Home > Reviews > USA WWII > Campaign 139: Guam 1941 & 1944


Campaign 139: Guam 1941 & 1944

by Gordon L Rottman, illustrated by Howard Gerrard

Published by Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-84176-811-1, 96 pages.


Buy from amazon

While many modelers spend their money solely on technical reference works, many others also choose to read books devoted to the operational use of the models they build. The Osprey Campaigns series are perfectly tailored for those types of modelers, since the text, maps, charts, color artwork and contemporary photographs offer a balanced, easily digested look at various campaigns as well as the men and machines that fought in them.

This latest work fills another gap in the series’ efforts to describe in detail, the island-hopping campaigns fought by the US against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO). Guam, a US possession since the Spanish-American war, was taken by the Japanese in the first days of their rampage across Asia and the Pacific. The meager US and Guamanian forces offered token resistance, before surrendering the island to more than two and a half years of less-than-benevolent occupation by the forces of Imperial Japan. Later, in order to move B-29 bases to areas in the Pacific where they could be more easily supported for the aerial assault on the Japanese home islands, Saipan, Tinian and finally, Guam, was invaded by US forces in the summer of 1944.

TUsing concise text, 54 B&W photos, five conventional maps, 12 pages of color spread art (divided equally between CAD 3-D maps and battle vignettes), and charts, the author brings the story to life. There are the usual chapters devoted to the origins of the battle, the leaders, available forces and plans of the opposing belligerents, followed by descriptions of the actions as they unfolded. This is followed by details of the battle’s aftermath and a brief discussion on touring the battlefield today. There are also Orders-of-Battle (OOB) charts for the opposing forces, as well as a bibliography for those who wish to delve further into the subject.

The photographs are all of a general nature and show various aerial views of the island, as well as men and equipment in use during the 1944 battle. I noted that one photo had what seemed to be an early war German style jerrycan in the foreground, complete with embossed “X” and prominent weld seam. If it is indeed of German origin, one can only wonder how it ended up in the Pacific! The three pieces of color spread art depict a Japanese counter-attack that penetrated Marine lines, Army infantry working with M4 composite hull Sherman tanks and finally, a 155mm “Long Tom” gun in action. All should serve as inspiration for modelers. The conventional and 3-D maps all show the various actions as they related to terrain and time, thereby allowing the reader to more completely understand the phases of the battle.

Although the author is eminently qualified to tell this story, I feel that there are enough minor errors spread throughout the book to cause both he and his editors to be a bit more careful the next time around. For instance (sorry folks, but I was once employed as an editor; old habits die hard!), I noted the following:
Pg. 39: The chart detailing numbers and types of US AFVs used in the battle, contains several errors. For instance, the M7 105mm HMC and the M8 75mm HMC’s designations are reversed. The army used late M4 composite hull tanks on Guam, not M4A2s as the chart indicates (more on that later). There are some other glitches here, but of less importance.
Pg. 40: The text wrongly states that the Japanese Type 94 mortar was introduced in 1939, when it should be 1934 (or 2594, according to the Japanese calendar), as is correctly shown in the chart on page 41.
Pg. 44: There is a typo in the text where at one point it states the US landed on Guam on 21 July, but that there was a Japanese counter-attack on the night of 25-26 June. It should read, “25-26 July”.
Pg. 52: The photo depicts a General Motors TBM Avenger, not a Douglas SBD Dauntless, as the caption states.
Pg. 66-67: The spread art correctly depicts US Army M4 composite hull tanks, not M4A2s as the accompanying caption states; the same mistake is repeated on the caption accompanying the photo on pg. 80, and again in the OOB chart on page 90.
Pg. 82-83: The spread art depicts a 155mm “Long Tom” gun emplaced and in action. There are no spades fitted to the gun’s trails to keep it from displacing during firing. Call it artistic license, but modelers beware. The caption states the gun was towed by short-wheelbase GMC 2.5-ton trucks, which is unlikely since the traveling weight of the 155 (about 16-tons) exceeded the truck’s towing capacity. Again, modelers beware.
Pg. 87: A Japanese corporal, named Yokoi was the last hold-out on Guam. The text states that he surrendered in January of 1973; the bibliography lists his story as being published in London, in 1972.

Overall, however, this fine addition to the series should provide ample ideas for those who construct dioramas and vignettes, while also providing a healthy dose of history for those who have the interest.


Frank V. De Sisto

More details from Osprey Publishing

Read an extract at Osprey Publishing

Buy from amazon