader, hoping that would 
clear the way for the rest of his team 
to go to Wilmington. Compton ex- 
plained that Du Pont's action was cus- 
tomary practice and not motivated by 
any personal objection to the scien- 
tist. While Wigner's suspicions were 
not entirely allayed, he agreed to con- 
tinue with the project. He stayed only 
briefly in Wilmington, however, and 
then returned to Chicago, where 
Compton diverted him to the expand- 
ing heavy water pile program. ^^ 

The Wigner incident pointed up a 
major problem for the Army in ad- 
ministering the Manhattan Project. As 
development of a process moved 
from basic research into engineering. 



''Compton, Atomic Quest, pp. 168-69; Ltr, Wigner 
to Compton, 5 Aug 43, Incl to Memo, Peterson to 
Groves, sub: Dissatisfaction at Met Lab, 13 Aug 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 080 (Labs), MDR. 



196 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



construction, and operations, many of 
the scientists were no longer needed. 
Yet Manhattan leaders had to have 
ready access to the fundamental 
knowledge and skills of these scien- 
tists. For security reasons, too, scien- 
tists who had become privy to impor- 
tant aspects of the program could not 
simply be released and sent back to 
the colleges and universities. One so- 
lution was to transfer them to labora- 
tory positions at Clinton, Hanford, 
Los Alamos, or to the staff of indus- 
trial firms under contract to the 
project. But for the majority who 
must be retained on the staff of basic 
research organizations like the Metal- 
lurgical Laboratory, there had to be 
continuing programs of meaningful 
research and development. In such a 
novel and relatively undeveloped 
field, devising useful research projects 
was not difficult; the problem was to 
keep the always limited resources in 
manpower and materials channeled 
into those projects that would con- 
tribute most directly to the ultimate 
production of atomic weapons. 

By spring, Compton found a good 
compromise solution in the project 
for design of a heavy water pile, al- 
ready under way on a limited scale 
and acceptable to both Du Pont offi- 
cials and Groves because they viewed 
it as an essential backup for the Han- 
ford plant. Furthermore, it was of in- 
terest to many of the Metallurgical 
Laboratory scientists. The promise of 
increasing supplies of heavy water 
from both Trail (British Columbia) 
and the Du Pont-operated distillation 
plants prompted Compton to work 
out an agreement with Greenewalt 
and Colonel Nichols that provided for 
centering all future heavy water re- 



search at the Metallurgical Laboratory 
under the direction of Professor 
Henry D. Smyth, head of the physics 
department of Princeton University. ^^ 

But Major Peterson reported that, 
in spite of the initiation of the heavy 
water pile program, Metallurgical 
Laboratory scientists continued to be 
discontented with Du Pont's methods 
and procedures. Many disliked the te- 
dious work of reviewing the detailed 
blueprints for the Hanford plant, a 
chore made necessary because the 
Metallurgical Laboratory had to ap- 
prove all process designs. When they 
found errors, they concluded Du Pont 
was mismanaging pile development. 
Wigner, too, again complained that 
Du Pont was not consulting sufficient- 
ly with its Chicago counterpart on 
heavy water pile design, thus delaying 
its development. 

In late June, Groves decided the 
time had come to deal with what he 
termed the "scientist problem." In 



*^ For a detailed discussion of Manhattan 
Project's heavy water program and heavy water pile 
development see MDH, Bk. 3, "The P-9 Project," 
and Bk. 4. Vol. 2, Pt. 1, pp. 3.3-3.14. DASA. Brief 
discussion in this and following paragraph on the 
heavy water pile program at Chicago based on 
Notes on Conf Held at Wilmington, Del., on April 
16th, Incl to Memo, Nichols to Groves, 19 Apr 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 337 (Wilmington), MDR; 
Ltr, Greenewalt to Compton, 12 Jun 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 441.2 (Polymer), MDR; Trans- 
mittal Ltr, Compton to P-9 Reviewing Committee 
Members, sub: Memo on Transmittal of P-9 Rpt, 
1 1 Aug 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 334 (P-9 Re- 
viewing Committee), MDR; Memo, Capt Lawrence 
L. Grotjan (Columbia Univ Area Engr) to Nichols, 
17 Apr 46, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 201 (Urey), 
MDR; MPC Min, 9 Sep 43, OCG Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, MP Files, Fldr 23, Tab A, MDR; DSM Chro- 
nology, 10 Nov 42, Sec. 23(i), OROO; Hewlett and 
Anderson, Neui World, pp. 201-04; Smyth Report, pp. 
101-02; Compton, Atomic Qufst. pp. 99-100; Groves, 
Now It Can Be Told, p. 15, n. 8. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



197 



line with a suggestion from the MiH- 
tary Policy Committee, he arranged 
with President Franklin D. Roosevelt 
to write a letter, addressed to him but 
actually intended for the atomic 
project scientists. Emphasizing first 
the need for strictest adherence to se- 
curity in atomic matters (there had 
been incidents involving scientists, 
particularly at Los Alamos), the Presi- 
dent went on to say that he had 
placed Groves in complete charge of 
carrying out "all development and 
manufacturing aspects of the work." 
He concluded that "whatever the 
enemy may be planning, American 
Science will be equal to the 
challenge." ^^ 

The Manhattan commander made 
certain this letter received wide circu- 
lation among project scientists. In 
Wigner's group, it appears to have 
elicited an unfavorable response. 
"They felt," Peterson reported to 
Groves, "that it was unfair for the 
President to give authority to you and 
that his closing sentence concerning 
American Scientists being equal to 
any challenge was a farce since he al- 
lowed them neither responsibility nor 
authority." In the opinion of some 
members of the group, "the presence 
of Du Pont and the Army slows the 
project. . . ." ^* 

In early August, General Groves 
appointed a committee to review the 



^^ Ltr (source of quotations), Roosevelt to 
Groves, 29 Jun 43, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP 
Files, Fldr 25, Tab D, MDR; MPC Min, 24 Jun 43, 
MDR. 

** Memo, Peterson to Groves, sub: Dissatisfaction 
at Met Lab, 13 Aug 43, MDR. Peterson erred in 
paraphrasing from the President's letter, stating 
"American Scientists" instead of "American 
Science." 



role the heavy water program should 
have in the atomic bomb project, a 
step that was, at least in part, also in- 
tended to allay dissatisfaction among 
the Chicago scientists. Headed by 
MIT Professor (chemical engineering) 
Warren K. Lewis, with Standard Oil 
Vice President Eger V. Murphree, 
physicist Richard C. Tolman, who was 
Groves's scientific adviser, and Har- 
vard Professor (chemistry) E. Bright 
Wilson, Jr., as members, the group 
upheld the Army, Du Pont, and 
Compton's earlier objectives. They 
recommended continuation of a rela- 
tively modest heavy water pile re- 
search program at the Metallurgical 
Laboratory "as insurance against a 
possible failure of the Hanford graph- 
ite piles to produce 49 [plutonium] at 
their rated capacity, and secondarily 
to explore the possibilities of a 
method for producing 49 which might 
utilize uranium more efficiently than 
graphite piles." ^^ 

By early fall, the scientists' dissatis- 
faction had declined substantially, 
partly as a result of the chance they 
had had to unburden their grievances 
to members of the committee and 
partly because the major design phase 
of pile development was nearing an 
end. Even Wigner, acceding to Comp- 
ton's wishes, agreed somewhat reluc- 
tantly to continue to oversee work on 
the heavy water pile. Nevertheless, 
Compton later recalled that, although 
the collaboration had achieved basic 
design of the plutonium semiworks 
and production plant by late 1943, 
there remained in the relationship "a 



1* Rpt, Committee on Heavy Water Work, 19 Aug 
43, Att. 2 to MPC Min, 9 Sep 43, MDR. 



198 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



state of tension that caused continual 
concern to those responsible for the 
success of the undertaking." ^^ 

Organization for Plutonium Production 

In early 1943, General Groves and 
the Military Policy Committee devot- 
ed considerable attention to assisting 
Du Pont and the Metallurgical Labo- 
ratory staff in forming a plutonium 
production organization. In this orga- 
nization Du Pont was to have primary 
responsibility for design, construc- 
tion, and — except for the semiworks — 
operation of the plutonium facilities. 
Because of the uniqueness of the 
processes involved, the firm's limited 
experience in dealing with them, and 
the overall urgency of the bomb 
project, Du Pont felt its scientists and 
engineers would need assistance from 
the Metallurgical Laboratory staff in 
all phases of the plutonium program. 
Thus, as the setting for collaboration 
was about to shift— although in a 
somewhat altered form — from the 
design to the construction and pro- 
duction phases, the Army once again 
had the primary administrative task of 
preventing fundamental differences in 
the two organizations' modus operandi 
from interfering with the progress of 
the program. 

Du Pont's TNX Division 

At the end of 1942, after analyzing 
the unusual nature of the problems 
involved in the plutonium production 
process and weighing the District's 
stringent requirements for security 
and safety, Du Pont established a spe- 



cial organization for plutonium activi- 
ties within the company itself. ^'^ 
Given the designation TNX Division, 
this new unit functioned as a subordi- 
nate element of the company's Explo- 
sives Department, which already had 
designed and was operating a number 
of government-owned munitions 
plants. Locating the TNX Division in 
a regular company department was 
consistent with Du Pont's decision to 
organize and administer its plutonium 
program in accordance with its stand- 
ard operating procedures, and, con- 
comitantly, because this arrangement 
helped to conceal the true character 
of TNX operations, it fully satisfied 
the District's requirements for project 
security. 

Du Pont's operating procedures dif- 
fered somewhat from comparable in- 
dustrial firms in the early 1940's. The 
company did not have a highly cen- 
tralized organizational structure and 
method of operation but was a kind 
of industrial confederation of semiau- 
tonomous departments, each with 
many of the characteristics of an inde- 
pendent business enterprise. Guided 
by broad policies laid down by top 
executives, a general manager admin- 
istered each department very much in 
the same fashion as the president of a 
company, operating under his own 
budget and making most of the rou- 
tine decisions. When additional assist- 



Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 169. 



'^ Except as otherwise noted, subsection on Du 
Pont's plutonium organization based on E. I. du 
Pont de Nemours and Company, Du Pont 's Part m the 
Xatwnal Security Program. 1940-1945 (Wilmington, 
Del.: Du Pont, 1946), pp. 8-9; Rpt, Du Pont, sub: 
Constr at Hanford Engr Works, Contract W-7412- 
eng-1, Du Pont Proj 9536, Proj Hist (hereafter cited 
as Du Pont Constr Hist), 9 Aug 45, Vol. 1, pp. 22- 
39, HOO; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 3, pp. 10.2-10.3 and 
App. B7, DASA; Groves Diary, 16 Dec 42, LRG; 
Hewlett and Anderson, Sew World, pp. 187-88. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



199 



ance was needed, the manager could 
get it from Du Font's permanent aux- 
iliary departments — the Engineering 
Department, for example — that fur- 
nished regularly required services, 
such as plant construction and per- 
sonnel recruitment. 

Consistent with these operating 
procedures, Du Font's management 
turned over to the general manager 
of the Explosives Department, E. B. 
Yancey, overall responsibility for most 
of the company's plutonium program. 
Yancey, already extensively involved 
in other wartime projects, delegated 
direct authority over the program to 
his assistant general manager, Roger 
Williams. A chemical engineer with 
extensive experience in wartime con- 
struction for the government, Wil- 
liams's introduction to the atomic 
project had been as a member of the 
Lewis reviewing committee. He now 
became, in effect, the active head of 
the TNX Division, with responsibility 
for Du Pont plutonium activities at 
Wilmington, Clinton, and Hanford. 

Drawing personnel from most of 
the departments of Du Font, as well 
as from company-operated war plants 
and the Metallurgical Laboratory, 
Williams organized TNX into two 
major subdivisions: the Technical Di- 
vision, which carried out design de- 
velopment in close collaboration with 
the Chicago and Clinton researchers; 
and the Manufacturing Division, 
which advised the Engineering De- 
partment on construction of the plu- 
tonium facilities and planned and su- 
pervised production plant operations. 
From the Grasselli Chemicals Depart- 
ment, Williams selected chemical en- 
gineer Crawford Greenewalt to head 
the Technical Division. Serving, as 
General Groves perceived it, "as the 



bridge between the hard-driving, 
thoroughly competent, industrial- 
minded engineers and executives at 
Wilmington and the highly intelligent 
but theoretically inclined scientists at 
Chicago," Greenewalt spent much of 
his time at the Metallurgical Labora- 
tory and Clinton semiworks and thus 
left his assistant, George Graves, in 
charge of routine administration.^^ 
Williams's choice to head the Manu- 
facturing Division was R. Monte 
Evans, a production manager of long 
experience, most recently with the 
company's Ammonia Department. 

The extensive involvement of Du 
Font's Engineering Department in the 
atomic project came about as a result 
of the company's policy of building its 
own plants rather than contracting 
them out to regular construction 
firms. E. G. Ackart, Du Font's chief 
engineer and Engineering Depart- 
ment head, assigned to his deputy, 
Granville M. Read, primary responsi- 
bility for the construction aspects of 
the plutonium program and to John 
N. Tilley the vital role of liaison offi- 
cer to the Explosives Department. 
Eventually, the Engineering Depart- 
ment committed more than 90 per- 
cent of its personnel and resources to 
plutonium construction. 

Metallurgical Project 

In 1943, shortly after Du Font had 
established its TNX Division, Arthur 
Compton, faced with the rapid 
growth of the plutonium research 
program, extensively restructured and 
expanded its administrative organiza- 
tion. By October, the plutonium orga- 



** Groves, Now It Can Be Told, p. 79. 



200 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



nization, now designated the Metal- 
lurgical Project, ^^ comprised the Met- 
allurgical and Argonne laboratories 
at Chicago; the newly designed Clin- 
ton Laboratories (cover name for the 
plutonium semiworks) at the Tennes- 
see site; and the many research pro- 
grams under way at other institu- 
tions — eventually seventy — in the 
United States. 

Giving up his dual position as 
chairman of the Metallurgical Labora- 
tory and its Executive Committee 
(which he abolished), Compton 
became director of the Metallurgical 
Project and appointed three associate 
directors: Norman Hilberry, his 
former student and longtime personal 
assistant, as associate director for re- 
search; ^° Robert S. Stone, from the 
University of California at Berkeley, 
as associate director for health mat- 
ters; and Wilbur C. Munnecke, from 
the University of Chicago, as associate 
director for administration. At the 
same time, using the Metallurgical 
Laboratory Technical Council as a 
basis, he established the policy- 
making Metallurgical Project Council 



'^Subsection on Metallurgical Project based on 
Org Chart attached to Rpt, Peterson, sub: Visit to 
Chicago Proj, 29 Sep 42, MDR; Memo, Peterson to 
Groves, sub: Met Proj Org Chart, 14 Oct 43, MDR; 
Rpt, Compton, sub: Opn of Met Proj by Univ of 
Chicago, 28 Jul 44, MDR; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 1, 
"General Features," pp. 9.2-9.3, and Vol. 2, Pt. 1, 
pp. 2.1-2.2, 7.1, App. B5, DASA; Smyth Report, pp. 
63-65 and 92; Compton, Atomic Qtmt, pp. 82-86 
(quotations from p. 84), 157, 170-71, 185-86; Hil- 
berry Interv, 3 Jan 63, CMH. 

^"Hilberry, who served as Compton's personal 
representative on those occasions when the latter 
could not carry out some of his many professional 
commitments, became, in effect, associate director 
of the entire Metallurgical Project in late 1943, 
when Compton moved his headquarters to Oak 
Ridge. Hilberry remained at the Metallurgical Labo- 
ratory in Chicago, where he had his office. See 
Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 185. 



and, as council members, selected 
twenty-five leading staff scientists 
from the subordinate laboratories. 

The Metallurgical Project was from 
its initiation "a novel enterprise" for 
Arthur Compton, who, even before 
the reorganization of the plutonium 
program, had realized that its ulti- 
mate success in producing some hun- 
dreds of pounds of plutonium for the 
wartime needs of the atomic project 
was dependent on coordinating the 
resources and talents of literally thou- 
sands of scientists and technicians. He 
had made a substantial beginning 
toward attaining the program objec- 
tive in 1942 through the organization 
and operation of the Metallurgical 
Laboratory, and now he endeavored 
to assure its success by providing in 
the Metallurgical Project the organiza- 
tion with the means to carry through 
to completion the research, develop- 
ment, design, and engineering of the 
plutonium facilities. 

District Area Offices 

Starting in late 1942, as the scien- 
tific and industrial elements of the 
plutonium program rapidly expanded, 
the Army responded by enlarging its 
own organization for overseeing the 
program. As each major element 
began to function, the Manhattan Dis- 
trict established an area office for it. 
By early 1943, area offices were oper- 
ating in Chicago, Clinton, and Han- 
ford; at Du Pont headquarters in Wil- 
mington, Delaware; at the heavy water 
plants in British Columbia, West Vir- 
ginia, Alabama, and Indiana; and at 
the larger research programs in 
progress elsewhere in the country. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



201 



such as at Iowa State College in 
Ames.^^ {See Chart 1.) 

In the early phases of plutonium 
development, the Chicago and Wil- 
mington area offices were the largest 
and most important. And once Du 
Pont started construction of the plu- 
tonium semiworks in Tennessee, the 
district engineer enlarged Major Pe- 
terson's Chicago area responsibilities 
to include the Clinton installation. 
After visiting the site, Peterson set up 
a Clinton branch of his Chicago area 
office, designating it the TNX Oper- 
ating Division. In August 1943, when 
the District headquarters moved from 
New York City to Oak Ridge, this di- 
vision became the Clinton Laborato- 
ries Division as a result of a major ad- 
ministrative reorganization. Peterson, 
while continuing as the Chicago area 
engineer, assumed additional respon- 
sibilities as the new division chief but 
turned over immediate supervision of 
the plutonium semiworks to his new 
assistant. Captain Grafton, who had 
been with the recently abolished Clin- 
ton Area Engineers Office, until he 
(Peterson) could relocate to the Ten- 
nessee site. To handle most of the 
routine administrative services for the 
Chicago area office, the District head- 
quarters furnished the area office's 
new division with a token staff of 



2^ Except as indicated, subsection on area offices 
based on Org Charts, U.S. Engrs Office, MD, 15 
Aug 43, 1 Nov 43, 15 Feb 44, 1 Jun 44, 28 Aug 44, 
and 26 Jan 45, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 020 
(MED-Org), MDR; Ltr, Groves to Styer, sub: Pro- 
motion of Lt Col Franklin T. Matthias, 25 Oct 44, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 210.2 (Off Promo), 
MDR; Matthias Diary, Jan-Sep 43, passim, OROO; 
Du Pont, In Xatwnal Secimty Program. App. 3B (origi- 
nally issued as Stockholdns Bulletin. 24 Aug 45), p. 
61; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 5, "Construction," Apps. 
B57-B58, and Vol. 6, "Operations," pp. 18.1-18.6 
and Apps. B8-B10, DAS A; Compton, Atomic Quest, 
pp. 107-08; Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. pp. 72-73. 



three District officers, five (later nine) 
technically trained enlisted men, and 
five civil service employees. By late 
1943 and early 1944, with the shift 
from research and development to 
construction and operation of the 
large-scale production plant, the area 
office at Hanford expanded rapidly 
while those at institutional research 
centers reduced their activities and 
staffs. 

The precise character of the admin- 
istrative relationships between the 
Chicago, Wilmington, Hanford area 
offices and the Manhattan District 
headquarters in Oak Ridge varied 
considerably. Certain factors, howev- 
er, tended permanently to influence 
this relationship. One of these was 
geography. The stringencies of war- 
time travel and communications and 
Hanford's relatively isolated location 
resulted in the area engineer, Lt. Col. 
Franklin T. Matthias, having a good 
deal more administrative autonomy, 
at least in routine matters, than Peter- 
son in Chicago or Maj. William L. 
Sapper in Wilmington. Matthias main- 
tained a permanent liaison official, 
Mr. H. J. Day, in the Oak Ridge office 
to keep him informed on current 
Manhattan developments and to serve 
as a channel for expediting action on 
Hanford requests. By way of contrast, 
the Chicago office always maintained 
a much closer day-to-day relationship 
with the District headquarters, par- 
ticularly after Peterson began spend- 
ing a major part of his time in 
Tennessee as of late 1943. ^^ 



22 On charts showing the organization of the U.S. 
Engineers Office, Manhattan District. Oak Ridge, in 
late 1943. H. L. Day is listed as the liaison officer 
for the plutonium project. See Org Charts, 15 Aug 

Continued 



202 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



While the Chicago area engineer 
supervised plutonium research and 
development activities, the Wilming- 
ton area engineer had primary re- 
sponsibility for monitoring plutonium 
engineering and design, with a sec- 
ondary assignment of supervising Du 
Font's feed materials program at the 
company's Chambers Chemical and 
Dye Works in Deep Water, New 
Jersey. Design activities centered in 
Wilmington, where the Du Pont 
design staff and visiting Metallurgical 
Project scientists collaborated on the 
engineering blueprints and specifica- 
tions for the plutonium facilities in 
Tennessee and Washington State. 
Review and approval of these designs 
before their dispatch to company en- 
gineers at the Clinton and Hanford 
sites constituted the most important 
tasks of Major Sapper's Wilmington 
staff, which, much of the time, re- 
ceived assistance from personnel who 
were temporarily detailed from the 
Hanford area office. Because close co- 
ordination between the Wilmington 
and Hanford area offices was essential 
on all matters relating to construction 
and operation of the production 
plant, Sapper reported to the district 
engineer through Colonel Matthias. 

A civil engineer with considerable 
experience in civilian construction. 
Colonel Matthias recruited both mili- 
tary and civilian personnel, many 
from other Corps of Engineers 
projects, to form the operating nucle- 
us (more than five hundred personnel 
by 1944) of a burgeoning office orga- 
nization. To complement Du Pont's 

and 1 Nov 43, MDR. Matthias noted in his diary on 
2 Aug 43 that Day was going to be located at the 
Oak Ridge headquarters after 14 August. On the 
relative autonomy of the Hanford area engineer see 
Matthias Diary, 12 Sep and 28 Oct 43, OROO. 



field construction organization at the 
Hanford site, Matthias established 
major divisions to monitor the many 
construction-related activities of the 
prime contractor and its numerous 
subcontractors. Similarly, to reflect 
the reorientation of plant activities 
when Du Pont converted its construc- 
tion organization into one for plant 
operations, he revamped the Hanford 
area office by expanding the produc- 
tion division; by forming a new engi- 
neering and maintenance operations 
division; and, to the extent necessary, 
by reorganizing the security, safety, 
labor relations, fiscal audits, and com- 
munity affairs sections. ^^ 

Army-Du Pont Administration 

The Army-Du Pont plan for coordi- 
nating and controlling project activi- 
ties at the Hanford Engineer Works 
(HEW) illustrates the way in which 
District and TNX officials went about 
jointly administering the plutonium 
production program.^'* On matters of 
general policy, TNX executives could 
consult with Colonel Nichols, to 
whom Groves had given broad re- 
sponsibility for plutonium construc- 
tion and production, or, if necessary, 
directly with Groves — but only after 
informing Nichols. On nonpolicy mat- 
ters, TNX officials were to communi- 
cate with Colonel Matthias (or, where 



^^ On the area engineer and Du Pont construc- 
tion and operations organization at Hanford Engi- 
neer Works see MDH, Bk. 4, Vols. 5 and 6, each 
App. B, DASA; Du Pont Constr Hist, Vol. 1, HOO; 
Intro to Rpt, Du Pont, sub: Memoranda for File on 
HEW Opns, 1944-46 (hereafter cited as Du Pont 
Opns Hist), Sep 46, HOO. 

^"•Ltr. E. B. Yancey to Dist Engr, Attn.: Nichols, 
sub: Corps of Engrs-Du Pont Corresp and Con- 
tracts of HEW, 4 May 43, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 161 (Du Pont), MDR. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



203 



appropriate, with Lt. Col. H. R. 
Kadlec, his construction chief); or 
Major Sapper at Wilmington; or Maj. 
James E. Travis at District headquar- 
ters, who in 1943 headed the Service 
and Control Division at Oak Ridge. 

On questions relating to nonpolicy 
matters submitted by Matthias, 
Kadlec, and other staff members, Du 
Font's officials at the Hanford site 
could make decisions, furnish infor- 
mation, or provide recommendations 
as they saw fit; when necessary, they 
could consult with their department 
or division in Wilmington by teletype. 
In those instances when the Hanford 
area engineer or his staff members 
were dissatisfied with results of in- 
quiries directed to the Du Pont field 
staff, they were authorized to commu- 
nicate directly with Roger Williams or 
Granville Read or with Major Sapper. 

Inevitably, many problems arose 
that could not be readily resolved by 
the local area engineer, or even by 
the district engineer, and the majority 
of these ended up on General 
Groves's desk in Washington, D.C. 
Most often they involved important 
policy decisions or required extensive 
negotiations with other wartime agen- 
cies. For example, during the design 
and construction phases of the pluto- 
nium project. Groves had to deal with 
problems of electric power supply at 
Hanford, acute shortages of essential 
workers at both the Hanford Engi- 
neer Works and Clinton Laboratories, 
deferment of key civilian scientific 
and technical personnel, and procure- 
ment of a great variety of materials 
and equipment. Groves and his small 
liaison staff frequently intervened per- 
sonally to expedite solutions. In a 
comparatively few cases, problems 
had to be resolved by the Military 



Policy Committee or by special re- 
viewing committees that Groves ap- 
pointed. Typical was the heavy water 
research and experimentation pro- 
gram, which required an investigation 
by a reviewing committee and a deci- 
sion by the Military Policy Committee 
to determine the scope of this 
program and the extent of inter- 
change with the Canadians that was 
permissible.^^ 

Beginning in late 1942, the com- 
bined efforts of Groves, Compton, 
Greenewalt, and Williams facilitated 
effective Metallurgical Project-Du Pont 
collaboration through an interchange 
of both expert personnel and scientific 
and technical information of all 
kinds. ^^ To explain the Metallurgical 
Laboratory scientists' preliminary heli- 
um- and water-cooled pile designs to 
Du Pont's TNX staff, Compton dis- 
patched the respective pile research 
teams to Wilmington. While most of 
the Chicago scientists stayed at Wil- 
mington only for a limited time, at least 
one young physicist, John A. Wheeler, 
who was an expert on pile develop- 
ment, became a permanent member of 
the Du Pont design staff. The design 
teams from Wilmington that visited 
the Metallurgical Laboratory in No- 
vember were the vanguard of many 
others who, in subsequent months, fol- 



^^ For examples of problems relating to power 
and labor see correspondence in HB Files, Fldr 51, 
MDR. The extent of Groves's involvement in solv- 
ing such problems can be traced in Groves Diary, 
Apr-Jun 43, passim, LRG. On the heavy water prob- 
lem see MFC Min. 9 Sep 43, MDR. 

^^ Discussion of development of the means for 
collaboration between the Metallurgical Project and 
Du Pont based on Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, pp. 
48 and 79-80; Smyth Report, pp. 92-93; Compton, 
Atomic Quest, pp. 164-65; DSM Chronolog>', 25 Nov 
42, Sec. 23(a), OROO; Rpt, Whitaker, sub: Conf at 
Wilmington, 17-18 Dec 42 (Rpt CS-406), ANL. 



204 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



lowed periodically to confer with the 
Chicago scientists about the latest de- 
velopments in the pile process. 
Greenewalt, too, regularly spent ex- 
tended periods in Chicago (and, later, 
at Clinton) and assigned Du Pont 
physicist J. B. Miles as his permanent 
representative at the Metallurgical 
Laboratory. Both Greenewalt and 
Miles, when they were in Chicago, 
attended meetings of the Metallurgical 
Project Council and regularly con- 
ferred with the laboratory group 
leaders. 

The frequent interchange of expert 
personnel gradually became a key fea- 
ture of the collaboration, extending 
eventually to include not only ex- 
changes between the Chicago scien- 
tists and Wilmington designers but 
also between the Wilmington design- 
ers and the Clinton researchers, and 
among the Clinton, Chicago, and 
Hanford scientific staffs. While Metal- 
lurgical Project scientists on occasion 
complained bitterly that the Du Pont 
design staff was not consulting ade- 
quately with them on some matters, 
on the whole the interchange appears 
to have been one of the most essen- 
tial and profitable aspects of the 
collaboration. 

Consistent with the plan to em- 
ploy the Metallurgical Project essen- 
tially as a Du Pont research and de- 
velopment division, the plutonium 
project leaders incorporated into the 
Metallurgical Project-Du Pont work 
relations agreement certain special 
provisions to ensure a continuous and 
adequate exchange of scientific and 
technical information. The Metallurgi- 
cal Project scientists regularly sent 
copies of pertinent reports to the Du 
Pont design team; in turn, the Wil- 
mington designers kept the Chicago 



and Clinton researchers fully in- 
formed on current layout and process 
design decisions, all of which then 
had to be approved by appropriate 
members of the Metallurgical Project 
staff. A further interchange occurred 
when Du Pont submitted completed 
blueprints and process drawings to 
the district engineer for the usual 
contract review. The district engineer, 
in compliance with the work agree- 
ment, then sent the completed de- 
signs to the Metallurgical Project staff 
for final approval of the scientific and 
technical aspects. 

The Semiworks: Clinton Laboratories 

In the early months of 1943, while 
design groups were still developing 
pile process designs and engineering 
specifications, Du Pont construction 
workers began building the plutoni- 
um semiworks — in April, for security 
reasons, officially designated CHnton 
Laboratories — at the Clinton Engi- 
neer Works in Tennessee. The 
semiworks site, consisting of 112 
acres and officially named the X-10 
area, lay between two ridges along a 
small creek in the isolated Bethel 
Valley, some 20 miles southwest of 
the town of Clinton and about 10 
miles southwest of the planned com- 
munity of Oak Ridge. Tentative plans 
for the semiworks (they would be al- 
tered and expanded several times 
during the period of construction) 
called for an air-cooled uranium- 
graphite pilot pile and chemical sepa- 
ration plant, 2'^ as well as an extensive 



2^ Plutonium project officials conceived the Clin- 
ton pilot pile and separation plant as a true 
semiworks for the Hanford production plant; how- 

Continued 



THE PILE PROCESS 



205 



research laboratory and a number of 
support, training, and administrative 
facilities. 

Construction 

In his February 1943 progress 
report to General Groves, District En- 
gineer Marshall set 1 July as the con- 
struction completion date for the plu- 
tonium semiworks.^® The X-10 pile 
and separation plant had to be put 
into operation as quickly as possible, 
to provide not only the design and 
operational data for the Hanford pro- 
duction plant but also the small quan- 
tities of plutonium so urgently 
needed for ongoing research and test- 
ing. Furthermore, the facilities were 
required to train key Du Pont em- 
ployees in the techniques of plant 
operation. 

Pending completion of engineering 
designs for the permanent installa- 
tions, and less than a month after 
Du Pont had signed the letter con- 
tract (8 January 1943), company con- 
struction crews began building the 
temporary, service, and utility facili- 
ties. In March, other Du Pont crews 
began work on the permanent instal- 
lations, starting with the chemical 
separation plant. Even though 

ever, with the decision to use water to cool the Han- 
ford piles, the air-cooled pilot pile, strictly speaking, 
lost its function. The officials weighed the possibili- 
ty of converting the Clinton pile, but finally decided 
that early production of small quantities of plutoni- 
um was more important. Hence, only the separation 
plant functioned as a true pilot facility. See Smyth 
Report, p. 76; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 4.1, 
DASA. 

^^ Subsection on semiworks construction based 
primarily on Completion Rpt, Du Pont, sub: CEW, 
TNX Area, 1 Apr 44, OROO; Disl Engr. Monthly 
Rpts on DSM Proj, Jan-Sep 43, MDR; MDH, Bk. 4, 
Vol. 2, Pt. 2, pp. 2.1-2.10, DASA; Hewlett and An- 
derson, Xeu' World, pp. 207-10. 



Greenewalt, who was supervising 
design of this plant, had not yet 
reached a decision on which of sever- 
al chemical processes would be em- 
ployed in it, the Wilmington design 
teams had accumulated sufficient en- 
gineering data to permit a start on its 
basic components. As these neared 
completion in the late summer, 
Greenewalt decided to employ the 
bismuth phosphate separation 

method, which required installation of 
miles of pipe as well as other process 
apparatus. By early fall the chemical 
plant was ready for test operations, 
but these could not be carried out 
until the pilot pile produced irradiat- 
ed uranium slugs. 

Construction work on the pilot pile 
did not progress as swiftly and expe- 
ditiously as that on the separation 
plant, because the Du Pont design 
staff did not complete the engineer- 
ing blueprints for the air-cooled pile 
until the end of April and crews exca- 
vating the pile site unexpectedly 
struck a large bed of soft clay, neces- 
sitating installation of much more 
foundation work than had been antici- 
pated. It was June before construction 
crews started pouring concrete for 
the 7-foot-thick walls of the pile's 
great outer shell, which would pre- 
vent escape of radioactive emissions, 
and late summer before they complet- 
ed them. Thousands of holes pierced 
the front facing of the shell, to permit 
insertion of uranium fuel slugs. The 
side and rear walls and the massive 
top also had numerous openings of 
varying sizes and shapes, to accom- 
modate experimental and operating 
equipment built into the pile. The 
outer shell finished, technicians began 
to assemble the pile itself, putting 



206 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



into place hundreds of carefully ma- 
chined graphite bars to form its inner 
core — a structure measuring 24 feet 
square and weighing an estimated 
1,500 tons. In the meantime, other 
workmen constructed the four-story 
concrete and wood building to house 
the pile and its auxiliary facilities — a 
control room, a small "hot" labora- 
tory equipped to handle radioactive 
materials, and a core removal area. 

In spite of constant pressure by 
General Groves on Du Font's Engi- 
neering Department, completion of 
the Clinton Laboratories was slow, 
primarily because of the extent of the 
support and training facilities the 
semiworks required. Because of the 
isolation of the Bethel Valley X-10 
site from the Y-12 (electromagnetic), 
K-25 (gaseous diffusion), and S-50 
(liquid thermal diffusion) areas, Du 
Pont had to provide the semiworks 
with its own machine shops, water 
supply and treatment installations, a 
steam plant, storage areas, and class- 
rooms and laboratories for training. A 
number of other factors beyond the 
control of company officials also con- 
tributed to serious delays. The addi- 
tion of installations not included in 
the original engineering designs and 
major alterations in building plans 
doubled the amount of construction. 
Furthermore, building schedules 
could not be maintained in the face of 
persistent shortages in both common 
and skilled labor in the region adja- 
cent to the Tennessee site that, de- 
spite efforts, grew worse in late 1943. 
Unsatisfactory housing and commut- 
ing conditions aggravated these short- 
ages by increasing absenteeism and 
worker turnover. Finally, there were 
the chronic wartime difficulties in 



procurement of essential building 
materials.^® 

The Army, endeavoring to assist 
Du Pont in overcoming specific bot- 
tlenecks, achieved its greatest success 
in expediting materials and equip- 
ment procurement. For example, 
when Du Pont found that its standard 
5-cubic-yard trucks for hauling ready- 
mixed concrete were too heavy for 
the poor condition of the entrance 
road at the construction site, the Clin- 
ton area engineer obtained on short 
notice enough lighter trucks from the 
St. Louis District to do the job. Simi- 
larly, the area engineer's procurement 
staff arranged for the transfer of 
steam boilers, an item in extremely 
short supply, from a Du Pont plant 
near Nashville to the X-10 site. In an- 
other instance, when the quarry at the 
site failed to supply all the crushed 
stone needed, the area engineer se- 
cured authorization for Du Pont to 
pay a higher rate for material re- 
quired in road construction, thus ena- 
bling the company to purchase addi- 
tional amounts from sources available 
outside the reservation.^^ 

The Army's resolution of procure- 
ment problems enabled Du Pont to 
meet the District's revised schedule 
for completion and start-up oper- 
ations of the semiworks, which Gen- 
eral Groves optimistically predicted 
in his October construction progress 
report to Maj. Gen. Wilhelm D. Styer, 



29 Groves, Now It Can Be Told, p. 78; Ltrs, Read to 
Groves, 15 Apr 43, and Groves to Read, 22 Apr 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 (Projs and 
Prgms), MDR; Completion Rpt, Du Pont, sub: CEW, 
TNX Area, 1 Apr 44, pp. 44-72, OROO. See Ch. 
XVII for details on measures taken to try to solve 
the CEW labor shortage. 

30 Completion Rpt, Du Pont, sub: CEW, TNX 
Area, 1 Apr 44, pp. 70-71 and 203-04. 




Clinton Laboratories Pilot Pile at CEW. Workers are inserting a uranium slug in 
the east loading face of the graphite pile. 



208 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



the Army Service Forces chief of 
staff, ^^ could be expected by mid-De- 
cember. Events in the ensuing 
months bore out Groves's optimism. 
CHnton Laboratories workers began 
"charging" the pile in early Novem- 
ber and, before the end of the year, 
were processing the first batch of irra- 
diated slugs in the chemical separa- 
tion plant and sending the resulting 
product to the Metallurgical Labora- 
tory for use in further experiments. 
And by early 1944, only weeks later 
than Groves had estimated, the Man- 
hattan commander had the satisfac- 
tion of knowing the semiworks was 
largely completed and well on the 
way to full operation. ^^ 

Operation 

As director of the plutonium pro- 
gram, Compton began to develop 
plans for operating pile facilities at 
the Tennessee site as early as Sep- 
tember 1942. He asked physicist 
Martin D. Whitaker, who had taken 
part in the early planning for a labo- 
ratory at the site, to select Metallurgi- 
cal Laboratory staff members to serve 
as the nucleus of the X-10 operating 
organization. While witnessing the 
ongoing planning and construction of 
the Clinton Laboratories in the ensu- 
ing months, Whitaker and his staff 
made the necessary preparations for 
its future operation, giving a high pri- 



^*The Army Service Forces, formerly the Services 
of Supply, became the official designation with the 
issue of WD GO 14 on 12 March 1943. 

^^Memo, Groves to Styer, sub: Constr Progress, 
MD, 19 Oct 43, AG 313.3 (22 Aug 47); Dist Engr, 
Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, 
Dec 43 and Feb 44, MDR; Completion Rpt, Du 
Pont, sub: CEW, TNX Area, 1 Apr 44, pp. 303 and 
313, OROO; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, pp. 4.7 and 
5.3, DASA. 



ority to manpower recruitment.^^ 

To obtain the requisite number of 
operating personnel to perform both 
industrial and managerial functions, 
Whitaker's staff relied heavily on the 
resources of the Metallurgical Project 
laboratories and Du Pont. The first 
permanent operating personnel ar- 
rived from the Metallurgical Labora- 
tory in April, at which time Du Pont 
began to transfer its technicians. The 
number of employees increased rap- 
idly during the months that followed, 
peaking in March 1944 at fifteen hun- 
dred, which included the first ten of a 
contingent of one hundred enlisted 
men from the District's newly formed 
Special Engineer Detachment (SED). 
From March until the end of January 
1945, which was the period of full 
semiworks operation, total personnel 
(that is, permanent employees, train- 
ees for Hanford, and the SED 
contingent) averaged about thirteen 
hundred. ^"^ 

As the pilot pile attained full-scale 
operation in January 1944, Whitaker 
and Compton submitted to Major Pe- 
terson, now chief of the Clinton Lab- 
oratories Division, a projected re- 
search and development program. In 
it they outlined a specific schedule for 
plutonium production through March 
'and, in some detail, emphasized that 
more than 75 percent of the laborato- 
ries' 160-man technical staff would 
concentrate on product isolation stud- 
ies, which were essential for Hanford 



^'Hewlett and Anderson, A'ra- World, pp. 210-12. 

='^MDH, Bk, 4, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, pp. 8.2-8.4 and App. 
B7 (Summary, Total Employees of Clinton Labs), 
DASA; Stanley L. Falk and Author, Notes on Intervs 
of X-10 Personnel at Oak Ridge, 22-24 Jun 60, 
CMH. See Ch. XVI for details on the formation of 
special military units, such as the SED, and on other 
aspects of personnel recruitment. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



209 



operations, and only 12 percent on 
product production. Peterson ap- 
proved the program, without major 
changes, as the basis for semiworks 
operation that would contribute most 
effectively to the continued de- 
velopment of large-scale plutonium 
production. ^^ 

Soon after the pilot pile began op- 
erating, the Clinton Laboratories op- 
erating staff introduced certain design 
modifications with the goal of achiev- 
ing greater pile productivity. Month 
by month, as the staff raised the effi- 
ciency of pile operation, Colonel 
Nichols kept General Groves in- 
formed of the increased output. By 
May, the pile was operating at a 
power level of 1,800 kilowatts, almost 
double that conceived by its design- 
ers, and the addition of two large fans 
in June and July significantly raised 
the level to 4,000 kilowatts. ^^ 

These increases would have been to 
no avail, however, had the separation 
plant failed to perform as anticipated. 
The operating staff remained very un- 
certain about the success of the chem- 
ical plant, because process design- 
ers — lacking more than minute 
amounts of plutonium — had not been 
able to make adequate laboratory 
tests of either the bismuth phosphate 
or alternate lanthanum fluoride sepa- 
ration method, so by early 1944 plu- 
tonium project officials were greatly 
relieved when the separation plant 
produced a small amount of relatively 
pure plutonium out of the first batch 



of slugs from the pile. In February, 
with the pilot pile producing irradiat- 
ed uranium at a rate of one-third of a 
ton each day, the district engineer es- 
timated that plutonium production 
for the first month of the separation 
plant's operation would total over 
500 milligrams. During the next five 
months of operation, the operating 
staff introduced occasional modifica- 
tions that eventually increased the ef- 
ficiency of the separation plant from 
40 to over 90 percent. The plant op- 
erated as a production unit until Jan- 
uary 1945, when enough plutonium 
had been produced to meet project 
needs. The Clinton Laboratories then 
undertook experiments with other ir- 
radiated materials as fissionable fuel. 
At this stage the separation process 
was no longer required and the plant, 
which had processed a total of 299 
batches of uranium slugs, ceased 
operations. ^"^ 

In addition to testing and operating 
the pilot pile and separation plant, 
the Clinton Laboratories technical 
staff supplemented the Metallurgical 
and Argonne laboratories staffs' ef- 
forts to find solutions to the many 
day-to-day problems that arose direct- 
ly out of the design, construction, and 
operation of the Hanford plants. For 
example, the Clinton staff had an 
active role in improving the canning 
of uranium slugs, including develop- 
ment of techniques to detect failure 
and tests to ascertain the effects of 



'^Memo, Whitaker and Compton to Peterson, 
sub: Clinton Labs Prgm as of 1 Dec 43, 25 Jan 44, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 600.12 (Projs and 
Prgms), MDR. 

36MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, pp. 4.1 and 4.8-4.9, 
DASA; Disl Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Jan 
and Aug 44, MDR. 



^^Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Jan, 
Mar-Jun, Oct 44 and Jan 45, MDR; MDH, Bk. 4, 
Vol. 2, Pt. 2, pp. 5.1-5.5, DASA; Smyth Repnrl. pp. 
76 and 102-04; Hewlett and Anderson, Sew World, 
pp. 211-12; Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 190. The 
Clinton Laboratories technical stafFs recommenda- 
tions for the separation process are in the Rpt CN- 
2021, 1 (Xt 44, OROO. 



210 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



water corrosion. They also studied 
high-neutron absorption by certain 
fission products produced in pile op- 
eration, a phenomenon that might 
cause the pile to become inoperative. 
But from a study of two of these 
products, samarium and gadolinium, 
they concluded that these rare elements 
would not lead to shutdown of the pile. 
They failed, however, to observe that 
another of the neutron-absorbing 
products, a radioactive isotope of 
the rare gaseous element xenon, was a 
far more potent poisoning agent. The 
Clinton staff used the pile, too, for 
testing materials to be employed in 
construction of the Hanford piles, in- 
cluding aluminum, graphite, brass, neo- 
prene, bakelite, concrete, and masonite 
(for shielding).^* 

With completion of the essential as- 
pects of the Clinton Laboratories pro- 
gram, which ran for more than two 
years (1 March 1943-30 June 1945) 
and cost approximately $12.3 million 
($6.8 million just for salaries), the 
University of Chicago was anxious to 
be relieved of its responsibility as op- 
erator of the plutonium semiworks — a 
role it had accepted, but with the 
greatest reluctance. Acceding to the 
university's request. General Groves 
discussed with Compton the question 
of transferring operations of the lab- 
oratories to an industrial firm. Their 
choice was the Monsanto Chemical 
Company of St. Louis. Groves dele- 
gated to Charles A. Thomas, a com- 
pany official who had been associated 
with the atomic project in various ca- 
pacities and was currently coordinator 
of chemical and metallurgical work at 
Los Alamos, the task of carrying out 
negotiations. On 2 May 1945, 



Thomas and Groves met with other 
company representatives to approve 
an agreement under which Monsanto 
would take over operations of the 
Clinton Laboratories from the Univer- 
sity of Chicago on 1 July. On this 
date, Monsanto activated a special di- 
vision to handle general administra- 
tion, appointing Thomas as division 
head, and Martin Whitaker assented 
to stay on as director of the laborato- 
ries, now to oversee operations for 
the production of experimental mate- 
rials, such as radioactive isotopes, and 
the conduct of radiation research. ^^ 



The Hanford Production Plant 

While Du Pont was building the 
semiworks, its TNX Division was 
moving ahead with plans and prelimi- 
nary preparations for construction of 
the production plant. As soon as the 
Army acquired the site, both the TNX 
chief and Hanford area engineer set 
up field organizations that promptly 
began overseeing the formidable task 
of establishing, in the vast and remote 
semidesert region along the Colum- 
bia River, the support facilities essen- 
tial to construction and operation of a 
highly complex industrial enterprise. 
Except for railroads and power trans- 
mission lines, these facilities were 
almost entirely lacking, and Du Pont 
and the Army had to devote many 
months and considerable manpower 
and materials to providing them 
before construction could begin on 
the plant's permanent structures.'**' 



MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 2, Pt. 1. pp. 6.2-6.8, DASA. 



39lbicl., Pt. 2, pp. 3.5-3.6, DASA; Groves Diary, 
23-25 Apr and 2 May 45, LRG; Compton, Atomic 
Quest, p. 197; Hewlett and Anderson, New World, p. 
627. 

*° Paragraphs on preliminary measures that Du 

Continued 



THE PILE PROCESS 



211 




Clinton Laboratories, consisting of the large pilot pile building, the chemical separation 
plant (structure directly to the rear), and other support facilities 



Consequently, during much of 
1943, Du Pont and its subcontractors 
extended and improved existing 
roads and railroads, power and tele- 
phone lines and sewer and water sys- 
tems. They built temporary facilities 
that, because of the remoteness of the 
site and also the safety and security 



Pont and the Army had to carry out in preparation 
for construction of the Hanford plutonium plant 
based on MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 5, Sees. 1-5, DASA; Du 
Pont Constr Hist, Vols. 1-2, HOO; Matthias Diary, 
1943, passim, OROO; Memo, Travis to Marsden 
(Ex Off, MD), sub: Status of HEW as of 2 Jun 43, 
same date, in Rpt, sub: MD Proj Data as of 1 Jun 
43, MDR. See Chs. XIII-XIV and XVI for detailed 
account of measures taken to solve the problems in 
materials and manpower procurement for Hanford. 



requirements, had to be unusually ex- 
tensive, including the Hanford camp for 
construction workers, numerous build- 
ings to house Du Pont and Army ad- 
ministrative personnel in the field, 
and a variety of shops. Thus, at White 
Bluffs, adjacent to the site selected 
for the plutonium separation plants, 
they built shops to fabricate concrete 
pipes, masonite panels, and steel 
plate sections; at Hanford, near the 
construction camp, erected a shop 
to shape, cut, bore, face, and test 
graphite; and at strategic points in 
the plant construction area, installed 
five concrete plants. In addition, they 
provided repair and maintenance 



212 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



shops, including those for railroad, 
automotive, electrical, and construc- 
tion equipment. 

Du Pont and the Army also were 
able to begin some work that related 
directly to the construction of the 
production plant. For example, the 
Army's Seattle district engineer su- 
pervised soil tests and borings at the 
sites selected for the permanent plant 
facilities. These tests and soil samples 
provided Du Pont field engineers with 
essential data on the weight-carrying 
capacities of the ground, especially 
significant because many of the plant 
installations were enormously heavy; 
on rock formations likely to cause dif- 
ficulties in excavation work; and on 
the availability of aggregate for 
making concrete. Field survey teams 
inspected existing transmission lines 
and road nets in the plant areas, 
reaching the conclusion that these fa- 
cilities were adequate to meet the re- 
quirements for the earliest phases of 
plant construction. The area engineer 
and Du Pont were able to agree on 
optimum locations for most of the 
major plant installations, taking into 
account also safety, security, transpor- 
tation, availability of river water, and 
other related factors."*^ 

Construction 

Decisions on the character and lo- 
cation of various plant installations 
deviated surprisingly little from the 
general layout of the production plant 
developed back in mid-December 
1942 to serve as a guide in site selec- 
tion. These early plans had projected 



initial construction of at least three 
pile and two separation units, with 
provision made for the addition, if 
need be, of three more piles and an- 
other separation unit. In the main, 
such changes as the Du Pont design 
team did make reflected the subse- 
quent decisions to employ water cool- 
ing rather than helium for the graph- 
ite piles and a bismuth phosphate 
precipitation method in the separa- 
tion units. ^^ 

The specific layouts provided for 
seven separate process areas, six of 
them located generally in the north- 
ern half of the 400,000-acre Hanford 
reservation and the seventh in a 
sector directly north of the operating 
village of Richland in the southeast- 
ern corner of the reservation (Map 4). 
The three production piles were lo- 
cated at the points of a triangle 
formed by a bend in the Columbia 
River near White Bluffs. Designated 
as the 100 B (West), 100 D (North), 
and 100 F (East) Pile Areas, each was 
about 1 mile square and, for reasons 
of safety, about 6 miles distant from 
any neighboring installation. About 
10 miles directly south of the pile 
sites were the three separation pro- 
cess areas: 200 W (West), 200 E (East), 
200 N (North). In the West Area 
there were two separation plants, with 
a mile of open desert between them; 
in the East Area, only a single separa- 
tion plant; and in the North Area, 



*'MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 5, pp. 2.1-2.7, DASA; Matth- 
ias Diary. 24 Feb 43, OROO. See Chs. XVIII and 
XIX for more details on development of process 
support facilities for the production plant. 



"^This paragraph and the several that follow 
based on DSM Chronology, 14 Dec 42, Sec. 25, 
OROO; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 3, pp. 2.1-2.2., 3.1-3.7. 
Apps. A2 and A4 (Maps, Location of Major Instls), 
and Vol. 6, pp. 2.1-2.5, DASA; Du Pont Constr 
Hist, Vols. 3-4, HOO; Hewlett and Anderson, New 
World, pp. 214-22 and map opposite p. 225. See Ch. 
XV for general layout of the plant in relation to site 
acquisition. 




MAP 4 



214 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



only the lag-storage facilities for hold- 
ing the pile-processed uranium metal 
until natural decay reduced its radio- 
activity to a point where it could be 
sent to the separation plants. In the 
seventh process site — the 300 Area — 
were the metal testing and fabricating 
facilities for preparing uranium to be 
charged into the piles. 

In scheduling construction of the 
various permanent installations, Du 
Pont gave priority to the 300 Area, 
for it included many installations that 
were essential both to building and 
operating the rest of the plant. Here, 
for example, were facilities for testing 
many of the building materials to be 
incorporated into the piles and sepa- 
ration units, for preparing uranium 
metal to be charged into the piles, 
and for assembly and calibration of 
instruments to control production op- 
erations and protect workers against 
radiation. One of the buildings 
housed an operating test pile. An- 
other held the machines that 
"canned" uranium in metal contain- 
ers to be inserted for processing in 
the piles. 

In spite of the high priority, how- 
ever, Du Pont experienced great diffi- 
culty in meeting building schedules in 
the 300 Area. Stabilizing designs was 
the most frequent cause of delay, at- 
tributable primarily to the lack of pre- 
vious experience. Related to the 
design problem was the frankly exper- 
imental character of many of the fa- 
cilities. Other factors slowing con- 
struction were the shortage of skilled 
labor and the classified nature of 
much of the work, requiring restric- 
tion of access to the 300 Area. Yet 
construction crews pressed forward 
during the summer and fall of 1943, 
turning to the area engineer for as- 



sistance. Through Army intervention 
with wartime labor officials, the com- 
pany secured permission for double 
work shifts of nine hours on urgently 
required buildings. It also obtained 
special handling in procurement of 
certain materials. It let subcontracts, 
which the area engineer approved, to 
firms with specially qualified person- 
nel and equipment and speeded up 
procedures for approval and issue of 
designs. These various expedients, 
however, were never quite sufficient 
to overcome the bottlenecks, and 
work in the 300 Area remained con- 
sistently behind schedule.*^ 

In the three pile areas and the 300 
Area, Du Pont faced the problem of 
erecting a great variety of facilities. 
Each pile area comprised an industrial 
complex made up not only of a pro- 
duction unit but also of support ele- 
ments. The latter included equipment 
for pumping vast amounts of water 
from the nearby river and subjecting 
it to treatment to make it suitable for 
cooling the piles. It also included re- 
frigeration and helium-purification 
units and extensive storage facilities. 
Each area, too, had its own facility to 
provide steam and some electricity. 
Most of the support elements had to 
be housed in large industrial-type 
buildings, some of them with tall 
stacks and water storage tanks on 
high steel-frame towers. 

For the experienced Du Pont engi- 
neers and foremen, much of the work 
was sufficiently conventional to 
present no serious problems other 



43 Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Nov- 
Dec 43 and Dec 44, MDR; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 5, pp. 
6.1-6.4 and Apps. B35-B37 (Tables and Charts, 
Constr Progress and Subcontracts for Metal Fab and 
Test Area), DASA. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



215 




The 300 Area at HEW, where Du Pont workers manufactured uranium slugs and tested 
materials for the piles. The slogan on the water tower reads, "Silence Means Security. " 



than those attributable to geographic 
isolation and wartime conditions. The 
exception was the production piles. 
Housed in concrete structures rising 
more than 120 feet from the flat 
desert floor, these great machines for 
transmuting uranium into plutonium 
presented construction problems 
never encountered before, even by 
Du Font's highly competent field 
forces. As in the 300 Area, but on a 
far vaster scale, the construction 
crews not only had to cope with 
almost day-to-day changes in design 
and specifications but also to adopt 
many expedients based upon results 



of tests, construction experience, and 
limitations of materials. 

Using water as a coolant required 
installation of a complex system of 
river pumps; purification, aeration, 
and distillation units; and retention 
basins for holding radioactive water 
until natural decay permitted its 
return to the Columbia. Because 
keeping the piles at a proper temper- 
ature was crucial, plant designers in- 
cluded a refrigeration unit in both the 
North (100 D) and East (100 F) Areas 
as a precautionary measure to cool 
river water during the summer 
months; however, to save time, they 



216 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




The 100 B Pile Area at HEW, consisting of the production pile (building with single 
stack), the steam-electnc plant (building with twin stacks), the pump house (on the Columbia 
River), and other support facilities 



did not provide this unit in the West 
(100 B) Area, gambling on the chance 
it might not be necessary.'** 

Completion of at least one pile and 
a separation unit would start produc- 
tion of urgently needed plutonium. 
Accordingly, Du Pont and Army offi- 
cials agreed to give the West Pile 
Area priority, concentrating the limit- 
ed materials and manpower available 
to expediting its construction. Late in 
1943, they scheduled the West Pile 



** Paragraphs on construction of production piles 
based on MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 5, pp. 3.2-3.5, 6.5-6.22, 
Apps. B38-B42, and Vol. 6, pp. 2.5-2.18, DASA; 
Du Pont Constr Hist, Vol. 3, pp. 636-811, HOO; 
Hewlett and Anderson, Xew World, pp. 216-18; Dist 
Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Jan-Mar 44, MDR. 



for operation by June 1944, but by 
February, with the plant only 27 per- 
cent complete, they rescheduled the 
start-up date to mid-August. At the 
same time, they established later com- 
pletion dates for the North and the 
East Pile Areas. 

The pace of construction, however, 
was disappointing. In general, the fac- 
tors that slowed construction in the 
300 Area also adversely affected the 
pile areas — the isolated location of 
the Hanford reservation, aggravating 
shortages of manpower and essential 
materials, the uniqueness of much of 
the construction, and the continuing 
need for alterations in orginial de- 
signs and specifications. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



217 



As in the 300 Area, the Army gave 
its approval to Du Font's various ex- 
pedients to speed up construction. 
The company instituted shift work in 
September 1943, at the same time ex- 
tending the regular work week to six 
nine-hour days (in some cases, 
manual labor temporarily put in ten 
hours a day, seven days of the week). 
It let more than thirty subcontracts to 
firms that would carry out specialized 
aspects of the job — for example, 
boiler and elevated tank erection, 
pipe work, concrete block and cement 
brick construction, channel excava- 
tion — and thus gained access to des- 
perately needed manpower and 
equipment. And Du Pont repeatedly 
turned to District procurement per- 
sonnel in Hanford, Oak Ridge, and 
Washington, D.C., for assistance in 
obtaining a great variety of scarce ma- 
terials and equipment, including such 
items as solenoid valves, synthetic 
cable, and stainless steel fittings and 
valves. The Army also expedited ship- 
ment of many crucial items from sup- 
pliers distant from the isolated site, 
authorizing use of air and rail ex- 
press, trucks, and even the Army Air 
Forces' Air Transport Command 
planes. The Army, too, allowed Du 
Font's TNX Division to ease the per- 
sistent design bottlenecks by sending 
out special personnel to work in the 
division engineer's office at the West 
File site, authorizing them to make 
on-the-spot minor alterations without 
clearing them with the home office. 

By spring of 1944, these expedients 
and a gradual easing of manpower 
problems brought a decided improve- 
ment in the progress of pile area con- 
struction. The district engineer esti- 
mated that the West File Area was 
nearly half completed, and in Septem- 



ber he pronounced it ready to go into 
operation. Du Font construction 
crews failed to meet the scheduled 
October completion date for the 
North File, requiring an additional 
two months. Then, with the advan- 
tage of experience and a far more 
adequate supply of labor, they man- 
aged to finish the East File Area on 
10 February, five days earlier than the 
projected completion date. Weeks 
earlier, the West File had discharged 
its first batch of "active metal," and 
plant workers immediately sent it to 
the West Separation Area for 
processing.'*^ 

In building the chemical separation 
facilities, Du Font crews encountered 
many of the same problems they 
faced in construction of the produc- 
tion piles; however, for the most part, 
the problems were never quite as 
severe. There was more time to build 
the separation units, as no irradiated 
slugs would be ready for processing 
until weeks or months after the first 
pile began to operate, and there were 
fewer installations to build, with a 
total of thirty-two process buildings in 
the three separation areas (200 E, W, 
and N) as compared with fifty-three in 
the three pile areas. Also, there was 
less need for changes in specified 
design, construction materials, and 
equipment.*^ 



45 See MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 5, Apps. B41 (List. Sub- 
contractors for Pile Area Constr) and B42 (List, Ma- 
terials Used), DASA; Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on 
DSM Proj, Apr, Jun, Nov, Dec 44 and Feb 45, MDR. 

*^ Paragraphs on construction of plutonium sepa- 
ration units based on MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 5, pp. 3.5- 
3.7, 6.22-6.31, Apps. B43-B46, and Vol. 6, pp. 
2.18-2.26, DASA; Du Pont Constr Hist, Vol. 3. pp. 
812-983, HOO: Hewlett and Anderson, Xew World. 
pp. 219-22: Dist Engr, Monthly Rpt on the DSM 
Proj, Jan 44, MDR. 



218 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Design problems were a significant 
factor in delaying the construction of 
the separation plants. Du Pont design 
teams could do little toward provid- 
ing detailed blueprints and specifica- 
tions until project scientists and engi- 
neers reached a decision on the exact 
chemical process to be employed. 
Even after the decision to use the bis- 
muth phosphate method, designers 
had to await additional data from the 
Clinton separation plant, still under 
construction. Consequently, in 1943, 
Du Pont had accomplished little 
beyond site preparation and excava- 
tion in the separation plant areas. 

Detailed blueprints and specifica- 
tions, finally ready by early 1944, pro- 
jected construction of four separation 
plants — two in the East Area and two 
in the West Area (in June, project of- 
ficials canceled one East Area unit 
when performance data at the Clinton 
separation plant indicated it probably 
would not be needed). Completed 
layouts provided for a variety of pro- 
cess buildings and supporting facilities. 
The dominant feature of each plant 
area was a "cell building," an en- 
largement of the six-cell unit in the 
Clinton plant. Viewed from a dis- 
trance across the level desert, this 
massive (800 feet long, 65 feet wide, 
and 80 feet high) concrete structure 
resembled an ancient mausoleum. A 
railroad system interconnected the 
various facilities and provided the 
means for transporting the thick- 
walled portable casks that brought ir- 
radiated slugs from the pile areas for 
temporary storage in the North Area 
and final processing in the East or 
West Separation Areas. 

Insufficient manpower proved a 
major problem never fully solved, but 
partially alleviated by Army-sanc- 



tioned reallocation of workers from 
other parts of the project, very fre- 
quent use of shift and Sunday work, 
and extended hours. Materials short- 
ages, most notably of stainless steel, 
resulted in serious delays. With Dis- 
trict assistance, Du Pont saved three 
to four months in obtaining stainless 
steel for more then 700,000 feet of 
piping; 150,000 bolts; and other 
equipment. The company saved time, 
too, by subcontracting (with approval 
of the area engineer) work on struc- 
tural steel, railroads, pipe and tank 
installation, and other aspects of 
construction. 

The disappointing progress in con- 
struction reported by the district en- 
gineer at the end of December 1943 
clearly indicated that his earlier pro- 
jections had been far too optimistic. 
Thus in February 1944, Du Pont 
issued new start-up dates for various 
elements of the pile and separation 
areas, which became the basis for 
subsequent building schedules. Al- 
though plagued by continuing delays 
in delivery of stainless steel, Du Pont 
completed the two West Area separa- 
tion plants and the North Area lag- 
storage facilities in December, in time 
to accept the first irradiated slugs 
from the West Pile. Finally, in early 
February 1945, with the East Separa- 
tion Area ready to be turned over to 
operating crews. Colonel Nichols re- 
ported to General Groves that the 
Hanford Engineer Works was sub- 
stantially completed.'*'^ 



*'' Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Jan, 
Apr, Jun, Dec 44 and Jan 45, MDR. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



219 








Chemical Separation Plant Under Construction at HEW 



Operation 



Although construction crews were 
months away from completing all of 
the major elements of the plant, Du 
Pont operating crews took the first 
step in starting plant operations when 
they began charging the West Pile 
with aluminum-covered uranium slugs 
on 13 September 1944.^^ As with the 
electromagnetic and diffusion plants 
at the Clinton Engineer Works, pro- 
duction of plutonium at Hanford was 
a highly technical operation, carried 



**^ Except as indicated, subsection on production 
plant operation based primarily on MDH, Bk. 4, 
Vol. 6, DASA; Du Pont Opns Hist, HOO; Matthias 
Diary, Sep 44-Aug 45, OROO; Hewlett and Ander- 
son, Xeu' World, pp. 304-10. The Army's activities 
in providing essential services are described in sub- 
sequent chapters, especially XVI-XX. 



out, for the most part, by an operat- 
ing force comprised of Du Pont engi- 
neers, technicians, and trained plant 
personnel. The Army had only a lim- 
ited role in plant operations, its pri- 
mary function being to maintain those 
conditions in the plant areas and 
Richland village community that 
would enhance in every way possible 
production of plutonium. To this end, 
the Hanford Area Engineers Office 
continued to provide most of the 
services instituted in the period of 
site development and plant construc- 
tion, including security, safety, trans- 
portation and communications, per- 
sonnel and materials procurement, 
fiscal and contract review, and com- 
munity support. 



220 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Completed Chemical Separation Plants (foreground and background), sennced by 
the twin-stacked steam-electnc facility 



In mid-August, Du Pont operating 
personnel began taking over the West 
Pile building, although construction 
crews continued to work in the area. 
On the seventeenth, Colonel Matthias 
notified Colonel Nichols at Oak Ridge 
that he thought "anytime after the 
27th of August would be a good time 
to come out for the initial starting op- 
erations." Both Nichols and Groves 
found reasons for visiting: ostensibly, 
as project officials, to confer on labor 
and safety problems; tacitly, as engi- 
neers, undoubtedly drawn by the nat- 
ural desire to see near completion a 
project to which they both had devot- 
ed many months of effort. Groves ar- 
rived on 1 September and Nichols on 



the following day. Matthias took each 
on a personal inspection tour. Both 
gave special attention to the crucial 
preparation of the uranium fuel. They 
were pleased to learn that a welding 
process had largely eliminated leaks 
in the cans, or slugs that held the ura- 
nium fuel, a problem that for many 
months had posed a threat to the 
whole process.'*^ 

Neither Groves nor Nichols could 
be present on 13 September, when 
the plant workers started up the West 



''^ Matthias Diary, 1-2 Sep 44 and 17 Aug 45 
(source of quotation), OROO; Groves Diary, 1 Sep 
44, LRG. On uranium canning problem see MDH, 
Bk. 4, Vol. 6, pp. 4.7-4.9 and 5.7-5.8, DASA; Hew- 
lett and Anderson, Xew World, pp. 223-26 and 303- 
04. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



221 



Area production pile for the first 
time. But Colonel Matthias was on 
hand, as were Compton and Fermi 
from the Metallurgical Project and 
Greenewalt and Williams from Du 
Pont. In a scene somewhat reminis- 
cent of that dramatic occasion when 
Fermi had achieved the first con- 
trolled chain reaction, the redoubta- 
ble Italian physicist inserted the initial 
uranium fuel can into the production 
pile at 5:43 p.m. Thus began the slow 
procedure, interrputed by many tests 
that would bring the pile, on the fif- 
teenth, to that level of reactivity 
known as dry critical. At this stage, 
without cooling water present in the 
fuel tubes, the pile contained enough 
uranium to sustain a chain reaction. 
Up to this point the pile was perform- 
ing precisely as anticipated. ^° 

For the next few days the loading 
crews, under Fermi's guidance, insert- 
ed additional slugs, building up to the 
number he estimated would be re- 
quired for the pile to be reactive with 
cooling water in the tubes. They 
reached this number — actually 838 
tubes loaded — late in the afternoon of 
18 September and began final tests of 
the cooling system. These tests and 
other measurements continued for 
several days, until shortly before mid- 
night on the twenty-sixth. At 10:48 
P.M., with more than 900 of the 2,004 
tubes loaded, they started withdrawl 
of the control rods to begin for the 
first time plutonium manufacture on a 
production scale. But to their sur- 
prise, when they tried to increase the 
power level, the level of reactivity 



began to decline and, by 6:30 p.m. on 
the twenty-seventh, the pile shut 
down completely. Colonel Matthias 
immediately informed General 
Groves, who was visiting the Radi- 
ation Laboratory in Berkeley. Arriving 
in San Francisco on the thirtieth, 
Matthias explained to Groves that the 
pile operators at first believed that 
water, or some other neutron-absorb- 
ing substance, had leaked into the 
pile. Yet when they found no evi- 
dence of this, they concluded that un- 
anticipated buildup of a fission by- 
product had inhibited reactivity 
of the pile. Matthias suggested to 
Groves "that certain of the high-ranking 
scientists come out to Hanford immedi- 
ately to supervise corrective action." ^^ 
Meanwhile at Hanford, Greenewalt 
had turned to the Metallurgical 
Project scientists for an explanation. 
Nothing in the Clinton operations 
seemed to provide an answer, but the 
Argoime staff discovered that when 
they ran the heavy water pile at its 
highest power level for a period of 
twelve hours (which they had not pre- 
viously done), its reactivity first rose 
and then declined following a pattern 
similar to that observed at Hanford. 
The data from the Argonne pile also 
confirmed that the "poisoning" of the 
pile was caused by one of the fission 
by-products, a radioactive isotope of 
the rare gaseous element xenon. At a 
meeting with Compton and Metallur- 
gical Project scientists in Chicago on 



50 Matthias Diary, 13-14 Sep 44, OROO; Rpt, 
Matthias to Dist Engr, sub: Monthly Opns, 30 Sep 
44, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, SIQIi (Misc), MDR; 
Du Pont Opns Hist, Intro, p. 22, and Bk. 4, HOO. 



5' Quotation from Matthias Diary, 30 Sep 44 
OROO. See also ibid., 16-17, 19-21, 25-29 Sep 44, 
OROO; Groves Diary, 29-30 Sep 44, LRG; Dist 
Engr, Monthly Rpt on DSM Proj, Sep 44, MDR; 
Memo, Matthias to Groves, sub: Status of 100 B 
Area Opns, 18 Sep 44, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
319.1 (Misc), MDR; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 6, pp. 4.9- 
4.10 and App. Dl (Xenon Poisoning), DASA. 



222 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



3 October, Groves was highly critical 
of the scientists for not having discov- 
ered a phenomenon that might well 
prevent production of sufficient plu- 
tonium in time to be used in the war. 
Sensing the gravity of Groves's 
words, Compton left immediately for 
Hanford so that he could take direct 
action. ^^ 

By the time Compton reached Han- 
ford on the fourth, operating person- 
nel working under Greenewalt, Hil- 
berry and others had found that by 
adding more uranium slugs to the 
pile charge they could increase the 
power level without inducing a de- 
cline in reactivity. This demonstrated 
that pile operation at a higher power 
level overcame the dampening effects 
of xenon poisoning, but it still did 
not tell the pile operators how much 
more uranium they would have to 
load into the pile to raise the power 
level to that point where it would effi- 
ciently produce plutonium. Nor did it 
indicate whether the existing controls 
and instrumentation of the pile were 
adequate for such operation. 

For answers to these critical ques- 
tions they had to carry out a time- 
consuming series of tests. They 
gradually increased the uranium load, 
carefully checking and adjusting the 
complicated control devices and in- 
struments of the pile. By late Novem- 



^^ Memo, Compton to Groves, sub: Oscillation 
EfTect of W Pile, 30 Oct 44, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 400.12 (Experiments), MDR; Memos, Walter 
Zinn (Argonne Lab scientist) to Compton, 3 Oct 44, 
Compton to Groves, sub: Draft Notes to Mtg at Chi- 
cago, 3 Oct 44, and Matthias to Groves, sub: Start- 
up Opns of 100 B Area, 3 Oct 44, Admin Files, Gen 
Corresp, 319.1 (Misc), MDR; Oppenheimer Heanng, p. 
174; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, pp. 3.13-3.14 and 
5.2-5.3, and Pt. 2, pp. 6.4-6.5, DASA; Hewlett and 
Anderson, Xew World, pp. 306-07; Dale F. Babcock, 
"The Discovery of Xenon-135 as a Reactor Poison," 
Sudear Sews 7 (Sep 64): 38-42. 



ber, they showed conclusively that by 
fully loading the pile, including slugs 
in the extra tubes that Du Font's con- 
servative designers had installed 
against the advice of the scientists, 
the pile would operate at its designed 
power level. As a final precaution, the 
operating personnel tried operating 
the 100 D pile (completed in Novem- 
ber) with uranium in all tubes, but 
without cooling water. The success of 
this dry critical test clearly demon- 
strated that the 100 B pile, with the 
added protection of cooling water, 
was likely to function as designed. On 
28 December, the 100 B pile, with all 
its 2,004 tubes loaded went into oper- 
ation, marking at last the start of full- 
scale production of plutonium. ^^ 

Xenon poisoning and uranium can- 
ning problems were not the only 
technical difficulties faced by Du 
Font's operating personnel as they 
took over control of the other units of 
the plutonium production plant. But 
none of the other start-up problems 
posed so serious a threat to the effec- 
tive operation of the plant, and Du 
Pont engineers found solutions ade- 
quate to eliminate or counteract their 
adverse effects upon the plutonium 
production process.^* 



^^ Dist Engr, Monthly Rpts on DSM Proj, Nov- 
Dec 44, MDR; Memo, Compton to Mrs. O'Leary, 
Attn: Groves, 7 Oct 44, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
400.17 (Mfg-Prod-Fab), MDR; Groves, Notes on 
Conf with Greenewalt in New York, 18 Oct 44, 
Admm Files, Gen Corresp, 337 (Confs), MDR; 
Memos, Matthias to Groves, sub: Start-up Opns of 
100 B Area, 17 and 20 Oct 44, Admm Files, Gen 
Corresp, 319.1 (Misc), MDR; Matthias Diary, Oct- 
Dec 44, passim, OROO; MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 6, pp. 
4.10-4.12 and App. Dl, DASA; Compton, Atomic 
Quest, pp. 191-94; Hewlett and Anderson, \eui 
IVorld. pp. 307-08. 

^^ For a more detailed account of some of the 
other operating problems that developed in Han- 
ford pile operations see MDH, Bk. 4, Vol. 6, pp. 
4.12-4.19, DASA. 



THE PILE PROCESS 



223 



With attainment in March 1945 of 
full-scale production at Hanford, the 
plutonium project leaders turned with 
renewed energy to establishing firm 
production schedules and to reaching 
agreement on final specifications for 
the product. General Groves, aware 
that the war in Europe was rapidly ap- 
proaching an end and knowing that 
the scientists at Los Alamos would 
soon need substantial quantities of 
plutonium, arranged with Du Pont to 
run the two refrigerated production 
piles above their rated operational 
level during the spring and summer 
of 1945. Carried out at some risk, this 
procedure substantially increased 
product output and thus provided the 
plutonium for an atomic device in 
July and for one of two bombs in 
August. Through these events, vindi- 



cation finally came to the atomic 
project leaders on their late- 1942 de- 
cision to go ahead with the develop- 
ment of the pile process — a decision 
that, in the intervening years, when 
the plutonium program experienced 
repeated setbacks, may well have ap- 
peared to many to have been a seri- 
ous error in judgment. ^^ 



^^The correspondence concerning speeding up 
plutonium production at Hanford is in two separate 
MDR files. Ir Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 400.17 
(Mfg-Prod-Fab): Ltrs, Groves to Williams, 13 Jan 45, 
and Williams to Groves, 16 Jan 45. In OCG Files, 
Gen Corresp, Groves Files, Fldr 5: Ltrs, Williams to 
Groves, 14 Feb 45, and Groves to Williams, 15 Feb 
45, both Tab I; Memo, Nichols to Groves, sub: Site 
W Prod Schedule, 9 Mar 45, Tab J; Ltr, Groves to 
Oppenheimer, 22 Mar 45, Tab L; Ltr, Groves to 
Williams, 22 Mar 45, Tab J; Ltr, Williams to Groves, 
9 Apr 45, 1 ab M; Memo, Groves to Nichols, 20 Jul 
45, Tab S. See Ch. XXIV on the relationship be- 
tween the development of the implosion bomb at 
Los Alamos and the rate of plutonium production at 
Hanford. 



PART THREE 
SUPPORT ACTIVITIES 



CHAPTER X 



Anglo-American Collaboration 



On 15 December 1942, the Military 
Policy Committee submitted its first 
report to the Top Policy Group on 
the "present status and future pro- 
gram" of the Manhattan Project. The 
report dealt at length with such mat- 
ters as scientific progress, the organi- 
zation of the project, the need for 
funds, the availability of raw materi- 
als, and the status of the Anglo-Amer- 
ican atomic partnership. The latter, 
reported the committee in something 
of an understatement, needed "clarifi- 
cation." ^ In effect, at the urging of 
OSRD Director Vannevar Bush, S-1 
Chairman James B. Conant, and 
General Groves, the Military Policy 
Committee was proposing a reconsid- 
eration of American policy on the ex- 
change of information and a presi- 
dential decision not only on the im- 
mediate problem but also on the far- 
reaching one of postwar relations in 
the field of atomic energy.^ 

This call to reevaluate Anglo-Amer- 
ican collaboration on atomic energy 
research and development was a 
result of the extensive and rapid ex- 



» MPC Rpt, 15 Dec 42, OCG Files, Gen Corresp. 
MP Files, Fldr 25, Tab B, MDR. 

2 Memo, Stimson, 29 Oct 42, HB Files, Fldr 47. 
MDR; MPC Rpt, 15 Dec 42, MDR. This theme is de- 
veloped at length in Hewlett and Anderson, New 
World, pp. 256-67. 



pansion of the Manhattan Project 
during the past six months. Until then 
the American effort had faced serious 
problems and its leaders had been 
willing, even eager, to compare notes 
with their British counterparts. But, 
by the fall, with both the scientific 
and engineering programs moving 
ahead, the project's military and civil- 
ian administrators had made an im- 
pressive start at cutting away red 
tape, thus assuring the atomic pro- 
gram a strong and solidly backed po- 
sition in the American war effort. As 
the need for British assistance seemed 
less urgent, a new attitude about in- 
terchange took, hold, and in Decem- 
ber project leaders voiced their in- 
creasing reluctance, reinforced by 
growing security considerations, to 
give the British the fruits of American 
labors. 

Breakdown of Interchange 

The atomic partnership between 
the United States and Great Britain, 
which the allies had begun on a 
small scale in the fall of 1940 and 
developed into a full exchange pro- 
gram by late 1941, first underwent 
a slight modification in the early 
summer of 1942. Meeting at Hyde 



228 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Park on 20 June, President Franklin D. 
Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston 
S. Churchill agreed that the United 
States should take the major role in 
atomic weapons production and that 
Great Britain should devote its al- 
ready severely limited resources to 
the more immediate problems of 
fighting the war. In spite of this 
somewhat qualified yet carefully con- 
sidered arrangement, which would 
permit the British to avoid the risk 
that large-scale atomic installations 
might be damaged or destroyed by 
German air raids, Churchill left the 
conference with the "understanding 
. . . that everything was [still] on the 
basis of fully sharing the results as 
equal partners," and shortly thereaf- 
ter Roosevelt reported to Bush that 
he and Churchill were "in complete 
accord." ^ 

It appeared that the two wartime 
leaders had reaffirmed continuation 
of the free and open exchange of 
atomic information; however, devel- 
opments in the months following the 
Hyde Park summit clearly illustrate 
the slow waning of Anglo-American 
collaboration. On 5 August, six weeks 
after the Roosevelt-Churchill talks, 
the British Cabinet officer in charge 
of atomic energy, Sir John Anderson, 
Lord President of the Council — who 
was to the Tube Alloys program what 
Secretary Stimson was to the DSM 
program — wrote to Bush. He pro- 
posed integrating the British gaseous 
diffusion project into the American 



program and, as a consequence, pro- 
viding British representation for the 
OSRD S-1 Executive Committee.* 
Thus, with the simultaneous transfer 
of the British heavy water research 
group to Canada, which Sir John con- 
currently was suggesting to Canadian 
authorities, most Tube Alloys activi- 
ties would be removed beyond the 
danger of German air attacks. Sir 
John also made reference to the 
broader question of controlling 
atomic energy, both during the war 
and afterwards. For this, he recom- 
mended immediate implementation of 
a joint policy on patents and raw ma- 
terials and the early establishment of 
an Anglo-American commission on 
atomic energy. 

Anderson's proposals reached Bush 
at a time when the Manhattan Project 
still was beset with major difficulties; 
scientific problems loomed large, ade- 
quate priorities were lacking, no deci- 
sion had been reached on site ques- 
tions, and even the basic matter of 
organization remained unresolved. 
Bush, accordingly, was in no position 
to commit himself to anything far- 
reaching, no matter how much he still 
desired British assistance. Finally on 
1 September, after checking with 
Stimson's assistant, Harvey Bundy, 
Bush replied to Anderson, expressing 
general approval of close Anglo- 
American collaboration but putting 
off for the moment any specific im- 
plementation of this principle. Only 



^ Quotations from Msg, Prime Minister to Harry 
L. Hopkins, 27 Feb 43, HLH, and Memo, Roosevelt 
to Bush, 11 Jul 42, FDR. See also Ltr, Bush to 
Styer, 19 Jun 42, HB Files, Fldr 6, MDR; Ltr, Bush 
to President, 19 Jun 42, FDR; Winston S. Churchill, 
The Second World War: The Hinge of Fate (Boston: 
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1950), pp. 374-81. 



■* The terms Tube Alloys and DSM (Development of 
Substitute Materials) were the official code names 
for the British and American atomic energy projects 
in WW II. See Ltrs, Anderson to Bush, 5 Aug 42, 
HB Files. Fldr 47, MDR; Cowing, Britain and Atomic 
Energy, pp. 188-89; Ceorge C. Laurence, "Canada's 
Participation in Atomic Energy Development," Bulle- 
tin of the Atomic Scientists 3 (Nov 47): 326. 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



229 



the transfer of the heavy water 
group to Canada — an action subse- 
quently taken — elicited his immediate 
concurrence. For the rest, he said, he 
would reply "somewhat later when 
other broad phases have been 
resolved." ^ 

Within the next few weeks, Manhat- 
tan leaders were successful in over- 
coming many of the uncertainties. Yet 
a strong desire for the kind of close 
partnership Anderson had suggested 
still was lacking; indeed, when Gener- 
al Groves raised the question of 
Anglo-American relations at the S-1 
Committee meeting in Stimson's 
office on 23 September, no one 
pressed for immediate action. Be- 
cause some members felt working 
closely with the British might even 
slow down American research, the 
committee agreed to delay any deci- 
sion until Stimson had talked with the 
President. When Bush wrote to An- 
derson a week later, he outlined the 
new American organization and urged 
continued close contact, but he pur- 
posely avoided a precise commitment, 
pending word from the President.^ 

It was the end of October before 
Stimson was able to discuss the issue 
with Roosevelt, for this was a period 
when relations between the Secretary 
of War and the President were some- 
what strained by disagreement over 
the forthcoming North African oper- 
ations and Stimson saw Roosevelt in- 
frequently. Finally, following a Cabi- 



5 Ltr, Bush to Anderson, 1 Sep 42, OCG Files, 
Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 16, Tab A, MDR. See 
also Memo, Bush to Bundy, 1 Sep 42, HB Files, 
Fldr 47, MDR. 

6 Rpt, Bundy, sub: S-1 Mtg at Secy War's OfTice, 
23 Sep 42, HB Files, Fldr 6, MDR; Groves, Xow It 
Can Be Told, p. 128; Ltr, Bush to Anderson, 1 Oct 
42, HB Files, Fldr 47, MDR; Ltr, Bush to Bundy, 
1 Oct 42, HB Files, Fldr 7, MDR. 



net meeting on the twenty-ninth, he 
seized the opportunity to talk with 
Roosevelt alone. After pointing out 
that the United States was doing most 
of the work on atomic energy, the 
Secretary added that Manhattan lead- 
ers wanted to learn what commit- 
ments the President had made to the 
British. When the President assured 
him his conversation with Churchill 
had been "of a very general nature," 
Stimson suggested going "along for 
the present without sharing anything 
more than we could help." The Presi- 
dent agreed but indicated that he, 
Churchill, and Stimson had better talk 
over the whole problem before too 
long. And there the matter rested."^ 

Meanwhile, as the American Army 
took over management of more as- 
pects of the atomic project, the Brit- 
ish were becoming disturbed at the 
trend toward an independent course 
that minimized Anglo-American coop- 
eration. Hence, no one was surprised 
when Anderson proposed that 
Wallace A. Akers, the engineer who 
headed the British Directorate of 
Tube Alloys (which was comparable 
to Conant's position as chairman of 
the S-1 Executive Committee) should 
visit Washington, D.C. During the 
weeks that followed Akers' arrival in 
early November, he assiduously con- 
sulted with Bush, Conant, and 
Groves, seeking ways to link more 
closely the American-British atomic 
energy programs but achieving only 
an agreement on steps to set up and 
support the British heavy water re- 
search group in Canada. 



■' Memo, Stimson, 29 Oct 42, MDR. See Stimson 
Diary, HLS, for the state of Stimson's relations with 
the President during this period. 



230 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



What Akers wanted, based on his 
understanding of agreements reached 
"at the highest levels," was a "really 
cooperative effort between the two 
countries." ® This would include joint 
research, development, and produc- 
tion efforts, and complete interchange 
of information on all aspects. British 
scientists and engineers would work 
in American plants and their Ameri- 
can counterparts would do the same 
in England. Each country would make 
available to the other all atomic data 
in its possession, including theoretical 
and developmental information, plant 
designs, and operational details. This 
approach, insisted Akers, was the 
most efficient way of assuring success 
for the program and, moreover, 
would be in harmony with the under- 
standing between the President and 
the Prime Minister. 

The position taken by Bush, 
Conant, and Groves — as worked out 
among themselves and at meetings of 
the Military Policy and S-1 Executive 
Committees — fell considerably short 
of Akers' view. They were still uncer- 
tain about what Roosevelt had told 
Churchill, and especially about what 
he now desired, and because they 
were not convinced that complete co- 
operation on all phases of the pro- 
gram would necessarily build an 
atomic bomb any sooner, they pre- 



* Quotation from I.tr, Akers to Conant, 15 Dec 

42, HB Files, Fldr 47. MDR. See also Draft Memo, 
sub: Interchange With British and Canadians on 
S-1, 15 Dec 42, Incl to Ltr, Conant to C.J. Macken- 
zie (Canada's Natl Research C^ouncil head), 2 Jan 

43. HB Files, Fldr 47, MDR; MPC Rpt, 15 Dec 42, 
MDR; Hewlett and Anderson, Xeiv World, pp. 264- 
67; Groves. Xow It Can Be Told, pp. 128-29; MPC 
Min, 12 Nov and 10 Dec 42. OCG Files. Gen Cor- 
resp. MP Files, Fldr 23. Tab A. MDR; DSM Chro- 
nology, 14 Nov 42, Sec. 2(0, OROO; Groves Diary, 
13 Nov and 8 Dec 42, LRG; Cowing. Bnlaw and 
Atomtc Energy, pp. 148-54. 



ferred that cooperation and inter- 
change of information be restricted to 
matters that would be of use to each 
partner in the successful prosecution 
of the war. The three Americans 
also shared the suspicion that Akers' 
arguments most probably were "influ- 
enced by an undue regard for possi- 
ble postwar commercial advan- 
tages." ^ Another serious concern was 
the growing problem of security, 
which would increase if British scien- 
tists were permitted access to all 
project developments. Finally, too, 
joint Anglo-American production cer- 
tainly would complicate production 
efforts in the United States and might 
actually impede, rather than speed 
up, the manufacture of atomic bombs. 

From the American view, the extent 
of atomic cooperation that would be 
desirable varied according to the spe- 
cific phase of the program concerned. 
Bush, Conant, and Groves felt there 
should be no interchange whatsoever 
on the electromagnetic separation 
process, because the British were not 
working on this method and presum- 
ably had no "need to know." Akers 
replied with the argument that com- 
plete cooperation had been agreed 
upon, regardless of which country de- 
veloped the idea or of where the pro- 
duction plants were to be built. 
Progress on one method had a direct 
bearing on work being done on other 
methods, he insisted, and there ought 
to be full interchange on the electro- 
magnetic process. 

On the gaseous diffusion process, 
where the British had done consider- 
able work, the American project lead- 
ers were willing to permit unrestrict- 



' Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. p. 129. 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



231 



ed interchange on experimental and 
design problems, but felt that ex- 
change of information beyond this 
was unnecessary. Akers argued that 
limiting exchange on gaseous diffu- 
sion to these aspects was not accepta- 
ble. The British should be given full 
information on construction and op- 
eration of the production plant, and 
British engineers and scientists actual- 
ly should be employed in it. Not only 
did this fall within his understanding 
of the Churchill-Roosevelt agreement, 
but also, as he emphasized, the Brit- 
ish were already working on a diffu- 
sion plant. 

As for production data on LI-235, 
Bush, Conant, and Groves held that 
none should be given to the British 
because of the fact that their interest 
in uranium production was only for 
experimental purposes. The same ap- 
plied to plutonium. The three Ameri- 
cans were willing to exchange infor- 
mation about scientific findings, but 
not about the design, construction, or 
operation of production plants. Heavy 
water, which might be used to manu- 
facture plutonium, fell into the same 
category. Akers continued to argue, 
although in vain, for full British par- 
ticipation in American efforts. 

Regarding the work at Los Alamos, 
Bush, Conant, and Groves proposed 
that there should be no interchange 
with the British on information per- 
taining to weapon research and devel- 
opment. Once again Akers urged full 
reciprocity of information, and again 
his arguments were without effect. 

As a direct result of these extended 
discussions, the Military Policy Com- 
mittee prepared a comprehensive 
progress report on its views on future 
U.S. -British relations in the field of 
atomic energy. The report, dated 



15 December, identified "only one 
reason for free interchange of secret 
military information between allied 
nations — namely, to further the pros- 
ecution of the war in which both are 
engaged." ^° The consensus of the 
committee was that, because the Brit- 
ish had now given up any intention of 
manufacturing atomic bombs or sig- 
nificant amounts of fissionable materi- 
als during the war, making produc- 
tion data available to them would not 
increase their military capabilities. Al- 
though the work of British scientists 
on diffusion and heavy water was well 
along, the results of their research 
was not essential to the Manhattan 
Project; American efforts in these 
areas were considerably advanced. A 
complete halt of interchange on diffu- 
sion and heavy water would be an in- 
convenience, but it would not serious- 
ly hinder progress of the American 
program. 

Nor did the committee see any 
moral objections to halting inter- 
change. Both countries had worked 
on the basic concept, as, indeed, had 
the Germans. British studies on diffu- 
sion probably had benefited from 
American research, and vice versa. 
Heavy water had been used in a ura- 
nium pile first in France and then in 
Britain at the instigation of refugee 
French scientists. But only after the 
discovery in the United States that 
plutonium was fissionable by fast neu- 
trons had the British given a high pri- 
ority to the heavy water program. 
And, as Conant emphasized, the Brit- 
ish had not followed a policy of unre- 



lOMPC Rpt, 15 Dec 42, MDR. Hewlett and An- 
derson (Xeui World, p. 266) state that the section on 
interchange in this report was drafted by Conant 
with the concurrence of Groves and Bush. 



232 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



stricted interchange in the past. They 
had been unwiUing to share with 
American scientists information about 
several of their own developments — a 
secret bomb disposal method for 
one — because they would not help the 
American military effort. ^^ 

The committee concluded that halt- 
ing interchange would not unduly 
hinder the Manhattan Project, could 
hardly be regarded as unfair, and had 
obvious security advantages. Howev- 
er, complete cessation certainly would 
cause friction with the British and 
might adversely affect the flow of ura- 
nium from Canada and other areas. 
Thus, in its report the committee rec- 
ommended that a policy of limited in- 
terchange, confined to information 
that could be used to win the war, 
should be adopted as national policy. 

With the approval of three mem- 
bers of the Top Policy Group, the 
Military Policy Committee report, a 
copy of a letter from Akers to Conant 
restating the British position, and a 
separate summary by Bush of both 
British and American views reached 
the White House on 23 December. 
Two days after Christmas, Stimson 
went to see Roosevelt. The British, he 
had just learned, had signed a treaty 
with the Soviet Union in September 
to exchange information on new 
weapons, including any that might be 
developed in the future. The treaty, 
said Stimson, came as a complete sur- 
prise and had a direct bearing on any 
Anglo-American exchange of informa- 



tion. Obviously, it posed the possibil- 
ity that weapons development data 
passed on to the British eventually 
would reach the Russians. This news 
apparently reinforced the arguments 
set forth by the Military Policy Com- 
mittee, and the next day, 28 Decem- 
ber, the President told Bush that he 
approved the committee's recommen- 
dations. ^^ In so doing, he adopted 
for the United States a new policy of 
limited interchange with its atomic 
partner across the Atlantic — one that 
restricted collaboration to informa- 
tion of use during the war. 

The Quebec Agreement 

With the United States' position on 
limited atomic partnership soHdly af- 
firmed, Conant undertook the task of 
informing both the British and the 
Canadians. The day after New Year's 
(2 January 1943), he wrote to Dean C. 
J. Mackenzie, head of Canada's Na- 
tional Research Council, and ex- 
plained how the new American policy 
would affect the work on heavy water 
under way in Montreal. ^^ Then on the 
seventh, he prepared a lengthy 
memorandum in which he outlined 
the specific regulations for Anglo- 
American cooperation. Because Co- 
nant never officially presented this 
memorandum to the British, it was in 
effect only a working paper. Its con- 
tents, however, generated consider- 



"Note by Conant, in Ms, "Diplomatic History of 
the Manhattan Project," p. 7n, HB Files, Fldr 111, 
MDR. That the British were unwilling to provide in- 
formation on certain of their own developments was 
not mentioned in the final version of the report sub- 
mitted to the President. See also Memo, Bush to 
Hopkins, 26 Feb 43, HLH. 



'2 Ltrs, Bush to President, 16 Dec 42, with added 
note of 23 Dec 42, and President to Bush, 28 Dec 
2, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, 
MDR; Ltr, Akers to Conant, and Draft Memo, sub: 
Interchange With British and Canadians on S-1, 
both 15 Dec 42, HB Files, Fldr 47, MDR; Stimson 
Diary, 26-27 Dec 42, HLS; Cowing, Britain and 
Atomic Energy, pp. 154-55. 

'3 Ltr, Conant to Mackenzie, 2 Jan 43, MDR. 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



233 



able controversy, and Churchill later 
complained to presidential aide Harry 
Hopkins that Conant's memorandum 
"drastically [limits] interchange of 
technical information and entirely de- 
stroys [Roosevelt's] . . . original con- 
ception" of a " 'coordinated or even 
jointly conducted effort between the 
two countries.' " ^^ 

Although Akers had read Conant's 
memorandum, he apparently had 
elected to keep his thoughts to him- 
self. But on the twelfth, he ran head- 
long into the practical effects of the 
new policy at a meeting with Colonel 
Nichols of the District staff and Perci- 
val C. Keith of Kellex. When Akers 
asked for full exchange of information 
and access for British scientists to the 
American diffusion production plant, 
Nichols informed him that such re- 
quests would be "subject to General 
Groves' decision," the outcome of 
which the British representative could 
by now undoubtedly guess. ^^ 

The problem came to a head on 
the afternoon of the twenty-sixth at a 
meeting with Groves and Conant. 
Akers protested, argued, and bar- 
gained, largely in vain, for a relax- 
ation of the American attitude. All he 
achieved was Groves's statement that 
America probably would be willing to 
reopen information exchange on 
heavy water production if Great Brit- 
ain would make significant use of it 



** Quotation from Msg, Prime Minister to Hop- 
kins, 27 Feb 43, HLH. Memo, Conant, sub: Inter- 
change With British and Canadians on S-1, 7 Jan 
43, OSRD; the essential points in this memorandum 
are reprinted in Cowing, Britain and Atomic Energy, p. 
156. See also Hewlett and Anderson, Mew World, p. 
268. Churchill was quoting the letter he received 
from Roosevelt, dated 1 1 Oct 41, FDR. 

'^Memo for File, Nichols, sub: Mtg With Akers on 
Jan 12th, 13 Jan 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 001 
(Mtgs), MDR. 



before the end of the war and would 
indicate a willingness to make slight 
adjustments regarding interchange on 
the diffusion process. On other mat- 
ters — electromagnetic separation, the 
use of heavy water in a chain reaction, 
the furnishing of uranium metal and 
purified graphite to the Canadian 
group, the chemistry of plutonium, 
and the design and construction of a 
weapon — the American project lead- 
en; remained adamant. Unsuccessful 
in his mission, Akers returned home 
to England a few days later. ^^ 

Meanwhile, word had reached the 
Moroccan town of Casablanca, where 
Churchill and Roosevelt were meeting 
to discuss Anglo-American strategy. 
During the mihtary talks the subject 
of atomic energy was not even men- 
tioned; but, in confidence, the Prime 
Minister asked the President about 
the American position on Tube 
Alloys. Roosevelt's reply, as the Prime 
Minister related it to Bundy, was to 
assure Churchill again that atomic 
energy was a joint enterprise. Hop- 
kins, also present during the ex- 
change, quickly added that the prob- 
lem could be easily straightened out 
as soon as the President returned to 
the White House. ^' 



'^Note by Akers and attached extract of his cable, 
26 Jan 43, Incls to Ltr, Akers to Groves, 29 Jan 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 091 (British), MDR; 
Groves Diary, 26 Jan 43, LRG; Msg, Prime Minister 
to Hopkins, 27 Feb 43, HLH. 

'^ Dates of Casablanca Conf: 14-24 Jan 43. 
Msg, Prime Minister to Hopkins, 16 Feb 43, and 
Memo, J. M. Martin (principal private secretary for 
Churchill at Casablanca) to Hopkins, 23 Jan 43, 
HLH; Memo, Bundy, sub: 22 Jul 43 Mtg at 10 
Downing Street, HB Files, Fldr 47, MDR; Richard 
C. Tolman, sub: Diary of Trip to England, 29 Oct 
43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 334 (British Inter- 
change), MDR; Hewlett and Anderson, Xew World, 
p. 270. While Hewlett and Anderson accept Bundy's 

Continued 



234 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



The two leaders parted, Roosevelt 
to Washington and Churchill to 
London via the Middle East. Soon 
after returning home in early Febru- 
ary, the Prime Minister apparently re- 
ceived a thorough briefing on Akers' 
disturbing experience in the United 
States and, on the sixteenth, he 
cabled Hopkins to remind him of his 
assurances given at Casablanca. "The 
American War Department," com- 
plained Churchill, "is asking us to 
keep them informed of our experi- 
ments while refusing altogether any 
information about theirs." ^^ 

That Churchill had expressed his 
perturbation to Hopkins rather than 
directly to Roosevelt indicates the im- 
portance he attached to the problem. 
The Prime Minister was well aware 
of Hopkins's close relationship with 
Roosevelt and regarded him as a 
"most faithful and perfect channel of 
communication."^^ A personal repre- 
sentation by "Lord Root of the 
Matter," as he once called Hopkins, 
would be more effective than a simple 
cable direct to the President. Yet, cu- 
riously enough, Hopkins apparently 
knew little about atomic energy mat- 
ters. Certainly his ready assurances at 
Casablanca indicated his unfamiliarity 
with the complexities of the problem. ^° 



statement in his memorandum of 22 Jul 43 that at 
Casablanca Churchill spoke directly to both Roose- 
velt and Hopkins on Tube Alloys, Margaret Cowing 
{Britain and Atomic Energy, p. 159) suggests that the 
discussion may have been only between Churchill 
and Hopkins. 

1^ Msg, Prime Minister to Hopkins, 16 Feb 43, 
HLH. 

19 Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: The 
Grand Alliance (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1950), 
pp. 24-25. 

2° Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins: An 
Intimate History (New York: Harper and Brothers, 
1948), p. 5. The first reference to atomic energy in 



But in the weeks that followed 
Churchill's cable, Hopkins set about 
familiarizing himself with the problem 
of Anglo-American interchange. Now 
well briefed by Conant and Bush, and 
perhaps by Lt. Gen. Brehon B. 
Somervell, the Army Service Forces 
(ASF) commander, he replied to 
Churchill's continued prodding with 
cables that avoided a direct answer 
and thus left the American position 
unchanged. Bush, in turn, reviewed 
the policy separately with Conant and 
Stimson and collectively with fellow 
members of the Military Policy Com- 
mittee at its 30 March meeting. 
"None of us," he reported to Hop- 
kins on 31 March, "can see that the 
present policy, which was approved 
by the President after it had had the 
careful review and approval of Gener- 
al Marshall, Secretary Stimson, and 
Vice President Wallace, is in any way 
unreasonable, or such as to impede 
the war effort on this matter. Neither 
can we see that the application 
is at present unwise." Supporting a 
strongly worded memorandum from 
Conant, which he enclosed. Bush 
stressed, as had Conant also, the 
growing American belief that British 
desire for information about the 
American program was not for war- 
time weapons development but, 
rather, for postwar commercial and 
industrial application. This might per- 
haps be considered in another con- 
text, said Bush, but it should in no 
way be allowed to interfere with the 
Manhattan Project or with the 
"proper conduct of the secure devel- 
opment of a potentially important 



the Hopkins papers (HLH) appears on 23 Jan 43, 
during the Casablanca Conference. 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



235 



weapon." ^^ Apparently convinced of 
the correctness of the American 
policy, Hopkins allowed the matter to 
drag on through April without resolu- 
tion. Even though he had promised 
British Foreign Secretary Anthony 
Eden a telegram that would give his 
"views fully," he never sent it.^^ 

Except for limited exchange be- 
tween the Montreal and Chicago 
groups, Anglo-American collaboration 
slowed almost to a standstill. Sir John 
Anderson, fearing a weakening of 
Churchill's negotiating position, re- 
fused an American request that chem- 
ist Hans von Halban, a refugee from 
the French atomic program, be per- 
mitted to come to New York to confer 
with Fermi and Urey on heavy water 
problems, and in partial reaction the 
Military Policy Committee reduced 
American support of the heavy water 
project at Montreal. Hopkins's pro- 
crastination did nothing to improve 
the steadily deteriorating situation, 
and British scientists began thinking 
seriously of building their own U-235 
plant. During this time, the only 
answer the British received to 
Churchill's protests was an indirect 
one: an explanation of the American 
position by Bush and Conant to Dean 
Mackenzie of the Canadian project as 
he passed through Washington, D.C., 
on his way to London to discuss the 
problem with his British colleagues. 



^* Quoled phrases from Memo, Bush to Hopkins, 
31 Mar 43 (enclosed is Memo, Conanl to Bush, 25 
Mar 43), HLH. See also Msgs, Prime Minister to 
Hopkins, 16 Feb, 27 Feb (two), 20 Mar, 1 Apr 43, 
and Hopkins to Prime Minister, 24 Feb and 20 Mar 
43, Memos, Bush to Hopkins, 26 Feb 43, and Hop- 
kins to Lord Halifax (British ambassador to U.S.), 
13 Apr 43. All in HI.H. See also MPC Min, 30 Mar 
43. MDR 

22 Memo. Halifax to Hopkins, 14 Apr 43; Msg, 
Hopkins to Kden, 15 Apr 43 (source of quotation). 
Memo, Hopkins to Halifax. 15 Apr 43. All in HI.H. 



By then, however, Churchill had 
decided to pay a personal call on 
Roosevelt. ^^ 

The Trident Conference, as 
Churchill dubbed his third major war- 
time meeting with Roosevelt, began 
in Washington on 12 May; however, it 
was not until the twenty-fifth, his last 
day in the national capital, that he 
raised the problem of atomic inter- 
change. Hopkins telephoned Bush, 
and that afternoon the two Americans 
met with Professor Frederick Linde- 
mann (Lord Cherwell), the British 
physicist who was one of Churchill's 
closest advisers. An able negotiator, 
Lord Cherwell had already formed 
some strong opinions about who was 
responsible for the new American po- 
sition. The whole situation, he had 
told Canadian Prime Minister William 
Lyon Mackenzie King a week earlier, 
was the fault of the American Army, 
which had taken over the atomic 
energy program from the scientists. 
"They are as difficult about it in their 
relation with Britain," King noted in 
his diary, "as Stalin had been in tell- 
ing of what was being done in 
Russia." ^^ 



23 Memo, Bush to Hopkins, 27 Apr 43, HLH; 
Churchill, Hinge of Fate, pp. 782-83; Cowing, Bntam 
and Atomic Energy, pp. 157-64. 

2"* Qiioted from J. W. Pickersgill, The Mackenzie 
King Record. 1939-19-f-t. Vol. 1 (Toronto: University 
of Toronto Press, 1960), p. 503. For Trident, see 
Churchill, Hinge of Fate. Ch. 20, and Maurice Mat- 
loff. Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare. 1943- 
1944. U.S. Army in World War II (Washington, 
D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1959), Ch. VI. 
For Cherwell, see R. F. Harrod, The Prof: A Personal 
Memoir of Lord Cherwell (London: Macmillan and (^o., 
1959). A less sympathetic view is C. P. Snow, Science 
and Government (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univer- 
sity Press, 1961). This account of the meeting at 
Hopkins's oflice is based on Memo for File, Bush, 
sub: Conf With Harry Hopkins and Lord Cherwell 
at White House, 25 Mav 43, Ind to Memo, Bush to 

Continued 



236 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



The meeting resulted in an im- 
passe, although it did clarify matters 
to some extent. After Bush restated 
the American position and explained 
the reasons, Lord Cherwell pressed 
for a change. He denied Great Britain 
was aiming at any postwar commer- 
cial advantage, but admitted the Brit- 
ish wanted to be in a position to build 
atomic weapons once the war was 
over. During the war, he added, his 
government was willing to depend on 
the United States for these weapons, 
but in the postwar period it could not 
afford to rely on any other power for 
military security. Bush and Hopkins 
immediately pointed out this was a far 
different question than had been pre- 
viously discussed. It concerned broad- 
er problems of postwar international 
relations, the solutions to which, 
Hopkins noted, the Roosevelt admin- 
istration constitutionally could not 
commit its successor. Lord Cherwell 
indicated that if the United States re- 
fused to provide the desired informa- 
tion on atomic production, the British 
might — to guarantee their own future 
security — have to undertake an imme- 
diate production program of their 
own, diverting whatever was neces- 
sary from the main war effort. But he 
did not put this in the form of an out- 
right threat. 

The main question had at last been 
isolated: Was it necessary for America 
to provide Britain with production 
data during the war to ensure her 
military security in the postwar era? It 
was clear to Hopkins where the prob- 
lem lay and he told Bush to do noth- 
ing further on the matter. Presum- 



Hopkins, 26 May 43, HLH. A copy of Bush's memo- 
randum of 25 Mav is also in Ms, "Diplomatic Hist of 
Manhattan Proj,' Ann. 9, HB Files, Fldr 111, MDR. 



ably, Hopkins would take it up with 
the President. 

That evening, Churchill apparently 
discussed the problem privately with 
Roosevelt. There is no record of this 
meeting. Indications are that the 
President was not informed of the 
Bush-Hopkins-Cherwell conference. 
Once again he showed his earlier will- 
ingness to cooperate fully with the 
British. The next morning Churchill 
cabled Sir John Anderson that the 
President, foreseeing that the general 
agreement on wartime interchange 
would be fulfilled by the almost cer- 
tain use of the bomb in the war, had 
"agreed that the exchange of infor- 
mation on Tube Alloys should be re- 
sumed and that the enterprise should 
be considered a joint one." ^^ 

Whatever Roosevelt told Churchill, 
he did not pass it on to Bush or Stim- 
son. How much Hopkins knew is not 
clear, but he was at least aware that 
Roosevelt had promised Churchill 
something. A month after Trident, 
Bush had his first opportunity to brief 
the President on this talk with Lord 
Cherwell. Roosevelt seemed im- 
pressed, but he said nothing about 
any arrangements he might have 
made with the Prime Minister and 
simply told Bush to "sit tight" on in- 
terchange.^® 



2^ Msg, Prime Minister to Lord President (Sir 
John Anderson), 26 May 43, quoted in Churchill, 
Hitige of Fate. p. 809. See also Ltr, Roosevelt to 
Bush, 20 Jul 43; Ltr, Cherwell to Hopkins, 30 May 
43; Msg, Prime Minister to Hopkins, lOJun 43. All 
in HLH. The latter message implies that Hopkins 
may have been present at the Churchill-Roosevelt 
discussion. On Roosevelt's ignorance of the Bush- 
Hopkins-Cherwell conference, see Hewlett and An- 
derson, Xew World, p. 274. 

2 6 Memo for File, Bush, sub: Conf With Presi- 
dent, 24 Jun 43, quoted in Hewlett and Anderson, 

Continued 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



237 



Meanwhile, the British had sent 
Akers to Ottawa, and during his stay 
in the Canadian capital, Churchill had 
cabled Roosevelt once again, seeking 
to implement their agreement on 
atomic energy. He received no satis- 
factory reply. Finally in mid-July, the 
President asked Hopkins what to do 
about interchange. Hopkins replied 
that he [Roosevelt] had "made a firm 
commitment to Churchill in regard to 
this when he was here and there is 
nothing to do but go through with 
it." ^' Accepting this fact, on the twen- 
tieth the President cabled Churchill 
that he had arranged matters "satis- 
factorily." The same day he wrote 
Bush, who was in London attending 
to other scientific matters, that be- 
cause "our understanding with the 
British encompasses the complete ex- 
change of all information," he should 
"renew . . . the full exchange of in- 
formation with the British Govern- 
ment regarding the Tube Alloys." ^® 
The President's letter should have 
settled the matter. Yet, by one of 
those peculiar quirks of fate, the new 
directive did not reach the OSRD di- 
rector in time to be effective. 

On the fifteenth, an unexpected 
confrontation by an agitated Prime 
Minister, who daily was becoming 
more and more disturbed over the in- 

Xew World, p. 274. Stimson's diary does not indicate 
that he discussed interchange with Roosevelt during 
this period. Hopkins's probable knowledge may be 
inferred from Msg, Prime Minister to Hopkins, 10 
Jun 43; Msg, Hopkins to Prime Minister, 17 Jun 43; 
Ltr, Cherwell to Hopkins, 30 May 43. All in HLH. 

"Memo, Hopkins to President, 20 Jul 43, HLH. 
See also Msg, Former Naval Person (Churchill) to 
Roosevelt, 9 Jul 43, FDR; Memo, Roosevelt to Hop- 
kins, 14 Jul 43, FDR; Cowing, Britain and Atomic 
Energy, pp. 164-65. 

"Msg, President to Former Naval Person, 20 Jul 
43, and Ltr, Roosevelt to Bush, 20 Jul 43, HLH; 
Hewlett and Anderson, \ew World, p. 275. 



terchange problem, had occasioned 
Bush to refer him to Secretary Stim- 
son, who, with Bundy, also was 
visiting England. Two days later, 
Churchill asked Stimson to "help him 
by intervening in the matter." ^^ Har- 
boring strong feelings about the value 
of close Anglo-American collabora- 
tion on all wartime activities, Stimson 
arranged for a conference on the 
twenty-second. Shortly before the 
meeting, the Secretary met with Bush 
and Bundy. Particularly concerned 
about the need for careful interna- 
tional cooperation under the new 
world conditions that atomic energy 
would create, Stimson questioned 
Bush carefully and forcefully, and at 
times the OSRD director felt almost 
as if he were being cross-examined by 
the distinguished lawyer. When 
Bundy suggested constitutional limita- 
tions on the President's power to 
make long-term commitments, Stim- 
son dismissed this as "the argument 
of a police-court lawyer." But in the 
end, he agreed that Bush should 
present the American position to the 
British as he saw it.^° 

That afternoon, the three Ameri- 
cans sat down with the Prime Minis- 
ter, Anderson, and Lord Cherwell. 
Because Churchill, for reasons 
that are not known, had not yet 
received Roosevelt's cable, none of 
the participants were aware of the 



^'Quotation from Stimson Diary, 17 Jul 43, HLS. 
See also Rpt, Stimson to Roosevelt, sub: Trip to 
United Kingdom, attached to entrv of 10 Aug 43, 
HLS. 

^"Quotation from Elting E. Morison, Turmoil and 
Tradition: A Study of the Life and Times of Henry L Stim- 
son (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., I960)', p. 617. 
See also ibid., p. 618; Stimson Diary, 22 Jul 43, 
HLS; Hewlett and Anderson, Xeu> World, pp. 275- 
76. 



238 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



President's decision to reaffirm a 
policy of full interchange. Churchill 
opened the session with a vigorous 
defense of the British position, em- 
phasizing his fear that unless Great 
Britain had the means and knowledge 
of how to develop atomic weapons, 
Germany or Russia might "win the 
race for something which might be 
used for international blackmail." He 
seemed particularly concerned about 
the possible atomic threat from 
Russia, which appeared to be at the 
root of his worries about the postwar 
world. If the United States would not 
"interchange fully," he said. Great 
Britain would have to undertake its 
own development "parallel" to that of 
the Manhattan Project, no matter how 
this might affect the rest of the war 
effort. 31 

As diplomatically as possible, Bush 
attempted to restate the American 
view and to point out that the main 
U.S. -British differences lay in the area 
of "postwar matters." Stimson sec- 
onded this approach by reading aloud 
a short, clear analysis of the situation 
he had written in preparation for the 
meeting. 3^ The Prime Minister then 
proposed a five-point agreement to 
be signed by Roosevelt and himself. 
Under this agreement, there would be 
"free interchange" of atomic informa- 
tion within a "completely joint enter- 
prise"; neither government would 
"use this invention against the other"; 
neither would "give information to 
any other parties without the consent 



of both"; neither would use atomic 
weapons "against any other parties" 
without the other's consent; and, fi- 
nally, "in view of the large additional 
expense incurred by the U.S.," British 
commercial or industrial use "should 
be limited" in whatever way the Presi- 
dent deemed "fair and equitable." ^^ 
Stimson agreed to pass these pro- 
posals on to the President. He could 
not comment officially, but he was 
obviously pleased. "Satisfactory at- 
mosphere produced," ^^ he noted in 
his diary. Bush, too, felt somewhat 
better, for while the Prime Minister's 
proposed free interchange still 
seemed dangerous from a security 
viewpoint, Churchill had made a con- 
vincing disclaimer of any postwar 
commercial motivations. When 
Churchill received Roosevelt's 20 July 
message several days after the confer- 
ence, he was unable to determine 
from the general terms of the mes- 
sage that the President, in fact, had 
completely reversed the American po- 
sition. Only Roosevelt's explicit in- 
structions in his 20 July letter to Bush 
would have indicated this shift in 
policy. But the letter of instructions, 
which the OSRD cabled to Bush on 
the twenty-eighth, was somehow gar- 
bled in transmission or decoding; it 
ordered Bush to review, rather than 
renew, full interchange. Even this mild 
wording gave Bush some concern, but 
not nearly as much as the original 
version would have.^^ 



3 1 Memo for File, Bundy, sub: 22 Jul 43 Mtg at 10 
Downing Street, MDR. See also Bundy's penciled 
notes written at the meeting, same file. On the Rus- 
sian threat see Pickersgill, Mackenzie King Record, pp. 
532 and 543. 

3^ Stimson's penciled notes are filed in HB Files, 
Fldr 47, MDR. 



33 Memo for File, Bundy, sub: 22 Jul 43 Mtg at 10 
Downing Street, MDR. 

34 Stimson Diary, 22 Jul 43, HLS. See also draft 
of Msg, Stimson to Marshall, unsigned but written 
m the Secretary's hand, HB Files, Fldr 47, MDR. 

35 Hewlett and Anderson, New World, p. 277; Msg, 
President to Former Naval Person, 20 Jul 43, HLH; 

Conlinued 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



239 



On the same day Churchill ap- 
proved a formal draft of the British 
proposal, which he forwarded to 
Stimson on the thirtieth. This version, 
drafted by Anderson and revised by 
Churchill, was basically the same as 
the one the Prime Minister had pre- 
sented orally. It eliminated the specif- 
ic references to 'Tree interchange" 
within a "completely joint enter- 
prise," substituted a general state- 
ment about pooling "all available 
British and American brains and re- 
sources," and made even more explic- 
it the British disclaimer on "industrial 
and commercial aspects." Sir John 
Anderson would go to Washington 
at once, said Churchill, to help ar- 
range "for the resumption of 
collaboration." ^^ 

Back in Washington, Bush learned 
the actual wording of the President's 
instructions. He also found awaiting 
him a strong memorandum from 
Conant, which reiterated the Harvard 
president's "conviction . . . that a 
complete interchange with the British 
is a mistake" and authorized Bush, if 
he saw fit, to quote him "on this 
point to those in higher authority." ^'^ 
This proved unnecessary, for the Brit- 
ish remained unaware of Roosevelt's 



Msgs. Bush to Bundv, 27 and 28 Jul 43, HB Files, 
Fidr 47, MDR; Ltr, Carroll L. Wilson (Ex Asst to 
Bush) to Roosevelt, 28 Jul 43, FDR. 

36 Ltr, Churchill to Stimson, [30] Jul 43 (date de- 
rived from internal evidence), and Ind (draft heads 
of agreement between President of the United 
States of America and Prime Minister of Great Brit- 
ain, 28 Jul 43), HB Files, Fldr 47, MDR. See also 
Cowing, Britain and Atomic Energy, p. 168; Msgs, 
Roosevelt to Churchill, 26 Jul 43, and Churchill to 
Roosevelt, 29 Jul 43, FDR. 

^■'Memo, Conant to Bush, sub: Exchange of Info 
on S-1 Proj With British, 30 Jul 43, HB Files, Fldr 
47, MDR. 



actual position and continued negoti- 
ating on the basis of American policy 
as explained by Bush in London. 

With the approval of Secretary 
Stimson, Bush carried out final nego- 
tiations with Anderson. He kept in 
close touch with the Secretary, 
Bundy, and General Marshall — Vice 
President Wallace and General 
Groves were out of town — and espe- 
cially with Conant, who participated 
in the opening talks with Anderson 
on 3 August. Stimson and Marshall 
also had lunch with the British repre- 
sentative, but their conversation ap- 
pears to have been more of a general 
discussion than a bargaining session. 

On the sixth, after an exchange of 
letters. Bush and Anderson came to a 
meeting of minds on a proposed 
agreement to be signed by Roosevelt 
and Churchill. This agreement was 
based on the four-point draft 
Churchill had sent Stimson a week 
earher, but added a fifth section "to 
ensure full and effective collabora- 
tion." This section provided for es- 
tablishment of the Combined Policy 
Committee, which would determine 
the role of each country, maintain an 
overall review of the project, allocate 
critical supplies, and have the final 
say in interpreting the joint agree- 
ment. There would be interchange on 
all sections of the project. Details 
would be regulated by ad hoc agree- 
ments, subject to committee approval, 
and Bush stipulated that information 
made available to committee mem- 
bers would be general in nature. An- 
derson also agreed that the commit- 
tee would not interfere with the 



240 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Army's control of the Manhattan 
Project.^® 

The next day, Bush forwarded the 
draft agreement and copies of his cor- 
respondence with Anderson to the 
President. He acknowledged the de- 
layed directive of 20 July sent to him 
by Roosevelt, but then went on to 
state his conviction that his under- 
standing with Anderson "provided 
adequately for appropriate inter- 
change, with due regard to the main- 
tenance of security, and with the 
object of providing the British with all 
of the information they can utilize in 
this connection in the prosecution of 
the war, in return for the benefit of 
the deliberations of their own scientif- 
ic and technical groups." ^^ In a sepa- 
rate note to Bundy, Bush urged that 
Secretary Stimson "impress upon the 
President" the desirability of limiting 
agreements to wartime objectives and 
the dangers of making commitments 
for the postwar period. "^^ 

General Marshall, too, urged cau- 
tion, and Bundy strongly recommend- 
ed to Stimson that the President talk 
with Bush, or at least carefully read 
the Bush-Anderson correspondence, 
before signing any agreement with 



**Ltrs, Anderson to Bush, 4 (source of quotation) 
and 6 Aug 43, and Bush to Anderson, 6 Aug 43, 
HB Files, Fldr 47, MDR; Ltr, Bush lo Anderson, 
3 Aug 43, and IncI (extracts from report dated 15 
Dec 42), copy in U.S. Department of State, Confer- 
ences at Washington and Quebec, 19-43. Foreign Rela- 
tions of the United States, [Diplomatic Papers], 
1943 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing 
Office, 1970), pp. 640-41; Memo, Conant to Bush, 
sub: Exchange of Info on S-1 Proj With British, 6 
Aug 43, HB Files, Fldr 47, MDR; Ltr, Bush to Presi- 
dent, 7 Aug 43, FDR; Stimson Diary, 5 Aug 43. 
HLS; Groves Diary, 3-6 Aug 43, LRG. See also 
Hewlett and Anderson, New World, pp. 277-79; 
Gowing, Bntam and Atomic Energy, pp. 168-71. 

3» Ltr, Bush to President, 7 Aug 43. FDR. 

*° Ltr, Bush to Bundy, 6 Aug 43, HB Files, Fldr 
47, MDR. 



Churchill. He emphasized to the Sec- 
retary that Bush and Conant were 
trying to protect Roosevelt from any 
possible charges that he was exceed- 
ing his legal authority or acting from 
any other motivation than a desire to 
win the war. Strongly impressed by 
Bundy's urging, Stimson went to the 
White House on 10 August, deter- 
mined to make these points. Whether 
or not he did is unclear, but he did 
describe the negotiations with 
Churchill and raise at least one 
caveat. He asked the President wheth- 
er a problem might arise from 
Churchill's proposal that neither 
country would use atomic energy 
against third parties without the con- 
sent of the other. Roosevelt indicated 
he saw no danger in the provision. '^^ 
Even as Stimson met with 
Roosevelt, the Prime Minister was set- 
tling himself in Quebec, in prepara- 
tion for meeting with the President at 
the Quadrant Conference that would 
begin in a few days. Only then did 
General Groves, who had been busy 
on inspection trips to the West Coast 
and New York, learn of the forthcom- 
ing conference and realize the pro- 
posed agreement would be discussed. 
More than half a year had passed 
since the President had had a report 
on the Manhattan Project from the 
Military Policy Committee, and 
Groves felt Roosevelt should have an 
up-to-date summary before his meet- 
ing with Churchill. Groves drew up a 
twenty-page report; cleared it with the 
committee; and, on 21 August, with- 



■'^ Memo, Bundy to Stimson, 6-7 Aug 43, and at- 
tached penciled notes by Stimson; Memo, Bundy to 
Marshall, 6 Aug 43, and penned comment by Mar- 
shall. Both in HB Files, Fldr 47, MDR. See also 
Stimson Diary, 10 Aug 43. HLS. 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



241 



out showing it to Wallace or Stimson, 
directed Colonel Nichols to hand 
carry it to General Marshall in 
Quebec, where Quadrant was already 
under way. The report, which covered 
all Manhattan activities, included a 
brief summary of relations with the 
British and, in the light of the Bush- 
Anderson negotiations, asked the 
President for further instructions. But 
when Colonel Nichols arrived in 
Quebec with the document. General 
Marshall informed him that Roosevelt 
and Churchill had already signed an 
agreement on atomic energy. '^^ 

The two leaders had approved the 
proposed agreement at Hyde Park, 
where Churchill had visited Roosevelt 
from 12 to 14 August.*^ But it was 
not until the nineteenth, in Quebec's 
historic fortress known as The Cita- 
del, that they actually affixed their 
signatures to the "Articles of Agree- 
ment Governing Collaboration Be- 
tween the Authorities of the U.S.A. 
and the U.K. in the Matter of Tube 
Alloys," or, simply, the Quebec 
Agreement. It called for the earliest 
possible completion of the Tube 
Alloys project, ruled out "duplicate 
plants on a large scale on both sides 
of the Atlantic," and acknowledged 
the "far greater expense" borne by 
the United States. It agreed "never" 
to "use this agency against each 
other" and "not to use it against third 
parties without each other's consent," 
and it prohibited giving "any informa- 
tion about Tube Alloys to third par- 
ties except by mutual consent." In 
view of the heavier burden carried by 



*2 MPC Rpt, 21 Aug 43, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, 
MP Files, Fldr 25, Tab E, MDR; Groves, AW It Can 
Be Told, p. 135; Groves Diary, 4-23 Aug 43, LRG; 
MPC Min, 13 Aug 43, MDR. 

" Pickersgill, Mackenzie King Record, p. 543. 



the United States, "any post-war ad- 
vantages of an industrial or commer- 
cial character" would be "dealt with 
... on terms to be specified by the 
President . . . ," and the Prime Min- 
ister specifically disclaimed "any in- 
terest" in them "beyond what may be 
considered by the President ... to 
be fair and just and in harmony with 
the economic welfare of the world." 
Finally, using the Bush-Anderson ar- 
rangement for interchange as the 
basis, the Quebec Agreement estab- 
lished the Combined Policy Commit- 
tee in Washington, D.C., and desig- 
nated six members. 

On the choice of members, 
Roosevelt apparently did not consult 
any of his advisers, except possibly 
Hopkins. American members were 
Stimson, Bush, and Conant; British 
members were Field Marshal Sir John 
Dill, head of the British Joint Staff 
Mission in Washington, and Col. John 
J. Llewellin, Washington representa- 
tive of the British Ministry of Supply. 
The sixth member was Canada's Min- 
ister of Munitions and Supply, Clar- 
ence D. Howe, an American-born en- 
gineer whose appointment Churchill 
had cleared earlier with Mackenzie 
King. The British had felt that the Ca- 
nadians, even though they were not 
a party to the Quebec Agreement, 
should have representation on the 
high-level committee because they 
would be making important contribu- 
tions to the atomic energy project 
in Montreal. 

The Quebec Agreement set the of- 
ficial basis for Anglo-American atomic 
relations for the rest of the wartime 
period. It did not establish the free 
and open interchange the British had 
desired and that the President, 



242 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



indeed, had offered in his letter of 
20 July. It called for "full and effec- 
tive collaboration," and both Roose- 
velt and Churchill believed they had 
provided the basis for it; however, in 
reality, collaboration would comprise 
only what was necessary for the war 
effort, avoiding any form of inter- 
change that might conceivably hinder 
progress of the Manhattan Project/^ 

Implementing the Agreement 

Combined Policy Committee 

Despite pressure by Bush and Gen- 
eral Marshall, and the presence in 
Washington of Akers and four leading 
British scientists who were anxious to 
implement interchange,^^ two weeks 
passed before the President revealed 
the details of the Quebec Agreement 
to Manhattan officials, including par- 
ticulars on the Combined Policy Com- 
mittee. With Churchill visiting at the 
White House, the President first 
wanted the Prime Minister's concur- 
rence in the contents of the Military 
Policy Committee's report before any 
meeting of the new committee took 
place. '^^ 



"■•The American original of the Qiiebec Agree- 
ment is in HB Files, Fldr 49. MDR. The full text 
was published in the Xew York Times, 6 Apr 54. A 
copy of the agreement is also in U.S. Department of 
State, Conferences at Washington and Quebec. 1943, pp. 
1117-19. Available records do not indicate that 
Roosevelt discussed the Quebec Agreement with 
any American from the time of his conference with 
Stimson on 10 August until after the document was 
signed. 

"^Sir Francis Simon of Oxford University, Sir 
James Chadwick of Cambridge University, and Sir 
Rudolph E. Peierls and Marcus L. f2. Oliphant, both 
working at the University of Birmingham. 

*«MPC Rpt 21 Aug 43, MDR; Memo, Bush to 
President, sub: Tube Alloys-Interchange With Brit- 
ish, 23 Aug 43, HLH; Memo, Marshall to President, 
6 Sep 43, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 



On 8 September, after lunch at the 
White House, Stimson discussed the 
Quebec Agreement with Roosevelt 
and Churchill. Having learned only 
that morning that he was to be chair- 
man of the Combined Policy Commit- 
tee, he asked permission to name ASF 
chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Wilhelm D. 
Styer, as his deputy — a request the 
President and Prime Minister readily 
approved. ^"^ 

An hour or so later, the first infor- 
mal meeting of the Combined Policy 
Committee took place in the Penta- 
gon. One reason for the hasty con- 
vening was to accommodate the four 
British scientists, waiting impatiently 
to exchange data. Bush was out of 
town and Howe had not yet arrived 
from Canada, but Stimson, Conant, 
Dill, and Llewellin proceeded without 
them. General Styer was also present, 
as was Bundy, acting as secretary. 
They formed a technical subcommit- 
tee, with Styer as chairman, to make 
recommendations on the American 
and British programs, to prepare di- 
rectives for interchange of research 
and development data, and to pro- 
pose ad hoc arrangements for inter- 
change in the area of plant design, 
construction, and operation. The sub- 
committee consisted of three scien- 
tists who had a thorough knowledge 
of the American, British, and Canadi- 
an projects — Richard C. Tolman, who 



25E, MDR; Memo, Col Frank McCarthy (Gen Staff 
Secy, OCS) to Marshall, 6 Sep 43 (with Marshall's 
penned endorsement to Bundy), and Ltr, Dill to 
Marshall. 7 Sep 43, HB Files, Fldr 7, MDR; Stimson 
Diary, 7 Sep 43, HLS; Ltr, Bush to Styer, 20 Aug 
43. Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 201 (Bush), MDR; 
paraphrase of Msg, Lord President to Prime Minis- 
ter, 28 Aug 43, HLH. 

*7 Stimson Dairy, 8 Sep 43, HLS: Memo, J. M. M. 
[Martin] to Prime Minister, sub: 1 ube Alloys, 9 Sep 
43, HLH. 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



243 



was General Groves's scientific advis- 
er; Sir James Chadwick, the eminent 
British physicist; and C. J. Mackenzie 
of the Canadian National Research 
Council. Despite some hesitation by 
Dill and Llewellin about delegating 
their authority, the Combined Policy 
Committee authorized the subcom- 
mittee to act independently on inter- 
change whenever there was unan- 
imous agreement among its four 
members.'*^ 

Working Out Interchange Arrangements 

Styer's subcommittee met on 10 
September, to consider a plan drafted 
by General Groves and submitted by 
the Military Policy Committee. Be- 
cause this plan hewed fairly closely to 
the earlier American proposals on in- 
terchange, it fell considerably short of 
what the British desired. On weapon 
development it recommended assign- 
ment of two British scientists to Los 
Alamos under the same security re- 
strictions governing American scien- 
tists there. On the gaseous diffusion 
and heavy water pile processes it sug- 
gested interchange of scientific infor- 
mation through a joint committee. On 
the centrifuge and thermal diffusion 
processes, which would probably soon 
be dropped, Styer's subcommittee 
should decide whether interchange 
"might affect this decision." As for 
the electromagnetic and graphite pile 
processes, on which the British had 
done little work, interchange would 
serve no useful purpose, for these 
methods had reached the stage where 



changes "would result in serious 
delay in completion.'"*^ 

The subcommittee, largely at the 
insistence of Chadwick, recommended 
some modifications to the plan favor- 
able to the British view. On the gase- 
ous diffusion and heavy water pile 
processes, interchange should extend 
to some aspects of development and 
production. There should be ex- 
change of scientific data on the 
graphite pile to the extent it might be 
helpful in the Anglo-Canadian devel- 
opment of the heavy water pile pro- 
cess. Chadwick's contention that the 
British might be able to contribute to 
development of the electromagnetic 
process should be explored by a com- 
mittee consisting of Groves, Tolman, 
and Australian physicist Marcus L. E. 
Oliphant. In keeping with the Military 
Policy Committee's recommendations, 
the subcommittee reached agreement 
on possible personnel for other com- 
mittees or representation needed to 
carry out interchange on the various 
processes. Chadwick and Sir Rudolph 
E. Peierls, the University of Birming- 
ham physicist, would serve as British 
representatives at Los Alamos; von 
Halban with Metallurgical Project Di- 
rector Arthur Compton, or one of his 
principal assistants, as a committee to 
exchange data on the heavy water pile 
process; Sir Francis E. Simon, physi- 
cist at Oxford's Clarendon Laborato- 
ry, and Peierls with Keith, the Kellex 
head, and Urey on a gaseous 
diffusion committee; and Oliphant, 
Simons, and Peierls on a committee 
with American representatives desig- 



ns cpc Min, 8 Sep 43, and Ltr, Llewellin to 
Bundy, 10 Sep 43, HB Files, Fldr 9, MDR. See also 
earlier draft of Bundy's minutes, same file. Stimson 
Diary, 8 Sep 43, MDR. 



"^MPC Min, 9 Sep 43 (source of quotation), 
MDR; Tech Subcommittee Min, 10 Sep 43, HB 
Files, Fldr 28, MDR. See also MFC Rpt, 15 Dec 42, 
MDR. 



244 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Sir James Chadwick (left) consulting with General Groves and Richard Tolman on 
Anglo-American interchange 



nated by Bush or Conant to decide 
the extent of interchange on the 
centrifuge and thermal diffusion 
processes. ^° 

Despite the considerable progress 
made by the subcommittee, there was 
little specific interchange in the weeks 
that followed. Part of the difficulty lay 
in the lack of specific working proce- 
dures. To set these up, Tolman went 
to England in October to consult with 
Chadwick and other British scientists 
and with Sir John Anderson. General 
Groves, who was becoming increas- 
ingly impatient to implement inter- 
change in those areas where it was 
sanctioned, closely monitored Tol- 
man's negotiations from his Washing- 
ton office and attempted to facilitate 



Anglo-American coordination by keep- 
ing members of the Military and Com- 
bined Policy Committees regularly 
informed.^ ^ 



50 Tech Subcommittee Min, 10 Sep 43, MDR. 



5^ In Admin, Files, Gen Corresp, MDR, see fol- 
lowing files: 334 (British Interchange), for informa- 
tion on Tolman's trip; 201 (Conant) for Memo, 
Groves to Conant, 2 Nov 43; 680.2 for Ltrs, Llewel- 
lin to Groves, 10 Nov 43, with enclosed draft, and 
Groves to LleweUin, 12 Nov 43; 371.2 (Scty) for 
Ltrs, Capt Horace K. Calvert (Intel and Scty Sec 
chief) to Lt Col John Lansdale (Groves's Spec Asst 
for Scty), sub: Visit of British Natls to DSM Proj 
7 Oct 43, and Maj Robert S. Furman (Groves's Spec 
Proj Off) to Calvert, same sub, 21 Oct 43. See also 
MPC Min, 14 Dec 43 (with Memo, Groves to MPC, 
10 Dec 43, as Att. 1), MDR; Memo, Styer to CPC, 
14 Dec 43, HB Files, Fldr 28, MDR; CPC Min, 17 
Dec 43, HB Files, Fldr 10, MDR; MPC Rpt, 4 Feb 
44, Incl to Ltr, Groves (for MPC) to President, same 
date, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, 
Tab C, MDR; Groves Diary, 27 Oct, 2 and 4 Nov 
43, LRG. For the British perspective on drawing up 

Continued 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



245 



When Groves received word that 
another team of British scientists 
soon would be arriving in the United 
States, the need for a speedy proce- 
dural agreement on interchange 
became even more critical to him. Yet 
not until mid-December were the 
British and Americans able to com- 
plete interchange procedures. With 
the approval of the Military and Com- 
bined Policy Committees, the new 
procedures went into effect on the 
fourteenth. Naming Chadwick as the 
"immediate scientific adviser to the 
British members" of the Combined 
Policy Committee, the terms of this 
agreement permitted that he have 
"access" to all work on "research and 
plant scale" on both sides of the At- 
lantic. The slight and unassuming 
Cambridge professor, who, surpris- 
ingly enough, got along exceptionally 
well with the robust and outspoken 
Groves, would also help guide experi- 
mental work at Los Alamos, where he 
would be joined by a small number of 
other British scientists. Peierls, and 
one or two others, would work with 
Kellex on the diffusion process and 
also would discuss theoretical prob- 
lems of bomb construction with 
American scientists; he could not, 
however, visit Los Alamos. Oliphant 
and six assistants would work with 
Ernest Lawrence at Berkeley on re- 
search and design and then move to 
Los Alamos to assist on ordnance 
problems. Oliphant would continue 
his close contacts with the electro- 
magnetic project during production 
and would be free to visit England to 

interchange arrangenienls see Cowing, Britain and 
Atomic Enngy, pp. 23S-S4. Colonel Llewellin was re- 
placed on the CPC bv Sir Ronald I. Campbell, a vet- 
eran member of the British embassy stafT in 
Washington. 



supervise any similar research there. 
About fifteen British scientists and in- 
dustrialists, led by Akers, would ex- 
change information on diffusion at 
Columbia University and Kellex. Re- 
search on heavy water piles at Mon- 
treal would be continued under a 
joint program to be worked out with 
those doing similar work in the 
United States. ^^ 

This arrangement was, in effect, the 
implementation of the Quebec Agree- 
ment. While it did not actually pro- 
vide full information exchange, it 
went further than most members of 
the Manhattan Project administrative 
staff would have preferred. Certainly 
the arrangements were more liberal 
than Groves would have wished, al- 
though he later claimed full credit for 
having drawn up these "rules regulat- 
ing the . . . British scientists." ^^ 
While anxious to get any British help 
that might speed the progress of the 
American program, he was generally 
opposed to providing Great Britain 
with anything more than was abso- 
lutely necessary to gain this aid. "I 
was not responsible for our close co- 
operation with the British," he assert- 
ed a decade later. "I did everything to 
hold back on it." ^^ 

By the end of January 1944, eigh- 
teen British scientists had reached 
New York, Washington, D.C., Berke- 
ley, and Los Alamos, and more were 
expected. Only one problem re- 
mained outstanding, namely, arrange- 
ments for cooperation between the 
Montreal and Chicago scientists on 



52 Memo, Croves to MPC, 10 Dec 43, Att. 1, 
MDR; MPC Min, 14 Dec 43, MDR; Cowing, Britain 
and Atomic Energy, pp. 234 and 236-37. 

*3 Croves, Xow It Can Be Told. pp. 136-37. 

** Oppenheimer Hearing, p. 175. 



246 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



pile research. Around the middle of 
the month, senior members of both 
groups had discussed a joint program 
of research that would lead to the 
construction of a heavy water pile. 
Yet to Manhattan leaders in Washing- 
ton, it seemed doubtful the venture 
would be of significant value during 
the war, and Groves and Conant, at 
least, preferred that it should not 
begin. ^^ 

On 17 February, however, at the 
next meeting of the Combined Policy 
Committee, Chadwick pressed for ap- 
proval of a Canadian heavy water pile 
to undertake large-scale production of 
plutonium. Great Britain and Canada 
would provide the funds, the United 
States the heavy water, and the three 
nations would exercise joint control 
over the project. Neither Groves, who 
was not a committee member, nor 
Styer was present, but Bush and 
Conant apparently raised some ques- 
tions. Would the project result in mili- 
tarily significant production before the 
end of the war? Was it advisable to use 
up resources, especially ore? The com- 
mittee turned the problems over to a 
subcommittee composed of Groves, 
Chadwick, and Mackenzie. ^^ 

The subcommittee discussed a 
heavy water pile with Compton, 
Fermi, and others at Chicago and 
with von Halban and his colleagues at 
Montreal. Then, on 6 April, it submit- 
ted its report to the Combined Policy 
Committee. The Hanford Engineer 



ss MPC Rpt, 4 Feb 44, MDR; Laurence, "Can- 
ada's Participation in Atomic Energy Development," 
p. 325; Hewlett and Anderson, \ew World, p. 282. 

56 CPC Min, 17 Feb 44, OCG Files, Gen Corresp. 
MP Files, Fldr 9, Tab B, MDR; Stimson Diary, 
17 Feb 44, HLS; Hewlett and Anderson, Xerv World, 
pp. 282-83. 



Works, the subcommittee concluded, 
would produce enough plutonium to 
satisfy "essential military needs" for 
the war, and production at the pro- 
posed Canadian plant could not begin 
in time "to have an appreciable influ- 
ence on the outcome of the present 
war." On the other hand, the poten- 
tialities of the heavy water pile were 
so great that its development could 
not be "wholly neglected." Accord- 
ingly, it recommended continued re- 
search and development at both Chi- 
cago and Montreal, with an increased 
staff and the appointment of a direc- 
tor for the Canadian project; the 
design and construction of a heavy 
water pilot pile in Canada by the 
United States, Great Britain, and 
Canada; and future consideration of a 
small production pile when the exper- 
imental stage was further advanced. A 
week later the Combined Policy Com- 
mittee adopted this program, and in 
the ensuing months Groves, Chad- 
wick, and Mackenzie continued to 
keep an eye on the project for the 
committee and see to it that the ap- 
proved recommendations were car- 
ried out.^''^ 

The new Montreal director was 
physicist John D. Cockcroft, and his 
staff was rapidly reinforced with Brit- 
ish and Canadian scientists. In early 
May, as plans for construction of the 
pilot plant matured. General Groves 
approved an isolated site previously 
selected by the Canadians, near Chalk 
River, Ontario, on the south bank of 
the Ottawa River and about 1 10 miles 



^'' Rpt, Groves, Chadwick, and Mackenzie to CPC, 
sub: Joint Development of Heavy Water Pile, 6 Apr 
44, HB Files, Fldr 28 (also in Fldr 103), MDR. See 
also CPC Min, 13 Apr 44, DS, and pertinent docu- 
ments in HB Files, Fldrs 12 and 105, MDR. 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



247 



northwest of the Canadian capital. 
{See Map 2.) Late in the month, Cock- 
croft, von Halban, and others from 
Montreal visited Chicago. A second 
meeting was held in Montreaf two 
weeks later. Discussion was limited by 
the rules governing interchange that 
Groves, Chadwick, and Mackenzie 
were in the process of drafting. These 
regulations, which the Combined 
Policy Committee approved formally 
on 19 September, limited interchange 
to information necessary for the 
design, construction, and operation of 
the Chalk River pilot plant. Scientists 
at Montreal could learn about the 
pilot pile at Clinton and the research 
piles at Argonne, and receive basic 
scientific data essential to the heavy 
water pile. They were not to be fur- 
nished with information about pro- 
duction plant construction at Hanford 
or the chemistry of plutonium or the 
method of separating that element, 
because these developments were not 
necessary for work at Chalk River. Fi- 
nally, the regulations directed that the 
Montreal group should establish strict 
security in the transmittal of all data. 
General Groves designated Maj. 
Horace S. Benbow as his liaison offi- 
cer at Montreal, or Evergreen, to use 
its code name, and directed that the 
Chicago area engineer handle all Ev- 
ergreen requests. For scientific liai- 
son. Groves assigned physicist Wil- 
liam W. Watson and chemical engi- 
neer J. R. Huffman to report directly 
to him rather than the Metallurgi- 
cal Laboratory director.^® 



The policy established in the spring 
of 1944 for interchange on the Cana- 
dian project completed the arrange- 
ments approved the previous Decem- 
ber for Anglo-American information 
exchange on atomic energy and ful- 
filled the terms of the Quebec Agree- 
ment of August 1943. British scien- 
tists were now working with Ameri- 
cans in the United States on several 
phases of the overall program and 
were reviewing a limited amount of 
information. In the remaining months 
of the war, Anglo-American relations 
steadily improved, although, inevita- 
bly, minor problems arose. ^^ 

Patent Problems 

One of the problems relating to in- 
terchange with which the Combined 
Policy Committee had to concern 
itself periodically during 1943 and 
1944 was patent rights. The United 
States and Great Britain in August 
1942 had concluded an executive 
agreement on exchange of patent 
rights that provided a general basis 
for negotiating more specific arrange- 
ments applicable to particular areas of 
interchange.^^ At the time of this agree- 



58 Rpt, A. W. Nielson and W. H. Sullivan, sub: 
Review of Liaison Activities Between Canadian and 
United States Atomic Energy Projs, 19 Feb 47, HB 
Files, Fldr 103, MDR; Rpt (to CPC), sub: Progress 
on Canadian NRX Proj, 24 Aug 44, HB Files, Fldr 
103, MDR; MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 4, "Auxiliary Activi- 



ties," Ch. 9, DASA; MPC Min, 10 May 44, MDR; 
DSM Chronology, 7 and 15 Jun 44, each Sec. 15, 
8 Jun 44, Sec. 2(b), and 12 Jun 44, Sec. 7, OROO; 
CPC Min, 19 Sep 44, HB Files, Fldr 13, MDR; 
Groves Diary, May-Jun 44, LRG; Ltr, Howe to W. 
L. Webster (British Supply Council in North Amer- 
ica), 29 Apr 44, HB Files, Fldr 12, MDR. See also 
Evergreen progress reports, etc., HB Files, Fldr 32, 
MDR. 

*'For details on British implementation of inter- 
change see Cowing, Britain and Atomic Energy, pp. 
239-44. 

^"U.S. Department of State, Interchange of Patent 
Rights, Information, Inventions, Designs, or Processes: 
Agreement Between the United States of America and Great 
Britain, Signed at Washington, August 24, 1942, Execu- 
tive Agreement Series 268, Pub 1803. 



248 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



ment, Sir John Anderson had suggest- 
ed to Bush the adoption of a joint 
patent policy relating specifically to 
atomic energy as an important aspect 
of international control. Bush, howev- 
er, did not think the time was propi- 
tious for establishing such a policy; 
instead, he recommended that partici- 
pating countries could facilitate even- 
tual estblishment of controls by 
seeing to it that most patent rights 
concerning atomic energy within their 
own borders were publicly owned. ^^ 

The need for patent arrangements 
became even more obvious after the 
signing of the Quebec Agreement. 
With scientists of both countries 
working together, a common policy 
was necessary to protect both individ- 
ual and national rights. Secrecy and 
security aspects further complicated 
the difficult technicalities inherent in 
all patent matters. 

In the fall of 1943, Arthur Blok, 
patent expert in the British Depart- 
ment of Scientific and Industrial Re- 
search, and Capt. Robert A. Laven- 
der, retired American naval officer 
who advised Bush and later Groves 
on patent questions, attempted to 
reach some agreement. They conclud- 
ed that the 1942 agreement did not 
apply to atomic developments and 
drew up a new proposal. ^^ When 



" Ltr, Anderson to Bush. 5 Aug 42, MDR; Hew- 
lett and Anderson, New World, pp. 262-63. 

*^Ltr, Blok and Lavender to CPC Subcommittee, 
1 Oct 43 (recommendations were shown to Chad- 
wick but submitted directly to the CPC, because 
Styer's group was not familiar enough with patent 
problems to add anything to basic suggestions); 
Memo, Webster to Bundy, sub: Memo on Patents 
Signed by Arthur Blok and Capt Robert A. Laven- 
der, 7 Mar 44. Both in HB Files, Fldr 18, MDR. 
Groves, Now It Can Be Told, pp. 418-20. 



Bush pointed out certain inadequacies 
in the Blok-Lavender proposal at 
the Combined Policy Committee on 
13 April 1944, the committee referred 
the problem to its recently appointed 
joint secretaries, Harvey Bundy and 
W. L. Webster of the British Supply 
Council. During the summer the two 
men studied the question, conferring 
frequently with Lavender, Blok, Bush, 
and others; and in September, they 
drew up a lengthy administrative pro- 
cedure, which the committee ap- 
proved at its meeting on the nine- 
teenth. But project lawyers found that 
the procedure was in conflict with the 
United States patent law, and not 
until February 1945 was it properly 
amended. As finally approved at 
the 8 March committee meeting, the 
arrangement was still an ad hoc proce- 
dure, neither final nor complete, leav- 
ing the negotiation of a permanent 
settlement to the future.®^ 

New Partnership Strains: Repatriation 
of French Scientists 

The liberation of France following 
the Allied invasion of Western 
Europe in the summer of 1944 placed 
new strains upon the British-Ameri- 
can atomic partnership.®'* The imme- 



"In HB Files, MDR, see followmg files: Fldr 18 
for Memo, Bundy and Webster to CPC, sub: Certain 
Aspects of Patent Matters Arising from Special Proj, 
18 Sep 44 (containing drafts and related corre- 
spondence); Fldr 47 for Ltrs, Webster to Howe, 
26 Aug 44, and Howe to Webster, 29 Aug 44; Fldr 
13 for CPC Min, 19 Sep 44; Fldr 18 for Memo, 
Bundy to Lavender, sub: Annex A to CPC Memo, 2 
Apr 45 (containing drafts and related correspond- 
ence); and Fldr 46 (copy in Fldr 105) for CPC Min, 
8 Mar 45. 

^■^ Except as indicated, section on problem with 
French scientists based on HB Files, Fldr 36 (French 
Situation) and Fldr 55 (S-1 U.S. Cables), MDR; 

Continued 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



249 



diate source of the dispute was the 
repatriation of five French scientists — 
Hans von Halban, Pierre Auger, Lew 
Kowarski, Jules Gueron, and Bertrand 
Goldschmidt — who had fled to Eng- 
land from France after the German 
invasion in 1940 and then gone on to 
Montreal in 1943 to work in the Ca- 
nadian atomic program. When they 
began to apply for permission to visit 
or return permanently to their home- 
land, American atomic leaders con- 
tended such visits posed too great a 
security risk, particularly because 
physicist Frederic Joliot-Curie, head 
of the French atomic program, was 
known to be a member of the Com- 
munist Party. 

The Americans, and especially Gen- 
eral Groves, took the view that the 
French should not be allowed to go 
back to France until the war was over. 
In May 1944, when Pierre Auger ter- 
minated his employment with the Ca- 
nadian project, citing a desire to 
return to France to assist Joliot-Curie 
in rebuilding French science, Groves 
and the British representatives in 
America agreed that neither he nor 
any of the other French scientists in 
Canada should be permitted to do so 
and that measures should be taken to 
prevent any atomic information from 
reaching that country. Nevertheless, 
when Auger went to London in 
August to become a full-time member 

OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 12 (Intel 
and Scty), Fldr 16 (Special Rpts), and Fldr 26, 
MDR; Hewlett and Anderson, Xew World, pp. 331- 
35; Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. pp. 224-29; Ber- 
trand Goldschmidt, The Atomic Adventure: Its Political 
and Technical Aspects, trans. Peter Beer (Oxford, Eng- 
land, and New York: Pergamon Press and Macmillan 
Co., 1964), pp. 12-43; Wilfrid Eggleston, Canada's 
Xuclear Story (London: Harrap Research Publica- 
tions, 1966), pp. 29-181; Gowing, Britain and Atomic 
Energy, pp. 289-96 and 343-46. 



of the French Scientific Mission in 
that city, British authorities permitted 
him to visit France. 

In October, Gueron requested per- 
mission to visit France on personal 
matters. Groves, who had learned that 
Gueron planned to see Joliot-Curie, 
opposed the visit because Gueron 
knew a great deal about the atomic 
project and was reputed to be an 
"ardent Free Frenchman" and sup- 
porter of General Charles de Gaulle. 
But British authorities indicated they 
had agreed to let Gueron go. When 
Groves learned this, he determined to 
have the French scientist kept under 
surveillance by Manhattan security 
personnel while in France. The Brit- 
ish objected strongly. Gueron was "a 
man of integrity," they asserted, and 
ought not to be treated as if he were 
a prisoner. ^^ 

Manhattan leaders interpreted 
these British actions to be a clear vio- 
lation of the terms of the Quebec 
Agreement, which forbade communi- 
cation of atomic information to third 
parties without mutual consent, and 
requested the American ambassador 
in London, John G. Winant, to secure 
an explanation. Sir John Anderson re- 
plied that the British had made agree- 
ments with the French scientists 
before they went to Canada. The first 
to come to England — von Halban and 
Kowarski — had negotiated an agree- 
ment for exchange of patent rights re- 
lating to atomic energy between 
France and the United Kingdom. 
Later when Auger, Gueron, and 
Goldschmidt reached England, they 
had worked out employment arrange- 



^^ Quotations from General Groves's memoran- 
dum (26 Dec 44) to Secretary of War on French sit- 
uation, HB Files. Fldr 36. Tab K, MDR. 



250 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



mcnts that assured them their right to 
return to France as soon as the war 
made it feasible and also their status 
as French civil servants and as adher- 
ents of General de Gaulle and the 
Free French. Because the French sci- 
entists had made a "very special con- 
tribution" to the Tube Alloys project, 
in the form of "research already start- 
ed by Joliot and by his action at the 
time when France was over-run," Sir 
John contended the French had "a 
better claim than any other fourth 
country to participate in any post-war 
T. A. arrangements," and he did not 
think it wise to embark on a course of 
action that would "lead the French 
authorities to raise the matter prema- 
turely and with a sense of grievance 
already established." ^^ 

Anderson's revelation came as a 
shock to leaders of the American pro- 
gram. Except for some information 
on British acquisition of rights under 
von Halban's patents that Vannevar 
Bush had learned about earlier, they 
had known nothing about the agree- 
ments between the British and French 
scientists. Sir John had not mentioned 
them during negotiations for the 
Quebec Agreement, yet, as Groves 
saw it, these third-party obligations 
were in obvious contradiction to that 
agreement. He also thought Sir John 
was wrong to feel he had to placate 
Joliot-Curie and furnish him with in- 
formation about the American 
project. 



*^ Sir John Anderson's reply was sent in the form 
of an aide-memoire, a copy of which is in HB Files, 
Fldr 18, Tab J, MDR. See also at Tab J, Memo, 
Groves to Winant, 31 Oct 44, and Incl (comments 
by Maj William A. Consodine, a Manhattan security 
officer). Consodine explains how he obtained a copy 
of the aide-memoire for the Manhattan commander in 
Memo (extract), Consodine to Groves, received on 
28 Oct 44, HB Files, Fldr 107, MDR. 



Consequently, Groves expressed 
some reluctance in consenting to a 
British request in November 1944 
that von Halban be allowed to visit 
London, with the understanding that 
the French scientist would not be al- 
lowed to go to France. But as soon as 
von Halban arrived in England, Sir 
John went to Ambassador Winant 
with the plea that von Halban should 
be permitted to see Joliot-Curie to 
ensure preservation of the status quo 
with France. Faced with Sir John's in- 
sistent request, Winant asked Groves 
to come to London to talk with the 
Chancellor, but Groves did not go be- 
cause he was too involved in urgent 
atomic project matters. Under con- 
tinuing pressure from Sir John, 
Winant finally consented to von Hal- 
ban's visit to Paris. The British pro- 
vided the French scientist with an 
agenda establishing limits for infor- 
mation about the American atomic 
project that he was to give to Joliot- 
Curie, but Manhattan intelligence 
agents learned subsequently that von 
Halban had furnished the French 
atomic chief with much additional 
highly secret data about the American 
project. There were strong indica- 
tions, too, that Joliot-Curie himself 
was shortly going to request assign- 
ment to work on the Manhattan 
Project. ^^ 

When Groves learned of von Hal- 
ban's visit more than a week after it 



®^ See correspondence relating to von Halban 
case in OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, MDR. In 
Fldr 26, Tab I, especially Memo, Lansdale to 
Groves, 2 Dec 44; Draft Transcription of Lansdale 
Notes and Rpt, Hans [von] Halban to Akers, sub: 
Nov 24-Dec 5 Visit to France, 5 Dec 44. In Fldr 16, 
Tab A, Ltr, Richard W. Perrin to W. L. Gorell 
Barnes (both British Foreign Svc officials), 8 Dec 
44. 



ANGLO-AMERICAN COLLABORATION 



251 



had taken place, he determined to 
bring an end to what he perceived as 
a deliberate British policy to secure 
postwar commercial advantage in the 
atomic energy field largely at the ex- 
pense of the United States. As Groves 
saw it, Anderson was continuing to 
permit disclosure to the French of im- 
portant information relating to atomic 
research that had been "developed by 
Americans with American money, and 
given to the British pursuant to inter- 
change agreements subsidiary to the 
Quebec Agreement." ^® 

On 14 December, Groves wrote to 
the Secretary of War, stating that 
"pending the receipt of instructions 
from you, 1 will take steps to safe- 
guard the security of the DSM project 
by delaying insofar as practicable the 
passing of vital information concern- 
ing it to the representatives of any 
government other than our own." ^^ 
Stimson met with Groves, Bundy, and 
Harrison the next day. He informed 
them he would take the matter up 
with the President at the earliest op- 
portunity. He instructed Groves to 
prepare a complete resume of the 
French situation and requested Bundy 
to notify Ambassador Winant that, 
until the Combined Policy Committee 
met to discuss the situation, he 
should refer to Washington "any fur- 
ther British proposals for disclosures 
or contacts which might lead to dis- 
closures to the French. . . ." "^^ 



^^ Memo, Groves to Secy War, 26 Dec 44, HB 
Files, Fldr 36. Tab K, MDR; Groves, Xow It Can Be 
Told. pp. 226-27. 

«9 Ltr, Groves to Secy War, 14 Dec 44, HB Files, 
Fldr 36, Tab I., MDR. 

'^° Msgs, Bundy (sent by Groves) to Winant, 
26 Dec 44 (source of quotation), and Winant to 
WD, 27 Dec 44, HB Files, Fldr 55, MDR; Stimson 
Diary, 15 Dec 44, HI.S. Groves's rcsuinc is in 
Memo, Groves to Secy War, 26 Dec 44, MDR. 



It was not until 30 December that 
Stimson was able to see the President. 
Groves accompanied the Secretary to 
the White House and the two re- 
viewed for Roosevelt the entire 
French problem, emphasizing that 
Anderson appeared to have deliber- 
ately deceived Winant and other 
American representatives in England 
regarding Britain's commitments on 
atomic energy matters to France. 
Roosevelt's reaction was that Winant 
had been "hoodwinked." What, he 
wished to know, were the French 
after? Stimson and Groves said they 
believed France wanted to secure a 
full partnership in the tripartite 
atomic agreement. Roosevelt indicat- 
ed that France in its current unstable 
political situation was not a suitable 
partner and, even if it were, he saw 
no justification for letting it share in 
the partnership. The discussion then 
turned to other matters relating to 
the atomic energy program.'^ 

With the backing of the President, 
Stimson and Groves, assisted by 
Bundy, endeavored to prevent further 
disclosures of atomic secrets to the 
French during the winter and spring 
of 1945.'^ They had a statement ap- 



" Memo, StiiTison, sub: Conf With President, 
30 Dec 44; Memo for File, Groves, 30 Dec 44; 
Memo, Groves to Chief of Staff, 30 Dec 44; Notes 
by Stimson To Aid in Preparation of Agenda for 
Mtg of President and Secy War with Groves. All in 
OCG Files. Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 24, MDR. 
Stimson and Groves Diaries, 30 Dec 44, HLS and 
I.RG. 

'2 In HB Files, MDR, see the following files: Fldr 
14 (copies in Fldrs 22 and 105) for CPC Min, 22 Jan 
45; Fldr 46, Tab C, for Memo, Howe to CPC, 6 Mar 
45; Fldr 103 for Ltr, Mackenzie to Stimson, 8 Mar 
45; and Fldr 107 for Memo, Groves to Secy War, 13 
May 45, and Incl, Ltr, Chadwick to Groves, 8 May 
45. See also Stimson Diary, 19 and 22 Jan 45, HLS. 
The Secretary of War makes no mention in his diary 
of later developments in the French situation in the 
spring and summer of 1945. 



252 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



proved by the Combined Policy Com- 
mittee for Sir John Anderson to use 
if, as anticipated, the French request- 
ed full participation in the atomic 
energy program. The gist of this 
statement was that, for reasons of 
security, all detailed discussion of 
atomic matters with the French must 
be postponed until the end of the 
war, when the British would guaran- 
tee "fair treatment of any claims 
. . . relating to commercial or indus- 
trial applications of nuclear sources of 
power." ^^ 

When Sir John met with Joliot- 
Curie on 23 February in London, he 
did not present the formal statement, 
but he did adhere generally to the 
policy set forth in it. He indicated 
that, because of the continuation of 
the war and because British leaders 
could not readily get together with 
their French counterparts, progress 
on shaping postwar policies had not 
been possible. Anderson found that 
Joliot had concluded from the favor- 
able British actions with regard to 
von Halban and Gueron, and the 
other French scientists, that Great 
Britain recognized the interests of 
France in atomic energy matters and, 
in the postwar period, would strongly 
support her in the pursuit of these 
interests. 

Fear that there might be another 
breakdown in Anglo-American inter- 
change if he persisted in his strong 
support of French atomic interests 
appears to have engendered a modi- 
cum of moderation in Sir John; how- 
ever, he persisted in efforts to have 
British leaders propose that the 



French be assured of greater partici- 
pation in atomic matters as soon as 
security considerations made this fea- 
sible. Two pressing concerns motivat- 
ed Sir John's actions: his belief that 
Britain owed this support to the 
French atomic scientists for their con- 
tribution to the British and Canadian 
atomic programs, and his fear that 
any policy that offended France might 
drive her into the Russian camp in 
the postwar period. 

In March 1945, Bundy and Groves 
worked out an acceptable arrange- 
ment with the British and Canadian 
authorities for keeping the French 
atomic scientists (except Auger who 
was now in Paris working with Joliot) 
in the United States or Canada until 
the war was over. In early May, 
Auger's status temporarily gave cause 
for concern when word reached 
Groves through Chadwick that Joliot, 
under pressure from one of the min- 
isters in the French government, felt 
compelled to begin an active atomic 
energy program, including a survey of 
French territories for uranium and 
the start of research projects for the 
preparation of pure uranium metal 
and graphite. But Auger assured Brit- 
ish scientists he would take no active 
part in the proposed program, and by 
summer of 1945 atomic developments 
in the United States had reached a 
point where the French problem no 
longer constituted a major threat to 
the security of the Manhattan 
Project.'^ 



"Paper, [Bundy], sub: Problems With Respect to 
the French, 19 Jan 45, HB Files, Fldr 36, Tab I, 
MDR. 



"•Memo, Groves to Secy War, 13 May 45, and 
Incl; Ltr, Chadwick to Groves, 8 May 45, MDR; Rpt, 
sub: Summary [of French Situation], Incl to Memo, 
Groves to Secy State James F. Byrnes, 13 May 45, 
OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 12, Tab D, 
MDR. 



CHAPTER XI 



Security 



The leaders of the American atomic 
energy program, aware of the tremen- 
dous military potentiality of atomic 
weapons and reports of German 
atomic research, recognized almost 
from the beginning the need for 
maintaining a high degree of secrecy. 
An important factor in their decision 
in early 1942 to turn over administra- 
tion of the program to the Army was 
their conviction that it was the organi- 
zation best prepared during wartime 
to enforce a foolproof system of secu- 
rity. Such a system would ensure that 
the Axis powers remained ignorant of 
Allied interest in developing atomic 
weapons; reduce the likelihood that 
the Axis states, particularly Germany, 
would accelerate their own efforts to 
produce atomic weapons and under- 
take espionage and sabotage activities 
against the American program; and, 
most significantly, from the stand- 
point of military effectiveness, aliow 
the Allies to employ these weapons 
against the Axis nations with maxi- 
mum surprise.^ 



' Knowledge of the progress of the Germans, or 
the other .Axis states, in atomic research and devel- 
opment was not based upon precise and accurate in- 
telligence information, for such was not available to 
the Allies. Nevertheless, because the Allies lacked 
specific information to the contrary, they had to 
assume that at least Germany would make a serious 
attempt to develop atomic weapons. See Rpt to 



Early Aspects 

First efforts to estabhsh security in 
atomic matters had occurred in 1939, 
when refugee physicists in the United 
States attempted to institute a volun- 
tary censorship on publication of 
papers concerning uranium fission. 
American scientists did not accept 
this suggestion initially, but the out- 
break of World War II brought home 
to many of them the need for control 
over publications relating to atomic 
fission. To formalize a censorship 
program, the Division of Physical Sci- 
ences of the National Research Coun- 
cil in April 1940 established a com- 
mittee that succeeded in getting most 
scientists to withhold publication of 
papers on sensitive subjects, particu- 
larly those concerned with uranium 
fission. 2 

In June, when the government- 
sponsored Committee on Uranium 



President, sub: Status of Tube Alloys Development, 
9 Mar 42, Incl to Ltr, Bush to President, same date, 
HB Files, Fldr 58, MDR; DSM Chronolog>, 26 Sep 
42, Sec. 2(e), OROO; MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, "Intelli- 
gence & Security," p. 1.1, DASA; Groves, \ow It 
Can Be Told, 140-41; MPC Rpt, 7 Aug 44, Incl to 
Memo, Groves to Chief of Staff, same date, OCG 
Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, Tab K, MDR. 
2 On the early efforts to establish a voluntary cen- 
sorship program see the Prologue to this work and 
the Smvth Report, pp. 331-32. 



254 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



became a subcommittee of the newly 
constituted National Defense Re- 
search Committee (NDRC), it also 
became subject to the security meas- 
ures currently in efTect for federal 
agencies. The NDRC, knowing that it 
was to be concerned chiefly with 
projects for the Army and Navy, 
adopted security regulations that con- 
formed to those of the two military 
services. Under these regulations 
NDRC subcommittees were required 
to adhere to a policy of strict com- 
partmentalization of information, to 
classify all sensitive materials, and to 
obtain security clearances for all 
employees. 

Transfer of the NDRC uranium 
program to the Office of Scientific 
Research and Development (OSRD) 
in November 1941 did not significant- 
ly alter existing security arrange- 
ments, because the OSRD patterned 
its own security system largely along 
the lines of the NDRC program. As 
the OSRD became more involved in 
negotiation and administration of 
contracts with industrial and research 
organizations, however, it expanded 
its security controls to provide a more 
adequate coverage, adding security 
measures for personnel administra- 
tion, classified information, and plant 
protection.^ 

The modest OSRD security system 
sufficed until, in the spring of 1942, 
the start of the uranium program's 
rapid expansion — the letting of nu- 
merous contracts with industrial 
firms; the employment and interac- 
tion of ultimately tens of thousands of 
workers, scientists, and engineers; 
and the formation of complex organi- 



zations to construct and operate the 
large-scale production plants and 
their atomic communities — enor- 
mously complicated the problems of 
security just at the time the Army un- 
dertook its new role as project admin- 
istrator. Although these measures 
were necessary for the more rapid 
achievement of a successful fission 
weapon, they also tended to weaken 
security."* Consequently, the Army 
almost immediately undertook a reor- 
ganization and expansion of the exist- 
ing OSRD security system and, even- 
tually, also endeavored to bring the 
system more directly under control 
of the Manhattan District. The sys- 
tem that finally evolved was in many 
respects unique and introduced 
a number of innovations in tech- 
nique and organization that subse- 
quently would be adopted as standard 
features of government security 
programs. 

The District's Security System 

The security system, as it took form 
in the newly established Manhattan 
District, resembled that already in ex- 
istence in most other engineer dis- 
tricts. Under Army regulations in 
force in 1942, the security program of 
an engineer district was hmited to 
routine local security requirements. 
When broader problems arose, the 



^ Stewart, Organizing Scientific Research for War, pp. 
27-31 and 246-55. 



Mbid., pp. 246-47; Ltr, Compton to Conant, 
8 Dec 42, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1 (Rpts), 
MDR. Compton's letter to Conant complained that 
the security-inspired policy of compartmentaiization 
was delaying determination of the purity standards 
that must be met for the plutonium to be employed 
in an atomic weapon. This well illustrates the recur- 
ring conflict in the Manhattan Project between the 
demands of the program and the requirements of 
security. 



SECURITY 



255 



district engineer or security officer 
could call upon the resources of the 
Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, in the 
War Department. Since June 1939, 
under provisions of a presidential 
proclamation, the War Department's 
Military Intelligence Division (MID) 
had shared responsibility for matters 
of espionage, counterespionage, and 
sabotage in the United States with the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 
and the Office of Naval Intelligence. 
In the latest revision (February 1942) 
of this Delimitations Agreement — so 
designated because it set forth the 
area of jurisdiction of each agency — 
the MID's assignment was to cover 
the military establishment, including 
War Department civilian employees 
and civilians on military reservations 
or under military control, plus a large 
part of the munitions industry.^ 

Organization and Scope 

Colonel Marshall, in organizing the 
Manhattan District security program 
soon after becoming district engineer 
in June 1942, formed the Protective 
Security Section. Under direction of a 
member of Marshall's staff, this sec- 
tion emphasized such aspects as per- 
sonnel, plant, and military informa- 
tion security. At the same time, to 
provide the District security staff with 
counterintelligence assistance, Mar- 



niDH. Bk. 1. \ol 14. p. 7.1. DAS.A, OCE Cir 
1070. sub: Org for Protective Sctv Svc in OCE 
(>onstr Div and in OfTire of I)iv and Area Engrs, 
15 Jun 42. CE 025.1 CXP. Engrs Eibrary, Fort Bel- 
voir, \'a.; Ms, Capt (". |. Bernardo, "Counterintelli- 
gence Corps Histor\ and Mission in World War 11" 
(Fort Holabird, Baltimore, Md.: CIC School, n.d.), 
pp. 4 and 13, NARS; Ms, Army Service Forces, In- 
telligence Division, "History of the Intelligence Divi- 
sion," 4 vols. (Armv Service Forces, ca. 1946), 
1(2):13-14, l(8):l-2, l(9):10-n, NARS; Groves, 
Sow It Can Be Told, p 138. 



shall arranged with the Assistant 
Chief of Staff, G-2, Maj. Gen. George 
V. Strong, for security liaison with the 
MID's operating element, the Military 
Intelligence Service (MIS). From his 
staff. General Strong assigned coun- 
terintelligence responsibility for the 
atomic project to Maj. John Lansdale, 
Jr., who had been a lawver in civilian 
life. 

Because effective security oper- 
ations required maximum secrecy, 
Major Lansdale personally visited the 
Western Defense Command G-2 and 
each service command and requested 
that they each select an officer to 
report directly to him, bypassing both 
the G-2 and the commanding general 
of each service command.^ To further 
facilitate carrying out the internal se- 
curity functions for the atomic 
project, Lansdale also organized a 
quasi-clandestine counterintelligence 
group. This group operated under 
cover of the Investigation Review 
Branch, Assistant Chief of MIS for Se- 
curity, which Lansdale headed. He re- 
ported directly to General Groves, 
and his group in effect was answer- 
able to the Manhattan Project com- 
mander in all substantive respects, 
even though it functioned from the 
G-2 office in the Pentagon."^ 



^ An organization formerly called a corps area, 
serving as a field agency of the Army Service Forces 
in a specified area. Under the reorganization of the 
War Department on 9 Mar 42, there were nine geo- 
graphical service commands throughout the L'nited 
States, each providing services (including adminis- 
trative, financial, legal, statistical, medical, welfare, 
etc., for Army elements), constructing facilities, fur- 
nishing fixed communication services, and procur- 
ing, storing, maintaining, and distributing supplies 
and equipment for Army use. See WD TM 20-205, 
Diclionarv of United States Armv Terms, 1944, p. 
249. 

^MDH, Bk. 1, \ol. 14, pp. 7.1-7.2, DASA; 
Groves. \ow It Can Be Told, pp. 138-39; Marshall 

Continued 



256 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND 1 HE AlOMIC BOMB 



By early 1943, the pace of the Dis- 
trict's growth — both geographically 
and in terms of personnel — and its in- 
creasing security requirements em- 
phasized the need for a more compre- 
hensive counterintelligence program. 
In February, General Strong trans- 
ferred Capts. Horace K. Calvert and 
Robert J. McLeod to the District 
headquarters, where they formed the 
District's new Intelligence Section. To 
ensure that this section, which Cap- 
tain Calvert headed, had full access to 
the intelligence and security facilities 
of the Army service commands. 
Strong requested that each command 
designate a staff officer to act as a 
point of liaison with the Manhattan 
District and, to guarantee secrecy, au- 
thorized that each correspond directly 
with Calvert's section. At the same 
time. Groves continued his earlier 
practice of meeting with G-2 officers 
to make certain that District security 
problems were brought to the atten- 
tion of appropriate Army officials.® 

The counterintelligence program 
became the foundation for a country- 
wide permanent organization of this 
aspect of the District's security 
system. During the course of the year, 
the District organized its own Coun- 
terintelligence Corps (CIC) and, as its 
staff increased in size, assigned new- 
personnel to those areas where there 
was the greatest concentration of 
project activities. Ultimately, the 
project had a total of eleven branch 
intelligence offices at key points 
across the United States, from New 

Diary, 20 Jul 42, OCG Files, Gen Gorresp, Groves 
Files. Misc Recs Sec, behind Fldr 5, MDR; Ltr, Lans- 
dale to Col R. W. Argo. Jr. (Dep Chief of Mil Hisi), 
3Jan75, CMH. 

»MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, p. 7.2, DASA; Groves, \ow 
II Can Be Told. pp. 138-39. 



York to Pasadena (Calilbrnia). An of- 
ficer assigned to a branch usually 
worked out of an area engineer's 
office and, in addition to his intelli- 
gence duties, served as security offi- 
cer on the engineer's stafi. While in 
matters of command these officers 
came under control of the Manhattan 
District intelligence and security offi- 
cer and reported to him, they also 
maintained a direct liaison channel 
with the director of mtcUigence of the 
service command that had jurisdiction 
over their area.^ 

Expansion and Centralization 

Rapid growth also necessitated ex- 
pansion of other aspects of the Man- 
hattan Project's security system. In 
1942, the District's relatively modest 
internal security organization had 
served well enough for a program 
that consisted primarily of administer- 
ing research and development activi- 
ties carried on in university and in- 
dustrial laboratories; but, by summer 
of 1943, a vast program of plant con- 
struction and operation had begun. 

The move of the District headquar- 
ters from New York to Oak Ridge in 
August provided an opportune time 
for reorganization. {See Chart 2.) The 
first step was consolidation in July of 
the Protective Security and Intelli- 
gence Sections. Captain Calvert took 
over responsibility for the combined 
unit, designated the Intelligence and 
Security Section. Although this 
change was relatively minor from an 
administrative standpoint (the section 
continued in a distinctly subordinate 
position in the District's Service and 



MDH. Bk. 1, Vol. 14, pp. 7.2-7.4, DASA. 



SECURITY 



257 



Control Division), it represented a 
significant shift towards centralization 
in security matters. This change was 
consistent with General Groves's con- 
viction that only through a high 
degree of centralized control could he 
and his administrative staff maintain a 
close and constant scrutiny over the 
security program. ^° 

Shortly after the District had com- 
pleted its move to Oak Ridge, a reor- 
ganization in the Army's administra- 
tion of counterintelligence operations 
in the zone of interior (ZI) posed a 
threat to Groves's control and cogni- 
zance over the project's internal secu- 
rity functions. To economize on inter- 
nal investigative operations and to 
concentrate G-2 efforts on expanding 
counterintelligence operations over- 
seas, the War Department directed 
the transfer, effective 1 January 1944, 
of the WDGS (War Department Gen- 
eral Staff) G-2 counterintelligence ac- 
tivities in the ZI to the Office of the 
Provost Marshal General. The effect 
was to decentralize even further the 
Army's ZI counterintelligence func- 
tions to the service commands, in- 
cluding maintenance of data files on 
individuals which Manhattan intelli- 
gence officials considered essential to 
their operations. The change also 
seemed certain to enhance the diffi- 
culties the atomic project already was 
experiencing in coordinating its inter- 
nal security operations with the serv- 
ice commands. ^^ 



'"Org Chans, U.S. Engrs Offire, MD, \5 .'Vug 
and 1 Nov 43, Admin Files, Gen (.orresp, 020 
(MED-Org), MDR; Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, p. 
139. 

i> Ms, ASF, "Hisl Intel Div, • 1(9): 10-1 1; Ms, Ber- 
nardo. "CIC Hist," pp. 14-15. Both in NARS. WD 
Cir 324, sub: Transfer of CI Functions Within the 
ZI, 14 Dec 43. Memos, CG OIG (Maj Gen VirgilL. 
Peterson) to Dep Chief of Staff (Lt Gen Joseph T. 



From his vantage point as head of 
the atomic project's counterintelli- 
gence group inside G-2, Colonel 
Lansdale endeavored to have the 
group exempted from the reorganiza- 
tion requirements. When his efforts 
failed, General Groves decided that 
the only acceptable solution was to 
move Lansdale's unit into the Man- 
hattan District. The G-2 sanctioned 
this change in December, and Lans- 
dale secured authorization to estab- 
lish a special counterintelligence de- 
tachment. Groves arranged for Lans- 
dale's transfer to the Manhattan Dis- 
trict; however, instead of placing him 
in charge of the new CIC Detach- 
ment, he brought Lansdale into his 
Washington office as his special as- 
sistant for security affairs. Lansdale's 
assignment was to keep the Manhat- 
tan chief abreast of problems and de- 
velopments affecting internal security 
and foreign intelligence wherever 
they might arise in the project. ^^ 

The shift of all project counterintel- 
ligence activities to the District re- 
quired major changes in its security 
organization. {See Chart 3.) The Intel- 
ligence and Security Section in Febru- 
ary 1944 became a full-fledged divi- 
sion and, in keeping with Groves's 



McNarney), sub: Intel Activities in Svc Cmds, 6 Nov 
43, and Col O. L. Nelson (Asst to McNarney) to CG 
ASF and to ACS G-2, same sub, 25 Nov 43, repro- 
duced in Monograph, Office of the Provost Marshal 
General, 'The Lovaltv Investigations Program," 
Tab 45, CMH (see also pp. 52-58 for details on the 
elimination of unnecessary investigations). Millett, 
Anny Sennce Forces, pp. 358-59. Ltr, Strong to CG 
4th Svc Cmd, sub: Personnel on DSM Proj, 27 Dec 
43, reproduced in MDH. Bk. 1, Vol. 14, App. .\2, 
DASA. Ibid., pp 7.5-7.7, DASA. WD Bur of Pub 
Rels, sub: Script for Radio Broadcasts, 12 Aug 45, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 000.73 (Radio Broad- 
casts), MDR. 

'^Ltr, Lansdale to Argo, 3 Jan 75, CMH; Testimo- 
ny of Lansdale in Oppenlmmer Hearing, pp. 259-60. 



258 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



centralization policy, moved from the 
Service and Control Division into the 
district engineer's own office. To re- 
place Captain Calvert, whom Groves 
had selected for a special intelligence 
mission in London, Colonel Nichols — 
the district engineer since August 
1943 — brought in an experienced in- 
telligence officer, Lt. Col. William B. 
Parsons, to head the new division. In 
this capacity Parsons administered the 
District's security program with the 
assistance of Major McLeod, the 
deputy, and Capt. Bernard W. Menke, 
the executive officer, and with sup- 
port from a large operating staff of 
military and civilian personnel. Al- 
though Parsons officially reported to 
Nichols, he personally kept General 
Groves appraised of all developments. 
Expanding intelligence and security 
activities necessitated procurement of 
additional personnel to carry out sup- 
portive security functions, such as 
plant inspections and technical and 
undercover investigations. Colonel 
Parsons drew 25 officers and 137 en- 
listed men from the War Depart- 
ment's counterintelligence manpower 
pool and the District's personnel spe- 
cialists recruited a large number of ci- 
vilians. In May 1944, to provide ad- 
ministrative services for the expand- 
ing security force, Nichols activated 
the 13th Special Engineer Detach- 
ment (Provisional) and assigned Par- 
sons the additional duty of unit com- 
mander. Concerned about achieving 
greater efficiency in security oper- 
ations. Parsons requested and re- 
ceived permission in January 1945 to 
combine the 13th with the CIC 
Detachment. ^^ 



By this time, Parsons' Intelligence 
and Security Division had become a 
highly centralized unit, organization- 
ally divided into six separate 
branches: Clinton Engineer Works 
(CEW), Security, Administration, 
Safeguarding Military Information 
(SMI), Branch Offices, and Evaluation 
and Review. The CEW, Security, and 
Administration Branches, for which 
McLeod had direct responsibility, 
dealt primarily with security matters 
at the Tennessee site. The CEW 
Branch administered the local civilian 
guard force and the military police 
contingent that protected the Tennes- 
see reservation; coordinated subordi- 
nate security offices in the K-25 (gas- 
eous diffusion), Y-12 (electromag- 
netic), and X-10 (pile) process areas; 
and, through a board established for 
the purpose, reviewed security cases. 
The Security Branch chiefly moni- 
tored activities related to security of 
project manufacturing plants, espe- 
cially at the Clinton site, and the ship- 
ping of classified materials and equip- 
ment. The Administration Branch was 
concerned primarily with personnel 
security problems, both military and 
civilian, but also provided facilities for 
the special handling of the division's 
mail and records and administered 
certain confidential funds. 

The SMI, Branch Offices, and Eval- 
uation and Review Branches, for 
which Captain Menke had direct re- 
sponsibility, eventually evolved as a 



•3 Org Charts, U.S. Engrs OfTice, MD. 15 Feb 44, 
MDR; MDH, Bk. 1. Vol. 14, pp. 7.7-7.8, DASA; 



Memo, Strong to CG ASF, sub: CIC Detachment for 
MD, 18 Dec 43, reproduced in ibid., App. B3, 
DASA; Ltr, Col Donald E. Antes (Spec Insp for 
Fiscal Procedures) to Groves, sub: Investigation of 
Promotions. MD Intel Br, 13 Jul 45, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 319.1 (Recs Insp: Hanford, 1945-46), 
MDR. 



SECURITY 



259 




Changing of the Guard: Military Police Contingent at CEW 



central clearinghouse for intelligence 
and security matters that related not 
only to the Tennessee site but also to 
the various project operations else- 
where. The principal responsibility of 
the SMI Branch was that of project- 
wide monitoring of programs in secu- 
rity education, censorship, and the 
handling of classified materials. The 
Branch Offices Branch, as its name 
would indicate, was responsible for 
coordinating field security operations 
in the eleven geographical areas 
where atomic energy activities were in 
progress and for reporting the area 
engineers' security problems to the 
division's Evaluation and Review 
Branch. The latter branch concentrat- 
ed in one office functions hitherto 
performed by several of the branch 



intelligence offices — most notably, 
those concerned with the conduct of 
subversive investigations and the 
preparation of special reports on Dis- 
trict security matters for higher 
echelons. ^^ 

Counterintelligence Activities 

Counterintelligence activities con- 
stituted one of the most significant 
aspects of the District's security pro- 
gram. Through effective counterintel- 
ligence measures, the District sought 
to provide the shroud of secrecy nec- 



'^MDH. Bk. 1, Vol. 14. pp. 7.2-7.13 and App. A7 
(Org Chart), DASA; Memo, Col Elmer E. Kirkpat- 
rick, Jr. (Dep Dist Engr) to Groves, sub: Insp of 
Intel Div, Oak Ridge, 15 Dec 44, Admin Files, Gen 
Corresp, 319.1 (Insp of Intel Div), MDR. 



260 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



essary to forestall all attempts by the 
enemy not only to gain information 
about the American atomic energy 
program but also to sabotage it. 

Yet by its very nature, the Manhat- 
tan Project remained vulnerable to es- 
pionage and sabotage. The District's 
recruitment of thousands of individ- 
uals with almost every conceivable 
kind of background and from all parts 
of the country made likely the em- 
ployment of some potential spies and 
saboteurs, no matter how efficient its 
clearance procedures might be, and 
its widely scattered installations made 
implementation and maintenance of 
uniform security procedures through- 
out the project very difficult. The re- 
ality of these conditions forced 
project leaders to assume that, sooner 
or later, Germany and Japan — and 
even the Soviet Union — would learn 
of the atomic energy program and, 
more importantly, use espionage to 
expand their knowledge of it and sab- 
otage to destroy America's military 
advantage. ^^ 

1 o detect and counter potential es- 
pionage and sabotage activities, the 
District's GIG Detachment relied pri- 
marily upon extensive intelligence in- 
vestigations. The majority of these in- 
vestigations were of a preventive 
character, designed to minimize the 
likelihood that security might be 
breached. Of this type, for example, 
were the many security checks into 
the unauthorized transmission of clas- 
sified information. In most instances, 
GIG personnel found that the infor- 
mation leaks thus uncovered were the 
result of carelessness or ignorance on 



the part of the employee or individual 
with knowledge of the project. But 
because it was always possible such 
leaks were surface ramifications of 
much more dangerous espionage ac- 
tivity, all cases of careless handling of 
classified data received prompt and 
rigorous corrective action. 

A second type of preventive investi- 
gation was the supplementary and 
more thorough check into the back- 
ground of employees earlier subject- 
ed to routine clearance procedures. 
Most supplementary investigations 
were made because preliminary data 
indicated an employee might be a po- 
tential security risk or routine proce- 
dures had not produced adequate in- 
formation about the person's back- 
ground. Typical cases were those in- 
volving scientists or technicians who 
recently had come from abroad, espe- 
cially those who had come from areas 
under control of the Axis powers. 
Faced with a continuing shortage of 
scientifically and technically trained 
personnel, project leaders early had 
adopted the policy of weighing the 
degree of risk against the contribu- 
tions an employee with security clear- 
ance problems could make in devel- 
opment of atomic weapons. "All 
procedures and decisions on security, 
including the clearance of personnel," 
Groves recalled, "had to be based on 
what was believed to be the overrid- 
ing consideration — completion of the 
bomb. Speed of accomplishment was 
paramount." ^^ 

Perhaps the most notable example 
of the application of Groves's dictum 
on employing talented individuals 



'*Rpt to President, sub: Status of Tube Alloys 
Development, 9 Mar 42, Incl to I.tr, Bush to Presi- 
dent, same date, MDR. 



'6 Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, pp. 141-42. See 
also MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, pp. 2.1-2.2, DASA. 



SECURITY 



261 



who were security risks was the case 
of J. Robert Oppenheimer. When the 
Manhattan commander decided to ap- 
point Oppenheimer as head of the 
Los Alamos Laboratory in February 
1943, he did so with full knowledge 
that the theoretical physicist, who had 
worked on the project since late 
1941, had only an interim security 
clearance from the OSRD. OSRD Di- 
rector V^annevar Bush, S-1 Commit- 
tee Chairman James B. Conant, and 
the other scientific leaders were gen- 
erally aware of Oppenheimer's past 
record of association with Commu- 
nist-related organizations and individ- 
uals. They knew that during the 
1930's he had been attracted to a 
number of Communist-front organiza- 
tions and, while never a member of 
the party itself, made fairly regular 
contributions to Communist-support- 
ed causes. Communist fellow-travel- 
ers, including his former fiancee, were 
among his friends, and his wife and 
brother and sister-in-law were former 
Communists. With the signing of the 
Nazi-Soviet pact in 1939, Oppen- 
heimer had begun to have serious 
doubts about the Communists; how- 
ever, he continued to contribute to 
the Spanish War Relief through party 
channels until the spring of 1942 and 
to maintain a casual contact with his 
former friends. ^"^ 

Despite his record of past Commu- 
nist associations. Groves decided Op- 
penheimer was the best choice to 



'^ Discussion of Oppenheimer security clearance 
based on Oppenheimer Heating, especially testimony of 
Oppenheimer, Groves, Pash, and Bush; Memo, 
Groves to Secy War, sub: Loyalty Clearance of J. R. 
Oppenheimer, 24 Mar 47, Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 333.5 (Clearance Ltrs), MDR; Groves, Com- 
ments on Draft Ms "Now It Can Be Told," LRG; 
Intcrv, British writer Hailey with Groves, 13 Dec 57, 
LRG. 



direct the bomb laboratory at Los 
Alamos, for since 1941 he had been 
involved in this aspect of research 
and development under Metallurgical 
Laboratory Director Arthur Compton 
and in the summer of 1942 had 
become head of the project team con- 
centrating on that work. Hardly had 
Oppenheimer arrived at Los Alamos 
in the spring of 1943 when the ques- 
tion of his clearance arose in a new 
form. At the request of the Manhattan 
commander, Lt. Col. Boris T. Pash, 
chief of the Counterintelligence 
Branch of the Western Defense Com- 
mand, began an investigation of sus- 
pected Soviet espionage in the Radi- 
ation Laboratory at Berkeley. Several 
men known or thought to be associat- 
ed with Oppenheimer came under 
suspicion and, as a result, so did Op- 
penheimer himself.^® On 29 June, 
Pash submitted his conclusion that 
Oppenheimer "may still be connected 
with the Communist Party." He of- 
fered three possible courses: to re- 
place Oppenheimer as soon as possi- 
ble; to train a second-in-command at 
Los Alamos as a possible replace- 
ment; and, Pash's recommendation, 
to have Oppenheimer meet with Gen- 
erals Groves and Strong in Washing- 
ton so that they could brief him on 
"the Espionage Act and its ramifica- 
tions" and also instruct him that the 
government was fully aware of his 
Communist "affiliations," that no 
"leakage of information" would be 
tolerated, and that the entire project 
would be held under "rigid control." 
In recommending this procedure. 



'® See Rpt, MID, sub: Investigations of Federa- 
tion of Architects, Engineers, Chemists, and Techni- 
cians, Local 25, 13 Aug 43, Incl to Memo, Groves to 
Bundy, 17 Aug 43, HB Files, Fldr 61, MDR. 



262 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Pash was of the opinion that Oppen- 
heimer's "personal inchnations would 
be to protect his own future and rep- 
utation and the high degree of honor 
which would be his if his present 
work is successful, and, consequently, 
. . . that he would lend every effort 
to cooperating with the Government 
in any plan which would leave him in 
charge." In any event, he suggested, 
Oppenheimer should be told that two 
bodyguards were being assigned to 
protect him against violence from 
Axis agents. These bodyguards 
should be specially trained counterin- 
telligence agents who would not only 
serve as bodyguards but also keep a 
check on Oppenheimer.^^ 

Colonel Pash's report did not 
change Groves's opinion. After a 
quick visit to Los Alamos, during 
which he presumably discussed mat- 
ters with Oppenheimer, Groves di- 
rected on 15 July that he be cleared. 
On his return to Washington a few 
days later, he directed "that clearance 
be issued for the employment of 
Julius Robert Oppenheimer without 
delay, irrespective of the information 
which you have concerning Mr. Op- 
penheimer. He is absolutely essential 
to the project." ^^ As he wrote the 
Secretary of War four years later, "it 
was apparent to me that [Oppen- 
heimer] would not be cleared by any 
agency whose sole responsibility was 
military security. Nevertheless, my 
careful study made me feel that, in 
spite of [his] record, he was funda- 



mentally a loyal American citizen and 
that, in view of his potential over- 
all value to the project, he should be 
employed." ^^ 

Most security cases investigated by 
the District's CIC Detachment in- 
volved breaches of classified informa- 
tion or allegations against employees 
handling classified work of disloyalty 
to the United States or of affiliation 
with organizations espousing subver- 
sive ideologies. While many such 
cases presented the possibility of espi- 
onage, in fact, investigations turned 
up only about one hundred instances 
of such activity. When suspected cases 
appeared on the increase in 1943, the 
Manhattan commander selected a 
number of the District's own CIC per- 
sonnel to serve as special undercover 
agents. They occupied strategically lo- 
cated positions in project offices, lab- 
oratories, and plants, set up listening 
posts, checked intensively into per- 
sonnel and other records of individ- 
uals under suspicion, and took other 
measures designed to solve espionage 
cases. ^^ 

The appointment of special agents 
was a move towards greater formali- 
zation of the procedure for dealing 
with espionage, which continued to 
increase as the project grew in size 
and scope. Another constructive 
measure was the establishment of a 
group of permanent surveillance 



'^ Memo, Pash to Lansdale, sub: J. R. Oppen- 
heimer, 29 Jun 43, reproduced in Oppenheimer Hear- 
ing, pp. 821-22. 

2° Memo (source of quotation). Groves to Dist 
Engr, sub: J. R. Oppenheimer, 20 Jul 43, repro- 
duced in Oppenheimer Heanng, p. 170; Groves Diary, 
14-20 Jul 43, LRG. 



2' Memo, Groves to Secy War, sub: Loyalty Clear- 
ance of J. R. Oppenheimer, 24 Mar 47, MDR. 

22 Details on appointment of special agents and 
surveillance squads based on MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, 
pp. 2.3-2.4, DASA; Ltr, Lansdale to Argo, 3 Jan 75, 
CMH; Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, p. 139; MPC Rpt, 
21 Aug 43, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 
25, Tab E, MDR. The section on Russian activities, 
which deals with espionage incidents at Berkeley, 
provides a good example of Groves's reports to the 
Top Policy Group on intelligence developments. 



SECURITY 



263 



squads to carry out supplemental and 
nonroutine personnel investigations. 
Members of these squads, as well as 
other District security agents, soon 
became adept in employing profes- 
sional counterespionage techniques 
and in using such surveillance equip- 
ment as cameras with special lenses 
(telephoto and other types) and con- 
cealable listening and recording de- 
vices. During their investigations of 
persons suspected of espionage activi- 
ties, either District employees or indi- 
viduals who had contact with project 
personnel, the agents operated in the 
guise of diverse roles — to mention 
only a few, hotel clerks, bell captains, 
tourists, electricians, painters, con- 
tractors, and gamblers. 

To ensure effective functioning and 
control of the surveillance squads and 
other special security agents on a 
countrywide basis. District security of- 
ficials developed new channels of 
coordination and communication. 
Through Colonel Lansdale's counter- 
intelligence staff at Groves's Washing- 
ton headquarters, field security teams 
at the various branch intelligence of- 
fices had access to information from 
the FBI and other government securi- 
ty agencies. These field teams also 
had to file written reports of their 
findings and activities on a regular 
basis with the Evaluation and Review 
Branch of the Intelligence and Securi- 
ty Division. As these reports accumu- 
lated in the files at District headquar- 
ters, they became an important source 
of information for operation of the 
whole counterintelligence program. 
General Groves, in particular, made 
use of the data garnered from these 
reports in concert with information 
acquired from other government 



agencies in preparing his periodic 
Military Policy Committee and Top 
Policy Group briefings on intelligence 
developments affecting the atomic 
program. 

Espionage Incidents 

The most serious espionage activity 
came not from the enemy but from 
America's wartime ally: Soviet Russia. 
Having in the United States a large 
diplomatic and consular staff as well 
as other officials for overseeing lend- 
lease and other assistance programs, 
the Russians had a more than ade- 
quate reservoir of personnel for main- 
taining an extensive espionage appa- 
ratus in this country. Soviet agents, 
masking as diplomatic and consular 
officials, turned to members of the 
Communist Party of the United States 
and to party sympathizers for assist- 
ance in penetrating American wartime 
institutions and projects. The Rus- 
sians, making the plea that the Ameri- 
can government was withholding im- 
portant information and thus unnec- 
essarily delaying Allied victory, re- 
cruited many native Communists and 
fellow-travelers to assist them in ob- 
taining vital secrets about wartime 
activities. ^^ 

As early as February 1943, counter- 
intelligence agents of the FBI and 
Western Defense Command became 
aware that the Russians were obtain- 
ing data concerning activities of the 
Radiation Laboratory at the Universi- 
ty of California. Further investigation 
revealed that, in October 1942, a 
leading member of the American 
Communist Party on the West Coast 



23 Ms. ASF, "Hist Intel Div," 1(7):8-10, NARS. 



264 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



had advised a fellow party member 
employed at the Radiation Laboratory 
to retain his position so he could 
obtain knowledge of the secret work 
under way there. This employee and 
other Communists or Communist 
sympathizers working at the laborato- 
ry were passing on information about 
the atomic project at Berkeley to 
Communist Party members, who 
promptly turned it over to the Soviet 
vice consul in San Francisco. Evi- 
dence came to light in early April that 
a high official in the Soviet embassy 
in Washington had recently given 
money to a West Coast Communist 
leader, to be used for espionage. In- 
tensive investigation by Western De- 
fense Command counterintelligence 
agents resulted in prompt identifica- 
tion of those Radiation Laboratory 
employees who were engaging in es- 
pionage activities. The laboratory dis- 
charged the suspects and, where fea- 
sible, the Army inducted them into 
service, placing them in nonsensitive 
assignments in which they could be 
kept under regular observation.^'* 

The District's CIC Detachment 
scarcely had completed breaking the 
original espionage chain at Berkeley 
when, in late August, Oppenheimer 
reported his suspicion that new leaks 
apparently had developed in the lab- 
oratory's security system. On the oc- 
casion of a visit to Berkeley, Oppen- 
heimer met with Colonel Pash and 
told him he had learned that a 



24MPC Rpt. 21 Aug 43, MDR; MPC Min, 29 i:)ec 
44, Exhibit F (summary of L'.S. -based counterintelli- 
gence developments affecting Manhattan Proj), 
OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 23, Tab A. 
MDR; Rpt, sub: Siunmary [of] Russian Situation, 
Incl to Memo, Groves to Secy State James F. 
Byrnes, 13 May 45, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP 
Files, Fldr 12, tab D, MDR. 



member of the University of Califor- 
nia staff, a man who had been a close 
friend, was acting as an intermediary 
for transmission of data from certain 
Radiation Laboratory employees to 
representatives of the Soviet Union. 
By Oppenheimer's account, his friend 
had been recruited by an official of 
the Federation of Architects, Engi- 
neers, Chemists, and Technicians, a 
CIO (Congress of Industrial Organi- 
zations) union currently trying to or- 
ganize employees of the Radiation 
Laboratory. In subsequent question- 
ing, Oppenheimer refused to disclose 
the name of his friend on the grounds 
that he was certain the friend was no 
longer passing information to Soviet 
representatives. Oppenheimer's un- 
cooperativeness at this juncture re- 
sulted in the Manhattan commander 
taking personal action. Groves 
promptly met with the Los Alamos 
Laboratory chief and, because the se- 
curity of the atomic project was at 
stake, ordered him to reveal the name 
of his friend. Faced with Groves's in- 
sistence in the matter, Oppenheimer 
named Haakon Chevalier, a professor 
of romance languages at the Universi- 
ty of California. A short time later, 
the university dismissed Chevalier 
from his teaching post and he left 
Berkeley. In retrospect, the likelihood 
that Chevalier passed any classified 
information about the project to the 
United States seems remote. ^^ 



2^ In 1954, Oppenheimer testified before the 
AEC's Personnel Security Board, which was holding 
hearings to consider serious charges against the 
former director of the Los Alamos Laboratory that 
would lead ultimately to the withdrawal of his gov- 
ernment security clearance. Oppenheimer admitted 
that he had fabricated the story about Chevaliers 
espionage activities; however, he never adequately 

C.oniinued 



seciirhv 



265 



rhc (Ihcvalier case was not the 
final incident of espionage at the Ra- 
diation Laboratory. Less than a year 
later, another serious security leak 
had developed there. With assistance 
from Communist Party members 
living in the San Francisco area, a key 
scientist from the laboratory met with 
officials from the local Soviet consul- 
ate. The scientist passed on informa- 
tion concerning the pile process, cer- 
tain chemical data, and the recently 
arrived British scientists. The Dis- 
trict's CIC Detachment was able to 
end this espionage activity effectively 
by securing immediate discharge of 
the offending scientist, after which, as 
far as is known, representatives of the 
Soviet Union made no further at- 
tempts to get information from the 
Berkeley project. ^^ 

Meanwhile, probably acting on the 
l)asis of information gained at the Ra- 
diation Laboratory, the Russians had 
assigned one of their best men to the 
Chicago area, with the task of estab- 
lishing an espionage channel at the 
Metallurgical Laboratory. By early 
1944, this Soviet agent, who was a 

explained whv he had done so. Oppcnheinier's testi- 
mony in 1954 and documents relating to it are in 
Oppenheimer Heunng, passim. For fuller accounts of 
the Oppenheimer case sec Strauss, Men and Deci- 
sions, pp. 267-95, and Philip M. Stern, The Oppen- 
heimer Case: Serunty on Trial (New \'ork: Harper and 
Row, 1969). For further details on espionage activi- 
ties at the Radiation Laboratory and the Oppen- 
heimer case see MPC Rpt. 4 Feb 44, OCG Files, 
(;en Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25. Tab C. MDR; Rpt. 
sub: Summary [of] Russian Situation, Incl to Memo, 
Cirovcs to Byrnes. 13 May 45, MDR; Intcrv, Author 
with Lt Col Peer de Silva (former (^IC staff member, 
(i-2. West Def Cmd, with special assignment to 
Rad Lab), 8 Apr 75. CMH; Diary of Lt Col E. H. 
Marsden (hereafter cited as Marsden Diary), 20 July 

43, OROO. Marsden was the District's executive 
olluer. 

-'^MPC Mm, 10 Mav 44, MDR; MPC Rpt, 7 Aug 

44, MDR; Rpt, sub: SunmiarN |oi| Russian Situ;.li<)n. 
hid to Memo, Cioves to BMurs. 13 Mav 45, MDR. 



highly trained engineer with working 
experience in both Russian and 
American industry, had made contacts 
with several Metallurgical Laboratory 
employees. By the time the FBI 
learned of his activities in April, the 
Soviet agent had obtained consider- 
able technical information, which he 
had passed on to the Russian consul- 
ate in New York. Once identified, the 
laboratory summarily dismissed the 
suspected employees. Subsequently, 
the District's CIC Detachment discov- 
ered that one of the discharged work- 
ers — a reserve officer who had been 
called to active duty and assigned to 
the Northwest Territory in Canada — 
had taken highly classified material 
with him when he left the Metallurgi- 
cal Laboratory. Fortunately, District 
security officials were able to arrange 
for confiscation of this material (it 
was located in the officer's baggage) 
and for transfer of the officer to a 
post in the Pacific Theater of Oper- 
ations where he would have no op- 
portunity to pass on his knowledge to 
Russia or the Axis powers. ^^ 

Judged in terms of the ultimate util- 
ity of the information gained, Russian 
efforts at espionage at the Los 
Alamos Laboratory in late 1944 and 
early 1945 — the crucial period of 
bomb development — were the most 
successful of the wartime period. But 
project counterintelligence agents did 
not learn of this activity until the late 
summer of 1945, after the war was 
over. In a sensational postwar trial, 
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and 
Morton Sobell were convicted of steal- 
ing classified data from the laboratory 



^'Rpt, sub: Summarv |ofl Russian Situation, Incl 
to Memo, Cloves to Bvtnes, 13 Mav 45. MDR. 



266 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



with the assistance of Mrs. Rosen- 
berg's brother, David Greenglass, an 
Army sergeant at Los Alamos, and of 
transmitting it to Russian agents. Los 
Alamos, too, was the place where the 
German refugee scientist, Klaus 
Fuchs, while serving as a member of 
the British team sent to the United 
States under the interchange pro- 
gram, gained a substantial part of the 
technical knowledge of the bomb that 
he subsequently passed on to the 
Russians, first in June 1945 and 
thence periodically until his arrest by 
British authorities in early 1950.^^ 

Project leaders also had antici- 
pated that, as the Russians, the 
Axis powers — particularly Germany — 
would launch an equally vigorous es- 
pionage campaign, but they uncov- 
ered no evidence of such activity 
during the war. In early 1944, at a 
time when available Allied intelli- 
gence indicated that the Germans 
might well have attained an advanced 
stage in the development of atomic 
weapons, the Military Policy Commit- 
tee reported to the Top Policy Group 
that "no espionage activities by the 
Axis nations with respect to this 
project have been discovered, al- 
though there have been suspicious 
indications." ^^ 

Measures Against Sabotage 

In a project where the ultimate goal 
depended upon continuous progress 



^* Postwar revelations of espionage activities at 
Los Alamos during Worid War II may be traced in 
Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. pp. 143-45, and in Rich- 
ard G. Hewlett and Francis Duncan, Atomic Shield. 
1947-1952. A Histon,- of the United States Atomic 
Energy Commission, Vol. 2 (University Park, Pa.: 
Pennsvlvania State University Press, 1969), pp. 312- 
14,415,472. 

29MPC Rpt, 4 Feb 44, MDR. 



in intricate and closely related pro- 
duction processes, unscheduled 
delays or interruptions of any kind 
could be disastrous. Sabotage in any 
form, whether perpetrated by outsid- 
ers or insiders bent upon slowing 
down or disrupting a particular pro- 
cess, constituted an ever-present 
hazard. Recognizing the seriousness 
of this threat. General Groves direct- 
ed that any suspicion of sabotage be 
reported to him immediately. In keep- 
ing with Groves's policy of constant 
vigilance to detect any hint of sabo- 
tage, the District's CIC Detachment 
thoroughly investigated every instance 
of mechanical failure, equipment 
breakdown, fire, accident, or similar 
occurrence not readily attributable to 
normal causes, and kept under con- 
stant observation all processes and ac- 
tivities that might attract the efforts of 
saboteurs. In addition, other security 
personnel regularly inspected the se- 
curity systems and personnel clear- 
ance procedures at the project's vari- 
ous installations, with the objective of 
detecting and correcting possible 
weaknesses that might invite 
sabotage. ^° 

Illustrative of Groves's policy was 
the investigation into the mystifying 
failure of the first great magnets in- 
stalled in the electromagnetic plant at 
the Clinton Engineer Works. Follow- 
ing a brief period of operation, the 
magnets began to malfunction. After 



aoMDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, pp. 2.5-2.6, DASA. For a 
detailed discussion of typical measures undertaken 
to provide for the physical and personnel security of 
a specific project installation — in this instance, the 
gaseous diffusion project at Clinton — see MDH, 
Bk. 2, Vol. 1, "General Features," pp. 6.2-6.3, Vol. 
2. "Research," pp. 9.2-9.4, Vol. 3, "Design," pp. 
16.2-16.6, Vol. 4, "Construction," p. 4.2, and \'oI. 
5, "Operation," pp. 9.2-9.10, DASA. 



SECURITY 



267 



disassembling one of the magnets 
piece by piece, Kellex engineers 
found that in its oil circulation and 
cooling system rust and dirt particles 
were bridging the gaps between the 
silver bands forming the coil compo- 
nent, which they attributed to the 
manufacturer's failure to maintain 
sufficiently rigid standards of cleanli- 
ness. The significance of this incident 
was that it revealed the inherent vul- 
nerability of the electromagnetic in- 
stallations and the need for constant 
surveillance in order to thwart possi- 
ble sabotage. ^^ 

The district's continuous and thor- 
ough efforts to protect the project's 
installations and operations against 
sabotage were signally successful. 
During the war years, there were no 
definitely established incidents of sab- 
otage traceable to enemy agents. In 
most cases where breakdowns or 
other failures occurred under suspi- 
cious circumstances, investigations re- 
vealed they were probably the result 
of causes other than enemy sabotage. 
For example, during construction of 
the original gaseous diffusion plant at 
the Tennessee site, inspectors discov- 
ered someone had driven nails 
through the rubber coverings of vital 
electric cables leading underground 
from the power plant to the main 
production plant. The perpetrators of 
this act were never found, although 
the evidence indicated strongly it was 
the work of disgruntled employees. ^^ 



3' Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, pp. 104-05; MDH, 
Bk. 5, Vol. 3, "Design," p. 4.6, and Vol. 5, "Con- 
struction," pp. 3.10-3.11, DASA. 

32 Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, pp. 112-13; Com- 
pletion Rpt, M. W. Kellogg Co. and Kellex Corp., 
sub: K-25 Plant, Contract W-7405-eng-23, 31 Oct 
45, p. 12, OROO. 



A quite different type of interfer- 
ence with plant operation briefly 
threatened the Hanford Engineer 
Works in early 1945. Groves reported 
to the Military Policy Committee in 
February that Army and Navy intelli- 
gence had recorded more than fifty 
incidents of Japanese balloons at vari- 
ous sites along the Pacific Coast, 
some of them carrying incendiary and 
fragmentation bombs. While none of 
these appears to have been directed 
specifically against the Hanford instal- 
lations, on 10 March a balloon of this 
type struck a high-tension transmis- 
sion line running between the Grand 
Coulee and Bonneville generating sta- 
tions and caused an electrical surge 
through the interconnecting Hanford 
line that carried power to the produc- 
tion piles. Automatic safety devices at 
the three piles were activated, briefly 
shutting down their operation. For- 
tunately, the bombs attached to the 
balloon did not explode and the 
transmission line was not seriously 
damaged. ^^ 

Other Functions 

One of the most unusual duties as- 
signed to the District's CIC Detach- 
ment was that of furnishing body- 
guards for key Manhattan scientific 
leaders. CIC personnel accompanied 
J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Law- 
rence, Arthur Compton, and Enrico 
Fermi almost continuously. They ac- 
companied other scientists at inter- 
vals, when they were at work on 
projects that required their special 



^^MPC Min, 24 Feb 45, MDR; Memo, Matthias to 
Groves, sub: 10 Mar 45 Power Outage, 29 Mar 45, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 675, MDR; Matthias 
Diary, 25 Feb and 10-1 1 Mar 45, OROO. 



268 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



protection. Colonel Marshall had 
originated the idea of bodyguards, 
suggesting that they serve also as 
drivers, to conceal their true function 
and to reduce the likelihood of acci- 
dents. Compton's bodyguard, a 
former Chicago policeman, traveled 
with him in the guise of a special as- 
sistant. When Compton was in resi- 
dence at Oak Ridge, his guard served 
as a member of the local police force. 
District security officials exercised 
considerable care in selecting individ- 
uals for bodyguards, seeking those 
who had demonstrated ability to 
adapt themselves readily to the kind 
of situations in which scientists were 
likely to be involved. ^^ 

Safeguarding Militayy informatwn 

Even though District security offi- 
cials had planned and implemented a 
multi-faceted security system to pro- 
tect all aspects of project operations 
and developments, they fully realized 
that maintenance of total secrecy in 
such a vast project was unlikely. What 
was more feasible, they believed, was 
to prevent leakage of any useful 
knowledge of the program's special 
scientific concepts, industrial tech- 
niques, and military objectives — or, in 
Army parlance, "safeguarding military 
information." ^^ 



s-'MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, pp. 2.10-2.11, DASA: 
Marsden Diary, 20 Jul 43, OROO; Nichols, Com- 
ments on Draft Hist "Manhattan," Incl to I.tr, Nich- 
ols to Chief of Mil Hist, 25 Mar 74. CMH: Comp- 
ton, ,4/om/f Q««/, pp. 183-84. 

35 AR 380-5, 28 Sep 42. The War Department 
issued a substantially revised version ot AR 380-5 
on 15 Mar 44, adding the category Top Secret to 
the previously existing categories Secret, Confiden- 
tial, and Restricted. See Sec. 1, par. 3. 



Compartmentalization Policy 

Under the provisions of Army secu- 
rity regulations, the basic responsibil- 
ity for the protection of classified in- 
formation rested upon "all military 
personnel, civilian employees of the 
War Department, and . . . the man- 
agement and employees of all com- 
mercial firms engaged in classified 
work or projects for the War Depart- 
ment." ^^ In applying this principle to 
the atomic program. District security 
officials placed particular emphasis 
upon limiting the amount of classified 
information permitted to any single 
individual or group of individuals. 
District security regulations estab- 
lished two basic rules which were to 
"govern the right to possess classified 
information"; a person must need the 
information in order to carry out his 
job and have access only to the 
amount of information "necessary for 
him to execute his function." To 
make doubly certain an individual em- 
ployee was restricted to "the mini- 
mum necessary for the proper 
performance of his duties," District 
regulations further directed that "em- 
ployees . . . shall be organized into 
small working groups or teams so far 
as possible, each working on its own 
phase of the job and not being per- 
mitted to inspect or discuss the work 
being done by others." ^"^ 

This compartmentalization policy 
became a far more pervasive influ- 
ence in the project after the Army as- 



36 Ibid., Sec. 1. par. 9. 

3' Qiiotations from MD, Intel Bull 5, Safeguard- 
ing Mil Info Regs, 27 Nov 43 (revised 1 Sep 44), 
Sec. 3, reproduced hi MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, App. 
B7. DASA. 



SECURITY 



269 




Security Sign at the Tennessee Site 



sumed full responsibility for its ad- 
ministration. Where the OSRD had 
applied compartmentalization primar- 
ily to research and development orga- 
nizations, the Army incorporated it 
into virtually every type of activity un- 
dertaken by the project. Typical was 
the District's insistence that produc- 
tion plant blueprints be broken down 
and distributed in such a way as to 
reveal as little as possible to any one 
individual about the overall character 
of the project. Similarly, the District 
required that equipment orders to 
commercial firms specify that an item 
not be manufactured and assembled 
at the same location. And when the 
production plants reached the point 
of start-up operations, plant managers 
received instructions to split up 
orders for raw materials among a 



number of suppliers so that the pur- 
pose for which they were being used 
could not be readily ascertained. 

While project leaders agreed that 
some compartmentalization of infor- 
mation was necessary, considerable 
difference of opinion prevailed on the 
extent of limiting scientific and tech- 
nical interchange, both between sec- 
tions functioning within a laboratory 
or plant and between the various in- 
terrelated installations of the project. 
Military administrators, in contrast to 
their civilian counterparts, favored the 
enforcement of stricter controls. 
These generally took the form of 
written agreements covering those or- 
ganizations and installations that 
needed to exchange data. The agree- 
ments specified in detail how and 
what information could be inter- 



270 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



changed. Inevitably occasions arose 
when developments required inter- 
change of classified information not 
covered in agreements. In such in- 
stances, project leaders applied di- 
rectly to the district engineer or to 
General Groves for special permission 
to exchange the data needed.^® 

One of the most important inter- 
change arrangements formed oc- 
curred in June 1943, when General 
Groves met with Compton and Op- 
penheimer for the purpose of estab- 
lishing "the principles which should 
govern the interchange of information 
between the Chicago [Metallurgical 
Laboratory] and Los Alamos proj- 
ects. . . ." As a basic criterion deter- 
mining what information should be 
interchanged, they set up the test that 
only data that would "benefit work at 
both Chicago and Los Alamos" 
should be exchanged. The agreement 
that resulted spelled out, in consider- 
able detail, exactly what information 
could and could not be interchanged 
(the latter included those categories 
relating to production piles, military 
weapons, and the time schedules of 
various developments); designated by 
name those individuals at each instal- 
lation who were qualified to carry on 
interchange; and outlined exact pro- 
cedures of exchange — by formal re- 
ports, secret correspondence, or visits 
and conferences. On the most sensi- 
tive matters, or where there was seri- 
ous doubt about interchange, the only 



38 Groves, \ow It Can Be Told. pp. 80 and 140; 
Govving, Britain and Atomic Energy, p. 150; Talk, 
Groves to Women's Patriotic Conf on Natl Def (25- 
27 Jan 46), sub: "The Atomic Bomb," Admin Files. 
Gen Corresp, 337 (Women's Patriotic Conf on Natl 
DeO. MDR; Memo, Marshall to Only Those Con- 
cerned, sub: DSM Proj-Clinton Engr Works, 18 May 
43. OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 28, Tab 
A, MDR; MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, pp. 6.3-6.4, DASA. 



channel of exchange was through a 
visit to the Chicago laboratory by 
either Oppenheimer or a specifically 
designated group leader. Although 
negotiators of the agreement must 
have been aware of the generally re- 
strictive character of its provisions, 
they nevertheless emphasized that its 
major objective was "to maintain as 
rapid and effective interchange of in- 
formation as possible." ^^ 

Compartmentalization of informa- 
tion probably aroused more adverse 
criticism — both from participants in 
the atomic program and from some of 
those who, in retrospect, have re- 
viewed its history — than any other 
single aspect of the project's security 
system. Among the participants, the 
most vociferous critics were the scien- 
tists, accustomed to working in col- 
lege and university laboratories where 
they could freely interchange the re- 
sults of their work with scientific col- 
leagues in all parts of the world. 
Project scientists, such as Leo Szilard, 
held that overcompartmentalization 
was a primary cause of extended 
delays in achievement of scientific and 
technical objectives of the program. 
Testifying before a committee of 
Congress after the war, he asserted, 
for example, that "compartmentaliza- 
tion of information was the cause for 
. . . failure to realize that light urani- 
um [U-235] might be produced in 
quantities sufficient to make atomic 
bombs. . . . We could have had it 
eighteen months earlier. . . . We did 
not put two and two together because 
the two two's were in a different com- 



^^ Memo, Groves to Compton and Oppenheimer, 
sub: Interchange of Info Between Chicago and Los 
Alamos, 17 Jun 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 201 
(Tolman), MDR. 



SECURITY 



271 



partment. . . ." *° On another occa- 
sion he contended also that compart- 
mentalization was not really "too suc- 
cessful" because "significant matters 
gradually leak through anyway." "^^ 

Joining Szilard in condemning com- 
partmentalization in the strongest 
possible terms was Edward U. 
Condon, the prominent American 
physicist who had come to the atomic 
project from the Westinghouse Re- 
search Laboratories. In fact, after 
spending only a month at Los 
Alamos, Condon came to the conclu- 
sion that he would be of more use to 
the war effort at Westinghouse than 
at the New Mexico laboratory. The 
project's security policy, he asserted, 
had a morbidly depressing effect on 
him. "I feel so strongly," he contin- 
ued, "that this policy puts you in the 
position of trying to do an extremely 
difficult job with three hands tied 
behind your back that I cannot accept 
the view that such internal compart- 
mentalization ... is proper." ^^ 

Most other contemporary critics 
took a somewhat less extreme posi- 
tion. Concerned about insufficient in- 
terchange of data among atomic 
project scientists causing delays in the 
solutions of problems related to 
bomb development, Compton sug- 
gested to the OSRD S-1 Committee 
in December 1942 that it might be 



'"' Excerpts from Szilard's statements before Sen- 
ate Special Committee on Atomic Energy given in 
Memo, Nichols to Groves, 12 Jan 46, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 201 (Szilard), MDR. 

■** Memo for File, William S. Shurcliff, sub: Tran- 
script of Notes Taken on 8-11 Oct 44 Trip to Chi- 
cago, 14 Oct 44, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 001 
(Mtgs), MDR. Shurcliff, a liaison official with the 
OSRD, talked to Szilard about security measures 
and recorded his comments in this memorandum. 

''^ Ltr, Condon to Oppenheimer, 26 Apr 43, In- 
vestigation Files, Gen Corresp, Personnel Scty In- 
vestigations (Condon), MDR. 



wise to increase the number of "re- 
sponsible persons who are free of 
compartmentalization. . . ." *^ Simi- 
larly, in June 1943, physicist Richard 
C. Tolman, in his role as Groves's sci- 
entific adviser, expressed concern that 
the "proposed regulations [to govern 
interchange between the Chicago and 
Los Alamos scientists were] perhaps 
not quite as liberal as may later prove 
warranted." In the weeks following 
the institution of these regulations, 
both Oppenheimer and Edward 
Teller, who was working on a part- 
time basis at Los Alamos, were trou- 
bled by what they viewed as inad- 
equate liaison channels between the 
New Mexico laboratory and the other 
installations where related work was 
in progress.'*'* 

When British officials and scientists 
came to the United States in late 
1942, they were surprised to learn 
that General Groves planned further 
compartmentalization, which many of 
them viewed as already having been 
applied to an extent that made effi- 
cient operation impossible. Further- 
more, the British soon found that the 
Americans used the policy as a con- 
venient excuse for withholding infor- 
mation. Thus, the policy became in- 
termeshed with the whole question of 
interchange with the British, a prob- 
lem that was resolved only after many 
months of negotiation.^^ 



'^^ Ltr, Compton to Conant, 8 Dec 42, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1, MDR. 

*■* Ltr, Tolman to Groves, 1 1 Jun 43, Admin F"iles, 
Gen Corresp, 000.71 (Releasing Info), MDR. See 
also Ltr, Teller to LIrey, Incl to Memo, Nichols to 
Groves, 1 1 Aug 43, and Ltr, Oppenheimer to 
Groves, sub: Liaison With Site X, 4 Oct 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 001, MDR. 

''^ Gowing, Bntain and Atomic Energy, pp. 150-51. 
See Ch. X. 



272 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



By early 1944, most project person- 
nel had come to accept the policy as a 
fact of life. In looking back after the 
war was over, even some scientists 
who had found compartmentalization 
so distasteful grudgingly conceded it 
had probably been necessary. The 
eminent American (German-born) 
physicist James Franck, for example, 
while speaking at a conference on 
atomic energy at the University of 
Chicago in September 1945, conclud- 
ed that "so far as secrecy is con- 
cerned, they [Army officers] were un- 
relenting and, in all honesty, we have 
to admit that they had to be." But, he 
went on to remind his listeners that 
the policy had exacted a "stiff price" 
in the "wasting of talent and scientific 
manpower and the loss of precious 
time. . . ." "^^ 

From the military point of view, 
compartmentalization was precisely 
what was required, both for security 
and for achieving the most efficient 
functioning of scientists and technolo- 
gists. As (reneral Groves expressed 
his conviction in retrospect: 

Compartmeniaiization of knowledge, to 
me, was the very heart of security. My 
rule was simple and not capable of misin- 
terpretation — each man should know ev- 
erything he needed to know to do his job 
and nothing else. Adherence to this rule 
not only provided an adequate measure 
of security, but it greatly improved over- 
all efficiency by making our people stick 
to their knitting. And it made quite clear 
to all concerned that the project existed 
to produce a specific end product — not to 
enable individuals to satisfy their curi- 
osity and to increase their scientific 
knowledge.'*' 



PoUcy Exception: Informing Congress 

The District's policv of compart- 
mentalization of information on the 
atomic project, in Groves's words, ap- 
plied "to everyone, including mem- 
bers of the Executive Department, 
military personnel and members of 
Congress." No one was to have access 
"solely by virtue of his commission or 
official position." Adherence to this 
policy was possible as long as Man- 
hattan's funding came from sources 
already earmarked for the War 
Department. But project leaders 
anticipated considerable trouble in 
the future, because securing new 
funds would entail congressional 
authorization.^^ 

By early 1944, the compartmentali- 
zation policy was becoming less and 
less feasible with Congress because of 
the increasing size of the program, its 
rapidly rising cost, and the need to 
begin planning for its postwar admin- 
istration. Under the original directive 
from the President, the atomic pro- 
gram obtained funds from the money 
appropriated under the Engineer 
Service-Army budgetary category. 
Funds from this source sufficed as 
long as Manhattan's budgets re- 
mained relatively modest. But when 
project leaders estimated that the 
program would need at least $600 
million for fiscal year (FY) 1945, they 
decided they would have to find a way 
to provide some information to se- 
lected members of Congress who had 
a need to know. They consulted with 
President Roosevelt, who thereupon 



■•^As quoted by Alice Kimball Smith in A Peril and 
a Hope: The Scientists' Movement in America, 1945-47 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), p. 95. 

"'Groves, Now It Can Be Told, p. 140. 



■"Ibid, (source of first quotation), p. 360; MD, 
Intel Bull 5, Safeguarding Mil Info Regs (source of 
second quotation), 27 Nov 43 (revised 1 Sep 44), 
Sec. 3, DASA. 



SECURITY 



273 



directed that Stimson, Bush, and 
General Marshall brief the leaders of 
both parties in the House and the 
Senate."*® 

On 18 February, Stimson, Bush, 
and Marshall went to the office of 
Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, 
where they were joined by Majority 
Leader John W. McCormack and Mi- 
nority Leader Joseph W. Martin, Jr. 
Stimson outlined the history of the 
atomic project, including its cost to 
date, and estimated the total amount 
needed to complete it; Bush de- 
scribed the project's scientific back- 
ground and indicated the likely de- 
structive power of an atomic weapon; 
and Marshall discussed the potential 
role of atomic bombs in the Allied 
strategy for winning the war. The leg- 
islators pledged their unreserved sup- 
port, stating that they viewed its high 
cost as well worth the price. They 
promised to work out a system for 
handling the Manhattan appropria- 
tions in committee so that there 
would be no danger of disclosure of 
their purpose. Bush found that the 
"entire meeting was most reassuring, 
as it was quite evident the three 
congressmen were exceedingly anx- 
ious to be of aid to the War Depart- 
ment in carrying a very heavy 
responsibility." ^° 

In June, Stimson, Bush, and Maj. 
Gen. George J. Richards, the War De- 
partment budget officer who was sub- 
stituting for Marshall while he was 
out of town, repeated the briefing for 



"^MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 4, "Auxiliary Activities," 
Ch. 1, pp. 2.4-2.5, DASA. Groves, \'ow It Can Be 
Told. pp. 360-62; Stimson Diary, 14-15 Feb 44, 
HI.S. 

^°Memo, Bush to Bundv, 24 Feb 44. OCG Files, 
Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 14, Tab A, MDR; 
Stimson Diary, 18 Feb 44, HI.S. 



the leaders of the Senate. Present 
were Majority Leader Alben W. Bar- 
kley and Minority Leader Wallace H. 
White, as well as Chairman Elmer 
Thomas and Senior Minority Member 
Styles Bridges of the military subcom- 
mittee of the Senate Appropriations 
Committee. Stimson recalled that 
"the four gentlemen who met with us 
were very much impressed. They . . . 
promised that they would help and 
keep absolute silence about it and 
prevent discussion in public as to 
what it was about." ^^ 

During the remaining months of 
1944, congressional leaders succeed- 
ed in keeping the vast majority of the 
members of Congress ignorant of the 
atomic project. Accustomed to war- 
time restrictions, most members were 
willing to accept — without protest — 
the assurance of their leaders that the 
work was secret and that the needed 
apropriations were essential to the 
war effort. But for a few members this 
policy was unacceptable, and they di- 
rected individual inquiries to the War 
Department about rumored develop- 
ments at the atomic sites. 

A case in point was Congressman 
Albert J. Engel of Michigan, a 
member of the House Appropriations 
Committee, who in February 1945 
was unwilling to accept automatically 
the War Department's request for FY 
1946 funding from money appropri- 
ated under the Expediting Production 
budgetary category. In a visit to 
Under Secretary Patterson on the 
twenty-fourth, the Michigan repre- 
sentative stated that he had heard 



*' Stimson Diary (source of quotation), lOJun 44, 
HLS; Memo lor File, Bush, 10 Jun 44, OCG Files, 
Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 14, Tab A, MDR; 
MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 4, Ch. 1. pp. 2.8-2.11. DASA. 



274 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



rumors of extravagance and waste 
and that he wanted more information 
before approving the War Depart- 
ment's FY 1946 funds. Remembering 
that in late 1943 War Department of- 
ficials had dissuaded him from 
making a proposed trip to the Clinton 
site, this time he firmly insisted that 
Patterson allow him to inspect the 
atomic installations. When Stimson 
heard from Patterson of Engel's in- 
sistence upon visiting project facili- 
ties, he sought assistance from the 
leaders of the House of Representa- 
tives. As Speaker Rayburn was away, 
Stimson turned to Congressman John 
Taber of New York, another member 
of the Appropriations Committee. He 
and Taber sat down with Engel and 
persuaded him to forgo objections to 
funds on the floor of the House, but 
only after promising him an opportu- 
nity to visit some "outside installa- 
tions" of the project. ^^ 

This experience convinced the Sec- 
retary of War and the Manhattan 
commander, as well as other project 
leaders, that more and more members 
of Congress would be demanding 
current information about Manhat- 
tan's activities. Consequently, they ar- 
ranged to have a selected delegation 
from each House visit Clinton and, if 
they wished, also Hanford. With the 
President's approval for this plan. 
Groves and Stimson, accompanied by 
the Secretary's aide. Col. William H. 
Kyle, visited Clinton on 10 April to 
prepare "for future trouble with 
Congressmen." ^^ 



Upon the unexpected death of 
Roosevelt on the twelfth, the inspec- 
tion trip to Clinton was delayed, but 
only temporarily. In May after Presi- 
dent Truman had given his assent. 
Speaker Rayburn helped select five 
members from the House Appropria- 
tions Committee — Clarence Cannon, 
the chairman, George H. Mahon, 
J. Buell Snyder, Engel, and Taber. 
Under the careful guidance of the 
Manhattan commander and the dis- 
trict engineer, the five congressmen 
spent two days inspecting the Clinton 
Engineer Works. The legislators re- 
turned to Washington convinced that 
public funds had been well spent and 
prepared to support the project's 
budgetary requests for FY 1946. A 
visit by a comparable Senate delega- 
tion to inspect atomic facilities was 
not feasible until after V-J Day, when 
a group from the upper house toured 
the Hanford Engineer Works. ^* 

Administrative Aspects 

As security requirements increased, 
the Army established a variety of 
units to administer its highly compart- 
mentalized information security pro- 
gram. By necessity, the program from 
about late 1942 up until the District's 
major intelligence and security reor- 
ganization in early 1944 was limited 
in scope. Faced with a rapid influx of 
new personnel, both civilian and mili- 



*^ Stimson Diary, 26 (source of quoted words) and 
28 Feb 45, HLS; Groves, Now It Can Be Told. p. 363; 
MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 4, Ch. 1, pp. 2.5-2.6, DASA. 

S3 Stimson Diary, 31 Mar 45, HLS. 



54 Ibid., 15 Mar, 2, 6-11, and 25 Apr, 4 and 30 
May 45, HLS. Groves Diary, 22-24 May 45, LRG. 
Notes on Trip to Knoxville, Tenn., 10 Apr 45, Incl 
to Memo, Kyle to Bundy, 1 1 Apr 45; Ltrs, Stimson 
to Bush, 31 Mar 45, and Bush to Stimson, 2 Apr 45. 
All in HB Files, Fldr 7, MDR. MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 4, 
Ch. 1, pp. 2.12-2.13, DASA. Groves, AW // Ca?i Be 
Told, pp. 363-65. Hewlett and Anderson, Xew World, 
pp. 302 and 339-40. 



SECURIIY 



275 



tary, the District's Protective Security 
Section concentrated chiefly on devel- 
oping ways for instructing them in the 
meaning of classified information and 
the correct methods for handling it. 
To facilitate this education process, 
the small staff hurriedly prepared and 
distributed a manual that provided a 
"statement of District policy regard- 
ing Protective Security proce- 
dures . . . ," including an extensive 
section on safeguarding classified 
information.^^ 

An intensification of protective 
measures during the first half of 1943 
resulted in the establishment in 
August of the Plant Security Section 
for Safeguarding Military Informa- 
tion. In an effort to assure attainment 
of the desired security objectives, the 
SMI staff developed a new intelli- 
gence bulletin. This bulletin, issued 
in November, set forth in detail the 
requirements and procedures for 
safeguarding military information, 
emphasizing that "matters of vital im- 
portance to the government must be 
protected at all times whether at war 
or at peace . . . [and thus] great cau- 
tion [must] be exercised in the han- 
dling and in the dissemination of all 
information — written or oral — relative 
to this Project at any time." ^^ 

By early 1944, consolidation of the 
District's intelligence and security fa- 
cilities opened the way for a more 
comprehensive information security 
program, and the establishment in 
May of a separate SMI Section (redes- 
ignated SMI Branch in 1945, when 
organizationallv restructured as a sub- 



ordinate unit of the District's Intelli- 
gence and Security Division). Under 
the expanded program, security offi- 
cials launched studies of all aspects of 
the atomic project — equipment, mate- 
rial, products, processes, operations, 
administrative matters — to determine 
the appropriate classification for their 
mention in correspondence and other 
documents. They set up code names 
(some already in use) for major sites, 
important materials, items of equip- 
ment, and even for the more widely 
known scientists working on the 
project. Under this scheme, for exam- 
ple, Los Alamos became Site Y, pluto- 
nium became 94, the implosion bomb 
became Fat Man, and scientist Arthur 
H. Compton became A. H. Comas. 
Using the staff and resources of the 
SMI Section, District authorities di- 
rected attention to those areas where 
security leaks were most likely to 
occur. Thus, the section regularly re- 
viewed project correspondence with 
other government agencies, such as 
the Selective Service concerning de- 
ferment of key personnel, and advised 
on the security classification that 
should govern each of the thousands 
of contracts that the District negoti- 
ated with outside individuals and 
firms. ^"^ 

The establishment and maintenance 
of effective adherence to security re- 
quirements among the project's thou- 
sands of contractor organizations 
comprised one of the most challeng- 
ing and complex aspects of the infor- 



"WD, VS. Kngrs onkc, MD, Protective Sctv 
Manual. 1 Feb 43. reproduced in MDH, Bk. 1, X'ol 
14, App. (;5, DASA. 

5« MD, Intel Bull 5. Safeguarding Mil Info Regs, 
27 Nov 43 (revised 1 Sep 44). Sec. 3, DASA. 



"MDH. Bk. 1. Vol. 14, pp. 6.3-6.5, DASA 
Memo, Marshall to Onlv Those Concerned, sub 
DSM Pioj-Clinton Kngr Works, 18 May 43, MDR 
Ltr. Oppenheimer to Oroves, sub: [L'se of Cover 
Names], 2 Nov 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp. 680.2 
(Visits), MDR; Compton, Atomic Quest, p. 182. 



276 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



mation security program. District au- 
thorities oversaw contractors' security 
activities through several channels. 
The branch intelligence offices in 
principal cities throughout the United 
States provided a convenient point of 
contact, and periodic checks of con- 
tractor facilities and operations by se- 
curity inspectors from District head- 
quarters constituted a second avenue 
of control. These inspectors particu- 
larly observed methods of handling 
classified materials and storing docu- 
ments. District security officials also 
investigated contractors' personnel 
recruitment programs, written corre- 
spondence, stock registration state- 
ments to the Securities and Exchange 
Commission, and similar activities in 
which security leaks were likely to 
occur. Finally, when a contractor ter- 
minated his contract with the atomic 
program. District security officials 
made certain that all classified materi- 
als were returned to project control 
or that the contractor provided for 
their adequate protection.^® 

Security problems involving firms 
under contract most frequently arose 
where these organizations were carry- 
ing out large-scale development of 
project facilities. Such development, 
as at the Clinton and Hanford sites, 
inevitably brought overcrowding of 
local housing, acute labor shortages, 
greatly increased road traffiic, and 
other adverse changes that placed a 
severe strain on normal community 
activities. The resulting public resent- 
ment, generally focused on the con- 
tractor firms, created an environment 
in which threats to security were more 
likely to occur. In the spring of 1943, 
for example, Du Font's effort to ar- 



range for housing and other facilities 
for the thousands of employees who 
would work on the Hanford project 
stirred up resentment in surrounding 
communities, already aroused by the 
Army's land acquisition program. The 
spread of rumors, adverse criticism in 
the local newspapers, and unfounded 
statements by local officials tended to 
draw widespread public attention to 
the project, posing a serious threat to 
security. Lt. Col. Franklin T. Matthias, 
the Hanford area engineer, and mem- 
bers of his staff spoke at meetings of 
service clubs in communities adjacent 
to the project, in an endeavor to 
counter the rumors and misinforma- 
tion concerning Du Font's role in the 
project. By these and similar efforts 
they laid the groundwork for obtain- 
ing the support and good will of the 
local citizenry — an absolute essential 
to maintaining the security of the 
project. ^^ 

Efforts to maintain good communi- 
ty relations was an important aspect 
of the District's information security 
program, which had as its prime ob- 
jective the forestalling of security 
breaks, first by anticipating them and 
second by teaching project personnel 
how to be "instinctively alert-minded 
and security-wise." ^° Although the 
SMI Section had primary responsibil- 
ity for carrying out the program, em- 
ployee education in security matters 
devolved chiefly to the SMI staffs at 
the branch intelligence offiices. Each 
staff, for example, conducted orienta- 



ls MDH. Bk. 1, Vol. 14. pp. 6.7-6.8. DA.SA. 



^^ Memo, MaUhias to Groves, sub: Public Mtgs in 
Which Du Ponl Participated, 23 Apr 4?>. Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 001 (.Mtgs), MDR; Matthias 
Diary, 20 and 28 Apr 43, OROO. 

«OMD, Intel Bull 3, Sctv Plducational Prgm, 
1.^ Sep 4,3, reproduced in MDH, Bk. 1, \'()l. 14, 
App B8, DA.SA. 



SECURITY 



277 



tion and refresher sessions for Corps 
of Engineers personnel; provided 
each contractor with instructional ma- 
terials for in-house security education 
briefings for its personnel; and used a 
variety of media — training films, cir- 
culars and handbills, payroll inserts, 
telephone stickers, and editorials in 
project newspapers — to remind Dis- 
trict employees of the importance of 
unremitting attention to the demands 
of security. ^^ 

Because of the policy of compart- 
mentalization, the quantity and varie- 
ty of educational subject matter avail- 
able for training purposes was limit- 
ed. Most workers had knowledge of 
only the project activity under way at 
the site where they were employed, 
and most generally did not even know 
exactly what was being made in the 
facility where they worked. And even 
in some instances, project officials 
had concocted for employees — those 
working at the electromagnetic 
plant — a plausible but inaccurate and 
misleading explanation of the process 
involved and the product produced, 
with the warning that this information 
was given to them only to help them 
carry out their jobs. Lacking concrete 
data on which to base an appeal to 
employees, security officials had to 
request that they accept the necessity 
for strict adherence to secrecy largely 
on faith and out of a sense of patriot- 
ism and loyalty to the men on the 
fighting fronts. 

As did most wartime agencies in- 
volved in secret work, the Manhattan 
District resorted to censorship of vari- 
ous kinds as a means of safeguarding 
classified information. In the first few 
months after the Army assumed re- 



sponsibility for the atomic program, 
the District and branch security staffs 
began a cursory review of a few lead- 
ing daily newspapers and periodicals 
and gradually enlarged this check of 
publications until it covered some 370 
newspapers and 70 magazines. The 
censors, several of whom were 
Women's Army Corps members, were 
particularly on the lookout for publi- 
cation of anything that would reveal 
classified information, attract atten- 
tion to the project, or furnish an 
enemy agent or anyone else with 
knowledge sufficient to determine the 
nature of the project. ^^ 

While review of newspapers, peri- 
odicals, and other publications pro- 
vided some protection against damag- 
ing revelations about the project, the 
fact remained that once such informa- 
tion appeared in print an element of 
secrecy was lost. Much more effective 
was a system that prevented publica- 
tion of sensitive information. Under 
the Office of Censorship's "Codes of 
Wartime Practices for the American 
Press and American Broadcasters," 
newspapers, periodicals, and radio 
broadcasters voluntarily agreed to re- 
frain from discussing certain specified 
subjects and mentioning certain 
terms. In February 1943, Vannevar 
Bush proposed that the atomic energy 
program be brought under this volun- 
tary censorship. At first, both General 
Strong, the Army intelligence chief, 
and General Groves had serious res- 
ervations about making the atomic 
energy project subject to this censor- 
ship arrangement, fearing that the re- 



Ibid., pp. 6.10-6.11, DASA. 



62 Ibid., pp. 6, 12-6. 15. and Bk. 5, Vol. 6, "Oper- 
ation," p. 6.1 and App. Bl, DASA; Groves, Xow It 
Can Be Told. p. 146. 



278 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



suits "might be more detrimental 
than otherwise." ^^ 

Finally, military leaders reluctantly 
agreed to the voluntary press censor- 
ship plan, persuaded primarily by the 
insistence of Nathaniel R. Howard, as- 
sistant director of the Office of Cen- 
sorship and a former editor of the 
Cleveland News, that this was the only 
way to maintain press security of the 
project. On 28 June 1943, Byron 
Price, director of the Office of Cen- 
sorship, sent out a special request to 
all editors and broadcasters that they 
extend the previously issued precau- 
tion not to publish or broadcast any- 
thing about "new or secret military 
weapons . . . [or] experiments" to 
include: 

Production or utilization of atom 
smashing, atomic energy, atomic fission, 
atomic splitting, or any of their 
equivalents. 

The use for military purposes of 
radium or radioactive materials, heavy 
water, high voltage discharge equipment, 
cyclotrons. 

The following elements or any of their 
compounds: polonium, uranium, ytterbi- 
um, hafnium, protoactinium, radium, tho- 
rium, deuterium.^'* 

The aim of censorship was to pre- 
vent all mention of the atomic pro- 
gram in the American press; however, 
on the advice of the Office of Censor- 



^^ Strong's reaction to the proposal during a dis- 
cussion with General Styer, who later reported the 
discussion to Groves in Memo, Styer to Groves, 
18 Feb 43, AG 313.3 (22 Aug 47), copy in CMH. See 
also Memo, Bush to Styer, 13 Feb 43, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 000.73 (Censorship), MDR; Groves, 
Now It Can Be Told, p. 146. 

^* Price, sub: Note to Editors and Broadcasters — 
Confidential — Not for PubHcation, 28 Jun 43, Incl to 
Ltr, Howard to Groves, 28 Jun 43, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 000.73 (Censorship), MDR. See also 
Groves, Now It Cmi Be Told, p. 146; MFC Min, 
24 Jun 43, MDR. 



ship, the District permitted a limited 
amount of information about certain 
aspects of the project to appear in 
newspapers published in communities 
near the Clinton and Hanford sites. 
Office of Censorship officials pointed 
out that complete suppression of in- 
formation about activities at these lo- 
cations would actually draw more at- 
tention than a policy of judicious re- 
lease of news of local interest, careful- 
ly controlled so as not to reveal any 
vital secrets. They cited as an exam- 
ple the land acquisition at Hanford, 
which required relocation of many 
people and resulted in court proceed- 
ings. Stories on these events in news- 
papers of the Washington-Oregon 
region would not violate essential se- 
curity as long as they did not reveal 
the purpose of the acquisition or 
the interconnection of the Hanford 
project with other parts of the atomic 
program. General Groves assented to 
this policy but took the added precau- 
tion, suggested by Office of Censor- 
ship officials, of having Manhattan 
District representatives visit the edi- 
tors or publishers of local newspapers 
and operators of local radio stations 
to request their cooperation in main- 
taining the security of the project. ^^ 

At Los Alamos, security authorities 
endeavored to keep all mention of the 
site and its activities out of the press. 
Total exclusion was more feasible at 
the New Mexico installation because 
of its military administration and geo- 
graphic isolation from surrounding 
communities. The policy was rein- 
forced in late 1943 through the use of 



^^ Ltr, Howard to Lt Col Whitney Ashbridge 
(Asst, Opns Br, Constr Div, OCE), 1 Apr 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 000.73 (Censorship), MDR; 
Groves, Now It Can Be Told, pp. 146-47. 



SECURITY 



279 



regular mail censorship and other 
measures to minimize the likelihood 
that knowledge of the site would 
come to the attention of the press. ^^ 
It was inevitable that a voluntary 
censorship system would not be total- 
ly effective, and on those occasions 
when some reference to the project 
or atomic energy occurred in the 
press or on the radio, the District se- 
curity office and the Office of Censor- 
ship took immediate steps to limit its 
circulation and to run down it origins. 
A rash of censorship violations oc- 
curred in late 1943. A columnist in 
the Washington Post announced that 
the Senate's Truman Committee was 
about to investigate a "half-a-billion 
dollar" War Department project in 
the state of Washington that was "re- 
ported to be one of the largest single 
projects that's to be built from scratch 
in the Nation's history." On the same 
day the Post article appeared in the 
Spokane Spokes man- Review, and soon 



®® Ltr, Groves to Oppenheimer, 1 Nov 43; Ltr, 
Capt Peer de Silva (Santa Fe Area Intel Ofl) to 
Lansdale, sub: Censorship at Los Alamos, 8 Nov 43; 
Memo, Lansdale to Groves, same sub, 10 Nov 43. 
All in Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 311.7 (Santa Fe), 
MDR. Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, p. 147. 



thereafter the wire services picked up 
the news item. Almost simultaneously, 
several newspapers in Tennessee ran 
a story on the state's Selective Service 
that contained a passing reference by 
the head of the service, Brig. Gen. 
Thomas A. Frazier, to "the Clinton 
Engineer Works in secret war produc- 
tion of a weapon that possibly might 
be the one to end the war." In both 
instances, prompt action by the Office 
of Censorship led to withdrawal of 
the articles before they had received 
wide circulation. Subsequent action 
by the War Department resulted in 
tracing down the sources of the leaks 
and in implementing improved secu- 
rity measures to prevent such oc- 
currences in the future. ^"^ 



®^ Memo (source of first quotation). Groves to 
Secy War, sub: Publicity Concerning DSM Proj, 
15 Dec 43; Memo (source of second quotation). 
Groves to Secy War, sub: Violation of Vital Scty 
Provs by Brig Gen Thomas A. Frazier, 10 Jan 44, 
and Incl; Rpt, Lansdale, sub: Publicity Concerning 
Clinton Engr Works, 3 Jan 44. All in HB Files, Fldr 
62, MDR. References to atomic energy and the 
atomic project — some intentional, some accidental — 
occurred many times in the public media during the 
war. Examples of those investigated by Manhattan 
District security officials may be found in HB Files, 
Fldr 7, MDR, and in .Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
000.73 (Censorship), MDR. 



CHAPTER XII 



Foreign Intelligence Operations 



The Manhattan Project's security 
system involved the conduct of not 
only domestic but also foreign intelli- 
gence operations, for in terms of mili- 
tary strategy gaining all possible in- 
formation about atomic activities in 
the Axis nations — especially Germa- 
ny — was as important as safeguarding 
state-of-the-art information on Ameri- 
can nuclear research and develop- 
ments. Hitler's recurring claims that 
Germany had devised secret weapons, 
as well as existing intelligence reports 
on both German interest in the nucle- 
ar research of French physicist Fred- 
eric Joliot-Curie and German produc- 
tion of heavy water at the Rjukan 
(Norway) plant, convinced project ad- 
ministrators of the likelihood that 
Germany had under way a well-devel- 
oped atomic energy program. In 
order to carry out necessary counter- 
measures against these presumed 
enemy efforts to produce atomic 
weapons. Allied military leaders in 
1943 and 1944 intensified their for- 
eign intelligence operations in the 
European Theater of Operations 
(EFO), giving a high priority to se- 
curing more information about enemy 
atomic activities. Manhattan Project 
officials initiated much of this intelli- 
gence effort, but eventually the War 
Department General Staff, General 



Marshall, Secretary Stimson, and a 
number of other military leaders con- 
tributed directly to its success.^ 

Organization of the ALSOS Mission 

Upon receipt of any intelligence in- 
formation on atomic developments in 
enemy nations, the Army G-2, the 
Office of Naval Intelligence, and the 
Office of Strategic Services, as well as 
other existing intelligence agencies, 
dispatched a current intelligence 
report to the Manhattan District for 
the attention of General Groves. Until 
the fall of 1943, this reporting system 
had served to keep the Manhattan 
commander and other project leaders 
apprised of at least the accessible 
areas of enemy atomic activities. But 
in September, after the Fifth Army 
had landed in southern Italy, Groves 
perceived a unique opportunity for 
the Army to exploit new sources of 
information, especially about the 
German atomic program, as U.S. 
forces moved up the Italian penin- 
sula. With the firm support of OSRD 
Director Vannevar Bush, Groves met 
with Maj. Gen. George V. Strong, the 
Army G-2, to explore ways of achiev- 



'MPC Min, 13 Aug 43, OCG Files. Gen Corresp, 
MP Files, Fldr 23, lab A. MDR. 



FOREIGN INIELLIGKNCE OPERATIONS 



281 



ing this objective. The proposed 
course of action, with which Bush 
coiK urred, was tlie eslabhshmeiU of a 
special intelligence mission in Italy. 

Shortly thereafter, Strong met with 
General Marshall and suggested that 
a small group of civilian scientists, as- 
sisted by military personnel, be sent 
to Italy to conduct inquiries into sci- 
entific projects in that country, with 
the hope that they might reveal some- 
thing about German developments. 
Marshall promptly approved the plan 
and asked Groves to take responsibil- 
ity for foreign intelligence related to 
atomic energy. Apparently the Chief 
of Staff was convinced that Manhattan 
Project personnel and direction 
would result in better coordination, 
coverage, and less risk to security.^ 

Manhattan, OSRD, Army G-2, and 
the Navy all furnished personnel for 
the newly designated Alsos mission,^ 
which completed its organization by 
late fall of 1943. As chief of Alsos 
General Strong appointed Lt. Col. 
Boris T. Pash, an intelligence officer 
whose earlier competence in the Man- 
hattan District's espionage investiga- 
tions at the Radiation Laboratory had 
impressed Groves. When the new 
mission reached Italy in late Decem- 
ber, it had fourteen members, includ- 



2 Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, pp. 18.5 and 189-90; 
Ms, Col Bruce W. Bidwell, "History of the Military 
Intelligence Division, Department of the Army Gen- 
eral Staff" (Washington, D.C.: Department of the 
Army, n.d), Pt. 5, p. 6.25, copy in NARS. 

^ Inadvertently, the letters of the code name 
Alsos form the Greek word meaning "grove." Gen- 
eral Groves's first reaction, when a scholarly col- 
league informed him of the meaning of the word, 
was to request the G-2 to adopt a more innocuous 
name. After further consideration, however, he de- 
cided against making the change because he feared 
that to do so would create an even greater security 
hazard because of the attention it would draw to the 
mission. See Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, p. 191. 



ing Pash, an administrative officer, 
four scientists — two OSRD, one 
Army, one Navy — four interpreters, 
and four attached counterintelligence 
agents. Opening the Alsos field 
headquarters near Naples on the sev- 
enteenth, Pash established liaison 
with the Fifth Army Intelligence 
Section and representatives of Mar- 
shal Pietro Badoglio's Italian civil 
government. 

ALSOS Operations in Italy 

Alsos teams in the early weeks of 
1944 interviewed Italian scientists and 
examined captured technical docu- 
ments in Naples, Taranto, and Brindi- 
si, and elsewhere in the zone of occu- 
pation.* They soon realized that little 
data on scientific developments in 
Germany and northern Italy was avail- 
able in southern Italy, but discovered 
that Rome held more promise. To 
gain access to the Italian capital, 
Alsos officials prepared two alternate 
plans: the first, have Alsos personnel 
enter Rome with the Fifth Army as 
soon as the city fell; the second, bring 
Italian scientists out of Rome and 
northern Italy even before this oc- 
curred. Neither plan succeeded, how- 
ever, because of the unexpectedly 
slow advance of the Allies. Alsos 
teams also had little success securing 
information from Italian scientists 
behind enemv lines, and bv March 



* Except as otherwise indicated, section based on 
Ms, Bidwell, "Hist Mil Intel Div, " Pt. 5, pp. 6.25- 
6.26, NARS; MDH, Bk. 1. Vol. 14, "Intelligence and 
Security," Foreign Intel Supp. 1, pp. 1.1-3.6, DASA; 
Groves, Now It Can Be Told, pp. 190-94; Lincoln R. 
Thiesmeyer and John E. Burchard, Combat Scientists, 
Science in World War II (Boston: Little, Brown and 
Co , 1947), pp. 164-65; Boris T. Pash, The ALSOS 
Mission (New York: Award House, 1969). 



282 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



most team members had returned to 
the United States. 

From the information secured in 
southern Italy, Alsos scientists con- 
cluded that the Germans were carry- 
ing on little, if any, experimental ac- 
tivity with atomic energy. From their 
reports Groves estimated that the 
German program was at about the 
same stage the American program 
had been when the Army assumed re- 
sponsibility for its further develop- 
ment. But the evidence was not suffi- 
cient. For this reason and with an eye 
to the coming invasion of Western 
Europe, Alsos scientists recommend- 
ed that measures be undertaken to 
secure knowledge of scientific de- 
velopments in new theaters of 
operation.^ 

When Colonel Pash, who was in 
London preparing the Alsos mission 
to accompany the invasion of Western 
Europe, received word that Allied 
troops had entered Rome on 4 June, 
he immediately left for Italy. Arriving 
in Rome on the fifth, he helped to 
identify a number of important scien- 
tific intelligence objectives, including 
questioning of the members of the 
physics laboratory at the University of 
Rome. A reconstituted Alsos group 
for Italy carried out this and other 
tasks. Two Manhattan officers, Maj. 
R. C. Ham, who took charge of the 
group when Pash returned to Eng- 
land, and Maj. Robert R. Furman, a 
special projects officer from Groves's 
Washington staff, played an important 
part in its work. The results of the 
group's investigations tended to reaf- 
firm those of the earlier Alsos mis- 



sion that German atomic activities 
were on a very limited scale.® 

Manhattan 's Special Intelligence 
Activities, 1944 

Anticipating that Alsos would con- 
tinue its operations in Western 
Europe, Groves established a liaison 
office in London. In December 1943 
he sent Major Furman to make pre- 
liminary arrangements with the Brit- 
ish government, and in January 1944 
he assigned Capt. Horace K. Calvert, 
chief of the Manhattan District's secu- 
rity program, to head the new office. 
Calvert quickly established working 
relations with G-2, European Theater 
of Operations, U.S. Army (ETOUSA), 
with the American embassy, and with 
the British atomic energy organiza- 
tion, and also assembled a small staff 
of researchers and investigators. 

In the early months of 1944, Cal- 
vert's group concentrated on collect- 
ing further background data on 
German atomic activities, seeking es- 
pecially to obtain more information 
on the number of atomic scientists 
and technicians at work, on the loca- 
tion of physics laboratories and indus- 
trial facilities engaged in operations 
related to atomic energy, and on the 
mining and stockpiling of ores con- 
taining fissionable materials (uranium 
and thorium). For example, by perus- 
ing German physics journals and 
questioning refugee European scien- 
tists, they learned the names and 
likely whereabouts of the most impor- 
tant German atomic scientists; and by 
periodic aerial surveillance of the 



* Groves, Xow It Can Be Told, p. 194; MPC Min, 
28 Jul 44 and 24 Feb 45, MDR. 



« Groves, Now It Can Be Told. pp. 208-10; Pash, 
ALSOS Mission, pp. 30-32. 



FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE OPERA! IONS 



283 



mines at Joachimsthal (Jachymov), 
Czechoslovakia, they maintained a 
check on the production of uranium 
ore, an indicator of the extent of 
German atomic activities. Thus by the 
time a revived Alsos mission pre- 
pared to follow the Allied invasion 
that summer, the London group had 
ready a promising list of matters to 
be investigated.' 

At the same time, other representa- 
tives of the American program were 
in England to advise the Allied mili- 
tary leaders on development of de- 
fense measures against atomic weap- 
ons. There had been a growing con- 
viction among a number of the ad- 
ministrative and scientific leaders of 
the Manhattan Project that the Ger- 
mans might employ some type of 
atomic weapon, cither in attack upon 
Great Britain or in defense against an 
Allied landing in Western Europe. 
Most American scientists believed that 
if the Germans did attempt to employ 
nuclear materials on the battlefield, 
they would use radioactive fission 
products in the form of some kind of 
poison gas. The Germans, the Ameri- 
can scientists reasoned, were most 
likely to have concentrated their ef- 
forts on development of a plutonium- 
producing pile, because this was the 
method that promised to produce the 
most active material with the least in- 
vestment in plants and fissionable ma- 
terials. The Americans knew from 
their own experience that pile oper- 
ation produced not only plutonium 
but also a large amount of radioactive 
by-products. If the Germans had suc- 
ceeded in developing and operating a 
pile — and no one was certain they had 
not — they would have built up a con- 



siderable supply of these radioactive 
materials.^ 

General Groves, very much aware 
of the possibility of radioactive war- 
fare, took specific measures to inform 
American and British military leaders 
of how to deal with the threat. In late 
1943, he directed that a project team 
prepare an instruction manual on the 
use of radioactive materials in war- 
fare, for distribution to the military 
leaders, and in December, with the 
concurrence of General Marshall, he 
authorized a briefing of four officers 
from the ETOUSA staff temporarily 
on duty in the United States. Maj. 
Arthur V. Peterson, a chemical engi- 
neer long associated with the pile 
program, conducted the briefing at 
the Metallurgical Laboratory, includ- 
ing information on probable uses of 
the materials, their effects and how 
they could be treated, and possible 
defense measures. He also instructed 
the four officers to inform key officers 
in ETOUSA, suggesting they report 
any unusual or unexplained symp- 
toms observed by medical personnel 
and fogging of films detected by 
signal or air personnel. Headquarters, 
ETOUSA, took the recommended ac- 
tions promptly, but in the early 
months of 1944 found no evidence of 



'Groves, \ow It Can Be Told. pp. 194-98. 



8MPC Mill, 14 Dec 43, MDR; MPC Rpt. 4 Feb 44. 
OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, Tab C, 
MDR; Groves, \ow It Can Be Told, pp. 199-200. See 
also the several reports, memorandums, and other 
documents pertaining to how the Germans might 
use radioactive materials for military purposes in 
Admin Files, (ien Corresp, 319.1, MDR. Because of 
this threat, the Manhattan District during the 
summer of 1943 supplied its area offices in Boston, 
Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, as well as 
Groves's headquarters in Washington, D.C., with 
Geiger counters as a means to detect the presence 
of radioactivity in the event of an air raid. 



284 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



the use of radioactive materials by the 
Germans.^ 

As time for the AUied invasion of 
Western Europe approached, General 
Groves turned his attention to the 
possibility that the Germans would 
employ radioactive warfare to disrupt 
the landings on the Continent. He 
consulted with a number of Manhat- 
tan Project leaders but did not get 
any information or helpful advice, 
except from James B. Conant. He de- 
cided, nevertheless, to warn General 
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Commanding 
General, Supreme Headquarters, 
Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), 
directly of the danger of radioactive 
poisoning. With approval from Gen- 
eral Marshall, he sent Major Peterson 
to England to brief Eisenhower and 
his chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Walter 
Bedell Smith, and other members of 
the SHAEF and ETOUSA staffs. Ei- 
senhower's reaction was restrained. 
"Since the Combined Chiefs of Staff 
have not brought this information of- 
ficially to my notice," he wrote to 
Marshall, "I have assumed that they 
consider, on the present available in- 
telligence, that the enemy will not im- 
plement this project. Owing to the 
importance of maintaining secrecy to 
avoid a possible scare, I have passed 
this information to a very limited 
number of persons; moreover, I have 
not taken those precautionary steps 
which would be necessary adequately 



^ Memo, Maj Peterson to Groves, sub: Special In- 
struments, 14 )un 43; Memo, Nichols to Groves, 
30 Oct 43; Manual on Use of Radioactive Materials 
in Warfare, no author. All in Admin Files, Gen Cor- 
resp, 319.1, MDR. Memo, Groves to Chief of Staff, 
23 Jul 43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 020 (Chief of 
Staff), MDR. MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, Foreign Intel 
Supp. 2 (by Lt Col Arthur V. Peterson), pp. 4-6, 
DASA. Groves. Xow It Can Be Told. p. 200. 



to counter enemy action of this 
nature." ^° 

Nevertheless, Eisenhower did take 
several measures to alert his com- 
mand. Briefings on radioactive war- 
fare were held for the chiefs of the 
American Navy, Army Air Forces, and 
logistical commands in Europe, as 
well as for a limited number of their 
staff members. He also informed Lt. 
Gen. Sir Hastings L. Ismay, Chief of 
Staff to Prime Minister Churchill. At 
the request of the Supreme Head- 
quarters, ETOUSA prepared a plan of 
operation for the American forces 
under the code name Peppermint, 
which provided that detection equip- 
ment be readied for quick dispatch to 
the Continent, if needed, and made 
arrangements for obtaining more 
equipment and the technical person- 
nel required to use it. The plan also 
called for briefing of specified staff 
officers and again requested reports 
of unexplained fogging of photo- 
graphic film and certain types of clini- 
cal symptoms and medical cases. The 
British subsequently devised a similar 
plan. A short time before the invasion 
of Normandy, Headquarters, Chemi- 
cal Warfare Service, ETOUSA, car- 
ried out rehearsals of Operation Pep- 
permint to test the plan and equip- 
ment. Aerial and ground surveys 
checked for presence of radioactivity 
in bombed areas along the coast of 
England and at troop- and supply- 
concentration centers. Survey results 
indicated that the Germans had not 
used radioactive materials, so Oper- 



'° Qiiotation from Ltr, Eisenhower to Marshall, 
1 1 May 44. See also Memo, Groves to Chief of 
Staff, 22 Mar 44. Both in OCG Files, Gen Corresp, 
Groves Files, Fldr 18, Tab A, MDR. 



FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS 



285 



ation Peppermint never went into 
effect. ^^ 

ALSOS Operations in Western Europe, 
194^-1945 

In early 1944, while planning its 
special intelligence objectives, the 
Manhattan Project also took the initia- 
tive to reestablish an even larger 
Alsos mission in Western Europe. 
Groves and Bush in March requested 
the newly assigned Army G-2, Maj. 
Gen. Clayton L. Bissell, to form a 
new Alsos group along the same 
lines as the earlier Italian mission. 
Bissell agreed a new high-level scien- 
tific organization was needed to ex- 
ploit intelligence opportunities in the 
wake of the invasion armies, but there 
was indecision in the War Department 
General Staff as to what kind of orga- 
nization should be used. Concerned 
by the delay. Groves personally inter- 
vened with the G-2. As a result, the 
Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Joseph 
T. McNarney, approved a reorganiza- 
tion plan on 4 April, with Groves and 
Bush selecting the military and civil- 
ian scientific personnel and General 
Bissell the intelligence and adminis- 
trative staff. ^2 

The new Alsos mission had its own 
advisory committee, a scientific direc- 
tor, and an enlarged staff of military 



' ' Ltr, Eisenhower to Marshall, 1 1 May 44; Admin 
Memo 58, Office of Chief Surg, ETOUSA, sub: Rpt 
of Epidemic Disease, 3 Mav 44, Both in OCG Files, 
Gen Corresp, Groves Files, Fldr 18, Tab A, MDR. 
Admin Memo 60, Office of Chief Surg, ETOUSA, 
sub: Rpt on Fogging or Blackening of Photographs 
or X-rav Film, 3 May 44, reprinted in Groves, Sow It 
Can Re Told, pp. 203-04 MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, 
Supp. 2, pp. 6-10, DASA. 

'2 Groves, \ow It Can Be Told. p. 207; Ms, Bid- 
well, "Hist Mil Intel Div, " Pt. 5, pp. 6.26-6.27, 
NARS; Groves Diary, 2. 6, 10 Mar and 3 Apr 44, 
LRG. 



and civilian personnel. The advisory 
committee was comprised of the di- 
rectors of Naval Intelligence and the 
OSRD, the commanding general of 
the Army Service Forces, and the 
Army G-2, each of whom appointed a 
deputy to carry out the actual work of 
supervising the mission. The commit- 
tee members and their deputies 
shared responsibility with the scientif- 
ic director, Samuel A. Goudsmit, a 
physicist from the University of Michi- 
gan, who had been on leave to work 
at MIT's Radiation Laboratory. 

Born in the Netherlands and edu- 
cated in European universities, 
Goudsmit had a first-rate scientific 
reputation and a command of several 
languages. As a student and later a 
frequent visitor to many of the scien- 
tific centers of Europe, he had 
become personally acquainted with 
many of the leading physicists on the 
Continent. That he had not been em- 
ployed on the Manhattan Project was 
an advantage, because, in the event of 
his capture by the enemy, he could 
not be forced to reveal secret infor- 
mation about the atomic program. ^^ 



'^Except as otherwise indicated, account of 
second phase of the Alsos mission based on MDH, 
Bk. 1, Vol. 14, Supp. 1, pp. 2.2-2.4 and 4.1-4.50, 
DASA; Ms, Bidwell, "Hist Mil Intel Div," Pt. 5, pp. 
6.26-6.41, NARS; Groves, \ow It Can Be Told, pp. 
207-49; Thiesmeyer and Burchard, Combat Scientists. 
pp. 165-79; Pash, ALSOS Mission, pp. 52-248; 
Samuel A. Goudsmit, ALSOS (New York: Henry 
Schuman, 1947), pp. 14-127. Data on the German 
atomic program in World War II drawn from David 
Irving, The I'lnts House (London: William Kimber, 
1967), subsequently published in an American edi- 
tion under the title The German Atomic Bomb: The His- 
tory of Xuclear Research m Xazi Germany (New York: 
Simon and Schuster, 1968); Albert Speer, Inside the 
Third Reich — Memoirs, trans, from the German by 
Richard and Clara Winston (New York: Macmillan 
Co., 1969), pp. 269-72; Michel Bar-Zohar, The Hunt 
of German Scientuts. trans, by Len Ortzen from the 
French La Chasse aia Sai'anls allemands (New York: 
Hawthorn Books, 1967). 



286 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



With assistance from the OSRD, 
Goudsmit expanded the civihan scien- 
tific staff until, by the end of August, 
it included more than thirty scientists. 
Colonel Pash, after establishing a 
London office, recruited additional 
military personnel required for the in- 
creased administrative and operation- 
al duties of a larger mission. For pur- 
poses of military administration and 
supply, Alsos was attached to the 
Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, 
G-2, ETC. In spite of direct support 
from Eisenhower's headquarters, Pash 
experienced some difficulties in se- 
curing adequate counterintelligence 
personnel and in making other orga- 
nizational arrangements. Part of the 
problem was that Alsos's high securi- 
ty classification limited knowledge of 
its purpose and activities to only a 
few high-ranking Allied officers. 

While the directive establishing the 
new Alsos stated its mission in very 
broad terms (it was to secure "all 
available intelligence on enemy scien- 
tific research and development, par- 
ticularly with reference to military 
application"), both its military and 
scientific leaders viewed its primary 
purpose to be uncovering and analyz- 
ing German atomic activities. Further- 
more, the limited size of its staff 
(there were never more than slightly 
over one hundred military and civilian 
personnel) precluded any extensive 
investigations outside the nuclear 
physics field, although it did give 
some attention to bacteriological war- 
fare, aeronautical research, proximity 
fuses, guided missiles, and similar 
developments. 

The first Alsos operations in 
France were largely unproductive in- 
vestigations at the University of 
Rennes and at L'Arcouest, where 



Joliot-Curie's summer home was lo- 
cated. Joliot was not in L'Arcouest, 
but Colonel Pash, Major Calvert, and 
two counterintelligence agents found 
him in his laboratory at the College 
dc France when they accompanied the 
2d French Armored Division as it led 
the forces liberating Paris in late 
August 1944. After receiving news of 
the French physicist's whereabouts, 
the Alsos scientific director proceed- 
ed to Paris to interview Joliot. Goud- 
smit subsequently learned that the 
German scientists had used Joliot's 
cyclotron and other laboratory facili- 
ties; however, he failed to obtain 
enough data during the interview to 
determine the extent of enemy 
progress in atomic matters.^* 

Alsos investigative efforts became 
much more productive following relo- 
cation of its headquarters from 
London to Paris in mid-September 
1944. Alsos teams established con- 
tact with officials of the Belgian urani- 
um mining firm. Union Miniere du 
Haut Katanga, and obtained informa- 
tion on the shipments of uranium 
products that had gone into Germa- 
ny. They also learned that there were 
still uranium materials in Belgium and 
that other stock had been shipped to 
France. Groves undertook immediate 
measures to bring these materials 
under control of the Manhattan 
Project agency that had been formed 
for that purpose, the Combined De- 
velopment Trust, and dispatched 
Major Furman, who had taken part in 
the Italian Alsos mission, to locate all 
uranium stocks in areas under Allied 
control. 



'"•Key provisions of the Alsos directive are 
quoted in Ms, Bidwell, "Hist Mil Intel Div," Pt. 5, p. 
6.29, NARS. 



FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS 



287 



Soon Alsos teams had tracked 
down and secured 68 tons of uranium 
materials in Belgium and about 30 
tons at Toulouse, France. Groves di- 
rected prompt shipment of these 
stocks to England and thence later to 
the United States for safekeeping. A 
subsequent Alsos mission located 
and eventually secured substantial 
uranium stock in storage near Stass- 
furt in central Prussia. ^^ 

As Allied armies moved eastward 
toward the Rhine in the fall of 1944, 
Alsos teams gained considerable 
knowledge about the probable loca- 
tions of German atomic activities. Re- 
search had begun at the Kaiser Wil- 
helm Institute in Berlin but had been 
moved near the small towns of He- 
chingen and Bissingen in Wuerttem- 
berg, located in the Black Forest 
region of southwest Germany, when 
heavy bombing of the German capital 
started in 1943. Aerial photo surveil- 
lance instituted by the Manhattan in- 
telligence office in England that 
summer had concluded new construc- 
tion there was not an atomic plant, 
but other Allied intelligence sources 
indicated the Germans had some kind 
of atomic operations in progress in 
the area. Questioning of German pris- 
oners, too, had cast suspicion on the 
town of Oranienburg, 18 miles north 
of Berlin, as a possible location of a 
processing plant for thorium and 
other ores related to atomic energy 
research. 

Finally, in late November 1944, 
Alsos representatives were able to 



'^On the Combined Development Trust see Ch. 
XIII. For further details on the seizure and handling 
of captured stock see Ms, "Diplomatic Hist of Man- 
hattan Proj," pp. 31-32, HB Files, Fldr 111, MDR, 
and MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 14, Supp. 1, pp. 4.36-4.37, 
DASA. 



question German atomic scientists at 
the University of Strasbourg. The 6th 
Army Group's special unit, the Stras- 
bourg T-Force, and Alsos teams en- 
tered the city with the first Allied ele- 
ments. From the scientists and the 
documents they found there, they 
learned that Germany's wartime 
atomic research program had begun 
in early 1942. It had not, however, 
gotten beyond the research and de- 
velopment stage. When the Nazi lead- 
ers had learned of the possibility of 
producing atomic weapons, they had 
offered to provide the atomic pro- 
gram with more money. But the 
German scientists had turned down 
the funds as premature. By 1944, they 
still had not discovered an effective 
way to separate U-235 from ordinary 
uranium, although they had succeed- 
ed in manufacturing uranium metal 
for use in the piles they had built. 
They had not, however, attained a 
chain reaction in these piles. ^® 

While the Strasbourg data indicated 
strongly that the Nazis had not 
achieved significant progress toward 
the fabrication of atomic weapons, it 
was not sufficient to convince General 
Groves, Allied military leaders, and 
Allied scientists. Some argued, for ex- 
ample, that the Strasbourg evidence 
might have been planted deliberately. 
In fact, some Alsos military members 
advocated bombing raids on suspect- 
ed German atomic sites in the Black 
Forest region, but Alsos scientists 
dissuaded them from this course. 

The latter group, however, raised 
no objections to Groves's request for 



'^ For a description of the efforts of the Nazi gov- 
ernment to provide support for the German atomic 
program see Speer, Inside the Third Reich, pp. 269- 
71, and Stimson Diarv, 13 Dec 44, HLS. 



288 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



bombing of installations at Oranien- 
burg. The town was in the projected 
Russian occupation zone and there- 
fore could not be investigated by 
Alsos. Groves dispatched an officer 
from his staff to explain the mission 
to General Carl A. Spaatz, command- 
er of the United States Army Strategic 
Air Forces in Europe, who on 15 
March 1945 ordered Eighth Air Force 
bombers to drop almost 1,300 tons of 
bombs and incendiaries on the facili- 
ties at Oranienburg. ^ "^ 

Preparing to follow the Allied 
armies into Germany in early 1945, 
Alsos corrected certain organization- 
al weaknesses revealed during the 
Strasbourg operations. Full-time as- 
signment of German-speaking scien- 
tists helped ensure their prompt avail- 
ability when they were most needed. 
Establishment of close liaison with 
SHAEF and ETOUSA headquarters, 
in Paris, and with the 21st, 12th, and 
6th Army Groups headquarters en- 
abled Colonel Pash to keep more 
abreast of front-line military develop- 
ments, and hence in a better position 
to exploit intelligence opportunities. 

The reorganized Alsos units dem- 
onstrated their greater effectiveness 
as they followed the Allied armies 
toward the Rhine in February 1945. 
Establishing another advance base at 
Aachen, they investigated scientific in- 
telligence objectives in the university 
cities of Cologne and Bonn, at metal- 
making plants in Frankfurt, and, a 



^' Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Gate, eds., 
Europe: Argument to V-E Day, January 19-4-4 to May 
1945, The Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol. 3 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), pp. 53 
and 753. The account of the bombing of Oranien- 
burg on 15 Mar 45 indicates that the town was a 
railroad center and site of aircraft plants, but does 
not mention atomic facilities. See also Groves, Now 
It Can Be Told, pp. 230-31. 



short time later, at the IG Farben In- 
dustries plants in Ludwigshafen. As 
Alsos scientists had anticipated, none 
of these investigations turned up sig- 
nificant information on German 
atomic developments. But they 
helped to prepare the way for 
effective exploitation of the impor- 
tant atomic objectives in southwest 
Germany. 

The first of these to become acces- 
sible in the spring of 1945 was Hei- 
delberg. There an Alsos team cap- 
tured several leading German atomic 
scientists; nuclear equipment, includ- 
ing a cyclotron; and many valuable 
documents. Data uncovered in Hei- 
delberg also further substantiated ear- 
Her evidence that most of the other 
important German atomic scientists 
and their research installations were 
in the region south and east of Stutt- 
gart. But Alsos penetration of this 
area posed a problem because of the 
decision by the Allied leaders in early 
1945 that it fell within the French 
zone of operations. 

In April 1945, while American 
atomic leaders endeavored to work 
out a solution to the French zone 
problem, Alsos teams operating out 
of advanced base headquarters at 
Heidelberg and Aachen investigated a 
variety of atomic targets at other 
points in west and southwest Ger- 
many. Northeast of Frankfurt, at the 
town of Stadtilm in Thuringia, where 
the German government had relo- 
cated a part of the physics branch of 
the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Alsos 
found many technical documents relat- 
ing to the atomic program, parts for a 
low-temperature pile, heavy water 
equipment, and 8 tons of uranium 
oxide. The Gestapo had evacuated 



FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS 



289 



the most important laboratory staff 
members, but Alsos scientists inter- 
viewed a number of lesser status who 
had remained in Stadtilm. At the uni- 
versity town of Goettingen, located 
south of the city of Hannover, and at 
the adjoining village of Lindau, an- 
other Alsos team found several scien- 
tists and technicians who had consid- 
erable knowledge of German wartime 
scientific programs. Most notable 
among this group was the chief of the 
planning board of the Reichsforschungs- 
rat (National Research Council), the 
central German agency for scientific 
research for military purposes. From 
Goettingen, an Alsos team pushed 
north to Celle, located 22 miles 
northeast of Hannover, where, ac- 
cording to information obtained at 
Stadtilm, the Germans had installed 
an experimental centrifuge for sep- 
arating uranium isotopes. On the 
seventeenth, the team found the cen- 
trifuge in a laboratory located in a 
spinning mill guarded by British 
troops. 

These various findings by Alsos 
teams appeared further to confirm 
that the German wartime atomic 
energy program was of relatively 
modest character and had made little 
progress toward producing atomic 
weapons. But the American atomic 
leaders could not be fully satisfied 
that this was the case until Alsos 
teams had investigated the reported 
atomic facilities relocated by the Ger- 
mans from the Berlin area to the 
Black Forest region in Wuerttemberg 
and had captured the principal 
German atomic scientists believed to 
be residing in that area. They also 
agreed that, for reasons of security, 
American troops must be the first to 
occupy and inspect these facilities. 



Their first hope was that zone bound- 
aries in southwest Germany could be 
adjusted to exclude the atomic facili- 
ties from the French zone. But by 
early April, the State Department's in- 
sistence upon having full knowledge 
of the reasons for making readjust- 
ments — a request incompatible with 
Manhattan's security requirements — 
convinced Groves that other means 
must be found to assure American 
penetration ahead of the French in 
the crucial Wuerttemberg region. On 
the fifth. Groves, Marshall, and Stim- 
son agreed that the Manhattan com- 
mander should implement his own 
proposal that Alsos teams, accompa- 
nied by American troops, move into 
the Wuerttemberg region, question 
German atomic scientists found there, 
remove appropriate records, and de- 
stroy the atomic installations.^® 

Marshall directed Groves to coordi- 
nate with the Operations Division of 
the War Department and SHAEF in 
developing a plan for what came to 
be known as Operation Harbor- 
age.^^ Groves sent his special assist- 
ant for security affairs, Lt. Col. John 
Lansdale, Jr., to Europe to assist the 
SHAEF planners. They first consid- 
ered carrying out a combined para- 
chute and ground operation, but by 
20 April the rapidly shifting tactical 
situation had eliminated the need for 
the air phase of the operation. In- 
stead, SHAEF ordered Colonel Pash 
to undertake a conventional intelli- 
gence operation, with the objective of 
seizing appropriate persons, docu- 
ments, buildings, and materials. For 



isstimson Diary. 4-5 Apr 45, HLS. 

1^ General Groves gives a detailed account of his 
role in the planning of Operation Harborage in 
Xow II Can Be Told. pp. 233-36. 



290 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



this purpose, the Supreme Headquar- 
ters created a new special task force, 
designated T-Force. Comprised of 
fourteen American and seven British 
officers, five scientists, eight counter- 
intelHgence agents, and fifteen enhst- 
ed men, T-Force was attached to the 
6th Army Group and reinforced by 
the 1269th Engineer Combat Battal- 
ion (less Company B), all under the 
command of Pash. When French 
forces appeared to be on the verge of 
moving in to the Wuerttemberg area 
in late April, SHAEF gave Pash per- 
mission to launch Operation Harbor- 
age. On the twenty-second, Pash, ac- 
companied by Brig. Gen. Eugene L. 
Harrison, G-2 of the 6th Army 
Group, led T-Force across a bridge- 
head at Horb, on the Neckar River, 
about 56 miles east of Strasbourg. 
They moved south and east 20 miles 
to Haigerloch, which they seized on 
the twenty-third. In the next two 
days, T-Force elements also occupied 
Hechingen, 9 miles east of Haiger- 
loch, and Bissingen, a few miles 
southwest, and Tailfingen, a few miles 
southeast of Hechingen, thus com- 
pleting a sweep of the Black Forest 
villages suspected of having atomic 
installations or personnel. 

What the Alsos scientists found in 
these communities finally and defi- 
nitely confirmed the limitations of the 
wartime German atomic program. "It 
was so obvious," Samuel Goudsmit 
later recalled, 

that the whole German uranium set up 
was on a ludicrously small scale. Here [at 
Hechingen] was the central group of lab- 
oratories, and all it amounted to was a 
little underground cave, a wing of a small 
textile factory, a few rooms in an old 
brewery. To be sure, the laboratories 
were well-equipped, but compared to 
what we were doing in the United States 



it was still small-time stuff. Sometimes we 
wondered if our government had not 
spent more money on our intelligence 
mission than the Germans had spent on 
their whole project. ^° 

Besides laboratories and equip- 
ment, Alsos teams found concealed 
supplies of heavy water, 1.5 tons of 
metallic uranium cubes, 10 tons of 
carbon, and miscellaneous other nu- 
clear materials. They also located im- 
portant scientific and technical 
records, but most significant were the 
German scientists they took into cus- 
tody. These included Otto Hahn, 
who, with Fritz Strassmann, had con- 
ducted in 1938 the experiments that 
resulted in the fissioning of uranium 
by neutrons, subsequently confirmed 
by Lise Meitner and Otto R. Frisch. 

Not all of the known remaining 
leaders of German atomic science 
were found in the Black Forest 
region, but information uncovered 
there led to capture in May 1945 of 
those still at large by other Alsos 
teams operating in Bavaria. These in- 
cluded the world-famous Werner Hei- 
senberg, a Nobel Prize winner, and 
Walther Gerlach and Kurt Diebner, 
two of the chief administrative offi- 
cials in the German atomic program. 
After preliminary interviews by Alsos 
field teams. Allied authorities re- 
moved the captured scientists by easy 
stages to rear areas — first to Ver- 
sailles, then Belgium, and finally in 
July to England — where they were 
subjected to further intensive interro- 
gation. Although the enemy scientists 
were under British administrative 
control during their extended intern- 
ment in England, representatives of 



20 Goudsmit, .4L50S, pp. 107-08. 



FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS 



291 



the Manhattan Project exercised a 
consultative role in determining their 
intelligence exploitation and ultimate 
disposal. Unwilling to see the German 
scientists come under Russian con- 
trol, both British and American 
atomic authorities insisted on detain- 
ing them in England until there was a 
reasonable assurance that when they 
returned to Germany they would 
reside and work in either the British 
or American occupation zone, a con- 
dition that was not finally met until 
the end of 1945.21 

Alsos continued operating in the 
wake of the Allied armies in the 
summer and fall of 1945, seeking ad- 
ditional evidence of German atomic 
developments. Penetrations to Ham- 
burg, Berlin, Vienna, and elsewhere 
resulted in the capture of a few more 
scientists but provided little addition- 
al new information or facilities. When 
the Alsos mission finally disbanded 
in November, it had, as General 
Groves later assessed its results, 
"only confirmed what we already 
knew and it was quite clear that there 
was nothing in Europe of further in- 
terest to us." 22 

When the interned German scien- 
tists learned that the United States 
had dropped atomic bombs on Japan 
in August 1945, they endeavored to 
explain why Germany failed to devel- 
op an atomic weapon. Their explan- 
tion coincided generally with the 
picture that Alsos teams had pieced 
together from the evidence they had 
gathered in Germany. Although 
German scientists had begun research 
on the practical application of atomic 



energy in 1939, they soon had come 
to the conclusion that, because of lim- 
ited resources and facilities available 
to them, production of atomic explo- 
sives was not feasible and had con- 
centrated on developing an atomic 
engine as an alternate source of 
power. They had persisted along 
these limited lines even after Albert 
Speer, the Nazi Minister of Arma- 
ments, had offered in 1942 to in- 
crease financial support for the 
atomic program. Speer later recalled 
that Heisenberg and other German 
atomic scientists had given him the 
distinct "impression that the atom 
bomb could no longer have any bear- 
ing on the course of the war."^^ 
Administrative problems, too, had 
plagued the program; a partial con- 
solidation in 1942 had not ended the 
fragmentation and duplication that had 
developed when atomic research had 
been divided among three different 
and competing governmental agen- 
cies. In the estimate of the historian 
of the German program, the com- 
bined effect of these negative factors 
was that "after the middle of 1942, 
Germany virtually marked time until 
the end of the war, gaining in those 
three years knowledge that could 
have been won in as many months 
had the will been there. . . . Ger- 
many's nuclear scientists failed to win 
the confidence of their government, 
and were left stranded on the shores 
of the atomic age." 2"* 



^' On the internment and treatment of the 
German scientists in England see Groves, Xow It 
Can Be Told. pp. 333-40. 

"Ibid., p. 248. 



"Speer, Inside the Third Retch, p. 27L 

"Irving, The I'mis House, p. 274. See also Alan D. 
Beyerchen, Saentisls Under Hitler: Politics and the Phys- 
ics Community m the Third Reich (New Haven: Yale 
University Press, 1977), pp. 188-89, 193-97, 201- 
02. 



CHAPTER XIII 



The Raw Materials Program 



From the very beginning of the 
atomic energy project, one of the 
most important activities was procure- 
ment of basic raw materials, many of 
them never before in great demand. 
The Office of Scientific Research and 
Development had begun acquiring a 
number of these materials through 
the planning board of its S-1 Section 
and through Stone and Webster, and 
in mid- 1942, when the project was 
placed under the direction of the 
Army, the Manhattan District as- 
sumed responsibility for the ongoing 
materials program. With the long- 
range objective of ensuring America's 
control of the world's more signifi- 
cant deposits of uranium and thori- 
um,^ the District almost immediately 
became involved in acquisition efforts 
at an international level. This, project 
leaders felt, was critical to national se- 
curity and would prevent unfriendly 
nations from securing these supplies. 

'When thorium 232 captures a slow neutron, it 
converts into thorium 233. The thorium then disin- 
tegrates quickly into protoactinium 233, which then 
decomposes, but more slowlv, into uranium 233. 
Uranium 233 is fissionable by slow neutrons and 
thus potentially a material for sustaining a chain 
reaction. Thorium, like uranium, occurs widely in the 
earth's crust, but similarly not often in sufficient 
concentration to provide economically workable de- 
posits. Before World War II, it was most commonly 
used in the manufacture of gas mantles. 



Geographic Search and Field Exploration 

In October 1942, shortly after Gen- 
eral Groves became executive officer 
of the Manhattan Project, Deputy Dis- 
trict Engineer Nichols and Union 
Miniere Director Edgar Sengier suc- 
cessfully completed negotiations for 
the District's acquisition of the com- 
pany's remaining stocks of mined ura- 
nium ore, stored on Staten Island and 
in the Congo, ^ thus assuring the 
atomic program a sufficient supply to 
meet its wartime requirements. Yet in 
the ensuing months, project leaders 
gradually came to realize that raw ma- 
terials procurement could not be lim- 
ited to meeting only the immediate 
wartime demands. First, by their deci- 
sion to build and operate several 
large production plants, they had es- 
tablished a requirement for a continu- 
ing supply of uranium, not only for 
the wartime weapons program but 
also for postwar armaments and de- 
velopment of atomic energy as a great 
new source of power. Second, they 
became increasingly aware of impor- 
tant strategic considerations as, be- 
ginning in 1943, the United States ne- 
gotiated interchange agreements with 



'See Ch. W for details on acquisition of Belgian 



THE RAW MATERIALS PROGRAM 



293 



Great Britain. Both the American and 
British leaders concluded that the 
best future interest of the two coun- 
tries would be served by a joint effort 
to seek out and gain control over as 
much of the world's uranium and tho- 
rium deposits as possible; this policy, 
they reasoned, would ensure their 
governments ready access to major 
new resources of inestimable value 
and would keep these resources out 
of the hands of their potential en- 
emies. Furthermore, project leaders 
perceived that, strictly from the view- 
point of national interest, it would be 
better for the United States to con- 
serve its own apparently limited do- 
mestic resources and use whatever 
raw materials it could acquire from 
other countries instead.^ 

Although occupied with a myriad of 
other matters relating to plant con- 
struction in early 1943, General 
Groves took time to develop an orga- 
nization for carrying out the project's 
long-range raw materials objectives. 
He presented his ideas to the Military 
Policy Committee at its 5 February 
meeting, emphasizing that he wanted 
to have "a competent mining expert 
examine the possibility of developing 
in the United States a suitable source 
of supply of the crucial ores." By late 
March, the Manhattan commander 
was discussing the possibility of en- 
gaging the Union Carbide and 
Carbon Corporation, already under 
contract to operate the gaseous diffu- 
sion plant at Clinton, to undertake a 



3MPC Rpt, 21 Aug 43, Fidr 25, Tab E; MPC Mm, 
24 Jun 43, Fldr 23, Tab A. Both in OCG Files, Gen 
Corresp, MP Files, MDR. Groves, Xow It Can Be 
Told, p. 180. Ms (unsigned), "Atomic Bombs," Apr 
45, HB Files, Fldr 15, MDR. 



broad program of ore exploration for 
the Manhattan Project.* 

Groves's selection of Union Car- 
bide rather than some other compa- 
ny, or the Manhattan District, or an- 
other government agency was due to 
a number of considerations, with the 
security aspect of primary importance. 
Because Union Carbide made regular 
foreign purchases of many uranium 
minerals, he felt it was highly unlikely 
that the chemical firm's ore explora- 
tion activities for the District would 
attract any undue attention. Also es- 
pecially attractive was the fact that the 
company, because of its long experi- 
ence in mineral surveys and explora- 
tions, currently had an organized — 
although inactive — subsidiary, the 
Union Mines Development Corpora- 
tion, to administer the ore program. 
Following negotiations, Union Car- 
bide agreed to activate Union Mines, 
and on 24 May, Union Mines Presi- 
dent J. R. Van Fleet accepted a letter 
contract. Under terms of this con- 
tract. Union Mines would carry out a 
worldwide search for new sources of 
uranium, evaluate its findings, and 
make recommendations as to the best 
way for the United States to explore 
them; the government would pay all 
costs; and Union Mines would work 
without a fixed fee or profit. 

For reasons of security, and to 
avoid duplication of administrative 
overhead operation. Union Mines lo- 
cated its headquarters in the New 
York City office building already oc- 
cupied by other elements of Union 
Carbide. Security also was the main 
consideration in the administrative 



* MPC Min, 5 Feb (source of quotation) and 
30 Mar 43, MDR. 



294 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



decision to set up a separate Manhat- 
tan unit for monitoring Union Mines 
survey and exploration activities, as 
well as to maintain liaison with Dis- 
trict headquarters and its major pro- 
curement office at Madison Square. 
On 15 June, in rooms adjacent to 
those of Union Mines, the district en- 
gineer established the Murray Hill 
Area Engineers Office and, as area 
engineer, assigned Maj. Paul L. 
Guarin.^ 

While Major Guarin was organizing 
a small staff of technical experts and 
clerks. Union Mines started recruiting 
trained personnel for its staff By 
mid- 1944, the company had assem- 
bled approximately 130 individuals, 
assigning half of them to the New 
York office and the rest to field 
projects in the United States and 
abroad. To achieve its program objec- 
tives. Union Mines organized staff 
functions along several lines. The 
New York-based geologists, transla- 
tors, and clerks concentrated on a 
thorough search of available technical 
literature on world mineral resources, 
in all languages. Field teams of 
mining engineers and geologists in- 
vestigated known or suspected 
sources of uranium and thorium. A 
small group in New York studied 
ways to improve the methods and 
equipment for ore exploration, and 
another small unit at Union Mines 
headquarters oversaw research on 
beneficiation and metallurgical pro- 
cesses that might be suitable for con- 



centration of uranium ores. Making 
maximum use of the nearby facilities 
of Union Carbide, Union Mines was 
able to administer the entire ore pro- 
gram with a relatively small overhead 
staff and at a cost of approximately 
$600,000 a year.6 

During the period of its wartime 
operations. Union Mines supplied 
Manhattan leaders with a variety of 
reports. After studying the various in- 
struments and techniques for area 
surveying and ore testing. Union 
Mines research staff compiled data on 
the latest or improved devices for de- 
tecting uranium and thorium deposits 
and for testing ore samples. It also 
examined some sixty-five thousand 
volumes and, based on its findings, 
produced fifty-six reports covering 
occurrences of uranium and thorium 
in about fifty different countries, in- 
cluding not only enemy-controlled 
lands such as Czechoslovakia and 
Thailand but also areas as remote as 
Greenland and Madagascar. And from 
the company's field exploration pro- 
gram, field teams prepared a total of 
fifty-seven reports of investigations 
carried out in thirty-six states and the 
territory of Alaska and about forty- 
five reports of investigations conduct- 
ed in some twenty foreign countries."^ 



5 Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. p. 180; First Annual 
Rpt, Murray Hill Area Engrs Oflice, sub: Proj S-37, 
30 Jun 44, pp. 1-2, OROO; Memo, Guarin to 
Groves, sub: Union Mines Proj, 6 Jul 44, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 095 (Union Mines), MDR; 
MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 2, "Geographical Exploration," 
pp. 1.1-1.3, DASA. 



6 Rpt, Murray Hill Area Engrs Office, 30 Jun 44, 
pp. 2-8, 12-13, 42-44 (Charts 2-4), OROO; 
Groves, sub: Union Mines Proj, 6 Jul 44, MDR; 
MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 2, pp. 1.2-1.3 and 3.2-3.5, DASA. 

^ MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 2, pp. 1.4-1.16 and Apps. Bl 
(list and summary of all reports by Literature Re- 
search Div-B5), DASA. Rpt, Murray Hill Area Engrs 
Office, 30 Jun 44, pp. 22-34, OROO. Memo, Mer- 
ritt to Nichols, sub: Resume of Prod of Uranium 
Products for MD in Colorado Plateau Area, 26 Jan 
45, 410.2 (Uranium); Rpt, Union Mines, sub: Sum- 
mary of Investigations to 1 Feb 44, same date, 095 
(Union Mines). Both in Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 
MDR. Ltr. Stimson to MacArthur (Cdr in Chief. SW 

Conlinucd 



THE RAW MAITRIALS PROGRAM 



295 



Beginning in early 1944, the 
Murray Hill area engineer used the 
Union Mines data to provide the dis- 
trict engineer with comprehensive 
lists appraising uranium production 
possibilities in various countries. A 
typical list, for example, rated occur- 
rences in the Belgian Congo as excel- 
lent; those in the United States, 
Canada, and Sweden as good; those 
in Czechoslovakia, Portugal, and 
Union of South Africa as fair; and 
those in Madagascar, Australia, Brazil, 
and England as poor. By 1945, the 
area engineer was also including re- 
ports on thorium. Brazil and India 
were rated excellent, while the United 
States, Korea, Netherlands East 
Indies, Malaya, and Siam were judged 
fair. In this manner, the Union Mines 
data provided the essential guidelines 
for reaching the long-range objective 
of the ore program.® 

Ore Control Agency: Combined 
Development Trust 

By the summer of 1943, the Ameri- 
can atomic project's supply require- 
ments for sufficient raw materials had 
convinced its leaders of the impor- 
tance of establishing adequate control 
over the world's more significant de- 
posits of uranium and thorium. In its 
21 August report to the President, the 
Military Policy Committee advanced 

Pacific Area). 31 Mar 44. HB Files, Fidr 25. MDR. 
.Stimson wrote to MacArthur requesting clearance 
for a visit by a L'nion Mines representative interest- 
cA in "inlormation |on| certain natural resources 
which might be founcJ in vour theater." 

» Rpt. Murrav Hill Area Kngrs OfTice. .SO jun 44, 
pp. 8-11, OROO. MDH. Bk 7, Vol. 2. pp. 1.16- 
1.21. DASA. Rpt, Union Mines, sub: .Summary of 
Investigations to 1 Feb 44, same date; Memo, 
(iuarin to Groves, sub: I nion Mines Proj, 6 Jul 44. 
Both in Admin Files, Cien Corresp, 095 (I'nion 
Mines), MDR. 



this idea, warning that "the major 
world supply [is] in the Belgian 
Congo [and] not under our control in 
any way.^ This situation, the commit- 
tee felt, did not bode well for the 
United States, especially in the post- 
war era: America's knowledge and 
technical capability to fabricate atomic 
weapons would be of no avail without 
the raw materials to do the job. 

How to secure these raw materials 
became a priority issue for project 
leaders, who felt one way was to gain 
control over the Congo supply. 
During the fall. Colonel Nichols at- 
tempted to convince Union Miniere 
Director Edgar Sengier that the flood- 
ed Shinkolobwe mine should be re- 
opened and its entire future output 
sold to the United States; however, 
Sengier, who understood the poten- 
tial of atomic power, did not wish to 
make any commitments that he could 
not later justify to the Belgian gov- 
ernment as having been based upon 
military requirements. 

The American failure to secure a 
long-term contract from Sengier for 
future production of Congo ore came 
up for discussion at the 14 December 
meeting of the Military Policy Com- 
mittee. The consensus of the commit- 
tee was that, with the Belgian govern- 
ment in exile in London and British 
commercial interests apparently hold- 
ing or having direction over nearly a 
third of Union Miniere stock. Great 
Britain was likely to gain control of 
the Congo uranium. So from the 
American point of view, the commit- 
tee concluded, the best move would 
be to secure joint control. Conse- 



9 MPC Rpt, 21 Aug 43, MDR. Although signed by 
Bush, Groves had drafted this report. 



296 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



quently, on the seventeenth, the 
American and British members of 
the Combined PoHcy Committee, ^"^ 
agreed to begin studies preparatory 
to recommending joint action. ^^ 

Speaking for the Mihtary PoHcy 
Committee, General Groves recom- 
mended to the President in February 
1944 that the Belgians be "strongly 
encouraged" to reopen the Shinko- 



'" Churchill and Roosevelt's signing of the 
Quebec Agreement on 19 Aug 43 established the 
Combined Policy Committee in Washington, D.C., 
with membership as follows: Secretary Henry L. 
Stimson (United States), as chairman, Dr. Vannevar 
Bush (United States), Dr. James B. Conant (United 
States), Field Marshal Sir John Dill (Ignited King- 
dom), Col. John J. Llewellm (llnited Kingdom), and 
Mr. Clarence D. Howe (Canada). Field Marshal Dill 
was head of the British Joint Staff Mission in Wash- 
ington, Colonel Llewellin was the Washington rep- 
resentative of the British Ministry of Supply, and 
Mr. Howe was Canada's Minister of Munitions and 
Supplv. See Cowing, Britain and Atomic Energy, pp. 
170-72, and Groves, Xow It Can Be Told pp. 133-37. 

'•MPC Min, 14 Dec 43, MDR; CPC Min, 17 Dec 
43, HB Files. Fldr 10, MDR; Ms, "Diplomatic Hist 
of Manhattan Proj." p. 18, HB Files, Fldr 111, 
MDR; Groves, Xow It Can Be Told. p. 170. After the 
breakdown of Anglo-American collaboration on 
atomic matters in early 1943, Great Britain devel- 
oped a strong interest in securing a reliable source 
of uranium for its future needs. Two actions by the 
United States, however, caused leaders of the Brit- 
ish atomic project to feel genuinely alarmed: in the 
spring, when the United States contracted to pur- 
chase practically the entire output of the (Canadian 
Eldorado mine (hitherto the chief source of uranium 
for the British program) through the end of 1945; 
and in the fall, when the United States attempted to 
buy the entire output of the Belgian-owned Shinko- 
lobwe mine in the Congo. The first incident was 
sufficient impetus for the British to seek a resump- 
tion of Anglo-American cooperation, and in August 
the two allies signed the Quebec Agreement. The 
signing of this agreement opened the way for the 
two atomic partners to pursue a joint program to 
obtain control of the world's uranium resources. Al- 
though the fall incident seemed threatening to Brit- 
ish interests, the United States realized by the end 
of the year that Great Britain occupied a better van- 
tage point and thus took the initiative to implement 
joint cooperation and control measures. For an ac- 
count of Anglo-American problems and coordina- 
tion on uranium supplies see Ciowing, Bntain and 
Atomic Energy, pp. 179-85. 



lobwe mine and that the United 
States and Great Britain take what- 
ever steps were necessary to ensure 
"joint control" of uranium in the 
Congo. The two countries also should 
collaborate to secure all accessible 
supplies elsewhere, "not only for the 
period of the war, but for all time to 
come." The Top Policy Group en- 
dorsed these recommendations and, 
on the fifteenth. Secretary Stimson 
and OSRD Director Vannevar Bush 
lunched with Roosevelt and secured 
his approval. ^^ 

Following these recommendations, 
the Combined Policy Committee gave 
its tentative approval to a draft plan 
for American-British-Canadian col- 
laboration on 17 February. The com- 
mittee would establish a Washington- 
based business corporation, or similar 
agency, headed by a board of six di- 
rectors (three to be chosen by the 
United States, two by Great Britain, 
and one by Canada), and the United 
States would pay half the cost of the 
organization. Great Britain and 
Canada the rest. As directed by the 
committee, the new organization 
would give first consideration to ob- 
taining control of the Congo ore 
deposits. ^^ 



'2 Quotations from MPC Rpt, 4 Feb 44, OCG 
Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, Tab C, MDR. 
See also Memo, Bush to Bundy, 14 Feb 44, OCG 
Files, Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 25, MDR; Stim- 
son Diary, 15 Feb 44, HLS; Cowing, Bntain and 
Atomic Energy, pp. 298-99. 

"CPC Min, 17 Feb 44, OCG Files, Gen Corresp. 
MP Files, Fldr 9, Tab B, MDR; Stimson Diary, 
17 Feb 44, HLS; Articles of Agreement Governing 
Collaboration Between the Authorities of the United 
States of America, the Kingdom of Great Britain, 
and the Dominion of Canada in the Matter of Urani- 
um Ore, draft of 14 Feb 44, HB Files, Fldr 23. 
MDR. The draft adopted on the seventeenth does 
not appear to have differed substantiallv from that 



THE RAW MATERIALS PROGRAM 



297 



Final negotiations on this wartime 
agreement took place in London be- 
tween Sir John Anderson, now Chan- 
cellor of the Exchequer, and Ameri- 
can Ambassador John G. Winant. 
This arrangement made for a some- 
what ticklish stituation, for neither 
Secretary of State Cordell Hull nor 
anyone else in the Department of 
State knew anything about the exist- 
ence of the Manhattan Project. In the 
interest of continued secrecy, Presi- 
dent Roosevelt took the view that 
Ambassador Winant was his repre- 
sentative, not Secretary Hull's, and 
that negotiations could be conducted 
through Winant without recourse to 
the Department of State. He designat- 
ed Secretary Stimson to oversee the 
negotiations, and instructions reached 
Winant over Stimson's rather than 
Hull's signature. For these delicate 
negotiations then, the War Depart- 
ment assumed a role normally accord- 
ed to the State Department. Although 
highly irregular, the War Department 
continued to play this role in subse- 
quent quests for overseas uranium 
and thorium resources. 

Winant's instructions were carried 
by Maj. Harry S. Traynor, a highly 
trusted officer on the Manhattan Dis- 
trict staff, whom General Groves de- 
tailed to brief and assist the ambassa- 
dor.^'* Traynor arrived in London in 

dated on the fourteenth (cf. Hewlett and Anderson, 
Xew World, p. 286). The arrangement was strictly for 
wartime purposes. Following the end of hostilities, 
it was subject to review and such revisions as might 
be necessary to meet postwar conditions. 

''• Description of London negotiations based on 
voluminous collection of memorandums, reports, 
cables, drafts, and similar materials in HB Files, 
Fldrs 48, 54, 56, 60, 65, and 99, MDR. See especial- 
ly narrative reports by Major Traynor in Fldr 89 and 
an account by him reproduced in Groves, Xow It 
Can Be Told, pp. 171-74. See also Stimson Diary, 
Mar-Jun 44, passim, HLS. 



mid-March, armed with a letter from 
the President, a copy of the draft 
agreement, and instructions to do 
everything in his power to assist 
Winant in completing the accord as 
quickly as possible. "Any delay in ne- 
gotiations," wrote Roosevelt to his 
ambassador, "might prejudice a suc- 
cessful conclusion." ^^ 

Despite this admonition for speed, 
nearly three months passed before 
the London conferees were able to 
resolve the intricate problems associ- 
ated with preparing the so-called 
Agreement and Declaration of Trust. 
Some of these problems were legal in 
nature, and to aid in their solution 
Winant requested the assistance of 
Brig. Gen. Edward C. Betts, judge ad- 
vocate general of General Eisenhow- 
er's European Theater of Operations 
headquarters, and Secretary Stimson 
complied. Betts, whom Winant trust- 
ed implicitly, also enjoyed the confi- 
dence of Sir Thomas Barnes, Sir John 
Anderson's legal adviser, and the two 
men worked well and easily with each 
other. 

One legal question that arose even 
before Traynor left for England was 
raised by the President himself: If 
the proposed organization was es- 
tablished as a corporation, could its 
existence and transactions be kept 
a secret under United States law? 
There was general agreement that 
Roosevelt's concern for security was 
justified, and after considerable legal 
study. Sir Thomas suggested and 
General Betts agreed that the best so- 
lution was to make the organization a 
common law trust. 



'n.tr, Roosevelt to Winant, 3 Mar 44, HB Files, 
Fldr 60. MDR. 



298 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



A second legal problem was wheth- 
er the President had the authority to 
enter into the type of agreement con- 
templated. Two briefs were prepared 
on this question — the first, at the di- 
rection of Secretary Stimson, by Brig. 
Gen. Boykin C. Wright, the Army 
Service Forces' International Division 
director, who as a civilian had headed 
a New York law firm; and the second, 
on General Groves's orders, by three 
lawyers on the Manhattan staff: Lt. 
Col. John Lansdale, Jr., Maj. William 
A. Consodine, and Pvt. Joseph Volpe, 
Jr. Both briefs agreed that the pro- 
posed arrangement was within the 
power of the President to make exec- 
utive agreements without recourse to 
Congress, but both also questioned 
the legality and practicability of estab- 
lishing a corporation. General Betts 
seconded these conclusions, which 
further supported the recommenda- 
tion that the organization be estab- 
lished as a trust. 

There were also other questions. 
Should Canada be a signatory to the 
trust agr«"'"ment? Should thorium be 
included with uranium as a valuable 
source of fissionable material? The 
question concerning Canada arose be- 
cause it was not a party to the 
Quebec Agreement. The conferees 
decided to drop all references to the 
country from the trust agreement, but 
Winant and Anderson stipulated in an 
exchange of letters that one of the six 
directors of the trust would be a Ca- 
nadian.^® As for thorium, because 



Metallurgical Laboratory scientists in 
the spring of 1944 had concluded 
that it might eventually prove to be 
the best fuel for atomic piles, the con- 
ferees in London decided to include 
it with uranium in the Declaration of 
Trust. 

The negotiations were monitored 
carefully from Washington, where 
Secretary Stimson, Harvey Bundy, as 
Stimson's special assistant for scientif- 
ic affairs, and General Groves kept in 
close communication with Winant. 
Drafts of the proposed trust agree- 
ment were sent back and forth be- 
tween the two capitals, and in the 
midst of the London talks Traynor 
traveled to Washington to confer with 
his superiors. This coordination, how- 
ever, did not result in a timely resolu- 
tion of the discussions, which were 
complicated by the fact that Ambassa- 
dor Winant, Major Traynor, Sir John 
Anderson, and W. L. Gorell Barnes, a 
representative of the British Foreign 
Office, simultaneously were involved 
in quite lengthy negotiations with 
Belgian officials in London regarding 
an agreement on future control and 
development of the rich Congo ore — 
the primary reason for establishing 
the trust. ^"^ 

It was early June before the confer- 
ees had coordinated and affirmed in 
final form all aspects of the Decla- 
ration of Trust. Prime Minister 
Churchill signed first, affixing his sig- 
nature on two copies of the agree- 



'^ Earlier the British and Americans had agreed 
that Canada should share in controlling the Congo 
uranium supplv. Sec Ltr, Field Marshal Dill to 
Bundv, 6 Mar 44, HB Files, Fldr 48, MDR. 



'■^ Copies of various drafts of trust agreement and 
related work papers m HB Files, Fldr 48, MDR. 
Drafts and fmal text of Belgian Agreement in HB 
Files, Fldr 57, MDR. See also Major Traynor's 
Notes on [First] Trip to London, England, 12 Apr 
44, and Rpt on Second Trip to London, 22 May 44, 
submitted to Bundv, Attn: Secy War. Both in HB 
Files, Fldr 99, MDR. 



THE RAW MATERIALS PROGRAM 



299 



ment. Forthwith, a special courier car- 
ried the documents to Washington, 
where, on the thirteenth. President 
Roosevelt also signed them. This 
trust agreement established the Com- 
bined Development Trust which, 
under the general direction of the 
Combined Policy Committee, would 
supervise the acquisition of raw mate- 
rials in "certain areas" outside of 
American and British territory.^* The 
individuals named as trustees, whom 
the committee approved at its next 
meeting in September, were: for the 
United States, Charles K. Leith, a dis- 
tinguished mining engineer, George 
L. Harrison, a businessman and spe- 
cial assistant to Stimson who had 
been helping out on Manhattan prob- 
lems, and General Groves; for Great 
Britain, Sir Charles J. Hambro, head 
of the British Raw Materials Mission, 
and Frank G. Lee, a British Treasury 
representative; and for Canada, 
George C. Bateman, a deputy minis- 
ter and member of the Combined Re- 
sources Board in that country. At the 
first meeting of the Trust on the four- 
teenth, Groves was elected chairman 
and Sir Charles deputy chairman of 
the group. ^^ 

Ore Acquisition in Foreign Areas 

For the leaders of the American 
atomic energy project, the much en- 



'*Onc of two originals of Agreement and Declara- 
tion of Trust, dated 13 Jun 44, the day Roosevelt 
signed, filed in HB Files, Fldr 49, MDR. The term 
certain areas was introduced so as not to offend Rus- 
sian sensibilities when the terms of the agreement 
became public. Msg, Stimson to W'inant, 17 Apr 44, 
HB Files, Fldr 106, MDR. 

'^CPC Min (draft version of minutes prepared by 
Bundv and Webster, the CPC's joint secretaries), 
19 Sep 44, HB Files, Fldr 13, MDR; CDT Prov 
Min, 14 Sep 44, OCG Files, (,en Corresp, MP Files, 
Fldr 9. Tab B, MDR. 



larged program of exploration, con- 
trol, and acquisition of radioactive 
ores in foreign areas represented the 
logical continuation and expansion of 
the ongoing ore program in the 
United States and Canada. ^° Because 
the deposits would be in countries 
not under American or British con- 
trol, they left the problem of acquisi- 
tion to the Combined Policy Commit- 
tee and the Combined Development 
Trust. Operating at the international 
level, these joint American-British 
groups were technically outside the 
direct control of the Manhattan Dis- 
trict; however, their activities inevita- 
bly were influenced greatly and relat- 
ed closely to those of the American 
project, not only because in the fore- 
seeable future the latter would have 
the greatest need for fissionable ma- 
terials but also because two of its in- 
fluential personalities held key posts 
in both organizations. General 



^^ In July 1943, Union Mines surveyed the Great 
Bear Lake region in Canada through a Canadian 
subcontractor. Ventures, Ltd. This firm was author- 
ized to make purchases for Union Mines, but the 
project was barely under way when in September 
the Canadian government decided to take control of 
all radioactive substances in the Yukon and North- 
west Territories, promising to keep the L'nited 
States fully informed concerning all ore discoveries 
and to exploit them for the mutual benefit of both 
countries. In the spirit of the Quebec Agreement, 
General Groves subsequently arranged to have 
Union Mines terminate its contract with Ventures 
and transfer all of its claims to the Canadian gov- 
ernment. Union Mines settled its contract with Ven- 
tures in late 1944, agreeing to a lump-sum pavment 
to cover all costs incurred bv the Canadian firm. See 
MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 2, pp. 2.2-2.4, DASA. Memo, 
Groves to Bush, Purnell, and Styer, 27 Sep 44; 
Memo, Nichols to Groves, 17 Oct 44, Incl to Memo, 
Nichols to Groves, sub: Agreement With Canadian 
Govt, 8 Nov 44. All in OCG Files, Gen Corresp, MP 
Files, Fldr 2, MDR. Stanley U \ Dziuban, Militaiy Re- 
lations Between the l'nited States and Canada. 1939- 
1945. U.S. Army in World War II (Washington, 
D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1959), pp. 287- 
88. 



300 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND 1 HE ATOMIC BOMB 



Groves, as chairman of the Combined 
Development Trust, tended to domi- 
nate its activities. And in the Com- 
bined PoHcy Committee, Maj. Gen. 
Wilhelm D. Styer headed the impor- 
tant technical subcommittee, whose 
reports furnished much of the data 
for the parent committee's decisions 
on matters relating to Manhattan's 
production and weapons development 
program. ^^ 

The first important achievement for 
the United States and Great Britain 
was final agreement with the Belgians 
in early fall of 1944. As soon as the 
two countries had reached agreement 
in June on establishment of the Trust, 
General Groves and Sir Charles 
Hambro, acting on behalf of the 
Trust, began direct negotiations with 
Edgar Sengier to expedite arrange- 
ments with the African Metals Corpo- 
ration for reopening Union Miniere's 
Shinkolobwe mine. The diplomatic 
negotiations finally culminated in the 
Belgian, or Tripartite, Agreement of 
26 September, effected by an ex- 
change of letters among Foreign Min- 
ister Paul H. Spaak of Belgium, Chan- 
cellor Anderson, and Ambassador 
Winant.22 



2'CPC Min, 8 Sep 43, HB Files, Fldr 9, MDR; 
CDT Prov Min, 14 Sep 44, OCG Files, Gen Cor- 
resp. MP Files, Fldr 9, Tab B, MDR. 

22 Ltrs, Spaak to Winant and Anderson, both 26 
Sep 44, and Incl (Memo of Agreement); Ltrs, An- 
derson and Winant to Spaak, both 26 Sep 44. All m 
HB Files, Fldr 49, MDR. Extensive materials, includ- 
ing copies of correspondence, cables, notes of meet- 
ings, cirafts and texts of agreements, relating to the 
Belgian Agreement and the arrangement with the 
African Metals Corporation are in HB Files, Fldrs 
17, 54, 55, 57, 106, MDR. and m OCG Files, Gen 
Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 16, MDR. A brief descrip- 
tion of the negotiations and an analysis of the 
agreements made mav be found in Ms, "Diplomatic 
Hist of Manhattan Proj," pp. 17-18 and 25-26, HB 
Files, Fldr 111, MDR. 



Under terms of the agreement, Bel- 
gium granted the United States and 
the United Kingdom an option on all 
of its uranium and thorium resources 
in recognition of the fact that "the 
protection of civilization" required 
"effective control of said ores. . . ." 
The option was to continue in effect 
for the period needed to carry out 
ore contract arrangements set up 
under the agreement, as well as for 
an additional ten-year period. Bel- 
gium reserved the right to retain such 
ore as might be needed for "her own 
scientific research and . . . industrial 
purposes. . . ." ^^ 

But the two atomic partners did not 
secure this control over the Congo 
ore deposits without making some 
major concessions. President Roose- 
velt had approved the concessions in 
August 1944, harking to the advice of 
Stimson, who monitored the negotia- 
tions, that if they were not granted 
the Belgians might delay indefinitely 
reopening the Shinkolobwe mine. Of 
particular importance was the two 
allies' agreement to enter into a con- 
tract between the Trust and African 
Metals for purchase of 3.44 million 
pounds of uranium oxide under terms 
acceptable to the Belgian govern- 
ment. In addition, they also assented 
to furnish Union Miniere with the 
new equipment and materials it would 
require to reopen and operate the 
Shinkolobwe mine. Finally, they 
granted the Belgians the right to par- 
ticipate in any future utilization that 
might be made of the Congo ores "as 



23 Memo of Agreement, Incl to Ltrs, Spaak 
Winant and Anderson, both 26 Sep 44, MDR. 



THE RAW MATB:RIALS PROGRAM 



301 



a source of energy for commercial 
purposes. . . ." ^4 

Meantime, representatives of the 
Trust and African Metals, conferring 
in New York, had worked out the 
terms of the contract to cover the 
procurement of the 3.44 million 
pounds of uranium oxide. On 17 Oc- 
tober, they signed the formal con- 
tract. It provided that the Trust 
would purchase only the oxide in the 
uranium ore, letting African Metals 
retain the radium and other precious 
metals contained in the concentrate. 
Reaching agreement on a fair price 
was difficult, for its value had never 
been determined on the open market 
and depended ultimately upon the 
success of the atomic bomb project. 
They finally settled upon a price 
based primarily on known cost fac- 
tors — $1.45 a pound for high-grade 
material, five cents less for low grade, 
free on shipboard at the port of 
Africa (Lobito in Angola or Matadi in 
the Belgian Congo). Perhaps partly to 
compensate for any losses likely to 
result from the uncertainty as to a fair 
price, the Trust agreed to reimburse 
Union Miniere for costs it incurred up 
to $550,000 in reopening Shinko- 
lobwe mine, and also to assist it in 
procuring materials, equipment, and 
skilled labor. With this assistance, 
Union Miniere, which already had 
taken preliminary steps for resump- 
tion of uranium mining operations in 
the Congo, estimated that it could 
begin delivery of new oxide to the 
Manhattan Project bv late 1945 or 
early 1946.2 5 



In anticipation of the heavy finan- 
cial obligations that the Trust would 
have to meet under terms of the Afri- 
can Metals contract, as well as under 
other ore acquisition contracts that it 
expected to negotiate in the future, 
the American trustees had already 
taken steps to secure funds for pay- 
ment of the United States' share of 
the cost of Trust operations. This had 
turned out to be a fairly complex 
problem, because the Trust's require- 
ment for extreme secrecy and for 
continuous access to funds without 
time limitations to meet contractual 
obligations tended to run counter to 
legally established governmental fiscal 
procedures. General Groves had un- 
dertaken responsibility for coming up 
with a plan that would circumvent 
these legal barriers without impairing 
the contractual capabilities or security 
of Trust operations. Groves present- 
ed his plan to the Combined Policy 
Committee on 19 September 1944, 
emphasizing that the objectives of the 
agreement under which the Trust had 
been set up in the previous June 
made absolutely necessary an access 
to adequate funds. The committee 
unanimously endorsed the plan and 
Groves set about immediately to put 
it into effect. 26 

The essential feature of Groves's 
plan was a special fund to be deposit- 
ed with the Department of the Treas- 
ury, from which he or other designat- 



2* Ibid.; Memo, Slimson to President. 25 Aug 44, 
HB Files, Fldr 49. MDR. 

26 Ltr, Groves to Stimson, 24 Nov 44, HB Files, 
Fldr 27, MDR; CPC Min. 19 Sep 44, MDR; Croves, 
\ow It Can Be Told. pp. 177-78. 



26 Groves had in mind paragraph 2 of the Agree- 
ment and Declaration of Trust, dated 13 Jun 44, 
which directed that the CDT should "gain control 
of and develop production of Uranium and Thori- 
um supplies in certain areas . . . and for that pur- 
pose . . . take such steps as it may in the common 
interest think fit" to accomplish this objective. 1 he 
original of this agreement is in HB Files, Fldr 13, 
MDR. 



302 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



ed American members of the Trust 
could draw money as needed, without 
further authorization being required. 
Money from this fund would be 
placed in the Federal Reserve Bank in 
New York City to cover the United 
States' share of payments on Trust 
contracts. On 21 September, Under 
Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson 
directed allocation to Groves of an 
initial sum of $12.5 million from 
funds already appropriated for na- 
tional defense purposes. By the time 
Groves received the check, however, 
his legal staff had found that funds 
deposited with the Treasury were 
subject to handling and processing by 
many employees in both the Treasury 
and the General Accounting Office, 
too great a security risk for the Man- 
hattan Project. A possible alternative 
was to deposit the money directly in 
the Federal Reserve Bank in New 
York City or in a private banking in- 
stitution in that city. But after further 
consultation with War Department 
lawyers and with Secretary Stimson 
and George Harrison, a fellow trust- 
ee, Groves concluded that probably 
not even this step could be taken 
without first informing Secretary of 
the Treasury Henry Morgenthau. 

On 17 October, Groves and Harri- 
son met with Stimson in his office to 
try to resolve the Trust's quandary 
over its funds. There appeared to be 
no legal way around the requirement 
that the Trust must secure the con- 
sent of Secretary Morgenthau before 
depositing the $12.5 million with the 
Treasury. Yet Stimson was convinced 
Morgenthau would insist on having 
full knowledge of the atomic bomb 
project before giving his consent. 
This, Stimson felt, he could not do 
without permission from the Presi- 



dent, whom he did not wish to bother 
concerning such a relatively unimpor- 
tant matter. Stimson finally was per- 
suaded to attempt to get Morgen- 
thau's sanction of the special fund 
without telling him the reason for its 
existence; but, as the Secretary of 
War had predicted, he refused. Fortu- 
nately, however, further negotiations 
between Manhattan District and 
Treasury officials revealed that Secre- 
tary Morgenthau maintained several 
accounts in his office which were not 
subject to the usual auditing and ac- 
counting procedures and that Trust 
funds might be placed in one of them 
without danger of exposure. Groves 
visited the Treasury Secretary on 
27 October and, still without reveal- 
ing the purpose, received permission 
to place Trust money in one of the 
special accounts. Henceforth, Groves 
made withdrawals from the account, 
depositing them in the Bankers Trust 
Company of New York to cover pay- 
ments on the African Metals and 
other contracts. In the period from 
late 1944 until he resigned from the 
Trust at the end of 1947, the Manhat- 
tan commander deposited a total of 
$37.5 million in the Trust's Treasury 
account. ^^ 



2 7 The complex history of CDT financing may be 
traced in the following documents. Except as other- 
wise indicated, all items are in MDR, OCG Files, 
Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 9, Tab B: CDT Prov 
Min, 14 Sep 44; Memos, Und Secy War to WD 
Budg Off, 21 Sep 44 and 4 Aug 45; Memos for File, 
Groves, both 17 Oct 44; Memo, Groves to Secy 
War, 27 Oct 44; Ltr, Daniel W. Bell (Act Secy 
Treas) to Groves, 30 Oct 44; Ltr, Groves, Harrison, 
and Leith to Sloan Colt (Bankers Trust Co. presi- 
dent), 15 Nov 44; Memo, Groves to Secy War, 6 Jun 
45, HB Files, Fldr 37, MDR; Memo, Groves to Und 
Secy War, 4 Aug 45; Ltr, Groves to Fred M. Vinson 
(Secy Treas), 14 Aug 45; Memo, Groves to WD 
Budg Off, 24 Aug 45; Memo, Col Ernest C. Bomar 

Continued 



THE RAW MAI ERIALS PR()(,RAM 



303 



In late 1944, the British were inter- 
ested in devising a more comprehen- 
sive plan for a long-range procure- 
ment program for raw materials. 
They expressed a particular need for 
a study that would provide informa- 
tion on developing radioactive ore 
sources within British areas outside of 
Canada. At its 19 September meeting, 
the Combined Policy Committee 
agreed unanimously that the Trust 
should undertake a worldwide survey 
of current and potential sources of ra- 
dioactive materials. Committee mem- 
bers also acknowledged the need for 
more data on requirements, but they 
emphasized the theoretical nature of 
scientific and technical information 
and the difficulty of obtaining accu- 
rate estimates. Nevertheless, the com- 
mittee directed its technical subcom- 
mittee to investigate and report on 
the uranium required for a "unit ex- 
plosive of specified energy ..." and 
for the next stage in development of 
atomic weapons, as well as scientific 
and technical factors that might have 
an important effect on future ore re- 
quirements for atomic explosives.^® 

The technical subcommittee com- 
pleted its report in mid-November; 
however, after hearing a brief oral 

(Act WD Budg Off) to CG ASF, Attn: Office of 
Fiscal Dir (Col Foster), sub: CDT, 28 Aug 45, and 
1st Ind. HQ. ASF, Office of Fiscal Dir, fwd to Und 
Secy War, Attn: Col Freidlich, 30 Aug 45, HB Files, 
Fldr 51, MDR; Ltr, (iroves to Secy Treas, sub: Ter- 
mination of Account, 5 Dec 47; Ltr, E. F. Bartlet 
(Fiscal Asst Secy, I reas) to Groves, 8 Dec 47; Ltr, 
Groves to Secy Armv, 8 Dec 47. See also Groves, 
Xoiv It Can Be fold. pp. 1 76-77. 

28 Quoted phrase from CPC Min, 19 Sep 44, 
MDR. Memo, Sir Ronald L CamplK-ll (British CPC 
member) to CPC Joint Secys, sub: Development of 
Coordinated Prgms for Procurement of Raw Materi- 
al for T(ube) A(lloys) Proj, 24 Aug 44; Ltr, Bundy 
and Webster to Stver, 2 Oct 44. Both in HB Files, 
Fldr 27, MDR. 



summary of its contents in January 
1945, the Combined Policy Commit- 
tee laid it aside without further 
action. The committee followed a 
similar course with the Trust's ore 
survey, which Groves had sent to 
Stimson on 24 November. Although 
based upon more complete data from 
the Murray Hill Area Engineers Office 
sources compiled by Union Mines and 
from the British Directorate of Tube 
Alloys, the survey did not substan- 
tially alter the overall picture that Union 
Mines had depicted in its earlier re- 
ports submitted to the district 
engineer. ^^ 

As chairman of the Trust, General 
Groves made some specific recom- 
mendations based on data from the 
Trust's ore survey. The United States 
and Great Britain should continue in- 
vestigation into uranium and thorium 
resources, organizing permanent 
survey groups in England and Canada 
similar to the Union Mines teams op- 
erating in the United States; every 
effort should be made to build up 
stockpiles in territories controlled by 
the two countries; major ore deposits 
outside these territories (for example, 
uranium in the Congo and thorium in 
Brazil) should be purchased and 
shipped for storage to areas under 
control of the two atomic powers; and 
lesser deposits (for example, in Portu- 
gal, Czechoslovakia, and Madagascar) 



29 CPC Min, 22 Jan 45, HB Files, Fldr 14, MDR; 
Memo, Tech Subcommittee to CPC, sub: Ore Re- 
quirements for Prod of Explosives, 16 Nov 44, HB 
Files, Fldr 27, MDR; Chart (analvsis of estimated re- 
quirements of uranium ore for each of several pro- 
posed tvpes of atomic weapons), OC-G Files, Cien 
Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 2, MDR; Rpt, CDT, sub: 
Survey of W orld's Resources of Uranium and Thori- 
um, 26 Oct 44, Incl to Ltr, Groves to Stimson, 
24 Nov 44, MDR. 



304 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



should be brought under control by 
purchase or by political agreements. 
The United States and Great Britain 
endeavored to carry out most of 
these recommendations. Where politi- 
cal or diplomatic negotiations were 
required, action was taken through 
appropriate government channels. 
Where commercial agreements 
would suffice, the Trust initiated 
negotiations. ^° 

The quest for other sources contin- 
ued in 1945. Early in the year British 
officials began negotiations with the 
British and Portuguese owners of ura- 
nium mining properties in Portugal, 
preparing the way for their purchase 
by the Trust. At the end of January, 
Colonel Guarin, Manhattan's raw ma- 
terials expert, returned from an ex- 
tended inspection trip to the Congo 
with new information on the progress 
being made by Union Miniere in re- 
opening the mines there, and as a 
result of his report, the Trust negoti- 
ated with African Metals for the pur- 
chase of more Congo ores that 
summer. Even the advancing Allied 
forces in Belgium, France, and Ger- 
many furnished additional small 
quantities of captured uranium ore 
stores.^ ^ 

These seized stocks became a 
matter of slight disagreement be- 
tween the United States and Great 
Britain. The Declaration of Trust pro- 
vided that all uranium, or thorium, 
secured from whatever source was to 
be held jointly, but it was generally 



3° Ltr, Groves to Stimson, 24 Nov 44, MDR. 

31 CPC Min, 22 Jan 45, Fldr 14; CPC Min, 8 Mar 
45, Fldr 46 (copy in Fldr 105); CPC Min, 4 Jul 45, 
Fldr 37 (copy in Fldr 105); Ltr, Stimson to Secy 
State, 29 Jul 44, Fldr 7; Ms, "Diplomatic Hist of 
Manhattan Proj", pp. 31-32, Fldr 111. All in HB 
Files, MDR. Groves Diary, 29 Jan 45, LRG. Cowing, 
Britain and Atomic Energy, pp. 313-14. 



understood that the first objective of 
the atomic program in both countries 
must be to supply the American 
project with the raw materials it 
needed to develop and build suffi- 
cient atomic weapons to win the war. 
However, some British scientists felt 
that at least a part of the captured 
ore, which had been shipped from the 
Continent to England for temporary 
storage, ought to remain there to 
ensure that the British Tube Alloys 
project would have adequate supplies 
on hand. Groves disagreed. When he 
learned in June 1945 that ore cap- 
tured in Germany was being held in 
Great Britain, he wrote Secretary 
Stimson and asked that the Combined 
Policy Committee request its prompt 
shipment to the United States "to in- 
crease our margin of safety of raw 
material." British committee members 
expressed concern that allocation of 
all of the ore to the United States 
would leave Great Britain with virtual- 
ly no reserves at the end of the war. 
The committee, nevertheless, reaf- 
firmed the policy that while the war 
lasted all raws materials received by 
the Trust, including that captured, 
should go to the United States for 
weapon production. At the same 
time, to placate British fears, the com- 
mittee stated that if the Trust should 
acquire more than needed for the 
manufacture of weapons, it should 
hold it in reserve to be shared jointly 
after the war.^^ 



3^ Quoted phrase from Memo, Groves to Stim- 
son, 23 Jun 45, HB Files, Fldr 37. MDR. Agreement 
and Declaration of Trust, 13 Jun 44, Fldr 49; Rpt, 
CDT, sub: Survey of World's Resources of Uranium 
and Thorium, 26 Oct 44, Incl to Ltr, Groves to 
Stimson, 24 Nov 44, Fldr 27; CPC Min, 8 Mar 45, 
Fldr 46. All in HB Files, MDR. 



THE RAW MATERIALS PROGRAM 



305 



Incoming mineral survey reports in- 
dicated that kolm, a coal-like material 
intermixed yvith oil shale deposits 
mined in Sweden, contained uranium. 
In early 1944, a British team and a 
group of Swedish mineral experts 
concluded that kolm's potentialities 
were sufficient to warrant denying 
other powers access to the mineral. 
At the request of the Combined 
Policy Committee, the American min- 
ister in Stockholm, Herschel V. John- 
son, opened negotiations with the 
Swedes. The negotiations, conducted 
with the knowledge of the British 
minister in Stockholm, ended without 
a formal agreement. The Swedish 
government, however, prohibited 
export of uranium-bearing ores and 
agreed to inform the United States 
and Great Britain if in the future it 
should decide to permit their 
export. ^^ 

While the British gave full support 
to the program for control and acqui- 
sition of uranium, they were much 
less enthusiastic about a similar pro- 
gram for thorium. On 27 January 
1945, British committee member Sir 
Ronald I. Campbell, who had re- 
placed Col. John J. Llewellin, wrote to 
Stimson, expressing doubt as to the 
wisdom of Groves's suggestion that 
the Trust, without direct committee 
approval, should undertake measures 
that would likely require political 
agreements and trade options. In Sir 
Ronald's view, both the Combined 
Policy Committee and the two gov- 
ernments ought to have time to ex- 



amine the implications of such negoti- 
ations before the Trust proceeded. 
Sir John Anderson advanced similar 
views, emphasizing that widespread 
occurrence of thorium limited the 
possibility that the United States and 
Great Britain could effectively prevent 
other nations from acquiring and pur- 
chasing substantial quantities of the 
material. He also suggested that, be- 
cause limited amounts of thorium 
were needed in the immediate future, 
the two allies should rely upon the 
rather ample commercial production 
available from the Indian state of 
Travancore. 

The United States, however, did 
not want to rely solely on British 
controlled thorium supplies and in 
mid-February proceeded — without in- 
forming the British government — to 
investigate acquisition of supplies out- 
side of British-American control. In 
the meantime. Sir John had read 
Colonel Guarin's report on the obsta- 
cles to a rapid increase in uranium 
ore production from the Congo and 
also had learned of new information 
that emphasized the potential of tho- 
rium. Because of these developments, 
he agreed in early March to go along 
with a more vigorous policy on thori- 
um. But he was overtaken by events, 
for the United States was already 
engaged in secret unilateral negotia- 
tions with Brazil to gain access to its 
thorium resources.^'* 

Playing a significant role in laying 
the groundwork of these negotiations 



"CPC Min. 4 Jul 45. Fldr 'M: Draft of Proposed 
Agreement With Swedish (iovt and Related Papers, 
Jul-Aug 45, Fldr 53; Ms, "Diplomatic Hist of 
Manhattan Proj," pp. 29-30, Fldr 111. All in 
HB Files, MDR. Oowing, Bnlnin and Atomic Energy 
p. 314. 



^''Ftr, (irovcs to Stimson, 24 Nov 44; I.tr, Camp- 
bell to Stimson, 27 Jan 45; Memo, sub: Supplies and 
Requirements for liube) A(llovs), 3 Mar 45 (adden- 
dum to memo giving Sir John Anderson's views, 
dated 3 Feb 45). All in HB Files, Fldr 27, MDR. 
(iowing, Bntani and .iloniic Eiiergy. p. 316. 



306 



MANHATIAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



was General Groves, who was very 
much aware that most atomic scien- 
tists, including those in Germany and 
the Soviet Union, recognized that 
thorium might soon have to replace, 
or supplement, scarce uranium. When 
he learned Secretary of State Edward 
R. Stettinius, Jr., would be passing 
through Brazil in mid-February, en 
route from the Yalta Conference 
(3-11 February) to attend an inter- 
American meeting in Mexico City, he 
saw an opportunity to approach the 
Brazilians secretly. Taking advantage 
of a conference with the President on 
other matters, Groves requested and 
received permission to brief Stettinius 
on the atomic project. He subse- 
quently talked with Stettinius and also 
arranged to have an officer from the 
Manhattan staff, Maj. John E. Vance, 
accompanv the Secretarv of State to 
Brazil. ^^ 

On 17 February, Stettinius con- 
ferred with President Getulio Vargas 
on the question of thorium and the 
Brazilian chief executive approved the 
opening of negotiations. In the ensu- 
ing months, specially appointed Bra- 
zilian and American delegations — the 
United States representatives includ- 
ed three Manhattan officers: Col. 
John Lansdale, Jr., Major Vance, and 
1st Lt. Joseph Volpe, Jr. — worked out 
details of an agreement, signed on 6 
July 1945. It provided that the United 
States would purchase each year for 
three years at least 3,000 tons of tho- 
rium-bearing monazite ore. In addi- 
tion, the United States would have an 



option to buy all other thorium-bear- 
ing compounds Brazil might produce 
in the initial three-year period, with 
the right to renew this option for ten 
more successive three-year periods. 
The British had no knowledge of the 
agreement, but in September the 
United States agreed to the under- 
standing reached earlier in March by 
the Combined Policy Committee that 
each country should have equal privi- 
leges in any arrangement for thorium 
acquisition and control made with 
Brazil. 36 

When the committee approved the 
start of negotiations with Brazil, it 
also endorsed taking steps to obtain 
control of thorium in India and in the 
Netherlands East Indies. The British 
began discussions with Travancore 
authorities in the summer of 1945, 
but the negotiations proved difficult 
and not until 1947 was a less than 
satisfactory agreement reached. Nego- 
tiations conducted at the same time 
with the Dutch concerning the East 
Indian sources were more successful, 
and in August 1945 an agreement 
granted thorium purchase options to 
the United States and Great Britain. ^"^ 



3^ Memo, Groves to Bundv, 6 Feb 45, HB Files, 
Fldr 27, MDR; Ciroves, .\'oiv' II Can Be Told. p. 184. 



36 Memo, Groves to Bundy, 6 Feb 45. MDR; 
Memo, Groves to MPC, 23 Feb 45, OCG Files. Gen 
Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 23, Tab A. MDR; Ltr, 
Groves to Secy War, 8 Mar 45, OCG Files, Gen 
Corresp, MP Files, Fldr 9, Tab B, MDR; CPC Min, 
8 Mar 45, HB Files, Fldr 46, MDR; Ms, "Diplomatic 
Hist of Manhattan Proj," pp. 27-28 and Anns. 24- 
25, HB Files, Fldr 111, MDR; Gowing, Bntairi and 
Atomif Energy, p. 317. 

"CPC Min, 8 Mar 45, Fldr 46; CPC Min, 4 Jul 
45, Fldr 37; Memo, Groves to Stimson, 7 Jun 45, 
Fldr 37. All in.HB Files, MDR. Gowing, Bntam and 
Atomic Energy, pp. 317-18. Groves, Sow It Can Be 
Told. p. 184. 



CHAPTER XIV 



The Feed Materials Program 



The Manhattan District's acquisi- 
tion of uranium- and thorium-bearing 
ores was only the initial step in pro- 
viding the essential materials for the 
large-scale electromagnetic, diffusion, 
and pile processes.^ The District also 
had to bring under contract and to 
monitor the operation of a complex 
network of processing plants for re- 
fining and converting the ore, first 
into pure concentrates of uranium 
oxide (black oxide) or sodium uranate 
(soda salt) and then into the chemical 
feed forms of uranium dioxide and 
trioxide, uranium tetrafiuoride and 
hexafluoride, and uranium metal. 
Thus for the Army, development and 
management of the feed materials 
program, begun by the Office of Sci- 
entific Research and Development 
(OSRD) and Stone and Webster in 
1941-42, proved to be one of its 
most challenging and difficult tasks 
in administering the atomic bomb 
project.^ 



' Because thorium has fissionable properties simi- 
lar to uranium, Manhattan Project leaders vigorous- 
ly pushed a program to locate and control world re- 
sources of this heavy element. But existence of ade- 
quate supplies of uranium for the atomic bomb 
project made unnecessary procurement and process- 
ing of thorium during World War II. 

2MDH, Bk. 7, \'ol. 1, Feed Materials and Special 
Procurement, " pp. 1.1-1..T, DASA. 



Program Organization and 
Support Activities 

With ore acquisition activities pro- 
ceeding apace. District Engineer Mar- 
shall in October 1942 formed a Mate- 
rials Section to monitor the shipment 
of uranium-bearing ores and other 
materials from mines, tailing piles, 
storage depots, and processing plants, 
as well as their treatment through 
various stages of refinement and con- 
version into feed materials. He select- 
ed Lt. Col. Thomas T. Crenshaw as 
section head and assigned several Dis- 
trict officers already familiar with 
some aspect of materials procurement 
to assist him — including Capt. Phillip 
L. Merritt, a geologist by training, 
and Capt. John R. Ruhoff, a chemical 
engineer who, when serving as the St. 
Louis area engineer, had overall re- 
sponsibility for the District's uranium 
metal production. Also, because of 
Colonel Nichols's deep involvement 
in the earlier OSRD acquisition 
progam, Marshall had his deputy con- 
tinue to give his special attention and 
expertise to the District's feed mate- 
rials program.^ 



^ I'nless otherwise indicated, details on the ad- 
ministrative and personnel aspects of the feed mate- 
rials program are based on ibid., pp. 1.15-1.22 and 

(.oiiiimiod 



308 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



The relocation of District head- 
quarters from New York to Oak 
Ridge in mid-August 1943 occasioned 
a complete reorganization of the Ma- 
terials Section. (See Chart 2.) Colonel 
Nichols, now the district engineer, de- 
cided to leave the materials group in 
New York City, close by the ports of 
entry and storage points for ores 
coming from overseas and also con- 
venient to the headquarters of many 
of the firms under contract to supply 
feed materials. He redesignated the 
section as the Madison Square Area 
Engineers Office and, with transfer of 
Colonel Crenshaw to Oak Ridge as 
the officer in charge of all Clinton op- 
erations, assigned Ruhoff, recently 
promoted to lieutenant colonel, to be 
the Madison Square area engineer. 
Colonel Ruhoff took over administra- 
tion of a burgeoning materials group, 
numbering nearly four hundred by 
early 1944, and an indication of its 
key role during the period of the 
project's greatest activity, from late 
1943 to the fall of 1944, was Nichols's 
practice of coming to New York for 
weeklv meetings with Ruhoff and his 
staff. 4' 



Apps. B1-B4 {Org Charts), DASA; Rpts, Mat Sec 
(later Mad Sq Area Engrs Office), Oct 42-Aug 45, 
passim. MD-319.1 (Rpts MSA), OROO. The period 
covered in these reports on the materials program 
varies from a single week to two months. The newlv 
organized Materials Section on 28 Oct 42 submitted 
its first report to the district engineer for Colonel 
Nichols's attention, and the reconstituted Madison 
Square Area Engineers Office on 6 Aug 43 submit- 
ted its first report through Lt. Col. E. H. Marsden, 
executive officer at the new District headquarters in 
Tennessee, for the attention of the district engineer. 
*Rpt, Mad Sq Area Engrs Office, 29 Apr 44, App. 
3, OROO; Nichols, Comments on Draft Hist "Man- 
hattan," Incl to Ltr, Nichols to Chief of Mil Hist, 
25 Mar 74. CMH. Nichols arrived at the new desig- 
nation of the area office because of its location near 
Madison Square, at Eiflh Avenue and Iwenty-third 
Street. 



The Madison Square staff, three- 
quarters of which worked in the New 
York City area and the rest at various 
points in the field, oversaw a program 
comprised essentially of four oper- 
ations: a search for additional raw ma- 
terials; their procurement in whatever 
form might be available; their refine- 
ment; and their conversion into feed 
materials. To ensure a steady flow of 
raw and semirefined materials to the 
project's processing plants, staff 
members closely monitored the 
scheduling of ore shipments from 
Africa to the port of New York; made 
or expedited arrangements for their 
storage; approved procurement of 
partially processed uranium-contain- 
ing materials; and assisted in con- 
tracting with crude ore refining firms 
(African Metals Corporation, Eldo- 
rado Mining and Refining Company, 
and Vitro Manufacturing Company) 
to obtain uranium oxide, uranium 
sludge, radium and radioactive lead, 
and similar products. They also over- 
saw various research programs 
(Princeton and Yale Universities, Mas- 
sachusetts Institute of Technology, 
and National Bureau of Standards), 
supplying them with an ever-increas- 
ing variety of other chemicals and 
special materials. 

Staff members in the field provided 
liaison between the Madison Square 
office and seven area offices reporting 
to Ruhoff (Chart 4). Of these, two— 
the Murray Hill Area Engineers Office 
in New York and the Colorado Area 
Engineers Office in Grand Junction — 
monitored materials procurement, 
while five — Iowa (in Ames), St. Louis, 
Wilmington, Beverly (near Boston), 
and Tonawanda (near Buffalo) — over- 
saw feed materials processing oper- 



Chart 4 — Feed Materials Network, January 1945 



MANHATTAN DISTRICT 



MADISON SQUARE AREA 



MURRAY HILL AREA 



u 



UNION MINES DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION 



COLORADO AREA 



UNITED STATES VANADIUM CORPORATION 
M VANADIUM CORPORATION OF AMERICA 
METALS RESERVE CORPORATION 



AFRICAN METALS CORPORATION 



ELDORADO MINING AND 
REFINING COMPANY 



VITRO MANUFACTURING COMPANY 



IOWA AREA 



D 



IOWA STATE COLLEGE 



ST. LOUIS AREA 



MALLINCKRODT CHEMICAL WORKS 



WILMINGTON AREA 



Lj 



E. I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY 



BEVERLY AREA 



D 



METAL HYDRIDES, INC. 



TONAWANDA AREA 



LINDE AIR PRODUCTS COMPANY 
ELECTRO METALLURGICAL COMPANY 
HOOKER ELECTROCHEMICAL COMPANY 
HARSHAW CHEMICAL COMPANY 



PRINCETON UNIVERSITY 



YALE UNIVERSITY 



MASSACHUSETTS 
INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 



NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS 



Somre: MDH, Bk. 7. \'ol. 1. App. B4, DASA. 



310 



MANHATTAN: 1 HE ARMY AND THE AlOMIC BOMB 



ations. A single area engineer admin- 
istered the Iowa and St. Louis offices, 
traveling between the headquarters 
located at Iowa State College and the 
Mallinckrodt Chemical Works. In Wil- 
mington, the busy area engineer at 
Du Pont kept a check on that firm's 
production of feed materials in addi- 
tion to overseeing its plutonium pro- 
gram. In Beverly, the area engineer 
supervised the District's contract for 
uranium metal production with Metal 
Hydrides, Inc. And in Tonawanda, 
the area engineer had responsibility 
for contracts with the Linde Air Prod- 
ucts Company, a subsidiary of the 
Union Carbide and Carbon Corpora- 
tion, for production and chemical 
processing of uranium oxide into its 
dioxide and salt forms and with the 
Electro Metallurgical Company for 
production of uranium metal; later he 
supervised contracts with the Har- 
shaw Chemical Company of Cleve- 
land, which made uranium tetrafluor- 
ide and uranium hexafluoride, and 
with the Hooker Electrochemical 
Company of Niagara Falls, New York, 
which reclaimed uranium from slag 
produced in the mining of carnotite 
and other ores.^ 

Feed Materials Procurement 

Raw Materials 

From 1943 to the end of the war 
the Manhattan Project steadily in- 
creased its supplies of uranium ore, 
to ensure sufficient stores for conver- 



sion into the black oxide needed for 
the feed materials processing plants. 
Ore procurement activities, which 
reached a high point in 1944 and 
then leveled off somewhat in early 
1945, were concentrated in three 
major areas: Africa, Canada, and the 
United States. Project leaders were 
aware in 1943 that the wartime needs 
of the bomb program were likely to 
exhaust both the immediately avail- 
able domestic and Canadian deposits, 
and the security implications of this 
situation ultimately led to a District 
policy of using, to the greatest extent 
possible, ore from foreign sources.^ 

The most significant foreign source 
of natural uranium was the Belgian 
Congo, where the Belgian mining 
firm. Union Miniere du Haut Katan- 
ga, controlled all mineral rights. Fol- 
lowing negotiations, the District pro- 
cured the African ore through Union 
Miniere's subsidiary, the African 
Metals Corporation. For the period 
October 1942 to December 1944, cost 
of 30,000 tons of Congo ore contain- 
ing 3,800 tons of black oxide totaled 
more than $9 million, based on the 
price of oxide averaging about $1.12 
per pound. The District's Washington 
Liaison Office arranged for purchase 
of additional Congo ore, containing 
more than 3,100 tons of oxide and 
costing more than $10 million.^ 

All Canadian ore, procured through 
the Eldorado Mining and Refining 
Company (formerly, until June 1943, 



^MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, pp. 2.1-6.3 and App. II, 
DASA. List, sub: MD Contracts With Various Univs, 
Incl to Memo, Marsden to Groves, 2 Nov 43; List, 
sub; Signed Prime and Subcontracts Over $100,000, 
Incl to Memo, Marsden to Groves, 31 Aug 43. Both 
in Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 161, MDR. 



6 MPC Rpt, 21 Aug 43, OCG Files, Gen Corresp, 
MP Files, Fldr 25. Tab E, MDR; U.S. Engrs Office, 
Mad Sq Area, sub: Notes on . . . Ltr to Sen [Edwin 
C] Johnson [Colo.], 5 Dec 45, Admin Files, Gen 
Corresp, 312.1. MDR. 

^ Data on uranium ore purchases in this and sub- 
sequent paragraphs based on charts in MDH, Bk. 7, 
Vol. 1, Apps. F1-F3, DASA. 



THK FEED MA lERIALS PR()C;RAM 



311 



Eldorado Gold Mines), came from the 
Great Bear Lake area. In May 1943, 
with completion of Stone and Web- 
ster's initial purchase order (15 July 
1942), the District negotiated another 
contract with a representative of El- 
dorado's sales agency in the United 
States. But procurement officials soon 
experienced serious difficulties in im- 
plementing this contract and decided 
to terminate it. Colonel Ruhoff, 
acting in his capacity as chief of the 
newly constituted Madison Square 
Area Engineers Office, agreed in Sep- 
tember to the terms of a new contract 
with Eldorado; he approved a second 
agreement in December 1944. For the 
period July 1942 to December 1944, 
cost of 4,200 tons of Canadian ore 
containing 1,137 tons of black oxide 
was slightly over $6.6 million, based 
on the price of oxide varying from 
about $1.95 to over $4.00 per 
pound. ^ 

Domestic sources of natural urani- 
um were in the Colorado Plateau 
region of the states of Colorado, 
Utah, and New Mexico. The uranium 
in this region occurred in carnotite 
ores, which also contained vanadi- 
um — an element urgently needed in 
the war effort because of its use as a 
hardening agent in the manufacture 
of steel. District procurement officials, 
learning in late 1942 that those firms 
actively mining carnotite ores and re- 
fining vanadium did not extract the 
relativelv small amount of uranium in 



» Ibid., pp. 3.1-3.3 and App. F2, DASA; MPC Min 
(and attached documents), 24 Feb 45, OCG Files, 
Gen Corresp, MP Files, Fidr 23, lab A, MDR; 
Memo, 1st Lt Winston H. Pickett (Intel & Scty Div) 
to Groves, sub: Contract Disclosure in Current Ca- 
nadian Case (Relating to Ore Supply Prgm in WW 
II), 15 Mar 46, Investigation Files, (k-n Corresp, 
Boris Pregel, MDR. 



the refuse materials, began negotia- 
tions in early 1943 to acquire these 
tailings. Because these tailings were 
in the form of sand, and thus too 
heavy for economical shipment, they 
arranged contracts with several vana- 
dium operators — the government- 
owned and -financed Metals Reserve 
Corporation,^ the privately owned 
and operated Vanadium Corporation 
of America, and the United States Va- 
nadium Corporation, a Union Car- 
bide subsidiary — and proposed they 
convert the tailings into concentrates 
(sludges). The advantage of the con- 
centrates was that they would yield a 
higher percentage of uranium for 
conversion into black oxide and that, 
in this form, shipment to the Buffalo- 
area processing firms would be a less 
costly operation. For the period No- 
vember 1942 to February 1945, cost 
of 380,000 tons of carnotite sands 
containing 1,350 tons of black oxide 
was more than $2.1 million, based on 
the price of oxide averaging about 
$0.80 per pound. 10 

Uranium ore from North America 
yielded considerably less black oxide 
than that from Africa, primarily be- 



^ The Metals Reserve Corporation, a subsidiary of 
the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, was estab- 
lished under legislation enacted by Congress in 
1940, with the objective of providing for purchases 
of strategic and critical materials. By late 1944, 
Metals Reserve, which Congress had supplied with 
adequate funds and power to procure items needed 
by war industries and for stockpiling, had spent 
some $1.7 billion for 19 million tons of materials. 
See Smith, The Army and Economic Mobilization, pp. 
203-04. 

lOMDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, pp. 4.1-4.8, 7.8-7.13, 
App. F3, DASA; Memo, Merritt to Nichols, sub: 
Resume of Production of Uranium Products for MD 
in (Colorado Plateau Area, 26 Jan 45, Admin Files, 
Gen Corresp, 410.2 (Uranium), MDR; Rpis, Mat Sec 
(later Mad Sq Area Engrs Office), 3 Jul- 13 Aug 43. 
OROO. 



312 



MANHAITAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



cause of the much greater oxide con- 
tent of the latter. The African ore 
from the Belgian Congo contained an 
estimated average of over 2-percent 
black oxide, whereas Canadian ore 
from the Great Bear Lake area as- 
sayed at somewhat more than 0.5 per- 
cent and domestic ore from the Colo- 
rado Plateau region at 0.25 percent. 
For this reason, the combined quanti- 
ty of estimated black oxide in urani- 
um ore purchased from the North 
American sources accounted for only 
one-third of the total contracted for 
the entire project. ^^ 

Special Materials 

So tremendously important to the 
success of the atomic project was se- 
curing and processing raw ores that 
this operation tended to obscure an- 
other significant activity of the Dis- 
trict's feed materials program: pro- 
curement of special materials. A 
number of these materials were diffi- 
cult to obtain in the quantities needed 
or completely unavilable from com- 
mercial sources. Hence, their pro- 
curement was often not simply a 
matter of District officials approving a 
purchase order or letting a contract, 
but required planning and imple- 
menting means for the radical expan- 
sion of such limited sources as existed 
or for even approving construction of 
entirely new plants. Two separate sec- 
tions in the Madison Square Area 
Engineers Office had responsibility 
for special procurement — the Special 
Materials Branch and the Special 
Projects Branch. ^^ 



' » MDH, Bk. 7, \'ol. 2, "Geographical Explora- 
tion," pp. 1.6-1.7, DASA. 

12 MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, pp. 1.9, 6.1, Apps. B and 
G-K (see charts), DASA. 



Demands for special chemicals and 
other materials of the project's re- 
search and production facilities in- 
creased rapidly in 1943 and 1944. For 
testing and operating atomic piles 
there was need for radium and radio- 
active lead as a neutron source, 
graphite and beryllium as neutron 
moderators, and helium as a coolant; 
for the heavy water project at Trail, 
nickel chromium for a catalyst; for the 
gaseous diffusion project, elemental 
flourine and a variety of fluorinated 
chemicals, including those suitable for 
cleaning, cooling, lubricating, and 
sealing; for the manufacture of urani- 
um metal, magnesium and calcium; 
and for the design and test of the 
bomb at Los Alamos, a seemingly 
endless list of materials — bismuth, 
tungsten, boron, beryllium, and many 
others. 

The quantity and variety of special 
materials needed by the project pre- 
sented the Madison Square staff with 
a whole spectrum of challenging 
problems. Some proved to be rela- 
tively simple. For example, radium 
and radioactive lead, which were by- 
products of uranium processing, 
could be obtained from the same 
firms that refined the ore. In the early 
period, project officials purchased 
most of the radium required through 
the New York firm, Canadian Radium 
and Uranium Corporation, which pro- 
cured most of its supply from Eldora- 
do Mining and Refining. In 1943, 
however, difficulties in reaching 
agreement on contractual terms and 
prices caused them to turn to Joseph 
A. Kelly, who acted as agent for the 
Radium Chemical Company of New 
York. After 1943, Kelly supplied most 



THE feb:d materials program 



31: 



of the radium required by the project. 
As for radioactive lead, the District 
obtained most of its requirement for 
this material from Eldorado Mining's 
ore-refming operations at Port Hope, 
Ontario. ^^ 

Acquisition of a suitable pile mod- 
erator was one of the most difficult 
procurement problems in the early 
months of the project's plutonium 
program. Pile designers finally decid- 
ed to employ graphite rather than 
heavy water or beryllium, because it 
was the only one of these neutron-ab- 
sorbing substances available in quan- 
tity from commercial sources and 
because Metallurgical Laboratory sci- 
entists and researchers at the National 
Carbon and Speer Carbon Companies 
recently had devised a process that 
would produce an adequate supply of 
high-grade graphite for the program 
This success with graphite did not 
however, end interest in obtaining be 
ryllium and heavy water for experi 
mental purposes. Project scientists 
particularly those at Los Alamos 
showed an increasing interest in be- 
rvllium metal in the later years of the 
war. Only a single American firm, 
Brush Beryllium Company of Lorain, 
Ohio, produced beryllium commer- 
ciallv for the fabrication of certain 
alloys. From 1943 to 1946, the 
Madison Square staff concentrated its 
efforts on increasing the production 
capacity of this firm, assisting it in ob- 
taining priorities on new equipment 
and other materials from the War 
Production Board and also in expand- 
ing its plant. By 1945, these measures 
had led to a substantial increase in 
production of beryllium metal. ^"^ 



Generally speaking. District pro- 
curement officials had to cope with 
no more than the usual stringencies 
of the tight wartime economy in ob- 
taining moderate quantities of such 
elements as magnesium, calcium, bis- 
muth, tungsten, boron, and helium. 
Because early decisions for helium- 
cooled production piles appeared to 
forecast a future need for very large 
amounts of the gaseous element, they 
arranged with the Bureau of Mines, 
which controlled helium distribution, 
for large-scale procurement, including 
transfer directly of funds from the 
War Department to Interior to pay 
the costs. In 1943, they also assisted 
in negotiation of a contract with the 
General American Transportation 
Company of Chicago for purchase of 
special tank cars to ship the helium to 
Hanford. But the decision by pile de- 
signers later that year to use water as 
the primary coolant greatly reduced 
the need for helium, and the District 
materials group sharply cut back the 
earliest procurement schedules for 
the element. ^^ 

Another material that presented 
special procurement problems was 
elemental fluorine, to include its 
chemical derivatives. This highly cor- 
rosive, and therefore hazardous-to- 
handle, element was the choice of the 
project designers for combining with 
uranium to make the gaseous feed 
material (uranium hexafluoride) for 
operating several of the main produc- 



'3 Ibid., pp. 6.1-6.3 and Apps. F5-F6, DASA. 
'Mbid., App. K, DASA; Rpt, Ruhofl, .sub: Mat De- 



velopments for 1 1-27 Oct 42, 27 Oct 42, MD-319.1 
(Rpts MSA), OROO; Rpls, Mat Sec (later Mad Sq 
Area Kngrs Office), 9 Nov 42, 6 and 13 Aug 43, 
OROO: Smvth Report, p. 65. 

'^MDH. Bk. 7, Vol. 1, App. I, DASA: List, sub: 
Signed Prime and Subcontracts Over $100,000, Incl 
to Memo. Marsden to (iroves, 31 Aug 43, MDR. 



314 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



tion plants. Because of the huge re- 
quirements of just the gaseous diffu- 
sion plant, as well as the problems of 
shipment, the designers decided to 
build a fluorine gas production plant 
right at the diffusion plant site. The 
District's materials group also played 
a significant role in letting contracts 
and overseeing the activities of a 
number of private research institu- 
tions (Johns Hopkins, MIT, Purdue) 
and chemical firms (American Cyna- 
mid, Du Pont, General Chemical, 
Harshaw Chemical, Hooker Electro- 
chemical, Kinetic Chemicals, Penn 
Salt) in the development and supply 
of the numerous fluorinated hydro- 
carbon chemical compounds — in the 
form of coolants, sealants, and lubri- 
cants — needed to operate the plants 
safely and efficiently with the highly 
corrosive feed material. ^^ 

Feed Materials Production 

The initial phase of the feed mate- 
rials production network was conver- 
sion of the uranium-bearing crude 
ore into pure concentrates of black 
oxide and soda salt by various indus- 
trial firms under contract to the Dis- 
trict. In each case the refining treat- 
ment was quite similar and involved 
subjecting the crude ore to the suc- 
cessive processes of pulverization into 
a sandlike material, acid immersion, 
precipitation to eliminate impurities, 
and roasting (drying). 

Eldorado Mining at its Port Hope 
refinery processed all Canadian ore 



and some Congo ore into black oxide, 
whereas the Vitro Manufacturing 
Company at its Cannonsburg (Penn- 
sylvania) refinery processed only 
Congo ore into soda salt. Designed 
only for treating the higher-grade 
Congo and Canadian ores, neither the 
Eldorado nor Vitro plants could 
properly process the carnotite con- 
centrates from the Colorado Plateau 
region. Aware that the Linde Air 
Products Company had produced for 
the OSRD a satisfactory grade of 
black oxide from carnotite concen- 
trates, the District's Materials Section 
at the end of 1942 made arrange- 
ments with Linde to refine new stocks 
of concentrates at its plant in Tona- 
wanda. New York, as well as to 
produce other feed materials for the 
project. With assistance of the Tona- 
wanda area engineer, Linde expanded 
its black oxide production facilities, 
but, by late 1943, was phasing out do- 
mestic ores and using its facilities to 
refine higher-yielding African ores.^"^ 

Figures compiled by the Madison 
Square Area Engineers Office, begin- 
ning in September 1943, show that 
the amount of uranium from all 
sources available for refinement in 
the United States and Canada, and 
the quantity of black oxide and soda 
salt extracted from this ore, grew dra- 
matically from 1943 to 1945. Thus, at 
the end of September 1943, the Man- 
hattan District had available 2,920 
tons of uranium ore and produced 
1,660 tons of black oxide and soda 
salt. A year later, the quantities rose 



'«MDH. Bk. 7, \()l 1. App. K, DASA; List, sub: 
Contracts To Be laktii Over bv MD, Incl to Ltr. W. 
1. W'ensel (lech Aide, OSRD) to Marshall, 20 Mar 
43, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 161, MDR; List, sub: 
MD Contracts With \arious Univs, Incl to Memo, 
Marsden to Groves. 2 Nov 43, MDR. 



'^MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, pp. 1.20, 7.1-7.8, Apps. 
C-IA and F7, DASA. Details of earlv development 
of black oxide production bv Linde in 1942-43 may 
be followed in Rpts, Mat Sec (later Mad Sq Area 
Kngrs Office), Oct 42-Aug 43, 30 Oct. 30 Nov, and 
31 Dec 43, 29 jan 44, OROO. 



THE FEED MATERIALS PROGRAM 



315 



to 5,640 tons available and 3,500 tons 
of black oxide and soda salt pro- 
duced. And at the close of September 
1945, the figures stood respectively at 
6,600 tons of ore and 5,150 tons of 
black oxide and soda salt.^^ 

The final phase in the feed materi- 
als production network was the con- 
version of black oxide and soda salt, 
through a series of chemical treat- 
ments, into one of the several chemi- 
cal feeds suitable for processing in 
the electromagnetic, diffusion, and 
pile plants. The first step changed 
black oxide or soda salt into brown 
oxide (uranium dioxide) or orange 
oxide (uranium trioxide), the latter an 
important feed material for the elec- 
tromagnetic process in its early stages 
of development. The second step 
transformed brown oxide into green 
salt (uranium tetrafluoride). The 
third, and final, step converted green 
salt into one of a number of uranium 
compounds — for example, gaseous 
uranium hexafluoride for the gaseous 
and liquid diffusion processes and the 
electromagnetic process in its last 
stage of development — or into urani- 
um metal, the prime feed material 
for the pile process. ^^ 

Because the OSRD had made con- 
siderable progress in arranging con- 
tracts with industrial firms to provide 
for each of the different chemical 
treatments required to produce feed 
materials, the principal task remaining 
for Manhattan leaders was that of 
shaping the project's feed materials 
processors into a production network 
capable of supplying most of the 



feeds for the Clinton and Hanford 
production plants, regardless of the 
adverse effects of sabotage, technical 
failures, or other inhibiting factors. 
By early 1943, having extended 
OSRD contracts and negotiated new 
agreements, they organized and ex- 
panded this network so that, in effect, 
it comprised three parallel chemical- 
processing chains, the first link in 
each chain consisting of processors of 
both brown and orange oxide; the 
second, those of green salt; and the 
third, those of uranium metal. ^^ 

Mallinckrodt, Du Pont, and Linde 
comprised the brown and orange 
oxide links. Mallinckrodt, which had 
pioneered in development of the 
highly efficient ether process for re- 
fining uranium under the leadership 
of Ruhoff, provided the most impor- 
tant link. During the course of the 
wartime project, it produced nearly 
4,200 tons of brown and orange 
oxide, nearly twice the output of the 
other two firms, and including almost 
all of the oxide used by the electro- 
magnetic project. In cooperation with 
Yale University, it continued research 
that culminated in design and con- 
struction of a plant for continuous ex- 
traction of brown oxide from raw ore 
(pitchblende), not completed until 
1946. The Du Pont plant, built adja- 
cent to the company's big Chambers 
Chemical and Dye Works across the 
Delaware River from Wilmington in 
Deep Water, New Jersey, processed 



»8Rpts, Mad Sq Area Engrs Office, 30 Oct 43, 
31 Oct 44, 29 Nov 45, OROO. 

19 Ibid., Sep-Dec 43, OROO; MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, 
pp. 8.1-10.10, DASA. 



^° See Ch. I on the origins in the atomic bomb 
program of the idea of parallel production chains, 
characterized as a nuclear steeplechase involving 
various methods for producing fissionable materials. 
List, sub: S-1 Contracts, Incl to Ltr, Irvin Stewart 
(Ex Secy, OSRD) to Groves, 14 Dec 45, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 161 (S-1 Contracts), MDR; 
MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. I, pp. S10-S13 and App. F8, 
DASA. 



316 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



mainly scrap and by-products material 
to produce almost 2,000 tons of 
brown oxide. Linde, operating the 
third plant, processed black oxide 
from its own refinery to produce a 
total of about 300 tons of brown 
oxide. ^^ 

Four chemical firms comprised the 
green salt links. Fhree were the same 
firms that produced brown oxide and 
the fourth was the Harshaw Chemical 
Company of Cleveland, which the 
OSRD had originally brought under 
contract to produce green salt in the 
summer of 1942. District procure- 
ment officials drew up new contracts 
for a substantially enlarged output in 
the fall of 1942 — with Harshaw in 
September and the other three com- 
panies in November. These contracts, 
except for that with Harshaw, re- 
mained in effect for the duration of 
the war and resulted in production of 
more than 7,200 tons of green salt: 
2,926 by Mallinckrodt, 2,060 by 
Linde, 1,640 by Harshaw, and 608 by 
Du Pont. When more uranium hexa- 
fluoride was needed for the diffusion 
plants, the Madison Square Area En- 
gineers Office renegotiated the con- 
tract with Harshaw, providing in a 
new agreement that the Cleveland 
firm convert black oxide into green 
salt and then into uranium hexafluor- 
ide. At the same time, the Madison 
Square office also arranged to have 
Harshaw raise its output of uranium 
tetrachloride, which it had been pro- 
ducing in small quantities since early 
1943, to meet a sudden increase in 
demand for the electromagnetic pro- 
duction plan.^^ 



Four commercial firms and a col- 
lege formed the uranium metal links. 
Mallinckrodt, Du Pont, Electro Metal- 
lurgical, Metal Hydrides and Iowa 
State, at one time or another, were 
involved in metal production for the 
wartime atomic project, although only 
the first three firms constituted the 
permanent links in the parallel feed 
materials chains. Uranium metal pro- 
curement dated back to the earliest 
days of the atomic energy program, 
because the material was required for 
laboratory research and experimenta- 
tion. Both the National Bureau of 
Standards and the OSRD had let con- 
tracts to university research laborato- 
ries and commercial chemical firms to 
develop a process for mass produc- 
tion of uranium metal of a high 
degree of purity. The processes de- 
vised by Metal Hydrides proved to 
have serious drawbacks. Iowa State, 
however, had developed a method for 
reducing green salt with calcium 
(later, magnesium proved more effec- 
tive) at high temperatures inside a 
steel bomb and recasting the end 
product into metal in an induction- 
heated furnace. So successful was this 
method that Iowa State itself em- 
ployed it to manufacture a consider- 
able amount of metal for the project. 
Subsequently, the Army let contracts 
to Mallinckrodt, Du Pont, and Electro 
Metallurgical to produce metal using 
the steel bomb method. ^^ 

When the Army took over direction 
of materials procurement, it contin- 
ued the metal-production contracts 



2» MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, pp. 8,1-8.7, DASA. 

22 Ibid., pp. 9.1-9.9 and App. F8, DASA; Rpts, 



Mad Sq Area Engrs Office, 31 Oct and 30 Dec 44, 
31 Jan 4.5, OROO. 

23 MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, pp. 10.1-10.9, DASA. See 
al,so Ch. III. 



THE FEED MATERIALS PROGRAM 



317 



with Metal Hydrides and Iowa State 
and negotiated new contracts with 
Electro Metallurgical and Du Pont. In 
several instances, District officials had 
to monitor construction of additional 
plant buildings, at government ex- 
pense, to expedite the production of 
uranium metal under these contracts. 
Metal Hydrides and Du Pont had seri- 
ous operating problems that limited 
their output of metal, although Metal 
Hydrides subsequently developed a 
highly successful metal-recasting op- 
eration. Nevertheless, by the time Dis- 
trict officials shut down most produc- 
tion of new metal in late 1943 — Iowa 
State continued its output until late 
1944 — the various contractors had 
manufactured several thousand tons. 
By late August 1944, the Madison 
Square area engineer reported deliv- 
ery of nearly 3,500 tons of metal to 
Hanford and Clinton, comprised of 
1,000 tons from Electro Metallurgical, 
900 from Iowa State, 650 from Mal- 
linckrodt, 610 from Metal Hydrides, 
and lesser amounts from other 
processors. These deliveries included 
both new metal and metal recast 
into ingots from turnings and other 
scraps from machining and fabricating 
operations. ^^ 

Quality Control Program 

One factor that made materials pro- 
curement difficult was the almost uni- 
versal requirement for previously un- 
heard of standards of quality. In the 
feed materials program, for example, 
procurement schedules required that 



uranium metal contain no more than 
0.1 of 1 percent of impurities that 
would affect its efficiency in the pile- 
operating process. Similarly stringent 
standards were established for graph- 
ite, fluorinated chemicals, and other 
materials. Because most of the com- 
mercial contractors who furnished 
these materials were unprepared to 
carry out the physical and analytical 
tests necessary to maintain these high 
standards, the materials group had to 
build up its own quality control 
organization.^^ 

In February 1943, Colonel Cren- 
shaw's staff began negotiations with 
Princeton, MIT, the chemical section 
of the Metallurgical Laboratory, and 
the National Bureau of Standards, 
with the objective of forming these 
research institutions into a central 
quality control laboratory group. The 
plan was to have the scientists at each 
institution analyze and test samples 
from the uranium metal production 
plants, as well as to devise more ef- 
fective methods of metal analysis, to 
furnish personnel and facilities when 
needed to supplement those of the 
manufacturing plants, to investigate 
other materials, and to provide gener- 
al guidance for the control program. 
In addition, the Metallurgical Labora- 
tory was to carry out physical tests of 
brown oxide and finished metal for 
the pile process. Because all of these 
institutions already were engaged in 
some aspect of analysis and testing of 
uranium, the Materials Section simply 
supplemented or revised existing con- 
tracts with them to provide the neces- 



24 Ibid., pp. 10.2-10.9 and .\pp. F8, DASA; Rpt.s, 
Mat Sec (later Mad Sq Area Kngrs ORice), Sep-Dec 
42 and 31 Aug 45, OROO. 



25MDH, Bk. 7, Vol. 1, pp. 12.1 and App. G, 
DASA; Rpts, Mat Sec, 15 Feb and 4 Mar 43, 
OROO. 



318 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



sary organization of the central qual- 
ity control laboratory group. ^^ 

By spring, the Materials Section 
had completed satisfactory arrange- 
ments with Princeton, MIT, and the 
Bureau of Standards. Colonel Cren- 
shaw reported in May that these three 
institutions were "doing an excellent 
job, and have attacked the problem as 
a job of commercial analysis, which is 
the case." ^^ The Metallurgical Labo- 
ratory expressed a preference for car- 
rying out its part of the analytical 
work under its existing overall re- 
search contract, but Crenshaw op- 
posed this, because he knew it would 
prevent the Materials Section from 
exercising direct control over the lab- 
oratory's part in the analytical pro- 
gram. The reasons why the laboratory 
did not want such a contract soon 
became apparent: The scientists did 
not relish performing routine analysis 
and testing of metal samples because 
it took time and used facilities they 
would rather devote to more original 
and challenging research and devel- 
opment activities.^® 

Colonel Crenshaw arranged a meet- 
ing with Richard L. Doan, associate 
director of the University of Chicago's 
Clinton Laboratories in Tennessee, 
and George E. Boyd, chief of the ana- 
lytical chemistry group at the Metal- 
lurgical Laboratory. The two scien- 
tists agreed that the Metallurgical 
Laboratory would continue to per- 
form routine chemical analysis and 
testing of brown oxide and uranium 



26MDH. Bk. 7, Vol. 1, pp. 12.1-12.2, D.A,S.A: 
Rpts, Mat Sec, 15 Feb and 3 Apr 43, OROO; Coch- 
rane, Measures for Progress, p. 383. 

" Rpt, Mat Sec, 18 Mav 43, OROO. 

28 Ibid., 3 Apr, 4 and 18 Mav, 5 Jun 43, OROO. 



metal until the workload in this area 
declined. This would occur shortly, 
they knew, when Iowa State complet- 
ed facilities for quality testing its own 
metal output. By fall of 1943, the 
other institutions had taken over most 
of the routine chemical analytical 
work that the Metallurgical Labora- 
tory had been doing. The Madison 
Square area engineer attested to the 
effectiveness of the quality control 
program when, at the end of Novem- 
ber, he reported to Colonel Nichols 
that the feed materials program was 
making metal of a higher degree of 
purity than any previously produced 
by the atomic energy project. ^^ 

Development of the feed materials 
program ahead of the fissionable ma- 
terials production and weapon pro- 
grams was a matter of necessity, for 
the latter were completely dependent 
upon an adequate supply of the feed 
and other materials essential to their 
operation. In less than two years, the 
Manhattan District's materials organi- 
zation was able to expand the already 
existing OSRD program, solving seri- 
ous technical problems and securing 
the requisite priorities to meet on 
schedule the requirements for the re- 
search and development, testing, and 
start-up in operations of the major 
production plants for the manufacture 
of fissionable materials. By late 1944 
and in 1945, the District could begin 
to phase out, or reduce, some aspects 
of the program and to give some at- 
tention to the postwar requirements 
of the atomic energy program. 



29MDH, Bk. 7. \'ol. 1. pp. 12.2-12.4, DASA; Rpts, 
Mat Sec (later Mad Sq Area Engrs Office), 18 jun 
and 30 Nov 43, OROO. 



CHAPTER XV 



Land Acquisition 



During the war the Manhattan Dis- 
trict assembled extensive real estate 
holdings for its principal installations 
in Tennessee, New Mexico, and 
Washington State, as well as smaller 
tracts for its support facilities in other 
places, totaling more than 500,000 
acres. Manhattan acquired most of 
this land, at least up to the point of 
occupancy, during the period Septem- 
ber 1942 to August 1943; however, 
because of unavoidable legal delays in 
closing out procurement of original 
sites and recurring demands for addi- 
tional space, it continued to be in- 
volved in some acquisition activities 
through September 1945.^ 

Land acquisition for the atomic 
energy project presented special 
problems hitherto never encountered 
by War Department agencies in their 
World W^ar II real estate procurement 
programs. The Manhattan Project re- 
quired absolute secrecy and unheard 
of speed in acquiring the needed 
sites. Yet these essential objectives 
were, in fact, inherently self-defeat- 
ing, for land acquisition activities 
tended to attract widespread public 
attention and measures to expedite 
quick settlements tended to conflict 
with those for maximum secrecv. 



Nonetheless, convinced that the ulti- 
mate success of the project was at 
stake, Manhattan officials persisted in 
enforcing strict security measures, 
even though the latter produced a 
far-reaching tide of local opposition 
at the Tennessee and Washington 
sites. 2 

Clinton Engineer Works 

The District's acquisition program 
in Tennessee officially began on 
29 September 1942,=^ when Under 
Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson 
approved Maj. Gen. Eugene Rey- 
bold's letter directive requesting pro- 
curement of land for the Kingston 
Demolition Range, so-called for secu- 
rity reasons but in January 1943 offi- 
cially redesignated the Clinton Engi- 



' Site selection for the major Manhattan installa- 
tions is discussed in detail in C.hs. III-\'. 



^ Smith, The Army and Economic Mobilization, pp. 
441-42; U.S. Statutes at Large. 1942, \ol. 36, Pt. 1. 
Second War Powers Act, Title II, p. 177; MDH, Bk. 
4, \'ol. 4, 'Land Acquisition, Hanford Engineer 
Works," pp. 4.19-4.20, DASA. 

^ Except as otherwise indicated, facts and figures 
pertaining to the Tennessee land acquisition pro- 
gram are drawn from MDH, Bk. 1, \'ol. 10, "Land 
Acquisition CEW," and from the appendices to that 
volume. Figures on the total acreage of the site and 
other statistics relating to the acquisition program 
are summarized on pp. 2.47-2.49. Many of the doc- 
uments pertinent to the program are reproduced in 
App. B. 



320 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



neer Works (CEW).* (See Map 3.) 
Under terms of this directive, the En- 
gineers chief had official authorization 
to purchase approximately 56,200 
acres ^ {Table 2), primarily in eastern 
Tennessee's Roane and Anderson 
Counties, using money appropriated 
from the Engineer Service-Army cate- 
gory of available funds. 

In anticipation of approval of this 
directive, the Engineers' ORD (Ohio 
River Division) Real Estate Branch on 
28 September had opened a project 
office, designated the CEW Land Ac- 
quisition Section, at Harriman, a 
Roane County town a few miles west 
of the site. The ORD staff began im- 
mediately to secure for the section 
the services of some fifty appraisers 



4 Ltr, Robins (Act Chief of Engrs) to CG SOS, 
sub: Acquisition in Fee of Approx 56,200 Acres of 
Land for Demolition Range Near Kingston, Tenn., 
and 2d Ind (directive approval), Col Marion Rush- 
ton (Asst Ex, Office of Und Secy War) to Chief of 
Engrs, both 29 Sep 42, Incls to Memo, Col John J. 
O'Brien (CE Real Estate Br chieO to Lt Col Whitney 
Ashbridge (CE Mil Constr Br), sub: Land Acquisi- 
tion in Connection With MD, 17 Apr 43, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 601 (Santa Fe), MDR. The town 
of Kingston was located about 7 miles southwest of 
the site area. 

^ Acquisition of ten additional parcels of land, au- 
thorized in subsequent directives issued from June 
1943 through August 1944, brought the District's 
real estate holdings to a total of approximately 
58,900 acres. These parcels of land were mostly 
small tracts required for the adequate development 
and protection of the original site. (See Map 3. ) Sev- 
eral tracts were secured to facilitate development of 
the transportation network, notably 70 acres in July 
1943 for the right of way of a spur track built from 
the Southern Railway at Blair south along Oxier 
Creek to the north boundary of the original site. 
The largest additions were made in 1944, when the 
gaseous diffusion plant on the Clinch River at the 
western end of the reservation needed more 
ground. In April of that year the TVA granted the 
District a temporary-use permit for some 279 acres, 
and in August the CEW Land Acquisition Section 
acquired another 2,800 acres, consisting chiefly of 
an elevated area along Black Oak Ridge needed to 
improve perimeter security near the gaseous diffu- 
sion plant. 



for the job of appraising an estimated 
800-850 separate tracts. The fact that 
division personnel currently were in- 
volved in another large-scale acquisi- 
tion program for the Dale Hollow 
Dam and Reservoir, situated on a 
branch of the Cumberland River near 
the Tennessee-Kentucky border, com- 
pounded the difficulty of their new 
task; however, they resolved the prob- 
lem by arranging to borrow the ap- 
praisers, on a short-term basis, from 
several regional Federal Land Banks 
and from the Tennessee Valley Au- 
thority (TVA) real estate staff In 
keeping with War Department prac- 
tices of basing appraisals mainly on 
an estimate of prevailing property 
values as determined by a review of 
comparable sales, on interviews with 
owners, and on actual physical inspec- 
tion of each tract, the appraisers were 
able to complete most of the work on 
the original site by the end of 1942.^ 
The directive of 29 September had 
authorized procurement of the origi- 
nal site by condemnation. This per- 
mitted not only immediate acquisition 
of those parts of the area needed for 
preliminary construction but also ex- 
pedited acquisition of properties with 
defective titles. On 6 October (effec- 
tive 7 October), the U.S. District 
Court for the Eastern District of Ten- 
nessee, Northern Division, issued an 
order of possession at the request of 
ORD Real Estate Branch attorneys. 
The court took cognizance of the 
hardship to landowners facing remov- 



* Ltr, Fred Morgan (CEW Land .Acquisition Sec 
Proj Mgr) to Joseph G. Colgan (House Mil Affairs 
Committee investigator), 6 Aug 43, copy in MDH, 
Bk. 1, Vol. 10, App. B2i, DASA; Memo, Marshall to 
Groves, sub: Major MD Contracts, 27 Apr 43, 
Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 161, MDR; Knoxville Jour- 
nal, 4 Feb 43. 



LAND ACQUISITION 

Table 2 — Land Acquisition at CEW, 1942-1944 



321 



Date of 
Directive 


Acreage To 
Be Acquired * 


Estimated 
Cost 


Type of Control 
Acquired 


Use or Purpose 


29 Sep 42 


56,200 
15.1 
70 
3.73 

47.7 
62 
17 
279 

.89 

.3 

.32 

425 

2,375 


$3,500,000 

1,750 

14,107 

400 

3,740 
14,600 
5.100 

200 
100 

170,000 


Outright purchase 
Outright purchase 
Outright purchase 
Outright purchase 

Outright purchase 
Perpetual easement 
Outright purchase 
Temporary-use permit 

from TVA 
Perpetual easement 
Outright purchase 
Temporary-use permit 

from TVA 
Temporary-use permit 

from TVA 
Lease or outright 

purchase 


Original site 

For protection and security 
Spur track right of way 
Channel diversion of Poplar 

Creek 
Borrow pit 
Access road 


14 Jun 43 


3 Jul 43 


15 Jul 43 


25 Sep 43 


5 Feb 44 


3 Mar 44 




19 Apr 44 


Expansion of facilities 


2 Mav 44 


4 Aug 44 


Access road 


28 Aug 44 






Security 



^ Figures given here represent the amounts estimated in the real estate directive, the sum totaling about 
59,500 acres. The actual acreage finally acquired was less, approximately 58,900 acres. 
Source: MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 10, pp. 1.3-1.4, 2.21-2.26, App. Bl, DASA 



al on short notice by limiting the gov- 
ernment's right of immediate exclu- 
sive possession to those sections 
where it was "essential to full and 
complete development of the 
project. . . ." ' 

The Manhattan District did not take 
exclusive possession of any tracts for 
construction purposes before 15 No- 
vember, although it had exercised 
right of entry at many points before 
that date. The CEW Land Acquisition 
Section requested that owners and 
tenants, most of whom were 
farmers, be prepared to vacate at 
various times between 1 December 
1942 and 15 February 1943. In some 



''Copies of the condemnation petition, 6 Oct 42, 
filed by U.S. Atty James B. Prexier, Jr. et al., and the 
order of possession (source of quotation), 6 Oct 42, 
signed by Judge George C. Taylor, in MDH, 
Bk. 1, Vol. 10, App. G7, DASA. 



instances, where immediate vacating 
would cause undue hardship, the Dis- 
trict permitted landowners to stay on 
even beyond the 15 February date. 
The effectiveness of this lenient 
policy is attested to by the fact that 
project officials never had to resort to 
a court order to secure eviction of an 
owner from the Clinton site. 

As soon as the ORD Real Estate 
Branch had assembled sufficient data 
to meet legal requirements concern- 
ing areas needed immediately for 
military construction, branch attor- 
neys filed declarations of taking. They 
filed the first declaration on 20 No- 
vember 1942, covering a segment 
comprised of 13 tracts. By mid-Janu- 
ary 1943 declarations were on file for 
184 tracts covering 9,614 acres and, 
by May, for 742 tracts constituting 



322 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 




Earm at the 1 ennessek Site, typical of those acquired by the Manhattan District 



53,334 acres — or nearly all privately 
owned property of the original site. 
Meanwhile, during the winter and 
spring of 1943, CEW Land Acquisi- 
tion Section negotiators had succeed- 
ed in obtaining stipulation agree- 
ments on more than half the tracts in 
litigation. By the end of May, agree- 
ments of this type had been worked 
out on 416 tracts comprising 21,742 
acres. In those cases where the nego- 
tiators failed to secure stipulation 
agreements, branch attorneys con- 
sented to submit them to a jury of 
view, an institution provided for 
under lennessee law to assist 
litigants in reaching agreement on 
settlement prices for expropriated 
property. The jury, comprised of five 



persons named by the Federal District 
Court, visited each of the tracts in 
contention and then advised new set- 
tlement prices uniformly higher than 
those established by War Department 
appraisers. When the owners were 
unwilling to accept even these higher 
prices, the government stopped using 
this method of settlement.® 

The rise of local opposition to the 
acquisition program seriously threat- 
ened to delay efforts by Department 
of Justice special attorneys to quickly 
bring the remaining unsettled cases to 
trial. Contributing to the opposition 



^ Knoxville Journal. 9 Jan 43; Remarks of Congress- 
man John Jennings, Jr. ( I enn.), U.S. Congress, 
House, Congressional Record. 78th Cong., 1st Sess., 
22 Apr 43, Vol. 89, Pt. 10, pp. A 1 197-99. 



LAND ACQllSITION 



323 



was the Federal District (Court's late- 
1942 publication in its registry of the 
amounts placed on deposit for ad- 
vanced payment to landowners, in 
compliance with the declaration-of- 
taking procedure. Because these 
amounts represented a percentage of 
the total valuation of the tracts, the 
landowners easily deduced the War 
Department's appraised valuation on 
the various tracts. The coincidence of 
a local political campaign provided 
candidates with an opportunity to 
promise, if elected, to secure higher 
prices than those established by gov- 
ernment appraisers. Area newspapers 
publicized widely the appraised prices 
and the local politicians' comments 
and, in general, were hostile to the 
acquisition program and its 
methods.^ 

By the end of November, many 
landowners were thoroughly aroused. 
On the twenty-third, a delegation of 
property holders petitioned the 
project manager of the CEW Land 
Acquisition Section, protesting the 
low appraisal prices. That evening 
more than two hundred owners met; 
they formed a landholders investiga- 
tion committee and made arrange- 
ments to hire lawyers and appraisers 
so that committee members could re- 
ceive expert assistance. Taking note 
of these developments, a Knoxville 
newspaper commented that "the 
public of course actually knows noth- 
ing in detail of the justice of the pro- 
tests being made by these 



citizens. . . . We do know that since 
everybody else is getting a fair price 
for the material and labor which will 
go into this Federal project, there is 
certainly no justification for these 
farmers being singled out for an 
economy slaughter." ^° 

Dissatisfaction with appraised 
values was not the only cause for op- 
position. Relocation of more than one 
thousand landowners and tenants 
with their families proved difficult. 
Recent TVA acquisition of much of 
the good river bottom farmland in the 
vicinity had created a shortage of 
available vacant farms, enhanced local 
land values, and forced many farm 
people to move. Some of the dis- 
placed farmers who had moved to the 
Clinton site naturally resented having 
to move again. Even vacant houses in 
nearby towns were at a premium be- 
cause of the influx of construction 
workers for the new project. Many 
landowners lacked sufficient ready 
cash to move on short notice. The 
War Department had no funds to aid 
them and adequate assistance was not 
immediately obtainable from other 
government agencies, such as the 
Farm Security Administration. Even 
owners with financial resources found 
that the District's deadlines on vacat- 
ing did not give them sufficient time 
to hire moving vehicles, which were 
in short supply in the local area.^^ 



9MI^H. Bk. 1, Vol. 10, pp. 2.9 and 2.42-2.43, 
DAS.A; Knnxville Journal 1, 20, and 25 Nov 42; Fine 
and Remington, Corps of Engineers: Construction, pp. 
174-84. Numerous examples of local opposition to 
War Department land acquisition are presented in 
the last-named source. 



^° Knoxville Journal. 24 Nov, 25 Nov (source of 
quotation), 30 Dec 42; Remarks of Jennings, Congres- 
sional Record. 78th Cong., 1st Sess., 22 Apr 43, Vol. 
89, Ft. 10. pp. Al 197-99. 

I'MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 10, pp. 2.40-2.42, DASA; 
Iclg, Jennings to Secy War, 24 Oct 42, copy in 
ibid., App. B2b, DASA; Robinson, Oak Ridge Story, 
pp. 2() and 28. 



324 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



Rumors contributed considerably to 
fomenting local opposition. One per- 
sistent rumor was that the Clinton 
site was being acquired for the benefit 
of a large private corporation in fla- 
grant abuse of the right of eminent 
domain. But overriding security re- 
quirements prevented District officials 
from providing the public with a gen- 
eral explanation. Thus, in an attempt 
to abate public criticism. Col. John J. 
O'Brien, chief of the CE (Corps of 
Engineers) Real Estate Branch, re- 
quested that the Department of Agri- 
culture investigate the appraisal pro- 
gram. The department's factfinders 
later stated in their report that "the 
general management of the project, 
the appraisal of the land and the ap- 
proach to the landowners have been 
fair and just, and we do not see what 
would be accomplished by a reap- 
praisal of the land." The Engineers' 
resurvey of the area had revealed, 
they continued, that in many in- 
stances the tracts were actually small- 
er than recorded in existing property 
deeds; that the owners had tended to 
overvalue their land because they 
were prone to exaggerate its produc- 
tivity; and, because many were veter- 
ans of one or more of the five previ- 
ous TVA land acquisition projects 
within 70 miles of the Clinton site, 
that they had developed "a technique 
of complaining" that had proved to 
be very effective in securing higher 
prices for their property. ^^ 

Meanwhile, disaffected farmers 
sought the assistance of their con- 
gressman, John Jennings, Jr., a Re- 
publican from Knoxville. As early as 



October 1942, Jennings had written 
to Secretary Stimson on behalf of his 
constituents: "I realize the necessity 
of the step taken but I do hope ade- 
quate steps will be taken to safeguard 
these people, that they speedily be 
paid for their farms, and every step 
possible be taken to see that they are 
relocated on farms." ^^ Although the 
War Department promptly had as- 
sured him "that every effort will be 
made to preserve the interests of the 
landowners concerned," ^"^ the pro- 
tests continued to increase. Feeling 
the futility of his earlier efforts, Jen- 
nings submitted a resolution to the 
House of Representatives on 1 Febru- 
ary 1943, requesting creation of a 
select committee to investigate the 
prices offered landowners. "A large 
number of owners . . . ," the resolu- 
tion read, "assert that the War De- 
partment has had the land appraised 
by nonresidents of the State of 1 en- 
nessee who are totally unfamiliar with 
the value of such land. . . . Inexpert 
and unfair appraisals . . . are result- 
ing in the forced sale of such land 
... at prices totally inadequate to 
enable the former owners to acquire 
homes and farms of comparable 
value." ^^ 

The House took no immediate 
action on Jennings' resolution, and he 
continued to seek relief for his con- 
stituents through War Department 



'^Mcmo, George K. Fairell (Agri Dept specialist) 
to O'Brien, sub: Kingston Demolition Range, 
19 Feb 43, topv in MDU, Bk 1, Vol. 10, App. B2e, 
DASA. 



"Ltr, Jennings to Secv War, 17 Oct 42, copy in 
ibid., App. B2a, DASA. 

'"Ltr (source of quotation), John W. Martyn 
(Admin Asst to Secy War) to Jennings, 27 Oct 42, 
App. B2a; Telgs, Jennings to Secy War, 24 Oct 42, 
and I'nd Secv War to Jennings, ,S Nov 42, App. 
B2b. Copies in ibid., DASA. 

'^Quotation from //. Res. 91. Congressional Record, 
78th Cong., 1st Sess., 1 Feb 43. Vol. 89, Ft. 1, p. 
508. See also Remarks of Jennings on //. Res. 91. 
ibid., 2 Feb 43, p. 509; Knoxville Journal. 4 Feb 43. 



LAND ACQUISITION 



325 



channels. In late February, he in- 
formed Under Secretary of War Pat- 
terson that he was receiving numer- 
ous complaints of destruction of 
buildings and other facilities on the 
site before providing owners the 
usual opportunity to salvage them. 
Patterson replied that such salvage 
was not feasible because it would take 
too long and interfere with construc- 
tion activities already in progress. 
Furthermore, he assured Jennings, no 
waste was involved because Manhat- 
tan District engineers were converting 
existing buildings on the site for use 
by the project wherever this was pos- 
sible. Again in April, Jennings com- 
plained to Corps of Engineers offi- 
cials that improper statements 
concerning landowners were being 
made by their personnel in testimony 
before the jury of view. Corps observ- 
ers who had attended the jury hear- 
ings said the congressman's allega- 
tions were not true. Finally, on 9 July, 
Chairman Andrew J. May of the 
House Military Affairs Committee, to 
which the resolution had been 
referred for review, appointed Re- 
presentative Clifford C. Davis, a 
Democrat from the Tenth District of 
lennessee, to carry out an inquiry. 
Davis selected Representatives Dewey 
Short, a Republican from Missouri, 
and John Sparkman, a Democrat from 
Alabama, as members of an investi- 
gating subcommittee and also invited 
Jennings to be present at the subcom- 
mittee's public hearings. ^^ 



Announcement of the pending in- 
vestigation came while the Justice De- 
partment special attorneys were push- 
ing ahead with trial of condemnation 
cases on the Clinton tracts. The fed- 
eral court juries, almost without ex- 
ception, substantially increased pay- 
ments to property holders. This 
seemed to further confirm the pre- 
vailing local view that the original ap- 
praisals were far too low and farmers 
who had accepted payment ought to 
be entitled to supplementary compen- 
sation. After consulting with Manhat- 
tan officials, the Justice Department 
decided to suspend further trials, at 
least temporarily, as the congressional 
investigation might result in a major 
revision of the appraisal data upon 
which the government was basing its 
prosecution of condemnation cases. ^"^ 

The War Department determined 
to adhere to a policy of full coopera- 
tion with the congressional investiga- 
tors. The ORD division engineer in- 
structed the CEW project manager to 
take "extreme care ... to prevent 
adverse reaction because of any 
claims being made that the War De- 
partment is pursuing a non-coopera- 
tive policy." ^® Manhattan officials did 
not interfere when a subcommittee 
investigator interviewed landowners 
who had written letters of complaint. 
The CEW project manager responded 
promptly to a written request from 
the House Military Affairs Committee 
general counsel for a comprehensive 



'*I.tis, Jennings to Und Secv War, 27 Feb 43, 
t'nd Secy War to Jennings, 13 Apr 43, and Lt Col 
C. C. Fletcher (Act Real Estate On for ORD Div 
Engr) to Rev bold, sub: l.tr of Jennings Re Alleged 
Improper Statements of J. H. McKenzie (Just Depi 
Spec Altv), 15 Apr 43, copies in MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 
10, App. B2d-e. DASA. See also ibid., pp. 2.11- 



2.12, DASA; Knoxville Journal. 10-11 Jul and 13 Aug 
43. 

I'' 1st Ind, Fletcher to Morgan, 13 Jul 43, to I.tr, 
Morgan to ORD Div Engr, sub: Investigation of Ap- 
praisals bv (^{jngressional Investigating Committee, 
12 Jul 43, copies in MDH, Bk. I, Vol. 10, App. B2h, 
DASA. 

'« Ibid. 



326 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



statement of its functions and activi- 
ties, including a list of the appraisers 
who had worked on the project, to- 
gether with a description of their 
qualifications; however, he did not re- 
lease any records to the subcommit- 
tee without approval of the ORD divi- 
sion engineer. ^^ 

The subcommittee held two public 
hearings: on 1 1 August at Clinton, for 
the benefit of Roane County resi- 
dents; and the following day at Kings- 
ton, for Anderson County residents. 
About three hundred persons, mostly 
land owners and their families, at- 
tended at Clinton, but considerably 
fewer were present in Kingston. The 
CE Real Estate Branch head sent his 
chief appraiser and an officer to rep- 
resent the Engineers chief. General 
Reybold, at the hearing; the ORD di- 
vision engineer, also his chief apprais- 
er; and the district engineer, the CEW 
project manager. 2° 

At Clinton, Congressman Jennings 
reviewed the history of the acquisi- 
tion, emphasizing particularly the 
landowners' complaints that they had 
been underpaid for properties taken 
over by the government and, as a 
final comment, declaring that all of 
his own efforts to have the War De- 
partment reconsider appraisals had 
been turned down "as cold as ice." ^^ 
In subsequent testimony. War Depart- 
ment officials, disgruntled landown- 
ers, and project appraisal staff mem- 



'^ Ibid.; Ltrs, Colgan (for H. Ralph Burton, 
House Mil Affairs Committee general counsel) to 
Morgan, 3 Aug 43, and Morgan to Colgan, 6 Aug 
43, copies in MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 10, App. B2i, DASA. 

2° The town of Clinton was located 4 miles north- 
west of the site. Ltr. Col R. G. West (Ex OIT, ORD) 
to Reybold, sub: Investigation of C^KW Land Acqui- 
sition at Harriman, Tenn., 30 Aug 43, copy in 
MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. ip, App. B2m, DASA. 

2> Ibid. 



bers asserted that appraisers had 
greatly undervalued most properties, 
failed to interview owners, and used 
coercion in getting stipulations. Some 
witnesses charged that the CEW 
project manager had promised 
owners they would have an opportu- 
nity to salvage their buildings and 
equipment, but they were not permit- 
ted to do this. The ORD chief ap- 
praiser took the tack in his testimony 
that if the appraisers and negotiators 
had done all that was alleged by the 
landowners, they were acting contrary 
to all instructions issued by General 
Reybold. He urged that the apprais- 
ers and negotiators be given a hear- 
ing, but only two witnesses represent- 
ing this group were called to testify, 
and they both vehemently denied 
most of the charges that had been 
made against them. The subcommit- 
tee adjourned on 12 August, after 
hearing testimony from Anderson 
County owners at Kingston. ^^ 

Ihe congressional committee did 
not make its report public until De- 
cember. The report consisted chiefly 
of ten recommendations for improv- 
ing War Department real estate acqui- 
sition practices, only two of which re- 
lated specifically to the CEW pro- 
gram, ihe first stated that the War 
Department should review and make 
adjustments in all those cases at the 
Clinton site where "the landowner 
was persuaded, against his better 



22 Ltrs, Morgan to Fletcher, subs: Rpt on Hearing 
Before House Mil Affairs Subcommittee in Connec- 
tion With Land Acquisition at Harriman, lenn., 
1 1 Aug 43, and Rpt of House Mil Affairs Subcom- 
mittee— CEW, 13 Aug 43; Ltr, West to Reybold, 
sub: Investigation of CEW Land Acquisition at Har- 
riman, 30 Aug 43. Copies of all in MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 
10, App. B2q and m, DASA. Knoxmlle Xeit's-Sentmel, 
12-13 Aug 43. Knoxxnlle Journal, 12-13 Aug 43. 



LAND ACQLJISI I ION 



327 



judgment, by coercion, threat, or 
promise, for whatever reason or rea- 
sons, to accept less than the true 
vakie of his property." Ihe second 
recommended that "landowners who 
suffered losses on standing crops 
. . . for any reason not attributable 
to the landower, should be properly 
compensated for said losses." The 
rest of the recommendations, taken as 
a group, constituted a critique of War 
Department acquisition policies in 
general. More care should be taken to 
ensure protection of landowners' con- 
stitutional rights as guaranteed under 
the Fifth Amendment. In ascertaining 
fair prices on land, the government 
real estate appraisers should give 
more attention to determining 
comparable land values and take into 
consideration all factors relating to 
relocation of the owner on property 
similar to that he had given up. To 
make sure that these objectives were 
achieved. War Department real estate 
agencies should employ only fully 
qualified appraisers and negotiators. 
The Corps of Engineers' real estate 
manual should be revised to cover 
unusual conditions, such as those 
found at the Clinton site. Finally, no 
promises or commitments should be 
made to property holders, except 
where they could be made a matter of 
written official record. ^^ 

Save for a brief delay in prosecut- 
ing the condemnation cases, the con- 
gressional investigation interfered 
very little with land acquisition 
progress and not at all with construc- 



tion of the U-235 production facili- 
ties. Nothing came of the committee's 
rather severe criticism of appraisal 
prices, as neither Congress nor the 
War Department took steps to give 
additional compensation to landown- 
ers whose property had been acquired 
under stipulation agreements. By 
August 1944, all of the original 
56,700-acre site had been acquired. 
As finally constituted, it consisted of 
806 tracts secured by purchase, 38 
tracts held under easements, and 4 
tracts obtained under TVA tempo- 
rary-use permits. In September, three 
months after closing down oper- 
ations, the CEW Land Acquisition 
Section reopened its Harriman office 
to monitor the additional acquisition 
of approximately 2,800 acres. Needed 
to ensure greater security of the gase- 
ous diffusion plant, this acquisition 
involved negotiations on 41 separate 
tracts and was not completed until 
March 1945.^4 

Total cost of the CEW real estate 
acquisition program cannot be deter- 
mined, because project records list 
administrative charges as part of the 
overall expenditures for engineer 
military activities. The actual sum 
paid out for purchase of land and im- 
provements, for severance damages, 
and for certain other nonadministra- 
tive costs totaled slightly more than 
$2.6 million, substantially less than 
the estimated cost of $3.5 million in 
the original directive of 29 September 
1942. Of the total, the Army expend- 
ed the largest part, $2.58 million, in 



2^ The recommendations were printed in the 
Kno.willf /oiirnal on 6 Dec 4!3. Comments deiending 
War Department procedures as they related to each 
of the recommendations are given in MDH, Bk. 1, 
Vol. 10, pp. 2.12-2.16 and App. F5, DASA. See also 
I .S. Armv CE Real Estate Manual. 1942. 



24 MDH, Bk. 1, Vol. 10 pp. 2.45-2.46 and App. 
E1-E4, DASA; Ltr, Robins (Dep Chief of Engrs) to 
CG ASF, sub: Acquisition of Additional Land for 
Sctv Purposes in K-25 Area, 28 Aug 44, copy in 
ibid., .App. Blf, DASA. 



328 



MANHATTAN: THE ARMY AND THE ATOMIC BOMB 



outright acquisition of slightly more 
than 55,000 acres, purchased at an 
average cost of about $47 per acre.^^ 

Los Alamos 

Although the size of the Los 
Alamos site approached that of the 
Clinton site, its acquisition presented 
far fewer problems for the CE Real 
Estate Branch. Federal agencies al- 
ready owned and controlled 90 per- 
cent of the land needed for the site, 
and for this the War Department had 
only to negotiate a comparatively 
simple transfer agreement with each 
agency. Furthermore, because a rela- 
tively small number of private owners 
held title to the remaining parcels, 
branch officials anticipated that nego- 
tiations with individual owners would 
be a far less time-consuming oper- 
ation than at the Tennessee site.^^ 

On 25 November 1942, Under Sec- 
retary of War Patterson approved a 
directive to acquire a site at Los 
Alamos "for establishment of a Dem- 
olition range." In support of his re- 
quest for approval of this acquisition, 
the Engineers chief had submitted 
data derived from two comprehensive 
preliminary reports — one prepared by 
the division engineer of the South- 



25 Ibid., p. 2.47, DASA: Ltr. W. T. Brooks (State 
of Tenn Hwv Engr) to ORD Div Engr, 8 Jul 43; Ltr, 
West to Brooks, 3 Sep 43; Ltr, J. W. Love (Harri- 
man Power Dept Mgr) to Sen Tom Stewart (Tenn.). 
10 Jan 44; Ltr, Robins to Sen Kenneth D. McKellar 
(Tenn.), 11 Feb 44; 1st Ind, O'Brien to ORD Div 
Engr, 25 Jul 44, to Ltr, Fletcher to Revbold, sub: 
Edgemoor Bridge and Solway Bridge, Tenn., 17 Jul 
44. Copies of all in ibid., App B2f and n-o, DASA. 
Robinson, Oak Ridge Story, pp. 26 and 28. Some 
3,720 of the total 58,900 acres brought under CEW 
control already were owned by the government or 
were acquired bv lease, easement, or use permit. 

26MDH, Bk, 8, Vol. 1, "General," pp. 3.5-3.6, 
DASA. Selection of the Los Alamos site is discussed 
in detail in Ch. IV. 



western Division (SWD) at Dallas, 
Texas, and the other by that divi- 
sion's district engineer at Albuquer- 
que, New Mexico. These reports indi- 
cated that the Manhattan Project re- 
quired approximately 54,000 acres, 
most of it semiarid forest and grazing 
lands located on the east slopes of the 
Jemez Mountains in Sandoval County. 
Cost of acquisition, the reports esti- 
mated, would be small, because all 
but about 8,900 acres were federally 
owned and the grazing and forest 
lands were of relatively low value. 
The directive set the approximate 
cost at $440,000 and authorized the 
Engineers chief to finance the acquisi- 
tion from available engineer funds. ^'^ 
Because the process of acquiring 
the Los Alamos site promised to be 
relatively uncomplicated and speedy, 
there was little need for establishing a 
special real estate project office. The 
SWD Real Estate Branch in Albuquer- 
que had sufficient staff and resources 
to oversee the myriad details and the 
district engineer had assigned one of 
his assistants, Maj. John H. Dudley, to 
coordinate and supervise all phases. 
Working closely with Lt. Col. John M. 
Harman, the Los Alamos post com- 
mander designate, the Albuquerque 
real estate staff took immediate steps 
to implement the plan to purchase 



2^ Quoted phrase from Ltr, Robins (for Chief of 
Engrs) to CO SOS, sub: Acquisition of Land for 
Demolition Range at Los Alamos, N.Mex., and 2d 
Ind (directive approval), Patterson to Chief of 
Engrs, both 25 Nov 42, Incls to Memo, O'Brien to 
Ashbridge, sub: Land Acquisition in Connection 
With MD, 17 Apr 43, MDR. See also Prelim Real 
Estate Rpt, SWD Div Engr, sub: Los Alamos Proj, 
21 Nov 42, Admin Files, Gen Corresp, 319.1 (Rpts), 
MDR; Rpt, L.S. Engrs Office, Albuquerque Dist, 
sub: Proposed Site for Mil Proj at Los Alamos 
Ranch School, Otowi, N.Mex., 23 Nov 42, Admin 
Files, Gen Corresp, 600.03, MDR. 



LAND ACQL ISniON 



:529 



^■^1 




^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ■ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 


" ^^B^^^^HHI^^^^H 






u....->^.- ' ^ 


BHB^^'' 


'^k. * -■' ■ "i > k. ■" 


"■•i^L ' ..*. '*■ - 





Typical 1 errain of the Los Alamos Site 



the site in five separate sections (A, B, 
C, D, and E), which ensured comph- 
ance with the War Department's 
pohcy of taking possession of prop- 
erty only as it was actually needed.^® 
{See Map 3.) 

Area A comprised a large block of 
land at the center of the site, which 
include the fifty-odd buildings and ex- 
pansive campus grounds (several hun- 
dred acres) of the Los Alamos School 
that the Army acquired first and had 
full title to by early 1943 under terms 
of a $350,000 direct-purchase con- 
tract. The other areas — Area E to the 
north of Area A and Areas B, C, and 
D to the south — formed a kind of se- 
curity belt to protect the central facili- 
ties planned for Area A, and also as- 
sured the Armv control over the 



scarce existing water sources. ^^ The 
largest tract in these areas comprised 
a part of the Santa Fe National Forest 
under jurisdiction of the Department