Occupation of Bennett Island, 5 February 1944

The occupation of Bennett Island saw the Americans occupy one of the smaller islands in Kwajalein Atoll after overcoming unexpected Japanese resistance (Operation Flintlock).

The task of taking Bennett was given to the 7th Reconnaissance Troop. They landed at the northern tip of the island at 0600 on 5 February, and set up a defensive perimeter. Soon after dawn the force moved south, but they quickly ran into a well protected bunker. This survived a series of grenade and bazooka attacks, and so the Americans bypassed it. They then had to fight off an attack by Japanese infantry, in which fifteen Japanese troops were killed. A second, stronger, bunker, was found at the centre of the island, and the commander of the troop called for reinforcements.

The 3rd Battalion, 184th Infantry had been acting as a floating reserve, and it landed on Bennett Island at around 1000. It was supported by two medium tanks, and the destroyer USS Noel. The 184th took over the line on the ocean side of Bennett, leaving the 7th to occupy the lagoon side.

By the time the infantry arrived, the defenders of the first bunker had committed suicide. The tanks then overran the second bunker, allowing the advance south to resume. It was briefly stopped by more machine gun fire, and by another set of pillboxes found near the centre of the island, but the mopping up operations were completed by 1642. The fighting had cost the Americans one dead and two wounded, and the Japanese 94 dead.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 December 2017), Occupation of Bennett Island, 5 February 1944 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/occupation_bennett.html

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