06 May 2013

70 Years Ago This Month

. . . the Battle of Attu raged.

Cpl. Joe Sasser was asleep in his pup tent on a cold, soggy morning 70 years ago when the alarm sounded. "Somebody was shouting, 'The Japs have come through!' " he recalled.

Sasser's outfit, the 50th Engineers, were builders, not fighters. Most of the men -- and there weren't a lot of them -- were what the Army calls noncombatants. Their job was to make roads and move supplies to the soldiers on the front lines. The strung-out line of supply tents was not fortified. The soldiers had rifles, not machine guns.
In the two-pronged attack on the Japanese-held island of Attu in the Aleutians, the Yanks advanced steadily, but the soldier on the stretcher carried by his comrades moved back wounded. This photograph, one of the first on Combat action in Attu on May 27, 1943, shows the fog line and rough terrain behind both of which Japanese snipers look refuge.

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2013/05/04/2891040/70-years-ago-this-month-the-battle.html#emlnl=Morning_Newsletter#storylink=cpy

He struggled into his perpetually damp leather boots -- "Not the right attire" for the snow and mud of Alaska, he said -- grabbed his helmet and M-1 rifle, went to an embankment created when the road was pushed through a few days earlier and peered over the side.

"The Japanese were moving up the hill," he said. "The ravines were full of them" in numbers that far exceeded the Americans at the outpost.

He watched the mass of determined, desperate men swarm toward him in an action no U.S. soldier had faced since the War of 1812 -- a bayonet charge by an enemy invader on American soil.

Thus began the Battle of Engineer Hill, the last battle between warring nations to be fought in North America.

Read the rest here.


Well Seasoned Fool said...

An uncle was in the landing at Kiska. His views on the leadership were less than complimentary.

Rev. Paul said...

I hear you, WSF. I had an uncle on Adak (where I later served) and he was equally unflattering about TPTB.

ProudHillbilly said...

Somewhere in my Netflix queue there's a documentary on the Japanese invasion of the Aleutians.

Anonymous said...

My Father's older brother, whom I never met. Was fought on Attu against the Japs. Dad relates some interesting stories about what the US troops had to endure.

threecollie said...

REally interesting story. I am fascinated by Attu because of its fame as a birding destination, but this story is a whole other dimension.

Rev. Paul said...

PH, the conditions in the Aleutians (fog, sideways snow, sideways rain, and constant howling wind) were much the same in the '40s as when I was there 30 years later. It was rugged going, but we had better gear in the '70s.

maddmedic, it was that: interesting. Also "horrible" comes to mind.

threecollie, understood. Glad you like it.