Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I watched WAKE ISLAND (1942) this afternoon. This  WWII film was directed by John Farrow (father of Mia) and starred Brian Donlevy, Albert Dekker, Robert Preston, William Bendix and MacDonald Carey. It tells the story of the battle of Wake Island, which took place in December 1941. The attack on Wake Island was the second major encounter between U.S. armed forces and Imperial Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. The film (using fictional characters) is a fairly accurate account of the attack on the tiny island by Japanese forces. The American defenders of the island included both U.S. Marines and civilians who were on the island doing construction work on a Pan-American Airlines hotel and landing strip. 

The film was made in 1942, just a few short months after the actual battle and it's a stirring piece of wartime propaganda. It leaves the impression that all of the defenders of Wake were killed to the last man by the Japanese when it fact, almost 100 men were taken prisoner after surrendering on December 23rd, 1941. Japanese forces held Wake Island for the duration of the war and surrendered control to U.S. forces in September 1945. 

One of the best books out there on the subject of Wake Island is entitled PACIFIC ALAMO: THE BATTLE FOR WAKE ISLAND by John Wukovits, published in 2003. I read it when it came out and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's an excellent historical account of the battle in which a small number of brave fighting men managed to hold off a sizable contingent of enemy forces for several days. Both the film and the book are highly recommended to WWII buffs. 

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