Thursday 8 December 2022


 The 2,000-Year-Old Energy Drink From Ancient Rome

We all know it’s good to hydrate. Water can be so boring though. So when I’m trying to rehydrate after a long run in the summer heat, I tend to reach for an old-timey solution: The energy drink of ancient Rome.

The Romans were famed for their innovations in military logistics, which allowed them to extend their territory from Rome and its immediate surrounds to the whole Mediterranean and ultimately, with the establishment of the Roman Empire, virtually all of western Eurasia. But an army can’t win if it’s thirsty. Enter . This blend of vinegar and water—and possibly salt, herbs, and other stuff—holds a special place in beverage history thanks to its role as the Gatorade of the Roman army.

It’s possible  was Greek in origin. Its name may have derived from the Greek word epoxos, which means “very sharp,” according to The Logistics of the Roman Army at War, by Jonathan Roth, historian at San Jose State University. But the beverage owes its fame to the small, but essential, part it played in the Roman army’s legendary efficiency. As early as the middle of the Roman Republic era (509-27 BCE), the military rationed  to troops along with grains and, very occasionally, meat and cheese. That policy continued for centuries, well into the Roman Empire.

Roman soldiers did, of course, drink water. But historical records suggest that it wasn’t their beverage of choice. Consider what Plutarch wrote about how Cato the Elder, an officer during the Second Punic War (218-202 BCE), dealt with his thirst, according to Roth:

Water was what he drank on his campaigns, except that once in a while, in a raging thirst, he would call for vinegar, or when his strength was failing, would add a little wine.

Like Cato, Romans prized wine for its supposed health benefits, as Rod Phillips, a historian at Carleton University in Ottawa, writes in his book Wine: A Social and Cultural History of the Drink That Changed Our Lives. That made —which contained vinegar made from wine gone bad—vastly preferable to plain old H20. And wine, at the time, was plentiful. Rich Romans put back titanic volumes of it. As the reach of Roman imperialism spread throughout Europe, viticulture followed, which “gave their armies ready access to wine depots almost everywhere,” writes Phillips.

For military officials, off-wine was a cheap source of calories to distribute in bulk. Diluting it with water to make  “effectively doubled the volume of liquid ration given to the soldiers at a very low cost,” observes Roth.

There probably was something to the Romans’ belief in ’s health benefits. The drink’s acidity and slight alcohol content would likely have neutralized bacteria, making it safer than drinking straight water. That could have been a big benefit, given that tainted water has been known to ravage armies more effectively than battle. Vinegar was also thought to help stave off that scourge of militaries throughout history—scurvy. (It doesn’t, as it turns out. But Ancient Romans were hardly the only ones to misplace faith in vinegar’s antiscorbutic virtues; as late as the mid-1800s, the US Army rationed apple cider vinegar to troops stationed in America’s southwest during the Mexican War, according to Roth.)

Mind you, military leaders and other elites generally didn’t deign to drink , which was more a drink of the common people, according to Pass the Garum, a fantastic blog dedicated to exploring Roman cuisine. When Roman emperor Hadrian wanted to slum it with his soldiers, this would have been his drink of choice. As Pass the Garum notes, the ancient historian Suetonius mentions vendors selling  on the streets during the early years of the Roman Empire. Both among soldiers and common folk,       continued to enjoy favour well into the Middle Ages, writes Andrew Dalby, a renowned historian of Greek and Roman cuisines, in Food in the Ancient World from A to Z.

Aside from slaking Roman thirst, ’s other main claim to fame arises from its controversial cameo in the Bible. As Jesus Christ was suffering crucifixion—or possibly just before, at Golgotha—Roman soldiers offered him sips of the stuff from a sponge held aloft with a reed, according to Matthew 27:48. Depending on the interpretation, they did this either to help lessen his anguish or to needle him, notes Phillips. Whatever the case, Jesus wasn’t having it. “After tasting the   Christ refused to drink it,” writes Phillips.

So what did    taste like? It’s a little hard to say. Due to its ubiquity in Roman literature of the day, we can safely conclude that it involved some ratio of water and red wine vinegar. But might it also have featured other flavours? History isn’t very helpful on that score, since no Roman recipes exist.

Thanks to Byzantine medical writers, however, we’re not totally in the dark. AĆ«tius of Amida and Paul of Aegina, both Byzantine Greek physicians of the sixth and seventh centuries, respectively, included recipes for a “palatable and laxative”  that included cumin, fennel seed, celery seed, anise, thyme, and salt, according to another book by Dalby, Tastes of Byzantium: The Cuisine of a Legendary Empire. (However, Dalby complicates the matter somewhat by noting that the word they used, the Greek loanword phouska, may by that time have become a catchall term for second-rate wine substitutes.)

Adding herbs and sweeteners push  in the direction of more familiar old-school vinegar-based drinks like switchel, sekanjabin, and shrub. Throw in salt, and you have the combo of carbohydrates and sodium used in Gatorade and other modern sports drinks that help you recover the water and salts lost during exercise (or from simply sweating a lot). That makes sense: tromping around Europe and Asia Minor while saddled with armour and packs was undoubtedly sweaty work.

As for modern-day perspirers, why buy commercial sports drinks to slake your thirst when you can make the Gatorade of the ancients? While the scribes of antiquity haven’t left us a lot to go on, that hasn’t stopped food bloggers and Roman enthusiasts—and me—from trying. For anyone wanting to join in, here are a few recipes and guidelines to get you started. Make sure to use brewed vinegar only—red wine, black, balsamic, or apple cider, for example—and not distilled.

Though we have only the faintest hint that  was sweetened, lots of recipes call for honey—like ”Sharp-but-sweet ” from Pass the Garum:

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

250ml water

1 tbsp honey

According to this recipe, honey should first be melted in the microwave for about 20 seconds, and then added to the water and stirred. Then add the vinegar.

If you want something a little “sharper,” this recipe, from the site Romae Vitam, calls for a much higher proportion of vinegar to water, as well as crushed coriander seeds:

1.5 cups of red wine vinegar

0.5 cups of honey

1 tablespoon of crushed coriander seed

4 cups of water

The recipe calls for boiling the honey and letting it cool before combining. Also, make sure to strain out the crushed coriander before drinking.

My own–making is guided not by zeal for ancient Rome, but, rather because I’m really thirsty. So while my concoction was inspired by what I learned from a lecture on ancient Roman cuisine a few years back, it has since strayed from the more authentic recipes listed above. I’ll still use diluted apple cider vinegar, if it’s handy, but I’ll sometimes go with homemade kombucha. And instead of honey, I prefer a glug of maple syrup (less messy). Also, usually, a little salt. And definitely a ton of ice. I’m not sure if you can still call that  . But whatever it is, on a hot day, it sure hits the spot.

NOTE: This post originally appeared on Quartz and was published September 2, 

Wednesday 10 August 2022


   The harrowing story of the Nagasaki bombing mission

Background: Before he died in 2005, retired Navy man Frederick L. Ashworth revealed some little-known information about the dropping of the Nagasaki atomic bomb to his friend and neighbour, Ellen Bradbury, who subsequently wrote it down. Ashworth had been the operations officer in charge of the final testing and assembly of the “Fat Man” atomic bomb components, and he was in command of the device while aboard the plane that actually dropped the weapon on Nagasaki. Years later, New York Times science reporter Sandra Blakeslee worked closely with Bradbury to craft the article below from Ashworth’s recollections, and to locate corroborating accounts, interviews, and other support materials. Ashworth’s detailed, in-depth account—recounted here in full —provides a different view of the Nagasaki mission in place of much of what was written previously.

The Story: Seventy-five years ago, on August 9, at approximately 3:47 a.m. local time on the island of Tinian, a massive B-29 Superfortress aircraft roared down a tropical airport runway, carrying 13 men and what was then the world’s most destructive weapon—an atomic bomb called Fat Man. It was the second atomic bomb in existence (not counting the test in the New Mexico desert about 3 weeks earlier). And it was far more powerful than the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare, which was called “Little Boy” and had been dropped on Hiroshima just three days earlier.

For nearly eight hours, the crew of the plane carrying Fat Man sped toward mainland Japan, each man hunkered in a cramped workspace with no access to external radio communication. Outside, monsoon winds, rain, and lightning lashed at them. Inside, they experienced moments of terror, such as when the bomb began to arm itself—a red light blinking with increasing rapidity—midway to their destination. One of them, bearing the newly minted title “weaponeer,” grabbed the Bomb’s blueprints and raced to figure out what was wrong.

The story of what transpired inside the plane carrying Fat Man to Nagasaki, Japan, has not really been told in detail to this extent, although some excellent overall renditions have been written of the atomic bomb program as a whole. Bits and pieces of the story have appeared in the diaries of the men who flew the mission—although sometimes the diaries appeared years after the event, or were based on hurriedly scribbled, hand-written notes jotted down during the flight. Scrubbed versions have been published in military archives. A couple of accounts differ, suggesting false memories or outright lies, making the whole tale reminiscent of the famous Japanese film Rashomon.

It is a story of astonishing screw-ups that easily could have plunged the plane, the men, and the bomb into the Pacific Ocean. That the mission succeeded is genuinely miraculous.

Fat Man vs Little Boy. The Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima continues to garner the most publicity, because it was the first-ever atomic weapon to be used in an attack. But compared to the Fat Man implosion assembly design, Little Boy’s output was puny, even though “little” is hardly the adjective that springs to mind for a bomb that was 10 feet long, 28 inches wide, and weighed 9,000 pounds. Despite its size, Little Boy was “crude,” wrote physicist Frank Barnaby of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute more than three decades later; a modern 8-inch nuclear artillery shell has about the same yield as the first atomic bomb. The Little Boy design was never built or used again.

Fat Man became the basis for US domination in the nuclear age. Its design became the model for all atom bombs that followed—including the kinds of things that North Korea and all new atomic powers seek to accomplish today, according to William J. Broad, science reporter for the New York Times. An implosion bomb that used plutonium, Fat Man produced far more bang for the buck: the explosive power of 22 kilotons of TNT from Fat Man, versus the 12.5 kilotons of Little Boy.

There is another difference as well: Fat Man almost didn’t reach its target. Unlike the Hiroshima mission, which was nearly flawless, almost nothing during the Nagasaki mission went according to plan, atomic historians say. Its failure might have changed the course of history, discrediting the utility of this new bomb design and possibly affecting the course of subsequent nuclear weapons use. The mission was a game changer, yet the military has been loathe to talk about it for reasons of national security and, perhaps, embarrassment.

Ellen learned harrowing new details of this historic flight from the weaponeer, Vice Admiral Frederick Lincoln “Dick” Ashworth, a few months before he died in 2005, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ashworth had been a Navy commander who helped to select Tinian as the base for the atomic mission. He then became the operations officer in charge of the final testing and assembly of the bomb components on the island and was ultimately the person in charge of the atomic bomb while aboard the plane that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki.

And he was Ellen’s neighbour. She grew up in Los Alamos, where her father had been hired by Norris Bradbury to work on the implosion detonator for the Fat Man bomb. Which is partly why Ashworth opened up to her. (Full disclosure: Los Alamos in those days was a small, tight-knit community, much more so than today. Back then, it seemed that everyone knew everyone else. And Norris Bradbury was to eventually become my father-in-law.) Maybe it was because of these facts that Ashworth—normally a buttoned-up kind of guy, averse to any whiff of disloyalty—spoke candidly about the conflicts that occurred before the bomb was dropped. Luckily, Ellen wrote down his recollections and saved all his emails. He stressed that he didn’t have the energy, time, or inclination to tell the story in “a big way” to national media. (Although Ashworth did give an account to the Los Alamos Historical Society).

While it may not be found in official histories, what Ashworth had to say contains the ring of truth. A leading civilian expert on the bombing missions, John Coster-Mullen—whose self-published research is considered by prominent atomic historians such as Robert Norris to be the ultimate authority on what happened—corroborated Ashworth’s version. (In his review of Coster-Mullen’s book Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man, Norris said: “Nothing else in the Manhattan Project literature comes close to his exacting breakdown of the bomb’s parts. Coster-Mullen describes the size, weight, and composition of many of Little Boy’s components, including the nose section and its target case; the uranium-235 target rings and tamper; the arming and fuzing system; the forged steel 6.5-inch-in-diameter gun barrel through which the uranium-235 projectile was fired at the target rings; and the tail section—to cite just a few.”)

And what does Coster-Mullen have to say about the flight of Bockscar? “That mission was a sorry mess from the get-go,” he said recently. “And ramifications have carried on through many decades.”

Ashworth was in charge of the nuclear part of the mission, where, in his words, “We had tons of stuff out there to assemble into bombs … 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.” Even though Fat Man had been pre-assembled by the experts at Los Alamos in peace and quiet, a few key components of the bomb then had to be taken apart in order to safely ship Fat Man halfway around the globe. “This saved the people on Tinian of a lot of heavy handling work, and their job was only to remove the two explosive blocks, insert the pit and close it up,” Ashworth said.

Still, this approach meant that the atomic bomb needed to be reassembled, in a remote part of the Pacific, during war-time, thousands of miles away from where it had first been conceived. (The active materials, such as each bomb’s all-important plutonium “pit”—the critical core component—were shipped separately and hand-carried.) Because it was all so complex and intricate, Ashworth flew on board the plane with the finished product. To my mind, he had no reason to alter the facts. This is his account of those final hours on the plane with Fat Man, as Ashworth told them to me over 15 hours of face-to-face interviews.

Prologue to the flight. The heart of Fat Man was a grapefruit-sized core of plutonium—a newly manufactured, radioactive element that is more stable than most isotopes of uranium and more powerful. It was shiny, slightly warm, and weighed about 14.1 pounds. And someone had to carry it to the tiny Pacific Island of Tinian, where the bomb would be assembled and loaded on to a B-29 bomber.

The task fell to a young scientist—he drew the short straw—named Raemer Schreiber, whose story is recounted here for the first time. His unpublished diary (shared with me by his daughter, Paula) recounts how on July 26, at Los Alamos, colleagues handed him the plutonium core, nicknamed “Rufus,” which he placed in a little, open-wire carrying case that resembled a milk crate. They also asked him to transport a huge wheel of cheese, presumably for the nuclear scientists waiting on Tinian. With the core in his lap, Schreiber bounced over dirt roads on the way to Albuquerque where he boarded an empty C-54 aircraft. He knew the core could not explode without a detonator.

As described in his diary, Schreiber sat on a hard wooden chair strapped inside the big plane all the way to Tinian. Like everyone working on the Bomb, he was exhausted. So he slept sitting up, sometimes holding the bomb case in his lap. At one point, over the Pacific, he went up to the cockpit to get a better view of what was causing turbulence. One of the crew came up behind and tapped him on the shoulder: “Whatever that thing is you got, it’s rolling around the back of the plane. Maybe you want to corral it.”

The wire container had tipped over, the first in a series of mishaps. Schreiber quickly fetched the nation’s most technologically advanced wartime treasure, tied it to the leg of his chair, and went back to sleep.

Schreiber landed on Tinian on July 28, local time. Located in the Marianas archipelago, on the other side of the International Date Line, the island was hot and muggy; it rained almost constantly. No one had thought about where to put the plutonium carrier, so the Los Alamos scientists already on Tinian stuck it in the back of the Quonset hut where they slept. Then they took snapshots of themselves holding all the plutonium there was in the world.

The person in charge of assembling the bomb, and overseeing it while on board the plane—Bockscar—that dropped the weapon was Commander Frederick L. Ashworth, seen here in front of a Quonset hunt on Tinian. Ashworth was a Navy man, while the plane’s pilot, Charles W. Sweeney, was with the Army—which added to the confusion of just who was in charge while they were in flight and waiting at their rendezvous point for their two accompanying planes. When the photo plane never showed up, Ashworth wanted Bockscar to proceed directly to the target anyway, while Sweeney wanted to wait. Bockscar waited 45 minutes, during which it consumed precious fuel; the photo plane never did show up. So much fuel was wasted that the plane barely had enough to drop the bomb and land at the nearest base afterward. (In fact, at one point it looked like Bockscar would crash into the ocean well before getting to the runway. One crewmember remembers wondering how cold the Pacific would be when they ditched the plane.

Scientists holding the container with the plutonium core that was to be the heart of the Fat Man atomic bomb. Image taken on the island of Tinian, August 1945. At right is physicist Harold M. Agnew, later to become the director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. The portion of the image showing the container itself had been scratched out by the FBI in 1946, in an effort at secrecy. Now, of course, this photo is declassified, as are all the materials published here. (Agnew also managed to sneak a camera onto Bockscar which was used by one of the crew to take the photos of bomb damage. No one on the plane knew how to operate the official camera because the official cameraman was not on the plane, due to a mishap.) 

In February, Ashworth selected Tinian because it was one of the first liberated islands that had a runway long enough for a heavily loaded B-29 to take off and was close enough to the Japanese mainland for the planes to make round trips. But B-29s were notoriously unreliable flying machines, especially in the early days, when they had been rushed into service without complete testing. Until the designs improved, many engines overheated, caught on fire, and caused the planes—full of bombs and fuel—to crash on takeoff. The end of Tinian’s runway was littered with a pile of wrecked B-29s. (The planes used for the atomic bomb runs had been modified and upgraded, which was reflected in the planes’ official designation: “Silverplate.”)

The men waited. The weather remained dreadful. The crew talked about the possibility of the Japanese surrendering but the Hiroshima bomb did not make that happen. The scientists wanted the enemy to think they had an endless supply of atomic bombs but there was only one more immediately available: Fat Man, whose core lay in the back of the hut. (There were other cores in various stages of completion.)

Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, who had piloted the plane carrying Little Boy to Hiroshima, was one of the people involved with deciding when to drop the second bomb, scheduled for August 11. The primary target was Kokura, site of one of Japan’s largest munitions plants. Nagasaki was the backup target. When five days of bad weather was forecast (including a typhoon), the mission was moved up to August 9. The change meant that corners inevitably had to be cut to get the bomb airborne in time.

These shortcuts imperilled the mission several times. For example, late in the evening of August 8, a young nuclear engineer, Bernard O’Keefe, and an assistant worked to fit a casing over the core, setting fuses and turning screws. They crouched in the only air-conditioned room on Tinian with a bare electric light bulb. Sometime before midnight, O’Keefe stepped back to make a last check.

As elaborated in Ellen's conversations with Ashworth, O’Keefe tried to plug a cable into the firing unit. It didn’t fit. He told himself he must have been doing something wrong. He was too tired, not thinking straight. O’Keefe realized he was trying to fit a female plug to another female plug on the end of the cable. He walked around the weapon and on the other side saw two male plugs in the same position. That wasn’t right. But they were soldered on that way.

He called his assistant and asked him to look at the plugs. He confirmed that they were put together wrong. O’Keefe fumed. He couldn’t call the whole show off because of some stupid mistake. He’d just have to fix it, unsolder and re-solder the damn thing. He asked where there was an electrical outlet. They finally located one two rooms away, so O’Keefe had to find extension cords. Then he strung two cords together and heated up his soldering iron. He recalled that sweat was pouring off his body and the assistant was terrified.

“Sir, that is dangerous.”

“Right,” said O’Keefe. “Then go hide somewhere, although if this blows up it won’t make much difference where you hide.”

O’Keefe carefully unsoldered two connectors, switched them, re-soldered them, and stood up. Then he sank down to the floor. It was midnight. Fat Man was now ready to be fully armed, but with green safety plugs engaged. Soldiers came to roll the bomb out and hoist it into the belly of a B-29 named Bockscar(sometimes spelled as Bock’s Car).

Army Major Charles W. Sweeney piloted Bockscar. Major James I. Hopkins piloted a second plane, Big Stink, there to observe the strike and take photos. Captain Frederick C. Bock—who was normally in command of the Bockscarnamed after him—piloted a third plane, The Great Artiste, which carried blast measurement instruments and observers. Two weather reconnaissance planes had taken off an hour earlier.

To accommodate the 10,800-pound Fat Man, Bockscar was stripped of all its guns. It had to carry enough fuel for the long trip to the Japanese mainland. On takeoff, it was seriously over its designated weight for safety.

Before the crew boarded the plane, Tibbets held a briefing where he announced last-minute changes. According to Ashworth, Tibbets announced that his good buddy Sweeney would pilot Bockscar instead of Bock. There would be glory in it for his friend. Second, due to bad monsoon weather, the rendezvous point for the three planes was changed from Iwo Jima to Yakushima, an island off the southern tip of Japan. Third, Bockscar was to fly at altitudes higher than its normal 9,000 feet if it encountered foul weather over the Pacific. This meant greater fuel consumption.

Finally, Tibbets gave two clear instructions. Wait no more than 15 minutes at the rendezvous point before proceeding to the Japanese mainland. And drop Fat Man visually instead of using radar. The target must be photographed. The head of the scientific project that developed the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, wanted a clear demonstration of the power of the new weapon. He had told the US Secretary of War, Harry Stimson, that “the visual effect of an atomic bombing would be tremendous” and “we should seek to make a profound psychological impression on as many of the inhabitants as possible,” as was duly noted on pages 13 and 14 of the minutes of their July 31, 1945 meeting and then stamped “Top Secret” (and now declassified).

As the men prepared to board the plane, Raymond Gallagher, the assistant flight engineer, said: “The feeling in our hearts, when we heard about the briefing, was very, very low.” Following standard procedures, the men all dropped their wallets into a barracks bag near the door. “Truthfully, I think I will never pick it up,” he said.

On the plane. Once on board, at 2:15 a.m., the crew went through a final pre-flight check. It went well until Sweeney’s flight engineer, Master Sergeant John D. Kuharek, tried to access 640 gallons of fuel in Bockscar’s reserve tank in the tail of the aircraft. It provided ballast as well as a margin of safety for getting back to Tinian. Kuharek flipped a switch. The fuel did not move. He tried again and again. No dice. There was no time to replace the fuel pump. Another mishap.

Regulations required that the flight be cancelled. Sweeney ordered everyone off the plane. The men got off, stood around nervously and looked to Tibbets and base commander Brigadier General Thomas F. Farrell for a decision.

According to Ashworth, Tibbets said that they were fast losing the weather. And the Hiroshima flight had been a milk run, with no problems—they’d got back to Tinian and never touched that fuel in the reserve tank.

“I say, ‘Go.’ ”

Farrell, somewhat more reluctantly, agreed. It was a go.

The men on the runway looked at each other, then climbed back into the plane.

Like all B-29s, Bockscar was temperamental. According to Ashworth, Fred Bock probably could have twiddled and fiddled the controls to make the pump work. But Charles Sweeney was in charge. Although a good pilot, he was not as familiar with the plane’s quirks.

Here is where Dick Ashworth’s story begins to get personal and diverge from conventional accounts. He told Ellen that Sweeney was an Army man, accustomed to following orders. Ashworth, on the other hand, was a Navy man, accustomed to getting a mission accomplished no matter what came his way. In other words, the Navy gets things done. The Army follows orders. And that is where the conflict, which nearly caused the mission to fail, began.

Such conflict between operating systems is a military classic—called a “purple operation,” from the mixture of Army red and Navy blue. It even had a code: JANCFU for “joint army navy combined foul up” which was a cousin of “SNAFU,” military vernacular for “situation normal, all f***ed up.”

Bockscar lifted off at 3:47 a.m., using the whole length of an 8,500-foot runway. Palm trees below bent down as the plane pulled up, as if the Earth were reluctant to let it go.

Two minutes later Sweeney turned the controls over to his co-pilot, 1st Lt. Charles Donald Albury, and took a nap. Back in the belly of the plane, Ashworth removed the green safety plugs and replaced them with red arming plugs. Then Ashworth told me that he dozed for a few minutes with his head resting on the Bomb, which hung from a grappling hook, swaying slightly. It was several hours to the rendezvous point.

At 7:00 a.m., after about three hours in the air, Ashworth told me that his assistant weaponeer, Lt. Philip M. Barnes, awakened him. We don’t know to a 100 percent certainty what was said next, but Ashworth recalls the following exchange. What happened does not seem to have appeared in any official histories, but Ashworth swore to me it was true.

“Hey, Commander, Ashworth, Dick.” Barnes called him first by rank, then last name, then first name, with increasing terror. “Hey, we got something wrong here. We got a red light going off like the bomb is going to explode right now. Armed, it’s armed. Fully armed, look at this. Can you take a look, what is going on with this?”

A red light that had been blinking steadily suddenly sped up, flashing a dire warming.

Ashworth said he shook himself awake. “Are you sure? Oh my God.” He saw the red light. “There is something … do you have the blueprints? This bomb can pre-detonate if we drop below a predetermined level. What’s our altitude? Where are the blueprints?”

Barnes and Ashworth unrolled the blueprints and started checking. They took the casing off the bomb, and scrutinized the switches. After 10 tense minutes, they saw the problem. Two switches had been reversed, a mistake in the arming process. Barnes flipped the two tiny switches into their proper positions and the red light stopped blinking.

Ashworth went back to sleep.

Barnes sat on a small stool in front of the bomb and never took his eyes off the light.

The bad weather continued. Their wings were occasionally bathed in St. Elmo’s fire—a non-threatening electrical phenomenon that was nevertheless scary under the circumstances. Shortly after the incident with the red light—which no one on the plane other than Barnes and Ashworth knew about—they slowly climbed to 30,000 feet to arrive at the rendezvous point at roughly 9 a.m. Ten minutes later, they spotted the instrument plane. But the third, with the photographic equipment, did not appear.

Sweeney began to circle the island, waiting for the third plane. He circled for 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, then for 45 fuel-guzzling minutes.

Sweeney turned to his co-pilot. “Where the hell is Hoppy?”

James “Hoppy” Hopkins, piloting The Big Stink—another modified Silverplate B-29, able to fly at higher altitudes than earlier models—was circling above them at 39,000 feet, looking anxiously for the other two planes.

Sweeney later told his superiors that Ashworth commanded him to keep circling. But Ashworth told me a very different story. He said that if he had been able to see which plane was with them (it was The Great Artiste with the instruments), he would have argued to immediately proceed onward. But from his small window, Ashworth could not readily see all that was going on. He wanted that instrument plane, but the photo plane was not much of a priority to him—especially if waiting for it meant endangering the entire mission. But Ashworth could not make his concerns known, even though he was not far from the pilots’ seats. Although the crew all had headsets, Ashworth did not, so they and he had to make themselves heard over the engine noise to communicate. This was normally OK, but this was not a normal situation. Adding to the tension, Kuharek made it clear they were beginning to be critically short of fuel.

“We waited and waited for the last plane,” Ashworth told her. “Sweeney had in mind that we were supposed to have three airplanes going to target. I think he wanted a perfect operation. The net result was we wasted 45 minutes of precious gasoline. Finally I said to Sweeney, proceed to first target.” Once again, the mission was imperilled by multiple mishaps.

Above them, at 39,000 feet, Hopkins hovered, desperately looking for the other planes, at the wrong altitude. At last, frantic, he broke radio silence and radioed back to Tinian.

He said, in code, “Is Bockscar down?”

But on Tinian the first word of the transmission was dropped. They heard: “Bockscar down.”

Commander Ferrell was having breakfast. When he heard the news, he ran outside his tent and threw up. He then cancelled a contingent air-to-sea rescue operation. Despair settled on the island. They believed that they had lost one of the weapons that was to finally end the war.

But Bockscar was not down. It flew on toward Kokura, followed by The Great Artiste, as The Big Stink continued searching for it at the wrong altitude.

They arrived at 10:44 a.m. to find Kokura blanketed in thick smoke. On the ground, three employees of the Yawata Steel Works had been burning drums of coal tar to lay down a smoke screen, on the orders of their supervisor. And steelworker Satoru Miyashiro and his co-workers had heard about Hiroshima.

Bockscar began a bombing run but the bombardier, Kermit Beahan, could not see enough to do a visual drop. As the B-29 pulled away in futility, flak began bursting all around them. Kokura was one of the most heavily armed cities in Japan because of its munitions factories and steelworks. Bockscar had no guns to defend itself, and in any case, guns would have been no protection against flak.

Sweeney announced he would do a second run over Kokura. Ashworth told me he was steaming. Tension in the plane mounted. Meanwhile, the men were calculating the amount of remaining fuel. Second Lieutenant Fred Olivi, wrote in his diary, “Our gas is going fast at this altitude, and we can’t wait any longer.”

Again Sweeney began to circle for another run. At this point Ashworth went to talk with Sweeney.

They heard a worried voice from the tail gunner, Sergeant Albert T. ‘Pappy’ Dehart. “Major, flak is closer.”

“Roger,” said Sweeney.

Pappy’s voice was a squeak: “Major, flak right on our tail and coming closer.”

Then Second Lieutenant Jacob Beser, who was in charge of radar counter-measures, began to pick up signals near Japanese control frequencies. Japanese fighters were darting up fast.

Then Staff Sgt. Edward K. Buckly, the radar operator, broke in: “Skipper, Jap Zeros coming up at us. Looks like about 10.”

“Let’s try from another angle,” Sweeney said.

Telling the tale all these years later, Ashworth says that he was effectively stuck, in what he called “the bilge” (a Navy reference to the bowels of the craft)—unable to see or hear all that was going on, with his fate in the hands of someone else, and more than dubious about the choices the skipper was making. He knew that Sweeney had never flown in combat, and that changes decision-making, whatever the orders are. At this point they were on their own, alone, in the air, and carrying an atomic bomb. Ashworth had been in combat, and knew that at some point you scrap orders and do the best and only thing you can. You complete your mission. You save your men if you can.

It was not clear who was in charge. Sweeney, the Army guy, piloted the plane. Ashworth, the Navy guy, was in charge of the bomb. As the weaponeer, Ashworth wanted to get to the target and make the visual drop as specified. In retrospect, he was in charge but the mishandling of their orders led to the plane nearly falling out of the sky.

They didn’t have enough fuel to make any more runs.

Sergeant Abraham Spitzer, the radio operator, later said: “I could see Commander (Ashworth) was struggling within. He seemed perplexed. What to do? Disregard orders, risk a return to Okinawa and the lives of the men aboard, perhaps the loss of the bomb in the ocean to save our own necks? All that weighed heavily on his mind. Desperately, he made up his mind. Casting aside all consideration he told the major it was Nagasaki—radar or visually, but drop we will. We cheered. Nagasaki, here we come.”

Nagasaki. At 11:32, Bockscar banked and turned south. Sweeney tipped the aircraft wings to indicate that The Great Artiste should follow. Ashworth told me that the two B-29s nearly collided midair—a detail often overlooked in subsequent accounts.

They flew the shortest route overland to reach Nagasaki, 95 miles away. They did not have enough fuel to make it back to any US base. Ashworth told me that, at this point in the mission, he was prepared to take all responsibility, even if it meant a court martial. If the target could not be seen visually, he would use radar. It wouldn’t be what the brass wanted but would get the job done.

He also told me that he did not think any of them would survive the mission. There was a very slim chance they might make it to the recently liberated island of Okinawa. But he did not count on it.

The navigator, Fred Olivi, recounted how he wondered if the Pacific Ocean would be cold when they ditched.

At 11:50 a.m., Bockscar arrived over Nagasaki.

Big fluffy clouds drifted over the city. Ashworth said that, given the fuel situation, he had only had one chance to drop the bomb. “I felt it was my responsibility to try a radar approach. The only alternative was to ditch the plane with the bomb.”

Bockscar began a five-minute bombing run. When the bomb-bay doors opened, Ashworth spoke to Beahan, the bombardier. “Use the radar.”

As large holes pooled through the puffy clouds, Beahan shouted: “I see it! I see it! I got it!”

Sweeney said, “Okay, you own the plane.”

Beahan had about 45 seconds to set up the bombsight, to kill the drift, and to kill the rate of closure on the target. Then: “Bombs away!”

Fat Man fell from the plane for 20 seconds and, at 12:02 p.m., exploded at an altitude of 1,840 feet with a force of 22,000 tons of TNT.

The bomb-bay doors snapped shut. Inside the plane, men were thrown down by several shock waves. Beser was pinned to the floor and thought the plane was going to be torn apart.

Olivi described the mushroom cloud: “It was bright bluish color. It took about 45 or 50 seconds to get up to our altitude and then continued on up. We could see the bottom of the mushroom stem. It was a boiling cauldron. Salmon pink was the predominant color. We couldn’t see anything down there because it was smoke and fire all over the area where the city was. Everybody was concentrating down there and I remember the mushroom cloud was on our left. Somebody hollered in the back: ‘The mushroom cloud is coming toward us.’ This is where Sweeney took the aircraft and dove it down to the right, full throttle, and I remember looking at the damn thing on our left, and I couldn’t tell for a while whether it was gaining on us or we were gaining on it.”

At 12:05 p.m., Sweeney kicked the plane over into another dive just in time to avoid running into a cloud of atomic ash and smoke, which was still climbing up.

When Bockscar finally made it to the target site—the city of Nokumura—it was covered by fog, haze, and possibly a smokescreen created by the Japanese burning of coal tar. The crew had to make a visual drop; they tried three times, then gave up and went to their alternate target: Nagasaki. That, too, was covered by cloud, until a gap suddenly appeared. The bombardier released the Fat Man atomic bomb over Nagasaki, and at 12:02 pm on August 9, 1945, it exploded at an altitude of 1,840 feet with a force equal to about 22,000 tons of TNT.

Somebody hollered in the back: ‘The mushroom cloud is coming toward us.’ This is where Sweeney took the aircraft and dove it down to the right, full throttle, and I remember looking at the damn thing on our left and I couldn't tell for a while whether it was gaining on us or we were gaining on it.” They were still 457 miles from the nearest landing strip, on Okinawa, and sent out a May Day cry for help. The plane did make it, gliding much of the way, although one engine died and the plane bounced 25 feet in the air before settling down. It barely missed hitting a row of parked planes that were fully loaded with incendiary bombs and fueled up. Bockscar had made it. Just barely.

They were 457 miles from Okinawa. The Great Artiste, which had dropped a suite of instruments right after the bomb exploded, was on their tail. Both planes were low on fuel but Bockscar was running on hope. Because of radio silence, they could not talk to each other.

Ashworth said he told the crew to say goodbye to one other and put on their Mae West life jackets. They would probably have to crash-land in the ocean. There was a very small chance of a rescue. Except for The Great Artiste, no one else knew they were in the air. And although they didn’t know it, as far as the military was concerned, their plane had been lost many hours earlier.

As they left the Japanese shore, Sweeney sent an international distress signal. “May Day. May Day. May Day.” There was no response.

They were at 30,000 feet and could descend, almost in a glide, with minimum fuel consumption. About five minutes out of Okinawa, with heavy air traffic moving to and from the runways, all fuel tanks read empty. Sweeney frantically tried to call the busy control tower on Okinawa but got no response. They had only once chance at landing. He yelled, “Fire every goddamn flare in the airplane.”

Olivi later wrote: “I took out the flare gun, stuck it out of the porthole at the top of the fuselage and fired all the flares we had, one after another. There were about eight or ten of them. Each color indicated a specific condition onboard the aircraft.”

As far as the tower was concerned, Bockscar was out of fuel, on fire, had wounded men, and every other crisis a plane could have.

Still firing flares, Bockscar touched down at 1:51 p.m. going 140 miles per hour—about 30 mph too fast. It bounced 25 feet in the air before settling down. At touchdown, the number two inboard engine died. This actually made the plane easier to handle. Sweeney and Albury both stood hard on the brakes and reversed the propellers to slow down the plane. They passed rows of parked B-24 Liberator heavy bombers that were fueled up and loaded with incendiary bombs, but didn’t smack into any. At the end of the runway, they made a full 180-degree turn and headed to a paved area for parking heavy vehicles, rolling on fumes.

Then stopped.

Ambulances, fire trucks, and jeeps pulled up. Sweeney told the men not to tell anyone about the mission. Ashworth and Sweeney jumped into a jeep that took them to headquarters.

Okinawa base commander and aviation pioneer James Harold “Jimmy” Doolittle had been there two weeks. He looked at Ashworth and said, “Who the hell are you?” Ashworth bristled and said, “What the hell is wrong with your control tower? We are the 509, Bockscar. We dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Sir, I think we were a little off target.” He stopped.

“Bockscar?” said Doolittle. “You, you’re not lost? Thank God you didn’t hit those B-24s. Just missed one hell of an explosion. Guess you already had one hell of an explosion.”

He looked hard at Ashworth. “We heard you were down.”

Later, Doolittle remarked to a friend of Ellen in New Mexico, Linda Davis, that the landing was “the scariest thing I ever saw.”

A little later, the crew sat in the mess hall eating Spam. The third plane, piloted by Hopkins, arrived three hours later after circling Nagasaki and photographing the damage with an unofficial camera that a young physicist, Harold Agnew, had snuck on board. This was fortuitous. No one on the plane knew how to operate the official camera because the man assigned the task was kicked off before takeoff because he had hastily grabbed a raft instead of a parachute.

At about 5:00 or 5:30 p.m., all three B-29s left Okinawa for Tinian Island, arriving at 10:45 p.m.

Unlike the Enola Gay that had bombed Hiroshima, Bockscar was not greeted on its return with fanfare and praise. The military did not push the Bockscar story or decorate the men who flew the mission—unlike what happened with the Enola Gay’s crew. There was talk that Sweeney should be court-martialed for disobeying orders, but nothing came of it. We had won the war. There was no point in making the military look bad. There was no need to do a formal review, which could reveal the embarrassing mishaps, just as there was no need to assemble the other cores or fly more missions. A full-scale land invasion of Japan was averted, saving what the Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated would be tens or even hundreds of thousands of lives—although the exact figures are one of history’s great “what if” questions.

By Ellen Bradbury, Sandra Blakeslee   ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED NYT AUGUST 4, 2015

Sunday 7 August 2022



In case of an emergency, an ECHS beneficiary can be directly admitted to a empanelled hospital of his/her choice and undergo the appropriate medical treatment on cashless basis. Within 48 hours of such admission, nearest ECHS polyclinic has to be informed so that emergency referral can be issued to the treating hospital.

Normally, it is seen that empanelled hospital asks the attendants/ family members/ relatives to fetch the emergency referral from the ECHS authorities so that the treatment should not be disrupted. The family members out of sentiments immediately rush to the ECHS polyclinic for want of referral. Upto this time, there is no problem. But in many cases it is seen that most of veterans alone (with spouse only) as their children are away due to their careers. The trauma starts, when the 70-75 years old spouse is being asked to bring the referral from the ECHS polyclinic which is normally at a distance from 5 to 50 km. And after reaching there one is asked to register the name for OPD and queue up with general OPD patients which total around 100 registered with any of the Medical Officers. It takes around 3 to 4 hours to fetch said emergency referral form. At a few ECHS polyclinics, O/IC Sahab signs all the forms at 1400 hrs only and the old ladies are standing there and thinking about the delay in treatment of husband/ wife or vice-versa.

So, the whole idea of this narration is that the ECHS beneficiary or his family members/relatives have no business to obtain this emergency referral form.

This is the duty of the empanelled hospital to send an emergency information report online to the concerned/nearest ECHS Polyclinic and in turn the O/IC Polyclinic will send the emergency referral form online only.

Authy :

Many empanelled hospitals and polyclinics are asking people to run from pillar to post to make this arrangement. The whole idea is we should not accept deficiency in services which are laid down.

If you experience such problems do not hesitate to raise your complaints to the concerned authorities.


1. KINDLY make use of the facility, if you find any rude behaviour by any polyclinic or regional centre staff, not getting required medicines, Polyclinics / RC not adhering to policies, etc.

2. Kindly make use of technology to record events (ie. video recordings through your mobile phones), if any errant ECHS Authority / empanelled hospitals misbehave with you.

3. ALL medicine procurement and distribution is with the Station HQS, still if any veteran is not able to get medicines, kindly raise the level to RC, Director and Central Org, Medical Director, Dy Md and MD.

ECHS launches complaint and litigation reduction scheme (CLRS) :-

All stakeholders including veterans and their dependents, ECHS employees at all echelons and hospitals / other service providers are invited for direct commn with the central organisation ECHS to reduce complaints and litigation.

This will assist them in an increased focus on the formulation of caring policy and implementing initiatives preserving the time and resources of our veterans who have served the nation in a selfless manner.

Please speak to the officer handling non-medical complaints on : 9968263812.

While issues related to medical aspects be discussed on 9910244611,  in case of non-resolution, please approach:


Tele No - 011 25684846

Email :

Your unsettled issues can also be mailed on: 

Sunday 31 July 2022



SEVEN times in 61 years by the British rule.

Afghanistan was separated from India in 1876,

Nepal in 1904,

Bhutan in 1906,

Tibet in 1907,

Sri Lanka in 1935,

Myanmar (Burma) in 1937

and... Pakistan in 1947.

The Partition of Akhand Bharat

Unbroken India extended from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean and from Iran to Indonesia. India’s area in 1857 was 83 lakh square kilometers, which is currently 33 lakh square kilometers.

Sri Lanka

The British separated Sri Lanka from India in 1935. The old name of Sri Lanka was Sinhaldeep. The name Sinhaldeep was later renamed Ceylon. Sri Lanka’s name was Tamraparni during the reign of Emperor Ashoka. Mahendra, son of Emperor Ashoka and daughter Sanghamitra went to Sri Lanka to propagate Buddhism. Sri Lanka is a part of united India.


The ancient name of Afghanistan was Upganasthan and Kandahar’s was Gandhara. Afghanistan was a Shaivite country. The Gandhara described in the Mahabharata is in Afghanistan from where the Kauravas’ mother was Gandhari and maternal uncle Shakuni. The description of Kandahar i.e. Gandhara is found till the reign of Shah Jahan. It was a part of India. In 1876 Gandamak treaty was signed between Russia and Britain. After the treaty, Afghanistan was accepted as a separate country.

Myanmar (Burma)

The ancient name of Myanmar (Burma) was Brahmadesh. In 1937, the recognition of a separate country to Myanmar i.e. Burma was given by the British. In ancient times, the Hindu king Anandavrata ruled here.


Nepal was known as Deodhar in ancient times. Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini and mother Sita was born in Janakpur which is in Nepal today. Nepal was made a separate country in 1904 by the British. Nepal was called the Hindu nation of Nepal.  Nepal was called as Hindu Rashtra Nepal. Until a few years ago, the king of Nepal was called Nepal Naresh. Nepal has 81 percent Hindus and 9% Buddhists. Nepal was an integral part of India during the reigns of Emperor Ashoka and Samudragupta. In 1951, Maharaja Tribhuvan Singh of Nepal appealed to the then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to merge Nepal with India, but Jawaharlal Nehru rejected the proposal.


Thailand was known as Syam until 1939. The major cities were Ayodhya, Shri Vijay etc. The construction of Buddhist temples in Syam began in the third century. Even today many Shiva temples are there in this country. The capital of Thailand Bangkok also has hundreds of Hindu temples.


Cambodia is derived from the Sanskrit name Kamboj, was part of unbroken India. The Kaundinya dynasty of Indian origin ruled here from the first century itself. People here used to worship Shiva, Vishnu and Buddha. The national language was Sanskrit. Even today in Cambodia, the names of Indian months such as Chet, Visakh, Asadha are used. The world famous Ankorwat temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, which was built by the Hindu king Suryadev Varman. The walls of the temple have paintings related to the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The ancient name of Ankorwat is Yashodharpur.


The ancient name of Vietnam is Champadesh and its principal cities were Indrapur, Amravati and Vijay. Many Shiva, Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati temples will still be found here. Shivling was also worshiped here. The people were called Cham who were originally Shaivites.


The ancient name of Malaysia was Malay Desh which is a Sanskrit word which means the land of mountains. Malaysia is also described in Ramayana and Raghuvansham. Shaivism was practiced in Malay. Goddess Durga and Lord Ganesha were worshiped. The main script here was Brahmi and Sanskrit was the main language.


The ancient name of Indonesia is Dipantar Bharat which is also mentioned in the Puranas. Deepantar Bharat means the ocean across India. It was the kingdom of Hindu kings. The largest Shiva temple was in the island of Java. The temples were mainly carved with Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. The Bhuvanakosh is the oldest book containing 525 verses of Sanskrit.

The names or motos of the leading institutions of Indonesia are still in Sanskrit :

Indonesian Police Academy – Dharma Bijaksana Kshatriya

Indonesia National Armed Forces – Tri Dharma Ek Karma

Indonesia Airlines – Garuda Airlines

Indonesia Ministry of Home Affairs – Charak Bhuvan

Indonesia Ministry of Finance – Nagar Dhan Raksha

Indonesia Supreme Court – Dharma Yukti


The ancient name of Tibet was Trivishtam which was divided into two parts. One part was given to China and the other to Lama after an agreement between the Chinese and the British in 1907. In 1954, India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru accepted Tibet as part of China to show his solidarity to Chinese people.


Bhutan was separated from India by the British in 1906 and recognized as a separate country. Bhutan is derived from the Sanskrit word Bhu Utthan which means high ground.


There was partition of India on August 14, 1947 by the British and Pakistan came into existence as East Pakistan and West Pakistan. Mohammad Ali Jinnah had been demanding a separate country on the basis of religion since 1940 which later became Pakistan. In 1971 with the cooperation of India, Pakistan was divided again and Bangladesh came into existence. Pakistan and Bangladesh were parts of India.

Friday 29 July 2022


Is a Legal heir and a Nominee the same?

I wonder how many of us are aware of this legal twist.

Will your Nominee get the money on your death? Did you think that your nominee is the person, who will get all the money legally from your Life Insurance Policy and Mutual funds investments? That is exactly what you will think if you are not aware of the legal aspects.

We assume a lot of things which sound like they are obvious, but are not true from the legal point of view. We all concentrate on nominations in financial products.

For whom are we earning? For whom are we investing? Who do we want to leave all our wealth to, in case something happens to us?

It might be your children, your spouse, parents, siblings etc., or a subset of these. You also might want to exclude some people from your list of beneficiaries! So you think you will nominate person X in your Insurance policy, and when you die, all the money goes to person X and he/she becomes the sole owner? You are wrong! It does not work that way.

Let us see how it actually does!

What is a Nominee ?

According to law, a nominee is a trustee, not the owner of the assets. In other words, he is only a caretaker of your assets.

The nominee will only hold your money/asset as a trustee and will be legally bound to transfer it to the legal heirs. For most investments, a legal heir is entitled to the deceased’s assets. For instance, Section 39 of the Insurance Act says the appointed nominee will be paid, though he may not be the legal heir. The nominee, in turn, is supposed to hold the proceeds in trust and the legal heir can claim the money.

A legal heir will be the one who is mentioned in the will. However, if a will is not made, then the legal heirs of the assets are decided according to the succession laws, where the structure is predefined on who gets how much. For example, if a man during his lifetime executes a will... In the will, he mentions his wife and children as legal heirs, then after his death, his wife and children are the legal owners of his assets.

It is essential that one needs to execute a will. It is the ultimate source of truth and replaces the succession law. A nominee can also be one of the legal heirs.

Important :

Mention the full name, address, age and relationship to yourself of the nominee.

Do not write the nomination in favour of wife and children as a class.

Give their specific names and particulars existing at that moment.

If the nominee is a minor, appoint a person who is a major as an appointee giving his full name, age, address and relationship to the nominee.

What is the concept of Nominee ?

Now you might be wondering if the nominee does not become the sole owner, why does a concept of a nominee exist at all?

It is pretty simple. When you die, you want to make sure that the Insurance company, Mutual Fund or your Shares should at least get out of the companies and go to someone you trust, who can help in the process of passing it to your legal heirs.

Otherwise, if a person dies and has not nominated anyone, your legal heirs will have to go through the process of producing all kinds of certificates like death certificates, proof of relation etc., not to mention that the whole process is really cumbersome! (For each legal entity! The insurance company, the mutual funds, the shares, the real estate..).

So, to simplify, if a nominee exists, these hassles do not happen, since the company is bound to transfer all your money or assets to the nominee.

The company then goes out of scene & then, it is between the nominee and legal heirs.

Example of Nomination :

Ajay was 58 years old and died recently in an accident. As his children were settled, he wanted to make sure that his wife is the sole owner of all the monetary assets. This includes his insurance policy and mutual funds. So during his lifetime, he nominated his wife as a nominee in his term insurance policy and mutual funds investments. However, after Ajay’s death, things did not turn out the way he wanted, the reason being Ajay did not leave a will. Though his wife was the nominee in all his movable assets, as per the law, his wife, along with his children, were the legal heirs and all of them had equal rights to Ajay’s assets.

One simple step which could have saved the situation was that Ajay should have made a will which clearly stated that only his wife was entitled to get all the money and not his children.

Nomination in Life Insurance :

A policyholder can appoint multiple nominees and can also specify their shares in the policy proceeds. Nomination in life insurance has one limitation, as insurance policies are bought to secure your financial dependents, your first choice of nominee has to be your family members. In case you want to nominate a non-family member like a friend or third party, you will have to show/PROVE the insurance company that there is some insurable interest for the person. This happens because of a Clause called PRINCIPAL OF INSURABLE INTEREST in insurance. Note that provision of nomination in life insurance is related to Section 39 of the Insurance Act.

Note that as per LIC website – Nomination is a right conferred on the holder of a Policy of Life Assurance on his own life to appoint a person/s to receive policy moneys in the event of the policy becoming a claim by the assured’s death. The Nominee does not get any other benefit except to receive the policy moneys on the death of the Life Assured.

A nomination may be changed or cancelled by the life assured whenever he likes without the consent of the Nominee. Make sure, you have a nominee for your policy for easy settlement of the claim, if you do not have any nominee mentioned in the policy, it can turn out to be a disaster for your dependents to get a claim.

Nomination in Mutual Funds :

In the case of mutual funds, you can nominate up to three people, who can be registered at the time of purchasing the units. While filling in the application form, there is a provision to fill in the nomination details.

Even a minor can be a nominee, provided the guardian is specified in the nomination form.

You can also change your nomination later by filling up a form available on the mutual fund company website.

Nomination in mutual funds is at the folio level and all units in the folio will be transferred to the nominee(s). If an investor makes a further investment in the same folio, the nomination is applicable to the new units also.

A non-resident Indian can be a nominee, subject to the exchange control regulations in force from time to time.

Nomination in Shares :

Now you know what a Nominee means and who actually gets the money.

So if there is a husband H, with wife W and nephew N, and he has nominated his nephew N to be the nominee of his shares in demat account, who will have the legal right to own the shares after the husband’s death? If your answer is wife, you are wrong in this case!

In the case of stocks, it does not work the usual way, if a will does not exist. In the verdict, Justice Roshan Dalvi struck down a petition filed by Harsha Nitin Kokate, who was seeking permission to sell some shares held by her late husband.

The Court noted that as she was not the nominee, she had no ownership rights over the shares. Ms Kokate’s lawyer had argued that as she was the heir of her husband who had died intestate (without a will), she should have ownership rights of the shares, and be able to do anything with them as she wished. In this case, Ms Kokate’s husband had nominated his nephew in favour of the shares. Justice Dalvi however noted that under the provisions of the Companies Act and the Depositories Act, Acts which govern the transfer of shares, the role of a nominee was different.

A reading of Section 109(A) of the Companies Act and 9.11 of the Depositories Act makes it abundantly clear that the intent of the nomination is to vest the property in the shares which include the ownership rights there under in the nominee upon nomination validly made as per the procedure prescribed, as has been done in this case.

It means that if you have not written a will, anyone who has been nominated by you for your shares will be the ultimate owner of those stocks... The succession laws on inheritance will not be applicable... but, in case, you have made a will, that will be the source of truth.

Nomination in PPF :

Let me give you some shock first. If you have Rs 10 lakh in your public provident fund (PPF) account and you have not nominated anyone for your PPF account, your legal heirs will get a maximum of Rs1 lakh only!

Yes, it is so important to have a nominee, now you get it.

You can nominate one or more persons as nominees in PPF. Form F can be used to change or cancel a nomination for PPF.

Also, note that you cannot nominate anyone if you open an account for a minor.

Nomination in Saving/Current/FD/RD Account in Banks :

FDs also come with a nomination facility. While opening a new account, there is a column for nomination in the same form and you should fill it. You can nominate two persons with the first and second options. Note that in case you have not done any nomination till now, you should request Form No DA-1 from your Bank which is used to assign a nominee in future. (Examples of ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Canara Bank).

Corporate Fixed Deposits :

As per a famous case, A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha in an order said that the money lying deposited in the account of the original depositor should be distributed among the claimants in accordance with the Succession Act of the respective community and the nominee cannot claim any absolute right over it.

Section 45ZA(2)(Banking Regulation Act) merely puts the nominee in the shoes of the depositor after his death and clothes him with the exclusive right to receive the money lying in the account. It gives him all the rights of the depositors so far as the depositor's account is concerned. But, it by no stretch of imagination makes the nominee the owner of the money lying in the account, the Bench observed.


Now you know! Taking Personal finance for granted can be fatal!!!!!

Just investing knowledge, is not enough to have a great financial life. You also need to be well versed with basic legal aspects and make sure you carry out all due arrangements.

Nomination is one crucial aspect you should seriously consider when checking for the financial products you have bought or plan to buy in future.

Mistakes in Personal Finance :

It’s important to make sure that your loved ones do not face legal issues and only say and think lovely thoughts about you when you are not around, rather than crib & grumble.

Taken off WhasApp.