Bombardment of Matsuwa Island
After a couple of weeks of training and drilling, the Hughes is again called upon to shell a Japanese base in the Kurile Islands. This time, they are sent to Matsuwa Island. Matsuwa Island (Matua in Russian) had been completely transformed by the Japanese from a deserted, volcanic island to an underground fortress of artificial caves and walkways. There were believed to be up to 8,000 Japanese troops on the island at the height of the war.
The bombardment of Matsuwa by the Hughes began right before midnight on August 11th and lasted for 20 minutes. The island was well fortified and had been subject to continuous bombing by this time in the war, so it is impossible to know what sort of damage, if any, the shelling caused.
Even today, the island of Matsuwa is a mecca for military history explorers as many of the caves built by the Japanese haven’t been visited since the war. A Russian scientist Irina Viter, frequently visits the island today. Below is an excerpt from an article describing Matsuwa Island today:
“The island is rife with trenches and artificial caverns. The northern part of the island was protected by a volcano, and the rest was transformed by Japanese army engineers into a stronghold. The entire perimeter of Matua was ringed by pillboxes, some of them carved into the rock. The entire system also had an extensive network of underground communications,” Viter said.
She explained that there’s an entire underground city hidden on the island, and that according to the rumors it may have housed Japanese biological warfare or even nuclear research labs, but so far no evidence supporting these theories was discovered.
“We’ve made a variety of discoveries over all these years, from weapons to army boots and kitchenware. We’ve found enough Japanese artifacts for several museums. The whole island is essentially an open-air museum of war,” Viter said.
Many of the anti-aircraft gun and other Japanese relics remain on the island today: