Military Historian, Author and Professor To Open WWII Center Spring Series

February 24, 2012
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LINCROFT – Brookdale Community College’s Center for World War II Studies and Conflict Resolution opens their Spring Lecture series with noted historian, author and Temple University professor, Dr. Gregory Urwin. He will speak on, “Victory in Defeat: The Wake Island Defenders in Captivity, 1941-1945” March 6 at the Lincroft main campus, 765 Newman Springs Road in the Warner Student Life Center. Parking is most convenient in lots 6 and 7. The program starts at 7:30 p.m. The fee is $12 for community, $5 for students and free for Brookdale students.

Dr. Urwin’s lecture will be based on his current book **ITALSVictory in Defeat: The Wake Island Defenders in Captivity**ENDTALS, which relates in vivid detail the story of the defenders of Wake Island following their surrender to the Japanese on Dec. 23, 1941.

A highly regarded military historian, professor Urwin spent decades researching what happened after the surrender of Wake Island and will offer a revealing look at the U.S. Marines, sailors, soldiers, and civilian contractors in captivity. In addition to exhaustive archival research, he interviewed dozens of POWs and even some of their Japanese captors.

Dr. Urwin also had access to diaries secretly kept by the prisoners. This information has allowed him to provide a nuanced look at the Japanese guards and how the Americans survived three-and-a-half years in captivity and emerged with a much lower death rate than most other Allied personnel captured in the Pacific.

In part, Dr. Urwin says the answer lies in the Wake Islanders establishment of life-saving communities that kept their dignity intact. Their mutual-help networks encouraged those who faltered under physical and psychological torture, including what is today called waterboarding. Most Wake Islanders spent the war at two camps just outside Shanghai, one of the few places where Japanese authorities permitted the Red Cross to aid POWs.

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He will also call attention to the generosity of civilians in Shanghai, including Swiss diplomats and the American and British residents of the fabled International Settlement, who provided food and clothing to the prisoners. In addition, some guards proved to be less vicious than those stationed at other POW camps and occasionally went out of their way to aid inmates.

Dr. Urwin is the author of eight books including ***ITALSFacing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island**ENDTALS which won the Gen. Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. He currently is vice president of the Military History Society (MHS)

Teachers attending may be awarded continuing education units (CEDs). Groups are welcome. Please call in advance to request special needs accommodations. Pre-registration for the program is appreciated and may be made by calling 732-224-2315. The course code is XWWTS 256 PR. More information regarding the content of the program is available from WWII Center director Professor Paul Zigo at 732-224-2029 or e-mail to

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