The Islands of Kiribati lay claim to a number of the bloodiest battles that were fought out in World War II. Sixty years on and much of the evidence of these battles still remain available for travellers to view as a living museum of this part of history; in particular Tarawa, Butaritari and Abemama of the Gilbert group, and Banaba island.
The Japanese entered the pacific and invaded the Gilberts in December of 1941, two days after they bombed Pearl Harbour. In August of 1942, the US Marines held three major operations in an attempt to remove the Japanese, including “The Battle of Tarawa”, reputedly one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in World War II.
On Tarawa and Butaritari Atoll there are still physical relics of the occupation and operations. This includes four eight inch coastal defense guns, and solid concrete bunkers and pillboxes. Rusted tanks, amtracs, ship wrecks, and plane wrecks can also be seen on the shores at low tide. To see these you can just take a walk or bus ride around Tarawa, but we recommend you do a guided tour so you don’t miss anything!
Molly’s Tours (in Tarawa)
Molly will take you back in time to one of bloodiest battles ever fought during World War II. The tour will be on Betio, the scene of “Operation Galvanic” one of the most significantand bloody battles in the history of WWII. The tour requires that reef shoes are worn as you will be walking out over the reef to see the war relics and artifacts. Highlights of the tour include: Red Beach 1,2 and 3; Vickers 8” coastal guns, brought during the Russian Japanese war of 1905; Japanese bunkers and pillboxes which fortified the island of Betio in 1942; see the remains of Amtracs, American Sherman and Japanese type 95 tanks; American and Japanese memorials, the memorial to the British and New Zealand coastal watchers and the Cenotaph erected as a time capsule to Americans fallen in action; and Buddhist and Shinto shrines erected by the Japanese in memory of their war dead in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.
Tel/Fax: +(686) 26409
The Makin Raid and Battle of Makin (Butaritari) Tour
For battle field tour itineraries and accommodation arrangements on Butaritari Atoll please contact: