The Army's A-bomb man, plush-bottomed, stuffy Major General Leslie R. Groves, announced that he wanted the reporters at Operation Crossroads "locked up on the press ship, taken out to a certain point, write what they can see of the explosion, and then send them back home." The Navy said it wanted the Bikini tests treated like "the story of the year, maybe of the decade, and possibly of a lifetime." By last week it was plain that the Navy (and the press) had won out.
A 17-car special train pulled out of Washington last week with 57 Operations Crossroads correspondents aboard. At San Francisco, where they will be joined by approximately 55 more newsmen, they will board the well-appointed command ship U.S.S. Appalachian, official press ship headquarters. (Some of the 27 reporters assigned to Kwajalein were already there, covering preparations.)
From the Appalachian's special radio teletypes, reporters will be able to send more than 200,000 words a day. Sailing from Hawaii with the "Big Apple" will be her sister ship, the U.S.S. Panamint, with the U.N. delegation, scientific observers and four more newsmen. The newsmen aboard the "Big Apple" and the Panamint will witness The Drop from 15 or 20 miles away, will probably not get their best stories until their ships move in close to look at the devastation later. Of the 169 newsmen converging on Bikini, only three reporters and a half-dozen photographers will actually fly over the target when the bomb run is made. But all correspondents had been investigated, shot full of injections, and issued enough instructions for an invasion. Some methodical Navy men had even made every newsman sign a document waiving right to any invention he might think up as a result of watching ,the bomb test.
Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Superman Enterprises and a dozen comic-book publishers had applied to cover the big show, and were turned down; representatives of Air Aces, a bi-monthly pulp comic, and Charm, a fashion slick, were accepted. No group was more peeved at being slighted than the British press, which was given a quota of three newsmen; Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia each had as many. Russia and nine other nations were allowed one each.