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Attu Island - May 11, 1943 - May 29, 1943

Allied Counterattack in The Aleutian Islands Campaign--Operation Sandcrab
Pacific Theater By: Iron Gut Heath - Last update: 02/19/2014
Axis Player: Allied Player:
x4 x6 x6 x6
    first You play first

Historical Background:
In a lesser known front of the Pacific theater, the Battle of the Aleutian Islands (June 1942-August 1943), U.S. troops fought to remove Japanese garrisons established on a pair of U.S.-owned islands west of Alaska. In June 1942, Japan had seized the remote, sparsely inhabited islands of Attu and Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. It was the only U.S. soil Japan would claim during the war in the Pacific. The maneuver was possibly designed to divert U.S. forces during Japan's attack on Midway Island (June 4-7, 1942) in the central Pacific. It?s also possible the Japanese believed holding the two islands could prevent the U.S. from invading Japan via the Aleutians. Either way, the Japanese occupation was a blow to American morale.

On 11 May 1943, the operation to recapture Attu began. In an effort to quickly take Attu Island the U.S. 1st Battalion came ashore at Beach RED and was tasked with securing higher ground beginning with Hill X. Meanwhile the main attack at Massacre Bay got under way as the 2d and 3d Battalion Combat Teams of the 17th Regiment landed unopposed on Beaches BLUE and YELLOW, and began to work their way up each side of the hogback--hindered by muddy, slippery muskeg--to capture Japanese positions and meet the other battalions for a final push into the Attu base. Included with the invasion force were scouts recruited from Alaska, nicknamed Castner's Cutthroats. A shortage of landing craft, unsuitable beaches, and equipment that failed to operate in the appalling weather made it difficult to bring any force against the Japanese. Soldiers suffered from frostbite because essential supplies could not be landed, or could not be moved to where needed because vehicles would not work on the tundra.

The Japanese defenders did not contest the landings, instead digging in on high ground far from the shore. This resulted in fierce combat, with a total of 3,929 U.S. casualties; 580 men were killed, 1,148 were wounded, and another 1,200 had severe cold injuries. In addition, 614 died of disease, and 318 from miscellaneous causes, mainly Japanese booby traps or friendly fire.

On 29 May, after the U.S. forces had worked their way up to rendevous on this high ground and moved toward the Attu base, the last of the Japanese forces attacked without warning in one of the largest banzai charges of the Pacific campaign. Led by Colonel Yamasaki, the attack penetrated U.S. lines so deeply that it encountered rear-echelon units of the American force. After furious, brutal, often hand-to-hand combat, the Japanese force was virtually exterminated. Only 28 had been willing to be taken prisoner, none of them officers. American burial teams counted 2,351 Japanese dead, but it was thought that hundreds more bodies had been buried by bombardments during the battle.

Three months they reclaimed Kiska, and in the process gained experience that helped them prepare for the long "island-hopping" battles to come as World War II raged across the Pacific Ocean.

The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history...

Allied Player (United States)
6 command cards.
You move first.

Axis Player (Japan)
4 command cards.

Heavy fog is hampering visibility and affected targeting of airstrikes, naval bombardment, and heavy artillery on both sides.

Conditions of Victory:
U.S. Allied forces: 6 medals
The capture of Hill X is a permanent medal for the Allies even if that unit doesn't remain on the hex.

The landward hex of Attu Base is a temporary medal for Allied units as long they occupy that space.

Japanese Axis forces: 6 medals

Special Rules:
Night visibility rules are in effect to reflect the problem of fog in the opening days of battle.

Units designated as US Rangers are the Alaskan Scouts units known as Castner's Cutthroats, recruited for their ability to survive and operate well in arctic conditions. They can move two hexes and still battle.

Each battatlion has a unit of US Engineers.

Japanese Imperial Rules are in effect.

Some Japanese units only have 3 troops in them due to the massing of troops nearer the Attu base. They still attack like a 4 troop unit until they lose their first troop.

The mountains/hills in the Southwest and Northeast as well as the mountains of the central hogback are impassable and block line of sight for units except artillery.

The glacial lake is impassable.

Rice patties simulate the slippery, muddy "muskeg" of the artic tundra.

The freezing waters near the beaches act like frozen rivers.

Scenario Bibliography:

Please note that this scenario was not approved by Richard Borg or Days of Wonder, so you have to check yourself about playability, potential gaming issues, etc.

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