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  • Guadalcanal

    Its the 65th anniversary of the invasion of Guadalcanal, the battle that stopped Japan and turned the Pacific war around.

    Like Gettysburg it was a meeting engagement, with both sides pouring troops into a battle that neither side chose, but with an impact that decided the fate of the war.

    After horrific naval losses the US Navy learned how to fight and win against the Japanese surface navy.

    Japanese naval aviation was dealt a blow that was beyond their ability from which to recover.

    Japanese Transport shipping was whittled down to the point that steel production in Japan was reduced.

    Guadalcanal and the subsequent Solomons campaign crushed the Japanese plans for New Guinea, and exposed the rift between their navy and army.

    Such an important battle and campaign, yet unanticipated, unplanned, poorly supplied, and with errors, blunders, and bravery in abundance.
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." - Albert Einstein

  • #2
    Guadalcanal was also the first place where the US Navy learned how to fight at night. The US Navy learned some hard, terrible, lessons at Savo Island and Tassafaronga and they were stunning setbacks for the US Navy, but eventually we learned how to fight our ships at night. A brave young officer by the name of Arleigh Burke commanded a US destroyer division that eventually beat the enemy at their own game in a successful night action against the Japanese. We also shouldn't forget the famous "Friday the 13th" battle in November of 1942 in which the US Navy, although suffering heavy losses, turned back the Japanese fleet. Guadalcanal was a very important turning point for the US Navy as well as the US Army in the Pacific.
    navalwarfare.blogspot.com

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    • #3
      Its the 65th anniversary of the invasion of Guadalcanal, the battle that stopped Japan and turned the Pacific war around.
      Hasn't that been historical given to Midway, 2 months earlier.
      "Ask not what your country can do for you"

      Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

      you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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      • #4
        I don't think you can fix one turning point in the Pacific...

        Coral Sea slowed 'em down.

        Midway stopped 'em.

        Guadalcanal turned 'em around.
        Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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        • #5
          The Dr. said it best.

          Midway was still a *defensive* operation.

          Guadalcanal was an offensive operation, it (as said above) taught the Americans some valuable lessons, and while the forces of both sides took heavy losses, the Americans could make up the losses, while the Japanese could not.

          After Guadalcanal the Allies had the initiative in the Pacific.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Libertyship46 View Post
            Guadalcanal was also the first place where the US Navy learned how to fight at night. The US Navy learned some hard, terrible, lessons at Savo Island and Tassafaronga and they were stunning setbacks for the US Navy, but eventually we learned how to fight our ships at night. A brave young officer by the name of Arleigh Burke commanded a US destroyer division that eventually beat the enemy at their own game in a successful night action against the Japanese. We also shouldn't forget the famous "Friday the 13th" battle in November of 1942 in which the US Navy, although suffering heavy losses, turned back the Japanese fleet. Guadalcanal was a very important turning point for the US Navy as well as the US Army in the Pacific.
            Don't forget the Battle of Vella Gulf as an example of the Navy's increasing skill at night fighting

            http://www.microworks.net/pacific/ba...vella_gulf.htm
            "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." - Albert Einstein

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            • #7
              Very true. It was also the first wide-spread use of American PT boats at night, though they got mixed results. PT boats didn't do too well against larger ships (such as destroyers), but they did very well against Japanese landing craft and barges that were used to ferry Japanese troops around Guadalcanal. I think only one Japanese destroyer was ever sunk by an American PT boat off Guadalcanal (the Japanese destroyer Makigumo was torpedoed and sunk by the PT-124), but I'll have to look that one up.
              navalwarfare.blogspot.com

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Libertyship46 View Post
                Very true. It was also the first wide-spread use of American PT boats at night, though they got mixed results. PT boats didn't do too well against larger ships (such as destroyers), but they did very well against Japanese landing craft and barges that were used to ferry Japanese troops around Guadalcanal. I think only one Japanese destroyer was ever sunk by an American PT boat off Guadalcanal (the Japanese destroyer Makigumo was torpedoed and sunk by the PT-124), but I'll have to look that one up.
                This site http://www.combinedfleet.com/makigu_t.htm has the Makigumo listed as being heavily damaged by a mine while avoiding a PT boat attack off Savo Island on Feb 1, 1943 and then scuttled by a torpedo from the destroyer Yugumo. The official chronology of the USN in WWII also list the Makigumo backs this up however it makes no reference to the PT boat attack.
                Bill

                "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy"

                Billy Currington

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by cst784 View Post
                  This site http://www.combinedfleet.com/makigu_t.htm has the Makigumo listed as being heavily damaged by a mine while avoiding a PT boat attack off Savo Island on Feb 1, 1943 and then scuttled by a torpedo from the destroyer Yugumo. The official chronology of the USN in WWII also list the Makigumo backs this up however it makes no reference to the PT boat attack.
                  I was following Samuel Eliot Morison's "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II." In Volume 5, "The Struggle for Guadalcanal, August 1942 to February 1943," page 367 (hardcover edition), Morison states, "This offensive mine field was a bitter surprise to the Japanese. Destroyer Makigumo, maneuvering to avoid PT warheads, ran afoul of it and had to be scuttled." This implies that the destroyer hit a mine and had to be scuttled.

                  But then on page 368 (hardcover edition), Morison states, "PT-124 (Lieutenant Clark W. Faulkner USNR) let off with three torpedoes which appeard to hit, then beat a hasty retreat to Tulagi." In the next paragraph Morison goes on to say, "About midnight six SBDs from Henderson Field made an indecisive attack on 'two burning destroyers,' probably only Makigumo. That finished the evening's performance for the Americans."

                  So I don't know what to think. On one page the Makigumo is disabled by a mine and had to be scuttled, but on the next page the PT-124 launched three torpedoes which, according to Morison, "appeard to hit." Maybe the destroyer was hit by a mine and a torpedo? I doubt it, but something must have stopped that ship.
                  navalwarfare.blogspot.com

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                  • #10
                    The torps appeared to hit from the USN point of view, that odesn't mean they actually did hit. But Morrison is not clear even though he does not specifically say any torpedoes were proven to hit.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Libertyship46 View Post
                      Guadalcanal was also the first place where the US Navy learned how to fight at night. The US Navy learned some hard, terrible, lessons at Savo Island and Tassafaronga and they were stunning setbacks for the US Navy, but eventually we learned how to fight our ships at night. A brave young officer by the name of Arleigh Burke commanded a US destroyer division that eventually beat the enemy at their own game in a successful night action against the Japanese. We also shouldn't forget the famous "Friday the 13th" battle in November of 1942 in which the US Navy, although suffering heavy losses, turned back the Japanese fleet. Guadalcanal was a very important turning point for the US Navy as well as the US Army in the Pacific.
                      It was also the place where a single and largely cut-off, US Marine Division held out and threw back numerous enemy assaults from superior forces over a five month period without virtually any relief. They were bombed and shelled almost daily from onshore and offshore and there were no "quiet sectors" where Marines could rest and regroup. Guadalcanal remains one of the most commonly ignored and unknown campaign, while remaining the most closely run series of battles in the whole Pacific War.

                      The man who writes the historically definitive and historically-correct novel and TV mini-series of that historically tragic and much fought-over island will someday become a Billionaire.
                      "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                      • #12
                        The Battle for Guadalcanal (1942-1943)

                        Ground Forces Approximate Total US Army and Marine Corps Forces Employed: 60,000 Killed Wounded
                        1st Marine Division 774 1962
                        Americal Division 334 850
                        2nd Marine Division 268 932
                        25th Infantry Division 216 439
                        Totals 1,592 4,283

                        Approximate Total Japanese Army and Naval Troops Employed: 36,000 (of 43,000 dispatched)
                        Killed or Missing 14,800
                        Died of Disease 9,000
                        Lost at Sea 4,346
                        POW's 1,000
                        Evacuated 9,000-11,000
                        Naval Forces (Ships Sunk and Personnel Lost)* US Pacific Japanese
                        Carriers (CV) 2 0
                        Light Carriers (CVL) 0 1
                        Other Carriers (AV) 0 1
                        Battleships (BB) 0 2
                        Heavy Cruisers (CA) 6 3
                        Light Cruisers (CL) 2 1
                        Destroyers (DD) 14 11
                        Submarines (SS) 0 6

                        Personnel Losses have never been tabulated for either Navy. American naval casualties exceeded the losses of the American ground forces. Japanese naval casualties were probably equal to those of the American Navy but less that those of the Japanese ground forces.

                        Sorry about the tabulation format, when I paste the table it looks different in the edit window tha the finished product.
                        Last edited by w john spurrell; 17 Aug 07, 13:36.
                        "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." - Albert Einstein

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                        • #13
                          The marines were not always outnumbered, and certainly not overwhelmingly by forces like the Ichiki detachment. That detachment landed, amrched through the jungle, was hungry and many were sick and attacked anyway--not exactly an against the odds win for the USMC.

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                          • #14
                            Correct that the Marines were not outnumbered. Still they were faced with a dificult tactical problem in the first, defensive, half of the battle. At crtical points in the battle the Japanese were able to concentrate to create local superiority & threaten the collapse of the US defense.

                            Elsewhere the Japanese had often undertaken offensive operations while outnumbered, and prevailed though a combination of better tactics and their opponents poor leadership. The Malyasian campaign leading to the British surender of Singapore is one well known example. The war in China provides many examples of smaller Japanese forces defeating larger armys of poorly trained & led soldiers. There were exceptions of course, the realatively well trained an led Chinese Corps that defended Nanking caused the Japanese army much grief before defeat. The Soviet Army defeated the Japanese in their border war. The Chinese Communists completely destroyed a Japanese infantry divsion in a carefuly fought large scale battle. But more often than not the Japanese army had its own way against poorly prepared Chinese, Dutch, US, British soldiers.

                            On Guadacannal the Japanese army ran up against a well trained and led enemy that did not easily succumb to its tactics of infiltration and shock attacks. This was not unique. On New Guniea they encountered Australian infantry who did equally well besting them.

                            The real battle of Guadacannal was the air and naval action. There over the three critical months a air and naval camapaign was fought that clinched the defeat that begain in April & May. Take another look at the statistics presented above, specificly the Japanese losses at sea & from disease/malnutrition. Those reflect the large number of transport ships the USN was able to sink or turn back. Japan inflicted no comparable loss on US transport ships. That is Japan was unable to protect its supply train from interdiction, and failed to interdict the US supply.

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                            • #15
                              Very true, it is my belief that the Battle of Savo Island on the second night of the campaign was the single biggest missed opportunity for the Japanese. Had Mikawa pushed his forces to the anchorage where the transports, ostensibly his main target, were and sunk even half of them, it would have been devastating enough were the US may have had to retreat from the island. While tactically this was a major defeat for the Allies, by withdrawing before taking on the transport anchorage Mikawa handed the Allies what can in hindsight be termed a strategic victory.
                              Bill

                              "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy"

                              Billy Currington

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