The Japanese invaded Attu on this day in 1942

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ATTU (AT-too)

Westernmost Aleutian Island
clues: Westernmost part of the U.S.; Westernmost Aleutian; Largest of the Near Islands; Island of the Aleutians; Alaskan island; North Pacific island
Crossword puzzle frequency: 3 times a year
Battle of Attu May-June 1943

Attu is the westernmost island in the Near Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, making it the westernmost point of land in Alaska and the United States. Attu Station is located at 52°51' north latitude, 173°11' east longitude.

It is nearly 1,700 km (1,100 miles) from the Alaskan mainland and 1200 km (750 miles) northeast of the northernmost of the Kurile Islands of Japan. Attu is about 32 km (20 miles) by 56 km (35 miles) in size.

The name Attu is a transliteration of the Aleut name of the island. It was called Saint Theodore by the explorer Aleksei Chirikov in 1742.

Aleuts lived on Attu before World War II. But, on June 7, 1942, well into the war, the Japanese invaded the island. This, as well as the invasion of nearby Kiska a day earlier, constituted the only foreign occupation of American soil during the war. The Japanese relocated the forty-two inhabitants of Attu to a prison camp near Otaru on the island of Hokkaido; there, sixteen died.

Jarmin Pass

During the winter of 1942, the Japanese reinforced and fortified Attu and Kiska. This was probably not for a greater offensive against the Aleutian Islands, as some had believed. Instead, the Japanese were forming a buffer to prevent an American operation in the Kurile Islands.

On May 11, 1943, American troops invaded Attu in an attempt to expel the Japanese forces. This Battle of the Aleutian Islands produced some of the bloodiest fighting in the Pacific theatre, second only to Iwo Jima. There were 3929 American casualties; 549 were killed, 1148 were injured, 1200 had severe cold injuries, 614 succumbed to disease, and 318 died of miscellaneous causes, largely Japanese booby traps and friendly fire. All in all, roughly 25% of the American force was killed. On May 29, the last of the Japanese forces committed suicide rather than be captured; the result was an American victory. American burial teams counted 2351 Japanese dead, but it was presumed that hundreds more had been buried over the course of the battle.

After the war, the survivors of the Otaru prison camp were repatriated to other Aleutian islands or to the mainland of Alaska, and the United States government decided to construct a LORAN station on the southern tip of Attu, at Theodore Point. The equipment to build the station came out of Holtz Bay and was ferried on barges and landing craft to Baxter Cove, about one mile east of the station. Bulldozers were used to cut a road from Baxter Cove to Theodore Point.

In 1960, the station was moved to Casco Cove, near the former Navy Base at Massacre Bay. Later it was moved to Massacre Bay.


The weather on Attu is typical Aleutian weather: cloudy, rainy, and foggy. High winds occur occasionally. Five or six days a week are likely to be rainy, and there are only about eight or ten clear days a year. The rest of the time, even if rain is not falling, fog of varying density is the rule rather than the exception. There are forty to fifty inches of annual rainfall, with the heaviest rains in autumn and early winter.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Attu Island".