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Aleutian Islands

Japanese seizure of Attu, Kiska, and Agattu of the Aleutian Islands in June 1942 was strategically unimportant, but the occupied islands did provide the Japanese with a base for raiding Alaska and limiting air and sea operations in the North Pacific.

At the time of the seizure, the United States did not have available ships, planes, and troops to recapture the islands, but advanced airfields were established on Adak and Amchitka, in August 1942, from which American bombers attacked Kiska and Attu.

Plans were made in the spring of 1943 to recapture Kiska and Attu. The operation was under the overall command of Vice Admiral Thomas E. Kinkaid, Commander, North Pacific. Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell commanded the assault force, and Maj. Gen. Albert E. Brown (who was replaced during the operations by Maj. Gen. Eugene M. Landrum) commanded the Army forces making the landing.

It was eventually decided to bypass Kiska, and landings were made on Attu on May 11, 1943. Air and naval units supported the operation. The Japanese on Attu defended their position desperately, but they were destroyed almost to a man, and the fighting ended by May 30.

Landing at Attu Bay, Aleutians
Detail from LANDING AT ATTU BAY. Aleutian Islands, World War II. By Richard W. Baldwin, 1943.

On August 15, 1943 a powerful Allied amphibious force, including a U.S. infantry division and elements of the Royal Canadian Army commanded by Maj. Gen. Charles H. Corlett and a naval escort commanded by Admiral Kinkaid, assaulted the island of Kiska, where the Japanese had developed their largest base. To the surprise of the Allies, they found that the island had been secretly evacuated by the Japanese under cover of heavy summer fogs which had prevented aerial observation or interception. The Japanese had drawn their perimeter once more back to the Kuriles, and the Allies had opened another possible axis of advance toward Japan.

Interrogation on the Aleutians
INTERROGATION. Aleutian Islands, World War II. By Edward R. Laning, 1943.


[The primary source for this text is the U.S. Army Center for Military History. For a more general overview of the war see the Brief History of WWII e-text."]


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