March 8, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 10

Exhibit shows Japanese WWII invasion of the Aleutians

A traveling exhibit, which includes 12 historic and recent photographs, that tells the story of the Japanese occupation of Kiska Island has come to The Clausen Memorial Museum.

Suzanne Ashe
Kiska: an Aleutian World War II Battlefield will be on display at The Clausen Museum throughout the month of March.

“[The exhibit] shows the importance of World War II history and how it relates to Alaska,” said Sue McCallum, Clausen Museum director.

On June 3 and 4, 1942, Japanese forces attacked the U.S. Base at Dutch Harbor. On June 6 and 7, those forces invaded Attu and Kiska, setting up a submarine and seaplane base on Kiska. It is estimated that 9,000 Japanese troops were garrisoned in the Aleutians.

According to National Historic Landmark Program literature, the U.S. began long-range bombings on Attu and Kiska on June 11, 1942.

The Eleventh Air Force later staged bombing runs over the two islands, from bases on Adak and Amchitka. These bombing continued for about a year. Attu was captured by the U.S. on May 30, 1943. Two months later, on July 28, Japanese troops secretly evacuated Kiska. Today, Kiska is a National Historic site.

The historic photographs in the exhibit show the harsh climate and isolating conditions of the remote island. Other photographs show U.S. troops standing near disabled weapons and equipment left behind by the Japanese.

The recent photographs, by Dirk H.R. Spennermann, were taken between 2007 and 2009. They depict a landscape pot-marked by battle-scars, and littered with war-time artifacts.

“Kiska: A Unique World War II Battlefield Landscape” will be shown at the museum throughout the month of March.

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