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The Republic of Kiribati is comprised of sixteen atolls surrounded by the central Pacific Ocean. Also known as simply Kiribati. Previously known as the Kingsmill Islands or King's-Mill Islands. Prewar and during World War II known as the Gilbert Islands. To the south is the equator and to the east is the International Date Line.
On December 10, 1941 the Japanese Navy first attacked the Gilbert Islands and claimed as occupied but deemed "nonessential territories" by Japanese Imperial headquarters. After the U.S. Marine raid on Makin Island (Butaritari) on August 17-18, 1942 the Japanese reinforced the Gilbert Islands. On September 15, 1942 the No. 6 Yokosuka Special Navy Landing Force ( 6th Yokosuka SNLF) was assigned to garrison Tarawa.
On November 20, 1943 the most westerly islands Tarawa and Makin were targeted by U.S. forces after a heavy naval and aerial bombardment. After a heavy naval and aerial bombardment of Tarawa the 2mnd Marine Division landed 5,000 Marines against the heavily defended island. During the Battle of Tarawa nearly 1,000 Americans were killed and over 2,000 wounded.
Republic of Kiribati (Gilbert Islands)
Tarawa Atoll triangular shaped atoll includes Tarawa (Betio) and Tarawa Lagoon.
Tarawa Island (Betio Island) located at the southwest end of Tarawa Atoll, USMC landing November 20, 1943.
Tarawa Airfield (Hawkins Field) located on Tarawa Island used by the Japanese and expanded by the US.
Tarawa Lagoon (Betio Lagoon) borders Tarawa Island November 20, 1943 amphibious landing.
Bonriki Island located at the eastern tip of Tarawa Atoll.
Bonriki Airfield (Mullinix Field) located on Bonriki Island.
Bairiki Island located in Tarawa Atoll, capital of
Buariki Island located at the northern tip of Tarawa Atoll.
Maiana Island located to the south of Tarawa Atoll.
Apamama Atoll (Abemama) located to the southeast of Maiana Atoll and Tarawa Atoll.
Apamama Island (Abemama, Hopper) largest island in Apamama Atoll with Apamama Airfield
Apemama Airfield (O'Hare Field) located on Apamama Island.
Abatiku Island (Matt) located on the southwestern side of Apamama Atoll.
Entrance Island (Nick) located on the southwestern side of Apamama Atoll.
Makin Atoll (Butaritari Atoll)
Makin Atoll (Butaritari Atoll) located in the northern Gilbert Islands.
Makin Island (Butaritari) located at the northeast of Makin Atoll.
Makin Airfield (Butaritari, Antakana, Starmann) located on Makin Island built by the Americans in late 1943.
Makin Lagoon (Butaritari Lagoon) borders Makin Island used as seaplane operating area.
Makin Seaplane Base located in Makin Lagoon used by the Japanese.
Ocean Island (Banaba) located to the west of the Gilbert Islands, 300km east of Nauru.
Phoenix Island Group (Phoenix Islands, Rawaki)
Canton Island (Kanton) largest island in the north of the Phoenix Islands wartime airfield.
Line Island Group (Line Islands)
Christmas Island (Kiritimati) located 50 miles north of the equator.
Christmas Island Airfield (Cassidy) located at the northern portion of Christmas Island.
Aeon Field located at the northern portion of Christmas Island, built postwar.
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