The Battle of Eniwetok Atoll was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought between 17 February 1944 and 23 February 1944, on Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The invasion of Eniwetok followed the American success in the Battle of Kwajalein to the southeast. Capture of Eniwetok would provide an airfield and harbor to support attacks on the Mariana Islands to the northwest.
Parry Island Map
This map and historical action can be found in Lone Canuck Publishing’s Advanced Squad Leader module: Breaking Heartstrings.
Battle of Parry Island, February 1944
Operation Catchpole was the codename for the American invasion of Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands during World War 2. The operation took place from February 17 to February 22, 1944, and was part of the larger campaign to capture the Gilbert and Marshall Islands from the Japanese. The main objective of Operation Catchpole was to secure the Engebi airfield on the northern island of the atoll, which was strategically important for the American advance into the Marianas and the Philippines. The operation involved three phases: the invasion of the two smaller islands on the east side of the atoll, the invasion of Engebi, and the invasion of the southernmost and largest island, Parry.
The operation was commanded by Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, and the landing forces consisted of the 22nd Marine Regiment and two battalions of the 106th Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Army’s 27th Infantry Division. The Japanese defenders numbered about 3,500, mostly from the 1st Amphibious Brigade of the Imperial Japanese Army.
The invasion of Parry Island took place on February 22, 1944, after the Americans had secured the smaller islands on the east side of the atoll and the northern island of Engebi, where the main Japanese airfield was located. Parry Island was the southernmost and largest island in the atoll, and it was heavily defended by the Japanese with pillboxes, bunkers, trenches, and artillery. To expedite Parry’s capture, the island was subjected to an intense naval bombardment on February 22. Led by the battleships USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) and USS Tennessee (BB-43), Allied warships hit Parry with over 900 tons of shells.
At 9 a.m., the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 22nd Marine Regiment moved ashore behind a creeping bombardment. They faced fierce resistance from the Japanese, who counterattacked with machine guns, mortars, and grenades. The Marines advanced slowly and methodically, clearing the enemy positions one by one. By noon, they had reached the western shore of the island, cutting off the Japanese retreat. The fighting continued until 4 p.m., when the island was declared secure.
The Marines suffered 73 killed and 261 wounded, while the Japanese lost 1,276 killed and only 16 captured. The invasion of Parry Island was the last major battle for Eniwetok Atoll, which was officially secured on February 23, 1944. The Americans then proceeded to build an airfield and a naval base on the atoll, which served as a staging area for the subsequent campaigns in the Marianas and the Philippines.
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ASL Map Spotlights are meant to be quick history lessons on available historical Advanced Squad Leader actions. These short articles are meant to highlight both a short history of the battle portrayed for players unfamiliar with the setting, as well as show the ASL map on which it plays out.
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