WWII Marine History Publications

                             World War II:
         Marine Corps Official History Publications

1,370 pages of World War II Marine Corps official history composed in 29 volumes published by the United States Marine Corps' History and Museums Division, created from 1969 to 1999.

World War II Marine Corps Official History Publications CD-ROM

Publications in this collection include:

A Chronology of the United States Marine Corps 1935-1946

This volume is a chronology of Marine Corps activities from 1935 to 1946. It was derived from official records and other published historical works. This chronology is presented principally as a ready reference by time sequence to Marine Corps activities from the introduction of amphibious concepts in 1935 to the return to peacetime strength after World War II. The period 1941-1946, moreover, has been organized by geographic area so that the reader can place Marine Corps activities in proper perspective to world events.

Special Marine Corps Units of World War II 

During World War II, a variety of new and experimental units were organized by the Marine Corps to enhance the capabilities of the Corps. This historical reference tells of the development, deployment, and eventual demise of the five types of special units: raiders, parachutists, glider forces, barrage balloon squadrons, and base defense battalions.

The Right to Fight African-American Marines in World War II

When the United States began arming against aggression by the Axis powers, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy, the Marine Corps had a simple and in-flexible policy governing African-Americans: it had not accepted them since its reestablishment in 1798 and did not want them now. In April 1941, during a meeting of the General Board of the Navy, a body roughly comparable to the War Department General Staff, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Major General Thomas Holcomb, declared that blacks had no place in the organization he headed. "If it were a question of having a Marine Corps of 5,000 whites or 250,000 Negroes," he said, "I would rather have the whites." Under pressure by President Roosevelt, the Marine Corps began accepting African-Americans into a newly created segregated system in July 1942.

Across the Reef - The Marine Assault of Tarawa

In August 1943, to meet in secret with Major General Julian C. Smith and his principal staff officers of the 2d Marine Division, Vice Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, commanding the Central Pacific Force, flew to New Zealand from Pearl Harbor. Spruance told the Marines to prepare for an amphibious assault against Japanese positions in the Gilbert Islands in November. The Marines knew about the Gilberts. The 2d Raider Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson had attacked Makin Atoll a year earlier. Subsequent intelligence reports warned that the Japanese had fortified Betio Island in Tarawa Atoll, where elite forces guarded a new bomber strip. Spruance said Betio would be the prime target for the 2d Marine Division.

The Tarawa operation became a tactical watershed: the first, large-scale test of American amphibious doctrine against a strongly fortified beachhead. The Marine assault on Betio was particularly bloody. Ten days after the assault, Time magazine published the first of many post-battle analyses: "Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of Concord Bridge, the Bon Homme Richard, the Alamo, Little Big Horn and Belleau Wood. The name was 'Tarawa.'"

A Close Encounter the Marine Landing on Tinian

Three weeks into the battle for Saipan, commanders began turning their attention to the next objective, the island of Tinian, clearly visible three miles off Saipan's southwest coast. Its garrison of 9,000 Japanese army and navy combatants, many of them veterans of the campaigns in Manchuria, had been bombarded for seven weeks by U.S. air and sea armadas, joined in late June by massed Marine Corps and Army artillery battalions on Saipan's southern coast. The 2d and 4th Marine Divisions, both still in the thick of the Saipan fight, was selected for the assault mission.

Cape Gloucester the Green Inferno

In a campaign lasting four months, the 1st Marine Division had plunged into the unforgiving jungle and overwhelmed a determined and resolute enemy, capturing the Cape Gloucester airfields and driving the Japanese from western New Britain.

And A Few Marines - Marines in the Liberation of the Philippines

It may have appeared as an insignificant event when a few Marine planes flew into a muddy airfield at Tacloban on the island of Leyte in the Philippines on 3 December 1944. All around them were the elements of the massive U.S. Army invasion which had begun on 20 October. Seven infantry divisions and six Army Air Force (AAF) air groups dominated the island scene. However, it was the start of a major campaign in which Marine aviation would play a major role.

Breaching the Marianas - The Battle for Saipan

At first light on 15 June 1944, the Navy fire support ships of the task force lying off Saipan Island increased their previous days' preparatory fire involving all calibers of weapons. At 0542, Vice Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner ordered, "Land the landing force." The campaign on Saipan brought many American casualties, and it also heralded the kind of fighting which would be experienced in subsequent operations in the Central and Western Pacific in the days that lay ahead in the Pacific War. Holland Smith declared it "the decisive battle of the Pacific offensive" for it "opened the way to the home islands." Japanese General Saito had written that "the fate of the Empire will be decided in this one action." A Japanese admiral agreed, "Our war was lost with the loss of Saipan."

Breaking the Outer Ring - Marine Landing in the Marshall Islands

By the beginning of 1944, United States Marine forces had already made a dramatic start on the conquest of areas overrun by the Japanese early in World War II. Successful American assaults in the Southwest Pacific, beginning with Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in August 1942, and in the Central Pacific at Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands in November 1943, were crucial campaigns to mark the turn of the Japanese floodtide of conquest. The time had now come to take one more decisive step: assault of the islands held by Japan before 1941. These strategic islands, mandated to the Japanese by the League of Nations after World War I, were a source of mystery and speculation. Outsiders were barred; illegal fortifications were presumed: yet any Central Pacific drive towards Japan's inner defense ring had to confront these unknowns. The obvious target to begin with was the Marshall Islands. As early as 1921, a Marine planning officer had pinpointed their geographic significance.

Liberation - Marines in the Recapture of Guam

With the instantaneous opening of a two-hour, ever-increasing bombardment by six battleships, nine cruisers, a host of destroyers and rocket ships, laying their wrath on the wrinkled black hills, rice paddies, cliffs, and caves that faced the attacking fleet on the west side of the island. Liberation Day for Guam began at 0530, 21 July 1944.

Closing In - Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima

Iwo Jima represented at once the supreme test and the pinnacle of American amphibious capabilities in the Pacific War. The sheer magnitude of the task, planning the assault and the sustaining of that many troops against such a formidable objective made Operation Detachment an enduring model of "detailed planning and violent execution." Here the element of surprise was not available to the attacker. Yet the speed of the American landing and the toughness with which assault units withstood the withering barrages astounded the Japanese defenders.

Iwo Jima in American hands produced immediate and highly visible benefits to the strategic bombing campaign. Marines fighting on the island were reminded of this mission time and again as crippled B-29 Superfortresses flew in from Honshu. The capture of Iwo Jima served to increase the operating range, payload, and survival rate of the big bombers.

The United States Marines on Iwo - Battle and the Flag Raisings

This concise narrative of the Marine battle for Iwo Jima and the events surrounding the famous flag raisings atop Mount Suribachi is an updated revision of one of the most popular publications ever produced by the Marine Corps' History and Museums Division. Compiled from original records and appropriate historical works and printed as two separate reference pamphlets in 1962, the chronicle was combined into one volume in 1967.

This revision of the 1967 pamphlet adds significant new material on the two flag raisings on Iwo Jima as well as updated biographical material on some of the flag raisers.

Outpost in the North Atlantic - Marines in the Defense of Iceland

In the early spring of 1941, the British expressed concern about the security of the Azores which, if taken by the Germans, would threaten both Portugal and the British supply lines into the Mediterranean Sea. By late spring 1941, Britain's back was against the wall. Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt to send American troops to Iceland to replace the British garrison there. The President agreed, provided the Icelanders invited an American occupation force to their island.

The Final Campaign Marines in the Victory of Okinawa

Daybreak on 29 May 1945 found the 1st Marine Division beginning its fifth consecutive week of frontal assault as part of the U.S. Tenth Army's grinding offensive against the Japanese defenses centered on Shuri Castle in southern Okinawa. Operation Iceberg, the campaign to seize Okinawa, was now two months old � and badly bogged down. The exhilarating, fast-paced opening of the campaign had been replaced by week after week of costly, exhausting, attrition warfare against the Shuri complex.

The three-month-long battle of Okinawa covered a 700-mile arc from Formosa to Kyushu and involved a million combatants, Americans, Japanese, British, and native Okinawans. With a magnitude that rivaled the Normandy invasion the previous June, the battle of Okinawa was the biggest and costliest single operation of the Pacific War. For each of its 82 days of combat, the battle would claim an average of 3,000 lives from the antagonists and the unfortunate non-combatants.

But as expansive and dramatic as the Battle of Okinawa proved to be, both sides clearly saw the contest as a foretaste of even more desperate fighting to come with the inevitable invasion of the Japanese home islands. Okinawa's proximity to Japan, well within medium bomber and fighter escort range and its militarily useful ports, airfields, anchorages, and training areas, made the skinny island an imperative objective for the Americans, eclipsing their earlier plans for the seizure of Formosa for that purpose.


Securing the Surrender - Marines in the Occupation of Japan

The first Marines to set foot in Japan after the war landed at Yokosuka expecting to meet the same implacable foe they had encountered in years of bitter fighting across the Pacific. Instead they were confronted by a docile people anxious to cooperate.

While the Marines on Kyushu stood by as observers and policemen during many phases of the occupation, they were direct participants in others. They supervised the repatriation of thousands of foreign civilians and prisoners of war and handled the flood of returning Japanese. Using local labor, they collected, inventoried, and disposed of the vast amounts of munitions and other war materiel that had been stockpiled on Kyushu in anticipation of the Allied invasion. In addition, they used their own men and equipment to repair war damage and to assist in the reestablishment of the Japanese economy.

The United States Marines in the Occupation of Japan

The United States Marines in the Occupation of Japan is a concise narrative of the major events which took place when Marine air and ground units were deployed to the main islands of Japan at the close of World War II. The text is based on official records, interviews with participants in the operations described, and reliable secondary sources.

Silk Chutes and Hard Fighting - U.S. Marine Corps Parachute Units in WWII

Silk Chutes and Hard Fighting: U.S. Marine Corps Parachute Units in World War II is a brief narrative of the development, deployment, and eventual demise of Marine parachute units during World War II.

An Annotated Bibliography of the United States Marine Corps in the Second World War

A listing of books dealing in whole or significant part with Marine Corps operations and related matters in World War II. The authors of this work in order to obtain the greatest possible value to the largest number of researchers and writers have used broad criteria for the selection of items included. Annotations supplied are in the nature of description of the content of books and articles rather than a critical evaluation.

Other titles on the CD-ROM include:

Opening Moves - Marines Gear Up for War

Infamous Day - Marines at Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941

A Magnificent Fight - Marines in the Battle for Wake Island

The United States Marines in Iceland, 1941-1942

Bloody Beaches the Marines at Peleliu

Condition Red Marine Defense Battalions in World War II

Time of the Aces - Marine Pilots in the Solomons 1942 - 1944

Top of the Ladder - Marine Operations in the Northern Solomons

Up the Slot - Marines in the Central Solomons

Iwo Jima - Uncommon Valor

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