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First Name: James

Last Name: Devereux

Birthplace: Cabana, CUB

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Patrick Sinnott

Date of Birth: 20 February 1903

Date of Death: 05 August 1988

Rank: Brigadier General

Years Served:
James Patrick Sinnott Devereux

•  Occupation of Nicaragua (1912 - 1933)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


James Patrick Sinnott Devereux
Brigadier General, U.S. Marine Corps

James Patrick Sinnott Devereux was born on 20 February 1903 in Cabana, Cuba, where his father, an Army surgeon, was stationed. In 1910, the family moved to Chevy Chase, MD. 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, DC, the Tome School at Port Deposit, MD, LaVilla in Lausanne, Switzerland (when his parents lived in Vienna, Austria), and Loyola College of Baltimore, MD.

Marine Corps Career

Devereux enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in July 1923 at age 20, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in February 1925, and then was assigned to duty in Norfolk, VA, Philadelphia, PA, the Marine Barracks at Quantico, VA, 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 U.S. 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, VA. 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

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 8 December 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; they probably also sank one submarine. Two more destroyers were damaged the last day. After days of bitter fighting, the 449 Marines surrendered to the Japanese on 23 December 1941.

Prisoner of War

After his capture, he remained on Wake Island until 12 January 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 24 January. He remained there until 9 December 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 15 September 1945.

Post-World War II

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, CA, and was serving with that organization when he concluded his 25-year career on 1 August 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.

Medals and Awards

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 8 November 1985.

Post-Military Life

Devereux took up horse farming on a farm near Glyndon, MD; and following his retirement from the Marine Corps, Devereux moved to a 200-acre farm at Stevenson, MD.

In 1950 Devereux was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Congress for Maryland's 2nd Congressional District by defeating incumbent Democratic Representative William Bolton. Devereux served four terms in the U.S. House from 3 January 1951 to 3 January 1959. During his Congressional career, he supported public school desegregation and ending racial discrimination in employment. He served on the House Armed Services Committee from 3 July 1952 (replacing John Anderson (R-CA)) until he left Congress. He was not a candidate for re-nomination 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, MD, from December 1962-66.

He was resident of Ruxton, MD, until his death.


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). 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. In 1946, he married Rachel Clarke Cooke and they had two sons. The second Mrs. Devereux died in 1977. He married a third time, to Edna Burnside Howard - gaining a stepson and three stepdaughters.

Death and Burial

Brigadier General James Patrick Sinnott Devereux died on 5 August 1988, at age 85, in Stella Maris Hospice in Baltimore, MD, from pneumonia. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 2426   Created by: MHOH




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