Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island

By Gregory J. W. Urwin | Go to book overview

XXI
"GET READY FOR ANOTHER ATTACK"

The Siege Stretches Out to a Week, 11-15 December 1941

"One of the Most Humiliating Defeats Our Navy Had Ever Suffered"

Set against the backdrop of Japan's grand December offensive, the repulse of Kajioka's Wake Invasion Force ranked as only a minor setback. But the men who commanded the Imperial Japanese Navy were a proud lot, unaccustomed to defeat. The failure of the first attempt to capture Wake Island cut them to the quick. Their chagrin filtered all the way down to Comdr. Masatake Okumiya, an air staff officer in charge of training flight personnel at the Kasumigaura Air Station. After the war, Okumiya admitted: "Considering the power accumulated for the invasion of Wake Island, and the meager forces of the defenders, it was one of the most humiliating defeats our navy had ever suffered."1

Overwhelmed by embarrassment, the Japanese brass initially issued a false report to explain Kajioka's retreat. Ens. Toshio Nakamura of the heavy cruiser Aoba heard that bad weather accounted for the Wake Invasion Force's return to base. Nakamura and his shipmates were told that Kajioka refused to abort his mission until the afternoon of 11 December, when he finally decided "to withdraw to KWAJALEIN to make further plans."2

The officers and men who accompanied Kajioka to Wake knew better. The official after-action report written on the Yubari offered an objective summary of the flotilla's fate: "Although the enemy sustained heavy damage from the numerous attacks by the medium-attack bombers of the 24th Air Flotilla, he still retained intact several fighters, ground batteries, etc.--he

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