Operation Cottage

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Operation Cottage
Part of Aleutian Islands campaign of World War II
US landings on Kiska.jpg
American troops landing on Kiska
DateAugust 15, 1943
Location
Result Japanese tactical victory
Allied strategic victory
Belligerents
 United States
 Canada
 Japan
(not present)
Commanders and leaders
United States Charles Corlett
Canada Harry Wickwire Foster
N/A
Strength

7th Infantry Division

Canada 6th Infantry Division

None; all forces evacuated before battle
Casualties and losses
92 killed and 221 wounded (Over 313 Allied casualties)[1][2] None
  • USS Abner Read struck a stray Japanese mine during the operation, totaling 118 casualties

Operation Cottage was a tactical maneuver which completed the Aleutian Islands campaign. On August 15, 1943, Allied military forces landed on Kiska Island, which had been occupied by Japanese forces since June 1942.

The Japanese, however, had secretly abandoned the island two weeks prior, and so the Allied landings were unopposed. Allied forces suffered over 313 casualties in total during the operation, due to stray Japanese landmines and booby traps, friendly fire incidents, and vehicle accidents.[1]

Background[edit]

The Japanese under Captain Takeji Ono had landed on Kiska at approximately 01:00 on June 6, 1942, with a force of about 500 Japanese marines. Soon after arrival, they stormed an American weather station, where they killed two and captured eight United States Navy officers. The captured officers were sent to Japan as prisoners of war. Another 2,000 Japanese troops arrived, landing in Kiska Harbor. At this time, Rear-Admiral Monzo Akiyama headed the force on Kiska. In December 1942, additional anti-aircraft units, engineers, and a negligible number of reinforcement infantry arrived on the island. In the spring of 1943, control was transferred to Kiichiro Higuchi.

Invasion plan and execution[edit]

The Allied invasion of Kiska, August 17, 1943

A Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft sighted Japanese ships in Kiska. No further identification was visible. To United States naval planners, none was necessary and the orders to invade Kiska soon followed.[citation needed]

Due to the heavy casualties suffered at Attu Island, planners were expecting another costly operation. The Japanese tactical planners had, however, realized the isolated island was no longer defensible and planned for an evacuation.

Starting in late July, there were increasing signs of Japanese withdrawal. Aerial photograph analysts noticed that routine activities appeared to greatly diminish and almost no movement could be detected in the harbor. Bomb damage appeared unrepaired and aircrews reported greatly diminished anti-aircraft fire. On July 28, radio signals from Kiska ceased entirely.

On August 15, 1943, the 7th Division (U.S.) and the 13th Infantry Brigade (Canada), landed on opposite shores of Kiska.

Both U.S. and Canadian forces mistook each other, after a Canadian soldier shot at American lines believing they were Japanese, and a sporadic friendly fire incident occurred, which had left 28 Americans and 4 Canadians dead, with 50 wounded on either side. Progress was also hampered by mines, timed bombs, accidental ammunition detonations, vehicle accidents and booby traps.[2] A stray Japanese mine also caused the USS Abner Read (DD-526) to lose a large chunk of its stern. The blast killed 71 and wounded 47.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Operation Cottage: A Cautionary Tale of Assumption and Perceptual Bias
  2. ^ a b "The Battle for Kiska", Canadian Heroes, canadianheroes.org, 13 May 2002, Originally Published in Esprit de Corp Magazine, Volume 9 Issue 4 and Volume 9 Issue 5

References[edit]

External links[edit]