Bombardment of Fort Stevens, 1942

Shell crater resulting form Japanese shelling on Fort Stevens. - NARA - 299678.jpg

Servicemen examining a shell crater after the attack. Wikipedia image.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Bombardment of Fort Stevens,
the only instance during the war of a U.S. military installation within the continental United States being attacked.

The fort, which dated to the Civil War, was on the Oregon side of the mouth of the Columbia River. On June 21, 1942, the Japanese submarine I-25, which had been assigned to attack enemy shipping, entered U.S. coastal waters and followed fishing boats to avoid mines.

Late that night, Commander Tagami Meiji ordered the crew to surface at the mouth of the Columbia. The sub then fired a total of seventeen 5.5 inch explosive shells.

Upon the first sign of the attack, the fort’s commander had ordered an immediate blackout. Furthermore, he ordered his men not to return fire, since doing so would reveal the base’s location.

The strategy proved effective, and the only real damage done was the severing of some telephone cables. Most of the shells landed in a nearby baseball field or a swamp.

The sub was spotted by Army Air Corps planes on a training mission, and they called in the sub’s location for a bomber to attack. The bomber spotted the sub, but the sub was able to dodge the bombs and submerge undamaged.

The fort remained an active military base until 1947.  It is now part of Fort Stevens State Park.



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