Racing the Sunrise: Reinforcing America's Pacific Outposts, 1941-1942.

Author:Ellis, Steve
Position:Book review

Racing the Sunrise: Reinforcing America's Pacific Outposts, 1941-1942. By Glen M. Williford. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2010. Maps. Tables. Photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Index. PP. xvii, 394. $37.95 ISBN: 978-1-59114-956-9

For more than thirty years, Williford has studied and researched the coastal defense of the United States and its possessions. He also has investigated the importance of logistics. In this book he has concentrated his interests on the final months of peace and the first months of war. In 1941, coast-artillery units also handled land-based air defense. Thus, these units were deemed vital to the reinforcement of the Philippines. However, the work goes far beyond the desperate attempt to ship these specialized units more than 6,000 miles across the Pacific.

In the latter half of 1941, diplomatic tensions with Japan rose rapidly. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commanding the Commonwealth of the Philippines military forces, increased his requests for weapons, supplies, and men. Washington agreed. Whereas MacArthur for some inexplicable reason anticipated war with Japan no earlier than April 1942, others in Washington believed conflict was much more imminent. None, of course, anticipated the devastation of Pearl Harbor that would make large-scale reinforcement impossible after December 7.

Overcoming a shortage of shipping, the Army and Navy cobbled together one convoy after another. Without question, this is the strength of the work. Relying on information gleaned from the National Archives, Williford offers a detailed account of each convoy from September 1941 into early 1942. Despite overestimating the impact, planners recognized the flexibility of air power with the deployment of almost all available P-40 fighters and B-17 bombers.

As the title suggests, the work covers not only the Philippines, but also Hawaii and numerous smaller possessions (e.g., the Marine garrisons on Wake, Midway, Johnston, and Palmyra) as well as those of the British Commonwealth once the United States was at war.

Williford discusses in some...

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