Appendix J
Message from Major General Julian C. Smith
to Officers and Men, 2nd Marine Division

Read to all hands on 19 November 1943, D-minus-1-day:

A great offensive to destroy the enemy in the central Pacific has begun. American air, sea, and land forces, of which this division is a part, initiate this offensive by seizing Japanese-held atolls in the Gilbert Islands, which will be used as bases for future operations. The task assigned to us is to capture the atolls of Tarawa and Abemama. Army units of our Fifth Amphibious Corps are simultaneously attacking Makin, 150 miles north of Tarawa.

For the past 3 days Army, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft have been carrying out bombardment attacks on our objectives. They are neutralizing, and will continue to neutralize, other Japanese air bases adjacent to the Gilbert Islands.

Early this morning combatant ships of our Navy bombarded Tarawa. Our Navy screens our operations and will support our attack tomorrow morning with the greatest concentration of aerial bombardment and naval gunfire in the history of warfare.

It will remain with us until our objective is secured and our defense are established. Garrison forces are already enroute to relieve us as soon as we have completed our job of clearing our objective of Japanese forces.

This division was especially chosen by the high command for the assault on Tarawa because of its battle experience and its combat efficiency. Their confidence will not be betrayed. We are the first American troops to attack a defended atoll. What we do here will set a standard for all future operations in the central Pacific area. Observers from other Marine divisions and from other branches of our armed services, as well as those of our allies, have been detailed to witness our operations. Representatives of the press are present. Our people back home are eagerly awaiting news of our victories.

I know that you are well-trained and fit for the tasks assigned to you. You will quickly overrun the Japanese forces; you will decisively defeat and destroy the treacherous enemies of our country; your success will add new laurels to the glorious tradition of our troops.

Good luck and God bless you all.


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Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation