Coordinates: 3°09′00″N 172°50′00″E / 3.15000°N
172.83333°E / 3.15000; 172.83333
Raid on Makin Island
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
U.S. Marines return to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 26 August 1942, on
board the U.S. submarine Nautilus following their raid on Makin Island
17–18 August 1942
Butaritari (Makin Island) in the Pacific Ocean
U.S. tactical victory
Commanders and leaders
Kyuzaburou Kanemitsu †
2nd Marine Raider Battalion
2 Officers, 69 other ranks, 2 civilians attached
13 aircraft
3 small ships
Casualties and losses
9 captured (executed later)
2 flying boats destroyed
2 small boats sunk
Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign
Raid on Makin Island
Raid on Makin Island (occurred on 17–18 August 1942) was an
attack by the
United States Marine Corps Raiders on Japanese military
forces on Makin Island (now known as
Butaritari Island) in the Pacific
Ocean. The aim was to destroy Japanese installations, take prisoners,
gain intelligence on the
Gilbert Islands area, and divert Japanese
attention and reinforcements from the Allied landings on Guadalcanal
1 Preparations and organization
2 Execution of the raid
3 Evacuation of the Raiders
5 Bioarchaeological recovery
6 See also
9 External links
Preparations and organization
The raid was among the first American offensive ground combat
operations of World War II. The force was drawn from the 2nd Raider
Battalion and comprised a small battalion command group and two of the
battalion's six rifle companies. Because of space limitations aboard
ship, each company embarked without one of its rifle sections.
Battalion headquarters, A Company and 18 men from
B Company—totaling 121 troops—were embarked aboard the
submarine Argonaut and the remainder of B Company—totaling 90
men—aboard Nautilus. The raiding force was designated Task Group
7.15 (TG 7.15).
Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy created the Makin Atoll Garrison in 1942.
It was part of the Marshall Islands Garrison, and officially titled
the 62nd Garrison Force. At the time of the Makin raid the total
force opposing the American landing consisted of 71 armed personnel of
the Japanese seaplane base led by Warrant Officer (Heisouchou)
Kyuzaburo Kanemitsu of the
Special Naval Landing Force equipped with
light weapons. In addition there were also four members of the
seaplane tender base and three members of a meteorological unit. Two
civilian personnel were attached to the Japanese forces as
interpreters and civilian administrators.
Execution of the raid
Makin as seen by USS Nautilus.
Marine Raiders were launched in
LCRL rubber boats powered by
small, 6 hp (4.5 kW) outboard motors shortly after 00:00
(midnight) on 17 August. At 05:13, Companies A and B of the 2nd Raider
Battalion—commanded by Lt. Col. Evans Carlson—successfully landed
on Makin. The landing had been very difficult due to rough seas, high
surf, and the failure of many of the outboard motors. Lt. Col. Carlson
decided to land all his men on one beach, rather than two beaches as
originally planned. At 05:15, Lt.
Oscar Peatross and a 12-man squad
landed on Makin. In the confusion of the landing, they did not get
word of Carlson's decision to change plans and land all the Raiders on
one beach. Thus, Peatross and his men landed where they originally
planned. It turned out to be a fortunate error. Undaunted by the lack
of support, Peatross led his men inland.
At 07:00, with Company A leading, the Raiders advanced from the beach
across the island to its north shore before attacking southwestward.
Strong resistance from Japanese snipers and machine guns stalled the
advance and inflicted casualties. The Japanese then launched two
banzai charges that were wiped out by the Raiders, thus killing most
of the Japanese on the island. At 09:00, Lt. Peatross and his 12 men
found themselves behind the Japanese who were fighting the rest of the
Raiders to the east. Peatross's unit killed eight Japanese and the
garrison commander Sgt. Major Kanemitsu, knocked out a machine gun and
destroyed the enemy radios; but suffered three dead and two wounded.
Failing to contact Carlson, they withdrew to the subs at dusk as
At 13:30, 12 Japanese planes—including two flying boats—arrived
over Makin. The flying boats—carrying reinforcements for the
Japanese garrison—attempted to land in the lagoon, but were met with
machine gun, rifle and
Boys anti-tank rifle
Boys anti-tank rifle fire from the Raiders. One
plane crashed; the other burst into flames. The remaining planes
bombed and strafed but inflicted no U.S. casualties.
Evacuation of the Raiders
At 19:30, the Raiders began to withdraw from the island using 18
rubber boats, many of which no longer had working outboard motors.
Despite heavy surf seven boats with 93 men made it to the subs. The
next morning several boatloads of Raiders were able to fight the surf
and reach the sub; but 72 men, along with just three rubber boats,
were still on the island. At 23:30, the attempt by most of the Raiders
to reach the submarines failed. Despite hours of heroic effort, 11 of
18 boats were unable to breach the unexpectedly strong surf. Having
lost most of their weapons and equipment, the exhausted survivors
struggled back to the beach to link up with 20 fully armed men who had
been left on the island to cover their withdrawal. An exhausted and
dispirited Carlson dispatched a note to the Japanese commander
offering to surrender, but the Japanese messenger was killed by other
Marines who were unaware of Carlson's plan.
At 09:00 on 18 August, the subs sent a rescue boat to stretch rope
from the ships to the shore that would allow the remaining Raiders'
boats to be pulled out to sea. But just as the operation began,
Japanese planes arrived and attacked, sinking the rescue boat and
attacking the subs, which were forced to crash dive and wait on the
bottom the rest of the day. The subs were undamaged. At 23:08, having
managed to signal the subs to meet his Raiders at the entrance to
Makin Lagoon, Carlson had a team, led by Lt. Charlie Lamb, build a
raft made up of three rubber boats and two native canoes, powered by
the two remaining outboard motors. Using this raft, 72 exhausted
Raiders sailed 4 miles from Makin to the mouth of the lagoon, where
the subs picked them up.
USMC casualties were given as 18 killed in action and 12 missing in
action. Of the 12 Marines missing in action, one was later identified
among the 19 Marine Corps graves found on Makin Island. Of the
remaining eleven Marines missing in action, nine were inadvertently
left behind or returned to the island during the night withdrawal.
They were subsequently captured, moved to
Kwajalein Atoll, and
executed by Japanese forces.
Kōsō Abe was subsequently tried and
executed by the Allies for the murder of the nine Marines. The
remaining two Marines missing in action have never been accounted
Carlson reported that he had personally counted 83 Japanese bodies and
estimated that 160 Japanese were killed based on reports from the
Makin Island natives with whom he spoke. Additional Japanese personnel
may have been killed in the destruction of two boats and two aircraft.
Morison states that 60 Japanese were killed in the sinking of one of
the boats. Japanese records are however more precise and the entire
garrison casualties were 46 killed of all ranks (not including the
purported large casualties Carlson reported for the boats he had
sunk). This was confirmed when supporting Japanese forces returned to
the island and found 27 Japanese survivors of the raid.
This is a plaque commemorating the Makin Island Raid in 1942. This
plaque is located on the island of Kwajalein.
Marine Raiders succeeded in annihilating the Japanese
garrison on the island, the raid failed to meet its other material
objectives. No Japanese prisoners were taken, and no meaningful
intelligence was collected. Also, no significant Japanese forces were
diverted from the
Solomon Islands area. In fact, because the
vulnerabilities to their garrisons in the
Gilbert Islands were
highlighted by the raid, the Japanese strengthened their
fortifications and defensive preparations on the islands in the
central Pacific. As a result, the objective to dissipate Japanese
forces may have had the unintended consequence of causing heavier
losses for American forces during the battles of the Gilbert and
Marshall Islands campaigns. However, the raid did succeed in its
objectives of boosting morale and testing Raider tactics.
In 2000, 58 years after the raid, the remains of 19 Marines were found
on Makin Island through bioarchaeological excavation and recovery,
then sent to the Defense Department's Central Identification
Laboratory in Hawaii, where they were identified. Six of these Marines
were returned to their families for private burial ceremonies. The
remaining 13 were buried with full honors at Arlington National
Cemetery after a funeral service at
Fort Myer Chapel at which the
Marine Commandant General
James L. Jones
James L. Jones spoke. The remaining eleven
Marines have not yet been located.
United States Marine Corps portal
Dallas H. Cook
Clyde A. Thomason
Battle of Makin
Gung Ho! (1943 film)
^ (Morison, Coral Sea, Midway, and Submarine Actions, p. 235–241).
^ Rottman (2005), pp.59–60.
^ p. 27 Wiles, Tripp Forgotten Raiders of '42: The fate of the Marines
Left Behind on Makin Potomac Books, Inc., 31/03/2007
^ Pacific Wrecks website
^ Leatherneck forum
^ Frank and Shaw, q. "Victory and Occupation". History of U.S. Marine
Corps Operations in World War II. History Branch, U.S. Marine Corps.
Retrieved 28 September 2012.
^ Missing Marines Website
^ Sato Kasumasa, "Gyokusai no Shima," Kojinsha Press, Tokyo,2004,
Pearl Harbor To Guadalcanal, History Of The Marine Corps Operations
In World War II, Volume I, p. 284.
Hough, Frank O.; Verle E. Ludwig; Henry I. Shaw Jr (1958). Pearl
Harbor To Guadalcanal, History Of The Marine Corps Operations In World
War II, Volume I. Washington, D.C.:
United States Marine Corps.
Morison, Samuel Eliot (2001) . Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine
Actions, May 1942 – August 1942, vol. 4 of History of United States
Naval Operations in World War II. Champaign, Illinois, USA: University
of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06995-6.
Morison, Samuel Eliot (1961). Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, June
1942 – April 1944, vol. 7 of History of
United States Naval
Operations in World War II. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ASIN
Rottman, Gordon (2005). Duncan Anderson, ed. US
Special Warfare Units
in the Pacific Theatre 1941–45. Oxford: Osprey.
Rottman, Gordon L. (2014). Carlson's Marine Raiders; Makin Island
1942. Oxford: Osprey Raid Series #44.
Peatross, Oscar F. (1995). John P. McCarthy; John Clayborne, eds.
Bless 'em All: The Raider Marines of World War II. Review.
Smith, George W. (2003). Carlson's Raid: The Daring Marine Assault on
Makin. Berkley Trade. ISBN 978-0-425-19019-7. - Neutral
review of this book: 
Wiles, W. Emerson "Tripp" (2007). Forgotten Raiders of '42: The Fate
of the Marines Left Behind on Makin. Potomac Books.
Young, Howard. "Carlson's Raiders on Makin, 17–18 August 1942",
Marine Corps Gazette 87(8): August 31, 2003.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Makin Raid.
FROM MAKIN TO BOUGAINVILLE:
Marine Raiders in the
Pacific War by Major
Jon T Hoffman, USMCR, official USMC historical account of raid
World War II
World War II Submarines and Marines Unite, press release by Commander,
Submarines Pacific, in 2000 summarizing the raid.
Crowl, Philip A.; Edmund G. Love (1955). "Seizure of the Gilberts and
United States Army in
World War II
World War II — The War in the
Pacific. Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the
Army. pp. 60–66. Retrieved January 23, 2007. - Briefly
describes the Makin Raid and its impact on future U.S. operations in
the Gilbert Islands.
Hoffman, Jon T. (1995). "Makin" (brochure). FROM MAKIN TO
Marine Raiders in the Pacific War. Marine Corps
Historical Center. Retrieved 2006-11-21.
Whitman, Edward C. "SUBMARINE COMMANDOS: "Carlson's Raiders" at Makin
Atoll". Undersea Warfare.
United States Navy, Chief of Naval
Operations, Submarine Warfare Division. Archived from the original on
2006-12-07. Retrieved 2006-11-21.
Enright, Ray (Director) (1943). 'Gung Ho!': The Story of Carlson's
Makin Island Raiders (Feature-length film). Universal Pictures.
— U.S. propaganda film that dramatizes the Makin Raid.
CILHI Report of Makin USMC remains[permanent dead link] Pdf download
list of 19 USMC KIA on Makin
list of 9 USMC Killed on Kwajelein