The Allies were now ready to take back the Gilbert Islands. The Gilbert Islands were taken by the Japanese in December of 1941 around the time of Pearl Harbor. There, two islands would then be invaded; Makin and Tarawa.
Makin was the easy island. On November 20, 1943, the Americans would invade the island and easily take it. Many Japanese killed themselves in Banzai charges.
The next step was Tarawa. Tarawa would be harder to take because of the 2 dozen small islands and lagoon in and around the island. The Americans would then have to take Betio, a strong point on the island. The Japanse were well protected. They had hundreds of pill boxes, and dug outs. The American Bombers then softened up the island with tons of bombs.
On November 21, 1943, the U.S. Marines stormed the beaches under extremely heavy fire. Heavy casualties were suffered. Then the Americans had to wipe out the Japanese pillboxes. They threw grenades, dynamite, and used flame throwers to annihilate the Japanese in these strong pill boxes. Finally after four days, Tarawa had been taken by the Allies.
The estimated dead on Tarawa is 1,100, and about 2,072 wounded. The Japanse figures are unknown.
Soon the Navy Seabees took over and converted the island into a base. The island would aid the invasion of the Marshalls.