Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Battle of Makin Island:  November 20-23, 1943

(Part of Operation Galvanic)

The Northern Attack Force (Task Force 52), commanded by Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner, USN, landed 27th Division troops, commanded by Major General Ralph C. Smith, USA, on Makin Atoll on November 20, 1943.   The Red Beach landings went as planned, but the as the landing craft approached the Yellow Beach from the lagoon, the troops came under attack while at high-tide, forcing the landing craft to go aground and forcing them to walk to the beach in low water.   After determined fighting by the Japanese,  Major General Smith sent a message on November 23 to Rear Admiral Turner that read "Makin taken."    Previously, on August 17-18, 1942, to detract from the Guadalcanal Campaign, Companies  "A" and "B", Second Raider Battalion, led by Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson, USMCR, were put ashore to raid and destroy the garrison on Makin by USS Nauilus (SS-186).  Achieving a moral boast for the U.S. military, the Japanese only later strengthened the Gilbert Islands.  

Image: 80-G-204724:  TBF aircraft from USS Coral Sea (CV-43) on patrol over Makin Island in the Gilbert Group, November 20, 1943.   Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.