World History

Battle of Guadalcanal | World War II

A significant World War II conflict between the United States and Japan was the Battle of Guadalcanal. Since entering the conflict, the United States had not before assaulted the Japanese on the offensive. The conflict lasted from August 7, 1942, to February 9, 1943, a period of six months.

Where is Guadalcanal?

An island called Guadalcanal is located in the South Pacific. It is a part of the Solomon Islands, which are near Australia in the northeast.

Who commanded the troops?

General Alexander Patch took over as commander of the American forces after General Alexander Vandegrift. Admiral Richmond Turner was in command of the naval troops. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and General Hitoshi Imamura were in charge of the Japanese.

Leading up to the Battle

Japanese forces swept into a large portion of Southeast Asia following the attack on Pearl Harbour. They were in charge of a sizable portion of the South Pacific, including the Philippines, as of August 1942. They had begun to put Australia, an ally of the United States, in danger.

After Pearl Harbour, the United States had finally amassed sufficient forces in the Pacific to start attacking Japan. They decided to launch their assault on the island of Guadalcanal. On the island, the Japanese recently constructed an aviation base that they intended to utilise to invade New Guinea.

How did the battle begin?

On August 7, 1942, marines attacked the island, sparking the start of the conflict. Just north of Guadalcanal, on the tiny islands of Florida and Tulagi, they started by taking control. Next, they touched down on Guadalcanal. The marines quickly gained control of the air base after catching the Japanese forces off guard.

Back and Forth

However, the Japanese did not give up lightly. They isolated the American forces on Guadalcanal after winning a naval engagement at Savo Island in which they sank four Allied cruisers. Then they brought in more troops to retake the island.

The conflict continued for the following six months. During the day, the U.S. was able to defend the island by launching planes to destroy approaching Japanese ships. However, the Japanese would bring additional soldiers in and land at night using small, swift ships.

The Final Attack

The Japanese launched a significant assault employing over 10,000 soldiers in the middle of November. The Japanese tried to advance, but the combat was ferocious. They were compelled to flee. On February 9, 1943, the United States declared complete control of the island. From that moment on, the battle had changed in their favour.

Conclusions of the Battle

The fact that the Japanese were losing territory for the first time in the war had a significant effect on both sides’ morale. 38 ships and 31,000 soldiers were lost by the Japanese. 7,100 men and 29 ships were lost by the Allies.

Interesting details about the Guadalcanal War

Operation Watchtower was the code name used by the Americans for their initial invasion of the island.

The Japanese reinforcement convoys that arrived on the island at night earned the nickname “Tokyo Express” from the American forces.

After a pilot who lost his life during the Battle of Midway, the Americans gave the island’s airstrip the name Henderson Field.

During the conflict, an estimated 9,000 Japanese soldiers perished from sickness and malnutrition.

The conflict has been depicted in a number of films and literature, notably The Thin Red Line and Guadalcanal Diary (both of which were first published as books).