The Marine Raiders were established during World War II as amphibious light infantry meant to land and operate behind enemy lines. The 1st Marine Raider Battalion – “Edson’s Raiders”– and the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion – “Carlson’s Raiders” – are said to have been the first United States special operations forces to form and see combat in World War II. In all, four Marine Raider battalions served operationally in World War II, distinguishing themselves in the Makin Island raid, at Tulagi, on Edson’s Ridge on Guadalcanal, and in later campaigns in the Pacific. Officially disbanded, the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Raider Battalions became the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of the 4th Marine Regiment, and the 2nd Raider Battalion became the regiment’s weapons company. The 4th Marines later became part of the 6th Marine Division. Personnel of the Raider Training Battalion transferred to the 5th Marine Division. The Marine Raiders are considered the progenitors of Marine Corps special operations forces today.
U.S. Marine Raiders in World War II | Photos
A BAR man in the bow of a rubber raiding craft provides cover as a 10-man boat crew reaches the undefended beach of Pavuvu in the Russell Islands. U.S. Marine Corps photo A U.S. Marine Raider negotiates barbed wire on an obstacle course. U.S. Marine Corps photo U.S. Marine Raiders exercise on the deck of USS Nautilus (SS-168) while en route to the raid on Makin Island on Aug. 11, 1942. The submarine's 6-inch/53-caliber deck gun and an ammunition hoist are in the center of the image. National Archives photo The USS Nautilus (SS-168) enters Pearl Harbor on Aug. 26, 1942, following the 2nd Raider Battalion raid on Makin Island. On deck besides the crew are members of Companies A and B, some wearing Navy-issue clothing to replace that which was lost in the surf attempting to return to the submarine. A number of raiders are dressed in black-dyed khaki that they wore in the raid. National Archives photo Lt. Col. E.F. Carlson, (left), and Maj. James Roosevelt, (right), pose with the captured Japanese flag that flew above the enemy garrison on Makin Atoll. Following the raid, Roosevelt presented this flag to his father, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during a trip to Washington, DC. National Archives photo Native guides lead 2nd Raider Battalion Marines on a combat/reconnaissance patrol behind Japanese lines in November 1942, on Guadalcanal. The patrol lasted for nearly a month, during which the Marines covered 150 miles and fought more than a dozen actions. National Archives photo Carlson's Raiders display Japanese war trophies after their return from the Long Patrol. Carlson is kneeling at center front. National Archives photo An American Marine stands near some of the fighting positions on Edson's Ridge after a bloody battle with the Japanese. With the exception of one infiltration, later wiped out, Marine Raiders supported with heavy artillery turned back thrust after thrust by the enemy on Sept. 12-14, 1942. National Archives photo Marine Raiders and their dogs, which are used for scouting and running messages, starting off for the jungle front lines on Bougainville in 1943. U.S. Marine Corps photo U.S. Marine Raiders gathered in front of a captured Japanese dugout on Bougainville, Solomon Islands, in January 1944. U.S. Marine Corps photo