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Aleutian Campaign In World War II: A Strategic Perspective

Aleutian Campaign In World War II: A Strategic Perspective

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Aleutian Campaign In World War II: A Strategic Perspective

Länge:
103 Seiten
1 Stunde
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Nov 6, 2015
ISBN:
9781786250674
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

This work is a detailed historical study of the Second World War’s little known Aleutian Campaign in the North Pacific, commonly referred to as the “Forgotten War.” After describing the events that transpired in the North Pacific throughout the war, this work focuses on the strategic reasons why the United States and Japan decided to dedicate critical and limited resources to a secondary effort in the North Pacific. The strategies are compared to determine which country dedicated a higher percentage of available manpower and resources to the region and which country gained an advantage from their respective propaganda efforts. Despite the United States’ tactical and operational victories in the North Pacific, the Japanese benefited at the strategic level. Secondary theaters of operations, like the Aleutians during World War II, produced many lessons that were applied to other theaters during the war and remain relevant today in the Global War on Terrorism.
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Nov 6, 2015
ISBN:
9781786250674
Format:
Buch

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See Book Description


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Aleutian Campaign In World War II - Major John A. Polhamus

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Text originally published in 2005 under the same title.

© Pickle Partners Publishing 2014, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means, electrical, mechanical or otherwise without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Publisher’s Note

Although in most cases we have retained the Author’s original spelling and grammar to authentically reproduce the work of the Author and the original intent of such material, some additional notes and clarifications have been added for the modern reader’s benefit.

We have also made every effort to include all maps and illustrations of the original edition the limitations of formatting do not allow of including larger maps, we will upload as many of these maps as possible.

THE ALEUTIAN CAMPAIGN IN WORLD WAR II:

A STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVE,

BY MAJ JOHN A. POLHAMUS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS 4

ABSTRACT 5

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 6

ILLUSTRATIONS 7

CHAPTER 1 — INTRODUCTION 8

CHAPTER 2 — THE AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE 16

CHAPTER 3 — THE JAPANESE PERSPECTIVE 27

CHAPTER 4 — A STRATEGIC COMPARISON 39

CHAPTER 5 — CONCLUSION 50

Today’s Relevance 53

REQUEST FROM THE PUBLISHER 56

BIBLIOGRAPHY 57

ABSTRACT

This work is a detailed historical study of the Second World War’s little known Aleutian Campaign in the North Pacific, commonly referred to as the Forgotten War. After describing the events that transpired in the North Pacific throughout the war, this work focuses on the strategic reasons why the United States and Japan decided to dedicate critical and limited resources to a secondary effort in the North Pacific. The strategies are compared to determine which country dedicated a higher percentage of available manpower and resources to the region and which country gained an advantage from their respective propaganda efforts. Despite the United States’ tactical and operational victories in the North Pacific, the Japanese benefited at the strategic level. Secondary theaters of operations, like the Aleutians during World War II, produced many lessons that were applied to other theaters during the war and remain relevant today in the Global War on Terrorism.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank my MMAS committee for giving me their time, energy and assistance to help me finish this thesis. Also, I would like to sincerely thank my wife, Michelle, and my three children, John, Nicole, and Thomas for being very patient and understanding while I completed this project.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Figure 1. The Pacific Areas of World War II in 1942

Figure 2. The Aleutian Islands

CHAPTER 1 — INTRODUCTION

A soldier stood at the Pearly Gate;

His face was wan and old.

He gently asked the man of fate

Admission to the fold.

What have you done, Saint Peter asked,

To gain admission here?

"I’ve been in the Aleutians

For nigh unto a year."

Then the gates swung open sharply

As Saint Peter tolled the bell.

Come in, said he, "and take a harp.

You’ve had your share of hell.{1}

Warrant Officer Boswell Boomhower

The Aleutian Campaign in the Pacific Theater of Operations in World War II is not a well-known or much publicized campaign. This fifteen month-long struggle is often referred to as the Forgotten War. It is, however, the only campaign that included ground combat on American soil in the Western Hemisphere in World War II. Why was it necessary for Japan and the United States to fight in such a remote, inhospitable, and desolate part of the world? What was the strategic significance of the Aleutians in World War II as viewed from the Japanese and American perspective?

The Aleutian chain consists of approximately 120 islands stretched over a 1,000 miles from the Alaska Peninsula on the eastern most portion to Attu Island in the west, 90 miles from the Russian province of Kamchatka. Dutch Harbor on the island of Unalaska provides a relatively good anchorage for the Navy 610 miles east of Kiska Island. This naval base is 2,000 miles from both Honolulu and San Francisco. The Aleutian chain is only 750 miles from the northernmost of the Japanese Kurile Islands. Figure 1 depicts the Aleutians in relation to the entire Pacific Theater.

All the Aleutian Islands were formed by volcanoes and they are uniformly rocky and barren. There are no trees to speak of on the islands and very little brush cover the many precipitous mountains. The lowlands are covered with muskeg or tundra up to three feet thick. This spongy growth makes maneuvering, by foot or vehicle, very difficult. At sea, navigation is hazardous due to the submerged rock formations and jagged shorelines. Aviation operations are often hampered by a wind sheer phenomenon known as a williwaw which produces sudden gale force wind squalls. In 1943, weather conditions became progressively worse toward the western end of the Aleutian chain as rain and fog were the norm. On Attu, for example, five to six days a week were likely to be rainy and there was rarely more than ten clear days annually.

By April 1942, after a series of Japanese military victories, Japan’s military leadership was debating its future objectives. The Imperial Army commanders favored a southern push into the south pacific which would potentially lead to the invasion of Australia. The naval strategy, following the leadership of Pearl Harbor’s mastermind Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, sought to complete the destruction of the U.S. Navy by destroying its remaining aircraft carriers. On 18 April 1942, just over four months after the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, Colonel James Jimmy Doolittle led a successful attack on Tokyo by flying sixteen land-based B-25 Mitchell medium bombers off the deck of the USS Hornet. The symbolic raid on Tokyo produced little physical damage but sent tremors through Japan’s leadership and struck at the nation’s morale. Unsure of where the attack originated, many Japanese incorrectly surmised that the only place that could support a land-based B-25 attack was from the western Aleutians; it wasn’t until after the war that Japan conclusively learned the true nature of the Doolittle raid.{2} Until the raid, Japanese defenses consisted of a picket line of vessels positioned 800 miles from the home islands in order to provide early warning. With a breech of their defensive buffer zone, the Japanese Imperial High Command expressed an interest in expanding the zone and preventing future attacks by capturing the Aleutians.

Yamamoto capitalized on Japan’s perceived northern flank vulnerability by devising a comprehensive plan to destroy the American fleet while securing the Aleutians simultaneously. In an attempt to extend Japan’s defensive perimeter in the north and central portion of the Pacific Theater, while at the same time defeating the remnants of the United States Pacific Fleet,

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