Japanese occupation of Attu

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Japanese occupation of Attu
Part of the American Theater and the Pacific Theater of World War II
A6M2-N Rufes Holtz Bay 1942.jpg
Four Japanese seaplanes landed at Holtz Bay, Attu Island on 7 November 1942. Photo taken by American surveillance aircraft.
Date7 June 1942 – 30 May 1943
Location
Result Japanese occupation commences.
Belligerents
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
N/A War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Matsutoshi Hosumi
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Yasuyo Yamasaki
Naval ensign of the Empire of Japan.svg Boshirō Hosogaya
Strength
N/A 1,140 - 2,900
Casualties and losses
1 civilian killed
46 civilians captured
unknown

The Japanese occupation of Attu was the result of an invasion of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska during World War II. Imperial Japanese Army troops landed on 6 June 1942 at the same time as the invasion of Kiska. Along with the Kiska landing, it was the first time that the continental United States was invaded and occupied by a foreign power since the War of 1812, and was the second of the only two invasions of the United States during World War II. The occupation ended with the Allied victory in the Battle of Attu on 30 May 1943.

Aleutian Islands chain of islands in the Northern Pacific

The Aleutian Islands, also called the Aleut Islands or Aleutic Islands and known before 1867 as the Catherine Archipelago, are a chain of 14 large volcanic islands and 55 smaller ones belonging to both the U.S. state of Alaska and the Russian federal subject of Kamchatka Krai. They form part of the Aleutian Arc in the Northern Pacific Ocean, occupying an area of 6,821 sq mi (17,666 km2) and extending about 1,200 mi (1,900 km) westward from the Alaska Peninsula toward the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, and mark a dividing line between the Bering Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Crossing longitude 180°, at which point east and west longitude end, the archipelago contains both the westernmost part of the United States by longitude and the easternmost by longitude. The westernmost U.S. island in real terms, however, is Attu Island, west of which runs the International Date Line. While nearly all the archipelago is part of Alaska and is usually considered as being in the "Alaskan Bush", at the extreme western end, the small, geologically related Commander Islands belong to Russia.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Imperial Japanese Army Official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan, from 1868 to 1945

The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad-hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.

Contents

Occupation

In May 1942, the Japanese began a campaign against Midway, their objective being to occupy the islands and destroy the remaining United States Navy forces in the Pacific. In order to deceive the American Pacific Fleet, an attack was ordered to take place in the Aleutians, thus beginning the Aleutian Islands Campaign. During the Battle of Midway, Japanese forces were repulsed in a decisive action, meanwhile on 6 June, Japanese naval forces under Boshirō Hosogaya landed troops unopposed at Kiska and Attu islands. A force consisting of 1,140 infantry under Major Matsutoshi Hosumi took control of the island and captured Attu’s population, which consisted of 45 Aleuts and two white Americans, Charles Foster Jones (1879-1942), an amateur radio operator and weather reporter, originally from St. Paris, Ohio, and his wife Etta (1879-1965), a teacher and nurse, originally from Vineland, New Jersey. [1] The village consisted of several houses around Chichagof Harbor.

Midway Atoll One of the United States Minor Outlying Islands in the Hawaiian archipelago

Midway Atoll is a 2.4-square-mile (6.2 km2) atoll in the North Pacific Ocean at 28°12′N177°21′W. Midway is roughly equidistant between North America and Asia. Midway Atoll is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States. Midway continues to be the only island in the Hawaiian archipelago that is not part of the state of Hawaii. Unlike the other Hawaiian islands, Midway observes Samoa Time, which is one hour behind the time in the state of Hawaii. For statistical purposes, Midway is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, encompassing 590,991.50 acres (239,165.77 ha) of land and water in the surrounding area, is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The refuge and most of its surrounding area are part of the larger Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force.

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

The 42 Aleut inhabitants who survived the Japanese invasion were taken to a prison camp near Otaru, Hokkaido. Sixteen of them died while they were imprisoned. [2] Charles Jones was killed by the Japanese forces almost immediately after the invasion. His wife was subsequently taken to the Bund Hotel, which housed Australian Rabaul New Britain nurses who were prisoners of war from the 1942 Battle of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, in Yokohama, Japan. Sometime later, she and the Australian nurses were taken to the Yokohama Yacht Club and kept there from 1942 to July 1944 when then moved to the old Totsuka Hospital, also in Yokohama. The hospital served as a civilian prisoner of war camp until the end of the war in August 1945. Etta Jones died in December 1965 at age 86 in Bradenton, Florida. [3]

Otaru City in Hokkaido, Japan

Otaru is a city and port in Shiribeshi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan, northwest of Sapporo. The city faces the Ishikari Bay, and has long served as the main port of the bay. With its many historical buildings, Otaru is a popular tourist destination. Because it is a 25-minute drive from Sapporo, it has recently grown as a bedroom community.

Hokkaido Island, region, and prefecture of Japan

Hokkaido, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is the second largest island of Japan, and the largest and northernmost prefecture. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu. The two islands are connected by the undersea railway Seikan Tunnel. The largest city on Hokkaido is its capital, Sapporo, which is also its only ordinance-designated city. About 43 km north of Hokkaido lies Sakhalin Island, Russia. To its east and north-east are the disputed Kuril Islands.

Battle of Rabaul (1942) battle

The Battle of Rabaul, also known by the Japanese as Operation R, was fought on the island of New Britain in the Australian Territory of New Guinea, in January and February 1942. It was a strategically significant defeat of Allied forces by Japan in the Pacific campaign of World War II, with the Japanese invasion force quickly overwhelming the small Australian garrison, the majority of which was either killed or captured. Hostilities on the neighbouring island of New Ireland are also usually considered to be part of the same battle. Rabaul was significant because of its proximity to the Japanese territory of the Caroline Islands, site of a major Imperial Japanese Navy base on Truk.

Attu village, occupied by the Japanese and retaken during the Battle of Attu. Attu village 1937.jpg
Attu village, occupied by the Japanese and retaken during the Battle of Attu.

After landing, the soldiers began constructing an airbase and fortifications. The nearest American forces were on Unalaska Island at Dutch Harbor and at an airbase on Adak Island. Throughout the occupation, American air and naval forces bombarded the island. Initially the Japanese intended to hold the Aleutians only until the winter of 1942; however, the occupation continued into 1943 in order to deny the Americans use of the islands. In August 1942, the garrison of Attu was moved to Kiska to help repel a suspected American attack. From August to October 1942, Attu was unoccupied until a 2,900-man force under Colonel Yasuyo Yamasaki arrived. The new garrison of Attu continued constructing the airfield and fortifications until 11 May 1943, when a 15,000 man army of American troops landed. On 12 May, I-31 was forced to surface five miles northeast of Chichagof Harbor, she was then sunk in a surface engagement with USS Edwards.

Fortification military constructions and buildings designed for defense in warfare and military bases

A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to solidify rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from the Latin fortis ("strong") and facere.

Unalaska Island island in Alaska, United States of America

Unalaska is an island in the Fox Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in the US state of Alaska located at 53°38′N167°00′W. The island has a land area of 1,051 square miles (2,720 km2). It measures 79.4 mi (127.8 km) long and 34.7 mi (55.8 km) wide. The city of Unalaska, Alaska, covers part of the island and all of neighboring Amaknak Island where the Port of Dutch Harbor is located. The population of the island excluding Amaknak as of the 2000 census was 1,759 residents.

Dutch Harbor Harbor in the United States

Dutch Harbor is a harbor on Amaknak Island in Unalaska, Alaska. It was the location of the Battle of Dutch Harbor in June 1942, and was one of the few sites, besides the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, in incorporated U.S. territory to be bombed by the Japanese during World War II.

Chichagof Harbor under attack during the Allied liberation of Attu. Attu Chichagof Harbor with smoke 1943.jpg
Chichagof Harbor under attack during the Allied liberation of Attu.

Allied forces under General John L. DeWitt took control of the island on 30 May after the remaining Japanese troops conducted a massive banzai charge. American forces lost 549 killed and 1,148 wounded, another 2,100 evacuated due to weather-related injuries. During the Battle of Attu, all but 29 men of the Japanese garrison were killed. The occupation ended with an American victory and American forces deemed the half-completed airfield as not ideally situated. After building a new airfield the Americans launched bomber attacks against the Japanese home islands for the remainder of the war [4]

John L. DeWitt United States Army general

John Lesesne DeWitt was a general in the United States Army, best known for his vocal support of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

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.

Bomber Military aircraft for attack of ground targets with bombs or other heavy ordnance

A bomber is a combat aircraft designed to attack ground and naval targets by dropping air-to-ground weaponry, firing torpedoes and bullets, or deploying air-launched cruise missiles.

Attu village was abandoned after the war, and surviving members of Japanese internment were moved to other islands after the war. In 2012, for the 70th anniversary of the occupation, a memorial to Attu village was dedicated at the former site of the town.

See also

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Battle of Attu battle

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 the continental United States.

Japanese occupation of Kiska

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Japanese Occupation Site, Kiska Island

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Shiro Kawase Japanese admiral

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References

  1. Mary Breu (2009) Last Letters from Attu, Alaska Northwest Books, ISBN   0882408100
  2. Chloe, John Haile (2017). Attu: The Forgotten Battle. National Park Service. pp. 32–33. ISBN   0996583734.
  3. Mary Breu (2009) Last Letters from Attu, Alaska Northwest Books, ISBN   0882408100
  4. Brian Garfield, The Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians
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