[Manuscript Plan and Scrapbook of the Battle of Attu]
An incredible personal testimonial from a decorated WWII intelligence officer, including a unique battle plan of Operation Landcrab.
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This spectacular scrapbook was compiled by Lietuentant Colonel William Henry Hall, a native of Portland, Oregon born in 1904. The first page opens with a high school graduation picture of Mr. Hall, while the next several pages are dedicated to his wife, Miss Harriet Breyman, whom he married on September 16, 1928.
Hall’s visual storytelling continues through the 1930’s with newspaper clippings related to his job at investment firms, photos of family parties, mementos from vacations, and recruitment papers for the U.S. Army Reserve. After war broke out, Hall trained at Fort Lewis and Fort Benning, GA, where he was assigned as an intelligence officer to the Army General Staff. The scrapbook includes numerous photographs, including a large panorama of Ft. Benning, of camp life. After training, Hall was assigned to the G-2 (Intelligence) Section of the 7th Army Division.
Hall’s first real action in the war was to assist with the photo-reconnaissance missions of the island of Attu, which is well documented in the scrapbook. Japanese forces took the island in the Aleutians, as well as nearby Kiska, after an unopposed amphibious landing in June of 1942. Understanding the strategic value of the archipelago, the U.S. immediately began making plans to recapture the island. Less than a year later, Operation Landcrab was underway.
This large scale invasion of the Alaskan islands took place between May 11-30, 1943 by the 7th infantry division. After two weeks of heavy fighting, the Japanese attempted one final bonzai charge (the only one to take place on American soil, that I can tan tell) and the battle ended in brutal hand to hand combat. Nearly every Japanese soldier was killed, with less than 100 prisoners taken of the 3,000+ soldiers. The scrapbook contains a number of articles related to Operation Landcrab, including ghastly photographs of the aftermath of the bonzai charge, landscape photographs and a number of maps.
The most impressive of these is a large manuscript map drawn by another intelligence officer (not Hall), that vividly shows the daily progress of the operation. Troop movements, target areas, supply drop locations and artillery support are all shown through a unique firsthand account. There are also 18 photographs, all conspicuously marked secret, that show the progress of the troops from D+1 to D+19 (missing one in the series, D+2, from what I can tell). After the island was successfully re-captured, Hall remained on Attu for several months as he oversaw the production of a souvenir booklet (a signed copy of which is included) for the troops. Several other pieces of ephemera, like music sheets and cartoon books, reflect the incredibly isolated nature of service in the Aleutian Islands – Alaska is often considered “the forgotten campaign.”
After V-J Day, Hall was sent to Tokyo as part of the American Occupation Forces. The scrapbook continues to tell this part of his story, and includes a number of pieces of correspondence with a Chinese officer to whom Hall is trying to return a ceremonial sword. Hall struck up a close friendship with the officer, who would ultimately send his nephew to the University of Oregon!
Hall was eventually sent home aboard the U.S.S. Admiral H.T. Mayo in April of 1946. Shortly thereafter, he was awarded two Bronze Stars for meritorious achievement in the Pacific Theater. This scrapbook, kept meticulously by Hall throughout much of his life, is an incredible composite of primary source documents, photographs, and miscellaneous ephemera that provides a compelling story about one man’s experience up to, during, and after the Second World War.
Publication Date: 1943
Author: William Henry Hall
Sheet Width (in): 21.25
Sheet Height (in): 18.75
Condition Description: The scrapbook measures approximately 12" x 16" and contains about 45 pages (though there are more that are blank) that are absolutely chock full of photographs, newspaper clippings, personal documents and more. About 10 of the pages were removed from the book at some point, and are tucked in loosely, while many of the accompanying documents are also loose. There are a number of spots where old tape and residue was used to affix material to the pages, but overall the contents are tight and intact. The binding is also in good shape, with red cloth covered boards bound at the spine with string.
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