AL GLOECKLER'S ALEUTIAN SCRAPBOOK
1943-1946
(page 1 of 2)

 

Aleutian Islands during World War II; Alfred Gloeckler's Recollections


Al Gloeckler I left Seattle in January 1943 and arrived in Anchorage the end of January 1943. In February 1943, I left for Amchitka. Anchorage was nothing but an air base at that time. We were a four man team of radar inspectors. At that time, no radar posts had been developed. Months later several radio locations were developed at different locations on Amchitka. The weather was so bad that the Air Force had a hard time flying. It was so bad that we lost so many planes that the average life of a pilot was about 2 months. They would take off and the weather would change and they could not return because of the fog. Months later I was on a radar site 35 miles from Kiska when our radar picked up a Japanese Fleet. We called into the air base and gave them our report. The weather was good but no planes were sent to rout them. The next day the Japanese were removed from Kiska. A Japanese ship ventured into the Bay. I was on duty. We had a torpedo boat in our harbor and they fired one shot and the Japanese took off heading for the open waters. We on the base were in trenches until the last of the Japanese ships left. My thoughts on the affair were that an agreement was made that we would not stop them from leaving Kiska. Shortly after that U.S. and Canadian troops invaded Kiska -- the U.S. from one end of the island and the Canadians from the other. They met and some of the troops were killed by friendly fire. From Amchitka, I was sent to Attu to inspect radar posts until the war was over. Since I had no furloughs from the time I arrived in the Aleutians, I spent 36 straight months in the Aleutian Islands, The Hell Hole of Creation. I was given a 29 day furlough and flew from Anchorage to Canada and took a train to U.S.

[THE PICTURE 35 MM STRIPS ARE FROM AMCHITKA. I KNOW THIS FOR I HAD THE 33MM FROM HOME. SOME TIME AFTER I WAS ON AMCHITKA THEY GOT SOME CAMERAS IN THE PX. I FOUND THIS GERMAN CAMERA AND FELL IN LOVE WITH IT. THE ONLY TROUBLE WITH IT WAS IT TOOK 120 FILM. I FOUND I COULD CONVERT 620 FILMS TO IT AND NO ONE ELSE HAD A CAMERA TO USE 620 FILM SO WAS ABLE GET ALL I NEEDED. I HAD NO TROUBLE SELLING MY 35MM CAMERA.]

AL GLOECKLER
9704 OVERLEA DRIVE
ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND 20850-3741
PHONE: 301-424-6811

eMail: apgjr@verizon.net

[Webmaster's Notes: Al's photos are some 66 years old. Over time the emulsion on many of the photos has cracked, is missing, or has started to fade with time. Each of the photos on these pages (from Attu, Amchitka, and near Kiska) has been extensively digitally re-processed. We are working with Al to determine location, captions, and dates for each of these photos. As we get information, we will update this page. Please visit often!]

 

1. Fishing on Attu. The salmon are swimming upstream, returning home to die. I'm on the right, I don't remember the name of the other soldier.

 

 

2. Showing their catch; (L to R) Tracy and Joe Cosloski.

 

 

3. Myself (Al G.) showing off my catch.

 

 

4. L-R: Tracy, don't remember his name, and myself (Al).

 

 

5. I'm reaching down for another fish.

 

 

6. Jim showing his double catch!

 

 

7. You can see the salmon splashing as they attempt to get upstream. On the left is Anthony Cash, I'm on the right.

 

 

8. Catching some more. You couldn't eat these fish as they were falling apart. L-R: Cash, me, and Joe.

 

 

9. Taken on Attu. L-R: Jim Vic Vatter (my right-hand man), Dan Shinderman, myself, and Anthony Cash.

 

 

10. On Attu. Acting up in front of our hut. L-R: Luke, Cash, and myself.

 

11. On Attu, my home for several years, taken inside the hut. Looks as if I'm writing home or to some girl!

 

12. Attu. Tracy getting some sun, a rare commodity on Attu. Besides a bit of rare sunshine we experienced lots of rain, fog, and wind that could blow you away!

 

13. Attu. Saturday came around once every week, and Luke was due for his bath. Never could figure out Luke was over six feet tall.

 

 

14. Attu. Four P-38s enjoying the good weather, which was rare indeed. Most of the time we stayed inside! That is another P-38 and a P-40 parked on the ground.

 

 

15. Attu. J. C. Johnson from Johnson, TX outside our hut. You can see that the bottom portion of the hut was built into the ground (up to around 3 feet) to keep it from blowing away. Winds could easily reach into the 100mph range.

 

 

16. Amchitka. Changing a tire at the motor pool. I don't know the names of the men in the photo.

 

 

 

17. Amchitka. One of our group but I can't remember his name. After 60 years I'm lucky to remember my own!

 

 

18. Attu. The snow was so deep you can barely see the top of our hut! During the winter months you had to dig a trench to find the door. Snow would sometimes pile up 6 feet or more around our door!

 

 

19. Attu. A picture of the bland area around our hut. This one appears to be down at the "beach!"

 

 

20. People unknown. The background is one of the islands but the people are in dress uniforms. We rarely wore dress uniforms. We mostly wore regular winter clothing.

 

 

21a. Attu: The building is a workshop that we had in 1944. I am the one in the picture.

 

 

21b. Stamp shows that it passed Army examination.

 

 

22. Person in our radar inspector group - name unknown.

 

 

23. Person in our radar inspector group - name unknown.

 

 

24. This photo was taken in the Irish Hills in Michigan before I went into the service.

 

25. On the left is JC Johnson, one of my group. Both were diesel inspectors. Person on the right is unknown.

 

 

26. Al in a tent in Amchitka.

 

 

27. Left to right: Pete, Luke (from Kentucky), Al on Attu. It must be Spring because the snow is melting.

 

 

28. Al - Outside of our Quonset hut on Attu.

 

 

29. Amchitka. Portable radar unit, probably a 270. In the background are huts and further back the ground headquarters.

 

 

30. Amchitka. Me drinking a 3.2 beer on Attu. Towards the end of my tour of duty, every once in a while we would get a case of beer.

 

 

31. Amchitka. Al acting silly.

 

 

32. Attu: equipment dump.

 

 

33. Attu: same equipment dump as in picture 32.

 

 

34. At the motor pool on Attu.  (Amchitka?)

 

 

 

35. One of our inspector group -- name unknown.  (Amchitka?)

 

 

 

36. Al standing in the snow. (Amchitka?)

 

 

 

37. Listening to the radio in a Quonset hut on Attu - person unknown.  (Amchitka?)

 

 

 

38. On the left, Keith from my neighborhood in Toledo. He was coastal artillery. Al on the right.

 

 

39. Shoveling into a Quonset hut on Attu. Person unknown.

 

 

40. Al standing in front a radar parts vehicle.

 

 

41. Brand-new tug that had a boulder go through the bottom at low tide. Tug could not be freed and later was blown up.

 

 

Page 2

Posted: 15:00hrs, 7 April 2009

Updated: 08:45hrs, 21 Apr 2009