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Aerial shots of a World War Two battlefield on a remote Alaskan island shows the scarred landscape where thousands of soldiers died fighting in hand to hand combat.
Satellite imagery discovered on Google Maps of the island of Attu shows the chilling remnants of a bloody battle between the American and Japanese forces in 1943.
The Battle of Attu was a bloody, two-week campaign that involved bombing raids. Thousands of Japanese soldiers were slain in this battle, many of them in hand-to-hand combat.
The island Attu lies at the westernmost point of Alaska. It has several sites demarcated as battlefields during the conflict, each point marked with the remains of artillery craters and what appear to be dugouts.
One aerial shot appears to show an old runway that has since grown over, to the northwest of the battlefield.
The spotter – posting on Reddit – said they believed it was a Japanese army airfield under construction when the Americans recaptured the island.
The island, which lies in the Bering Sea, was taken over by the Japanese in July 1942 along with another Alaskan island, Kisaka.
Historians say that the objective was to create a strategic barrier between the US and Russia, in case the latter were to join the war, and to stymie any American offensives on Japan by the same route.
The American offensive to retake the island began on May 11, 1943.
However, the operation was beset by difficulties, with a shortage of landing craft, appalling weather and soldiers suffering with frostbite.
The Japanese on the island did not fight the landing forces, instead choosing to dig in on high ground away from the shore.
This resulted in a bloody battle that saw 3,929 US casualties, of which 549 were killed, and 2,035 Japanese deaths.
The Japanese were defeated in Massacre Valley. Following the defeat, the Americans built Navy Town near Massacre Bay.
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The battle ended after the remaining Japanese troops attacked near Massacre Bay with a “banzai charge” on May 29 that year.
The charge was named by Allied forces after the battle cry that Japanese forces would shout while advancing.
It was a human wave, a suicide attack.
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After close, hand-to-hand combat, nearly all the remaining Japanese soldiers were killed, with only 28 prisoners being taken by American forces.
The Japanese Navy evacuated Kiska three months later.
The island became uninhabited in 2010, making it the largest uninhabited island in the United States.
- Google Maps
- World War 2
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