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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

February 3rd, 1944- The Battle of Kwajalein

Conflict: World War II

Combatants: Americans vs. Japanese

Location: Marshall Islands

Outcome: American victory


With victory in the Gilbert Islands accomplished in November of 1943, American Admiral Chester Nimitz next ordered the taking of the Marshall Islands from the Japanese. A carrier task force first swept through the region to neutralize Japanese air support. Then for three days the Kwajalein Atoll was bombarded by both sea and air.


Japanese ammunition depot explodes during the Battle of Kwajalein on Bigej Island, circa 1 February 1944 by a US Navy photographer

On February 1st, the 7th Infantry Division and the 4th Marine Division were landed on Kwajalein. For the next six days the Japanese defenders under Rear Admiral Akiyama Monzo offered fierce resistance, but the Americans had learned the hard lessons of fighting this tenacious enemy on previous battlefield such as Tarawa. American losses proved to be relatively light. Of 41,000 troops, Americans suffered 372 dead and around 1,000 wounded. The Japanese, as usual, fought to the bitter end. Nearly all of the 8,000 Japanese soldiers on Kwajalein fought to the death.


Kwajalein Invasion by an unknown photographer


Men of the 7th Div by an unknown photographer

Points of Interest:

  • The nearest Japanese Fleet chose not to engage the Americans but sent a squadron of submarines. Four of the subs were sunk by the US Navy.

  • The conquest of Kwajalein was so rapid and successful that Nimitz moved the invasion of Eniwetok up by two months. That island was in American hands by February 22nd.


Admiral Akiyama Monzō by an unknown photographer

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Sources:


Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).


Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.


Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.


Gailey, Harry A.. (1995). The War in the Pacific. Novato, CA: Presidio Press.










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