Guadalcanal campaign

Guadalcanal campaign

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The Guadalcanal Campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and codenamed Operation Watchtower by Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 forces, was a military campaign fought between August 7, 1942 and February 9, 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal is a tropical island in the South-Western Pacific. The largest island in the Solomons, it was discovered by the Spanish expedition of Alvaro de Mendaña in 1568...

 in the Pacific theatre
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

 of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. It was the first major offensive by Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 forces against the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

.

On August 7, 1942, Allied forces, predominantly American, landed on the islands of Guadalcanal, 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...

, and Florida in the southern Solomon Islands with the objective of denying their use by the Japanese to threaten the supply and communication routes between the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. The Allies also intended to use Guadalcanal and Tulagi as bases to support a campaign to eventually capture or neutralize the major Japanese base at Rabaul
Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...

 on New Britain
New Britain
New Britain, or Niu Briten, is the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. It is separated from the island of New Guinea by the Dampier and Vitiaz Straits and from New Ireland by St. George's Channel...

. The Allies overwhelmed the outnumbered Japanese defenders, who had occupied the islands since May 1942, and captured Tulagi and Florida, as well as an airfield (later named Henderson Field) that was under construction on Guadalcanal. Powerful U.S. naval forces supported the landings.

Surprised by the Allied offensive, the Japanese made several attempts between August and November 1942 to retake Henderson Field. Three major land battles, seven large naval battles (five nighttime surface actions and two carrier battles), and continual, almost daily aerial battles culminated in the decisive 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 early November 1942, in which the last Japanese attempt to bombard Henderson Field from the sea and land with enough troops to retake it was defeated. In December 1942, the Japanese abandoned further efforts to retake Guadalcanal and evacuated their remaining forces
Operation Ke
was the largely successful withdrawal of Japanese forces from Guadalcanal at the conclusion of the Guadalcanal Campaign of World War II. The operation took place between 14 January and 7 February 1943, and involved both army and navy forces under the overall direction of the Japanese Imperial...

 by February 7, 1943 in the face of an offensive by the U.S. Army's XIV Corps, conceding the island to the Allies.

The Guadalcanal campaign was a significant strategic combined arms
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 victory by Allied forces over the Japanese in the Pacific theatre. The Japanese had reached the high-water mark of their conquests in the Pacific, and Guadalcanal marked the transition by the Allies from defensive operations to the strategic offensive in that theatre and the beginning of offensive operations, including the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands campaign
The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942...

, New Guinea
New Guinea campaign
The New Guinea campaign was one of the major military campaigns of World War II.Before the war, the island of New Guinea was split between:...

, and Central Pacific campaigns, that resulted in Japan's eventual surrender and the end of World War II.

Strategic considerations


On December 7, 1941, Japanese forces attacked
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...

 the United States Pacific Fleet
United States Pacific Fleet
The United States Pacific Fleet is a Pacific Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy that provides naval resources under the operational control of the United States Pacific Command. Its home port is at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii. It is commanded by Admiral Patrick M...

 at Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

, Hawaii. The attack crippled much of the U.S. battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

 fleet and precipitated an open and formal state of war between the two nations. The initial goals of Japanese leaders were to neutralize the U.S. Navy, seize possessions rich in natural resources, and establish strategic military bases to defend Japan's empire in the Pacific Ocean and Asia. To further those goals, Japanese forces captured the Philippines, Thailand, 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...

, Singapore, Burma, the Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

, Wake Island
Wake Island
Wake Island is a coral atoll having a coastline of in the North Pacific Ocean, located about two-thirds of the way from Honolulu west to Guam east. It is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior...

, Gilbert Islands
Gilbert Islands
The Gilbert Islands are a chain of sixteen atolls and coral islands in the Pacific Ocean. They are the main part of Republic of Kiribati and include Tarawa, the site of the country's capital and residence of almost half of the population.-Geography:The atolls and islands of the Gilbert Islands...

, New Britain
New Britain
New Britain, or Niu Briten, is the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. It is separated from the island of New Guinea by the Dampier and Vitiaz Straits and from New Ireland by St. George's Channel...

 and Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

. Joining the U.S. in the war against Japan were the rest of the Allied powers
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

, several of whom, including Great Britain, Australia and the Netherlands had also been attacked by Japan.

Two attempts by the Japanese to continue their strategic initiative and offensively extend their outer defensive perimeter in the south and central Pacific to where they could threaten Australia and Hawaii or the U.S. West Coast were thwarted at the naval battles of Coral Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought from 4–8 May 1942, was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first fleet action in which aircraft carriers engaged...

 and 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...

 respectively. Coral Sea was a tactical stalemate, but strategic Allied victory which became clear only much later. Midway was not only the Allies' first clear major victory against the Japanese, it significantly reduced the offensive capability of Japan's carrier forces, but did not change their offensive mindset for several crucial months in which they compounded mistakes by moving ahead with brash, even brazen decisions, such as the attempt to assault Port Moresby over the Kokoda Trail. Up to this point, the Allies had been on the defensive in the Pacific but these strategic victories provided them an opportunity to seize the initiative from Japan.

The Allies chose the Solomon Islands (a protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 of Great Britain), specifically the southern Solomon Islands of Guadalcanal, 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...

 and Florida Island, as the first target. The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had occupied Tulagi in May 1942 and had constructed a seaplane base nearby. Allied concern grew large when, in early July 1942, the IJN began constructing a large 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 nearby Guadalcanal—from such a base Japanese long range bombers would threaten the sea lines of communication from the West Coast of the Americas to the populous East Coast of Australia. By August 1942, the Japanese had about 900 naval troops on Tulagi and nearby islands and 2,800 personnel (2,200 being Korean
Korean people
The Korean people are an ethnic group originating in the Korean peninsula and Manchuria. Koreans are one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogeneous groups in the world.-Names:...

 forced laborers & trustees as well as Japanese construction specialists) on Guadalcanal. These bases would protect Japan's major base at Rabaul
Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...

, threaten Allied supply and communication lines and establish a staging area for an offensive against Fiji, New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

 and Samoa (Operation FS
Operation FS
Operation FS was the name of the Imperial Japanese plan to invade and occupy Fiji, Samoa, and New Caledonia in the south Pacific during the Pacific conflict of World War II...

). The Japanese planned to deploy 45 fighters
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 and 60 bomber
Bomber
A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground and sea targets, by dropping bombs on them, or – in recent years – by launching cruise missiles at them.-Classifications of bombers:...

s to Guadalcanal. In the overall strategy for 1942 these aircraft could provide air cover for Japanese naval forces advancing farther into the South Pacific.

The Allied plan to invade the southern Solomons
Solomon Islands campaign
The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942...

 was conceived by U.S. Admiral
Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 Ernest King
Ernest King
Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King was Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations during World War II. As COMINCH, he directed the United States Navy's operations, planning, and administration and was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the U.S...

, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet
United States Fleet
The United States Fleet was an organization in the United States Navy from 1922 until after World War II. The abbreviation CINCUS, pronounced "sink us", was used for Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet. This title was disposed of and officially replaced by COMINCH in December 1941 . This...

. He proposed the offensive to deny the use of the islands by the Japanese as bases to threaten the supply
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

 routes between the United States and Australia and to use them as starting points. With Roosevelt's tacit consent, King also advocated the invasion of Guadalcanal. Because the United States supported Great Britain's proposal that priority be given to defeating Germany before Japan
Europe first
Europe first, also known as Germany first, was the key element of the grand strategy employed by the United States and the United Kingdom during World War II. According to this policy, the United States and the United Kingdom would use the preponderance of their resources to subdue Nazi Germany in...

, the Pacific theater had to compete for personnel and resources with the European theater. Therefore U.S. Army General George C. Marshall opposed King's proposed campaign and asked who would command the operation. King replied that the Navy and Marines would carry out the operation by themselves and instructed Admiral Chester Nimitz
Chester Nimitz
Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz, GCB, USN was a five-star admiral in the United States Navy. He held the dual command of Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet , for U.S. naval forces and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas , for U.S...

 to proceed with the preliminary planning. King eventually won the argument with Marshall and the invasion went ahead with the backing of the Combined Joint Chiefs (CJCS).

The CJCS ordered for 1942-43 Pacific objectives: that Guadalcanal would be carried out in conjunction with an Allied offensive in New Guinea
New Guinea campaign
The New Guinea campaign was one of the major military campaigns of World War II.Before the war, the island of New Guinea was split between:...

 under Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

, to capture the Admiralty Islands
Admiralty Islands
The Admiralty Islands are a group of eighteen islands in the Bismarck Archipelago, to the north of New Guinea in the south Pacific Ocean. These are also sometimes called the Manus Islands, after the largest island. These rainforest-covered islands form part of Manus Province, the smallest and...

 and the Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago
The Bismarck Archipelago is a group of islands off the northeastern coast of New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean and is part of the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea.-History:...

, including the major Japanese base at Rabaul
Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...

. The directive held that the eventual goal was the American reconquest of the Philippines. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Joint Chiefs of Staff is a body of senior uniformed leaders in the United States Department of Defense who advise the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council and the President on military matters...

 created the South Pacific theater, with Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley
Robert L. Ghormley
Vice Admiral Robert Lee Ghormley was an admiral in the United States Navy, serving as Commander, South Pacific Area, during the Second World War.-Biography:...

 taking command on June 19, 1942, to direct the offensive in the Solomons. Admiral Chester Nimitz
Chester Nimitz
Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz, GCB, USN was a five-star admiral in the United States Navy. He held the dual command of Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet , for U.S. naval forces and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas , for U.S...

, based at Pearl Harbor, was designated as overall Allied commander in chief for Pacific forces.

Task Force


In preparation for the offensive in the Pacific in May 1942, U.S. Marine
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...

 Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Alexander Vandegrift
Alexander Vandegrift
Alexander Archer Vandegrift, KBE, CB was a General in the United States Marine Corps. He commanded the 1st Marine Division to victory in its first ground offensive of World War II — Battle of Guadalcanal. For his actions during the Solomon Islands campaign, he received the Medal of Honor...

 was ordered to move his 1st Marine Division from the United States to New Zealand. Other Allied land, naval and air force units were sent to establish or reinforce bases in Fiji, Samoa, New Hebrides
New Hebrides
New Hebrides was the colonial name for an island group in the South Pacific that now forms the nation of Vanuatu. The New Hebrides were colonized by both the British and French in the 18th century shortly after Captain James Cook visited the islands...

 and New Caledonia. Espiritu Santo
Espiritu Santo
Espiritu Santo is the largest island in the nation of Vanuatu, with an area of . It belongs to the archipelago of the New Hebrides in the Pacific region of Melanesia. It is in the Sanma Province of Vanuatu....

, New Hebrides, was selected as the headquarters and main base for the offensive, codenamed Operation Watchtower, with the commencement date set for August 7, 1942.

At first, the Allied offensive was planned just for Tulagi and the Santa Cruz Islands
Santa Cruz Islands
The Santa Cruz Islands are a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, part of Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands. They lie approximately 250 miles to the southeast of the Solomon Islands Chain...

, omitting Guadalcanal. After Allied reconnaissance discovered the Japanese airfield construction efforts on Guadalcanal, its capture was added to the plan and the Santa Cruz operation was (eventually) dropped. The Japanese were aware, via signals intelligence, of the large-scale movement of Allied forces in the South Pacific area but concluded that the Allies were reinforcing Australia and perhaps Port Moresby
Port Moresby
Port Moresby , or Pot Mosbi in Tok Pisin, is the capital and largest city of Papua New Guinea . It is located on the shores of the Gulf of Papua, on the southeastern coast of the island of New Guinea, which made it a prime objective for conquest by the Imperial Japanese forces during 1942–43...

 in New Guinea.

The Watchtower force, numbering 75 warships and transports (of vessels from the U.S. and Australia), assembled near Fiji on July 26, 1942 and engaged in one rehearsal landing prior to leaving for Guadalcanal on July 31. The commander of the Allied expeditionary force was U.S. Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

 Frank Fletcher
Frank Jack Fletcher
Frank Jack Fletcher was an admiral in the United States Navy during World War II. Fletcher was the operational commander at the pivotal Battles of Coral Sea and of Midway. He was the nephew of Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher.-Early life and early Navy career:Fletcher was born in Marshalltown, Iowa...

 (flag in aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 ). Commanding the amphibious forces was U.S. Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 Richmond K. Turner
Richmond K. Turner
-Footnotes:...

. Vandegrift led the 16,000 Allied (primarily U.S. Marine) infantry earmarked for the landings.

The troops sent to Guadalcanal were fresh from military training and armed with old bolt action rifles and a meager 10 day supply of ammunition. Due to the necessity of getting them into battle quickly, the operation planners had reduced their supplies from a 90 day supply to only 60 days. The troops of the 1st Marine Division began referring to the coming battle as "Operation Shoestring".

Landings



Bad weather allowed the Allied expeditionary force to arrive in the vicinity of Guadalcanal unseen by the Japanese on the morning of August 7 and take the defenders by surprise. The landing force split into two groups, with one group assaulting Guadalcanal, and the other Tulagi, Florida, and nearby islands. Allied warships bombarded the invasion beaches while U.S. carrier aircraft bombed Japanese positions on the target islands and destroyed 15 Japanese seaplanes at their base near Tulagi.

Tulagi and two nearby small islands, Gavutu
Gavutu
Gavutu is a small islet in the Central Province of the Solomon Islands, some 500 metres in length. It is one of the Nggela Islands....

 and Tanambogo
Tanambogo
Tanambogo is an islet in the Central Province of the Solomon Islands. It is one of the Florida Islands.Along with the nearby island of Gavutu, it played an important role in the Guadalcanal campaign during World War II. In 1942 the Japanese attempted to establish a seaplane base on the island. On...

, were assaulted by 3,000 U.S. Marines. The 886 IJN personnel manning the naval and seaplane bases on the three islands fiercely resisted the Marine attacks. With some difficulty, the Marines secured all three islands; Tulagi on August 8, and Gavutu and Tanambogo by August 9. The Japanese defenders were killed almost to the last man, while the Marines suffered 122 killed.

In contrast to Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo, the landings on Guadalcanal encountered much less resistance. At 09:10 on August 7, Vandegrift and 11,000 U.S. Marines came ashore on Guadalcanal between Koli Point and 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....

. Advancing towards Lunga Point, they encountered no resistance except for "tangled" rain forest, and they halted for the night about 1000 yards (914.4 m) from the Lunga Point airfield. The next day, again against little resistance, the Marines advanced all the way to the Lunga River and secured the airfield by 16:00 on August 8. The Japanese naval construction units and combat troops, under the command of Captain Kanae Monzen, panicked by the warship bombardment and aerial bombing, had abandoned the airfield area and fled about 3 miles (4.8 km) west to the Matanikau River
Matanikau River
The Matanikau River of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, is located in the northwest part of the island. During the World War II Guadalcanal campaign, several significant engagements occurred between United States and Japanese forces near the river.-References:...

 and Point Cruz area, leaving behind food, supplies, intact construction equipment and vehicles, and 13 dead.

During the landing operations on August 7 and August 8, Japanese naval aircraft based at Rabaul, under the command of Sadayoshi Yamada
Sadayoshi Yamada
- Notes :...

, attacked the Allied amphibious forces several times, setting afire the transport USS George F. Elliot
USS George F. Elliott (AP-13)
USS George F. Elliott was a Heywood-class transport acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War I and then reacquired by the Navy for service as a troop carrier during World War II...

 (which sank two days later) and heavily damaging the destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

 . In the air attacks over the two days, the Japanese lost 36 aircraft, while the U.S. lost 19, both in combat and to accident, including 14 carrier fighters.

After these clashes, Fletcher was concerned about the losses to his carrier fighter aircraft strength, anxious about the threat to his carriers from further Japanese air attacks, and worried about his ship's fuel levels. Fletcher withdrew from the Solomon Islands area with his carrier task forces the evening of August 8. As a result of the loss of carrier-based air cover, Turner decided to withdraw his ships from Guadalcanal, even though less than half of the supplies and heavy equipment needed by the troops ashore had been unloaded. Turner planned, however, to unload as many supplies as possible on Guadalcanal and Tulagi throughout the night of August 8 and then depart with his ships early on August 9.

Battle of Savo Island


That night, as the transports unloaded, two groups of screening Allied cruiser
Cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

s and destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s, under the command of British Rear Admiral Victor Crutchley, were surprised and defeated by a Japanese force of seven cruiser
Cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

s and one destroyer from the 8th Fleet
IJN 8th Fleet
The was a fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy established during World War II.-History:Established on 14 July 1942, the IJN 8th Fleet was a headquarters unit established to direct Japanese naval operations in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea...

, based at Rabaul and Kavieng
Kavieng
Kavieng is the capital of the Papua New Guinean province of New Ireland and the largest town on the island of the same name. The town is located at Balgai Bay, on the northern tip of the island. As of 2000, it had a population of 10,600....

 and commanded by Japanese Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa
Gunichi Mikawa
was a Vice-Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.Mikawa was the commander of a heavy cruiser force that carried out spectacular I.J.N. victory over the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy at the Battle of Savo Island in Ironbottom Sound on the night of August 1942. In...

. In the Battle of Savo Island
Battle of Savo Island
The Battle of Savo Island, also known as the First Battle of Savo Island and, in Japanese sources, as the , was a naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval forces...

, one Australian and three American cruisers were sunk and one American cruiser and two destroyers were damaged. The Japanese suffered moderate damage to one cruiser. Mikawa, who was unaware Fletcher was preparing to withdraw with the U.S. carriers, immediately retired to Rabaul without attempting to attack the transports. Mikawa was concerned about daylight U.S. carrier air attacks if he remained in the area. Bereft of his carrier air cover Turner decided to withdraw his remaining naval forces by the evening of August 9, leaving the Marines ashore without much of the heavy equipment, provisions and troops still aboard the transports. Mikawa's decision not to attempt to destroy the Allied transport ships when he had the opportunity proved to be a crucial strategic mistake.

Initial operations



The 11,000 Marines on Guadalcanal initially concentrated on forming a loose defensive perimeter around Lunga Point and the airfield, moving the landed supplies within the perimeter, and finishing the airfield. In four days of intense effort, the supplies were moved from the landing beach into dispersed dumps within the perimeter. Work began on the airfield immediately, mainly using captured Japanese equipment. On August 12, the airfield was named Henderson Field after Lofton R. Henderson
Lofton R. Henderson
Lofton R. Henderson was a naval aviator in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He was the commanding officer of VMSB-241 at the Battle of Midway and is recognized as the first Marine aviator to die during that battle while leading his squadron to attack the Japanese carrier...

, a Marine aviator who was killed during the Battle of Midway. By August 18, the airfield was ready for operation. Five days worth of food had been landed from the transports, which, along with captured Japanese provisions, gave the Marines a total of 14 days worth of food. To conserve supplies, the troops were limited to two meals per day.

Allied troops encountered a severe strain of dysentery
Dysentery
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the faeces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.There are differences between dysentery and normal bloody diarrhoea...

 soon after the landings, with one in five Marines afflicted by mid-August. Tropical diseases would affect the fighting strengths of both sides throughout the campaign. Although some of the Korean construction workers surrendered to the Marines, most of the remaining Japanese and Korean personnel gathered just west of the Lunga perimeter on the west bank of the Matanikau River and subsisted mainly on coconuts. A Japanese naval outpost was also located at Taivu Point, about 35 kilometres (22 mi) east of the Lunga perimeter. On August 8, a Japanese destroyer from Rabaul delivered 113 naval reinforcement troops to the Matanikau position.

On the evening of August 12, a 25-man U.S. Marine patrol, led by Lieutenant Colonel Frank Goettge
Frank Goettge
-Bibliography:*Hadden, Robert Lee. 2007. Alexandria, VA: Topographic Engineering Center. 360 pages. Abstract: This bibliography on the geographical, water and geological information of Guadalcanal was begun to fill a request for current information needed for the forensics recovery of the bodies...

 and primarily consisting of intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

 personnel, landed by boat west of the Lunga perimeter, between Point Cruz and the Matanikau River, on a reconnaissance mission with a secondary objective of contacting a group of Japanese troops that U.S. forces believed might be willing to surrender. Soon after the patrol landed, a nearby platoon
Platoon
A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 16 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer—the...

 of Japanese naval troops attacked and almost completely wiped out the Marine patrol.

In response, on August 19, Vandegrift sent three companies of the U.S. 5th Marine Regiment to attack the Japanese troop concentration west of the Matanikau. One company attacked across the sandbar at the mouth of the Matanikau river while another crossed the river 1000 metres (1,093.6 yd) inland and attacked the Japanese forces located in Matanikau village. The third landed by boat further west and attacked Kokumbuna village. After briefly occupying the two villages, the three Marine companies returned to the Lunga perimeter, having killed about 65 Japanese soldiers while losing four. This action, sometimes referred to as the "First Battle of the Matanikau", was the first of several major actions around the Matanikau River
Actions along the Matanikau
The Actions along the Matanikau in September and October 1942—sometimes referred to as the Second and Third Battles of the Matanikau—were two separate but related engagements among a series of engagements between the United States and Imperial Japanese naval and ground forces around the Matanikau...

 during the campaign.

On August 20, the escort carrier  delivered two squadrons of Marine aircraft to Henderson Field, one a squadron of 19 F4F Wildcat
F4F Wildcat
The Grumman F4F Wildcat was an American carrier-based fighter aircraft that began service with both the United States Navy and the British Royal Navy in 1940...

s, and the other a squadron of 12 SBD Dauntless
SBD Dauntless
The Douglas SBD Dauntless was a naval dive bomber made by Douglas during World War II. The SBD was the United States Navy's main dive bomber from mid-1940 until late 1943, when it was largely replaced by the SB2C Helldiver...

es. The aircraft at Henderson 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...

" (CAF) after the Allied codename for Guadalcanal. The Marine fighters went into action the next day, on the first of the almost-daily Japanese bomber air raids. On August 22, five U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 P-400 Airacobras and their pilots arrived at Henderson Field.

Battle of the Tenaru



In response to the Allied landings on Guadalcanal, the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters
Imperial General Headquarters
The as part of the Supreme War Council was established in 1893 to coordinate efforts between the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy during wartime...

 assigned the Imperial Japanese Army's (IJA) 17th Army, a corps
Corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

-sized command based at Rabaul and under the command of Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 Harukichi Hyakutake, the task of retaking Guadalcanal. The army was to be supported by Japanese naval units, including the Combined Fleet
Combined Fleet
The was the main ocean-going component of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Combined Fleet was not a standing force, but a temporary force formed for the duration of a conflict or major naval maneuvers from various units normally under separate commands in peacetime....

 under the command of Isoroku Yamamoto
Isoroku Yamamoto
was a Japanese Naval Marshal General and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II, a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and a student of Harvard University ....

, which was headquartered at Truk
Chuuk
Chuuk — formerly Truk, Ruk, Hogoleu, Torres, Ugulat, and Lugulus — is an island group in the south western part of the Pacific Ocean. It comprises one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia , along with Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. Chuuk is the most populous of the FSM's...

. The 17th Army, at that time heavily involved in the Japanese campaign in New Guinea
New Guinea campaign
The New Guinea campaign was one of the major military campaigns of World War II.Before the war, the island of New Guinea was split between:...

, had only a few units available. Of these, the 35th Infantry Brigade
Kawaguchi Detachment
IJA 35th Infantry Brigade with 124th Infantry Regiment, led by Major General Kiyotake Kawaguchi operated independently of its parent IJA 18th Division as the Kawaguchi Detachment, and was still at Camranh Bay, at the start of the Burma Campaign of World War II....

 under Major General Kiyotake Kawaguchi
Kiyotake Kawaguchi
-Web:...

 was at Palau, the 4th (Aoba) Infantry Regiment
Aoba Detachment
Aoba Detachment was the reinforced 4th Infantry Regiment/IJA 2nd Division, a part of the Seventeenth Army. The commander of the Aoba Detachment was Major General Nasu, the commander of the 2nd Division's Infantry Group. Unlike other detachments which were usually named after their commander, the...

 was in the Philippines and the 28th (Ichiki) Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Kiyonao Ichiki, was on board transport ships near Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

. The different units began to move towards Guadalcanal via Truk and Rabaul immediately, but Ichiki's regiment, being the closest, arrived in the area first. A "First Element" of Ichiki's unit, consisting of about 917 soldiers, landed from destroyers at Taivu Point, east of the Lunga perimeter, after midnight on August 19, then made a 9 miles (14.5 km) night march west toward the Marine perimeter.

Underestimating the strength of Allied forces on Guadalcanal, Ichiki's unit conducted a nighttime frontal assault on Marine positions at Alligator Creek (often called the "Ilu River" on U.S. Marine maps) on the east side of the Lunga perimeter in the early morning hours of August 21. Ichiki's assault was defeated with heavy Japanese losses in what became known as the Battle of the Tenaru
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...

. After daybreak, the Marine units counterattacked Ichiki's surviving troops, killing many more of them. The dead included Ichiki, though it has been claimed that he committed seppuku
Seppuku
is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. Seppuku was originally reserved only for samurai. Part of the samurai bushido honor code, seppuku was either used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies , or as a form of capital punishment...

 after realizing the magnitude of his defeat, rather than dying in combat. In total, all but 128 of the original 917 members of the Ichiki Regiment's First Element were killed in the battle. The survivors returned to Taivu Point, notified 17th Army headquarters of their defeat and awaited further reinforcements and orders from Rabaul.

Battle of the Eastern Solomons



As the Tenaru battle was ending, more Japanese reinforcements were already on their way. Three slow transports departed from Truk on August 16 carrying the remaining 1,400 soldiers from Ichiki's (28th) Infantry Regiment plus 500 naval marines from the 5th Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Force
Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces
The Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces , were the marine troops of the Imperial Japanese Navy and were a part of the IJN Land Forces...

. The transports were guarded by 13 warships commanded by Japanese Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 Raizo Tanaka
Raizo Tanaka
was a rear admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during most of World War II. A specialist in the heavy torpedoes that were carried by all the destroyers and cruisers of the IJN, Tanaka mainly commanded destroyer squadrons, with a cruiser or two attached, and he was the primary leader of the...

, who planned to land the troops on Guadalcanal on August 24. To cover the landings of these troops and provide support for the operation to retake Henderson Field from Allied forces, Yamamoto directed Chuichi Nagumo
Chuichi Nagumo
was a Japanese admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II and one time commander of the Kido Butai . He committed suicide during the Battle of Saipan.-Early life:...

 to sortie with a carrier force from Truk on August 21 and head towards the southern Solomon Islands. Nagumo's force included three carriers and 30 other warships.

Simultaneously, three U.S. carrier task forces under Fletcher approached Guadalcanal to counter the Japanese offensive efforts. On August 24 and 25, the two carrier forces fought the Battle of the Eastern Solomons
Battle of the Eastern Solomons
The naval Battle of the Eastern Solomons The naval Battle of the Eastern Solomons The naval Battle of the Eastern Solomons (also known as the Battle of the Stewart Islands and, in Japanese sources, as the , took place on 24–25 August 1942, and was the third carrier battle of the Pacific campaign...

, which resulted in both fleets retreating from the area after taking some damage, with the Japanese losing one light aircraft carrier. Tanaka's convoy, after suffering heavy damage during the battle from an air attack by CAF aircraft from Henderson Field, including the sinking of one of the transports, was forced to divert to the Shortland Islands
Shortland Islands
The Shortland Islands are group of islands belonging to the Western Province of the Solomon Islands, at . Named by John Shortland, they lie in the extreme northwest of the country's territory, close to the island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. The largest island is Shortland Island...

 in the northern Solomons in order to transfer the surviving troops to destroyers for later delivery to Guadalcanal.

Air battles over Henderson Field and strengthening of the Lunga defenses



Throughout August, small numbers of U.S. aircraft and their crews continued to arrive at Guadalcanal. By the end of August, 64 aircraft of various types were stationed at Henderson Field. On September 3, the commander of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
1st Marine Aircraft Wing
The 1st Marine Aircraft Wing is an aviation unit of the United States Marine Corps that serves as the Aviation Combat Element of the III Marine Expeditionary Force. The wing is headquartered at Camp Foster on the island of Okinawa, Japan...

, U.S. Marine Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 Roy S. Geiger, arrived with his staff and took command of all air operations at Henderson Field. Air battles between the Allied aircraft at Henderson and Japanese bombers and fighters from Rabaul continued almost daily. Between August 26 and September 5, the U.S. lost about 15 aircraft while the Japanese lost approximately 19 aircraft. More than half of the downed U.S. aircrews were rescued while most of the Japanese aircrews were never recovered. The eight-hour round trip flight from Rabaul to Guadalcanal, about 1120 miles (1,802.5 km) total, seriously hampered Japanese efforts to establish air superiority over Henderson Field. Australian coastwatchers
Coastwatchers
The Coastwatchers, also known as the Coast Watch Organisation, Combined Field Intelligence Service or Section C, Allied Intelligence Bureau, were Allied military intelligence operatives stationed on remote Pacific islands during World War II to observe enemy movements and rescue stranded Allied...

 on Bougainville
Bougainville Island
Bougainville Island is the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. This region is also known as Bougainville Province or the North Solomons. The population of the province is 175,160 , which includes the adjacent island of Buka and assorted outlying islands...

 and New Georgia
New Georgia
New Georgia is the largest island of the Western Province of the Solomon Islands.-Geography:This island is located in the New Georgia Group, an archipelago including most of the other larger islands in the province...

 islands were often able to provide Allied forces on Guadalcanal with advance notice of inbound Japanese air strikes, allowing the U.S. fighters time to take off and position themselves to attack the Japanese bombers and fighters as they approached the island. Thus, the Japanese air forces were slowly losing a war of attrition in the skies above Guadalcanal.

During this time, Vandegrift continued to direct efforts to strengthen and improve the defenses of the Lunga perimeter. Between August 21 and September 3, he relocated three Marine battalions, including the 1st Raider Battalion
Marine Raiders
The Marine Raiders were elite units established by the United States Marine Corps during World War II to conduct amphibious light infantry warfare, particularly in landing in rubber boats and operating behind the lines...

, under Merritt A. Edson
Merritt A. Edson
Major General Merritt Austin Edson , known as "Red Mike", was a general in the United States Marine Corps. Among the decorations he received was the Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, the Silver Star, and two Legions of Merit...

 (Edson's Raiders), and the 1st Parachute
Paramarines
The Paramarines was a short-lived specialized unit of the United States Marine Corps, trained to be dropped by parachute. The first Paramarines were trained in October 1940, but the unit was disbanded in 1944...

 Battalion from Tulagi and Gavutu
Gavutu
Gavutu is a small islet in the Central Province of the Solomon Islands, some 500 metres in length. It is one of the Nggela Islands....

 to Guadalcanal. These units added about 1,500 troops to Vandegrift's original 11,000 men defending Henderson Field. The 1st Parachute Battalion, which had suffered heavy casualties in the Battle of Tulagi and Gavutu-Tanambogo
Battle of Tulagi and Gavutu-Tanambogo
The Battle of Tulagi and Gavutu–Tanambogo was a land battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, between the forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied ground forces. It took place from 7–9 August 1942 on the Solomon Islands, during the initial Allied landings in the Guadalcanal...

 in August, was placed under Edson's command.

The other relocated battalion, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment
1st Battalion 5th Marines
1st Battalion, 5th Marines is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California consisting of approximately 800 Marines and sailors. Nicknamed Geronimo, it falls under the command of the 5th Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division...

 (1/5), was landed by boat west of the Matanikau near Kokumbuna village on August 27 with the mission of attacking Japanese units in the area, much as in the first Matanikau action of August 19. In this case, however, the Marines were impeded by difficult terrain, hot sun, and well-emplaced Japanese defenses. The next morning, the Marines found that the Japanese defenders had departed during the night, so the Marines returned to the Lunga perimeter by boat. Losses in this action were 20 Japanese and 3 Marines killed.

Small Allied naval convoys arrived at Guadalcanal on August 23, August 29, September 1, and September 8 to provide the Marines at Lunga with more food, ammunition, aircraft fuel, and aircraft technicians. The September 1 convoy also brought 392 construction engineers
Seabee
Seabees are members of the United States Navy construction battalions. The word Seabee is a proper noun that comes from the initials of Construction Battalion, of the United States Navy...

 to maintain and improve Henderson Field.

Tokyo Express



By August 23, Kawaguchi's 35th Infantry Brigade reached Truk and was loaded onto slow transport ships for the rest of the trip to Guadalcanal. The damage done to Tanaka's convoy during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons
Battle of the Eastern Solomons
The naval Battle of the Eastern Solomons The naval Battle of the Eastern Solomons The naval Battle of the Eastern Solomons (also known as the Battle of the Stewart Islands and, in Japanese sources, as the , took place on 24–25 August 1942, and was the third carrier battle of the Pacific campaign...

 caused the Japanese to reconsider trying to deliver more troops to Guadalcanal by slow transport. Instead, the ships carrying Kawaguchi's soldiers were sent to Rabaul. From there, the Japanese planned to deliver Kawaguchi's men to Guadalcanal by destroyers staging through a Japanese naval base in the Shortland Islands. The Japanese destroyers were usually able to make round trips down "The Slot" (New Georgia Sound) to Guadalcanal and back in a single night throughout the campaign, minimizing their exposure to Allied air attack; they 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...

" to Allied forces and were labeled "Rat Transportation" by the Japanese. Delivering the troops in this manner, however, prevented most of the heavy equipment and supplies, such as heavy artillery, vehicles, and much food and ammunition, from being transported to Guadalcanal with them. In addition, this activity tied up destroyers the IJN desperately needed for commerce defense
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

. Either inability or unwillingness prevented Allied naval commanders from challenging Japanese naval forces at night, so the Japanese controlled the seas around the Solomon Islands during nighttime. However, any Japanese ship remaining within range of the aircraft at Henderson Field during the daylight hours, about 200 miles (321.9 km), was in great danger from air attack. This tactical situation existed for the next several months of the campaign.

Between August 29 and September 4, various Japanese light cruisers, destroyers, and patrol boat
Patrol boat
A patrol boat is a relatively small naval vessel generally designed for coastal defense duties.There have been many designs for patrol boats. They may be operated by a nation's navy, coast guard, or police force, and may be intended for marine and/or estuarine or river environments...

s were able to land almost 5,000 troops at Taivu Point, including most of the 35th Infantry Brigade, much of the Aoba (4th) Regiment, and the rest of Ichiki's regiment. General Kawaguchi, who landed at Taivu Point on the August 31 Express run, was placed in command of all Japanese forces on Guadalcanal. A barge convoy took another 1,000 soldiers of Kawaguchi's brigade, under the command of Colonel Akinosuke Oka
Akinosuke Oka
-Notes:...

, to Kamimbo, west of the Lunga perimeter.

Battle of Edson's Ridge



On September 7, Kawaguchi issued his attack plan to "rout and annihilate the enemy in the vicinity of the Guadalcanal Island airfield." Kawaguchi's attack plan called for his forces, split into three divisions, to approach the Lunga perimeter inland, culminating with a surprise night attack. Oka's forces would attack the perimeter from the west while Ichiki's Second Echelon, now renamed the Kuma Battalion, would attack from the east. The main attack would be by Kawaguchi's "Center Body", numbering 3,000 men in three battalions, from the jungle south of the Lunga perimeter. By September 7, most of Kawaguchi's troops had departed Taivu to begin marching towards Lunga Point along the coastline. About 250 Japanese troops remained behind to guard the brigade's supply base at Taivu.

Meanwhile, native scouts under the direction of Martin Clemens
Martin Clemens
Major Warren Frederick Martin Clemens CBE, MC, AM was a British colonial administrator and soldier. In late 1941 and early 1942, while serving as a District Officer in the Solomon Islands, he helped prepare the area for eventual resistance to Japanese occupation.His additional duties as...

, a coastwatcher, officer in the Solomon Islands Protectorate Defense Force
British Solomon Islands Protectorate Defence Force
The British Solomon Islands Protectorate Defence Force was the British colonial military force of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate . The Solomon Islands has not had military forces since it achieved independence from Britain in 1976...

, and the British district officer for Guadalcanal, brought reports to the U.S. Marines of Japanese troops at Taivu, near the village of Tasimboko. Edson planned a raid on the Japanese troop concentration at Taivu. On September 8, after being dropped-off near Taivu by boat, Edson's men captured Tasimboko as the Japanese defenders retreated into the jungle. In Tasimboko, Edson's troops discovered Kawaguchi's main supply depot, including large stockpiles of food, ammunition, medical supplies, and a powerful shortwave
Shortwave
Shortwave radio refers to the upper MF and all of the HF portion of the radio spectrum, between 1,800–30,000 kHz. Shortwave radio received its name because the wavelengths in this band are shorter than 200 m which marked the original upper limit of the medium frequency band first used...

 radio. After destroying everything in sight, except for some documents and equipment carried back with them, the Marines returned to the Lunga perimeter. The mounds of supplies, along with intelligence gathered from the captured documents, informed the Marines that at least 3,000 Japanese troops were on the island and apparently planning an attack.

Edson, along with Colonel Gerald C. Thomas
Gerald C. Thomas
Gerald Carthrae Thomas was a United States Marine Corps general who served as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1956 with more 38 years of distinguished service which included duty on four continents, spanning two World Wars, Haiti and the Korean War...

, Vandegrift's operations officer, correctly believed that the Japanese attack would come at a narrow, grassy, 1000 yards (914.4 m)-long, coral ridge that ran parallel to the Lunga River
Lunga River (Solomon Islands)
The Lunga River is the name of a river on the northern coast of Guadalcanal near Lunga Point with a tributary at Savo Sound .-References:...

 and was located just south of Henderson Field. The ridge, called Lunga Ridge, offered a natural avenue of approach to the airfield, commanded the surrounding area and, at that time, was almost undefended. On September 11, the 840 men of Edson's battalion were deployed onto and around the ridge.

On the night of September 12, Kawaguchi's 1st Battalion attacked the Raiders between the Lunga River and ridge, forcing one Marine company to fall back to the ridge before the Japanese halted their attack for the night. The next night, Kawaguchi faced Edson's 830 Raiders with 3,000 troops of his brigade, plus an assortment of light artillery. The Japanese attack began just after nightfall, with Kawaguchi's 1st battalion assaulting Edson's right flank, just to the west of the ridge. After breaking through the Marine lines, the battalion's assault was eventually stopped by Marine units guarding the northern part of the ridge.

Two companies from Kawaguchi's 2nd Battalion charged up the southern edge of the ridge and pushed Edson's troops back to Hill 123 on the center part of the ridge. Throughout the night, Marines at this position, supported by artillery, defeated wave after wave of frontal Japanese attacks, some of which resulted in hand-to-hand fighting. Japanese units that infiltrated past the ridge to the edge of the airfield were also repulsed. Attacks by the Kuma battalion and Oka's unit at other locations on the Lunga perimeter were also defeated. On September 14, Kawaguchi led the survivors of his shattered brigade on a five day march west to the Matanikau Valley to join with Oka's unit. In total, Kawaguchi's forces lost about 850 killed and the Marines 104.

On September 15, Hyakutake at Rabaul learned of Kawaguchi's defeat and forwarded the news to Imperial General Headquarters in Japan. In an emergency session, the top Japanese IJA and IJN command staffs concluded that, "Guadalcanal might develop into the decisive battle of the war." The results of the battle now began to have a telling strategic impact on Japanese operations in other areas of the Pacific. Hyakutake realized that in order to send sufficient troops and materiel to defeat the Allied forces on Guadalcanal, he could not at the same time support the major ongoing Japanese offensive on the Kokoda Track
Kokoda Track campaign
The Kokoda Track campaign or Kokoda Trail campaign was part of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign consisted of a series of battles fought between July and November 1942 between Japanese and Allied—primarily Australian—forces in what was then the Australian territory of Papua...

 in New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

. Hyakutake, with the concurrence of General Headquarters, ordered his troops on New Guinea, who were within 30 miles (48.3 km) of their objective of Port Moresby
Port Moresby
Port Moresby , or Pot Mosbi in Tok Pisin, is the capital and largest city of Papua New Guinea . It is located on the shores of the Gulf of Papua, on the southeastern coast of the island of New Guinea, which made it a prime objective for conquest by the Imperial Japanese forces during 1942–43...

, to withdraw until the "Guadalcanal matter" was resolved. Hyakutake prepared to send more troops to Guadalcanal for another attempt to recapture Henderson Field.

Reinforcement


As the Japanese regrouped west of the Matanikau, the U.S. forces concentrated on shoring up and strengthening their Lunga defenses. On September 14, Vandegrift moved another battalion, the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment
3rd Battalion 2nd Marines
3rd Battalion 2nd Marines is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina consisting of approximately 800 Marines and Sailors...

 (3/2), from Tulagi to Guadalcanal. On September 18, an Allied naval convoy delivered 4,157 men from the 3rd Provisional Marine Brigade (the 7th Marine Regiment plus a battalion from the 11th Marine Regiment and some additional support units), 137 vehicles, tents, aviation fuel, ammunition, rations, and engineering equipment to Guadalcanal. These crucial reinforcements allowed Vandegrift, beginning on September 19, to establish an unbroken line of defense around the Lunga perimeter. While covering this convoy, the aircraft carrier was sunk by the Japanese submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

  southeast of Guadalcanal, temporarily leaving only one Allied aircraft carrier in operation in the South Pacific area. Vandegrift also made some changes in the senior leadership of his combat units, transferring off the island several officers who did not meet his performance standards, and promoting junior officers who had proven themselves to take their places. One of these was the recently promoted Colonel Merritt Edson, who was placed in command of the 5th Marine Regiment.

A lull occurred in the air war over Guadalcanal, with no Japanese air raids occurring between September 14 and September 27 due to bad weather, during which both sides reinforced their respective air units. The Japanese delivered 85 fighters and bombers to their air units at Rabaul while the U.S. brought 23 fighters and attack aircraft to Henderson Field. On September 20, the Japanese counted 117 total aircraft at Rabaul while the Allies tallied 71 aircraft at Henderson Field. The air war resumed with a Japanese air raid on Guadalcanal on September 27, which was contested by U.S. Navy and Marine fighters from Henderson Field.

The Japanese immediately began to prepare for their next attempt to recapture Henderson Field. The 3rd Battalion, 4th (Aoba) Infantry Regiment had landed at Kamimbo Bay on the western end of Guadalcanal on September 11, too late to join Kawaguchi's attack. By now, though, the battalion had joined Oka's forces near the Matanikau. Tokyo Express runs by destroyers on September 14, 20, 21, and 24 brought food and ammunition, as well as 280 men from the 1st Battalion, Aoba Regiment, to Kamimbo on Guadalcanal. Meanwhile, the Japanese 2nd
2nd Division (Imperial Japanese Army)
The was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call-sign was .-History:The 2nd Infantry Division was formed in Sendai, Miyagi in January 1871 as the , one of six regional commands created in the fledgling Imperial Japanese Army. The Sendai Garrison had responsibility for northern...

 and 38th Infantry
38th Infantry Division (Imperial Japanese Army)
The was a line infantry division of the Imperial Japanese Army. The division saw heavy action during the Pacific campaign of World War II, including the conquest of Hong Kong in 1941, the Dutch East Indies in early 1942, and the Guadalcanal Campaign from October 1942 to February 1943...

 Divisions were transported from the Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

 to Rabaul beginning on September 13. The Japanese planned to transport a total of 17,500 troops from these two divisions to Guadalcanal to take part in the next major attack on the Lunga Perimeter, set for October 20, 1942.

Actions along the Matanikau



Vandegrift and his staff were aware that Kawaguchi's troops had retreated to the area west of the Matanikau and that numerous groups of Japanese stragglers were scattered throughout the area between the Lunga Perimeter and the Matanikau River. Vandegrift, therefore, decided to conduct another series of small unit operations around the Matanikau Valley. The purpose of these operations was to mop up the scattered groups of Japanese troops east of the Matanikau and to keep the main body of Japanese soldiers off-balance to prevent them from consolidating their positions so close to the main Marine defenses at Lunga Point.

The first U.S. Marine operation and attempt to attack Japanese forces west of the Matanikau, conducted between September 23 and 27 by elements of three U.S. Marine battalions, was repulsed by Kawaguchi's troops under Akinosuke Oka's local command. During the action, three Marine companies were surrounded by Japanese forces near Point Cruz west of the Matanikau, took heavy losses, and barely escaped with assistance from the destroyer and landing craft manned by U.S. Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 personnel.

In the second action between October 6 and 9, a larger force of Marines successfully crossed the Matanikau River, attacked newly landed Japanese forces from the 2nd Infantry Division under the command of generals Masao Maruyama and Yumio Nasu
Yumio Nasu
was a major general and a division commander in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.-Biography:A native of Tochigi Prefecture, Nasu graduated from the 25th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1913 and from the 35th class of the Army Staff College in 1923...

, and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese 4th Infantry Regiment. The second action forced the Japanese to retreat from their positions east of the Matanikau and hindered Japanese preparations for their planned major offensive on the U.S. Lunga defenses.

Between October 9 and 11 the U.S. 1st Battalion 2nd Marines
1st Battalion 2nd Marines
1st Battalion, 2nd Marines is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina consisting of approximately 900 Marines and Sailors...

 raided two small Japanese outposts about 30 miles (48.3 km) east of the Lunga perimeter at Gurabusu and Koilotumaria near Aola Bay. The raids killed 35 Japanese at a cost of 17 Marines and three U.S. Navy personnel killed.

Battle of Cape Esperance


Throughout the last week of September and the first week of October, Tokyo Express runs delivered troops from the Japanese 2nd Infantry Division to Guadalcanal. The Japanese Navy promised to support the Army's planned offensive by not only delivering the necessary troops, equipment, and supplies to the island, but by stepping-up air attacks on Henderson Field and sending warships to bombard the airfield.

In the meantime, Millard F. Harmon
Millard Harmon
Millard Fillmore Harmon Jr. was a Lieutenant General in the United States Army Air Forces during the Pacific campaign in World War II....

, commander of United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 forces in the South Pacific, convinced Ghormley that U.S. Marine forces on Guadalcanal needed to be reinforced immediately if the Allies were to successfully defend the island from the next, expected Japanese offensive. Thus, on October 8, the 2,837 men of the 164th Infantry Regiment
164th Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 164th Infantry Regiment, an activated regiment of the North Dakota National Guard, was the first United States Army unit on Guadalcanal.-World War I and interwar years:...

 from the U.S. Army's Americal Division
Americal Division
The 23rd Infantry Division, more commonly known as the Americal Division of the United States Army was formed in May 1942 on the island of New Caledonia. In the immediate emergency following Pearl Harbor, the United States had hurriedly sent three individual regiments to defend New Caledonia...

 boarded ships at New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

 for the trip to Guadalcanal with a projected arrival date of October 13. To protect the transports carrying the 164th to Guadalcanal, Ghormley ordered Task Force 64, consisting of four cruisers and five destroyers under U.S. Rear Admiral Norman Scott, to intercept and combat any Japanese ships that approached Guadalcanal and threatened the arrival of the transport convoy.

Mikawa's 8th Fleet staff scheduled a large and important Express run for the night of October 11. Two seaplane tender
Seaplane tender
A seaplane tender is a ship that provides facilities for operating seaplanes. These ships were the first aircraft carriers and appeared just before the First World War.-History:...

s and six destroyers were to deliver 728 soldiers plus artillery and ammunition to Guadalcanal. At the same time but in a separate operation three heavy cruisers and two destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 Aritomo Gotō
Aritomo Goto
was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.-Early career:Gotō was born in Ibaraki prefecture in 1888. He graduated from the 38th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1910, ranked 30th out of a class of 149 cadets. As a midshipman, he served on the cruiser and...

 were to bombard Henderson Field with special explosive shells with the object of destroying the CAF and the airfield's facilities. Because U.S. Navy warships had yet to attempt to interdict any Tokyo Express missions to Guadalcanal, the Japanese were not expecting any opposition from Allied naval surface forces that night.

Just before midnight, Scott's warships detected Gotō's force on radar near the entrance to the strait between Savo Island and Guadalcanal. Scott's force was in a position to cross the T
Crossing the T
Crossing the T or Capping the T is a classic naval warfare tactic attempted from the late 19th to mid 20th century, in which a line of warships crossed in front of a line of enemy ships, allowing the crossing line to bring all their guns to bear while receiving fire from only the forward guns of...

 of Gotō's unsuspecting formation. Opening fire, Scott's warships sank one of Gotō's cruisers and one of his destroyers, heavily damaged another cruiser, mortally wounded Gotō, and forced the rest of Gotō's warships to abandon the bombardment mission and retreat. During the exchange of gunfire, one of Scott's destroyers was sunk and one cruiser and another destroyer were heavily damaged. In the meantime, the Japanese supply convoy successfully completed unloading at Guadalcanal and began its return journey without being discovered by Scott's force. Later on the morning of October 12, four Japanese destroyers from the supply convoy turned back to assist Gotō's retreating, damaged warships. Air attacks by CAF aircraft from Henderson Field sank two of these destroyers later that day. The convoy of U.S. Army troops reached Guadalcanal as scheduled the next day and successfully delivered its cargo and passengers to the island.

Battleship bombardment of Henderson Field


In spite of the U.S. victory off Cape Esperance, the Japanese continued with plans and preparations for their large offensive scheduled for later in October. The Japanese decided to risk a one-time departure from their usual practice of only using fast warships to deliver their men and materiel
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

 to the island. On October 13, a convoy comprising six cargo ships with eight screening destroyers departed the Shortland Islands for Guadalcanal. The convoy carried 4,500 troops from the 16th and 230th Infantry Regiments, some naval marines, two batteries of heavy artillery, and one company of tanks.

To protect the approaching convoy from attack by CAF aircraft, Yamamoto sent two battleships from Truk to bombard Henderson Field. At 01:33 on October 14, and , escorted by one light cruiser and nine destroyers, reached Guadalcanal and opened fire on Henderson Field from a distance of 16000 metres (17,497.8 yd). Over the next one hour and 23 minutes, the two battleships fired 973 14 inches (355.6 mm) shells into the Lunga perimeter, most of them falling in and around the 2200 metres (2,405.9 yd) square area of the airfield. Many of the shells were fragmentation
Fragmentation (weaponry)
Fragmentation is the process by which the casing of an artillery shell, bomb, grenade, etc. is shattered by the detonating high explosive filling. The correct technical terminology for these casing pieces is fragments , although shards or splinters can be used for non-preformed fragments...

 shells, specifically designed to destroy land targets. The bombardment heavily damaged both runways, burned almost all of the available aviation fuel, destroyed 48 of the CAF's 90 aircraft, and killed 41 men, including six CAF pilots. The battleship force immediately returned to Truk.

In spite of the heavy damage, Henderson personnel were able to restore one of the runways to operational condition within a few hours. Seventeen SBDs and 20 Wildcats at Espiritu Santo were quickly flown to Henderson and U.S. Army and Marine transport aircraft began to shuttle aviation gasoline from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal. Now aware of the approach of the large Japanese reinforcement convoy, the U.S. desperately sought some way to interdict the convoy before it could reach Guadalcanal. Using fuel drained from destroyed aircraft and from a cache in the nearby jungle, the CAF attacked the convoy twice on the 14th, but caused no damage.

The Japanese convoy reached Tassafaronga on Guadalcanal at midnight on October 14 and began unloading. Throughout the day of October 15, a string of CAF aircraft from Henderson bombed and strafed the unloading convoy, destroying three of the cargo ships. The remainder of the convoy departed that night, having unloaded all of the troops and about two-thirds of the supplies and equipment. Several Japanese heavy cruisers also bombarded Henderson on the nights of October 14 and 15, destroying a few additional CAF aircraft, but failing to cause significant further damage to the airfield.

Battle for Henderson Field


Between October 1 and October 17, the Japanese delivered 15,000 troops to Guadalcanal, giving Hyakutake 20,000 total troops to employ for his planned offensive. Because of the loss of their positions on the east side of the Matanikau, the Japanese decided that an attack on the U.S. defenses along the coast would be prohibitively difficult. Therefore, Hyakutake decided that the main thrust of his planned attack would be from south of Henderson Field. His 2nd Division (augmented by troops from the 38th Division), under Lieutenant General Masao Maruyama and comprising 7,000 soldiers in three infantry regiments of three battalions each was ordered to march through the jungle and attack the American defences from the south near the east bank of the Lunga River. The date of the attack was set for October 22, then changed to October 23. To distract the Americans from the planned attack from the south, Hyakutake's heavy artillery plus five battalions of infantry (about 2,900 men) under Major General Tadashi Sumiyoshi
Tadashi Sumiyoshi
-Notes:...

 were to attack the American defenses from the west along the coastal corridor. The Japanese estimated that there were 10,000 American troops on the island, when in fact there were about 23,000.
On October 12, a company of Japanese engineers began to break a trail, called the "Maruyama Road", from the Matanikau towards the southern portion of the U.S. Lunga perimeter. The 15 miles (24 km) long trail traversed some of the most difficult terrain on Guadalcanal, including numerous rivers and streams, deep, muddy ravines, steep ridges, and dense jungle. Between October 16 and October 18, the 2nd Division began their march along the Maruyama Road.

By October 23, Maruyama's forces still struggled through the jungle to reach the American lines. That evening, after learning that his forces had yet to reach their attack positions, Hyakutake postponed the attack to 19:00 on October 24. The Americans remained completely unaware of the approach of Maruyama's forces.

Sumiyoshi was informed by Hyakutake's staff of the postponement of the offensive to October 24, but was unable to contact his troops to inform them of the delay. Thus, at dusk on October 23, two battalions of the 4th Infantry Regiment and the nine tanks of the 1st Independent Tank Company launched attacks on the U.S. Marine defenses at the mouth of the Matanikau. U.S. Marine artillery, cannon, and small arms fire repulsed the attacks, destroying all the tanks and killing many of the Japanese soldiers while suffering only light casualties.

Finally, late on October 24 Maruyama's forces reached the U.S. Lunga perimeter. Over two consecutive nights Maruyama's forces conducted numerous, unsuccessful frontal assaults on positions defended by troops of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines
1st Battalion 7th Marines
The 1st Battalion, 7th Marines is an infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. They are based at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms and consist of approximately 1000 Marines. Famous Marines who have served in 1/7 include Chesty Puller and John Basilone...

 under Lieutenant Colonel Chesty Puller
Chesty Puller
Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller was an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Puller is the most decorated U.S...

 and the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, 164th Infantry Regiment
164th Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 164th Infantry Regiment, an activated regiment of the North Dakota National Guard, was the first United States Army unit on Guadalcanal.-World War I and interwar years:...

, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hall
Robert Hall (National Guard Officer)
Robert K. Hall was an officer in the United States North Dakota Army National Guard. He commanded troops during the strategically important Guadalcanal campaign and contributed significantly to the U.S. victory in the Battle for Henderson Field....

. U.S. Marine and Army units armed with rifles, machine guns, mortars, artillery, including direct canister
Canister shot
Canister shot is a kind of anti-personnel ammunition used in cannons. It was similar to the naval grapeshot, but fired smaller and more numerous balls, which did not have to punch through the wooden hull of a ship...

 fire from 37 mm anti-tank guns "wrought terrible carnage" on the Japanese. A few small groups of Japanese broke through the American defenses, but were all hunted down and killed over the next several days. More than 1,500 of Maruyama's troops were killed in the attacks while the Americans lost about 60 killed. Over the same two days American aircraft from Henderson Field defended against attacks by Japanese aircraft and ships, destroying 14 aircraft and sinking a light cruiser.

Further Japanese attacks near the Matanikau on October 26 were also repulsed with heavy losses for the Japanese. As a result, by 08:00 on October 26, Hyakutake called off any further attacks and ordered his forces to retreat. About half of Maruyama's survivors were ordered to retreat back to the upper Matanikau Valley while the 230th Infantry Regiment under Colonel Toshinari Shōji
Toshinari Shoji
-Web:...

 was told to head for Koli Point, east of the Lunga perimeter. Leading elements of the 2nd Division reached the 17th Army headquarters area at Kokumbona, west of the Matanikau on November 4. The same day, Shoji's unit reached Koli Point and made camp. Decimated by battle deaths, combat injuries, malnutrition, and tropical diseases, the 2nd Division was incapable of further offensive action and fought as a defensive force along the coast for the rest of the campaign. In total the Japanese lost 2,200 – 3,000 troops in the battle while the Americans lost around 80 killed.

Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands


At the same time that Hyakutake's troops were attacking the Lunga perimeter, Japanese aircraft carriers and other large warships under the overall direction of Isoroku Yamamoto moved into a position near the southern Solomon Islands. From this location, the Japanese naval forces hoped to engage and decisively defeat any Allied (primarily U.S.) naval forces, especially carrier forces, that responded to Hyakutake's ground offensive. Allied naval carrier forces in the area, now under the overall command of William Halsey, Jr.
William Halsey, Jr.
Fleet Admiral William Frederick Halsey, Jr., United States Navy, , was a U.S. Naval officer. He commanded the South Pacific Area during the early stages of the Pacific War against Japan...

, also hoped to meet the Japanese naval forces in battle. Nimitz had replaced Ghormley with Halsey on October 18 after concluding that Ghormley had become too pessimistic and myopic to effectively continue leading Allied forces in the South Pacific area.

The two opposing carrier forces confronted each other on the morning of October 26, in what became known as the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands
Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands
The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, 26 October 1942, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Santa Cruz or in Japanese sources as the , was the fourth carrier battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II and the fourth major naval engagement fought between the United States Navy and the Imperial...

. After an exchange of carrier air attacks, Allied surface ships were forced to retreat from the battle area with the loss of one carrier sunk and another heavily damaged. The participating Japanese carrier forces, however, also retired because of high aircraft and aircrew losses and significant damage to two carriers. Although an apparent tactical victory for the Japanese in terms of ships sunk and damaged, the loss by the Japanese of many irreplaceable, veteran aircrews provided a long-term strategic advantage for the Allies, whose aircrew losses in the battle were relatively low. The Japanese carriers played no further significant role in the campaign.

November land actions


In order to exploit the victory in the Battle for Henderson Field, Vandegrift sent six Marine battalions, later joined by one U.S. Army battalion, on an offensive west of the Matanikau. The operation was commanded by Merritt Edson and its goal was to capture Kokumbona, headquarters of the 17th Army, west of Point Cruz. Defending the Point Cruz area were Japanese army troops from the 4th Infantry Regiment commanded by Nomasu Nakaguma
Nomasu Nakaguma
-Notes:...

. The 4th Infantry was severely understrength because of battle damage, tropical disease, and malnutrition.

The American offensive began on November 1 and, after some difficulty, succeeded in destroying Japanese forces defending the Point Cruz area by November 3, including rear echelon troops sent to reinforce Nakaguma's battered regiment. The Americans appeared to be on the verge of breaking through the Japanese defenses and capturing Kokumbona. At this time, however, other American forces discovered and engaged newly landed Japanese troops near Koli Point on the eastern side of the Lunga perimeter. To counter this new threat, Vandegrift temporarily halted the Matanikau offensive on November 4. The Americans suffered 71 and the Japanese around 400 killed in the offensive.

At Koli Point early in the morning November 3, five Japanese destroyers delivered 300 army troops to support Shōji and his troops who were en route to Koli Point after the Battle for Henderson Field. Having learned of the planned landing, Vandegrift sent a battalion of Marines under Herman H. Hanneken
Herman H. Hanneken
Herman Henry Hanneken was a United States Marine Corps officer and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor....

 to intercept the Japanese at Koli. Soon after landing, the Japanese soldiers encountered and drove Hanneken's battalion back towards the Lunga perimeter. In response, Vandegrift ordered Puller's Marine battalion plus two of the 164th infantry battalions, along with Hanneken's battalion, to move towards Koli Point to attack the Japanese forces there.

As the American troops began to move, Shōji and his soldiers began to arrive at Koli Point. Beginning on November 8, the American troops attempted to encircle Shōji's forces at Gavaga Creek near Koli Point. Meanwhile, Hyakutake ordered Shōji to abandon his positions at Koli and rejoin Japanese forces at Kokumbona in the Matanikau area. A gap existed by way of a swampy creek in the southern side of the American lines. Between November 9 and 11, Shōji and between 2,000 and 3,000 of his men escaped into the jungle to the south. On November 12, the Americans completely overran and killed all the remaining Japanese soldiers left in the pocket. The Americans counted the bodies of 450–475 Japanese dead in the Koli Point area and captured most of Shōji's heavy weapons and provisions. The American forces suffered 40 killed and 120 wounded in the operation.

Meanwhile, on November 4, two companies from the 2nd Marine Raider
Marine Raiders
The Marine Raiders were elite units established by the United States Marine Corps during World War II to conduct amphibious light infantry warfare, particularly in landing in rubber boats and operating behind the lines...

 Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Evans Carlson
Evans Carlson
Brigadier General Evans Fordyce Carlson was the famed U.S. Marine Corps leader of the World War II "Carlson's Raiders"...

 landed by boat at Aola Bay, 40 miles (64.4 km) east of Lunga Point. Carlson's raiders, along with troops from the U.S. Army's 147th Infantry Regiment, were to provide security for 500 Seabee
Seabee
Seabees are members of the United States Navy construction battalions. The word Seabee is a proper noun that comes from the initials of Construction Battalion, of the United States Navy...

s as they attempted to construct an airfield at that location. Halsey, acting on a recommendation by Turner, had approved the Aola Bay airfield construction effort. The Aola airfield construction effort was later abandoned at the end of November because of unsuitable terrain.

On November 5, Vandegrift ordered Carlson to take his raiders, march overland from Aola, and attack any of Shōji's forces that had escaped from Koli Point. With the rest of the companies from his battalion, which arrived a few days later, Carlson and his troops set off on a 29-day patrol from Aola to the Lunga perimeter. During the patrol, the raiders fought several battles with Shōji's retreating forces, killing almost 500 of them, while suffering 16 killed themselves. In addition to the losses sustained from attacks by Carlson's raiders, tropical diseases and a lack of food felled many more of Shōji's men. By the time Shōji's forces reached the Lunga River in mid-November, about halfway to the Matanikau, only 1,300 men remained with the main body. When Shōji reached the 17th Army positions west of the Matanikau, only 700 to 800 survivors were still with him. Most of the survivors from Shōji's force joined other Japanese units defending the Mount Austen and upper Matanikau River area.

Tokyo Express runs on November 5, 7, and 9, delivered additional troops from the Japanese 38th Infantry Division, including most of the 228th Infantry Regiment to Guadalcanal. These fresh troops were quickly emplaced in the Point Cruz and Matanikau area and helped successfully resist further attacks by American forces on November 10 and 18. The Americans and Japanese remained facing each other along a line just west of Point Cruz for the next six weeks.

Naval Battle of Guadalcanal


After the defeat in the Battle for Henderson Field, the IJA planned to try again to retake the airfield in November 1942, but further reinforcements were needed before the operation could proceed. The IJA requested assistance from Yamamoto to deliver the needed reinforcements to the island and to support the next offensive. Yamamoto provided 11 large transport ships to carry the remaining 7,000 troops from the 38th Infantry Division, their ammunition, food, and heavy equipment from Rabaul to Guadalcanal. He also provided a warship support force that included two battleships. The two battleships, and , equipped with special fragmentation shells, were to bombard Henderson Field on the night of November 12–13 and destroy it and the aircraft stationed there in order to allow the slow, heavy transports to reach Guadalcanal and unload safely the next day. The warship force was commanded from Hiei by recently promoted Vice Admiral Hiroaki Abe
Hiroaki Abe
was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.-Early career:Abe was born in Yonezawa city in Yamagata prefecture in northern Japan. He graduated from the 39th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1911, with a ranking of 26th out of a class of 148 cadets. As a...

.

In early November, Allied intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

 learned that the Japanese were preparing again to try to retake Henderson Field. Therefore, the U.S. sent Task Force 67, a large reinforcement and resupply convoy carrying Marine replacements, two U.S. Army infantry battalions, and ammunition and food, commanded by Turner, to Guadalcanal on November 11. The supply ships were protected by two task groups, commanded by Rear Admirals Daniel J. Callaghan
Daniel J. Callaghan
Daniel Judson Callaghan was a United States Navy officer who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. In a career spanning just over 30 years, he served his country in two wars...

 and Norman Scott, and aircraft from Henderson Field. The ships were attacked several times on November 11 and 12 by Japanese aircraft from Rabaul staging through an air base at Buin, Bougainville, but most were unloaded without serious damage.

U.S. reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 aircraft spotted the approach of Abe's bombardment force and passed a warning to the Allied command. Thus warned, Turner detached all usable combat ships under Callaghan to protect the troops ashore from the expected Japanese naval attack and troop landing and ordered the supply ships at Guadalcanal to depart by early evening November 12. Callaghan's force comprised two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, and eight destroyers.

Around 01:30 on November 13, Callaghan's force intercepted Abe's bombardment group between Guadalcanal and Savo Island. In addition to the two battleships, Abe's force included one light cruiser and 11 destroyers. In the pitch darkness, the two warship forces intermingled before opening fire at unusually close quarters. In the resulting mêlée, Abe's warships sank or severely damaged all but one cruiser and one destroyer in Callaghan's force and both Callaghan and Scott were killed. Two Japanese destroyers were sunk and another destroyer and Hiei heavily damaged. In spite of his defeat of Callaghan's force, Abe ordered his warships to retire without bombarding Henderson Field. Hiei sank later that day after repeated air attacks by CAF aircraft and aircraft from the U.S. carrier . Because of Abe's failure to neutralize Henderson Field, Yamamoto ordered the troop transport convoy, under the command of Raizo Tanaka
Raizo Tanaka
was a rear admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during most of World War II. A specialist in the heavy torpedoes that were carried by all the destroyers and cruisers of the IJN, Tanaka mainly commanded destroyer squadrons, with a cruiser or two attached, and he was the primary leader of the...

 and located near the Shortland Islands, to wait an additional day before heading towards Guadalcanal. Yamamoto ordered Nobutake Kondō to assemble another bombardment force using warships from Truk and Abe's force to attack Henderson Field on November 15.

In the meantime, around 02:00 on November 14, a cruiser and destroyer force under Gunichi Mikawa from Rabaul conducted an unopposed bombardment of Henderson Field. The bombardment caused some damage but failed to put the airfield or most of its aircraft out of operation. As Mikawa's force retired towards Rabaul, Tanaka's transport convoy, trusting that Henderson Field was now destroyed or heavily damaged, began its run down the slot towards Guadalcanal. Throughout the day of November 14, aircraft from Henderson Field and Enterprise attacked Mikawa's and Tanaka's ships, sinking one heavy cruiser and seven of the transports. Most of the troops were rescued from the transports by Tanaka's escorting destroyers and returned to the Shortlands. After dark, Tanaka and the remaining four transports continued towards Guadalcanal as Kondo's force approached to bombard Henderson Field.

In order to intercept Kondo's force, Halsey, who was low on undamaged ships, detached two battleships, and , and four destroyers from the Enterprise task force. The U.S. force, under the command of Willis A. Lee
Willis A. Lee
Willis Augustus "Ching" Lee, Jr. was a Vice Admiral of the United States Navy during World War II. Lee commanded the American ships during the second night of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and turned back a Japanese invasion force headed for the island...

 aboard Washington, reached Guadalcanal and Savo Island just before midnight on November 14, shortly before Kondo's bombardment force arrived. Kondo's force consisted of Kirishima plus two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and nine destroyers. After the two forces made contact, Kondo's force quickly sank three of the U.S. destroyers and heavily damaged the fourth. The Japanese warships then sighted, opened fire, and damaged South Dakota. As Kondo's warships concentrated on South Dakota, Washington approached the Japanese ships unobserved and opened fire on Kirishima, hitting the Japanese battleship repeatedly and causing fatal damage. After fruitlessly chasing Washington towards the Russell Islands
Russell Islands
The Russell Islands are two small islands, as well as several islets, of volcanic origin, in the Central Province of the Solomon Islands. They are located approximately 48 km northwest from Guadalcanal. The islands are partially covered in coconut plantations, and have a copra and oil factory at...

, Kondo ordered his warships to retire without bombarding Henderson Field. One of Kondo's destroyers was also sunk during the engagement.

As Kondo's ships retired, the four Japanese transports beached themselves near Tassafaronga on Guadalcanal at 04:00 and quickly began unloading. At 05:55, U.S. aircraft and artillery began attacking the beached transports, destroying all four transports along with most of the supplies that they carried. Only 2,000–3,000 of the army troops made it ashore. Because of the failure to deliver most of the troops and supplies, the Japanese were forced to cancel their planned November offensive on Henderson Field making the results of the battle a significant strategic victory for the Allies and marking the beginning of the end of Japanese attempts to retake Henderson Field.

On November 26, Japanese Lieutenant General Hitoshi Imamura
Hitoshi Imamura
-External links:...

 took command of the newly formed Eighth Area Army at Rabaul. The new command encompassed both Hyakutake's 17th Army and the 18th Army in New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

. One of Imamura's first priorities upon assuming command was the continuation of the attempts to retake Henderson Field and Guadalcanal. The Allied offensive at Buna
Battle of Buna-Gona
The Battle of Buna–Gona was a battle in the New Guinea campaign, a major part of the Pacific campaign of World War II. On 16 November 1942, Australian and United States forces attacked the main Japanese beachheads in New Guinea, at Buna, Sanananda and Gona. Both forces were riddled by disease and...

 in New Guinea, however, changed Imamura's priorities. Because the Allied attempt to take Buna was considered a more severe threat to Rabaul, Imamura postponed further major reinforcement efforts to Guadalcanal to concentrate on the situation in New Guinea.

Battle of Tassafaronga


The Japanese continued to experience problems in delivering sufficient supplies to sustain their troops on Guadalcanal. Attempts to use only submarines the last two weeks in November failed to provide sufficient food for Hyakutake's forces. A separate attempt to establish bases in the central Solomons to facilitate barge convoys to Guadalcanal also failed because of destructive Allied air attacks. On November 26, the 17th Army notified Imamura that it faced a critical food crisis. Some front-line units had not been resupplied for six days and even the rear-area troops were on one-third rations. The situation forced the Japanese to return to using destroyers to deliver the necessary supplies.

Eighth Fleet personnel devised a plan to help reduce the exposure of destroyers delivering supplies to Guadalcanal. Large oil or gas drums were cleaned and filled with medical supplies and food, with enough air space to provide buoyancy, and strung together with rope. When the destroyers arrived at Guadalcanal they would make a sharp turn and the drums would be cut loose and a swimmer or boat from shore could pick up the buoyed end of a rope and return it to the beach, where the soldiers could haul in the supplies.

The Eighth Fleet's Guadalcanal Reinforcement Unit (the Tokyo Express), currently commanded by Raizo Tanaka, was tasked by Mikawa with making the first of five scheduled runs to Tassafaronga on Guadalcanal using the drum method on the night of November 30. Tanaka's unit was centered around eight destroyers, with six destroyers assigned to carry between 200 to 240 drums of supplies apiece. Notified by intelligence sources of the Japanese supply attempt, Halsey ordered the newly formed Task Force 67, comprising four cruisers and four destroyers under the command of U.S. Rear Admiral Carleton H. Wright
Carleton H. Wright
-Notes:...

, to intercept Tanaka's force off Guadalcanal. Two additional destroyers joined Wright's force en route to Guadalcanal from Espiritu Santo during the day of November 30.

At 22:40 on November 30, Tanaka's force arrived off Guadalcanal and prepared to unload the supply barrels. Meanwhile, Wright's warships were approaching through Ironbottom Sound from the opposite direction. Wright's destroyers detected Tanaka's force on radar and the destroyer commander requested permission to attack with torpedoes. Wright waited four minutes before giving permission, allowing Tanaka's force to escape from an optimum firing setup. All of the American torpedoes missed their targets. At the same time, Wright's cruisers opened fire, quickly hitting and destroying one of the Japanese guard destroyers. The rest of Tanaka's warships abandoned the supply mission, increased speed, turned, and launched a total of 44 torpedoes in the direction of Wright's cruisers.

The Japanese torpedoes hit and sank the U.S. cruiser and heavily damaged the cruisers , , and . The rest of Tanaka's destroyers escaped without damage, but failed to deliver any of the provisions to Guadalcanal.

By December 7, 1942, Hyakutake's forces were losing about 50 men each day from malnutrition, disease, and Allied ground or air attacks. Further attempts by Tanaka's destroyer forces to deliver provisions on December 3, December 7, and December 11, failed to alleviate the crisis, and one of Tanaka's destroyers was sunk by a U.S. PT boat
PT boat
PT Boats were a variety of motor torpedo boat , a small, fast vessel used by the United States Navy in World War II to attack larger surface ships. The PT boat squadrons were nicknamed "the mosquito fleet". The Japanese called them "Devil Boats".The original pre–World War I torpedo boats were...

 torpedo.

Japanese decision to withdraw


On December 12, the Japanese Navy proposed that Guadalcanal be abandoned. At the same time, several army staff officers at the Imperial General Headquarters
Imperial General Headquarters
The as part of the Supreme War Council was established in 1893 to coordinate efforts between the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy during wartime...

 (IGH) also suggested that further efforts to retake Guadalcanal would be impossible. A delegation, led by IJA Colonel Joichiro Sanada
Joichiro Sanada
was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. Throughout much of the war, Sanada was an important and influential officer on the staff of the Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo.-Biography:...

, chief of the IGH's operations section, visited Rabaul on December 19 and consulted Imamura and his staff. Upon the delegation's return to Tokyo, Sanada recommended that Guadalcanal be abandoned. The IGH's top leaders agreed with Sanada's recommendation on December 26 and ordered their staffs to begin drafting plans for a withdrawal from Guadalcanal, establishment of a new defense line in the central Solomons, and a shifting of priorities and resources to the campaign in New Guinea.

On December 28, General Hajime Sugiyama and Admiral Osami Nagano personally informed Emperor
Emperor of Japan
The Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest...

 Hirohito
Hirohito
, posthumously in Japan officially called Emperor Shōwa or , was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order, reigning from December 25, 1926, until his death in 1989. Although better known outside of Japan by his personal name Hirohito, in Japan he is now referred to...

 of the decision to withdraw from Guadalcanal. On December 31, the Emperor formally endorsed the decision. The Japanese secretly began to prepare for the evacuation, called Operation Ke
Operation Ke
was the largely successful withdrawal of Japanese forces from Guadalcanal at the conclusion of the Guadalcanal Campaign of World War II. The operation took place between 14 January and 7 February 1943, and involved both army and navy forces under the overall direction of the Japanese Imperial...

, scheduled to begin during the latter part of January 1943.

Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse



By December, the weary 1st Marine Division
U.S. 1st Marine Division
The 1st Marine Division is a marine infantry division of the United States Marine Corps headquartered at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. It is a subordinate unit of the I Marine Expeditionary Force ....

 was withdrawn for recuperation, and over the course of the next month the U.S. XIV Corps took over operations on the island. This corps
Corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

 consisted of the 2nd Marine Division
U.S. 2nd Marine Division
The U.S. 2nd Marine Division is a division of the United States Marine Corps, which forms the ground combat element of the II Marine Expeditionary Force. The division is based at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and headquartered at Julian C...

 and the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry and Americal Division
Americal Division
The 23rd Infantry Division, more commonly known as the Americal Division of the United States Army was formed in May 1942 on the island of New Caledonia. In the immediate emergency following Pearl Harbor, the United States had hurriedly sent three individual regiments to defend New Caledonia...

s. U.S. Army Major General Alexander Patch
Alexander Patch
General Alexander McCarrell "Sandy" Patch was an officer in the United States Army, best known for his service in World War II. He commanded Army and Marine forces during the invasion of Guadalcanal, and the U.S...

 replaced Vandegrift as commander of Allied forces on Guadalcanal, which by January totaled just over 50,000 men.

On December 18, Allied (mainly U.S. Army) forces began attacking Japanese positions on Mount Austen. A strong Japanese fortified position, called the Gifu, stymied the attacks and the Americans were forced to temporarily halt their offensive on January 4.

The Allies renewed the offensive on January 10, reattacking the Japanese on Mount Austen as well as on two nearby ridges called the Seahorse and the Galloping Horse. After some difficulty, the Allies captured all three by January 23. At the same time, U.S. Marines advanced along the north coast of the island, making significant gains. The Americans lost about 250 killed in the operation while the Japanese suffered around 3,000 killed–about 12 to 1 in the Americans' favor.

Ke evacuation


On January 14, a Tokyo Express run delivered a battalion of troops to act as a rear guard for the Ke evacuation. A staff officer from Rabaul accompanied the troops to notify Hyakutake of the decision to withdraw. At the same time, Japanese warships and aircraft moved into position around the Rabaul and Bougainville areas in preparation to execute the withdrawal operation. Allied intelligence detected the Japanese movements, but misinterpreted them as preparations for another attempt to retake Henderson Field and Guadalcanal.

Patch, wary of what he thought to be an imminent Japanese offensive, committed only a relatively small portion of his troops to continue a slow-moving offensive against Hyakutake's forces. On January 29, Halsey, acting on the same intelligence, sent a resupply convoy to Guadalcanal screened by a cruiser task force. Sighting the cruiser task force, Japanese naval torpedo bombers attacked the task force that same evening and heavily damaged the U.S. cruiser . The next day, more torpedo aircraft attacked and sank Chicago. Halsey ordered the remainder of the task force to return to base and directed the rest of his naval forces to take station in the Coral Sea
Coral Sea
The Coral Sea is a marginal sea off the northeast coast of Australia. It is bounded in the west by the east coast of Queensland, thereby including the Great Barrier Reef, in the east by Vanuatu and by New Caledonia, and in the north approximately by the southern extremity of the Solomon Islands...

, south of Guadalcanal, to be ready to counter the perceived Japanese offensive.

In the meantime, the Japanese 17th Army withdrew to the west coast of Guadalcanal while rear guard units checked the American offensive. On the night of February 1, 20 destroyers from Mikawa's 8th Fleet under Shintaro Hashimoto
Shintaro Hashimoto
-Web:- Firsthand account of the battle by a member of HMS Vigilant's crew.- Fairly detailed account of the battle...

 successfully extracted 4,935 soldiers, mainly from the 38th Division, from the island. The Japanese and the Americans each lost a destroyer from air and naval attacks related to the evacuation mission.

On the nights of February 4 and 7, Hashimoto and his destroyers completed the evacuation of most of the remaining Japanese forces from Guadalcanal. Apart from some air attacks, Allied forces, still anticipating a large Japanese offensive, did not attempt to interdict Hashimoto's evacuation runs. In total, the Japanese successfully evacuated 10,652 men from Guadalcanal. On February 9, Patch realized that the Japanese were gone and declared Guadalcanal secure for Allied forces, ending the campaign.

Aftermath


After the Japanese withdrawal, Guadalcanal and Tulagi were developed into major bases supporting the Allied advance further up the Solomon Islands chain. In addition to Henderson Field, two additional fighter runways were constructed at Lunga Point and a bomber airfield was built at Koli Point. Extensive naval port and logistics facilities were established at Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Florida. The anchorage around Tulagi became an important advanced base for Allied warships and transport ships supporting the Solomon Islands Campaign
Solomon Islands campaign
The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942...

. Major ground units were staged through large encampments and barracks on Guadalcanal before deployment further up the Solomons.

After Guadalcanal the Japanese were clearly on the defensive in the Pacific. The constant pressure to reinforce Guadalcanal had weakened Japanese efforts in other theaters, contributing to a successful Australian and American counteroffensive in New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 which culminated in the capture of the key bases of Buna and Gona
Battle of Buna-Gona
The Battle of Buna–Gona was a battle in the New Guinea campaign, a major part of the Pacific campaign of World War II. On 16 November 1942, Australian and United States forces attacked the main Japanese beachheads in New Guinea, at Buna, Sanananda and Gona. Both forces were riddled by disease and...

 in early 1943. The Allies had gained a strategic initiative which they never relinquished. In June, the Allies launched Operation Cartwheel
Operation Cartwheel
Operation Cartwheel was a major military strategy for the Allies in the Pacific theater of World War II. Cartwheel was a twin-axis of advance operation, aimed at militarily neutralizing the major Japanese base at Rabaul...

, which, after modification in August, 1943, formalized the strategy of isolating Rabaul
Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...

 and cutting its sea lines of communication
Sea lines of communication
Sea lines of communication is a term describing the primary maritime routes between ports, used for trade, logistics and naval forces...

. The subsequent successful neutralization of Rabaul and the forces centered there facilitated the South West Pacific
South West Pacific theatre of World War II
The South West Pacific Theatre, technically the South West Pacific Area, between 1942 and 1945, was one of two designated area commands and war theatres enumerated by the Combined Chiefs of Staff of World War II in the Pacific region....

 campaign under General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 and Central Pacific
Pacific Ocean theater of World War II
The Pacific Ocean theatre was one of four major naval theatres of war of World War II, which pitted the forces of Japan against those of the United States, the British Commonwealth, the Netherlands and France....

 island hopping campaign under Admiral Chester Nimitz
Chester Nimitz
Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz, GCB, USN was a five-star admiral in the United States Navy. He held the dual command of Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet , for U.S. naval forces and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas , for U.S...

, with both efforts successfully advancing toward Japan. The remaining Japanese defenses in the South Pacific area were then either destroyed or bypassed by Allied forces as the war progressed to its ultimate conclusion.

Resources


The Battle of Guadalcanal was one of the first prolonged campaigns in the Pacific, alongside the related and concurrent Solomon Islands campaign
Solomon Islands campaign
The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942...

. Both campaigns were battles that strained the logistical capabilities of the combatant nations involved. For the U.S., this need prompted the development of effective combat air transport for the first time. A failure to achieve air superiority forced Japan to rely on reinforcement by barges, destroyers, and submarines, with very uneven results. Early in the campaign, the Americans were hindered by a lack of resources, as they suffered heavy losses in cruisers and carriers, with replacements from ramped-up shipbuilding programs still months off from materializing.

The U.S. Navy suffered such high personnel losses during the campaign that it refused to publicly release total casualty figures for years. However, as the campaign continued, and the American public became more and more aware of the plight and perceived heroism of the American forces on Guadalcanal, more forces were dispatched to the area. This spelled trouble for Japan as its military-industrial complex
Military-industrial complex
Military–industrial complex , or Military–industrial-congressional complex is a concept commonly used to refer to policy and monetary relationships between legislators, national armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them...

 was unable to match the output of American industry and manpower. Thus, as the campaign wore on the Japanese were losing irreplaceable units while the Americans were rapidly replacing and even augmenting their forces.

The Guadalcanal campaign was costly to Japan strategically and in material losses and manpower. Roughly 25,000 experienced ground troops were killed during the campaign. The drain on resources directly contributed to Japan's failure to achieve its objectives in the New Guinea campaign
New Guinea campaign
The New Guinea campaign was one of the major military campaigns of World War II.Before the war, the island of New Guinea was split between:...

. Japan also lost control of the southern Solomons and the ability to interdict Allied shipping to Australia. Japan's major base at Rabaul was now further directly threatened by Allied air power. Most importantly, scarce Japanese land, air, and naval forces had disappeared forever into the Guadalcanal jungle and surrounding sea. The Japanese could not replace the aircraft and ships destroyed and sunk in this campaign, as well as their highly trained and veteran crews, especially the naval aircrews, nearly as quickly as the Allies.

Strategic


After the victory at 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...

 America was able to establish naval parity in the Pacific. However, this fact alone did not change the direction of the war. It was only after the Allied victories in Guadalcanal and New Guinea that the Japanese offensive thrust was ended and the strategic initiative passed to the Allies, as it proved, permanently. The Guadalcanal Campaign ended all Japanese expansion attempts and placed the Allies in a position of clear supremacy. It thus can be argued that this Allied victory was the first step in a long string of successes that eventually led to the surrender of Japan
Surrender of Japan
The surrender of Japan in 1945 brought hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy was incapable of conducting operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent...

 and the occupation of the Japanese home islands
Japanese Archipelago
The , which forms the country of Japan, extends roughly from northeast to southwest along the northeastern coast of the Eurasia mainland, washing upon the northwestern shores of the Pacific Ocean...

.

The "Europe first
Europe first
Europe first, also known as Germany first, was the key element of the grand strategy employed by the United States and the United Kingdom during World War II. According to this policy, the United States and the United Kingdom would use the preponderance of their resources to subdue Nazi Germany in...

" policy of the United States had initially only allowed for defensive actions against Japanese expansion, in order to focus resources on defeating Germany. However, Admiral King's argument for the Guadalcanal invasion, as well as its successful implementation, convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 that the Pacific Theater could be pursued offensively as well. By the end of 1942, it was clear that Japan had lost the Guadalcanal campaign, a serious blow to Japan's strategic plans for defense of their empire and an unanticipated defeat at the hands of the Americans.

Perhaps as important as the military victory for the Allies was the psychological victory. On a level playing field, the Allies had beaten Japan's best land, air, and warship forces. After Guadalcanal, Allied personnel regarded the Japanese military with much less fear and awe than previously. In addition, the Allies viewed the eventual outcome of the Pacific War with greatly increased optimism.
 

Beyond Kawaguchi, several Japanese political and military leaders, including Naoki Hoshino
Naoki Hoshino
was a bureaucrat and politician who served in the Taishō and early Shōwa period Japanese government, and as an official in the Empire of Manchukuo.-Biography:Hoshino was born in Yokohama, where his father was involved in the textile industry...

, Osami Nagano, and Torashirō Kawabe
Torashiro Kawabe
- Notes :...

, stated shortly after the war that Guadalcanal was the decisive turning point in the conflict. Said Kawabe, "As for the turning point [of the war], when the positive action ceased or even became negative, it was, I feel, at Guadalcanal."

See also

  • Guadalcanal Order of Battle
  • 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...

  • New Georgia Sound
    New Georgia Sound
    New Georgia Sound is the body of water that runs approximately through the middle of the Solomon Islands. The Sound is bounded by Choiseul Island, Santa Isabel Island, and Florida Island to the north, and by Vella Lavella, Kolombangara, New Georgia, and the Russell Islands to the south...

  • Cub-1
    Cub-1
    Cub-1 was a code name for a medium sized division of an Advance Base Aviation Training Unit. The Navy established the ABATU at the onset of WWII to support expeditionary airfield operations in the Pacific Area of Operations. Guadalcanal was the first operation that used an ABATU unit. Large sized...


Accounts

  • 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...

    (book)
  • Pride of the Marines
    Pride of the Marines
    Pride of the Marines is a 1945 biographical war film starring John Garfield and Eleanor Parker. It tells the story of U.S. Marine Al Schmid in World War II, his heroic stand against a Japanese attack during the Battle of Guadalcanal, in which he was blinded by a grenade, and his subsequent...

    (film)
  • The Thin Red Line
    The Thin Red Line (1962 novel)
    The Thin Red Line is author James Jones's fictional account of the World War II Galloping Horse portion of the Battle of Mount Austen, specifically Hill 53, during the Guadalcanal campaign, which he experienced firsthand in the United States Army's 25th Infantry Division...

    (novel)
  • The Pacific (TV miniseries)
  • The Gallant Hours
    The Gallant Hours
    The Gallant Hours is a 1960 American biopic docu-drama about Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey and his efforts in fighting against Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and the forces of Imperial Japan in the Guadalcanal campaign in World War II....

    (film)
  • Helmet for My Pillow
    Helmet for My Pillow
    Helmet for My Pillow is the personal narrative written by World War II United States Marine Corps veteran, author and military historian Robert Leckie...

    (book)

Books




Web


– Translation of the official record by the Japanese Demobilization Bureaux detailing the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy's participation in the Southwest Pacific area of the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

.

Audio/visual



– One episode from a 26-episode series about naval combat during World War II. – Film adaptation of James Jones
James Jones (author)
James Jones was an American author known for his explorations of World War II and its aftermath.-Life and work:...

' fictional, dramatic novel of the same title set on Guadalcanal. – Film adaptation of James Jones
James Jones (author)
James Jones was an American author known for his explorations of World War II and its aftermath.-Life and work:...

' fictional, dramatic novel of the same title set on Guadalcanal. – biographical film about Admiral Halsey
William Halsey, Jr.
Fleet Admiral William Frederick Halsey, Jr., United States Navy, , was a U.S. Naval officer. He commanded the South Pacific Area during the early stages of the Pacific War against Japan...

during the Guadalcanal campaign – Fictional drama about U.S. Marine pilots involved in the Battle of Guadalcanal. – Film adaptation of Tregaskis' book referenced in "Books" section above. – "Part One" and "Part Two" deal with the Guadalcanal campaign.