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The Bombing of Dutch Harbor
by Zenji Abe, former Imperial Navy Lieutenant Commander Carrier Junyo
Translation by Alfred Weinzierl

"Leave the ones that can't make it behind" - into the fog after only one month's training
The Junyo and Ryujo of the 4th carrier division together with the heavy cruisers Maya and Takao and assorted escorts left for the Aleutians on May 26, 1942. Up to that date, the Navy had fought victoriously at Pearl Harbor, malaya and the Indian Ocean and was now concentrating its power in the Pacific Ocean to deal the US fleet a devastating blow. Vice Admiral Hosogaya's Northern Strike Force was going to make a diversionary attack on the Aleutians and also trying to land Army troops on the islands of Attu and Kiska. Our 4th carrier division was to attack Dutch Harbor and guard the fleet against enemy air attacks.

The Aleutians are located betwen Kamtchatka and Alaska, and the main islands of this snow covwered chain were Attu, kiska, Umnak, Addak and Unalaska. The main US base was in the north-eastern part of Unalaska.

At that time I was a squadron leader on the new carrier Junyo. I was transferred there in May 1942 from the carrier Akagi.

The Junyo was part of the 4th carrier division which was part of the second Striking force under Rear Admiral Kakuji Kakuta. I had taken part in the attack on Pearl Harbor and in other battles but it was hard for me to believe that the dark waves ahead of us belonged to the same ocean as the tropical waters in which we had fought until now.

When I was transferred to the Junyo shortly after my return from the Indian Ocean a new bombing squadron was established with 18 bombers and 36 crewmen. We went to train at the Saeki airbase in Kyushu but were pressed for time. Over half of the men had just graduated from flight school and needed to practice not only landin and taking off, but also bombing. As in the Navy song " Getsu Getsu Ka Sui Moku Kin Kin" (translators note: This means Monday, Monday, Tuesday, wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Friday - an indication that there were no days off for the Navy) we drilled without rest day and night to improve the airmen's performance.

The Junyo was the first fleet carrier converted from a passenger liner so our crewmwn had difficulties at first to get used to it, but in time they learned how to deal with the ship.

I myself went to the staff officers to tell them that we needed more time. Until now it was unheard of in the Navy to send a new carrier and aircrewa into battle with only one month of training but my superiors told me to literally leave the men who couldn't perfrom properly behind. I was very surprised that we would be sent into battle under such circumstances. Rear Admiral Kakuta told me that the schedule could not be changed and that a decisive battle lay aheadf of us. The Admiral was originally a Gunnery expert but well respected in the Navy as an intelligent, model Naval officer. He was later promoted to Vice Admiral and died in August 1944, comitting Seppuku [ritual suicide].

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