Mainland Attacks – West Coast

Ellwood Field, California

Ellwood Field, California

On the west coast of Canada and the United States during 1941 and 1942, more that 10 Japanese submarines operated in the area attacking ships and successfully sunk ten vessels; including the Russian Navy submarine L-16 on 11 October 1942.  Some of these were in direct sight of California.  The forgotten war of Alaska will be covered by itself in future posts.

 

23 February 1942, the Japanese submarine I-17 attacked the Ellwood Oil Field west of Goleta, California and they hit a pump-house, a catwalk and an oil well.  The captain, Nishino Kozo, radioed back to Tokyo that he left Santa Barbara in flames.  This event is what led the invasion scare on the west coast.  A 70th anniversary of “Avenge Ellwood” was held there last year.

 

7 June 1942, off the coast of Washington, the American merchant vessel SS Coast Trader was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-26.  The ship carried a crew of 101 officers and men; 56 men were eventually saved by the fishing vessel Virginia 1 and the Canadian corvette HMCS Edmunston (K-106).

 

Estevan Point, British Columbia

Estevan Point, British Columbia

20 June 1942, Japanese submarine I-26 fired 25-30 rounds at the Estevan Point lighthouse on Vancouver Island in British Columbia – but missed.  This was the first enemy shelling of Canadian soil since the War of 1812.  There were no casualties, but shipping was severely disrupted when the lights of the outer stations were turned off.

 

Capt. Tagami Meiji

Capt. Tagami Meiji

21-22 June 1942, Japanese submarine I-25 under the command of Tagami Meiji, surfaced near Oregon and fired at Fort Stevens; the only attack of a military installation on the American mainland.  The only damage was to the baseball field’s backstop and telephone lines.  Gunners were refused permission to return fire.  A U.S. bomber out on a training exercise spotted the sub and did fire on it, but the sub escaped.

 

pilot Nobuo Fujita and his "Glen"

pilot Nobuo Fujita and his “Glen”

9 September 1942, Mount Emily in Oregon’s Siskiyou National Forest, near Brookings, received the only aerial bombing on American soil by the enemy.  The Japanese Yokosuka E14Y1 “Glen” seaplane dropped two 180 pound incendiary bombs in an attempt to start a forest fire.  The pilot, 31, Nobuo Fujita, had taken off from the Japanese vessel I-25.  He repeated his attempt on the 29th, but again, no official damage was reported after the flames were quickly extinguished.

 

Mitchell Monument

Mitchell Monument


Approximately 9,000 Japanese balloon bombs were launched by the Japanese Navy from November 1944 and April 1945.  About 300 were reported to have reached America.  One incident caused the deaths of 5 children and one woman in Oregon.  A stone monument (Mitchell Monument) was raised at the site.  This subject is further covered in a previous post https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/?s=balloon+bomb

Canadian military reports indicate that the balloons reached as far inland as Manitoba.  A fire at Tillamook Burn was believed caused by a balloon and resulted in the death of a member of the 555 Parachute Infantry Battalion; there were 22 other injuries.

 

Reports, other than these mentioned, have been classified as false alarms.

 

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Farewell Salute – 

 

Ralph F. DeVito – Tequesta, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII

Dr. Joseph Pollak Jr. – native of Duquense, PA; USMC

Joseph Alper – Haverhill, MA & Boynton Beach, FL; USMC WWII Battle of Okinawa, 2 Purple Hearts; Korean War 1 Purple Heart

Linda T. Mullen – W. Palm Beach; American Red Cross, Emergency Service Case Worker for military families

Roger Kenneth Stockton D.D.S. – born in Chicago, IL; captain US Army WWII, South Pacific

Joseph Samuel Tarascio – Stuart, FL; US Navy, WWII

 

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Did you know?

Methamphetamine, or “crystal Meth,” was first mass-produced by a Berlin pharmaceutical maker in 1938 and adopted by the Third Reich’s military as a “miracle drug” to keep weary soldiers and pilots awake.  Millions of tablets were distributed to German soldiers, many of whom became addicted and debilitated – causing the Reich even further problems.

 

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Resources:  historylink.org; Wikipedia; evbdn.eventbrite.com ; Palm Beach Post; The Week magazine

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on June 27, 2013, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 56 Comments.

  1. This is a great post. Good to have the facts about the West Coast scare. I was born in and currently live in So California, but didn’t know about the attack above Goleta.

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  2. Thank you for visiting my blog and ‘liking’ my latest post. I look forward to having the time to read through your entire blog, which looks at first glance to be not only a marvelous tribute to the men and women who sacrificed so much, but also a valuable and timely history lesson.

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  3. Each of your posts are a valuable history lesson. Thank you and I look forward to your next.

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  4. I did not know that the Japanese launched attacks on the US/Canadian mainland, nor that the Germans were using crystal meth to keep their soldiers going!

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  5. Great research–Like many of the others who commented, I had never heard of the mainland attacks or about meth in WWII.

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  6. Great blog, gpcox. You must love history too. My son graduated from high school this year as an honor student, in JRTOC and a Civil War reenactor. He loves history and plans to major in history and go Army ROTC in college, retire from the Army, and teach history. I am a Navy man and ya think he disowned his dad???? LOL!

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    • Kuddoes to your son (and you too for that matter). Yes – I’ve always been interested in history, ended up going to school for science tho. Thanks for stopping in.

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  7. What fascinating stuff! Pleased to see that the West Coast wasn’t left out.
    David
    PS Thanks for popping in to see me at http://ja2da.com – come round any time.

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  8. This would be a good time to retaliate for those attacks . . . I think we could catch them by surprise.

    Good work, as usual.

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  9. I wonder why the gunners at Fort Stevens were refused permission to return fire ? Was there confusion or disbelief as to where the sub was from ?

    The balloon bomb program reminds me of the bat bomb program that the US worked on. There were so many strange “secret” weapons developed by both sides.

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    • Oddities to say the least. The Fort Stevens gunners were ordered not to fire because no one knew where or how many subs were out there and they didn’t want to give away their own positions.

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  10. This was all news to me. Thanks.

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  11. Amazing that the average baby boomer grew up knowing none of this. It wasn’t in the history classes, There weren’t any movies (serious ones, anyway) made about it. You had to dig into the history to find out, or know someone personally involved. During the war, I can understand not broadcasting this — people were alert, anyway, and panic wouldn’t help. But after the war? Do you know the rationale for keeping this quiet?

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    • As far as I can tell, once WWII was over, the American public wanted to forget it ever happened, plus the Cold War evolved immediately, people were afraid of going to war with the Russians, Europe was expected to be the sight of WW3, but Korea exploded.

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  12. …And I loved the tidbit about meth… Well, I’ll be darned. 🙂

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  13. My co-worker just visited Ft. Stevens. I believe he said it is now abandoned and overgrown? I need to check… And I’m sure you know Fujita came back with his ancestral samurai sword as a peace symbol and in apology as well as planted some kind of tree where he dropped a bomb? Please correct me…

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    • Fujita became a trainer for the kamikaze, then went into business. !962, Brookings, Oregon invited him to come over. The sword was brought to commit seppuku (should he be put on trial or treated harshly) since he was welcomed at the city, he gave them his 400 year old sword. He re-visited 3 more times, 1992, he planted the tree, 1997 he passed away at the age of 85, 1998 his daughter brought some of his ashes to bury at Ft. Stevens. I have no idea of the fort’s condition today.

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  14. Had no idea there were so many attacks on the Pacific Coast during WWII. Found the use of crystal meth by Hitler’s troops also new information but not surprising when you think about it. Thanks for all the great information.

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  15. Your research is amazing…I just love the report of Crystal Meth… served them right !!!!

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  16. I had an uncle who join the National Guard in 1940 to earn a little extra money for the family that lived in Modesto at the time. In ’41 his unit was Nationalized and he spent much of ’41 in training and just after Pearl Harbor his machine gun unit was sent to the KGO radio tower just outside of San Francisco to guard it for most of ’42. It was in late ’42 that they were finally sent to the South Pacific.

    My mother’s family was living in San Jose at the time and strictly followed blackout rules for much of ’42 because of the fear of invasion.

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  17. There were plenty of false alarms, panic, and jittery nerves according to the old timers in my family who lived in California. The worst that could be said was at least one UFO panic in LA and lots of prematurely grey hair. While working at Hewlett-Packard, many years ago, a co-worker related a strange incident that I later looked into. Here is the link:

    http://bluejayblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/battle-of-los-angeles/

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    • Read the the post. California was good for a lot of scare-tactic press, especially the Hearst newspapers that were a big influence on making the interment camps for Japanese-Americans. This looks like a way to sell more papers – tabloid type journalism.

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  18. Well, did I sleep through school in the 50’s and 60’s? I don’t ever remember hearing anything about mainland attacks except, of course, Pearl Harbor. I suppose I’ve led a sheltered life….

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  19. Daniel W. Ostler

    Great material!!

    My blog continues in fits and starts at:

    http:/blog.ostler.com

    Website: http://www.ostler.com

    Cheers!

    Dan Ostler

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL: This communication, including attachments, is for the exclusive use of the addressee and may contain proprietary, confidential or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, any use, copying, disclosure, dissemination or distribution is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail — delete this communication and destroy all copies. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2013 10:20:31 +0000 To: dan@ostler.com

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  20. Even if I am always repeating myself… Awesome post but now with a little Canadian twist.

    Au risque de me rĂ©pĂ©ter… Un billet formidable mais maintenant avec une petite saveur canadienne.

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    • Mainly because this is a general overlook article; previous ones were more or less following my father’s unit and the areas around them. When I get into Korea and then go back to cover WWII in more detail, you’ll see more of the other Allies mentioned than before.

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