Preparing for war

The Marines of the 2nd Marine Division arrived in New Zealand from operations in Guadalcanal with ninety-five per cent of their surviving troops returning with incapacitating tropical diseases, principally malaria.

As Marines recuperated and units were brought up to strength with replacements amounting to forty-five per cent of the total force, training became the immediate priority for rebuilding the physical conditioning of these men. Over time, the training tempo for future operations increased dramatically with emphasis on the fundamentals of marksmanship, crew-served weapons drills, scouting & patrolling, squad tactics, amphibious training and taking advantage of New Zealand’s many training areas.

As part of their physical conditioning training, all units conducted forced marches of extended distances with full combat equipment over varied terrain, with units achieving a 140-mile round trip.

This extensive workup training in New Zealand was credited with the unit’s sustained performance in combat on Tarawa, and as stated by many of its veterans, “the training in New Zealand placed us in the best physical condition any unit ever had been.”

Related Pages

Training Photos in the Norm Hatch Collection

The Field Notebook of Jim Wallace, a remarkable firsthand account of the Battle of Tulagi (8 August 1942) and its aftermath.