Meanwhile, measures had been taken to strengthen the air and ground forces at Midway. The Marine air group was brought up to the following strength:
Marine Aircraft Group 22: Lt. Col. Ira. L. Kimes, U.S.M.C., commanding, and Maj. Verne J. McCaul, U.S.M.C., Executive Officer.
Marine Fighting Squadron 221: Maj. Floyd B. Parks, U.S.M.C., 21 F2A-3 and 7 F4F-3 planes.
Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 240: 7 Maj. Lofton R. Henderson, U.S.M.C., 18 SBD-2 and 16 SB2U-3 planes.
This group was supported by six new Navy TBF torpedo planes. It was considered of the utmost importance to discover the enemy as early as possible and to strike at his carriers before they were within range of Midway. Therefore the Midway air force was further strengthened by four Army B-26's fitted for torpedoes and several B-17's, in spite of the difficulty of protecting these aircraft on the ground. Because of the overcrowding of Midway's facilities there was a considerable interchange between that island and Hawaii, so that the number of planes available varied from day to day. On June 3d, the first day of actual contact with the enemy, there were at Midway, in addition to the planes of the Marine air group, the following:
14 PBY-5's, 16 PBY-5A's, 4 B-26's, 17 B-17's, 6 TBF's, (with 2 PBY-5's and 1 B-17 out of commission).
By provision of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, all Army and Navy aircraft sent to Midway operated under the control of Capt. Cyril T. Simard, Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station, Midway. To assist in controlling this number of planes, additional radio and communication personnel were sent to Midway. Among these were two experienced Naval Base Air Defense aircraft plotting officers, two Naval Base Air Defense communication watch officers with experience in aircraft codes, and four experienced Naval Base Air Defense radiomen.
The ground force on Midway was raised to a maximum. The Marine Sixth Defense Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Harold D. Shannon, was reinforced by a part of the Second Raider Battalion, which had equipment for meeting a mechanized landing.
In preparation for the attack, ground forces worked day and night strengthening the defenses of the islands. The Coast Artillery group fortified their own positions and aided in the installation of underwater obstacles. Infantry companies assisted by unloading ships, and helped make and plant antitank mines, in addition to doing intensive training and maintaining their regular patrols. Companies "C" and "D" of the Second Raider Battalion laid antitank mines, assisted in beach patrol, the unloading of ships, and in the handling of gasoline drums for refueling the planes. The Antiaircraft and Special Weapons Group of the Third Defense Battalion by strenuous efforts succeeded in having their guns ready for action the day after they arrived, and thereafter worked on emplacements, ammunition stowage, and protection for personnel.
As a result of this cooperation, the islands were almost entirely surrounded by underwater obstacles, with extra precautions at the more likely beaches. Gun crews were generously provided with "Molotov cocktails" (antitank grenades). A large number of water mines had been planted, as well as numerous antipersonnel and antitank mines of both the controlled and contact variety.
One PY boat (U.S.S. Crystal) was stationed at Pearl--Hermes and 4 YP's (converted tuna fishing boats) were stationed at Lisianski, Gardner's Pinnacles, Laysan, and Necker Islands to make rescues. Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron ONE, consisting of 11 PT boats under the command of Lt. Clinton McKellar, Jr., was dispatched from the Hawaiian Sea Frontier Forces and placed under the direction of the Commanding Officer, Midway. These boats assisted in meeting the enemy air attack on Midway and did excellent work in rescuing airmen down at sea. Had the enemy attempted an actual landing, these boats would doubtless have played an important role.
Finally, 19 submarines were assigned to cover the approaches to Midway on an arc from 240° to 000° T. Six patrolled sectors of the 150-mile circle, three patrolled sectors of the 200-mile circle from Midway, and the remainder were assigned station patrol. All submarines were on station by June 3d.
7 This squadron had only 29 pilots and borrowed 1 from VMF-221, so that it scheduled only 12 of its SB2U-3 planes for the battle.
Last updated: February 28, 2003Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation