Battle of Kwajalein Facts

Battle of Kwajalein Facts
The Battle of Kwajalein was a battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Americans and Japanese that took place on the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands from January 31 to February 3, 1944. Although the casualty count was much lower at Kwajalein than many other battles in the Pacific Theater, it was of extreme strategic importance for both sides: the Americans needed to take the island to continue their "Island Hopping" strategy, while the Japanese needed to slow down the American advance. Although the Japanese were severely outnumbered and never entertained any realistic chances of holding the island, they hoped that defensive positions they built on the islands would be cost the Americans dearly. In the end, only 142 Americans were killed in the battle versus more than 4,000 Japanese, making it an overwhelming strategic and tactical victory for the Americans.
Interesting Battle of Kwajalein Facts:
The Marshal Islands were a German colony until after World War I when they were given to Japan to be administered as a League of Nations "mandate" country. The League prohibited mandates from being militarized, but Japan went ahead and did so anyway on the Marshal Islands.
Like most all battle in the Pacific, the Marines led the American forces in the assault. The 4th Marine Division and the 7th Infantry Division of the Army did the majority of the fighting on Kwajalein.
The Americans gained air superiority before the ground fighting began.
Rear Admiral Monzo Akiyama of the Imperial Japanese Navy was the commander of the 6th Naval Base Force assigned to defend Kwajalein. He was killed in the first day of the battle.
Unlike many other islands and atolls in the Pacific that the Japanese were able to hold much longer against the Americans, the Kwajalein Atoll did not favor defense. It is flat, with the average height on the islands only being five feet above sea level, and the cover is limited.
The American force was more than 45,000 versus a Japanese force of only about 8,000 men. To make matters worse for the Japanese, 5,000 men were on the island of Kwajalein in the south of the atoll, while 3,000 were on the island of Roi-Narmur in the south.
Most of the Japanese defending the atoll were reservists with no combat experience.
Kwajalein Island is only two and a half miles long and 880 yards wide at its widest point.
The largest single loss of American lives was when twenty Marines were killed by a satchel charge. A Marine threw the charge into a Japanese bunker, not knowing that torpedoes were stored inside.
A major tactical mistake the Japanese made in their defense was not realizing the strength of American technology. They did not know that Marine amphibious vehicles could cross coral reefs and enter lagoons, so they placed most of their defenses on the ocean side of the islands.

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