Honors! Table of Contents
U.S. Military HONORS! Page-14

8 December 1941 - 4 September 1945
Useful Links - Including "Massacre on Wake Island"

During the 16-day battle for Wake, the Japanese lost 820 men killed and 333 wounded. American casualties totaled 120 killed, 49 wounded and two missing. A total of the 1,462 allies, both military and civilian, were taken to prisoner of war camps in China and Japan; 1,231 would be repatriated at the close of the war. Ninety eight contractors remained on Wake to complete construction projects. On the orders of atoll Commander Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara, these men were executed in October 1943. Found guilty of war crimes, Sakaibara was hanged after the war.

For the most part, the war was over for Wake Island. The Americans made no attempt to retake the atoll. A constant blockade hampered the Japanese development of this isolated outpost. Except for periodic air raids and target practice by passing ships, Wake was not a factor in the American offensive. Starvation and disease were the worst enemy for the inhabitants. The war officially ended for Wake on Sept. 4, 1945, when the Japanese surrendered the island to Brigadier General Lawson H. M. Sanderson of the U.S. Marines.

The defense of Wake goes down in history as testimony to the valor and professionalism of the Marine garrison and its officers.

During the course of the siege, they shot down 21 enemy aircraft, with three more "possibles," and damaged 51 others.

They sank four warships and damaged eight others.

Not counting the lost submarine, the Japanese suffered more than 850 killed or missing.

Japanese CDR Mistake Kumara later wrote: "Considering the power accumulated for the invasion and the meager forces of the defenders, it was the most humiliating defeat the Japanese Navy ever suffered."

Although minor in scale, the Battle of Wake upset the timetable for the Japanese campaign of conquest in the Pacific. It also allowed forces on Midway Island to prepare for an assault and achieve victory.

By providing a small victory, the garrison on Wake bolstered the morale of the nation and the resolve of the American people.

According to Wake Island survivor Lt Arthur A. Poindexter, the action on Wake achieved a number of World War II "firsts":

  • First enemy surface ships sunk by American forces
  • First enemy vessel sunk by American aircraft
  • First Japanese fleet submarine destroyed by American forces
  • First and only amphibious operation in the Pacific to be stopped by coastal guns
  • First Medal of Honor awarded to a Marine aviator: Capt Elrod was posthumously cited for gallantry as a fighter pilot and for ground combat, when he was killed on 23 Dec. 1941.
  • First Presidential Unit Citation awarded by the personal direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was also the only one ever signed by him.
There were 46 Marines, three sailors and 34 civilians killed in action in the defense of Wake.

Eight members of lst Defense Bn, two members of VMF-211, three sailors and 100 civilians were killed or died while in captivity. The two VMF-211 Marines and three sailors were beheaded by the Japanese while they were embarked in Nitta Maru.

Wake Island was regained on 4 Sept. 1945. It was discovered that on 7 Oct. 1943, the Japanese lined up nearly 100 civilian prisoners and machine-gunned them on the beach at Wake. For this atrocity the island commander, RADM Shigematsu Sakaibara, was hanged as a war criminal.

Defenders of Wake still alive as of this writing are 98 members of lst Defense Bn, seven men from VMF-211, 16 sailors and two soldiers. The number of surviving civilians is unknown. The Wake Island Survivors Association has not heard from approximately 50 of the defenders since the war ended.

This monument to the defenders of wake island was built by LT Marshall K. Phillips, USCG, officer-in-charge of the island's LORAN station in 1955.

The engine cowling has since been removed and placed in a Wildcat display at the national Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.,

A new memorial has since been built,

The Forgotten 98 of WAKE ISLAND
Massacre on Wake Island
By Major Mark E. Hubbs, U.S. Army Reserve (Retired)

Wake Island - Useful Links

March 28, 1943 torpedoed by the U.S. submarine USS TUNNY and completely destroyed
a week later by another torpedo attack from USS SEADRAGON and USS FINBACK.
COPY:  From the Idaho Statesman Sept. 2003  Chapter Closes On Veterans Convention
Book Review:  Hell Wouldn't Stop, An Oral History of the Battle of Wake Island
Book:   Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island
Excerpt: The siege of Wake Island may not have been one of World War II's biggest campaigns, but it had a profound psychological effect on the course of that struggle.  This was the battle that first raised American spirits in the dark weeks immediately following Pearl Harbor.  For sixteen suspenseful days, 449 U.S. Marines, assisted by a handful of sailors and soldiers and a few hundred civilian construction workers, withstood repeated attacks by numerically superior Japanese forces.  Although Wake finally fell on 23 December 1941, its garrison made the Japanese pay an embarrassingly high price for a tiny coral outpost.

  • To Hell and Back: Wake During and After World War II by Dirk H.R. Spennemann
  •           This and much more is linked at   Digital Micronesia -- Marshalls World War II
              Also from Digital Micronesia: History of the Marshall Islands --- The US Period
              (Click and scroll down)
  • Marines in World War II Historical Monograph --- The Defense of Wake
  • Local copy:  A Magnificent Fight:  Marines in the Battle for Wake Island by Robert J. Cressman 
  • Misc WWII Links
  • Diary of Emmett Newell
  • Battlefield 1942 Gazette
  • Micronesia (Marshall Islands) Wake Island
  • FINDING DAD - The Hansen Story
  • WW II to Operation Enduring Freedom
  • "Marine Corps" Wake Island - Google Search
  • "Morrison Knudsen" Wake Island - Google Search
  • "Marine Corps" Wake Island - Web Search
  • "Morrison Knudsen" Wake Island - Web Search
  • HyperWar: A Magnificent Fight: Marines in the Battle for Wake Island
  • James P.S. Devereux, - Google Search
  • James Patrick Sinnott Devereux, Brigadier General, United States Marine Corps

  • Pan American Airlines in WWII
    Pan American Clipper - pre WWII
    The Pacific Islands before WWII.....The Pan American Clipper
    Image source - Click here - scroll to Image Library

    Along with the many (mostly little-known) stories that are placed in
    Military Honors!  I have also included here some information pertaining
    to the important role of Pan American World Airways (aka Pan Am) in WWII .

    From the website of here are two WWII stories that I copied:
    The Round The World Saga of the "Pacific Clipper"    ||  The War Years
    There are more stories of PanAm history (plus an image collection)
    on their website ... and the site is frequently updated.

    My oft repeated disclaimer about copying of items from the internet.