(August 1942-February 1943)
Located in the southern Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, Guadalcanal marked the Allies’ first major offensive against the Japanese in the Pacific. The Japanese defeat at Midway enabled the Allies to drive an offensive in the South Pacific for the first time in World War II. Guadalcanal held strategic and tactical importance. By the end of June 1942, the Japanese were constructing an airstrip on the island, a major threat to American and Australian bases in the area. The 1st US Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1943, and achieved complete tactical surprise on the Japanese garrison. Months of intense jungle combat, as well as six major naval battles, followed. The Marines gained control of the Japanese airfield, renamed Henderson airfield, and completed construction. Their work paid off on August 20, when 19 Wildcat fighters and 12 Dauntless bombers landed at the airfield, providing Allied air supremacy in the coming months. Jungle battles wrought immense fatigue on both sides, and the 1st US Marine Division was replaced by the 25th Infantry Division and the 2nd US Marine Division in November 1942. Emperor Hirohito ordered a withdrawal of Japanese forces from Guadalcanal, which was carried out January and February 1943. Allied control of Guadalcanal ensured secure passage for the United States and provided an amassing point for a major Allied assault on Japan.
Battles - Guadalcanal