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    Makin Lagoon (Butaritari Lagoon) Makin Atoll Republic of Kiribati (Gilbert Islands)
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Stan Gajda 1999

Makin Lagoon (Butaritari Lagoon) borders Makin Island.

Wartime History
On December 9, 1941 Japanese forces occupied Makin. Afterwards, the Japanese Navy developed Makin Seaplane Base to support seaplanes and flying boat operations.

On August 17, 1942 U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) 2nd Raider Battalion, Company A and Company B landed at Makin from submarines USS Argonaut (SM-1) and USS Nautilus on a mission to attack Makin. During the attack, the Marines claimed two flying boats destroyed by Sgt Buck Stidham and Sgt Walter Carroll using their Boys Anti-Tank rifle. The Marines were forced to evacuate in the face of Japanese air attacks and reinforcements.

On September 14, 1943 a single H8K2 Emily took off from Makin

Stan Gajda adds:
"During the battle of Makin in November 1943, a flight of Japanese Kates were intercepted by the SACP and all were shot down, some even going down in the lagoon. I have even had a letter from a guy in Japan trying to trace these planes for the crews relatives. I have heard of two planes in the north end of the lagoon that I never had time to locate and see and it is possible that at least one of these would be one of the Jills."

Lagoon Reef
Japanese seaplanes were moored in the lagoon. There are also several American wrecks.

Makin Seaplane Base
Mavis and Emilys from the Makin Seaplane Base were moored in the lagoon

H8K2 Emily
Disabled at King's Wharf by strafing by Hellcats, and during the battle of Makin

H8K2 Emily
Sunk off Makin kilometer off the northwest off the end of King's wharf

H6K5 Mavis
Sunk off Makin near Chongs Wharf

E13 Jake
Out from the Stone Pier is a wrecked Jake which I did not have time to look for but I have seen chunks of it brought up in a fishing net.

B5N Kate
A number of B5Ns were shot down into the lagoon as they were coming in on a raid. The whole flight was lost with no survivors. I have heard of a small plane wreck in the lagoon at the northern end near Bikati Island. This is also exposed at low tide. I never had the chance to get up there but it could be one of the B5N Kate.

B-24 Liberator
Reportedly a B-24 remains in about 60' of water near one of the central passages into the lagoon in the northwest area of Makin Atoll. I spent hours looking for this one. The water is very clear along there and the bottom was clearly visible but I did not find the wreck. The local that knows where it is was never available when I needed him.

Japanese Barge
Sunk in 15' off the Catholic Mission. Stan Gajda recovered two anchors from it.

Seaplane Tender
Sunk in the area out from the Catholic Mission.

Higgins Boat
Sunk to the east of the island on the edge of the reef shelf.

F4U Corsair
Straight out from the Catholic mission which can be seen at low tide

F4U Corsair
Straight out from the Catholic mission which can be seen at low tide

B-25 Mitchell
Straight out from the Catholic mission which can be seen at low tide

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019


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