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

Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls

by Philip A. Crowl and Edmund G. Love

. . . to Those Who Served

Table of Contents


The Authors


Chapter 1: The Decision to Strike Through the Central Pacific

Prewar Plans—Pacific Organization and Early Strategy—The Casablanca Conference—MacArthur’s Strategic Plans—The Washington Conference and the Strategic Plan for the Defeat of Japan

Chapter 2: Selection of Targets and Tactical Planning

Selection of the Targets—Planning for Galvanic—Intelligence on the Gilberts—Organization and Command of the American Forces

Chapter 3: Preparing for the Attack

Training—Logistics—Preliminary Air and Naval Action—Movement Overseas

Chapter 4: The Enemy

Japanese Invasion of the Gilberts—Carlson’s Raid and Its Aftermath—American Attacks and Japanese Responses—Japanese Defenses on the Eve of the Attack

Chapter 5: The Landings on Makin

Red Beaches—Establishing the Beachhead—Yellow Beach

Chapter 6: Reduction of the West Tank Barrier

Advance of the 2nd Battalion to the Barrier—Advance of the 1st Battalion—Holding Action on the East—First Day: The Summing Up

Chapter 7: Consolidating the Beachhead

Build-up of the Assault—First Night on Butaritari—Final Mop-up at the West Tank Barrier and Yellow Beach

Chapter 8: Makin Taken

The Main Action of the Second Day—The Second Night—The Third Day: Capture of the East Tank Barrier—The Advance Beyond the East Tank Barrier—The Last Night—Mop-up—Profit and Loss

Chapter 9: The Capture of Tarawa

Preliminaries to the Invasion—The Landings on Red Beach 1—Operations at Red Beach 2—The Landings at Red Beach 3—Reinforcing the Beachhead—Supply, Communications, and Command—Consolidating the Beachhead: D Plus 1—Tarawa Is Secured—Conclusion of the Operation

Chapter 10: Strategic & Tactical Significance of the Gilberts Operation

Strategic Consequences—Tactical Lessons Learned—Conclusion

Chapter 11: Tactical Planning for the Marshalls

Early Planning—Spruance’s Plan—Admiral Turner’s Attack Plan—The Landing Force Plans

Chapter 12: Training, Logistics, and Preliminary Operations

Training the Army Ground Troops—Training the 4th Marine Division—Logistics—Preliminary Army Air Operations—Preliminary Naval Action—Approach of the Invasion Force

Chapter 13: Japanese Defenses in the Marshalls

Before Pearl Harbor—From Pearl Harbor to the Eve of Invasion of the Marshalls—The Defenses of Kwajalein Atoll, January 1944

Chapter 14: The Invasion of Southern Kwajalein

The Landings on D Day—The Landings on Kwajalein Island

Chapter 15: Reduction of the Main Defenses of Kwajalein Island

The Push Inland: First Day—The First Night on Kwajalein Island—Second Day’s Action—Situation at the End of the Second Day

Chapter 16: Kwajalein Island: The Third Day

The Plan for 3 February—The Attack of the 32nd Infantry—The Morning Action in the 184th Infantry’s Zone—The Revised Plan of Attack—Situation on the Night of 3 February

Chapter 17: End of the Battle for Southern Kwajalein

Kwajalein Island Secured—Completing the Conquest of Southern Kwajalein—Chauncey Island—Burton Island—Final Mop-up

Chapter 18: The Capture of Majuro and Roi-Namur

Majuro—D Day: Northern Kwajalein—Initial Landings on Roi and Namur—The Capture of Roi—The Capture of Namur

Chapter 19: The Seizure of Eniwetok Atoll

Plans and Preparations—Preliminary Air Operations—Japanese Defenses on Eniwetok Atoll—The Seizure of Engebi Island—The Capture of Eniwetok Island—Parry Island

Chapter 20: Consolidating the Victory

Mop-up in the Marshalls—Building the Marshalls Bases—Neutralizing the Bypassed Atolls

Chapter 21: Tactical and Strategic Consequences of the Marshalls Operation

Concordance of Code And Native Names for Islands in Kwajalein Atoll

Bibliographical Note




1. Ammunition Expended by Japanese on Tarawa and Makin, 13–19 November 1943

2. Japanese Strength in Southern Kwajalein Atoll on D Day

3. Combat Effectiveness of Japanese in Southern Kwajalein Atoll on D Day

4. Japanese Strength in Northern Kwajalein Atoll on D Day


1. Task Organization of Various Commands for the Attack on the Gilbert Islands

2. Task Organization of Major Commands for the Attack on Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls

3. Task Organization of Major Commands for the Attack on Eniwetok Atoll


1. The Pacific Areas 1 August 1942

2. Gilbert and Marshall Islands

3. Makin Atoll

4. Tarawa Atoll

5. First Night on Butaritari, 20–21 November 1943

6. Second Day’s Action, 21 November 1943

7. Securing Makin, 22–23 November 1943

8. Kwajalein Atoll

9. Southern Kwajalein

10. Northeastern Kwajalein

11. Third Day on Kwajalein Island, Morning, 3 February 1944

12. Third Day on Kwajalein island, Afternoon, 3 February 1944

13. Last Day of Battle on Kwajalein Island, 4 February 1944

14. Capture of Burton, 3–4 February 1944

15. Majuro Atoll

16. Eniwetok Atoll

17. Capture of Engebi, 17 February 1944

18. Capture of Eniwetok Island, 19–21 February 1944

19. Capture of Parry, 22 February 1944

Maps I-VIII are in the Maps Chapter at the end

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—Butaritari from the Air—Training Operations on Oahu, Hawaii—Supplies Palletized—Nauru Island—Southern Attack Force—Briefing Troops—Japanese Coastal Defenses—Japanese Tank Defenses on Makin—Landings on RED Beach—Dense Vegetation on Butaritari—Dummy Coast Defense Gun—YELLOW Beach Landing Area—YELLOW Beach Landing—Hulks Off On Chong’s Wharf—Defensive Positions on Makin—M3 Light Tank—Unloading Supplies at King’s Wharf—M3 Medium Tanks—Beached Seaplane—Rifle Pits—Japanese Naval Guns Emplaced on Betio—Western End of Betio After Bombardment—RED Beach 1—Disabled LVT—Landings at RED Beach 2—RED Beach 3—Damaged Medium Tank M4—Damaged Japanese Type 95 Light Tank on Betio—Beach Defensive Positions—Japanese Bombproof Shelter—Mille Under Air Attack—Taroa After Being Bombed—Wotje Under Air Attack—Action at Kwajalein—Landings on Carlson island—Demolished Communications Center and Strongpoint—105-mm. M2 Howitzers—Effect of Bombardment on Kwajalein—Invasion of Kwajalein—Bulldozer Clears Route—75-mm. Howitzer in Action—Flame Thrower—Korean Laborers—105-mm. Howitzer Crew in Action—37-mm. Antitank Gun Firing—Battalion Aid Station—Tank-Infantry Attack—A .30-caliber Machine Gun—Pontoon Piers at GREEN Beach 4—Burton (Ebeye) Island—Japanese Entrenchments on Burton—Japanese Bombproof Shelter—Buildings and Shelters—Namur—Landing Craft Head for Beach at Namur—Medium Tanks—Neutralizing a Concrete Blockhouse—Namur Island Beachhead—A Japanese Torpedo Warhead Magazine—Marines Take Cover—Marines Attack Blockhouse—Attack on Engebi—Invasion of Eniwetok—Machine Gun Squad Firing—Marines Prepare to Attack—Parry Island Under Preliminary Bombardment

Office of the Chief of Military History

Department of the Army

Washington, D.C.

United States Army in World War II

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**

Kent Roberts Greenfield, Chief Historian

Col. George G. O’Connor, Chief, War Histories Division

Lt. Col. Thomas E. Bennett, Chief, Editorial and Publication Division

Joseph R. Friedman, Chief, Editorial Branch

Wsevolod Aglaimoff, Chief, Cartographic Branch

Maj. Arthur T. Lawry, Chief, Photographic Branch

* Deceased.

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