- Battle of the Aleutian Islands: Recapturing Attu | HistoryNet
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- Battle for the Aleutians: WWII’s Forgotten Alaskan Campaign
Some US troops went days without food when resupply planes couldn't find them in the thick fog. Some US soldiers on the beaches threw grenades into the ocean in hopes of catching fish, while troops who overran Japanese positions would sometimes fight over the food and ammunition left behind.
Battle of the Aleutian Islands: Recapturing Attu | HistoryNet
Fish Hook, Buffalo, and Engineer. On May 29, the roughly 1, remaining able-bodied and wounded Japanese launched a counterattack against Engineer Hill, planning to capture US supplies and artillery before retreating into the mountains to wait for reinforcements. Many of the Japanese involved saw the attack as an opportunity to die an honorable death rather than as a chance for victory. All the patients in the hospital are to commit suicide. Only 33 years of living and I am to die here," wrote Dr. Paul Nebu Tatsuguchi, a Japanese medic.
Good-bye, Taeki, my beloved wife, who loved me to the last.
William Roy Dover's first sergeant woke him in his pup tent about 2 a. Dover's sergeant "was running up and down trying to get people out of their tents shouting, the 'Japs are coming,'" he said. The infantry had it real rough. We lost a lot of good men. When they broke through on the banzai raid on May the 29, they came a-screamin' and a-hollerin'. It was in Japanese so I have no idea what they were saying but it was chilling to hear. Hand-to-hand fighting ensued, but the tide turned when the US Army's 50th Engineers arrived, using rifle butts and bayonets to keep the Japanese away from artillery pieces on the hill.
If they were able to walk, they came to fight and give up their lives. Sasser was perched against the berm of a hill when a captain took position with a rifle about 10 feet away. We didn't even know he had been shot. When US troops found Japanese field hospitals, they discovered that doctors had killed the wounded. On May 30, only 28 of the roughly 1, Japanese in the area the day before were still alive. Surrender was considered dishonorable by the Japanese. Attu saw the first official case of " gyokusai ," a Japanese euphemism for annihilation or mass suicide in the name of Emperor Hirohito.
Associated Press , National Park Service. For every enemy troops on the island, about 71 US personnel were killed or wounded, making the cost of taking Attu second only to the attack on Iwo Jima. Associated Press , US Army. Prolonged exposure to cold, wet conditions in poorly made boots left many US soldiers with trench foot, which could lead to gangrene or amputation if untreated.
They stayed in their holes with wet feet. They didn't rub their feet or change socks," Capt. US troops, many now experienced, received better clothing and equipment. A bigger force was prepared to face what was believed to be a greater Japanese force on the island. Aerial and naval bombardment was conducted throughout July and early August. US and Canadian troops started going ashore on August 15, but they encountered no resistance. The 5, Japanese on Kiska has been evacuated weeks before undetected. US troops searched the island for days, sometimes shooting at each other but finding no Japanese.
The island was declared secure on August Combat-related exposure injuries there led the Army to issue new gear. John Haile Coe, a historian and author of "Attu: The Forgotten Battle," told the AP that the Army took lessons from the amphibious landings it performed on Attu and from the Japanese tactics it encountered there. This is how empowering growth for fintechs will make all of our lives easier.
This is how aspiring entrepreneurs can fast-track their success. You have successfully emailed the post. The Aleutians are swept by cold winds and frequently shrouded in dense fog. Many of the islands have craggy mountains and scant vegetation. The US knew of the Japanese plans by May Chester Nimitz, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, kept his carriers for Midway but sent one-third of his surface fleet to the Aleutians. The first days of June saw scattered contact between US and Japanese forces, including a Japanese raid on Dutch Harbor that did little damage.
The Japanese launched another raid on Dutch Harbor the following day, killing 43 US personnel and destroying 11 US planes at the expense of 10 Japanese planes. US planes located the Japanese fleet but couldn't attack. Nimitz's surface ships did not engage during this period. After Yamatomo's devastating loss of four carriers at Midway, he ordered the Northern Area Fleet to proceed with its mission to compensate for his failure. Meanwhile, on the morning of May 12, the Northern Force suffered its first casualties. While moving south down the western arm of Holtz Bay, one company of Americans began to climb up a small hill in an effort to secure the nearby ridge.
As the men entered a gully, they were fired upon by enemy troops who had occupied the ridge only the night before. For 12 hours the company was pinned down by Japanese machine guns, mortars and artillery. Two other companies, supported by artillery and close air support, vainly tried to eliminate the Japanese. It was not until 5 p. The Japanese quickly turned and counterattacked. As they advanced, their artillery fire fell indiscriminately on friend and foe alike.
In a fierce battle that lasted only about 20 minutes, the Americans staved off the Japanese and took firm control of the ridge thereafter known as Bloody Point. The next day, the Northern Force was reinforced by the 3rd Battalion, 32nd Infantry, and a battery of coast artillery. This addition was soon further augmented by the 4th Infantry Regiment, which had arrived from Adak Island. American commanders then resumed their attack to clear out a Japanese camp south of Holtz Bay. When the Americans reached the camp on May 15, however, the enemy had already sneaked away in the fog and moved to a ridge that separated the western and eastern arms of the bay.
As the GIs moved down the western arm, U. This tragic misidentification resulted in numerous casualties and delayed the advance for two hours. No sooner had GIs secured the position than they were attacked by about 45 Japanese, led by a saber-wielding officer. The Americans quickly cut down the attackers and completed their occupation of the ridge. The Northern Force now overlooked Holtz Bay, and as soon as heavy weapons were brought up to Bloody Point, all Japanese positions on the rest of the ridge could be destroyed. Doing so would free the Southern Force, still pinned down in Massacre Valley, and allow it to link up with the Northern Force at Clevesy and Jarmin passes.
On the 16th Brown was replaced by Maj. Realizing the predicament that his troops were now in, Colonel Yamazaki quietly withdrew them from Jarmin Pass early on the morning of May He placed most of his soldiers at the Chichagof Harbor defenses, but he also reinforced some of his positions around Clevesy Pass, which was the principal route to the harbor. The next day the two American forces linked up at Jarmin Pass. All these positions were occupied by the Japanese, and the Americans spent the next four days trying to take them.
The first attacks against Point Able and Cold Mountain, led by the 32nd and 17th infantries, respectively, were stopped by enemy machine guns. The second assault on Cold Mountain was preceded by heavy artillery fire. The Americans swiftly wiped out a series of Japanese positions along the lower edges of the mountain, but were soon stopped by heavy Japanese fire. In the meantime, a company of the 17th Infantry had managed to secure a high point within Clevesy Pass, thanks in part to a smoke screen laid down before the assault. Thinking it was poison gas, the Japanese either donned masks or fled from their positions.
Those who remained did not begin returning fire until the Americans had occupied that section of the pass. From their newly won position, two platoons of Americans were able to seize the closest enemy position on Engineer Hill. While Japanese soldiers farther up the hill fired down on the two platoons, U. Despite continued artillery support, the Americans came under increasing enemy fire and were unable to move farther up Cold Mountain. By the afternoon of May 19, companies from the 17th and 32nd regiments had begun a slow ascent up the snowy slope of Cold Mountain.
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Despite heavy fire from above, the Americans gradually moved up the slope that faced Massacre Valley. The Japanese attempted to stay in their holes, but the GIs ousted them using grenades and bayonets. American attempts to reach the north side of the mountain, however, were held up until high explosives and smoke rounds were fired into the enemy positions.
Again mistaking the smoke for gas, the Japanese were either killed while putting on their masks or simply fled toward Chichagof Harbor. Just before the peak of Cold Mountain was finally taken on the morning of May 20, the Americans on Engineer Hill were able to directly assault the northern slopes. The last obstacle, Point Able, was slowly climbed by companies of the 32nd Infantry just after Engineer Hill was taken.
The snow was thick, the cold bitter and the night so bright that soldiers silhouetted against the whiteness could be seen for yards. As the Americans reached the lower positions of the enemy strongpoint, the Japanese lobbed grenades down the hill, their explosions mingling with the flat crack of small arms.
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The Americans found cover among some rock outcroppings while a Japanese officer yelled insults at them in English. Following a few moments of chaos, more GIs reached the strongpoint and destroyed it. After a mortar section chief directed fire at the crest of the peak, the Americans secured Point Able on the morning of May The last Japanese defender, after killing two Americans, hurled himself off the peak, screaming.
While the final assaults on Cold Mountain and Point Able were being made, the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry, along with the 3rd Battalion, 17th Infantry, cleared the ridges surrounding the entrance of Chichagof Valley. The two ridges leading to the harbor, Fish Hook and Buffalo, contained numerous Japanese defensive positions, most of which had to be cleared out by machine guns and grenades.
American advances were slow, supplies often ran low and casualties from gunfire and weather were high. Often the leadership of individual enlisted men helped push U. Such a leader was a Pfc Barnett of the 4th Infantry. While the rest of his outfit struggled slowly down a muddy hill studded with Japanese, Barnett managed to slide and walk down the hill, lobbing grenades and firing into a nearby trench system.
His company began to follow him, but by the time the rest of the men had caught up, Barnett had killed all 47 enemy soldiers who had held the position. Martinez made his mark. The 32nd Infantry Regiment GI saw his battalion pinned down twice by the Japanese on May 26, and twice he got to his feet and took action. Cradling his BAR, Martinez advanced through a hail of enemy fire and coolly emptied his weapon into Japanese foxholes, reloading as he went. The men of his company followed Martinez as he led two assaults.
It was only as he approached one final foxhole after the second assault that Martinez was shot in the head, dying of the wound the following day. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. By May 28, the Japanese had been pushed back into a small corner of Chichagof Harbor. The 3rd Battalion, 17th Infantry, along with one company of the 32nd, was positioned close enough to the Japanese to thwart any attempted withdrawal. On the 28th, all American commanders were notified of a pending attack against the enemy to begin no later than 5 a. All able-bodied men were ordered to leave the aid stations and on-ship hospitals and return to their outfits for what was meant to be the final American push.
The fate of the Japanese seemed sealed. Colonel Yamazaki, however, had plans of his own. Rather than withdraw into a nearby harbor that provided better defenses but could not easily be reached by supply ships, he decided to counterattack. From Chichagof Harbor, he would have his remaining men, who numbered about 1,, sweep down through lightly defended Chichagof Valley.
His soldiers would then go on to reoccupy Point Able and Clevesy Pass, then take over the artillery in Massacre Valley. If the attack succeeded, the Japanese could then hold down the GIs in the valley, cut off the main American supply line and wait for help from the Kuriles. On the evening of May 28, a small American patrol from the 17th Infantry penetrated Japanese lines, seeking any information that might help the impending U. When the patrol got about yards into enemy territory, the GIs could hardly believe what they saw—groups of frenzied Japanese jumping up and down, yelling at the top of their lungs and guzzling bottles of sake.
They were dispatching their own wounded, either through morphine injections or self-inflicted pistol shots. When the patrol returned to American lines, its members could not recall the password and almost were shot by their own troops. The leader of the patrol, Tech. Bartoletti, reported what he had seen.
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His lieutenant shrugged off the information, but Bartoletti began to crawl from foxhole to foxhole, warning the men in his company that a Japanese attack was coming. They carried rifles, grenades, even bayonets attached to sticks. The Americans, who had been ordered a few minutes earlier to leave their positions and have a hot meal at a regimental kitchen, were caught totally off guard. Some found cover on high ground, but many were overrun by the enemy. Much of the ensuing combat was hand to hand, and gunfire and screams rang throughout the valley.
Battle for the Aleutians: WWII’s Forgotten Alaskan Campaign
But the darkness kept the rest of the American troops unaware of what was happening. After the main Japanese assault began, diversionary forces attacked the 17th Infantry in Chichagof Valley. The main body of Japanese then stormed into the lower valley, where an American aid station was set up. They swept through the station, slashing the tent ropes and killing the wounded, who were trapped in their sleeping bags by the fallen canvas. When they had finished destroying the aid station, the main Japanese force headed down toward Clevesy Pass, occupied mostly by engineer, medical and artillery troops.
Several groups of screaming Japanese, led by Yamazaki himself, hurled themselves at a detachment of artillerymen. With small arms and two heavy machine guns, the Americans fought them off, killing many. The engineer companies also managed to mount a hasty defense, while the cooks and bulldozer drivers grabbed a few automatic weapons from retreating infantrymen and proceeded to further decimate the enemy. As Japanese numbers dwindled, they became disorganized and began to run off in different directions. They also stopped killing Americans and began killing themselves with grenades. When the fighting was over, Chichagof and Sarana valleys looked like dug-up graveyards, with dead Americans and Japanese littered everywhere.
Some wounded GIs could still be heard calling out to their mothers, or to God.