Shortly after midnight -Task Force 53 arrives off Tarawa carrying the 2nd Marine Division.
The transport ships are not positioned correctly in Transport Area ABLE, but the error is not noticed.
0320 - Debarkation of Marines from the ships begins.
0431 - The Task Force Commander learns that the transports are not in position. He orders the transports to stop debarkation and move into the correct area.
0507 - Japanese shore batteries on HELEN open fire on the ships of Task Force 53. Support ships immediately return fire and begin an intensive counter battery bombardment.
(above) Amtracs carrying Marines from LT 2/2 circling in their assembly
area at dawn. 20 November 1943 - Tarawa USMC Photo
0510 - Transports report they are correctly re-positioned in Transport Area ABLE, and debarkation resumes.
0542 - Support ships cease firing on counter battery bombardment for expected air support mission on HELEN at 0545.
0545 - Air support fails to appear.
Sunrise - Minesweepers begin clearing the passage into Tarawa Lagoon.
A few minutes after sunrise - Minesweepers and destroyers move into the lagoon. Minesweepers begin marking lanes and laying smoke. Japanese batteries commence firing on the ships. The destroyers return fire, silencing the Japanese guns.
(above) The first wave approaches the beach.
0910 20 November 1943. US Navy Photo
0613 - Air support appears and begins an intensive bombing and strafing mission of Japanese positions on HELEN.
0623 - Air support mission completed. Aircraft return to their carriers.
0630 - Planned saturation bombardment of HELEN commences. Support ships bring maximum firepower to bear against Japanese positions.
0648 - Kingfisher pilot reports coral reef in the lagoon is exposed and the tide is out.
0715 - Lead minesweeper begins guiding waves of amtracs from assembly area to line of departure. The first wave is 24 minutes behind schedule of movement.
0815 - Planned time for H-Hour. Due to delay in amtrac movement, the time is slipped to 0845. Amtracs cannot make adequate headway and H-Hour is slipped again to 0900.
0824 - First wave crosses Line of Departure; still 6,000 to the beaches.
0855 - Support ships cease fire on saturation bombardment. First wave is still 4,000 yards from the beaches.
0855 - 2nd Scout-Sniper Platoon under 1st Lt Williams Hawkins lands at the end of the pier on Beach Red 2. The platoon uses flamethrowers and demolition charges to clear the Japanese defenders from the pier.
0855-0900 - Planned close support aircraft begin strafing the beaches in preparation for landing.
0900 - H-Hour - The first wave is still closing on the beach. Japanese anti-boat guns, mortars, and machine guns begin firing at the amtracs.
0910 - The first wave of Landing Team 3/2 lands on Beach Red 1. Encounters heavy defensive fires.
0917 - The first wave of Landing Team 3/8 lands on Beach Red 3. Encounters heavy defensive fires.
(above) The first wave approaches Beach Red 3 under heavy fire.
This amtrac carries Marines of E 2/8–0917 - 20 November 1943 USMC Photo
0922 - The first wave of Landing Team 2/2 lands on Beach Red 2. Encounters heavy defensive fires.
0930 - Message from beach to flagship: "Assault forces heavily engaged. Many LVT's hit and burning. 35-50% casualties."
(above) Marines from LT 2/8 moving forward past a knocked out
amtrac on Beach Red 3. They have probably just landed, as their
uniforms & equipment are still soaked with water. USMC Photo
0930-1030 - 14 Sherman tanks of Co. C 1st Corps Medium Tank battalion begin landing with the fifth wave. All but two sink or are knocked out by enemy fire.
0959 - Radio message from Landing Team 3/2 to CO, 2nd Marines: "Receiving heavy fire from all along beach. Unable to land all. Issue in doubt."
(above) Marines crossing the sea wall on Betio
20 November 1943
1007 - Radio message from Landing Team 3/2 to CO, 2nd Marines: "Boats held up on right flank of Red 1. Troops receiving heavy fire in the water."
1012 - Radio message from Message from CO, 2nd Marines to Landing Team 3/2: "Land Beach Red 2 and work west."
1018 - Radio message from Landing Team 3/2 to CO, 2nd Marines: "We have nothing left to land."
(above) Casualty evacuation under heavy fire.
20 November 1943 USMC Photo
1030 - Message from CG, 2nd MarDiv to CG, VAC: "Successful landings on Beaches Red 2 and Red 3. Toehold on Red 1. Am committing one landing team from division reserve. Still encountering strong resistance throughout."
1045 - Message from CO, 2nd Marines to 2nd MarDiv HQ: "Stiff resistance. Need halftracks. Tanks no good."
Late morning - Message by runner from Landing Team 2/2 to CO, 2nd Marines: "We need help. Situation Bad."
(above) Maj Jim Crowe on Beach Red 3 (standing with radio handset)
Tarawa - 20 November 1943 USMC Photo
Shortly before noon - Message by runner from Landing Team 2/2 to CO, 2nd Marines: "All communications out except runner. CO killed. No word from E Company."
1200 - CO, 2nd Marines, Col David Shoup, lands on Beach Red 2 and sets up command post. Col Shoup sends Col Evans Carlson, an observer with the 2nd MarDiv, back to the flagship with messages due to trouble with radio communications.
Early afternoon - Radio message from Landing Team 3/8 to CO, 8th Marines: "Third wave landed on Red 3 - almost wiped out. Fourth wave landed. Only a few men got ashore."
(above) Survivors of 2/8 and 3/8 move ashore on Beach
Red 3. early afternoon - 20 November 1943 USMC Photo
1331 - Message from CG, 2nd MarDiv to CG, VAC: "Situation in doubt. Request release of 6th Marines from Corps reserve."
1415 - 500 yard penetration on Beach Red 1.
1525 - VAC releases the 6th Marines to divisional control.
1800 - Col Carlson arrives at the flagship with Col Shoup's message: "We are going to stick and fight it out."
(above) A machine gun team shelters in the rubble of a knocked-out
Japanese position on Tarawa - November 1943 USMC Photo
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