Historical Background

Scope and Content

Acquisition Info

Processing Info

Inventory   [ + ]

Subject Terms


Guide to the Aleutian Islands in World War II Photograph Collection
ca. 1942-1944



VM Collection No.: 604
Title: Aleutian Islands in World War II Photograph Collection
Date Span: ca. 1942-1944
Quantity: 22 photographic prints (1 box)
Location: K0184
Languages: Collection materials are in English.
Soldier in quarters, 1944. Special Collections, UW Libraries, UW22179z

Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.



Historical Background

During World War II, in June, 1942, the Japanese seized the Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska. These islands are part of the chain of Aleutian Islands, located off the tip of Alaska, and provided the Japanese with a base from which to limit Allied air and sea operations in the North Pacific. In an effort to recapture the islands, the United States established airfields on Adak and Amchitka Islands in August, 1942. Plans were made in the spring of 1943 to recapture Kiska and Attu. It was eventually decided to bypass Kiska, and American and Canadian forces landed on Attu on May 11, 1943. Air and naval units supported the operation. The Japanese on Attu defended their position intensely, and the fighting continued until May 30, when Japan announced the loss of the island.

On August 15, 1943, a powerful Allied amphibious force, including a U.S. infantry division and elements of the Royal Canadian Army, assaulted the island of Kiska, where the Japanese had developed their largest base. To the surprise of the Allies, they found that the Japanese, under cover of heavy summer fog, had secretly evacuated the island. In August, 1943, the island was declared secure, thus ending the Aleutian Islands Campaign. During 1944 the Canadians left and U.S. Army presence in Alaska dropped from a high of 144,000 to 63,000 personnel. Although interest in the Alaskan theater waned, it was in the Aleutians that the Allies won their first theater-wide victory in World War II, ending Japan's only campaign in the Western Hemisphere.

Scope and Content

The collection contains photographs relating to Japanese and American activities in the Aleutian Islands during World War II and includes portraits, images of artillery and naval vessels, scenes of servicemen participating in leisure activities, and a photo of a shrine on the island of Attu. The collection also shows evidence of the fighting on the islands, including images of downed Japanese airplanes and the graves of Russian pilots.

Acquisition Info

Source: Cowlitz County Museum, 1991.

Processing Info

Processed by Sue Kennedy and Jocelyn Spicer, 2002.


Inventory

 
Folder Item
Japanese Presence in the Aleutians
11-3Japanese military personnel   View image
4-6Japanese artillery with personnel on Attu Island   View image
7Interior of quarters on Attu Island   View image
8Dugout on Attu Island
9Shrine on Attu Island   View image

 
Folder Item Date
Allied Presence in the Aleutians
210Airplane at base   View image
11-12Naval vessels   View image
13Artillery
14Soldier working on jeep
15Personnel office and other buildings   View image
16Soldier in quarters   View image1944
17-18Boxing match with onlookers, Adak Island   View imageJuly 4, 1944

 
Folder Item
Casualties of War in the Aleutians
319-21Japanese airplanes shot down on Adak Island   View image
22Graves of Russian flyers killed on Sherry Island   View image

Subject Terms

Subjects:
Artillery--Alaska--Aleutian Islands--Photographs.
Attu, Battle of, Alaska,1943.
Soldiers--Alaska--Aleutian Islands--Photographs.
World War, 1939-1945--Alaska--Aleutian Islands--Photographs.
Geographic Names:
Adak Island (Alaska)--Photographs.
Aleutian Islands (Alaska)--Photographs.
Attu Island (Alaska)--Photographs.
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