United States Army in World War II
The War in the Pacific

Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls

Philip A. Crowl
Edmund G. Love

CMH Publication 5-6


Library of Congress Catalog Number: 55-60002

Kent Roberts Greenfield, General Editor

Advisory Committee
(As of 17 March, 1954)

James P. Baxter President,
Williams College
Brig. Gen. Verdi B. Barnes
Army War College
John D. Hicks
University of California
Brig. Gen. Leonard J. Greeley
Industrial College of the Armed Forces
William T. Hutchinson
University of Chicago
Brig. Gen. Elwyn D. Post
Army Field Forces
S.L.A. Marshall
Detroit News
Col. Thomas D. Stamps
United States Military Academy
Charles S. Sydnor*
Duke University
Col. C.E. Beauchamp
Command and General Staff College
Charles H. Taylor
Harvard University


Office of the Chief of Military History
Maj. Gen. Albert C. Smith, Chief**

Chief Historian Kent Roberts Greenfield
Chief, War Histories Division Col. George G. O'Connor
Chief, Editorial and Publication Division Lt. Col. Thomas E. Bennett
Chief, Editorial Branch Joseph R. Friedman
Chief, Cartographic Branch Wsevolod Aglaimoff
Chief, Photographic Branch Maj. Arthur T. Lawry

**Maj. Gen. Orlando Ward was succeeded by General Smith on 1 February 1953.

. . . to Those Who Served


  The Authors  

Chapter     Page
I. The Decision to Strike Through the Central Pacific 3
    Prewar Plans 3
    Pacific Organization and Early Strategy 4
    The Casablanca Conference 7
    MacArthur's Strategic Plans 10
    The Washington Conference and the Strategic Plan for the Defeat of Japan

II. Selection of Targets and Tactical Planning 18
    Selection of the Targets 18
    Planning for Galvanic 25
    Intelligence on the Gilberts 27
    Organization and Command of the American Forces

III. Preparing for the Attack 44
    Training 44
    Logistics 47
    Preliminary Air and Naval Action 52
    Movement Overseas

IV. The Enemy 60
    Japanese Invasion of the Gilberts 60
    Carlson's Raid and Its Aftermath 61
    American Attacks and Japanese Responses 67
    Japanese Defenses on the Eve of the Attack 70

V. The Landings on Makin 75
    Red Beaches 75
    Establishing the Beachhead 79
    Yellow Beach

VI. Reduction of the West Tank Barrier 89
    Advance of the 2d Battalion to the Barrier 89
    Advance of the 1st Battalion 94
    Holding Action on the East 97
    First Day: The Summing Up

VII. Consolidating the Beachhead 102
    Build-up of the Assault 102
    First Night on Butaritari 106
    Final Mop-up at the West Tank Barrier and Yellow Beach

VIII. Makin Taken 112
    The Main Action of the Second Day 112
    The Second Night 117
    The Third Day: Capture of the East Tank Barrier 118
    The Advance Beyond the East Tank Barrier 119
    The Last Night 122
    Mop-up 124
    Profit and Loss

IX. The Capture of Tarawa 127
    Preliminaries to the Invasion 127
    The Landings on Red Beach 1 132
    Operations at Red Beach 2 135
    The Landings at Red Beach 3 138
    Reinforcing the Beachhead 139
    Supply, Communications, and Command 144
    Consolidating the Beachhead: D Plus 1 147
    Tarawa Is Secured 150
    Conclusion of the Operation

X. Strategic & Tactical Significance of the Gilberts Operation 157
    Strategic Consequences 157
    Tactical Lessons Learned 158

XI. Tactical Planning for the Marshalls 166
    Early Planning 167
    Spruance's Plan 170
    Admiral Turner's Attack Plan 172
    The Landing Force Plans

XII. Training, Logistics, and Preliminary Operations 183
    Training the Army Ground Troops 183
    Training the 4th Marine Division 186
    Logistics 187
    Preliminary Army Air Operations 193
    Preliminary Naval Action 199
    Approach of the Invasion Force

XIII. Japanese Defenses in the Marshalls 206
    Before Pearl Harbor 206
    From Pearl Harbor to the Eve of Invasion of the Marshalls 209
    The Defenses of Kwajalein Atoll, January 1944

XIV. The Invasion of Southern Kwajalein 219
  The Landings on D Day 219
    The Landings on Kwajalein Island

XV. Reduction of the Main Defenses of Kwajalein Island 241
    The Push Inland: First Day 241
    The First Night on Kwajalein Island 249
    Second Day's Action 253
    Situation at the End of the Second Day

XVI. Kwajalein Island: The Third Day 262
    The Plan for 3 February 264
    The Attack of the 32d Infantry 264
    The Morning Action in the 184th Infantry's Zone 266
    The Revised Plan of Attack 273
    Situation on the Night of 3 February

XVII. End of the Battle for Southern Kwajalein 283
    Kwajalein Island Secured 283
    Completing the Conquest of Southern Kwajalein 290
    Chauncey Island 290
    Burton Island 291
    Final Mop-up

XVIII. The Capture of Majuro and Roi-Namur 302
    Majuro 302
    D Day: Northern Kwajalein 304
    Initial Landings on Roi and Namur 311
    The Capture of Roi 316
    The Capture of Namur

XIX. The Seizure of Eniwetok Atoll 333
    Plans and Preparations 333
    Preliminary Air Operations 338
    Japanese Defenses on Eniwetok Atoll 339
    The Seizure of Engebi Island 344
    The Capture of Eniwetok Island 348
    Parry Island

XX. Consolidating the Victory 366
    Mop-up in the Marshalls 366
    Building the Marshalls Bases 367
    Neutralizing the Bypassed Atolls

XXI. Tactical and Strategic Consequences of the Marshalls Operation

Concordance of Code And Native Names for Islands in Kwajalein Atoll

Bibliographical Note

List of Abbreviations

Glossary of CODE NAMES

Basic Military Map Symbols



1. Ammunition Expended by Japanese on Tarawa and Makin, 13-19 November 1943 56
2. Japanese Strength in Southern Kwajalein Atoll on D Day 215
3. Combat Effectiveness of Japanese in Southern Kwajalein Atoll on D Day 217
4. Japanese Strength in Northern Kwajalein Atoll on D Day 218
1. Task Organization of Various Commands for the Attack on the Gilbert Islands 34
2. Task Organization of Major Commands for the Attack on Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls 171
3. Task Organization of Major Commands for the Attack on Eniwetok Atoll 337
1. The Pacific Areas 1 August 1942 6
2. Gilbert and Marshall Islands 19
3. Makin Atoll 28
4. Tarawa Atoll 32
5. First Night on Butaritari, 20-21 November 1943 107
6. Second Day's Action, 21 November 1943 114
7. Securing Makin, 22-23 November 1943 120
8. Kwajalein Atoll 169
9. Southern Kwajalein 176
10, Northeastern Kwajalein 181
11, Third Day on Kwajalein Island, Morning, 3 February 1944 263
12, Third Day on Kwajalein island, Afternoon, 3 February 1944 274
13, Last Day of Battle on Kwajalein Island, 4 February 1944 284
14, Capture of Burton, 3-4 February 1944 292
15, Majuro Atoll 303
16, Eniwetok Atoll 335
17, Capture of Engebi, 17 February 1944 346
18, Capture of Eniwetok Island, 19-21 February 1944 350
19, Capture of Parry, 22 February 1944 362
  Maps I-VIII are in inverse order inside back cover  
I. Pacific Ocean (National Geographic Society Map)  
II. Butaritari Island (Western Portion)  
III. Betio Island  
IV. D Day on Butaritari, 20 November 1943  
V. Capture of Betio, 20-23 November 1943  
VI. Kwajalein Island  
VII. Landings on First Two Days of Battle on Kwajalein island, 1-2 February 1944  
VIII. Capture of Roi and Namur, 1-2 February 1944  
American Representatives at the Casablanca Conference 8
Butaritari from the Air 29
Training Operations on Oahu, Hawaii 46
Training Operations on Oahu, Hawaii 46b
Supplies Palletized 50
Supplies Palletized 50
Nauru Island 55
Southern Attack Force 57
Briefing Troops 58
Japanese Coastal Defenses 66
Japanese Coastal Defenses 66
Japanese Tank Defenses on Makin 72
Japanese Tank Defenses on Makin 72
Landings on RED Beach 78
Dense Vegetation on Butaritari 80
Dense Vegetation on Butaritari 80
Dummy Coast Defense Gun 81
YELLOW Beach Landing Area 84
YELLOW Beach Landing Area 84
YELLOW Beach Landing 86
Hulks Off On Chong's Wharf 87
Hulks Off On Chong's Wharf 87
Defensive Positions on Makin 92
Defensive Positions on Makin 92
M3 Light Tank 95
Unloading Supplies at King's Wharf 103
M3 Medium Tanks 109
Beached Seaplane 115
Rifle Pits 115
Japanese Naval Guns Emplaced on Betio 128
Western End of Betio After Bombardment 131
RED Beach 1 133
Disabled LVT 135
Landings at RED Beach 2 136
Landings at RED Beach 2 136
RED Beach 3 140
RED Beach 3 140
Damaged Medium Tank M4 143
Damaged Japanese Type 95 Light Tank on Betio 144
Beach Defensive Positions 149
Beach Defensive Positions 149
Japanese Bombproof Shelter 152
Japanese Bombproof Shelter 152
Mille Under Air Attack 195
Taroa After Being Bombed 106
Wotje Under Air Attack 198
Action at Kwajalein 200
Action at Kwajalein 200
Action at Kwajalein 200
Action at Kwajalein 200
Landings on Carlson island 224
Demolished Communications Center and Strongpoint 226
Demolished Communications Center and Strongpoint 226
105-mm. M2 Howitzers 228
Effect of Bombardment on Kwajalein 231
Effect of Bombardment on Kwajalein 231
Invasion of Kwajalein 234
Invasion of Kwajalein 234
Bulldozer Clears Route 237
Bulldozer Clears Route 237
75-mm. Howitzer in Action 239
Flame Thrower 245
Korean Laborers 248
105-mm. Howitzer Crew in Action 250
37-mm. Antitank Gun Firing 254
Battalion Aid Station 260
Tank-Infantry Attack 268
Tank-Infantry Attack 268
A .30-caliber Machine Gun 272
Pontoon Piers at GREEN Beach 4 279
Burton (Ebeye) Island 293
Japanese Entrenchments on Burton 294
Japanese Bombproof Shelter 296
Buildings and Shelters 299
Namur 310
Namur 310
Landing Craft Head for Beach at Namur 315
Medium Tanks 317
Neutralizing a Concrete Blockhouse 320
Namur Island Beachhead 323
A Japanese Torpedo Warhead Magazine 326
Marines Take Cover 328
Marines Take Cover 328
Marines Attack Blockhouse 330
Marines Attack Blockhouse 330
Attack on Engebi 347
Invasion of Eniwetok 352
Machine Gun Squad Firing 354
Marines Prepare to Attack 357
Parry Island Under Preliminary Bombardment 361

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation