The Battle Of Tarawa

The Battle for Tarawa comprised a part of a larger U.S. invasion (Operation GALVANIC) intended to capture Japanese-held territory within the Gilbert Islands. The operation commenced on 20 November 1943, with the Second Marine Division landing on Betio, within the Tarawa Atoll, and the U.S. Army landing on Makin Island (over 100 miles north of Tarawa). While lighter Japanese defenses at Makin Island meant fewer losses for U.S. forces, firmly entrenched Japanese defenders on Betio Island turned the fight for Tarawa into a costly 76-hour battle. The island’s 4,500 Japanese defenders fought back stubbornly from behind solid fortifications.  With air support and naval gunfire, the Marines rooted out the Japanese defensive positions one at a time.  U.S. forces defeated a final Japanese counterattack on the night of November 22-23, and eliminated the last Japanese defenders.  

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