Battle of Eniwetok

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Battle of Eniwetok
Part of the Pacific War of World War II
Landing craft approaching Eniwetok on 19 February 1944.jpg
Landing craft heading for Eniwetok Island
on 19 February 1944
Date17 February – 23 February 1944
LocationEniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands
Result United States victory
 United States  Japan
Commanders and leaders
Harry W. Hill
John T. Walker
Thomas E. Watson
Yoshimi Nishida 

2 regiments

Casualties and losses
313 killed
77 missing
879 wounded[1]:88
3,380 killed
105 captured[1]:88

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.


The invasion of Eniwetok followed the American success in the Battle of Kwajalein to the southeast. Capture of Eniwetok would provide an airfield and harbor 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 1944. Its commander was Major General Yoshimi Nishida.[1]:32 There was also a company of nine Type 95 light tanks, led by First Lieutenant Ichikawa. 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 with Operation Hailstone, a carrier strike against the Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline Islands.[1]:67 This raid destroyed 39 warships and more than 200 planes.[1]:67


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 18 February at 08:43 (UTC+12) the next day.[1]:69–70 Resistance was light[dubious ], and the island was declared secure by 14:50 (UTC+12), though mopping-up continued through the next day.[1]:70 US losses included 85 dead and missing plus 166 wounded.[1]:73

Intelligence suggested that the defenses on Eniwetok Island would be heavier than planned, though there was a comparatively heavy preparatory bombardment before the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 106th Infantry Regiment went ashore at 09:16 (UTC+12) on 19 February, followed by the 3/22 at 14:25 (UTC+12).[1]:77 However, the Japanese soldiers had strong spider hole positions, plus the Japanese concentrated their forces to the southwest, counterattacking the American flank, which forced the Americans to attack through the night.[1]:78 The island was not secured until 21 February.[1]:78 37 Americans were killed or missing and 94 wounded.[1]:78

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. The 104th Field Artillery on Eniwetok and the 2nd Separate Pack Howitzer Battalions on Japtan provided additional fire support.[1]:79 The 1/22 and 2/22 Marines landed at 09:00 (UTC+12) on 22 February[1]:80–81 At 19:30 (UTC+12), the regimental commander radioed "I present you with the island of Parry", though operations continued through the next day.[1]:83–85 U.S. casualties included 73 dead and missing plus 261 wounded.[1]:83

The vast majority of Japanese soldiers were killed, though 105 survivors were captured.


An exhausted US Marine exhibits the thousand-yard stare after two days of constant fighting on Eniwetok. He was later killed in action at age 19 on 24 March 1944, at Ebon Atoll. He is buried at the Punchbowl, HI.

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


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Rottman, G. The Marshall Islands 1944: Operation Flintlock, the capture of Kwajalein and Eniwetok. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd (2004) ISBN 1-84176-851-0


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