June 1942 (1)

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, 4 June 1942 - shipping and oil storage ablaze

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, 4 June 1942 – shipping and oil storage ablaze

Aleutian Islands, Alaska

stock-photo-vintage-wwii-airplane-flying-over-mountain-peaks-in-southeast-alaska-183747236

As of 1 June 1942, American military strength in Alaska stood at 45,000 men, with about 13,000 at Cold Bay (Fort Randall), on the tip of the Alaskan Peninsula and at 2 Aleutian bases: the Naval facility at Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island and a recently built Army air base, (Fort Glenn), on Umnak Island.  Army strength, less air force personnel at those 3 bases totaled no more than 2,300, composed mainly of infantry, field and antiaircraft artillery troops and a large construction engineer contingent [rushed in for the construction of the bases].

Admiral Theobald

Admiral Theobald

On Admiral Robert Theobald’s arrival at Kodiak, he assumed control of the US Army Air Corps’ 11 Air Force, commanded by General Butler.  This force consisted of 10 heavy and 34 medium bombers and 95 fighters, divided between its main base, Elmendorf Airfield, in Anchorage and at airfields at Cold Bay and on Umnak.  Theobald ordered Butler to locate the Japanese fleet that was reported heading for Dutch Harbor and attack it with its bombers, concentrating on sinking Hosogaya’s 2 aircraft carriers.   Once they eliminate the enemy planes, Task Force-8 would engage the enemy fleet.

Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Dutch Harbor, Alaska

On the afternoon of 2 June, a naval patrol plane spotted the approaching enemy fleet and reported its location as 800 miles sw of Dutch Harbor.  Theobald placed his entire command on full alert.  Shortly thereafter, the bad weather rolled in and the enemy fleet could no longer be found.  The destroyers, USS King and Talbot, seaplane tender, Gillis, USCG cutter Onondaga, US Army transports President Fillmore and Morlen all weighed anchor and called battle stations.

206th Coast Artillery gun emplacement

206th Coast Artillery gun emplacement

For the Japanese, the Aleutian Campaign was initially intended as a reconnaissance in force.  Adak was to be occupied, any US installation there destroyed, its harbors mined and then the force would withdraw and land on Attu – all by the Japanese Army.  Kiska was to be occupied by their Naval force and held until fall, whereby they would evacuate before the severe winter weather moved in.  The reason for this, the Japanese flying boats could cover the northern half of the 1,400 miles between Adak and Midway.  The first blow on the Aleutians was to be one day before Midway to confuse the Americans and throw their timing.

The principle elements of the Japanese Second Mobile Force were the 2 carriers Ryujo and Junyo and launched their attack against Dutch Harbor 3 June.  Only 6 fighters and 13 carrier attack planes (all from the Ryujo reached the target due to the weather.  The next wave of 32 planes, with experienced pilots, reached their target and did considerable damage.  Upon returning from the attack, the Junyo planes chose a rendezvous point off Umnak Island which turned out to be almost directly over a US airfield that the enemy had had no previous knowledge of.  Here they lost 4 aircraft to the defending US fighters.

Click on images to enlarge.

To be continued….

Judy Hardy at Greatest Generation Lessons and I are coordinating the military and home front views of this period.  Judy had her Uncle Ced in Alaska on an Army base at this time and her family retained the letters of correspondence.  

###############################################################################

Military Humor – 

OLD SERVICEMEN

OLD SERVICEMEN

NEW SERVICEMEN

NEW SERVICEMEN

###############################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Jeff Brown – Dundee, NY; US Army, Captain (Ret. 20 years)

Jim Cameron – Juneau, AK; US Army, 82nd Airborne Infantryimg_96953714425802

Frank Duran – Tampa, FL; USMC, Shore party crane operator

Vic Ison – Covington, GA; USMC, WWII, PTO / US Army, Korea

Robert Murphy – Bedford, NH; US Army, Korea

Dale Noyes – Victor, IA; USMC; WWII, PTO

Try Reeves Jr. – Hokes Bluff, AL; US Air Force (Ret. 33 years), Vietnam 2 tours

John Swinkels – New Lynn, NZ; RNetherlands Army # 260816143, Prinses Irene Regiment

Allan Thompson – Beaufort, AUS; RA Air Force # 408936, WWII

Alexander Vraciu – W.Sacramento, CA; US Navy, ace pilot, PTO, Navy Cross

Johnny Workman – Talihina, OK; USMC, Vietnam

Lawrence Ziegler – Comox, CAN; RC Artillery, WWII, / RC Air Force (Ret.)

#################################################################################

Advertisements

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 February 2, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 66 Comments.

  1. I have lost touch with time and reality. Sorry I missed this post… 😦

    Like

  2. Sorry I’ve been running back and forth to hospitals, there’s always someone who needs my help to get there. Yes, I know very little about Churchill’s views on the war with Japan particularly Malaya and his aid or lack of aid to the US in this area of conflict. Any chances?

    Like

    • You’ve been busy volunteering, Phil – there’s no better cause! Churchill had his hands full with trying to keep the UK from sinking under bombardment. He considered Singapore second in priority and Australia third,(despite their contributions to the ETO, Africa and Middle East). The PM worked hard to get the US into the war for one reason – to win it on both sides; the US had the population, the manufacturing and the resources.

      Like

  3. Really unbelievable to read 45,000 troops stationed in Alaska at the tip of the Alaskan peninsula, a very strategic site that the Japanese had their eyes on.
    Great piece of history, didn’t realise the extent of the forces in Alaska and its importance overall.

    Like

    • Not everyone noticed just how close the Aleutians are to Japan; it would have made a great ‘backdoor’ entrance onto the enemy homeland, eh?

      Liked by 2 people

    • I think when it was all said and done, the U.S. & Canada sent 144 000 troops to kick off 5000 enemy forces. Even less known is that the battle of Attu was the second bloodiest battles (combat to operational losses) in the Pacific- second only to- Iwo Jima- and for the most part unrecognized.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Can’t wait to read more. What a brilliant blog. Congratulations.

    Like

  5. Thank you to like my award. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

    Like

  6. An interesting post !!!! 🙂

    Like

  7. More things I knew little about. Then again, I’ve not studies WW II all that much.

    Thanks for the interesting history.

    Like

    • I really don’t expect people to study WWII or read these posts as though there would be a pop-quiz on Friday – I just want people to remember. I apprecaite you coming by.

      Like

  8. Ignorant am I. The Information I gained from this post is most impressive. I’m looking forward to part two. So much to learn, so little time. Thank you!

    Like

    • You are very welcome, but don’t ever call yourself ignorant. I’ve been blaming our school systems!! If it wasn’t for my father, there would be quite a bit I didn’t know about either. My school was highly accredited, but even so, 90% was Europe as the stage of WWII, 10% oh, by the way, the Marines were in the Pacific. No CBI, NO Alaska, NO Middle East, NO Allied armies in the Pacific, etc.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Another fascinating entry–and a great map from Pierre.

    Like

    • Thank you and yes, Pierre is always watching over my shoulder and ready to help. I’ll be putting that map into Thursday’s post. I appreciate you reading the comments as well as the post.

      Like

  10. The Aleutians — cold, wet, windy, foggy, treeless places at the end of the Earth.

    Like

  11. A battle area most don’t learn about, thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Interesting and didn’t know about Alaska and during WW11. Always wanted to visit but haven’t made it there.

    Like

  13. Our son Tony is doing Coast Guard duty at Cold Bay right now. Watched the Super Bowl in the only bar in hundreds of miles yesterday. –Curt

    Like

    • Oh boy, Tony must frozen! 😆 Hope he was happy about the outcome – I know I was. Will Pennington served there back in the 80’s, I posed him a question I will now ask you – Any pictures? I would think it would be interesting to see Before and After photos.

      Like

  14. Looking forward to hearing more. My father was stationed in Alaska with the coast artillery core on a couple of different Aleutian islands. He was drafted in January 42 and was sent there later in 42.

    Like

  15. I’ve always been aware of the Aleutians in WW II because my uncle served part of his time there. Interesting to read about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Would you happen to recall any stories your uncle might have told about his experiences there, Lillian? Do you happen to know what his assignment was?

      Like

      • He was there before being shipped to England and I couldn’t find anything further in his letters and pictures. I do remember that he shipped home a huge polar bear rug which we used in our drafty, cold bedroom as an extra blanket right up until the time I left home to get married in 1952.

        Like

  16. Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

    Like

  17. gpcox – you weren’t stationed in Herford, were you? Sindy

    Like

    • No, I’m afraid not, Sindy. May I clarify that this blog is about my father, Smitty’s, era. There is very little here about myself.

      Like

      • I am. The school is closing soon as the Army is leaving Germany so trying to get as much info as I can. I realised later what your blog is about. It was a looooong time ago…. Was it easy to get all the info?

        Like

        • There have been quite a few books written about WWII, but less about the Pacific. With technology today, new-found data can be discovered faster. I am very lucky to be a member of the 11th A/B Division Assn., and the Editor of our newspaper “The Voice of the Angels” does extensive research himself. These posts are a constant process.

          Like

  18. A really interesting account of a little known theatre of the war. I have a horrible feeling that, being English, I would be totally familiar with the weather there!

    Like

  19. Nice shout out to an area often overlooked. It’s a harsh, cold and dreary place to be stationed, for sure!

    Like

  20. Great post. I served in Adak in the 80s and loved it. But, what a bitter cold and windy place to be in war time.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. A map to go along…

    From this Website

    http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/aleut/aleut.htm

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Overshadowed is correct. Interesting and intelligent strategy between the Alaska and Midway attacks and controlling the Pacific. I’m glad it was not successful.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Excellent! Looking forward to part 2!

    Like

  24. I tell you what I have found most intriguing is the American view on British politics in WWII. Have you anymore?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: