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Battle of Guam (1941)
Guam, Mariana Islands, Pacific Ocean

Guam 1941Campaign: Pacific War Campaign (December 7, 1941 September 2, 1945)

Date(s): December 8 - 10, 1941

Principal Commanders: George J. McMillin [US]; Tomitaro Horii [Japan]

Forces Engaged: Land: 547 marines, sailors Sea: 1 minesweeper, 2 patrol boats, 1 freighter [US]; Land: 5,900 infantry, marines Sea: 4 heavy cruisers, 4 destroyers, 2 gunboats, 6 submarine chasers, 2 minesweepers, 2 tenders Air: unknown air forces [Japan]

Estimated Casualties: 17 killed, 35 wounded, 406 captured, 1 minesweeper scuttled, 1 patrol boat scuttled, 1 patrol boat captured,1 freighter damaged [US]; 1 killed, 6 wounded, 1 aircraft destroyed [Japan]; Thirteen Americans civilians and five POWs were killed by Japanese forces during the battle. Three Japanese infiltrators were captured by American forces but were released upon the surrender of the island.

Description: At 04:45 on December 8, the Governor of the island, George McMillin was informed about the attack on Pearl Harbor. At 08:27, Japanese aircraft from Saipan attacked the Marine Barracks, the Piti Navy Yard, Libugon radio station, Standard Oil Company, and the Pan American Hotel. During the air attack, the minesweeper USS Penguin, the largest navy vessel at the island, was sunk after shooting down an airplane. One officer was killed and several men wounded. The air raids all over Guam continued into the morning and afternoon before subsiding at 17:00.

The next day at 08:30, Japanese air attacks resumed, with no more than nine aircraft attacking at a time. The same targets as the previous day were attacked, and also the Government House in Agana and several villages. That evening, a Japanese invasion fleet of four heavy cruisers, four destroyers, two gunboats, and six submarine chasers, two minesweepers, and two tenders left Saipan for Guam. A mistake in their intelligence gathering had caused the Japanese to over commit resources and attack Guam with disproportionate force.

The Japanese landed about 400 troops of the 5th Defense Force from Saipan on Guam on 10 December 10, 1941 at Dungcas Beach, north of Agana. They attacked and quickly defeated the Insular Force Guard in Agana. They then advanced on Piti, moving toward Sumay and the Marine Barracks. The principal engagement took place on Agana's Plaza de Espana at 04:45 when a few Marines and Insular Force Guardsmen fought with the Japanese naval soldiers. After token post invasion resistance, the Marines on Governor McMillin's orders surrendered at 05:45. Governor McMillin officially surrendered at 06:00. A few skirmishes took place all over the island before news of the surrender spread and the rest of the island forces laid down their arms. The American patrol boat YP-16 was scuttled by means of fire during the event and YP-17 was captured by Japanese naval forces. An American freighter was damaged by the Japanese.

In the meantime the Japanese South Seas Detached Force (about 5,500 men) under the command of Major-General Tomitarō Horii made separate landings at Tumon Bay in the north, on the southwest coast near Merizo, and on the eastern shore of the island at Talafofo Bay.

U.S. Marine losses were 5 killed and 13 wounded (including the prior Japanese air assault of the island, the Marines' losses were 13 dead and 37 wounded.  The U.S. Navy lost 8 killed, The Guam Insular Force Guards lost 4 killed and 22 wounded. One Japanese naval soldier was killed and 6 wounded.

Pfc Kauffman was killed by the Japanese after the surrender.

Result(s): Japanese victory

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