Colin Forster, Grade 6, Bulimba State School
Name: Colin Forster
Address: 15 Apex St, Balmoral, 4171
School Grade Level: 6
School: Bulimba State School
The warm air swept across Private First Class Ryan Sullivan’s face. As the ship slowed to a stop Ryan could see the island known as Tarawa atoll. It was a flat looking island with palm trees sticking out. Ryan thought back to training and about the instructors who swore abuse at them, and the endless exercises and obstacle courses and firing ranges. But now all that was in the past. Now, after being in attacks against two other Japanese occupied islands since 1941, he felt like he had been through a lot.
There was a lot of tension among the veterans as Ryan scaled down the side netting of the ship and into the sea tractors. During the preparation for the attack on Tarawa, senior officers realized that landing craft would sink in the expansive coral so they decided to drop the marines in sea tractors which had caterpillar tracks that would be able to crawl over the coral.
Many of the three week wonders were very confident. Three week wonders were what new recruits were called because they only got three weeks of training. Ryan was thankful that he was with veterans in the sea tractor. A sergeant, a middle aged man, said their objective was two anti aircraft guns. A few minutes later the engine on the sea tractor roared into life. The assault had begun.
A shell exploded into a nearby sea tractor killing everybody on board and instantly setting it ablaze. Now marines were wading through the water and some marines were shouting orders from crippled sea tractors.
Ryan knew that they were close to the beach because the shelling had become more accurate. There were a few more bodies in the water. The sergeant had launched himself at the heavy machine gun fitted onto the sea tractor and was firing at anything that moved in the Japanese beach defences. Ryan saw that the beach defences were made of wood and there was also an occasional hut.
The sergeant quickly shouted to the others to get off and start wading through the water. The marines who were wading were moving from one crippled landing craft to another. Ryan looked at the visible Japanese defences on the beach. Without warning a spray of bullets penetrating the water came rushing towards Ryan. He dropped forward into the water. Somebody was screaming “medic!”, then everything went black.
Ryan woke up in a bed looking at a steel ceiling a lot like the ceiling in the hull of the ship that had taken him to Tarawa. He looked around. There were many other soldiers in beds with various injuries, so he suspected he was on the hospital ship that had sailed with the fleet. Nurses were moving around quietly checking on some of the more seriously injured patients. The middle aged sergeant Ryan had been with was sitting next to his bed. He said, “the doctor says your injuries aren’t that bad, and oh, we’ve taken Tarawa.”