The Marshall Islands consists of hundreds of coral atolls and islets scattered over some 400,000 square miles in the Central Pacific.
The Marshall Islands were occupied by the Japanese Army in 1941. After the capture of the Gilbert Islands in November 1943, the United States Air Force were able to launch air attacks on Japanese positions on the islands.
On 31st January 1944 the US Marines took Majuro, which provided a good anchorage for the US Navy to bombard Kwajalen. Over the next couple of days they fired 36,000 shells and the defences were so badly damaged that only 373 US troops were lost during the invasion. Another large island, the Eniwetok, was captured on 18th February.