Occupation of Ivan Island (Mellu), 31 January 1944

The occupation of Ivan Island (Mellu), 31 January 1944, was one of two simultaneous landings that began the attack on Roi and Namur in Kwajelein Atoll.

Ivan Island was the second island to the south-west of Roi, and overlooked Jacob Pass to the north-east and Ivan Pas to the west, two key channels from the ocean into the atoll.

The island was to be occupied by General Underhill one of the first landings on D-Day (31 January 1944). Once Jacob and Ivan Islands were secured the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the 14th Marine Regiment (Artillery) were to be landed, while Underhill moved on to attack Albert and Allen Islands. One battalion from the 14th Marine (Artillery) would be landed on each of Jacob, Ivan, Albert and Allen islands.

The plan quickly went wrong. It took much longer than expected to get from the transport ships to the landing craft to the amphibian tractors. The advance towards the beaches didn't begin until 0917. The first wave was mad up of LCI(G) gunships, which opened fire just before the final air attack. They were followed by a wave of armoured amphibians, which opened fire with 37mm guns. Finally the troop carrying tractors came to the front. The scouting company was meant to land on the ocean side of the island, but couldn't get across the reef, and so landed on the south-east beach, on the lagoon side, at about 0955, and quickly built up a defensive line across the southern tip of the island. The main part of the force managed to land on the south-west (ocean) side of the island as planned, and the two units soon met up.

The two units then advanced up the island. There were very few Japanese defenders on Ivan, and by 1145 the island was secured. The Japanese lost 17 dead and two prisoners during the fighting. By early afternoon the 4th Battalion, 14th Marines had landed with their 105mm howitzers.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 December 2017), Occupation of Ivan Island (Mellu), 31 January 1944 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/occupation_ivan.html

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