Saturday, September 22, 2012

Report From The Aleutians (1942)

One of the first things I ordered when I started researching the war in Alaska was this 42 minute video called Report Form The Aleutians.  The video looks at the first part of the Aleutian Campaign and was made in 1942 by the U.S. government so as you can imagine, it tells a somewhat censored version of what really went on up north.  But even with the omission of important details, it is still very interesting for someone who wants to know more about some of the goings on of the campaign.  

I particularly enjoyed this because it has a lot of Air Force coverage, even though they fail to mention that the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) were there as well,  fighting as one with the 11th Pursuit.  You can go along with the airmen as a camera actually accompanies one of the bombers in a mission over Kiska, which in a way, was fascinating, but at the same time equally as sad to see the destruction war inflicts.  This video allowed me to envision my grandfather's life and duties while up there and some of the things he had to endure on a day to day basis. Another interesting clip was that of the construction of the runway on Adak, designed by General Talley,  made out of steel and built by the Infantry.  It was a million and a half square feet of steel runway constructed in only 10 days. 

This is what my grandfather had to say when asked by the Canadian Department of Defense Historian, M.V. Bezeau, about his missions to Kiska from Adak in 1942 with the 11th Pursuit, commanded by Major Jack Chennault.

"The operations from Adak on Kiska were basically an escort duty until the target was reached.  One squadron of heavy bombers, B-24's, escorted by three squadrons of fighters, mainly P-40's and P-39's (12 bombers and 36 fighters).  In addition, one B-17 was assigned to photograph the results of each raid.  Once the target was reached, fighter sections (2a/c) each of which had its own targets, such as anti aircraft gun positions on the ground or on ships in the harbour, went in at low levels to eliminate any fire for the minute or so which the bombers would take to release their loads on their particular targets, motor pools, ammunition dumps, ships, barracks, ect. The fighters were then on their own to do what ever damage they could to anything that moved."

"Tactically, we flew in sections of 2 in a wide V of 10 aircraft with a cover of one aircraft on a high sweep above and a low sweep below the main group.  The sections would break off for individual section action when the situation called for it."

F/O Robert W. Lynch
RCAF 111(f) Squadron
April 22nd, 1980

This video can be purchased on for roughly ten dollars.

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