TARAWA (20–24 November 1943). As the opening blow in the American offensive through the central Pacific, the Second Marine Division began landing on Betio, an islet in the Tarawa atoll, part of the Gilbert Islands, on the morning of 20 November 1943. The island's forty-five hundred Japanese defenders fought back stubbornly from behind solid fortifications. With air support and naval gunfire, the marines rooted out the Japanese defensive positions one at a time. A final Japanese counterattack was defeated on the night of 22–23 November, and the last defenders were eliminated on the 24th. Tarawa, which proved a valuable base, cost more than one thousand American lives, and twice as many wounded.
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Sherrod, Robert. Tarawa: The Story of a Battle. Fredericksburg, Tex.: Admiral Nimitz Foundation, 1973.
Stanley L.Falk/a. r.