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Battle of Eniwetok
Part of World War II, Pacific War
Landing craft approaching Eniwetok on 19 February 1944.jpg
Landing craft heading for Eniwetok Island
on 19 February 1944
Date17 February – 23 February 1944
LocationEniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands
Result United States victory
Belligerents
 United States  Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
United States Harry W. Hill,
United States Thomas E. Watson
Empire of Japan Yoshimi Nishida
Strength
2 regiments 2,741
Casualties and losses
262 killed
77 missing
757 wounded
2,677 dead
16 Japanese captured
48 laborers captured


The Battle of Eniwetok was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought between 17 February 1944 and 23 February 1944, on Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Background

The invasion of Eniwetok followed the American success in the Battle of Kwajalein to the southeast. Capture of Eniwetok would provide an airfield and harbour to support attacks on the Mariana Islands to the northwest.

In 1943 the Japanese established light defenses at Eniwetok—they believed that the Americans would strike at the southwestern Marshalls first. The 1st Amphibious Brigade reinforced the defenders in January; its commander, Major General Yoshimi Nishida along with Tank Company/1st Amphibious Brigade led by First Lieut. Ichikawa (9 Type 95 Light Tanks). The 1st Amphibious began to construct defenses, but repeated air attacks made this difficult, and the tiny coral islands meant that defense in depth would be impossible.

Vice Admiral Raymond Spruance preceded the invasion by Operation Hailstone, a carrier strike against the Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline Islands. This raid destroyed 15 warships and more than 250 planes, cutting off Eniwetok from support and supply.

Battle

Battle of Eniwetok map.png

Naval bombardment of Eniwetok began on 17 February, and the 22nd Marine Regiment, commanded by Colonel John T. Walker, landed on Engebi Island, on the north side of the atoll, on 18 February at 08:44. Resistance was light, and the island secured within six hours. Captured documents suggested that the defenses on Eniwetok Island would be light, and accordingly there was only a short bombardment on 19 February before the 106th Infantry Regiment went ashore. However, the Japanese soldiers had strong positions, and the Americans were stopped by heavy automatic fire. The island was not secured until 21 February. 37 Americans were killed; more than 800 Japanese defenders died.[citation needed]

The mistake was not repeated at Parry Island. The battleships USS Tennessee and USS Pennsylvania and other ships delivered more than 900 tons of explosive onto the island. When the 22nd Marines landed on 22 February resistance was light. On 23 February the other islands of the atoll were captured.

Aftermath

Eniwetok Atoll provided a forward base for the United States Navy for its later operations.

Notes

References

  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1961). Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, June 1942-April 1944, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ASIN B0007FBB8I. 
  • Rottman, Gordon; Howard Gerrard (2004). The Marshall Islands 1944: "Operation Flintlock, the capture of Kwajalein and Eniwetok". Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-851-0. 
  • Rottman, Gordon; Dr Duncan Anderson (2004). US Marine Corps Pacific Theater of Operations 1943-44. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-651-8. 

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 11°27′54″N 162°11′20″E / 11.465°N 162.189°E / 11.465; 162.189

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