Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls deals with amphibious warfare as waged by American forces against the Japanese-held atolls of the Central Pacific during World War II. The word amphibious, as here used, includes the landing and supply of troops in combat as well as the air and naval support of the operations.

The atoll operations described in this volume were amphibious from beginning to end. They were not simple seaborne hit-and-run raids of the Dieppe type. The objective was to secure the atolls as steppingstones to the next advance. The islands were relatively small, permitting continual naval and air support of the ground operations.

Some outstanding examples of the co-ordination of fire support by artillery, naval gunfire, and air are found in this book. The advantages of simple plans and the disadvantages of the more complicated will stand out for the careful reader.

The story of the capture of these atolls of Micronesia offers some of the best examples of combined operations that are available in the annals of modern war. Ground, sea, and air components were always present, and the effectiveness with which they were combined and co-ordinated accounts in large measure for the rapid success enjoyed in these instances by American arms. Units of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps were active participants in the operations and the role they played is treated in this volume as fully as is considered appropriate in a series devoted to the history of the U.S. Army in World War II.

From the point of view of strategy, the significance of this volume lies in the fact that it tells the story of the beginnings of the drive across the Central Pacific toward the Japanese homeland. This concept of defeating Japan by pushing directly westward from Hawaii through the island bases of the mid-Pacific was traditional in American strategic thinking, but had never been put to test and was seriously challenged in some quarters. As is shown here, the test was first made in the campaigns against the Gilberts and Marshalls, the outcome was successful, and the experience gained was of inestimable value in planning for the subsequent conduct of the war in the Pacific.

Washington, D.C.
9 January 1953
Maj. Gen., U.S.A.
Chief of Military History


The Authors

Philip A. Crowl, who has an M.A. from the State University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University, taught History at the Johns Hopkins University and at Princeton. Commissioned in the Navy in World War II, he became a lieutenant (senior grade) and commanding officer of an LCI gunboat that was in action at Leyte Gulf, Lingayen Gulf, and Okinawa. He is author of Maryland During and After the Revolution (1943) and co-author of The U.S. Marines and Amphibious War (1951). He was awarded the James V. Forrestal Fellowship for 1953-54 to prepare a study of command relationships in amphibious warfare in World War II.

Before World War II Edmund G. Love, with an M.A. from the University of Michigan, taught History in a Michigan high school. A captain of Infantry in World War II, he became historical officer of the 27th Infantry Division and observed the operations of that division on Makin, Eniwetok, Saipan, and Okinawa.

From 1946 to 1 August 1949 Mr. Love was a member of the Pacific Section of the Army's historical staff in Washington. Dr. Crowl has been a member of that staff since 1949.



This volume tells the story of the launching of the Central Pacific drive against Japan in late 1943 and early 1944. Specifically, it deals with the amphibious operations against five Central Pacific atolls--Makin, Tarawa, Kwajalein, Majuro, and Eniwetok. It was in these battles that American amphibious doctrine received its first critical test in the Pacific war, and the victories achieved made possible a continuation of the highly important drive against Japan's perimeter of island defenses in the Carolines, Marianas, Volcano Islands, and Ryukyus.

Numerically speaking, the Army's contribution to the forces responsible for the capture of these atolls was not as great as that of the Marine Corps. Yet the Army's role was a major one and is here set forth in minute detail. If the activities of other participating U.S. services receive less attention in these pages, it is only because this volume is by definition a part of the history of the U.S. Army in World War II.

For a variety of reasons this book has been a long time in preparation. A draft was prepared by Mr. Edmund G. Love, then set aside, to be taken up later by the undersigned for extensive revision, correction, and elaboration. The authors' debts for aid and assistance are too numerous to acknowledge in detail. Dr. Louis Morton and Dr. John Miller, Jr., during their respective tenures as Chief of the Pacific Section, Office of the Chief of Military History, read every page with care and discrimination and offered invaluable guidance. In addition, Dr. Miller prepared a separate study of the strategic background of the operations which was used as the basis for the first and part of the second chapter. Dr. Kent Roberts Greenfield, Chief Historian, Department of the Army, gave liberally of his time and advice. To Maj. Gen. Orlando Ward, formerly Chief of Military History, Col. George G. O'Connor, Chief of War Histories Division, and the military members of their staff a great debt is owed for their sympathetic interest, technical assistance, and supervision of the publication of the volume.

Mr. Wsevolod Aglaimoff and Mr. Charles von Luettichau not only prepared the maps but offered many important suggestions regarding tactical details. Mr. Thomas Wilds did a distinguished job of piecing together the complicated and often obscure story of Japanese defensive preparations and battle operations. Miss Margaret Plumb checked all the footnotes of the original draft for accuracy. Miss Mary Ann Bacon edited the manuscript and prepared the index with imagination as well as meticulous care, and Mr. Allen R. Clark was


copy editor. Maj. Arthur T. Lawry and Miss Margaret Tackley are responsible for the selection of photographs. Mr. Israel Wice and his staff, Miss Lois Aldrich of the Departmental Records Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, U.S. Army, and Mrs. Vivian McCoy and Mr. Paul Rugen of the Records and Research Section, Historical Branch, G-3, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, are to be thanked for their aid in the gathering of the documents and other source materials that made up the frame work of the volume. Mrs. Martha Willoughby and Mrs. Marguerite Bartz typed the manuscript.

To the historical sections of the other U.S. services special thanks are due for unfailing co-operation. Lt. Col. Frank Hough, USMC, Lt. Col. Harry Edwards, USMC, and the staff of the Historical Branch, G-3, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps were especially generous in their assistance. The large number of officers of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force who read and criticized various portions of the manuscript, corresponded with the authors, or permitted themselves to be interviewed, is acknowledged in the bibliographical note appended to the volume.

Washington, D.C.
28 January 1954


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