Sunday, October 07, 2018

Wake Island Massacre 75th Anniversary

Requiescat in pace


October 7th, is the 75th anniversary of the Wake Island Massacre. On this day in 1943, Rear Adm. Shigematsu Sakaibara, commander of the Japanese garrison on the island, ordered the execution of 98 Americans POWs, who had been civilian contractors building an airfield. They were part of the 1,150 civilian team  employed by the Morrison-Knudsen Company on Wake with 450 some Marines who fended off a Japanese Armada from December 12-23, 1941. This is a feat that was never accomplished before nor after.

Three platoons of  sailors mowed the POWs down with machine gun and rifle fire. The Americans then were dumped unceremoniously into the ditch and covered with coral sand. The indignity suffered by the prisoners was not complete, however. The following day, a report from an enlisted man that he saw one of the prisoners escape during the confusion of the massacre prompted the disinterment of the bodies. The corpses were dug up and counted, then hastily reburied. The sailor had been correct; one American was missing. That man, whose identity has not been discovered, was re-captured and was beheaded personally by Admiral Sakaibara three weeks later. [Hubbs]

But before he was murdered, he carved for all time on a large rock near the massacre, "98 US PW, 5-10-43".

Building for War: The Epic Saga of the Civilian Contractors and Marines of Wake Island in World War II by Bonita Gilbert (click to order)
Victory in Defeat: The Wake Island Defenders in Captivity, 1941-1945 by Prof. Greg Urwin, (click to order)
Massacre on Wake Island By Major Mark E. Hubbs, U.S. Army Reserve (Retired), Naval Inst Pres

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