Close encounters with the Japanese
20th May 1943: Confusion reigns on the fog bound battlefield of Attu and the Japanese pay the price for getting drunk
On the island of Attu the U.S. 7th Division were now consolidating their positions and moving inland to engage the Japanese defenders. This meant long arduous marches carrying heavy equipment across the mountainous, boggy terrain. When the time came to dig in the heavy wet ground proved most inhospitable.
Apart from the soft ground and the cold, the characteristic feature of Attu was the thick fogs which added a particular dimension to the battle area. Not only was vehicle support very restricted but air support was almost impossible. This was an infantryman's war and even he was affected by the fog.
Sergeant Richard H. Mason, Company L, of the 32d Infantry gives this account1 of how the two sides were dug in unusually close together:
The Attu fog that draped over the gaunt mountains like a wet shroud was alone confusing enough, but add to its blurring wetness a couple of quarts of warm sake, and, brother, you've got “the department of utter confusion."