7 October 1943 – 91 US Prisoners of War

As many as 91 US soldiers copped bullets today in what could have been a revenge attack during World War II.

The Japanese had the men executed on a war-torn island in the Pacific that was the subject of much wrangling between the two superpowers.

Wake Island comprised three islands, which offered a strong foothold to the Far East. And the battle for control was to prove bloody.

It became an unwitting pawn during the Second World War and started off in American hands as it offered them a defensive position from which to launch attacks. This was to prove handy when the Japs joined forces with the Nazis.

Bomb the base

In 1941–2 the Japanese launched an all-out attack on the island in order to break the stronghold, which worked and the US soldiers stationed there were forced to surrender. That said, the Japanese losses had also been heavy, so they were harsh with the resultant prisoners – soldiers who’d been based on the islands.

But the Americans weren’t about to walk away and the turning point came in July 1943 when US B-24 bombers attacked the island in a reprisal.

Naturally not ones just to sit back, the Japs marked their retalliation by turning their machine guns on 91 prisoners and the beleaguered Yanks were riddled with bullets on this day in 1943.

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