During World War II, 14 months were spent fighting for the Aleutian Islands just west of Alaska. In June 1942, the Japanese took over the barely inhabited islands Attu and Kiska, which belong to the United States.
The move was possibly made to split America’s attention or stop the U.S. from attacking through that route. The Japanese began their attack with air strikes on Dutch Harbor on June 3rd and 4th. Once they reached the islands on June 6th and 7th, they set up their garrisons.
Oddly enough, both of the islands did not have any strategic advantage for Japan. The Japanese occupation of the islands was a surprise for the U.S., and the news angered the nation.
However, the military initially ignored the Japanese’s presence on the islands. Instead, they focused on post-Pearl Harbor and heading to war in Europe.
U.S. soldiers did periodic bombings but largely left it alone. In January 1943, the American forces grew to 94,000 in Alaska. On January 11th, troops were 50 miles from Kiska on Amchitka Island.
The U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid created a blockade to restrict Japan’s access to supplies in March 1943. At the end of the month, the Japanese tried to deliver supplies.
They were seen by the U.S., which began the Battel of the Komandoriski Islands. However, the Americans were outnumbered by the Japanese, and they sustained a lot of damage.
Unaware that they had put a dent in the U.S. defense, the Japanese withdrew because they feared the U.S. bombers. They left their soldiers on the islands alone.
Taking Back The Islands
After several weeks of attacking the two islands, the U.S. landed with 11,000 troops on Attu. They planned a quick campaign, but it went on for two weeks.
The American soldiers were not prepared. They dealt with cold and food shortages. But, since the Japanese could not get supplies, their soldiers were running out of time.
Eventually, they were cornered by the U.S. The Americans were able to retake the island of Attu two days after the final attack on May 30th. The soldiers were better prepared to take Kiska back. But when the 35,000 soldiers landed, they realized the Japanese had already fled. The island was secure by August 24th.