Today in History: The Battle for Attu


78 years ago today, May 11th 1943, the Battle of Attu began. The 7th Infantry Division landed on the Aleutian island in what was known as Operation Landcrab. Noted for being the only land battle on American territory in WWII. Always thought this was a really interesting battle and wish there was more detailed information readily available on it. The soldiers in the photos are equipped with Artic field jackets (and I assume pants but they look the same on the outside) but there are plenty of mentions of troops having just the regular M41 jackets. Also for uncertain reasons Blucher Boots were chosen by the American commander instead of shoepacs. It is assumed to be for the better support and comfort over the shoepacs but their lack of waterproofing and insulation proved miserable for the soldiers. If memory serves there were more cold casualties than combat casualties in this battle. And the casualty rate was one of the highest of the war. Not the total number the percentage. The last shots are of the Japanese defenders which I find pretty interesting as candid photos always seem pretty rare.

1943 May 11-29: Battle of Attu
Alaskan Scouts
AP WAS THERE: 75 years ago, reporter lands on Attu Island

You can tell the jackets are the Artic version of the M1941 by the longer cut. Web gear was standard M1928 haversacks and M1923 cartridge belts.

Soldiers recall carnage of Alaska WWII Battle of Attu 75 years later – The  Denver Post

It looks like they didn’t even bother to issue the poor guys scarves or the hood that accompanies the jacket.

Retaking the Aleutians | The National WWII Museum | New Orleans
oplandcrab hashtag on Twitter

This is a good view of the Blucher boots. Blucher boots are basically just high work boots that have been heavily greased to provide waterproofing, but no insulation.

Battle of Attu - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
Soldiers recall carnage of Alaska WWII Battle of Attu 75 years later – The  Denver Post
Private Joseph Pantillion Martínez: Medal of Honor Series | The National  WWII Museum | New Orleans
Battle of Attu: 75 years ago, all but 28 Japanese soldiers died in brutal  conflict - The Washington Post
[Holtz Bay & Massacre Bay, Attu]

You can see an M1936 Musette on the far right.

Action - Attu.

Gloves seem to have been in short supply as a lot of photos have soldiers without them.

Battle of Attu - Alaska Maritime - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
I get the feeling this photo could be Kiska even though its labeled as Attu. Just seems too clean. Every picture of Attu looks like a hectic mess. Plus The mountain rucksacks don’t show up in any other photo from the batte.
32nd Infantry Regiment soldiers march past the newly built Little Falls  Cemetery at Attu, Aleutian Islands in June 1943 | The Digital Collections  of the National WWII Museum : Oral Histories
This Day In Alaska History: Battle For Attu - The Alaska Life
Aleutian Battleground
The End on Attu | The American Warrior

I put this one at the end as it’s labeled Attu but I’m pretty sure it’s actually Kiska. I see a number of mountain rucksacks which don’t show up in any of the other Attu photos and are unlikely to have been issued to the regular infantry like the 7th ID or 4th infantry regiment. Yet would have been issued to units like the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment or First Special Service Force. Also the men are wearing shoepacs which where used after the short comings of the Blucher Boots were experienced on Attu. And lastly the patches look like Amphibian Training Force 9 (ATF-9), known as “Corlett’s Long Knives,” after its commander MG Charles H. Corlett, patches albeit washed out. Pretty interesting to see the different helmet treatments though. Some have scrim, some camouflage paint and one has his corporal chevrons under the net.

ATF-9, “Corlett’s Long Knives,” SSI
Amphibian Training Force 9 (ATF-9) patch

There’s a pretty good article on the Kiska operation at Arsof-History.org.

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