War in the Pacific: The First Year
A Guide to
the War in
the Pacific
History of Outbreak

Pre-War Guam: 1941

The Insular Force Guard

Japan's Pacific Gamble

The Chamorro

Sailors and Ships


War in the Pacific: Outbreak of the War

U.S. Navy: Sailors and Ships

The U.S. Navy sailor represents many who were initially involved in the attacks in the Pacific Theater. The uniform consisted of Navy dress shirt and pants, and work-detail dungarees. Weapons issued included the 1903 Springfield bolt-action rifle of vintage World War I times. Besides manning naval vessels, U.S. sailors were charged with defending naval ports, air stations, and fuel depots.

At the time of the December 8, 1941, attack the total U.S. naval strength consisted of four vessels.

The USS Robert L. Barnes, a decommissioned oil storage vessel, was referred to as the "USS Never Move" by local residents since it never left its Apra Harbor mooring. The Barnes received substantial damage from the bombing and strafing, but did not sink. The Barnes was later captured and taken into Japanese service.

USS Penguin
The minesweeper USS Penguin was attacked by Japanese aircraft on the first day of the war.

The mine sweeper, USS Penguin, was attacked outside Apra Harbor by Japanese aircraft. The crew fought valiantly, but the ship was eventually abandoned and later scuttled. During the fight, Ensign White, U.S.N.R., was killed by machine gun fire and the ship's commander, Lieutenant J.W. Haviland III, U.S.N., was wounded. The Penguin had the only guns on Guam larger than .30-caliber.

YP-16 and YP-17 patrol boats provided naval surveillance and reconnaissance off Guam waters.

With the exception of six U.S. Navy men, American military personnel and members of the Insular Force Guard were held in the Agana Cathedral or Dorn Hall. On January 10,1942, 242 Marines, 159 Navy men, five nurses, as well as, a number of civilians were forced to board the Argentina Maru in Piti for prisoner-of-war camps in Japan.

The six men who decided to hide in the thick jungles rather than surrender to the Japanese; five were eventually captured and executed. George Tweed, a U.S. Navy radioman and one of the original six men, managed to survive with the help of local Chamorros. They moved him from village to village, sometimes endangering their own families for his protection. The Japanese knew that an unknown American could not hide without some form of help. Consequently, Chamorro suspects were questioned, tortured, and beheaded. Despite the horrific abuses, Chamorros loyal to the United States protected Tweed, as he represented the spirit of America and of America's return. The radioman managed to covertly endure through out the two and one-half years of occupation.

Piti Navy Yard
This 1938 photograph shows the Piti Navy Yard as it might have looked during the outbreak of hostilities. The Guam Militia musters at right.