Operation Fireplace

This was the US landing at Rulah Bay on Adak island in the Aleutian islands group for the construction of an airfield (30 August/September 1942).

Adak is an island in the central part of the Aleutian islands group, and is about 30 miles (48 km) long. Like most of the Aleutian islands group, it is barren and mountainous, and in 1941 was wholly undeveloped.

After Japanese troops had seized Attu and Kiska, the two westernmost islands of the Aleutian islands group, in the ‘Aq’ and ‘Aob’ elements of ‘Al’ in June 1942, the US military launched a campaign to oust the invaders. As the nearest US major military presence to the target area was in Cold Bay, Alaska, the US forces started to construct bases in the western part of the Aleutian islands from which to launch operations against the Japanese. Adak island was chosen as the site for a new airfield, and after the island had been occupied by the 2/134th Infantry on 30 August, work began on the construction of an airfield in a drained lagoon, and flight operations from this began on 10 September 1942 with the arrival of a Douglas B-18 patrol bomber. The arrival of more aircraft allowed the launch, on 14 September, of the first air attack on the Japanese positions on Kiska island. The raid involved 12 Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bombers escorted by 28 Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighters.

The US facilities on the island grew steadily, and eventually came to include a major airfield complex, with two army and two navy airstrips, together with a number of satellite facilities on nearby islands.

Attacks against the Japanese, including major US ground assaults, were successful, and by the end of 1943 the Japanese had been defeated in the Aleutian islands group. After this the base on Adak island was retained for service as a signals intelligence base as it was the US soil closest to the Japanese military facilities in the Kurile islands group, which was strategically important to Japan.