June 14, 2015

1667 KIRIBATI - Japanese WWII Defenses on Tarawa

During WWII, Japan seized part of the islands which today forms Republic of Kiribati, to form part of their island defenses. The Japanese worked intensely for nearly a year to fortify the island. A series of fourteen coastal defense guns, including four large Vickers 8-inch guns purchased during the Russo-Japanese War from the British, were secured in concrete bunkers and located around the island. The island had a total of 500 pillboxes or "stockades" built from logs and sand, many of which were reinforced with cement. Forty artillery pieces were scattered around the island in various reinforced firing pits.

On 20 November 1943, Allied forces threw themselves against Japanese positions at Tarawa Atoll and  Makin Atoll, resulting in some of the bloodiest fighting of the Pacific campaign, Battle of Tarawa. On that day United States Marines landed on Tarawa and suffered heavy losses from Japanese soldiers occupying entrenched positions on the atoll, and secured the island after 76 hours of intense fighting. Nearly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans, and Americans died in the fighting, mostly on and around the small island of Betio. Of the 3,636 Japanese in the garrison, only one officer and 16 enlisted men surrendered. Of the 1,200 Korean laborers brought to construct the defenses, only 129 survived.

About the stamps
Two of the stamps are part of the series Birds,about which I wrote here. The other four are part of the series Water Transportation, about which I wrote here. 

History of Kiribati - Wikipedia
Battle of Tarawa - Wikipedia

Sent from Tarawa (Kiribati), on 27.03.2015

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