Tarawa (2)

Betio, Tarawa after the fighting

Betio, Tarawa after the fighting

Miscommunication blighted the operation. As a result, the 1st Battalion spent a miserable night bobbing up and down in their landing craft before landing on the second day, not using a deep water channel that had been found, but once again wading across the reefs in the face of enemy gunfire.

Despite their struggles, the Americans were finally making headway.  Air strikes weakened the Japanese artillery, and Major Ryan’s 3rd Battalion were able to advance, clearing the western beach and the coast opposite the pier.  More troops landed on the second evening.

The troopship Doyen was ordered into the lagoon to accept the most critically wounded.  Lt.Cmdr. James Oliver, Medical Corps, led a 5-man surgical team with experience in the Aleutians.  They treated 390 Marines and only lost 9 men.

Meanwhile, an air attack on the neighboring island of Bairiki blew up a Japanese fuel dump, allowing that island to be easily taken, cutting off the Japanese retreat.  A field hospital was established here to relieve the Doyen.

On the third day, the Americans made advances at various points across the island, breaking out of the beachheads in which most of them had been trapped. Light tanks proved ineffective against the sturdy Japanese defenses, but flame-throwers and M4 medium tanks allowed them to take out many enemy positions. By the end of the day, most of the remaining Japanese were contained in the east end of Betio. The remainder were mopped up over the following days, and by 28 November the island was cleared.

The defenders lost 4,690 dead, the attackers 1,696 KIA and 2,101 wounded; the USS Liscombe Bay was sunk on 23 November, 1943 and another 687 were KIA. Tarawa was considered a victory.  The relatively high cost in American lives shocked the public, once FDR allowed the information released.

The military learned vital lessons from the invasion of Tarawa. The organization of amphibious landings was changed, and by D-Day they would be far more effective.

To be continued……..

With the Marines at Tarawa

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Military Humor – 

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Said no one, ever !

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Farewell Salutes –

Lawrence Combe Sr. – Covina, CA; US Army, WWII

John DeNiro – Syracuse, NY; USMC, WWII, PTOtribute

James Hansen – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Navy # 19365

Hugh Karr – LaSalle, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Enterprise

Leonard Klein – Maynard, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div.

John S. Lolos – Springfield, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., P-47D pilot

Nancy Davis Reagan (nee Anne Francis Robbins) – Bethesda, MD; First Lady of the US & actress

Lachlan Scowcroft – Canberra, AUS; RA Army # 213399, Warrant Officer 2 (Ret.)

Russell Steiner – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

Stephen Whitney – Hawthorne, NJ; US Army, Vietnam

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Click on images to enlarge.    

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 7, 2016, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 55 Comments.

  1. “Many of these men were killed the following morning.” This video says it all doesn’t it. Something familiar about the narrator’s voice.

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    • Those 3 days as a whole are beyond my ability to describe. I attempted to find out who the narrator was, but to no avail. I want to say, to me, it sort of sounds like Edward R. Murrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hard lessons to learn…so many lives lost. It’s interesting how much disinformation you get from Hollywood versions of WWII.

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    • I still enjoy the movies, but for entertainment only! Tarawa was ghastly and I firmly believe the Government simply said,” we learned valuable lessons from it,” to appease those that were shocked. It took a long time for FDR to okay the release of the footage from those 3 days.

      Like

  3. Great informative post as usual gp, the video really illustrates the assaults, those Flamethrowers are a formidable weapon, thanks for the great blog.

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  4. Great post and it gets even better following the comments.Such great input and dialogue!

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    • Isn’t it the truth, Mrs P!! The readers here are great. They discuss things between each other sometimes, add information, contribute their own stories or those of friends and relatives, etc, etc!! I couldn’t ask for better friends. I appreciate your interest and continual support – you sure have hung in there with me for quite awhile!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An amazing cinematic record – worth every minute of watching it. After that ‘softening-up’, no wonder the landing parties thought it would be a piece of cake. The ingenuity and magnitude of the fortifications was a rude shock. Still, the Americans won through, but by the time they did so knew well that they had been in a real battle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for watching and for your comment. Yes, they truly knew it was one heck of a battle too. Colonel Carlson said, “This was not only worse than Guadalcanal, it was the damnest fight I’ve ever seen…”

      Like

  6. So often we are reminded that soldiers had to go through knackering experiences before they even began to fight

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Communications save lives … no-one passed on the message about the channel; not good.

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  8. Wünsche dir einen wunderschönen Tag lieber Gruß und Umarmung Gislinde

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  9. Great post. I had to look at Tarawa on Google Earth. Incredibly tiny piece of real estate. The men must have wondered why they were there.

    Great to see the farewell salute to Nancy Davis Reagan.

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  10. Incredible footage of some truly ferocious fighting. Another informative post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Live, die, and learn. What a tough battle that was.

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  12. Excellent post, Everett! I agree that every job is important and glad that you give the recognition to all!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That footage really helps bring the words to life.

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  14. Such fierce close combat. Watching the clip again brings home how they had to fight for every inch of sand in that distant place, and how determined the Japanese were to keep it.
    I can well imagine how the footage of the dead marines on the beach, and others floating in the water, must have sobered home audiences at the time, and brought home the reality of this distant theatre of conflict.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The first pictures released were in TIME magazine, but the films were hung up by FDR until Robert Sherrod convinced him otherwise. Thank you for watching it, Pete.

      Like

  15. Enjoyed reading this and watching the film taking us back in time, GP Cox. I’m in Germany now and can see it, being in England, very often GEMA says nonono …
    Best regards from the Rhine Valley,
    Dina

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dina,
      I can not imagine why GEMA would say no to a Pacific War film, but stranger things happen in this world of ours, eh? I appreciate you taking the time to view the film, my 3 posts on this operation can’t even break the surface of action that went on. I hope the weather is good in the Valley.
      GP Cox

      Liked by 1 person

      • Because of the music in the background. 90 % of the music Beetleypete presents on his blog is blocked for me because of GEMA. 👎🏻
        The weather is snowy-rainy-cold-sunny typical march longing for spring. 😊 Not at all anyway like your sunshine state! ☀️

        Like

  16. This direct link to the Archives for the official USMC film gave me the cleanest version I’ve seen. We must temember that a number of 2nd Marine Division movie cameramen were killed, too, their footage never to be seen. Thank you.

    One note, which may have been brought out by one of your many readers. The footage from around the 9′ mark actually captures Lt. Bonnyman at the crest in action. He was KIA in a ferocious counterattack and buried on the island. While he was posthumously bestowed the MOH, his remains were lost until uncovered last year. http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/2015/07/02/moh-recipient-remains-battle-tarawa/29613679/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for contributing this additional information, Koji. So much went on in those 3 days! Despite another post coming up for Tarawa, it still doesn’t even touch all the action.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. When I read things like “A field hospital was established” I realize how many things these invasion fleets had to be prepared for. All of that stuff had to be carried on those ships. I thought it was hard to pack for a semester away at college!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Bloody Tarawa and the 2nd Marine Division by Eric Hammel is an excellent read for anybody wanting more on this subject.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Part 3 is still coming where I recommend “Utmost Savagery” by Col. Joseph Alexander, USMC (Ret.). I used many references for this episode, but that is one I missed. Thank you.

      Like

  19. Thank you for helping me to keep these memories alive.

    Like

  20. Your support is always greatly appreciated, Kathy.

    Like

  1. Pingback: My Article Read (3-7-2016) – My Daily Musing

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