Leslie Groves, the son of a Presbyterian minister, was born in Albany in the United States on 17th August, 1896. He attended the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before graduating from West Point Military Academy in 1918.
He served in the construction division of the QMG and by the Second World War had reached the rank of colonel. In 1942 he was promoted to brigadier general and placed in charge of the Manhattan Project.
Groves arranged the purchase of uranium and selected the Los Alamos site. He also recruited Robert Oppenheimer (USA), David Bohm (USA), Leo Szilard (Hungary), Eugene Wigner (Hungary), Rudolf Peierls (Germany), Otto Frisch (Germany), Felix Bloch (Switzerland), Niels Bohr (Denmark), James Franck (Germany), James Chadwick (Britain), Emilio Segre (Italy), Enrico Fermi (Italy), Klaus Fuchs (Germany) and Edward Teller (Hungary) to the project.
By the time the atom bomb was ready to be used Germany had surrendered. Leo Szilard and James Franck circulated a petition among the scientists opposing the use of the bomb on moral grounds. However, Groves strongly disagreed with this view and advised Harry S. Truman, the USA's new president, to use the bomb on Japan.
On 6th August 1945, a B29 bomber dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima. It has been estimated that over the years around 200,000 people have died as a result of this bomb being dropped. Japan did not surrender immediately and a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. On 10th August the Japanese surrendered.
Groves was promoted to lieutenant general on 24th January, 1948. Soon afterwards he retired and became vice president of Remington Rand. He published his memoirs, Now It Can Be Told, in 1962. Leslie Groves died in Washington on 13th July, 1970.