THE BATTLE OF KWAJALEIN
The Battle of Kwajalein took place from January 31-February 3, 1944. This battle took place on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The US launched successful assaults on this island after months of air and naval bombardments. After capturing Tarawa and Makin, the next step in the US Navy’s Pacific campaign was the Marshall Island Chain. These victories were key in the island hopping march to the Japanese mainland. Operation Flintlock had nine phases as part of the Marshall campaign. This included attacks on seven islands, with the main phase being the capture of Kwajalein.
US Forces upon landings were part of the 5th Fleet Amphibious Force, 4th Marine Division, 7th Infantry Division, 22nd Marines, 106th Infantry Regiment, and 111th Infantry Regiment. 85,000 US troops and some 300 ships approached the Marshall Islands. The 7th Infantry Division landed on Kwajalein Island, and the 4th Marine Division landed on Roi and Namur. A single Marine Regiment captured Roi on the very first day, and Namur by the second day. The 7th Infantry fought for three days until the Kwajalein was considered secure. Of the original 5,500 Japanese defenders at Kwajalein Atoll, 5,300 were killed and 166 captured. US forces suffered 142 casualties during this battle.
This success allowed Admiral Nimitz to move forward sooner than expected to attack Eniwetok, which fell by February 21, 1944. This allowed US forces to continue island hopping in the Mariana islands.
1. American Soldiers aboard a landing craft on Kwajalein Atoll in February 1944 (US Coast Guard Official Photo)
2. Marines landing on Kwajalein Atoll (World War Photos)
3. Captured Japanese soldier in a landing craft, Kwajalein Atoll (US Coast Guard Official Photo)
4. Soldiers of the US 7th Infantry Division on Kwajalein (Defense Imagery)
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