First Hand Account

 

Robert Larson

Robert Larson

 

Ensign Robert Larson, PBY Co-pilot and Navigator, from Monticello, Iowa – on the Aleutian War.

Dutch Harbor, 1942

Dutch Harbor, 1942

“When the Japanese came ashore at Attu and Kiska on 6 June, the original intent was never to hold the islands.  The operation was to be a side show to divert the US Navy and draw them into a final destructive battle at Midway.  Admiral Yamamoto had hoped that with the bulk of their fleet destroyed, the Americans would accept some sort of peace settlement that would let Japan consolidate her gains.

Japanese troops on Kiska

Japanese troops on Kiska

“After the landings on Attu and Kiska the only aircraft capable of reaching the islands from the US bases were the Navy PBY’s and the B-17s and B-24s of the Army Air Corps.  Commander Leslie E. Gehres was a 4-stripe regular Navy captain in command of Patrol Wing 4.

US Army in Alaska, 1942

US Army in Alaska, 1942

“The Army attempted to bomb the Japanese forces but with little success with the small amount of aircraft at their disposal.  Capt. Gehres notified CINCPAC of the landings and informed them that he had a seaplane tender at Nazan Bay, Atka Island, halfway to Kiska with 20+ PBY’s.  The USS Gillis was the tender.

USS Gillis

USS Gillis

“The captain had his hands full servicing many more aircraft with bombs and fuel than his ship was designed or supplied to support.  The crews took over part of an Aleut fishing village and were fed by a school teacher from her small kitchen with the help of some of the willing Aleut natives.  Off the bay, one of the PBY’s bombed a Japanese submarine near Tanga Island that had been on life guard duty for the enemy pilots.

William Thies, pilot

William Thies, pilot

“The PBY’s opened the campaign on 11 June, following up a bombing run by B-24s of the 11th Air Force.  The PBY’s came down through the overcast dive bomber fashion and the Japanese soon got the range with their 20-mm antiaircraft cannon and 13.2-mm heavy machine-guns.

“The air combat went on for 3 days and at the end, the exhausted crews suffered multiple dead and wounded.  The entire supply of pencils and rags of the Aleut village were used for patching holes in the aircraft as the planes continued a non-stop shuttle back and forth to Kiska.  The PBY was a dependable but slow lumbering aircraft (175 mph), not suited to sudden stressful evasive maneuvers.  Often they came back to the Gillis so riddled by AA fire that they almost sank.

7370216

Engineers in action.

 

“The Japanese, now wise to the American tactics, brought out more heavy antiaircraft guns, pointed their AA batteries at holes in the low overcast and waited for the PBY’s to emerge.  Finally, with ammunition and fuel almost exhausted and men pushed to the brink of their endurance, the Gillis withdrew from Nazan Bay, urged on by the arrival of Japanese float recon planes from Kiska.

Koga's gravesite

Koga’s gravesite

“Japanese Commander Mukai later stated that the PBY’s interfered considerably with their efforts to develop Kiska into a support base.  Their attacks forced them to withdraw their ships from Kiska Harbor.  The Japanese had brought in their Mavis 4-engine recon planes, but the attacks had kept their supplies out their reach.  Bill, [William Thies, pilot], flew one other support mission at this time.  He returned to Kanga to pick up a weather team of 5 men, who after burning the station, climbed aboard.  When the Mavis’s got operational, they flew over the Aleut village at Atka, and even though it was burned out, they dropped their bombs anyway.  Bill and his crew would soon return to Nazan Bay [within a few weeks] with both the Gillis and Casco and find the fighting worse.  They would fly every day for 33 days.”

Robert Larson would later make Commander while in the reserves and he spent 33 years as Chief of Technical Staff of Boeing.  Cmdr. Larson passed away 21 December 2007.

Click on images to enlarge.

Judy Hardy had 2 relatives in Alaska during the war – try her site for the home front view…HERE!

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

The future of the Navy is now…

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) expected to be commissioned later 2015

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) expected to be commissioned later 2015

Captain James Kirk

Captain James Kirk

 

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

Cold Humor – still….

funny-cold-weather-quotes

coldweather_zps623596e3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

b4fadf94a406d2a41b9f9dff32505f34

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Dean Allgood – Rigby, ID; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

Brian Black – Henderson, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 429953, WWII

Raymond Delsart – Sturgeon Bay, WI; US Army, WWII

Aleutians, 1943

Aleutians, 1943

Alexander Dyce – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, 413th Squadron

Horace Finch – Griffin, GA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Kurt Landsburger – born: Prague, NJ & FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, translator

John Moingo – Marion, IL; US Navy, Korea, Vietnam, Captain (Ret. 30 years)

Ralph Nittolo – Jupiter, FL; US Navy (19 mos), US Air Force (Ret. 20 years), Korea & Vietnam, tech Sgt.

Joseph Pezzulo – Queensbury, NY; US Air Force, Korea

Anthony Tedeschi Sr. – Endicott, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Wilders, JR. – Merrimack, NH; US Navy, Vietnam, radio operator

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

 

 

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 19, 2015, in Current News, First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 83 Comments.

  1. gp, OMG, you don’t need people to leave comments! My compliments as always! Here you go again!!! Most of us never knew about Attu and Kiska Islands no less this chapter of fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Theater back in Hawaii! And many thanks for your “Like” on my latest post on what ails America! Phil

    Like

    • I hope you didn’t misunderstand, there was no fighting in the Hawaiian islands. I sorry if there was any misleading. But wow the compliments you sent! I wish I really had something to do with all this when it happened – I just research and try to put it all in order – you create on your own. I am sorry I don’t have more time to comment more on your site and others.

      Like

  2. thanks for the visit. interesting site you have here.

    Like

    • It’s not so much this site as the people who congregate here in the comments. A great bunch who interact, share stories they know, include links that are associated with the posts and they have become my friends. Stop back by and you’ll understand.

      Like

  3. Its great following the story thread in your posts gp.
    Every piece of info is precise and paints an overall picture.

    Like

  4. In those days, pencils, rags and paper patches could make a difference that today’s technology precludes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amazing story. And it’s good to know that Captain Kirk is still with us! 🙂 Oh, and your Florida joke is absolute truth — as we well know! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    I’m just sitting here wondering which job in the military was the most dangerous and it’s hard to tell – it was all dangerous! Now with snow covering much of the country I think about the added risk of freezing to death. Dang! 😮 Awesome accounts of what war is really like. Thank you for this blog. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These PBy crews earned their keep silently. They rarely got the spotlight. They deserve a lot more credit. Old Man Jack told me he would love to go on night patrols on them when he was on one of those islands. He said, “It was so _uckin’ hot on those islands… The only cool place around was up there,” referring to being on patrol at altitude.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for sharing. It would be cool if Captain James Kirk was on the Enterprise. (I’m a Star Trek Fan)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought it was a hoot that Kirk was the captain on a futuristic looking ship. I can’t imagine anyone NOT being a Star Trek fan, Toni – are there such people? Just think of all Roddenberry came up with, that today we consider commonplace!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Seems the right time of year to be examining the campaign in the Aleutians, doesn’t it? Another fascinating page in a history I have neglected to read. Thank you.

    Like

    • This is the perfect time to talk about Alaska, wish I take credit for the timing! Don’t worry about missing one, you ended up coming back and reading it anyway. You are very loyal, Frederick, thank you!

      Like

  10. I, too, was amazed by the pencils and rags.

    Like

  11. Wünsche ein schönes wee-kend lieber Gruß Gislind

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Some ship that USS Zumwalt! That is one I’d love to see.

    Like

  13. Yes gpcox ,the Aleutian campaign was a necessary action by America to thwart Japanese plans for Midway . This did not succeed as the brilliant allied tactics ,completely smashed the Japanese in a way they never recovered.

    Thanks
    Ron

    Like

  14. The name of captain (James Kirk) sounds like the captain of USS Enterprise from Star Trek.

    Like

  15. Great pictures–and another great one from Pierre.

    Like

  16. An interesting account. I was mentored by Dr. Charles Bradley and Dr. John Motangne who both learned their climbing techniques and gained their deep interest in Geology while serving with the 10th Mountain Division that occupied Adak and participated to some degree in this action, I believe.

    Like

    • Oh boy – they were something and we will definitely get to the 10th Mountain Div. They just weren’t in Alaska in June 1942. If you have ANY stories from Dr. Bradley or Dr. Motangne – I would greatly appreciate you sharing them with us when we get to that stage!! You’re a lucky man, Richard.

      Like

  17. Again, a really interesting blog post about an unknown theatre of the war from the English point of view.

    Like

    • I can believe that, John! FDR kept it a pretty good secret from the Americans too! As I told Dr Linda, FDR didn’t want the US knowing we lost American soil AND were calling for help from the Canadians, so the news about Midway made huge headlines. Thanks for coming by.

      Like

  18. Thank you for sharing this about the Aleutian battle. Most Americans have no idea that the Japanese had attacked the Aleutians in WWII. Even I, a history buff, only learned of it from a friend who was stationed there with her Navy husband.

    Like

  19. Quite the article and fighting. Using the pencils and rags was interesting. Smiled too at Captain James Kirk :). Great post, Everett!

    Like

  20. I had to smile about the joke on Floridians. It’s really chilly now at 48F and strong winds, not a soul on the beach 🙂

    Like

  21. Another great post. That USS Zumwalt is a sleek looking boat (ship? cruiser?). It’d be fun to tour that one! Funny cartoons – if anyone is still able to laugh at this winter!!

    Have you seen The Imitation Game? Excellent movie and yet another piece of WWII I’d not known.

    Like

  22. I liked reading the perspective of an Iowan.

    Like

  23. Wow…the photo that Pierre last posted gave me shivers…made me think I was such a wuss for laughing at the Florida joke. 🙂 Great funnies, today.

    Like

  24. Captain Kirk seems appropriate.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. While I enjoy reading the historical stories…I love the humor section so much 🙂

    Like

  26. And seventy years on they’re building ships like the Zumwalt. I suppose it has a negative radar image like a stealth bomber.

    Like

  27. Great untold story of such brave men.

    Like

  28. Somehow the pencils and rags bring it all home

    Liked by 2 people

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: