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Invasion of Gilbert Islands:  November 20-23, 1943

(Codename:  Operation Galvanic)

Following intense preparation and planning on November 20, 1943, Commander Central Pacific Force, Vice Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN, on November 20, 1943, commanded three task forces for the invasion of Makin and Tarawa Atolls in the Gilbert Islands.   The assault task force was led by Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner, USN, and landed U.S. Marines and Army troops on the islands.  Fifth Amphibious Corps, Major General Holland M. Smith, USMC, commanded the overall land invasion.   Despite heavy preinvasion shelling and bombing, the bitter and bloody fights on Makin Island and Betio, Tarawa Island, lasted only three days until the islands were declared secure.  

Image:  USMC 67706:  Tarawa Operation, November 1943.  U.S. Marines and Sailors study a relief model of Betio Island while en-route to the invasion, circa mid-November 1943.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.