Part Three: The Defense of Wake

Chapter 1: Wake in the Shadow of War1

In the strategic context of 1940 and 1941, the importance of Wake, both to the United States and Japan, was considerable. At this time the United States had not won its ocean-girdling net of Pacific bases, and, with the exceptions of Wake, Midway, and Guam, the islands between the Hawaiians and the Philippines were terra incognita. Wake, a prying outpost north of the Marshalls and on the flank of the Marianas, would be a strategic prize for Japan's ocean interests and a corresponding embarrassment while it was in the hands of the United States.

These factors had been noted by the U.S. in the Hepburn Report of 1938 which recommended a $7,500,000 three-year program to develop the atoll as an advanced air base and an intermediate station on the air route to the Far East. Acting on these recommendations, initial development of Wake began early in 1941.2 Base construction was given first priority, and by the time the first military contingent arrived on the atoll a civilian contractor's crew of approximately 1,200 men, under supervision of Mr. Daniel Teters, was hard at work.

By 18 April 1941, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, became fearful that the defensive efforts had started too late. In a study sent to the Chief of Naval Operations, Kimmel stressed the importance of Wake and asked that work on defense be given a higher priority than base construction. He also requested that a Marine defense battalion be assigned to the atoll.3

In 1941 the strength of a typical defense battalion was 43 officers and 939 enlisted men, and its two most characteristic attributes were balanced structure and a high degree of strategic mobility. But mobility disappeared at the battalion's destination. Once its guns were in position, a defense battalion suffered from insufficient transportation and a shortage of men.4

The Pacific strategy of 1941 contemplated rendering our bases relatively secure against air raids, hit-and-run surface attacks, or even minor landings. Fleet Marine Force defense battalions, organized for defense against just such operations, could provide antiaircraft protection, could stand off light men-of-war and transports, and in extreme emergency could fight on the beaches with individual weapons in the tradition that every Marine,


first and last, is an infantryman.5 Within and about the structure of such lightly held but secure bases, the Pacific Fleet would ply, awaiting the moment when battle could be joined with enemy naval forces--"to get at naval forces with naval forces,"6 as Admiral Kimmel put it--in decisive action for control of the sea.

As might be expected, the Japanese concept of strategy in the Central Pacific was to seize or neutralize the few advanced United States bases west of the Hawaiian Islands as quickly as possible after the outset of war. For this purpose Japanese forces in the Marshalls and Carolines (the Fourth Fleet) were organized along lines resembling an American amphibious force.7 Commanded by Vice Admiral Nariyoshi Inouye, the Fourth Fleet was composed of amphibious shipping, a few old cruisers, destroyers, submarines, shore-based aircraft, and a Japanese version of our own Fleet Marine Force: the special naval landing force.8 Fleet headquarters were at Truk, where Admiral Inouye's flag flew in the light cruiser Kashima.9

The war missions of Admiral Inouye and his fleet had been decided generally in 1938 when the basic East Asia war plans had been prepared in Tokyo.10 But it was not until November 1941 that detailed instructions for commanders within the Combined Fleet were formulated and issued. In these instructions, Wake was dismissed in a single phrase:

Forces of the Fourth Fleet:

Wake would be strictly a local operation. By Admiral Inouye's scheme, 450 special naval landing force troops could, in a pinch, turn the trick.12

Final Preparations, Autumn, 194113

On 23 June 1941 the Chief of Naval Operations directed that elements of the 1st Defense Battalion, FMF, be established at Wake "as soon as practicable." This directive (as eventually modified)


Map 4: Defense Installations on Wake


specified that the following units should compose the defensive garrison:

CNO's "as soon as practicable" was translated into immediate action by the Pacific Fleet. About 1 August Major Lewis A. Hohn with five officers and 173 enlisted Marines and sailors from the 1st Defense Battalion commenced loading the USS Regulus, a twenty-year-old "Hog Island" transport which would carry the battalion advance detail to Wake. Regulus sailed on 8 August, and arrived off Wake on 19 August. Weapons and camp equipment were lightered ashore, and by the time the Regulus departed on 22 August, a camp facing the lagoon had been set up on a site near the west end of Wake's west leg. To distinguish this camp from the one west of Heel Point housing the 1,200 Pacific Naval Air Base contract workmen, the Marine camp was designated as Camp One. The civilian establishment became know as Camp Two. (See Map 4, above)

Wake, as it appeared to the Marines of the 1st Defense Battalion, was a V-shaped atoll composed of three islands: Wake Island proper,15 the body of the V; and Wilkes and Peale, the two tip-ends. Its land mass consisted of some 2,600 acres of sand and coral. Offshore, heavy surf roared continually against a coral reef which surrounded the whole atoll at distances varying from 30 to 1,000 yards. The beaches and much of the terrain island were covered with coral boulders, some large enough to conceal several men. The interior lagoon, although affording sufficient surface and depth for seaplanes, was studded with coral heads and foul ground which had to be dredged before ships could enter the single channel between Wilkes and Wake Island. Despite Wake's limited land area, its coastline exceeded 21 miles. An excellent vignette of Wake in 1941 was given by Colonel Bayler:

Wake is by no means the bare sandy spit one thinks of when atolls are mentioned. Considerable areas of it are covered by woods, and though the trees are small, their thick foliage and the scrubby tangled underbrush provided admirable cover ... Walking in these jungles was difficult but not impossible...16

In August 1941, Wake was in rapid transition from its past solitude to the mechanized modernity of an outlying air base. patrol plane facilities and a concrete ramp, the result of Pan American's pioneering, were already available on Peale.17 Just inshore of Peacock Point along the west leg of Wake Island a narrow airstrip, 5,000 by 200 feet, had been chopped out of the dense growth. A main roadnet of packed coral was taking shape rapidly as the contractor's workmen


blasted, slashed, and dozed the terrain of Wake.

In spite of the need for haste, rigid official separation existed between the construction efforts of Marines and those of the contractors.18 Operating on a semi-private basis with their heavy equipment, supplies, and facilities the naval air base contract workers were concerned with building roads, shops, utilities, quarters, air base facilities, and the like. They built no defense installations. This construction fell solely to the Marines who had little engineering equipment except picks and shovels or the infrequent luxury of a borrowed civilian bulldozer. The Marines installed their heavy weapons by hand, hewed emplacements and foxholes from the coral, and erected their own living quarters. Understanding this basic difference in available means, the Navy's construction representative, Lieutenant Commander Elmer B. Greey,19 and the civilian general superintendent, Mr. Daniel Teters, did their best to assist the shorthanded and meagerly equipped Marines. At no time, even after the outbreak of war, did the contractor's establishment or workmen come under full military control.

On 15 October Major Hohn was relieved as Marine detachment commander by Major James P.S. Devereux, who until this time had been executive officer of the 1st Defense Battalion. Major Devereux also became Island Commander, an additional duty which he would hold until relieved late in 1941 by a naval officer, Commander W.S. Cunningham, at this time still navigator of the USS Wright.

Major Devereux, as he saw Wake at this time, describes it as follows:

When I arrived on the island the contractor's men working on the airfield near the toe of Wake proper had one airstrip in usable condition and were beginning the cross-runway. Five large magazines, and three smaller detonator magazines, built of concrete and partly underground, were almost completed in the airfield area. A Marine barracks, quarters for the Navy fliers who would be stationed on the island, warehouses and shops also were going up on Wake. On Peale Island, work was progressing on a naval hospital, the seaplane ramp and parking areas. On Wilkes, there were only fuel storage tanks, and the sites of proposed powder magazines, but a new deepwater channel was being cut through the island. in the lagoon, a dredge was removing coral heads from the runways for the seaplanes which were to be based at Wake. Some of these installations were nearly finished; some were partly completed; some were only in the blueprint stage.20

To bring Wake's defenses to the highest possible state of readiness in the shortest time, Major Devereux found much to be done. In addition, as senior representative of the armed forces on Wake, he was confronted by other demanding problems. To reinforce Army air strength in the Philippines, B-17 "Flying Fortresses" were being staged across the Pacific21 through Wake, but no aviation ground crews were available there to service the big airplanes. Some 3,000 gallons of gasoline for each of these planes therefore had to manhandled and hand-pumped


by the Marines.22 This they did in addition to their normal duties, and the fueling tasks came at all hours of the day or night. It was ironic that many man-hours of vital defensive preparations, would be trapped on the ground by the initial Japanese attacks on Clark and Nichols Fields in the Philippines.

Although this servicing of Army planes represented the heaviest single additional duty imposed upon the Marines, they were also required to act as stevedores in the time-consuming and exhausting process of unloading ships which arrived at the atoll. This work was required until the channel, berthing and turning facilities inside the lagoon could be completed. These additional duties hampered defense work during the autumn of 1941; but fortunately the detachment needed little combat training because it contained a number of "old Marines" of the best type.23 On 2 November, two weeks after Major Devereux's arrival, the Wake garrison was augmented by a draft from the parent 1st Defense Battalion. This group included 9 officers and 200 enlisted men who arrived from Pearl on board the USS Castor. This brought the total Marine strength on Wake to 15 officers and 373 enlisted Marines.

During October and November progress on and about the airstrip, by now a going concern, indicated that there was room on Wake for the aviation component of fighters necessary to balance and round out the defense force. Commander, Aircraft Battle Force, had determined that this was to be Marine Fighter Squadron 211, supported in its independent role by a provisional service detachment drawn from Marine Air Group 21, to which VMF-211 was assigned. To establish the ground facilities required to maintain this squadron, Major Walter L.J. Bayler from the staff of MAG-21, together with a detachment of 49 Marines commanded by Second Lieutenant Robert J. Conderman,24 were dispatched from Pearl on 19 November in USS Wright, an aircraft tender which was also bringing out the prospective Island Commander and commanding officer of the Naval Air Station.

While the Wright plowed westward bearing VMF-211's ground components, the air echelon of that squadron, consisting of the squadron commander, nine officers and two enlisted pilots,25 had on the


afternoon of 27 November received secret verbal warning orders to prepare for embarkation on board a carrier. Such orders had been expected by the squadron commander (though not by the pilots, virtually all of whom carried little more than toilet articles and a change of clothing), and few preparations were required. The squadron had only to fly the 12 new F4F-3 (Grumman Wildcat) fighters from Ewa Mooring Mast (as that air station was then designated) over to Ford Island, the naval air base in the middle of Pearl Harbor, for further transfer by air to the flight deck of the USS Enterprise. This was a routine operation for Marine pilots, and except for their unfamiliarity with the new aircraft, and the fact that one plane's starter misbehaved,26 that morning flight of 28 November onto the Enterprise went off without incident.27

The best description of VMF-211's voyage to Wake is contained in a personal letter, composed on the eve of the squadron's debarkation, from Major Paul A. Putnam to Colonel Claude A. Larkin who commanded MAG-21. Excerpts are quoted:

At sea,
December 3, 1941.

Dear Colonel Larkin:

It is expected that we will go ashore tomorrow morning. The extreme secrecy under which we sailed is still in effect and I understand is to remain so at least until this Force has returned to Hawaiian operating area. Therefore I am sending this first report via guard mail on this ship, rather than by air mail after landing...

You will recall that I left one plane at Ford Island. The Admiral at once gave me a plane to replace it, from VF-6; and he made it plain to me and to the whole ship that nothing should be overlooked nor any trouble spared in order to insure that I will get ashore with 12 airplanes in as near perfect condition as possible. Immediately I was given a full complement of mechs and all hands aboard have continually vied with each other to see who could do the most for me. I feel a bit like the fatted calf being groomed for whatever it is that happens to fatted calves, but it surely is nice while it lasts and the airplanes are pretty sleek and fat too. They have of course been checked and double checked from end to end, and they have also been painted so that all 12 are now of standard blue and gray...

The Admiral seems to be most determined to maintain secrecy regarding the position and activity of this Force. There has been a continuous inner air patrol during daylight, and a full squadron has made a long search to the front and flanks each morning and evening. They are armed to me teeth and the orders are to attack any Japanese vessel or aircraft on sight in order to prevent the discovery of this Force.

My orders, however, are not so direct. In fact I have no orders. I have been told informally by lesser members of Staff that I will be given orders only to fly off the ship and go to the land, and that there will be nothing in the way of instructions other than to do what seems appropriate at the moment. Of course I shall go and ask for orders and instructions, but it seems unlikely that I shall be given anything definite...

This is written Wednesday forenoon. Should I receive any orders at variance with the foregoing, I will add a postscript. Otherwise I think of nothing further of importance or interest at this time...

When the Enterprise had reached a point approximately 200 miles northeast of Wake, the squadron, from a materiel standpoint, was "as far as possible ready


for combat service," according to Major Putnam. However, he added, it was:

...seriously handicapped by lack of experience in the type of airplane then used. It is believed that the squadron was excellently trained and well qualified for war duty in a general sense, but it was unfortunate that the new type of airplane, so radically different from the type in which training had been conducted, had been received too recently to permit familiarization in tactical flying and gunnery.28

On the morning of 4 December this force was met by a Navy PBY sent out from Wake,29 and the VMF-211 aircraft took off from the Enterprise and followed this plane to the atoll. Within less than two hours the last F4F-3 had pancaked on the narrow strip at Peacock Point.

Major Bayler had arrived on 29 November and already was busy setting up airbase communication facilities. Commander Cunningham had succeeded Major Devereux as Island Commander, and Lieutenant Conderman and his 49 headquarters and service personnel were waiting to greet the squadron, but the aircraft operating facilities at Wake were hardly in a finished stage. The landing strip, although sufficient in length, was too narrow to permit safe operation of more than one airplane at a time. Takeoffs or landings by section were thus impossible. Parking was extremely restricted, and all areas about the hardstand mat were in such rough and unfinished condition that passage of airplanes over them, even when pushed by hand, could cause serious plane damage. Fueling still depended on hand pumps and man power. No shelters or aircraft revetments existed, and the new planes were somewhat puzzling to pilots and mechanics who had no instruction manuals. Major Putnam began immediately to negotiate for the construction of revetments,30 and he also began a training program to be carried on in conjunction with the daily dawn and dusk patrols which started on the morning after VMF-211 arrived.

These patrols, executed by four aircraft, circled the atoll approximately 50 miles out, and pilots combined this duty with navigation and instrument training. Instrument practice was particularly important because Wake had no electronic homing or navigational aids suitable for fighter operations, and the atoll was a small mark for pilots to locate through a floor of intermittent clouds.31

Other changes had taken place since the arrival of the Wright. Commander


Cunningham had brought with him Commander Campbell Keene, eight Navy officers, and 58 bluejackets who comprised the initial detachment of the Naval Air Station. All these personnel, like the Army Air Force communication detachment32 of one officer and four soldiers, were without arms or field equipment. In spite of the efforts, men, and equipment consigned to Wake, the situation was still grim on 6 December 1941. The ground defenses, embodying the complete artillery of a defense battalion, had been emplaced during 12-hour working days, and some protective sandbagging and camouflage accomplished. But to man these weapons the 1st Defense Battalion detachment had only 15 officers and 373 enlisted men, although the 1941 T/O called for 43 officers and 939 men. This meant that one 3-inch antiaircraft battery33 was entirely without personnel, and that each of the other two batteries could man only three of its four guns. Thus only six of the twelve 3-inch guns on the island could be utilized. Only Battery D had its full allowance of fire-control equipment. Battery E had a director but no height finder, and it had to get altitude data by telephone from Battery D. There were not half enough men to employ the ground and antiaircraft machine guns. There was no radar, despite plans for its eventual provision, and the searchlight battery did not have sound locators with which to detect approaching aircraft. Only the crews of the 5-inch seacoast batteries were at or near authorized strengths, and they also were devilled by unending minor shortages of tools, spare parts, and miscellaneous ordnance items.34

Peale Island's base development and defensive organization were the most advanced in the atoll. Although Battery B, the 5-inch seacoast unit at Toki Point, had been fully organized only after the arrival of personnel on 2 November, its position was in good shape. Much the same could be said of Battery D, 3-inch antiaircraft, set up near the southeast end of the island. All emplacements had not been completely sandbagged, but there were adequate personnel shelters plus underground stowage for 1,400 rounds of 3-inch ammunition. Telephone lines, although not buried, linked all positions with the island command post. Work on Wake Island was not far behind. Battery A, the 5-inch seacoast unit at Peacock Point, was completely emplaced and well camouflaged although it lacked individual shelters. Battery E, (3-inch antiaircraft), although working with only 43 Marines, had completely emplaced, sandbagged and camouflaged two guns and the director, and work on the third gun was nearly completed by 6 December. Telephone lines (with important trunks doubled or tripled) connected all units on Wake Island, but the wire was on the surface.

"Wilkes Island was the least developed," reported Captain Wesley McC. Platt, the local commander:

...At the outbreak of war, weapons ... had been set up. All were without camouflage or protection except the .50 caliber machine


guns, which had been emplaced. All brush east of the new channel had been cleared. The remaining brush west of the new channel was thick and ... as a result of ... this [the] ... .50 caliber machine guns had been placed fairly close to the water line. The beach itself dropped abruptly from 2 1/2 to 4 feet just above the high water mark.35

In addition to four .50 caliber AA and four .30 caliber machine guns, Platt had two searchlights and one 5-inch seacoast battery (L) which was set up at Kuku Point. The four 3-inch guns destined for Battery F were parked on Wilkes without personnel or fire control gear. Wire communications were in between the island command post and all units.36

Wake, intended primarily as a patrol plane base for PBY's, "the eyes of the Fleet," had no scouting aircraft after the PBY's departed on 5 December, and only the most primitive facilities for any type of aircraft operations. Its defending fighter squadron was learning while working, and these planes had neither armor nor self-sealing fuel tanks. In addition, their naval type bomb racks did not match the local supply of bombs.37

Exclusive of the 1,200 civilian contract employees, the military population of Wake (almost twenty per cent of whom were without arms or equipment) totalled 38 officers and 485 enlisted men:38

1st Defense Battalion detachment: 15 officers, 373 enlisted
VMF-211 and attachments: 12 officers, 49 enlisted
U.S. Naval Air Station: 10 officers, 58 enlisted (without arms)
Army Air Corps: 1 officer, 4 enlisted (without arms)
USS Triton 1 enlisted (without arms--landed for medical attention)

Thus there were only 449 Marines on the atoll who were equipped and trained for combat.

Supplies on Wake, although aggravatingly short in many particular items, were generally adequate. The Marines had a 90-day supply of rations, and the civilian workers had a six-month supply. No natural water supply existed, but a sufficient number of evaporators were in service. Ammunition and aviation ordnance supplies initially could support limited operations, but would not withstand a protracted defense. Medical supplies were those normal for a remote, outlying station and could thus be considered adequate.39 In addition to the naval medical equipment and personnel on Wake, the contractor's organization operated a fully-equipped hospital in Camp Two.40

But since November, when dispatches had warned that the international situation demanded alertness, the atoll was as ready for defense as time and material available permitted. When this warning arrived, Major Devereux, then the island commander, asked whether the civilian workers should be turned to tasks dealing more directly with military defense, but he was told not to revise work priorities. Small-arms ammunition was nevertheless


issued to individual Marines, and ready-service ammunition was stowed at every gun position. A common "J"-line (so-called) which augmented normal telephone circuits, joined all batteries, command posts, observation posts, and other installations with which the commander might need contact during battle,41 and primitive "walky-talkies" formed a radio net established to parallel wire communications between command posts on Wake Island, Wilkes, and Peale. Atop the 50-foot steel water tank at Camp One, the highest point on Wake, Major Devereux had established a visual observation post linked by field telephone to the command post. This OP, with a seaward horizon of about nine miles, was the only substitute for radar.

On the morning of Saturday, 6 December, Major Devereux found time to hold the first general quarters drill for the entire defense battalion. "Call to Arms" was sounded, and all gun positions were manned (to the extent which personnel shortages permitted), communications test, and simulated targets were "engaged."42 The drill ran smoothly, and Major Devereux granted his men an almost unheard-of reward: Saturday afternoon off, and holiday routine for Sunday.

His timing of this "breather" was better than he knew.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (Part II, 3) * Next Chapter (2)


[1] For a résumé of the previous history of Wake, see Defense of Wake, Appendix II, "Prewar History of Wake, 1586-1941." Col Heinl's monograph has been the principal source used in compiling this account; his version of the action has been folowed closely.
[See also: A Magnificent Fight: Marines Marines in the Battle for Wake Island, by Robert J. Cressman]

[2] Capt R.A. Dierdorff, USN, "Pioneer Party--Wake Island," USNI Proceedings, April 1943, 502.

[3] CinCPac ltr to CNO, 18Apr41.

[4] USMC T/O's, D-133 through D-155-D inclusive, 27Feb41; MGC ltr, 28Aug41, "Employment of Defense Battalions."

[5] Ibid.

[6] CinCPac ltr to CNO, 18Apr41, "Defense and Development of Wake Island."

[7] ATIS (SWPA) Doc No. 17895A, "Full translations of answers to questions concerning attack on Wake Island," hereinafter cited as Wake Attack.

[8] The special naval landing force (SNLF, somtimes contract to SLF) were Japanese Navy personnel organized for service and duties in limited land operations similar to those performed by U.S. Marines. Throughout the war, they gave an outstanding account of themselves.

[9] Wake Attack.

[10] USSBS(Pac), NavAnalysisDiv, Interrogations of Japanese Officials, 2 vols (Washington: GPO, 1946), "Japanese Naval Planning," I, 176, hereinafter cited as USSBS Interrogations with subject or interviewee.

[11] Campaigns of the Pacific War, 47.

[12] USSBS Interrogations, "Japanese Capture of Wake Island," II, 371, hereinafter cited as Capture of Wake.

[13] Unless otherwise noted the material in this section is derived from CO 1st DefBnDet Wake, Rept to CMC, 18Mar46, hereinafter cited as Devereux Rept; Col P.A. Putnam Rept to CMC, 18Oct45, hereinafter cited as Putnam Rept; informal reports by key subordinates to Cols Devereux and Putnam on which the official reports are largely based, hereinafter cited as (officer's name) Rept; ships' logs of the U.S. naval vessels concerned; Col J.P.S. Devereux, The Story of Wake Island (Philadelphia: J.P. Lippincott Company, 1947), hereinafter cited as Devereux Story.

[14] CNO ltr to CinCPac, 23Jun41, "Establishement of defensive garrison on Wake Island."

[15] To prevent confusion,Wake Island, as distinguished from the entire atoll, will hereinafter be entitled "Wake Island", whereas the single word, "Wake" will designate the atoll.

[16] LtCol W.L.J. Bayler, Last Man off Wake Island (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1943), 62, hereinafter cited as Last Man off Wake Island.

[17] In 1935, with Navy cooperation, Pan American Airways began development of a taging and refueling base on Peale to service its big clippers on the run to the Orient. At the time of this narrative major facilities included, in addition to those mentioned above, a powerful radio station, a pier, and a small but excellent hotel for overnight accommodation of passengers. Dierdorff, op. cit., 501.

[18] Capt W.S. Cunningham, USN, transcript of recorded interview, "History of Wake Island Defense," 9Jan46, 3, hereinafter cited as Cunningham Interview.

[19] "Resident Officer-in-Charge" was LCdr Greey's official designation. With four enlisted Navy radiomen to maintain his communicatons, he was, until the arrival of Majo Hohn's detachment, sole naval representative on Wake.

[20] Devereux Story, 25.

[21] War Reports, 67.

[22] Tankers would pump bulk aviation gas into tank storage ashore; Marine working parties would pump this gasoline into 50-gallon drums and transfer the drums to dispersed fuel dumps; finally, on arrival of planes the same gasoline would again be pumped by the same means into a lone tank-truck for delivery to the aircraft. When time pressed--as it usually did--Marines reinforced the truck by pumping directly from 50-gallon drums into the Fortresses.

[23] Devereux Story, 27.

[24] This detachment, like a similar one organized for the Marine air component at Midway, had been provisionally made up from key personnel representing each squadron in MAG-21, inasmuch as, at the time of organization, form decision had not been made as to which squadrons from that group would be assigned to which islands. Wake aviation's ground detachment, therefore, included personnel not only from VMF-211 but from H&S Sq-21 and VMSB-231 and -232. CO MAG-21 Rept to CMC, 23Dec41.

[25] The pilots of VMF-211's Wake detachment were: Maj Paul A. Putnam (commanding), Capts Henry T. Elrod, Herbert C. Frueler, Frank C. Tharin; 1stLt George A. Graves; 2dLts Robert J. Conderman (in command of advance detail and ground maintenance, but also a pilot), Carl R. Davidson, Frank J. Holden, John F. Kinney, David D. Kliewer, Henry G. Webb; TSgt Williiam J. Hamilton, and SSgt Robert O. Arthur.

[26] A hint as to the importance of the squadron's mission might have been drawn at this time from the fact that, when this starter trouble developed, the pilot of this defective plane was flown by a torpedo plane to the carrier where a brand-new F4F-3 from an Enterprise squadron was issued to him.

[27] Maj. P.A. Putnam ltr to CO MAG-21, 3Dec41.

[28] Putnam Rept, 13.

[29] On the day before, to the surprise of the men on Wake, a 12-plane squadron of PBY's had glided down onto the lagoon, anchored, and commenced a daily series of long-range air searches to the south of Wake. These seaplanes, however, were recalled from Wake on 5 December. The PBY which assisted VMF-211 with its navigation was from this squadron. Last man off Wake Island, 29.

[30] "Backed by a written request from the Commander, Aircraft Battle Force, a request was made through the Island Commander to the Civilian Contractor's superintendent on the morning of 5 December, asking for the immediate construction of bunkers for the protection of aircraft, and outlining various other works to follow. Great emphasis was put on the fact that speed, rather than neatly finished work, was required. However, an inspection that afternoon revealed a young civil engineer laboriously setting out stakes with a transit and three rodmen. It required an hour of frantic rushing about and some very strong language to replace the young engineer and his rodmen with a couple of Swedes and bulldozers." Putnam Rept, 6.

[31] HistSec, HQMC interview with 1stLt J.F. Kinney, 23Jul45, 4, hereinafter cited as Kinney Interview.

[32] Commanded by Capt Henry S. Wilson, USA. This detachment manned an Army Airways Communication Service radio van to assist B-17's en route westward.

[33] This was Btry F. For this battery, however, the necessary fire control equipment had not yet arrived; so, even with full gun crews, its effectiveness would have been slight.

[34] File, dispatches received from Wake, 7-23Dec41, hereinafter cited as Wake File.

[35] LtCol W. McC. Platt reply to HistSec, HQMC questonnaire, 10Mar47.

[36] Ibid., 2.

[37] Capt Frueler, squadron ordnance officer, at this moment was devision homemade modifications of the troublesome bomb lugs. By 8 December two 100-pound bombs could be precariously slung onto each aircraft, though hardly in any manner to inspire pilot confidence in clean release or assurance that return to base could be accomplished without dangling armed bombs.

[38] Devereux Rept.

[39] Bayler Rept, 9-10.

[40] Cunningham Interview, 3.

[41] Bayler Rept, 3.

[42] Prior to the outbreak of war, no opportunity had been found for test firings, calibration, or other gunnery exercises after emplacement of weapons on Wake. The first actual firing was in combat agains the Japanese. Cunningham Interview, 3.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation