Japanese attacks on North America

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A little known fact of WWII is that Japan attacked North America several time. Aside from the Pearl Harbor attack, the other attacks were relatively unsuccessful

Below a summary of some of those attacks.

On June 3–4, 1942, Japanese planes from two light carriers Ryūjō and Jun’yō struck the U.S. military base at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, Unalaska, Alaska.

Originally, the Japanese planned to attack Dutch Harbor simultaneously with its attack on Midway but it occurred a day earlier due to one-day delay. The attack only did moderate damage on Dutch Harbor, but 78 Americans were killed in the attack.

On June 6, two days after the bombing of Dutch Harbor, 500 Japanese marines landed on Kiska, one of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Upon landing, they killed two and captured eight U.S. Navy officers, then took the remaining inhabitants of the island, and seized control of American soil for the first time.

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The next day, a total of 1,140 Japanese infantrymen landed on Attu via Holtz Bay, eventually reaching Massacre Bay and Chichagof Harbor. Attu’s population at the time consisted of 45 Native American Aleuts, and two Americans – Charles Foster Jones, a 60-year-old ham radio operator and weather observer, and his 62-year-old wife Etta, a teacher and nurse. The Japanese killed Jones after interrogating him, while his wife and the Aleut population were sent to Japan. The invasion was only the second time that American soil had been occupied by a foreign enemy, the first being the British during the War of 1812.

A year after Japan’s invasion and occupation of the islands of Attu and Kiska, 34,000 U.S. troops landed on these islands and fought there throughout the summer, defeating the Japanese and regaining control of the islands.

Bombardment of Ellwood

The United States mainland was first shelled by the Axis on February 23, 1942 when the Japanese submarine I-17 attacked the Ellwood Oil Field west of Goleta, near Santa Barbara, California. Although only a pumphouse and catwalk at one oil well were damaged, I-17 captain Nishino Kozo radioed Tokyo that he had left Santa Barbara in flames. No casualties were reported and the total cost of the damage was officially estimated at approximately $500–1,000. News of the shelling triggered an invasion scare along the West Coast.

Bombardment of Estevan Point Lighthouse

More than five Japanese submarines operated in Western Canada during 1941 and 1942. On June 20, 1942, the Japanese submarine I-26,

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under the command of Yokota Minoru,fired 25–30 rounds of 5.5-inch shells at the Estevan Point lighthouse on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, but failed to hit its target.Though no casualties were reported, the subsequent decision to turn off the lights of outer stations was disastrous for shipping activity.

Bombardment of Fort Stevens

In what became the only attack on a mainland American military installation during World War II, the Japanese submarine I-25, under the command of Tagami Meiji, surfaced near the mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon on the night of June 21 and June 22, 1942, and fired shells toward Fort Stevens. The only damage officially recorded was to a baseball field’s backstop.

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Probably the most significant damage was a shell that damaged some large phone cables. The Fort Stevens gunners were refused permission to return fire for fear of revealing the guns’ location and/or range limitations to the sub. American aircraft on training flights spotted the submarine, which was subsequently attacked by a US bomber, but escaped.

Lookout Air Raids

The Lookout Air Raids occurred on September 9, 1942. The only aerial bombing of mainland United States by a foreign power occurred when an attempt to start a forest fire was made by a Japanese Yokosuka E14Y1 “Glen” seaplane

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dropping two 80 kg (180 lb) incendiary bombs over Mount Emily, near Brookings, Oregon. The seaplane, piloted by Nobuo Fujita, had been launched from the Japanese submarine aircraft carrier I-25. No significant damage was officially reported following the attack, nor after a repeat attempt on September 29.

Fire balloon attacks

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Between November 1944 and April 1945, the Japanese Navy launched over 9,000 fire balloons toward North America. Carried by the recently discovered Pacific jet stream, they were to sail over the Pacific Ocean and land in North America, where the Japanese hoped they would start forest fires and cause other damage. About three hundred were reported as reaching North America, but little damage was caused. Six people (five children and a woman) became the only deaths due to enemy action to occur on mainland United States during World War II when one of the children tampered with a bomb from a balloon near Bly, Oregon and it exploded. The site is marked by a stone monument at the Mitchell Recreation Area in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Recently] released reports by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian military indicate that fire balloons reached as far inland as Manitoba. A fire balloon is also considered to be a possible cause of the third fire in the Tillamook Burn. One member of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion died while responding to a fire in the Northwest on August 6, 1945; other casualties of the 555th were two fractures and 20 other injuries.

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