Battle of Attu

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Battle of Attu
Part of the American Theater and the Pacific Theater of World War II
Mortar-attu-1943.jpg
U.S. soldiers fire mortar shells over a ridge onto a Japanese position on 4 June 1943.
Date11–30 May 1943
Location
Attu, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, United States
Result Allied victory
Belligerents
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States
Air support:
Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Canada [1]
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Japan
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg John L. DeWitt
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Thomas C. Kinkaid
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Albert E. Brown
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Eugene M. Landrum
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Archibald V. Arnold
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Yasuyo Yamasaki  
Strength
American:
15,000
Canadian:
1 reconnaissance aircraft squadron
2 fighter-bomber squadrons [1]
2,900
Casualties and losses
549 killed,
1,148 wounded
1,814 cold injuries and disease [2]
2,351 killed
28 captured [2]

The Battle of Attu, which took place on 11–30 May 1943, was a battle fought between forces of the United States, aided by Canadian reconnaissance and fighter-bomber support, and Japan on Attu Island off the coast of the Territory of Alaska as part of the Aleutian Islands Campaign during the American Theater and the Pacific Theater. It was the only land battle of World War II fought on American soil.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

Contents

The more than two-week battle ended when most of the Japanese defenders were killed in brutal hand-to-hand combat after a final banzai charge broke through American lines.

Hand-to-hand combat is a physical confrontation between two or more persons at very short range that does not involve the use of ranged weapons. While the phrase "hand-to-hand" appears to refer to unarmed combat, the term is generic and may include use of melee weapons such as knives, sticks, batons, spears, or improvised weapons such as entrenching tools. While the term hand-to-hand combat originally referred principally to engagements by combatants on the battlefield, it can also refer to any personal physical engagement by two or more people, including law enforcement officers, civilians, and criminals.

Banzai charge term used by the Allied forces to refer to Japanese human wave attacks

A banzai charge is the term used by the Allied forces to refer to Japanese human wave attacks and swarming mounted by infantry units. This term came from the Japanese cry "Tennōheika Banzai", shortened to banzai, specifically referring to a tactic used by Japanese soldiers during the Pacific War.

Background

The strategic position of the islands of Attu and Kiska off Alaska's coast meant their location could control the sea lanes across the Northern Pacific Ocean. Japanese planners believed control of the Aleutians would therefore prevent any possible U.S. attacks from Alaska. This assessment had already been inferred by U.S. General Billy Mitchell who told the U.S. Congress in 1935, "I believe that in the future, whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. I think it is the most important strategic place in the world."

Kiska island

Kiska is an island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It is about 22 miles (35 km) long and varies in width from 1.5 to 6 miles. It is part of Aleutian Islands Wilderness and as such, special permissions are required to visit it. The island has no permanent population.

On 7 June 1942, six months after the United States entered World War II, the 301st Independent Infantry Battalion from the Japanese Northern Army landed unopposed on Attu. The landings occurred one day after the invasion of nearby Kiska. The U.S. military now feared both islands could be turned into strategic Japanese airbases from which aerial attacks could be launched against mainland Alaska and the rest of the U.S. West Coast.

Attack on Pearl Harbor Surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise preemptive military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States against the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' formal entry into World War II the next day. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

The Northern District Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army, responsible for defense of the northern region of the Japanese home islands, including Hokkaidō, Karafuto and the Chishima Islands.

West Coast of the United States coastline of the United States of America

The West Coast or Pacific Coast is the coastline along which the continental Western United States meets the North Pacific Ocean. As a region, this term most often refers to the coastal states of California, Oregon, and Washington. More specifically, it refers to an area defined on the east by the Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, and Mojave Desert, on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The United States Census groups the five states of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii together as the Pacific States division.

In Walt Disney′s 1943 film, Victory Through Air Power, the use of the Aleutian Islands for American long-range bombers to bomb Japan was postulated. [3]

Walt Disney American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer

Walter Elias Disney was an American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons. As a film producer, Disney holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. He was presented with two Golden Globe Special Achievement Awards and an Emmy Award, among other honors. Several of his films are included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

<i>Victory Through Air Power</i> (film) 1943 US partly-animated Disney film

Victory Through Air Power is a 1943 American Technicolor animated documentary feature film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by United Artists on July 17, 1943. It is based on the 1942 book Victory Through Air Power by Alexander P. de Seversky. De Seversky appeared in the film, an unusual departure from the Disney animated feature films of the time.

Recapture

Map showing the recapture of Attu in 1943 Capture of Attu 1943.jpg
Map showing the recapture of Attu in 1943

On 11 May 1943, units from 17th Infantry, of Maj. Gen. Albert E. Brown's 7th U.S. Infantry Division made amphibious landings on Attu ("Operation Landcrab" [4] ) to retake the island from Japanese Imperial Army forces led by Colonel Yasuyo Yamasaki. Despite heavy naval bombardments of Japanese positions, the American troops encountered strong entrenched defenses that made combat conditions tough. Arctic weather and exposure-related injuries also caused numerous casualties among U.S. forces. After two weeks of relentless fighting, however, American units managed to push the Japanese defenders back to a pocket around Chichagof Harbor.

7th Infantry Division (United States) combat formation of the United States Army

The 7th Infantry Division is an active duty infantry division of the United States Army based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord charged with sustaining the combat readiness of two Stryker brigade combat teams, a combat aviation brigade, a division artillery headquarters, and a national guard Stryker brigade combat team, as well as participating in several yearly partnered exercises and operations in support of U.S. Army Pacific and the Indo-Pacific region. The 7th Infantry Division is the only active-duty multi-component division headquarters in the Army. The 7th Infantry Division is also home to two of the Army's newest enabling battlefield capabilities, the Multi Domain Task Force and the Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space Capabilities, or I2CEWS battalion.

Yasuyo Yamasaki Japanese army colonel

Colonel Yasuyo Yamasaki (Japanese: 山崎保代, was a Japanese Army officer who commanded the Japanese forces on Attu during the Battle of Attu in World War II.

Arctic Do not sing the song sunshine daisies, butter mello, turn this stupid fat rta yellow

The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Northern Canada, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Land within the Arctic region has seasonally varying snow and ice cover, with predominantly treeless permafrost -containing tundra. Arctic seas contain seasonal sea ice in many places.

On 21–22 May 1943, a powerful Japanese fleet assembled in Tokyo Bay in preparation for a sortie to repel the American attempt to recapture Attu. The fleet included the carriers Zuikaku, Shōkaku, Jun'yō, Hiyō, the battleships Musashi, Kongō, Haruna, and the cruisers Mogami, Kumano, Suzuya, Tone, Chikuma, Agano, Ōyodo, and eleven destroyers. The Americans, however, recaptured Attu before the fleet could depart. [5]

On 29 May 1943, without hope of rescue, Yamasaki led his remaining troops in the only banzai charge ever made on American soil. The surprise attack broke through the American front line positions. Shocked American rear-echelon troops were soon fighting in hand-to-hand combat with Japanese soldiers. The battle continued until almost all of the Japanese were killed. The charge effectively ended the battle for the island, although U.S. Navy reports indicate that small groups of Japanese continued to fight until early July 1943. In 19 days of battle, 549 soldiers of the 7th Division were killed and more than 1,200 injured. The Japanese lost over 2,351 men, including Yamasaki; only 28 prisoners were taken. [2]

Aftermath

Attu was the last action of the Aleutian Islands Campaign and the only instance where ground warfare occurred on American soil during World War II. The Japanese Northern Army secretly evacuated its remaining garrison from nearby Kiska, ending the Japanese occupation in the Aleutian Islands on 28 July 1943.

The loss of Attu and the evacuation of Kiska came shortly after the death of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who was killed by American aircraft in Operation Vengeance. These defeats compounded the demoralizing effect of losing Yamamoto on the Japanese High Command. [6] Despite the losses, Japanese propaganda attempted to present the Aleutian Island campaign as an inspirational epic. [6]

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 "The Battle for Kiska", Canadian Heroes, canadianheroes.org, 13 May 2002, Originally Published in Esprit de Corp Magazine, Volume 9 Issue 4 and Volume 9 Issue 5
  2. 1 2 3 US National Park Service
  3. YouTube. youtube.com.
  4. "Battle of Attu". The History Channel.
  5. "Zuikaku Tabular Record of Movement (TROM)". Imperial Japanese Navy Page. Jonathan Parshall. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  6. 1 2 John Toland, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945 New York:Random House (1970) p. 444

Further reading

Coordinates: 52°52′44.67″N173°9′24.80″E / 52.8790750°N 173.1568889°E / 52.8790750; 173.1568889