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Battle of Attu

Discussion in 'War in the Pacific' started by kerrd5, May 24, 2018.

  1. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

    May 1, 2009
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    "The williwaw gusts swirled thick fog among transport ships off Attu Island, and the waiting infantrymen nervously mulled the name of their landing site: Massacre Bay.

    "Native Unangans were slaughtered there by Russian traders in the 18th century, leaving few left who had survived disease when Japanese troops captured the island in June 1942. Nearly a year later, 2,000 U.S. troops waded onto the icy shore, bracing for the dreaded whine of artillery on the westernmost edge of the Aleutian Islands chain."

    Thousands of Japanese fought in a bloody World War II battle for the Aleutians. Only 28 survived.

    Last edited: May 24, 2018
  2. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

    Nov 20, 2012
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    The Arid Zone
    I spent a year on Attu with the Coast Guard, maintaining one of the (now) antiquated LORAN stations that guided ships and planes through the great circle route across the north Pacific.

    One of the things that bugs me about histories of this battle, is that every damned writer waxes on about the arctic conditions. Attu, and the Aleutians in general, are NOT arctic. The southern rim of the Aleutians (Adak) is at the same latitude as Vancouver Island, and the weather is similar. Commonly, maps of wide areas of the earth are shown as a circular projection, which deceives the eye into thinking they are both farther north and smaller than they actually are.
    Attu and Kiska are a bit father north than Adak, but that whole region is warmed by the Kuroshio current, which is a bit like the Gulf Stream that moderates the weather in the UK. And the climate is similar to northern England or Scotland. You get snow, heavy at times, but it's wet snow that soon melts when the next belt of rain comes along. And trust me, it rains every month of the year and even in January you're more likely to see cold rain than snow. It's foggy or rainy 300 days a year (or something like that). The higher altitudes will hold snow through late spring and much of the worst fighting was up there, but the temps in May are more like plus forty degrees than minus forty degrees, but even up there that lasting snow is wet, sticky, melting stuff that makes every step a controlled slide. Two steps forward, one step back.

    To understand this battle, and I walked across every square inch of it at all times of year, forget that arctic crap. Those poor bastards were climbing up vertical, muddy, slippery clay terrain carrying heavy loads of gear. Every truck, piece of artillery, armored vehicle got only a few yards off the hard shingle of beach and sank into the quagmire. Every can of Spam, cartridge, mortar round had to be carried up those slopes. And every wounded or dead soldier had to be carried down.

    Those poor guys weren't freezing to death, they were soaking wet and shivering under clothing and footwear designed for freezing arctic conditions, none of which was waterproof. It was all trenchfoot, not frostbite.

    kerrd5 likes this.
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Jul 24, 2007
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    There have been some insetting discussions of this here in the past. One of our frequent posters spend a fair amount of time in the area. Certainly worth bringing up again though.

    **** edit for ***

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