Battle of Eniwetok
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|Battle of Eniwetok|
|Part of World War II, Pacific War|
Landing craft heading for Eniwetok Island
on 19 February 1944
|United States||Empire of Japan|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Harry W. Hill,
Thomas E. Watson
|Yoshimi Nishida †|
|Casualties and losses|
16 Japanese captured
48 laborers captured
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 Lieutenant 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.
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.
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.
Eniwetok Atoll provided a forward base for the United States Navy for its later operations.
- 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.
- Eastern Mandates. US Army Campaigns in World War II. United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-23.
- Breaking the Outer Ring: Marine Landings in the Marshall Islands
- Heinl, Robert D., and John A. Crown (1954). "The Marshalls: Increasing the Tempo". USMC Historical Monograph. Historical Division, Division of Public Information, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
- Dyer, George Carroll (1956). "The Amphibians Came to Conquer: The Story of Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner". United States Government Printing Office. Archived from the original on 21 May 2011. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Eniwetok.|
- Animated History of The Battle for Eniwetok
- Soldiers of the 184th Infantry, 7th ID in the Pacific, 1943-1945