Battle of Eniwetok

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Battle of Eniwetok
Part of World War II, Pacific War
Landing craft heading for Eniwetok Island
on 19 February 1944
Date 17 February – 23 February 1944
Location Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands
Result United States victory
 United States  Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
United States Harry W. Hill,
United States Thomas E. Watson
Empire of Japan Yoshimi Nishida 
2 regiments 3,500[1]:32
Casualties and losses
313 killed
77 missing
879 wounded[1]:88
3,380 killed
105 captured[1]:88

The Battle of Eniwetok was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought between 17 February 1944 and 23 February 1944, on Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands.


The invasion of Eniwetok followed the American success in the Battle of Kwajalein to the southeast. Capture of Eniwetok would provide an airfield and harbour to support attacks on the Mariana Islands to the northwest.

In 1943 the Japanese established light defenses at Eniwetok—they believed that the Americans would strike at the southwestern Marshalls first. The 1st Amphibious Brigade reinforced the defenders in January 1944; its commander, Major General Yoshimi Nishida[1]:32 along with a tank Company, led by First Lieutenant Ichikawa (9 Type 95 Light Tanks). The 1st Amphibious began to construct defenses, but repeated air attacks made this difficult, and the tiny coral islands meant that defense in depth would be impossible.

Vice Admiral Raymond Spruance preceded the invasion with Operation Hailstone, a carrier strike against the Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline Islands.[1]:67 This raid destroyed 39 warships and more than 200 planes.[1]:67


Naval bombardment of Eniwetok began on 17 February, and the 22nd Marine Regiment, commanded by Col John T. Walker, landed on Engebi Island, on 18 February at 08:43 the next day.[1]:69–70 Resistance was light, and the island was declared secure by 14:50, though mopping-up continued through the next day.[1]:70 US losses included 85 dead and missing plus 166 wounded.[1]:73

Intelligence suggested that the defenses on Eniwetok Island would be heavier than planned, though there was a comparatively heavy preparatory bombardment before the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 106th Infantry Regiment went ashore at 0916 on 19 Feb., followed by the 3/22 at 1425.[1]:77 However, the Japanese soldiers had strong spider hole positions, plus the Japanese concentrated their forces to the southwest, counterattacking the American flank, which forced the Americans to attack through the night.[1]:78 The island was not secured until 21 February.[1]:78 37 Americans were killed or missing and 94 wounded.[1]:78

The mistake was not repeated at Parry Island. The battleships USS Tennessee and USS Pennsylvania and other ships delivered more than 900 tons of explosive onto the island. The 104th Field Artillery on Eniwetok and the 2nd Separate Pack Howitzer Battalions on Japtan provided additional fire support.[1]:79 The 1/22 and 2/22 Marines landed at 0900 on 22 Feb.[1]:80–81 At 1930, the regimental commander radioed "I present you with the island of Parry", though operations continued through the next day.[1]:83–85 US casualties included 73 dead and missing plus 261 wounded.[1]:83

The majority of Japanese soldiers were killed, though 105 survivors were captured.


File:WW2 Marine after Eniwetok assault.jpg
An exhausted American Marine Pvt. Theodore J. Miller exhibits the thousand-yard stare after two days of constant fighting on Eniwetok. He was KIA at 19, Mar. 24, 1944 at Ebon Atoll. He is buried at The Punch Bowl, HI

Eniwetok Atoll provided a forward base for the United States Navy for its later operations.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 Rottman, G., 2004, The Marshall Islands 1944: "Operation Flintlock, the capture of Kwajalein and Eniwetok", Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-84176-851-0


  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1961). Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, June 1942-April 1944, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ASIN B0007FBB8I.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Rottman, Gordon; Howard Gerrard (2004). The Marshall Islands 1944: "Operation Flintlock, the capture of Kwajalein and Eniwetok". Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-851-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Rottman, Gordon; Dr Duncan Anderson (2004). US Marine Corps Pacific Theater of Operations 1943-44. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-651-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links

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