Historical background info
The battle for Tarawa came almost two years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941. It is a wonder that the attack was such a surprise as the United States had been planning and carrying out exercises in accordance with its ‘Plan Orange’ which recognised that Japan was, in reality, the only country that could launch an attack on the United States and its bases around the Pacific of such magnitude as to seriously threaten the United States’ position in the region. The attack brought the United States into World War Two, but inflicted substantial damage on the US Pacific Fleet. The first year of the war was, for the most part, a catalogue of disasters for the Allies as the Japanese attacked and occupied huge portions of the Southwest Pacific and Southeast Asia including the Philippines, Singapore, Guam, Wake Island, Burma, the Dutch East Indies and much of New Guinea. However, as 1942 progressed, the tide started to turn in the Allies favour with the Battle of the Coral Sea (losses were even but the battle forced the Japanese task force bound for Port Moresby to turn back), the Battle for Midway and the conquest of Guadalcanal (in early 1943). The stage was set for the start of the Allied fight back in the Pacific.
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