First Battle of Wake Island
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Memorial to the battle provided by Mike Baker


8 December 1941


24th December


Wake Island


Japanese Victory


Empire of Japan

United States


Sadamichi Kajioka

Winfield S. Cunningham


(first wave)
3 Destroyers
3 Light Cruisers
3 Patrol Boats
2000+ soldiers
(second wave)
2 Battleships
1 Heavy Cruiser
1 Light Cruiser
4 Destroyers
6000+ soldiers

1,200 Marines
1,000+ non combat forces
12 F2F Wildcats



Whole battalion KIA or POW, 12 aircraft lost, all civilian workers captured.


After being bombed from the first day of hostilities, Wake Island faced several attacks throughout December.

On the 10th an attack was repulsed with heavy losses to the Japanese. USS Lexington was able to provide support, sinking several of the transports landing on the island. Heavy bombing continued over the next week until the airfield was unusable and the fighters withdrawn.

GH and Nimitz decided not to risk the valuable carrier fleet before knowing tha capabilities of the Japanese.

The Marines at Wake fought another desperate defence on Christmas Eve, but with the combined firepower of the battleships Fuso and Ise, the heavy cruiser Maya and the light cruiser Naka there was little they could do. A full 10% of the garrison was killed by the initial bombardment with the remainder unable to oppose the landings directly. The Japanese poured ashore and while they took heavy losses, they pushed the Americans out of their defences within 3 hours.

The 1st Marine Defence Battalion would not be celebrating Christmas 1941 as free men.

Alternate history picture by Mike Baker

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