Bikini Atoll Nuclear test July 1, 1946

By Gerry Roe

“The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them.” Saint Francis de Sales

Bikini Atoll Nuclear test July 1, 1946

Eugene “Gene” Roe GMC3 January 1, 1946

Eugene (Gene) Roe was my brother. He was the eldest of the Roe children. He was born October 17, 1927 in Holly Bluff, Mississippi to Henry and Ruby Roe.

This is a story about the Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test event that Gene witnessed from aboard the USS Rollett as a Gunner’s Mate Third Class. In late January or early February of 1946 the ship sailed from Port Huenema, California to the sea off the coast of Bikini Atoll. They were considered the “floating Navy” while others were on the island building and preparing for the Nuclear Test. As best understood they were there to transport equipment and supplies to the island. The many ships around the islands provided survey information, housing many working on the project and miscellaneous tasks. Gene told us that on the day “Test Able” was dropped his ship was far out and they were on deck to take pictures and observed the blast. This test was initially scheduled for May 15th but due to delays in construction it was rescheduled for July 1, 1946.

Pictures of mushroom after Test Able, taken from the USS Rollett


He was on the ship traveling to and from Bikini, as well as the time there for a total of 6 months. He returned to Port Huenema. In a letter he wrote home, he expressed how good Port Huenema looked on return.

He received the WW11 Victory Medal and the American Area Campaign.

This information obtained from the “Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test” booklet each received that were present. (Unable to find a link to this pamphlet, much to many pages to attach.)This was considered the Crossroad Experiment and “Test Able” was the first of many nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands. J.D. Burky was Commander-CEC-USN of the 53rd Naval Construction Battalion. He was in charge of the assigned mission of accomplishing all the required shore construction. This was noted from the booklet that was compiled of this projection with pictures and dates. Gene kept his and it is now in possession of his children.

In this pamphlet it has pictures of the ships arriving and LST 881 bringing in the heavy equipment and unloading on the beach on March 14.

Each page of pictures show how the work of a water purification system and cement forms to install the tower were being done.

Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test pamphlet

Commander Burky (on right) briefing prior to raising of tower

The bomb was named Gilda, after Rita Hayworth’s character in a 1946 film. It was dropped from the B-29 Superfortress Dave’s Dream of the 509th Bombardment Group.

For more on information on this and on other tests performed in the Marshall Islands follow the links posted below.

https://www.ctbto.org/specials/testing-times/1-july-1946-test-able-bikini-atoll/

https://www.bikiniatoll.com/

Post Script:

I was unable to find information about the USS Rollett

Gene’s letters do not report his duties other that watch duty and his experience of putting an 18 inch hole in a L.C.V.P. He doesn’t say how but feared reprimand-none came. He and other sailors managed to get it back on the ship without it sinking out of sight. In this letter is his willingness to send money if dad would go to Oregon.

The landing craft, vehicle, personnel or Higgins boat was a landing craft used extensively in amphibious landings in World War II. Typically constructed from plywood, this shallow-draft, barge-like boat could ferry a roughly platoon-sized complement of 36 men to shore at 9 knots.

Higgins boat

#52AncestorsIn52Weeks

#52AncestorsIn52WeeksLand

3 thoughts on “Bikini Atoll Nuclear test July 1, 1946

  1. You have a very interesting family history. I know nothing of this event. I relish the fact that you brought new information to my attention. I look forward to finding out more about the tests on Bikini.
    Are you a veteran of the armed forces? I was unable to serve due to a disability I incurred after I contracted Polio as a child. I often dreamed of joining the Air Force. I always believed I would have made a fine pilot, but Uncle Sam disagreed.

    Like

  2. No I am not. I also thought of going into the Navy as a nurse. Several of my classmates did and served with high honors during Vietnam. All 5 of my brothers and some of their children served in all branches of service. One brother and a nephew were career Navy and Coast Guard.
    Thank you for your kind words.
    I am interested to know where you lived when you were afflicted with polio? I know as children we were not able to go swimming in the river in Oregon because of fear of contacting. I had a cousin in Mississippi who came down with illness. One of her arms was very weak the rest of her life.
    Do you have a blog? if so what is the name. Again, thank you for following ours. Gerry

    Like

  3. I grew up seeing the pictures of the “mushroom cloud”. I always heard that my brother Gene was witness to the testing of the atomic bomb on the “island of Bikini”. I do not ever remember hearing my brother speak of it, but I knew the pictures were his. Of course now I wish I had asked his about that experience.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.