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Old February 19, 2024, 01:25 PM   #26
Mike Irwin
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Wot?

You mean we were at war with the Germans, and not just the pesky Japanese?
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Old February 19, 2024, 04:39 PM   #27
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IF anything, the German U-boats were more effective and damaging than the Japanese subs were.

Look up "Paukenschlag" (Drumbeat) and see.
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Old February 20, 2024, 08:30 AM   #28
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The reason this entire conversation trended toward the Japanese is because this dummy round was found on the WEST coast.

German submarines didn't operate off the US Pacific coast.

Just like Japanese submarines weren't sitting off Baltimore or Boston.
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Old February 23, 2024, 02:35 PM   #29
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Being lost to history (not here at TFL) is the fact the Japanese got a lot closer in WW2 than is often remembered. Alaska was a territory back then, statehood was in 59? or thereabouts. An aleutian island was occupied by Japan during the war. It's not far to Japan relatively from the aleutians.
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Old February 24, 2024, 12:52 PM   #30
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Two Aleutian islands...

Attu and Kiska.
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Old February 26, 2024, 01:47 PM   #31
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Natives relocated

As usual the folks that suffered the most were the natives. While I can hardly think of a more miserable place weather wise they were well adapted, Mike how long did the Japanese occupy those islands? Pretty certain they were not near as well adjusted to some of the worst weather in the world.
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Old February 26, 2024, 04:23 PM   #32
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Attu was finally retaken in May 1943, and the Japanese evacuated their remaining troops from Kiska in late July 1943.

The original intention of the Aleutians occupation was to draw off US Naval forces so that they couldn't interfere with the occupation of Midway Island and, when the American Navy did turn towards Midway, the Japanese would pounce on them and finish off the Pacific fleet in the "one great battle" that Alfred Thayer Mahan predicted as the necessity for gaining command of the sea over an enemy.

But, the Japanese didn't know that the US had broken their codes and were in fact wise to the dual operation, so the Aleutians strike was largely ignored until after the Midway battle.

The Japanese were only intending on holding the Aleutians for a few months but, after Midway, decided to keep them as part of their defensive ring. They thought that the United States would hopscotch down the Aleutians chain from base to base as a means of invading Japan.

No one in US ever even considered that to be remotely possible because of the horrific weather.
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Old February 26, 2024, 04:27 PM   #33
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As for adjustment to the weather, to put it bluntly, most American troops, British troops, German troops, weren't well adjusted for many of the climates in which they were asked to fight.

The Japanese got an early reputation was master jungle fighters... Nothing could be farther from the truth. Their first true jungle experience came not long after the start of the war. They learned and adapted quickly.

Many Japanese soldiers would have been more acclimated to Aleutians type weather given that there had been a Japanese military presence in Korea since 1912, and Korean winters can be absolutely brutal. The Japanese were also in Manchuria and Northern China, which can also have unbelievably harsh winters.
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Old February 27, 2024, 02:30 PM   #34
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The troops the Army sent were the 7th Infantry division, from Ft, Ord, California who had been training to fight in North Africa!

They were "available", and "all they needed was winter coats". That turned out to be a rather large underappreciation of the weather in the Aleutians.

During the campaign, we lost more planes and ships to the weather than we did to enemy action.

If you want to find out how bad it actually was, read "The Thousand Mile War" by Brian Garfield. Its an eye opening thing what a williwaw can do!
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Old February 27, 2024, 03:21 PM   #35
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"The troops the Army sent were the 7th Infantry division, from Ft, Ord, California who had been training to fight in North Africa!"

You send the readiest and most capable units to where they are needed most. If the enemy has other plans for that unit, oh well.

And, as I understand it, the 7th wasn't training specifically for the invasion of North Africa. They had been activated at Ft. Ord in 1940 as part of the first group activated in the newly instituted draft.

They were training in general. After Pearl Harbor they were moved along the west coast for a number of months to provide protection against possible Japanese invasion, after which they were sent back to Ft. Ord.

Around that time, the Japanese invaded the Aleutians and the 7th was a logical choice to be sent.

Interestingly, Vinegar Joe Stilwell was the 7th's commander at this time, and he was originally proposed to lead the invasion of North Africa. But, he didn't exactly impress the British during the initial meetings (Arcadia Conference, held late December 1941 mid January 1942)... he was apparently VERY anti-British at the time...

So, realistically, the only way that the 7th "trained" for service in North Africa is because they were stationed in California. Which, depending on where you go, has sand. And sea water. And sun.
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Old February 28, 2024, 01:40 AM   #36
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Quote:
And, as I understand it, the 7th wasn't training specifically for the invasion of North Africa.
You're probably right, I doubt actual orders had been cut, so I suppose it would be best to say that the 7th had been training at Ord expecting to be sent to North Africa when the time came.

When the Japanese launched the Midway operation, they were trained troops available when trained troops were needed, so they got used, the plans for them to go to Africa got shelved, and they went to Alaska instead.

Midway was just 6 months after we went to war, and the US didn't have the abundance of military resources we had a couple years after that.
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Old February 28, 2024, 01:48 AM   #37
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Simon Bolivar Buckner was the overall Army commander for retaking the Aleutians. He later commanded the invasion of Okinawa and goes down in the record books as the highest ranking US Army officer to be killed by the enemy in WWII.

Lesley McNair was the other senior officer killed, but he was hit by "friendly fire" aka, a short bombing run, during Operation Cobra in Normandy.
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