Another story for Echo not to post about... Expensive conquest for the Japanese Wake Island was one of America's most westerly bases in the Pacific and therefore very exposed to Japanese attack. It was garrisoned by a Marine Defence Battalion which was heavily equipped, but, in December 1941, severely undermanned. Major James Devereux had only 388 Marines under his command. This was not even enough to man all the island's guns. The Japanese assault began with an air strike on 8th December 1941 which destroyed six of the island's 12 Wildcat fighters. After two more days of air attacks a Japanese invasion force came in sight at dawn on 11th December. It consisted of one modern and two obsolete light cruisers, six destroyers and four transports. The Japanese were so confident of an easy victory that they made no attempt at a preliminary bombardment. Because most of the island's rangefinders had been damaged by air attacks, Devereux allowed the Japanese ships to approach to within a few thousand yards before opening fire. Within half-an-hour the Japanese were in retreat, all three cruisers, three destroyers and two transports had been damaged and one destroyer sunk. Another destroyer was sunk by one of the Wildcats. An American force sailed from Hawaii to reinforce Wake but the attempt was abandoned as too dangerous. After several more days of bombing a second Japanese invasion approached the island. They did not risk another day-light encounter but landed in the early hours of 23rd December. The Japanese transports beached undetected, but then came under effective artillery fire. However the shortage of American infantry now made itself obvious. There was no way of preventing the Japanese troops from infiltrating over the island. By dawn the defenders were still holding out but they were split into isolated pockets and could not communicate with each other. Major Devereux and Commander Cunningham, the senior naval officer, decided that continued resistance was pointless. At 0800 hours on 23rd December Devereux surrendered the island, although it was several hours before this order could be passed to all the Marine detachments. The defence of Wake, however, was a morale-raising contrast to the easy Japanese sucesses elsewhere.