I appreciate that explanation, and certainly it would have been a difficult number to calculate. It's interesting to me, however, that you don't even read that "hundreds" or "dozens" of marines were killed before reaching the beach.
Having spent a good deal of time on Betio, I question accounts that corpses were weighted and sunk in the lagoon, based on geography. The fringing coral reef around the island is hundreds of yards wide, even at the narrowest point. In order to reach water deep enough in which to sink a human body, you would have to wade or otherwise transport the remains quite a long distance from where you weighted them, i.e. the island.
My late great uncle told people he'd heard that many remains had been "bulldozed" into the lagoon, a manifestly unworkable solution, given the horrific consequences of bulldozing decomposing human remains across hundreds of yards of reef at low tide.
Some remains, both Japanese and American, no doubt were "lost at sea." But chances are good that the majority of the ~6,000 bodies were in fact buried on Betio, in my opinion.
Over the years I have interviewed Tarawa survivors, including some involved in recovery and burial. As early as the morning of the first day, aviators reported "Jap bodies" being washed out into the... more
Marines killed in water Clay Bonnyman Evans,Sun Apr 2 07:52
As of today, the "Master Tarawa Casualty Database" used by researchers and investigators of the Chief Rick Stone and Family Charitable Foundation to assist the families of Tarawa MIA's, estimates the ... more
The bodies sunk in place were only ones that had washed well out into the lagoon, past the lip of the dished reef edge. When bodies were too badly decomposed it was impossible to recover them from... more
I can certainly see that bodies found floating in the lagoon beyond the reef might have been sunk, though of course there are many, many reports of Navy personnel using hooks to retrieve remains from ... more