Thursday, 21 July 2011 (10 photos)

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The Kiska Gun. 

Operation Cottage was a tactical maneuver during the Aleutian Islands campaign. In the operation, which took place on 15 August 1943, Allied military forces landed unopposed on Kiska Island, which had been occupied by Japanese forces since June 1942. The Japanese forces, however, had secretly abandoned the island two weeks prior. The operation completed the Aleutian Islands campaign.

The Japanese under Captain Takeji Ono had landed on Kiska at approximately 01:00 on 7 June 1942, with a force of about 500 Japanese marines. Soon after arrival, they stormed an American weather station. Here they killed two and captured eight U.S. Navy officers. The remaining eight were sent to Japan as prisoners of war.

Another 2,000 Japanese troops arrived, landing in Kiska Harbor. At this time, Rear Admiral Monzo Akiyama headed the force on Kiska. In December 1942, additional anti-aircraft units, engineers, and a negligible number of reinforcement infantry arrived on the island. In the spring of 1943, control was transferred to Lieutenant General Kiichiro Higuchi.

A Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber sighted Japanese ships in Kiska. No further identification was visible. To U.S. naval planners, none was necessary and the orders to invade Kiska soon followed. Due to the heavy casualties suffered at Attu Island, planners were expecting another costly operation. The Japanese tactical planners had, however, realized the isolated island was no longer defensible and planned for an evacuation.

Although small, there were signs of Japanese retreat. Anti-aircraft guns—once active during the Kiska Blitz—were silent when Allied planes flew over in the days leading up to the invasion. 

On 15 August 1943, the 7th Division (U.S.) and the 13th Infantry Brigade (Canada), landed on opposite shores of Kiska. Both U.S. and Canadian forces mistook each other as Japanese and as a result friendly fire incidents killed 28 Americans and four Canadians and wounded 50 more.  A stray Japanese mine caused the destroyer Abner Read to lose a large chunk of her stern. The blast killed 71. One hundred ninety-one troops went missing during the two-day stay on the island and presumably also died from friendly fire. Four other troops had also been killed by landmines or other traps.

Engineers from the 13th Infantry Brigade captured the gun at Kiska Island and returned to Vernon Military Camp in the winter of 1944, it has stood at the training centre as a unique part of history, one of only town known pieces captured in the Aleutians. 

(VACSTC/Wayne Emde)

 

Morning O-group with Charlie staff (VACSTC/Wayne Emde)

 

(VACSTC/Wayne Emde)

 

(VACSTC/Capt Debbie Middleton)

 

(VACSTC/Capt Debbie Middleton)

 

(VACSTC/Capt Debbie Middleton)

 

Capt Townley and his rock staff (VACSTC/Capt Debbie Middleton)

 

(VACSTC/Capt Debbie Middleton)

 

On the abseil site (VACSTC/Capt Debbie Middleton)

 

(VACSTC/Capt Debbie Middleton)

 

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Today's weather: Max Temp.  21c  Min Temp.  11c partly cloudy & cool


This day in Canadian Military History...

21 July 1943

A Canadian brigade group, some 4800 officers and men, arrives at the island of Adak, in the Aleutians. The brigade will begin specialized training on Adak in preparation for landings against the Japanese bases on Kiska and Attu, in the western Aleutians.



21 July 1947

2/Lt. R.T. Heaslip solos in one of the RCAF's new Sikorsky H-5 helicopters. Heaslip will then introduce more pilots to the revolutionary new aircraft, which the Air Force will limit at first to mainly search and rescue missions.