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Wood, Dennistoun USN at Midway

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Mary S Taylor

Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Posts: 28018
Location: Fresno, CA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 6:42 am    Post subject: Wood, Dennistoun USN at Midway Reply with quote

Pacific Grove Tide, CA March 26, 1943
Returns From 14 Months On Midway
Excitement Comes in Brief, Violent, Infrequent Jolts at Pacific Outpost
Most of the time it’s just gooney birds to make like interesting on Midway Island, but when things start happening they happen thick and fast. That little speck of land, about 1200 miles from Honolulu, but included in the same county, has been the center of some extremely critical events since December 7, 1941. That’s the word brought back by Lieutnant Dennistoun Wood, who spent 14 months on Midway with the Marines. He left ths week to assume new duties in the naval hospital at the great Farragut, Idaho, training station. He had been visiting his wife, the former Miss Bessie Everett, and his young son, Billy, who “grew about a foot” in the 20 months his father was away from home. And the father did some growing, too, in the form of a splendid red moustache, with curled tips and all that sort of thing. For many years, Midway island was just a cable station. That was in the days before the airplane. Now it is the end of the cable line, for Guam, the next station, is in the hands of the Japanese. Topographically, it consists of two small bits of land, surrounded by a coral reef. The larger is Sand island and was composed entirely of sand until some shrubs were planted when the cable station was built, resulting in more sand accumulating and additional vegetation came by the drifting process, Green island, the other bit of land, had more plant life. It now is known as Eastern island. When the Pan-American clippers started flying the Pacific, Midway took on intense new development, including a hotel among other facilities. And when the war threatened, the navy moved in and what took place from then on is a secret. There were four women residing on the island when the planes regularly operated, but they were evacuated shortly before the Pearl Harbor attack. The last clipper left Midway on December 8. It had been at Wake Island when the Parl harbor attack came, flew to Midway, found the hangars in flames, refueled hurriedly and left for Hawaii. Until 1941, it was Dr. Dennistoun Wood, practicing medicine. Then it became Lieutenant Wood in the navy, assigned to duty with the marines. The Marine Corps has no medical department, the navy furnishing this service. It was on August 11, 1941 that Lt. Wood arrived at Midway. On the same vessel was Salvador Pinola of Pacific Grove, a member of the Marine Corps. He’s now in Hawaii. Things were peaceful, but busy. The world crisis was growing more acute. One clipper plane brought Kurusu, the Japanese “special envoy” to Midway en route to Washington for the protracted “negotiations” which were in progress when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Shortly afterward, another clipper brought Ambassador and Mrs. Maxim Litvinoff from Russia, also en route to Washington. Then, on December 7, it happened. Along about 10 p.m., a fleet of Japanese cruisers and destroyers attacked the island. They came so close that they were within machine-gun range of the defenders. There was no landing attempt. The attack was brief and the action was hot while it lasted. The amount of damage done is a military secret and the success of repairs and subsequent installations also. In the months that followed, Japanese submarines appeared on four different occasions and shelled the island. This was not very effective. Then, on June 4, the great Japanese fleet drew nigh, apparently intent on capturing the island and carrying on to occupy Hawaii. The ships did not get within sight of Midway, but planes came over in large formations. They were met by planes from Midway and also by anti-aircraft fire. Many were destroyed but a considerable number of bombs were dropped. How the fleet was defeated and driven away has been told many times. There was no more action before Lt. Wood returned to Pearl Harbor in October and home last month. The surprising thing, Lt. Wood states, is how few casualties were sustained by the marines on Midway during the various brushes with the enemy. The medical department was adequate and well able to care for all cases. Those of more serious nature were sent to Hawaii when able to be transported, in keeping with the general practice in this war. Warm words of praise were forthcoming regarding the supply of blood plasma made available in a waterproof package which contains a small bottle of the dried plasma and a small bottle of distilled water, the two being mixed and then ready for use in a few minutes. That’s fine for treat shock and certainly beats hunting around for suitable blood donors when wounds are being treated.” Another convenience is that the plasma keeps well without refrigeration. Another new development in care of wounded is in the external use of sulfanilamide directly on the wound. It. Wood found this treatment highly successful with battle wounded on Midway. The little island in the mid-Pacific has been quiet for many months now. However, it may again figure in the news for as Lt. Wood points out on his globe, it is directly on the “great circle” route from Hawaii to Tokyo.
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