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Title: First Offensive: The Marine Campaign for Guadalcanal
Author: Shaw, Henry I.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s note: Table of Contents added by Transcriber and placed
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  First Offensive: The Marine Campaign for Guadalcanal
    SIDEBAR: General Alexander A. Vandegrift
  The Landing and August Battles
    SIDEBAR: First Marine Utility Uniform Issued in World War II
    SIDEBAR: LVT (1)--The ‘Amtrac’
    SIDEBAR: General Vandegrift and His 1st Marine Division Staff
    SIDEBAR: The Coastwatchers
    SIDEBAR: The 1st Marine Division Patch
  September and the Ridge
    SIDEBAR: Sergeant Major Sir Jacob Charles Vouza
    SIDEBAR: M3A1 37mm Antitank Gun
    SIDEBAR: Douglas Albert Munro
  October and the Japanese Offensive
    SIDEBAR: Reising Gun
  November and the Continuing Buildup
    SIDEBAR: 75mm Pack Howitzer--Workhorse of the Artillery
    SIDEBAR: The Japanese Model 89 (1929) 50mm Heavy Grenade Discharger
  December and the Final Stages
    SIDEBAR: The ‘George’ Medal
  About the Author
  About this series of pamphlets
  Transcriber’s Notes




[Illustration: _A Marine machine gunner and his Browning .30-caliber
M1917 heavy machine gun stand guard while 1st Marine Division engineers
clean up in the Lunga River._ (Department of Defense [USMC] Photo

[Illustration: _It was from a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress such as this
that LtCol Merrill B. Twining and Maj William B. McKean reconnoitered
the Watchtower target area and discovered the Japanese building an
airfield on Guadalcanal._ (National Archives Photo 80-G-34887)]

First Offensive: The Marine Campaign for Guadalcanal

_by Henry I. Shaw, Jr._

In the early summer of 1942, intelligence reports of the construction
of a Japanese airfield near Lunga Point on Guadalcanal in the Solomon
Islands triggered a demand for offensive action in the South Pacific.
The leading offensive advocate in Washington was Admiral Ernest J.
King, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). In the Pacific, his view was
shared by Admiral Chester A. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet
(CinCPac), who had already proposed sending the 1st Marine Raider
Battalion to Tulagi, an island 20 miles north of Guadalcanal across
Sealark Channel, to destroy a Japanese seaplane base there. Although
the Battle of the Coral Sea had forestalled a Japanese amphibious
assault on Port Moresby, the Allied base of supply in eastern New
Guinea, completion of the Guadalcanal airfield might signal the
beginning of a renewed enemy advance to the south and an increased
threat to the lifeline of American aid to New Zealand and Australia. On
23 July 1942, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in Washington agreed that
the line of communications in the South Pacific had to be secured. The
Japanese advance had to be stopped. Thus, Operation Watchtower, the
seizure of Guadalcanal and Tulagi, came into being.

The islands of the Solomons lie nestled in the backwaters of the South
Pacific. Spanish fortune-hunters discovered them in the mid-sixteenth
century, but no European power foresaw any value in the islands until
Germany sought to expand its budding colonial empire more than two
centuries later. In 1884, Germany proclaimed a protectorate over
northern New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and the northern
Solomons. Great Britain countered by establishing a protectorate over
the southern Solomons and by annexing the remainder of New Guinea. In
1905, the British crown passed administrative control over all its
territories in the region to Australia, and the Territory of Papua,
with its capital at Port Moresby, came into being. Germany’s holdings
in the region fell under the administrative control of the League of
Nations following World War I, with the seat of the colonial government
located at Rabaul on New Britain. The Solomons lay 10 degrees below the
Equator--hot, humid, and buffeted by torrential rains. The celebrated
adventure novelist, Jack London, supposedly muttered: “If I were king,
the worst punishment I could inflict on my enemies would be to banish
them to the Solomons.”

On 23 January 1942, Japanese forces seized Rabaul and fortified it
extensively. The site provided an excellent harbor and numerous
positions for airfields. The devastating enemy carrier and plane
losses at the Battle of Midway (3-6 June 1942) had caused _Imperial
General Headquarters_ to cancel orders for the invasion of Midway, New
Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa, but plans to construct a major seaplane
base at Tulagi went forward. The location offered one of the best
anchorages in the South Pacific and it was strategically located: 560
miles from the New Hebrides, 800 miles from New Caledonia, and 1,000
miles from Fiji.

The outposts at Tulagi and Guadalcanal were the forward evidences of a
sizeable Japanese force in the region, beginning with the _Seventeenth
Army_, headquartered at Rabaul. The enemy’s _Eighth Fleet_, _Eleventh
Air Fleet_, and _1st_, _7th_, _8th_, and _14th Naval Base Forces_
also were on New Britain. Beginning on 5 August 1942, Japanese signal
intelligence units began to pick up transmissions between Noumea on
New Caledonia and Melbourne, Australia. Enemy analysts concluded that
Vice Admiral Richard L. Ghormley, commanding the South Pacific Area
(ComSoPac), was signalling a British or Australian force in preparation
for an offensive in the Solomons or at New Guinea. The warnings were
passed to Japanese headquarters at Rabaul and Truk, but were ignored.

[Illustration: THE PACIFIC AREAS

1 AUGUST 1942]

The invasion force was indeed on its way to its targets, Guadalcanal,
Tulagi, and the tiny islets of Gavutu and Tanambogo close by Tulagi’s
shore. The landing force was composed of Marines; the covering force
and transport force were U.S. Navy with a reinforcement of Australian
warships. There was not much mystery to the selection of the 1st
Marine Division to make the landings. Five U.S. Army divisions were
located in the South and Southwest Pacific: three in Australia, the
37th Infantry in Fiji, and the Americal Division on New Caledonia.
None was amphibiously trained and all were considered vital parts of
defensive garrisons. The 1st Marine Division, minus one of its infantry
regiments, had begun arriving in New Zealand in mid-June when the
division headquarters and the 5th Marines reached Wellington. At that
time, the rest of the reinforced division’s major units were getting
ready to embark. The 1st Marines were at San Francisco, the 1st Raider
Battalion was on New Caledonia, and the 3d Defense Battalion was at
Pearl Harbor. The 2d Marines of the 2d Marine Division, a unit which
would replace the 1st Division’s 7th Marines stationed in British
Samoa, was loading out from San Diego. All three infantry regiments
of the landing force had battalions of artillery attached, from the
11th Marines, in the case of the 5th and 1st; the 2d Marines drew its
reinforcing 75mm howitzers from the 2d Division’s 10th Marines.

The news that his division would be the landing force for Watchtower
came as a surprise to Major General Alexander A. Vandegrift, who
had anticipated that the 1st Division would have six months of
training in the South Pacific before it saw action. The changeover
from administrative loading of the various units’ supplies to combat
loading, where first-needed equipment, weapons, ammunition, and rations
were positioned to come off ship first with the assault troops,
occasioned a never-to-be-forgotten scene on Wellington’s docks. The
combat troops took the place of civilian stevedores and unloaded and
reloaded the cargo and passenger vessels in an increasing round of
working parties, often during rainstorms which hampered the task, but
the job was done. Succeeding echelons of the division’s forces all got
their share of labor on the docks as various shipping groups arrived
and the time grew shorter. General Vandegrift was able to convince
Admiral Ghormley and the Joint Chiefs that he would not be able to meet
a proposed D-Day of 1 August, but the extended landing date, 7 August,
did little to improve the situation.

An amphibious operation is a vastly complicated affair, particularly
when the forces involved are assembled on short notice from all over
the Pacific. The pressure that Vandegrift felt was not unique to
the landing force commander. The U.S. Navy’s ships were the key to
success and they were scarce and invaluable. Although the Battles of
Coral Sea and Midway had badly damaged the Japanese fleet’s offensive
capabilities and crippled its carrier forces, enemy naval aircraft
could fight as well ashore as afloat and enemy warships were still
numerous and lethal. American losses at Pearl Harbor, Coral Sea, and
Midway were considerable, and Navy admirals were well aware that the
ships they commanded were in short supply. The day was coming when
America’s shipyards and factories would fill the seas with warships
of all types, but that day had not arrived in 1942. Calculated risk
was the name of the game where the Navy was concerned, and if the risk
seemed too great, the Watchtower landing force might be a casualty. As
it happened, the Navy never ceased to risk its ships in the waters of
the Solomons, but the naval lifeline to the troops ashore stretched
mighty thin at times.

Tactical command of the invasion force approaching Guadalcanal in early
August was vested in Vice Admiral Frank J. Fletcher as Expeditionary
Force Commander (Task Force 61). His force consisted of the amphibious
shipping carrying the 1st Marine Division, under Rear Admiral Richmond
K. Turner, and the Air Support Force led by Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes.
Admiral Ghormley contributed land-based air forces commanded by Rear
Admiral John S. McCain. Fletcher’s support force consisted of three
fleet carriers, the _Saratoga_ (CV 3), _Enterprise_ (CV 6), and _Wasp_
(CV 7); the battleship _North Carolina_ (BB 55), 6 cruisers, 16
destroyers, and 3 oilers. Admiral Turner’s covering force included five
cruisers and nine destroyers.

[Sidebar (page 3): General Alexander A. Vandegrift


A distinguished military analyst once noted that if titles were awarded
in America as they are in England, the commanding general of Marine
Corps forces at Guadalcanal would be known simply as “Vandegrift of
Guadalcanal.” But America does not bestow aristocratic titles, and
besides, such a formality would not be in keeping with the soft-spoken,
modest demeanor of Alexander A. Vandegrift.

The man destined to lead the 1st Marine Division in America’s
first ground offensive operation of World War II was born in 1887
in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he grew up fascinated by his
grandfather’s stories of life in the Confederate Army during the Civil
War. It was axiomatic that young Alexander would settle on a military
career. Commissioned a Marine lieutenant in 1909, Vandegrift received
an early baptism of fire in 1912 during the bombardment, assault, and
capture of Coyotepe in Nicaragua. Two years later he participated in
the capture and occupation of Vera Cruz. Vandegrift would spend the
greater part of the next decade in Haiti, where he fought Caco bandits,
and served as an inspector of constabulary with the Gendarmerie
d’Haiti. It was in Haiti that he met and was befriended by Marine
Colonel Smedley D. Butler, who called him “Sunny Jim.” The lessons of
these formative years fighting an elusive enemy in a hostile jungle
environment were not lost upon the young Marine officer.

He spent the next 18 years in various posts and stations in the United
States, along with two tours of China duty at Peiping and Tientsin.
Prior to Pearl Harbor, Vandegrift was appointed assistant to the
Major General Commandant, and in April 1940 received the single star
of a brigadier general. He was detached to the 1st Marine Division
in November 1941, and in May 1942 sailed for the South Pacific as
commanding general of the first Marine division ever to leave the
United States. On 7 August 1942, after exhorting his Marines with the
reminder that “God favors the bold and strong of heart,” he led the 1st
Marine Division ashore in the Solomon Islands in the first large-scale
offensive action against the Japanese.

His triumph at Guadalcanal earned General Vandegrift the Medal of
Honor, the Navy Cross, and the praise of a grateful nation. In July
1943 he took command of I Marine Amphibious Corps and planned the
landing at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, Northern Solomons, on
1 November 1943. He then was recalled to Washington, to become the
Eighteenth Commandant of the Marine Corps.

On 1 January 1944, as a lieutenant general, Vandegrift was sworn in as
Commandant. On 4 April 1945 he was promoted to general, and thus became
the first Marine officer on active duty to attain four-star rank.

In the final stages of the war, General Vandegrift directed an elite
force approaching half-a-million men and women, with its own aviation
force. Comparing his Marines with the Japanese, he noted that the
Japanese soldier “was trained to go to a place, stay there, fight and
die. We train our men to go to a place, fight to win, and to live. I
can assure you, it is a better theory.”

After the war, Vandegrift fought another battle, this time in the halls
of Congress, with the stakes being the survival of the Marine Corps.
His counter-testimony during Congressional hearings of the spring
of 1946 was instrumental in defeating initial attempts to merge or
“unify” the U.S. Armed Forces. Although his term as Commandant ended
on 31 December 1947, General Vandegrift would live to see passage of
Public Law 416, which preserved the Corps and its historic mission. His
official retirement date of 1 April 1949 ended just over 40 years of

General Vandegrift outlived both his wife Mildred and their only son,
Colonel Alexander A. Vandegrift, Jr., who fought in World War II and
Korea. He spent most of his final years in Delray, Florida. He died on
8 May 1973.--_Robert V. Aquilina_

_The Landing and August Battles_

On board the transports approaching the Solomons, the Marines were
looking for a tough fight. They knew little about the targets, even
less about their opponents. Those maps that were available were poor,
constructions based upon outdated hydrographic charts and information
provided by former island residents. While maps based on aerial
photographs had been prepared they were misplaced by the Navy in
Auckland, New Zealand, and never got to the Marines at Wellington.

On 17 July, a couple of division staff officers, Lieutenant Colonel
Merrill B. Twining and Major William McKean, had been able to join the
crew of a B-17 flying from Port Moresby on a reconnaissance mission
over Guadalcanal. They reported what they had seen, and their analysis,
coupled with aerial photographs, indicated no extensive defenses along
the beaches of Guadalcanal’s north shore.

[Illustration: GUADALCANAL



Florida Islands]

This news was indeed welcome. The division intelligence officer (G-2),
Lieutenant Colonel Frank B. Goettge, had concluded that about 8,400
Japanese occupied Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Admiral Turner’s staff
figured that the Japanese amounted to 7,125 men. Admiral Ghormley’s
intelligence officer pegged the enemy strength at 3,100--closest to the
3,457 actual total of Japanese troops; 2,571 of these were stationed on
Guadalcanal and were mostly laborers working on the airfield.

To oppose the Japanese, the Marines had an overwhelming superiority
of men. At the time, the tables of organization for a Marine Corps
division indicated a total of 19,514 officers and enlisted men,
including naval medical and engineer (Seabee) units. Infantry
regiments numbered 3,168 and consisted of a headquarters company, a
weapons company, and three battalions. Each infantry battalion (933
Marines) was organized into a headquarters company (89), a weapons
company (273), and three rifle companies (183). The artillery regiment
had 2,581 officers and men organized into three 75mm pack howitzer
battalions and one 105mm howitzer battalion. A light tank battalion,
a special weapons battalion of antiaircraft and antitank guns, and a
parachute battalion added combat power. An engineer regiment (2,452
Marines) with battalions of engineers, pioneers, and Seabees, provided
a hefty combat and service element. The total was rounded out by
division headquarters battalion’s headquarters, signal, and military
police companies and the division’s service troops--service, motor
transport, amphibian tractor, and medical battalions. For Watchtower,
the 1st Raider Battalion and the 3d Defense Battalion had been added to
Vandegrift’s command to provide more infantrymen and much needed coast
defense and antiaircraft guns and crews.

Unfortunately, the division’s heaviest ordnance had been left behind
in New Zealand. Limited ship space and time meant that the division’s
big guns, a 155mm howitzer battalion, and all the motor transport
battalion’s two-and-a-half-ton trucks were not loaded. Colonel Pedro
A. del Valle, commanding the 11th Marines, was unhappy at the loss of
his heavy howitzers and equally distressed that essential sound and
flash-ranging equipment necessary for effective counterbattery fire was
left behind. Also failing to make the cut in the battle for shipping
space, were all spare clothing, bedding rolls, and supplies necessary
to support the reinforced division beyond 60 days of combat. Ten days
supply of ammunition for each of the division’s weapons remained in New


    Naval Historical Photographic Collection 880-CF-117-4-63

_Enroute to Guadalcanal RAdm Richmond Kelly Turner, commander of the
Amphibious Force, and MajGen Alexander A. Vandegrift, 1st Marine
Division commander, review the Operation Watchtower plan for landings
in the Solomon Islands._]

In the opinion of the 1st Division’s historian and a veteran of
the landing, the men on the approaching transports “thought they’d
have a bad time getting ashore.” They were confident, certainly,
and sure that they could not be defeated, but most of the men were
entering combat for the first time. There were combat veteran officers
and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) throughout the division, but
the majority of the men were going into their initial battle. The
commanding officer of the 1st Marines, Colonel Clifton B. Cates,
estimated that 90 percent of his men had enlisted after Pearl Harbor.
The fabled 1st Marine Division of later World War II, Korean War,
Vietnam War, and Persian Gulf War fame, the most highly decorated
division in the U.S. Armed Forces, had not yet established its

The convoy of ships, with its outriding protective screen of carriers,
reached Koro in the Fiji Islands on 26 July. Practice landings did
little more than exercise the transports’ landing craft, since reefs
precluded an actual beach landing. The rendezvous at Koro did give the
senior commanders a chance to have a face-to-face meeting. Fletcher,
McCain, Turner, and Vandegrift got together with Ghormley’s chief of
staff, Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan, who notified the conferees
that ComSoPac had ordered the 7th Marines on Samoa to be prepared to
embark on four days notice as a reinforcement for Watchtower. To this
decidedly good news, Admiral Fletcher added some bad news. In view of
the threat from enemy land-based air, he could not “keep the carriers
in the area for more than 48 hours after the landing.” Vandegrift
protested that he needed at least four days to get the division’s gear
ashore, and Fletcher reluctantly agreed to keep his carriers at risk
another day.

On the 28th the ships sailed from the Fijis, proceeding as if they were
headed for Australia. At noon on 5 August, the convoy and its escorts
turned north for the Solomons. Undetected by the Japanese, the assault
force reached its target during the night of 6-7 August and split into
two landing groups, Transport Division X-Ray, 15 transports heading
for the north shore of Guadalcanal east of Lunga Point, and Transport
Division Yoke, eight transports headed for Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo,
and the nearby Florida Island, which loomed over the smaller islands.

Vandegrift’s plans for the landings would put two of his infantry
regiments (Colonel LeRoy P. Hunt’s 5th Marines and Colonel Cates’
1st Marines) ashore on both sides of the Lunga River prepared to
attack inland to seize the airfield. The 11th Marines, the 3d Defense
Battalion, and most of the division’s supporting units would also land
near the Lunga, prepared to exploit the beachhead. Across the 20 miles
of Sealark Channel, the division’s assistant commander, Brigadier
General William H. Rupertus, led the assault forces slated to take
Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo: the 1st Raider Battalion (Lieutenant
Colonel Merritt A. Edson); the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines (Lieutenant
Colonel Harold E. Rosecrans); and the 1st Parachute Battalion (Major
Robert H. Williams). Company A of the 2d Marines would reconnoiter
the nearby shores of Florida Island and the rest of Colonel John A.
Arthur’s regiment would stand by in reserve to land where needed.

As the ships slipped through the channels on either side of rugged
Savo Island, which split Sealark near its western end, heavy clouds
and dense rain blanketed the task force. Later the moon came out and
silhouetted the islands. On board his command ship, Vandegrift wrote
to his wife: “Tomorrow morning at dawn we land in our first major
offensive of the war. Our plans have been made and God grant that our
judgement has been sound ... whatever happens you’ll know I did my
best. Let us hope that best will be good enough.”

[Illustration: _MajGen Alexander A. Vandegrift, CG, 1st Marine
Division, confers with his staff on board the transport USS _McCawley_
(APA-4) enroute to Guadalcanal. From left: Gen Vandegrift; LtCol
Gerald C. Thomas, operations officer; LtCol Randolph McC. Pate,
logistics officer; LtCol Frank B. Goettge, intelligence officer; and
Col William Capers James, chief of staff._

    National Archives Photo 80-G-17065

At 0641 on 7 August, Turner signalled his ships to “land the landing
force.” Just 28 minutes before, the heavy cruiser _Quincy_ (CA 39)
had begun shelling the landing beaches at Guadalcanal. The sun came
up that fateful Friday at 0650, and the first landing craft carrying
assault troops of the 5th Marines touched down at 0909 on Red Beach.
To the men’s surprise (and relief), no Japanese appeared to resist the
landing. Hunt immediately moved his assault troops off the beach and
into the surrounding jungle, waded the steep-banked Ilu River, and
headed for the enemy airfield. The following 1st Marines were able to
cross the Ilu on a bridge the engineers had hastily thrown up with
an amphibian tractor bracing its middle. The silence was eerie and
the absence of opposition was worrisome to the riflemen. The Japanese
troops, most of whom were Korean laborers, had fled to the west,
spooked by a week’s B-17 bombardment, the pre-assault naval gunfire,
and the sight of the ships offshore. The situation was not the same
across Sealark. The Marines on Guadalcanal could hear faint rumbles of
a firefight across the waters.


    National Archives Photo 80-CF-112-5-3

_First Division Marines storm ashore across Guadalcanal’s beaches on
D-Day, 7 August 1942, from the attack transport _Barnett_ (AP-11) and
attack cargo ship _Fomalhaut_ (AK-22). The invaders were surprised at
the lack of enemy opposition._]


    and Capture of the Airfield
    7-8 AUGUST 1942


    Photo courtesy of Col James A. Donovan, Jr.

_When the 5th Marines entered the jungle from the beachhead, and had to
cross the steep banks of the Ilu River, 1st Marine Division engineers
hastily constructed a bridge supported by amphibian tractors. Though
heavily used, the bridge held up._]

[Illustration: _Photographed immediately after a prelanding strike by
USS _Enterprise_ aircraft flown by Navy pilots, Tanambogo and Gavutu
Islands lie smoking and in ruins in the morning sun. Gavutu is at the
left across the causeway from Tanambogo._

    National Archives Photo 80-C-11034

The Japanese on Tulagi were special naval landing force sailors and
they had no intention of giving up what they held without a vicious,
no-surrender battle. Edson’s men landed first, following by Rosecrans’
battalion, hitting Tulagi’s south coast and moving inland towards
the ridge which ran lengthwise through the island. The battalions
encountered pockets of resistance in the undergrowth of the islands
thick vegetation and maneuvered to outflank and overrun the opposition.
The advance of the Marines was steady but casualties were frequent. By
nightfall, Edson had reached the former British residency overlooking
Tulagi’s harbor and dug in for the night across a hill that overlooked
the Japanese final position, a ravine on the islands southern tip. The
2d Battalion, 5th Marines, had driven through to the northern shore,
cleaning its sector of enemy; Rosecrans moved into position to back
up the raiders. By the end of its first day ashore, 2d Battalion had
lost 56 men killed and wounded; 1st Raider Battalion casualties were 99


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 52231

_After the battle, almost all palm trees on Gavutu were shorn of their
foliage. Despite naval gunfire and close air support hitting the enemy
emplacements, Japanese opposition from caves proved to be serious
obstacles for attacking Marines._]

Throughout the night, the Japanese swarmed from hillside caves in four
separate attacks, trying to penetrate the raider lines. They were
unsuccessful and most died in the attempts. At dawn, the 2d Battalion,
2d Marines, landed to reinforce the attackers and by the afternoon of 8
August, the mop-up was completed and the battle for Tulagi was over.

The fight for tiny Gavutu and Tanambogo, both little more than small
hills rising out of the sea, connected by a hundred-yard causeway, was
every bit as intense as that on Tulagi. The area of combat was much
smaller and the opportunities for fire support from offshore ships
and carrier planes was severely limited once the Marines had landed.
After naval gunfire from the light cruiser _San Juan_ (CL 54) and two
destroyers, and a strike by F4F Wildcats flying from the _Wasp_, the
1st Parachute Battalion landed near noon in three waves, 395 men in
all, on Gavutu. The Japanese, secure in cave positions, opened fire on
the second and third waves, pinning down the first Marines ashore on
the beach. Major Williams took a bullet in the lungs and was evacuated;
32 Marines were killed in the withering enemy fire. This time, 2d
Marines reinforcements were really needed; the 1st Battalion’s Company
B landed on Gavutu and attempted to take Tanambogo; the attackers were
driven to ground and had to pull back to Gavutu.

After a rough night of close-in fighting with the defenders of both
islands, the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, reinforced the men already
ashore and mopped up on each island. The toll of Marines dead on the
three islands was 144; the wounded numbered 194. The few Japanese who
survived the battles fled to Florida Island, which had been scouted by
the 2d Marines on D-Day and found clear of the enemy.

The Marines’ landings and the concentration of shipping in Guadalcanal
waters acted as a magnet to the Japanese at Rabaul. At Admiral
Ghormley’s headquarters, Tulagi’s radio was heard on D-Day “frantically
calling for [the] dispatch of surface forces to the scene” and
designating transports and carriers as targets for heavy bombing.
The messages were sent in plain language, emphasizing the plight
of the threatened garrison. And the enemy response was prompt and
characteristic of the months of naval air and surface attacks to come.

At 1030 on 7 August, an Australian coastwatcher hidden in the hills of
the islands north of Guadalcanal signalled that a Japanese air strike
composed of heavy bombers, light bombers, and fighters was headed for
the island. Fletcher’s pilots, whose carriers were positioned 100 miles
south of Guadalcanal, jumped the approaching planes 20 miles northwest
of the landing areas before they could disrupt the operation. But the
Japanese were not daunted by the setback; other planes and ships were
enroute to the inviting target.

On 8 August, the Marines consolidated their positions ashore, seizing
the airfield on Guadalcanal and establishing a beachhead. Supplies were
being unloaded as fast as landing craft could make the turnaround from
ship to shore, but the shore party was woefully inadequate to handle
the influx of ammunition, rations, tents, aviation gas, vehicles--all
gear necessary to sustain the Marines. The beach itself became a
dumpsite. And almost as soon as the initial supplies were landed, they
had to be moved to positions nearer Kukum village and Lunga Point
within the planned perimeter. Fortunately, the lack of Japanese ground
opposition enabled Vandegrift to shift the supply beaches west to a new


    Marine Corps Personal Papers Collection

_Immediately after assault troops cleared the beachhead and moved
inland, supplies and equipment, inviting targets for enemy bombers,
began to litter the beach._]

Japanese bombers did penetrate the American fighter screen on 8 August.
Dropping their bombs from 20,000 feet or more to escape antiaircraft
fire, the enemy planes were not very accurate. They concentrated on the
ships in the channel, hitting and damaging a number of them and sinking
the destroyer _Jarvis_ (DD 393). In their battles to turn back the
attacking planes, the carrier fighter squadrons lost 21 Wildcats on 7-8

The primary Japanese targets were the Allied ships. At this time,
and for a thankfully and unbelievably long time to come, the
Japanese commanders at Rabaul grossly underestimated the strength of
Vandegrift’s forces. They thought the Marine landings constituted a
reconnaissance in force, perhaps 2,000 men, on Guadalcanal. By the
evening of 8 August, Vandegrift had 10,900 troops ashore on Guadalcanal
and another 6,075 on Tulagi. Three infantry regiments had landed and
each had a supporting 75mm pack howitzer battalion--the 2d and 3d
Battalions, 11th Marines on Guadalcanal, and the 3d Battalion, 10th
Marines on Tulagi. The 5th Battalion, 11th Marines’ 105mm howitzers
were in general support.

That night a cruiser-destroyer force of the Imperial Japanese Navy
reacted to the American invasion with a stinging response. Admiral
Turner had positioned three cruiser-destroyer groups to bar the
Tulagi-Guadalcanal approaches. At the Battle of Savo, the Japanese
demonstrated their superiority in night fighting at this stage of
the war, shattering two of Turners covering forces without loss to
themselves. Four heavy cruisers went to the bottom--three American, one
Australian--and another lost her bow. As the sun came up over what soon
would be called “Ironbottom Sound,” Marines watched grimly as Higgins
boats swarmed out to rescue survivors. Approximately 1,300 sailors
died that night and another 700 suffered wounds or were badly burned.
Japanese casualties numbered less than 200 men.

The Japanese suffered damage to only one ship in the encounter, the
cruiser _Chokai_. The American cruisers _Vincennes_ (CA 44), _Astoria_
(CA 34), and _Quincy_ (CA 39) went to the bottom, as did the Australian
Navy’s HMAS _Canberra_, so critically damaged that she had to be sunk
by American torpedoes. Both the cruiser _Chicago_ (CA 29) and destroyer
_Talbot_ (DD 114) were badly damaged. Fortunately for the Marines
ashore, the Japanese force--five heavy cruisers, two light cruisers,
and a destroyer--departed before dawn without attempting to disrupt the
landing further.

[Illustration: U.S. 105mm Howitzer]

When the attack-force leader, Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa, returned to
Rabaul, he expected to receive the accolades of his superiors. He did
get those, but he also found himself the subject of criticism. Admiral
Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese fleet commander, chided his subordinate
for failing to attack the transports. Mikawa could only reply, somewhat
lamely, that he did not know Fletcher’s aircraft carriers were so far
away from Guadalcanal. Of equal significance to the Marines on the
beach, the Japanese naval victory caused celebrating superiors in Tokyo
to allow the event to overshadow the importance of the amphibious

The disaster prompted the American admirals to reconsider Navy support
for operations ashore. Fletcher feared for the safety of his carriers;
he had already lost about a quarter of his fighter aircraft. The
commander of the expeditionary force had lost a carrier at Coral Sea
and another at Midway. He felt he could not risk the loss of a third,
even if it meant leaving the Marines on their own. Before the Japanese
cruiser attack, he obtained Admiral Ghormley’s permission to withdraw
from the area.

[Illustration: _When ships carrying barbed wire and engineering tools
needed ashore were forced to leave the Guadalcanal area because of
enemy air and surface threats, Marines had to prepare such hasty field
expedients as this_ _cheval de frise_ _of sharpened stakes._

    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 5157

At a conference on board Turner’s flagship transport, the _McCawley_,
on the night of 8 August, the admiral told General Vandegrift that
Fletcher’s impending withdrawal meant that he would have to pull out
the amphibious force’s ships. The Battle of Savo Island reinforced
the decision to get away before enemy aircraft, unchecked by American
interceptors, struck. On 9 August, the transports withdrew to Noumea.
The unloading of supplies ended abruptly, and ships still half-full
steamed away. The forces ashore had 17 days’ rations--after counting
captured Japanese food--and only four days’ supply of ammunition for
all weapons. Not only did the ships take away the rest of the supplies,
they also took the Marines still on board, including the 2d Marines’
headquarters element. Dropped off at the island of Espiritu Santo in
the New Hebrides, the infantry Marines and their commander, Colonel
Arthur, were most unhappy and remained so until they finally reached
Guadalcanal on 29 October.

Ashore in the Marine beachheads, General Vandegrift ordered rations
reduced to two meals a day. The reduced food intake would last for
six weeks, and the Marines would become very familiar with Japanese
canned fish and rice. Most of the Marines smoked and they were soon
disgustedly smoking Japanese-issue brands. They found that the separate
paper filters that came with the cigarettes were necessary to keep the
fast-burning tobacco from scorching their lips. The retreating ships
had also hauled away empty sand bags and valuable engineer tools. So
the Marines used Japanese shovels to fill Japanese rice bags with sand
to strengthen their defensive positions.

[Illustration: U.S. 90mm Antiaircraft Gun]

The Marines dug in along the beaches between the Tenaru and the ridges
west of Kukum. A Japanese counter-landing was a distinct possibility.
Inland of the beaches, defensive gun pits and foxholes lined the west
bank of the Tenaru and crowned the hills that faced west toward the
Matanikau River and Point Cruz. South of the airfield where densely
jungled ridges and ravines abounded, the beachhead perimeter was
guarded by outposts and these were manned in large part by combat
support troops. The engineer, pioneer, and amphibious tractor battalion
all had their positions on the front line. In fact, any Marine with a
rifle, and that was virtually every Marine, stood night defensive duty.
There was no place within the perimeter that could be counted safe from
enemy infiltration.


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 150993

_Col Kiyono Ichiki, a battle-seasoned Japanese Army veteran, led his
force in an impetuous and ill-fated attack on strong Marine positions
in the Battle of the Tenaru on the night of 20-21 August._]

Almost as Turner’s transports sailed away, the Japanese began a
pattern of harassing air attacks on the beachhead. Sometimes the raids
came during the day, but the 3d Defense Battalion’s 90mm antiaircraft
guns forced the bombers to fly too high for effective bombing. The
erratic pattern of bombs, however, meant that no place was safe near
the airfield, the preferred target, and no place could claim it was
bomb-free. The most disturbing aspect of Japanese air attacks soon
became the nightly harassment by Japanese aircraft which singly,
it seemed, roamed over the perimeter, dropping bombs and flares
indiscriminately. The nightly visitors, whose planes’ engines were soon
well known sounds, won the singular title “Washing Machine Charlie,”
at first, and later, “Louie the Louse,” when their presence heralded
Japanese shore bombardment. Technically, “Charlie” was a twin-engine
night bomber from Rabaul. “Louie” was a cruiser float plane that
signalled to the bombardment ships. But the harassed Marines used the
names interchangeably.

Even though most of the division’s heavy engineering equipment had
disappeared with the Navy’s transports, the resourceful Marines soon
completed the airfield’s runway with captured Japanese gear. On 12
August Admiral McCain’s aide piloted in a PBY-5 Catalina flying boat
and bumped to a halt on what was now officially Henderson Field, named
for a Marine pilot, Major Lofton R. Henderson, lost at Midway. The Navy
officer pronounced the airfield fit for fighter use and took off with a
load of wounded Marines, the first of 2,879 to be evacuated. Henderson
Field was the centerpiece of Vandegrift’s strategy; he would hold it at
all costs.

Although it was only 2,000 feet long and lacked a taxiway and adequate
drainage, the tiny airstrip, often riddled with potholes and rendered
unusable because of frequent, torrential downpours, was essential to
the success of the landing force. With it operational, supplies could
be flown in and wounded flown out. At least in the Marines’ minds, Navy
ships ceased to be the only lifeline for the defenders.

While Vandegrift’s Marines dug in east and west of Henderson Field,
Japanese headquarters in Rabaul planned what it considered an effective
response to the American offensive. Misled by intelligence estimates
that the Marines numbered perhaps 2,000 men, Japanese staff officers
believed that a modest force quickly sent could overwhelm the invaders.

On 12 August, CinCPac determined that a sizable Japanese force was
massing at Truk to steam to the Solomons and attempt to eject the
Americans. Ominously, the group included the heavy carriers _Shokaku_
and _Zuikaku_ and the light carrier _Ryujo_. Despite the painful losses
at Savo Island, the only significant increases to American naval forces
in the Solomons was the assignment of a new battleship, the _South
Dakota_ (BB 57).

[Illustration: _Of his watercolor painting “Instructions to a Patrol,”
Capt Donald L. Dickson said that three men have volunteered to locate
a Japanese bivouac. The one in the center is a clean-cut corporal with
the bearing of a high-school athlete. The man on the right is “rough
and ready.” To the one at left, it’s just another job; he may do it
heroically, but it’s just another job._

    Captain Donald L. Dickson, USMCR

Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo had ordered Lieutenant General
Haruyoshi Hyakutake’s _Seventeenth Army_ to attack the Marine
perimeter. For his assault force, Hyakutake chose the _35th Infantry
Brigade_ (Reinforced), commanded by Major General Kiyotake Kawaguchi.
At the time, Kawaguchi’s main force was in the Palaus. Hyakutake
selected a crack infantry regiment--the _28th_--commanded by Colonel
Kiyono Ichiki to land first. Alerted for its mission while it was at
Guam, the Ichiki Detachment assault echelon, one battalion of 900
men, was transported to the Solomons on the only shipping available,
six destroyers. As a result the troops carried just small amounts of
ordnance and supplies. A follow-on echelon of 1,200 of Ichiki’s troops
was to join the assault battalion on Guadalcanal.


    National Archives Photo 80-G-37932

_On 20 August, the first Marine Corps aircraft such as this F4F Grumman
Wildcat landed on Henderson Field to begin combat air operations
against the Japanese._]

While the Japanese landing force was headed for Guadalcanal, the
Japanese already on the island provided an unpleasant reminder that
they, too, were full of fight. A captured enemy naval rating, taken in
the constant patrolling to the west of the perimeter, indicated that a
Japanese group wanted to surrender near the village of Kokumbona, seven
miles west of the Matanikau. This was the area that Lieutenant Colonel
Goettge considered held most of the enemy troops who had fled the
airfield. On the night of 12 August, a reconnaissance patrol of 25 men
led by Goettge himself left the perimeter by landing craft. The patrol
landed near its objective, was ambushed, and virtually wiped out. Only
three men managed to swim and wade back to the Marine lines. The bodies
of the other members of the patrol were never found. To this day, the
fate of the Goettge patrol continues to intrigue researchers.

After the loss of Goettge and his men, vigilance increased on the
perimeter. On the 14th, a fabled character, the coastwatcher Martin
Clemens, came strolling out of the jungle into the Marine lines. He
had watched the landing from the hills south of the airfield and now
brought his bodyguard of native policemen with him. A retired sergeant
major of the British Solomon Islands Constabulary, Jacob C. Vouza,
volunteered about this time to search out Japanese to the east of
the perimeter, where patrol sightings and contacts had indicated the
Japanese might have effected a landing.

The ominous news of Japanese sightings to the east and west of the
perimeter were balanced out by the joyous word that more Marines
had landed. This time the Marines were aviators. On 20 August, two
squadrons of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG)-23 were launched from the
escort carrier _Long Island_ (CVE-1) located 200 miles southeast of
Guadalcanal. Captain John L. Smith led 19 Grumman F4F-4 Wildcats of
Marine Fighting Squadron (VMF)-223 onto Henderson’s narrow runway.
Smith’s fighters were followed by Major Richard C. Mangrum’s Marine
Scout-Bombing Squadron (VMSB)-232 with 12 Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive

From this point of the campaign, the radio identification for
Guadalcanal, Cactus, became increasingly synonymous with the island.
The Marine planes became the first elements of what would informally be
known as Cactus Air Force.

[Illustration: _The first Army Air Forces P-400 Bell Air Cobras arrived
on Guadalcanal on 22 August, two days after the first Marine planes,
and began operations immediately._

    National Archives Photo 208-N-4932

Wasting no time, the Marine pilots were soon in action against the
Japanese naval aircraft which frequently attacked Guadalcanal. Smith
shot down his first enemy Zero fighter on 21 August; three days later
VMF-223’s Wildcats intercepted a strong Japanese aerial attack force
and downed 16 enemy planes. In this action, Captain Marion E. Carl, a
veteran of Midway, shot down three planes. On the 22d, coastwatchers
alerted Cactus to an approaching air attack and 13 of 16 enemy bombers
were destroyed. At the same time, Mangrum’s dive bombers damaged
three enemy destroyer-transports attempting to reach Guadalcanal. On
24 August, the American attacking aircraft, which now included Navy
scout-bombers from the _Saratoga_’s Scouting Squadron (VS) 5, succeeded
in turning back a Japanese reinforcement convoy of warships and

On 22 August, five Bell P-400 Air Cobras of the Army’s 67th Fighter
Squadron had landed at Henderson, followed within the week by nine more
Air Cobras. The Army planes, which had serious altitude and climb-rate
deficiencies, were destined to see most action in ground combat support

The frenzied action in what became known as the Battle of the Eastern
Solomons was matched ashore. Japanese destroyers had delivered the
vanguard of the Ichiki force at Taivu Point, 25 miles east of the
Marine perimeter. A long-range patrol of Marines from Company A, 1st
Battalion, 1st Marines ambushed a sizable Japanese force near Taivu on
19 August. The Japanese dead were readily identified as Army troops and
the debris of their defeat included fresh uniforms and a large amount
of communication gear. Clearly, a new phase of the fighting had begun.
All Japanese encountered to this point had been naval troops.

Alerted by patrols, the Marines now dug in along the Ilu River, often
misnamed the Tenaru on Marine maps, were ready for Colonel Ichiki. The
Japanese commander’s orders directed him to “quickly recapture and
maintain the airfield at Guadalcanal,” and his own directive to his
troops emphasized that they would fight “to the last breath of the last
man.” And they did.

[Illustration: U.S. M-3 Light Tank]

Too full of his mission to wait for the rest of his regiment and sure
that he faced only a few thousand men overall, Ichiki marched from
Taivu to the Marines’ lines. Before he attacked on the night of the
20th, a bloody figure stumbled out of the jungle with a warning that
the Japanese were coming. It was Sergeant Major Vouza. Captured by the
Japanese, who found a small American flag secreted in his loincloth, he
was tortured in a failed attempt to gain information on the invasion
force. Tied to a tree, bayonetted twice through the chest, and beaten
with rifle butts, the resolute Vouza chewed through his bindings
to escape. Taken to Lieutenant Colonel Edwin A. Pollock, whose 2d
Battalion, 1st Marines held the Ilu mouth’s defenses, he gasped a
warning that an estimated 250-500 Japanese soldiers were coming behind
him. The resolute Vouza, rushed immediately to an aid station and then
to the division hospital, miraculously survived his ordeal and was
awarded a Silver Star for his heroism by General Vandegrift, and later
a Legion of Merit. Vandegrift also made Vouza an honorary sergeant
major of U.S. Marines.

At 0130 on 21 August, Ichiki’s troops stormed the Marines’ lines in a
screaming, frenzied display of the “spiritual strength” which they had
been assured would sweep aside their American enemy. As the Japanese
charged across the sand bar astride the Ilu’s mouth, Pollock’s Marines
cut them down. After a mortar preparation, the Japanese tried again
to storm past the sand bar. A section of 37mm guns sprayed the enemy
force with deadly canister. Lieutenant Colonel Lenard B. Cresswell’s
1st Battalion, 1st Marines moved upstream on the Ilu at daybreak, waded
across the sluggish, 50-foot-wide stream, and moved on the flank of the
Japanese. Wildcats from VMF-223 strafed the beleagured enemy force.
Five light tanks blasted the retreating Japanese. By 1700, as the sun
was setting, the battle ended.

Colonel Ichiki, disgraced in his own mind by his defeat, burned his
regimental colors and shot himself. Close to 800 of his men joined
him in death. The few survivors fled eastward towards Taivu Point.
Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka, whose reinforcement force of transports and
destroyers was largely responsible for the subsequent Japanese troop
buildup on Guadalcanal, recognized that the unsupported Japanese attack
was sheer folly and reflected that “this tragedy should have taught us
the hopelessness of bamboo spear tactics.” Fortunately for the Marines,
Ichiki’s overconfidence was not unique among Japanese commanders.


    Captain Donald L. Dickson, USMCR

_Capt Donald L. Dickson said of his watercolor: “I wanted to catch on
paper the feeling one has as a shell comes whistling over.... There is
a sense of being alone, naked and unprotected. And time seems endless
until the shell strikes somewhere.”_]

Following the 1st Marines’ tangle with the Ichiki detachment, General
Vandegrift was inspired to write the Marine Commandant, Lieutenant
General Thomas Holcomb, and report: “These youngsters are the darndest
people when they get started you ever saw.” And all the Marines on
the island, young and old, tyro and veteran, were becoming accomplished
jungle fighters. They were no longer “trigger happy” as many had been
in their first days ashore, shooting at shadows and imagined enemy.
They were waiting for targets, patrolling with enthusiasm, sure of
themselves. The misnamed Battle of the Tenaru had cost Colonel Hunt’s
regiment 34 killed in action and 75 wounded. All the division’s Marines
now felt they were bloodied. What the men on Tulagi, Gavutu, and
Tanambogo and those of the Ilu had done was prove that the 1st Marine
Division would hold fast to what it had won.

[Illustration: _Cactus Air Force commander, MajGen Roy S. Geiger,
poses with Capt Joseph J. Foss, the leading ace at Guadalcanal with
26 Japanese aircraft downed. Capt Foss was later awarded the Medal of
Honor for his heroic exploits in the air._

    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 52622

While the division’s Marines and sailors had earned a breathing spell
as the Japanese regrouped for another onslaught, the action in the air
over the Solomons intensified. Almost every day, Japanese aircraft
arrived around noon to bomb the perimeter. Marine fighter pilots
found the twin-engine Betty bombers easy targets; Zero fighters were
another story. Although the Wildcats were a much sturdier aircraft, the
Japanese Zeros’ superior speed and better maneuverability gave them a
distinct edge in a dogfight. The American planes, however, when warned
by the coastwatchers of Japanese attacks, had time to climb above the
oncoming enemy and preferably attacked by making firing runs during
high speed dives. Their tactics made the air space over the Solomons
dangerous for the Japanese. On 29 August, the carrier _Ryujo_ launched
aircraft for a strike against the airstrip. Smith’s Wildcats shot down
16, with a loss of four of their own. Still, the Japanese continued to
strike at Henderson Field without letup. Two days after the _Ryujo_
raid, enemy bombers inflicted heavy damage on the airfield, setting
aviation fuel ablaze and incinerating parked aircraft. VMF-223’s
retaliation was a further bag of 13 attackers.

On 30 August, two more MAG-23 squadrons, VMF-224 and VMSB-231, flew in
to Henderson. The air reinforcements were more than welcome. Steady
combat attrition, frequent damage in the air and on the ground, and
scant repair facilities and parts kept the number of aircraft available
a dwindling resource.

Plainly, General Vandegrift needed infantry reinforcements as much
as he did additional aircraft. He brought the now-combined raider and
parachute battalions, both under Edson’s command, and the 2d Battalion,
5th Marines, over to Guadalcanal from Tulagi. This gave the division
commander a chance to order out larger reconnaissance patrols to probe
for the Japanese. On 27 August, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, made a
shore-to-shore landing near Kokumbona and marched back to the beachhead
without any measurable results. If the Japanese were out there beyond
the Matanikau--and they were--they watched the Marines and waited for a
better opportunity to attack.

[Sidebar (page 5): First Marine Utility Uniform Issued in World War II

The United States Marine Corps entered World War II wearing essentially
the same summer field uniform that it had worn during the “Banana
Wars.” The Marines defending America’s Pacific outposts on Guam, Wake
Island, and in the Philippines in the late months of 1941 wore a
summer field uniform consisting of a khaki cotton shirt and trousers,
leggings, and a M1917A1 steel helmet. Plans to change this uniform had
been underway for at least one year prior to the opening of hostilities.

As had the Army, the Marine Corps had used a loose-fitting blue denim
fatigue uniform for work details and some field exercises since the
1920s. This fatigue uniform was either a one-piece coverall or a
two-piece bib overall and jacket, both with “USMC” metal buttons. In
June 1940, it was replaced by a green cotton coverall. This uniform
and the summer field uniform were replaced by what would become known
as the utility uniform. Approved for general issue on the Marine
Corps’ 166th birthday, 10 November 1941, this new uniform was made of
sage-green (although “olive drab” was called for in the specifications)
herringbone twill cotton, then a popular material for civilian work
clothing. The two-piece uniform consisted of a coat (often referred to
as a “jacket” by Marines) and trousers. In 1943, a cap made of the same
material would be issued.

The loose-fitting coat was closed down the front by four two-piece
rivetted bronze-finished steel buttons, each bearing the words “U.S.
MARINE CORPS” in relief. The cuffs were closed by similar buttons. Two
large patch pockets were sewn on the front skirts of the jacket and a
single patch pocket was stitched to the left breast. This pocket had
the Marine Corps eagle, globe, and anchor insignia and the letters
“USMC” stencilled on it in black ink. The trousers, worn with and
without the khaki canvas leggings, had two slashed front pockets and
two rear patch pockets.


The new uniform was issued to the flood of new recruits crowding
the recruit depots in the early months of 1942 and was first worn
in combat during the landing on Guadalcanal in August 1942. This
uniform was subsequently worn by Marines of all arms from the Solomons
Campaign to the end of the war. Originally, the buttons on the coat
and the trousers were all copper-plated, but an emergency alternate
specification was approved on 15 August 1942, eight days after the
landing on Guadalcanal, which allowed for a variety of finishes on the
buttons. Towards the end of the war, a new “modified” utility uniform
which had been developed after Tarawa was also issued, in addition
to a variety of camouflage uniforms. All of these utility uniforms,
along with Army-designed Ml helmets and Marine Corps-designed cord and
rubber-soled rough-side-out leather “boondocker” shoes, would be worn
throughout the war in the Pacific, during the postwar years, and into
the Korean War.--_Kenneth L. Smith-Christmas_

[Sidebar (page 11): LVT (1)--The ‘Amtrac’

While the Marine Corps was developing amphibious warfare doctrine
during the 1920s and 1930s, it was apparent that a motorized amphibian
vehicle was needed to transport men and equipment from ships across
fringing reefs and beaches into battle, particularly when the beach was

In 1940, the Marines adopted the Landing Vehicle, Tracked (1), designed
by Donald Roebling. More commonly known as the “amtrac” (short for
amphibian tractor), the LVT(1) had a driver’s cab in front and a small
engine compartment in the rear, with the bulk of the body used for
carrying space. During the next three years, 1,225 LVT(1)s were built,
primarily by the Food Machinery Corporation.

The LVT(1) was constructed of welded steel and was propelled on both
land and water by paddle-type treads. Designed solely as a supply
vehicle, it could carry 4,500 pounds of cargo. In August 1942, the
LVT(1) first saw combat on Guadalcanal with the 1st Amphibian Tractor
Battalion, 1st Marine Division. Throughout the Solomon Islands
campaigns, the LVT(1) provided Marines all types of logistical support,
moving thousands of tons of supplies to the front lines. At times they
also were pressed into tactical use: moving artillery pieces, holding
defensive positions, and occasionally supporting Marines in the attack
with their machine guns. They also were used as pontoons to support
bridges across Guadalcanal rivers.

The LVT proved to be more seaworthy than a boat of comparable size; it
was able to remain afloat with its entire cargo hold full of water.
However, defects in the design soon became apparent. The paddle treads
on the tracks and the rigid suspension system were both susceptible
to damage when driven on land and did not provide the desired speeds
on land or water. Although the LVT(1) performed admirably against
undefended beachheads, its lack of armor made it unsuitable for
assaults against the heavily defended islands of the central Pacific.
This weakness was apparent during the fighting in the Solomon Islands,
but LVT(1)s with improvised armor were still in use at the assault on
Tarawa, where 75 percent of them were lost in three days.

The LVT(1) proved its value and validated the amphibious vehicle
concept through the great versatility and mobility it demonstrated
throughout numerous campaigns in the Pacific. Although intended
solely for supply purposes, it was thrust into combat use in early
war engagements. In its initial role as a support vehicle, the LVT(1)
delivered ammunition, supplies and reinforcements that made the
difference between victory and defeat.--_Second Lieutenant Wesley L.
Feight, USMC_


[Sidebar (page 14): General Vandegrift and His 1st Marine Division

Whenever a work about the Guadalcanal operation is published, one of
the pictures always included is that of Major General Alexander A.
Vandegrift, 1st Marine Division commanding general, and his staff
officers and commanders, who posed for the photograph on 11 August
1942, just four days after the assault landings on the island. Besides
General Vandegrift, there are 40 Marines and one naval officer in
this picture, and each one deserves a page of his own in Marine Corps

Among the Marines, 23 were promoted to general officer rank and three
became Commandants of the Marine Corps: General Vandegrift and Colonels
Cates and Pate. The naval officer, division surgeon Commander Warwick
T. Brown, MC, USN, also made flag officer rank while on active duty and
was promoted to vice admiral upon retirement.

Four of the officers in the picture served in three wars. Lieutenant
Colonels Gerald C. Thomas, division operations officer, and Randolph
McC. Pate, division logistics officer, served in both World Wars I
and II, and each commanded the 1st Marine Division in Korea. Colonel
William J. Whaling similarly served in World Wars I and II, and was
General Thomas’ assistant division commander in Korea. Major Henry W.
Buse, Jr., assistant operations officer, served in World War II, Korea,
and the Vietnam War. Others served in two wars--World Wars I and II,
or World War II and Korea. Represented in the photograph is a total
of nearly 700 years of cumulative experience on active Marine Corps

Three key members of the division--the Assistant Division Commander,
Brigadier General William H. Rupertus; the Assistant Chief of Staff,
G-1, Colonel Robert C. Kilmartin, Jr.; and the commanding officer of
the 1st Raider Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Merritt A. Edson--were not
in this picture for a good reason. They were on Tulagi, where Rupertus
headed the Tulagi Command Group with Kilmartin as his chief of staff,
and Edson commanded the combat troops. Also notably absent from this
photograph was the commander of the 7th Marines, Colonel James C. Webb,
who had not joined the division from Samoa, where the regiment had been
sent before the division deployed overseas.

In his memoir, _Once a Marine_, General Vandegrift explained why this
photograph was taken. The division’s morale was affected by the fact
that Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher was forced to withdraw his
fleet from the area--with many of his ships not yet fully unloaded
and holding more than half of the division’s supplies still needed
ashore. Adding to the Marines’ uneasiness at seeing their naval support
disappear below the horizon, was the fact that they had been under
almost constant enemy air attacks beginning shortly after their landing
on Guadalcanal. In an effort to counter the adverse influence on morale
of the day and night air attacks, Vandegrift began making tours of the
division perimeter every morning to talk to as many of his Marines as
possible, and to keep a personal eye on the command. As he noted:

  By August 11, the full impact of the vanished transports was
  permeating the command, so again I called a conference of my staff
  and command officers.... I ended the conference by posing with this
  fine group of officers, a morale device that worked because they
  thought if I went to the trouble of having the picture taken then I
  obviously planned to enjoy it in future years.

Recently, General Merrill B. “Bill” Twining, on Guadalcanal a
lieutenant colonel and assistant D-3, recalled the circumstances of the
photograph and philosophized about the men who appeared in it:

  The group is lined up on the slope of the coral ridge which
  provided a degree of protection from naval gunfire coming from the
  north and was therefore selected as division CP....

  There was no vital reason for the conclave. I think V[andegrift]
  just wanted to see who was in his outfit. Do you realize these
  people had never been together before? Some came from as far away
  as Iceland....

  V[andegrift] mainly introduced himself, gave a brief pep talk....
  I have often been asked how we could afford to congregate all
  this talent in the face of the enemy. We didn’t believe we (_at
  the moment_) faced any threat from the Japanese. The defense area
  was small and every responsible commander could reach his CP in 5
  minutes and after all there were a lot of good people along those
  lines. Most of the fresh-caught second lieutenants were battalion
  commanders two years later. We believed in each other and trusted.

            --_Benis M. Frank_

The General and His Officers on Guadalcanal, According to the Chart



     1. Col George R. Rowan
     2. Col Pedro A. del Valle
     3. Col William C. James
     4. MajGen Alexander A. Vandegrift
     5. LtCol Gerald C. Thomas
     6. Col Clifton B. Cates
     7. Col Randolph McC. Pate
     8. Cdr Warwick T. Brown, USN
     9. Col William J. Whaling
    10. Col Frank B. Goettge
    11. Col LeRoy P. Hunt, Jr.
    12. LtCol Frederick C. Biebush
    13. LtCol Edwin A. Pollock
    14. LtCol Edmund J. Buckley
    15. LtCol Walter W. Barr
    16. LtCol Raymond P. Coffman
    17. LtCol Francis R. Geraci
    18. LtCol William E. Maxwell
    19. LtCol Edward G. Hagen
    20. LtCol William N. McKelvy, Jr.
    21. LtCol Julian N. Frisbie
    22. Maj Milton V. O’Connell
    23. Maj William Chalfant III
    24. Maj Horace W. Fuller
    25. Maj Forest C. Thompson
    26. Maj Robert G. Ballance
    27. Maj Henry C. Buse, Jr.
    28. Maj James W. Frazer
    29. Maj Henry H. Crockett
    30. LtCol Lenard B. Cresswell
    31. Maj Robert O. Brown
    32. LtCol John A. Bemis
    33. Col Kenneth W. Benner
    34. Maj Robert B. Luckey
    35. LtCol Samuel B. Taxis
    36. LtCol Eugene H. Price
    37. LtCol Merrill B. Twining
    38. LtCol Walker A. Reaves
    39. LtCol John D. Macklin
    40. LtCol Hawley C. Waterman
    41. Maj James C. Murray, Jr.

[Sidebar (page 17): The Coastwatchers

A group of fewer than 1,500 native Coastwatchers served as the eyes and
ears of Allied forces in reporting movements of Japanese units on the
ground, in the air, and at sea.

Often performing their jobs in remote jungle outposts, the
Coastwatchers were possessed of both mental and physical courage.
Their knowledge of the geography and peoples of the Pacific made them
invaluable additions to the Allied war effort.

The concept for this service originated in 1919 in a proposal by the
Royal Australian Navy to form a civilian coastwatching organization
to provide early warning in the event of an invasion. By the outbreak
of war in September 1939, approximately 800 persons were serving as
coastwatchers, operating observation posts mainly on the Australian
coast. They were, at the outset, government officials aided by
missionaries and planters who, as war with Japan neared, were placed
under the control of the intelligence section of the Australian Navy.

[Illustration: _Coastwatcher Capt W. F. Martin Clemens, British Solomon
Islands Defence Force, poses with some of his constabulary._

    National Archives Photo 80-G-17080 courtesy of Richard Frank

By 1942, the system of coastwatchers and the accompanying intelligence
network covered an area of 500,000 square miles, and was placed
under the control of the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB). The AIB
coordinated Allied intelligence activities in the southwest Pacific,
and had as its initial principal mission the collection of all possible
information about the enemy in the vicinity of Guadalcanal.

Coastwatchers proved extremely useful to U.S. Marine forces in
providing reports on the number and movement of Japanese troops.
Officers from the 1st Marine Division obtained accurate information
on the location of enemy forces in their objective areas, and were
provided vital reports on approaching Japanese bombing raids. On 8
August 1942, Coastwatcher Jack Reed on Bougainville alerted American
forces to an upcoming raid by 40 Japanese bombers, which resulted in
36 of the enemy planes being destroyed. The “early warning system”
provided by the Coastwatchers helped Marine forces on Guadalcanal to
hold onto the Henderson Field airstrip.

The Coastwatchers also rescued and sheltered 118 Allied pilots,
including Marines, during the Solomons Campaign, often at the immediate
risk of their own lives. Pipe-smoking Coastwatcher Reed also was
responsible for coordinating the evacuation on Bougainville of four
nuns and 25 civilians by the U.S. submarine _Nautilus_.

It is unknown exactly how many Coastwatchers paid the ultimate
sacrifice in the performance of their duties. Many died in anonymity,
without knowledge of the contribution their services had made to
final victory. Perhaps they would be gratified to know that no
less an authority than Admiral William F. Halsey recorded that
the Coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal, and Guadalcanal saved the
Pacific.--_Robert V. Aquilina_

[Sidebar (page 19): The 1st Marine Division Patch


The 1st Division shoulder patch originally was authorized for wear by
members of units who were organic or attached to the division in its
four landings in the Pacific War. It was the first unit patch to be
authorized for wear in World War II and specifically commemorated the
division’s sacrifices and victory in the battle for Guadalcanal.

As recalled by General Merrill B. Twining, a lieutenant colonel and the
division’s operations officer on Guadalcanal, for a short time before
the 1st left Guadalcanal for Australia, there had been some discussion
by the senior staff about uniforming the troops. It appeared that the
Marines might have to wear Army uniforms, which meant that they would
lose their identity and Twining came up with the idea for a division
patch. A number of different designs were devised by both Lieutenant
Colonel Twining and Captain Donald L. Dickson, adjutant of the 5th
Marines, who had been an artist in civilian life. The one which Twining
prepared on the flight out of Guadalcanal was approved by Major General
Alexander A. Vandegrift, the division commander.

General Twining further recalled that he drew a diamond in his notebook
and “in the middle of the diamond I doodled a numeral one ... [and]
I sketched in the word ‘Guadalcanal’ down its length.... I got to
thinking that the whole operation had been under the Southern Cross, so
I drew that in, too.... About an hour later I took the drawing up to
the front of the aircraft to General Vandegrift. He said, ‘Yes, that’s
it!’ and wrote his initials, A.A.V., on the bottom of the notebook

[Illustration: _Designer of the patch, LtCol Merrill B. Twining (later
Gen) sits in the 1st Marine Division operations bunker. Behind him is
his assistant D-3, a very tired Maj Henry IV. Buse, Jr._]

After he arrived in Brisbane, Australia, Colonel Twining bought a
child’s watercolor set and, while confined to his hotel room by a bout
of malaria, drew a bunch of diamonds on a big sheet, coloring each one
differently. He then took samples to General Vandegrift, who chose one
which was colored a shade of blue that he liked. Then Twining took
the sketch to the Australian Knitting Mills to have it reproduced,
pledging the credit of the post exchange funds to pay for the patches’
manufacture. Within a week or two the patches began to roll off the
knitting machines, and Colonel Twining was there to approve them.
General Twining further recalled: “After they came off the machine, I
picked up a sheet of them. They looked very good, and when they were
cut, I picked up one of the patches. It was one of the first off the

The division’s post exchanges began selling the patches almost
immediately and they proved to be popular, with Marines buying extras
to give away as souvenirs to Australian friends or to send home to
families. Before long, newly established Marine divisions, as well as
the raider and parachute units, and as the aircraft wings, sea-going
Marines, Fleet Marine Force Pacific units, and others, were authorized
to have their own distinctive patch, a total of 33, following the lead
of the 1st Marine Division. Marines returning to the United States for
duty or on leave from a unit having a distinctive shoulder insignia
were authorized to wear that insignia until they were assigned to
another unit having a shoulder patch of its own. For many 1st Marine
Division men joining another unit and having to relinquish the wearing
of the 1st Division patch, this rankled.

Shortly after the end of the war, Colonel Twining went to now-Marine
Commandant General Vandegrift saying that he “no longer thought Marines
should wear anything on their uniforms to distinguish them from other
Marines. He agreed and the patches came off for good.”--_Benis M. Frank_

_September and the Ridge_

Admiral McCain visited Guadalcanal at the end of August, arriving
in time to greet the aerial reinforcements he had ordered forward,
and also in time for a taste of Japanese nightly bombing. He got to
experience, too, what was becoming another unwanted feature of Cactus
nights: bombardment by Japanese cruisers and destroyers. General
Vandegrift noted that McCain had gotten a dose of the “normal ration
of shells.” The admiral saw enough to signal his superiors that
increased support for Guadalcanal operations was imperative and that
the “situation admits no delay whatsoever.” He also sent a prophetic
message to Admirals King and Nimitz: “Cactus can be a sinkhole for
enemy air power and can be consolidated, expanded, and exploited to the
enemy’s mortal hurt.”

On 3 September, the Commanding General, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing,
Brigadier General Roy S. Geiger, and his assistant wing commander,
Colonel Louis Woods, moved forward to Guadalcanal to take charge of
air operations. The arrival of the veteran Marine aviators provided
an instant lift to the morale of the pilots and ground crews. It
reinforced their belief that they were at the leading edge of air
combat, that they were setting the pace for the rest of Marine
aviation. Vandegrift could thankfully turn over the day-to-day
management of the aerial defenses of Cactus to the able and experienced
Geiger. There was no shortage of targets for the mixed air force of
Marine, Army, and Navy flyers. Daily air attacks by the Japanese,
coupled with steady reinforcement attempts by Tanaka’s destroyers
and transports, meant that every type of plane that could lift off
Henderson’s runway was airborne as often as possible. Seabees had begun
work on a second airstrip, Fighter One, which could relieve some of the
pressure on the primary airfield.


    National Archives Photo 80-G-29536-413C

_This is an oblique view of Henderson Field looking north with
Ironbottom Sound (Sealark Channel) in the background. At the left
center is the “Pagoda,” operations center of Cactus Air Force flyers
throughout their first months of operations ashore._]

Most of General Kawaguchi’s brigade had reached Guadalcanal. Those
who hadn’t, missed their landfall forever as a result of American air
attacks. Kawaguchi had in mind a surprise attack on the heart of the
Marine position, a thrust from the jungle directly at the airfield. To
reach his jumpoff position, the Japanese general would have to move
through difficult terrain unobserved, carving his way through the dense
vegetation out of sight of Marine patrols. The rugged approach route
would lead him to a prominent ridge topped by Kunai grass which wove
snake-like through the jungle to within a mile of Henderson’s runway.
Unknown to the Japanese, General Vandegrift planned on moving his
headquarters to the shelter of a spot at the inland base of this ridge,
a site better protected, it was hoped, from enemy bombing and shellfire.

[Illustration: _Marine ground crewmen attempt to put out one of many
fires occuring after a Japanese bombing raid on Henderson Field causing
the loss of much-needed aircraft._

    Marine Corps Personal Papers Collection

The success of Kawaguchi’s plan depended upon the Marines keeping the
inland perimeter thinly manned while they concentrated their forces on
the east and west flanks. This was not to be. Available intelligence,
including a captured enemy map, pointed to the likelihood of an attack
on the airfield and Vandegrift moved his combined raider-parachute
battalion to the most obvious enemy approach route, the ridge. Colonel
Edson’s men, who scouted Savo Island after moving to Guadalcanal
and destroyed a Japanese supply base at Tasimboko in another
shore-to-shore raid, took up positions on the forward slopes of the
ridge at the edge of the encroaching jungle on 10 September. Their
commander later said that he “was firmly convinced that we were in the
path of the next Jap attack.” Earlier patrols had spotted a sizable
Japanese force approaching. Accordingly, Edson patrolled extensively as
his men dug in on the ridge and in the flanking jungle. On the 12th,
the Marines made contact with enemy patrols confirming the fact that
Japanese troops were definitely “out front.” Kawaguchi had about 2,000
of his men with him, enough he thought to punch through to the airfield.

Japanese planes had dropped 500-pound bombs along the ridge on the 11th
and enemy ships began shelling the area after nightfall on the 12th,
once the threat of American air attacks subsided. The first Japanese
thrust came at 2100 against Edson’s left flank. Boiling out of the
jungle, the enemy soldiers attacked fearlessly into the face of rifle
and machine gun fire, closing to bayonet range. They were thrown back.
They came again, this time against the right flank, penetrating the
Marines’ positions. Again they were thrown back. A third attack closed
out the night’s action. Again it was a close affair, but by 0230 Edson
told Vandegrift his men could hold. And they did.

[Illustration: _The raging battle of Edson’s Ridge is depicted in all
its fury in this oil painting by the late Col Donald L. Dickson, who,
as a captain, was adjutant of the 5th Marines on Guadalcanal. Dickson’s
artwork later was shown widely in the United States._

    Captain Donald L. Dickson, USMCR

On the morning of 13 September, Edson called his company commanders
together and told them: “They were just testing, just testing. They’ll
be back.” He ordered all positions improved and defenses consolidated
and pulled his lines towards the airfield along the ridge’s center
spine. The 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, his backup on Tulagi, moved into
position to reinforce again.

[Illustration: EDSON’S (BLOODY) RIDGE

12-14 SEPTEMBER 1942]

[Illustration: _Edson’s or Raider’s Ridge is calm after the fighting
on the nights of 12-13 and 13-14 September, when it was the scene of a
valiant and bloody defense crucial to safeguarding Henderson Field and
the Marine perimeter on Guadalcanal. The knobs at left background were
Col Edson’s final defensive position, while Henderson Field lies beyond
the trees in the background._

    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 500007


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 310563

_Maj Kenneth D. Bailey, commander of Company C, 1st Raider Battalion,
was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroic and inspiring
leadership during the Battle of Edson’s Ridge._]

The next night’s attacks were as fierce as any man had seen. The
Japanese were everywhere, fighting hand-to-hand in the Marines’
foxholes and gun pits and filtering past forward positions to attack
from the rear. Division Sergeant Major Sheffield Banta shot one in the
new command post. Colonel Edson appeared wherever the fighting was
toughest, encouraging his men to their utmost efforts. The man-to-man
battles lapped over into the jungle on either flank of the ridge, and
engineer and pioneer positions were attacked. The reserve from the 5th
Marines was fed into the fight. Artillerymen from the 5th Battalion,
11th Marines, as they had on the previous night, fired their 105mm
howitzers at any called target. The range grew as short as 1,600
yards from tube to impact. The Japanese finally could take no more.
They pulled back as dawn approached. On the slopes of the ridge and in
the surrounding jungle they left more than 600 bodies; another 600 men
were wounded. The remnants of the Kawaguchi force staggered back toward
their lines to the west, a grueling, hellish eight-day march that saw
many more of the enemy perish.

The cost to Edson’s force for its epic defense was also heavy.
Fifty-nine men were dead, 10 were missing in action, and 194 were
wounded. These losses, coupled with the casualties of Tulagi, Gavutu,
and Tanambogo, meant the end of the 1st Parachute Battalion as an
effective fighting unit. Only 89 men of the parachutists’ original
strength could walk off the ridge, soon in legend to become “Bloody
Ridge” or “Edson’s Ridge.” Both Colonel Edson and Captain Kenneth D.
Bailey, commanding the raider’s Company C, were awarded the Medal of
Honor for their heroic and inspirational actions.

On 13 and 14 September, the Japanese attempted to support Kawaguchi’s
attack on the ridge with thrusts against the flanks of the Marine
perimeter. On the east, enemy troops attempting to penetrate the lines
of the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, were caught in the open on a grass
plain and smothered by artillery fire; at least 200 died. On the west,
the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, holding ridge positions covering the
coastal road, fought off a determined attacking force that reached its
front lines.

[Illustration: _The Pagoda at Henderson Field, served as headquarters
for Cactus Air Force throughout the first months of air operations
on Guadalcanal. From this building, Allied planes were sent against
Japanese troops on other islands of the Solomons._

    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 50921

The victory at the ridge gave a great boost to Allied homefront
morale, and reinforced the opinion of the men ashore on Guadalcanal
that they could take on anything the enemy could send against them. At
upper command echelons, the leaders were not so sure that the ground
Marines and their motley air force could hold. Intercepted Japanese
dispatches revealed that the myth of the 2,000-man defending force
had been completely dispelled. Sizable naval forces and two divisions
of Japanese troops were now committed to conquer the Americans on
Guadalcanal. Cactus Air Force, augmented frequently by Navy carrier
squadrons, made the planned reinforcement effort a high-risk venture.
But it was a risk the Japanese were prepared to take.

On 18 September, the long-awaited 7th Marines, reinforced by the
1st Battalion, 11th Marines, and other division troops, arrived at
Guadalcanal. As the men from Samoa landed they were greeted with
friendly derision by Marines already on the island. The 7th had been
the first regiment of the 1st Division to go overseas; its men, many
thought then, were likely to be the first to see combat. The division
had been careful to send some of its best men to Samoa and now had
them back. One of the new and salty combat veterans of the 5th Marines
remarked to a friend in the 7th that he had waited a long time “to see
our first team get into the game.” Providentially, a separate supply
convoy reached the island at the same time as the 7th’s arrival,
bringing with it badly needed aviation gas and the first resupply of
ammunition since D-Day.

The Navy covering force for the American reinforcement and supply
convoys was hit hard by Japanese submarines. The carrier _Wasp_ was
torpedoed and sunk, the battleship _North Carolina_ (BB 55) was
damaged, and the destroyer _O’Brien_ (DD 415) was hit so badly it
broke up and sank on its way to drydock. The Navy had accomplished
its mission, the 7th Marines had landed, but at a terrible cost. About
the only good result of the devastating Japanese torpedo attacks was
that the _Wasp_’s surviving aircraft joined Cactus Air Force, as the
planes of the _Saratoga_ and _Enterprise_ had done when their carriers
required combat repairs. Now, the _Hornet_ (CV 8) was the only whole
fleet carrier left in the South Pacific.

As the ships that brought the 7th Marines withdrew, they took with them
the survivors of the 1st Parachute Battalion and sick bays full of
badly wounded men. General Vandegrift now had 10 infantry battalions,
one understrength raider battalion, and five artillery battalions
ashore; the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, had come over from Tulagi also.
He reorganized the defensive perimeter into 10 sectors for better
control, giving the engineer, pioneer, and amphibian tractor battalions
sectors along the beach. Infantry battalions manned the other sectors,
including the inland perimeter in the jungle. Each infantry regiment
had two battalions on line and one in reserve. Vandegrift also had the
use of a select group of infantrymen who were training to be scouts and
snipers under the leadership of Colonel William J. “Wild Bill” Whaling,
an experienced jungle hand, marksman, and hunter, whom he had appointed
to run a school to sharpen the division’s fighting skills. As men
finished their training under Whaling and went back to their outfits,
others took their place and the Whaling group was available to scout
and spearhead operations.

Vandegrift now had enough men ashore on Guadalcanal, 19,200, to expand
his defensive scheme. He decided to seize a forward position along the
east bank of the Matanikau River, in effect strongly outposting his
west flank defenses against the probability of strong enemy attacks
from the area where most Japanese troops were landing. First, however,
he was going to test the Japanese reaction with a strong probing force.

He chose the fresh 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, commanded by Lieutenant
Colonel Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, to move inland along the slopes of
Mt. Austen and patrol north towards the coast and the Japanese-held
area. Puller’s battalion ran into Japanese troops bivouacked on the
slopes of Austen on the 24th and in a sharp firefight had seven men
killed and 25 wounded. Vandegrift sent the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines,
forward to reinforce Puller and help provide the men needed to carry
the casualties out of the jungle. Now reinforced, Puller continued
his advance, moving down the east bank of the Matanikau. He reached
the coast on the 26th as planned, where he drew intensive fire from
enemy positions on the ridges west of the river. An attempt by the 2d
Battalion, 5th Marines, to cross was beaten back.

About this time, the 1st Raider Battalion, its original mission one of
establishing a patrol base west of the Matanikau, reached the vicinity
of the firefight, and joined in. Vandegrift sent Colonel Edson, now the
commander of the 5th Marines, forward to take charge of the expanded
force. He was directed to attack on the 27th and decided to send the
raiders inland to outflank the Japanese defenders. The battalion,
commanded by Edson’s former executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel
Samuel B. Griffith II, ran into a hornet’s nest of Japanese who had
crossed the Matanikau during the night. A garbled message led Edson to
believe that Griffith’s men were advancing according to plan, so he
decided to land the companies of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, behind
the enemy’s Matanikau position and strike the Japanese from the rear
while Rosecran’s men attacked across the river.

The landing was made without incident and the 7th Marines’ companies
moved inland only to be ambushed and cut off from the sea by the
Japanese. A rescue force of landing craft moved with difficulty through
Japanese fire, urged on by Puller who accompanied the boats on the
destroyer _Ballard_ (DD 660). The Marines were evacuated after fighting
their way to the beach covered by the destroyer’s fire and the machine
guns of a Marine SBD overhead. Once the 7th Marines companies got
back to the perimeter, landing near Kukum, the raider and 5th Marines
battalions pulled back from the Matanikau. The confirmation that the
Japanese would strongly contest any westward advance cost the Marines
60 men killed and 100 wounded.

[Illustration: _Shortly after becoming Commander, South Pacific Area
and Forces, VAdm William F. Halsey visited Guadalcanal and the 1st
Marine Division. Here he is shown talking with Col Gerald C. Thomas,
1st Marine Division D-3 (Operations Officer)._

    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 53523

The Japanese the Marines had encountered were mainly men from the
_4th Regiment_ of the _2d (Sendai) Division_; prisoners confirmed
that the division was landing on the island. Included in the enemy
reinforcements were 150mm howitzers, guns capable of shelling the
airfield from positions near Kokumbona. Clearly, a new and stronger
enemy attack was pending.

As September drew to a close, a flood of promotions had reached the
division, nine lieutenant colonels put on their colonel’s eagles and
there were 14 new lieutenant colonels also. Vandegrift made Colonel
Gerald C. Thomas, his former operations officer, the new division
chief of staff, and had a short time earlier given Edson the 5th
Marines. Many of the older, senior officers, picked for the most part
in the order they had joined the division, were now sent back to the
States. There they would provide a new level of combat expertise in the
training and organization of the many Marine units that were forming.
The air wing was not quite ready yet to return its experienced pilots
to rear areas, but the vital combat knowledge they possessed was much
needed in the training pipeline. They, too--the survivors--would soon
be rotating back to rear areas, some for a much-needed break before
returning to combat and others to lead new squadrons into the fray.

[Illustration: Japanese Model 4 (1919) 150mm Howitzer]

[Sidebar (page 22): Sergeant Major Sir Jacob Charles Vouza


Jacob Charles Vouza was born in 1900 at Tasimboko, Guadalcanal,
British Solomon Islands Protectorate, and educated at the South Seas
Evangelical Mission School there. In 1916 he joined the Solomon Islands
Protectorate Armed Constabulary, from which he retired at the rank of
sergeant major in 1941 after 25 years of service.

After the Japanese invaded his home island in World War II, he returned
to active duty with the British forces and volunteered to work with
the Coastwatchers. Vouza’s experience as a scout had already been
established when the 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal. On 7
August 1942 he rescued a downed naval pilot from the USS _Wasp_ who was
shot down inside Japanese territory. He guided the pilot to friendly
lines where Vouza met the Marines for the first time.

Vouza then volunteered to scout behind enemy lines for the Marines.
On 27 August he was captured by the Japanese while on a Marine Corps
mission to locate suspected enemy lookout stations. Having found a
small American flag in Vouza’s loincloth, the Japanese tied him to a
tree and tried to force him to reveal information about Allied forces.
Vouza was questioned for hours, but refused to talk. He was tortured
and bayoneted about the arms, throat, shoulder, face, and stomach, and
left to die.

He managed to free himself after his captors departed, and made his way
through the miles of jungle to American lines. There he gave valuable
intelligence information to the Marines about an impending Japanese
attack before accepting medical attention.

After spending 12 days in the hospital, Vouza then returned to duty
as the chief scout for the Marines. He accompanied Lieutenant Colonel
Evans F. Carlson and the 2d Marine Raider Battalion when they made
their 30-day raid behind enemy lines at Guadalcanal.

Sergeant Major Vouza was highly decorated for his World War II service.
The Silver Star was presented to him personally by Major General
Alexander A. Vandegrift, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division,
for refusing to give information under Japanese torture. He also was
awarded the Legion of Merit for outstanding service with the 2d Raider
Battalion during November and December 1942, and the British George
Medal for gallant conduct and exceptional devotion to duty. He later
received the Police Long Service Medal and, in 1957, was made a Member
of the British Empire for long and faithful government service.

After the war, Vouza continued to serve his fellow islanders. In 1949,
he was appointed district headman, and president of the Guadalcanal
Council, from 1952-1958. He served as a member of the British Solomon
Islands Protectorate Advisory Council from 1950 to 1960.

He made many friends during his long association with the U.S. Marine
Corps and through the years was continually visited on Guadalcanal by
Marines. During 1968, Vouza visited the United States, where he was
the honored guest of the 1st Marine Division Association. In 1979,
he was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. He died on 15 March
1984.--_Ann A. Ferrante_

[Sidebar (page 23): M3A1 37mm Antitank Gun

The M3 antitank gun, based on the successful German _Panzer Abwehr
Kanone_ (PAK)-36, was developed by the U.S. Army in the late 1930s as
a replacement for the French 37mm Puteaux gun, used in World War I but
unable to destroy new tanks being produced.

The M3 was adopted because of its accuracy, fire control, penetration,
and mobility. Towed by its prime mover, the 4×4 quarter-ton truck,
the gun would trail at 50 mph on roads. When traveling crosscountry,
gullies, shell holes, mud holes, and slopes of 26 degrees were
negotiated with ease. In 1941, the gun was redesignated the M3A1 when
the muzzles were threaded to accept a muzzle brake that was rarely, if
ever, used.

At the time of its adoption, the M3 could destroy any tank then being
produced in the world. However, by the time the United States entered
the war, the M3 was outmatched by the tanks it would have met in
Europe. The Japanese tanks were smaller and more vulnerable to the
M3 throughout the war. In the Pacific, it was used against bunkers,
pillboxes and, when loaded with canister, against banzai charges. It
was employed throughout the war by Marine regimental weapons companies,
but in reduced numbers as the fighting continued. It was replaced in
the European Theater by the M1 57mm antitank gun.

The 37mm antitank gun, manned by a crew of four who fired a 1.61-pound
projectile with an effective range of 500 yards.--_Stephen L. Amos and
Kenneth L. Smith-Christmas_


[Sidebar (page 29):

    The President of the United States
    takes pleasure in presenting
    the Medal of Honor posthumously to
    Douglas Albert Munro
    Signalman First Class
    United States Coast Guard
    for service as set forth
    in the following citation:


    Painting by Bernard D’Andrea, Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard
    Historical Office

  For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above
  and beyond the call of duty as Officer in Charge of a group of
  twenty-four Higgins boats engaged in the evacuation of a battalion
  of Marines trapped by enemy Japanese forces at Point Cruz,
  Guadalcanal, on September 27, 1942. After making preliminary plans
  for the evacuation of nearly five hundred beleaguered Marines,
  Munro, under constant strafing by enemy machine guns on the island
  and at great risk of his life, daringly led five of his small craft
  toward the shore. As he closed the beach, he signalled the others
  to land and then in order to draw the enemy’s fire and protect the
  heavily loaded boats, he valiantly placed his craft, with its two
  small guns, as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese.
  When the perilous task of evacuation was nearly completed, Munro
  was instantly killed by enemy fire, but his crew, two of whom
  were wounded, carried on until the last boat had loaded and
  cleared the beach. By his outstanding leadership, expert planning,
  and dauntless devotion to duty, he and his courageous comrades
  undoubtedly saved the lives of many who otherwise would have
  perished. He gallantly gave up his life in defense of his country.
  /s/ Franklin Roosevelt

_October and the Japanese Offensive_

On 30 September, unexpectedly, a B-17 carrying Admiral Nimitz made an
emergency landing at Henderson Field. The CinCPac made the most of the
opportunity. He visited the front lines, saw Edson’s Ridge, and talked
to a number of Marines. He reaffirmed to Vandegrift that his overriding
mission was to hold the airfield. He promised all the support he could
give and after awarding Navy Crosses to a number of Marines, including
Vandegrift, left the next day visibly encouraged by what he had seen.

[Illustration: _Visiting Guadalcanal on 30 September, Adm Chester W.
Nimitz, CinCPac, took time to decorate LtCol Evans C. Carlson, CO, 2d
Raider Battalion; MajGen Vandegrift, in rear; and, from left, BGen
William H. Rupertus, ADC; Col Merritt A. Edson, CO, 5th Marines; LtCol
Edwin A. Pollock, CO, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines; Maj John L. Smith, CO,

    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 50883

The next Marine move involved a punishing return to the Matanikau,
this time with five infantry battalions and the Whaling group. Whaling
commanded his men and the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, in a thrust
inland to clear the way for two battalions of the 7th Marines, the
1st and 2d, to drive through and hook toward the coast, hitting the
Japanese holding along the Matanikau. Edson’s 2d and 3d Battalions
would attack across the river mouth. All the division’s artillery was
positioned to fire in support.


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 61534

_A M1918 155mm howitzer is fired by artillery crewmen of the 11th
Marines in support of ground forces attacking the enemy. Despite the
lack of sound-flash equipment to locate hostile artillery, Col del
Valle’s guns were able to quiet enemy fire._]

On the 7th, Whaling’s force moved into the jungle about 2,000 yards
upstream on the Matanikau, encountering Japanese troops that harassed
his forward elements, but not in enough strength to stop the advance.
He bypassed the enemy positions and dug in for the night. Behind him
the 7th Marines followed suit, prepared to move through his lines,
cross the river, and attack north toward the Japanese on the 8th. The
5th Marines’ assault battalions moving toward the Matanikau on the
7th ran into Japanese in strength about 400 yards from the river.
Unwittingly, the Marines had run into strong advance elements of the
Japanese _4th Regiment_, which had crossed the Matanikau in order
to establish a base from which artillery could fire into the Marine
perimeter. The fighting was intense and the 3d Battalion, 5th, could
make little progress, although the 2d Battalion encountered slight
opposition and won through to the river bank. It then turned north to
hit the inland flank of the enemy troops. Vandegrift sent forward a
company of raiders to reinforce the 5th, and it took a holding position
on the right, towards the beach.

Rain poured down on the 8th, all day long, virtually stopping all
forward progress, but not halting the close-in fighting around the
Japanese pocket. The enemy troops finally retreated, attempting to
escape the gradually encircling Marines. They smashed into the raider’s
position nearest to their escape route. A wild hand-to-hand battle
ensued and a few Japanese broke through to reach and cross the river.
The rest died fighting.


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 50963

_More than 200 Japanese soldiers alone were killed in a frenzied attack
in the sandspit where the Tenaru River flows into Ironbottom Sound
(Sealark Channel)._]

On the 9th, Whaling’s force, flanked by the 2d and then the 1st
Battalion, 7th Marines, crossed the Matanikau and then turned and
followed ridge lines to the sea. Puller’s battalion discovered a
number of Japanese in a ravine to his front, fired his mortars, and
called in artillery, while his men used rifles and machine guns to pick
off enemy troops trying to escape what proved to be a death trap. When
his mortar ammunition began to run short, Puller moved on toward the
beach, joining the rest of Whaling’s force, which had encountered no
opposition. The Marines then recrossed the Mantanikau, joined Edson’s
troops, and marched back to the perimeter, leaving a strong combat
outpost at the Matanikau, now cleared of Japanese. General Vandegrift,
apprised by intelligence sources that a major Japanese attack was
coming from the west, decided to consolidate his positions, leaving no
sizable Marine force more than a day’s march from the perimeter. The
Marine advance on 7-9 October had thwarted Japanese plans for an early
attack and cost the enemy more than 700 men. The Marines paid a price
too, 65 dead and 125 wounded.

There was another price that Guadalcanal was exacting from both sides.
Disease was beginning to fell men in numbers that equalled the battle
casualties. In addition to gastroenteritis, which greatly weakened
those who suffered its crippling stomach cramps, there were all kinds
of tropical fungus infections, collectively known as “jungle rot,”
which produced uncomfortable rashes on men’s feet, armpits, elbows,
and crotches, a product of seldom being dry. If it didn’t rain, sweat
provided the moisture. On top of this came hundreds of cases of
malaria. Atabrine tablets provided some relief, besides turning the
skin yellow, but they were not effective enough to stop the spread of
the mosquito-borne infection. Malaria attacks were so pervasive that
nothing short of complete prostration, becoming a litter case, could
earn a respite in the hospital. Naturally enough, all these diseases
affected most strongly the men who had been on the island the longest,
particularly those who experienced the early days of short rations.
Vandegrift had already argued with his superiors that when his men
eventually got relieved they should not be sent to another tropical
island hospital, but rather to a place where there was a real change
of atmosphere and climate. He asked that Auckland or Wellington, New
Zealand, be considered.

For the present, however, there was to be no relief for men starting
their third month on Guadalcanal. The Japanese would not abandon their
plan to seize back Guadalcanal and gave painful evidence of their
intentions near mid-October. General Hyakutake himself landed on
Guadalcanal on 7 October to oversee the coming offensive. Elements of
Major General Masao Maruyama’s _Sendai Division_, already a factor in
the fighting near the Matanikau, landed with him. More men were coming.
And the Japanese, taking advantage of the fact that Cactus flyers had
no night attack capability, planned to ensure that no planes at all
would rise from Guadalcanal to meet them.

[Illustration: _By October, malaria began to claim as many casualties
as Japanese artillery, bombs, and naval gunfire. Shown here are the
patients in the division hospital who are ministered to by physicians
and corpsmen working under minimal conditions._]

On 11 October, U.S. Navy surface ships took a hand in stopping
the “Tokyo Express,” the nickname that had been given to Admiral
Tanaka’s almost nightly reinforcement forays. A covering force of
five cruisers and five destroyers, located near Rennell Island and
commanded by Rear Admiral Norman Scott, got word that many ships were
approaching Guadalcanal. Scott’s mission was to protect an approaching
reinforcement convoy and he steamed toward Cactus at flank speed
eager to engage. He encountered more ships than he had expected, a
bombardment group of three heavy cruisers and two destroyers, as
well as six destroyers escorting two seaplane carrier transports.
Scott maneuvered between Savo Island and Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal’s
western tip, and ran head-on into the bombardment group.

Alerted by a scout plane from his flagship, _San Francisco_ (CA 38),
spottings later confirmed by radar contacts on the _Helena_ (CL 50),
the Americans opened fire before the Japanese, who had no radar,
knew of their presence. One enemy destroyer sank immediately, two
cruisers were badly damaged, one, the _Furutaka_, later foundered,
and the remaining cruiser and destroyer turned away from the inferno
of American fire. Scott’s own force was punished by enemy return fire
which damaged two cruisers and two destroyers, one of which, the
_Duncan_ (DD 485), sank the following day. On the 12th too, Cactus
flyers spotted two of the reinforcement destroyer escorts retiring
and sank them both. The Battle of Cape Esperance could be counted an
American naval victory, one sorely needed at the time.

[Illustration: _Maj Harold W. Bauer, VMF-212 commander, here a captain,
was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after being lost during a
scramble with Japanese aircraft over Guadalcanal._

    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 410772

Its way cleared by Scott’s encounter with the Japanese, a really
welcome reinforcement convoy arrived at the island on 13 October when
the 164th Infantry of the Americal Division arrived. The soldiers,
members of a National Guard outfit originally from North Dakota, were
equipped with Garand M-1 rifles, a weapon of which most overseas
Marines had only heard. In rate of fire, the semiautomatic Garand could
easily outperform the single-shot, bolt-action Springfields the Marines
carried and the bolt-action rifles the Japanese carried, but most 1st
Division Marines of necessity touted the Springfield as inherently more
accurate and a better weapon. This did not prevent some light-fingered
Marines from acquiring Garands when the occasion presented itself. And
such an occasion did present itself while the soldiers were landing and
their supplies were being moved to dumps. Several flights of Japanese
bombers arrived over Henderson Field, relatively unscathed by the
defending fighters, and began dropping their bombs. The soldiers headed
for cover and alert Marines, inured to the bombing, used the interval
to “liberate” interesting cartons and crates. The news that the Army
had arrived spread across the island like wildfire, for it meant to all
Marines that they eventually would be relieved. There was hope.


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photos 304183 and 302980

_Two other Marine aviators awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism and
intrepidity in the air were Capt Jefferson J. DeBlanc, left, and Maj
Robert E. Galer, right._]

As if the bombing was not enough grief, the Japanese opened on the
airfield with their 150mm howitzers also. Altogether the men of the
164th got a rude welcome to Guadalcanal. And on that night, 13-14
October, they shared a terrifying experience with the Marines that no
one would ever forget.

Determined to knock out Henderson Field and protect their soldiers
landing in strength west of Koli Point, the enemy commanders sent the
battleships _Kongo_ and _Haruna_ into Ironbottom Sound to bombard
the Marine positions. The usual Japanese flare planes heralded
the bombardment, 80 minutes of sheer hell which had 14-inch shells
exploding with such effect that the accompanying cruiser fire was
scarcely noticed. No one was safe; no place was safe. No dugout had
been built to withstand 14-inch shells. One witness, a seasoned veteran
demonstrably cool under enemy fire, opined that there was nothing worse
in war than helplessly being on the receiving end of naval gunfire.
He remembered “huge trees being cut apart and flying about like
toothpicks.” And he was on the frontlines, not the prime enemy target.
The airfield and its environs were a shambles when dawn broke. The
naval shelling, together with the night’s artillery fire and bombing,
had left Cactus Air Force’s commander, General Geiger, with a handful
of aircraft still flyable, an airfield thickly cratered by shells and
bombs, and a death toll of 41. Still, from Henderson or Fighter One,
which now became the main airstrip, the Cactus Flyers had to attack,
for the morning also revealed a shore and sea full of inviting targets.

The expected enemy convoy had gotten through and Japanese transports
and landing craft were everywhere near Tassafaronga. At sea the
escorting cruisers and destroyers provided a formidable antiaircraft
screen. Every American plane that could fly did. General Geiger’s aide,
Major Jack Cram, took off in the general’s PBY, hastily rigged to carry
two torpedoes, and put one of them into the side of an enemy transport
as it was unloading. He landed the lumbering flying boat with enemy
aircraft hot on his tail. A new squadron of F4Fs, VMF-212, commanded
by Major Harold W. Bauer, flew in during the day’s action, landed,
refueled, and took off to join the fighting. An hour later, Bauer
landed again, this time with four enemy bombers to his credit. Bauer,
who added to his score of Japanese aircraft kills in later air battles,
was subsequently lost in action. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, as
were four other Marine pilots of the early Cactus Air Force: Captain
Jefferson J. DeBlanc (VMF-112); Captain Joseph J. Foss (VMF-121); Major
Robert E. Galer (VMF-224); and Major John L. Smith (VMF-223).

The Japanese had landed more than enough troops to destroy the Marine
beachhead and seize the airfield. At least General Hyakutake thought
so, and he heartily approved General Maruyama’s plan to move most of
the _Sendai Division_ through the jungle, out of sight and out of
contact with the Marines, to strike from the south in the vicinity
of Edson’s Ridge. Roughly 7,000 men, each carrying a mortar or
artillery shell, started the trek along the Maruyama Trail which had
been partially hacked out of the jungle well inland from the Marine
positions. Maruyama, who had approved the trail’s name to indicate his
confidence, intended to support this attack with heavy mortars and
infantry guns (70mm pack howitzers). The men who had to lug, push, and
drag these supporting arms over the miles of broken ground, across
two major streams, the Mantanikau and the Lunga, and through heavy
underbrush, might have had another name for their commander’s path to
supposed glory.

[Illustration: _A Marine examines a Japanese 70mm howitzer captured at
the Battle of the Tenaru. Gen Maruyama’s troops “had to lug, push, and
drag these supporting arms over the miles of broken ground, across two
major streams and through heavy underbrush” to get them to the target
area--but they never did. The trail behind them was littered with the
supplies they carried._

    Photo courtesy of Col James A. Donovan, Jr.

General Vandegrift knew the Japanese were going to attack. Patrols and
reconnaissance flights had clearly indicated the push would be from the
west, where the enemy reinforcements had landed. The American commander
changed his dispositions accordingly. There were Japanese troops east
of the perimeter, too, but not in any significant strength. The new
infantry regiment, the 164th, reinforced by Marine special weapons
units, was put into the line to hold the eastern flank along 6,600
yards, curving inland to join up with 7th Marines near Edson’s Ridge.
The 7th held 2,500 yards from the ridge to the Lunga. From the Lunga,
the 1st Marines had a 3,500-yard sector of jungle running west to the
point where the line curved back to the beach again in the 5th Marines’
sector. Since the attack was expected from the west, the 3d Battalions
of each of the 1st and 7th Marines held a strong outpost position
forward of the 5th Marines’ lines along the east bank of the Matanikau.

In the lull before the attack, if a time of patrol clashes, Japanese
cruiser-destroyer bombardments, bomber attacks, and artillery
harassment could properly be called a lull, Vandegrift was visited
by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Lieutenant General Thomas
Holcomb. The Commandant flew in on 21 October to see for himself
how his Marines were faring. It also proved to be an occasion for
both senior Marines to meet the new ComSoPac, Vice Admiral William F.
“Bull” Halsey. Admiral Nimitz had announced Halsey’s appointment on 18
October and the news was welcome in Navy and Marine ranks throughout
the Pacific. Halsey’s deserved reputation for elan and aggressiveness
promised renewed attention to the situation on Guadalcanal. On the
22d, Holcomb and Vandegrift flew to Noumea to meet with Halsey and to
receive and give a round of briefings on the Allied situation. After
Vandegrift had described his position, he argued strongly against the
diversion of reinforcements intended for Cactus to any other South
Pacific venue, a sometime factor of Admiral Turner’s strategic vision.
He insisted that he needed all of the Americal Division and another 2d
Marine Division regiment to beef up his forces, and that more than half
of his veterans were worn out by three months’ fighting and the ravages
of jungle-incurred diseases. Admiral Halsey told the Marine general:
“You go back there, Vandegrift. I promise to get you everything I have.”


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 13628

_During a lull in the fight, a Marine machine gunner takes a break for
coffee, with his sub-machine gun on his knee and his 30-caliber light
machine gun in position._]

When Vandegrift returned to Guadalcanal, Holcomb moved on to Pearl
Harbor to meet with Nimitz, carrying Halsey’s recommendation that, in
the future, landing force commanders once established ashore, would
have equal command status with Navy amphibious force commanders. At
Pearl, Nimitz approved Halsey’s recommendation--which Holcomb had
drafted--and in Washington so did King. In effect, then, the command
status of all future Pacific amphibious operations was determined by
the events of Guadalcanal. Another piece of news Vandegrift received
from Holcomb also boded well for the future of the Marine Corps.
Holcomb indicated that if President Roosevelt did not reappoint him,
unlikely in view of his age and two terms in office, he would recommend
that Vandegrift be appointed the next Commandant.


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 513191

_On the occasion of the visit of the Commandant, MajGen Thomas Holcomb,
some of Operation Watchtower’s major staff and command officers took
time out from the fighting to pose with him. From left, front row:
Col William J. Whaling (Whaling Group); Col Amor LeRoy Sims (CO, 7th
Marines); Col Gerald C. Thomas (Division Chief of Staff); Col Pedro
A. del Valle (CO, 11th Marines); Col William E. Riley (member of
Gen Holcomb’s party); MajGen Roy S. Geiger (CG, 1st Marine Aircraft
Wing); Gen Holcomb; MajGen Ralph J. Mitchell (Director of Aviation,
Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps); BGen Bennet Puryear, Jr. (Assistant
Quartermaster of the Marine Corps); Col Clifton B. Cates (CO, 1st
Marines). Second row (between Whaling and Sims): LtCol Raymond P.
Coffman (Division Supply Officer); Maj James C. Murray (Division
Personnel Officer); (behind Gen Holcomb) LtCol Merrill B. Twining
(Division Operations Officer)._]

This news of future events had little chance of diverting Vandegrift’s
attention when he flew back to Guadalcanal, for the Japanese were in
the midst of their planned offensive. On the 20th, an enemy patrol
accompanied by two tanks tried to find a way through the line held
by Lieutenant Colonel William N. McKelvy, Jr.’s 3d Battalion, 1st
Marines. A sharpshooting 37mm gun crew knocked out one tank and the
enemy force fell back, meanwhile shelling the Marine positions with
artillery. Near sunset the next day, the Japanese tried again, this
time with more artillery fire and more tanks in the fore, but again
a 37mm gun knocked out a lead tank and discouraged the attack. On 22
October, the enemy paused, waiting for Maruyama’s force to get into
position inland. On the 23d, planned as the day of the _Sendai_’s main
attack, the Japanese dropped a heavy rain of artillery and mortar fire
on McKelvy’s positions near the Matanikau River mouth. Near dusk, nine
18-ton medium tanks clanked out of the trees onto the river’s sandbar
and just as quickly eight of them were riddled by the 37s. One tank got
across the river, a Marine blasted a track off with a grenade, and
a 75mm halftrack finished it off in the ocean’s surf. The following
enemy infantry was smothered by Marine artillery fire as all battalions
of the augmented 11th Marines rained shells on the massed attackers.
Hundreds of Japanese were casualties and three more tanks were
destroyed. Later, an inland thrust further upstream was easily beaten
back. The abortive coastal attack did almost nothing to aid Maruyama’s
inland offensive, but did cause Vandegrift to shift one battalion, the
2d Battalion, 7th Marines, out of the lines to the east and into the
4,000-yard gap between the Matanikau position and the perimeter. This
move proved providential since one of Maruyama’s planned attacks was
headed right for this area.

Although patrols had encountered no Japanese east or south of the
jungled perimeter up to the 24th, the Matanikau attempts had alerted
everyone. When General Maruyama finally was satisfied that his men had
struggled through to appropriate assault positions, after delaying his
day of attack three times, he was ready on 24 October. The Marines were

An observer from the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, spotted an enemy
officer surveying Edson’s Ridge on the 24th, and scout-snipers reported
smoke from numerous rice fires rising from a valley about two miles
south of Lieutenant Colonel Puller’s positions. Six battalions of the
_Sendai Division_ were poised to attack, and near midnight the first
elements of the enemy hit and bypassed a platoon-sized outpost forward
of Puller’s barbed-wire entanglements. Warned by the outpost, Puller’s
men waited, straining to see through a dark night and a driving rain.
Suddenly, the Japanese charged out of the jungle, attacking in Puller’s
area near the ridge and the flat ground to the east. The Marines
replied with everything they had, calling in artillery, firing
mortars, relying heavily on crossing fields of machine gun fire to cut
down the enemy infantrymen. Thankfully, the enemy’s artillery, mortars,
and other supporting arms were scattered back along the Maruyama Trail;
they had proved too much of a burden for the infantrymen to carry


    Marine Corps Personal Papers Collection

_Five Japanese tanks sit dead in the water, destroyed by Marine 37mm
gunfire during the abortive attempt to force the Marine perimeter
near the mouth of the Matanikau River in late October. Many Japanese
soldiers lost their lives also._]

A wedge was driven into the Marine lines, but eventually straightened
out with repeated counterattacks. Puller soon realized his battalion
was being hit by a strong Japanese force capable of repeated attacks.
He called for reinforcements and the Army’s 3d Battalion, 164th
Infantry (Lieutenant Colonel Robert K. Hall), was ordered forward, its
men sliding and slipping in the rain as they trudged a mile south along
Edson’s Ridge. Puller met Hall at the head of his column, and the two
officers walked down the length of the Marine lines, peeling off an
Army squad at a time to feed into the lines. When the Japanese attacked
again as they did all night long, the soldiers and Marines fought back
together. By 0330, the Army battalion was completely integrated into
the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines’ lines and the enemy attacks were
getting weaker and weaker. The American return fire--including flanking
fire from machine guns and Weapons Company, 7th Marines’ 37mm guns
remaining in the positions held by 2d Battalion, 164th Infantry, on
Puller’s left--was just too much to take. Near dawn, Maruyama pulled
his men back to regroup and prepare to attack again.

With daylight, Puller and Hall reordered the lines, putting the 3d
Battalion, 164th, into its own positions on Puller’s left, tying in
with the rest of the Army regiment. The driving rains had turned
Fighter One into a quagmire, effectively grounding Cactus flyers.
Japanese planes used the “free ride” to bomb Marine positions. Their
artillery fired incessantly and a pair of Japanese destroyers added
their gunfire to the bombardment until they got too close to the shore
and the 3d Defense Battalion’s 5-inch guns drove them off. As the sun
bore down, the runways dried and afternoon enemy attacks were met by
Cactus fighters, who downed 22 Japanese planes with a loss of three of
their own.

As night came on again, Maruyama tried more of the same, with the same
result. The Army-Marine lines held and the Japanese were cut down in
droves by rifle, machine gun, mortar, 37mm, and artillery fire. To the
west, an enemy battalion mounted three determined attacks against the
positions held by Lieutenant Colonel Herman H. Hanneken’s 2d Battalion,
7th Marines, thinly tied in with Puller’s battalion on the left and the
3d Battalion, 7th Marines, on the right. The enemy finally penetrated
the positions held by Company F, but a counterattack led by Major Odell
M. Conoley, the battalion’s executive officer, drove off the Japanese.
Again at daylight the American positions were secure and the enemy had
retreated. They would not come back; the grand Japanese offensive of
the _Sendai Division_ was over.

About 3,500 enemy troops had died during the attacks. General
Maruyama’s proud boast that he “would exterminate the enemy around
the airfield in one blow” proved an empty one. What was left of his
force now straggled back over the Maruyama Trail, losing, as had the
Kawaguchi force in the same situation, most of its seriously wounded
men. The Americans, Marines and soldiers together, probably lost 300
men killed and wounded; existing records are sketchy and incomplete.
One result of the battle, however, was a warm welcome to the 164th
Infantry from the 1st Marine Division. Vandegrift particularly
commended Lieutenant Colonel Hall’s battalion, stating the “division
was proud to have serving with it another unit which had stood the test
of battle.” And Colonel Cates sent a message to the 164th’s Colonel
Bryant Moore saying that the 1st Marines “were proud to serve with a
unit such as yours.”

Amidst all the heroics of the two nights’ fighting there were many men
who were singled out for recognition and an equally large number who
performed great deeds that were never recognized. Two men stood out
above all others, and on succeeding nights, Sergeant John Basilone of
the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, and Platoon Sergeant Mitchell Paige of
the 2d Battalion, both machine gun section heads, were recognized as
having performed “above and beyond the call of duty” in the inspiring
words of their Medal of Honor citations.

[Sidebar (page 37): Reising Gun

The Reising gun was designed and developed by noted gun inventor Eugene
Reising. It was patented in 1940 and manufactured by the old gun-making
firm of Harrington and Richardson of Worcester, Massachusetts. It is
said that it was made on existing machine tools, some dating back
to the Civil War, and of ordinary steel rather than ordnance steel.
With new machine tools and ordnance steel scarce and needed for more
demanding weapons, the Reising met an immediate requirement for many
sub-machine guns at a time when production of Thompson M1928 and M1
sub-machine guns hadn’t caught up with demand and the stamped-out M3
“grease gun” had not yet been invented. It was a wartime expedient.


    Captain Donald L. Dickson, USMCR

The Reising was made in two different models, the 50 and the 55. The
Model 50 had a full wooden stock and a Cutts compensator attached
to the muzzle. The compensator, a device which reduced the upward
muzzle climb from recoil, was invented by Richard M. Cutts, Sr., and
his son, Richard M. Cutts, Jr., both of whom became Marine brigadier
generals. The other version was dubbed the Model 55. It had a folding
metal-wire shoulder stock which swivelled on the wooden pistol grip.
It also had a shorter barrel and no compensator. It was intended for
use by parachutists, tank crews, and others needing a compact weapon.
Both versions of the Reising fired .45-caliber ammunition, the same
cartridge as the Colt automatic pistol and the Thompson.

In all, there were approximately 100,000 Reising sub-machine guns
produced between 1940 and 1942. Small numbers of the weapons were
acquired by both Great Britain and the Soviet Union. However, most
were used by the U.S. Marine Corps in the Solomon Islands campaign.
The Model 55 was issued to both Marine parachute battalions and Marine
raiders, seeing service first on Guadalcanal. After its dubious debut
in combat it was withdrawn from frontline service in 1943 due to
several flaws in design and manufacture.

The Reising’s major shortcoming was its propensity for jamming. This
was due to both a design problem in the magazine lips and the fact
that magazines were made of a soft sheet steel. The weapon’s safety
mechanism didn’t always work and if the butt was slammed down on the
deck, the hammer would set back against the mainspring and then fly
forward, firing a chambered cartridge. The design allowed the entry of
dirt into the mechanism and close tolerances caused it to jam. Finally,
the steel used allowed excessive rust to form in the tropical humidity
of the Solomons. Nevertheless, at six pounds, the Reising was handier
than the 10-pound Thompson, more accurate, pleasanter to shoot, and
reliable under other than combat conditions, but one always had to
keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. The Model 50 was also
issued to Marines for guard duty at posts and stations in the United
States.--_John G. Griffiths_

_November and the Continuing Buildup_

While the soldiers and Marines were battling the Japanese ashore,
a patrol plane sighted a large Japanese fleet near the Santa Cruz
Islands to the east of the Solomons. The enemy force was formidable, 4
carriers and 4 battleships, 8 cruisers and 28 destroyers, all poised
for a victorious attack when Maruyama’s capture of Henderson Field
was signalled. Admiral Halsey’s reaction to the inviting targets was
characteristic, he signaled Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, with the
_Hornet_ and _Enterprise_ carrier groups located north of the New
Hebrides: “Attack Repeat Attack.”

[Illustration: _Heavy tropical downpours at Guadalcanal all but flood
out a Marine camp near Henderson Field, and the field as well. Marines’
damp clothing and bedding contributed to the heavy incidence of
tormenting skin infections and fungal disorders._

    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo

Early on 26 October, American SBDs located the Japanese carriers
at about the same time Japanese scout planes spotted the American
carriers. The Japanese _Zuiho_’s flight deck was holed by the scout
bombers, cancelling flight operations, but the other three enemy
carriers launched strikes. The two air armadas tangled as each strove
to reach the other’s carriers. The _Hornet_ was hit repeatedly by bombs
and torpedoes; two Japanese pilots also crashed their planes on board.
The damage to the ship was so extensive, the _Hornet_ was abandoned
and sunk. The _Enterprise_, the battleship _South Dakota_, the light
cruiser _San Juan_ (CL 54), and the destroyer _Smith_ (DD 378) were
also hit; the destroyer _Porter_ (DD 356) was sunk. On the Japanese
side, no ships were sunk, but three carriers and two destroyers were
damaged. One hundred Japanese planes were lost; 74 U.S. planes went
down. Taken together, the results of the Battle of Santa Cruz were
a standoff. The Japanese naval leaders might have continued their
attacks, but instead, disheartened by the defeat of their ground
forces on Guadalcanal, withdrew to attack another day.


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 74093

_Marine engineers repair a flood-damaged Lunga River bridge washed out
during a period when 8 inches of rain fell in 24 hours and the river
rose 7 feet above normal._]

The departure of the enemy naval force marked a period in which
substantial reinforcements reached the island. The headquarters of the
2d Marines had finally found transport space to come up from Espiritu
Santo and on 29 and 30 October, Colonel Arthur moved his regiment
from Tulagi to Guadalcanal, exchanging his 1st and 2d Battalions for
the well-blooded 3d, which took up the Tulagi duties. The 2d Marines’
battalions at Tulagi had performed the very necessary task of scouting
and securing all the small islands of the Florida group while they had
camped, frustrated, watching the battles across Sealark Channel. The
men now would no longer be spectators at the big show.

On 2 November, planes from VMSB-132 and VMF-211 flew into the Cactus
fields from New Caledonia. MAG-11 squadrons moved forward from New
Caledonia to Espiritu Santo to be closer to the battle scene; the
flight echelons now could operate forward to Guadalcanal and with
relative ease. On the ground side, two batteries of 155mm guns, one
Army and one Marine, landed on 2 November, providing Vandegrift with
his first artillery units capable of matching the enemy’s long-range
150mm guns. On the 4th and 5th, the 8th Marines (Colonel Richard H.
Jeschke) arrived from American Samoa. The full-strength regiment,
reinforced by the 75mm howitzers of the 1st Battalion, 10th Marines,
added another 4,000 men to the defending forces. All the fresh troops
reflected a renewed emphasis at all levels of command on making sure
Guadalcanal would be held. The reinforcement-replacement pipeline was
being filled. In the offing as part of the Guadalcanal defending force
were the rest of the Americal Division, the remainder of the 2d Marine
Division, and the Army’s 25th Infantry Division, then in Hawaii. More
planes of every type and from Allied as well as American sources were
slated to reinforce and replace the battered and battle-weary Cactus

The impetus for the heightened pace of reinforcement had been provided
by President Roosevelt. Cutting through the myriad demands for American
forces worldwide, he had told each of the Joint Chiefs on 24 October
that Guadalcanal must be reinforced, and without delay.

On the island, the pace of operations did not slacken after the
Maruyama offensive was beaten back. General Vandegrift wanted to clear
the area immediately west of the Matanikau of all Japanese troops,
forestalling, if he could, another buildup of attacking forces. Admiral
Tanaka’s Tokyo Express was still operating and despite punishing
attacks by Cactus aircraft and new and deadly opponents, American motor
torpedo boats, now based at Tulagi.

On 1 November, the 5th Marines, backed up by the newly arrived
2d Marines, attacked across bridges engineers had laid over the
Matanikau during the previous night. Inland, Colonel Whaling led
his scout-snipers and the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, in a screening
movement to protect the flank of the main attack. Opposition was fierce
in the shore area where the 1st Battalion, 5th, drove forward toward
Point Cruz, but inland the 2d Battalion and Whaling’s group encountered
slight opposition. By nightfall, when the Marines dug in, it was clear
that the only sizable enemy force was in the Point Cruz area. In the
days bitter fighting, Corporal Anthony Casamento, a badly wounded
machine gun squad leader in Edson’s 1st Battalion, had so distinguished
himself that he was recommended for a Navy Cross; many years later, in
August 1980, President Jimmy Carter approved the award of the Medal of
Honor in its stead.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 56749

_2dLt Mitchell Paige, third from left, and PltSgt John Basilone,
extreme right, received the Medal of Honor at a parade at Camp
Balcombe, Australia, on 21 May 1943. MajGen Vandegrift, left, received
his medal in a White House ceremony the previous 5 February, while Col
Merritt A. Edson was decorated 31 December 1943. Note the 1st Marine
Division patches on the right shoulders of each participant._]

On the 2d, the attack continued with the reserve 3d Battalion moving
into the fight and all three 5th Marines units moving to surround
the enemy defenders. On 3 November, the Japanese pocket just west
of the base at Point Cruz was eliminated; well over 300 enemy had
been killed. Elsewhere, the attacking Marines had encountered spotty
resistance and advanced slowly across difficult terrain to a point
about 1,000 yards beyond the 5th Marines’ action. There, just as the
offensive’s objectives seemed well in hand, the advance was halted.
Again, the intelligence that a massive enemy reinforcement attempt was
pending forced Vandegrift to pull back most of his men to safeguard
the all-important airfield perimeter. This time, however, he left a
regiment to outpost the ground that had been gained, Colonel Arthur’s
2d Marines, reinforced by the Army’s 1st Battalion, 164th Infantry.

Emphasizing the need for caution in Vandegrift’s mind was the fact that
the Japanese were again discovered in strength east of the perimeter.
On 3 November, Lieutenant Colonel Hanneken’s 2d Battalion, 7th Marines,
on a reconnaissance in force towards Koli Point, could see the
Japanese ships clustered near Tetere, eight miles from the perimeter.
His Marines encountered strong Japanese resistance from obviously
fresh troops and he began to pull back. A regiment of the enemy’s
_38th Division_ had landed, as Hyakutake experimented with a Japanese
Navy-promoted scheme of attacking the perimeter from both flanks.


    Marine Corps Historical Photo Collection

_In a White House ceremony, former Cpl Anthony Casamento, a machine
gun squad leader in the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, was decorated by
President Jimmy Carter on 22 August 1980, 38 years after the battle for
Guadalcanal. Looking on are Casarnento’s wife and daughters and Gen
Robert H. Barrow, Marine Commandant._]

[Illustration: _Sgt Clyde Thomason, who was killed in action
participating in the Makin Island raid with the 2d Raider Battalion,
was the first enlisted Marine in World War II to be awarded the Medal
of Honor._

    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 310616

As Hanneken’s battalion executed a fighting withdrawal along the beach,
it began to receive fire from the jungle inland, too. A rescue force
was soon put together under General Rupertus: two tank companies,
the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, and the 2d and 3d Battalions of the
164th. The Japanese troops, members of the _38th Division_ regiment and
remnants of Kawaguchi’s brigade, fought doggedly to hold their ground
as the Marines drove forward along the coast and the soldiers attempted
to outflank the enemy in the jungle. The running battle continued for
days, supported by Cactus air, naval gunfire, and the newly landed
155mm guns.

The enemy commander received new orders as he was struggling to hold
off the Americans. He was to break off the action, move inland, and
march to rejoin the main Japanese forces west of the perimeter, a tall
order to fulfill. The two-pronged attack scheme had been abandoned.
The Japanese managed the first part; on the 11th the enemy force found
a gap in the 164th’s line and broke through along a meandering jungle
stream. Behind they left 450 dead over the course of a seven-day
battle; the Marines and soldiers had lost 40 dead and 120 wounded.

Essentially, the Japanese who broke out of the encircling Americans
escaped from the frying pan only to fall into the fire. Admiral
Turner finally had been able to effect one of his several schemes for
alternative landings and beachheads, all of which General Vandegrift
vehemently opposed. At Aola Bay, 40 miles east of the main perimeter,
the Navy put an airfield construction and defense force ashore on 4
November. Then, while the Japanese were still battling the Marines near
Tetere, Vandegrift was able to persuade Turner to detach part of this
landing force, the 2d Raider Battalion, to sweep west, to discover and
destroy any enemy forces it encountered.

Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson’s raider battalion already had seen
action before it reached Guadalcanal. Two companies had reinforced the
defenders of Midway Island when the Japanese attacked there in June.
The rest of the battalion had landed from submarines on Makin Island
in the Gilberts on 17-18 August, destroying the garrison there. For his
part in the fighting on Makin, Sergeant Clyde Thomason had been awarded
a Medal of Honor posthumously, the first Marine enlisted man to receive
his country’s highest award in World War II.

In its march from Aola Bay, the 2d Raider Battalion encountered the
Japanese who were attempting to retreat to the west. On 12 November,
the raiders beat off attacks by two enemy companies and then
relentlessly pursued the Japanese, fighting a series of small actions
over the next five days before they contacted the main Japanese body.
From 17 November to 4 December, when the raiders finally came down out
of the jungled ridges into the perimeter, Carlson’s men harried the
retreating enemy. They killed nearly 500 Japanese. Their own losses
were 16 killed and 18 wounded.

The Aola Bay venture, which had provided the 2d Raider Battalion a
starting point for its month-long jungle campaign, proved a bust. The
site chosen for a new airfield was unsuitable, too wet and unstable,
and the whole force moved to Koli Point in early December, where
another airfield eventually was constructed.

The buildup on Guadalcanal continued, by both sides. On 11 November,
guarded by a cruiser-destroyer covering force, a convoy ran in carrying
the 182d Infantry, another regiment of the Americal Division. The ships
were pounded by enemy bombers and three transports were hit, but the
men landed. General Vandegrift needed the new men badly. His veterans
were truly ready for replacement; more than a thousand new cases of
malaria and related diseases were reported each week. The Japanese who
had been on the island any length of time were no better off; they
were, in fact, in worse shape. Medical supplies and rations were in
short supply. The whole thrust of the Japanese reinforcement effort
continued to be to get troops and combat equipment ashore. The idea
prevailed in Tokyo, despite all evidence to the contrary, that one
overwhelming coordinated assault would crush the American resistance.
The enemy drive to take Port Moresby on New Guinea was put on hold to
concentrate all efforts on driving the Americans off of Guadalcanal.


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 51728

_Native guides lead 2d Raider Battalion Marines on a
combat/reconnaissance patrol behind Japanese lines. The patrol lasted
for less than a month, during which the Marines covered 150 miles and
fought more than a dozen actions._]

On 12 November, a multifaceted Japanese naval force converged on
Guadalcanal to cover the landing of the main body of the _38th
Division_. Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan’s cruisers and destroyers,
the close-in protection for the 182d’s transports, moved to stop
the enemy. Coastwatcher and scout plane sightings and radio traffic
intercepts had identified two battleships, two carriers, four cruisers,
and a host of destroyers all headed toward Guadalcanal. A bombardment
group led by the battleships _Hiei_ and _Kirishima_, with the light
cruiser _Nagura_, and 15 destroyers spearheaded the attack. Shortly
after midnight, near Savo Island, Callaghan’s cruisers picked up the
Japanese on radar and continued to close. The battle was joined at
such short range that each side fired at times on their own ships.
Callaghan’s flagship, the _San Francisco_, was hit 15 times, Callaghan
was killed, and the ship had to limp away. The cruiser _Atlanta_ (CL
104) was also hit and set afire. Rear Admiral Norman Scott, who was
on board, was killed. Despite the hammering by Japanese fire, the
Americans held and continued fighting. The battleship _Hiei_, hit
by more than 80 shells, retired and with it went the rest of the
bombardment force. Three destroyers were sunk and four others damaged.


    Department of Defense (Navy) Photos 80-G-20824 and 80-G-21099

_In the great naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 12-15 November, RAdm Daniel
J. Callaghan was killed when his flagship, the heavy cruiser_ San
Francisco _(CA 38) took 15 major hits and was forced to limp away in
the dark from the scene of action._]

The Americans had accomplished their purpose; they had forced the
Japanese to turn back. The cost was high. Two antiaircraft cruisers,
the _Atlanta_ and the _Juneau_ (CL 52), were sunk; four destroyers, the
_Barton_ (DD 599), _Cushing_ (DD 376), _Monssen_ (DD 436), and _Laffey_
(DD 459), also went to the bottom. In addition to the _San Francisco_,
the heavy cruiser _Portland_ (CA 33) and the destroyers _Sterret_ (DD
407) and _Aaron Ward_ (DD 483) were damaged. Only one destroyer of the
13 American ships engaged, the _Fletcher_ (DD 445), was unscathed when
the survivors retired to the New Hebrides.

With daylight came the Cactus bombers and fighters; they found the
crippled _Hiei_ and pounded it mercilessly. On the 14th the Japanese
were forced to scuttle it. Admiral Halsey ordered his only surviving
carrier, the _Enterprise_, out of the Guadalcanal area to get it out of
reach of Japanese aircraft and sent his battleships _Washington_ (BB
56) and _South Dakota_ (BB 55) with four escorting destroyers north
to meet the Japanese. Some of the _Enterprise_’s planes flew in to
Henderson Field to help even the odds.

On 14 November Cactus and _Enterprise_ flyers found a Japanese
cruiser-destroyer force that had pounded the island on the night of 13
November. They damaged four cruisers and a destroyer. After refueling
and rearming they went after the approaching Japanese troop convoy.
They hit several transports in one attack and sank one when they came
back again. Army B-17s up from Espiritu Santo scored one hit and
several near misses, bombing from 17,000 feet.

Moving in a continuous pattern of attack, return, refuel, rearm, and
attack again, the planes from Guadalcanal hit nine transports, sinking
seven. Many of the 5,000 troops on the stricken ships were rescued
by Tanaka’s destroyers, which were firing furiously and laying smoke
screens in an attempt to protect the transports. The admiral later
recalled that day as indelible in his mind, with memories of “bombs
wobbling down from high-flying B-17s; of carrier bombers roaring
towards targets as though to plunge full into the water, releasing
bombs and pulling out barely in time, each miss sending up towering
clouds of mist and spray, every hit raising clouds of smoke and fire.”
Despite the intensive aerial attack, Tanaka continued on to Guadalcanal
with four destroyers and four transports.

Japanese intelligence had picked up the approaching American battleship
force and warned Tanaka of its advent. In turn, the enemy admirals sent
their own battleship-cruiser force to intercept. The Americans, led by
Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee in the _Washington_, reached Sealark Channel
about 2100 on the 14th. An hour later, a Japanese cruiser was picked up
north of Savo. Battleship fire soon turned it away. The Japanese now
learned that their opponents would not be the cruisers they expected.

The resulting clash, fought in the glare of gunfire and Japanese
searchlights, was perhaps the most significant fought at sea for
Guadalcanal. When the melee was over, the American battleships’ 16-inch
guns had more than matched the Japanese. Both the _South Dakota_ and
the _Washington_ were damaged badly enough to force their retirement,
but the _Kirishima_ was punished to its abandonment and death. One
Japanese and three American destroyers, the _Benham_ (DD 796), the
_Walke_ (DD 416), and the _Preston_ (DD 379), were sunk. When the
Japanese attack force retired, Admiral Tanaka ran his four transports
onto the beach, knowing they would be sitting targets at daylight.
Most of the men on board, however, did manage to get ashore before the
inevitable pounding by American planes, warships, and artillery.

Ten thousand troops of the _38th Division_ had landed, but the Japanese
were in no shape to ever again attempt a massive reinforcement. The
horrific losses in the frequent naval clashes, which seemed at times
to favor the Japanese, did not really represent a standoff. Every
American ship lost or damaged could and would be replaced; every
Japanese ship lost meant a steadily diminishing fleet. In the air, the
losses on both sides were daunting, but the enemy naval air arm would
never recover from its losses of experienced carrier pilots. Two years
later, the Battle of the Philippine Sea between American and Japanese
carriers would aptly be called the “Marianas Turkey Shoot” because of
the ineptitude of the Japanese trainee pilots.


    Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 53510

_A Japanese troop transport and her landing craft were badly damaged
by the numerous Marine air attacks and were forced to run aground on
Kokumbona beach after the naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Many enemy
troops were killed in the attacks._]

The enemy troops who had been fortunate enough to reach land were
not immediately ready to assault the American positions. The _38th
Division_ and the remnants of the various Japanese units that had
previously tried to penetrate the Marine lines needed to be shaped into
a coherent attack force before General Hyakutake could again attempt to
take Henderson Field.

General Vandegrift now had enough fresh units to begin to replace his
veteran troops along the front lines. The decision to replace the 1st
Marine Division with the Army’s 25th Infantry Division had been made.
Admiral Turner had told Vandegrift to leave all of his heavy equipment
on the island when he did pull out “in hopes of getting your units
re-equipped when you come out.” He also told the Marine general that
the Army would command the final phases of the Guadalcanal operation
since it would provide the majority of the combat forces once the 1st
Division departed. Major General Alexander M. Patch, commander of
the Americal Division, would relieve Vandegrift as senior American
officer ashore. His air support would continue to be Marine-dominated
as General Geiger, now located on Espiritu Santo with 1st Wing
headquarters, fed his squadrons forward to maintain the offensive. And
the air command on Guadalcanal itself would continue to be a mixed bag
of Army, Navy, Marine, and Allied squadrons.

The sick list of the 1st Marine Division in November included more than
3,200 men with malaria. The men of the 1st still manning the frontline
foxholes and the rear areas--if anyplace within Guadalcanal’s perimeter
could properly be called a rear area--were plain worn out. They had
done their part and they knew it.

On 29 November, General Vandegrift was handed a message from the Joint
Chiefs of Staff. The crux of it read: “1st MarDiv is to be relieved
without delay ... and will proceed to Australia for rehabilitation and
employment.” The word soon spread that the 1st was leaving and where it
was going. Australia was not yet the cherished place it would become in
the division’s future, but _any_ place was preferable to Guadalcanal.

[Sidebar (page 41): 75mm Pack Howitzer--Workhorse of the Artillery


During the summer of 1930, the Marine Corps began replacing its old
French 75mm guns (Model 1897) with the 75mm Pack Howitzer Model
1923-E2. This weapon was designed for use in the Army primarily as
mountain artillery. Since it could be broken down and manhandled ashore
in six loads from ships’ boats, the pack howitzer was an important
supporting weapon of the Marine Corps landing forces in prewar landing

The 75mm pack howitzer saw extensive service with the Marine Corps
throughout World War II in almost every major landing in the Pacific.
Crewed by five Marines, the howitzer could hurl a 16-pound shell nearly
10,000 yards. In the D Series table of organization with which the
1st Marine Division went to war, and through the following E and F
series, there were three pack howitzer battalions for each artillery
regiment.--_Anthony Wayne Tommell and Kenneth L. Smith-Christmas_

[Sidebar (page 45): The Japanese Model 89 (1929) 50mm Heavy Grenade


Born out of the need to bridge the gap in range between hand grenades
and mortars, the grenade discharger evolved in the Imperial Japanese
Army from a special purpose weapon of infantry assault and defense to
an essential item of standard equipment with all Japanese ground forces.

Commonly called _Juteki_ by the Japanese, this weapon officially was
designated _Hachikyu Shiki Jutekidarto_, or 1189 Model Heavy Grenade
Discharger, the term “heavy” being justified by the powerful 1-pound,
12-ounce high explosive shell it was designed to fire, although it also
fired the standard Model 91 fragmentation grenade.

To the American Marines and soldiers who first encountered this weapon
and others of its kind in combat they were known as “knee mortars,”
likely so named because they generally were fired from a kneeling
position. Typically, the discharger’s concave baseplate was pressed
firmly into the surface of the ground by the firer’s foot to support
the heavy recoil of the fired shell, but unfortunately the term “knee
mortar” suggested to some untutored captors of these weapons that they
were to be fired with the baseplate resting against the knee or thigh.
When a Marine fired one of these dischargers from his thigh and broke
his upper leg bone, efforts were swiftly undertaken in the field to
educate all combat troops in the safe and proper handling of these very
useful weapons.

The Model 89 (1929) 50mm Heavy Grenade Discharger is a muzzle-loaded,
high-angle-of-fire weapon which weighs 10-1/4 pounds and is 24 inches
in overall length. Its design is compact and simple. The discharger
has three major components: the rifled barrel, the supporting barrel
pedestal with firing mechanism, and the base plate. Operation of the
Model 89 was easy and straightforward, and with practice its user could
deliver accurate fire registered quickly on target.

Encountered in all major battles in the Pacific War, the Model 89
Grenade Discharger was an uncomplicated, very portable, and highly
efficient weapon operated easily by one man. It was carried in a cloth
or leather case with a sling, and its one-piece construction allowed
it to be brought into action very quickly. This grenade discharger
had the advantage over most mortars in that it could be aimed and
fired mechanically after a projectile had been placed in the barrel,
projectile firing not being dependent upon dropping down the barrel
against a stationary firing pin as with most mortars, where barrel
fouling sometimes caused dangerous hangfires. Although an instantaneous
fuze employed on the Model 89 high explosive shell restricted this
shell’s use to open areas, the Model 91 fragmentation grenade with its
seven-second fuze made this discharger effective in a jungle or forest
setting, with complete safety for the user from premature detonation
of projectiles by overhanging foliage. Smoke and signal shells, and an
incendiary grenade, were special types of ammunition used with this
versatile and effective weapon which won the respect of all who came to
know it.--_Edwin F. Libby_

_December and the Final Stages_

On 7 December, one year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,
General Vandegrift sent a message to all men under his command in the
Guadalcanal area thanking them for their courage and steadfastness,
commending particularly the pilots and “all who labored and sweated
within the lines in all manner of prodigious and vital tasks.” He
reminded them all that their “unbelievable achievements had made
‘Guadalcanal’ a synonym for death and disaster in the language of our
enemy.” On 9 December, he handed over his command to General Patch and
flew out to Australia at the same time the first elements of the 5th
Marines were boarding ship. The 1st, 11th, and 7th Marines would soon
follow together with all the division’s supporting units. The men who
were leaving were thin, tired, hollow-eyed, and apathetic; they were
young men who had grown old in four months time. They left behind 681
dead in the island’s cemetery.

[Illustration: _As he tells it, “Too Many, Too Close, Too Long,” is
Donald L. Dickson’s portrait of one of the “little guys, just plain
worn out. His stamina and his spirit stretched beyond human endurance.
He has had no real sleep for a long time.... And he probably hasn’t
stopped ducking and fighting long enough to discover that he has
malaria. He is going to discover it now, however. He is through.”_

    Captain Donald L. Dickson, USMCR


    U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo SC164898

_Americal Division commander, MajGen Alexander M. Patch, Jr., watches
while his troops and supplies are staged on Guadalcanal’s beaches on 8
December, the day before he relieved Gen Vandegrift and his wornout 1st
Marine Division._]

The final regiment of the Americal Division, the 132d Infantry, landed
on 8 December as the 5th Marines was preparing to leave. The 2d Marine
Division’s regiments already on the island, the 2d, 8th, and part
of the 10th, knew that the 6th Marines was on its way to rejoin. It
seemed to many of the men of the 2d Marines, who had landed on D-Day, 7
August, that they, too, should be leaving. These took slim comfort in
the thought that they, by all rights, should be the first of the 2d to
depart the island whenever that hoped-for day came.

General Patch received a steady stream of ground reinforcements
and replacements in December. He was not ready yet to undertake a
full-scale offensive until the 25th Division and the rest of the 2d
Marine Division arrived, but he kept all frontline units active in
combat and reconnaissance patrols, particularly toward the western

The island commander’s air defense capabilities also grew
substantially. Cactus Air Force, organized into a fighter command and a
strike (bomber) command, now operated from a newly redesignated Marine
Corps Air Base. The Henderson Field complex included a new airstrip,
Fighter Two, which replaced Fighter One, which had severe drainage
problems. Brigadier General Louis Woods, who had taken over as senior
aviator when Geiger returned to Espiritu Santo, was relieved on 26
December by Brigadier General Francis P. Mulcahy, Commanding General,
2d Marine Aircraft Wing. New fighter and bomber squadrons from both the
1st and 2d Wings sent their flight echelons forward on a regular basis.
The Army added three fighter squadrons and a medium bomber squadron
of B-26s. The Royal New Zealand Air Force flew in a reconnaissance
squadron of Lockheed Hudsons. And the U.S. Navy sent forward a squadron
of Consolidated PBY Catalina patrol planes which had a much needed
night-flying capability.

The aerial buildup forced the Japanese to curtail all air attacks and
made daylight naval reinforcement attempts an event of the past. The
nighttime visits of the Tokyo Express destroyers now brought only
supplies encased in metal drums which were rolled over the ships’ sides
in hope they would float into shore. The men ashore desperately needed
everything that could be sent, even by this method, but most of the
drums never reached the beaches.

Still, however desperate the enemy situation was becoming, he was
prepared to fight. General Hyakutake continued to plan the seizure of
the airfield. General Hitoshi Immamura, commander of the _Eighth Area
Army_, arrived in Rabaul on 2 December with orders to continue the
offensive. He had 50,000 men to add to the embattled Japanese troops on

Before these new enemy units could be employed, the Americans were
prepared to move out from the perimeter in their own offensive.
Conscious that the Mt. Austen area was a continuing threat to his
inland flank in any drive to the west, Patch committed the Americal’s
132d Infantry to the task of clearing the mountain’s wooded slopes
on 17 December. The Army regiment succeeded in isolating the major
Japanese force in the area by early January. The 1st Battalion, 2d
Marines, took up hill positions to the southeast of the 132d to
increase flank protection.

By this time, the 25th Infantry Division (Major General J. Lawton
Collins) had arrived and so had the 6th Marines (6 January) and the
rest of the 2d Division’s headquarters and support troops. Brigadier
General Alphonse De Carre, the Marine division’s assistant commander,
took charge of all Marine ground forces on the island. The 2d
Division’s commander, Major General John Marston, remained in New
Zealand because he was senior to General Patch.

With three divisions under his command, General Patch was designated
Commanding General, XIV Corps, on 2 January. His corps headquarters
numbered less than a score of officers and men, almost all taken from
the Americal’s staff. Brigadier General Edmund B. Sebree, who had
already led both Army and Marine units in attacks on the Japanese,
took command of the Americal Division. On 10 January, Patch gave the
signal to start the strongest American offensive yet in the Guadalcanal
campaign. The mission of the troops was simple and to the point:
“Attack and destroy the Japanese forces remaining on Guadalcanal.”

The initial objective of the corps’ attack was a line about 1,000 to
1,500 yards west of jump-off positions. These ran inland from Point
Cruz to the vicinity of Hill 66, about 3,000 yards from the beach.
In order to reach Hill 66, the 25th Infantry Division attacked first
with the 35th and 27th Infantry driving west and southwest across a
scrambled series of ridges. The going was rough and the dug-in enemy,
elements of two regiments of the _38th Division_, gave way reluctantly
and slowly. By the 13th, however, the American soldiers, aided by
Marines of the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, had won through to positions
on the southern flank of the 2d Marine Division.

On 12 January, the Marines began their advance with the 8th Marines
along the shore and 2d Marines inland. At the base of Point Cruz, in
the 3d Battalion, 8th Marines’ sector, regimental weapons company
halftracks ran over seven enemy machine gun nests. The attack was
then held up by an extensive emplacement until the weapons company
commander, Captain Henry P. “Jim” Crowe, took charge of a half-dozen
Marine infantrymen taking cover from enemy fire with the classic
remarks: “You’ll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a fox hole. Follow
me!” The men did and they destroyed the emplacement.

[Illustration: U.S. Halftrack Mounting a 75mm Pack Howitzer and a
.50-Caliber Air-Cooled Machine Gun]

All along the front of the advancing assault companies the going was
rough. The Japanese, remnants of the _Sendai Division_, were dug
into the sides of a series of cross compartments and their fire took
the Marines in the flank as they advanced. Progress was slow despite
massive artillery support and naval gunfire from four destroyers
offshore. In two days of heavy fighting, flamethrowers were employed
for the first time and tanks were brought into play. The 2d Marines
was now relieved and the 6th Marines moved into the attack along the
coast while the 8th Marines took up the advance inland. Naval gunfire
support, spotted by naval officers ashore, improved measurably. On the
15th, the Americans, both Army and Marine, reached the initial corps
objective. In the Marine attack zone, 600 Japanese were dead.

[Illustration: FINAL PHASE


The battle-weary 2d Marines had seen its last infantry action of
Guadalcanal. A new unit now came into being, a composite Army-Marine
division, or CAM division, formed from units of the Americal and
2d Marine Divisions. The directing staff was from the 2d Division,
since the Americal had responsibility for the main perimeter. Two of
its regiments, the 147th and the 182d Infantry, moved up to attack
in line with the 6th Marines still along the coast. The 8th Marines
was essentially pinched out of the front lines by a narrowing attack
corridor as the inland mountains and hills pressed closer to the
coastal trail. The 25th Division, which was advancing across this
rugged terrain, had the mission of outflanking the Japanese in the
vicinity of Kokumbona, while the CAM division drove west. On the 23d,
as the CAM troops approached Kokumbona, the 1st Battalion of the 27th
Infantry struck north out of the hills and overran the village site
and Japanese base. There was only slight but steady opposition to the
American advance as the enemy withdrew west toward Cape Esperance.

The Japanese had decided, reluctantly, to give up the attempt to retake
Guadalcanal. The orders were sent in the name of the Emperor and senior
staff officers were sent to Guadalcanal to ensure their acceptance. The
Navy would make the final runs of the Tokyo Express, only this time
in reverse, to evacuate the garrison so it could fight again in later
battles to hold the Solomons.

Receiving intelligence that enemy ships were massing again to the
northwest, General Patch took steps, as Vandegrift had before him on
many occasions, to guard against overextending his forces in the face
of what appeared to be another enemy attempt at reinforcement. He
pulled the 25th Division back to bolster the main perimeter defenses
and ordered the CAM division to continue its attack. When the Marines
and soldiers moved out on 26 January, they had a surprisingly easy time
of it, gaining 1,000 yards the first day and 2,000 the following day.
The Japanese were still contesting every attack, but not in strength.

By 30 January, the sole frontline unit in the American advance was the
147th Infantry; the 6th Marines held positions to its left rear.

The Japanese destroyer transports made their first run to the island
on the night of 1-2 February, taking out 2,300 men from evacuation
positions near Cape Esperance. On the night of 4-5 February, they
returned and took out most of the _Sendai_ survivors and General
Hyakutake and his _Seventeenth Army_ staff. The final evacuation
operation was carried out on the night of 7-8 February, when a
3,000-man rear guard was embarked. In all, the Japanese withdrew about
11,000 men in those three nights and evacuated about 13,000 soldiers
from Guadalcanal overall. The Americans would meet many of these men
again in later battles, but not the 600 evacuees who died, too worn and
sick to survive their rescue.

On 9 February, American soldiers advancing from east and west met at
Tenaro village on Cape Esperance. The only Marine ground unit still
in action was the 3d Battalion, 10th Marines, supporting the advance.
General Patch could happily report the “complete and total defeat of
Japanese forces on Guadalcanal.” No organized Japanese units remained.

On 31 January, the 2d Marines and the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines,
boarded ship to leave Guadalcanal. As was true with the 1st Marine
Division, some of these men were so debilitated by malaria they had to
be carried on board. All of them struck observers again as young men
grown old “with their skins cracked and furrowed and wrinkled.” On 9
February, the rest of the 8th Marines and a good part of the division
supporting units boarded transports. The 6th Marines, thankfully
only six weeks on the island, left on the 19th. All were headed for
Wellington, New Zealand, the 2d Marines for the first time. Left behind
on the island as a legacy of the 2d Marine Division were 263 dead.

[Illustration: _President Franklin D. Roosevelt presents Gen Vandegrift
the Medal of Honor for his heroic accomplishments against the Japanese
in the Solomons. Looking on are Mrs. Vandegrift, and the general’s son,
Maj Alexander A. Vandegrift, Jr._

    National Archives Photo 208-PU-209V-4

The total cost of the Guadalcanal campaign to the American ground
combat forces was 1,598 officers and men killed, 1,152 of them
Marines. The wounded totaled 4,709, and 2,799 of these were Marines.
Marine aviation casualties were 147 killed and 127 wounded. The
Japanese in their turn lost close to 25,000 men on Guadalcanal, about
half of whom were killed in action. The rest succumbed to illness,
wounds, and starvation.

[Illustration: _The temporary resting place of a Marine killed in the
fighting at Lunga Point is shown here. The grave marker was erected by
his friends. The Marine’s remains were later removed to the division
cemetery on Guadalcanal, and further reburial at war’s end either in
his hometown or the Punchbowl National Cemetery in Hawaii with the
honors due a fallen hero._]

At sea, the comparative losses were about equal, with each side
losing about the same number of fighting ships. The enemy loss of
2 battleships, 3 carriers, 12 cruisers, and 25 destroyers, was
irreplaceable. The Allied ship losses, though costly, were not fatal;
in essence, all ships lost were replaced. In the air, at least 600
Japanese planes were shot down; even more costly was the death of
2,300 experienced pilots and aircrewmen. The Allied plane losses were
less than half the enemy’s number and the pilot and aircrew losses
substantially lower.

President Roosevelt, reflecting the thanks of a grateful nation,
awarded General Vandegrift the Medal of Honor for “outstanding and
heroic accomplishment” in his leadership of American forces on
Guadalcanal from 7 August to 9 December 1942. And for the same period,
he awarded the Presidential Unit Citation to the 1st Marine Division
(Reinforced) for “outstanding gallantry” reflecting “courage and
determination ... of an inspiring order.” Included in the division’s
citation and award, besides the organic units of the 1st Division, were
the 2d and 8th Marines and attached units of the 2d Marine Division,
all of the Americal Division, the 1st Parachute and 1st and 2d Raider
Battalions, elements of the 3d, 5th, and 14th Defense Battalions, the
1st Aviation Engineer Battalion, the 6th Naval Construction Battalion,
and two motor torpedo boat squadrons. The indispensable Cactus Air
Force was included, also represented by 7 Marine headquarters and
service squadrons, 16 Marine flying squadrons, 16 Navy flying
squadrons, and 5 Army flying squadrons.

The victory at Guadalcanal marked a crucial turning point in the
Pacific War. No longer were the Japanese on the offensive. Some of the
Japanese Emperor’s best infantrymen, pilots, and seamen had been bested
in close combat by the Americans and their Allies. There were years of
fierce fighting ahead, but there was now no question of its outcome.

When the veterans of the 1st Marine Division were gathered in thankful
reunion 20 years later, they received a poignant message from
Guadalcanal. The sender was a legend to all “Canal” Marines, Honorary
U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Major Jacob C. Vouza. The Solomons native in
his halting English said: “Tell them I love them all. Me old man now,
and me no look good no more. But me never forget.”

[Sidebar (page 48): The ‘George’ Medal

The George Medal is legendary among 1st Marine Division veterans of
Guadalcanal. Only about 50 were cast, in Australia, before the mold
gave out.

The medal commemorates the difficult situation of the division during
the early days on Guadalcanal, when ammunition, food, and heavy
equipment were short and the Japanese plentiful. When the issue was
no longer in doubt, Marines had time to reflect on the D-plus-3 Navy
withdrawal in the face of increasing Japanese air attacks and surface
action which left the division in such a tight spot.

In the recollection of then-Captain Donald L. Dickson, adjutant of
the 5th Marines, the Division G-3, then-Lieutenant Colonel Merrill B.
Twining, resolved to commemorate the occasion. Twining told artist
Dickson in general terms what he had in mind. Dickson went to work
designing an appropriate medal using a fifty-cent piece to draw a
circle on a captured Japanese blank military postcard.

Dickson’s design was approved and when the division got to Australia a
mold was made by a local metal craftsman and a small number were cast
before the mold became unserviceable. Those wanting a medal paid one
Australian pound for it and received a certificate as well. The medals
are now an even greater rarity than at the time. In recent years,
reproductions have been cast, and can be identified by the different
metal and a poor definition of details.

The obverse design shows a hand and sleeve dropping a hot potato in
the shape of Guadalcanal into the arms of a grateful Marine. In the
original design the sleeve bore the stripes of a vice admiral intended
to be either Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley, ComSoPac, or Vice Admiral
Frank Jack Fletcher, Commander Joint Expeditionary Force, but the final
medal diplomatically omitted this identification.

Also on the obverse is a Saguaro cactus, indigenous to Arizona, not
Guadalcanal, but representing the code name for the island, “Cactus.”
The obverse inscription is _Facia Georgius_, “Let George Do It.” Thus
it became known as the George Medal.

The medal’s reverse pictures a cow (the original design showed a
Japanese soldier with breeches down) and an electric fan, and is
inscribed: “In fond remembrance of the happy days spent from Aug. 7th
1942 to Jan. 5th 1943. U.S.M.C.”

The suspension ribbon was made, appropriately, of the pale green
herringbone twill from some Marine’s utility uniform. Legend has it
that to be authentic the utilities from which the ribbons were made had
to have been washed in the waters of Guadalcanal’s Lunga River. Some
medals were provided with the oversized safety pin used to identify
laundry bags in Navy shipboard laundries.

Such unofficial commemorative mementoes are not uncommon in military
circles and recall, among others, the Soochow Creek medals recognizing
the defense of Shanghai’s International Settlement during the Japanese
invasions of 1932 and 1937 which were inspired by the Military Order of
the Dragon medals of veterans of the China Relief Expedition or Boxer
Rebellion.--_Brooke Nihart_



The basic source work for this booklet is the first volume in the
series _History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, Pearl
Harbor to Guadalcanal_, written by LtCol Frank O. Hough, Maj Verle E.
Ludwig, and Henry I. Shaw, Jr. (Washington: Historical Branch, G-3
Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1958). Other books used in
writing this narrative were: BGen Samuel B. Griffith II, _The Battle
for Guadalcanal_ (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1963); Gen Alexander
A. Vandegrift as told to Robert B. Asprey, _Once a Marine: The Memoirs
of General A. A. Vandegrift, USMC_ (New York: W. W. Norton, 1964); Col
Mitchell Paige, _A Marine Named Mitch_ (New York: Vantage Press, 1975);
Burke Davis, _Marine: The Life of Chesty Puller_ (Boston: Little,
Brown, 1962); George McMillan, _The Old Breed: A History of the 1st
Marine Division in World War II_ (Washington: Infantry Journal Press,
1949); and Richard W. Johnston, _Follow Me!: The Story of the Second
Marine Division in World War II_ (New York: Random House, 1948).

The correspondence of General Vandegrift with General Holcomb and
other senior Marines, held at the Marine Corps Historical Center,
was helpful. Equally of value were conversations that the author had
had with General Vandegrift after his retirement. In the course of
his career as a Marine historian, the author has talked with other
Guadalcanal veterans of all ranks; hopefully, this has resulted in a
“feel” for the campaign, essential in writing such an overview.

The literature on the Guadalcanal operation is extensive. In addition
to the books cited above, there are several which are personally
recommended to the interested reader: Robert Leckie, _Helmet for My
Pillow_ (New York: Random House, 1957); Herbert Merillat, _Guadalcanal
Remembered_ (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1982); John Miller, Jr., _The United
States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific_; _Guadalcanal,
The First Offensive_ (Washington: Historical Division, Department
of the Army, 1949); T. Grady Gallant, _On Valor’s Side_ (New York:
Doubleday, 1963); Robert Sherrod, _History of Marine Corps Aviation
in World War II_ (Washington: Combat Forces Press, 1952); Maj John L.
Zimmerman, _The Guadalcanal Campaign_ (Washington: Historical Division,
Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1949); RAdm Samuel E. Morrison, _The
Struggle for Guadalcanal: History of United States Naval Operations
in World War II_, Vol V (Boston: Little, Brown, 1950); and a recent,
comprehensive account, Richard B. Frank, _Guadalcanal_ (New York:
Random House, 1990).

_About the Author_


Henry I. Shaw, Jr., former chief historian of the History and Museums
Division, was a Marine Corps historian from 1951-1990. He attended The
Citadel, 1943-1944, and was graduated with a bachelor of arts cum laude
in history from Hope College, Holland, Michigan. He received a master
of arts degree in history from Columbia University. Mr. Shaw served as
a Marine in both World War II and the Korean War. He is the co-author
of four of the five volumes of the official history of Marine Corps
operations in World War II and was the senior editor of most of the
official histories of Marines in Vietnam. In addition, he has written a
number of brief Marine Corps histories. He has written many articles on
military history and has had more than 50 signed book reviews.

       *       *       *       *       *

_The author gratefully acknowledges the permission granted by the
Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America to use the maps
from BGen Samuel B. Griffith II’s_ The Battle for Guadalcanal _and by
Doubleday Books and Jack Coggins for use of the sketches from his_ The
Campaign for Guadalcanal. _The author also wishes to thank Richard
J. Frank and Herbert C. Merillat for permission to reproduce their


=THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY=, one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in
the World War II era, is published for the education and training of
Marines by the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine
Corps, Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense
observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.

Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been defrayed in part
by a bequest from the estate of Emilie H. Watts, in memory of her late
husband, Thomas M. Watts, who served as a Marine and was the recipient
of a Purple Heart.


    =Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)=

    =Benis M. Frank=

    =George C. MacGillivray=

    =Robert E. Struder=, Senior Editor;
    =W. Stephen Hill=, Visual Information Specialist;
    =Catherine A. Kerns=, Composition Services Technician

    Marine Corps Historical Center
    Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
    Washington, D.C. 20374-0580


    PCN 190 003117 00

[Illustration (back cover)]

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

To make this eBook easier to read, particularly on handheld devices,
some images have been made relatively larger than in the original
pamphlet, and centered, rather than offset to one side or the other;
and some were placed a little earlier or later than in the
original. Sidebars in the original have been repositioned between
chapters and identified as “[Sidebar (page nn):”, where the
page reference is to the original location in the source book. In the
Plain Text version, the matching closing right bracket follows the last
line of the Sidebar’s text and is on a separate line to make it more
noticeable. In the HTML versions, that bracket follows the colon, and
each Sidebar is displayed within a box.

Descriptions of the Cover and Frontispiece have been moved from page 1
of the book to just below those illustrations, and text referring to
the locations of those illustrations has been deleted.

Page 3: “He spent most of his final years” was misprinted without the

Page 21: “disgraced in his own” was misprinted without the “his”.

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