Prewar and during World War II known as the Gilbert Islands. In the Pacific Theater of World War II, the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, from November 1943 through February 1944, were key strategic operations of the United States Pacific Fleet and Marine Corps in the Central Pacific.The purpose was to establish airfields that would allow land based air support for the upcoming operations across the central pacific. The task force later returned to Pearl Harbor. Brown-Bag Brief: The U.S. Navy in the Age of Exploration: The Wilkes Expedition with James C. Rentfrow, Ph.D. National Museum of the U.S. Navy Info Pamphlets, U.S. Navy Response to the 1855 Yellow Fever Epidemic, U.S. Navy Response to the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, U.S. Navy Response to the 1923 Kanto Earthquake in Japan, Gilbert and Marshall Islands Campaign: November 1943-February 1944. A series of tactical air and naval attacks conducted in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, these strikes were planned and carried out against the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Gilbert Island chain is about 1,300 miles northeast of the Solomon Island chain. Tarawa Tarawa is an atoll and the capital of the Republic of Kiribati, in the central Pacific Ocean. As troops went ashore at Vella Lavella and Bouganville, the Allies staged their planned thrust into the Central Pacific. The Gilbert Islands were invaded first in November 1943. [12], The Marshalls, by contrast, were a much easier landing. The landing group also faced the same logistical problems as the 22nd Infantry Regiment. Operation Flintlock and Operation Catchpole were aimed at capturing Japanese bases at Kwajalein, Eniwetok, and Majuro in the Marshall Islands. As early as November, Consolidated B-24 Liberator from the Seventh Air Force stationed in the Ellice Islands had flown bombing missions over Mili and Maloelap. The Gilbert and Ellice Islands were occupied as a British protectorate (1892). [2], On 17 February 1944, a naval bombardment of Eniwetok Atoll began. They were the first steps of the drive across the central Pacific by the United States Pacific Fleet and Marine Corps. Gilbert and Marshall Islands Campaign, November 1943-February To protect it from capture, Keiji had 14 coastal defense guns, 50 pieces of field artillery, 100 machine gun nests, and 500 pillboxes installed, as well as a large wall built across the northern lagoon.[10]. Sprawled bodies of American soldiers on the beach of Tarawa atoll testify to the ferocity of the battle for this stretch of sand during the U.S. invasion of the Gilbert Islands, in late November 1943. In 1892 Capt. [2], In the Gilberts, the Americans emerged victorious, but were caught unprepared, suffering 2,459 dead and 2,286 wounded. (H), HistDiv, HQMC, 6514-4559, Box 9, Folder A6-9. Makin Atoll had a seaplane base built on the main island of Butaritari, while Tarawa housed barely enough room for an airfield on its main harbour island, Betio. During World War II, Japan used Truk Lagoon as one of their main naval bases, anchoring a large portion of their fleet and stationing some 40,000 men there — until one fateful American attack.The Japanese had suspected that an attack was coming, having realized that Truk was vulnerable after the Americans captured the nearby Marshall Islands on Feb. 3, 1944. After shakedown training, Gilbert Islands departed San Diego 12 April 1945 for exercises in Hawaiian waters. HullNumber.com's mission is to provide a means for shipmates to keep in touch with one another. At dawn on November 20, 1943, off Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, a task force of U.S. Navy battleships, cruisers and destroyers moved into position for pre-invasion bombardment while transports carrying soldiers of the 165th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) sailed quietly into their assigned areas off Makin’s main island, Butaritari, at the southern edge of the atoll. [2] Major confusion and delays were caused by poor weather and American troops inexperienced in amphibious operations, but the pre-invasion naval and air bombardment was extremely effective. Lieutenant Junior Grade Seizo Ishikawa, the Japanese commander in charge of defending Makin, ordered his troops to build extensive fortifications on the island. Sprawled bodies of American soldiers on the beach of Tarawa atoll testify to the ferocity of the battle for this stretch of sand during the U.S. invasion of the Gilbert Islands, in late November 1943. The history and Technology of Submarines (Grade 5), To the Ends of the Earth and Beyond (Grades 5-8), The Date that Lives in Infamy: Pearl Harbor (High School), Codes and Signals: Breaking the Spy Games of World War II and Vietnam, Damage Control Mission Brief: (Blue Navy) A Study Based on the Battle of Okinawa, Damage Control Mission Brief: (Green Navy) A Study Based on the Battle of Okinawa, STEAM Saturday: Understanding Radar Demonstration. Tarawa, Gilbert Islands. History Map of WWII: the Pacific 1943. Without any carrier aircraft to inform him, he ordered Admiral Masami Kobayashi to disperse his 28,000 troops primarily to the outer islands of Maloelap, Wotje, Jaliuit, and Mili. DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY Headquarters United States Marine Corps Washington, DC 20380-0001 26 September 1991 FOREWORD 1. History Map of WWII: the Pacific 1943. The Japanese did counterattack via a night bombing strike, in which Lexington sustained a torpedo hit but was not sunk. The Americans suffered 348 men killed, 1,462 wounded, and 183 missing in the eight days it took to take the atoll. The Gilbert Islands (Gilbertese: Tungaru; formerly Kingsmill or King's-Mill Islands ) are a chain of sixteen atolls and coral islands in the Pacific Ocean about halfway between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii. [4][3][6] Fortifications were quickly improved by the Japanese, starting in March 1943. Although Imperial leaders wanted to heavily fortify the Marianas and Palau before the Americans could get there, commanders in the outer islands were told to try and hold the island as long as possible. While commander of the United States Army, General Douglas MacArthur, wanted to push towards the Philippines via New Guinea, the United States Navy's Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, favored a drive across the central Pacific, through the Gilberts, the Marshalls, the Carolines, and eventually the Marianas, which would put American B-29 bombers within range of Tokyo. The name Gilbert Islands was given to the group in the 1820s. Full title reads: "U.S. MARINES WIN GLORY IN GILBERT ISLANDS". The islands were occupied by Japanese forces in 1941, … [6] The force took the lightly defended island in one day without any casualties.[2]. The islands were to become a staging post for the planned invasion of the Ellice Islands by the Japanese, under the codename Operation FS, but their setback at the Battle of the Coral Sea delayed the plans, and their defeat at the Battle of Midway and later in the Solomon Islands put a definitive end to it. Although the Japanese pillboxes, bunkers, and intense infantry offensives slowed the Americans, more troops, more experience in amphibious landings, effective pre-landing bombardment, and Japanese defenses on the opposite side of the atoll from where the Americans landed contributed to the capture of Kwajalein and its surrounding islands on 7 February. 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