Burlesque and Camouflage Islands Carillon Atoll

The preparation and ultimate victory in the Battle of Kwajalein.

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In late 1943, the U.S. Combined Chiefs of Staff decided to plan an attack on the Marshall Islands as part of the ongoing island-hopping campaign in the Pacific. Recent victories at Makin and Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands facilitated the construction of airbases and ports to supply the next ‘jump’ en route to the Japanese home islands.

The Marshalls were part of Japan’s outer ring of defenses and were reinforced with nearly 30,000 troops in strong defensive positions. The Allied assault began in late January 1944, and focused on the Kwajalein Atoll in the heart of the island group. The largest landmasses were Kwajalein Island and the linked island of Roi-Namur, the latter shown on this map that was created a month before the attack began.

Marked secret and dated Christmas Eve 1943, the map provides a detailed overview of Japanese defenses amid the inhospitable terrain. (Burlesque, Camouflage, and Carillon were the codenames used for Roi, Namur, and Kwajalein, respectively). A legend in the lower-left identifies the various defensive emplacements and offensive weaponry of the Japanese defenders according to the latest Allied intelligence.

What sets this particular example apart is that it was clearly used by American forces after victory was declared in early February 1944. Penciled notes in the upper left identify the owner as Corporal Finley A. Beaton, a member of the 15th Defense Battalion. Further annotations, including an update to the legend, identify the location of various American defensive units, including anti-aircraft, artillery, and machine guns. The Quartermaster’s supply dump, specific unit locations, and other camp structures are also noted in red, green, and graphite pencil.

Though subsequent battles in the Pacific became better known for their ferocious fighting, the Battle of Kwajalein was no cakewalk. Of an estimated garrison of around 3,500 Japanese soldiers stationed on Roi-Namur, only 51 were captured alive.

Source 1, Source 2. 

Map Details

Publication Date: 1943

Author: G-3 Section Fifth Amphibious Force and 64th Engineer Topographic Company

Sheet Width (in): 28.20

Sheet Height (in): 21.30

Condition: B

Condition Description: Heavily soiled and worn from use, including separation along fold lines, thumb prints and miscellaneous soiling, annotations in a variety of instruments, and small holes at fold intersections. Damp stains visible in the lower corners. Despite the numerous defects, the map retains its original patina and reflects its age and use during the war.

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