Guadalcanal

Guadalcanal

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Guadalcanal'
Start a new discussion about 'Guadalcanal'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Guadalcanal is a tropical island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 in the South-Western Pacific. The largest island in the Solomons
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

, it was discovered by the Spanish expedition of Alvaro de Mendaña
Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira
Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira was a Spanish navigator. Born in Congosto, in León, he was the nephew of Lope García de Castro, viceroy of Peru...

 in 1568. The name comes from Guadalcanal, a village
Village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

 in the province of Seville, in Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, birthplace of Pedro de Ortega Valencia, a member of Mendaña's expedition.

During 1942-43 it was the scene of bitter fighting
Guadalcanal campaign
The Guadalcanal Campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and codenamed Operation Watchtower by Allied forces, was a military campaign fought between August 7, 1942 and February 9, 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theatre of World War II...

 between Japanese and Americans in which the latter were victorious.

At the end of the war, Honiara
Honiara
Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...

, on the north coast of Guadalcanal, became the new capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. Guadalcanal is mainly covered in tropical rainforest
Tropical rainforest
A tropical rainforest is an ecosystem type that occurs roughly within the latitudes 28 degrees north or south of the equator . This ecosystem experiences high average temperatures and a significant amount of rainfall...

 and jungle
Jungle
A Jungle is an area of land in the tropics overgrown with dense vegetation.The word jungle originates from the Sanskrit word jangala which referred to uncultivated land. Although the Sanskrit word refers to "dry land", it has been suggested that an Anglo-Indian interpretation led to its...

, and it has a mountainous interior with an active volcano, Mount Popomanaseu
Mount Popomanaseu
Mount Popomanaseu is the highest mountain in the Solomon Islands. It is located on Guadalcanal east of Mount Makarakomburu. At , it is the highest peak in the insular South Pacific, excluding New Guinea and it's satellite islands. Panning east across the South Pacific, there is no higher mountain...

. The population in 1998 was around 85,000.

Western Charting


A Spanish
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 expedition from Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 under the command of Álvaro de Mendeña de Neira discovered the island in the year 1568. Mendaña's subordinate, Pedro de Ortega Valencia, named the island after his home town Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal, Spain
Guadalcanal is a village in the province of Seville, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.- Location and population :In 2006 there were 2,970 inhabitants. It has an area of 275 square kilometres and a population density of 10,6 people per km2...

 in Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. The name comes from the Arabic Wādî al-Khānāt, which means "Valley of the Stalls", referring to the refreshment stalls which were set up there during Muslim rule in Andalusia. In the years that followed the discovery, the island was variously referred to as Guadarcana, Guarcana, Guadalcana, and Guadalcanar.

European settlers and missionaries began to arrive in the 18th and 19th centuries, and in the year 1893, the British Solomon Islands Protectorate was proclaimed which included the island of Guadalcanal. In 1932, the British confirmed the name Guadalcanal in line with the town in Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

The Second World War



In the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 in December 1941, the Japanese drove the Americans out of the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 out of British Malaya
British Malaya
British Malaya loosely described a set of states on the Malay Peninsula and the Island of Singapore that were brought under British control between the 18th and the 20th centuries...

, and the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 out of the East Indies
East Indies
East Indies is a term used by Europeans from the 16th century onwards to identify what is now known as Indian subcontinent or South Asia, Southeastern Asia, and the islands of Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago and the Philippines...

. The Japanese then began to expand into the Western Pacific, occupying many islands in an attempt to build a defensive ring around their conquests and threaten the lines of communication from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

. The Japanese reached Guadalcanal in May 1942.

When an allied reconnaissance mission spotted construction of a Japanese airfield at Lunga Point
Lunga Point
Lunga Point is a promontory on the northern coast of Guadalcanal, the site of a naval battle during World War II. It was also the name of a nearby airfield, later named Henderson Field....

 on the north coast of Guadalcanal, the situation became critical. This new Japanese airfield represented a threat to Australia itself, and so the United States as a matter of urgency, despite not being adequately prepared, conducted the first amphibious landing of the war. The initial landings of US Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 on August 7, 1942 secured the airfield without too much difficulty, but holding the airfield for the next six months was one of the most hotly contested campaigns in the entire war for the control of ground, sea and skies. Guadalcanal became a major turning point in the war as it stopped Japanese expansion. After six months of fighting the Japanese ceased contesting the control of the island. They finally evacuated the island at Cape Esperance
Cape Esperance
Cape Esperance is the northernmost point on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. The Battle of Cape Esperance, one of several naval engagements fought in the waters north of the island during the World War II Guadalcanal campaign, took its name from this point...

 on the north west coast in February 1943.

Immediately after landing on the island, the allies began finishing the airfield begun by the Japanese. It was then named Henderson Field
Henderson Field (Guadalcanal)
Henderson Field is a former military airfield on Guadacanal, Solomon Islands during World War II. Today it is Honiara International Airport.-Japanese construction:...

 after a Marine aviator killed in combat during the Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

. Aircraft operating from Henderson Field during the campaign were a hodgepodge of Marine, Army, Navy and allied aircraft that became known as the Cactus Air Force
Cactus Air Force
Cactus Air Force refers to the ensemble of Allied air power assigned to the island of Guadalcanal from August 1942 until December 1942 during the early stages of the Guadalcanal Campaign, particularly those operating from Henderson Field...

. They defended the airfield and threatened any Japanese ships that ventured into the vicinity during daylight hours. However, at night, Japanese naval forces were able to shell the airfield and deliver troops with supplies, retiring before daylight. The Japanese used fast ships to make these runs, and this became known as the Tokyo Express
Tokyo Express
The Tokyo Express was the name given by Allied forces to the use of Imperial Japanese Navy ships at night to deliver personnel, supplies, and equipment to Japanese forces operating in and around New Guinea and the Solomon Islands during the Pacific campaign of World War II...

. So many ships from both sides were sunk in the many engagements in and around the Solomon Island chain that the nearby waters were referred to as Ironbottom Sound
Ironbottom Sound
"Ironbottom Sound" is the name given by Allied sailors to Savo Sound, the stretch of water at the southern end of The Slot between Guadalcanal, Savo Island, and Florida Island of the Solomon Islands, because of the dozens of ships and planes that sank there during the Battle of Guadalcanal in...

.

The Battle of Cape Esperance
Battle of Cape Esperance
The Battle of Cape Esperance, also known as the Second Battle of Savo Island and, in Japanese sources, as the , took place on 11–12 October 1942, and was a naval battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and United States Navy...

 was fought on October 11, 1942 off the northwest coast of Guadalcanal. In the battle, United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 ships intercepted and defeated a Japanese formation of ships on their way down 'the Slot' to reinforce and resupply troops on the island, but suffered losses as well. The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, sometimes referred to as the Third and Fourth Battles of Savo Island, the Battle of the Solomons, The Battle of Friday the 13th, or, in Japanese sources, as the , took place from 12–15 November 1942, and was the decisive engagement in a series of naval battles...

 in November marked the turning point in which Allied Naval forces took on the extremely experienced Japanese surface forces at night and forced them to withdraw after sharp action. Some Japanese viewpoints consider these engagements, and the improving Allied surface capability to challenge their surface ships at night, to be just as significant as the Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

 in turning the tide against them.

After six months of hard combat in and around Guadalcanal and dealing with jungle diseases that took a heavy toll of troops on both sides, Allied forces managed to halt the Japanese advance and dissuade them from contesting the control of the island by finally driving the last of the Japanese troops into the sea on January 15, 1943. American authorities declared Guadalcanal secure on February 9, 1943.

Two U.S. Navy ships have been named for the battle:
  • USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60)
    USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60)
    USS Guadalcanal was a Casablanca class escort carrier of the United States Navy. She was the first ship to carry her name.She was converted from a Maritime Commission hull by Kaiser Co., Inc., of Vancouver, Washington...

    , a World War II escort carrier.
  • USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7)
    USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7)
    USS Guadalcanal , the third Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship , was launched by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard 16 March 1963, sponsored by Mrs. David Shoup, wife of General Shoup, the former Commandant of the Marine Corps; and commissioned 20 July 1963, Captain Dale K. Peterson in command...

    , an amphibious assault ship.


To date, the only Coast Guardsman recipient of the Medal of Honor is Signalman 1st Class, Douglas Albert Munro
Douglas Albert Munro
-External links:...

, awarded posthumously for his extraordinary heroism on September 27, 1942 at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal. Munro provided a shield and covering fire, and helped evacuate 500 besieged Marines from a beach at Point Cruz; he was killed during the evacuation.

During the Battle for Guadalcanal, the Medal of Honor was also awarded to John Basilone
John Basilone
John Basilone was a United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant who received the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II...

 who later perished on Iwo Jima.

The post-war years


Immediately after the Second World War, the capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate was moved to Honiara
Honiara
Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...

 on Guadalcanal from its previous location at Tulagi
Tulagi
Tulagi, less commonly Tulaghi, is a small island in the Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Florida Island. The town of the same name on the island Tulagi, less commonly Tulaghi, is a small island (5.5 km by 1 km) in the Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Florida...

 in the Florida Islands
Florida Islands
The Nggela Islands, also known as the Florida Islands, are a small island group in the Central Province of the Solomon Islands, a state in the southwest Pacific Ocean....

. In 1952 the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific moved from Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

 to Honiara
Honiara
Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...

 and the post was combined with that of the Governor of the Solomon Islands. The airfield which was the cause of the fighting in 1942, and which became well known as Henderson Field is now the international airport for the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

. It sits about five miles to the east of Honiara
Honiara
Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...

.

Civil war


In early 1999, long-simmering tensions between the local Gwale people on Guadalcanal and more recent migrants from the neighboring island of Malaita erupted into violence. The ‘Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army’, later called Isatabu Freedom Movement
Isatabu Freedom Movement
Isatabu Freedom Movement is a nationalist militant organisation of the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.The movement also included other factions such as the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army and the Guadalcanal Liberation Front which was led by warlord Harold Keke...

 (IFM), began terrorizing Malaitans in the rural areas of the island in an effort to force them out of their homes. About 20,000 Malaitans fled to the capital and others returned to their home island; Gwale residents of Honiara
Honiara
Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...

 fled. The city became a Malaitan enclave and the Malaita Eagle Force
Malaita Eagle Force
Malaita Eagles Force is a militant organization, originating in the island of Malaita, in the Solomon Islands.It was set up during 'The Tension' in the Solomons, which were mainly centred on Guadalcanal, to defend diasporic Malaitans in Guadalcanal and the property of Malaitans that have left the...

 took over government. The Royal Australian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy deployed vessels to the area in order to protect the expatriate community resident mostly in Honiara. On her second visit to the capital, HMNZS Te Kaha
HMNZS Te Kaha (F77)
HMNZS Te Kaha is one of ten Anzac class frigates, and one of two serving in the Royal New Zealand Navy . The name Te Kaha is Māori, meaning 'fighting prowess' or 'strength' ....

 served as venue for a series of peace talks culminating in the signing of the Townsville Peace Accord.

In 2003, the Pacific Forum negotiated the intervention of RAMSI or Operation Helpem Fren involving Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand, and other Pacific Island Nations.

Fauna


There is a native marsupial known as the phalanger
Phalanger
Phalanger, from the Greek Phalangion, meaning spider's web, from their webbed toes is a genus of possum. They are marsupials of the family Phalangeridae...

 or the gray cuscus. The only other mammals are bats and rodents. There are many species of colorful parrot
Parrot
Parrots, also known as psittacines , are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three families: the Psittacidae , the Cacatuidae and the Strigopidae...

s as well as estuarine crocodiles
Saltwater Crocodile
The saltwater crocodile, also known as estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, is the largest of all living reptiles...

. In recent times, these crocodiles have been found only on the Weather Coast in the south of the island, but during the Second World War, they were found along the north coast in the vicinity of the airstrip where the fighting was taking place, as evidenced by names such as Alligator Creek
Battle of the Tenaru
The Battle of the Tenaru, sometimes called the Battle of the Ilu River or the Battle of Alligator Creek, took place August 21, 1942, on the island of Guadalcanal, and was a land battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, between Imperial Japanese Army and Allied ground forces...

. Poisonous snakes are rare and are not considered to be a serious threat; however, there is a kind of centipede
Centipede
Centipedes are arthropods belonging to the class Chilopoda of the subphylum Myriapoda. They are elongated metameric animals with one pair of legs per body segment. Despite the name, centipedes can have a varying number of legs from under 20 to over 300. Centipedes have an odd number of pairs of...

 which gives a very nasty sting. These centipedes were well known to the American Marines during the Second World War as 'the stinging insects'.

See also


  • James R. "Rube" Garrett A Marine Diary: My Experiences on Guadalcanal
  • Guadalcanal Diary
    Guadalcanal Diary (book)
    Guadalcanal Diary is a memoir written by war correspondent Richard Tregaskis and published by Random House. The book recounts the author's time with the United States Marine Corps on Guadalcanal in the early stages of the pivotal months-long battle there starting in 1942.-Narrative style:Tregaskis...

    , 1943 book by Richard Tregaskis
    Richard Tregaskis
    Richard William Tregaskis was an American journalist and author whose best-known work is Guadalcanal Diary , an account of just the first several weeks of the U.S. Marine Corps invasion of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands during World War II. This was actually a six-month-long campaign...

  • Guadalcanal Diary
    Guadalcanal Diary (film)
    Guadalcanal Diary is a 1943 World War II war film starring Preston Foster, Lloyd Nolan, William Bendix, Richard Conte, Anthony Quinn and the film debut of Richard Jaeckel...

    , 1943 film based on the book