This book, the third in a projected five-volume series, continues the comprehensive history of Marine Corps operations in World War II. The story of individual campaigns, once told in separate detail in preliminary monographs, has been reevaluated and rewritten to show events in proper proportion to each other and in correct perspective to the war as a whole. New material, particularly from Japanese sources, which has become available since the writing of the monographs, has been included to provide fresh insight into the Marine Corps' contribution to the final victory in the Pacific.

During the period covered in these pages, we learned a great deal about the theory and practice of amphibious warfare. But most of all we confirmed the basic soundness of the doctrine which had been developed in prewar years by a dedicated and farsighted group of Navy and Marine Corps officers. These men, the leaders and workers in the evolution of modern amphibious tactics and techniques, served their country well. Anticipating the demands of a vast naval campaign in the Pacific, they developed requirements and tested prototypes for the landing craft and vehicles which first began to appear in large numbers at the time of the Central Pacific battles. Many of the senior officers among these prewar teachers and planners were the commanders who led the forces afloat and ashore in the Gilberts, Marshalls, and Marianas.

Allied strategy envisioned two converging drives upon the inner core of Japanese defenses, one mounted in the Southwest Pacific under General MacArthur's command, the other in the Central Pacific under Admiral Nimitz. Although Marines fought on land and in the air in the campaign to isolate Rabaul, and played a part significant beyond their numbers, it was in the Central Pacific that the majority of Fleet Marine Force units saw action. Here, a smoothly functioning Navy-Marine Corps team, ably supported by Army ground and air units, took part in a series of amphibious assaults that ranged in complexity from the seizure of tiny and heavily-defended islets, where there was little room for maneuver and no respite from combat, to large islands where two and three divisions could advance in concert.

It was my privilege to take part in much of this campaign, first as operations officer with Tactical Group 1 in the Marshalls and later in the same capacity with the 2d Marine Division in the Marianas. I prize the


associations formed then with the officers and men who won the victories, not only those of the Marine Corps but also those of the other services in our joint commands. Sparked by knowledge hard-won at Tarawa, we were able to plan and execute effectively the operations at Kwajalein and move forward, on incredibly short notice, to Eniwetok, seizing there the islands that guarded the lagoon from which most of our ships staged for the Marianas. In the fighting for Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, Marines proved conclusively that their demonstrated effectiveness in short-term amphibious assault carried over to extended combat ashore.

As the narrative in this volume clearly shows, victory against a foe as determined and as competent as the Japanese could not have been won without a high cost in the lives of the men who did the fighting. Our advance from Tarawa to Guam was paid for in the blood of brave men, ordinary Americans whose sacrifice for their country should never be forgotten. Nor will it be by those who were honored to serve with them.


Reviewed and approved
8 December 1965



The series of Central Pacific operations that began at Tarawa in November 1943 marked a period of steadily increasing momentum in our drive toward the Japanese home islands. To a great extent, these operations were periods of trial--and occasionally of error--when our amphibious striking force, the Fifth Fleet and the V Amphibious Corps, tested and proved the basic soundness of the doctrine, tactics, and techniques developed by the Navy and Marine Corps in the years before World War II. This was a time of innovation too, when new weapons, improved methods of fire support, and organizational developments all played a large part in our victories. The lessons learned in the Gilberts, reaffirmed and applied with increasing effect in the Marshalls and Marianas, were of priceless value in shortening the war.

Our purpose in publishing this operational history in durable form is to make the Marine Corps record permanently available for study by military personnel and the general public as well as by serious students of military history. We have made a conscious effort to be objective in our treatment of the actions of Marines and of the men of other services who fought at their side. We have tried to write with understanding about our former enemies and in this effort have received invaluable help from the Japanese themselves. Few people so militant and unyielding in war have been as dispassionate and analytical about their actions in peace. We owe a special debt of gratitude to Mr. Susumu Nishiura, Chief of the War History Office, Defense Agency of Japan and to the many researchers and historians of his office that reviewed our draft manuscripts.

This volume was planned and outlined by Mr. Henry I. Shaw, Jr., senior historian assigned to the World War II historical project. Mr. Bernard T. Nalty, originally assigned as the author of this volume, wrote the narrative of the Gilberts and Marshalls campaigns and began the story of Saipan before he left the Marine Corps to become an historian with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In his work, Mr. Nalty made use of the research material gathered for the monographs prepared by Captain James R. Stockman, The Battle for Tarawa, Lieutenant Colonels Robert D. Heinl, Jr. and John A. Crown, The Marshalls: Increasing the Tempo, and Major Carl W. Hoffman, Saipan: The Beginning of the End. Mr. Edwin T. Turnbladh finished the work on Saipan begun by Mr. Nalty and wrote the part concerning Tinian, using much of the research data amassed by Major Hoffman for his monograph, The Seizure of Tinian. Shortly after he had started working on the Guam narrative, Mr. Turnbladh left the Marine Corps to become an Air Force research analyst, and Mr. Shaw completed the book, revising and editing it for publication. In his research on the Guam operation, Mr. Shaw frequently consulted the material assembled for Major Orlan R. Lodge's monograph, The Recapture of Guam. The


appendices concerning casualties, command and staff, division table of organization, and chronology were prepared by Mr. George W. Garand; the remainder were completed by Mr. Shaw. Successive Heads of the Historical Branch--Colonel William M. Miller, Major John H. Johnstone, Colonel Thomas G. Roe, Colonel Joseph F. Wagner, Jr., and Lieutenant Colonel Richard J. Schening--made the final critical review of portions of the manuscript. The book was completed under the direction of Colonel Frank C. Caldwell, present head of the branch.

A number of leading participants in the actions described have commented on the preliminary drafts of pertinent portions of the book. Their valuable assistance is gratefully acknowledged. Several senior officers, in particular General David M. Shoup, Admiral Harry W. Hill, Lieutenant General Julian C. Smith, and Rear Admiral Charles J. Moore, made valuable additions to their written comments during personal interviews.

Special thanks are due to the historical agencies of the other services for their critical readings of draft chapters of this book. Outstanding among the many official historians who measurably assisted the authors were: Dr. John Miller, Jr., Deputy Chief Historian, Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army; Mr. Dean C. Allard, Head, Operational Archives Branch, Naval History Division, Department of the Navy; and Dr. Robert F. Futrell, Historian, U.S. Air Force Historical Division, Research Studies Institute, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base.

First Lieutenant John J. Hainsworth, and his predecessors as Historical Branch Administrative Officer, First Lieutenant D'Arcy E. Grisier and Chief Warrant Officer Patrick R. Brewer, ably handled the many exacting duties involved in processing the volume from first drafts through final printed form. Many of the early preliminary typescripts were prepared by Mrs. Miriam R. Smallwood and the remainder were done by Miss Kay P. Sue, who expertly handled the painstaking task of typing the final manuscript for the printer. Much of the meticulous work demanded by the index was done by Miss Sue and Miss Linnea A. Coleman.

The maps were originally drafted by Corporal Robert F. Stibil; later revisions and additions were made by Corporal Thomas L. Russell. Official Department of Defense photographs have been used throughout the text.



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