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Eleven U. During the two-day fight, Task Force 8 had remained south of Kodiak Island, taking no part in the action. Not until the 5th did Theobald send it to investigate a report of enemy warships in the Bering Sea.

JOHN HUSTON'S REPORT FROM THE ALEUTIANS WWII BATTLE FOR ALASKA 26144

While Task Force 8 entered the Bering Sea, Hosogaya's fleet moved south to join Yamamoto, who had just suffered the loss of the four large carriers off Midway. Unable to lure U. Rather than have the Northern Area Fleet join him, Yamamoto now instructed Hosogaya to return to the Aleutians, execute his original mission, and thereby score a success to help compensate for the Midway disaster. Forgoing the planned attack on Adak, Hosogaya moved directly to the western Aleutians, occupying Kiska on 6 June and Attu a day layer. He encountered no opposition on either island, but the Japanese public was in fact told that this was a great victory.

It learned about the disaster at Midway only after the war was over. At Japanese Imperial Headquarters, the news of Yamamoto's great loss prompted the dispatch of two aircraft carriers from Japan to reinforce Hosogaya.

Pacific Fleet by eliminating its only carriers. When Nimitz learned of the capture of Kiska, he countermanded his order. Unwilling to risk the loss of his only carriers in the Pacific to land-based lanes from Kiska, and presumably informed that Hosogaya would soon have four carriers at his disposal in the North Pacific, he decided to retain his carriers for spearheading a major advance in the Central Pacific. For the Japanese, Kiska without Midway no longer had any value as a base for patrolling the ocean between the Aleutian and Hawaiian chains, but Kiska and Attu did block the Americans from possibly using the Aleutians as a route for launching an offensive on Japan.

Originally intending to abandon the islands before winter set in, the Japanese instead decided to stay and build airfields on both islands. Although Generals Buckner and DeWitt would in fact argue for a northern approach to Japan along the Aleutians, the real motive for planning the recapture of the two remote islands was mainly psychological--to remove the only Japanese foothold on American soil in the Western Hemisphere.

By mid-June the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed that the sooner a determined effort was made to oust the Japanese from the Aleutians, the lesser the means required to do it would be.

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Alaska and the Aleutian Islands - World War II (U.S. National Park Service)

They also theorized that the attack on the Aleutians and the occupation of its westernmost islands might be part of a holding action designed to screen a northward thrust by Japanese forces into Siberia's maritime provinces and the Kamchatka Peninsula. As a result, they informed Theobald and Buckner of their concern about a possible Japanese attack upon the Soviet Union that might also include the occupation of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea and of nearby Nome and its adjacent airfields on the Alaskan mainland. Supporting the possibility of an invasion of the Alaskan mainland were reports of a Japanese fleet operating in the Bering Sea.

On Although continually restrained by the greater importance and more pressing needs of the Solomons and New Guinea Campaigns, the buildup of U. Army forces in the Alaska Command continued, reaching 94, soldiers by January By then an additional thirteen bases had been built n Alaska, many of which were in the Aleutians. Just surviving the weather on Amchitka was a challenge. During the first night ashore, a "willowaw" a violent squall smashed many of the landing boats and swept a troop transport aground. On the second day a blizzard racked the island with snow, sleet, and biting wind.

Lasting for nearly two weeks, the blizzard finally subsided enough to reveal to a Japanese scout plane from Kiska the American beachhead on Amchitka.


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Harassed by bombing and strafing attacks from Kiska, engineers continued work on an airfield on Amchitka, completing it in mid-February. Japanese attacks on the island then sharply declined. In mid-March, Rear Adm. Thomas C.

Battle of the Aleutian Islands

Kinkaid, who had replaced Admiral Theobald in January, established a naval blockade around the islands that resulted in the sinking or turning back of several enemy supply ships. When a large Japanese force, personally led by Admiral Hosogaya, attempted to run the blockade with 3 big transports loaded with supplies escorted by 4 heavy cruisers and 4 destroyers on 26 March, the largest sea fight of the Aleutian Campaign took place, remembered best as the last and longest daylight surface naval battle of fleet warfare.

Known as the Battle of the Komandorski Islands , the closest landmass. Of the two islands, Kiska was the more important militarily.

Aleutian Islands Campaign

Containing the only operational airfield and having the better harbor, Kiska was scheduled to be recaptured first. For that purpose, Kinkaid asked for a reinforced infantry division 25, men. When not enough shipping could be made available to support so large a force, he recommended that Attu be substituted for Kiska as the objective, indicating that Attu was defended by no more than men, as opposed to 9, believed to be on Kiska.


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  8. If the estimate was correct, he indicated, he would require no more than a regiment to do the job. Kinkaid also noted that U.

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    Attu is 35 miles long and 15 miles wide, with snow-capped peaks that reach upward to 3, feet. Steep slopes extend down from the peaks to treeless valleys below, carpeted with muskeg, a "black muck" covered with a dense growth of lichens and moss. Because the Japanese current has a moderating effect on temperatures, much of the time in the outermost Aleutians the muskeg is barely firm enough for a man to cross on foot.

    The same current accounts for the pea-soup fogs, the constant pervading wetness, and the frequent storms that make the outer Aleutians so forbidding. Kinkaid, the commander of Northern Pacific Force, pulled together an imposing armada to support the invasion. In addition to an attack force of 3 battleships, a small aircraft carrier, and 7 destroyers for escorting and providing fire support for the Army landing force, he had 2 covering groups, composed of several cruisers, destroyers, and submarines, for early detection of a possible challenge by the Japanese Northern Area Fleet.

    Reinforcing the naval support, the Eleventh Air Force was to provide 54 bombers and fighters for the operation, holding back a third of the bomber force for use against ships of the Japanese fleet. Early in the planning phase, U. Because Buckner. Trained as a motorized force and at one time scheduled for duty in the deserts of North Africa, the 7th Division was reported to be in a high state of readiness; because of its location near the coast, it could readily undergo the amphibious training required for its new mission. After completing that training during April , the men of the division embarked from San Francisco on transports with their commander, Maj.

    Albert E. Arriving at windswept, partially snow-covered Fort Randall Cold Bay on the 30th, the troops spent the next four days on the crowded transports. The cold, damp Aleutian weather as far different from the warm California beaches they had just left. Because of shortages in cold weather equipment, moreover, most of the men would enter combat wearing normal field gear. While senior commanders realized that the troops would suffer from the weather, most believed that within three days the fight for Attu would be. Three weeks before, a concerted air and naval bombardment of both Attu and Kiska had begun, but it had been largely limited to Kiska because of the continual fog covering Attu.

    Poor weather caused Kinkaid to postpone the departure of the invasion force from Cold Bay to 4 May, a day behind schedule, and as the convoy neared Attu storms and poor visibility forced yet a further delay until the 11th. The bad weather also seriously reduced the air and naval strikes against Attu. Meeting no opposition, the scout company moved inland.

    At noon, the 7th Division's reconnaissance troop less one platoon landed at S carlet and moved to joint the scout company. Upon linkup, the two units, which constituted. The men of the 1st Battalion, came ashore Beach R ed , the main attack at Massacre Bay finally got under way as the 2d and 3d Battalion Combat Teams of the 17th Regiment landed unopposed on Beaches Blue and Y ellow , approximately 6 miles south of Chichagof Harbor. Had the landing not been delayed because of dense fog and high seas, a third combat team--the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry Regiment, attached to the 17th Regiment--would also have come ashore.

    As it was, that unit remained aboard ship until the next day. Slowed by the slippery muskeg, the 2d and 3d Battalions stumbled side by side up Massacre Valley, dividing on either side of a hogback. Both battalions came under fire at ; part way up the ridges overlooking the valley, the enemy, occupying dug-in positions obscured in a thin mist, pinned them down. Attempts by the 3d Battalion, on the left southwest , to reach Jarmin Pass, the regimental objective at the heady of the valley, failed, resulting in heavy losses.

    A platoon from the 7th Reconnaissance Troop made subsidiary landings at Alexai Point and joined the main body at Massacre Bay without opposition. The fog, which had hampered the landings, likewise concealed the attacks from the enemy. Not until midafternoon did the Japanese commander, Col. Yasuyo Yamazaki, order his men from their caves to the prepared outer defenses surrounding Chichagof Harbor, a trace that extended from Hill X on the west arm of Holtz Bay, southward to Jarmin Pass, and then eastward to Sarana Bay. When General Brown came ashore at Massacre Bay toward the end of D-day, the tactical situation was far from clear, but what information was available would not have indicated that a long drawn-out struggle was in prospect.

    By , five hours after the main landings commenced, he had a total of 3, men; at Beach. He died leading a banzai charge during the final attack. Attu village at Chichagof Harbor in The battleship Pennsylvania bombards Attu during landing operations on 11 May The destroyer Pruitt guides landing craft toward the beach at Massacre Bay, Attu. United States troops hauling supplies toward Chichagof Harbor.

    Battle of Attu

    Smoke rising from American attacks on Chichagof Harbor. Japanese troops lie where they fell during the final banzai charge at Chichagof Harbor on 29 May From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article includes a list of references , but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. November Learn how and when to remove this template message.

    Aleutian Islands Campaign. Cottage 12 May Pips. To reduce the effects of the cold, the Japanese built earthen billets on Attu. Soldiers unloading landing craft on the beach at Massacre Bay, Attu, on 12 May More equipment and combat supplies are brought ashore at Massacre Bay on 13 May An American mortar team fire shells over a ridge onto Japanese positions during the battle.

    Dead Japanese soldiers are prepared for mass burial by U. The History Channel. Imperial Japanese Navy Page. Jonathan Parshall. American forces maintained an airstrip with dozens of aircraft stationed on the tiny island. The attack inflicted heavy damage, but the airstrip was still usable. Japanese Type 97 shipboard attack aircraft from the carrier Hiryu amid heavy anti-aircraft fire, during the torpedo attack on USS Yorktown in the mid-afternoon of June 4, At least three planes are visible, the nearest having already dropped its torpedo. The other two are lower and closer to the center, apparently withdrawing.

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    Smoke on the horizon in right center is from a crashed plane. Bursts from anti-aircraft fire fill the air. The dense smoke is from fires in her uptakes, caused by a bomb that punctured them and knocked out her boilers. Panorama made from two photographs taken by Photographer 2rd Class William G.

    Man with hammer at right is probably covering a bomb entry hole in the forward elevator.