Japanese soldier surrendering to US Marines, Marshall Islands, 1944

The soldier is naked as he was probably ordered to strip to ensure that no weapons or explosives were concealed. It was very rare for Japanese soldiers to surrender because it was considered humiliating. Those huge steel doors, and thick walls, must be some kind of bunker. Maybe a bunker with an artillery gun, maybe a coastal battery.

The Marshall Islands were in Japanese hands since World War I. Occupied by the Japanese in 1914, they were made part of the "Japanese Mandatory Islands" determined by the League of Nations. The Japanese withdrew from the Union in 1933 and began turning the Mandatory Islands into military bases.

During World War II, these islands, as well as other surrounding islands, became targets of Allied attacks. D-Day at Marshall was scheduled for 31 January 1944, with the US Marine Corps 4d Division moving to the northern half of Kwajalein Atoll and the Army's 7th Infantry Division moving to Kwajalein Island and the other half of Kwajalein Atoll. Small islands were attacked.

The Marines attacked Roi Island and Namur Island, then attacked the remaining small islands of northern Kwajalein Atoll. Once ashore, the Marines moved swiftly. Roy became safe on 1 February and Namur the next day. In the seizure of the northern part of Kwajalein Atoll, Marine 4th Division casualties were 313 killed and 502 wounded.

The estimated 3,563 Japanese garrison forces were reduced to only 90 prisoners. Subsequently, all the other Marshall Islands were captured one by one. Japanese soldiers were destroyed during the confrontation or by suicide. Some decided to surrender.

Rapid victories in the Marshall Islands accelerated the Central Pacific Drive and placed Japanese positions in the Carolines and Marianas within range of American reconnaissance and bombing aircraft.

New bases opened for the US Navy. The Japanese Navy, frightened by the approaching American forces, reduced its fleet to Truk Island in the Carolinas, formerly a stronghold of Japanese air and naval power in the central Pacific.

The relatively low 3,000 combined casualties for the army and navy showed that Tarawa's lessons were put to good use. Tactics were changed and improved against heavily defended islands, including the use of heavy bombardment before landing and better transport to the beaches.

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