An extraordinary slice of untold WWII history: how unproven Marines driving untested Sherman tanks turned the tide against Japan in the Battle of Tarawa.
In May 1943, a self-described “really young, green, ignorant lieutenant” assumed command of a new US Marine Corps company. His even younger Marines were learning to operate an untested weapon, the M4A2 “Sherman” medium tank. Just six months later, the company would be thrown into one of the ghastliest battles of World War II.
On November 20, 1943, the 2nd Marine Division launched the first amphibious assault of the Pacific War, directly into the powerful Japanese defenses on the atoll of Tarawa. In that blood-soaked invasion, a single company of Sherman tanks—of which only two survived—played a pivotal role in achieving a legendary victory.
In this fascinating study, Oscar E. Gilbert and Romain V. Cansiere use official documents, memoirs, and interviews with veterans, as well as personal and aerial photographs, to follow Charlie Company from its formation. Tracing the movement, action, and fall of individual tanks, Tanks in Hell offers “a personal, beach-level view of the Marine island campaign” (Marine Corps History).