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November 20, 2013

Nov 20-23, 1943: The Battle of Tarawa

Tarawa was a bloody, hard fought 3 day battle that saw the first tough Japanese resistance to island assaults in the war. Over 1,000 Marines were killed, along with 650 sailors when the light carrier USS Liscome Bay was sunk. 2,100 more Marines were wounded.

Up until this point in the Pacific war, American forces met limited resistance to assault landings. That changed at Tarawa. Over 4,500 Japanese defenders (2,600 soldiers and 2,200 laborers, 1,200 of which were Korean slaves pressed into construction work) dug in a fought to the end. When it was over, only 17 Japanese soldiers were captured along with a hundred or so laborers.

The rest were dead.

tarawa1-405x248.jpg

After Tarawa the 2nd Marine Division shipped back to Hawaii for 6 months until they were called up for the assault on Saipan. The Marines overcame significant obstacles in this fight, poor coordination between the Navy and the Marine landing forces, an inadequate naval bombardment to sufficiently weaken a well dug in enemy, a shortage of landing craft. LVTs were the only landing craft that could get over the coral reefs. After the battle the Marines ordered more LVTs, and reinforced them with heavier armor and bigger guns. The lessons of Tarawa came hard, but the Marines learned them and adapted.


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posted by Dave In Texas at 07:00 PM

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