June 1942 (2)

VP-41 enroute to Kiska to support a fleet bombardment

Alaska

The Japanese Second Mobile Force retired to cruise a support area about 400 miles south of Kiska.  On the second day of attack on Dutch Harbor, two occupation forces moved up to positions from which they could run their objectives.  The first was the Adak-Attu Occupation Force and the second, the Kiska Occupation Force.  As a result of the defeat at Midway [to be dealt with after this preliminary Alaska situation], the Adak occupation was canceled and the Adak-Attu Force was directed to only seize Attu, where a battalion of Army troops went ashore about 0300 hours, 7 June.  The Kiska Force landed a battalion from their Navy at Reynard Cove at 1500 hours, 6 June.

almap1

Due to the weather and the attention given to the attacks on Dutch Harbor, US air reconnaissance did not discover that the occupation of Kiska and Attu was taking place until 4 days later.  The PBYs led off the bombing of Kiska, followed by B-17s and the longer range B-24s as soon as they could be concentrated on at the strip on Umnak Island.  This airfield was expanded to suit the purpose being as ironically there was no airfield on Unalaska Island which had 2 harbors.

contributed by Pierre Lagace

contributed by Pierre Lagace

The initial Japanese landings were made with combat and labor troops totaling approximately 1,200 men at each location.  But, by the end of June, the Kiska garrison had doubled.  Antiaircraft and communication personnel were added as well as submarine base personnel and six midget submarines.

The US wanted to shift its aerial resources to protect bases and attack enemy ships, aircraft and installations.  They requested that a Canadian squadron take over the job of protecting the Alaskan coastline.  Canada responded by supplying two bomber squadrons and two fighter squadrons.  The 111(f) Squadron was one of the later.

RCAF 111 (f) Squadron in Alaska, 1942

RCAF 111 (f) Squadron in Alaska, 1942

The Canadian 111 Squadron hurriedly trained at Patricia Bay (present site of Victoria International Airport, Vancouver Island) and were soon operational.  They flew their Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawks north, under Arthur Deane Nesbitt, DFC, and operated out Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska.  Nesbitt was then promoted to Wing Commander.  As the fighting increased, the 111 moved forward, their mission being to protect the US installations.  The Aleutian Campaign was now an Allied effort.

P-40E Kittyhawk, RCAF 11 Sq.

P-40E Kittyhawk, RCAF 111Sq.

The new Squadron Leader, J.W. Kerwin was killed weeks later, along with 4 other pilots who became caught up in the unusual weather created by the cold Bering Sea meeting up with the warm Japanese Pacific, causing dense fog and violent winds.  Flying conditions  were extremely difficult and casualties were high.  The RCAF 111th is credited with destroying a float-equipped Nakajima A6M2-N “Rufe”.

Japanese Nakajima A6MM2-N "Rufe"

Japanese Nakajima A6MM2-N “Rufe”

The 111 Squadron headquarters moved to Kodiak Island.  They also had temporary detachments at Umnak, Adak and Amchitka Islands where they served as reinforcements to the US Army Air Corps and were included in various other offensive operations on Kiska.  (The 111 would remain in Alaska for nearly 2 years and will be heard of in later operations as well, but then they would be deployed to Europe at the end of 1943 and receive the new squadron number 440.).

The Alaska Territorial Guard, more commonly known as the Eskimo Scouts, was a military reserve force component of the US Army organized in response to the attacks on American soil.  The ATG operated until 1947 and is said to have had 6,368 volunteers [from the official rosters – thousands more participated], from 107 communities.  These included a variety of ethnic groups which included: Aleut, Athabaskan, White, Inupiaq, Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Yupik.  Among their tasks: To safeguard the only source of platinum in the Western Hemisphere; secure the terrain around the Lend-Lease air route between the US and Russia; and they placed and maintained survival caches along the transportation routes and coastal areas.

Anne, Gallivanta,  has contributed the “Report From the Aleutians” newsreel which can be seen HERE!

Judy Hardy at Greatest Generation Lessons had her Uncles Ced and Dan in Alaska back then, check her out.

Click on images to enlarge.

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 Military Humor –   Out In The Coldmoose

truth-military-humor-snow-airforce-military-funny-1397219925

military-humor-funny-best-use-for-ex-wifes-wedding-dress-snow-camo

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leonard Amico – Uttica, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Evelyn Brown – Jackson, MI; US Army WACS, WWII

Aloys Dosch Jr. – So.Auburn, WA; US Army (Ret. 23 years), Korea, Vietnamwwii-memorial-011me

Charles Garland – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, LtCol. (Ret.), Vietnam

Thomas Homan – Richfield, MN; US Army, Sgt., WWII, Purple Heart

Vernon Mountcastle – VA; US Army, battlefield surgeon, neuroscientist

Ernest Ronaldson – TeKuit, NZ; RAF # 4213929, WWII

Beatrice Rowe – Carbonear, New Foundland; British WAAF, ETO

Bruce Smith – Coffs Harbour, AUS, RA Army #VX67260/6460, Korea

Eugene Walsh – Boynton Bch, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Ramon Ysursa – Boise, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

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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 February 5, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 76 Comments.

  1. Always a look back into history with your posts gp, unless someone is an avid researcher or avid reader of military history , these snippets do actually bring the past back to the present in a human form.
    Well done mate, love your wedding dress too.

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  2. Old Man Jack told me once he flew to Kiska “to get spare parts ‘cuz there weren’t any.” He said they had no winter wear having been on an island. When they got there, he said he “…froze his nuts off” and never, ever wanted to be cold again. He was successful until a few months before he died when his daughter took him up to her home in the mountains. He died surrounded by snow.

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  3. It is a fascinating part of the war story. I wonder how many knew about it at the time.

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  4. Typo in your caption of the lined up P-40s.
    111 Squadron not 11.

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  5. Anything Alaska fascinates me. I watch all those crazy Alaska frontier shows. But I’m always amazed at the logistics of WWII operations…how they find out four days later about an attack or maneuver. We have such instant communications today.

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    • With the warm and cold air colliding in that area, storms always brewing, the mountains, etc, etc, it simply played havoc with visual sightings and communications. Certainly not like today when we can use out-in-space satellites to locate archaeological sites – that’s for sure! Good to see you Nike.

      Like

  6. Having lived in Alaska for a few years and having camped out in minus 30 degree weather, I have great sympathy for what the soldiers must have faced. Thanks for the info, GP. -Curt

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  7. gpcox,you have done an awesome job providing proof of our difficult situation in the Pacific in WWII.My uncle Sherwood B Griffith Jr was a Bombardier on many Pacific maneuvers in the early 40’s. I am sorry I cannot provide his squadron affiliation & numbers! I do know he was later in a SAC unit in N California,at the end of his service years. He was from the Town of Carver, in Massachusetts. After the war,he went back to running his Cranberry bogs.He was an outdoorsman,and also loved his beagles & the sport of hunting! I am most pleased to find your Blog Site,and THANK YOU for your excellent writings & photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate your compliment and for sharing your uncle’s information with us. [I will include him in the Farewell Salutes in a later post.] I am very happy to hear of your interest in this data and also that you have a personal connection to it. I hope we’ll see you here again.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You can use them if you wish giving credit to Mr. Weston.

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  9. I just check on my 403 squadron blog. Searching Alaska I found pictures of P-40s

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  10. Another interesting chapter. Also is that really a moose on an airfield 😀

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  11. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    I particularly liked the soldier in the camo white wedding dress!

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  12. This will be interesting. Not a whole lot of Americans know about this attack…

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    • Well, you and I know that the Marines in the Pacific received the majority of headlines and they were entering Midway at the same time. I suppose our school teachers felt Alaska could be eliminated. Thanks for reading, Koji!!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Keeping Alaska safe does seem like a difficult task. I read this with interest.

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  14. P-40 is also my favorite WWII plane. Oh, I like the idea how to make use of ex-wife’s wedding dress.

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  15. “. . . ironically there was no airfield on Unalaska Island which had 2 harbors.” A look at Unalaska Island, the home of Dutch Harbor, on Google Earth shows an island with very few suitable airfield locations. The island’s topography, though, shows a number of bays in which harbors might be located.

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  16. That poor snow-blower’s going to pop a gasket before the runway’s 1/10th finished. 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Very interesting and sounds like Canada trained really fast. Love the Military humor especially the wedding one and the driveway one 🙂 Great post, Everett.

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  18. I haven’t given the Alaska front much thought over the years. Interesting post as usual, my friend.

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  19. Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

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  20. Another battle region I know little about. Great post and perfect funny posters/photos for the topic !!

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  21. I just interviewed a guy this week who was a medic in the Aleutians during WWII. I’m writing his story now. There is a neat military history museum in Anchorage that details this type of info too. I’ll forward this to the director.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Thank you lieber Freund liebe Grüße Gislinde

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  23. Our thanks to all these men and women who served. And their families.
    Fascinating post – about a part of the war we don’t hear much about.
    A Military Mom

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  24. I am really enjoying learning about this phase of the battle. I’ve read a lot about Midway but this always seemed to just be a side note.

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    • Midway took the headlines back in ’42 as well and that is why many call it the forgotten war. It is also one reason why I led with this info first. I’m thrilled to hear you enjoy it so much, Dan!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    If you are interested in the Second World War and the pacific particularly then this is an excellent site..

    Like

  26. The reason I find your 1942 histories so fascinating is because it was the year of my birth (one month to the day after the occupation of Kiska) and reminds me that I would have had a very different life without the heroism displayed in WWII

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Guess Japs learned Alaska is no Hawaii.

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    • At first they didn’t want any part of it, it was just being used as a distraction, but as you’ll see in later posts, their best laid plans for Midway failed and psychologically it was great for them to have a piece of US soil for their home front to cheer about. Thanks for the interest, Carl.
      Funny I was just talking about you to Ernie Peters – you two have the same sense of humor.

      Like

  28. Love the wedding dress. Best use for it I’ve seen.

    Liked by 1 person

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