On 8 December, 1941, just hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese Mitsubishi G3M3 bombers from bases on the Marshall Islands attacked Wake Island and destroyed eight of the twelve U.S. Marine Corps F4F-3 Wildcat fighters on the ground. Four airborne Wildcats, were unable to see the attacking Japanese bombers due to poor visibility. However, the following day the Wildcats downed two Japanese bombers. All of the garrison’s defensive emplacements were intact after the raid, which primarily targeted the naval aircraft. Of 55 Marine aviation personnel, 23 were killed and 11 were wounded. At this point, the nation began to hold its breath as daily news reports described the valiant Marines holding out against superior numbers of Japanese forces
December 11, Nineteen Forty One by Gary Lemon
The marines on Wake Island knew their time had come.
In the morning darkness, we looked out to sea.
There’s lights on the horizon….What can this be?
“It’s the Japs ! The Japs are here! ”
Cries a voice that’s unseen.
My God! Don’t they know?
We’re the U. S. Marines!
The bugle sounds a ‘Call to Arms’,
We grab our guns and await the storm.
At break of dawn many ships appear,
Their guns are blazing and drawing near.
Our world becomes a living hell,
As Wake is hit with shell after shell.
The Major orders, “Men, hold your fire!”
“What are we waiting for?” the gunners inquire.
From the CP we finally hear……
“All batteries commence firing …
Let them know we’re here! ”
Our cannons discharge a deadly load,
We watch in awe as three ships explode.
The Japs are stunned by this deadly display,
They waste no time in sailing away.
This was a battle we had to win,
But we know for certain……
They’ll be back again
A journalist reported that after the initial Japanese amphibious assault was beaten back on December 11, the American commander was asked by his superiors if he needed anything. The commander sent back the message, “Send us more Japs!”
In reality, Commander Winfield S. Cunningham, USN ordered that coded messages be sent during operations, and a junior officer had added “send us” and “more Japs” to the beginning and end of a message to confuse Japanese code breakers.