British Valor Awards
British Awards to US Servicemen for the Battle of Tarawa
Although the battle of Tarawa is regarded very much as a US operation, there were British forces present. On day two of the battle Lt. Col. Vivian Fox-Strangways and Major F. G. L. Holland went ashore under heavy fire as part of the task force. Holland had helped provide information to the US landing forces on the treacherous reefs and inlets at Tarawa. Ultimately, at the end of the battle, the Union flag, which was raised alongside the Stars and Stripes on Tarawa was the one which had been carried by Major Holland.
As the Island had been a British protectorate and reverted to British administration again after the war, the British Government was very much in debt of the United States as a result of the battle of Tarawa. It may be for this reason, apart from the obvious bravery of the recipients, that a significant number of British Gallantry Awards were presented to US Marines and Corpsmen in recognition of their gallantry in the battle of Tarawa. Seventeen out of a total of 20 awards were presented to the USMC in the second war. These awards are as follows:
Honorary Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Lt. Gen. Julian C. Smith - Commander of the Second Marine Division. Also awarded the US Distinguished Service Medal.
Lt. Col. David Monroe Shoup - Commanding officer of all Marine Corps troops on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, and Gilbert Islands, from 20 to 22 November 1943. Also awarded the Medal of Honour for the same action. (Citation reads: "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of all Marine Corps troops in action against enemy Japanese forces on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, from 20 to 22 November 1943.")
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)
Major Henry P. "Jim" Crowe 05028 - Also awarded the
US Navy Cross
Major Henry G. Lawrence Junior 05963 - Also awarded the US Navy Cross
Major Michael P. Ryan 06934 - Company Commander L/3/2. Also awarded the US Navy Cross for action at Tarawa.
Capt. William Bray 07625 - Company Commander A/1/2. Also awarded the US Navy Cross for action at Tarawa.
Distinguished Service Medal (DSM)Cpl. Philip R. Burke 350206 - Also awarded the US Navy Cross
Conspicuous Gallentry Medal
Sgt. Clarence E. Petrie 335730 D/1/2 - Also awarded
the Navy Cross.
1st Sgt. Wilbur M. Burgess - Also awarded the Navy Cross
Research for this section was done by Phil Froom.
Thanks to Bob Gill and Ray Duffee for additional information.
copyright 2000 Wheaton, Illinois
Created 7 October 2000 - Updated 31 October 2012