The War in the Pacific
1941: Fateful and Tragic Year

Spirit of Remembrance

Surrender of Guam to the Japanese

Guam's Insular Forces

Pre-War Guam

An Ode to Unsung Heroes

The Defense of Guam
The Report of George J. McMillin, Captain, USN

The text of Governor McMillin's report is reprinted from the Guam Recorder, Published by the University of Guam, Micronesian Area Research Center, Agana, Guam, Vol.2, No.2-3 April-September 1972.

Governor McMillin and family
Governor McMillin and his family at the Governor's Palace, Plaza de Espana. Governor McMillin was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese and with the other military people and stateside contract workers was shipped January 10, 1942, to a Japanese prisoner of war camp until war's end.

11 September 1945

From: Captain G. J. McMillin, U.S. Navy
To: The Secretary of the Navy

1. On 8 December 1941, I was serving as Governor of Guam and Commandant of the Naval Station, Guam.

2. At about 0600, on 10 December 1941, I surrendered the island and military and naval forces located there to the senior officer present, Imperial Japanese Forces in Guam (Enclosure 1).

3. Since that time, and until 20 August 1945, when we were in formed by Russian forces occupying the Mukden, Manchuria area that we were free, I have been a prisoner of war in Japanese hands. A report of my prisoner of war experience will be made in separate correspondence. The following report on the circumstances of the surrender of Guam is made from memory more than three and one-half years after the event. All notes made at the time were destroyed when the Japanese started periodic searches of personal effects, generally removing written matter. Dates and times mentioned are Guam dates and times.

4. The political situation in the Pacific was assumed to be tense during the summer of 1941. After an effort extending over several months, arrangements were finally made to evacuate all dependents, including civilians, from Guam. This evacuation was completed on 17 October 1941, with one exception, Mrs. J. A. Hellmers, the wife of John Anthony Hellmers, Chief Commissary Steward, U.S. Navy. Mrs. Hellmers, was expecting to be confined for childbirth before the transport "HENDERSON" was due in San Francisco. All precautions were taken to be prepared to carry out the mission as signed to the Station, and to prevent surprise. The Station ship "GOLD STAR" was in the southern Philippines, and on the day preceding the start of hostilities was loaded and ready to proceed for Guam. On 7 December the Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet ordered the ship to delay sailing for Guam on account of the serious international situation. A warning message was received from the Department about 4 December. This was the first information from the Navy Department regarding the international situation. On 6 December classified matter was destroyed by burning, in accordance with the instructions received from the Navy Department.

5. About 0545, 8 December, a message was received which had been originated by the Commander in Chief, Asiatic fleet, to the effect that Japan had commenced hostilities by attacking Pearl Harbor, prior to a declaration of war. Steps were taken immediately to evacuate the civil population from Agana, and from the vicinity of possible military objectives, in accordance with a plan previously prepared. All Japanese nationals were arrested at once, and confined in jail. All navigation lights were ordered extinguished. Schools were suspended, and church gatherings prohibited. The civil population had been previously instructed about what they should do in air raids. The Bank of Guam was ordered to remain closed. All activities were ordered to take station for carrying out the assigned mission, but instructions were issued that no destruction was to start without specific orders from Government House, or when it was definitely apparent that the Japanese were on the Island.


Government House, Guam
10 December 1941

From: Governor of Guam
To: Senior Officer Present, Commanding Imperial Japanese Forces in Guam.

Subject: Surrender

1. I, Captain George J. McMillin, United States Naval Station, Guam, by authority of my commission from the President of the United States, do, as a result of superior military forces landed on Guam this date, as an act of war, surrender this post to you as the representative of the Imperial Japanese Government.

2. The responsibility of the civil government of Guam becomes yours as of the time of signing this document.

3. I have been assured by you that the civil rights of the population of Guam will be respected and that the military forces surrendered to you will be accorded all the rights stipulated by International Law and the laws of humanity.

(S) G. J. McMillin


"We proclaim herewith that our Japanese Army has occupied this island of Guam by order of the Great Emperor of Japan. It is for the purpose of restoring liberty and rescuing the whole Asiatic people and creating the permanent peace in Asia. Thus our intention is to establish the New Order of the World.

You all good citizens need not worry anything under the regulations of our Japanese authorities and my (sic) enjoy your daily life as we guarantee your lives and never distress nor plunder your property. In case, however, when use demand you (sic) accommodations necessary for our quarters and lodgings, you shall meet promptly with our requirements. In that case our Army shall not fail to pay you in our currency.

Those you conduct any defiance and who act spy (sic) against our enterprise, shall be court martialled and the Army shall take strict care to execute said criminals by shooting!

Dated this 10th day of December 2601 in Japanese calendar or by this 10th day of December, 1941. By order of the Japanese Commander-in-Chief."

6. The U.S.S. PENQUIN had been on patrol off the Harbor entrance during the night. This nightly patrol of the PENQUIN or a Y.P. boat had been in effect for about six months. The PENQUIN was informed by radio, and instructed to remain outside the harbor prepared for air raids.

USS Penguin
The USS Penguin was nicknamed the "Old Duck" and after the message that war had begun was carried to it by motor launch because the radio was out, the skipper ordered the flag flown upside down. Shortly thereafter, as the Penguin steamed for the mouth of the harbor, Japanese planes attacked the ship, swamping her. But she sank because the men scuttled her and swam for shore. A crew member Edward Neal Howard, WT2c, remembers watching the Penguin go down. "The last thing that went down was the American flag. It was like a fantasy world. This isn't happening, this couldn't happen. No one would ever attack the USS Penguin or any other ship. It was just all unreal. We went through the motions and started to swim to get back to shore and from then on it was just unreal."

7. The Insular Force Guard (about 80 natives of Guam), a force that was authorized for enlistment in April 1941, were assembled in the Guard Headquarters on the Plaza in Agana. The U.S. Marines (less than 50 on duty on patrol stations throughout the island, plus police and Government House detail) were at the Marine Barracks, Sumay.

8. Enemy planes appeared from the direction of Saipan shortly after eight o'clock, and the first bombs were dropped on the Marine Reservation and vicinity at 0827. The Marines were in the barracks, or on their normal duties throughout the post. Several were injured running across the golf course, for protection in the surrounding thickets. The Pan Air Hotel kitchen received a direct hit, and several native employees were killed. An attack was made on the U.S.S. PENQUIN outside the Harbor: the ship was gallantly fought, but was soon in a sinking condition. Ensign White, U.S.N.R., was killed by machine gun fire at his station on the anti-aircraft gun. The PENQUIN had the only guns on the Station larger than a .30 caliber machine gun. The ship was abandoned in a sinking condition, and sank in deep water off Orote Point. There several men were injured, but all of the crew succeeded in getting ashore on life rafts, bringing Ensign White's body with them. The Captain, Lieutenant J. W. Haviland, 3rd U.S.N., was wounded. A complete list of the dead and wounded is attached (Enclosure 2). The Navy Yard, Piti, was badly strafed and bombed, with considerable damage to material. The U.S.S. ROBERT L. BARNES was strafed and bombed at her buoy in the Harbor. Several leaks were started in her hull. The radio station at Libugon was strafed and bombed during the day. One bomb wrecked a civilian house near the Naval Hospital, and not far from Government House. The house had been occupied by Tweed, G.R., radioman first class U.S. Navy. The greatest number of planes seen at one time during the day was nine. They generally came in at an altitude of about 1500 feet.

9. Bombing was discontinued about 1700, and not resumed until about 0830 the following day. A report came in that a native dugout had landed about daybreak near Ritidian Point, the northern end of the island, and that about eight Japanese from Rota had entered the island. The patrol and police arrested and brought the men who admitted that they were natives of Saipan, that they had relatives in Guam, and that the Japanese had sent them over to act as interpreters when the Japanese landing force arrived. These men were identified by reliable natives of Guam as residents of Saipan. The men said the Japanese would make their landing the next morning (Tuesday), in the vicinity of Recreation Beach, to the eastward of Agana. This proved correct, except that the landing was made on Wednesday, 10 December. I asked these men why they gave me this information. They replied to the effect that the Japanese had treated the natives of Saipan like slaves, and that they were determined to tell what they knew, even though they would be shot should the Japanese find out about it. I was not inclined to accept the story at the time since I thought it might be a trick to have the Marines moved from Sumay to the Beach during the night, in order that they might make a landing in the Apra Harbor area without opposition. The three informers were locked up in jail, where the Japanese found them two days later.

10. Bombing continued on Tuesday, [9] December. No surface ships were seen until the next day when the landing was made. Considerable additional material damage was done at the Marine Reservation, Pan Air Installation, Standard Oil tanks (which were set on fire by bombs on Monday, [8] December), the Navy Yard, Piti, and Libugon. Lookout stations at Ritidian Point were machine gunned, also the villages of Dededo, Inarajan, Merizo, and Umatac. A bomb possibly intended for Government House, or the Communications Office, struck the old Spanish house across a narrow street from the jail, where all the Japanese residents were confined. The house was demolished and the Japanese were badly shaken, but they were protected by the concrete walls of the jail. They begged to be released, but were kept in confinement until the invading force released them the following day. During the bombings, the planes were kept under fire as much as possible by .30 caliber machine guns and rifles. There were reports of planes being damaged and shot down, but none of these reports were verified. Another bomb wrecked a civilian house about fifty yards to the eastward of Government House. An other fell in the Government House gardens.

11. The U.S. Marines at the Marine Barracks, Sumay, took up a field position in the butts of the rifle range, under the Command of Lieutenant Colonel William K. MacNulty, U.S.M.C.

The Insular Force Guard stood their ground, and opened up a fire with machine guns and rifles hot enough to halt the invading force for a short time.

12. About 0400 on Wednesday, 10 December, I was informed by the watch that flares had been seen in the vicinity of the beach to the eastward of Agana (Recreation Beach, Dungas Beach), and it was thought landing operations were in progress. There were no defenses at this point, or at any other point on the land. Orders were immediately sent to all station to carry out the mission assigned. About 0445, shooting was heard in the San Antonio district (east of the Plaza), and fires were observed. The Insular Force Guard took up defense positions in the Plaza, with no equipment except a few .30 caliber machine guns and rifles. The Japanese approached rapidly through the San Antonio district, and approached the Plaza on the narrow street along side the Naval Hospital and Cathedral. The Insular Force Guard stood their ground, and opened up a fire with machine guns and rifles hot enough to halt the invading force for a short time. The situation was simply hopeless, resistance had been carried to the limit. At about 0545, three blasts were sounded on the horn of an automobile which was standing in front of Government House. This was not a prearranged signal to cease fire, but it seemed to have been understood by both sides, and the firing stopped immediately. The Japanese shouted across the Plaza from the Cathedral, "Send over your Captain." Commander Donald T. Giles, the aide for civil affairs to the Governor, and Chief Boatswain's Mate Robert Bruce Lane, U.S. Navy, stepped out. They were marched through the San Antonio district, and made contact with the Commander of the Naval landing force, returning about a half hour later to the Plaza with the Commander.

13. I was captured in the Reception Room of my quarters about twenty minutes after the cease firing signal. The leader of the squad of Japanese who entered my quarters required mine to remove my jacket and trousers be fore marching me into the Plaza, where officers and men were being assembled, covered by machine guns.

14. At about 0645, Commander D.T. Giles, returned with the Japanese officer to the assembled group in the Plaza.

U.S. Marine Barracks
The U.S. Marine Barracks on the cliff above Sumay were bombed and strafed during the December 8 attack. Sumay resident Jesus C. Lizama recalls the reaction of the marines. "The marines are running out with their skivvies shirts and underwear and rifles and they start shooting. Some of them are standing up, some lying down and they're shooting up at the plane because the plane is so low. It's coming over the hill and I can see the pilot inside the plane."

The Insular Force Guard stood their ground in their short action in the Plaza, until they were called back. I consider that these fine natives are entitled to recognition for the showing they made on this occasion.

15. Commander Giles identified me as the Governor for Guam. The Japanese Commander, Commander Giles, and myself entered Government House. Members of the Japanese guard were armed with rifles and fixed bayonets. None of the Japanese group spoke English. I was able to indicate to that the Japanese local residents were confined in the jail across the Plaza. Shinahara, Shimizu, and Mrs. Sawada were sent for. Mrs. Sawada was very emotional and in tears, Shinahara did the interpreting. The Japanese officer identified himself as Commander Hayashi, Imperial Japanese Navy. After a short discussion, he asked if I was ready to sign papers. I told him I was prepared to surrender the post, and after further discussion, I wrote and signed a letter of surrender, (Enclosure 1). Shinahara informed mine that I was to remain in Government House until further orders. I remained there with Commander Giles and Chief Yeoman Fariss, until about 2030, without food. About 2030, Commander Giles and myself were ordered to leave immediately for the Naval Hospital, and were permitted to take a few toilet articles. I found that the Guam officers were assembled there at the Suzana Hospital. Two days later, officers were removed, and confined in the K.C.K. Catholic Church Building. I was permitted to remain at the hospital. The others in the hospital group were Captain Lineberry, Medical Corps, Medical Officer in Commander Naval Hospital; Lieutenant Commanders H. J. Van Peenen, and T. I. Moe, Medical Corps; Commander D. T. Giles, and Pharmacist Daul.

16. A description of the period of confinement in Guam, as a prisoner of war, will be submitted in separate correspondence. The magazine at the Marine Barracks was destroyed; at the Pan Air Installation about 4,000 barrels of gasoline fell into the hands of the Japanese because the adjoining Standard Oil tank installation was on fire, and these Pan Air tanks could not be reached. The Quartermaster's Storehouse and contents were burned. Considerable damage to the storehouse and stores had been done at the Navy Yard, Piti. One of the Y. P. boats was destroyed by fire, and the other practically so. The motive power of the small craft had been generally destroyed. The U.S.S. ROBERT L. BARNES was damaged and leaking considerably, but had not sunk. The 25,000 barrel fuel oil tank which had been completed a short time before had been filled with fuel from various sources. No oil had been used from the tank because the piping had not been completed. The tank was set on fire and destroyed by H. H. Sachers, a civilian employee of the Public Works Department. A recommendation will be written under separate cover on Sacher's action in this case. The automotive transportation on the island fell in the hands of the Japanese practically in tact. The large Diesel trucks which were used by the contractors were destroyed.

Plaza de Espana
The Plaza de Espana as it looked prior to the outbreak of World War II.

17. The Insular Force Guard, which had been organized beginning in April 1941, proved themselves to be a valuable asset, even though they were green troops. They stood their ground in their short action in the Plaza, until they were called back. I consider that these fine natives are entitled to recognition for the showing they made on this occasion. A list of all naval personnel serving in Guam on 8 December 1941, is attached hereto as Enclosure 3. A list of all the casualties, dead, wounded, and missing, is attached as Enclosure 2.

18. It is estimated that the Japanese landing force consisted of a naval battalion (first wave) of about 600 men, followed by Army troops of the strength of a reinforced brigade (about 5,000 troops).

19. Officers and men assigned to the Stations on this occasion generally performed their duties in a satisfactory manner. Recommendations for special mention where such is considered war ranted, will be made under separate cover.

G. J. McMillin, Captain,
U.S. Navy