James Devereux

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Not to be confused with Jim Devereux.
James Devereux
James Patrick Sinnott Devereux.jpg
James P.S. Devereux
Birth name James Patrick Sinnott Devereux
Born (1903-02-20)February 20, 1903
Cabana, Cuba
Died August 5, 1988(1988-08-05) (aged 85)
Baltimore, Maryland
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1923–1948
Rank Brigadier General
Commands held Marine defense regiment at Wake Island
Battles/wars Banana Wars
World War II
*Battle of Wake Island
Awards Navy Cross
Other work U.S. Representative, Maryland (1951–1959)

James Patrick Sinnott Devereux (February 20, 1903 – August 5, 1988) was a United States Marine Corps general, Navy Cross recipient, and Republican congressman. He was the Commanding Officer of the 1st Defense Battalion during the defense of Wake Island in December 1941. He was captured on Wake Island as a prisoner of war, along with his men, after a 15-day battle with the Japanese. After his release in September 1945, he concluded his military career in 1948 and represented the second congressional district of the state of Maryland in the United States House of Representatives for four terms from 1951–1959. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election as Governor of Maryland in 1958.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Devereux was born in Cabana, Cuba, where his father, an Army surgeon, was stationed. In 1910, the family moved to Chevy Chase, Maryland. There, Devereux, one of ten children, rode to the hounds in Rock Creek Park and played polo. At age 10 he obtained a driver's license from the District of Columbia, which had no age requirement at the time.

Devereux also attended the Army and Navy Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., the Tome School at Port Deposit, Maryland, LaVilla in Lausanne, Switzerland (when his parents lived in Vienna, Austria), and Loyola College of Baltimore, Maryland.

Marine Corps career[edit]

Devereux enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in July 1923 at age 20, was commissioned a second lieutenant in February 1925, and then was assigned to duty in Norfolk, Virginia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Marine Barracks at Quantico, Virginia, and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 1926, he was detailed to the mail guard detachment in New York and later was transferred to the force of Marines in Nicaragua as a company officer.

Returning to the United States early in 1927, he was assigned to the USS Utah and subsequently was transferred ashore again to Nicaragua. Shortly thereafter he was ordered to the Orient and while in China was promoted to first lieutenant. Other duty in China included command of the Mounted Detachment of the Legation Guard at Peking.

In 1933, following a year's tour of duty at Quantico, he was assigned to the Coast Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia. Following his promotion to captain in December 1935, he was ordered back to Quantico, where, until 1936, he instructed in the Base Defense Weapons School and aided in the preparation of a Marine Corps manual on Base Defense Weapons.

In 1938, following a tour of duty with the Marine Detachment on board the USS Utah, Devereux was transferred to the Marine Corps Base at San Diego.

Defense of Wake Island[edit]

Main article: Battle of Wake Island

In January 1941, Devereux was ordered to Pearl Harbor and later assumed command of the First Marine Defense Battalion on Wake Island. On the morning of December 8, 1941, he received the message that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese. In the fight that followed, then-major Devereux and his men damaged two cruisers, sank two destroyers, one escort vessel, and destroyed or damaged a total of 72 aircraft, and probably sank one submarine. Two more destroyers were damaged the last day. After days of bitter fighting, the 449 Marines surrendered to the Japanese on December 23, 1941.

Prisoner of war[edit]

Maj Devereux, as POW in Shanghai, c. 1942.

After his capture, he remained on Wake Island until January 12, 1942 when he was sent away with his men on the Nita Maru. He stopped at Yokohama, where some American officers debarked, but later arrived at Woosung, China, located downriver from Shanghai, on January, 24. He remained there until December 9, 1942, when he was transferred to Kiangwan, where he spent 29 months imprisoned. For five weeks, he stayed at Fungtai, near Peiping, and then was transferred to camps in central Hokkaidō.

Devereux was released from the Hokkaidō Island prison camp on September 15, 1945.[1]

After World War II[edit]

After a brief rehabilitation leave, he was assigned as a student in the Senior Course at the Amphibious Warfare School at Quantico from September 1946 to May 1947. Upon completion of his studies, he was detached to the First Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California, and was serving with that organization when he concluded his 25-year career on August 1, 1948. In 1947, his book, Story of Wake Island, was published.

Devereux was advanced to the rank of brigadier general upon retirement in accordance with law, having been specially commended for the performance of duty in actual combat. For his leadership in defending the tiny American outpost for 15 days against overwhelming odds, Devereux was awarded the Navy Cross. His citation reads,

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Major James Patrick Sinnott Devereux, United States Marine Corps, for distinguished and heroic conduct in the line of his profession, as Commanding Officer of the First Marine Defense Battalion, Naval Air Station, Wake Island. Major Devereux was responsible for directing defenses of that post during the Japanese siege from 7 through December 22, 1941, against impossible odds. Major Devereux's inspiring leadership and the valiant devotion to duty of his command contributed in large measure to the outstanding success of these vital missions and reflect great credit upon the United States Naval Service.

Awards and decorations[edit]

BGen Devereux's awards include:

Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy Cross Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal w/ 1 service star & Wake Island Device Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (1933)
Yangtze Service Medal American Defense Service Medal w/ Base clasp Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal

Devereux would have also been eligible for the Prisoner of War Service Medal which was authorized on November 8, 1985.

Post-military career – farming, Congress, public safety[edit]

Devereux took up horse farming[2] – with a farm near Glyndon, Maryland; and following his retirement from the Marine Corps, Devereux moved to a 200-acre (0.81 km2) farm at Stevenson, Maryland.[2]

In 1950 Devereux was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Congress for Maryland's 2nd Congressional District by defeating incumbent Democratic Rep. William Bolton. Devereux would serve four terms in the U.S. House from January 3, 1951 to January 3, 1959. During his Congressional career, he supported public school desegregation and ending racial discrimination in employment.[2] He served on the House Armed Services Committee from July 3, 1952 (replacing John Anderson (R-CA)) until he left Congress.[3] He was not a candidate for renomination in 1958, but was an unsuccessful candidate for election as Governor of Maryland against Democrat J. Millard Tawes. In 1960, he was named Republican Party chairman in his district.

He later served as Director of Public Safety for Baltimore County, Maryland from December 1962 to 1966.

He was resident of Ruxton, Maryland until his death.

Family[edit]

While stationed in the Philippines, Devereux met Mary Brush Welch, the daughter of an American missionary. They were married in 1932. They had one son and one daughter who died at birth (1934).[4] Mrs. Devereux died of complications from diabetes in 1942, shortly after his capture by the Japanese on Wake Island. She was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[4] In 1946, he married Rachel Clarke Cooke and they had two sons. The second Mrs. Devereux died in 1977.[2][4] He married a third time, to Edna Burnside Howard – gaining a stepson and three stepdaughters.[2]

Death and burial[edit]

Brigadier General Devereux died at age 85 in Stella Maris Hospice in Baltimore, Maryland on August 5, 1988 from pneumonia.[2] He is interred in Arlington National Cemetery.[4]

Electoral history[edit]

1950 Maryland 2nd Congressional District General Election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James Devereux 99,497 50.2%
Democratic William Bolton (Incumbent) 96,498 48.7%
Progressive Thelma Gerende 2,129 1.1%
1952 Maryland 2nd Congressional District General Election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James Devereux (Incumbent) 95,811 50.2%
Democratic A. Gordon Boone 60,121 38.6%
1954 Maryland 2nd Congressional District General Election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James Devereux (Incumbent) 67,179 56.1%
Democratic William Bolton 52,540 43.9%
1956 Maryland 2nd Congressional District General Election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James Devereux (Incumbent) 103,103 58.1%
Democratic A. Gordon Boone 74,224 41.9%
1958 Maryland Gubernatorial General Election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic J. Millard Tawes 485,061 63.6%
Republican James Devereux 278,173 36.5%

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Wise, James E.; Scott Baron (2007). Navy Cross. p. 164. ISBN 978-1-59114-945-3. Retrieved November 24, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Uhlig, Mark (August 8, 1988). "James Devereux is dead at 85; War hero and a Congresman". New York Times. 
  3. ^ "Historical Full Committee Membership: 1951–1960". House Armed Services Committee, U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved November 24, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d "James Patrick Sinnott Devereux, Brigadier General, United States Marine Corps". ArlingtonCemetery.net. January 3, 2008. Retrieved November 24, 2008. 

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
This article incorporates text in the public domain from the U.S. Government.
  • Wise, James E.; Scott Baron (2007). Navy Cross. Published by Naval Institute Press, 2007. ISBN 1-59114-945-2. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Heinl, Lieutenant Colonel R.D., Jr., USMC (1947). The Defense of Wake. Marines in World War II. Historical Section, Division of Public Information, U.S. Marine Corps. ISBN 0-89839-155-5. Retrieved November 24, 2008. 
  • Urwin, Professor Gregory J.W. (Spring 2005). "Discipline, Camaraderie, and Luck: A Tale of POW Survival". Strategic Visions Magazine (Center of the Study of Force and Diplomacy, Temple University) 6 (1). '...we had our own military discipline regardless of the fact that we were POWs....And I think this is one of the things that held our men together, held our camp together – tighter, and gave us a sense of respectability even though we were prisoners.'... The person most responsible for fostering this spirit of order, pride, and self-respect was Wake’s senior Marine, Major James P. S. Devereux. In the prewar Marine Corps, Devereux earned a reputation as a humorless martinet, and most of his enlisted subordinates disliked him for his aloof manner and nitpicking command style. 
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William P. Bolton
U.S. Congressman, Maryland 2nd District
1951—1959
Succeeded by
Daniel B. Brewster