The Battle of Tarawa

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The battle of Tarawa For the U.S to set up forward air bases capable of supporting operations across the mid-Pacific, to the Philippines , and into Japan, they needed to take the Mariana Island. The Marianas were heavily defended. Naval doctrine of the time held that in order for attacks to succeed, land-based aircraft would be required to weaken defenses and protect the invasion forces. The nearest islands capable of supporting such an effort were the Marshall Island, northeast of Guadalcanal Taking the Marshalls would provide the base needed to launch an attack on the Marianas but the Marshalls were cut off from direct communications by a garrison and air base on the Hawaii small island of Betio, on the western side of Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Thus, to eventually launch an attack the Marianas, the battle started at the far east of Tarawa Following their Mission in Guadalcanal, the 2nd Marine Division had been withdrawn to New Zealand to rest and recuperate The loss of soldiers were replaced and given chance to recover from the malaria and other illnesses that weakened them through the fighting in the Solomons. On July 20, 1943 the Joint Chiefs directed Admiral Chester Nimitz to prepare plans for an attack in the Gilbert Islands. In August Admiral Raymond Spruance was flown down to New Zealand to meet with the commander of the 2nd Marine Division, General Julian Smith and initiate the planning of the attack with the division's commanders. Located 2,400 miles southwest of Pearl Harbor, Betio is the largest island in the Tarawa Atoll. The small, flat island lies at the southernmost reach of the lagoon, and was where the Japanese were stationed at. Shaped like a long, thin triangle, the small island is approximately two miles long. It is narrow, being only 800 yards wide at the widest point. A long pier was constructed from the north shore

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