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Carlson’s Raiders - The 2nd Marine Raider Battalion’s Bravery

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The famous U.S. 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, aka the Carlson’s Raiders, once joined a war against the Japanese forces in the atolls.

These atolls are Micronesia’s Gilbert Islands located in the Pacific.

Japanese military interest in the Gilbert islands dated from the earliest days of the war.

The primary strategic object of the Japanese expansion at the beginning of the war was the occupation and development of what was called the southern resources area which was considered vital to Japan’s economic welfare as it contained most of the essential raw materials.

It was also believed necessary to maintain free lines of communication with the Japanese homeland to cripple naval strength in the Pacific, and to establish a strong defensive perimeter to protect the homeland and its new economic adjunct to the south.

COPYRIGHT_JANE: Published on https://www.janeresture.com/carlsons/ by Jane Resture on 2022-10-21T20:41:54.249Z

Carlson's Raiders.mp4

The Battle

The first bombs dropped in the colony were by the Japanese on December 8, 1941, when a four-engine flying-boat dropped six on the Government Headquarters at Banaba (Ocean Island).

The first islands to be occupied by the Japanese were Makin and Butaritari on December 9, 1941.

The force consisted of 200 to 300 troops from the 51st Guard Force based on Jaluit. At Butaritari, the troops landed at Ukiangang.

Four Japanese soldiers aim a cannon across the field on Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands
Four Japanese soldiers aim a cannon across the field on Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands

The Commissioner, Mr. H. C. Williams, went to meet them. They held him prisoner and he was sent to Tokyo.

The troops advanced north and settled at Butaritari’s village.

They chased the traders away, took all the things from their stores, and turned Chong’s store into their barracks.

The people of Butaritari village did not move out of their home.

Both the Japanese and islanders however were well aware that sooner or later the island would be attacked. The people were encouraged by the Japanese to leave Butaritari village.

Marine raiders during World War 2 navigating the woods
Marine raiders during World War 2 navigating the woods

The Coming Of The Carlson’s Raiders

On November 20, 1943, the American invasion began.

The 147th Army Infantry Regiment landed with little opposition from the Japanese guns which killed only two marines, though as they advanced inland the marines were troubled by Japanese snipers hiding among the coconut fronds.

At Ukiangang village, the local people rushed into bunkers which they had made to avoid the U.S. naval bombardment, but three drunken Gilbertese were killed.

The next day many of the Japanese positions were overrun and the remainder who fled to Tabonuea village were pursued by the Americans.

The Japanese forced the people of Tabonuea village to move north but they disobeyed the warning and moved back without the Japanese knowing, and stayed between the Japanese and the American sectors.

A marine raider medic applied a bandage on the face of a wounded fellow sitting in the forest
A marine raider medic applied a bandage on the face of a wounded fellow sitting in the forest

As the Americans came nearer to the Japanese positions, one man misunderstood the American warnings and told the villagers to stay inside their houses instead of telling them to hide in foxholes.

In the heavy crossfire between the Americans and the Japanese, one Gilbertese was killed and others were wounded.

On August 17-18, 1942, a force of 221 marines from the 2nd Raider Battalion, named “Carlson’s Raiders,” landed from two submarines on Butaritari Island.

The raid inflicted heavy damage and forced the Japanese to divert troops from reinforcing Guadalcanal.

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About The Authors

Jane Resture

Jane Resture - Since she embarked on her first world trip in 2002, Jane Resture spent the past decades sharing her personal journey and travel tips with people around the world. She has traveled to over 80 countries and territories, where she experienced other cultures, wildlife she had only read about in books, new foods, new people, and new amazing experiences. Jane believes that travel is for everyone and it helps us learn about ourselves and the world around us. Her goal is to help more people from more backgrounds experience the joy of exploration because she trusts that travel opens the door to the greatest, most unforgettable experiences life can offer and this builds a kinder, more inclusive, more open-minded world.

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