Veterans often claimed the training the 2nd Marines Division received in New Zealand left them in the best physical condition any unit had ever been in.

Training was an immediate priority, because 95% of surviving troops had returned from Guadalcanal with incapacitating tropical diseases, principally malaria. Hence, recuperation units were brought up to strength and 45% of the total force was replaced.

Over time, the training tempo for future operations increased dramatically with emphasis on the fundamentals. All units conducted compulsory marches of over 140 miles with full combat equipment over varied terrain.

This extensive ‘workup training’ in New Zealand was credited with the unit’s sustained performance in combat on Tarawa.

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Training and Battles