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Chapter 1: Birth of a Base

* * * the Pacific strategy of 1941 contemplated rendering our bases relatively secure against air raids, hit-and-run surface attacks, or even minor landings. * * * Within and about the structure of such lightly-held but secure bases, the Pacific Fleet was expected to ply, awaiting the moment when battle could be joined with enemy naval forces--"to get at naval forces with naval forces," Admiral Kimmel put it--in decisive action for control of the sea.

--United States Marine Corps historical monograph, "The Defense of Wake."

Despite their entire disparity in outcome, Midway and Wake, the two Central Pacific base-defense operations in which the Marine Corps participated during 1941 and 1942, had much in common. Even their differences, the very differences which spelled surrender for Wake and victory at Midway, were those of degree and not of quality.

Each atoll was defended by a combination of Fleet Marine Force base-defense artillery and aviation. From the viewpoint of these defenders, each action was conducted with much the same type of matériel, and based upon identical tactical concepts. Only in that Midway's fortification and development had commenced sooner; that more planes, troops, and weapons were available earlier; that Midway was farther away from island enemy air bases; and, most important of all, that the Pacific Fleet of June 1942, had recovered to some extent from the shock of December 1941--only in these matters of degree did the two operations differ. Yet it was this question of degree--especially in regard to Fleet support--which permitted the successful defense of Midway.

The strategic importance of Midway had long been recognized. In 1938, the famous Hepburn Report, dealing with United States requirements for naval bases, had this to say:

From a strategic point of view, an air base at Midway Island is second in importance only to Pearl Harbor.[1]

The Board, which derived its name from the senior member, Rear Admiral Arthur J. Hepburn, USN, accordingly recommended immediate development of Midway as a naval air and submarine base with facilities for two patrol-plane squadrons; two divisions of submarines; and pier, channel and turning basin within the lagoon for large auxiliaries. In conclusion, the Board included Midway in a select group of projects "necessary of accomplishment at the earliest practicable date,"[2] and recommended for Midway expenditures amounting to $13,040,000, which would by 1943, accomplish the desired development.[3]

Lying approximately 1,137 miles northwest of Oahu, Midway, outer rampart of the Hawaiian chain, had been recognized to be strategic as early as 1867 when the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, directed that Brooks Island, as it was then known, be claimed and surveyed for the United States. In 1869, Congress actually appropriated $50,000 for dredging an entrance channel and

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MIDWAY'S CABLE STATION in the days when there was nothing but sand on Sand Island. This picture was taken in the early 1900's before Marines came to Midway.

clear anchorage within the lagoon.[4] On 29 April 1903, its importance was further enhanced by establishment of the Commercial Pacific Cable Co.'s station on Sand Island, where the station still remains.

Shortly after surveys by the U.S.S. Wright in February 1934, Pan American Airways, quick to realize Midway's importance from the viewpoint of Pacific air operations, commenced development of a commercial seaplane base, likewise on Sand Island. Pan American's construction work began on 15 April 1935, and on 6 June of the same year, the first clipper landed at Midway.[5]

Although popularly known as Midway Island, Midway is in fact a circular atoll, about 6 miles in diameter, enclosing two islands, Sand and Eastern. Both were originally sand patches covered by sparse, tough shrub. On Eastern Island, guano had accumulated. As a result of years of experiment, the cable company, aided by the United States Department of Agriculture, discovered that a type of wire grass found on the sand dunes near San Francisco would bind the sands of Midway, and, with this as a starter, it became possible to plant ironwood trees from the Hawaiian Islands and eucalyptus from Australia. As a result, by 1934 Sand Island supported a grove of 40-foot ironwoods, subsidiary growth including grass, and truck gardens about the cable station. At the northeast end of Eastern Island, stood three or four scrub trees. Throughout both islands there grew the scaevola[6] bush--locally described as a dwarf magnolia because of its leaves--and on all sides were to be encountered the ubiquitous "gooney-birds,"[7] actually albatrosses, together with several other species: flightless rails, moaning

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birds, gannets, frigate birds, terns, and boatswain birds, to name the most common.

Of the two islands, Eastern is the smaller and lower, being one-and-one-quarter miles long and but 12 feet above sea level at its highest point. Sand Island, however, attains a height of 39 feet and is almost two miles in length. Both islands lie in the south half of the lagoon, close aboard the reef. Welles Harbor, the prewar roads, and entrance to the lagoon is just west of Sand Island, the western of the two islands, but a new entrance to the lagoon, Brooks Channel, between Sand and Eastern Island, was dredged in 1938, and is now the only one in use.[8]

From 1935 to early 1940, Midway's development progressed smoothly, first under the aegis of Pan American, and, from mid-1939 on, under the Navy as a result of the Hepburn recommendations. By the end of 1939, heavy construction was well started on Sand Island, and Brooks Channel had been partially blasted and dredged open by United States Army Engineers. Eastern Island, however, remained unchanged, occupied only by two "retired" burros from the cable station.

In early 1939, the military history of the defense of Midway might be said to have commenced when Colonel Harry K. Pickett, assisted by Captain Alfred R. Pefley, was sent to the atoll--as well as Wake and Johnston--to conduct a military reconnaissance and prepare tentative defense plans for fortification of all three.[9] These plans, which were completed almost a year later,[10] were approved by the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold W. Stark, USN, who then directed,[11] on 20 December 1939, that the Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, establish,

MARINES CALLED IT "SKAVOLI"--the dwarf magnolia, or scaevoli bushes, which virtually cover the surface of Sand and Eastern Islands.

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SAND ISLAND IN 1935, when the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, FMF, held amphibious landing exercises at Midway. Note the Marine camp on beach in right foreground.

when practicable, a Marine detachment as a garrison on Midway.[12]

With this very mission in prospect, the 3d Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Pepper, was at this time under orders for movement from the East coast to the Hawaiian area; and the battalion arrived at Pearl Harbor in USS Chaumont after an uneventful voyage from Charleston, S.C., on 7 May 1940.

Following the 3d Defense Battalion's establishment at Pearl Harbor, it became apparent that facilities at Midway were not sufficiently advanced to permit garrisoning the atoll with anything approaching the full strength of a defense battalion, or even an appreciable cadre sufficient in number to commence installation of weapons or construction of fortifications. Colonel Pepper accordingly recommended on 23 May that Rear Admiral Claude C. Bloch, USN, Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, authorize the sending of an advance reconnaissance party to Midway. This group, to consist of two officers and not more than 16 enlisted Marines, would conduct detailed reconnaissance of the ground, propose up-to-date defensive plans and dispositions for a defense battalion, execute the painstaking surveys required for accurate artillery fire, and would, in addition be available to the Navy's resident officer in

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charge of the Midway construction project[13]for assistance should emergency arise among the motley group of civilian contract laborers.[14]

Admiral Bloch's reaction to this proposal was immediate. Within a week, on 31 May, Captain Samuel G. Taxis, then commanding the 5-inch seacoast group of the 3d Defense Battalion, was ordered to Midway with a reconnaissance party (First Lieutenant James G. Bishop, eight enlisted Marines and two Navy hospital corpsmen)[15] for six weeks of preliminary work. He was to establish a small Marine camp, prepare tentative recommendations for the seacoast defense of Midway by the three 5-inch batteries of his group (as well as certain antiaircraft recommendations), survey the base lines required for accurate fire control, and block out the tactical communication net which would be needed by the defending battalion. Within six weeks, his instructions added, he could expect relief by a similar detachment with further missions.[16]

Shortly after, on 5 June, Admiral Bloch--as a result of Colonel Pepper's further recommendation--ordered Lieutenant Commander Julian Love (MC) USN, the 3d Defense Battalion medical officer, to Midway to carry out a sanitary and medical survey. This officer sailed from Pearl Harbor in the USS Sirius, reached Midway on 11 June, and completed his survey by 16 June. Love's report, an extremely thorough and detailed document, pointed out many aspects of life on Midway, which would become characteristic to future Marines in garrison.

Midway he found to be temperate to tropical in climate, with cool nights. He noted the brilliant, white sand, which resulted in intense ground glare from the sun.[17] Of the birds he stated:

Certain considerations should be made or continued for the preservation of these birds for they are a great source of amusement, and the cheerful calls (sic)[18] add much to the attractiveness of the island and will in a latent way add to the morale of personnel. * * *

There were cattle and poultry at the cable station, and abundant fish in the lagoon. No significantly dangerous sanitary or epidemiological factors existed, and, in conclusion, he opined:

This island is very pleasant and beautiful and should offer a happy outlook to married personnel. For single officers and men it will probably be better to rotate duty between there and Pearl Harbor at 3 to 6 month intervals during peacetime to avoid monotony and to give consideration to natural desires of the men.[19]

On 9 July, Captain Kenneth W. Benner, with First Lieutenant Donald J. Decker, eight enlisted Marines, and two Navy hospital corpsmen, was ordered to Midway to relieve Captain Taxis and his detail. Captain Benner's instructions were substantially similar to those of Captain Taxis, except that the former, who commanded the 3-inch antiaircraft group of the defense battalion was to devote his reconnaissance and survey to that required for antiaircraft defense of the islands.[20]

Meanwhile, acting on Captain Taxis's initial information and Colonel Pepper's urging, Admiral Bloch ordered the latter to establish on or after 1 September what was provisionally designated the Midway Detachment, Fleet Marine Force, consisting on nine officers, 168 enlisted, and approximately one-third of the 3d Defense Battalion's matériel, including one 5-inch battery (two guns). This detachment was to act in turn as an advance echelon of the whole battalion, personnel being rotated between Pearl Harbor and Midway on a four- to six-month basis.

Major Harold C. Roberts (to be killed in action five years later while commanding the 22d Marines on Okinawa) was in command of the Midway

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THE UBIQUITOUS GOONEY BIRDS, provided amusement for Marines and problems for aviators.

Detachment when it sailed from Pearl Harbor on 23 September 1940, in three ships, the USS Sirius, a World War I Hog Islander, and two destroyer-minecraft made available for the trip. Six days later, on 29 September, Major Roberts landed his detachment via barges and began the arduous task of making camp and installing the defenses of Midway.[21]

The Roberts[22] detachment was quartered in the temporary barracks of an Army Engineer unit which had been working on Midway in connection with harbor improvements within the lagoon. During the next six months, the Midway Marines' duties would consist of the unceasing arduous grind which perhaps above all other aspects characterized duty in the defense battalions of 1940-41. Heavy weapons and fire-control matériel were gradually emplaced and magazines and shelters were dug--largely by hand tools, for engineering equipment was a scarce commodity in Marine units of those days. in addition to the foregoing military duties, the Marines also--on order of the Fourteenth Naval District--were required to act as stevedores and longshoremen for ships coming to Midway.

Highlights of life on Midway during this initial period are described by one officer in the following passage:[23]

Considerable effort was expended in filling and manhandling sandbags from the beach areas to the gun positions; this was necessary to preserve the limited camouflage furnished by the scaevola. Much sweat and ingenuity was required to install the 5-inch guns on top of the 20-foot sand dune fringing Sand Island.

It was impossible to stand on one high point of the * * * dune and recognize changes in elevation and direction of contours on Sand Island with its covering of dense scaevola brush. To attempt to locate known points while walking through the scaevola was also impossible due to the height and density of foliage. The final solution in locating positions for magazine installations to be constructed

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in accordance with future planning was to send out a two-man team of officers on a TD-9 tractor to press down trails along the inside of the fringing dunes and to various points in the center of the island. This was accomplished by one officer standing up on the back of the tractor in a position from which he could look above the scaevola and give general directions to the driver. It proved to be hot work in the direct sun without benefit of breeze, and many spills were taken from the pitching "cat." * * *

The "gooney" birds were a considerable problem within the position-areas because once they fell into a gun pit they did not have the intelligence necessary to find their way out. Actually the birds created quite a diversion for the men working on the guns; and if paint were hereditary, I imagine that many a "gooney" bird is still wearing the red-lead splotches so delicately given his ancestors by the Midway Detachment.

Recreation in the Midway Detachment consisted generally of swimming, limited boating and fishing, a small amount of beer on occasion, and a somewhat haphazard outdoor movie which came into being late in the tour. Actually the birds seemed to enjoy the movie as much as the men because the sooty tern and moaning bird would invariably flock around the sound box and emit their mournful wail.

During the laying season the island was literally covered with eggs so that in certain areas it was almost impossible to walk without stepping on one. There probably wasn't a man in the detachment who didn't at one time or another sit down to a dinner of tern eggs, whether of necessity or for the experience.

While the advance echelon of the 3d Defense Battalion labored on Midway, the Chief of Naval Operations, increasingly concerned over the international situation, directed, early in 1941, that the entire battalion be established at Midway; and that the 6th Defense Battalion, then in training at San Diego, but without its heavy matériel, be transferred to Pearl Harbor for advanced training, and for service as a rotational pool of replacements for Marine garrisons shortly to be established at Midway, Johnston, and Palmyra.[24]

The orders had been anticipated, and, on 7 February 1941, when CinCPac issued implementing instructions with regard to Midway, it was a matter of only three days before the balance of the 3d Defense Battalion, approximately 28 officers and 565 enlisted Marines, with all heavy organizational equipment loaded in USS Antares, sailed from Pearl Harbor distributed among the ships of Cruiser Division 8.[25] The movement was executed without incident, and, on 14 February, the battalion arrived and commenced disembarkation at Midway.

This, however, was by no means a simple dockside operation. A heavy sea was running, which forced Task Force Three to lie off for 24 hours before even attempting to get the Marines ashore, which was done by ships' boats "running" Brooks Channel from the open roadstead beyond the reef. A number of the motor launches swamped due to heavy seas, and, in one instance, a Marine was washed overboard, only to be neatly retrieved by the boat following. The whole flotilla was piloted in by a Marine officer, Captain Taxis, who by now was thoroughly familiar with Midway and its waters.[26]

Despite the hard work of the Marines in the advance echelon, Midway was by no means entirely ready or ideally suited to receive its full garrison. Admiral Kimmel, then CinCPac, realized this as reports came back from the atoll, and within two months actually proposed a reduction of the Marine force, on the basis that the overcrowding at Midway imposed an undue strain on supporting agencies and deterred progress of work.[27]

But the march of events in 1941 could hardly be reversed.

Only one day after Admiral Kimmel's recommendation, Admiral Bloch, Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District, had issued an operation plan for defense of his outlying islands, premising the possible outbreak of hostilities, emphasizing the restricted status of the sea areas about those bases, and ordering defense forces, without parleying, to--

* * * fire on suspicious and unidentified aircraft * * *

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stop unidentified and suspicious vessels * * * if necessary by firing a shot across the bow.

Submarine, surface or air raids prior to any declaration of hostilities were a possibility, he warned.[28]

To CinCPac's proposal for even a temporary and partial reduction of the Midway force, the Chief of Naval Operations therefore replied with a firm negative, rejoining that the international situation was such that even further augmentation of Midway's defenses was under consideration.[29] This augmentation contemplated the installation at Midway of four 7-inch naval guns,[30] together with four 3-inch naval guns, all over and above the defense battalion's normal quota of weapons. These weapons were to become available for installation about 1 November.

During the summer of 1941, the grind continued unabated. In the words of Lt. Col. Erma A. Wright, who comments on Midway as it then was:

The morale of the troops, of course, was of major importance since there were no USO shows to attend, nor beautiful Red Cross girls to serve coffee and doughnuts. Actually there were only two imported morale-builders--movies and the arrival of the Pan-American clipper twice weekly. To make up the difference, Colonel Pepper insisted on hard work and hard play seven days per week. This combination worked miracles. * * *

By midsummer, however, Colonel Pepper and a group of 3d Defense Battalion personnel who had been longest at Midway were relieved by a similar detachment under Lieutenant Colonel Bert A. Bone of the 1st Defense Battalion, which remained until arrival of the 6th Defense Battalion later in the year.

In August, two events of note took place. The first was commissioning of the Naval Air Station, Midway, on the first of the month, under prospective command of Commander Cyril T. Simard, USN, a veteran Naval aviator destined to play a vital role in the defense of Midway. The second was arrival of the advance detail of the 6th Defense Battalion, commanded by another officer whose name would be linked in history with that of Midway: Lieutenant Colonel Harold D. Shannon, battalion executive officer.

Bringing out his echelon (10 officers and 130 enlisted) in USS Chester and Nashville, Colonel Shannon reached Midway on 11 August and immediately set to preparing for the relief of the 3d Defense Battalion. Throughout the month, turn-over of vital information and key jobs was progressively accomplished so that when, on 11 September, the main body of the 6th Defense Battalion arrived, under command of Colonel Raphael Griffin,[31] the relief was rapidly concluded.[32]

Thus, one year after the original Midway Detachment, FMF, had been established, the 3d Defense Battalion could step aside for a well-earned period of rest and rotation in the Hawaiian area.

A few weeks after the relief of the 3d Defense Battalion, in late November, Midway received a most important visitor[33] (the term "VIP" had not yet come into general use)--none other than Mr. Kurusu, Saburu, the last-minute "peace" envoy of Japan, who was flying to the United States from Tokyo via Pan American clipper. The following

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account, by one of the officers then on Midway, tells of the Marines' experience with Mr. Kurusu:

We had advance notice of his arrival date and the ostensible nature of his mission, but did not expect him to remain the full three days that he did as a result of extremely bad weather. Colonel Shannon and Captain Simard (sic) decided to arrange a reception calculated to impress him with the alertness and strength (largely nonexistent) of the Midway garrison. Elaborate plans involving precise timing were drawn up so that when Mr. Kurusu disembarked from the Pan American boswer barge (he was traveling in one of the old Pan Air flying boats which anchored out in the lagoon) onto Midway, the first thing to meet his eyes would be an endless line of Marines in light marching order filing past. In addition, all available aviation strength, consisting of a squadron of PBYs, was drawn up on the seaplane apron in full view of the dock.

The plans worked out perfectly. The head of the column, which was on the road between the dock and the Pan Air Hotel where Kurusu was to stay, was started moving toward the hotel just before his docked. The tail of the column of Marines, in file with about two yards between men, stretched back toward the hangar as far as he could see. After being greeted by Captain Simard and Colonel Shannon and given plenty of opportunity to see the planes, he was driven in the captain's car past the continuous line of silently plodding Marines, carrying the rifles slung, with fixed bayonets. Their presence along the road was explained nonchalantly by Colonel Shannon as a routine training maneuver of a small part of the command. Actually every available man, including the cooks and messmen, had been scraped together to make a single line long enough so that Kurusu could not see how pitifully few were the defenders of Midway. The captain went on to apologize for not rendering honors and explained that every minute was required for intensive training--he was sure Mr. Kurusu would understand. That this statement was true must have been apparent to Kurusu during the next 3 days, and entirely without premeditation on our part.

It just happened that Fox (Silvey)[34] Battery was right in front of the Pan Air hotel, being separated only by a coral road, and was due to fire a calibration shoot followed by some extensive trial fire and burst-adjustment problems for training. * * * The colonel saw no reason for not going ahead with the firing; on the contrary we embellished it somewhat. So for the duration of his enforced 3-day stopover, Mr. Kurusu listened to the slamming of the 3-inch AA guns outside his window from early morning until sunset. The practice was culminated with the firing by all guns of 15 rounds adjustment at full firing rate on a burst target, which made quite an impressive noise for our guest, as well as giving our gun crews some badly needed loading practice. He was not permitted to leave the hotel, in accordance with established procedure for civilian Pan Air guests (except for one night as the captain's and colonel's guest at our officers' mess and movie), so any impressions he may have gotten of Midway were necessarily those of the "march-past," the plane, and the firing.

In the Marine Corps concept of defense of advanced bases, the artillery, both seacoast and antiaircraft, represented only part of the rounded whole, and local aviation was realized to be essential for balanced defense of a base such as Midway. Therefore, as soon as development of the airfield on Eastern island warranted, it was determined that Fleet aviation, to be drawn from Marine Air Group 21, then based at Ewa Mooring Mast, T.H., would be assigned to Midway, where, in fact, the air field was already in partial use as a ferry point for Army B-17s then being flown to the Far East. To support this latter activity, a detachment of one officer and four enlisted radiomen of the Army Signal Corps had been established with appropriate radio equipment on Midway in October, and, on 19 November 1941, a Marine aviation advance detail consisting of one officer (Second Lieutenant Loren D. Everton) and 60 enlisted was sent forward, to prepare the field for use by Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 231 (VMSB-231) which would remain at Ewa until Midway could receive them.[35]

Progress of Everton's detachment on Eastern Island was such that, immediately after the USS Enterprise had delivered Marine Fighting Squadron 211 to Wake for a similar role, the USS Lexington embarked VMSB-231 for Midway on 5 December, with the intention of flying off the squadron on the morning of 7 December.[36]

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On 1 December 1941, meanwhile, as Marines of the 6th Defense Battalion and the ground echelon of VMSB-231 were putting final touches on their respective construction programs, two 1,800-ton Japanese destroyers, comprising Destroyer Division 7, Akebono and Ushio, under command of Captain Konishi, Kaname, sailed from Tokyo Bay with orders to proceed via carefully planned routing to Midway. A fleet tanker, Shiriya, would fuel them and act as their train. A small task unit of the larger fleet which had sailed from Hitokappu Bay against Pearl Harbor four days earlier, on 26 November, the destroyer division and its tanker was provisionally designated as Midway Neutralization Unit, their mission being to neutralize the Naval Air Station at that place.[37]

Unknowing of all this, however, the forces on Midway spent the week of 1 December much as they had spent past weeks; that is, in improving gun emplacements, and unloading a cargo ship; and to them Sunday, 7 December, was merely the day on which the airplanes of VMSB-231 were scheduled to fly in to Eastern Island.


[1] "Report on Need of Additional Naval Bases to Defend the Coasts of the United States, Its Territories and Possessions," House Document No. 65, 76th Cong., 1st sess., 27 December 1938, hereinafter cited as Hepburn Report. par. 102.

[2] Ibid., par. 151 and "Summary of Recommendations."

[3] Ibid., "Estimates of Obligations and Expenditures."

[4] The 19th century history of Midway is colorful and replete with adventure which runs from shipwreck to murder and smuggling. See "The Wrecker," by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1891.

[5] Historical data from "Midway--the North Pacific's Tiny Pet," Homer C. Votaw, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, pp. 1606-1607, hereinafter cited as Votaw. The first airplane flight from Midway lagoon was carried out by a Naval aircraft on 10 October 1920. Cable Station Diary that date, hereinafter cited as Cable Diary.

[6] Pronounced by countless Marines as "skavoli."

[7] There were two species, one black, and the other black and white. The former is properly entitled the "Black-footed Albatross;" the latter, the "Laysan Albatross." "Midway Islands," Fred C. Hadden, undated, hereinafter cited as Hadden.

[8] Data from "Sailing Directions for the Pacific Islands, Volume II," H.O. 166, U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office, p. 451; Votaw, p. 1607; and note by Lt. Col. Samuel G. Taxis.

[9] Letter from Col. Alfred R. Peffley to CMC, 13 January 1948.

[10] Official report of Col. Harry K. Pickett to MGC submitting defense plans for Midway, 14 October 1939, hereinafter cited as Pickett report.

[11] CNO serial 397, 20 December 1939.

[12] This was not, however, the first Marine detachment to garrison Midway. To protect the cable station and prevent Japanese poachers from violating Midway's status as a bird sanctuary, a detachment of one officer and 20 enlisted Marines served on Midway from 1904, through 1908, occupying a camp site on rising ground near the center of Sand Island. Votaw, p. 1605; Annual Report of the Commandant of the Marine Corps 1904. Fleet Marine Force landing exercises--conducted by the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines--were also held at Midway in May 1935, Cable Diary, that month.

[13] This was Lt. D.B. Ventres (CEC), USNR.

[14] CO, 3d Defense Battalion, memorandum to Com14, 23 May 1940.

[15] Taxis, Samuel G., Lt. Col., official reply to Historical Section questionnaire regarding Midway, hereinafter cited as Taxis, p. 3.

[16] Commandant, 14th Naval District, letter of instructions to Capt. Samuel G. Taxis, 31 May 1940.

[17] Col. Kenneth W. Benner comments on this point: "The tender-skinned boys were sunburned under their chins because of reflected glare."

[18] On reviewing this passage, Lt. Col. Stuart M. Charlesworth, another Midway pioneer, commented: "The call of the sooty tern is anything but cheerful * * *" and Hadden, p. 5, says that the cry of the moaning bird (Wedge-Tailed Shearwater) "* * * sounds as though all the devils in hell are crying out in anguish."

[19] Love, Julian, Lt. Comdr. (MC) USN, report to Com14, 21 June 1940.

[20] Commandant, 14th Naval District, letter of instructions to Capt. Kenneth W. Benner, 9 July 1940.

[21] Muster roll, 3d Defense Battalion, FMF, September 1940. These were not, however, the first defensive installations to be made on Midway. Votaw, p. 1605, states that "two quick-firing cannon were installed" during the 1904-08 garrisoning of Midway by marines, but that a magazine explosion caused their use to be terminated.

[22] The Roberts detachment was partially relieved by a similar group under Major Kenneth W. Benner in December 1940. This unit remained on Midway until the full battalion arrived in 1941.

[23] Letter by Lt. Col. Stuart M. Charlesworth to CMC, 15 January 1948.

[24] CNO serial 0638, 17 January 1941. Marine garrisons, from the 1st Defense Battalion, had been set up at Johnston on 24 July 1941, and Palmyra on 14 April 1941.

[25] The new light cruisers Savannah, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Nashville. It is an indication of the increasing tension of the times that the movement--designated Task Force Three--proceeded to Midway with ships darkened and within a destroyer screen provided by DesDiv 11. PacFlt Operation Order 3-41, 6 Febraury 1941.

[26] Letter by Lt. Col. Samuel G. Taxis to CMC, 6 January 1948.

[27] CinCPac serial 0496 to CNO, 3 April 1941.

[28] In compliance with these instructions (14th Naval District Operation Plan 2-41, 4 April 1941), the 3d Defense Battalion designated a boarding officer, 1st Lt. Charles J. Seibert, II. At about this time, likewise, a Japanese freighter appeared off Midway, just beyond gun range, lay to, and then circled the atoll before proceeding. This ship was challenged but gave no reply. Letter by Lt. Col. Harry F. Noyes to CMC, 28 December 1947.

[29] CNO serial 047412, 6 May 1941.

[30] Major General Commandant, USMC, serial 434941-2, to Brig. Gen. Charles F.B. Price, 12 September 1941. The history of these and certain other 7-inch guns likewise installed at outlying bases is a story which spans both wars. The guns were originally mounted aboard pre-dreadnaught battleships of the early 1900's; were dismounted during World War I to serve as medium artillery ashore for the 10th Marines in France, and were finally distributed between Samoa, Midway, Bora-Bora, and Guantanamo Bay in 1941-42. Those emplaced at Midway are now mounted in front of Iolani Barracks in Honolulu.

[31] Colonel Griffin was shortly afterward relieved as commanding officer of the battalion by Colonel Shannon, in a routine change of command.

[32] The 6th Defense Battalion, FMF (34 officers and 750 enlisted) had reached Pearl Harbor in the USS Wharton on 22 July, and its main body sailed from Midway on 7 September. Muster rolls, 6th Defense Battalion; and letter from Lt. Col. Ralph A. Collins, Jr., to CMC 12 January 1948.

[33] Another "VIP" visitor whose arrival at Midway received much publicity at this time was Mrs. Clare Booth Luce, then on a world flight. From her point of view, the stop was eventful because of sudden seizure with a digestive upset while on the atoll.

[34] Although subsequently known as Silvey Battery from the name of a future commanding officer, this unit was at this time actually commanded by Capt. Hoyt McMillan. Letter from Lt. Col. Hoyt McMillan to CMC, 27 January 1948.

[35] Larkin, Claude A., Col., letter to CinCPac, 5 April 1943, p. 2.

[36] Larkin, Claude A., Col., personal letter, 18 December 1941.

[37] "Campaigns of the Pacific War," U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, 1946, pp. 13 and 20-21, hereinafter cited as Campaigns.

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