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From that date until Oct. Army on its heels, because the Army was fighting a defensive war. It was on that later date that the th Infantry Regiment landed on Guadalcanal to take the fight to the Japanese.

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Along with the naval Battle of Midway June 3—6,the fighting on Guadalcanal marked a turning point in favour of the Allies in the Pacific War. On July 6,the Japanese moved a force consisting of troops and labourers to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and began constructing an airfield. The Allies recognized that land-based planes operating from this field would seriously menace bases in the New Hebrides and New Caledonia as well as Port Moresby in New Guinea.

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Immediate steps were taken to eject the Japanese, utilizing forces that were available in the South Pacific. On August 7,some 6, men of the U. The landings were made with strong naval and air support and met with little initial resistance, and the airfield on Guadalcanal and the harbour on Florida Island were seized in the first 36 hours.

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The Marines named the airstrip Henderson Field, after Maj. Lofton Henderson, a Marine aviator who had perished while leading a bombing run at the Battle of Midway the month. Henderson Field would quickly become the centre of gravity for the conflict on Guadalcanal. The Japanese reacted quickly, and just before am on August 9 they struck hard at the Allied naval force supporting the operation. A force of Japanese cruisers and destroyers engaged the Allied fleet in a furious night battle that came to be called the Battle of Savo Island.

The result was a disaster for the Allies. Over the course of roughly a half hour, the Japanese sank the U. Over the following months, some two dozen Japanese and Allied ships would be sunk in the waters to the north of Guadalcanal; the sea lane between Guadalcanal and Florida Island would subsequently be known to Allied sailors as Ironbottom Sound. Japanese forces began gathering at RabaulNew Britainsome miles roughly 1, km northwest of Guadalcanal, and Vice Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher, southeast of Guadalcanal.

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The Enterprise was struck by dive-bombers from the Japanese carrier Shokakuand a fire deep in the ship caused its rudder to jam. It spent nearly an hour steaming in a circle before control was restored; if a second wave of Japanese planes had not followed an erroneous position report on the American carriers, the Enterprise almost certainly would not have survived the day.

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Both sides withdrew their ships from the area by midnight, and a Japanese resupply convoy under the command of Rear Adm. Army Air Forces B s scored a direct hit on the destroyer Mutsukisinking it. During the next six weeks, no major action took place in the Solomons, although Japanese planes and submarines continued to harass the U. Just before midnight on the night of October 11, five U. Norman Scott intercepted a strong Japanese surface force that was en route to Henderson Field.

Two weeks later the much larger Battle of Santa Cruz occurred against the backdrop of a major Japanese ground offensive on Guadalcanal. Against this force was arrayed Vice Adm. The two forces met north of Guadalcanal on October 26, and the result was a tactical victory for Japan.

Nagumo was forced to retire, however, as the Zuiho and the Shokaku had suffered numerous bomb hits and the loss of nearly aircraft had left him without a ificant portion of his naval air complement. The Japanese retreat bought the Americans a much needed breathing spell. The climax of sea fighting in the Solomons came in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal November 12—15, On November 11—12, the U. At roughly the same time, a fleet of Japanese transports, carrying some 7, men, steamed southward from Rabaul behind an escort of several battleships and a large screen of cruisers and destroyers.

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When the Americans detected this force descending on their vulnerable transports and cargo vessels, they dispatched a force of cruisers and destroyers to fight a delaying action. The result was a series of violent confrontations that inflicted heavy losses on both sides, but left the United States in a position of strength in the southern Solomons.

Just after midnight on November 13, the U. Daniel Callaghan, engaged Japanese ships commanded by Vice Adm. Abe Hiroaki. The battle that followed was a brutal minute melee that saw capital ships on both sides blasting away at extremely close range.

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The Japanese lost the battleship Hiei while the U. Callaghan and Rear Adm. Norman Scott were killed in the engagement; they were the only two flag officers of the U. Navy to be killed in a surface engagement in World War II.

On November 14 Japanese cruisers and destroyers shelled Henderson Field, and another invasion force was discovered north of Guadalcanal. About midnight, contact was made north of Savo Island, and another fierce night action ensued. The Japanese lost the battleship Kirishima and the heavy cruiser Kinugasaand the U. The initial amphibious assault on the southern Solomons represented a superb coordination of Allied naval, air, and ground forces.

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Warships laid down heavy barrages to screen the approach of troop transports and carrier-based planes, and U. Army Air Forces bombers softened Japanese defenses. Landing craft took the Marines ashore at key points throughout the islands.

Landings in the southern solomons and the battle of savo island

The Marines rapidly secured a beachhead on Guadalcanal and captured the almost-complete airstrip that would become Henderson Field. They also seized the smaller islands of Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanombogo. While the Japanese construction units on Guadalcanal were overcome with comparative ease—or simply melted away into the jungle—the defenders of Tulagi and Gavatu included elements of the elite Special Naval Landing Force SNLFand they fought desperately.

The battle for Tulagi saw the Japanese garrison destroyed virtually to the last man; this would serve as a grim preview of later engagements in the U. Almost as soon as the U. Marines landed on Guadalcanal, Japanese commanders began making preparations for the retaking of the island.


Vandegrift had concentrated some 11, Marines into a tight defensive perimeter centred on Henderson Field. He had been warned of an imminent attack, thanks to the efforts of U. The Japanese, believing that the Americans had withdrawn many of their troops after the stinging defeat at Savo Island, vastly underestimated the strength of the U. In the predawn hours of August 21, the Japanese launched their first ground offensive on Guadalcanal. Marine defenders annihilated a force of some veteran Japanese army troops east of Henderson Field. Shelling by Japanese ships and aerial bombardment from Japanese planes became routine, but the U.

Army Air Forces, and U. Navy aviators operating out of Henderson Field. On September 13—14, U. Marine Corps Col. The hardest fighting occurred on October 24—25, when a single Marine battalion was all that stood between Henderson Field and two Japanese regiments.

The 1st Battalion of the 7th Marine Division, commanded by Lieut.

The naval campaign at guadalcanal

Chesty Pullerrepelled the Japanese assault and inflicted heavy casualties on the attackers. Reinforced by soldiers of the th Infantry Regiment, the first U. Gunnery Sgt. By November the U. Navy was able to land reinforcements on Guadalcanal faster than the Japanese, and Allied counterattacks had steadily pushed the Japanese toward the northwest part of the island. In December the 1st Marine Division was withdrawn after four months of intense combat, and the U. At the start ofAllied combat strength on Guadalcanal stood at two U. Army divisions and a Marine regiment, totaling some 44, troops.

Offensive operations continued through Januarynarrowing and compressing the Japanese position.

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During the first week of February, light surface craft began evacuating the 12, remaining Japanese troops from Guadalcanal. On February 8,almost exactly six months after the initial landings, the last remaining Japanese pocket of resistance was eliminated, and Guadalcanal was at last firmly in Allied hands. Although U. The Japanese lost a total of 24, men killed in the Battle of Guadalcanal, while the Americans sustained 1, killed, 4, wounded, and several thousand dead from malaria and other tropical diseases. The various naval battles cost each side 24 warships: the Japanese lost 2 battleships, 4 cruisers, 1 light carrier, 11 destroyers, and 6 submarines, while the Americans lost 8 cruisers, 2 heavy carriers, and 14 destroyers.

Battle of Guadalcanal.

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With powerful engines, extensive firepower and heavy armor, the newly christened battleship USS South Dakota steamed out of Philadelphia in August of spoiling for a fight.