Tarawa, 70 years ago last week.

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by syscom3, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Lest we forget.

    The 70th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa was last week. Nov 20th to 23rd.

    1696 US marines and seaman killed in action.
    4690 IJA killed in action.

    The brutal lessons of that battle was not forgotten by the Pacific forces of the USN, USMC and US Army.
     
  2. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    The Marines had experienced losses of this magnitude before (Guadalcanal) but the Tarawa assault was only a 76 hour battle and it was the first time the Marines had faced a dug-in and entrenched enemy that opposed their landing and fought almost to the last man (3636 Japanese defenders 1 officer and 16 enlisted surrendered; 1200 Korean laborers 129 survived). At the time, Tarawa was the most heavily defended atoll invaded by Allied forces in the Pacific.[
    The high number of casualties from this battle sparked public protest in the US and even the Marine Corps command was critical. Holland Smith commander of the V Amphibious Corps compared the battle to Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. After the war he wrote: “Was Tarawa worth it? My answer is unqualified: No. From the very beginning the decision of the Joint Chiefs to seize Tarawa was a mistake and from their initial mistake grew the terrible drama of errors, errors of omission rather than commission, resulting in these needless casualties.”
    In the aftermath of the battle, American casualties lined the beach and floated in the surf. Marine cameramen were present obtaining footage that contained scenes of American dead so disturbing that the decision of whether or not to release it to the public was deferred to the President
    Looking back, the terrible losses at Tarawa resulted from contributing factors, among which were the miscalculation of the tide and the height of the obstructing coral reefs, the operational shortcomings of the landing craft available, the inability of the naval bombardment to weaken the defenses of a well entrenched enemy, and the difficulties of coordinating and communicating between the different forces involved.
    While the airfields gained here were used in the Marshall campaign, Tarawa’s importance was in the lessons learned here
     
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