"The Defense of Wake," a monograph prepared by the Historical Section, Division of Public Information, Headquarters United States Marine Corps, is one of a series of operational monographs designed to provide both student and casual reader with thorough and complete narratives of the major operations in which Marine Corps units participated during World War II. As a sufficient number of monographs are brought to completion, these in turn will be condensed and edited for final compilation into official operational history.
Production of this monograph on the defense of Wake has presented special problems. Not only are the character and scale of the action much different from those ordinarily encountered in the operational history of the Marine Corps during the past war, but the sources are far less reliable and more subject to error than would ordinarily be the case.
Virtually all the documentation of the operation was produced five or more years after the battle was concluded, and there is scarcely an original source which does not somewhere allude to the possible fallibility of memory during the interval. As a result, even in cut-and-dried matters, such as important dates or casualty figures, the reader must accord a tolerance more broad than would ordinarily be acceptable in a historical study. In cases of conflict--and there have been many--the historian has been forced to weigh evidence, compromise, deduce, and reconstruct, processes which may produce results unacceptable to isolated individual recollections.
This preface would not be complete without acknowledgement of the generous and scholarly assistance of the Office of Naval History and especially of the Navy's operational historian, Capt. Samuel Eliot Morison, USNR, together with his assistant, Lt. Comdr. Henry Reck, USNR. Both of these officers have rendered invaluable aid in research and criticism.
For cartographic assistance, acknowledgement must go to the Reproduction Section, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Va.
All photographs are United States Marine Corps or Navy official.
Above all, however, credit must be given to the numerous officers, all survivors of Wake, who, in lengthy interviews or by painstaking replies to official questionnaires did so much to clarify the record as to what actually took place. It is strongly hoped that these and others with first-hand experience will make possible further improvement of this narrative either by submitting comments or, when in Washington, by visiting the Historical Section, Division of Public Information, Headquarters United States Marine Corps, for interview and discussion of the points involved.
W. E. RILEY, BRIGADIER GENERAL, U. S. MARINE CORPS DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF PUBLIC INFORMATION