Battle of Eniwetok

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Battle of Eniwetok
Part of World War II, Pacific War
Battle of Eniwetok.jpg
Landing craft heading for Eniwetok Island
on 19 February 1944
Date 17 February – 23 February 1944
Location Eniwetok 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 killed
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[edit]

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.

Battle[edit]

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 were killed.[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[edit]

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

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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