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  • 8/7/2010

The Day in History:

Battle of Guadalcanal Begins (1942)


The Guadalcanal campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal, was fought between August 7, 1942, and February 7, 1943, in the Pacific theatre of World War II.

 This campaign, which was a decisive and strategically significant campaign of World War II, was fought on the ground, at sea, and in the air, and pitted Allied forces against Imperial Japanese forces. The fighting took place on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the southern Solomon Islands, and was the first major offensive launched by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan.

On August 7, 1942, Allied forces, predominantly composed of troops from the United States, initiated landings on the islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Florida in the southern Solomons with the objective of denying their use by Japanese forces as bases to threaten supply 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 isolate the major Japanese base at Rabaul on New Britain.

The initial Allied landings overwhelmed the outnumbered Japanese defenders, who had occupied the islands in May 1942, and resulted in the capture of Tulagi and Florida as well as an airfield (later named Henderson Field) that was under construction by the Japanese on Guadalcanal.


Surprised by the Allied offensive, the Japanese made several attempts between August and November 1942 to retake Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. These attempts resulted in three major land battles, five large naval battles, and continuous, almost daily, aircraft battles, culminating in the decisive Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in early November 1942, in which the last Japanese attempt to land enough troops to capture Henderson Field was defeated. In December 1942, the Japanese abandoned further efforts to retake Guadalcanal and evacuated their remaining forces from the island by February 7, 1943, leaving the island in Allied hands.

The Guadalcanal campaign marked the first significant strategic combined arms victory by Allied forces over the Japanese in the Pacific theatre. For this reason, the Guadalcanal campaign is often referred to as a "turning point" in the war. The campaign marked the beginning of the transition by the Allies from defensive operations to the strategic offensive while Japan was thereafter forced to cease strategic offensive operations and instead concentrate on strategic defense. Building on their success at Guadalcanal and elsewhere, the Allies continued their campaign against Japan, ultimately culminating in Japan"s defeat and the end of World War II.

Sources: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com

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