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Marshall Islands in World War II "What Makes a Battle" 1943 US Army

"Marines prepare to and invade one of the Marshall Island using tremendous firepower before landing troops. Very vivid battle footage, including dead, wounded, and surrendering enemy soldiers, as well as dead and wounded Americans."

US Army film MISC-1037

The Marshall Islands

Officially the Republic of the Marshall Islands, is an island country located in the northern Pacific Ocean. Geographically, the country is part of the larger island group of Micronesia, with the population of around 68,000 people spread out over 34 low-lying coral atolls, comprising 1,156 individual islands and islets. The islands share maritime boundaries with the Federated States of Micronesia to the west, Wake Island to the north, Kiribati to the south-east, and Nauru to the south. The most populous atoll is Majuro, which also acts as the capital.

Micronesian colonists gradually settled the Marshall Islands during the 2nd millennium BC, with inter-island navigation made possible using traditional stick charts. Islands in the archipelago were first explored by Europeans in the 1520s, with Spanish explorer Alonso de Salazar sighting an atoll in August 1526. Other expeditions by Spanish and English ships followed, with the islands' current name stemming from British explorer John Marshall. Recognized as part of the Spanish East Indies in 1874, the islands were sold to Germany in 1884, and became of German New Guinea in 1885.

The Empire of Japan occupied the Marshall Islands in World War I, which were later joined with other former German territories in 1919 by the League of Nations to form the South Pacific Mandate. In World War II, the islands were conquered by the United States in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign. Along with other Pacific Islands, the Marshall Islands were then consolidated into the United-States-governed Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Self-government was achieved in 1979, and full sovereignty in 1986, under a Compact of Free Association with the United States.

Politically, the Marshall Islands is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, with the US providing defense, funding grants, and access to social services. Having few natural resources, the islands' wealth is based on a service economy, as well as some fishing and agriculture, with a large percentage of the islands' gross domestic product coming from United States aid. The country uses the United States dollar as its currency. The majority of citizens of the Marshall Islands are of Marshallese descent, with small numbers of immigrants from the Philippines and other Pacific islands. The two official languages are Marshallese, a member of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, and English...

In the months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kwajalein Atoll was the administrative center of the Japanese 6th Fleet Forces Service, whose task was the defense of the Marshall Islands.

In World War II, the United States, during the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, invaded and occupied the islands in 1944, destroying or isolating the Japanese garrisons. The US government added the archipelago to the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, along with several other island groups in the South Sea.

The battle in the Marshall Islands caused irreparable damage, especially on Japanese bases. During the American bombing, the islands' population suffered from lack of food and various injuries.

U.S. attacks started in mid-1943, and caused half the Japanese garrison of 5,100 people in the atoll Mili to die from hunger by August 1945. In just one month in 1944, Americans captured Kwajalein Atoll, Majuro and Enewetak, and in the next two months the rest of the Marshall Islands except Wotje, Mili, Maloelap and Jaluit...

From 1946 to 1958, as the site of the Pacific Proving Grounds, the U.S. tested 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands, including the largest nuclear test the U.S. ever conducted, Castle Bravo. In 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission regarded the Marshall Islands as "by far the most contaminated place in the world".

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