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The Japanese occupation of Kiska took place between 6 June 1942 and 28 July 1943 during the Aleutian Islands Campaign of the American Theater and the Pacific Theater of World War II. The Japanese occupied Kiska and nearby Attu Island in order to protect the northern flank of the Japanese Empire. Along with the Attu landing the next day, it was the first time that the continental United States was occupied by a foreign power since the War of 1812, and was one of the only two invasions of the United States during World War II.
The American Theater describes a series of mostly minor areas of operations during World War II within North America and South America. This was mainly due to both North and South America's geographical separation from the central theaters of conflict in Europe, the Pacific, and Asia. Thus, any full-scale threat by the Axis Powers to invade the continental United States or other areas within North and South Americas was considered negligible, allowing for American resources to be deployed in overseas theaters.
The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean theatre, the South West Pacific theatre, the South-East Asian theatre, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Soviet–Japanese 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 more than 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 70 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.
Initially, the only American military presence on Kiska was a twelve-man United States Navy weather station—two of whom were not present during the invasion—and a dog named Explosion.The Japanese stormed the station, killing two Americans and capturing seven. After realizing that Chief petty officer William C. House had escaped, a search was launched by the occupying forces. The search ended in vain, with House surrendering some fifty days after the initial seizure of the weather station, having been unable to cope with the freezing conditions & starvation. After 50 days of eating only plants and worms, he weighed just 80 pounds. Beforehand, the prisoners of war had been sent to Japan.
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. It has 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 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of June 2019, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.
A weather station is a facility, either on land or sea, with instruments and equipment for measuring atmospheric conditions to provide information for weather forecasts and to study the weather and climate. The measurements taken include temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, and precipitation amounts. Wind measurements are taken with as few other obstructions as possible, while temperature and humidity measurements are kept free from direct solar radiation, or insolation. Manual observations are taken at least once daily, while automated measurements are taken at least once an hour. Weather conditions out at sea are taken by ships and buoys, which measure slightly different meteorological quantities such as sea surface temperature (SST), wave height, and wave period. Drifting weather buoys outnumber their moored versions by a significant amount.
A chief petty officer is a senior non-commissioned officer in many navies and coast guards.
The attack on Pearl Harbor and beginning of the Pacific Theater in World War II, coupled with Japanese threats to mainland Alaska along with the rest of the United States West Coast, had already made the construction of a defense access highway to Alaska a priority. On 6 February 1942, the construction of the Alaska Highway was approved by the U.S. Army and the project received the authorization from the U.S. Congress and President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proceed five days later.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise 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 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, Washington, and Alaska. More specifically, it refers to an area defined on the east by the Alaska Range, Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, and Mojave Desert, and 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.
The Alaska Highway was constructed during World War II to connect the contiguous United States to Alaska across Canada. It begins at the junction with several Canadian highways in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, via Whitehorse, Yukon. When it was completed in 1942 it was about 2,700 kilometres (1,700 mi); but in 2012 it was only 2,232 km (1,387 mi). This is due to constant reconstruction of the highway, which has rerouted and straightened many sections. The highway opened to the public in 1948. Once legendary for being a rough, challenging drive, the highway is now paved over its entire length. Its component highways are British Columbia Highway 97, Yukon Highway 1 and Alaska Route 2.
Reacting to the Japanese occupation, American and Allied forces waged a continuous air bombardment campaign against the Japanese forces on Kiska. Also, U.S. Navy warships blockaded and periodically bombarded the island. Several Japanese warships, transport ships, and submarines attempting to travel to Kiska or Attu were sunk or damaged by the blockading forces.
In May 1943, U.S. forces landed on Attu in Operation Landcrab and subsequently destroyed the Japanese garrison there. In response, the Imperial Japanese Navy successfully evacuated the Kiska garrison on 28 July, ending the Japanese presence in the Aleutian Islands. Not completely sure that the Japanese were gone, the Americans and Canadians executed an unopposed landing on Kiska on 15 August, securing the island and ending the Aleutian Islands campaign. After the landing, the soldiers were greeted by a group of dogs who had been left behind. Among them was Explosion, who had been cared for by the Japanese.
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.
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1868 until 1945, when it was dissolved following Japan's surrender in World War II. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was formed after the dissolution of the IJN.
Over 313 Allied casualties resulted from this attack on the unoccupied island, due to friendly fire, accidents, landmines, and booby traps.
Friendly fire is an inadvertent attack by a military force on friendly or neutral troops, while attempting to attack the enemy. Examples include misidentifying the target as hostile, cross-fire while engaging an enemy, long range ranging errors or inaccuracy. Accidental fire not intended to attack the enemy, and deliberate firing on one's own troops for disciplinary reasons, is not called friendly fire; nor is unintentional harm to civilians or structures, which is sometimes referred to as collateral damage. Training accidents and bloodless incidents also do not qualify as friendly fire in terms of casualty reporting.
On 19 June 1942, American aircraft attacked and sank the Japanese oiler Nissan Maru in Kiska Harbor and on 30 June American naval forces bombarded the island. The American submarine USS Growler attacked and sank one Japanese destroyer 7 mi (6.1 nmi ; 11 km ) east of Kiska Harbor on 5 July, two other destroyers were also heavily damaged. Over 200 Japanese sailors were killed or wounded while the Americans sustained no losses, it became the single bloodiest engagement during the operations on and around Kiska. USS Grunion was attacked by three Japanese submarine chasers while patrolling Kiska Harbor on 15 July. In response, she fired on and sank two of the Japanese ships and damaged the third. Grunion was lost a few weeks later off Kiska on 30 July with all hands, she is suspected of being sunk after one of her own torpedoes circled back when she attacked the Kano Maru.
Nissan Maru was a Japanese cargo ship completed in 1939 owned by Nissan Kisen K.K. that was requestioned for service as an auxiliary collier and oiler by the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. She served with the 5th Fleet and was sunk by United States Army Air Forces bombers during the Japanese occupation of Kiska in the Aleutian Islands Campaign.
Kiska Harbor is an inlet on the east coast of the island of Kiska in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability. It is also sometimes used historically or colloquially to refer to remotely operated vehicles and robots, as well as medium-sized or smaller vessels, such as the midget submarine and the wet sub. Submarines are referred to as "boats" rather than "ships" irrespective of their size.
On 8 August, the Japanese cargo ship Kano Maru was sunk at Kiska Harbor by PBY Catalinas. Days before, the cargo ship was damaged by one of Grunion's torpedoes. Troopship Nozima Maru was also bombed and sunk in Kiska Harbor on 15 September. On 5 October, the Japanese steamer Borneo Maru was sunk at Gertrude Cove and on the 17th, the destroyer Oboro was sunk by American aircraft. RO-65 sank off Kiska on 4 November, Montreal Maru on 6 January 1943, and Uragio Maru on 4 April. I-7 was grounded and abandoned by her crew on 23 June while assisting in removing Kiska's garrison. She was chased onto the rocks by USS Monaghan.
Attu is the westernmost and largest island in the Near Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, and the westernmost point of land relative to Alaska. The island became uninhabited in 2010.
USS Grunion (SS-216) was a Gato-class submarine that was sunk at Kiska, Alaska, during World War II. She was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the grunion.
USS Abner Read (DD-526) was a Fletcher-class destroyer in the service of the United States Navy, named after Lieutenant Commander Abner Read, who fought in the American Civil War. The ship fought in World War II, seeing action in the Aleutian Islands Campaign, where she survived a mine explosion that blew off her stern in 1943. After repairs, she returned to service and operated in support of Allied forces in the New Guinea campaign and the Battle of Leyte. She was sunk off Leyte in 1944.
The Aleutian Islands campaign was a military campaign conducted by the United States and Japan in the Aleutian Islands, part of the Territory of Alaska, in the American theater and the Pacific theater of World War II starting on 3 June 1942. In the only two invasions of the United States during the war, a small Japanese force occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska, where the remoteness of the islands and the challenges of weather and terrain delayed a larger U.S.-Canadian force sent to eject them for nearly a year. The islands' strategic value was their ability to control Pacific transportation routes, which is why U.S. General Billy Mitchell stated to 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." The Japanese reasoned that control of the Aleutians would prevent a possible U.S. attack across the Northern Pacific. Similarly, the U.S. feared that the islands would be used as bases from which to carry out a full-scale aerial attack on U.S. West Coast cities like Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, or Los Angeles.
USS S-18 (SS-123) was a first-group S-class submarine of the United States Navy. Her keel was laid down on 15 August 1918 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was launched on 29 April 1920 sponsored by Miss Virginia Bell Johnson, and commissioned on 3 April 1924 with Lieutenant Elliot M. Senn in command.
The Eleventh Air Force (11 AF) is a Numbered Air Force of the United States Air Force Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). It is headquartered at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, Alaska.
Operation Cottage was a tactical maneuver which completed the Aleutian Islands campaign. On August 15, 1943, Allied military forces landed on Kiska Island, which had been occupied by Japanese forces since June 1942.
The Battle of Dutch Harbor took place on June 3–4, 1942, when the Imperial Japanese Navy launched two aircraft carrier raids on the Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and U.S. Army Fort Mears at Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island, during the Aleutian Islands Campaign of World War II. The bombing marked the first aerial attack by an enemy on the continental United States, and was the second time in history that the continental U.S. was bombed by someone working for a foreign power, the first being the bombing of Naco, Arizona by Patrick Murphy despite being an accident.
The Japanese Occupation Site on Kiska island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska is where the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked and occupied the island in World War II, as one of the only two invasions of the United States during the war. The Japanese built defenses and other infrastructure on the island before abandoning it in 1943 after losing the Battle of Attu. American and Canadian forces reoccupied the abandoned island, and departed the island in 1946. Now a part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, the central portion of the island, where these military activities were concentrated, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985.
Amchitka Air Force Base is an abandoned Air Force Base located on Amchitka, in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska.
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.
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 7 June 1942 the day after 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.
The military history of the Aleutian Islands began almost immediately following the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire by the United States in 1867. Prior to the early 20th century, the Aleutian Islands were essentially ignored by the United States Armed Forces, although the islands played a small role in the Bering Sea Arbitration when a number of British and American vessels were stationed at Unalaska to enforce the arbitrators' decision. By the early 20th century, a number of war strategies examined the possibility of conflict breaking out between the Empire of Japan and the United States. While the Aleutian Islands were seen as a potential staging point for invasions by either side, this possibility was dismissed owing to the islands' dismal climate. In 1922, the Washington Naval Treaty was signed, after which the United States Navy began to take an interest in the islands. However, nothing of significance was to materialize until World War II.
Naval Air Facility Adak, was a United States Navy airport located west of Adak, on Adak Island in the U.S. state of Alaska. After its closure in 1997, it was reopened as Adak Airport. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark for its role in World War II, although most of its elements from that period have been demolished or lie in ruins.
Shiro Kawase was a vice admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. He was a torpedo expert and his extensive experience as a commander of destroyers and destroyer formations made him more knowledgeable about the escort of convoys than most Japanese commanders of his time. He is best known for his command of the 5th Fleet during the latter stages of the Aleutians campaign in the spring and summer of 1943.
Teiyō Maru was an auxiliary fleet oiler of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during World War II. She was converted from civilian service to a naval auxiliary as the Pearl Harbor attack force sailed; and participated in the major offensive operations of the first six months of Pacific combat. She then served in the northern Pacific until July 1944, and was sunk in the battle for convoy Hi-71 when reassigned to the defense of the Philippines.
The Landing at Amchitka was the amphibious landing operation and occupation of Amchitka island by American forces during the Aleutian Islands Campaign.
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