When the 78 Marines of the US V Amphibious Scout Company landed on the Apamama islands, they discovered their enemy lying dead in the bottom of open graves. Apamama is a group of six tiny islands lying some 75 miles south-east of the island of Tarawa. It was once home to the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who moved there to try and better cope with tuberculosis. In 1942, the Japanese occupied the islands leaving a garrison of 25 troops.
Later, as the tide turned in the Pacific war and the US went on the offensive, the 78 Marines were dispatched by submarine to Apamama as part of the larger campaign to capture the island of Tarawa. Supported by the submarine's deck gun, the Marines assaulted the island in rubber boats. It was there they found the open graves. Eventually, the Marines were able to patch together what had happened by questioning the native islanders. It seems that the Japanese officer had accidentally shot and killed himself while addressing his troops. Deprived of leadership, the Japanese soldiers dug their own graves and then shot themselves.