Marine Raider, Makin Raid Impression

B Company, Second Raiders. Makin Raid, August 1942


Always fancied an early Raider impression and finally more or less completed my “Makin” gear. The Makin Raid took place from August 17th to 18th 1942. The Raiders sailed on two submarines (USS Nautilus and USS Argonaut) from Pearl Harbor to Makin Island and landed in rubber boats. Objectives were to destroy the Japanese garrison on the island, gather inteligence and divert Japanese forces from Guadalcanal and Tulagi. The Raid was one of the first offensive ground actions of the US and was heavily exploited for propaganda purposes.

Based this impression on information contained in several books and all Makin Raid related photos I could find. It was frustrating as there are only few photos available (most from training or after the raid) and the info found in a few books  / veteran accounts is sometimes a bit contradicting. There are virtually no photos of the raid itself, photos were taken but the camera was lost apparently along with most other equipment in the ill fated and chaotic retreat from the island. So some stuff is a bit of guesswork.


Grenade vests were not only used to carry grenades but also ammo clips for the M1 Garand. Same for the gas mask bags, it seems they were mostly used to carry extra ammo and rations. By the way, the ICS Garand mags fit in the vest perfectly 🙂


“Scouting Makin” 😉


You may be wondering about the Garand being used by the USMC that early. Well, the lucky Raiders got those first 🙂


Gung ho!!!


Now some original photos in chronological order. Check out this great photo, training for the Makin raid. Commander of the Raiders Evans Carlson, Major James Roosevelt (son of the President), Raider Vests, Tanker Jackets(?!), .30 Cals… (click to enlarge)


Raiders exercising on board USS Nautilus, while en route to Makin. Sadly not much to learn about the gear used in the Raid from this one 😉


Makin Island photographed through the periscope of USS Nautilus a day before the Raiders were landed


Probably the most famous Makin Raid photo, two raiders just before landing on Makin. Hawley liners, Burlap covers,  M1VA1 Gas Mask Bag, WWI Grenade Vest


Makin Island burning, as seen from USS Nautilus waiting to pick up the Raiders


Post raid photos, as you can see barely anyone still carries any equipment. Apparently this did not stop some from bringing souvenirs! Corporal Edward R. Wygal (left) and First Sergeant C.L. Golasewski.



Lieutenant Colonel Evans Carlson after returning from Makin, note the Army suspenders


You may have heard of the uniforms that were dyed black for this operation, there are photos of Raiders arriving at Pearl Harbor wearing those. But it seems that these black uniforms were not worn by most for the actual operation but only for the trip back after loosing their original gear during the retreat.

Returning to Pearl Harbor, USS Argonaut


and USS Nautilus. You can clearly see the black dyed Khakis


Photo of the flag captured on Makin. This was later presented to the President



And after a long post it’s time for a nice cold drink


And the final pic… a super rare original photo taken during the night raid 😉 😉 😉


~ by m1pencil on August 23, 2013.

14 Responses to “Marine Raider, Makin Raid Impression”

  1. How come the japanese did not take any pictures of the island when they returned?

  2. In the “famous” Raider photo of the two men about to set off, it would seem the Raider on the right – his uniform is noticeably darker than the man next to him. I have dyed a pair of Utilities black and they came out similar as pictured.

    • I thought about that too, but I have a feeling that this effect might be caused by the camera flash /lighting conditions. I have read in veteran accounts that the dyed uniform were not liked because they were very uncomfortable to wear. In a Raider veteran magazine it is stated that they did not use them for the mission because they reflected the moonlight (?!?).
      One veteran said that he wore a black uniform, sadly he didn’t go into detail if for the raid or only the trip back.
      Maybe some did wear them and some did not? I’d love to know! 🙂

  3. The best!!!!

  4. Hello, you have really nice pics. I would like to ask for one thing, how it was with suspenders? Used in the raid suspenders M1941? Sorry for the mistakes my english is not so well thank you for your answer.


    • Hi! Difficult to say, on the few pics I could find it looks like mostly no suspenders. I spotted a few army suspenders, it’s possible that P41 suspenders were used too though. Check out the “training for the Makin raid” photo, the guy holding the 30cal has army suspenders. But I have my doubts if this photo was really taken before the raid, it is possible that it was taken some time afterwards for publicity purposes

  5. Thanks for answer and information. 🙂

  6. Wow! Where did you get the burlap cover?

  7. How many magazine you keep in your vest ? And what else you put in the pockets !?
    Im into buy 9 clips to put in my vest so to have 11 pocket full…

    • I usually have six extra mags with me, the other pockets are filled with various other stuff (extra BBs, chocolate 😉 …) or empty

  8. While I take great pride in being a former Marine who serve in Nam in the 1960s, the Makin Island raid was a failure in many respects including nine Marines who were inadvertently left behind or returned to the island during the night withdrawal. They were subsequently captured, moved to Kwajalein Atoll, and executed by Japanese forces. As a result of the raid, the Japanese realized how vulnerable their island bases were and strengthened them.

  9. How many raiders were left behind on Makin, captured by the Japanese and later executed.

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