Today we present Part 1 of the famous film, “With the Marines at Tarawa.” The production was a 1944 short propaganda film directed by Louis Hayward. It uses authentic footage taken at the Battle of Tarawa in November 1943 to tell the story of the participating American servicemen, from the time they get the news that they are to participate in the invasion, to the final taking of the island and raising of the Stars and Stripes.
The film is in full color and uses no actors, making it a valuable historical document. The documentary showed more gruesome scenes of battle than other war films up to that time. President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself gave the approval to show the film to the public anyway against the wishes of military leaders. It gave the U.S. population on the homefront a more realistic view of the war — as far as showing dead Marines floating in the water, etc. — subject matter that was edited out of previous films and newsreels. The film won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.