This Colt Model 1908 .380 U.S. Property marked "General Officer's Pistol" is documented as having been issued to General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright. Some may remember General "Skinny" Wainwright as being the unfortunate American commander left with the task of defending the doomed Philippine islands against overwhelming Japanese forces following the departure of "I shall return!" MacArthur. The story of Wainwright's defense of Bataan and the island fortress of Corregidor is truly inspiring. Wainwright galvanized his troops to fight on against the Japanese for over four months despite constant bombardment, starvation rations, and lack of ammunition.
Despite heroic efforts, Corregidor finally fell to the Japanese on May 7, 1942. The defeat was considered one of the worst losses in American military history and it was "with broken heart and head bowed in sadness" that Wainwright would finally surrender in order to save the lives of his remaining command. Wainwright himself and thousands of American and Filipino troops would become Japanese prisoners of war. Treatment was brutal and many POW's would not survive the Bataan Death March, the "Hell ships", cruel torture, and ensuing imprisonment.
Throughout his captivity, Wainwright worried that he had failed his Country, when in fact he was considered a hero back in the States. Following the eventual victory over Japan, Wainwright was rescued from a Prisoner of War camp in Manchuria. Weak and malnourished, he was overwhelmed with emotion to hear directly from MacArthur that he was an adored hero back home.
Wainwright held a place of honor aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, standing directly behind General MacArthur, the Supreme Allied Commander, as he signed the instruments of the Japanese surrender. Upon his return State-side Wainwright experienced the Country's gratitude first hand with a ticker-tape parade through New York City attended by 4-million people strong!
President Harry S. Truman surprised Wainwright by awarding him the Medal of Honor, the highest award that can be given to a military man. The commendation read: "Distinguished himself by intrepid and determined leadership against greatly superior enemy forces. At the repeated risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in his position, he frequented the firing line of his troops where his presence provided the example and incentive that helped make the gallant efforts of these men possible. The final stand on beleaguered Corregidor, for which he was in an important measure personally responsible, commanded the admiration of the Nation's allies. It reflected the high morale of American arms in the face of overwhelming odds. His courage and resolution were a vitally needed inspiration to the then sorely pressed freedom-loving peoples of the world."
This Colt pistol is documented by serial number in John Brunner's book "The Colt Pocket Hammerless Automatic Pistols II" as having been the pistol issued to General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV.