December 22th, 1941
“Sir enemy battleships” reported one of the bridge lookouts.
“American battleships impossible” stated Admiral Goto “they were all destroyed at Pearl Harbor”
Captain Sawa looking at the direction that his lookout was pointing to confirmed what his lookout had spotted.
“Admiral Goto indeed they are American battleships of a class that I’m not familiar with. They appear to be new construction, modern battleships not of the type that were reportedly at Pearl. They appear to be of the class that the Germans had reported engaging their battleship the Bismarck earlier this year”
“Impossible Captain Sawa our agents last report them to be in Gibraltar, they couldn’t possibly be here”
“Normally I would agree with you Admiral, nevertheless there they are”
“Quickly Captain have all ships disengage from the bombardment of Wake and shift fire to those ships”
“Sir we cannot possibly affect damage to them”
“I know but our actions will allow
our lighter forces a chance to withdraw”
“Captain” cried the OOW additional American ships have been spotted 12 miles off the bow”
“What type of ships?”
“Lookouts report them to be destroyers, possibly light cruisers”
“Admiral it appears that we have been flanked”
“Quickly Captain order all destroyer and light cruisers to engage this new force”
December 22th, 1941
USS North Carolina
“Captain it appears that we’ve been spotted”
“Yes sir. Plot what’s the range to the nearest target?”
“25,000 yards Captain, there’s a change in aspect sir it seems that they have altered course.’
“No doubt to get away”
“Admiral don’t you think it’s about time that we open fire?
“Yes Captain I think that we should give our counterparts a lesson that they won’t soon forget.
“Open fire Captain”
“Main battery prepare to fire. Fire”
“Open fire” commanded the Gunnery Officer.
Within seconds all American ships of the northern force opened fire with a thunderous roar. Moments later there was the unmistakable sound of incoming freight trains as all of the Japanese heavy cruisers were surrounded by huge geysers of water with the exception of two hits being hit as both the Kinugasa and Furutaka were rocked by successive hits. The Kinugasa was hit by a single 16” AP shell which easily penetrated the thin aft armor like a hot knife through butter before exploding in the engine room causing inconceivable damage amongst the equipment and killing more than a dozen men, as a consequence of the hit a sudden decrease in the ships speed, something akin to a high speed train slamming on its brakes.
The Furutaka target of the Virginia suffered a similar fate in that she was hit by a single 16” AP shell, the location however of where it hit was different. The shell struck at the base of the forward superstructure easily going through the thin deck plating at such an angle that it exited the starboard side of the ship before exploding, the result massive damage to the starboard side to go along with immense flooding which the Japanese damage control teams were going to find hard to control, the outcome a sudden loss in speed to go along with a list to starboard.
In the meantime the San Francisco had targeted what was later learned to be the Tenyru and hit her with a pair of 8” shells. Though not as big as the 16” shells the battleships carried they none the less caused considerable damage Japanese light cruiser penetrating the almost nonexistent armor as though it was paper, the first shell just under the #2 stack before exploding in the machinery spaces below. The second shell hit the bridge and exploded killing most of the bridge crew except an ensign and the helmsman, both were seriously wounded. The Minneapolis’s target turned out to be her sister ship the Yubari her single hit took out her aft most 5.5” gun mount.
In the meantime both Desron 1 and Desron 2 began their attack on the east flank of the Japanese formation. With Desron 1 in the lead and 5 miles further south of Desron 2 they methodically closed in on the Japanese ships firing as they advanced. Both American forces split their fire between the Japanese light forces and merchant vessels causing immense destruction as their 6” shells fell like rain on them. The merchant vessel Kongo Maru blew up and sank as a shell from the Honolulu detonated her explosive cargo and taking with her precious cargo of over 400 Imperial Marines. The destroyer Mitsuki also blew up and sank after a 6” shell from the St. Louis struck one of her torpedo mounts amidships, detonating the torpedo warheads.
But it was not a one sided battle as the Japanese seemed somehow to regroup amongst the annihilation that was going on around them. Japanese torpedoes from an unknown source struck the ships of Desron 2, the Flusser recipients of 2 of those torpedoes came to a sudden stop as two quickly slammed into her before exploding. The force of those two simultaneous hits was too much for the fragile destroyer as she suddenly exploded and sank. The St. Louis was next in line to be hit as another 2 torpedoes struck her bow also, but she was somewhat luckier than the Flusser as she only lost 20 ft of her bow. Damage control parties were quickly on the scene as the ship reduced her speed to cope with the flooding. With the protection of the Reid & Blue she slowly withdrew from the battle while still defiantly firing her guns at the Japanese. Captain Jameson CO of Desron 1 by the CO of Desron 2 of the situation and ordered his ships to cover their withdrawal.
Up above F4F Wildcats from Wake were on CAP in case Japanese bombers from the Marshall Islands tried to intervene in the battle below. On the Saratoga the last strike force was being rearmed and refueled for a possible strike on the Japanese formation. It was the same on the Lexington in Task Force 14, as they were getting their first airstrike ready. The planes were armed and fueled al they needed was for the pilots to man their planes and the command to take off.
On Wilkes Island there was a major battle going on between the US Marines and the survivors of the initial Japanese assault landing. Pockets of Imperial Marines were putting up stiff resistance and were slowly inching their way off the beach and out of the minefield. Individual groups were reforming into much larger ones despite the fire from machine gun and mortar fire from US positions. While the Naval battle was ongoing offshore Colonel Knapp of the 3rd Defense Battalion dispatched two companies of Marines to Camp One on Wilkes Island near Wilkes Channel where the majority of the ground fighting was going on.
Without warning a group of Imperial Marines perhaps platoon strength got up and charged a machine gun emplacement yelling “Banzai, Banzai, Banzai.” With sheer numbers they quickly overwhelmed the position killing the gun crew and 3 riflemen. They however were cut down by the two machine gun positions that were placed 100 yards on either side of the one attacked. When the 2 companies of marine reinforcements showed up the US Marines decided to go the offensive and drive the Japanese into the Pacific. With support from mortar crews and several new machine gun emplacements the US Marines slowly and methodically drove their Japanese counterparts back to the beach where they wound up back in the minefield.
With literally nowhere to go the Japanese tried as best they could to put up a stiff resistance but it did little good, the US marine fire was incessant and accurate. In the background at a distance the US Marines were witness to another form of destruction that of the Japanese Task Force. As they fought the Imperial Marines they observed the merchant ship Kongo Maru and destroyer Mitsuki blowing up. But this was not the only destruction they observed, they also were witness to several other Japanese ships being hit and set on fire. Earlier in the day they were witness to the aerial bombardment by US air strikes on these same ships. They were hoping almost to a man that every one of those Japanese ships would be sunk. Earlier when the US ships arrived on scene Commander Cunningham all gun batteries to cease fire and conserve ammo. He figured the big boys could handle things from here on in.
The land battle was over in less than 2 hours, it was a slaughter. Of the 500 or so Imperial marines that landed only 17 survived and they only did because they were seriously wounded. The remainder littered the beachhead. US losses were 15 dead and 33 wounded in this operation alone. All told US losses to date were 25 dead and 51 wounded as a result of the landing and bombardment of gun emplacements. Damaged but repairable was the 5” gun at Battery L.
None of the marines and army personnel on Wake was oblivious to the fighting around them not only on land but also in the waters that surrounded the island. Whether engaged in battle, fortifying their positions or preparing to attack the Japanese they all had a ringside seat to the main event, an action they won’t ever forget. For most it will be the beginning of a hard fought war where many of those that they currently consider buddies won’t survive. On one side it a quartet of Japanese heavy cruisers with more than a half dozen light cruisers and destroyers thrown in and on the other side it was a pair of the world’s most modern dreadnaughts plus a duo of heavy cruisers.
The Northern US force consisting of battleships and heavy cruisers now turned around Toki and KuKu points and let loose another salvo as they did again hitting the Furutaka, Kinugasa and Kako. The Furutaka & Kinugasa were by now both dead in the water slowly sinking after being struck by 7-9 hits apiece from the battleship. Both would be finished off by torpedoes from the Minneapolis & San Francisco. Both battleships now shifted their fire to the Kako & Aoba who while the battleships were concentrating their fire on the Furutaka & Kinugasa were firing on the 2 American battleships causing considerable damage topside with their 8” guns knocking out or destroying several 5” gun mounts and various AA gun batteries. The US heavy cruisers by now shifted their fire to the Japanese light cruisers.
Captain Hisamune, CO of the Aoba noticing the American maneuver fired a full spread of torpedoes at the US ships pretty much on the fly hoping for some hits. The Kako not to be outdone by her sister ship also launch a spread of torpedoes but used only half her mounts. Lookouts on all US ships noticed this and reported it to their respective bridges. This quick and unexpected action momentarily broke up the US formation but it was without for naught as 2 torpedoes struck the Virginia, 1 torpedo each struck the North Carolina & Minneapolis, slowing them down so as to assess and repair damage. Despite the unfortunate torpedo strikes all ships continued to fire.
Call it misfortune or call it luck depending on which side that you were on but several of the Japanese torpedoes were later found marine patrols on 2 of the sandbars which surrounded the atoll. These were later disarmed and retrieved by groups of torpedo men from several of the cruisers and were later loaded on board the Tangier to be brought to Pearl for close inspection and examination by torpedo personnel on the island. The knowledge that US forces would learn from these weapons of war would deeply benefit the Allied cause.
In the meantime Duantless dive bombers and Deveatator torpedo bombers were having their way with the merchant ships. The seaplane tender Kiyokawa Maru having benn hit by two 1,000 bombs and two torpedoes was sinking as well as the Nippon Maru. The merchant ship Kinyru Maru was dead in the water and on fire. Lastly the Kongo Maru holed by a single torpedo was attempting to escape at 4 knots but wouldn’t make it. Patrol boats #32 & 33 were attempting to beach themselves while coming under fire from the 5” shore batteries, they would be successful in their attempt of landing their cargo of Imperial Marines.
“Captain we’ve numerous reports coming in”
“What are they Commander Wilkes?”
“The Saratoga reports that her pilots have sunk two ships, setting 1 ship adrift and seriously damaging the fourth. The CO of the Honolulu reports Desron 1taking under fire 3 light cruisers sinking two with torpedoes and setting one ablaze. Also our destroyers report hitting a destroyer with a combination of gunfire and torpedoes sinking her”
December 22th, 1941
“Lookouts report torpedo hits on at least two enemy ships Captain” reported a junior officer “ a light cruiser and destroyer. The destroyer appears to have been sunk while the cruiser is seriously damaged.”
“Very well Lieutenant Ishikawa”
Suddenly an alarm a vocal alarm rang out on the bridge of the Yubari “Torpedoes” yelled out in alarm. Running over to the port side all eyes focused on the deadly fish that were approaching.
The warning came to late as three torpedoes rammed into the Yubari The result a fireball so immense and hot that it burned the skin of sailors on the nearby destroyer Asanagi. The next ship Tenyru fate was no different as four torpedoes struck her, she however was fortunate she did not explode just stopped dead in the water and rolled over to port. Her hull remained afloat for nearly an hour before settling into the Pacific. The destroyer Yayoi already on fire from an earlier gun battle took three torpedoes and also rolled over and sank.
December 22th, 1941
USS North Carolina
“Excellent maybe we have a chance to destroy this entire force. Send a signal to the Saratoga to keep up the good work. Have them concentrate their attacks on the remainder of the merchant ships and those light cruisers”
“Yes sir I’ll see to it at once”
By now all of the Japanese ships have been sunk or were sinking with the exception of the heavy cruisers Kako & [I[Aoba[/I], light cruiser Tatsuta and destroyers Oite & Asanagi. Somehow they found the presence to form up and regroup on a course due south in an attempt to escape the carnage. This was not to be as at a range of less than 10 miles the Virginia taking revenge for the 2 torpedoes that struck her let loose with a 9 gun broadside, of the 9 rounds fired 5 hit the Kako. The cruiser not built to take such punishment was literally torn to pieces as it exploded there was not much chance for any survivors.
The remaining trio of Japanese ships was quickly picking up speed with luck they would soon be out of range of the American Battleships. Overhead was a quartet of Dauntless dive bombers loaded with 1,000 lb bombs. Their pilots witnessed the destruction of the Kako and now they were challenged to stop the remaining ships. One by one from an altitude 10,000 ft they dove while trying to keep the Aoba in their bombsite. From an altitude of 2,500 ft they release their bombs. Guided by the momentum of the dive the bombs are glided to their target below.
First one then a second, finally a third hit their target, soon the momentum of the ship decreased as the ship began to flood. Finally coming to a stop the Aoba, the ship name the pilots later learned began to list to starboard, the list increased slowly until the ship finally turned turtle. As they circled the ship from an altitude of 500 they could see desperate men in the water some clinging to debris while others tried to climb the overturned hull. The fourth bomb hit the Oite on the stern igniting her depth charges, within seconds the entire aft section of the ship disappeared in an explosion forcing it down into the water. With the ships back now bent it began to slowly sink as survivors could be seen jumping off the wreck.
Many of these men the pilots thought would soon succumb to death whether by being dragged down by the ship, drowning, exposure or even shark attacks but there was nothing that they could do so climbing back to altitude they quickly departed the area. With no other US aircraft in the area there was nothing that they could about the two remaining Japanese ships. A few not many of those who had survived the two ships sinking who soon find themselves on the shores of Wake and would become POW’s.
With the battle essentially over it was left up to the ships of Desron 1 to circumvent the area to locate survivors from both sides. With the Patterson approaching the last known location of the Flusser she had to slow down to a few knots so has not to run over any survivors. It was a dangerous move because there was still a chance of Japanese subs in the area but it was necessary. While she was searching the waters for American sailors the Honolulu, Mugford & Helm began to search for Japanese survivors and as soon as the Patterson was done with her search she would join them.
Onboard the [I]North Carolina everything was slowly getting back to normal, there was still the job of looking for survivors and regrouping the Task Force and this would take time, time that the Task force now has.
“Admiral I think that our mission here is done. The Desron 1 is in the process of picking up survivors both ours and the Japanese. Desron 2 is on course to join the Saratoga and should join them in a couple of hours. The Marines on Wake were in the mopping up stages, counting the Japanese dead and gathering the survivors. Also a couple of their patrols have come across several Japanese torpedoes on a couple of the sandbars. They’re requesting assistance in disarming them and transporting them to the pier. Commander Cunningham suspects that they might be examined and inspected by our torpedo experts in Pearl”
“Very well Captain let’s continue with collecting survivors and order the Minneapolis and San Francisco to send some of their torpedo men to wake to help in the recovery of those messages were sent to their bases in the Marshalls. We should be expecting some sort of aerial attack by the Japanese”
“I agree Admiral it’s far from over I’ll alert Commander Cunningham to prepare to launch what fighters that he can and I alert the Saratoga to do the same. Between the two I guess we could have airborne over 36 fighters if and when we’re alerted to a possible air attack. More than likely it will be in the form of medium bombers as none of their other aircraft have the range”
“Alright Captain take care of it”
By 1515 the land and naval battles were all but over, all of the Japanese ships were sunk except for the light cruiser Tatsuta and destroyer Asanagi who by now had informed Naval Headquarters in the Marshall Islands of the battle. US casualties including those ashore came to 156 dead, 121 wounded. Out of an estimated 5,700 Japanese personal some 3,800 are estimated to be dead; 1,100 wounded and over 900 missing. Marines on Wake would still be rounding up those survivors that make it ashore and are lucky enough not to enter a minefield pretty much for the remainder of the week.
“Commander Wilkes I’ve drafted a message that I want to send out immediately to the addressee’s on the piece of paper” handing the message over to Commander Wilkes “ see to it that it is sent immediately”
“Yes sir I will see to it personally”
As Commander Wilkes was departing Admiral Rearson about the battle that just happened, he had several questions going through his mind. First and foremost was it a smart decision to relieve and reinforce the garrison on Wake after all the Japanese made two attempts to take the Island, would they try for a third? Would it have not been better to just evacuate the Marines after all that was one of his choices? If the Japanese try to take the island for a third time they might arrive in a much large force, one that the US would be powerless to stop. But he couldn’t dwell on the what if’s, what’s done is done all he and the US Political and Military leaders could do is wait and see what happens. What he did know was that he and his forces have dealt the Japanese a serious defeat, one that they may not recover from in the short term, the long term who knows. By the time Admiral Rearson finished these thoughts the message had been transmitted.
December 22nd, 1941
TO: REAR ADMIRAL PYE, ACTING CINCPAC
CC: ADMIRAL NIMITZ, CINPAC; ADMIRAL STARK, CNO; MR. WILLIAM KNOX, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY; MR. HENRY STIMSON, SECRETARY OF WAR; FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
SUBJ: SECOND ATTEMPTED JAPANESE INVASION OF WAKE ISLAND
1) AT 0550, DEC. 21ST, COMMANDER CUNNINGHAM WAS NOTIFIED OF JAPANESE WARSHIPS 9 MILES OFF WILKES ISLAND. CODE NAME GERONIMO WAS IMMEDIATELY TRANSMITTED.
2) AT 0600 WORD WAS RECEIVED ABOARD FLAGSHIP THAT JAPANESE NAVAL FORCES WERE SHELLING WAKE ISLAD.
3) AT 0605 ORDERED THE SARATOGA & AIRCRAFT ON WAKE TO LAUNCH IMMEDIATE AIR STRIKES AGAINST JAPANESE NAVAL FORCES, ALSO SIGNALED VICE ADMIRAL BROWN, CO TASK FORCE 14 TO LAUNCH AIR STRIKES OF HIS OWN WHEN IN RANGE.
4) ARRIVED OFF PEALE ISLAND AT 0800 AND IMMEDIATELY TOOK JAPANESE NAVAL FORCES UNDER NAVAL GUNFIRE DAMAGING 2 HEAVY CRUISERS & 2 LIGHT CRUISERS, SINKING 1 DESTROYER AND 1 MERCHANT SHIP.
5) JAPANESE FORCES REGROUPED AND LAUNCHED A TORPEDO ATTACK AT BATTLE GROUP. DESTROYER FLUSSER LOST, DAMAGE TO HEAVY CRUISER MINNEAPOLIS, LIGHT CRUISER ST.LOUIS, BATTLESHIPS NORTH CAROLINA & VIRGINIA. BATTLE GROUP RETURNED FIRE SINKING 2 HEAVY CRUISERS & 2 DESTROYERS.
6) REMAINDER OF JAPANESE NAVAL FORCES CONSISTING OF 2 HEAVY CRUISERS, 1 SEAPLANE TENDER & 2 MERCHANT SHIPS SUNK BY AIRCRAFT FROM THE SARATOGA[I].
7) MARINES ON WAKE ISLAND RECOVERED 5 JAPANESE TORPEDOES ON BEACHES OF WAKE. THEY’VE BEEN DISARMED AND ARE CURRENTLY BEING TRANSPORTED ABOARD THE [I]TANGIER FOR EXAMINATION.
INITIAL JAPANESE LANDING FORCE REPULSED WITH HEAVY LOSSES.
9) CASUALTIES ON BOTH SIDES: US - 150 DEAD, 121 WOUNDED & 43 MISSING; JAPANESE - 3800 DEAD, 1100 WOUNDED, 900 MISSING. POW’S NOW ON BOARD ON TANGIERS FOR TRANSPORT TO PEARL.
10) TASK FORCE 11 NOW ENROUTE TO PEARL. TASK FORCE 14 NOW INTEGRATED INTO TASK FORCE 8, OBJECTIVE TO ATTACK AND DESTROY JAPANESE AIR FORCES IN THE MARSHALL ISLAND GROUP, EXPECTED RETURN TO PEARL DEC. 31ST.
11) RECOMMEND THAT A SUBMARINE SQUADRON PATROL THE WATERS AROUND WAKE WITHIN A 200 MILE RADIUS. RECOMMEND THAT 2 MTB SQUADRON’S BE ASSIGNED TO WAKE WITH EXTRA TORPEDOES AND SPARE PARTS.
VICE ADMIRAL REARSON CO TASK FORCE 11
Soon after this message was sent at around 1625 the army radar operators on Wake because of their more advanced radar picked up aircraft presumably Japanese approaching from the Marshall Islands. They were at the extreme range of the radar which would put them over Wake in 30 minutes, quickly 20 Wildcats were launched from Wake and 16 from the Saratoga all were placed on an intercept course that would place them some distance from Wake. Down below on the ships now off Wilkes Island AA gun crews were manning their stations on Wake all guns were still manned soon all was in readiness for the approaching Japanese aircraft if any managed to make it past the fighters.
Soon the squawking of the navy and marine fighter pilots could be heard on the bridge’s intercom system. First on the scene were the 20 fighters from Wake and according to the flight leader they had counted 40 Mitsubishi G4M bombers approaching Wake. The Japanese pilots were unaware of the approaching American fighters and so took no evasive action. This time surprise was on the American side as the Wildcats from an altitude of 36,000 ft dove down like hawks on the Japanese bombers in 5x 4 plane sections. With guns blazing they quickly knocked down 4 bombers before the Japanese knew what hit them. Some 15 minutes out were the 16 fighters from the Saratoga and they too were flying at altitude.
The Japanese though caught off guard were quick to react and began to fire their 7.7mm machine guns. Soon several Wildcats were trailing smoke and departed the scene heading back to Wake. Despite the damage to 3 of their fighters the Wildcat pilots pressed home their attack and within moments another 3 bombers were shot down. The Japanese gunners busy with the fighters from Wake did not notice the fighters from the Saratoga until it was too late. Like the Wake fighters before they dove down on the Japanese bombers this time in pairs as they passed through the Japanese formation another 5 bombers went down in flames. Bringing the total thus far to a dozen enemy bombers were shot down. Still with these losses the Japanese pressed home their attack.
The Saratoga pilots now climbing from their dive began to engage Japanese bombers from below and behind. The Betty bombers armed with a 20mm tail gun opened fire on the American fighters behind them shooting down 3 before the remainder of the pilots reacted to this defensive fire. Still despite the losses they shot down another 2 with 3 additional ones smoking and on fire.
Slowly the Japanese Bombers were being whittled down up ahead the pilots of the bombers could see the American ships below and Wake behind them. One by one each bomber opened their bomb bays preparing to drop their bombs from an altitude of 15,000 ft.
By now the numerous AA guns both from the Task force and Wake began to open up forcing the American fighters to withdraw momentarily. Carrying HE bombs there was little chance of damage to the US ships, still several had struck the San Francisco and Honolulu with numerous near misses amongst the remainder of the ships below, none had reached Wake. During the bomb run 4 more bombers were shot down by the heavy American AA fire, now they had to face the American fighters one more time. By the time the Japanese formation were out of range of the American fighters they were down to just 14 bombers, a loss of 26 bombers and crews. The US lost another 2 fighters in the process.
By 1850 the second battle of Wake was officially over and all aircraft returned to their bases. The destroyer Patterson was dispatched to areas where it was reported that the American planes were downed and the pilots bailed out, they managed to rescue 4 pilots before returning to the Task Force. By now the battle group had reformed with the exception of Desron 2 which by now was with the Saratoga group.
“Captain Strikes I think that’s it, I think that it is over”
“I agree with you Admiral, question is what do we do now?”
“For one Captain I would like to stay in the area for a few more days but that would endanger the Task force to further attacks. Some of those Japanese carriers just might be in the area or at least several of their submarines we can’t put the Task Force at further risk”
“What if we stay till morning Admiral?”
“We could but I don’t think that would be wise besides I don’t think that the Japanese will try anything for the moment. Besides that Task Force under Admiral Brown should be in position for airstrikes against the Japanese bases in the Marshalls. Hopefully they could inflict enough damage to those bases to curtail any further attacks for a while”
“But those marines will be on their own Admiral”
“I realize that Captain but there is nothing more that we can do for them at the moment. If my recommendations are excepted they might get some protection at least until we can build up our forces and drive them back”
“Alright Captain it’s time to go and rejoin the rest of the Task Force”
“XO change order all ships to change course to 090°, speed 21 knots”
“Aye sir change course to 090°, speed 21 knots”
It would take the remainder of the Task Force about 3 ½ hours to reach the Saratoga’s position during that time much thought would be with those that they left behind on Wake. On board the Tangier were around 765 Japanese POW’s who will be temporarily interned in makeshift camps in Hawaii before being transferred to the mainland. Task Force 11 would be returning to Pearl where they would stay for about 2 weeks making temporary repairs until they could head for the mainland. In time the North Carolina & Virginia would be heading for Bremerton Naval Shipyard while the St. Louis & Minneapolis would be heading to Mare Island for repairs. While in each yard the AA weapons platform would be improved as well as the electronics suite for all ships.
“Admiral we are in communication range of the Saratoga, remember what we discussed earlier in your cabin. Do you still want to do it?”
“At this point we have no choice. Until Headquarters approves my recommendation of stationing PT Boats at Wake the island has no true offensive firepower. Oh yes the Wildcats can carry bombs but they’re limited to carrying 2 x 100 lb bombs or perhaps a 500 lb bomb in an emergency situation”
“Yes I know this which is why I’m going to do what I have to do”
“But wouldn’t removing a couple of squadrons from the Saratoga reduce her effective fighting strength”
“Yes it would for the short term. While speaking with Admiral Kimmel I had learned that there are 4 new SBD & 2 TBD squadrons available, they’ll be able to replace the squadrons from the Saratoga”
“Question is sir do you have the authority to do so?’
“As Commanding Officer of Task Force 11 I believe that I do, which is why without informing you I had arranged with Captain Sprague to load 72 Mark 13 torpedoes and 96 1,000lb bombs, all of which have been unloaded at Wake. I’ve also been in contact with Captain Somers and Admiral Fletcher about transferring 1 squadron of scout bombers and 1 squadron of torpedo bombers to wake and the reasons as to why I want to do this. It took him a couple of days but eventually approved after informing the squadron leaders of squadrons involved. Now I must notify Admiral Fletcher and Captain Sprague to launch those aircraft. Captain get me Admiral Fletcher on TBS”
A short moment later.
“Admiral, Admiral Fletcher on TBS” said Commander Wilkes handing over the handset.
“Admiral Fletcher are you ready to launch the selected squadrons?”
“Yes sir I am”
“Are the pilots and crews aware of what’s needed from them?”
“Yes sir they are to a man”
“Good if they somehow survive the next couple of months they’ll be replaced by squadrons being rotated out of the States”
“With luck those PT boat squadrons I recommended to be stationed at Wake will be transferred there in a month perhaps two”
“You think that will be enough Admiral Rearson?”
“To be honest Admiral Fletcher no I don’t which is why I think assigning SBD and TBD squadrons there essential”
“I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s just too bad the island is not big enough for medium bombers to be stationed there, they would come in handy as they have the range”
“We could always assign a PBY squadron there, though they don’t have the bomb load capacity they do have the necessary range”
“Now that’s a thought Admiral Rearson perhaps we should bring up with CINCPAC”
“Perhaps we should. Anyway Admiral launch those planes. Commander Cunningham will be expecting them before sunset”