Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island

By Gregory J. W. Urwin | Go to book overview
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The State of Wake's Defenses, 7 December 1941

"A General Day of Recreation"

By early December 1941, the Wake Island Detachment, First Defense Battalion, had finished emplacing all of its artillery, machine guns, and searchlights. The Marines had also camouflaged some of their positions and surrounded at least nine of their eighteen big guns with protective sandbag walls. Every, five-inch and three-inch battery on the atoll was linked by field telephone to Major Devereux's office, as were VMF-211's work camp at the airfield and the .50-caliber machine gun sections on Wake proper and Wilkes Island. In conformance with plans dating from 1939, Devereux distributed the bulk of his ordnance and personnel to three widely separated strongpoints. First Lt. Clarence A. Barninger commanded the artillerymen and machine gunners assigned to the Peacock Point strongpoint on the main islet. Devereux put Capt. Wesley M. Platt in charge of all the Leathernecks on Wilkes Island and placed Capt. Bryghte D. Godbold in a similar position of authority on Peale. The strongpoint commanders also doubled as the commanders of individual batteries (see appendix I).1

In January 1941, the Navy's Greenslade Board recommended that Wake Island be stocked with enough ammunition to last the garrison for a month of combat. By 4 December, COM 14's supply fleet had delivered 10,000 artillery shells, 1,245,200 machine-gun rounds, and 599 bombs and depth charges to the atoll. Devereux's Leathernecks off-loaded the ammunition and dispersed it in caches around the atoll--storing some of it in magazines


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Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island
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