U.S. forces land on the Aleutian Islands
11th May 1943: The US Army takes the first steps to retake the islands that were occupied by the Japanese a year earlier
Back in May 1942 the Japanese had occupied the Aleutian Islands, the long chain of remote islands running west across the north of the Pacific from Alaska. Their landings had been unopposed, the island of Attu being occupied by Aleut Indians and two U.S. teachers. They murdered Charles Foster Jones - who was also the radio operator and weather reporter - because he had destroyed the only radio on the island and took his wife prisoner, transferring her back to Japan for the rest of the war.
The islands had little strategic value, being about as isolated as anywhere could be. But they are U.S. territory.
We were to hit the beach at 8:40 AM, but were delayed by a dense fog that blanketed the area. Radar was then in its infancy, and few ships had it, making locating the beach next to impossible.
In a short campaign in May 1943 the US Army sought to retake the island of Attu. The campaign would have much in common with other campaigns in the Pacific. The terrain was unfamiliar - there were no inland maps available. The climate was inhospitable - in this case bitterly cold and wet, for which the troops were ill prepared. And the Japanese were prepared to fight to death to defend scraps of land which had no appreciable value.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to World War II Today to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.