Five hours after their attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese struck Wake Island, which was now isolated from assistance. The undermanned Marine Corps garrison, augmented by civilian-contractor volunteers, fought back against repeated enemy attacks, at one point thwarting a massive landing assault. The atoll was under siege for two weeks as its defenders continued to hope for the U.S. Navy to come to their rescue. Finally succumbing to an overwhelming amphibious attack, the surviving Americans, military and civilian, were taken prisoner. While most were shipped off to Japanese POW camps for slave labor, a number of the civilians were retained as workers on occupied Wake. Later in the war the last ninety-eight Americans were brutally massacred by their captors. The civilian contractors who had risked distance and danger for well-paying jobs ended up paying a steep price: their freedom and, for many, their lives.
Written by the daughter and granddaughter of civilians who served on Wake Island, Building for War sheds new light on why the United States was taken by surprise in December 1941 and shines a spotlight on the little-known, virtually forgotten story of a group of civilian workers and their families whose lives were forever changed by the events on the tiny atoll that is Wake.
Bonita Gilbert has an MA in history from the University of Oregon and teaches history at North Idaho College. Bonnie and her husband live in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Strategy is a many-sided word, connoting different things to different people. The author of any work on strategy, therefore, owes it to his reader to define at the outset his own conception of this ambiguous term...
In the present volume, the author has viewed strategy broadly, including within it not only the art of military command-the original meaning of the term-but all those activities associated with the preparation for and the conduct of war in the Pacific.
Viewed thus, the arena of Pacific strategy is the council chamber rather than the coral atoll; its weapons are not bombs and guns but the mountains of memoranda, messages, studies, and plans that poured forth from the deliberative bodies entrusted with the conduct of the war; its sound is not the clash of arms but the cool voice of reason or the heated words of debate thousands of miles from the scene of conflict...It deals with policy and grand strategy on the highest level-war aims, the choice of allies and theaters of operations, the distribution of forces and supplies, and the organization created to use them. On only a slightly lower level, it deals with more strictly military matters-with the choice of strategies, with planning and the selection of objectives, with the timing of operations, the movement of forces and, finally, their employment in battle.
Strategy in its larger sense is more than the handmaiden of war, it is an inherent element of statecraft, akin to policy, and encompasses preparations for war as well as the war itself. Thus, this volume treats the prewar period in some detail, not in any sense as introductory to the main theme but as an integral and important part of the story of Pacific strategy. The great lessons of war, it has been observed, are to be found in the events preceding the outbreak of hostilities. It is then that the great decisions are made and the nature of the war largely determined.
Drawing on a wealth of Allied and Japanese primary documents and countless secondary sources, Milan Vego describes and analyzes the operational planning and preparation as well as the execution of actions on both sides. Focusing on the operational versus tactical aspects of the struggle, he critically assesses the major decisions made by the senior commanders. His access to the Allied Magic radio intercepts allows him to shed light on what Allied and Japanese commanders knew and did not know about each other. Unlike other books on the subject, Vego draws conclusions and provides operational lessons learned based on his conclusions. A large number of maps, figures, and tables enhance the text.
U.S. Navy Supply Corps Ensign Ross Hofmann had no idea what was in store for him when he arrived at Cavite Naval Base in October 1941. Two months later, Japanese forces struck the Philippines, destroying the base and forcing U.S. personnel to retreat to Bataan. There, Hofmann joined a makeshift unit of Army Aircorps ground personnel, U.S. Marines, U.S. sailors, U.S. Naval ground battalions and Filipinos to fight a Japanese force that landed nearby.
In March 1942, with the fall of Bataan imminent, he traveled to Cebu to run supplies through the blockade of Bataan and Corregidor. Soon after his arrival, the Japanese landed on Cebu, forcing the Americans to retreat again. Hiking through jungles and crossing dangerous waters in barely seaworthy vessels, Hofmann avoided capture and reached an American base in Mindanao.
He received orders to establish a seaplane base on Lake Lanao. As Japanese troops landed nearby, two seaplanes returning from Corregidor stopped to refuel, one of them hitting a submerged rock on take-off. In a harrowing race against the enemy advance, Hofmann and others worked feverishly to fix the plane and escape before the Japanese converged on Lake Lanao. This memoir recounts Hofmann's experiences in vivid detail.
Ten leading military historians ask these and other questions in this fascinating book. The war with Japan was rife with difficult choices and battles that could have gone either way. These fact-based alternate scenarios offer intriguing insights into what might have happened in the Pacific during World War II, and what the consequences would have been for America.