Occupation of Carlos Island (31 January 1944)

The occupation of Carlos Island (31 January 1944) was part of the preliminary operations before the invasion of Kwajalein, and saw the Americans capture an island that they intended to use as a supply dump to support the artillery on nearby Carlson Island (Operation Flintlock).

Carlos Island (Ennylabegan) was the second island to the west of the main Kwajalein Island. It was to be occupied to help secure Cecil Pass, the best deep water route into the middle of the atoll, which ran between nearby Cecil and Carter Islands.

The invasion of Carlos and Carlson Islands were to be the second phase of operations on D-Day, following on from the invasions of Carter and Cecil Islands. Carlos was to be invaded by the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry. Once it was secured, it would be used for supply dumps and repair stations for the artillery located on Carlson Island.

Carlos Island is about one mile long and 300 yards wide. The Americans expected to find fewer than 250 defenders on the island.

The plan was for the 1st Battalion, 17th Regimental Combat Team (Lt. Col Albert V Hartl) , to land at the north-western tip of the island. Two light tanks were to land with the fourth wave of troops.

The landings were delayed by an over-complex landing plan which saw the troops transfer from their transports into Higgins Boats, and then from the Higgins boats into LSTs, all in total darkness. This caused a 40 minute delay.

The landing itself called for six waves of craft. The first two waves contained troop carrying LVTs. The third and fourth consisted of LVT(As). The fifth was LCMs carrying tanks and self propelled howitzers. The sixth wave was made up of normal landing craft carrying the rest of the invasion force.

The landing began at around 0910 and the beachhead was established without running into any resistance. The first five waves were all ashore by 1040 and the advance across the island began. At first Company C advanced on the left, along the lagoon side of the island, while Company A advanced on the right, on the ocean front. Company C ran into three unarmed Japanese who were killed, and found five more who had committed suicide. After advancing about two thirds of the way down the island Company C halted. Company A captured seven or eight prisoners during the first part of the advance. After taking over the entire line they were attacked by nine Japanese troops, who were cut down before they could get close. American troops reached the far tip of the island at 1400, and Carlos was considered to have been secured. The Americans suffered no casualties during the occupation. Carlos was soon in use as a supply dump and also hosted the 31st Field Hospital.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 November 2017), Occupation of Carlos Island (31 January 1944) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/occupation_carlos.html

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