Kwajalein Second World War
After the end of WWI, the Pact gave Japan a brief over the Marshall Islands in the West Pacific. Kwajalein, in the Ralik (western) Marshall Range, was the biggest island of corals in the worid with about 90 islands (with a surface area of six sq. miles) that surrounded a 655 sq. m. camp.
At the beginning of World War II, Japan had made the marshals an essential part of its line of defence, and the island became an important destination for the Allies in their war-preparedness. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who urged the immediate reconquest of the Philippines (taken by the Japanese in 1942) and Nimitz, who campaigned to bypass the Philippines for weak position in the Pacific.
1943, after Japan had won one win after another in the first few wars in the Pacific, Admiral Chester Nimitz suggested an offensive counter-attack tactic that consisted of a range of amphibian attacks on select Japaneese Isles on their way to the Philippines and further to Japan itself. Known as "island hopping" or "jumping", the policy was opposed to the notion that the mere isolation of some of Japan's armed services on their own archipelago, which left them to "dry up on the vine", would be as efficient as their destruction by a straightforward assault and far less expensive for the Allies.
Tarawa, a small Gilbert island tribe in the Pacific, was a decisive forerunner of the Allied Marshall Islands war in November 1943. Tarawa's 5,000 Japonese forces fiercely resisted, killed more than 1,000 US Marines and wounded another 2,100.
Almost all of Tarawa's forces died, in an impressive example of the never-ending stance that would mark the whole of Japan's military efforts. From Tarawa to Luzon, the Philippines' principal islands, lay 2,000 leagues of ocean and more than a thousand dispersed atols, many of which were secured by Jap onese fortifications.
Terrible Tarawa's (as the Marines called it) teachings help the Allies get ready for the fierce battles that would mark the Pacific Mainstream. Since neither the Japonese navy nor any land-based plane had intervened from other isles, Nimitz came to the conclusion that it would be secure to jump over other Marshall Island garrisons and reach the most western plains in the chain:
Kvajalein and Eniwetok. The 30th January 1944, after a mass bombing by the US navy and army for about two month, an amphibian attack troop of 85,000 men and about 300 battleships came closer to the Marshall Isle. The 7th Infantry Division arrived on Kwajalein Island on February 1, while the 4nd Marine Division arrived on the twins Roi and Namur, 45 northeast.
Kwajalein would be more challenging, as the 7th Infantry destroyed the Japan Garnison there for three whole nights, until the Kwajalein Islands were made safe on February 4. Although the Japans were in the majority from the beginning (by more than 40,000 on Kwajalein), they decided to struggle to the very end.
There were more than 3,500 dead and about 200 prisoners on Roi and Namur, with less than 200 Marines dead and about 500 others injured. In Kwajalein, almost 5,000 Kwajalein defense lawyers were murdered and only a few were taken prisoner; the 7th infantry had 177 dead and 1,000 injured warriors.
Although it was not an innocent win for the Allies, the conquest of Kwajalein off Nimitz was achieved, enabling him to push forward the scheduled invasion of Eniwetok, 400 leagues to the north-west of Kwajalein, by 60-day. A truk-a forward anchoring point of the Japonese navy devastated 275 Japonese planes and nearly 40 vessels, and Eniwetok was killed until February 21, after five trading nights of battle.
The Marshals' triumph gave the US Armed Services an important anchor and whereabouts to resume their amphibian operation in the Pacific as they opened the way to the Marianas, which included Saipan and Guam. Moreover, the wins increased the insulation of those of Japan's outskirts that had been jumped over as part of the Allied insular bounce camp, such as Wake Iceland, one of the first of Japan's conquered isles in the early wartime.