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Battle of Wake Island

The Battle of Wake Island begins simultaneously with the Attack on Pearl Harbor (Wake being on the opposite side of the International Date Line) and ends on December 23, 1941, with the surrender of the American forces to the Japanese.

What do you know about the Wake Island?
Try this World War II History Quiz.
"Check Your Answers" at the bottom of the page.

Alan's Dad (WW2 Vet) - Trivia powered by ABE1) On August 19, the first permanent military garrison, under strength elements of the 1st Marine Defense Battalion, totaling 450 officers and men, are stationed on the island, under Major James P.S. Devereux. Also present on the island are 68 U.S. Navy personnel and about 1,221 civilian workers.

  • True or False?

2) On November 28, 1941, a U.S. Navy Commander reports to Wake to assume overall command of U.S. forces on the island. He has less than two weeks to examine defenses and assess his men before war began.
Who is the U.S. Navy Commander?

  • Winfield S. Cunningham
  • Douglas P. Jones
  • Marshall G. Mannington
  • Robert J. Baker

3) On December 8, 1941, the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor (Wake being on the opposite side of the International Date Line), 36 Japanese Mitsubishi G3M bombers flown from bases on the Marshall Islands attack Wake Island, destroying eight of the twelve fighter aircraft belonging to Marine Corps fighter squadron VMF-211 on the ground.
What is the fighter aircraft?

  • F4F-3 Wildcat
  • G5G-5 Wondercat
  • K2K-10 Hoppy
  • F-10 Boeing

4) Early on the morning of December 11, the garrison, with the support of the four remaining fighters, repels the first Japanese landing attempt by the South Seas Force, which include the light cruisers Yubari, Tenryu, and Tatsuta; the destroyers Yayoi, Mutsuki, Kisaragi, Hayate, Oite, and Asanagi; two Momi class destroyers converted to patrol boats (Patrol Boat No. 32 and Patrol Boat No. 33), and two troop transport ships containing 450 Special Naval Landing Force troops.
Which becomes the first Japanese surface warship to be sunk during World War II?

  • Mutsuki
  • Kisaragi
  • Hayate
  • Tenryu

5) The initial resistance offered by the garrison prompts the Japanese Navy to detach two aircraft carriers (Soryu and Hiryu) from the force that attacked Pearl Harbor to support the second landing attempt.

  • True or False?

6) The projected U.S. relief attempt by Admiral Frank Fletcher's Task Force 11 (TF-11) and supported Admiral Wilson Brown's Task Force 14 (TF-14) consists of the fleet carrier Saratoga, the fleet oiler USNS Neches, the seaplane tender Tangier, the cruisers Astoria, Minneapolis, and San Francisco, and ten destroyers. The convoy carries the 4th Marine Defense Battalion, the VMF-221 fighter squadron equipped with F2A Brewster Buffalo fighters, along with 9,000 five-inch rounds, 12,000 three-inch rounds, and 3,000,000 .50 cal. rounds as well as a large amount of ammunition for mortars and other battalion small arms. On December 22 at 21:00, after receiving information indicating the presence of two IJN carriers and two fast battleships near Wake Island the Acting Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, orders TF-14 to return to Pearl Harbor for fear of losses.
Who is the Acting Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet?

  • Vice Admiral William S. Pye
  • Vice Admiral Robert G. Crosby
  • Vice Admiral Maynard G. Ferguson
  • Vice Admiral Robert Collins, Jr.

7) The second Japanese invasion force comes on December 23, composed mostly of the same ships from the first attempt with some new additions, plus 1,500 Japanese marines. The landings begins after a preliminary bombardment.
What time did the invasion begin?

  • 12:35
  • 02:35
  • 08:35
  • 22:35

8) Who is the pilot from VMF-211, awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his action on the island during the second landing attempt, having shot down two Japanese A6M Zero fighters, and sunk the Japanese destroyer Kisaragi?

  • Captain Robert G. Armstrong
  • Captain Henry T. Elrod
  • Captain Joseph Walker
  • Captain Randy Boone

9) The U.S. Marines loose 47 killed and 2 MIA during the entire 15-day siege, while three U.S. Navy personnel and at least 70 civilians are killed. Japanese losses are recorded at between 700 to 900 killed, with at least 300 more wounded, in addition to the two destroyers lost in the first invasion attempt and at least 28 land-based and carrier aircraft either shot down or damaged. The Japanese capture all men remaining on the island, the majority are civilian contractors.
The civilian contractors are employed with what company?

  • George Penny Construction
  • Morrison-Knudsen Company
  • Elrod Hubbard Company
  • Macon-Jones Company

10) On October 5, 1943, American naval aircraft from USS Yorktown raided Wake. Two days later, fearing an imminent invasion, Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara orders the execution of the 98 captured American civilian workers remaining on the island, kept to perform forced labor. They are taken to the northern end of the island, blindfolded and executed with a machine gun. One of the prisoners (whose name has never been discovered) escapes the massacre, apparently returning to the site to carve the message 98 US PW 5-10-43 on a large coral rock near where the victims has been hastily buried in a mass grave. The unknown American is recaptured, and Sakaibara personally beheads him with a katana. The inscription on the rock can still be seen and is a Wake Island landmark.

  • True or False?

11) The remaining Japanese garrison surrenders to a detachment of United States Marines. The handover of Wake is officially conducted in a brief ceremony aboard the USS Levy (DE-162).
What is the date?

  • August 4, 1945
  • September 4, 1945
  • October 4, 1945
  • November 4, 1945

12) After the war, Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara and his subordinate, Lieutenant-Commander Tachibana, are innocent of war crimes. Several Japanese officers in American custody have committed suicide over the incident, leaving written statements that claim Sakaibara innocents.

  • True or False?

13) Like many of the Wake Island POWs, he is relocated to China for forced labor for the Japanese army. In 1945 he is traveling on a Japanese train as a work detail from Shanghai, when he escapes by jumping off the train when Japanese guards are not looking. He reluctantly meets up with Chinese Communist soldiers. After 10 weeks of traveling with the Chinese Communists in northern China, he is able to contact American military forces, who call for a plane to pick him up and bring him to an American base in northern China. Before he leaves China he meets Mao Zedong who gives him a gift of Chinese rugs and told him he is the only POW who has successfully come through north China.
Who is the escaped POW?

  • William L. Taylor
  • Jack Hernandez
  • Bill Sloan
  • Gregory J.W. Uwrin

14) On February 24, 1942, aircraft from the carrier Enterprise attack the Japanese garrison on Wake Island. United States forces bombs the island periodically from 1942 until Japan's surrender in 1945. On July 8, 1943, B-24 Liberators in transit from Midway Island struck the Japanese garrison on Wake Island.
Who also conducts his first mission as an aviator over Wake Island?

  • Clint Eastwood
  • Barry Goldwater
  • George H. W. Bush
  • John McCain

More World War 2 History Made Easy

Battle of Wake Island

  1. True
  2. Winfield S. Cunningham
  3. F4F-3 Wildcat
  4. Hayate
  5. True
  6. Vice Admiral William S. Pye
  7. 02:35
  8. Captain Henry T. Elrod
  9. Morrison-Knudsen Company
  10. True
  11. September 4, 1945
  12. False. After the war, Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara and his subordinate, Lieutenant-Commander Tachibana, are sentenced to death for the massacre and other war crimes.  Several Japanese officers in American custody had committed suicide over the incident, leaving written statements that incriminated Sakaibara. Tachibana's sentence is later commuted to life in prison. (Admiral Sakaibaral is hanged on June 18, 1947.)
  13. William L. Taylor
  14. George H. W. Bush

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