US FORCES BATTLE THE JAPANESE FOR BOUGAINVILLE AND THE GILBERT ISLANDS



American Army, Navy and Marine forces battle the Japanese for control of forward bases in the Gilbert and Solomon islands. US Army Air Force B-24 Liberators and P-38 Lightnings attacked Japanese positions at Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville in the Solomon islands. The intense attacks were followed by the landings at Cape Torokino by the 3rd Marine Division on November 1, 1943 and later the US Army’s 37th Infantry Division.

On November 20, 1943 the 2nd Marine Division and the Army’s 27th Infantry Division landed in the Gilbert islands. The 27th Division took the moderately defended island  of Makin after two days of fighting, but the 2nd Marine Division ran into intense Japanese resistance on the heavily fortified island of Tarawa.

The Japanese commander at Tarawa, Rear Admiral Keiji Shibazaki claimed “it would take one million men one hundred years” for the Americans to capture Tarawa. The marines conquered the island in 4 days but at a cost of nearly 1,000 men killed and over 2,000 wounded. Only 17 Japanese soldiers and 129 Korean forced laborers survived out of the 4,800 man garrison.

The US Army would continue the fight on Bougainville until they were relieved by Australian soldiers on February 1, 1945. Japanese resistance on Bougainville ceased on August 21, 1945.



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