Monday, December 24, 2012

WWII Canadian Forces in Alaska

In June 1942, Japanese forces occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska in the U.S. Aleutian Islands, a chain of remote, sparsely inhabited, volcanic islands extending 1,200 miles west of the Alaskan Peninsula.

In May 1943, the U.S. attacked Attu and after twenty days of fierce fighting and 4000 casualties regained the island. Anticipating that the mission to re-take Kiska  island was going to be difficult, a force of nearly 30,000 American soldiers and 5,300 Canadians was assembled for the invasion.

Canadian troops boarding a ship for the Aleutians. U.S. Army helmets were provided to the Canadians.

 The landings occurred on August 15 - 16, 1943. To the surprise of the allied forces,  the Japanese defenders had evacuated the island.


Canadian forces remained in the Aleutians until January 14, 1944, and received postal service from Canadian Army Post Office No. 51.  Surface mail was sent free but air mail letters required 6 cents U.S. postage. Mail was censored at the unit level as well as by the U.S. Army. Mail was processed through the U.S. Army Post Office at Adak Island. (Reference Bailey & Toop, Proud Series, The Canadian Military Posts, Volume 2)

C.A.P.O. 51 to Port Hardy, B.C., November 16, 1943
Free surface mail
U.S. Army censor tape

Canadian Army Post Office 51
Aleutian Islands, Alaska