6 Jul 2015

Lost bodies of US Marines found in Kiribati

8:50 am on 6 July 2015

The bodies of dozens of United States marines who died in the Second World War have been unearthed in Kiribati.

Causeway connecting Bairiki and Betio in Tarawa, Kiribati

Causeway connecting Bairiki and Betio in Tarawa, Kiribati Photo: RNZI Walter Zweifel

The marines died during the three-day Battle of Tarawa in 1943, during which US forces suffered just under 1,700 casualties while the Japanese suffered about 4,700.

About five hundred bodies were recovered in 1946, but at least 40 men buried on the island of Betio could not be found and were later declared unrecoverable.

But this year the remains of about 36 marines were discovered by an archaeological team from the Florida-based charity, History Flight.

Its director, Mark Noah, says the find is part of a ten-year effort to return the bodies of hundreds of US servicemen still missing in the Pacific.

A forensic review will take place later this month to officially identify the remains.