Marines in World War II Commemorative Series
The Eve of War
Atlantic Theater
Pacific Theater
The Stage is Set
Special Subjects
Roebling Alligator Amphibian Tractor
Springfield '03 Rifle
Grumman F4F Wildcat
Helmets of World War II
Bubblegum Cards
Marine Corps Strengths and Dispositions

OPENING MOVES: Marines Gear Up For War
by Henry I. Shaw, Jr.


The basic source work for this period is the first volume of the series History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, titled Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal and written by LtCol Frank O. Hough, Maj Verle Ludwig, and Henry I. Shaw, Jr. Historical Branch, G-3 (Washington: Division, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, 1958).

Other histories of value for this period include: Col Robert D. Heinl, Jr., Soldiers of the Sea: The United States Marine Corps, 1775-1962 (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1962); Allan R. Millett, Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1980); and Robert Sherrod, History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (Washington: Combat Forces Press, 1952).

All oral history transcripts addressing the prewar years in the Oral History Collection, Marine Corps Historical Center, Washington, D.C., were examined. The interviews with the following officers were found particularly useful:

Col James R. Aichele; BGen Charles L. Banks; MajGen Robert Blake; Col Justice M. Chambers; Maj Gen John P. Condon; Gen Robert E. Cushman, Jr.; LtGen Karl S. Day; MajGen Marion L. Dawson; LtGen Pedro A. del Valle; BGen Lester A. Dessez; BGen Edward C. Dyer; LtGen George F. Good, Jr.; MajGen Louis R. Jones; MajGen Raymond L. Murray; LtGen Herman Nickerson; MajGen Omar T. Pfeiffer; LtGen Donn J. Robertson; and LtGen Julian C. Smith.

The Personal Papers Collection of the Historical Center was also consulted for relevant material. The correspondence of Gen Thomas Holcomb, MajGen William P. Upshur, and Gen Alexander A. Vandegrift contain many significant letters that bear upon the prewar period.

Henry I. Shaw, Jr.

In addition to researching, writing, and editing significant portions of the prewar years narrative in the above mentioned Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal, the author also consulted the histories of the 1st and 2d Marine Divisions and was fortunate enough to talk with many of the Marines mentioned in the oral history references about their experiences.

About the Author

Henry I. Shaw, Jr., former chief historian of the History and Museums Division, was a Marine Corps historian from 1951-1990. He attended The Citadel, 1943-1944, and was graduated with a bachelor of arts cum laude in history from Hope College, Holland, Michigan. He received a master of arts degree in history from Columbia University. Mr. Shaw served as a Marine in both World War II and the Korean War. He is the co-author of four of the five volumes of the official history of Marine Corps operations in World War II and was the senior editor of most of the official histories of Marines in Vietnam.

In addition, he has written a number of brief Marine Corps histories. Mr. Shaw has written many articles on military history for professional publications and has had more than 50 signed book reviews appearing in such publications as Military Collector & Historian, Military Affairs, Marine Corps Gazette, Leatherneck, The Washington Post, New York Historical Society Quarterly, and the United States Naval Institute Proceedings.

insignias from 50th Anniversary

THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in the World War II era, is published for the education and training of Marines by the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.

Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been defrayed in part by a bequest from the estate of Emilie H. Watts, in memory of her late husband, Thomas M. Watts, who served as a Marine and was the recipient of a Purple Heart.


Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)


Benis M. Frank

George C. MacGillivray

Robert E. Struder, Senior Editor; W. Stephen Hill, Visual Information Specialist;
Catherine A. Kerns, Composition Services Technician, R.D. Payne, Volunteer—Web Edition

Marine Corps Historical Center
Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C. 20374-5040


PCN 190 003115 00

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division