ASL Map Spotlight: The Battle of Wake Island

The Japanese Attempt To Secure Their Foothold In The Pacific After The Bombing Of Pearl Harbor

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Wake: Gallant Stand (Critical Hit)

Critical Hit produces modules based on some obscure and esoteric WW2 actions, and Wake: Gallant Stand is one of those. NOT that The Battle of Wake Island is obscure or esoteric, it certainly isn’t. It’s one of the first battles of World War 2 between Japan and the United States, kicking off just after the attack on Pearl Harbor. But Wake Island was primarily a naval engagement between onshore batteries and the Japanese navy, with the support of some remaining USMC F4F Wildcats. It wasn’t a massive amphibious invasion, only some 500 US military personel were on the island (USMC and Navy).

The Japanese invasion proper didn’t happen until the second assault, and the actual capture of the island only took about one day. This module depicts the second assault and invasion along the southern edge of the island

Wake Island Map

The Critical Hit map of Wake Island depicts only the southern edge as this is where the Japanese landing forces came ashore duing the final day of the seige, on 23 December 1941. Toward the east is most of the runways of the US garrison. Littered about the island are groups of destroyed F4F Wildcat planes.

Download the Wake Island VASL Map

Wake Island Map (Critical Hit)

By comparison, here’s a historical map of Wake Island (in its entirety). You can see the eastern portion of the Critical Hit map (where the runway exists) is a little more exaggerated than the historical map.

ASL Map Spotlight: The Battle of Wake Island
Wake Island Map Comparison (Wikimedia Commons/Critical Hit)

Here’s a summary of Japan’s efforts to seize Wake Island just after their attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Battle

The Battle of Wake Island, which took place in December 1941, was a significant conflict during the early stages of World War II in the Pacific theater. Wake Island, a small atoll located in the western Pacific Ocean, was a vital American military outpost and a key link in the U.S. defensive line against Japanese expansion in the Pacific region. The battle for Wake Island showcased the bravery and determination of the American and Allied forces stationed there, as they fiercely defended the island against overwhelming odds.

ASL Map Spotlight: The Battle of Wake Island
Entire Wake Island And Lagoon

In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese forces swiftly launched a series of coordinated attacks across the Pacific, targeting American and Allied territories. Wake Island, situated about 2,300 miles west of Hawaii, was among the initial targets due to its strategic location. The American military personnel on the island, numbering around 449 Marines, 68 sailors, and 1,221 civilian contractors, were commanded by Major James P.S. Devereux.

The battle began on December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese, well aware of the strategic importance of Wake Island, launched a massive aerial and naval assault. Despite being heavily outnumbered and outgunned, the American forces put up a spirited defense. Using a combination of anti-aircraft artillery and makeshift fortifications, they managed to inflict significant damage on the attacking Japanese planes and ships.

ASL Map Spotlight: The Battle of Wake Island
Destroyed USMC F4F Wildcats

Over the course of the next two weeks, the battle for Wake Island intensified. The American defenders, despite being under constant bombardment, continued to resist fiercely. They displayed remarkable courage and resourcefulness, repairing damaged aircraft, fortifications, and other military equipment under extremely challenging conditions. The Japanese, realizing that the American resistance was more stubborn than anticipated, decided to launch a full-scale invasion of the island.

ASL Map Spotlight: The Battle of Wake Island
Soldiers Raise the Japanese Flag Over The Garrison

On December 23, 1941, Japanese forces landed on Wake Island, initiating a brutal ground assault. The American defenders fought valiantly, engaging the Japanese troops in intense close-quarters combat. The battle raged on for several days, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. Despite their desperate situation, the American forces managed to hold out longer than expected, inflicting significant losses on the Japanese invaders.

However, the relentless onslaught eventually took its toll on the defenders. By December 24, the American personnel on the island were running low on ammunition, food, and medical supplies. The situation became increasingly dire as Japanese forces continued their assault. Realizing that further resistance would be futile, the American commander, Major Devereux, made the difficult decision to surrender on December 23, 1941.

The Battle of Wake Island had significant implications for both the United States and Japan. For the Americans, it became a symbol of courage and determination in the face of overwhelming odds. The heroic defense of Wake Island boosted morale on the home front and demonstrated the resilience of American forces in the Pacific theater. The battle also served as a rallying cry, inspiring further efforts to counter Japanese aggression in the region.

On the Japanese side, the victory at Wake Island provided a strategic advantage, allowing them to consolidate their control over the Pacific territories. However, the battle also highlighted the tenacity of American forces and foreshadowed the challenges that Japan would face in its quest for territorial expansion. The Battle of Wake Island served as a precursor to future conflicts in the Pacific, setting the stage for a prolonged and grueling war in the region.

.END OF BRIEFING.


ASL Map Spotlights are meant to be quick history lessons on available historical Advanced Squad Leader actions. These short articles are meant to highlight both a short history of the battle portrayed for players unfamiliar with the setting, as well as show the ASL map on which it plays out.


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