Mon, June 03, 2013

The Bombing of Dutch Harbor, June 3, 1942

By Rachel Mason

Marines bunker down in trenches during the Japanese
attack on Dutch Harbor, June 4, 1942. Oil tanks send
up black plumes of toxic smoke in the background.
(Courtesy National Archives)

Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese aircraft struck at U.S. Army and Navy installations at Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island. On the evening of June 3, 1942, Kate bombers from the carriers Junyo and Ryujo descended from a heavily overcast sky to find Dutch Harbor in the eye of the storm and a ripe target from the suddenly clear sky. To the shock of the pilots, the air filled with anti-aircraft fire—a secret Japanese message warning of the attack had been intercepted three weeks before, and since late May the installation had been on high alert. Finding neither an airfield nor a carrier fleet at Dutch (as they had expected) the Japanese pilots turned to secondary targets, and unleashed their loads on the Margaret Bay Naval barracks, killing 25 servicemen.

For more information, please visit the National Park Service’s Aleutian WWII National Historic Area at:

Another view of the bombing of Dutch Harbor (Courtesy National Archives)