Wake, The Story of a Battle

v £r 1^.^' . 1Eg* s\, i »GLjf $3.50 WAKE The Story ofa Battle Irving Werstein Maps by Ava Morgan In December, 1941, only hours after they struck at Pe...

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WAKE The Story of a Battle Irving

Werstein

Maps by Ava Morgan

In December, 1941, only hours after

they struck at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked the United States outpost on

Wake

Atoll.

gagement

For two weeks

of the Pacific

this first en-

war continued,

shocking the American people into a realization of

what

that

the heroism of the fight

war was

to

be and

men who were

to

it.

The gallant defense of Wake was doomed to failure. The little garrison of Marines was outnumbered and ill equipped. But from December 8 to De-

cember 22 they fought

off

a series of

damage on the Japanese and giving up only

attacks, inflicting great

startled

when

the last American plane had been

down and the defenders overwhelmed by powerful enemy landings.

forced

(Continued on back

flap)

Jacket by Arthur Shilstone

WAKE THE STORY OF A BATTLE



The Story of a Battle

IRVING WERSTEIN MAPS BY AVA MORGAN

by •'

l\\

THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY NEW YORK

BY THE

AUTHOR

THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY THE BATTLE OF AACHEN

GUADALCANAL

WAKE

The Story

Copyright

of a Battle

© 1964 by Irving Werstein

All rights reserved.

No

part of this book

may

be reproduced in any form, except by a reviewer, without the permission of the publisher.

Designed by Ava Morgan

Manufactured in the United States of America by the Vail-Ballou Press, Inc., Binghamton, New York Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 64-20693

FIRST PRINTING

f

'

/

u

This book

Captain

Bill

'

is

dedicated to

Reid, his wife, Nan, and

their three sons: Mitchell, Martin,

B318

and Nigel.

Author’s Note

This book deals with a battle fought far out in the Central Pacific at the very outset of American participation in of

World War

II.

The

an obscure place called

geogra phy gave

Wake

military

it

and young men were

battle

and

was

Atoll.

for possession

An

accident of

strategic importance,

killed fighting there in

December,

1941.

A

gallant

band

of

American Marines, swashbuckling

Leathernecks, lived up to the traditions of the Corps

by defending Wake

for 15 days against insuperable

odds.

They fought that fateful

alone, without help or reinforcement. In

December, when the Japanese struck

at

Pearl Harbor to destroy the battleships of the United States Pacific Fleet, confusion

the United States

and ineptness crippled

Navy more than had

the Japanese

bombs.

Only a handful

of

American

fighting

men were

pre-

pared to face the wily enemy. The United States Marines

on

Wake were

in the forefront.

There was noth-

ing extraordinary about the garrison there;

youths

who had

some were

joined the Marine Corps for advenvii

author’s note

Vlll

in

were veteran Leathernecks with service

others

ture;

many

places around the world.

They were not knights

men ready

for anything; they

some had

cities;

in shining

little

armor but brash

came from farms and

education, others were college

and university graduates. They were grocery mechanics, bank

tellers,

shoremen, and teen-agers

men

job.

These

mon

bond: their pride

truck drivers, teachers, long-

who had

of divergent in

clerks,

never held a steady

backgrounds had a com-

being Marines.

Perhaps, to outsiders, that pride seemed overween-

Wake

But on

ing.

— and

that

followed during the

lived

up

fully

endowed

This

acted on



prowess with which they had so boast-

to the

is

many terrible battles Pacific War the Marines

in the

themselves.

a re-creation of the 15-day-long

Wake Atoll from December 8 to 23,

drama en1941. I had

no intention of making war glorious or glamorous.

was

who

my

purpose to

fought

curately,

it.

I

tell

have

and not

to

For a book such

many

of the

I

men

tried to portray the Japanese ac-

malign or caricature them. as this one, I

complex and

up the jigsaw pieces thing was as

the story of a battle and the

It

have not included

intricate details that

from

that, every-

in that

predoomed

of a battle. Aside

have recorded

it

make

struggle of the Marines.

What happened

at

Wake, coming on the

heels of

AUTHORS NOTE Pearl Harbor, shocked the American people.

War had

the Civil

the

come

since

so close to total

Fortunately, Americans have the quality of

disaster.

getting

the nation

Not

ix

up

the floor with both

off

enemy learned during almost

swinging

fists



as

four years of unrelent-

ing warfare.

In preparing this book

from many people.

had advice and guidance

I

Among them

were:

Lieutenant

Colonel Herbert Baine, Marine Corps Public Information Office,

New

the staff of the J.

York City; Dr. James

New-York

Tarrant, Lieutenant

J.

man,

New

J.

Heslin and

Historical Society Library;

USNR

Leon Weid-

(Ret.);

York Public Library; the

staff of

New

the

York Newspaper Library; Commander D. D. Overby, Office of Information,

Department

of the

Navy; and

John Augustin, United States Information Agency. Miss

Clemence Haefelfinger and Miss Althea

Lister of

Pan

American Airways provided interesting material about the Philippine Clipper on I

must

also

for helping

thank

my

Wake

Island.

agent, Miss

smooth out many rough

Candida Donadio, spots.

My

wife was

a stanch ally, always ready with a sympathetic ear.

young son waited ticing

me

until after

into fun

My

working hours before en-

and games. Mrs. Lee Levin, who

typed the manuscript, deserves special thanks for her

promptness and

efficiency. I.

W.

Contents

1

.



Soon the glorious hour ...”

1

2.

“I’m so happy you’re in the Pacific”

3.

“This

4.

“Their wheels are dropping

5.

“I’m an American

6.

“ I’ll tell

7.

“We’re heading for Wake!”

52

8.

“Our

59

9.

“Do you

10.

no

is

28

drill”

,

isn’t

off!”

that enough?”

you when I’m hurt!”

lives

12

belong to the Mikado!”

think this

a ball

is

game?”

34

40 45

65

“I’m praying you idiot!”

76

“The Yankees are a worthy foe”

84

,

11.

12. “All that

can be done

is

being done!”

88

13.

“The enemy

14.

“This

15.

“Do you mean

16.

“What’s wrong with those men?”

126

Brief Glossary of Military Abbreviations

137

is

is

on the island”

as far as it.

we

go!”

Major?”

United States and Japanese Casualties on

Types of Aircraft Used

at

Wake

98 106 117

Wake 138 140

Suggested Reading

141

Index

142

MAP OF THE

PACIFIC

AND FAR EAST BEFORE DECEMBER 7 1941 ,

.

“Soon

the glorious

hour ...”

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the

fifty-seven-year-old

Commander-in-Chief, Combined Fleet, Imperial Japanese Navy, frowned at a

map of the Central

Pacific Area,

spread out on a large table in a conference room of his

Tokyo Headquarters. Next

to

him stood stocky

year-old Vice Admiral Nariyoshi Inouye,

fifty- two-

Commander,

Fourth Fleet, Imperial Japanese Navy, based

at

Truk

in the Caroline Islands.

Bespectacled, shaven-headed Inouye could scarcely

conceal his satisfaction at this meeting with Yamamoto. It

meant the Fourth Fleet chief had not been overlooked

by the High Command. Even though he held

flag rank,

1

“soon the glorious hour

2

Inouye

The

felt his

.

.

present assignment to be an inferior one.

bobtail assortment of old cruisers, aging destroyers,

venerable submarines, and obsolescent land-based craft of the

Fourth Fleet made

far

it

air-

from the Imperial

Navy’s prize command.

But any discontent that Inouye had harbored disappeared that bleak morning in November, 1941, as he

map

squinted at the spot on the

indicated

by Admiral

Yamamoto. The Imperial Navy’s commander pointed American-held islands

Wake

Atoll,

which consisted

—Wake, Peale, and Wilkes —

tral Pacific,

some 1,000 miles west

to

of three

far out in the

Cen-

of U. S. -owned

Mid-

way

Island and 1,300 miles east of American

Guam.

Tiny

Wake

north-

ern to

its

stretched only 13,500 yards from

southern

rising out of the

tip.

But

this

its

blob of volcanic land

ocean was an important link in a pro-

jected chain of U.

S.

naval and

the Central Pacific. Should

air

bases meant to girdle

war break out between the

United States and Japan, Wake’s role would become vital. It

outflanked major Japanese bases in the Marshall

and Gilbert

islands.

In 1941, lonely

Wake

Atoll

was receiving unprece-

dented attention from Japanese

militarists,

for

war

clouds had gathered over the Pacific. Japan’s aggressive policies

were making a showdown with the United

come sooner or later. A Japanese- American war had been made

States

bound

to

inevitable

“soon the glorious hour ...”

when

Army and Navy chiefs Japanese credo known as Hakko

militant Imperial

an ancient

3

revived

Ichiu



roughly translated as “bringing the eight corners of the

world under one roof’

and the

Some Japanese

Pacific.

and dreamed

—or Japan’s domination of Asia

of global rule

nationalists

went further

by Nippon.

Hakko Ichiu was

After being dormant for centuries,

reborn in 1921; that year a Japanese fascist Kita wrote a book that was the blueprint

Era



in Japan. Kita’s ideology,

known

as

named Ikki for a “New

Kodo-Ha, pre-

sented an Oriental version of Hitlerism.

Among other

things,

he proposed a regime that would

practice suppression of political criticism, abolish representative government, sion for Japan.

Army

officers

and carry out

Kodo-Ha gained

when

expan-

wide following among

Kita called for “freeing” 700 million

Japanese “blood brothers” pines,

a

territorial

in India,

China, the Philip-

and European Asiatic colonies where “the white

devils are grinding our

Kodo-Ha

kinsmen into the dust.”

fanatics rose to political

power

in

Japan by

eliminating the opposition through terror and assassina-

Once Kodo-Ha supporters held high office, Japan embarked on a series of military adventures. The first was launched in September, 1931, when the Imperial tions.

Army marched

into

Manchuria on a trumped-up excuse.

The Mikado’s soldiers soon conquered which they renamed Manchukuo, “Dove

all

Manchuria,

of Peace”

—for

“soon the glorious hour

4

men who had

the

nese control of the Orient

need

to

.

led the unprovoked invasion

To them, peace was

themselves as peacemakers.

eous force”

.” .

—a

rule gained

—should Nippon’s Oriental



by

saw

Japa‘right-

blood brothers”

be convinced of the advantages awaiting them

under the “benevolent protection” of the Emperor Hirohito.

The next rung on

Japan’s “ladder to peace”

was the

invasion of northern China in 1933. This started a long

and

bitter struggle filled

with dangerous international

one of which brought Japan and the United

incidents,

States to the brink of war. In

planes deliberately

USS

boat, the ful

December, 1937, Japanese

bombed and sank an American gun-

Panaij , on the Yangtze River. It took

skill-

diplomacy, profound Nipponese apologies, and steep

reparations to preserve a tenuous peace in the Pacific for a

By

few more

years.

1941, despite Chinese resistance, Japan controlled

most of China’s coastal areas and such important as its

Nanking and Shanghai. World War third year,

had not yet spread

II,

cities

then entering

to the Pacific, but

threatened to do so at any moment. Sorely in need of

and other materials tempted laya,

to spread

the

for a full-scale

oil

war, Japan was

southward and seize Sumatra, Ma-

Netherlands East Indies, the

Philippines,

Borneo, Burma, Thailand, Indochina, Australia, Zealand, and the South Seas islands, with natural resources of the Pacific.

all

New

the vast

“soon the glorious hour ...”

Back and

in 1937,

Italy in

5

Japan had signed a pact with Germany

which she pledged

to help

Adolf Hitler and

Benito Mussolini annihilate so-called decadent democracies

communism. The prime

targets

Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis were the United

States,

and

of the

‘'exterminate'’

Great Britain, and Soviet Russia. Ironically, for the purposes of the pact, Hitler declared the Japanese “racially

pure” and deemed them “honorary Aryans,” although he

had once

classified the

yellow race as “mongrels.”

Shortly after signing the pact with the Nazis and the Fascists, the

Japanese attempted a perilous venture: an

invasion of Soviet Siberia from sians

met the Imperial Army

Manchukuo. The Rus-

at the

border and trounced

the Mikado’s warriors in a series of pitched battles.

After this setback, Japan was

Russia again. She turned

down

Hitler early in 1941 to declare

wary

of clashing with

a suggestion

made by

war against the Soviet

Union. The Fiihrer’s request puzzled the Japanese.

had the Germans asked them Hitler himself

to fight the Russians

Why when

had signed a nonaggression pact with

them? That mystery was cleared up by mid-1941. In June, Hitler astounded the world prise attack tion,

on Russia. This created a paradoxical

which saw the Russian

become an

ally of

ston Churchill,

A

by springing a savage dictator,

Josef

sur-

situaStalin,

England, whose Prime Minister, Win-

was one

of Soviet Russia’s archcritics.

cartoon of the day depicted Stalin and Churchill

“soon the glorious hour

6

.

.

singing the chorus of a popular song: “You

you;

I

didn’t

As that

want

to

do

it

.

made me love

.

fateful year rolled on, Hitler’s armies fought

approaching Russian winter; and

in the arctic cold of

the lesser Axis partner, Italy’s Duce, Benito Mussolini, sent his Blackshirt Legions across the hot sands of North

Africa toward the Suez Canal.

An

early total victory for

the Axis partners seemed imminent. tell

that Hitler’s

No man

Wehrmacht (Army) was

could fore-

slated to

disaster in Russia or that Mussolini’s grandiose

meet

dreams

would end ignominiously.

The

jealous Japanese

for Mussolini

and

saw only immediate triumphs

Hitler, not future catastrophe.

Kodo-Ha men seethed because

The

was being

the world

“pulled together” under the Italo-German roof; Occidentals, not Orientals,

were achieving Hakko

proved too unpalatable for the Kodo-Ha

Ichiu. This

fanatics,

whose

leader was the Premier of Japan, General Hideki Tojo.

Something had

supremacy

to

in Asia

be done very soon

and the

before Hitler’s shadow

Pacific

fell

to

make Japanese

an accomplished fact

across the Pacific as

it

had

over the Atlantic. Tojo began making plans without consulting his Axis cohorts.

preserve, barred to

and

all

The

Pacific

poachers

was

to

be a Japanese

—including

Germany

Italy.

The prime deterrent to To jo’s ambitions in the Pacific was the U. S. Navy, which was big and powerful al-

“soon the glorious hour ...”

7

though the Imperial Supreme

War

with disdain. In

warmongers were scorn-

ful of

fact, Japan’s

Council regarded

everything American. They derided the “despi-

cable” U.

S.

Army and

scoffed at the

the “ridiculous” U.

cares only for soft living, luxuries

America there

all

not a man,

exists

knows the meaning try,”

Navy and

S.

American people.

“The mercenary Yankee has no stomach

He

it

for war.

and money.

woman

.

.

.

... In

or child

who

of patriotism or sacrifice for coun-

wrote a Japanese journalist in 1941.

Convinced that the United States could be speedily defeated, Tojo and his followers asked

war against America. While

hito to give his blessings for

the

Mikado did not

ica,

neither did he forbid

overtly consent to the it.

The “Son

a discreet silence as his generals

how

of

war on AmerHeaven” kept

and admirals plotted

best to crush the Yankees.

Somehow, the and early

results of their discussions leaked out,

in 1941 the U. S.

Joseph C. Grew, talk

Emperor Hiro-

made

to Japan,

a diary entry: “There

around Tokyo to the

case of

Ambassador

a lot of

effect that the Japanese, in

war with America, are planning

to

go

a surprise mass air attack at Pearl Harbor. ... I

is

Mr.

all

Of

out in course,

informed our government.” (

Mr. Grew’s prophetic and accurate information was

disregarded by U. solutely

S.

no credence

Naval Intelligence. in

“We

place ab-

such an absurd rumor,” Chief



)

“soon the glorious hour

8 of

.

.

Naval Operations [CNO] Admiral Harold R. Stark

wrote Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander-inChief, Pacific Fleet

[CINCPAC], with headquarters

at

Pearl Harbor.)

Time ran

swiftly in 1941.

Council completed

its

The Imperial Supreme War

master plan for the Pacific

War

a bold scheme of conquest with four main points: 1.

zon, to

Simultaneous landings of amphibious forces in Lu-

Guam,

the

Malay Peninsula, and Hong Kong.

be preceded by 2.

All

air attacks.

Carrier air attack on the U.

S.

Pacific Fleet at Pearl

Harbor.

by the

Rapid exploitation of

initial

successes

zure of Manila, Mindanao,

Wake

Atoll, the Bismarcks,

3.

sei-

Bangkok, and Singapore. 4.

Occupation of the Dutch East Indies and continua-

tion of the

war with China.

(The Japanese intended

war by embroiling Great as well as the

United

to enlarge the scope of the

Britain

and the Netherlands

States.

The Imperial Supreme War Council did not unanimously support this project. The chief objector was Admiral Yamamoto, one of the Council’s most influential members. trial

of

He

vainly pointed out the tremendous indus-

potential of the United States

manpower.

conflict,

If

and

its

huge reserve

Japan were to be victorious in such a

he warned, the victory had to be

won

swiftly.

THE JAPANESE PLAN OF CONQUEST

“soon the glorious hour

10

.

.

In a drawn-out struggle, the odds were

all

with the

Americans. “If I

am told

run wild I

.

.

to fight regardless of

for the first six

.

consequence,

months or a year

can make no predictions ...

I

.

.

shall .

but

have no confidence for

the second and third years ... of such a war,’’

moto reputedly

I

Yama-

told a former high Japanese cabinet

minister.

Despite Yamamoto’s opposition, the Council approved the four-point

ing the

was

left

first

war

week

plan, in

which was

to

be launched dur-

December, 1941. The exact date

open and designated

as

X-Day.

Although displeased by the Council’s decision, Admiral

Yamamoto, an

officer

who knew how

to take as

well as give orders, energetically prepared for X-Day.

By

late

ers to

November he sent for individual fleet commandbrief them on their X-Day roles. Vice Admiral

Chuichi

Nagumo was awarded

the plum:

command

of

the First Air Fleet, the carrier force attacking Pearl Harbor.

Second

billing

came

to

Vice Admiral Inouye.

Yamamoto personally gave the Fourth Fleet chief his orders: “On X-Day, you will seize Guam and attack

Wake

Atoll

by

air.

When

Wake’s planes and defense

guns have been knocked out, you will despatch an amphibious force to capture

it

and establish an

air

and sea

base on the Atoll.”

Inouye permitted himself a

slight smile.

He bowed

“soon the glorious hour ...” stiffly.

much miral.

thank the Emperor and you for putting so

“I

trust

“That

is

and confidence

why you were

Do you

“Only one,

will

in

me.

I

chosen for

shall not fail.” this mission,

Ad-

have any questions?” Yamamoto asked. sir.

When

“That you will learn

hour

11

is

in

X-Day?” good time. Soon the glorious

come. Very soon,” Yamamoto said and grinned

at Inouye.



“Fm so happy you’re

in the Pacific

Nobody had paid much centuries after

its

notice to

Wake

Atoll for several

accidental discovery in 1568

Spanish explorer Alvaro de

by the

Mendana who, while roam-

ing the Pacific, put in there with two ships for fresh

water and food.

Mendana found

neither water nor food and left at

once after noting that

.

.

the land swarms with a

strange type of rat that runs about on

and there are many birds

He named

12

hind legs

.

.

.

of all sorts.”

the unprepossessing place San Francisco,

but failed to note soon

its

it

lost in oblivion,

on

his charts.

Mendana’s find was

and remained so

for

more than 200

“i’m so

happy you’re

years. In 1796, a British

liam Henry

,

in

the pacific”

13

merchantman, the Prince Wil-

touched at the

The

atoll.

ship’s skipper,

Captain William Wake, went ashore for a closer look

at

the islands he had sighted from afar.

Immodestly naming the himself, Captain

added the

Wake

atoll to his

atoll

and

largest island for

its

hauled anchor and departed.

map, showing

mass made up of three separate

as a

it

islands,

He

V-shaped

each covered

with dense, low brush and surrounded by coral reefs that ran at a distance varying from 30 to 1,100 yards offshore.

Capt.

Wake

wrote:

.

the white sand beaches like a is

hundred cannon.

a fifty-yard

lagoon

...

the sea roars continually on

.

.

the surf

is

loud,

The only entry

wide gap between two

to the lagoon

islands.

.

.

.

The

of a boat.”

Wake lay Commodore

forgotten until

December

Charles Wilkes, U.

S.

20, 1840,

atoll.

when

Navy, on an oceano-

graphic expedition in the Pacific, surveyed and the

booming

studded with coral heads that can rip the bot-

is

tom out

.

.

mapped

In his party was Titian Peale, a government

who explored the land area and the waters around Wake. One of the smaller islands was named in his honor. The third island became known as Wilkes, for naturalist,

the expedition’s commander.

Nearly 60 years passed before the United States took formal possession of the three islands.

On

January

17,

14

“i’m so

happy you’re in the pacific”

Commander

1899,

E.

D. Taussig arrived

aboard the gunboat USS Bennington. ashore, raised

and lowered an American

and proclaimed

lute,

He

it

to

Wake

off

sent a boat

a sa-

flag, fired

be United States

territory.

The decades marched by and Wake slumbered. No human lived there. The surf pounding on the coral reef was heard only by the innumerable birds whose cries and screeches echoed across the boundless waters.

Wake remained bosun

a sanctuary for teal, frigate birds,

birds, gooneys,

and a species known

as the flight-

The only other living creatures there were the which swarmed by the thousands through the thick

less rail. rats,

underbrush. Occasionally, a ship sent a boat to inspect the isolated

Once in a while, Japanese fishermen cast their near Wake; from time to time, hunters would drop

islands.

nets

off to it

shoot birds and collect feathers. But on the whole,

was unchanged by the passing

years.

Then, time and progress caught up with Wake. After

World War

I,

the airplane

came

of military

and com-

mercial age. Naval aircraft carriers, once regarded as impractical gadgets by mossback admirals and

partment bureaucrats, became Fleet.

Carrier-borne

Navy De-

vital parts of the

bombing,

torpedo

and

U.

S.

fighter

planes were developed. Tactics were created to use such aircraft as offensive

weapons. The

sounded the death knell of

rise of

naval

traditional navies.

air

power

happy you’re

“i’m so

The U.

to

15

for air bases

during the early 1930’s as Japanese aggres-

mounted.

value. It

the pacific”

Navy began an anxious search

S.

in the Pacific

sions

in

Wake

was an

Atoll suddenly

assumed

strategic

ideal “fixed aircraft carrier’’ according

one high-ranking naval

officer.

Considerable interest

arose in converting that remote outpost into an ad-

vanced base for naval patrol planes and bombers. “Properly fortified,

Wake

in case of war,”

will

little

heed

to the Navy’s

demands,

also included appropriations for putting

base on distant

But

at Japan’s throat

one admiral declared. But an economy-

minded Congress paid which

be a dagger

as

an

air

Guam.

Congress shuffled papers and took no action

about either

Wake

or

Guam, Pan American Airways

decided, in 1935, to inaugurate a transpacific service

using huge Martin- 130 (Clipper) seaplanes.

The

pro-

posed route was to run between San Francisco and Manila, with overnight stops at Honolulu, Midway,

Wake, and Guam. Capable

of carrying thirty passengers

plus a five-man crew, the Clippers were to begin weekly

San Francisco-Manila

A

flights in

November, 1936.

Pan American construction crew went

to

Wake

in

the spring of 1935 and built a weather station, radio transmitter, hotel,

and seaplane ramp on the southern

shore of Peale Island, where the lagoon was suitable for

landing the Clippers.

Once the

flights started,

Wake no

longer slumbered

)

“iM SO HAPPY YOU’RE

16

in the sun, rain,

and

IN

sea.

THE PACIFIC”

Twice every week the big

planes arrived for refueling and an overnight stay.

Pan American

station personnel set out a vegetable gar-

den and a catchment shared

Wake

The

for rainwater.

Human

with the birds and the

beings

now

rats.

Once the Clippers began to use Wake, the Navy renewed its clamor for an advanced air base there. In 1938, Rear Admiral A.

J.

Hepburn, USN, conducted an inves-

tigation as to the suitability of this proposal. His report

recommended program

a 7.5-million-dollar, 3-year development

for the atoll with proper naval installations

Peale, Wilkes,

meant the

and Wake

entire atoll

islands. (In his report,

and included

all

on

Wake

three islands. In-

dividual islands were separately named.

Hepburn suggested building as well.

He

also felt that

facilities for

Guam

submarines

should be similarly im-

proved. Although his report had been issued in 1938,

took 2 years for Congress to move.

were funds appropriated

—not

And

it

not until 1940

7.5 million dollars but

HowGuam.

20 million dollars for the construction on Wake. ever, Congress refused to allot

“We

can’t toss public funds

any money around

for

like confetti.

Peo-

know about Wake because the Clippers land there, but who ever heard of Guam?” a Midwestern Congressman said. “Anyway, we can’t make the Japanese mad by building a base on Guam, right in their front yard ple

“i’m so

happy you’re in the pacific”

During 1940, Contractors civilian

ers,

A

Naval Bases,

company, was awarded the contract

installations civilian

Pacific

17 Inc., a

for building

on Wake. By January, 1941, some 1,100

workers were unloading bulldozers, road scrap-

and digging and dredging equipment. crude camp

(Camp

No. 1) was built on

Wake

Islands southern coast to house the civilians. (Later,

Camp

No.

2,

a

more elaborate

northern tip of Wake Island;

it

affair,

was erected on the

included a post exchange,

a well-equipped hospital, comfortable barracks, and a

movie theater.) Before long, the civilians under a dynamic engineer,

Nathan Dan Teters, had bulldozed an cock Point on

Wake

Island.

airstrip

near Pea-

Thirty-foot- wide

coral-

topped roads were cut through. The channel between

Wake and

Wilkes islands was dredged and the lagoon

cleared of coral heads.

Work

and concrete buildings.

On Peale

also started

on

steel, glass,

Island a naval hospital,

marine barracks, transmitter, seaplane ramps, and control

towers were started. Over on Wilkes Island, the only

construction then contemplated was a

manent

of per-

fuel storage tanks.

All this

At

number

American

activity aroused Japanese curiosity.

intervals, Imperial

Navy observation

planes appeared

over Wake, leisurely flying back and forth snapping aerial

photographs; the type and extent of Yankee prep-

arations

were no secret

to the Japanese

High Command.

happy you’re in the pacific”

“i’m so

18

On

April 18, 1941, barely 2

months

after

he had been

CINCPAC, Admiral Kimmel wrote to AdStark, CNO, from Pearl Harbor. Kimmel stressed

appointed miral

Wake’s key position Urging that the

atoll

in the event of

war

in the Pacific.

be strongly defended with troops,

guns and planes, he stated: .

it

to recapture

.

Wake

if

the Japanese should seize

would require opera-

in the early period of hostilities

tions of

some magnitude. Since the Japanese 4th Fleet

includes transports and troops operations,

it

.

.

suited for landing

appears not unlikely that one of the

operations of the Japanese

Wake

.

may be

initial

directed against

” .

.

Kimmel concluded by requesting

substantial

that

units of the 1st Defense Battalion, U. S. Marines, then at Pearl PI arbor,

be sent to

Wake

not later than June

1,

1941.

The defense

battalion

Marine Corps, conceived

was a new development in 1939, for holding

ing an atoll such as Wake. At full strength of 43 officers

and 909 men

to

man

in the

and secur-

it

consisted

three 5-inch semi-

mobile coastal batteries each with two guns; four 3-inch antiaircraft

(AA)

batteries of four guns apiece with

range finders, computers, and fire-control directors; a radar and searchlight unit; forty-eight .50-caliber machine guns for antiaircraft; and forty-eight .30-caliber

machine guns

for

beach defense. Individual Marines

“i’m so

were armed with

happy you’re

in

the pacific”

’03 Springfield rifles;

War

khaki uniforms and World

I

19

they wore light

type steel helmets and

had sidearms and hand grenades. In the light of growing tensions between the United States

and Japan, even the hidebound Navy Depart-

ment could not ignore Kimmel’s prophetic warning. It took time for the Navy’s ponderous administrative machinery to get into motion, and 1 that

it

6 officers and 173 enlisted

was not

men

until

August

of the 1st

Marine

Defense Battalion tramped aboard the transport USS Regulus

at Pearl

Harbor. They landed at

Wake on Au-

gust 19 after an uneventful voyage, and started to dig

gun emplacements under the direction A.

Holm, who commanded

On October

15,

this

Major James

P.

advance

to circumstances there

weapons. Only one 3-inch

detail.

Devereux arrived with

the battalion’s weapons, equipment, and

Due

Major Lewis

of

more Marines.

was a dearth

of

men and

A A battery had complete fire-

control equipment.

The radar was

lacking and Devereux brought only

twenty-four .50-caliber ticipated forty-eight.

AA

machine guns, not the an-

Even when another batch

of

Ma-

November 2, the garrison’s Marine personnel numbered about 400 enlisted men and officers. rines

arrived on

This was a prime example of “too

little,

malady then infecting the democracies. were

all

kinds of shortages.

too late,” the

On Wake,

there

The Marines needed more

)

“iM SO HAPPY YOU’RE

20

food, weapons,

IN

THE PACIFIC”

and ammunition

in case of a

drawn-out

siege.

Upon his arrival in October, Major Devereux relieved Holm as Marine Commanding Officer (CO). A slight, active man of about forty, with many years in the Marine Corps, Devereux set up a command post CP near Peacock Point on Wake Island and rushed defensive (

preparations. In addition to that duty, Devereux also

CO of the

atoll

except for the civilian workers,

was

who

come under military control. The Marines worked around the clock from the time they set foot on Wake. Besides placing the 5-inch and 3-inch batteries at strategic points on Wake, Peale, and did not

Wilkes islands, putting in communication stringing wire for field telephones, they also

lines

had

and

to un-

load supply ships, dig entrenchments, load machine-gun belts, refuel

tresses

(by hand) a number of B-17 Flying For-

en route to Manila with a stopover at Wake, haul

ammunition, and carry out a score of additional chores. All this ical

was done without the aid

of proper

mechan-

equipment, although bulldozers, pile drivers, and

road scrapers were used extensively by the contractor’s

men. Civilian chief engineer Teters, a

had been a

football star at the University of

and a combat infantry sergeant

wanted

six-footer

in

Washington

World War

to help the Marines. His bulldozers

who

I,

had

and digging

machinery could have saved many man-hours of backbreaking work.

“i’m so

happy you’re

Devereux had asked permission ians

in

the pacific”

21

to

employ the

civil-

from Admiral Claude C. Bloch, the Fourteenth

Naval District Commandant,

Harbor. The ad-

at Pearl

miral radioed “negative” to the request. “Civilians are not to lations,”

do any work on defensive

he ordered. “This

is

purely a

Navy

instal-

task

and

Navy personnel may handle ordnance. Civilians are on Wake to put up buildings, dredge the lagoon, complete the airfield and make roads.” The authorities at Pearl Harbor clung to peacetime only

regulations rather than accept

emergency measures. As

a result, instead of drilling and perfecting their

skill

with the guns, Wake’s defenders were relegated the

work

of stevedores

and

laborers.

Luckily, the 1st Marine Defense Battalion

given rigid training in Hawaii, and though rines

were fresh-faced

old-timers

recruits, there

among them,

including

ans and experienced campaigners in Nicaragua, Haiti,

we

many Ma-

were a number of

World War

who had

I

veter-

seen action

and elsewhere.

“Not even the slaves harder than

had been

who

built the

pyramids worked

did on Wake. Fifteen to twenty hours

a day was standard for us,” a Marine private recalled.

“We had neither rest,

recreation nor respite for weeks at

a stretch.”

men were housed in the rugged civilian Camp No. 1. There, they struggled against roofs (Wake had a spell of unusually wet

Devereux’s quarters at rats,

leaky

22

“i’m so

happy you’re in the pacific”

weather with one rain squall following another, almost daily), miserable food,

and uncomfortable lodgings. In

sharp contrast, the civilian workers lived well.

Camp

No. 2 was stocked with such luxuries as cold beer, steak, ice cream, hot showers, soft mattresses, radios, recrea-

tion rooms,

and movies every night. Supply

ships,

which

the Marines unloaded, brought the latest Hollywood films for the construction workers. “I

began

to hate the sight of civilians.

plenty jealous of a all

the comforts of

man with a home while

fat

You can

get

pay check who has

you’re being paid only

twenty-one bucks a month and getting pushed around in the bargain,” a

After about a

had

young Marine

month

of unrelenting

their guns emplaced.

all

griped.

The

toil,

the Marines

.50-caliber

AA

ma-

chine guns were positioned to protect the 5-inch and 3-inch batteries, and .30-caliber machine guns com-

manded

The searchlight units at and Kuku Point on Wilkes

the beach approaches.

Toki Point on Peale Island

Island could sweep out to sea, throwing their powerful

beams

for miles.

The defensive perimeter was deployed as follows: PEACOCK POINT— (Wake Island): Battery A:

by

1st Lt.

Two 5-inch guns, commanded Clarence A. Barninger. Battery

E: Four 3-inch effective;

AA guns

(only three were

one gun lacked a range finder),

Toki

WAKE ATOLL

24

“i’m so

happy you’re in the pacific”

commanded by

W.

Wallace

Lt.

1st

Lewis.

TOKI POINT— (Peale Island): Battery B: Two 5-inch guns, under 1st Lt. Woodrow Kessler. Battery D: Four 3-inch

AA

guns (only three guns could

be manned due to lack of personnel),

under Captain Bryghte D. Godbold, who also

commanded

Peale Island.

KUKU POINT— (Wilkes Battery L: Lt.

J.

3-inch

A.

AA

Two

Island):

5-inch guns, under

2nd

McAlister.

Battery F: Four

guns

was no personnel

(

there

for this battery).

AIRFIELD— (Wake Island): .50-caliber AA machine guns and iber

machine guns served by nineteen

Marines under 2nd

M. Hanna.

Lt. R.

HEEL POINT— (Wake Nine Marines with caliber

rifles

Wake

.30-caliber

Island):

and two

.30-

machine guns.

In addition, there were four four on

.30-cal-

at

Peacock Point;

machine guns, on

,50’s

on Wilkes Island;

four, plus a

number

of

Peale.

The Wake defenses were completed December 3, 1941, when twelve Wildcat (F4F-3) fighter planes from Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-211, landed on Wake

“i’m so

happy you’re in the pacific”

from the

after taking off

which had steamed

25

aircraft carrier Enterprise ,

100 miles of the

to within

atoll.

Squadron 211 was led by Major Paul Putnam.

The Wildcats, an

obsolete type, were without armor,

leakproof gasoline tanks, or radio

Putnam’s or

two

fliers

were green. Except

homing equipment. for the

others, not a single pilot of

CO

and one

Squadron 211 had

had any experience with the F4F’s. Not a man had ever dropped a bomb from one or

When

fired

its

machine guns.

talking about his unskilled fledglings,

Putnam

growled, “They’ll have to learn the hard way, which the only

A

way

for a

Marine

to learn anything.”

few days before the Wildcats flew

Winfield Scott sailors

Cunningham came with

and a few petty

is

officers to

in,

Commander

a small party of

take over the projected

Naval Air Station (NAS) from which Catalina (PBY) patrol

bombers were

to

fly,

although no PBY’s were

available for at least several months.

Cunningham, who outranked Major Devereux, took

Commander. On December 4 (because west of 180° longitude, beyond the Interna-

over as atoll

Wake

lay

tional

Date Line,

it

was a day

later there

than in the

United States or Hawaii) Cunningham and Devereux spent

many

They

visited all the batteries

hours inspecting the defensive positions.

and machine-gun

Both noted unhappily that the

ground gasoline

installations,

airfield

no

posts.

had no under-

tool sheds

and work

“iM SO HAPPY YOU’RE

26

IN

THE PACIFIC”

shops, no revetments or dispersal areas for the twelve

Wildcats lined up at intervals on the

airstrip.

was

It

an inviting target for enemy planes.

Wake had no

Since

radar to warn of an approaching

enemy, a constant watch was kept from atop a 50-foot water tower. Sirens for air-raid warnings had not yet reached the air fired

In the interim, three rapid shots in the

atoll.

by a sentry was the

had been

signal that hostile planes

sighted.

During the

fatal first

week

of

December, 1941, there

were on Wake 449 Leathernecks, broken down Marine

men

(

officers

and 422 men; 10 naval

counting hospital corpsmen ) an ;

cations

team (1

officer

and 4

enlisted

Pan American employees; and 1,146 Neither the civilians nor the

officers,

to

27

58 sea-

Army communimen); about 70

civilian

workmen.

Army and Navy

detach-

ments were armed.

Devereux and Cunningham were worried about ability to

tack.

hold

Wake

in the face of a

their

determined

at-

Both were aware of a recently arrived dispatch

from Pearl Harbor which had warned that the international situation

was deteriorating rapidly and that war

with Japan appeared imminent. After a long silence, Devereux said, “Well,

I

guess

we’re as ready as we’ll ever be.”

Cunningham nodded

And

in

glum agreement.

over on Peale Island, a Marine in Battery

D

re-

“iM SO HAPPY YOU’RE read a dog-eared letter from his carrying

October. “.

.

.

it

and

letter

THE PACIFIC”

girl friend.

around since the day he

The

IN

left

27

He had been

Pearl Harbor in

read in part:

darling, as long as

you have

to

be away,

I’m so happy you’re in the Pacific, where you won’t be in

any danger

if

.”

war comes.

.

.

The Leatherneck sighed and sea.

He

stared out at the restless

yond the horizon, perhaps

at this very

Japanese were getting ready to letter into a ball

know

Somewhere

listened to the resounding surf.

and tossed

it

the score; they just didn’t

strike.

be-

moment, the

He crumpled

the

away. Civilians didn’t

know

.

.

.

.

On

“ This

is

Sunday, December

7,

no drill”

1941,

Wake

time (which was

December 6, in Hawaii), Major Devereux made an announcement to his men after the morning flag-raising ceremony. They were to have the whole day off. The only work details were sentry duty on the water Saturday,

tower to look out for

one gun

aircraft,

sufficient

men

to serve

in every battery.

The Leathernecks cheered swimming, playing ters,

and

their

ball, lolling

reading, or sleeping.

CO. Soon, men were

on the sand, writing

Some went

let-

out fishing in the

launch used to cross the 50-yard-wide channel between

Wake and 28

Wilkes.

One group drove

in jeeps over the

“this

coral road linking

is

Squadron 211 were busy with

ing

all

about the

his pilots

that he

one

29

W ake to Peale and snared birds there.

However, not everybody took the day of

no drill”

As

aircraft.

were new

at the

if it

off.

The

pilots

their Wildcats, learn-

were not enough that

game, Major Putnam found

had inherited another irksome problem. Some-

at Pearl

Harbor had “goofed” when ordering 100-

bombs

pound

aerial

bombs

that did not

for

fit

Wake

Island.

Ordnance

sent

the racks of Squadron 211’s ob-

solete F4F’s.

A

Wildcat was designed

but without proper

fittings

on the planes, the bombs

stored in magazines near the useless. First

two 100-pounders,

to carry

Wake

Island airfield were

Lieutenant John F. Kinney, aided by Ser-

geant-Pilot Bill Hamilton, improvised

bomb

racks out of

scrap metal for the Wildcats.

Before sunset, Kinney and Hamilton had rigged a

workable device ers praised

to

them

‘"Necessity

is

each of the dozen Wildcats. Onlook-

lavishly.

the mother of invention,” Kinney said

modestly and was promptly dubbed “Mother Necessity.”

At dusk, a westbound Pan American plane, the Philippine Clipper, en route to

Guam

and Manila, piloted by

Captain John H. Hamilton and carrying twenty passengers,

put

down

in the lagoon off Flipper Point

on Peale

Island for refueling and an overnight stop at the hotel.

No one on

the atoll then realized that this was to be

30

‘this

no drill”

is

the last day of peace in the Pacific. Far out at sea, a

powerful Japanese ships

and

and

fleet,

which included two big

six aircraft carriers,

escorted by destroyers

was approaching Pearl Harbor.

cruisers,

Aboard the

carriers, pilots

had assembled

Akagi signaled by blinker

watching.

is .

.

.

.

.

.

The cream

assault.

.

.

.

We

May you

succeed

light:

in

for last-

Nagumo from

minute instructions and Vice Admiral flagship

battle-

his

“The Emperor

your heroic

efforts.

Navy has been gathered for this must not fail! Heaven will bear witness

of our

to the righteousness of our struggle! Banzai!”

And

that

December

Sunday evening, December 7 (Saturday,

6, in

Pearl Harbor), Admiral Inouye, at Truk,

received a message from Admiral Yamamoto: “The Divine

Wind blows

tomorrow.’’

X-Day was to be Monday, December (Sunday, December 7, Pearl Harbor time). The gloriThis meant that

8

ous hour had come. Inouye assembled his

them the news

for

staff

and gave

which they had been waiting. Mes-

sages flashed to airfields on Roi and

Namur

islands of

Kwajalein Atoll alerting the Twenty-fourth Air Flotilla for preinvasion strikes against

Wake. Orders went

to

naval units to attack

Guam, which was

by only a few U.

Marines and a poorly armed island

S.

lightly

defended

constabulary.

The unsuspecting men on Wake reluctantly watched the sun go down. They had enjoyed fine weather not



“this

a single rain squall

had marred

is

no

31

drill”

their pleasure.

“We

sure

hated to see that Sunday end. We’d be right back

work

in the morning,” a

Marine mechanic

at

said.

At 0650 (6:50 a.m.), Monday, December 8 (then 0920 9:20 a.m. Sunday, December 7, at Pearl Har-





bor), sleepy Marines were streaming into their ram-

shackle mess hall for an unappetizing breakfast of pow-

dered eggs and creamed chipped beef on they called S.O.S.

was shaving roared

Civilian drivers

which

—“Slop on a Shingle.” Major Devereux

in his quarters.

off for

toast,

Guam

at

workmen had

The

Philippine Clipper had

daybreak with

its

passengers.

started their day’s labor. Pile

thunked; bulldozers

growled;

road

scrapers

clanged and clattered; and dredging machines huffed in the lagoon.

A

panting runner dashed into Devereux’s room.

saluted and it’s

urgent,

handed the major a dispatch. “Radio

sir,”

He says

the runner said.

Major Devereux read the message

at a glance. It

was

from Pearl Harbor: hickham field has been attacked BY JAP DIVE BOMBERS. THIS

IS

THE REAL THING.

Devereux wiped the lather from

damn right it’s “We re at war!”

“You’re ner.

The Marine

CO

his face

with a towel.

urgent,” he told the

gawking run-

ran to his CP, where First Sergeant

Paul Agar was on duty. Devereux shouted,

The

“It’s started!

Japs’ve hit Pearl! Get Field Music here on the

)

32

'this

no

is

drill”

(In the Marines, a bugler was called Field

double.’’

Music.

Agar muttered a he

and reached

said,

A

curse. “I always

few moments

hated Mondays,”

for the telephone.

Field Music Alvin

later,

reported to Devereux. "Sound ‘Call to Arms,’

Waronka Devereux

snapped.

"Another "This

sound

is

drill,

no

drill,

son!



the bugler asked.

It’s

war!” Devereux said. “Now,

‘Call to Arms’!”

“Yes, sir!”

The bugler gulped and dashed

Waronka blew shrilled over the kits,

Major?

grabbed

“Call to

outside.

Arms” and the urgent notes

encampment. Marines dropped mess

rifles,

and dashed

for

their

positions.

Trucks raced away with ammunition for the 5-inch and 3-inch guns. Telephones jangled in battery CP’s and the

word spread

Some

across the atoll.

civilian

workmen, gripped by panic, bolted

the brush and started digging foxholes.

into

They abandoned

bulldozers and road scrapers, flung aside tools, and fled blindly.

Foreman Teters

tried to halt the stampede.

kicked, punched, and cursed the men.

A

He

few emerged,

shame-faced, from hiding places, but most remained

cowering

in the foliage.

Not every fashion.

One

civilian

behaved

in

such a disgraceful

burly carpenter rushed up to Major Dev-

ereux and saluted smartly. “I’m

Tom Adams,

former

“this

Seaman United

Navy,

States

sir!

no

is

Can you

33

drill”

use me?” he

said.

Other workers with military experience reported to the

CP and volunteered

geant

W.

A. Bousher,

Navy gunners, of Battery

D

to fight.

and three

to serve the

Devereux assigned civilians

unmanned

on Toki Point.

Ser-

who had been

3-inch

Rifles, pistols,

AA

gun

and hand

grenades were broken out and distributed to those

who

asked for weapons.

The Army and Navy personnel were armed and ployed into the defense perimeter. At 1000

Wake

(

de-

10:00 a.m.

),

time, the Philippine Clipper returned. After learn-

ing about Pearl Harbor by radio, Captain Hamilton had

turned back instead of continuing to Guam, which lay 1,300 miles nearer Japan.

The Pan American

pilot offered to take out his ship

on a 100-mile patrol around

Wake if given

fighter escort.

Major Putnam agreed, and the tedious task of refueling

Putnam also sent cover. The remaining

the Philippine Clipper got under way.

up four Wildcats eight

F4F s

stood lined up at the airstrip, armed and

ready to take

off at a

Wake was on its the enemy.

to provide air

moment’s

toes,

notice.

with nothing

left to

do but await

“Their wheels are dropping off!” Even

the Americans were bracing

for the

opening

Japanese blows, thirty-six 2-engined Mitsubishi

medium

as

bombers (“Bettys”) roared and Namur

islands,

off

landing strips on Roi

some 600 miles south

planes, each carrying a capacity

bomb

pounds, deployed into three neat

dozen each

as

V

of

Wake. The

load of 1,765

formations of a

ground crews waved Rising Sun

and made themselves hoarse shouting, “Banzai! miral Inouye anxiously awaited of the sion.

Twenty-fourth Air

When

it

Flotilla

Ad-

that his “warbirds”

had started the mis-

came, he drank a toast to their “total suc-

cess” with his staff officers.

34

word

flags ’

“their wheels are dropping off!”

As the Bettys sped toward

Wake

35

250 mph,

at almost

Japanese naval landing units, supported by destroyers,

came ashore on Guam where and the native police

And the U.

the U.

S.

Marine garrison

resisted gallantly for 72 hours.

almost 3,000 miles to the east, the big ships of S.

Pacific Fleet, victims of the treacherous Japa-

nese carrier plane onslaught, lay burning and twisted

along Battleship

The

Row

in Pearl Harbor.

descriptions of havoc radioed back

by the attack

planes indicated that the surprise raid on the American

naval base had achieved results even beyond the most

sanguine expectations of Premier Tojo, Admiral Yama-

moto, and the Kodo-Ha

men who had master-minded

the thrust.

enemy move against Wake, Major Devereux remembered a day in early November when the same Pan American ClipPerhaps, as he sat in his CP, tensely set for the

now

per

being prepared for

flight in the

lagoon had

landed with the Japanese diplomat Saburo Kurusu then

en route to Washington, D.C., for peace U.

S.

fore atoll

talks

with the

Secretary of State, Cordell Hull. At that time, be-

Cunningham’s

and had

arrival,

officially

Devereux was

CO

still

welcomed Kurusu

to

of the

Wake;

a

Marine Guard of Honor had met the Mikado’s emissary at the seaplane

ramp, affording him the honors cus-

shown a foreign dignitary. Kurusu, who was married to an American,

tomarily

graciously

“their wheels are dropping off!”

36

acknowledged the ceremonies. He told the reception committee

in a brief

speech that his sole aim was “the

preservation of a just peace which a permanent understanding

would cement

between the United

.

.

.

States

and Japan.”

Now, But

this

a

month

later,

the two nations were at war.

was not the moment

international diplomacy.

to

mull over the ironies of

Devereux had much more to

occupy him than dwelling upon such matters. Grave problems confronted the Marine CO.

He

fretted over the lack of

yawned

manpower; wide gaps

in the perimeter. Instead of

900 men, he could

muster only slightly more than 400, and the defense line

was drawn

thin.

Devereux worried about ammuni-

tion shortages, the lack of radar to detect approaching

planes, the dearth of medical supplies

Wake’s Leathernecks were

in a

tough

any hope of reinforcements seemed

slim.

Frag-

for the planes.

spot;

and spare parts

mentary radio reports from Pearl Harbor were

From what Devereux had

heard, the U.

S. Pacific

appeared to have been practically wiped

But U. first

S.

black.

Fleet

out.

Marines had known tight places since the

Leatherneck signed the muster

mained but

all

to face things as they

roll.

No

course re-

came. Devereux was

pleased that his men’s morale was unshaken despite the

mass hysteria of the

He remembered

civilian workers.

a squad of Leathernecks waiting to

“their wheels are dropping off!”

37

board a truck for Toki Point watching the workers ing in

directions. “I never

all

except to get

fast

chow

flee-

saw those guys move

or collect their pay,” a

so

Marine

laughed.

“Yeah! Look at 'em go!

T-bone steaks smothered

I'll

in

Christmas bonus the

fat

bet they’re being served

mushrooms and handed a

way

bunch

that

making

is

tracks,” another said.

A

Leatherneck detail heading for a .30-caliber ma-

chine-gun position on the beach marched past the as

CP

Devereux watched from the doorway. They were

high

spirits.

Major!

A

grinning youth called to the

How does a guy get

“I don’t

in

CO, “Hey,

transferred from this outfit?”

belong here, Major!” a gangling Marine

pri-

vate snickered. “I’m allergic to bullets!”

So they went to war, these very young in their teens.

still

Few had

They were

ever seen violent death. Combat, to them, was

would soon wear

Before long, each one of them would

war.

—many

warriors ignorant of war.

a glittering adventure. But the tinsel off.

men

Some were

fated to die that

know

same day

all

about

in defense

of the lonely outpost.

The Marines stirred and the waiting became unbearwater towers scanned the empty

The morning hours passed uneasily at their guns, able. Sentries atop the

sky and muttered,

“Why

slowly.

don’t they

come?”

At about 1100 (11:00 a.m.) heavy, black rain clouds

“their wheels are dropping off!”

38 closed

in.

Thunder growled

fretfully

and lightning

The clouds blotted out the sun and a strong wind came up, driving the surf against the coral reef with a roar. The noise of the waves was so loud that it became necessarv to shout in order to be heard. As wind J flickered.

and waves reached

their crescendo, a tropical rainstorm

broke on Wake.

The downpour blinded the plane spotters; it was impossible to see more than a few yards through that driving curtain. Breakers crashed furiously against the coral,

hurling frothy squall still

ended

at

spume high

into the

1150 (11:50 a.m.

lingered and visibility

was

),

air.

The sudden

but the thick clouds

limited.

The din

of the

waves never abated, and nobody detected the approaching drone of the thirty-six Japanese aircraft, concealed

from view

in the billowing clouds.

By 1158 (11:58 a.m.) the Bettys were over Wake. They dived down out of the overcast and leveled off at 2,000 feet. Only then were they spotted by a Marine sentry on one of the water towers.

by

firing the three signal shots,

He responded

but

it

was too

at

once

late for

defensive action.

The Japanese bombers headed

straight for the airfield

and the eight parked Wildcats. Within seconds, four the grounded planes

Three others caught holed by

bomb

had vanished fire,

in

smoke and

of

flames.

and the surviving F4F was

fragments. As the Japanese

swung away

“their wheels are dropping off!”

toward Peale Island, twenty-three Marine

men were

enlisted

left

39

officers

dead or dying; eleven others

and re-

ceived wounds.

The Bettys swept down on

Pan American

the

where the Clipper passengers were lunching tel.

One

who saw

civilian

at the ho-

the planes coming cried,

“Somethings wrong! Their wheels are dropping

A

few seconds

later,

station

off!”

he realized that bombs and not

wheels were falling from the

aircraft.

The Bettys

de-

molished the hotel, wrecked the Pan American radio transmitter, air station.

and destroyed almost

The

all

the facilities at the

Philippine Clipper was riddled by ma-

chine-gun bullets but not seriously damaged. Ten ians

were

killed in that swift raid.

By 1210 (12:10 over.

A

spatter of

p.m.) the initial attack on

AA

and the Bettys flew their

did no

fire off,

rolling

harm

Wake was

to the Japanese,

the pilots grinning, waggling

wings triumphantly

smoke

civil-

back

as they looked

up from shattered Wake

.

.

.

at the

i(

l’m an American,

isn’t that

enough?”

Emergency makeshift firefighting crews went action on

Wake

into

Island to extinguish the flames consum-

ing the Wildcats; over on Peale, prodigious efforts were

made

to put out the conflagration there.

were gathered

The wounded

in the unfinished naval hospital,

where

Lieutenant (jg) Gustav Kahn, a Navy doctor, and the contractors’ physician, Dr. L. S. Shank, assisted by Navy

corpsmen, attended to the injured.

Major Devereux and Commander Cunningham made

damage that had been sustained. loss had been suffered by Squadron

a quick survey of the

The most 211.

40

serious

But Lieutenant Kinney and Sergeant Hamilton

AN AMERICAN, ISNT THAT ENOUGH?”

“i’m

went

to

work salvaging the wrecked

to

Major Putnam,

.

.

.

until not

swapped

.

.

and

engines, stripped of

December

of the

planes. According

they traded parts and assemblies

one aircraft could be

By nightfall had made one

identified.

.

.

8,

damaged

now numbered

The same cloud cover

Kinney and Hamilton ships flyable.

Added

five out of the original

that

They

.

rebuilt them.”

the four Wildcats that had been on patrol, the air force

41

to

Wake dozen.

had enabled the Japanese

to

sneak in unnoticed had also served to conceal them from the Wildcats.

“Luck was riding with the Nips,” declared one

of the

patrol pilots. “If we’d spotted the raiders, we’d have

jumped ’em and tumbled

a few. At least the Nips

wouldn’t have gotten away without a scratch.”

There was intensive

activity all over the atoll during

the hours after the attack and throughout the night of

December 8-9 (Wake few dozen

time).

The Leathernecks and

civilian volunteers repaired

built revetments,

and

filled

a

bomb damage,

sandbags for gun emplace-

ments. Dynamite charges were laid along the airstrip

runway and made ready the

enemy attempt an

for instant detonation should

airborne landing.

Big Nate Teters rounded up some stray bulldozer drivers

who had

civilians

pushed

the airfield.

recovered from their dirt into the

bomb

The bombing, and news

initial panic.

The

holes that rutted that both

Guam

42

l’M

AN AMERICAN, ISNT THAT ENOUGH?”

and Pearl Harbor had been attacked, brought a number of construction workers out of the brush.

Chamorros from Guam, raised assault

on

their

Many were by the

to a fighting pitch

homeland. Others, both Hawaiians and

Some

native Americans, also drifted in from hiding.

climbed aboard abandoned bulldozers and road scrapers.

A

Many

took up picks and shovels and went to work.

few reported

The Marine a

to

Devereux

for

combat assignments.

CO eyed a husky New Yorker who asked for

rifle.

“Why

are

a civilian.

you doing

You

this?” the

major queried. “You’re

don’t have to fight.”

“I’m an American,

isn’t

that enough?” the worker said.

Devereux nodded. “Give him a weapon,” he ordered First Sergeant Agar.

But of the more than 1,000

civilians

on Wake, only

about 100 actually volunteered their services. During

beyond

the afternoon, the Philippine Clipper, loaded

capacity with Pan American personnel, lumbered out of the lagoon

on the

atoll

and limped away from Wake. Those

watched the giant

aircraft until

left

disap-

it

peared. Several wept as the last connection with

home

vanished.

One

civilian, a

gray-haired plumber from Ohio

Orrin Fritz, stammered,

“W- we re

c-creek w-without a p-paddle.”

s-sure 1-left

named

up

t-the

AN AMERICAN, ISNT THAT ENOUGH?”

“i’m

A

43

Marine standing near him sneered,

teen-aged

“What’s the matter, Pop? You aren’t scared are you?” Fritz glowered at him.

s-sonny. I-I’ve s-stuttered

During the over

Camp

splinter.

all

my-my

life!”

bombardment, the American

aerial

No.

“N-no, I’m n-not s-scared,

had been torn from

1

Devereux ordered

it

its staff

flag

by a bomb

raised again late that aft-

ernoon. Marines snapped to attention as Field Music

Waronka sounded “To

the Colors” and the flag rose

slowly to the top of the pole.

When

the bugler’s last haunting notes had faded

away, Devereux

said,

day.

The only time

fight

any more.”

“That

it'll

flag’s

going to

come down

fly

night and

when we

is

can’t

After the ceremony the Marines trudged back to their posts.

A

sergeant turned for another look at the Stars

and Stripes flapping

wonder

“I

if

in the breeze.

people back in the States give a

about what’s happening out here,” he said

“They’d better, yet, it

but we’re

pal.

all in

Maybe no one

bitterly.

there realizes

the same boat. If our

won’t be too long before the Nip

flag’ll

flag’s

and

starts

it

lowered,

be waving over

the Capitol in Washington unless everybody rolls sleeves

damn

up

his

swinging,” a companion remarked.

As darkness came, the embattled Wake garrison stood to

its

guns. Only a few hours earlier, they

had been

44

I’M

AN AMERICAN,

ISN T

THAT ENOUGH?”

carefree boys in uniform; then, war, death,

were merely words.

Now

and combat

they had seen, tasted, and

felt

The dead were silent under tarpaulin sheets. The wounded moaned in agony. The world had been turned

war.

upside down. These youths were about to endure the ordeal that fighting

memorial.

men have

faced since time im-

6

“I’ll tell

.

you when

I’m hurt!”

The

thirty-six Bettys that had raided

to their bases

Wake

returned

on Roi and Namur without a single mis-

hap; only three or four of the two-engined

medium

bombers had suffered even minor damage. The

jubilant

pilots

boasted that they had “erased the Yankees on

Wake” “A squad

Wake

of overage

after the

Tokyo policemen can capture

pummeling we handed the Americans,”

crewman noted in his diary. The reports that came into Admiral Inouye at Truk were highly optimistic. The admiral was well pleased with what obviously had been a successful mission; but a Betty

45

46

“i’ll

tell you

when i’m hurt!”

an old Navy man, Inouye did not quite trust the brash

as

cocky breed, too

According

full of

Wake

Atoll

munition hit

aviators

to the dispatches

from Twenty-fourth Air

every major installation on

had been reduced. Fuel dumps,

piles,

barracks

buildings,

and the path opened

Inouye was a conservative

fliers,

planes,

—everything

officer

who

did not like to

knew

it

practice

A

would

the need of another raid,” a

Betty pilot said, “but since the Admiral wanted

no objections.

had

Inouye ordered a second attack on

Wake for December 9. “We did not agree with raised

am-

However,

for a landing.

take unnecessary chances. Although he

not please the

were a

swagger and braggadocio.

Flotilla Intelligence officers,

been

The

of the Imperial Air Force.

fliers

.

.

.

Besides,

we

felt

the

it,

we

bombing

would do us good.”

flight of

twenty-seven Bettys was

made ready

for

the attack, which was scheduled at 1145 (11:45 a.m.),

December 9 (Wake

time). At the same time that he

alerted the Twenty-fourth Air Flotilla, Inouye flashed

an order to Rear Admiral Samakoshi Kajioka,

manded

the

Wake

Invasion Force.

Kajioka was instructed to haul anchor and

Roi on Tuesday, December to

11

who com-

9;

sail

the invasion force

from

was

Wake at 0300 (3:00 a.m. Thursday, December (Wake time), when a naval bombardment would

be

off

cover the landing force.

)

“ill tell you

The

when i’m hurt!”

units mobilized for the invasion of

neither large nor powerful.

The make-up

47

Wake were of the force

contemptuous attitude toward Americans

reflected the

War Council. Admiral 450 men to capture the

then prevalent in the Imperial Kajioka had been given only atoll.

His ship);

fleet

consisted of the old cruiser Yubari (his flag-

two obsolescent

and

light cruisers, the Tatsuta

the Tenryu; six destroyers, Mutsuki, Kisaragi, Mochizuki, Yayoi , Oite,

and Hayate. In addition, the transports

Kongo Maru and Konryu Mara

two creaky patrol

plus

boats carried the 450 shock troops of the Special Naval

Landing Force. These men were armed with the usual infantry

weapons such

Two

chine guns, and small cannon. lookout for U.

S.

knee mortars,

as rifles,

light

ma-

submarines on the

surface units ranged far ahead of the

main group. Admiral Kajioka raised the signal “All Ships from the halyard of the Yubari 9.

The convoy

set a course for

banzais from ships and shore. oka’s vessels

at

A

Sortie!”

daybreak, December

Wake amid

prolonged

band played out

and the admiral acknowledged

from the bridge by personally leading

Kaji-

this salute

his staff officers in

a series of banzais.

The Wake Invasion Force was soon in open waters that sparkled with sunshine. The troops were serenely confident.

“.

.

.

everyone behaved as though on a cruise

“ill tell you

48 .

.

.

when i’m hurt!”

relaxed, contented

and cheerful

.

a Yubari crew

.

man remembered. As

his ships

plowed through the placid ocean, Kajioka

reviewed the plan of

Following a brisk cannon-

battle.

ading of the shore, the troops were to make landings: “.

.

.

men on Wilkes Island south side of Wake Island

150

on the

.

.

.

the remaining 300

to capture the airfield.”

In the unlikely event that the Yankees stalled the tackers or even drove

would reinforce the

them back, the destroyer crews

assault troops.

Admiral Kajioka was ready;

would be known

hours, he

in slightly

as the

more than 48

“Conqueror of Wake.”

The admiral was

so certain of swift victory that he

already chosen a

name

Otori Shima It

had

for the atoll after its surrender:

—“Bird Island.”

was an appropriate name.

cember

at-

9, as

the Imperial

Kajioka’s ships

On

the morning of De-

were steaming ahead and

Navy submarines poked

off

Wake’s shores,

the myriad birds rose wheeling and screeching in mass terror at 1145 (11:45 a.m.

)

when Marine

sentries spot-

ted twenty-seven Bettys from afar and every that could be brought to bear

AA

gun

on the planes went into

action.

So

many

the sun rine.

.

.

.

birds

were

in the air that “they blotted out

like feathery clouds,”

Hundreds

machine-gun

of

them were

according to one Ma-

killed

by

AA

shrapnel and

bullets during the furious barrage that the

“i’ll

Marine 3-inchers and poured up

at the

The Betty

tell you

AA

.50-caliber

Japanese

pilots,

when

i’m hurt!”

machine guns

aircraft.

who had

anticipated a "milk run/’

AA

were taken aback by

this

grew when a 3-inch

shell scored a hit that

Betty into the sea.

49

savage

fire.

Then two Wildcats

Their dismay

knocked a

(piloted

by Sec-

ond Lieutenant David D. Kliewer and Sergeant

Bill

Hamilton) suddenly closed in on a second bomber and set

it

ablaze with bursts of .50-caliber bullets.

Despite the shock of realizing that the Yankees were far

from “annihilated” and

pilots pressed sufficient

AA

fighter planes

The

home

still

firepower to drive

were unable

installations.

The

hospital

fifty civilians.

The Japanese scored

link

was breached and the

that killed four Marines, eleven hospital

corpsmen, and about

mitter,

enemy.

No. 2 was flattened in a relentless strafing and

bombing attack

dropped

the Japanese

The Marines lacked them off and the few

to stop the

thin defensive cordon

Camp

fight,

their attack.

bombers plastered the ground at

could

its

a crippling

load squarely on the U.

blow when a Betty S.

Navy

radio trans-

which had been the principal communications

with

CINCPAC

at Pearl Harbor.

The planes made

persistent passes at Battery E, the 3-inch

AA

guns

at

Peacock Point, commanded by Lieutenant Wally Lewis.

The enemy failed to hit the gun emplacement but wounded several men, among them Sergeant Andrew

"ill tell you

50 J.

when i’m hurt!”

Paszkiewicz, a veteran of 20 years in the Corps. Pasz-

kiewicz was operating a .50-caliber

near Battery E. position

A bomb

and sent him

AA

machine gun

blew the sergeant out

flying

through the

He

air.

of his

got

up

bleeding from a half-dozen shrapnel wounds and stag-

gered back to his gun, which was undamaged, although the entire crew had been wounded.

The sergeant blazed away singlehandedly

emy

planes.

first aid,

Go

When

him

a corpsman approached to give

Paszkiewicz roared,

take care of

at the en-

“I’ll tell

you when I’m

somebody who needs

After about 15 minutes, the

hurt!

help!”

enemy broke

off

the at-

tack and flew away. This time there was no exultant

wing waggling. The Bettys had not escaped unscathed.

Two

of

them were shot down over Wake and three

others, badly to their

Every the

first

damaged, reportedly never made

home

back

base.

pilot in the

attack

it

second raid

had been a

now understood

fortuitous surprise.

Even the

loudest braggarts had to admit that their earlier

mates of the defensive situation on

that

Wake were

esti-

inac-

curate.

Admiral Inouye went into a rage when he heard the results of the

second

raid.

"Those conceited aviators

have endangered the whole operation! Even assaults the

Yankee defenses are

to a staff officer.

intact,”

after

two

he complained

“ill tell you

A

when i’m hurt!”

was ordered

third aerial foray

for

Wednesday, De-

cember 10 (Wake time). Inouye emphasized: aircraft

must pave the way

In the Emperor’s name, until the foe

is

I

the

.

.

for our invasion force.

.

.

.

charge you to press the attack

battered helpless.”

The chagrined commander Flotilla radioed to

Truk

on December

10.

above ground

will

miral Inouye.

51

.

be

of the Twenty-fourth Air

that he .

I

left

vow

would

hit

Wake

at

noon

that this time nothing

standing,” he assured Ad-

We’re heading for

Wake!” No sooner had

the last Betty disappeared than Wake’s

defenders again began clearing away the wreckage.

With the

hospital at

ical quarters

up a

had

hospital in

to

Camp

No. 2 demolished,

be improvised.

which had not yet been placed

Dr. Shank and Lieutenant patients

abutted the

was decided

these

into

airfield

Kahn

bombproof

and were

by means

mounted on a

shelters,

also near the

52

of a powerful portable

truck.

The

first

in use.

supervised moving

message

which

Marine CP.

Communications with Pearl Harbor were lished

to set

two large underground concrete ammu-

nition magazines,

their

It

new med-

re-estab-

transmitter

to reach

Wake

“we’re heading for wake!”

new

over the

came from

setup

a

CINCPAC

53

staff officer.

Marked urgent it read: personnel will wear leggins AND LONG SLEEVED SHIRTS BUTTONED AT THE CUFF FOR PROTECTION AGAINST POWDER BURNS.

Major George H. Potter, the Marines’ Executive Officer,

slammed

that’s all

radio!”

his

helmet on the ground in disgust.

they have to say, we’d be better

off

“If

without a

he exclaimed.

The second message, addressed ningham, asked

to

Commander Cun-

for his regular report

on progress of

construction work. Cunningham, usually a mild, easy-

going man, sarcastically radioed back: due to circum-

stances BEYOND CONTROL, CONSTRUCTION

WORK HAS BEEN

INDEFINITELY SUSPENDED.

“What’s the matter with those guys at Pearl? Don’t they as

know

there’s a

war on?” growled the radio operator

he sent the

CO s

dispatch.

take a

little

time to sink

“It'll

red tape that fast,” said

Although some

in.

You

can’t unravel

Cunningham with

staff officers

were

still

a grin.

mired

in the

morass of peacetime bureaucracy, most faced the war situation realistically.

service record

Admiral Kimmel, whose excellent

had been spoiled by the Japanese sneak

attack on Pearl Harbor,

was determined

to restore his

tarnished reputation.

Even ber 8 at

bombs shook Wake on December 9 (DecemPearl Harbor), Admiral Kimmel called a staff

as

“we’re heading for wake!”

54

meeting

in

CINCPAC

Headquarters. Columns of smoke

poured from the twisted hulks of burning

still

battle-

wagons along Battleship Row, where the Japanese had done

their deadliest work.

Admiral Kimmel could see the blackened superstructure of the Arizona poking above water. She

had been

her mooring with some 1,200

and men

sunk

at

trapped aboard. The Arizona and her

were

lost;

officers

sister battleships

nothing could change that dismal

fact, revive

the dead, or ease the suffering of the wounded.

Never before had the U.

S.

Navy

tering defeat. Gazing out his office still

waving from the mainmast

suffered such a shat-

window

of the

Admiral Kimmel undoubtedly did not

As CINCPAC, he was responsible

Blame

Fleet.

coming

at

for the Pearl

him from

Kimmel and

at the flag

sunken Arizona,

relish his position.

for the U. S. Pacific

Harbor debacle was already

Rumor had it that both Admiral Stark (CNO), were

all sides.

his superior,

slated to be replaced very soon.

Kimmel, an old sea dog, knew that the fortunes of war did not always smile.

The only way

for

him

to

wipe

clean his slate was to hit back at the foe.

Nine months

earlier,

tentions against

Wake

he had warned of Japanese

—a prophecy that had come

Kimmel now proposed enable the U.

Navy

.

.

.

S.

to aid

in-

true.

Wake’s garrison and

Pacific Fleet to ’‘get at the Imperial

with surface, underwater and

air units.”

At

,

;

,

“we’re heading for wake!”

55

the staff conference, Kimmel’s aides were told to

draw

up a plan

for

“mounting a counterblow

to relieve

Wake

and harass the enemy.” smarting under the

Still

Kimmel’s

foe’s success at Pearl

worked overtime

staff

attack built around Task Force

Harbor,

to prepare a counter-

(TF )

14,

which included

the aircraft carrier Saratoga (Sara) flying the flag of Rear

Aubrey

Admiral

(CRUDIV) and

its

6

(

W.

Fitch,

plus

Cruiser

Astoria Minneapolis , and San Francisco ,

destroyers, the transport Tangier

Neelies).

Division

CRUDIV 6 was commanded

and the

oiler

by Rear Admiral

Frank Jack Fletcher aboard the San Francisco.

The plan

also involved

TF

Admiral Wilson Brown (the

11,

commanded by Rear

aircraft carrier Lexington;

and Portland

the cruisers Indianapolis , Chicago oiler

Neosho; and escorting destroyers). The third

ment

in the

Wake

Relief Expedition

aircraft carrier Enterprise or

was

TF

the ele-

8 (the

Big E, a cruiser group, and

commanded by Rear Admiral Wil-

a destroyer squadron,

liam “Bull” Halsey).

The

TF

actual relief of

Wake was

to

be accomplished by

The Saratoga steaming at full speed from San Diego, California, had aboard Marine Fighter Squadron

221

14.

,

—eighteen FA2

(Buffalo) fighter planes

as reinforcements for

CINCPAC’s bring

TF

—earmarked

Squadron 211.

general idea was for Admiral Fitch to

14 to within striking distance of Wake, where

56

“we’re heading for wake!”

he would

fly off

the Buffaloes, and then land units of the

4th Marine Defense Battalion from the Tangier.

At the same time, Admiral Brown’s

TF

11

would un-

leash diversionary raids against Japanese bases in the

Marshall Islands to pin

down

the enemy’s naval and

The fighters and bombers of the flattop Lexington (known as the Lady Lex) were to “seek out aerial strength.

and destroy Japanese surface facilities

.

.

.

and engage enemy

“Bull” Halsey’s in this operation,

Islands

and

vessels

TF

.

aircraft

.

.

bomb

where

shore

possible.”

8 was relegated to the side lines

being assigned to patrol the Hawaiian

to lend a

hand only

in the event of a

major

sea engagement.

Admiral Halsey, destined

to

become one

of the Navy’s

best-known fighting men, stewed and fumed over

this

passive role, but prepared to implement the orders that

reached him on December

9,

while

TF

8 was out search-

ing for the Japanese carriers that had raided Pearl Har-

bor two days

earlier.

Halsey promptly put Big the rest of

TF

8,

made

full

E

about and, followed by

speed toward Pearl Harbor

for refueling. Simultaneously, the set a course

11,

toward the Japanese-held Marshall Islands

with instructions to refuel at

weather prevented to Pearl

Lady Lex and TF

Harbor

this

sea.

However, rough

and forced Admiral Brown back

for refueling operations.

Meanwhile, events moved rapidly

at battered Pearl

“we’re heading for wake!”

Harbor.

By

afternoon of

December

10,

57

Marines of the

4th Defense Battalion were alerted for immediate embarkation aboard the Tangier. Their destination was not disclosed but quickly

became an open

secret.

“Were heading for Wake!" shouted Leathernecks who had not yet been in combat, and rolled full field packs in preparation for the long voyage out. They spent that day

and the next loading machine-gun

ing ammunition, uncrating cases of

belts, haul-

rifles,

removing

grease from spare parts, and trucking mountains of

equipment

to the dockside

where everything was loaded

aboard the Tangier. Before long the transport’s holds bulged with 9,000

rounds of 5-inch

and

.30-caliber

shells,

12,000

AA

ammunition, spare

shells (3-inch), .50-

parts, rations,

and

ra-

dar equipment of the latest design, just arrived from the States.

The Leathernecks waited on

the dock for hours but

received no orders to go aboard, and at night were

marched back

to barracks. Their

embarkation was de-

layed by the tardiness of the Saratoga from San Diego.

The Sara had been forced from her path due

Not

until

to reports of

Japanese submarines.

—exactly one “Day of Infamy" —did the big

Sunday, December 14

after the historic finally

to take several long detours

week

flattop

reach Pearl Harbor. Once the Sara slipped into

her berth and began to refuel, more than 500 Leather-

“we’re heading for wake!”

58

necks tramped up the gangplank of the Tangier. The next day she lifted anchor and, accompanied by oiler

Neches and four destroyers, moved out

fleet

to sea for

a rendezvous off Pearl Harbor with the Saratoga. At

1145 (11:45 a.m.) Tuesday, December escorted by

CRUDIV

finally set sail.

the Sara ,

plus a squadron of destroyers,

(Command

eration devolved in

6,

16,

of

upon Admiral

TF

11 and the relief op-

Fletcher,

who was

senior

grade to Admiral Fitch.) Succor seemed at hand for the besieged

men on Wake,

where Devereux’s Marines already had beaten

off

one

Japanese invasion attempt and were girded for another.

“Our the

lives

Mikado

While Admiral Kimmel’s of helping

staff

Wake, Devereux and

belong to !”

was finding the means his

beleaguered Leath-

ernecks were helping themselves. After the air raid on

Tuesday, December

emy ers

Devereux was positive that en-

planes had spotted Battery

Peacock Point

at

9,

would

ingly,

—and

try to

E

—the 3-inch AA guns

felt certain that

knock out

the next attack-

this vital position.

Accord-

he ordered the battery CO, Lieutenant Wally

Lewis, to

move

his

guns some 600 yards east and north

along the beach. This was a back-breaking job, for each 3-incher

weighed about 8

tons.

However, the arduous task of 59

“our lives belong to the mikado!”

60

digging emplacements for them with pick and shovel

was eased by Nate

Teters,

who brought

in a

crew with

mechanical digging equipment.

“Old Nate and

his

boys sure

made

the dirt

fly,”

a

Ma-

was on Easy Street not hav-

rine observed. “I felt that I

ing to swing a pick.”

The semimobile 3-inchers had to be hand-hauled part of the way when two trucks bogged down in the sand. Marines and civilian volunteers dragged cases of nition to the

new

position.

They

E was

ammu-

toiled all night long

The exhausted men dropped to the sand for a few hours’ sleep. Meanwhile, carpenters had hammered together decoy guns of and, by daybreak, Battery

ready.

scrap lumber which were exposed in the old Battery

emplacement. Camouflage nets concealed from

E

aircraft

the true deployment of the 3-inchers.

The Japanese bombers appeared at

right

on schedule

about noon. Devereux’s guess had been a shrewd one:

The

made

Bettys

pulverized

“Had we

it

for Battery E’s former position

with a hail of 132-pound

left

the guns where

we

and

projectiles.

originally

had placed

them, they’d have been pounded to pieces,” Lieutenant

Lewis wrote. “As least

it

was, Battery

E knocked down

at

one Betty and damaged another.”

The high

came when “Hammering Hank,”

point in the defense that day

Captain Henry Elrod, known as

took up a Wildcat and “tumbled” two of the foe’s

air-

‘our lives belong to the mikado!” craft.

run,

AA

curtain

beach on Wilkes Island. During a

strafing

However, the Japanese penetrated the

to plaster the

61

machine-gun

bullets

from a Betty blew up a con-

struction storage shed housing 125 tons of dynamite.

The

resultant blast set off

the ready ammunition

L and denuded

on Batteries F and brush and foliage.

all

It also started a

Wilkes Island of

number

of grass

fires,

destroyed a searchlight unit, ruined control equipment,

wrecked the range

finder of Battery

—and damaged some valuable spare

L

—the 5-inch guns

parts.

Miraculously, the casualties were minimal. rine

was

killed.

Four Leathernecks and one

One Ma-

civilian suf-

fered wounds. Marine Corporal Bernard Richardson

(Battery L) incurred an irreplaceable

who had been

in

show

business,

loss.

Richardson,

was writing a novel

about stock acting companies, tent shows, and carnivals.

He had some script,

150,000 words of

stowed

in his

completed. The manu-

it

musette bag, was destroyed by the

big explosion.

“From now

on,” the corporal

vowed

ruefully,

“I’ll

stick to writing short stories.”

Another Battery

L

Marine, Private First Class Verne

Wallace of Philadelphia, had managed a movie theater in his

home town. Back

in 1940, a

group of friends had

dared him to join the Marine Corps. After the Bettys flew

off,

here?

I

he stood muttering aloud, “What should be in Philly where

I

am

I

doing

belong! God,

I

62



wish

OUR

I’d

Before

LIVES

BELONG TO THE MIKADO!”

my

kept

many

mouth shut and stayed

big

hours passed, everyone on

there.”

Wake would

long to be elsewhere. The Japanese invasion force was almost within striking distance.

wind

A

strong northeasterly

rose shortly after nightfall. Thick mists swirled

about Wake, and watchful sentries stared at the shifting gray mass that limited

Aboard

his

visibility to only a

the

flagship

paced the bridge and cursed

made

few

miles.

Yubari,

Admiral Kajioka

at the

heavy swells that

and sway. He could barely make

his cruiser pitch

out the signal lights of the

T enryu and the T atsuta

blink-

ing through the milky fog to other ships in the convoy.

The rough water worried

Kajioka;

to launch small assault boats. as a

mixed blessing

vision, the mist also



if

it

it

would be

difficult

The murky haze he saw

cut

down

own field of move unseen

his

allowed his ships to

by any prowling American submarines. After midnight,

December

11, a stiffening

breeze

dis-

moon came out, although the abate. Kajioka summoned his staff

pelled the fog and the

heavy seas did not officers to the

over

Yubari

final details.

cluded, stewards filling

s

cramped chart room and went

When

the hour-long conference con-

moved among

the assembled officers

small silver cups with sake , the traditional Japa-

nese drink.

Admiral Kajioka raised

his

cup high and faced the

group. “Our lives belong to the Mikado!



he said and

“our lives belong to the mikado!” tossed off the rice wine.

The

63

others drank, then filed out

of the chart room. Blinkers signaled the patrol boats (

PB 32 and PB 33 “Alert

all

)

carrying the storming parties.

hands! Prepare for assault! Banzai

The wiry men of the went to predesignated

!”

Special Naval Landing Force positions.

The wind moaned.

Spray sloshed over the gunwales of the clumsy PB’s, dousing the tense warriors rels

who

clutched their

rifle

bar-

within sweaty palms. Surely, even these stoical Nip-

ponese must have been gripped by the same misgivings that have tormented every warrior in the long

agony of

waiting before combat.

Every Japanese

soldier

had been taught

that his life

belonged to the Mikado. But he was young, and precious.

He remembered

soming cherry

trees;

life

was

summer sunshine, bloshe remembered laughter and music, a

girl,

the taste of savory cooking, snow-capped mountain

He wanted with all his heart to live. So the soldier his fears and doubts. He wore a blank mask and

peaks.

hid

forced himself to believe that death in battle was his greatest glory.

He

stood in the lurching boat listening to the throb-

bing motors, the wind, and the waves slamming against the sides of the vessels. Every second brought

unknown shore of Shima. And he knew not

closer to the

the place

Otori

if

there.

now

him

called

death awaited him

“our lives belong to the mikado!”

64

winked from ship

All around, in the darkness, signals to ship across the

churning waters.

Gun crews

stripped

canvas covers from their pieces. Extra ammunition was

hauled up on deck. Turret commanders plotted range

and

High

firing

charts.

Gunners double-checked weapons.

in crow’s-nests, lookouts

scanned through night

glasses the adjacent waters in a constant, tense search for

Yankee warships.

The time

of decision

was nearing

.

.

.

9

.

“Do you

think this

is

a hall game?”

At about 0300 (3:00 a.m. ), Thursday, December 11 (Wake time), a Marine sentry walked his solitary post near Battery A at Peacock Point on Wake Island. The night was black, the silence broken only by

waves pounding on the

reef.

The

booming

lone Leatherneck

paused atop a sand dune and stared seaward into the darkness.

The wan moon shone through restless water; only a

few

stars

a slight overcast on the

were

visible.

As he

sur-

veyed the heaving ocean, the Marine saw something startling.

Several miles from shore, he noticed tiny

specks of light blinking and bobbing. 65

“do you think this

66

At stars

first

is

a ball game?”

the sentry thought that they were stars; but no

had ever hung that low were playing

that his eyes

many

times he turned

in the sky. tricks;

Then he decided

but no matter

away and looked back,

how

the lights

remained, dancing and weaving in the distance.

The Leatherneck

called the corporal of the guard,

and

the noncom, scanning the sea with night glasses, agreed that lights

were

flashing out there.

The

CP. Soon, Major Devereux, Major Potter,

notified the

and Commander Cunningham, the grouped

The were

at

corporal then

atoll

CO, were

Peacock Point, peering through binoculars.

had drawn

lights

closer

clearly discernible.

by 0400 (4:00 a.m.) and

A half-hour

later,

the watchers

could make out the shadowy hulls of ships. “It’s

the Japs!'’ Devereux said. “Alert

all

batteries

and

beach positions!”

Moments

later, field

telephones were jangling in bat-

tery CP’s. Intercom radio loud-speakers gently. Sleepy

Commanders

men awakened and dashed

squawked

ur-

to their posts.

of 5-inch batteries at Peacock,

Kuku, and

Toki points took sightings and began to track targets.

On the beaches, riflemen and machine gunners crouched in foxholes

and squinted hard across the water.

As dawn neared, everyone saw the approaching en-

emy

fleet.

The

ships,

steaming in array, must have

seemed overwhelmingly formidable shore.

With the Y ubari

to the

Marines on

in the lead, battle flags flying,

"do you think this

is

a ball game?”

the cruisers, destroyers, and transports sive sight.

made an

67

impres-

However, the laconic Leathernecks were not

overawed.

"Anything that

B on Toki

tery

A

is

Point pointed out.

the baby

There was a

among

that’ll

lot of

do

he boasted.

it,”

brave talk and nervous wisecrack-

the Marines.

5-inchers of Battery to

can be sunk,” a sergeant of Bat-

gunner patted the barrel of a 5-inch cannon. "And

this

ing

floats

A

The gun crews

on Peacock Point made bets

which gun would sink the But the banter stopped

foe,

some four miles

firing run.

ward

off

serving the two

at

first

enemy

ship.

0500 (5:00 a.m.) when the

at sea, started

The Yubari and

as

maneuvering

four destroyers

the southern shore of

Wake and

for a

swung west-

Wilkes islands

while the Tenryu and Tatsuta, with their destroyers,

headed

for Peale Island.

The sun had risen well above the horizon by then; the day was cloudless, but a strong northeasterly wind still

caused heavy swells to thunder against the

reef.

In his CP, Major Devereux was busy checking with his battery

commanders. He issued a blanket order: "No

The slender made contact with Major Putnam and found

one will open officer also

that

fire until I

give the word.”

Squadron 211 had four planes capable of

"Stay

down

Devereux

said.

flying.

until the shore batteries start to shoot,”

s

“do you think this

68

is

a ball game?”

Putnam passed the word to the three pilots who would take to the air with him. He had picked only his most experienced fliers for the mission: Captain “Hammering Hank” Elrod, Captain Herbert C. Freuler, and Captain Frank Thorin. The ready to go

at

men

sat in their Wildcats,

any time.

The Yubari and her

escorts arrogantly

steamed past

some 5,700 yards out. At 0530 Admiral Kajioka nodded to his staff gun-

the tip of Peacock Point

(5:30 a.m.

nery

)

officer,

who gave

the signal for the cruiser’s big

guns to begin the bombardment. The Yubari’ broadside flamed and thundered; the destroyers joined the crashing chorus.

The Yubari

cruised the length of

Wake

Island and

Wilkes Island with guns blazing. However, neither she nor her destroyers caused any major damage. The rent of shells ignited

No.

1,

some

oil

storage tanks near

tor-

Camp

but no Marine casualties resulted. At the same

time, the Japanese PB’s

and transports deployed

boats for the storming parties. their efforts. Several of the

troops, capsized.

The heavy

to lower

sea balked

launched boats, loaded with

Weighted down by packs and weapons,

the unfortunate soldiers drowned.

As enemy shelling increased

in

tempo, Major Dev-

ereux was besieged by requests from his gun ers for permission to

to wait.

open

fire.

The

command-

CO calmly told them

“do you think this

is

a ball game?”

69

Puzzled by his superior’s reluctance to give the necessary orders, Major Potter asked, “What’s wrong, Jim?

Why

are

you delaying?”

“I don’t

want the Nips

make them teries. If I

give

them

to spot our guns. I’m trying to

believe their planes knocked out our bat-

can bring the Japs a a black eye,”

little closer, we’ll really

Devereux

replied.

His canny plan worked. Convinced that the Amer-

had nothing

icans

left

with which to hit back, Kajioka

indiscreetly ordered his ships to

By 0610 (6:10

a.m.

)

move in at shorter range.

the Yubari was again off Peacock

Point making ready for a second

down

the coast. As the foe

swung

phoned Lieutenant Barninger yours, Barny,” he said.

“Lay

it

bombardment run

about, Devereux tele-

at

Battery A.

on the

flagship

appeared

all

line!”

This was what Barninger wanted to hear.

quick check of range and elevation.

“It’s

When

He made

a

the Japanese

in his gunsights, the lieutenant yelled,

now!

The

5-inchers spoke.

Two

hits

shook the Yubari and ,

then two more shells exploded on the enemy cruiser. Flames enveloped the stricken ship. She limped away over the horizon, behind a protective smoke screen sent

up by the

A

escort destroyers.

little later,

Battery

L on

Wilkes Island opened on

the Hayate, which led two other destroyers. sighted by Battery

CO

The

guns,

McAlister, struck the Hayate in

y

/

//

*•

y

A'OU* F*fF's

//

/

-/

/// / /

/

/' *



# /

/

• • •

JAPANESE INVASION FORCE

9

/

(Admiral Kajioka ) f

CRUISERS

( DESTROYERS 1

TRANSPORTS

•S,

S' a 0

DECEMBER

11

,

1941

“do you think this a vital spot. She

hands

at

blew up, broke

is

a ball game?”

in two,

71

and sank with

0652 (6:52a.m.).

When the enemy destroyer exploded,

Battery L’s gun-

ners broke off firing for a spontaneous celebration.

men

all

The

whacked one another on

the

back, and turned handsprings. But a granite-jawed

Ma-

cheered, laughed,

rine veteran, Platoon Sergeant

Henry

Bedell, squelched

their high- jinks.

“Get back to the guns, you this is a ball

damn

fools!

Do you

think

game?” he bellowed.

The chastened Leathernecks scurried to work again. They mollified the bristling sergeant by immediately hitting the destroyer Oite

Konryu Maru, causing cruiser

and damaging the transport

casualties

on both

ships.

The

Tenryu was the next victim; she dropped out

of

the fight trailing clouds of smoke. Later a Marine said,

“The Japs scrammed because they were afraid Bedell

would

holler at them!”

Three Imperial Navy destroyers, Yayoi, Mutsuki, and

B on Toki commanded

Kisaragi, ventured within range of Battery Point,

where Lieutenant Woodrow Kessler

the 5-inchers.

The

and staggered fast

off.

Yayoi, which

leading, took a salvo

The Mutsuki and

the Kisaragi stood

and raked the Peale Island bastion with a barrage.

Japanese shells rained its

was

all

around Battery B, damaging

control communications, but after a hot fight, those

two ships

also turned

tail.

“do you think this

72

While

action

all this

is

a ball game?”

was going

on,

Putnam, Freuler,

Thorin, and Elrod took off in their F4F’s.

The Wildcats

dropped 100-pounders from the makeshift releases and swept low to

strafe the harried

enemy.

A bomb

put the

torpedo battery of the Tennju out of action, and another

demolished the radio room of the Tatsuta.

“Hammering Hank”

Elrod’s plane

was

hit

from the crippled Kisaragi yet he managed ,

to

by

flak

drop a

100-pounder squarely amidships on the hapless destroyer.

With

his plane

burning and almost out of con-

Elrod crash-landed on the

trol,

The plane was walked away from

airstrip.

completely destroyed but the pilot the wreckage.

“Honest, guys, I’m sorry as hell about the plane,” El-

rod said as corpsmen raced up to give him medical assistance that he did not need.

When down

the Wildcats completed this mission and

to refuel

and rearm,

tain Freuler’s engine this, off.

he

tried to

Luckily, he

it

came

was discovered that Cap-

had been pierced by

flak.

Despite

go up again, only to crash on the take-

emerged uninjured.

With only two planes

in usable condition,

Putnam

substituted Lieutenant Kinney and Sergeant Hamilton for Freuler

and Thorin.

At 0731 (7:31 a.m.), Kinney sighted the maimed Kisaragi and circled for an attack. Just as he to release his

bombs

was about

a great explosion rent the ship.

“do you think this “Bits

and pieces flew high

is

a ball game?”

73

and a sheet

of fire

in the air

shot ’way up,” Kinney later reported.

down, there was nothing

few pieces

of

wreckage

The doomed

ship

“When

looked

I

the destroyer except a

left of

on the surface.”

floating

had been carrying an

extra load of

depth charges on her deck. Apparently, Elrod’s

had

set off those lethal missiles. This

of the

first

Japanese invasion

effort.

was the

bomb

last act

Only a minute be-

fore the Kisaragi disappeared without survivors, Dever-

eux had ordered a

was

cease-fire, for the foe

in full

retreat.

One

of Kajioka’s staff officers explained the Japanese

retirement: “because

.

.

.

we had

already suffered losses

and the defense guns were very accurate, the Admiral decided, at 0700, to retire to Kwajalein and other attempt

when

conditions were

more

make

an-

favorable.”

This bland statement sought to cover up an ignominious defeat for the Imperial Navy. Admiral Kajioka’s losses

were

large:

about

500

men

2 destroyers sunk, 7 ships damaged, killed,

and

an

wounded. The Americans came out

unknown number of the

engagement

almost unscathed. Their casualties totaled only one

Ma-

and four wounded. The defenders had

lost

rine killed

two planes and the damage tions in Battery

to the control

B which hampered

communica-

the operation of

those guns.

The beleaguered Marines

still

had plenty

of fight left.

“do you think this

74

is

a ball game?”

At noon, eighteen Japanese bombers appeared. The

maining Wildcats shot down two Betty s,

AA

guns ac-

counted for another, and four more were seen to trailing

re-

fly

away

smoke.

Nor was Squadron 211 in the afternoon,

finished with the

enemy. Late

one of the Japanese submarines that

had preceded the Wake Invasion Force suffered a mechanical breakdown, which forced repairs.

it

to

come up

While the sub was surfaced, a Marine

for

pilot.

Lieutenant Kliewer, happened to be on patrol in his

F4F.

A

deeply religious man, Kliewer had grave doubts

over the propriety of taking

human life, even

in

wartime.

According to a friend, he had joined the Marines as a

when he saw the enemy submarine, Kliewer hesitated barely a moment before hitting it with a 100-pound bomb. The sub disflier

only because he loved planes. Yet,

integrated into a thousand pieces.

Upon

Kliewer reported to Major Putnam.

his return,

CO

Squadron 211’s

comforted the troubled young

“Don’t feel too bad, Dave. During a war

we

all

pilot.

must

do many things that go against our natures.” “I

know, Major.

abandoned

all

December

my

11

.

.

.

What

worries

me

is

how

easily I

principles,” Kliewer replied.

came

to a close. It

rable day for the Marines.

had been a memo-

Never again during the

fight-

ing in the Pacific would coast defense guns succeed in

“do you think this

stopping an amphibious landing. justifiably elated,

to

and one

Major Devereux

as the

of

CO

is

a ball game?”

75

The Leathernecks were

them expressed

came by on an

his pride

inspection

tour.

“We had

quite a day, didn’t we, Major? Quite a day!”

The boyish Marine

grinned.

“That’s right, son,” Devereux agreed.

The Leatherneck enough

to tell

my

sighed. “Golly,

I

hope

grandchildren about

it.”

I live

long

70

m

CC T)

I

.

praying,

you

idiot!”

Though pleased by illusions

their victory, the

about the future.

emy was coming

Marines had no

No one doubted

that the en-

again, the next time in greater force.

Devereux eagerly read every communique from Pearl Harbor, hopeful for word that help would soon come.

The only ten off

Wake was

marines

the presence of

—the

around the “lend

indication that the U.

all

Tambor and the atoll. The undersea

movements

.” .

.

.

Navy had not

two

craft

.

.

writ-

Pacific Fleet sub-

Triton

possible assistance to the

by attacking enemy shipping

76

S.



in the waters

were supposed

Wake

garrison

.

to .

.

and reporting enemy

“i’m praying,

you

77

idiot!”

For one or another reason, neither the Triton nor the

Tambor was

of

much

help.

The Triton took

aggressive action against the Japanese.

the only

On December

spread of four torpedoes at an

10, she fired a

enemy

cruiser (possibly one of Kajioka’s ships) but her “tin fish’

missed. Although both submarines were in the area,

they took no part in the December 11 fighting.

A

few days

back

to Pearl

CINCPAC ordered the submarines Harbor. When advised by Pacific Fleet

later,

authorities that the “pig boats”

Cunningham

A

were here?

much

tartly

for us

left,

Commander

commented, “Who could

case of poison ivy

tell

they

would have done

as

.” .

.

During the days

CINCPAC

had

after the

Japanese invasion attempt,

hinted that something big was in the wind.

Dispatches urged Cunningham and Devereux to be “patient”

and “hold on.” The two men interpreted

CINCPAC’s

could be expected.

stantial aid

Even

the

intimations as veiled assurances that sub-

mere promise that something might be done

bolstered morale on

Wake. Marines and

civilians re-

garded every favorable whisper, every optimistic

bit of

“scuttlebutt,” as gospel. Fanciful stories, without basis

or logic, sprang up. Pacific Fleet

Someone had heard

was en route

to

“have

it

that the “whole”

out with the Nips.”

Another Marine swore he had seen a decoded dispatch

from Pearl Harbor which

listed “a

dozen Army and

78

“i’m praying,

Marine for

you

idiot!”

on transports coming

outfits

as reinforcements

Wake.” And so the gossip went and the rumors

flew.

The only news from via radio broadcasts

December

the outside

came

to the

Marines

picked up by short wave.

On

only 24 hours after they had repelled

12,

Admiral Kajioka, the Leathernecks heard themselves heralded by commentators as “the defenders of the sec-

ond Alamo.”

A

Marine from Texas boastfully declared,

“Yes, that’s right! This

is

another Alamo!

By God,

it

takes us Texans every time!”

He proceeded

to bore

everyone within earshot about

the legendary prowess of the

Lone

Star Staters,

and was

promptly nicknamed “Sam Houston.” After listening his

to

bragging for a while, a youth from Michigan called

a halt.

“Why

don’t

you

rest

your

tonsils,

Sam Houston?”

the

Michigander asked. “And please stop comparing us with the Alamo.”

“Why?”

the

“Don’t you

Texan demanded.

know what happened

man was killed!” “Oh!” Sam Houston

at the

Alamo? Every

last

said,

and

fell

into a

morose

si-

lence.

According to one imaginative broadcaster, Major Devereux, shortly after the Japanese withdrawal, had radioed Pearl Harbor the details of the victory and

al-

T’m praying, you

79

idiot!”

legedly concluded his report with the improbable state-

ment: SEND US MORE JAPs!

When Devereux heard that one, he laughed hollowly. “Why the devil would I ask for more Japs? We’ve got enough trouble with those we already have!” But back

in the

United

States, a public, confused,

shocked, angered, and humiliated by the naval disaster at Pearl

Harbor, thrilled to the defiant

(if fictitious)

words, and “Send us more Japs!” was enshrined with

such historic declarations as “Don’t give up the ship!”

have not yet begun

to fight!”

“I

and “Damn the torpedoes!

Full steam ahead!”

In that hectic period of December, 1941, newspapers

exhorted their readers to

“Remember

and “Remember Wake!” and cry

“Remember

of youths

from

also revived the old battle-

the Alamo!” Thousands cities,

Pearl Harbor!”

upon thousands

towns, and villages flocked to

recruiting stations, unwilling to wait for the draft.

The

Wake

attack on Pearl Harbor and the gallant defense of stirred

Americans

ing of the battleship

as

nothing had since the sink-

Maine

in

Havana harbor

—the

spark that touched off the Spanish- American War.

Americans

who had remained

apathetic to Hitler’s

aggressions and atrocities were outraged

sneak blow.

on

the

A wave

by Japan’s

of jingoism swept the country,

West Coast,

(American-born), were

all

Japanese,

moved

including

and nisei

inland to special camps.

— “iM PRAYING, YOU

80

IDIOt!”

Despite their grisly experience in World icans

unrealistically

War I, Amer-

believed that the nation could

They had what war meant. They

“spring to arms” overnight and crush the foe. to

be reminded the hard way of

had forgotten the admonition liam T. Sherman

who

of Civil

“War

said,

is

War

General Wil-

Hell!”

The men trapped on Wake already had ample proof that Sherman was right. The day after the invasion attempt (December 12), no Japanese planes attacked the

The Marines gazed skyward

atoll.

gard

men eyed each optimism he

flicker of

suspiciously.

other hopefully. felt;

perhaps

perhaps the Nips had called

it

None voiced

—oh,

quits.

let it

Maybe

old Tojo

to

one said

man knew what was

it

aloud, but every

the

be true

had been hurt bad enough

throw

Hag-

in the towel.

No

going

through the other fellow’s mind.

That thought turned out

be wishful thinking, for

to

on December 13 the Japanese returned. They came greater

numbers than

in

ever. Just before noon, fifty Bettys

converged on Wake. The torrent of bombs that

fell ex-

ceeded anything the Marines had ever been subjected

to.

The A A gunners fought back

tigerishly. “I

never

knew

a three-incher could shoot so fast,” said a Marine in

Battery E. (The battery had changed position again after the invasion attempt

500 yards north of

its

and was now emplaced about

former

site.)

“i’m praying,

you idiot!”

81

The planes came from so many directions and skimmed so

low that the

I

recalled.

“Once

clobbered one of

ily, it

I

swung

my crewmen

the

gun

cause he

owed me

and swore

with the muzzle. Luck-

I

did

it

mad

at

me

on purpose be-

five bucks.”

Bombs exploded without attack, a

firing in

so quickly that

caught him on the helmet, but he was

for days afterwards

letup.

Leatherneck rifleman

buddy mumbling. “What first

gunners were

was getting dizzy twirling around,” a former

circles. “I

Marine

AA

.50-caliber

are

At the height of the

in a foxhole

heard his

you doing?” asked the

Marine. “I’m praying, you idiot!” snapped the sec-

ond.

“And

After

if

you had any

what seemed an

brains, so

would you.”

eternity, the

enemy

departed,

bombs gone and machine-gun ammunition expended.

The Marines staggered out find nothing standing

of their holes expecting to

and torn corpses sprawled on the

sand.

bombardment caused no casualties, although one gun in Battery E had its sight smashed, and the elevating mechanism damaged. HowIncredibly, the furious

ever, the

weapon was

the 3-incher dragged

mounted

as

still

operable. Devereux ordered

down

to the water’s

an antiboat gun, since

it

could

edge and

now

fire

only

in a flat trajectory.

That

air assault

on December 13 (the 12th

Harbor) marked a change

in

Japanese

tactics.

at Pearl

The num-

“iM PRAYING, YOU

82

IDIOt!”

ber of daily raids was increased; planes came at dawn, noon, and dusk. The days blurred; there was no rest for

men stumbled

the Marines;

tattered, dirty,

and craving

about

like

zombies, hungry,

sleep.

The Marines began to gripe bitterly for the first time. They despaired of relief, and cynically called themselves the “Orphans of the Pacific”

who “had no momma, no

poppa, no Uncle Sam.” They cursed the Navy that had “forsaken” them, the government that had thrown

on that benighted place where

their

bleach in the sun.” The catch phrase on

them

“bones would

Wake

grueling days was, “The Navy’s coming, and

in those

so’s Christ-

mas!

But when Japanese planes roared over, the gunners

pumped still

sent

them and Squadron 211

shells

and

up

“junk heaps” to fight the bombers.

its

bullets at

Lieutenant Kinney, Sergeant Hamilton, and a volunteer helper, Machinist’s

U.

S.

Mate

Navy, with some

First Class

civilians,

kept patching the

planes, switching parts, propellers, blies,

and actually

and motor assem-

rebuilt four planes;

of ingenuity,” according to

James Hesson,

it

was “a miracle

Major Putnam.

Because the numerous bombings made cooking impossible, the

were cached

men had

to subsist

at various points

on

on the

tributed to the batteries twice a day. position at Heel Point

(Wake

C

rations, atoll

which

and

dis-

The machine-gun

Island) was overlooked

“i’m praying,

and no rations came

you

83

idiot!”

two days. The famished ma-

for

chine-gun crew was desperate for food.

A civilian named

“Sonny” Kaiser offered to find some for the ravenous Leathernecks, and went

He

off

on

his

mercy

mission.

returned a few hours later driving a jeep laden

with cases of rations; in addition, Kaiser brought several boxes of cigars

the

bottles of whisky.

When

happy Marines questioned him about the source

his booty, Kaiser

my

and three

merely smiled mysteriously.

ways,” he said.

He

“I

have

“Who wants

held up a bottle.

of

a

drink?” Despite persistent questioning, Kaiser never

revealed his secret.

The days

passed, the

bombs

fell

—and the

came unbearable. Not only the humans sands of birds fluttered in blind colliding with each other,

The were

explosions affected.

with terror during the

And

felt

it.

Thou-

flight, flying crazily,

and plummeting into the

sea.

Even the

rats

had upset

They ran

strain be-

their balance.

in frenzied packs, squealing

air raids.

the Marines stared moodily at the

empty expanse

of sea, silently praying for a glimpse of friendly ships,

unaware that they were between the jaws pincers

made

in Japan.

of a cruel

The enemy had already

plans for another invasion.

laid

“The Yankees are a

When Admiral

Kajioka’s defeated invaders fled from

Wake, the shaken Japanese made for Roi with all possible speed. Once the ships reached their anchorage on

December “I

13,

Kajioka radioed his chief, Admiral Inouye:

have disgraced the Emperor

responsibility for

cember

... I

suitable

what transpired

am prepared for

.

.

at

.

Wake on

84

11 De-

/’ .

.

This was a

ritualistic suicide

a disgraced Japanese performed self.

all

any punishment you deem

Kajioka’s staff officers feared that he hara-kiri.

and assume

would commit ceremony that

by disemboweling him-

In order to prevent the admirals self-immolation,

“the YANKEES ARE A WORTHY FOE”

85

the officers maintained a discreet but constant guard.

However, that

drastic

when Inouye enabled him another chance

The admiral then aged

was made unnecessary

act

Kajioka to regain face by giving

to capture

Wake.

flagship, the Yubari, to consider

The

next.

spokesman

chief

dam-

called a meeting aboard his

what must be done was Rear

at the conclave

Admiral Marushiye Kuninori, Operations Officer of the Fourth Fleet. .

.

He

declared:

the Americans were very brave

coast artillery marksmanship .

.

.

.

.

.

was remarkably accurate

We must reassess our opinions

of the

enemy and

knowledge that the Yankees are a worthy foe

The all

.

ac-

.

operations officer then reviewed the casualties

and assured

suffered in the abortive attack that

Their sea-

the

damaged

his listeners

ships could be repaired at Roi.

outlined a plan for the second invasion attempt;

an example of Japanese

inflexibility, for

it

He was

Kuninori pre-

sented the precise blueprint that had failed on Decem-

ber 11. The only difference was that this time the invasion force

The sunken

would be much

powerful

six

the

Hay ate were reAsnagi and the Y unagi.

destroyer, the

Oboro which mounted

destroyers Kisaragi and

placed by their

A

stronger.

sister ships

new

5-inch guns,

was added

,

to the invasion fleet.

The crack naval 2d Special Landing Force, which had captured Guam, was rushed to Roi from Saipan.

86

“THE YANKEES ARE A WORTHY FOE”

This time, Kajioka would have 2,000 men, not 450, to do

High Command, now

the job. In addition, the Japanese

convinced that

Wake was

and Hiryu each with

tough, sent the carriers Sortju

fifty-four aircraft to bolster the

expedition. Both flattops

had participated

in the strike at

Pearl Harbor. Their pilots

and planes were among the

best in the Imperial Navy.

The

commanded by Rear Admiral Accompanying the

carriers

aerial striking force

was

Hiroaki Abe.

were the heavy

Tone and Chikuma with escorting

destroyers. Vice

more

miral Inouye, at Truk, wanted no

cruisers

fiascoes

Fourth Fleet.

He

plement of a

first-rate cruiser division:

Ad-

from

his

dispatched to Kajioka the entire comthe

Aoba the ,

Furutaka, the Kinugasa, and the Kako with their destroyers

and

auxiliary vessels. This impressive

flew the burgee of Rear Admiral A. Goto,

squadron

who had

sup-

ported the invasion and conquest of Guam.

On December

20,

backed by

Rear Admiral Kajioka

Steaming behind

his

left

this

Roi for

flagship

powerful armada,

Wake

came

in the Yubari.

the old cruisers

Tenryu and Tatsuta, fresh paint drying on the repaired damage.

A

hastily

covey of destroyers guarded the

troop-laden transports that followed the cruisers. Three

submarines, R-60, R-61, and R-62, had been ordered to

go on ahead of the main force for the purpose of scouting out any United States surface units.

Alone in

his quarters, Kajioka

pored over the

new

“the YANKEES ARE A WORTHY FOE”

87

invasion plan. According to the schedule, the landings

were

to take place

about 0300 (3:00 a.m.) on Decem-

ber 23. Intensified bombings, led by carrier planes from the Soryu and the Hiryu, plus land-based bombers and big four-engined Kawanishi flying boats

(“Emilys”)

from Kwajalein, would begin on December 21

up Wake and eliminate

its

to soften

defenses.

The landings were to be made by PB’s 32 and 33. They would run aground on the south shore of Wake Island near the airstrip. Then, six barges, each carrying fifty

men, would come

along the south shore of

in, all

the atoll: two barges on Wilkes Island; two between the

end of the

airstrip

and

Camp

No.

1

and the

last

two

near Peacock Point.

Counting the men on the PB’s and the barges, almost 1,000 troops

would be sent

force a decision, another 500

ing parties

men from

still

not be enough, Kajioka had orders

beach the destroyers and throw

the Americans. “You are to capture

This

is

the ships’ land-

would be committed.

Should these to

ashore. If they could not

a fight to the

finish!’’

their crews against

Wake

at all costs.

Admiral Inouye had radioed

Kajioka just before the invasion force sailed.

Kajioka well understood what that meant.

He had

a

second chance to redeem himself. There would be no third opportunity for him.

He vowed

not to

fail.

“All that can be done

On December

is

20, the

being done

same day

l”

Kajioka’s fleet left Roi,

away from Wake and gave the Marines a brief respite. They needed even these few hours of rest. Enemy aircraft had been bombing them three times a day since December 13. Almost every installation above ground had been hit. The defenders were worn out, yet they still were not whipped. a driving rainstorm kept the Japanese

Squadron 211 had only two planes

left;

somehow, un-

believably, these indestructible Wildcats continued to fly.

Their fuselages were so riddled with bullets that

“they looked like Swiss cheese,” according to one rine.

88

Ma-

.

“all that can be done

But the

went

aloft to battle the

89

men

bombers. Putnam’s

took

up the ramshackle Wildcats; the squadron

had suffered heavy

bombing

being done!”

were undaunted and unhesitatingly

pilots

turns taking

is

casualties

Of the

raids.

on the ground in the

original twenty-six pilots, only

twelve remained. Conditions on

Wake were bad

Decem-

that Saturday,

ber 20. Battery commanders reported alarming shortages of 3-inch and 5-inch ammunition. Cartridges for

AA

the .50-caliber

began

to give out

guns were running low. Food stocks

and Lieutenant

from the hospital that

his

(jg)

Kahn reported

medical supplies needed

re-

plenishment.

To make been

who had

matters even grimmer, the civilians

living in the

to get out of hand.

bush

for nearly 2

They raided

with Marines, and fought perate, frightened

starting

the food caches, brawled

among

men formed

weeks were

themselves. These des-

into

marauding “outlaw”

bands that grew more troublesome every day. Both

Cunningham and Devereux Harbor asking “Those

for the evacuation of the civilians.

who have

co-operated are magnificent

the rest serve only to

They

persistently radioed Pearl

are using

hamper the defense

Cunningham

.

.

of this post

up needed food and water

contributing anything,”

.

.

.

.

but .

.

without

said in one dis-

patch to Pearl Harbor.

But no word had come about any immediate

—or

fu-

“all that can be done

90 ture

—action

to

is

remove the

being done!”

from Wake. The

civilians

Marines had to deal with that unhappy situation on their

own. Devereux and Cunningham were prepared

by

to put into effect stringent rules including death

ing squad for anyone caught looting.

were warned

civilians

Marines or

come

The “outlaw” and help the

in

else to stay clear.

had enough

“I’ve

either to

fir-

clared. “I intend to

of this nonsense,”

make an example

Devereux de-

of the next trouble-

maker who’s caught.” His tough attitude had the

men

pilfering

in the

its

Almost overnight,

effect.

bush began to behave better and food

ended abruptly. However, the

deteriorating for the defenders. Every

the garrison could not hold out

much

situation

was

man knew

that

longer.

Then, on December 20, good news arrived

in the

form of a Catalina patrol bomber from Pearl Harbor, the

first

outside visitor to

Wake

since

December

8,

when

The PBY

the Pan American Clipper had flown away.

arrived at 1530 (3:30 p.m.) and settled neatly in the

lagoon where the Clippers used to land.

Its

presence

evoked great excitement. Dirt-streaked Marines with matted hair and scraggly

beards

crowded the bomb-wrecked seaplane ramp.

They must have looked

like

creatures from another

planet to the nattily uniformed, clean-shaven, eight-man

PBY

crew.

A

Marine watching the

PBY men

disembark

“all that can be done

is

being done!”

91

among them

noticed that the highest-ranking officers

were only ensigns. “Hey, guys!” the Leatherneck cried. “Look I

at that!

guess the big shots back at Pearl think Wake’s too

dangerous to send anything more than an ensign!”

“Now

I’m really worried!” another Marine laughed.

The Catalina bearded

had with him

official

mail and

in-

Cunningham and Devereux. He pointed

structions for to a

pilot

man

in a

crumpled uniform that bore no

insignia of rank.

“You there!” the

pilot said.

“Right here,” the

ningham

The

— I

man

“Where’s your CO?”

with the beard

said.

.” .

.

flustered pilot saluted. “Sorry,

sir! I



mean you look I didn’t recognize Cunningham waved his hand. “That’s I

don’t recognize myself.

what goodies you brought As the the

“I’m Cun-

atoll

PBY crew

CO

Come on

didn’t

know

” all right, son.

along,

and

let’s

see

us.”

walked away with the

pilot,

one of

looked about wide-eyed at the carnage

wrought by the Japanese. “What’s that?” he asked, pointing to some charred ruins.

“The world-famous Wake Island Hotel, said.

“Renowned

excellent cuisine.

for

its

and

As you can

surf.”

a Marine

luxurious accommodations and

was only recently renovated sea, sun,

sir,”

see, sir, the

establishment

to afford a better

view of

“all that can be done

92

PBY

“Gosh,” the

is

being done!”

ensign gasped. “You guys are really

at war.”

“No, no. We’re only actors in a movie. Don’t you

The Marine laughed. PBY pilot gave Cunningham

think the sets are effective?”

At the Marine CP, the

and Devereux particulars of the

had

sailed

relief

on December 16 (Pearl Harbor time). The

news cheered the harried men. Their even higher by a

Devereux ber

.

.

letter

24 December

“That’s

to

wouldn’t

let

by 23 Decem-

ready for evacuation by

.” .

.

as

he read the dispatch, which he

Cunningham. The

more

were raised

CINCPAC which instructed

all civilians

Devereux smiled

handed

from

spirits

to “prepare to receive aircraft

and have

.

expedition that

like it,”

he

latter

said. “I

perused

always

it

knew

quickly.

the

Navy

us down.”

He would have been less cheerful had he known that the hastily mobilized Wake Relief Expedition was running into all sorts of unforeseen difficulties. On December 17 (Pearl Harbor time), the day after the Saratoga

had

sallied out of Pearl, Secretary of the

Knox formally

W.

Kimmel as CINCPAC. succeed Kimmel was Admiral

relieved Admiral

The man appointed Chester

Navy Frank

to

Nimitz, an admirable choice.

However,

Nimitz could not reach Pearl Harbor for several days, since he

was then

in

Washington.

Vice Admiral William

PAC until Nimitz arrived

S.

Pye was designated CINC-

at Pearl

Harbor. Pye,

who had

— “all that can be done

commanded if

being done!”

the Pacific Fleet battleships,

unimaginative,

officer.

own

His

had been sunk on December

nia ,

is

was a

93

diligent,

flagship, the Califor7,

and Pye was too

painfully aware that the fleet could not afford to lose

any more big ships

As a

result,

—and especially any

aircraft carriers.

Wake Relief Expecaution. He was worried

he issued orders to the

dition, calling for

extreme

about the safety of the flattops Lady Lex and Sara then ,

when from Admiral Wilson Brown, commanding

proceeding into enemy waters. Pye’s anxiety grew

he learned

TF

11, that his cruiser

tice,

only to find

group had held antiaircraft prac-

much

of the

ammunition aboard

failed

to function. This

was indeed a grave predicament

ships expecting to

meet land-based and possibly

for

carrier-

based enemy planes.

Admiral Pye was

in a

quandary; Intelligence reports

claimed that the area into which

TF

was

11

many enemy submarines ... on patrol admiral ordered Brown to join CRUDIV closing on Wake ahead of the Saratoga. .

CRUDIV 6 plus

oiler

—under

was having

were forced

“had

.”

The anxious

6,

then slowly

Astoria , Minneapolis, and San Francisco

destroyers

Fletcher,

.

sailing

to stay

its

Rear

own

Admiral

trouble.

Frank

The speedy

Jack ships

with the transport Tangier and the

Neches, which could make only 12 to 15 knots per

hour. This delayed the

Wake

Relief Force

and endan-

gered every ship, including the Saratoga.

There was much tension aboard the Sara. Every hour

“all that can be done

94

being done!”

is

brought submarine alarms, reports of overwhelming Japanese naval

units, scuttlebutt

about “clouds of Jap

planes from four carriers,” and other fanciful to a

man, the Sara crew, her

officers,

and

tales.

fliers,

But

were de-

Wake

termined to push on. They meant to relieve the garrison at any cost.

The

pilots of

to get at the

Marine Fighter Squadron 221 were eager

enemy. After

was

all, it

their

comrades

in

Squadron 211 who were bearing the brunt of the Japanese attacks. The men lined the rail and cursed the snail’s

pace at which the ship moved

(Wake time)

the Sara was

from the besieged planes.

The

ship

still

—by December 21

more than 600 miles

beyond the range

atoll, far

would have

to sail another

of her

400 miles

before her aircraft were close enough to reach Wake.

On December

22, at

2000 (8:00 p.m.), Fletcher, con-

cerned that his destroyers were running low on

decided to

refill

them

at sea

ward movement was slowed

from the Neelies. The to 6 knots

work was not

a day in their journey to

finished,

for-

and the tedious

more than 10

refueling process started. After delay, the

fuel,

hours’

and the ships had

lost

Wake.

Meanwhile, that American bastion

felt

the

first

on-

slaught of Kajioka’s grand offensive. At 0650 (6:50 a.m. the of

PBY

)

flew back to Pearl Harbor. For a brief period

two hours, there was complete calm on the

Some Marines grouped around

atoll.

a short-wave radio re-

“all that can be done ceiver that cast

is

being done!”

95

had picked up an English-language broad-

from Tokyo. They laughed derisively

as the an-

Wake

to the vic-

nouncer described the surrender of

and “unconquerable” Japanese.

torious

“Man, some guys never get anything a Marine

The

right,

do they?”

commented.

lull

ended

at

0850 (8:50 a.m. ), when planes from

the Japanese carriers Soryu and Hiryu hurtled

A wave

Wake.

of twenty-nine Aichi-99 dive

(“Vais”), escorted atoll.

They

fense

by

by eighteen Zero

down on bombers

fighters, hit the

struck out of the overcast and took the de-

surprise. Luckily, the attack

and caused neither

casualties nor

proved ineffective

damage.

Still,

the

presence of carrier planes was highly disturbing. Major

Putnam ing to

flew off in one of the two remaining F4F’s, seek-

tail

the

enemy back

to their carrier,

have enough gasoline to follow them

all

but did not

the way.

Commander Cunningham sent an urgent call to CINCPAC, saying that carrier-borne dive bombers had struck. This was picked up by the San Francisco many ,

miles away, but Admiral Fletcher, in the midst of his refueling operation,

toga

still

Soon

was helpless

after the carrier planes departed, thirty-three

Wake

with disastrous

effect.

bombs straddled Battery D on Peale, knockthe director unit. The defenses were crumbling

stick of

ing out

and the Sara-

cruised too far away.

land-based Bettys plastered

A

to assist,

“all that can be done

96

is

being done!”

under the merciless pounding. After that attack only eight of Wake’s twelve 3-inch

AA

guns were

still

effec-

tive.

The enemy followed up ing.

this

beating early next morn-

Lieutenant Carl R. Davidson and Captain Herbert

Freuler, flying the early patrol, spotted thirty-three Vais

down on

escorted by six Zero fighters. Freuler dived

down two

the Zeroes and within minutes shot

In that brief fray, he was pled.

wounded and

As Freuler turned back

chasing a Val.

A

to

of them.

his plane crip-

Wake, he saw Davidson

Zero came up behind and blasted the

American; Davidson’s Wildcat belched smoke and dived into the sea. Freuler brought in his disabled craft, but

wrecked

The

it

in a

pancake landing.

survivors of

Squadron 211 gathered around the

They helped Freuler out and moment.

hopelessly shattered F4F.

stood in silence for a

Then Lieutenant Kinney threw up his hands. “That’s it! No more planes! We’re scratched!” Major Putnam smiled ruefully. “Well, boys, our flying days are over. Let’s see

The twenty-odd was

left of

if

officers

Squadron 211

Dev can

use us as infantry.”

and enlisted men

—marched

to the



all

that

Marine CP.

“We’re reporting for ground duty,” Putnam

said.

Everywhere on Wake, men made preparations

for the

big Japanese push. Extra ammunition was trucked to the batteries.

Machine gunners piled up boxes

of

am-

“all that can be done

munition.

Hand grenades were

is

being done!”

passed out.

97

And

the

Marines waited.

Devereux flashed a message

to Pearl Harbor:

attack imminent, all that can be done BUT THERE

IS

is

enemy

being done,

SO LITTLE TO DO IT WITH.

In a Peacock Point foxhole, a machine gunner turned to his crew. “If the Japs

to cost

them

want

this lousy place,

plenty.”

“Amen, brother!” a Leatherneck grunted.

it’s

going

13

“ The enemy

.

is

on

the island”

Vice Admiral Pye, temporarily designated

PAC, was beset by darkness of

burden

as

a thousand anxieties in the

December 22

of a decision that

CINC-

predawn

The

(Pearl Harbor time).

might cause the

loss of

Ameri-

can warships had fallen on him. Yet that same crucial decision could bring about a victory over the Japanese

and

at the

same time rescue the men defending Wake.

As daylight tinted the eastern miral

still

paced

his office,

sky, the troubled ad-

hands locked behind

his

back, head thrust forward, as though walking the bridge of the

sunken California.

and forth that way 98

all

He had been

striding

back

night long. Sleep was out of the

“the enemy question.

How

could one sleep

is

on the island”

when

many

so

99

lives de-

pended upon him? Pye’s instincts as a fighting sailor told

TF’s 14 and 11 in a no-quarter that.

him

to send

Wake and engage the enemy free-for-all. He had the ships to do just

full tilt to

The Lady Lex and

the Sara , with

and destroyers, plus Halsey’s Big

all

E and

their cruisers

the ships of

TF

8 in reserve. If

was

ever the United States needed a naval victory, at that

dark hour in her history.

It

and daring

called for reckless deeds

was a time that

feats.

Americans

faced a bleak Christmas in 1941; the Japanese had

hum-

bled the mighty nation and shaken the confidence of people.

The

silent, twisted,

Harbor remained

as

it

its

burned-out hulks at Pearl

dumb monuments

of national hu-

miliation.

This was the

It

for an epic

blow against the

Wake was

the place for American

was a moment

for boldness, not timidity;

haughty enemy. vengeance.

moment

audacity, not hesitation. But Admiral Pye

stop-gap commander.

Navy would

An

all-out fight

surely entail

and Pye was reluctant

was only a

with the Imperial

some American ship

to give

losses,

Admiral Nimitz, the per-

manent CINCPAC, a Christmas present

of additional

casualties.

At 0350 (3:50 a.m.), December 22 (the 23d on

Wake), Pye received a

brief, disturbing

message from

“the enemy

100

on the island”

is

Commander Cunningham enemy apparently landing. :

About an hour

later, at

tressing signal crackled IS

ON THE

ISLAND.

Irresolution

CRUDIV 6 was

THE

0500 (5:00 a.m.

another dis-

by radio from Wake: the enemy

ISSUE

IS

IN DOUBT.

gripped Admiral Pye. in the

),

He knew

that

midst of refueling, a ticklish busi-

ness under the best of conditions, and those that prevailed were far from ideal. Yet, Pye could not remain inactive; rison,

At of

he wanted to do something for the

Wake

gar-

but worried about making a disastrous mistake. first,

he decided to send the Saratoga to a distance

200 miles from

Wake where

planes, search out,

she could launch her

and attack the enemy. This order

he countermanded, for the Saratoga would then be vulnerable.

A

bit later,

Tangier, unescorted,

he called on Fletcher to have the

make

a run to

Wake

pose of evacuating the Marines and the too,

for the pur-

civilians. This,

was countermanded.

During the day, Fleet Intelligence informed him that the latest available information placed at least two

enemy

carriers,

two

battleships,

and two heavy

with attendant destroyers in the vicinity of the

Concern

for the safety of the Sara

cruisers atoll.

plagued him; the

admiral doubted the wisdom of pitting the flattop against such a force. If she were sunk or seriously

aged, the Japanese might be encouraged to

dam-

make

an-

other pass at Pearl Harbor and the Hawaiian Islands.

“the enemy

is

on the island”

After a hurried meeting with his staff

decided not to

risk that eventuality

a.m.) ordered both bor, thus sealing

TF

14 and

Wake’s

TF

fate,

outpost but also the brave

men

and

officers,

at

101

Pye

0911 (9:11

11 back to Pearl Har-

writing off not only the fighting there.

The order evoked a storm of protest aboard the Saratoga. The carrier’s captain, A. H. Douglas, pleaded for a fast run-in

ready fueled.

by the

flattop

He proposed

and

all

the destroyers

to attack,

al-

with his planes,

“the

102

every

enemy is on the

enemy

Fletcher,

Marine

who

ship in sight.

turned

aviators,

rades, cursed

island”

it

The plan was relayed

down.

primed

com-

to fly to rescue their

and even shed vexed

and stormed, shouting

to

their rage

tears.

and

They

railed

frustration.

The

Saratoga rang with talk “so mutinous” that Admiral Au-

brey Fitch

left

cially since “I

said,”

the bridge to “avoid hearing

it,”

espe-

agreed with everything that was being

he admitted

later.

But neither ranting nor wrath could change anything.

The

and the task forces returned

ships turned around

to Pearl Harbor, “licked

without a

an

fight,” as

officer

on the Sara observed. This behind-the-scenes drama was enacted without the knowledge of the

Wake

garrison.

For them, Decem-

ber 23 (the 22d in Hawaii) was slated to be merely

another day of continuing ordeal and ebbing hope that rescue forces were at hand.

The day began sea

in misty rainfall

and thick clouds. The

was turbulent and the waves boomed sonorously

upon the

coral reef.

No one on Wake was

yet aware

that out in the night the ships of the powerful Japanese

invasion force had been jockeying into positions for

landing since 2300 (11:00 p.m.

Admiral Kajioka’s

fleet

voyage from Roi. For the

),

December

22.

had enjoyed an uneventful first

20-21) the weather had been

two days (December

idyllic: tropical

sunshine

“the enemy

and smooth water. At

was pleasant

to

sit

on the island”

103

night, the ships sailed placidly

under a benign moon and “It

is

glittering stars.

on deck and study the heavens,

picking out constellations, lulled by a gentle breeze with

blue sky above and blue water below us,” a Japanese soldier jotted in his journal.

The journey was without brief, false

incident except for one

submarine alarm; aside from

that, the Japa-

nese had not the slightest indication of any American

naval units in the Central Pacific. However, the weather

proved

fickle

and, during the afternoon of

December

22, turned foul.

Suddenly, the brilliant sun was obscured by heavy

“The wind rose

clouds.

screeched about the masts ships I

.

.

.

From my

a furious howl

to .

.

.

.

.

.

Driving rain lashed the

place on the bridge of the Yubari

could barely see the outlines of our escort vessels

Huge waves washed

and

.

.

.

over the prow and the cruiser was

tossed about like a toy boat,” one of Kajioka’s staff

offi-

The storm abated somewhat by nightfall but the sea still heaved; the Imperial Navy ships maneuvered with difficulty as the admiral tried to keep them cers noted.

in formation.

However, while the dirty weather caused the Japanese grave

difficulties, it also

gave them protection from

the Americans. Despite his undetected approach

Wake, Admiral Kajioka was

fearful that

upon

American sub-

“the enemy

104

is

on the island”

marines, surface craft, or planes would spot the ships.

Kajioka might have spared himself unnecessary anx-

The

came within 5 without being seen from shore. The first the Marines had of its presence came iety.

invasion force

when

a.m.),

gun

sentries noticed

miles of

Wake

indication that at

0100 (1:00

The

flashes out to sea.

man alerted. The and aroused much specula-

alarm was given instantly and every firing

continued for a while

tion about

sumed

its

meaning. The Americans wishfully •

was going

that a naval battle

long-awaited U.

Navy

S.

relief force

as-

on. Perhaps the

had run

into the

Japanese and was “clobbering the Nips,” in the words of

an excited Leatherneck.

Nothing of the

sort

was taking

place.

An AA gunner

on an enemy cruiser had mistaken some oddly shaped low-hanging clouds for American planes and started to blaze away.

Once he opened

fire,

an epidemic of wild

spread through the

firing at nonexistent targets

As the shooting went on, the rumor that a big sea

fleet.

fight

was raging persisted on Wake. One overly enthusiastic radio operator even reported that he States warship claim

ships

were

it

had sunk a

had heard a United

cruiser

and the enemy

fleeing.

The rumor soon died with

man on Wake had

the gunfire. Probably every

guessed that the alleged naval en-

gagement was only a

fantasy.

hard truth was accepted by

all

At 0145 (1:45 a.m.) the

when Lieutenant

Kessler,

“the enemy

commanding Battery

is

on the island”

105

CP

that a

B, notified the Marine

lookout on Toki Point (Peale Island) had seen lights

bobbing on the water. Kessler thought that small boats or landing barges

this indicated

were heading

for

shore.

This proved to be the case. At about 0130 (1:30 a.m.

)

the order rang out on the Japanese transports: “Land

An

the naval landing party!”

what followed

invasion ships described

men clambered

“Without hesitation, tossed barges

.

.

.

observer aboard one of the

.

.

into the storm-

wearing white sword sashes

Officers

led the perilous descent

next:

.

The hardships they encoun-

tered in the landing boats can barely be imagined

Men tumbled .

.

.

into the sea

and were swept

but others took their places

carrying

fifty

men

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Soon

six

looming bulk of

finest warriors

1

doom

barges each

made

for the

while the barges pitched towards the

Wake

Island

.

.

.

Suddenly an American

searchlight stabbed the night ...

The red

lines of .50

caliber tracer bullets streaked in the darkness ... final battle

was joined

.

.

.

The death

struggle

The

had be-

The time was 0245 (2:45 a.m.) ... I muttered prayer for all the brave young men, who had so gal-

gun a

.

the Patrol Boats scraped aground on the reef

Camp

south of

.

.

followed by Patrol Boats 32 and

33 with about 700 of our shore

.

to their

.

.

.

.

lantly

and

battle

.

.” .

unselfishly

plunged into the ghastly

hell of

“ This

as far as

is

we go”

The

initial resistance to the Japanese landings on

Wilkes Island came from Captain Wesley M. Platt and

about seventy Marines

who had light,

at

0235 (2:35 a.m. ).

It

was he

illuminated the beach with a 60-inch search-

throwing a flood of light on the beach. Corporal

Clarence McKinstry, operating a .50-caliber machine

gun near the boat channel between Wilkes Island and

Wake

Island, immediately

swarmed of

rifle

Platt

106

ashore, while Platt

and s

opened

.30-caliber

s

fire as

men

unloosed a torrent

machine-gun

furious barrage halted the

the Japanese

bullets

on them.

enemy on

the beach,

“this

and a wild

is

as far as

we go!”

107

between the outnumbered

battle broke out

Marines and the Japanese. The fighting swirled on Wilkes Island for hours.

As

this struggle

was

joined,

hundreds of Nipponese

troops began swarming off the PB’s onto the south

shore of

Wake

Island.

None

of the 5-inch guns could

be brought to bear against these landings, and the Americans

had nothing heavier than machine guns

to

cope

with them. However, Lieutenant Robert Hanna, with a

Marine corporal and three

civilians,

dashed down the

beach and manned the 3-inch gun that had been

moved from Battery

re-

E.

This weapon, emplaced between the beach and the airstrip,

had

to

proved

be the main obstacle that the enemy

to

overcome. Hanna and his scratch crew reached

the 3-incher just as the foe’s troops were climbing off the grounded PB’s.

Since the cannon’s sight had been damaged, laid in the piece

by peering

through the muzzle.

When

into the

hits

like a trained

open breech and

he had the gun lined up,

Hanna commenced firing. His first shot slammed into crew worked

Hanna

a PB; the improvised gun

team and scored fourteen

on the two patrol boats, which burst into flames,

causing casualties

burning vessels

lit

among

the

men

up the landing

still

aboard.

The

areas with the bright-

ness of day to give Marine machine gunners and

rifle-

108

men

“this

as far as

is

we go!”

a clear view of the target.

A

Leatherneck

at

Toki

Point later said, “It looked like the Fourth of July.”

The Japanese units that landed on Wake Island were among the best in the 2d Special Naval Landing Force the Uchida Company and the Itaya Company (named



for their

of the

commanding

officers).

Takano Company had

The Uchidas,

A

hit

hundred picked men

Wilkes Island.

the van, waving swords and

officers in

screaming “Banzai!” rushed Hanna’s gun. They probably

would have overrun

that position but for the

appearance of Major Putnam and the few ron 211. The

fliers

men of Squad-

had been holding a defensive post

near the beach, but the

enemy landing swept over

small group and encircled

Putnam

sudden

rallied his

the

it.

men in

a charge that broke through

the Japanese. During the hand-to-hand fighting that

marked Squadron

Weak from

each hand, shooting

there,

Putnam shouted, “This

fliers

men

Time

attackers.

is

as far as

we

go!”

turned to face the onrushing Uchidas.

Three or four armed line.

at the foe as his

up the beach toward Hanna’s gun.

retreated

and the

Putnam was wounded.

the loss of blood, the major stayed on his

feet, a pistol in

Once

211’s escape,

civilians joined

after time, the

Putnam’s defense

airmen beat back frenzied

As daybreak came, the hard-pressed Ameri-

cans could see dead and dying Japanese piled up before their

position.

Among them were unwounded men

“playing ’possum,” waiting the right

moment

to spring

“this

up and hurl a grenade

One such

or fire a

is

as far as

few shots

we go!”

109

at close range.

wily Japanese lay alongside the corpses un-

the Uchidas launched a banzai charge, personally

til

led by Captain Uchida. As the attackers reached a

screeching peak, the “dead

man” jumped up and

“Hammering Hank” Elrod

in the back.

was riddled with rod

bullets.

Elrod

charge stopped in

its

tracks

The banzai

and the Japanese

But the pressure on the Americans was too Japanese were closing in on the

airfield

and Major Devereux was forced half-finished

north of

its

killer

s

At the same moment that El-

a bullet pierced Uchida’s heart.

fell,

shot

to

fled.

great.

from two

move

his

CP

bunker some two hundred yards

The

sides,

into a to the

former position. The hospital was also evac-

uated and the patients carried to a partially completed building near the CP. Major George Potter, with some forty

the

men,

CP

By

as a

up

set

a perimeter around the hospital

secondary defensive

and

line.

then, almost 1,000 Japanese

were on Wake

opposed by fewer than 100 Marines and

Island,

civilians.

The

bulk of the defenders were on Peale Island and the northern end of Wilkes Island. Meanwhile, small parties of Japanese in

rubber boats had

infiltrated across the

lagoon and were moving through the thick brush. They cut communication lines between the teries so that

units

Devereux could not contact

and did not know the

positions.

CP and

situation

the bat-

his isolated

around the gun

110

“this

An

effort

WE go!”

AS FAR AS

IS

was made

keep

to

in

touch by radio, but

atmospheric conditions garbled reception and

it

Knots of defenders fought without know-

unintelligible.

ing

made

what was happening elsewhere; some men thought were carrying on the battle alone.

that they

Devereux kept informed

and the few places

He committed

still

as best

he could by runners

linked to the

CP by

telephone.

his last reserves into the fighting

around

the airfield, sending Lieutenant Arthur Poindexter and eight enlisted

by jeep

to

men

with four .30-caliber machine guns

occupy the ground between

the western

end

Camp

No.

1

and

of the airstrip. His instructions to Poin-

dexter were concise: "Hold to the last

man and

the last

bullet.”

Other Marines carried on fore

dawn, the Itaya Company began pressing north-

ward up the

The only a

in that tradition. Just be-

few

coral road that led from Peacock Point.

opposition in their path was

civilians,

and a

by Corporal Winford These

men

.50-caliber J.

to a pair of

Leathernecks,

machine gun worked

Macanally.

drove the Japanese back time after time.

But the enemy gradually closed Macanally ’s

six

in.

After sunrise, one of

men excitedly called the corporal’s attention strangely clad Japanese, who were advanc-

ing at a crouch, taking cover behind some coral rocks.

"The Nips were wearing goggles and asbestos

suits,

with heavy gauntlets on their hands. Something that looked like

fire

extinguishers were strapped to their

“this

backs,” the Marine recalled.

is

as far as

we go!”

“They looked

Ill

men

like

from Mars.” Corporal Macanally swung his machine gun around

and shot them.

A burst

the Japanese and

struck the tank carried

went up

it

in flames

by one

of

with a violent

swoosh.

“That was the

time any of us had ever seen a

first

flame thrower,” a Leatherneck explained.

As

full

came, the battle- weary Marines

daylight

Wake

stared, appalled:

Americans saw heavy

Atoll

will.

They were

able to

man

Probably every

was already

lost,

but

and de-

beyond the range

pound the

The

ships.

cruisers, light cruisers,

stroyers standing out to sea 5-inchers.

was ringed by

of the

atoll to pieces at

realized then that the battle

this certain

knowledge did not

dis-

hearten them.

The

struggle raged on, although the

force ashore strong at

enough

to

enemy had

a

overwhelm the defenders

any given point and a large reserve aboard the war-

ships.

But the Marines entertained no thoughts of surrender.

The

Stars

intrepid staff

and Stripes

men had

still

flew over

held up the

had been shot

all

No.

1,

where

enemy advance. The

in half, but a daredevil

scaled one of the water towers

place for

Camp

flag-

Leatherneck

and nailed the

flag in

to see, ignoring the patter of sniper fire

that slapped around him.

He descended amid

plause and cheers of his comrades.

the ap-

112

“this

IS

AS FAR AS

WE go!”

Perhaps their stubborn courage would have been pelled

had they known how dark the

dis-

situation actually

The defenders kept alive the dwindling hope that a U. S. Navy rescue force might still heave into sight over the horizon. But Commander Cunningham knew

was.

that

no help could be expected.

break, he

had been informed

Earlier,

in a

even before day-

CINCPAC

radio mes-

sage that friendly ships were not to be expected in the vicinity of

Wake

.

.

for at least twenty-four hours.”

Cunningham did not divulge one

—not even

to

this

information to any-

Major Devereux. Obviously, the

patch meant that no help was ever coming. The

CO later explained his we

to fight

ther purpose ...

but

I

decided that

I

on

.

.

.

but, as Americans,

no

until resistance served

it

fur-

did not want to prolong bloodshed, it

must never be said we on Wake

had succumbed without doing our utmost

The one-sided

atoll

silence in these words: “I figured

could always surrender

was our duty

dis-

fight

” .

.

raged on.

That morning, December

23, the climax of the

drawn-

out drama was soon to take place. Groggy from lack of sleep, the defenders blinked in the sunlight,

that they

The

foe

astounded

had somehow survived the monstrous was ashore

in great strength,

night.

but had not yet

succeeded in silencing the main centers of resistance that

still

held out. Savage fighting continued around

Hanna’s gun and

at the airfield.

Lieutenant Kliewer and

“this

a

is

as far as

few enlisted men were posted

blow up the previously mined

enemy hands.

fall into

By daybreak,

we go!”

113

there, with orders to

strip

if it

seemed about

to

Kliewer’s group fought for hours.

the lieutenant

saw

that he could

no longer

stave off the Japanese, and gave orders to detonate the

charges.

was

He

then discovered that the firing mechanism

defective.

While two

device, Kliewer

of his

and the others

men worked resisted the

enemy so effectively that the Japanese fell With communications broken between

CP and

this

meant

his

back. the Marine

that

CO saw

Rising

Wilkes Island and assumed

flags fluttering across

What Devereux and

advancing

Wilkes Island, Major Devereux had no idea of

the situation there. At dawn, the Marine

Sun

to fix the

American resistance had been crushed. could not

know was

that Captain Platt

Marines had the situation well in hand.

The enemy flags did not signify a Nipponese victory; they merely marked the location of Takano Company’s CP. At no time did the 100 men of the Takano Company that

had landed on Wilkes Island ever gain the upper

hand.

When

a.m.

bull-voiced Sergeant

),

the barges scraped ashore at 0300 (3:00

Henry

Bedell, aided

by

Pri-

vate First Class William Buehler, raced to the beach

with a box of hand grenades. The two Marines lobbed grenades into the barges until Japanese marksmen killed Bedell and Platt’s

wounded

men

Buehler.

battled the invaders

all

night in a raging

,

114

“this

is

.

as far as

we go!”

“no quarter” battle. At dawn, Captain Platt his

skillfully led

Marines in a counterattack that wiped out the en-

emy. Every

man in Takano Company was

killed.

Having

eliminated the foe, Platt awaited the turn of events.

Over on Peale infiltrators

Island, all

was

quiet.

A

few Japanese

had come ashore, but were hunted down and

killed.

The

when

three Imperial

came

biggest action there

B

range of Battery

Navy

destroyers

dawn,

poked within

(5-inchers) on Toki Point. Lieuten-

ant Kessler ordered the guns to open

had only a few

just after

although he

fire,

were scored on the de-

shells left. Hits

stroyer Mutsuki

which

cans.” (Observers

on Wilkes Island claimed

with the other two

fled

to

“tin

have seen

the Mutsuki sink, but no confirmation ever was made; it

must be assumed that she was merely damaged.) Because there was no fighting on Peale and Kessler

had expended

all his

ammunition on the Mutsuki Bat,

gun crews were marched

tery B’s

the connecting coral roadway.

Back days ber

in the

off,

United

States,

.

Wake

Island across

.

with Christmas only three

the usual festive spirit

mood

to

was dampened; a som-

gripped the people and the preholiday shop-

ping crowds were scant in number. Even children sensed the gloom; Christmas, 1941, was not going to be

much fun for anybody. The big

stores

on

New

York’s fashionable Fifth Ave-

“this

renowned

nue, world

is

as far as

No

wondrous

115

for their elaborate Christinas dis-

plays and spectacular lighting, remained after dark.

we go!”

dim and drab

bright lights transformed the city into a

fairyland;

wartime regulations demanded a

“brown-out,” which meant that electric displays were prohibited.

Broadway

theater signs were extinguished;

the dazzling signs that title

had earned

for

Broadway the

“The Great White Way” had been turned

Realization that the nation

was

into the national consciousness.

at

off.

war sank slowly

No day

passed without

thousands of youths being called to the colors under the

men streamed

National Conscription Act. Drafted hastily constructed camps, drill

sergeants

had

set in

and the raucous voices

drowned out the Christmas

Few Americans

could shake

off

on Sunday, December

Pearl Harbor

month dragged

into of

carols.

the depression that 7,

and daily deepened

with the raid on as

that

unhappy

on.

Only the epic bravery displayed on Wake cheered the people. Every day, churches and synagogues,

all

houses of worship, were crowded with prayerful Americans, seeking divine aid for the of that obscure dot of land

men

became

of

Wake. The

fate

the prime concern

of millions.

“We

ask only that the courageous handful on

be saved from the clutches of a rapacious rialized

one widely read

New

Wake

foe,” edito-

York tabloid.

116

“this

If Pearl

Wake

is

as far as

we go!”

Harbor symbolized the country’s humiliation,

epitomized

its

pride.

The nation was quick

to

honor the Marines there. President Franklin D. Roosevelt

lauded them in a coast-to-coast radio broadcast.

Secretary of the citation to the 1st

Navy Frank Knox awarded

a special

Marine Defense Battalion. The Navy

Department promoted Devereux and Cunningham

to

lieutenant colonel and captain respectively.

But these accolades meant nothing ing on

Wake. They had no time

were running out

to the

men

fight-

for praise; the sands

them on December 23 ( the 22d in Perhaps, as dawn came that Tues-

for

the United States).

day, the fifteenth day of the battle for

bat-weary Marines remembered that

Wake, some com-

it

was

Yuletide.

Perhaps they thought of past Christmases, recalling the delight of finding electric trains under the tree or a desired bike.

Many of the

Marines were barely past their

boyhood. Some had never spent Christmas away from

home. This year there was no turkey, carols;

to

ham,

or roast beef;

tree;

no

no succulent roast

tinsel

and ribbon; no

no loved ones. No peace on earth and goodwill

men; only death and hardship, pain and

terror.

“Do you mean

it,

Major?” Tuesday, December 23, 1941, brought wrenching anxiety to Admiral Kajioka.

He

strode the bridge of the

Yubari, pacing back and forth 'like a caged wolf,” ac-

cording to one of his wolflike as well.

He

staff officers. Kajioka’s

snarled, growled,

temper was

and snapped

at

anyone within earshot.

The

admiral’s black

mood was caused by

reports

ing in over the radio from the invasion units on

com-

Wake.

Captain Uchida, he learned, was dead; Itaya company’s advance

up the eastern shore

of

been stopped; nothing had been heard

Wake

Island

had

for several hours

from Wilkes Island where Captain Takano’s company 117

“do you

118

had gone ferociously

on the

mean it, major?”

ashore.

The Yankee Marines were

and exacting a price

fighting

for every yard gained

atoll.

Despite himself, Kajioka could not throttle a grudging

How

admiration for the foe.

Council had been in ities!

its

wrong the Imperial War

estimate of Yankee fighting qual-

and generals must

All those high admirals

foolish.

They had baldly

feel

stated that “Americans lacked

the moral fiber and courage needed to face the descendants of samurai on the battlefield

.

.

.”

Those words

must be choking them now.

knew the difference between propaganda and What his superiors told the Japanese about the

Kajioka truth.

Americans was propaganda; what they admitted to each other in their councils of

war should have been the

truth.

Unfortunately, the “brass” had actually believed their

own propaganda. tically,

dain.

Instead of judging the Yankees realis-

the Japanese leaders regarded

The triumphs

at Pearl

them with

Harbor and

Guam

dis-

lent

support to this attitude. But the “craven Yankees” were killing

good Japanese

Island and

Wake

soldiers

Island.

on the beaches of Wilkes

The dead Uchidas, Takanos,

and Itayas gave mute testimony that the Americans were not cowards but

first-class fighting

men.

As Invasion Force Commander, Kajioka sible for his soldiers.

At the very

honest appraisal of the U.

S.

least,

Marines.

felt

respon-

he owed them an

They should have

“do YOU

gone into battle

119

aware that the foe was well

fully

trained, disciplined,

MEAN IT, MAJOR?”

and

resolute, instead of expecting

an easy victory over a demoralized enemy. They had since learned the facts

.

.

.

Kajioka did not doubt that the Japanese would win; the odds against the Americans were overwhelming.

But every hour they held out he regarded

mark

knew Admiral Inouye was every move. The Fourth Fleet CO would

against him. Kajioka

watching

be more

his

than usual. Inouye had given him a

critical

reprieve after the fiasco of

Wake

of

as a black

career

December

11;

if

the seizure

did not go swiftly and smoothly, Kajioka’s

would end

The longer

it

in disgrace.

took to complete the operation, the more

endangered were the Imperial Navy destroyers,

carriers, cruisers,

and transports supporting the mission.

possibility always existed that

A

an American submarine

might sneak up on them. Kajioka shuddered over the consequences

if

the Soryu or the Hiriju

fell

victim to a

Yankee torpedo. Then,

too, there

was the likelihood

that a U. S.

Navy

surface force might suddenly appear and attack the

Japanese vessels around Wake. Kajioka was aware that,

even after Pearl Harbor, the Pacific Fleet three carriers It

for

was an

and many heavy

logical to all-out

cruisers

still

had

left

and destroyers.

assume that the enemy was eager

naval

engagement.

Admiral

Kajioka

“do you

120

mean it, major?”

wanted no part

of a sea battle. His orders

capture Wake, not to fight

enemy

had been

to

He had enough

ships.

trouble directing the action on the atoll without having the additional worry of a surface clash.

Kajioka had hoped that once his troops had been ferried ashore they

would overrun the defenses before day-

break. In anticipation of this, he

uniform.

He was an

had donned

his dress

impressive figure in the starched

whites, with a ceremonial sword strapped to his waist

and two rows of medals clinking on symbolic

was

it

rising

atoll.

would have been

Wake

on

to step

with the Rising Sun

his chest.

How

as the

flag fluttering

sun

over the

That was a touch that would have pleased Admiral

Inouye and raised Kajioka’s stock with the Imperial

High Command.

He had even composed to Truk: “It

is

my

the Emperor, Otori

a

message

and pleasure

privilege

Shima

added was the number

.

All that

.

to present to

remained

details

to

be

guns and

of prisoners taken, the

equipment captured, and other included in his

be radioed back

to

which would be

full report.

But by 0530 (5:30 a.m.), a half-hour

after daybreak,

Kajioka realized that his rosy dream of glory was not

coming

to pass so easily.

He

could have

made

a run in

with the Yubari and supporting cruisers for a bombard-

ment still

of

Wake, but feared the 5-inch

carried a sting

was evident



as

batteries.

That they

was proved by the

“do you

mean it, major?”

placing his ships in jeopardy; the 11

was

still

CO did not relish

The Invasion Force

crippled Mutsuki.

Of

too fresh.

121

memory

course, he could

of

December

pound Wake

while beyond the range of the American shore batteries,

but that would impair the accuracy of his barrage.

upon the

Reluctantly, Kajioka decided to call

Soryu and Hiryu

,

carriers

then maneuvering about 200 miles

northwest of Wake, to launch an aerial strike with their

V al

bombers, escorted by Zero

As did Admiral

fighters.

How

Inouye, Kajioka also disliked aviators.

Hiroaki Abe, lord

it

who commanded

over him!

not the old-line

How

false)

the carrier groups,

would brag

fliers

Navy men, had humbled

But Kajioka had no help from Abe.

the

An

Admiral

alternative.

He was

would

that they ,

the Yankees.

forced to seek

Intelligence report (which proved

reported several U.

Wake. And, back home,

S.

submarines closing on

in Japan,

the

Tokyo radio

broadcast an announcement describing Wake’s

fall.

The

morning newspapers announced the triumph and happy Japanese were already celebrating the

feat.

Admiral Abe received Kajioka’s request

at

0545 (5:45

a.m.); a half-hour later, both carriers launched planes.

Thirty-four bombers, escorted

same “Gallant Eagles Pearl Harbor

where

—zoomed

brisk fighting

The planes

of the

by

sixteen Zeroes

Navy” who had blasted

through the

still

—the

air

toward Wake,

continued.

arrived over the target at 0700

(7:00

mean

122

“do you

a.m.).

With no American

major?”

it,

aircraft to

oppose them, the

bombers pummeled Wake, Wilkes, and Peale Almost every position was ing Zeroes, Marine

by

AA

hit.

Despite bombs and

batteries fought

back

one, the 3-inch guns were silenced, a

enemy, the

Once

rest

islands. straf-

until,

one

few by the

because their ammunition ran out.

the batteries stopped firing, the Vais raked the

American

lines at will.

But the Gallant Eagles did not

whanged away at the buzzing planes and a cheer went up when a Zero crashed get off without losses. Riflemen

in a storm of

One

ground

fire.

machine gunner, Sergeant John Cemeris, alternately aimed his weapon at three Japanese irate .30-caliber

trying to sneak

up on him and

at a

Val racing back and

forth overhead.

He

fired a burst at the soldiers,

then at the plane.

A

stream of tracers killed the Val’s pilot and a few seconds later the chattering

machine gun riddled the three

in-

filtrators.

Cemeris, also to

who was

a professional boxer,

be a devout man, known by the nickname Dea‘

con,” because he once

had been a

“May God have mercy on your as

happened

he turned

lay preacher. souls!”

Cemeris cried

to another target.

Everywhere on Wake, small groups of Marines and civilians resisted stubbornly.

The Leathernecks

at

Camp

stopped a half-dozen banzai charges and the Stars

No.

1

and

Stripes

still

flew from the water tower. But the de-

“do you

mean it, major?”

123

fenders were weakening. After an epic stand, the survivors of

Squadron 211

until every

Major

stopped fighting, but not

finally

man except one had been

Potter’s scratch platoon fell

killed or

wounded.

back and the Japa-

nese captured the hospital, where they bound

wounded

Marines with telephone wire, beat up the corpsmen, shot a civilian, destroyed

mistreated both doctors. ing to cross the

airfield.

all

the medical supplies, and

They then pressed ahead,

try-

However, Potter had established

an improvised line and once again he held

off

the enemy.

Lieutenant Kliewer, unable to put his demolition

equipment

into

and managed

working order, retreated from the

to join Potter without losing a

by 0700 (7:00 a.m.

)

that the defenses of

was apparent

it

Wake

still

flung batteries

man. But

Major Devereux

Island were crumbling, espe-

cially after the carrier dive

Devereux

to

strip

bombers appeared.

had no communication with

and scattered

units.

As

far as

his far-

he knew,

Wilkes Island was in enemy hands, and there had been

no direct word from Peale Island. The Marine CP, guarded by

Potter’s thin line,

mortar

The

fire.

last

was coming under knee

boxes of small-arms ammunition

were distributed and then the supply of hand grenades ran out.

Major Devereux met with Commander Cunningham.

He

explained to the atoll

could not be continued

CO

much

“The only sensible reason

that organized resistance longer.

for us to risk

any more

lives

“do you

124 is if

mean it, major?” be getting help

there’s definite assurance that we’ll

very soon

— and

I

mean

soon,”

Devereux

Cunningham looked uneasy. “I’m

known

we

for hours that

said.

Dev.

sorry,

I’ve

can’t expect friendly ships for

at least another day.”

Devereux flapped slams the

his

hands

in resignation. “Well, that

lid.”

Commander Cunningham nodded. “We’d the white flag,” he said. “There’s no

shame

in

better raise it.

We gave

our best.”

When

Devereux returned

to the

CP, he told the bad

Gunnery Sergeant John Hamos, a Marine since Hamos had fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood

news

to

1916.

during World Haiti,

and

War

seen combat in Nicaragua and

I,

China. His reputation for

also served in

toughness was legendary in the Corps. Now, ite-hard Leatherneck

had

it,

“I’m afraid

John. Pass the

The

string’s

Major?” he rasped.

run out,” Devereux

Hamos wiped away “I’ve I

tears in his eyes.

“Do you mean so,

his tears

done everything since

I

never yelled ‘Uncle’ before.

word

to

Major

with grimy knuckles.

joined the Corps, It

Potter.

said.

sir.

But

down hard.” CP. He stood in

sure goes

The burly veteran stalked out of the the open for a moment, frowning at the machine guns were

this gran-

sand. Rifles

rattling only 100 yards

Japanese mortar shell exploded nearby.

and

away.

A

mean it, major?”

125

the sounds of battle.

Draw-

“do you

The sergeant disregarded

ing a deep breath, he strode toward the firing line and in a voice that carried above the noise bellowed, “Cease fire!

Cease

fire!

We’re surrendering! Major’s orders!

We’re surrendering!’’

“What’s wrong with those

Potter’s lost.

men were

men?”

the

first

to learn that the battle

The word passed from one Leatherneck

and the

firing

dwindled away. But

it

to the next

was not

in the tra-

Even

dition of United States Marines to surrender.

the order had been given, a machine gun kept ing

away

at the Japanese. Potter

“You heard the order! Cease “Sure, Major.

munition.

No

I

fire,

dashed

damn

was

to

it!”

after

hammerit.

he roared.

only wanted to use up this belt of am-

sense letting

it

go to waste,

is

there?” the

gunner asked.

The Leathernecks gave up with grudgingly, they drifted back to the 126

ill

grace.

CP and

Slowly,

waited in

“what’s wrong with those men?”

127

glowering silence for whatever was to come. The Japanese, not yet

aware of the American decision, took no

advantage of the cious of a trap,

lull.

Captain Itaya’s company, suspi-

made no attempt

Meanwhile, Devereux spoke

to advance.

to all units

with which he

had telephonic connection. He ordered

resistance to

Runners went out

stop.

unhappy

the

tidings.

managed

Point

to various positions

Battery

to repair

its

phone

(3-inchers) line to the

CO who

Godbold, the battery

tain

D

and spread

also

at

Toki

CP. Cap-

commanded

Peale Island, asked Devereux for orders.

“Cease •

mg.

Destroy

firing.

all

weapons. We’re surrender-

»

There was a long pause; then Godbold said deliberately,

“Dev, are you

all

right? Is this straight?’’

“You always were a hard guy on the

replied. “It’s

level.

We

to convince,”

can’t hold out

Devereux

any longer.

Destroy the guns and come on in to the CP.”

“Okay, Dev.

way

I’d

have

throw rocks

to

—we’re out of ammo,” Godbold

want anyone

to

con

me

at the Japs any-

said. “I just didn’t

into surrendering.”

Captain Godbold informed Peale Island Marines. His

men

griped and cursed but carried out their orders.

Rifle

bolts

were thrown

smashed. They zles.

Range

shattered

into the sea

and the butts

rammed hand grenades down gun muz-

finders, sights,

beyond

repair.

and other equipment were

One

big Marine found a sledge

“what’s wrong with those men?”

128

hammer and with

it

smashed gun breech

locks.

He

sur-

veyed the damage he had wrought and grinned wryly. “I

must be an anarchist

at heart. I sure get a kick

out of

busting up government property!” Similar actions took place in the batteries. All the 5-inchers

and 3-inchers were rendered

Machine

useless.

gunners took their weapons apart and either hurled the pieces into the sea or buried them.

men plodded and

Then

the bone-tired

slowly toward the CP, drifting in by twos

threes.

However, there were riflemen and machine gunners dispersed over reach.

Wake

From time

Island

whom

to time, shots

Some

a Japanese appeared.

Devereux could not

still

last-ditch fighters

the capitulation but refused to give

‘The only time

I'll

rang out whenever

toss in the

heard of

up anyway.

towel

is

when

I’m put

out of action by a bullet or else ordered to surrender by

Major Devereux himself,” a sweat-stained

officer told

CP runner who brought him the message. Many Leathernecks expressed the same sentiment. As

the

the runners reported back to the CP, Devereux realized that he personally

had

stepped out of the

CP

men grouped

to bring

an end to

and looked about

hostilities.

at the

He

unhappy

there.

“Don’t feel bad, boys,” Devereux said. “You put up a

whale of a scrap.”

He noticed with

whom

an oldtime Marine, Sergeant

he had served at several

Don

stations.

Malleck,

“Don, go

“what’s wrong with those men?” find a stick

and

tie

something white to

undershirt, a bedsheet. “Yes,

thought

A

Major,”

sir,

I’d

have

to

few minutes

We re

Malleck

going to said.

obey an order

later

he mumbled, hanging

“Come them

on,

Don. Stand

the Nips.”

visit

“Damn!

never

I

like this one.”

at the end.

“Ready,

his head.

straight,

man.

We

don’t

want

were whipped, do we?” Devereux

think

to

—a towel, an

he returned carrying a broom

handle with a wrinkled bedsheet sir,”

it

129

snapped.

The two men marched down

A

beach.

vagrant breeze stirred the sheet, which

moment,

tered, for a

on past

like a

Potter’s last position, littered

discarded helmets

—the

with cartridge

As they neared the enemy’s

would be

waving the truce

P.

flag, to

A

little

in the road.

Devereux told Mal-

make

certain that

it

out, “I’m

come

to surrender. Don’t shoot!”

one, but could feel eyes watching

from the bushes.

jumped out

lines,

broken

Devereux, commanding the United

States Marines. I’ve

They saw no

were lying

Every few steps he called

seen.

Major James

shirt,

debris of battle.

further on, several dead Japanese

leck to keep

flut-

proud banner. They walked

empty canteens, a blood-stained

cases, rifles,

the road toward the

Suddenly,

of the foliage.

a

Japanese

He brandished

them

lieutenant

a long samurai

sword. Behind him were a half-dozen grim soldiers with leveled

The

rifles.

officer

shouted something in his native tongue,

“what’s wrong with those men?”

130

motioning with the sword for Devereux and Malleck to stop.

“Do you speak English?” Devereux The officer lowered his sword. “Of speak Japanese?

What

is it

The

officer

nodded.

“It’s

The English-speaking Itaya,

UCLA

officer

who proved

with a benign smile

While the

see, I

I

went

said.

know how

stub-

to college in the

UCLA.”

States, at

CO, Captain

Devereux

about time.

born Americans can be. You

United

you

course. Don’t

you want, Major?”

my men,”

“I’m here to surrender

asked.

sent a runner for his to

be a roly-poly

man

and silver-rimmed eyeglasses.

graduate acted as interpreter, Itaya

explained that he would accept the surrender unconditionally.

Devereux glanced

(9:30 a.m.

A

at his

watch.

was 0930

).

jeep flying a white flag

bounced along the rocky

Commander Cunningham was driver. He had shaved and put on

road.

“I didn’t

It

want

to look like a

seated beside the his best uniform.

tramp when

I

met the

Japs,” he recalled later.

Since he was atoll

CO, Cunningham outranked Dev-

ereux and, in accordance with military custom, completed the formal surrender. Itaya’s

Devereux,

accompanied by

the

first

demand was

for

American-educated

lieutenant and a platoon of soldiers, to visit every position

and persuade

his

Marines to capitulate.

“what’s wrong with those men?”

With Malleck

131

in the van, carrying the flag of truce,

Maconcealment when

the group trudged from point to point. Individual

from places of

rines obediently rose

Devereux called them Poindexter and his

ready for a

nets,

out.

At one position, Lieutenant

men came

finish fight.

running with fixed bayo-

Only a quick word from

Devereux prevented a bloody

CO

vinced that his

was a

clash. Poindexter, con-

had intended

prisoner,

to

rescue him.

By noon,

the Marines on

all

rounded up. Japanese

and flushed the

soldiers spread

Some

coming from the Kuku Point

Guarded by

thirty Japanese,

had been

through the bush

Only Wilkes

Is-

sporadic firing was

area.

Devereux and Malleck

crossed the channel in an Imperial tain

Island

civilians hiding there.

land remained to be visited. still

Wake

Navy

launch. Cap-

the ferocious defender of Wilkes Island,

Platt,

spotted the boat making the passage and thought the

enemy was attempting another Rallying his men,

landing.

who had been busy mopping up

few

infiltrators, Platt started

nel.

His Leathernecks were ready to open

“invaders’’

when

He went lief

on the double

for the chanfire

out to meet the bearer, in the mistaken be-

was surrendering

to him.

When

recognized Devereux, Platt cried out in dismay. it all

on the

Platt noticed the white flag.

that the foe

“Is

a

over, Dev?’’

he exclaimed.

he

“what’s wrong with those men?”

132

“That’s right, Wes,” Devereux said. Platt signaled his

men

drop their weapons.

to

we

only the beginning, Major,” he said. “Sure,

But

battle.

out of least

it,

we

there’s

in

still

a big

war ahead

“It’s

lost this

—maybe we’ll be

one of Tojo’s prisoner-of-war camps, but at

got our licks.”

Later, at 1330 (1:30 p.m.), the

about 400 Marine

officers

and

American

enlisted

1,000 civilians, were herded to

Camp

captives,

men, and some

No.

1

where Ad-

miral Kajioka, resplendent in white uniform, clinking

medals, and dress sword, came ashore to take possession of

Wake

ripped

in the

off

Emperor’s name. The American

atoll

was

the water tower and tossed contemptuously

to the ground. Japan’s Rising

provised

flag

staff

Sun was hoisted on an im-

amid a rousing chorus

of banzais.

Wake

had become Otori Shima and Admiral Kajioka

was content. About an hour

after the flag raising,

ningham, and the other Marine

from rice

their

and

were separated

men. Admiral Kajioka ordered them served

sake.

Although the American

gry, they refused to accept

their

officers

Devereux, Cun-

men would

also

be

any food fed.

officers

were hun-

until assured that

Kajioka granted this

request and sent his compliments to Major Devereux.

“You are a true leader ... an

officer

who

looks after

the welfare of his soldiers ... a foe both tenacious and noble,” declared the admiral in a lengthy statement,

“what’s wrong with those men?”

which was read

to

member

English by a

The Americans

“Why

sion.

Devereux and the

133

officers in halting

of Kajioka’s staff.

shifted uncomfortably during the ses-

doesn’t he just

hand out the chow instead

of that junk?” Captain Platt whispered.

“They’ll either starve us to death or bore us to death.

And

don’t

I

But

know which

at last the

is

worse,” an officer said.

reading ended. The

much bowing and

parted after

came with bowls

staff officer

saluting.

of steaming rice

and

Then

de-

orderlies

bottles of sake.

Across the camp, the enlisted Marines were lining up for rations

when

a group of bedraggled Leathernecks strag-

gled in from Heel Point. Guards surrounded the famished, tired,

and

dirty Americans.

They

shuffled slowly,

shoulders slumped, eyes downcast.

In the front rank was a barrel-chested, six-foot-tall

Marine sergeant who sported a tache.

When

fiercely bristling

he saw Devereux and the

officers,

mus-

the ser-

geant turned to his fellow prisoners and cried, “Snap to it!

You’re U.

S.

Marines! Not chain-gang convicts!”

The Leathernecks came

to attention

and marched

though on parade, heads high, arms swinging. they drew abreast of their

“Eyes right!”

swung by

He

officers,

as

When

the sergeant roared,

saluted smartly and the detachment

in perfect

cadence

at a

pace that forced the

short-legged guards to trot in order to keep up with

them.

“what’s wrong with those men?”

134

An

astonished Admiral Kajioka witnessed this per-

formance. “What’s wrong with those men?” he quer-

“They don’t

ulously asked.

aflame, Wake’s Marines

went

the oblivion of a four-year-long captivity.

The

Thus, with defiance off to

act like prisoners!”

civilians

were taken

still

to detention

camps

in

China, while

the Marines, officers and men, were shipped to a pris-

oner-of-war

camp on Luzon

war progressed, they were the

enemy

in the Philippines.

As the

shifted several times. At

treated the veterans of

Wake

decently, but

with the passing years and the ebbing of Japanese tunes, conditions for the enlisted

first,

grew progressively worse,

for-

especially

men. Some died of starvation, mistreat-

ment, and disease, but most survived the long ordeal.

“We

forced ourselves to

live;

we

wouldn’t give the

Nips the satisfaction of seeing us die,” said one Leather-

neck survivor.

While the men who had defended Wake were languishing

in captivity, the

the fight for the tiny

atoll.

so bravely

United States took up

Although no attempt was

made to recapture Wake, it was so heavily bombed that the enemy could make little use of the base he had so dearly bought. The war’s largest raid against Wake took place on October 5-6, 1943, when planes from the biggest

carrier

pounded the

task force atoll.

The

organized up to that point fast flattops Essex,

Yorktown,



)

“what’s wrong with those men?”

135

Lexington Cowpens, Independence and Belleau ,

,

Wood

with escorting cruisers and destroyers hit Japanese stallations ships.

on Wake. (The

Two

of

them

carriers

were

all

newly

in-

built

— the Lexington and the Yorktown

—bore the names of older vessels that had gone down in previous battles.

Montgom-

This force, under Rear Admiral Alfred E. ery,

damaged Wake

patrol-plane

so severely that the airfield

and

base built there by the Japanese was

immobilized for a long time. Subsequent bombings

— and

at least ten

major raids were mounted

by

and destroyers kept Wake

cruisers

in

shellings

a state of

shambles.

Despite

all this,

the Rising Sun flag flew over Otori

Shima from December a

few days

23, 1941, until

after Japan’s

September

September

atoll to

USS

Mis-

Tokyo harbor.

The Americans repossessed Wake without

On

1945,

Premier, Hideki Tojo, had

signed an unconditional surrender aboard the souri in

7,

7,

a battle.

1945, a Japanese admiral gave

an American general. At the

last

up the

moment, the

general stepped aside so that a slim, sunken-cheeked

Marine lieutenant colonel, only recently released from a Japanese prisoner-of-war compound, could take the admiral’s sword as the symbol of the foe’s defeat.

Jim Devereux had returned in triumph to Wake, ing for the

men who had

act-

fought and suffered there.

136

“what’s wrong with those men?”

The Japanese

Camp

No.

The name

In

1.

flag its

no longer flew from the

place fluttered the Stars and Stripes.

Otori Shima was dropped; the lonely atoll

again had become American

Devereux noted that his four year absence. in the brush. fluttered.

staff at

The

soil.

had changed on Wake

little

The odd-looking

Clouds of birds surf

rats

still

scurried

circled, screeched,

boomed and columns

in

and

of froth rose

high above the lagoon. Only his Marines were gone. Perhaps, as he gripped the surrender sword, Devereux recalled the terrible ordeal of the battle, the longer

more

terrible

and

one of the prison camps. Perhaps he

thought of the bold and reckless boys so hard to hold this place of sand

who had

and

fought

coral, suffering

and dying

in a cause they did not fully understand, yet,

somehow,

realizing that theirs

was the good

fight.

So ended the saga of Wake.

The deeds

of courage

and

sacrifice

done there

in

De-

cember, 1941, were soon overshadowed by greater feats in bigger battles; the

men

of

Wake were

forgotten in

the immensity of global conflict. But not even the pass-

ing years could tarnish the spirit and courage of the

brave

men who had

of despair

rekindled American pride in a time

and humiliation.

BRIEF GLOSSARY OF MILITARY ABBREVIATIONS

AA CINCPAC

Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet

CNO

Chief of Naval Operations

CO

Commanding Officer

CP

Command

CRUDIV

Cruiser Division

NAS PT TF

Naval Air Station

Antiaircraft

cannon

Post

USMC

Motor torpedo boat Task Force United States Marine Corps

USN

United States Navy

137

8

UNITED STATES AND JAPANESE CASUALTIES ON WAKE United States DECEMBER 8—23, 1941 (\VAKE TIME) Enlisted

Officers

Men

Marines Killed

5

Wounded

6

42 26

Missing

0

2

11

70

Killed

0

3

Wounded

0

o

0

8

total: 81

Navy Personnel r*

TOTAL:

Civilians

Killed

70

Wounded

12

82

Total Killed

Wounded Missing

120 49 2 171 U.

Wake

S.

Casualties

more than 400 Marines and other military personnel, while over 1,000 civilians were also taken. 138

Americans captured on

totaled

1

CASUALTIES ON

WAKE

139

UNITED STATES AND JAPANESE CASUALTIES ON WAKE Japanese AIR LOSSES

*

DECEMBER 8—23 Killed

4 6 80 90***

4 carrier planes

“Emily” 4-engined bomber 16 “Betty” 2-engined bombers 21* 0 1

LOSSES SUSTAINED DURING INVASION

13

flak

2 destroyers sunk with all hands 8 ships damaged 1 submarine (unknown casualties)

LOSSES SUSTAINED DURING INVASION



500 80

160

593

173

125

by 2nd Lt. R. Nl. Hanna’s gun Casualties aboard Mutsuki

Wounded

Wounded 125

Casualties aboard landing craft

Total Killed

Wounded

ON DECEMBER 23

combat

hit

1

13

Killed

Casualties in ground

0

ATTEMPT OF DECEMBER Killed

51 aircraft damaged by

Wounded



7 5

25

137

160

10

820 333 1,153 Japanese Casualties

*

No

**

are conservative estimates. This figure represents only those planes shot

official

Japanese records of casualties were available. All figures

down

over the

atoll.

Actual losses are unknown. *** This figure includes only those bodies recovered by the Marines.

TYPES OF AIRCRAFT USED AT WAKE

United States B-17 (Flying Fortress)

Army, 4 engines, heavy bomber Navy, 1 engine, fighter

F4F-3 (Wildcat) PBY-5 (Catalina)

2 engines, patrol bomber, seaplane

F2A

Navy,

(Buffalo)

1

engine, fighter

Japanese Mitsubishi Zero 1

(Betty)

Kawanishi Zero 2 (Emily) Nakajima 97-2 (Kate)

2 engines, medium bomber 4 engines, bomber, seaplane

Aichi 99-1 (Val)

1

bomber engine, dive bomber

Zero-3 (Zeke)

1

engine, fighter

140

1 engine, high-level

SUGGESTED READING

In gathering material for

Wake: The Story

memoirs, ship’s

sulted private

logs,

unit

of a Battle,

con-

I

and other

journals,

material not easily available to the general reader. However, any-

one desirous of studying further about the events on profit from the following works: Bayler, Lt. Col. Walter,

Last

Man

Wake

off

Wake

will

York:

The

and Carnes, Cecil

Island. Indianapolis

and

New

Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1943.

Devereux, Col. James P.

The Story

Wake

of

S.

Island. Philadelphia

and

New

York:

J.

B.

Lippincott Co., 1947. Heinl, Lt. Col. R. D.,

The Defense

of

Jr.

Wake. Washington: Government Printing

Office,

1947.

Hough, Lt. Col. Frank O. Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal ( History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1958.

Morison, Samuel Eliot

The Rising Sun

in the

Pacific,

1931-April 1942

United States Naval Operations in World Boston: Little,

War

(

History of Vol.

III).

Wm. Sloane Associates, Inc.,

1948.

II,

Brown and Company, 1948.

Pratt, Fletcher

The Marines War.

New

York:

141

Index

Abe, Hiroaki, 86, 121

China, Japanese

Adams, Tom, 32-33 Agar, Paul, 31-32, 42

Churchill, Winston, 5

aircraft types, 25,

138

Akagi, 30

89-90 Bases,

Inc.,

Cotvpens, 135

Asnagi, 85

Cruiser

93

6,

Naval

Pacific

Arizona, 54 Astoria, 55,

4

20-22, 26, 32-33,

civilians, 17,

Contractors

Aoba, 86

in,

Division

17

(CRUDIV)

55, 58, 93,

100

Cunningham, Winfield Baminger, Clarence A., 24, 69 Bedell, Henry, 71, 113-114 Belleau Wood, 136 Bennington, 14 Bloch, Claude C., 21 Bousher, W. A., 33 Brown, Wilson, 55, 56, 93 Buehler, William, 113-114

25-27, 35, 40, 53, 66, 77, 89-92, 95, 99, 112, 116, 123-124, 130, 132

Davidson, Carl R., 96 Devereux, James P., 19-21,

25-26, 37,

93 casualties, 139-140 Cemeris, John, 122 Chicago, 55 Chikuma, 86 California,

142

Scott,

40,

28, 42,

31-33, 43,

59,

3560,

78-81, 89-92, 97, 109-110, 113, 116, 123-124, 127-133, 66-69,

73,

75,

135-136 Douglas, A. H., 101

INDEX Elrod, Henry, 60, 68, 72, 73,

109

Holm, Lewis

Enterprise

(

Big

E ),

25,

55,

99 Essex, 135

5-6

Adolf,

Hitler,

143

A.,

20

19,

35

Hull, Cordell,

56,

Independence, 136 Indianapolis, 55

Fighter Squadron, see United States Marines

Aubrey W., 55, Fletcher, Frank Jack, Fitch,

58, 102

55, 58,

93-95, 100,' 102 Freuler, Herbert C., 68, 72,

96 Fritz,

Nariyoshi,

1-2,

Company,

Itaya

117,

127,

130

6-11

42-43

F unit aka, 86 Godbold, Bryghte D., 24, 127 Goto, A., 86 Grew, Joseph C., 7 Guam, 8, 10, 16, 30, 35, 86 I chin,

3,

6

William F. (“Bull”), 55, 56 Hamilton, Bill, 29, 41, 49, 72, 82 Hamilton, John H., 29, 33 Halsey,

Hamos, John, 124-125 Hanna, Robert M., 24, 107140 Hayate, 47, 69, 85 Heel Point, 24, 83 Hepburn, A. J., 16 Hesson, James, 82 Hirohito, Emperor, 7 Hiryu, 86, 87, 95, 121 108,

110,

108,

Japanese war plans,

Orrin,

Hakko

1011, 30, 34, 45-46, 5051, 84-87, 119

Inouye,

113,

Kahn, Gustav, 40, 52, 89 Kaiser, “Sonny,” 83 Kajioka, Samakoshi, 46-48, 62,

68,

84-87,

73,

69,

101-103, 117-121, 132134 Kako, 86 Kessler,

Woodrow,

24,

71,

103-104, 114

Kimmel, Husband E., 8, 18, 19, 53-55, 92 Kinney, John F., 29, 41, 7273, 82, 96 Kinugasa, 86 Kisaragi, 47, 71, 72-73, 85 .

Kita, Ikki, 3

Kliewer,

David

D.,

49,

113-114, 123 Knox, Frank, 92, 116 Kodo-Ha, 3, 6, 35

Kongo Marti, 47 Konryu Maru, 47, 71

74,

INDEX

144

Kuku

Point, 22,

24

Marushiye, 85

Kuninori,

Wallace W., 24, 49, 59, 60 Lexington ( Lady Lex), 55, 56, 93, 99, 136 Lewis,

J.

Macanally, Winford

J.,

110—

128—131 Manchuria, 3—4 Marshall Islands, 56 Mendana, Alvaro de, 12 Minneapolis, 55, 93 Missouri, 135 Mochizuki, 47 Montgomery, Alfred E., 135 Mutsuki,

47,

71,

5,

114,

92,

Panay, 4

13,

2,

15,

Toki 17,

53-54, 79 Clipper,

29,

31,

42 Platt, Wesley M., 106, 113114, 131-132, 133 Poindexter,

Arthur,

55 George

110,

131

53,

66,

Portland, Potter,

69,

109,

H.,

123,

126

Putnam, Paul, 25, 29, 33, 41, 67-68,

72,

74,

82,

89,

108

96,

S.,

92-93, 98-

101

Franklin

61 D.,

116

99

15— 29, 31, 33, 39, 42

Pan American Airways,

also

22-24, 95-96, 109, 114, 127

Roosevelt,

47, 71

16,

Point),

see

Regulus, 19 Richardson, Bernard,

30 93, 94

Ohoro, 85 Oite,

(

Island

Pye, William 121,

10,

Neches, 55, 58, Neosho, 55 Nimitz, Chester W.,

Peale

95,

6

140

Nagumo, Chuichi,

13

33, 39,

Malleck, Don,

Benito,

Peale, Titian,

Philippine

111 McKinstry, Clarence, 106

Mussolini,

49—

Pearl Harbor, 7-8, 30-31, 35,

69

A., 24,

J.,

50 Peacock Point, 20, 22-24, 49, 59, 65-69, 87

Kurusu, Saburo, 35-36 Kwajalein Atoll, 30

McAlister,

Andrew

Paszkiewicz,

San Francisco, 55, 93, 95 Saratoga (Sara), 55, 57-58, 92, 93, 94, 95, 99, 100102 Shank, L. S., 40, 52 Soryu,

86,

87,

Soviet Russia, 5

95,

121

INDEX 5

Stalin,

Josef,

Stark,

Harold

Fighter Squadron 221, 55, R.,

8,

54

18,

Takano Company, 108, 113— 114,

145

117

94 United States 35, 93,

Pacific

54-58,

36,

Fleet,

76-77,

98-102

Tambor, 76-77 56-58, 93, 100 Task Force, eight, 55-56, 99 Task Force, eleven, 55—56, 58, 93, 99, 101 Task Force, fourteen, 55-56, 99, 101

Wake Wake

Tatsuta, 47, 67, 72, 86

Wake

Tangier,

55,

Taussig, E. D., 14

Tenryu Teters,

71,

72,

86

Nathan Dan,

17,

20,

47,

,

67,

32, 41, 60

108,

22,

24,

33,

71,

114, 127

islands of, 2,

102-111 Island

(see

Pea-

cock Point), 2, 13, 17, 22-24, 87, 107-109

Wake

Relief Expedition,

55—

98-102

Wallace, Verne, 61

Waronka, Alvin, 32, 43 Wildcats, 25, 29, 138 Wilkes Island,

76-77

Uchida Company, 117

also

Wilkes, Charles, 13

Tone, 86 Triton,

13 Invasion Force, 46-47, 62-64, 73-74, 85-87, Atoll,

58, 92-94,

Thorin, Frank, 68, 72 Tojo, Hideki, 6-7, 35, 135

Toki Point,

Wake, William, 13

24,

2,

13,

61,

87,

113-114,

131

17,

22-

106-109,

108-109,

United States Marines: 1st Defense Battalion, 1826, 116 4th Defense Battalion, 56— 57 Fighter Squadron 211, 25, 29, 74, 82, 88, 96, 108, 123

Yamamoto,

Isoroku,

1-2,

8,

10-11, 30, 35 Yayoi, 47, 71

Yorktown, 136 Yubari, 47, 62, 66-69, 85, 86, 103,

120

Yunagi, 85

About the Author

Irving Werstein has his

life.

made

Even when he was

writing both his goal and

officially

a factory worker, a

salesman, or an actor and comedian, Mr. Werstein spent his free

He

moments

writing.

served in the U.

S.

Army from

1941 to 1945 and

Yank magazine. After the war he devoted all his time to writing; he has written magazine stories, radio and television scripts, and a number was a correspondent

for

of books.

Mr. Werstein was born in Brooklyn, has lived in Mexico, Italy, and England.

New He

York, and

has traveled

Denmark, and France. He lives in Stuyvesant Town in New York City with his wife and young son. extensively in Holland,

wakestoryofbattlOOwers wakestoryofbattlOOwers

(Continued from front

flap)

Irving Werstein has told the story of

Wake from the earliest steps

in

the

fortifi-

cation of the atoll, through the tense

ments of the at the

nel

siege, to the

mo-

dramatic scene

end of the war when Marine Colo-

Devereux accepted the surrender

of

the island he had been forced to give up four years before. Here fighting

man

at

his

is

the American

best,

untried but

and grimly humorous

in the

face of danger. As the author says:

“The

eager, brave,

deeds of courage and

sacrifice

done there

December, 1941, were soon overshadowed by greater feats in bigger battles; the men of Wake were forgotten in the in

immensity of global

conflict.

But not even

the passing years could tarnish the spirit

and courage of the brave men who had rekindled American pride in a time of despair

and humiliation.”

Thomas

Y.

Crowell

Company

201 Park Avenue South

New

York 3



Established

1834

Mandelbaum

Photograph by

Ira

Irving

Werstein

Also by Irving

Werstein:

The

Battle of

Midway

The

Battle of

Aachen

Guadalcanal

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