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Forgotten History-The Japanese invasion of the USA.

kiska japan invasion alaska japanese forgotten battle 26(Painting by Artist Tomoharu Mikami-)

“Hang on” I hear you all say “The US was never invaded by Japan, Or was it?”

Well yes and no , not all of the US  was invaded but technically Japanese troops did set foot on American soil.

In the early morning of 6 June 1942, 500 Japanese soldiers landed on Kiska, one of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.
They took the only inhabitants of the island, a ten man (and six dog) US Navy Weather Detachment by complete surprise and quickly took control of American soil.

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Kiska Aerological Unit, Dec. 1941 – May,  1942

“Explosion”  (dog, in front)

Frt row – McCandless, J.C. (Cook 3c); Christensen, R. (RdM 2/c); Winfrey, W.M. (AG 2/c); Palmer, G.T. (S 1/c); Gaffey, W.T. (S 1/c)

Back row – Turner, J.L. (AG 2/c); Coffield, R.L. (PharM); House, W.C. (AG 1/c); Nulla (Lt?); Eckles, L.L. (GunM); Yagnoneli, L (PhotoM); Courntenay, M.L. (RdM 3/c) Nulla and Yagnoneli were returned to Dutch Harbor via ship. They were not captured.

Photo courtesy National Archives

High up in the northern Pacific, the Aleutians are indeed remote, but they were considered very strategically important in a global war. The Japanese thought their American foothold would stop American ships from travelling in the northern Pacific to attack them, the Americans feared they could be used as an air base against the population centres of the West Coast.
Because the battle for the Aleutians coincided with the massive Guadalcanal Campaign history has somewhat forgotten this tussle for American territory, and some historians have suggested the Japanese invasion was primarily a diversion.
In fact, the Japanese had had their eyes on the Aleutians from well before the war. They came well prepared in June 1942, while the Americans had to rush defence forces to this far outpost of their empire. The terrible weather did more damage to the Japanese advance than their opponents to begin with.
In May 1943, the Americans began to take back their islands. They too suffered in the freezing conditions, losing more men to Japanese booby traps, disease and friendly fire than to actual combat.
Another little known fact from this little known episode is that the great crime writer, Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) served on the Aleutians as an army newspaper editor and wrote an account of the fight for this sliver of American territory that was once in enemy hands.

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It is now known as The Forgotten Battle but the invasion caused widespread outrage in 1942.  Pearl Harbor was still a fresh memory, having been attacked on December 7 of the previous year.

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Yet a Japanese military force had stepped foot on American soil – and the 500 had grown to over 5,000 men.

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Although Kiska and neighboring Attu (which had been overrun two days previously) were part of the distant Aleutian Islands they were, nevertheless, American. Plans were immediately drawn up to retake the island, known as the Aleutian Campaign. The campaign would not succeed for over a year and would claim many American lives.

Although the Japanese had taken the island with little opposition, one man managed to evade capture.  Senior Petty Officer William C House, part of the Kiska detachment, managed to get away from the base.  Incredibly, he managed to survive against the odds for 50 days.  It was only then, after subsisting on a diet of earthworms and the island’s meagre vegetation that he surrendered to the Japanese. His weight had plummeted to only 80 pounds.he made a decision to either give up or die from lack of food; he chose to give up.

Looking at the desolate landscape today, still marked by craters caused by shell bombardment, one can only marvel at how Senior Petty Officer House managed to survive for so long. His surrender did not guarantee his safety, however. He and the others were sent to Japan for the duration of the war. In retaliation to the invasion, the Army Air Force and Navy Patrol Wing dropped seven million pounds of bombs on the island. The anti-aircraft response from the Japanese was formidable. This and the capricious Aleutian climate, where fog and hurricane force winds could rise in moments, led to the deaths of scores of American airmen.

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The Japanese transport ship Borneo Maru was sunk on 5 October 1942 during early days of the campaign. Its remains are still in the harbour.

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While the island was being bombarded, US Navy warships ensured that the Japanese supply line to the two islands was essentially strangled.  This would ensure that the Japanese occupiers would be at their lowest ebb when the islands were retaken.  A date was set – August 15 1943 the 11th Army Air Force and Navy Patrol Wing 4 launched 7,000,000 pounds in bombs on the Japanese at Kiska.  Several of those flying the planes had just finished their education on how to fly.  Those flying the planes had to deal with retaliation from Japanese pilots and the fickle weather of the island.  Fog, strong winds, and extreme cold caused many fatalities.  The constant Allies attacks on the island, plus an Allied blockade had a devastating effect on the Japanese’s connection between Kiska and Attu and helped make possible an attack by American and Canadian troops in August 1943.

A considerable fleet set out to retake Kiska.  Yet, the Japanese had made their escape several weeks earlier. In late July they had wired Kiska City with charges and destroyed as many of their supplies and ammunition as possible. Then, on the evening of the 29th they set up a radar diversion

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Royal Canadian Air Force No. 111 and No. 14 Squadrons saw active service in the Aleutian skies and scored at least one aerial kill on a Japanese aircraft. Additionally, three Canadian armed merchant cruisers and two corvettes served in the Aleutian campaign but did not encounter enemy forces.

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The American warships which were around the islands fell for the ruse and left room for an evacuation fleet of eight warships to quietly steam in to Kiska Harbor.  In less than an hour over 5,000 Japanese soldiers disappeared like ghosts in to the Aleutian mist leaving behind a base and harbor rigged to wreak havoc on whoever entered. Even today the island is littered with the ordnance they left behind, much of it unexploded.

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At Kiska the Japanese planned their retreat 29 July 1943.  Along with setting up explosives at “Kiska City,” they demolished necessities, ammunition, and structures.  In the night, Allied ships around Kiska were distracted by signals that they took as Japanese forces fleeing.  However while they were focused on this, the actual fleeing took place through Kiska Harbor.  It only took the more than 5,000 Japanese 55 minutes to flee.

When almost 35,000 Allied soldiers arrived at Kiska on August 15, 1943 they were surprised to not find any Japanese; all they found upon arrival were 6 dogs, one being “Explosion” who had been owned by the Kiska Aerological Detail and was then looked after by the Japanese during their stay on the island.  The Allies were reluctant to accept that absolutely no Japanese were still on Kiska.

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Therefore, the next 8 days consisted of the soldiers looking around the island.  While doing this the soldiers would shoot their guns in the bad weather conditions causing some of them to be mistakenly shot by fellow soldiers; 24 died due to this, 4 more died when they came into contact with the tricks that the Japanese left behind, and then another 71 perished when the Abner Read hit a mine resting in water.

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Yet that was not the end.  Incredulous at such a speedy and total evacuation, troops began a systematic search of the seven square mile island. The island took over a week to comb, during which time over thirty soldiers were killed by booby traps or friendly fire.

There were 168 Allied troops that were injured or became sick while at Kiska.  This Aleutian Campaign was named as a practice fight and it stopped following 439 days of fighting.

The site where the Japanese occupied Kiska now holds the maximum level of recognition given to historic locations in the US. It is a National Historic Landmark, only one of 2,430 in such an immense country.  Considerable amounts of relics scatter the hills surrounding the harbor, equipment dumps, gun emplacements, tunnels and those small experimental submarines.

 

 

Making a Murderer, the Steven Avery case

History of Sorts

+++++ This Blog contains spoiler alerts++++++++

I watched the Netflix “Making a Murderer” over the last few days and last night I watched the ID Documentary “Steven Avery:Innocent or Guilty” they also referred to the Netflix documentary

Now I am not an investigator or law enforcement agent that’s why I am reserving my judgement whether he is Innocent or Guilty.

In fact at this stage it doesn’t really matter anymore whether he is or he isn’t.

Regardless of all the opinions and evidence used in the case there is one point which just can’t be refuted and that is the issue of ‘Reasonable Doubt’ and the handling by the Police in this case really creates enough cause to apply Reasonable Doubt. I know the term itself is vague enough but if you put all the things together you can only come to one conclusion which is that the DA and…

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Forgotten History-Major Bosshardt

Yes this is a story which took place during WWII and yes it does concern a Major, however she was a Major in a different kind of Army.

You see Alida Margaretha Bosshardt was a Major in the Salvation Army(Dutch-Leger Des Heils)

Alida Margaretha Bosshardt (8 June 1913 – 25 June 2007), better known as Major Bosshardt, was a well known officer in The Salvation Army, and more or less the public face of this Christian organization in the Netherlands.

Born in Utrecht, Bosshardt became a member of the Salvation Army after visiting one of their meetings when she was 18. Before that, she was not religious. Her father was a converted Roman Catholic, her mother was Dutch Reformed. From 1934 she worked in a children’s home in Amsterdam. During the German occupation in the Second World War, Bosshardt took care of the mostly Jewish children who had been brought by their parents to the home.

Alida Bosshardt was born into a Protestant middle class family in Utrecht. Already at a young age she showed independence and a strong will. During her teenage years, Alida came into contact with the Salvation Army, and decided to enter the Service. In 1932, barely 19 years old, she took the oath, “that with God’s help, I will be a true and faithful soldier of the Salvation Army.” She then studied at its Academy in order to become an officer, a rank she attained in 1934.

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As a beginning recruit in the Army, Alida started to work at the Zonnehoek, a home for children from broken homes that was located in the Jewish area of eastern Amsterdam.

Among her wards were the Jewish Terhorst sisters, Hendrina, b.1927, Helena, b.1934, and Dimphina, b.1938. In 1941, a new-born baby sister Roosje, was accepted into the home. That same year, on the orders of the German occupying authorities, the Salvation Army was outlawed, and its buildings and money were confiscated. The Zonnehoek continued to function for some time as a private home. In the summer of 1942, with the onset of the deportations of the Jews to “work in the East”, many desperate Jewish parents brought their infants to Alida, begging her to find hiding addresses for them. In a large number of cases she was able to do so, sometimes bringing them herself to the eastern parts of the country by bicycle.

Some of the Jewish children she kept in the home, among whom were Klaartje Lindeman, Floortje and Doortje de Slechter and two Samson children. When the Germans billeted the home, Alida took as many children as she could to a newly rented apartment in the northern part of Amsterdam. She insisted that the four Terhorst sisters as well as a number of other Jewish children stay under her care. During the move, she removed the yellow stars from the clothes of the older children, saying, “we don’t do this sort of thing”.

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After a bomb fell next to their new home, Alida again needed to move, making sure the Jewish children were included in the group. This scenario repeated itself a number of times, until Alida had to split up the children and was able to find homes for some of the Gentile children and hiding addresses for her various Jewish wards. In order to be able to buy food and other necessities, Alida went out to collect money. She was betrayed, and arrested by the German regular police, for collecting for the banned Salvation Army. Even though she was held at Police headquarters, she managed to escape, and went into hiding herself on the orders of her Army superiors. When it was considered that the immediate danger had passed, Alida resumed her resistance and rescuing activities. In the Hungerwinter of 1944-1945, she regularly went on food-treks to the eastern rural parts of the country, to find food needed in the various children’s homes in the west. After the war, the Jewish children all went back to their families.

Alida Bosshardt, in her nineties, stayed active with the Salvation Army as Majoor Bosshardt and kept in touch with her earlier wartime wards.
On January 25, 2004, Yad Vashem recognized Alida Margaretha Bosshardt as Righteous Among the Nations

The Major Bosshardt Prize, named after Bosshardt, was established in 2006. It consists of a certificate and a miniature bronze statue of Bosshardt and is intended for persons who have been of singular merit for society.

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Major Bosshardt has also a bridge called after her and in Terneuzen in the Province of Zeeland  a Bronze bust has been erected in her memory

Forgotten history-Battlefield Geleen

History of Sorts

I was born in a small town in Limburg, the most southern province of the Netherlands.

The name of the town is Geleen, it was a mining town until 1967. In 1967 the mine Maurits,which was the biggest in the country and up to 1958 the biggest 2 shaft mine in the world, closed. However that is not what the forgotten history is about.

On October 5 1942 approximately 30 bombers of the RAF carried out a bombing raid between 21:55 and 23:10, killing 83 and severely injuring 22 other. Leaving about 3000 people homeless.

The intended target had been Aken just over the border in Germany.

Due to bad weather those 30 bombers which were part of a squadron of 257 bombers had deviated from their direction thus resulting in the bombing of Geleen. Killing 83, wiping out 57 houses, severely damaging 227 more house and causing further damage…

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Elvis and the Colonel

History of Sorts

I may surprised many people but Elvis never performed outside of the Americas. The only country outside the US he ever toured was Canada, and even with that it was a short tour of about 5 concerts.In 1957 Elvis performed two shows at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on April 2, two shows at the Auditorium in Ottawa on April 3, and one show at Empire Stadium in Vancouver on August 31.

Elvis did spend some time in Germany serving the US army, and whilst there he did visit Paris and he did have a stop over in Scotland.Between 1958 and 1960

The reason for not going abroad is not because he didn’t like travelling or was afraid to fly, which some have suggested, no the reason is more simple than that albeit also a bit sinister.

The reason was Colonel Tom Parker, he is often seen as the man…

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Forgotten History-The Filthy Thirteen

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With the passing this week of George Kennedy known from the movie the Dirty dozen, I was wondering if the movie was based on real characters.

The book written by E M Nathanson and the movie were loosely based on a unit called “the Filthy Thirteen”

The Filthy Thirteen was the name given to the 1st Demolition Section of the Regimental Headquarters Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, of the United States Army, which fought in the European campaign in World War II.

The Demolition Section was assigned and trained to demolish enemy targets behind the lines. They were ordered to secure or destroy the bridges over the Douve River during the Normandy Invasion of Europe in June 1944. Half were either killed, wounded or captured, but they accomplished their mission. They also participated in the capture of Carentan. The group was airdropped for the mission by aircraft of the 440th Troop Carrier Group of the United States Army Air Forces.

This unit was best known for the famous photo which appeared in Stars and Stripes, showing two members wearing Indian-style “mohawks” and applying war paint to one another. The inspiration for this came from unit sergeant Jake McNiece, who was part Choctaw.

The name “Filthy 13” referred to the fact that, while training in England, they washed and shaved once a week and never cleaned their uniforms.

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During Operation Market Garden, the Demolition Platoon was assigned to defend the three bridges over the Dommel River in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. German bombing of the city killed or wounded half the demolitions men in the platoon, and McNiece was promoted to platoon sergeant. Jack Womer took his place as section sergeant. For the rest of the campaign, the demolitions men secured the regimental command post or protected wire-laying details. On one occasion, the survivors of the Demolitions Platoon were assigned as a rifle squad to an under strength company.

The leader of this group of renegades was Jack McNiece who only passed away 3 years ago.

 

Being part-Choctaw Indian, McNiece had an idea how to psyche up his squad for their first combat mission: D-Day.

“When we got ready to jump into Normandy, all of us had scalplocks, we also had our faces painted. It started a fad that is carried on today throughout most airborne units,” he said.

And, like their big screen counterparts, they were better known as malcontents before they were known as heroes.

“We weren’t murderers or nothing,” said Jack Agnew, a former member of the 506th Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne Division’s Filthy Thirteen. “We just did a lot more than they asked us to do, and we were always getting in trouble for that.”

McNiece said his superiors were constantly bothering him about skipping reveille, so he claimed it violated his mother’s Native American heritage. When they rejected that excuse, he followed up that evening’s retreat ceremony with a drinking binge downtown.

“I ended up beating the MPs with their own nightsticks,” he said. “I spent a few days in the stockade, but they didn’t make me stand retreat again.”

The reason the men got away with some of the questionable behavior was because of their combat skills.

Their specialty was blowing the shit out of bridges and whatever else they figured could go “boom” if they strapped it to enough TNT, which caused a nightmare for the Germans as they tried in vain to fend off the Allied invasion. … Their fearless leader Jake McNiece was part Native-American, and his fellow Filthies chose to honor this by going into battle sporting mohawks like Travis Bickle, and freaking war-paint. … At the age of 23, [McNiece] delivered this nugget of advice from the enlisting officer:

“You may just be 23. I don’t know, but your face and your head looks like it’s been used as practice for hand grenade tossing and wore out three bodies already.”

If that’s not some movie shit, we don’t know what is. Wait, yes we do, this quote from fellow Filthy Thirteener Robert Cone regarding the D-Day mission:

“We landed near a hedgerow, from which the Germans were firing at us, and the guy I was with was killed. I got hit in the right shoulder, which broke my arm all the way down into the forearm. The bullet was lodged in there for a year. I was able to get away, though, but could not hold my rifle.”

I salute these brave men who also fought for my freedom