Discussion in 'World War 2' started by Dupe, Jul 28, 2004.
the only pacific battel i know the canadians fought was at hong kong
Canadians participated in the landings at Kiska in 1943 as part of the 1st Special Forces Brigade. The Japanese had already left the island. There were some RCAF units involved in the defense of the west coast, Alaska (and the Aleutians?). I think the RCAF had one confrimed dwoning of a Japanese aircraft. After mid 1943 the Canadian effort was directed to Europe, the Med, and the Atlantic.
Ah, yes, probably the island assault with the least casualties of WW2 (yes, there were some!)
To be honest, the Americans had the equipment & tactics for the Pacific evolving nicely. Why bring in a fresh lot when they could be put to better use elsewhere?
A good bit of history is in the building of the Alaska Highway, from Alaska down through the middle of BC, Canada.
Just so you know, the Canadians were there at the begining of the military build up along the BC & Alaska coasts. Canadian RCAF and infantry units built, fortified, manned and fought on Alaskan soil, thats American soil.
Check the Library section for the book named, 'War on Our Doorstep, for an informative read on the entire subject.
There was an American Admiral who wanted to turn the North Pacific into an American lake, but due to politics inside the 'old boys club' this never happened.
There were two main commanders of the Pacific North West, the first one was an American bigot, who thought the Canadians should be grateful to carry the trashcans. A second General came out to take over after the Canadian high command informed Washington of the situation. To say things changed for the better would be a fair statement.
When one walks along the west coast of Vancouver Island there are many old bunkers that were built for the defense of the Pacific Norh West.
At the begining of the American Japanese conflict the entire North West was as wild as a land can get.
People marvel at how dense jungle can be, well if any of you get to BC and have some time to spare I can get you into some places that make a jungle look like a desert.
The Canadian and USA effort to build bases and support infrastructure to this part of the world was a massive effort.
Canada and the Aleutians
In June of 1942 the RCAF rushed men and equipment to the defense of the American Forces at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. The Japanese had forces stationed in the Aleutian chain of Islands and were mounting attacks on Dutch Harbor and other American troop locations. The Americans probably would have been over run if it had not been for the Canadian pilots. The American fighter pilots flew with the Canadian pilots on many sorties, they shot down enemy fighters and bombers, and also conducted strafing runs on Japanese bases. The Japanese in the Aleutians planned to invade North America, but only as far as the Rockies and down to California. They planned on using the Rocky Mountains as a shield against counter-attacks. There were more than 18,000 Japanese in the Aleutians. The Canadian pilots were eager to dog fight with the Japanese during this battle.
Just the fact that the Canadians could fly in the Aleutians is a feat of pilotry. The islands did not obey the laws of geography. They were volcanic islands with mountains popping up, almost out of nowhere. The Aleutians are considered to be one of the worst places to fly. The fact that the Canadians accomplished so much in a place like that, just goes to show how Canadians always came through when they needed to. The Major said something that I think will help to sum up how well the Canadians did there. He said, "Canadians went where they were needed, did their job, and did it well."
The Canadian fighters had bombed out a runway at Kiska, the last Japanese controlled Aleutian Island. The Canadian and American forces were about to invade the Island when heavy fog rolled in and stayed for ten days. When the fog cleared and the troops landed, they found that the Japanese had slipped away under the cover of fog. It was said that day, by many Americans present, that if the Canadians had not destroyed the runway, the Japanese might have stayed and waited for reinforcements to fly in. The Canadians were some what angry at the Japanese cowardess, as few pilots were in dog fights, of which there would have been many. The Americans were very grateful however, saying that many lives had been saved by the Canadians, the Canadians who had prevented the Japanese invasion of North America.
The Canadians flew almost 60 sorties during their stay in the Aleutian Islands. Major General N.E. Ladd awarded 7 U.S. Air Force medals to Canadians stationed at Umnak airfield. They put on a parade in their honor and had a United States army band playing "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Save The King". The medals were given to Bradley Walker, Ron Cox, A.W. Roseland, William MacLean, Dave McDuff, Louis Cochand, and Hairston Hobble.
A most impressive post, Poodle, and a most impressive performance by the Canadian forces. I didn't know about their involvement in the Aleutians fighting until now; no history I've seen has mentioned it.
Ya, I didn't know about it until two years ago. If I can find the book wouild you like to read it or add it to your collection?
Sure, although I'll likely just read it; I haven't the money or space to buy every book I want to own. :wink:
I know the feeling. If I can find a used copy at the local store I will sned you one, shouldn't cost much at all; maybe a couple of bucks CAN.
Take it! You can trust him. :grin:
MP, that book must be fairly old if it seriously contends that the Japanese intended to go any further than the Kiska and Attu. Their invasion was for the purposes of: 1. providing the initial bait to sucker the U.S. Pacific Fleet away from Midway 2. provide a shield to keep the U.S. from attacking the Kuriles from the Aleutians and 3. To force the U.S. and Canada to divert resources to counter their occupation. Fears ran rampant in 1942 on the West Coast that such a thing could happen, but the Japanese simply hoped to wear the U.S. down, not invade.
I can't find any source, even Canadian, that lists the Japanese occupation forces on both islands combined as being more than 8,500 troops.
The force that re-took Kiska was approx. 30,000, of which 5,600 were Canadian. None of this is to belittle the role of the Canadians, only to lend a sense of reality to the discussion.
And the Japanese paid for that mistake of not truning the northern Pacific into their exclusive Pacific lake. If there was a legitimate threat to the California or BC coastal cities the USA would have had to pull much more in terms of resources and men from where they were deployed to protect the USA mainland.
I never made such implications, reread my posts on the matter.
By the way there was a few American Amirals that did see the benefits of turning the Northern Pacific into an American lake, but due to the 'old boys club' this strategy went unheard and ignored.
The book was published only a couple of years ago and backs everything up, as all good researchers do, with the said sources.
The weather, where entire fishing fleets of 14 fishing vessels can be sunk, like in the 'Perfect Storm movie' was a major factor in the operations of both sides in the conflict. Pilots would be flying through completely blanketed out skies and fly into the sea or mountains because of the low cloud and fogged in conditions.
There were more casualties due to environmental hardships for both sides than actual combat losses caused by bullets or bombs; we are talking wild, untouched by human kind, landscapes here where a jungle looks like a well manicured lawn. I have been in both and didn't like being in either one.
There were air duels you know, it wasn't just a camping exercise! The airforces sunk many Japanese supply ships before they got close to the Alaskan islands.
You mustn't underestimate the value of 8,500 soldiers. That's two regiments; remember that the Japanese in South-East Asia hardly ever had more than three divisions, with which they beat an entire British/CW army out of its domain.
The weather was probably the biggest factor in keeping the Allies from doing more in the Northern Pacific. I have read about the appalling conditions there (and Poodle is absolutely right about that!) Two days of clear weather in a row is considered a major event there! The Aleutians are also where the Japanese suffered one of their biggest losses: an almost-intact Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, whose pilot suffered engine trouble and made an emergency landing' The plane flipped over on touchdown, killing the pilot but not doing much damage to the aircraft. It was found, recovered, repaired, and test flown in the States, where all of its secrets were discovered. The result was the F6F Hellcat, a plane designed specifically to defeat the Zero.
There wasn't actually a battle for Kiska. After the garrison on Attu was wiped out (about 2,500 men), the Japanese secretly evacuated Kiska. When the Americans (and Canadians) landed they found only three dogs, leading to the GI rhyme:
"It took three days before we learnt,
That more than dogs there simply weren't"
I never knew that about the Hellcat, good bit of info Corp!
"If I knew what you knew I could build a better piece of equipment, designed to overcome its strengths"
The story is one of the sidebars on the Battle of Midway, usually told to show just how much that battle actually cost Japan in the long run.
And what I read about that battle is the fact the American forces won by the skin of their teeth; in terms of aircraft lost. It was one of those battles that could have gone either way; thank the gods for Japanese indecision and the courage of those American pilots to fly into the gates of hell to destroy their targets.
Yes, Midway was a close-run thing. One historian called it "Brilliance shot through with luck." God had to have been smiling on the Americans, because the Japanese should have won that battle, by any reasonable calculation. An interesting point I once read is that the IJN could still have captured Midway, despite the destruction of their four carriers. Had they massed all of their surface ships together and ringed the island, they could have levelled the defenses and landed their troops, though I do believe the Marines would still have made things interesting. Fortunately for the USA, the Japanese did not know just how heavy our aircraft losses had been, or they might well have tried it.
Yamamoto was in fact debating wether to send his superior surface forces forward to engage the americans however, he decided against it as the extent of american airpower was unknown.
Midway was a close run thing, however the loss of four carriers for just one carrier (Yorktown) makes it a clear victory for the americans.