Occupation of Albert Island (Ennumennet), 31 January 1944

The occupation of Albert Island (Ennumennet), 31 January 1944, was one of two simultaneous landings that formed the second stage in the invasion of Roi and Namur in Kwajelein Atoll.

Albert was the second island to the south of Namur, and was seen as a potential artillery base. The Marine's first targets on D-Day would be Jacob and Ivan Islands, to the west, but once these were secured their next target would be Albert and Allen Islands. Once the islands were secured two battalions from the 14th Marine Regiment (Artillery) were to be landed there. One battalion from the 14th Marine (Artillery) would be landed on each of Jacob, Ivan, Albert and Allen islands.

The American plan was for the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines to capture Ivan and Jacob islands. They would then pass their amphibian tractors onto the 3rd Battalion, which would occupy Albert and Abraham Islands. The 3rd Battalion was to take Albert, landing at 1430, and if things went well they were to move onto Abraham at 1600.

The 3rd Battalion's task was made harder by a shortage of LVT amphibians. They had to wait in larger LCVPs while the amphibians used on Ivan and Jacob were being prepared for their second mission of the day.

After the occupation of Ivan and Jacob the mine sweepers moved into the lagoon and prepared the way for the next invasions. Carrier aircraft attacked both islands, before the LCIs opened fire with 20mm and 40mm guns. At about noon six torpedo bombers and seven bombers attacked Albert. After this the destroyers Porterfield and Haradan opened fire on the islands.

The landing plan suffered from more delays. The destroyer Phelps, which was acting as a control ship for the landing craft and LVTs, was called away to provide fire support. This caused chaos amongst the landing craft, which took some time to sort out. When things did finally get organised, the 3rd Battalion only had enough LVTs for the first wave and a half, the rest having been damaged, sunk or otherwise lost. The attack was postponed by half an hour.

At 1420 five torpedo planes bombed Albert. Three destroyers bombarded the landing beaches until 1450. The LCI(G)s then  opened fire with 20mm and 40mm guns and 4.5in barrage rockets. This triggered a massive explosion on Albert Island.  The first wave of marines finally landed at 1513.

After this chaos, the actual invasion went very smoothly. It only took the marines twenty minutes to cross the island and eliminate the ten Japanese troops on Albert. The Marines lost one dead and seven wounded.

By the end of the day the 2st Battalion, 14th Marine Artillery, had landed on Albert with its 75mm pack howitzers.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 December 2017), Occupation of Albert Island (Ennumennet), 31 January 1944 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/occupation_albert.html

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