The Aleutians
The Lands of 50 mph Fog
The Japanese in the Aleutians Attu Photos
This page is dedicated to the photos taken of the Japanese military occupying Attu, Aleutian Islands, AK during WWII. The photos 1-11 were contributed by Jill Holmgren of Fairbanks, AK, a frequent contributor to our web site. The photos originate from a WWII-era Japanese photo magazine featuring stories of the Japanese military in the Aleutians beginning June 6th, 1942. The lack of sharpness and other image quality issues are a result of these photos having been extracted from an old paper magazine media. They have been digitally enlarged and enhanced using AI processing tools.
Attu - Photos Contributed by Jill Holmgren
Attu - Photos Contributed by Ian Beaton
1. Naomi Tabuchi was kind enough to provide translation for this page as follows: The title of the magazine (the yellow print) is "Shashin Shuho," meaning "Photographs Weekly Bulletin." Additionally, "10 sen is the price of the magazine. It is dated the 8th of July [1942], about one month after capturing Attu. It is magazine number 2028, published by "The Information Board Editing Station." [Original Photo]
2. Naomi also translated this page for us as follows: "To a snowy dense fog zone. Aleutians capture detailed report." This page reported about the state of the warships sailing to the Aleutian Islands. [Original Photo]
3. Naomi translated this page as follows: 7th - 8th of June [1942], Empire Army occupies most west end Attu Island and Kiska Island of Aleutian Islands by surprise attack. This page explained the success of the Japanese Army. The photo is titled "Landing Japanese military unit went ashore." [Old Japanese letters used here. Additional work being done to translate.] [Original Photo] [Note: All but 28 of these soldiers would perish on Attu during the Battle of Attu. All surviving soldiers on Kiska was eventually evacuated prior to the allied invasion of Kiska.]
4. This view appears to be that as seen in June 1942 after Japanese forces captured Attu, overlooking Chichagof Harbor. The Allied Forces would land at Massacre Bay, Attu on 11 May 1943. [Original Photo]
5. Unable to distinquish the aircraft identification from this photo, however, given that it is a seaplane, more accurately described as a “large flying boat,” it may be either of the following two models: a.	Kawanishi H6K Type 97 Large Flying Boat, known by the allies as the “Mavis, first flown in 1936, or b.	Kawanishi H8K Type 2 Large Flying Boat, known as the Emily, first flowin in 1941. [Original Photo]
6. June 8th, 1942. The Japanese Army moves their soldiers from Chichagof Harbor, Attu, into the mountains to build and maintain defensive positions prior to the invasion of Attu in May, 1943. Click HERE for translation (Miho Lillard provided translation. Our thanks!). [Original Photo]
7. The Japanese forces entrenced themshelves along ridges overlooking Holtz Bay and Sarana Bay. [Original Photo]
8. June, 1942. Translated by Miho Lillard and Chizuko Lund: "The families of the guards (defense?) in Chichagofu (Titchagov?) came out hands up, shaking with fear, but they soon got back peace in their mind because of the imperial army’s (troops or military) warm treatment towards them. First children smiles, then mothers smiled." [Etta Jones, teacher, nurse, and surviving spouse of Foster Jones, can be seen in the foreground] [Original Photo]
9. Japanese forces occupying the ridges overlooking Holtz Bay and Sarana Bay, June 1942. [Original Photo]
10. Japanese forces settling in their locations surrounding Chichagof Harobor. June 1942. [Original Photo]
11. Japanese forces scrambling up the ridges surrounding Chichagof Bay. June 1942. [Original Photo]
Ian Beaton ("They Also Serve" Author) Ian arrived on Shemya Island in November 1943, and stayed through July 1945. While on Shemya, Ian had a friend who had access to the Shemya Air Base Photo Lab. His friend found a roll of film that had belonged to a Japanese soldier stationed on Attu. The Japanese soldier to whom the film belonged was more than likely killed in the Battle for Attu some time during May of 1943, as there were only 28 surviving Japanese soldiers of the 2,800 stationed there. There's no evidence the film belonged to any of these 28 survivors. Ian had prints made from this roll of film in 1943, with the U.S. Army censor's stamp on the back of each photo. Ian sent these photos home to his family in 1944. For several years Ian has been trying to get these photos to the surviving families of the soldiers seen in these photos. In August of 2003, Ian's story along with two of the photos appeared in "The Yomiuri Shimbun," one of the largest newspapers in Japan, with no results. Ian was kind enough to allow us to publish these photos on our web site, with hopes that perhaps someone in Japan or elsewhere will recognize the soldiers in these photos. These photos were taken on Attu sometime between June 6th of 1942 and May 10th of 1943, when Attu was re-captured by the Allies from the Japanese. Each photo has been digitally enhanced using Topaz’s “DeNoise” and “Gigapixel” applications to remove noise and to enlarge 2x from the original photos. Click on the thumbnail image to view the enlarged version, or click on the “Original Photo” link to view the original photo.
1. As we don't know who is in these photos or exactly what's going on, I will provide my best guess as to what we're seeing. This photo appears to be of an individual, perhaps an officer, inside a tent. Could be an office or sleeping tent. [Original Photo]
2. I’m guessing that the soldiers were digging in, preparing defensive positions in and around the mountains of Attu. As there is an adequate amount of snow on the ground, the date for this photo would be somewhere between October of 1942 and April of 1943. A closer look at this photo posses the additional possibility that this location may be Chichagof Harbor, the site of the original Japanese landings on Attu, with the troops bringing supplies ashore. [Original Photo]
3. This photo appears to be that of two enlisted Japanese soldiers, buddies no doubt, posing in front of a tent on one of Attu's mountain ridges near Chicgagof Harbor or Holtz Bay. There were also numerous defensive positions set up by the Japanese overlooking Massacre Bay. The Japanese had 11 months to get their defenses established prior to the invasion of Attu by the Allied Forces. [Original Photo]
4. This photo appears to be one of several of the ranking officers on Attu given the appearance of the uniforms being worn. Also...nice quarters! [Original Photo]
5. This photo was apparently taken in an office environment. The illumination from the background was the sun shining on that side of the tent. These individuals appear to be middle-level management officers or staff. [Original Photo]
6. Lifetime friendships are forged between individuals while serving in the military, especially between those facing or engaged in battle. These two were obvious friends, enjoying Attu's winter wonderland adventure. [Original photo]
7. This group of soldiers are probably discussing defensive positions in and around the ridges of Attu's mountainous regions near Chicagof Harbor and Holtz Bay. [Original Photo]
8. There are always those who know how to make the best of any situation. Here's a lad that brought his skis along with him. This indicates that it was not all work and no play during the Japanese Army's 11-month long deployment to Attu. [Original Photo]
9. I believe this is a picture of a different skier, but I'd be willing to bet it's the same set of skis! [Original Photo]
10. And finally, who could envision the terrible battle that would begin and end in May of 1943 while looking at this beautiful mountain scenery…a place where thousands went to die. [Original Photo]
Current Update: 22 Nov 2021 Last Updated: 04 January 2013 Originally published 30 August 2005
Additional Attu Photos
1. This photo is of a Japanese 75mm Gun on Attu. [Original Photo]