Prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War, Guam was an island paradise for US Military and civilian employees stationed there. shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, however the Japanese invaded the tiny island, capturing almost 800 people, including 414 American military men and women. Japan's military force continued its sweep across the Pacific, crushing Hong Kong, Singapore, and Wake Island. By the second week of May 1942 the Japanese controlled the entire western Pacific. As a result more than 36,000 Americans would eventually be detained in Japanese military prisoner-of-war camps.
Thee loss of the small island of Guam was not front-page news. Its capture warranted a brief mention in the New York Times, and in the subsequent histories of the Pacific War the story of Guam's defenders is routinely overlooked -- yet their saga is one of the most heartbreaking and inspiring of the entire war. All of the American POWs of Guam were transported to Japan to be used a slaves for Japanese industries with such familiar names as Kawasaki, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi. Fueled by their hatred of the West, the Japanese exposed their captives to starvation, disease, and other brutalities that were part of the daily routine.
Editor Linda Goetz Holmes, noted historian of the Allied POW experience in the Pacific, finished the manuscript, after the author, Roger Mansell's death. She is the author of Guests of the Emperor: Secret History of Japan's Mukden POW Camp among many other books.
On Friday, December 7, the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Linda will discuss Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam at 3:00 pm in the library's new community room.