National Geographic : 1943 Jan
War Finds Its Way to Gilbert Islands Official Photograph T. S. Marine Corps With a National Geographic Society Map Lieut. Col. Evans F. Carlson and Major James Roosevelt Plan the Makin Raid Here they are studying the map at the U. S. Marine Field Headquarters near San Diego before embarka tion. On the night of August 17, these officers led a raiding force of Marines ashore through the surf of Makin Island. Remaining 40 hours, they annihilated nearly 350 Jap invaders, destroyed the seaplane base, three radio stations, and military stores. This Navy-Marine expedition, under Commander John M. Haines, U. S . N., also sunk two enemy ships and destroyed several planes. deeply flexed bow, with horns pointing west ward-that is a Gilbert atoll. This wisp is crowned with one continuous, narrow grove of coconut palms, separating gleaming beaches. Palm Trees "Like the Lashes of an Enormous Eye" Within the silver-and-green crescent dreams the lagoon, shut off from the ocean by its enclosing reef, which stretches like a bow string from tip to tip of the land. Across the lagoon from the entrance pas sage, the palms are seen tenuous against the skyline, like the lashes of an enormous eye. The water under the blazing sun glows in candescent. Over the deep places burns a cobalt so vivid that it seems to be a pigment. Where reefs approach the surface there is im perial purple; by rocks awash is viridian; and where the shallows lie, there is a sheeted flame of emerald so fierce that it almost sears the sight. Within the latticed shade of the palms that overlean the beach is an eternal cool. The gray-green of the foliage is grateful to tired eyes. Only the sound of surf, muted by trees and distance, steals through the sanctu aried stillness. Poor in produce though the Gilbert Islands are, they are among the most densely popu lated groups in Oceania. The 16 wisps of land support about 28,000 natives, more than 162 to the square mile. So serious did overpopulation become that in 1938-40 some 2,000 were transferred to the Phoenix Islands. The Gilbertese are one of the few native races of the Pacific whose yearly birth rate exceeds the death rate.