7 June 1942

Yesterday Tomorrow

June 7th, 1942 (SUNDAY)

U.S.S.R.: A major German attack begins on Sevastopol. The Soviet Black Sea Fleet is involved in supplying the Russian defenders.


PACIFIC OCEAN: Throughout the night of 6/7 June, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) remained stubbornly afloat northeast of Midway Island. By 0530 hours, however, the men in the ships nearby noted that the carrier's list was rapidly increasing to port. As if tired, the valiant flattop turned over at 0701 hours on her port side and sank in 3,000 fathoms (18,000 feet or 5,486 meters) of water in position 30.36N, 176.34W.

During the night of 6/7 June, the USAAF's 7th Air Force dispatches a flight of four LB-30 Liberators from Midway Island for a predawn attack on Wake Island. The aircraft are unable to find the target and one LB-30 crashes into the sea killing all of the crew including Major General Clarence L Tinker, Commanding General, 7th Air Force. On 11 November 1943, the Oklahoma City Air Depot at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was renamed Tinker Field (now AFB) in memory of General Tinker.

TERRITORY OF ALASKA: ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: At 0300 hours, the Japanese Army North Sea Detachment consisting of 1,143 men of the 301st Independent Infantry Battalion, the 301st Independent Engineer Company and a service unit, invade Attu Island in the Aleutian Islands. Attu Island, in the Near Island group of the Aleutian Islands, is the most western of the Aleutians. The island is a 338 square mile (875 square km) barren, windswept, mountainous island with the highest peak more than 3,000 feet (914 meters) located at 52-55 N, 172-30 E or 190 miles (306 km) northwest of Kiska Island invaded yesterday, 840 miles (1,352 km) west of Dutch Harbor attacked on 3 and 4 June, and 1,480 miles 2,382 km) west southwest of Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska.

There are 44 American civilians on the island when the Japanese invade, two white Government employees and 42 Atka Aleuts, the native people of the Aleutian Islands, all living in a prosperous settlement. The two whites are Mr. and Mrs. Charles Foster Jones who had moved to the island in the summer of 1941. Mr. Jones had been in Alaska for 40 years and he serves as a weather reporter and radio operator for the U.S. Weather Bureau. Mrs. Jones is a teacher, community worker and nurse who first began working for the Indian Service in 1928. The 42 Aleuts make their living from blue fox trapping and operate the Native Community on Attu which sells the pelts to a fur dealer in New York City. The Aleuts live in nine homes having from four to seven rooms each, all of which are well maintained and have heating and running water.

The Japanese that landed that morning are far from disciplined. They surround the village and begin firing indiscriminately at the inhabitants; one Aleut women is hit in the leg. After one soldier shots another, the firing stopped. The 44 Americans were handled roughly even though none had resisted and their houses were looted of food and personal belongs. Mr. Jones had destroyed the radio equipment and he was separated from his wife and was killed the next day. One story has it that he tried to escape and was shot dead; the Aleuts buried him in the churchyard. On 8 June, a high ranking Japanese officer landed and restored discipline to his troops and made them return the food they had stolen from the homes and the civilians were well treated from this point on.

After several days, Mrs. Jones was put on a ship returning to Japan and she was taken to Yokohama where she was housed in a hotel with 18 Australian nurses who had been captured earlier in the war. They were later moved to the Yacht Club where the 19 women lived for two years; because of her white hair, the Japanese respected Mrs. Jones and she was not allowed to work. On Christmas 1942, they received parcels from the British Red Cross; American Red Cross packages were received on Christmas 1943. Later in the war, American packages were received every few months. In early 1945, the women were moved to a Japanese house in the suburbs of Yokohama where they grew vegetables in a garden. On 3 July 1945, representatives of the Red Cross came to see them and the American government finally learned for the first time that Mrs. Jones was alive and a prisoner of the Japanese.

The Aleuts did not fare as well. They were taken to Japan and forced to dig clay for their captures and more than half of them died of malnutrition and tuberculosis. When liberated, Mrs. Jones and the Aleuts were returned to the U.S. The 24 surviving Aleuts were taken to Seattle, Washington and placed on a ship and returned to the island of Atka, the nearest inhabited island to Attu.

The Japanese renamed the island Atsuta.

The IJN's 500-man No. 3 Maizuru Special Landing Force landed on Kiska Island. During August 1942, the Japanese reinforced Kiska with another naval landing force consisting of 1,000 men in addition to 500 civilian construction workers.

The Japanese development of Kiska was much more extensive than the development of Attu, which was almost entirely IJA. The ordnance deployed on Kiska was superior to that on Attu, some heavy machine guns were mounted in concrete pill boxes, radar and two searchlights were installed, medical facilities were housed in well-equipped and underground hospitals.

A fairly well-developed road network was in place on Kiska and 60 trucks, eight sedans, 20 motorcycles and other vehicles operated over it. Two small bulldozers, tractors and rollers were used on the Salmon Lagoon airfield, which was never operational. There was a submarine base and four small subs were found there when the U.S. invaded. A seaplane base contained the wrecks of 40 fighter and reconnaissance float planes, two machine shops, a foundry and a saw mill. Water of power system were also available. The communications system consisted of three radio stations, a radio navaid station and a well-installed telephone system.

Starting in mid-September 1942, the IJA unit that had invaded Attu transferred to Kiska and by July 1943, there were about 7,800 troops on the island, half IJA and half IJN.

U.S.A.: The Chicago Tribune imperils codebreaking operations by printing a report of the Battle of Midway under the headline "Navy had word of Jap plan to strike."

German submarines sink two more unarmed U.S. merchant vessels in the Caribbean. U-159 sinks a freighter north of Columbia while U-107 sinks a freighter southeast of the Yucatan Channel.

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7 June 1942