Friday, May 11, 2012

Learn Our History Today:
On May 11, 1943, during World War II, the Allies began an operation to recapture the Island of Attu in the Aleutian Island chain, which had been captured by Japanese forces earlier in April 1942. Unfortunately, the Allies were plagued by problems. First off, the Allies did not have nearly enough landing craft to properly land all their troops and equipment. In addition, the equipment that was available struggled to operate properly due to the bitter cold. There was also a shortage of suitable beaches where the landings could take place. This lack of beaches caused some of the troops to suffer from frostbite because proper supplies could not be delivered.  The fighting on Attu was brutal because the Japanese decided to dig in on the hills of the Island, instead of contesting the landings. At the end of the campaign, the last Japanese forces on the Island launched one of the largest banzai charges of the entire war, resulting in brutal, furious hand-to-hand combat.  A total of 3,929 U.S. troops were lost taking Attu, with many being killed or wounded by Japanese booby traps.  The Japanese lost over 2,850 men killed, almost their entire force. Only 29 Japanese soldiers were taken alive.

Also on May 11, during the Second World War, in 1945, off the coast of Okinawa, the USS Bunker Hill was hit by two Japanese kamikaze planes. One plane hit the flight deck destroying warplanes filled with gasoline and ammunition, igniting a massive fire. 30 seconds afterward, a second plane crashed through the area where the fire had erupted, dropping a 550-pound bomb simultaneously. Several huge explosions then shook the ship and the already massive gasoline fires flared up even further. The Bunker Hill’s crew suffered 346 killed, 264 wounded, and 43 missing. The ship itself was heavily damaged and required months of repair to be fully operational once again.

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