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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Alaska during the Pacific War

Amchitka, Alaska (Code name "Formula")

 

Landing Operations-Trucks Unloading From the U.S.S. MIDDLETON
William F. Draper #30
Oil on board; 1942
88-189-AL

 

 

On arrival in Constantine harbor, Amchitka, USS Middleton sends forth waves of landing boats. Here soldiers await their turn to disembark while the unloading of the ship begins. Approaching the beach in the distance are the landing boats jammed with anxious soldiers alert for possible Japanese resistance on the barren shore.

 

Aleutian Landing (Beaching a landing boat)
William F. Draper #32
Oil on board; 1942
88-189-AN

 

After the initial landing, jeep and tank lighters gradually unload the cargo ship. Here, while men hold the boat form beaching broadside in the rough surf, a previously unloaded "cat" tractor approaches to haul supplies ashore. In the leaden January sky, an ever-present, ever-vigilant PBY patrols the gloomy region for enemy craft.

 

Supply Line's End (Supplies being brought up from the beach)
William F. Draper #33
Oil on board; 1942
88-189-AO

 

Supplies of all sorts from ships and barges line the shore awaiting transfer by hand to the various encampments. Here, a few weathered men carry provisions to the future "Navy town". Through the thick clumps of Aleutian grass appears the makeshift roof of a native barabaras hut.

 

Rest In Peace (Solders Pause During Landing Operations)
William F. Draper #31
Oil on board; 1942
88-189-AM

 

Near the mushrooming Army encampment, the Seabees pitch the first Navy tent on the desolate northern tundra. Already the distant valley has nearly drained of its lake, and soon a fighter strip will take its place. Ever on the alert for enemy planes, two P-38s and B-25s zoom overhead while the dependable and constant PBY maneuvers for reconnaissance shots.

 

Aleutian Home (Pitching the First Navy Tent)
William F. Draper #34
Oil on board; 1942
88-189-AP

 

 

 

Frozen Sunlight-Amchitka (Fighter Strip Construction)
William F. Draper #36
Oil on board; 1942
88-189-AR

 

This frozen and seemingly quiet landscape is actually the scene of great activity. Beyond the tents which house Army personnel is the drained lake bottom where the construction of the fighter strip progresses the day to day. The flat tundra of the island is in sharp contrast to the mountainous character of the rest of the Aleutian Chain.

 

Fireworks (The First Japanese Raid on the Island)
William F. Draper #35
Oil on board; 1942
88-189-AQ

 

The first Japanese raid on the island of Amchitka brings forth a frantic burst of anti-aircraft fire. In this picture, a 37mm gun adjacent to the mess tent spits out a stream of lead at the invader, while his bombs explode geyser-like in the harbor.

 

War and Peace (Ack-Ack fire Near A Russian-Aleut Grave)
William F. Draper #37
Oil on board; 1942
88-189-AS

 

The peace of an Aleut grave, marked by a Russian Orthodox Cross, is shattered by the staccato barking of a 50-caliber gun as it unleashes a barrage of bullets at attacking Japanese planes.

 

Chess by Lamplight
William F. Draper #39
Oil on board; 1942
88-189-AU

 

Outside, the fog-paled winter of the Aleutians grips barren Amchitka. Within, grateful for the heat of the red-bellied stove, two American officers pass the long hours at chess, while another speaks into a field telephone.

 

Captain Francis J. Mckenna, USN (Senior Officer Present at Amchitak Landing Operations)
William F. Draper #38
Oil on board; 1942
88-189-AT

 

 

Senior Naval Officer present at the occupation of Amchitak. He wears typical winter gear of the Aleutians. A fur-lined parka and the green garrison of a Navy pilot.

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01 December 2001