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KISKA LANDING CRAFT PHOTO?

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Hello guys--I love the photo on the forum masthead! I have a copy of this one, which I intend to use in my book about my Dad's service in WWII with the 17th Infantry Regt. My question is--I have seen the picture captioned as GIs loading for the Kiska landing. Wouldn't that mean that the picture was taken on the island of Adak, from where the forces left? Did they use the LCs to get to troopships? They didn't make the entire journey from Adak to Kiska on landing craft, did they? I would also love to know when the 17th left Attu and went to Adak. My dad's partial memoirs mention being assigned to the 17th after the fighting on Attu, but he mentions meeting the battalion CO, LTC Lee Wallace, on Attu, before they went to Adak, and thence on to Kiska. I would love to know the date when the regiment left Attu. I know when Dad joined the unit--I have his orders--and I know when the landing on Kiska took place. I just need to know how much time he spent on Attu.


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Hello guys--I love the photo on the forum masthead! I have a copy of this one, which I intend to use in my book about my Dad's service in WWII with the 17th Infantry Regt. My question is--I have seen the picture captioned as GIs loading for the Kiska landing. Wouldn't that mean that the picture was taken on the island of Adak, from where the forces left? Did they use the LCs to get to troopships? They didn't make the entire journey from Adak to Kiska on landing craft, did they? I would also love to know when the 17th left Attu and went to Adak. My dad's partial memoirs mention being assigned to the 17th after the fighting on Attu, but he mentions meeting the battalion CO, LTC Lee Wallace, on Attu, before they went to Adak, and thence on to Kiska. I would love to know the date when the regiment left Attu. I know when Dad joined the unit--I have his orders--and I know when the landing on Kiska took place. I just need to know how much time he spent on Attu.

Does your book about your Father go as far as Okinawa?

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Does your book about your Father go as far as Okinawa?

 

Oh yes, Coach. To Okinawa, the preparations for Operation DOWNFALL, and beyond that. After three-plus years of research and writing, my first draft is nearly done. What an experience this has been! Regarding the photo in question, I've learned that my father was never on Attu. In actuality, he met his battalion C.O., LTC Lee "Pappy" Wallace, on Adak, as the regiment was in training for Operation COTTAGE, the assault of Kiska. Of course, the operation turned out to be more of a rehearsal for future actions, as the island had been evacuated by the Japanese almost three weeks prior to the U.S. landings.

 

The photo in question was taken by Lt. Horace Bristol, USNR, of the Steichen photographic unit. Bristol later won a bet that there were no more than a thousand Japanese left on Kiska. The picture does indeed depict 7th Division doughboys loading onto an LCM to be transferred to a troopship in Adak harbor, most likely photographed on Friday, August 13th, 1943.

 

My father's service in K Company, 3rd Battalion, 17th Infantry Regt., 7th Infantry Division, went from Kiska to occupation duty in Korea in the fall of 1945. He began his service in the spring of 1941 when he was drafted and was assigned to the 43rd Division at Camp Blanding, Florida. By the early summer of 1942, he was given a slot at infantry OCS at Fort Benning. After his commission, he was briefly assigned to the 104th "Timberwolf" Division at Camp Adair, Oregon. Impatient to get into action, he wrote three letters requesting transfer to an overseas unit. By June of 1943, his request was granted and he was assigned to the 7th Infantry Division as a replacement platoon leader after the battle on Attu.

 

Dad left behind copious letters, orders, photos, and other mementos. Also in my possession are two Japanese swords and a dagger taken from a Japanes major on Leyte, two "good luck" Japanese flags inscribed with sentiments, a Japanese private's collar rank patch, three pairs of dog tags that Dad wore during the war, a hunk of shell fragment, several deformed Japanese rifle bullet copper jackets strung together on a short dogtag chain, and a plastic crucifix that one of his rifleman had tacked to the stock of his rifle. When the man was killed, Dad sent the crucifix to his next of kin along with a sympathy note. Several weeks later, the crucifix was sent back to him, given back for his own protection by the dead man's parents.

 

Dad rarely spoke of his service in the war, and my discovery of his memorabilia after the death of my mother prompted me to write this book. He had an amazing odyssey and beat the odds against him as a rifle platoon leader. I will soon be looking for a publisher.


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Hello friends. I have revived this topic after much research. My project, the telling of my late father's service in WWII, is still underway. Five years have passed, involving countless hours poring over photos, letters, mementos, and records. I have learned a bit more about the photo. It does NOT depict members of the 7th Division, but rather, members of the 3rd Battalion, 87th Infantry, loading onto an LCM assigned to the attack transport USS Zeilin. Here's an interesting detail: although the 87th mountain soldiers had their own prized rucksacks, they were ordered to wear the old-style haversacks for the water-borne portion of Operation COTTAGE, because some officer found a regulation that required all infantrymen in an amphibious operation to use the haversack. Other photos and films of the embarkation on Adak Island prior to COTTAGE show 87th troops wearing the haversack, and also carrying their rucksacks. See "Packs On," a book about the 10th Mountain Division, pg. 21, for this esoteric detail.

 

The 87th Infantry was to be the first unit ashore at Kiska at H-Hour on D-Day, preceded by members of the 1st Special Service Force and the Alaskan Scouts, who marked the beaches and cleared some of the numerous boulders on the shore. Dad's unit, the 17th Infantry Regt., followed shortly after the 87th, passing through the mountain troops and moving further into the hills in the center of the island. I found Dad's maps of Kiska, one of them marked with a pencil line indicating his platoon's course over the island in search of the Japanese. As is well-known, the enemy had evacuated Kiska over two weeks previously.

 

Unfortunately, the fratricide/amicide on Kiska was initiated by panicked members of the 3rd Bn., 87th Inf., in the evening of D-Day on Kiska, August 15th, 1943. It's possible that some of the men in the photo were victims. The "fog of war" was both metaphoric and real on Kiska. Radio communications were compromised by magnetic interference and wet weather, in addition to the radio silence required in the early hours of the operation. Veterans recalled that high winds and naval gunfire also obscured the passwords and challenges. All the men in COTTAGE had been appraised of a large enemy force that, based on the prior fight for Attu, was expected to be vicious, devious, and unwilling to surrender, hence there was a great deal of apprehension in the ranks of the assault force. Additionally, the 87th had never trained above the battalion level prior to its deployment to the Aleutians, and the regiment's doctrines were somewhat different than that of the other components of the operation. The 87th arrived on Adak too late for the large rehearsal landings for COTTAGE on nearby Great Sitkin Island.

 

The photographer, Lt. Commander Horace Bristol, had been a long time LIFE photographer and gave up his job for a commission as one of the first members of the Steichen unit. Thanks to all here for indulging me; I wanted to correct the mistakes in my prior posts and give illumination to the photo.


Illegitimi Non Carborundum

 

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My father, TSGT Ray Nielsen, 2nd BN, "F" Company, 17th Infantry, landed on Attu at Massacre Bay. He was a platoon sergeant and

was also involved in the Kwajalein invasion and Leyte invasion, where he was hit by shrapnel. I have alot of his pictures--on the docks

getting ready to leave San Francisco, and also on the troop transport just before the landings. Also have many pix of Attu, and Kwaj.

I would be interested in any info you might have of his outfit.

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post-124477-0-59841100-1373305102.jpgpost-124477-0-20932700-1373305215.jpg

 

A couple of pix; 2nd BN, "F" Company, 17th Infantry loading out in the Bay area just prior to embarkation

on trrop ships to Attu. My dad, TSGT Nielsen is standing just to the left and rear of the platoon leader.

The bottom pix is sometime during week 2 of the Attu campaign.

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post-124477-0-40247700-1373308947.jpg

 

From what my dad told me, this photo is of Col. Edward P. Earle, addressing the troops in transit onboard

ship telling them what to expect at Attu.

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espeed, those are wonderful pictures. My research has focused largely on the 3rd Battalion of the 17th Infantry, but I would be happy to address any questions you might have. I have some knowledge of the 7th Division's early days 1940-43, and of the fight for Attu, but my father joined the regiment on Adak in July of 1943, as a replacement platoon leader after Operation LANDCRAB. I can tell you a fair amount about the subsequent campaigns. If you have not read them already, you should check out "The Capture of Attu," "Island Victory," and Love's "History of the 7th Division in World War II." These books were the starting point for my research. The exigencies of time have removed the original picture to which I referred, so I attach it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

post-682-0-63702500-1373309221.jpg


Illegitimi Non Carborundum

 

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post-124477-0-55921100-1373309535.jpgpost-124477-0-68163300-1373309597.jpg

 

The picture of the 4 sergeants was taken in early '42 at Ford Ord. My dad is the tall guy on the far left.

The top pix was taken on Attu after the island was secured. My dad is on the right holding the sake

bottle. I have a copy of the letter that Col. Earle sent to all of the officers and men of the 17th regiment,

prior to the invasion, but unfortunately, it's too large to attach here. Will figure out a way to post it. Thanks for all the info, and

will try and post more later. This is a GREAT forum!

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post-124477-0-19341600-1373388614.jpgpost-124477-0-72620300-1373388705.jpg

 

Additional pix of Attu and the ugly conditions these guys had to endure.

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post-124477-0-52711300-1373389003.jpgpost-124477-0-21218400-1373389035.jpg

 

More photos of ugly terrain and freezing conditions.

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I enjoyed reading this thread. I just published a book about my father's World War II experience, Cheerio and Best Wishes. Best of luck to you in finishing up and getting published ... can't wait to read it. Sorry I can't add anything to help your research, as all of mine was for the war in Europe.


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