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Kiska Submarine Wrecks

Alaska USA

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“WW2 Japanese sub eroding on dry land”

When you visit Kiska, Alaska today you'll see the remnants of a 70-year battlefield. Anti-aircraft guns sit rusting and partially-unearthed in a meadow are the Kiska Submarine Wrecks, which include two Type A Midget Subs. These are reminders of an oft-forgotten battle that occurred in Alaska during WWII. The Japanese occupied Kiska, Alaska during the Aleutian Islands Campaign, which took place in the American and Pacific Theaters. The occupation lasted over a year, from June 6th, 1942 to July 28th, 1943. Archaeologist Dirk Spennemann argues that Kiska is "the most significant intact battlefield remaining from World War II." Because of the cold weather wood, fabric, and other artifacts have been remarkably preserved throughout the past 7 decades. Kiska was home to an American-manned weather station, and when the Japanese stormed the station they killed two and captured 8 Americans, who were sent as POWs to Japan. In response to the occupation, American and Canadian forces waged an air campaign against the island, which was bombarded and blockaded throughout the year.  When the American forces destroyed the Japanese garrison in 1943, the Imperial Japanese Navy evacuated Kiska and the Aleutian Islands campaign came to a victorious end for the Allies.  Today, there's a great display at the Anchorage Museum, entitled "Kiska and Adak: War in the Aleutians". There's a variety of artifacts, gear, and digital photographs. Although Kiska, is listed as a National Historic Landmark, it's difficult to visit because there are unexploded ammunition concerns, bombs and shells scattered throughout the tundra.  -Roadtrippers One of two Type A Midget Submarines left on Kiska island by the Japanese as they withdrew in world war 2. The Japanese scuttled the submarines (then stored on a railroad) with explosive charges as they withdrew, confining them to dry land, where they still sit to this day. The entire island of Kiska is littered with shipwrecks, rusting artillery guns and even piles of spent ammunition stomped into the ground. The WW2 history of the island: The Japanese No. 3 Special Landing Party and 500 marines went ashore at Kiska on June 6, 1942 as a separate campaign concurrent with the Japanese plan for the Battle of Midway. The Japanese captured the sole inhabitants of the island: a small US Navy Weather Detachment consisting of ten men, including a lieutenant, along with their dog. One member of the detachment escaped for 50 days. Starving, thin, and extremely cold, he eventually surrendered to the Japanese. The military importance of this frozen, difficult-to-supply island was questionable, but the psychological impact upon the Americans of losing U.S. territory was tangible. During the winter of 1942–43, the Japanese reinforced and fortified the islands—not necessarily to prepare for an island-hopping operation across the Aleutians, but to prevent a U.S. operation across the Kuril Islands. The U.S. Navy began operations to deny Kiska supply which would lead to the Battle of the Komandorski Islands. During October 1942, American forces undertook seven bombing missions over Kiska, though two were aborted due to inclement weather. Following the winter, Attu was liberated and Kiska was bombed once more for over two months, before a larger American force was allocated to defeat the expected Japanese garrison of 5,200 men. On August 15, 1943, an invasion force consisting of 34,426 Allied troops, including elements of the 7th Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Regiment, 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, 5,300 Canadians (the 6th and 7th Infantry Divisions), 95 ships (including three battleships and a heavy cruiser), and 168 aircraft landed on Kiska, only to find the island completely abandoned. The Japanese, aware of the loss of Attu and the impending arrival of the larger Allied force, had successfully removed their troops on July 28 under the cover of severe fog, without the Allies noticing. Allied casualties during this invasion nevertheless numbered close to 200, all either from friendly fire, booby traps set out by the Japanese to inflict damage on the invading allied forces, or weather-related disease. There were seventeen Americans and four Canadians killed from either friendly fire or booby traps, fifty more were wounded as a result of friendly fire or booby traps, and an additional 130 men came down with trench foot. The destroyer USS Abner Read hit a mine, resulting in 87 casualties. That night, however, the Imperial Japanese Navy warships, thinking they were engaged by Americans, shelled and attempted to torpedo the island of Little Kiska and the Japanese soldiers waiting to embark. Admiral Ernest King reported to the secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, that the only things that remained on the island were dogs and fresh brewed coffee. Knox asked for an explanation and King responded, "The Japanese are very clever. Their dogs can brew coffee." The Japanese occupation site on the island is now considered a National Historic Landmark (the highest level of recognition accorded to historic sites in the US) and is protected under federal law. The island is also a part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (AMNWR) and contains the largest colony of Least Auklets (over 1,160,000 birds) and Crested Auklets. Research biologists from Memorial University of Newfoundland have been studying the impact of introduced Norway Rats on the seabirds of Kiska since 2001. Much of the aftermath left behind from World War II is still evident in Kiska. The slow erosion processes on the tundra have had little effect on the bomb craters still visible both from the ground and in satellite images on the hills surrounding the harbor. Numerous equipment dumps, tunnels (some concrete-lined), Japanese gun emplacements, shipwrecks, and other war relics can be found all untouched since 1943. This place is on private property. Listing for informational purposes only. Please do not visit without express permission from the land owner.

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