Brig. Gen. James Patrick Sinnott Devereux USMC

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James Patrick Sinnott Devereux

Birthdate: (85)
Birthplace: Cabana, Cuba
Death: August 5, 1988 (85)
Stella Maris Hospice, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (pneumonia)
Place of Burial: Arlington, Virginia, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Lt. Col. John Ryan Devereux US Army and Annie L Devereux
Husband of Mary Bush Devereux; Rachel Clarke Devereux and Edna Burnside Devereux
Brother of Anne Chase and Agnes S Devereux

Managed by: Eldon Clark (C)
Last Updated:

About Brig. Gen. James Patrick Sinnott Devereux USMC

James Patrick Sinnott Devereux.

James P.S. Devereux

Birth name James Patrick Sinnott Devereux

Born February 20, 1903

Cabana, Cuba

Died August 5, 1988 (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


Banana Wars

World War II

  • Battle of Wake Island

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.


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

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

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 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.

After 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, 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

'BGen Devereux's awards include:'

  • 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

Devereux took up horse farming – 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.

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. He served on the House Armed Services Committee from July 3, 1952 (replacing John Anderson (R-CA)) until he left Congress. 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.


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

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Brig. Gen. James Patrick Sinnott Devereux USMC's Timeline

February 20, 1903
Cabana, Cuba
August 5, 1988
Age 85
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Arlington, Virginia, USA