Whereas not as properly often known as a few of the greater battles fought for Pacific islands, the 1944 battle for Eniwetok Atoll was each bit as brutal.
By Nathan N. Favor
“However listed here are males who fought in gallant actions, as gallant AS ever hero’s fought,” wrote the poet Lord Byron (1788-1824). These phrases apply equally properly to many battles fought after the poet’s demise, none extra so than the conquest of Eniwetok Atoll within the Marshall Islands in 1944.
For People of a sure age at present, the identify Eniwetok might bring to mind a palm tree-covered Pacific coral atoll the place, on October 31, 1952, the world’s first hydrogen bomb was exploded by america in a check referred to as Operation Ivy Mike. However Eniwetok’s place in historical past started a number of years earlier.
By January 1944, the People within the Pacific had seized the offensive from the Japanese who, barely a yr beforehand, had conquered a lot of the Western and Central Pacific. Beneath Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the Central Pacific Theater of Operations had, within the area of lower than a yr, accomplished the conquest of the Solomons and Gilbert Islands by amphibious assaults from Guadalcanal to Tarawa. By the start of 1944, it was time to strike at territory held by the Japanese previous to the outbreak of the conflict within the Pacific.
It had lengthy been the plan of the People that the Central Pacific drive would require the seizure of the Marshall Islands. This island group included at the very least 32 islands and 867 reefs overlaying greater than 400,000 sq. miles of ocean instantly between america and Japan.
Grouped in two sections—a northeastern group and southeastern group—there have been a number of essential islands garrisoned by the Japanese that contained each naval bases and air bases, each of which threatened any Allied advance to the west. If these islands might be captured, broad lagoons at a number of locations inside the Marshalls provided the People wonderful anchorages for his or her rising naval forces.
Admiral Nimitz had considerations about seizing the Marshalls. Whereas he had requested permission from the Joint Chiefs of Employees in Washington, D.C., to assault them, he was reluctant to incur pointless casualties. The islands had been beneath Japanese management since 1914, once they had been seized by the Japanese Navy from Germany throughout World Struggle I. After the warfare they have been handed to Japan as part of a League of Nations Class C Mandate.
Since then, no matter defenses Japan had established within the islands remained a thriller. Though technically required to stop “the institution of fortifications or army and naval bases” within the islands, Japan had left the League in February 1933, and since then no foreigners had been permitted to go to them.
The Joint Chiefs accredited Nimitz’s request and approved the seizure of the Marshalls, after which Nimitz was tasked to proceed on to Wake Island, Eniwetok Atoll, and Kusaie, the latter the easternmost island of the Caroline group. Technically, Eniwetok was the westernmost atoll of the Marshall Islands and can be a launching level for future operations to the west towards the Caroline and Palau teams.
By October 1944, Nimitz and his employees have been involved concerning the Marshall Islands. Mixed with the outcomes of the just lately accomplished Gilbert Islands operations, the place the Japanese had fought from ready positions at Tarawa, inflicting many casualties among the many assault troops, it was determined to grab solely crucial islands inside the group from which the others could possibly be neutralized by air and naval strikes. Ultimately, it was determined that Kwajalein Atoll can be seized, adopted by Eniwetok.
Kwajalein was centrally situated within the Marshalls, and from there Allied ships and planes might neutralize the opposite islands occupied by the Japanese. Eniwetok, scheduled for later assault, would offer the Allies with egress to the western island teams.
The goal date for the invasion of the Marshalls—codenamed Operation Flintlock—was January 1, 1944. To take the 2 fundamental aims, Kwajalein and Eniwetok Atolls, a touchdown pressure composed of the Military’s seventh Infantry Division, which had fought within the Aleutians, the brand new 4th Marine Division, the unbiased 22nd Marine Regiment, and different models, was assigned to Nimitz.
On February 1, 1944, the 4th Marine Division, underneath Maj. Gen. Harry Schmidt, took the islands of Roi and Namur within the northern Kwajalein Atoll group. Inside 48 hours Japanese resistance had been overcome, and the Marines have been clearing small outlying islands. To the south, Maj. Gen. C.H. Corlett’s seventh Infantry Division, dealing with stronger opposition, took three days to grab Kwajalein Island itself. They, too, set about clearing the various outlying islands of the atoll.
As a bonus, reconnaissance had revealed that the island of Majuro, with its monumental anchorage and potential for a number of airfields, was undefended. An advert hoc grouping of the 2nd Battalion, 106th Infantry, the first Marine Protection Battalion, and the V Marine Amphibious Corps Reconnaissance Firm seized the atoll on January 31, 1944. The People had management of Kwajalein Atoll.
The fast and comparatively cheap seize of Kwajalein prompted Admiral Nimitz to rethink his schedule. The seize of Eniwetok Atoll was initially scheduled on or about Might 1, 1944. From there the People would transfer to assault the Japanese bastion at Truk or different islands within the Carolines. The 27th Infantry Division, initially drawn from the New York State Nationwide Guard, was already getting ready for the Eniwetok operation. Intelligence reported that the atoll was flippantly defended however that the Japanese have been dashing reinforcements to it every day.
Involved that delay would solely improve the problem and price of the Eniwetok operation, Nimitz and his chief tactical officer, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, beneficial that the Eniwetok assault be initiated instantly as an alternative of ready till Might. Supporting this was the supply of the reserve forces that had not been wanted at Kwajalein. The operation to take Eniwetok was codenamed Catchpole.
These forces have been the 22nd Marine Regiment and the 106th Infantry Regiment, much less its second battalion then on Majuro. The Marine infantry regiment was presently a separate command, whereas the 106th Infantry Regiment was a component of the 27th Infantry Division.
Definitely no different operation within the Central Pacific had extra of an impromptu character than the Eniwetok invasion. The invasion drive was assembled in every week. Planning lasted lower than two weeks, from February Three-15, the day the operation’s process drive sailed from Kwajalein to Eniwetok. Coated by a swiftly conceived American service strike on Japan’s main fleet base within the Pacific at Truk (Operation Hailstone), Catchpole was nonetheless believed to be a stepping stone to the invasion of the Caroline Islands.
Eniwetok Atoll is 350 miles northwest of Kwajalein. It’s the typical Central Pacific coral atoll. It’s 17 miles throughout from east to west and 21 miles lengthy from north to south. Though there are some 30 islands inside the roughly round atoll, solely three had any army worth. These have been Engebi within the north, Parry to the southeast, and Eniwetok within the south. Two deep-water passages into the lagoon shaped by the atoll invited the American naval forces right into a haven from enemy submarines.
As was the case with the opposite islands within the Marshall group, intelligence on the Japanese defenses was restricted. Aerial pictures confirmed defenses however have been definitely not conclusive. Preliminary intelligence stories positioned about 700 Japanese troops on the atoll, targeting Engebi Island, the place the one airfield lay.
By January 1944, nevertheless, studies of reinforcements started to return in that recognized the first Amphibious Brigade as additionally being on the atoll. A rise within the variety of defensive positions recognized in new aerial pictures supported this intelligence, and estimates of the Japanese garrison have been elevated to between Three,000-Four,000 troops.
The truth is, the People can be dealing with the first Amphibious Brigade beneath Maj. Gen. Yoshimi Nishida and the 61st Guard Pressure underneath Colonel Toshio Yano. All collectively there have been some Three,500 Japanese on Eniwetok; a number of hundred weren’t educated troopers however moderately civilians, air personnel stranded there, Korean laborers, and naval stragglers. There have been truly extra Japanese troops on Eniwetok than there had been at Kwajalein, and a weaker American activity pressure was about to assault them.
The Eniwetok assault pressure was often known as the Eniwetok Expeditionary Group, underneath the command of Vice Admiral Harry W. Hill, an skilled amphibious pressure commander. Its foremost elements have been the Military’s 106th Infantry Regiment beneath Colonel Russell A. Ayers (much less the 2nd Battalion) and the 22nd Marine Regiment commanded by Colonel John T. Walker. Each regiments have been underneath the command of the advert hoc Tactical Group One, commanded by Brig. Gen. Thomas E. Watson, USMC.
A number of supporting models have been indifferent from the Kwajalein assault forces to help Tactical Group One. These included the V Amphibious Corps Reconnaissance Firm; Firm D (Scout), 4th Marine Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division; Firm A, 708th Amphibian Tank Battalion; and a provisional DUKW (amphibious truck) firm drawn from the seventh Infantry Division.
The 22nd Marine Regimental Fight Group included its tank firm and the 2nd Separate Pack Howitzer Battalion (75mm weapons), whereas the 106th Infantry was strengthened with the 104th Subject Artillery Battalion (105mm howitzers) and Firm C, 766th Tank Battalion. A number of smaller models, together with Underwater Demolition Group One and the 2nd Joint Assault Sign Firm, rounded out the duty drive.
Operation Catchpole started at 9:15 am on February 17, 1944. The Japanese watched helplessly as Admiral Hill’s process drive approached the atoll, firing its weapons on the goal islands, after which sailed majestically into the lagoon to determine a base of operations.
One of many defenders famous in his diary, “There have been one man killed and 4 wounded in our unit throughout in the present day’s preventing. There have been some who have been buried by shells from the ships, however we survived by taking care within the mild of previous expertise. What number of occasions should we bury ourselves within the sand?”
First into motion have been the Marines of V Amphibious Corps Reconnaissance Firm, commanded by Captain James Jones (no relation to the novelist). They landed on two of the smaller islands and shortly reported that each have been unoccupied apart from natives. Different Marine models continued piling onto different small islands, masking 5 extra with out encountering Japanese troops.
Behind them, advance events from the 2nd Separate Pack Howitzer Battalion landed and shortly arrange firing positions for his or her weapons, getting ready to help the primary landings. Beneath the duvet of naval gunfire, Underwater Demolition Workforce 1 examined the seashores of Engebi, discovering no obstacles or mines. Lastly, the 4th Marine Division Scout Firm seized “Zinnia,” or Bogon Island, securing one of many passages into the lagoon.
By establishing troops on these smaller islands, the People had prevented the Japanese from shifting from island to island, reinforcing or retreating as vital. That they had additionally been capable of set up bases for his or her supporting artillery that might be wanted within the coming important assaults.
Basic Watson deliberate for the first Battalion (Lt. Col. Walfried H. Fromhold, USMC) and 2nd Battalion (Lt. Col. Donn C. Hart, USMC), 22nd Marines, to grab Engebi with Main Clair W. Shisler’s third Battalion, 22nd Marines, in reserve. The 2nd Separate Tank Firm and an Military platoon of two self-propelled 105mm weapons have been stored in reserve. Each the Military and Marine artillery battalions have been in help.
The Japanese on Engebi had already been battered by the U.S. Navy as reported within the diary of one of many defenders: “One among our ammunition dumps was hit and went up with a terrifying explosion. At 1300 [1 pm] the ammunition depot of the artillery within the palm forest caught hearth and exploded, and a conflagration began within the neighborhood of the western positions.” Worse was nonetheless to return.
Richard Wilcox, a correspondent for Life Journal, got here ashore with a gaggle of 22nd Marines in Boat 13 and was instantly immersed in chaos and carnage: “We sprinted low by means of the milky surf and dropped flat on the arduous coral sand…. As the lads in Boat 13 lay within the coral they appeared round and noticed different males mendacity beside them, their inexperienced battle gown soaked black and the gritty sand streaking their our bodies. Certainly one of these males rose to his ft for an prompt, spun after which dropped on his again; the blood welled out of his chest and soaked his jacket.”
A Japanese pillbox, thought to have been knocked out, instantly got here again to life and commenced raking the seashore with machine-gun hearth. A couple of moments later the order was given to fall again into the water, the place the one safety lay. “Not all the males of Boat 13 reached the slight security of the water,” Wilcox wrote. “An enormous, white-faced farm lad stopped crawling as a bullet went by way of his head.”
Ultimately the pillbox was knocked out—not by artillery or tank hearth, however by indignant, decided Marines with nothing greater than grenades of their palms.
The American landings continued as deliberate with the standard delays incurred by waves, wind, and mechanical failures. As Lt. Col. Fromhold’s 1st Battalion moved inland it started to come across stiffening Japanese resistance which, supported by gunfire from the armored amphibian automobiles, slowed however didn’t halt the advance.
However a delayed touchdown by a platoon from Firm A had left a niche within the Marines’ line, and retreating Japanese discovered it accidently whereas making an attempt to flee. They quickly started attacking the uncovered flank of Firm A, which had no assets obtainable to cease them. Fromhold halted the battalion’s assault till a platoon of tanks might come ahead and plug the hole.
Lieutenant Colonel Hart’s 2nd Battalion, in the meantime, moved inland shortly after touchdown regardless of a number of amphibious tractors touchdown within the flawed space. Tanks quickly moved up behind them and the Marines swept over the airfield supported by their artillery. The Marine tanks quickly encountered mild Japanese tanks dug in as pillboxes, which they eradicated.
Bypassing knots of resistance, the Marines raced to the other shore. When regimental commander Colonel Walker got here ashore at 10:30, resistance within the 2nd Battalion’s space was restricted to 2 small areas round “Weasel” and “Newt” Factors.
In the meantime, the first Battalion was nonetheless engaged with the Japanese within the hole on the proper of Firm A; resistance from the wooded space to the entrance additionally stymied the battalion. One platoon had grow to be separated, and casualties had been taken by the Marines. Colonel Walker instantly assigned an organization from Main Shisler’s third Battalion to the first Battalion to provide it sufficient power to finish its mission, and Firm I quickly moved by means of the stalled Firm A.
Firm I used to be confronted by floor thickly coated with underbrush and fallen timber that prevented remark of the enemy trenches and spider holes. The Japanese have been, as traditional, properly entrenched in expertly camouflaged, ready defenses; sniper positions dotted the world.
The Marines quickly found a approach to find the enemy defenses. They discovered that a smoke grenade hurled right into a bunker on the middle of a defensive net would point out your complete complicated when the smoke escaped from the varied air flow and firing holes of the fortifications. As soon as the define of the person net was situated, demolitions males and riflemen moved in and eradicated them one after the other.
As they lowered the sector fortifications, Fromhold’s 1st Battalion got here up towards “Skunk” Level, the place the Japanese had constructed concrete pillboxes. To knock these out, two self-propelled 105mm weapons from the 106th Infantry’s Cannon Firm got here ahead. They fired a whole day’s allowance of ammunition, about 80 rounds, earlier than knocking out the positions and killing some 30 Japanese.
With the preventing slowly subsiding, Common Watson got here ashore at 2 pm and shortly declared the island secured. Whereas there have been many particular person Japanese nonetheless hiding on the island and hanging out once they might, organized resistance had ceased. Engebi Island now belonged to the People. Shisler’s third Battalion, 22nd Marines and the 22nd Regiment Tank Firm have been instantly reembarked to be out there for the subsequent part of Operation Catchpole.
In the meantime, the V Amphibious Corps Reconnaissance Firm and Firm D (Scout), 4th Tank Battalion weren’t idle. They continued to maneuver to the smaller outlying islands of the atoll, making a complete of eight landings, capturing one Japanese soldier, and struggling three wounded from enemy hearth.
As night time fell, Common Watson and his employees reviewed the day’s occasions. Intelligence from natives and captured paperwork indicated that there have been a further 1,000 Japanese on the islands. There was additionally presupposed to be a 600-man garrison situated someplace. This triggered Common Watson to alert Colonel Ayers that his 106th Infantry may face elevated opposition as they attacked Eniwetok Island the subsequent day. As a precaution, Watson strengthened Ayers with the third Battalion, 22nd Marines and the group tank firm.
Again on Engebi, Lt. Cols. Fromhold and Hart have been busy making an attempt to complete off the various Japanese who had hidden underground through the battle. When night time fell, the Japanese got here out and commenced attacking the Marines on the island; the assaults have been unorganized however lethal. Moreover, snipers, typically lashed excessive up in palm timber, additionally made any above-ground motion harmful.
After a proper flag-raising ceremony on Engebi the subsequent day, February 19, the 2 battalions set about destroying all remaining enemy positions on the island.
As soon as once more, this was simpler stated than carried out. As Firm E, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marines was settling in for the night time of February 19-20, 1944, Corporal Anthony Peter Damato and two of his males have been on the entrance line. Almost half of the corporate had been withdrawn in preparation for the subsequent assault, however a number of small, fanatical teams of die-hard Japanese nonetheless roamed the island at night time.
Corporal Damato, a former truck driver from the small mining city of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, had already seen fight within the North African invasion the place he had distinguished himself as a Marine aboard ship at Arzew, Algeria, and acquired a promotion to corporal. He knew his place was very important to carry the entrance strains for the night time. When an undetected Japanese soldier crept shut sufficient to toss a grenade into his foxhole, Corporal Damato instantly started groping for it within the pitch darkish.
Understanding that demise awaited all three of the Marines within the gap, he unhesitatingly flung himself on the grenade, thereby saving each the lives of his fellow Marines and their important place within the entrance line. For his gallant self-sacrifice, Corporal Anthony Peter Damato acquired the Medal of Honor posthumously.
The invasion of Eniwetok Island got here on February 19. Essential as a result of it flanks one of many two primary passages into the lagoon, Eniwetok is an extended, skinny spit of land. Coming ashore have been the 2 battalions of Colonel Walker’s 106th Infantry Regiment and their supporting parts. Landings have been made on the Yellow Seashores shortly after 9 am.
Amphibious automobiles crammed with troopers have been supposed to hold them 100 yards inland earlier than discharging them, however this plan quickly fell awry due to a nine-foot embankment the automobiles couldn’t cross. Worse nonetheless, the troopers discovered themselves in an intricate community of spider holes like these the Marines had simply encountered on Engebi. Most of Lt. Col. Harold J. Mizony’s third Battalion, 106th Infantry discovered the going a bit of simpler and shortly reached the far shore.
Much less lucky was Lt. Col. Winslow Cornett’s 1st Battalion and part of the third. A robust enemy protection, underneath the command of Lt. Col. Masahiro Hashida, had been developed within the southern portion of the island—defenses that had largely been missed within the preinvasion bombardment. Hashida instantly acknowledged the chance offered by the delays within the American assault and withdrew about half his pressure into the ready defenses whereas he despatched the opposite half ahead to harass Cornett’s 1st Battalion.
Within the early afternoon some 400 Japanese troops attacked Cornett’s males. Shock and correct Japanese supporting hearth allowed an preliminary penetration into the strains, however the People recovered shortly and pushed the Japanese survivors again into the comb.
One man, Personal George Lorenz of the 102nd Engineer (Fight) Battalion, was utilizing a pole cost to knock out an enemy pillbox when the Japanese attacked and was caught between the 2 opposing forces. He was pressured to lie low through the battle to outlive.
One of many key figures in repelling this assault was 1st Lt. Arthur Klein who, when a number of the males started to retreat within the face of the Japanese assault, raced ahead together with his M-1 carbine held over his head and shouted, “I’ll shoot the primary son of a bitch that takes one other step backward! You bastards are presupposed to be All-American troopers. Now let’s see you present just a little guts!”
After Lieutenant Klein stabilized Firm B’s line and the machine gunners of Corporations B and D who had remained of their positions minimize down the remaining Japanese, the enemy resorted to mortars and long-range automated weapons hearth. Firm B, now strengthened with Firm Okay, continued urgent the enemy, sporting them down and slowly pushing them again towards their ready defenses.
The assault continued towards robust enemy positions. Colonel Ayers, involved concerning the slowness of the advance, referred to as for his reserve, Main Shisler’s third Battalion, 22nd Marines to land. It was to alleviate the depleted 1st Battalion, 106th Infantry and proceed the assault south. Shisler’s males landed by 2:42 pmand instantly moved via the first Battalion to take up the assault. By 6:30 pmthe Marines had reached the top of the island of their zone of motion, however there remained a niche between the Marines and the neighboring 1st Battalion, 106th Infantry.
Colonel Ayers, now frightened a few night time assault, took the weird step of ordering the American assault to proceed in the course of the night time. However earlier than this was mandatory, Firm A reached the south shore and was quickly strengthened by Firm B.
The next morning, February 20, the remaining Japanese on the island launched a counterattack towards the Marine battalion that was quickly repulsed. About 30 Japanese, rising from an underground shelter inside the Marines’ strains, managed to assault the battalion command publish however have been crushed off.
The Military and Marines spent the remainder of the day clearing Japanese holdouts on the western aspect of the island. By the second night time, solely particular person Japanese stragglers remained. The battle for Eniwetok Island was over. There remained solely Parry Island to finish the marketing campaign.
Initially the plan was to invade Parry Island concurrently Eniwetok, however the necessity to commit the reserve forces to safe Eniwetok delayed the invasion of Parry. This was, the truth is, useful because it allowed further days of preinvasion bombardment by the U.S. Navy. It had been discovered that the Japanese pressure on Parry Island was bigger than on the opposite islands. So the longer the bombardment, the much less opposition the People may need to face.
The bombardment, aided by captured maps displaying the island’s defenses, was simpler than the standard preliminary bombardment. The Navy positioned 944 tons of excessive explosives on Parry, the aviators dropped one other 99 tons, and area artillery contributed 245 tons earlier than the primary People set foot on the island.
Relieved by the 10th Marine Protection Battalion’s arrival on Engebi, the 22nd Marines have been reunited for the Parry Island assault. To strengthen the assault in mild of the brand new intelligence in regards to the bigger than anticipated enemy power on Parry, Lt. Col. Mizony’s third Battalion, 106th Infantry and the 2 scout corporations have been added to the assault pressure. As well as, an advert hoc battalion of 5 improvised rifle corporations consisting of 100 males every was drawn from the 10th Marine Protection Battalion as an emergency reserve pressure.
Nevertheless, resulting from larger expenditure than anticipated, the assault troops have been low on ammunition and weapons. The Navy ships have been scrounged for extra weapons, provides, and demolition fees. Further supplies have been flown in from Kwajalein.
At 9 am on February 22, the 22nd Marine Regiment, Strengthened, nonetheless of their blood- and sweat-stained HBT fatigues from Eniwetok, hit the seashores of Parry Island. Lt. Col. Fromhold’s 1st Battalion landed on Inexperienced Seashore Three whereas Lt. Col. Hart’s 2nd Battalion hit Inexperienced Seashore 2. Main Shisler’s third Battalion was to land behind Fromhold and be a part of in attacking south towards the island’s narrowing tail. From close by islands the Marines have been supported by the 2nd Separate Pack Howitzer Battalion and the 104th Subject Artillery Battalion.
For the Japanese on Parry, ready for the inevitable was onerous. One defender wrote, “We thought they might land this morning, however there was solely a continuation of their bombardment and no touchdown. As this was opposite to our expectations, we have been fairly disenchanted.”
They might not be dissatisfied for lengthy. The Marines stormed ashore as deliberate, though Hart’s 2nd Battalion landed barely misplaced. Opposition initially was mild, however land mines quickly took a toll of the advancing invaders. Inland of Inexperienced Seashore 2, a number of Japanese fought to the demise from particular person foxholes, taking some Marines with them.
In response the Marines referred to as ahead a number of bulldozers, which buried the enemy alive of their holes and dugouts. Military mild tanks arrived in help and detachments of the V Amphibious Corps Reconnaissance Firm added its weight to the assault. By midafternoon Hart’s battalion was mopping up in its sector.
Not so in Fromhold’s sector, although, the place Japanese resistance was stronger. Close to a place referred to as Valentine Pier, enemy machine weapons and mortars started to take a toll of the Marines’ leaders, who have been uncovered whereas organizing their troops. Hand-to-hand preventing raged alongside the shoreline because the Marines pushed down the island.
Japanese positions in a sand dune simply inland from the seashore positioned interlocking machine-gun hearth on any try and strategy. Situated and destroyed by mortars, artillery, and automated weapons hearth, the elimination of the sand dune defenses allowed the Marines to maneuver inland. By 10 am two teams of Marines had crossed the island to the other shore. With Marine medium tanks now ashore, the advance moved ahead.
Common Nishida, whose headquarters was on Parry, had a shock for the Marines. Slightly below the seashore he had positioned three mild tanks. Figuring out that that they had no probability towards the American tanks in an open struggle, he had buried them within the sand as much as their turrets and camouflaged them within the ordinary inimitable Japanese type.
Nevertheless, he didn’t intend to make use of them as pillboxes, as many different Japanese commanders did. He offered ramps, so that when the People have been shut sufficient to stop their naval and air help from firing, he would launch the tanks towards the unprepared People.
Sadly for Common Nishida, he waited just a bit too lengthy. By the point he launched his tank counterattack, the medium tanks of the 22nd Regiment Tank Firm have been ashore in numbers. However, the assault did inflict casualties on Fromhold’s battalion earlier than the American tanks might get into place to destroy the Japanese armor. By midday the Marines have been on the ocean aspect of the island.
Because the Marines have been reorganizing in preparation for shifting down the size of the island, they noticed between 150 and 200 Japanese troopers calmly marching single file alongside the shore line. It was surmised that these defenders had taken refuge on the reef off the island to keep away from the bombardment and have been simply now making an attempt to return to their defensive positions, unaware that the People had them beneath statement. The Marines, nevertheless, had little time to take a position. The menace was shortly eradicated by the first Battalion.
Main Shisler’s third Battalion got here ashore regardless of enemy small arms, mortar concentrations, and land mines. Neutralizing beforehand bypassed Japanese positions as they went, they quickly joined Fromhold’s battalion on the superior line. Behind them Colonel Walker and his employees got here ashore and arrange regimental headquarters close to the seashore. Common Watson despatched each the scout corporations ashore, attaching Firm D (Scout), 4th Tank Battalion to Fromhold and the V Reconnaissance Firm to Hart. There was nonetheless enemy resistance to be overcome.
That afternoon, the strengthened 1st and third Battalions, 22nd Marines attacked south. Japanese resistance was as fierce as ever, with the enemy preventing from spider holes, trenches, pillboxes, and dugouts. Shut cooperation between infantry, armor, artillery, and supporting weapons allowed the assault to proceed steadily.
Regularly, using tanks, flamethrowers, mortars, and demolition costs tore aside the Japanese defenses. Armored half-tracks evacuated the wounded. DUKWs offered ammunition and different crucial provides. By darkness the 2 assault battalions have been inside 450 yards of the top of the island. Fearing pleasant hearth incidents at the hours of darkness, the Marines halted for the night time. At 7:30 that night, Colonel Walker introduced that Parry Island was secured.
The subsequent day, February 23, the remainder of the island was overrun. Japanese resistance was spotty however remained decided. The bypassed Japanese have been later mopped up by the third Battalion, 106th Infantry. Operation Catchpole was over.
The seizure of the Marshall Islands not solely offered important bases for the American advance westward, but in addition accelerated the general advance of the American forces to Japan. The Navy’s assault on Truk, overlaying the Marshall Islands invasion, revealed that the tremendously feared Japanese “Pearl Harbor” was in truth a paper tiger by 1944. The primary parts of the Imperial Japanese Navy had been withdrawn, and the People have been now snug with leaving it to “wither on the vine.”
Likewise, a assessment of the planning for future operations decided that the seizure of the Caroline Islands was not essential as a result of Kwajalein might fill meet the necessities that had earlier been thought needed within the Carolines. As an alternative of including one other marketing campaign earlier than hitting the Marianas, the latter island group would grow to be the subsequent goal within the Central Pacific Theater. Months of preventing and planning had been eradicated, in addition to a have to incur an untold variety of casualties.
Different advantages got here from the Marshall Islands marketing campaign. Regardless of the current heavy losses at Tarawa, it was now clear that the essential methods utilized by the People in amphibious warfare have been sound and efficient. Eniwetok would even be the final well-defended atoll the People would face. From this level ahead, targets can be bigger land plenty starting from mid-size islands like Iwo Jima to giant land plenty similar to Leyte and Luzon.
With the information that the Imperial Japanese Navy had deserted Truk, the U.S. Navy was emboldened to strike farther and with extra energy at distant targets that had heretofore been thought-about too dangerous. The American fleet was additionally now ready to stay offshore in help of amphibious operations so long as it took to resolve the operation, understanding it held the higher hand towards any Japanese counterstrike.
Tactical improvements, resembling using an solely devoted headquarters ship for higher command and management of the operation, arming touchdown craft with 40mm weapons and rockets for larger hearth help, using the DUKW for carrying males and provides immediately onto the seashore, and touchdown artillery on offshore islands prematurely of the primary assault to raised help the assault troops, have been among the many tactical improvements first used within the Marshall Islands.
American casualties suffered in seizing Eniwetok Atoll have been 219 Marines and 94 troopers killed in motion, 568 Marines and 311 troopers wounded in motion, plus 39 Marines and 38 troopers lacking in motion and presumed lifeless. Japanese losses have been calculated at Three,380 killed and 105 captured.
Thus, for a complete of 1,269 casualties, Tactical Group One had offered airfields—which have been established on Eniwetok and Engebi Islands—for the U.S. Navy to stage alternative plane to ahead working forces about to assault the Marianas. A seaplane base was constructed on Parry for reconnaissance planes.
As anticipated, the atoll itself turned a serious fleet anchorage and served because the launching level for a number of future invasions. These islands additionally served as bases for the persevering with neutralization of the Marshalls and Carolines, duties largely the duty of the 4th Marine Air Base Protection Wing, the Seventh Military Air Drive from the Marshalls, and the Thirteenth Military Air Drive from the South Pacific.
For the models that took half in Operation Catchpole, the struggle would proceed. The 22nd Marine Regiment quickly shaped a foundation for the brand new sixth Marine Division and would battle once more on Guam and Okinawa. The 106th Infantry Regiment would return to its mum or dad 27th Infantry Division and battle on Saipan and Okinawa.
The V Amphibious Reconnaissance Firm can be expanded right into a battalion and serve within the Marianas and on Iwo Jima. Firm D (Scout), 4th Tank Battalion, returned to its mum or dad 4th Marine Division and would struggle once more at Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima. The opposite models that had fought for the Marshalls would additionally battle in different essential battles.
The battle for the small islands of the Kwajalein and Eniwetok Atolls would pay big dividends because the warfare within the Pacific Theater continued.