The Aleutian Campaign - A Detailed Account of the Alaskan North Pacific Theater.

Essay by iamthewalrusCollege, UndergraduateA, March 2010

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The Aleutian Campaign In the spring of 1942 the Japanese were scoring victory after victory in the Pacific theater and eyed the Aleutian chain as a possible stepping stone to North America. The campaign ahead would prove to be frustrating and unfruitful for both parties involved. It is often referred to as the Forgotten Battle. The initial Japanese attacks occurred only a day before the Battle of Midway. Americans were distracted and most did not pay attention to the events unfolding on American soil. Forgotten in the American conscience, the battle was unique in several ways. It was the first and only time since the War of 1812 that America had been invaded. The Aleutians also became the setting of the last US naval ship to ship battle. Exasperating all those involved, the campaign was nonetheless imperative in securing the North Pacific.

The Aleutians held significant strategic value. They were the shortest route from Japan to North America.

By the spring of 1942 there were eight serviceable airstrips for combat planes in Alaska and 37,000 troops on the ground, but the Aleutians were poorly guarded in comparison. Only two 5,000 feet landing strips were completed by May 1942 in the eastern outposts at Umnak and Cold Bay. Only 13,000 men defended the many islands . The Japanese saw the value of the Aleutians, and with the attack on Pearl Harbor occurring only 6 months prior the Japanese forces believed the invasion to be swift and successful. They had been fishing the territory for centuries and were familiar with its challenges. The weather was violent, cold, and unpredictable. Choppy seas, intense fog, and snow were the norm but this did not faze the Japanese. By most accounts the Japanese did not intend to invade the continent. They were attempting to prevent...