Fort Mears

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Fort Mears (1941-1945) - A World War II U.S. Army Coastal Fort first established in 1941 in Dutch Harbor, Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska. Named Fort Mears on 10 Sep 1941 after Colonel Frederick Mears, who helped develop the Alaska Railroad system. Abandoned in 1945.

Unalaska Island WWII Fortifications. (Click to Enlarge)
Unalaska Bay Amaknak Island WWII Fortifications. (Click to Enlarge)
Fort Mears Garrison #1 Cantonment Area at Margaret Bay after Abandonment.

World War II (1941-1945)

Part of the Harbor Defense of Dutch Harbor. Dutch Harbor was a protected harbor in Unalaska Bay on Amaknak Island in the Aleutian Islands. Unalaska Bay was formed at the northern end of the much larger Unalaska Island. The Harbor Defenses of Dutch Harbor concentrated their large caliber guns on the entrance to Unalaska Bay. AMTB Batteries protected the Dutch Harbor entrance.

Naval Operating Base Dutch Harbor & Fort Mears, Bachelor Officers Quarters (BOQ).

Construction on Fort Mears began in Dutch Harbor in 1940 and was completed in 1941 with the first U.S. Army troops arriving in June 1941. The Army facilities were co-located with the Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and as the mission grew each expanded to fill the limited available space.

Fort Mears served as the headquarters and garrison for the coastal defenses of Dutch Harbor and they established a number of garrisons to support the Army functions around the island and to place it's personnel closer to the coastal gun batteries under construction. The Navy section was concerned with port operation facilities, a sub-base, and an air operation mission that included seaplanes and later a small airstrip.

Coast Artillery units initially manned two batteries of 155mm GPF guns, four guns per battery. One battery was located at the south end of Amaknak Island on what was known as Hill 400 and the second battery was located at Ulakta Head on the north end of the island on what would become Fort Schwatka‎.

The GPF guns were the 155mm Rifle M1918MI of World War I vintage, a field artillery piece mounted on a wheeled carriage with a range of about 12 miles. These guns were initially emplaced as field artillery would have been but pointed seaward. They were later emplaced on concrete Panama mounts but still on their wheeled carriages. The north 155mm battery was later replaced with Battery 402, a two gun 8" fixed battery.

Fort Mears World War II Battery (edit list)
Click on Battery links below
No. Caliber Type Mount Service Years Battery Cost Notes
Battery 155 - Hill 400 4 155mm Panama Mounts 1942-1943-1943-1944 $ ? Tac 2
Hill 400
Source: CDSG

In June of 1942 Dutch Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces in a battle that lasted for two days. The battle began on 3 Jun 1942 with air attacks on Dutch Harbor. U.S. casualties included 43 killed.

On 11 Aug 1942, the Army decided to turn the co-located portions of Fort Mears over to the Navy and the Navy agreed to have the Seabees construct new facilities for the Army further south on Unalaska Island. Construction took some time, and the last of the army personnel did not leave the colocated areas on Amaknak Island until March 1944. The new location retained the Fort Mears name.

Sometime after the relocation of Fort Mears to the south started, the Army batteries and garrisons on the northern end of Amaknak Island became physically isolated from Fort Mears and those facilities including Battery 402 were then organized into what became Fort Schwatka‎. The facilities and the 155mm battery on Hill 400 remained a part of the new Fort Mears.

Joint Command Post and Message Center Plan (Completed in 1943).

The new Fort Mears post headquarters was constructed on Valley View, a plateau 200 feet up Unalaska Ridge on the south side of Unalaska Valley. The new headquarters included two 2-story buildings for administration and command post operations, officers' quarters and mess, enlisted mess, and cabanas for enlisted housing, and, on the edge of the plateau, two-story quarters for the commanding general.

In Pyramid valley, also on Unalaska Island, a 500-bed Army hospital, a dock, and housing for two infantry companies were built. In June 1943, when Fort Mears' strength was declining because of action farther west in the Aleutians, Pyramid Valley was abandoned except for the hospital. At Captains Bay, an army dock, warehouses, sheds, and storage areas were completed in June 1943. The new dock was 760 feet in length and could handle two ships simultaneously. This facility reflected Unalaska's new role as a supply base for installations farther west.

Fort Mears was abandoned at the end of the war.

Fort Mears Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1941-05-08 1941-10-03 Lt Colonel Hallowell, Henry P. N/A
1941-10-04 1943-07-03 Brig General Colladay, Edgar B. N/A
1943-07-04 1943-07-10 Colonel Robertson, E. C. N/A
1943-07-11 1943-10-08 Brig General Colladay, Edgar B. N/A
1943-10-09 1943-11-29 Colonel Robertson, E. C. N/A
1943-11-30 1944-04-17 Brig General Longino, Olin H. N/A
1944-04-18 1944-04-30 Colonel Snell, Verne C. N/A
1944-05-01 Colonel Parmalee, A.L. N/A
Dates are formatted in yyyy-mm-dd to sort correctly.
The Cullum Number is the graduation order from the United States Military Academy by year and class rank and links to a page for the officer on the website version of the Cullum Register. Listings without a Cullum Number indicate that the person was not a graduate of the United States Military Academy.

Current Status

Some remains in Dutch Harbor, Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska.

Location: Dutch Harbor, Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska.

Maps & Images

Lat: 53.88750 Long: -166.54167

GPS Locations:

See Also:


  • Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 23-24
  • U.S.Army, Supplement to the Harbor Defense Project Harbor Defenses of Dutch Harbor, (SRHDDH), 1944, CDSG
  • Denfield, Colt, Dutch Harbor Coastal Defenses, Coast Defense Study Group Journal, Volume 7, Number 1, February, 1993, page 30-36.
  • Willford, Glen M., Visitation to Alaskan WWII Coast Defense Sites, August 1997, The CDSG Newsletter, The Coast Defense Study Group, Inc., November 1997, page 2-3.
  • CDSG
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2365029


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