In June 1942, a Japanese naval task force landed in the Aleutians islands and occupied the islands of Kiska and Attu. It was intended as a diversion to draw American naval forces away from Midway prior to a Japanese assault on the islands. In 1943, the Americans and Canadians organized a force to retake Kiska from the Japanese.
The 34,000 strong force included the 13th Canadian Infantry Brigade and the American-Canadian 1st Special Service Force. The 13th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group was composed of the Canadian Fusiliers, Winnipeg Grenadiers, Rocky Mountain Rangers, Régiment de Hull, 24th Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery, 46th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery Royal Canadian Artillery, 24th Field Company Royal Canadian Engineers, 24th Field Ambulance, Royal Canadian Army Medical Services Corps, and the 1st Company of the St. John Fusiliers.
A fleet of 3 battleships, 2 cruisers, and 19 destroyers supported the landing force as it set sail on13 August 1943. When the Allied force began landing on Kiska on 15 August, the island was deserted. The Japanese Imperial Navy completed the evacuation of Kiska only four days before the American- Canadian force arrived. Allied aerial reconnaissance did not detect the Japanese evacuation operation due to poor weather and heavy fog. The 13th Canadian Infantry Brigade was stationed on Kiska until 22 December 1943.
Although the Canadians did not see action, sickness was rampant among members of the 13th Infantry Brigade. The cold and damp of the inhospitable climate claimed as many, if not more, casualties as any enemy fire would have inflicted.