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tv   Reel America With the Marines at Tarawa - 1944  CSPAN  November 4, 2018 4:00pm-4:21pm EST

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american history to be able to vote time to the history of the great war with tors of the battlefield and cemeteries and cemeteries in france, interviews with reenactors and discussions with historians. centennial of world war i all weekend november 10 and 11th on american history tv. ♪ >> 75 years ago in november of 1943, 18,000 marines made an amphibious assault on a small japanese occupied island of tarawa in the pacific. more than 1000 were killed and one of the most difficult battles in u.s. marines history. next on reel america, with the marines at tarawa, a 1944 academy award-winning documentary filmed by u.s. cameramen.
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the film includes traffic language and scenes of death that may be disturbing to some viewers. ♪ narrator: these are the men of the second marine division. they are now embarking on a full scale amphibious mission after many months of intensive training. the transports are combat loaded. the ships are the navy and coast guard. squadrons of carrier planes cover us in the sky.
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several days from our destination, a destroyer brings us field orders. it won't be long now before we know where we are bound. the relief map of our objective is broken out. fortified -- in tarawa, a very important jap airbase on the outer fringe of their pacific defenses. our platoon explaining the terrain to us. by the time they were finished, we knew those island reefs as well as we knew our own backyards. we belt more machine gun ammunition. check and test, fire all weapons.
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[gunfire] exercise helps to relieve the tension. navy and coast guard cockswains receive last-minute information on departure times. services are held in the evening before d day. ♪ [hymn playing] we like listening to father kelly. he was with us at guadalcanal. he had a way of saying what we wanted to hear. many of these men were killed the following morning. ♪ we are ready. d day. this is the day we attack. long before daylight, we are over the side into our amphibian
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landing boats. by daylight, our naval vessels open fire for four solid hours and bomb tarawa with high explosives. [explosions] everything went like clockwork. when the ships stopped firing, the planes would take over bombing. strafing. we were a team working together. then again, according to plan, the planes withdraw and the ships open up again. [explosions] each hour, the hour we attack is
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getting close. for three days before we moved in, four million pounds of explosions had been dropped on the island. it didn't seem possible anyone could live through that bombardment. from this jap lookout, machine guns constantly strafed our assault vehicles. we found them out twice, but each time a new crew took over. one of our planes scored a direct hit. as we approach the island, we
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have a feeling that the show is just about over. there doesn't seem to be any organized resistance. however, we are taking no chances. suddenly we are met by heavy machine-gun fire and water fire. -- mortar fire. it doesn't stop us. [gunfire] we fight our way onto the beach. [gunfire] our men wade ashore from wrecked amphibians.
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a long pier extending across the reef is protection to a lot of our boys on the way in. we have a pretty good toehold on the beach, but jap firepower pins us down for hours. [explosions] [gunfire] casualties are pretty high. but, as we found out later, blood plasma saves a lot of lives. when reinforcements arrive, we start moving up. [gunfire] it isn't easy knocking those
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japs out of their positions. they are hidden in trees, in pill boxes, bomb proofs, bunkers. [gunfire] [explosions] [gunfire]
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we use hand grenades. we use all the firepower we have. our rifle power -- so are the flamethrowers and the mortars. the enemy breaks from cover. [gunfire] it's tough getting them out of places like this. we can never be sure where their snipers are placed. we take it slow, easy. [explosions]
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this bunker is giving us plenty of trouble. we have orders to clean it out. [gunfire] this is what we found on the other side.
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they are savage fighters. their lives mean nothing to them. one of our boys is hit. at night, the japs would swim out to our wrecked amphibians and set up machine guns. they got a few of us before we got them. [explosions] the commanding officer of the assault troops confirms the steps. one of our medium tanks remains in operation.
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although, at the end of the second day, d plus 1, we breathe a little easier, mortar squads continue to hammer enemy points of resistance. by this time, we know the japs are licked. they must know, too. there is still strong resistance. and suicide snipers take potshots at us. we hit them, but they don't fall. just die and hang there. [gunfire]
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a light tank moves up the airstrip. one of our boys is wounded during the attack on the airfield. another marine goes out after him in a jeep under heavy machine-gun fire. back at the beach, there is constant activity. amphibians towing fresh supplies
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-- food, ammunition, guns. as the battle moves across the island, the chaplain assistants attend to the dead. leaving the duplicate on each marine so there will be no mistake later on. generals holland smith and julian smith commanding the force division. admiral harry hill commanding the task force. sometimes we actually have to dig the japs out of their holes. the island is infested with buried pill boxes. many of them still crawling with japs. these bunkers are so deep and strong that heavy shelling and demolition charges failed to crumble them. many of them are over 20 feet deep. our first prisoners.
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the wounded are given first aid in the field and then carried by stretchers. with them always are the navy hospital doctors. at the transport, they are lifted from the barges and lowered into the hole. they are taken to the ship's hospital. not a second is lost. these are marine dead. this is the price we have to pay for a war we didn't want. before it is over, there will be more dead on other battlefields. burial aboard ship for marines killed in action.
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[gun salute] just to make sure they are not concealing weapons, the prisoners are lined up and their clothes cut away. we give them new ones later. the rest of the island's defending force is dead. none escape. tokyo once boasted it would take 100,000 of our men to take tarawa. we lost less than 1000. the japs lost 4000. a wounded jap soldier. we took very few of these. most of our prisoners were korean laborers.
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one of our officers captured these japs in a disabled landing boat. prisoners carry their own wounded to the pier for evacuation. captured jap water is the first chance the boys have had to wash since they got on the island. gunfire from our warships knocked these big guns out in the earlier bombardment. these were english vicars' guns captured by the japs in singapore. one of the many light tanks. this was the jap command post, built of reinforced concrete several feet thick. that building was built to withstand plenty and did. finally took it with tnt and flamethrowers. the fighting was still going on at one end of the island.
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they set to work clearing the airstrip even while we were fighting for it. the first plane landed just 24 hours after the seabees and started to work. the second one lands one minute later. we welcome the pilots to our new home. it was our first chance to thank those guys for the job they did for us before and during the attack. on d plus 4, our relief came in. maybe you think we were not glad to see them. ♪ [marine anthem playing]
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i guess all of us knew from the first, no matter how tough the going was, we would take the island. just the same, the day the colors were run up on this palm tree and flew for the first time over tarawa we got a lump in our throats. we were mighty proud. [bugle] ♪ these are the marines who took tarawa. ♪
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>> the army-navy screen magazine magazine was a news and information and entertainment report taken by servicemen and shown in all military movie theaters during world war ii. the u.s. army signal corps produced the films under the supervision of frank capra who originated the series. next on reel america, an episode from early 1944. this 20 minute report includes a segment about los angeles high school students working in aircraft factories, a cartoon featuring "private snafu," and a profile of the marine cameramen who filmed the brutal invasion of tarawa 75 years ago in november of 1943. the final segment includes graphic scenes of deh


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