“EXTRA, EXTRA JAPANESE INVASION OF WAKE ISLAND THWARTED BY COMBINED MARINE AND NAVY FORCES”
The story that followed read:
Scott Revell, Washington Post
It was learned by this reporter that at 5:50AM, the 23rd of December Wake Island time that a Japanese naval force was sighted off the Coast of Wake Island, the target of a previous Japanese invasion attempt. Ten minutes later the Japanese naval force commenced to bombard the island with high explosive shells attempting to destroy what fortifications we had prior to the landing of Japanese troops. It was further learned that the day before two Japanese naval formations were sighted by two different US submarines while on patrol, one to the northeast of the island, the other to the south of the island.
The Japanese force to the south somehow eluded the submarine which spotted it and tried to track it. On the other hand the Japanese force to the northeast was engaged by the submarine Thresher, as a result of the engagement the Japanese lost one Aircraft carrier, while another and a heavy cruiser was damaged. At approximately 10:00AM an American Battle group under the command of an Admiral Rearson took under fire and engaged the Japanese naval force that was off Wake. During the ensuing engagement the Japanese lost 4 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, 5 destroyers, 2 patrol boats, 1 seaplane tender and 4 merchant ships. During the confusion 1 Japanese light cruiser and destroyer escaped the battle.
US losses were 1 destroyer sunk, 2 cruisers and 2 battleships damaged. Casualties were reported to be; US: 150 dead. 121 wounded; Reported Japanese 3,800dead, 1,100 wounded, 900 missing. This victory by our men in arms …………….
December 24th, 1941
Kure Naval Base, Office of Naval Minister
Admiral Oikawa office door was open as Admiral’s Yamamato & Ugaki approved it, the outside office where his office personnel was empty of all staff this afternoon except for several Imperial Marine guards at the entrance to the inner doors. Inside Admiral Oikawa’s office apparently waiting for him were just a couple of officers, all of Admiral rank. There was Admiral Nagano, Chief of the General Staff; Admiral Nagumo, CO of the Pearl Harbor Strike Force; Field Marshall Hajime Sugiyama, Chief of the Army General Staff & Lieutenant General Moritake Tanabe, Vice Chief of the General Staff.
As they entered the office they were warmly greeted as a courtesy but there apparently was underlining tensions amongst everyone there. Slowly Admiral Yamamato looked around at everyone in the office trying to get some sort of sense as to what they were thinking and as to why they were there. It was not Admiral Yamamato who chose this setting, had he had the chance it would be taking place in his own office. As it were not one to get nervous he began to get a odd twitch.
“Admiral Yamamato two days ago you told me that you have a solution to our current dilemma”
“Yes I did”
“Well what do you propose Admiral?”
“What I’m about to say might catch most of you by surprise for what I propose goes against what we’ve been planning for over 10 years. As each of you know recent events in the Wake theater has been disastrous for our forces. Twice we tried to take the island and twice now we have been defeated, the latest with alarming consequences. At Pearl we destroyed the main portion of their Battle Fleet with the exception of their carriers. Well that failure has come back to haunt us. With the aid of one of their carriers they were able to defend Wake, then presumable with several more of their carriers they struck at the heart of our defenses in the Marshall Islands.
But it appears gentlemen that the Americans are on a resurgence for besides the 3 known carriers they also seem to have a pair of very powerful and modern battleships, one of which I believe defeated the German battleship Bismarck. They are at the moment the most powerful battleships in the Pacific until the Yamato joins the fleet next week. However aside from that we are down two fleet carriers at the moment and any future operations would be hard pressed for support. Yes we have several smaller carriers that can fill the void but their offensive capabilities are limited by virtue of the amount of aircraft they can carry.
What I propose gentlemen and what I’m about to say might offend our army comrades but I deem it necessary. After much careful thought and much meditation I propose that we either cancel or postpone Operation MO and proceed with Operation MI. With the loss of the Hiryu and the heavy damage to the Soryu, plus the loss of 4 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers and 7 destroyers our naval forces will be spread a little thin for awhile until we can allocate enough forces to proceed with both operations. I was even thinking about perhaps striking at the Naval Base in San Diego or even attacking the Panama Canal Zone but I find both too ambitious at the moment.
However if we attack and invade Midway with the bulk of our naval forces we can take it easily and use it as a future base for attacks against the Americans in the Hawaiian Islands. After Midway we can then proceed in taking Johnston and Palmyra Islands forcing the Americans to come out and engage our forces. I know the Americans they won’t take the loss of Midway, Johnston and Palmyra Islands likely and will come out with all available forces. They will be outmanned and outgunned, we will destroy them once and for a ll. Then we can turn our attention to Port Moresby, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Northern Australia and perhaps Ceylon as per our original schedule.
Our Naval Forces will be in a better position to support all operations for the remainder of 1942 at the end of which we will have added more and powerful ships to the fleet”
“I don’t like it Admiral” said Field Marshall Sugiyama we need to take Port Moresby in order to take New Guinea, once New Guinea is taken along with the Solomon Islands we can advance onto Northern Australia. Operation MI is not as important as Operation MO.”
“I disagree Field Marshall” added Admiral Oikawa with an American fleet intact it can threaten by virtue of its existence any of our operations. What Admiral Yamamato suggests makes sense. With the American fleet destroyed at Midway it would take them more than a year to rebuild their forces in the Pacific. By then our position in the Pacific would be too strong for them to even considering attacking. To rebuild their forces any quicker they would have to transfer units from the Atlantic and I don’t think that they would want to consider it just now”
“General Tanabe what do you think?”
“Well Field Marshall currently I believe that our forces particularly the Army is a little over extended right now. We have operations ongoing in Korea, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, the Dutch East Indies and as a result our ground forces are spread a little thin. Operations in Port Moresby would only strain them more. By defeating the Americans at Midway and delaying their actions for a year would allow us to consolidate our gains and free up the necessary forces for future operations. And if Admiral Yamamato is correct we should have the naval forces in a year to not only assist in these operations but to protect them as well. I for one am in favor or delaying the Port Moresby Operation and allow the Navy to proceed with their Midway Operation”
“One further thing I also propose that we make no further attempt at Wake for the moment, we will allow the Americans to savior their victory then when they least expect we will strike once again this time with overwhelming strength”
“What of Howland & Baker Islands as well as Johnston & Palmyra Atolls Admiral Yamamato” asked Admiral Nagano.
“They can wait eventually we will take them just as well take the Fiji’s and Samoa”
“Alright Admiral Yamamato we will allow this deviation from our operations for the moment but it will be only one time. Our timetable cannot be changed more than this”
“Yes Admiral Oikawa, as commander of the Combined fleet I will ensure that the Americans are soundly defeated at Midway if they choose to engage us”
Suddenly the office went silent as those present began to meditate on what was said. Within minutes the only men present would be Admiral Oikawa & Admiral Yamamato and they would continue discussing the upcoming operation.
Thursday, December 26th, 1941
Pearl Harbor Hawaii
Commanders Wilkes & Burton were both on a delayed 24 hour liberty granted by Captain Strikes so they could try and celebrate Christmas. Not feeling like celebrating doing so they would rather have gone to Ford Island to watch the salvaging operations first hand. But Admiral Pye put a quash on that idea as he placed Ford Island off limits to all except those who worked on the island and the salvage crews. Still not to be put out they managed to find their way to a vantage point in Kuahua, and there for several hours they watched in total fascination as they observed various work details on the battleships Tennessee and Maryland.
The battleship Tennessee though not torpedoed still received a couple of bomb hits that somehow miraculously didn’t detonate as designed, despite this they caused some damage topside. The battleship Maryland inboard of the sunken Oklahoma was struck by 2 armor piercing which detonated low on her hull, though not sunk she nevertheless received considerable damage. Now both ships were free and would be soon heading stateside for extensive rebuilding and repairs. The Pennsylvania in dry dock when the attack occurred would also soon be joining her sister ships stateside. Repair and salvage crews were still working on the California & Neveda and it wouldn’t be until the following year before they would be sent stateside.
Switching their focus to the wrecks of the Arizona[I] and [I]Oklahoma they stared for what seemed like hours on a number of rescue efforts to find and save crewmembers of both stricken ships. Although both ships were sunk nearly 2 weeks ago there was still hope that they would find some. After speaking with several senior officers both from Pearl and several of the ships that the Arizona was beyond raising and would remain where she lay. The Oklahoma with major damage to her hull was also beyond salvaging and would only be righted so has to be scrapped but plans for that operation were still in the works. Similarly the Utah would suffer the same fate. Had the West Virginia not been transferred to the Atlantic Fleet she might have suffered major damage in the Pearl Harbor attack.
After several hours of watching this morbid scene both men walked to the Officers Club which luckily didn’t take them that long. Ordering a couple of drinks and something to eat both men found a quite table to sit at. It was around 1115 and the place was still partially empty as the noon crowd was not expected for at least another 45 minutes. On the table next to theirs was a copy of the local newspaper the Honolulu Star Bulletin. There were a few local stories but the predominate news in the paper was on the war, specially the various war fronts. The major headline read HONG KONG FALLS TO JAPANESE.
“John check out this headline, it seems that the Brits are having a run of bad luck”
“Not only the Japanese Adam but we are as well as the Dutch and the French”
“Yea, imagine your country being conquered by the Germans and now what territory you do have in the Pacific is slowly being gobbled up by the Japs”
“We’re not having that great a time either. Guam has fallen they’ve invaded the Philippines and are driving our forces back. Last I heard the US Army in the Philippines is slowly being driven down the Bataan Peninsula, the Japs pretty much have Luzon locked up. What naval forces we have over there are over worked and harried by the enemy. They’ve tried joining up with British, Australian and what Dutch naval forces exist to try to stem the tide a bit but there is not enough of them”
“Yeah I’ve heard the same stories. About the only good bit of news is that we stopped them at Wake”
“For how long? I’m pretty certain that the head Jap in charge is planning another operation against Wake and this time we won’t be able to stop them”
“Perhaps you’re right but you can’t say that we didn’t bloody their nose twice”
While Commander Burton went back to his meal and drink, Commander Wilkes put his aside for the moment and continued to read the newspaper. As he glanced over the paper he came across an article written by John Reynolds a reporter for the Associated Press, it seemed to cover pretty much both theaters of operations, Europe and the Pacific. Intrigue he began to read it forgetting his food in the process.
The World in Chaos [I]By John Reynolds, AP
Across the globe there are forces in place that could endanger the world as we know it unless we of the civilized nations unite as one and prevent it. Never before in the history of humanity has the umbrella of tyranny threatened to envelope the world as recent events have shown. In North Africa the German Army under the guidance of Field Marshall Rommel has moved within 10 miles of the Suez Canal. To prevent undue slaughter and damage to the populace and historic sites both Alexandria and Cairo have been declared open cities by the British. In an attempt to either forestall and prevent the capture of the Suez Canal the British have fortified and turned the western side of the canal into an armed camp from Port Said to Safaga in the Eastern Desert.
On the eastern side of the canal additional armed artillery camps have been built along with more than a dozen airfields. The Eastern British Fleet once based at Alexandria has sailed and is now based at HMS Juffair in Bahrain. British Headquarters once in Cairo is now in Jerusalem. Malta once the linchpin of British might in the Mediterranean has now been reduced to just an armed garrison there has been no attempt since by either the Germans or the Italians to take the island as of the time that this article has been written. In the meantime the Germans along with their Italian allies in an attempt to take the Middle East has moved a good portion of their forces to within 12 miles of the British defensive lines, twice before they had attacked without success, it was thought that it would take one final push before they could succeed.
Over in Eastern Europe there have been unsubstantiated rumors of German troops massing in Romania along with troops from Romania, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and Albania. What they’re doing there and where they are going is anyone’s guess but if this rumor turns out to be true then this reporter could only surmise as to their destination. Russia alarmed by this move has begun to station troops along her border in response to this move. In the Baltic the Kriegsmarine have slowly been building up their forces after 2 abortive attempts to break out into the Atlantic. As a counter to this move the Royal Navy has placed the majority of their Home Fleet along with an American Task Force at Scapa Flow
In the meantime the British warships sunk at Gibraltar by a surprise attack from a French Naval force has been raised, and with temporary repairs in place have been sent to the US for more permanent repairs and upgrades. They had been replaced by an American battle squadron some months ago to prevent a second such occurrence by the French. In Toulon a number of new French warships are nearing completion including 2 new battleships. Just what the French will do with those ships is still in debate, although there is some speculation that they will join with ships of the Regia Marina in an invasion of Malta. The majority of the French Fleet still at Dakar have made no attempt to leave that port again giving speculation as to what the French are up to.
Here in the Pacific there is total chaos the majority of which is a direct result of the multiple Japanese operations and incursions into allied territory. With the fall of Hong Kong the most recent occurrence the British Royal Navy is now restricted to bases to several RAN bases in Australia, Ceylon and Singapore. The one exception and bright bit of news in all of this was the heroic defense of a little known island outside of the US Navy known as Wake. On this minuscule speck of dirt in the Central Pacific a valiant defense was put up not once but twice by first a unit of the US Marines and then by a combined force of Marines & Navy. Both times the armed forces of Japan were defeated and thrown back the second culminating in a sounding defeat of the Imperial Navy just a week ago.
With this sound defeat it appears to this reporter that it has thrown the Japanese High Command into a quandary as for all intensive purposes there seems to a lull in the number of Japanese attacks. My sources tell me that it seems that ships of the Imperial Navy have been withdrawn from forward operating areas and raids by its carrier forces have ceased for the moment giving the Allies a brief but well welcomed respite. Since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th the US military has accelerated with its military buildup. Dozens of new US warships ranging from destroyers and submarines to battleships and aircraft carriers are nearing completion with more to take their place on the building ways. Even Canada is getting into the act as they also are turning out various types of military equipment. Several new shipbuilding yards have been built on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes turning out warships for the Royal and Royal Canadian Navies including several cruisers and aircraft carriers.
In factories and plants around the country production of civilian products have been replaced by military equipment such as fighters, bombers, tanks, half tracks, trucks, jeeps, cannons, rifles and machine guns and new plants are being built even as I write this article. Thousands of men are being drafted each and every day to be trained in the art of war and use of this equipment. This equipment that is being manufactured is not only destined for use by the US military but for our allies as well under the lend lease program. Already the British have benefitted by this program as thousands of pieces of military equipment have already been sent to Britain as well as their armed forces overseas, with the majority being sent to their forces in the Middle East, Australia and Singapore.
While the US and Britain slowly build up their forces the Axis powers as Germany, Italy and Japan are now called are not stagnant with their rebuilding programs. It is well known what the Germans and Italians are up to as reconnaissance flights and inside sources have shown this much. Japan on the other hand is a complete mystery but there has been an unconfirmed report of a Japanese super battleship armed with 18” guns and oversized aircraft carriers. Again this is unconfirmed as both Britain and the US no longer have access to their agents in Japan since most of whom have either left the country, went into deep cover or have been reported rounded up by the Japanese secret police known as the Kempeitai.
If I John Reynolds, reporter for the Associated press would have an opinion I would speculate that at this moment it is the lull before the storm. Granted both Germany and Japan have made substantial gains in both Europe and Pacific it is of my opinion that the worst is yet to come. Although I have no influence with Allied High Command I would still suggest strongly that some action no how small in scope or imaginative it may be, be taken to either stem the tide or delay the inevitable. We as civilized nations must reach a point where we can turn the corner and take the battle to the enemy in order to do this we must build up our forces to where we have overwhelming strength. It will take time but in the end it will happen and when it does we will have the inevitable victory over our enemies.
After reading the article Commander Adam Wilkes took a deep breath and just sat back in his chair, his food and drink now stone cold.
“That must have been some
article Adam, you haven’t touched your food”
“Yes it was, you should read it”
“Maybe if you bring it with you I will later on. Let’s say you and I head into Honolulu for some action. Maybe we can find us some ladies and hookup”
“Why not we still have 18 hours on our liberty left”
“Okay’ I’ll call us a cab and we can go to the Black Cat Club, several officers here it is the place to go for some action”
“Do that and I’ll take care of the tab here”
Twenty minutes later a cab from the Oahu Cab company arrived and they got in. Within a short period of time they were at the entrance to the Black Cat Club”