Posts Tagged With: Aleutians

Thanksgiving on Amchitka

Thanksgiving on Amchitka, November 25, 1943.

 

 

 

DD352 Aground off Amchitka Series  227 4x6

The Japanese did not oppose the American landing at Amchitka in January 1943, though the rough waters and dangerous shoals around the island claimed the USS Worden (DD-352). Fourteen of her crew died as their ship broke apart and sank on the rocks.

Amchitka was easily one of the most remote and inhospitable U.S. military outposts of World War II. It was so remote that during the Cold War, the U.S. detonated three nuclear warheads on the island in various underground tests. Located about 80 miles from Kiska Island in the Aleutian chain, American forces landed there unopposed in January 1943 and quickly built an airfield there to support the final stages of the campaign in the far north. Once the Japanese had been driven from Attu and Kiska, Amchitka-based Navy patrol bombers and 11th AF aircraft began periodic attacks on the Japanese Kurile Islands.

amchitka mud landing

A PBY from Fleet Air Wing Four operating from Amchitka’s mud and Marston Matting strip.

 

FAW4 PV1 Ventura Amchitka Dec 7 43 4x6

A squadron of PV-1 Venturas at Amchitka in late 1943.

It was a dreary place to be stationed. The weather was awful, accidents frequent, mud or frozen snowdrifts the polarities of daily living. Yet, the men exiled to Amchitka did their best to make the place home. This included their own version of an American tradition–the Thanksgiving Day football game.

Amchitka Football Game in Snow Nov 25 43 Thanksgiving Day 039

The Thanksgiving game on Amchitka, 1943.

 

 

Categories: World War II in the Pacific | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Intelligence Bonanza on Attu

Japanese installations burn in Chicagof Harbor Attu just before the invasionFollowing the capture of Attu Island in the Aleutians at the end of May 1943, the 7th Infantry Division discovered a treasure trove of documents, diaries, letters, photographs and film among the items captured during the campaign. Some of the only film sequences we have in the West of the Japanese carrier force came from footage found on Attu. Stills were taken from the footage, which included the final moments of the HMS Exeter and HMS Cornwall, two Royal Navy heavy cruisers sunk by Japanese carrier aircraft in the Dutch East Indies and the Indian Ocean in the spring of 1942.

HMS Cornwall sinking after being dive bombed by Japanese carrier aircraft during the Indian Ocean Raid in the spring of 1942.

HMS Cornwall sinking after being dive bombed by Japanese carrier aircraft during the Indian Ocean Raid in the spring of 1942.

HMS Exeter's last moments off Java.

HMS Exeter’s last moments off Java.

The letters, diaries and documents provided insight into the experience of the Japanese Soldier and Sailor, and showed a streak of fatalism as they realized the hopelessness of their situation in the Aleutians. The material was translated by U.S. Navy and Army intelligence units, and some of those translations have survived at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.captured letter found on a fallen Japanese serviceman on Attu

An excerpt from a translated Japanese diary captured on Attu

translated Japanese diary relating a deadly air attack on a ship at Attu

Japanese aircraft recognition chart captured on Attu

On Attu, considerable weaponry, equipment and even wrecked float planes fell in American hands. The gear helped give the U.S. Army greater insight into the organization and capabilities of the Japanese military, information that was put to good use later in the war.

The information gathered on Attu, along with similar intel gleaned from the Solomons and New Guinea, was compiled into a technical manual on the Imperial Japanese Army that covered everything from weapons employed, artillery tactics and infantry TOE’s to what typical bunkers and fortifications looked like. The manual was widely distributed during the war, and has subsequently been reprinted.

Captured and translated map found on Attu

Soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division examine a wrecked  Nakajima "Rufe" float plane fighter captured on Attu.

Soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division examine a wrecked Nakajima “Rufe” float plane fighter captured on Attu.

The pilots of a Japanese float plane squadron based on Attu. The photo was part of the intel trove captured on the island.

The pilots of a Japanese float plane squadron based on Attu. The photo was part of the intel trove captured on the island.

Captured Japanese Gas Mask Attu 510

A Japanese gas mask found on Attu attracted the interest of U.S. intelligence. It was taken to Adak, examined and photographed only a few days after its capture in May of 1943.

See the U.S. intel teams in action in this short film clip:

Categories: World War II in the Pacific | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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