Operation Cottage

Last updated
Operation Cottage
Part of Aleutian Islands campaign of World War II
US landings on Kiska.jpg
American troops landing on Kiska
DateAugust 15, 1943
Location
Result Japanese tactical victory
Allied strategic victory
Belligerents
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States
Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Canada
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Japan
(not present)
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Charles Corlett
Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg Harry Wickwire Foster
N/A
Strength

Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg 7th Infantry Division

Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg 6th Infantry Division

None; all forces evacuated before battle
Casualties and losses
92 killed and 221 wounded (Over 313 Allied casualties) [1] [2] None
  • USS Abner Read struck a stray Japanese mine during the operation, totaling 118 casualties

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.

Military tactics science and art of organizing a military force and techniques

Military tactics encompasses the art of organising and employing fighting forces on or near the battlefield. They involve the application of four battlefield functions which are closely related – kinetic or firepower, mobility, protection or security, and shock action. Tactics are a separate function from command and control and logistics. In contemporary military science, tactics are the lowest of three levels of warfighting, the higher levels being the strategic and operational levels. Throughout history, there has been a shifting balance between the four tactical functions, generally based on the application of military technology, which has led to one or more of the tactical functions being dominant for a period of time, usually accompanied by the dominance of an associated fighting arm deployed on the battlefield, such as infantry, artillery, cavalry or tanks.

Maneuver warfare, or manoeuvre warfare, is a military strategy that advocates attempting to defeat the enemy by incapacitating their decision-making through shock and disruption.

Aleutian Islands campaign WWII battle in Alaska, UA

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.

Contents

The Japanese, however, had secretly abandoned the island two weeks prior, and so the Allied landings were unopposed. Allied forces suffered over 313 casualties in total during the operation, due to stray Japanese landmines and booby traps, friendly fire incidents, and vehicle accidents. [1]

Friendly fire Attack on friendly forces misidentified as hostile ones

Friendly fire is an 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.

Background

The Japanese under Captain Takeji Ono had landed on Kiska at approximately 01:00 on June 6, 1942, with a force of about 500 Japanese marines. Soon after arrival, they stormed an American weather station, where they killed two and captured eight United States Navy officers. The captured officers were sent to Japan as prisoners of war. Another 2,000 Japanese troops arrived, landing in Kiska Harbor. At this time, Rear-Admiral Monzo Akiyama headed the force on Kiska. In December 1942, additional anti-aircraft units, engineers, and a negligible number of reinforcement infantry arrived on the island. In the spring of 1943, control was transferred to Kiichiro Higuchi.

Captain (naval) Naval military rank

Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The rank is equal to the army rank of colonel.

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.

Weather station set of sensors that record and provide physical measurements and meteorological parameters

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

Invasion plan and execution

The Allied invasion of Kiska, August 17, 1943 Kiska Island 1943.svg
The Allied invasion of Kiska, August 17, 1943

A Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft sighted Japanese ships in Kiska. No further identification was visible. To United States naval planners, none was necessary and the orders to invade Kiska soon followed.[ citation needed ]

Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator is an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and some initial production aircraft were laid down as export models designated as various LB-30s, in the Land Bomber design category.

Due to the heavy casualties suffered at Attu Island, planners were expecting another costly operation. The Japanese tactical planners had, however, realized the isolated island was no longer defensible and planned for an evacuation.

Battle of Attu Battle in the Pacific theatre of World War II

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.

Starting in late July, there were increasing signs of Japanese withdrawal. Aerial photograph analysts noticed that routine activities appeared to greatly diminish and almost no movement could be detected in the harbor. Bomb damage appeared unrepaired and aircrews reported greatly diminished anti-aircraft fire. On July 28, radio signals from Kiska ceased entirely.

On August 15, 1943, the 7th Division (U.S.) and the 13th Infantry Brigade (Canada), landed on opposite shores of Kiska.

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.

Both U.S. and Canadian forces mistook each other, after a Canadian soldier shot at American lines believing they were Japanese, and a sporadic friendly fire incident occurred, which had left 28 Americans and 4 Canadians dead, with 50 wounded on either side. Progress was also hampered by mines, timed bombs, accidental ammunition detonations, vehicle accidents and booby traps. [2] A stray Japanese mine also caused the USS Abner Read (DD-526) to lose a large chunk of its stern. The blast killed 71 and wounded 47.

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 Operation Cottage: A Cautionary Tale of Assumption and Perceptual Bias
  2. 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

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References