Foreword to CMH Edition

The Capture of Makin (20-24 November 1943) is one of a series of fourteen studies of World War II operations originally published by the War Department's Historical Division and now returned to print as part of the Army's commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of that momentous clash of arms. These volumes, prepared by professional historians shortly after the events described, provide a concise summary of some of the major campaigns and battles fought by American soldiers. The skillful combination of combat interviews with primary sources, many of which are now lost, gives these unassuming narratives a special importance to military historians. The careful analysis of key operations provides numerous lessons for today's military students.

I am pleased that this entire group of studies will once again be available. I urge all military students and teachers to u se them to enhance our collective awareness of the skill, leadership, daring, and professionalism exhibited by our military forebears.

Washington, D.C.
15 September 1989
Colonel, FA
Chief of Military History



In a nation at war, teamwork by the whole people is necessary for victory. But the issue is decided on the battlefield, toward which all national effort leads. The country's fate lies in the hands of its soldier citizens; in the clash of battle is found the final test of plans, training, equipment, and-above all-the fighting spirit of units and individuals.

AMERICAN FORCES IN ACTION SERIES presents detailed accounts of particular combat operations of United States forces. To the American public, this record of high achievement by men who served their nation well is presented as a preface to the full military history of World War II. To the soldiers who took part in the operations concerned, these narratives will give the opportunity to see more clearly the results of orders which they obeyed and of sacrifices which they and their comrades made, in performance of missions that find their weaning in the outcome of a larger plan of battle.

Chief of Staff


Historical Division
Washington 25, D.C.
18 February 1946

The first full-scale effort to recover from the Japanese some of their strongholds in the Central Pacific was the expedition to the Gilbert Islands in November, 1943. Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard furnished components of the expeditionary forces. The Army elements were commanded by Maj. Gen. Ralph C. Smith. They comprised the 27th Infantry Division Task Force, derived principally from that division but with many provisional units attached. The Capture of Makin narrates the Army's part of the campaign, which was the prelude to later advance among the Marshall Islands.

This study is based upon a first narrative prepared in the field from military records and from notes and interviews recorded during the operation by Lt. Col. S. L. A. Marshall. His manuscript has been edited and partially rewritten with the help of additional documentation by Maj. John M. Baker and Dr. George F. Howe. Although in published form the book contains Do documentation, the original manuscript, fully documented, is on file in the War Department. One photograph (p. 113) is by the U. S. Coast Guard; the aerials (pp. 10, 38, 51, 52, 58, 78, 82, 102, 114) are by the U. S. Navy. All others were taken by the U. S. Army Signal Corps. Readers are urged to send directly to the Historical Division, War Department, Washington 25, D.C., comments, criticism, and additional information which may be of value in the preparation of a complete and definitive history of the operation at Makin.


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