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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The landing marked the beginning of the US counter-offensive in the Pacific, after eight months of defensive battles. Aug. 7, 1942 was also the first day of what became a brutal six-month ground, air and naval campaign.

Guadalcanal always seemed to me the scariest battle to have actually fought in as an American during The Big One. (The 1943 film Bataan conveys a sense of just how scary those Japanese jungle-fighting infantry seemed (and were) at that moment.)

The battle dragged on for six months, and among its many highlights/lowlights was what I believe was the US Navy's worst defeat on the high seas, the Battle of Savo Island, where seven U.S. cruisers went to the bottom. On maps ever since that body of water is no longer called "Savo Sound" - it's now "Iron Bottom Sound."

I've posted these here before but never more appropriately than on this anniversary, a couple passages from Samuel Elliot Morison's volume on the campaign in his History of US Naval Operations in WWII:

“For those of us who were there, or whose friends were there, Guadalcanal is not just a name but an emotion, recalling desperate fights in the air, furious night naval battles, frantic work at supply or construction, savage fighting in the sodden jungle, nights broken by screaming bombs and deafening explosions of naval shells. Sometimes I dream of a great battle monument on Guadalcanal; a granite monolith on which the names of all who fell and all of the ships that rest in Ironbottom Sound may be carved. At other times I feel the jagged cone of Savo island, forever brooding over the blood thickened waters of the Sound, is the best monument to the men and ships who here rolled back the enemy tide."

Cloud Water Sky Natural landscape Lake



Elsewhere in the volume Morison sums up the campaign's naval engagements: “So, reader, if this tale has seemed repetitious with shock and gore, exploding magazines, burning and sinking ships and plummeting planes – that is simply how it was.”
 

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My grandfather served on Guadalcanal as a private in the US Army. Received a Purple Heart from getting shot in the legs by a Japanese sniper. He later caught malaria while being treated for his leg injuries on a hospital ship. Hard to believe if he was still alive he would be 103 years old. Sadly he passed away in 1999 just short of his 80th birthday.
 

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In that we Baby Boomers have stood by and allowed that which has been done to our country, those men should've stayed at home and jitterbugged. That being said.....I REMEMBER THEM, and honor their memory, The Greatest Generation. I think I'll go watch "Guadalcanal Diary", now, in honor of my Father, with whom I watched it many.....MANY times in days now long gone bye.
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A guy who was there said they called the place "Hotel Gedunk" . He despised those who claimed they were "On The Canal" and used to ask them what they called the place , to see if they were really there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I wonder how long the Guadalcanal campaign would have lasted if it were 1944?
By coincidence, this summer I've been working though a book on the campaign, "The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign: Naval Fighter Combat from August to November 1942." It focuses on "homeless" carrier pilots who were part of island's "Cactus Air Force."

There were a lot of them. By August 1942 the US had already lost the Langley, Lexington and Yorktown. The Wasp went down on 15 September. For many weeks only the Hornet was on duty in that theater. Joined by Enterprise in October, Hornet also went down on Oct. 27.

At war's end the US had around 100 carriers. Perhaps more significant, we had more than 250 submarines by then, loaded for bear with torpedoes that worked, and captained by a growing list of "ace" skippers increasingly "handicapped" only by a shortage of Japanese merchant ships left to sink. None of that prevailed in 1942.

The land battle of Guadalcanal persisted for months because the US Navy lacked the resources to shut-down the 'Tokyo Express' of ships carrying reinforcements down "the Slot," night-after-night delivering a steady stream of men and supplies. Not until December did the Japanese call-off further reinforcements and begin an evacuation.

In 1944, that Tokyo Express would have been put on the bottom within a few weeks; if the naval aviators didn't do-for them, the sub skippers would have finished them off. "Operation Watchtower" - the Battle of Guadalcanal - would have involved little more than wiping-out small numbers of real Japanese troops, and collecting the various Korean and other forced laborers who skedaddled into the jungle on Aug. 7.


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'Helmet for my Pillow' is supposed to be very good book about Pacific Theater. Written by Robert Leckie. It is on my reading list. Thank you for posting this.
If my opinion is worth anything (and i arrogate to myself the status of an informed commentator on the subject; or at least the reader of mnay books on the history of WWII), Leckie's book IS a very good book, and should be read by anyone with any interest in WWII in the Pacific. Other books aimed at Guadalcanal include Richard Tregaskis 's GUADALCANAL DIARY and Richard Frank's book on the campaign (GUADALCANAL: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle (Random House, 1990)) and I'd call all three indispensable (along with Morison's volume on that part of the War). And of course (while not on Guadalcanal) E.B. Sledge's WITH THE OLD BREED. Also excellent is Eric Hammel's STARVATION ISLAND.

PS - might tell you something about the campaign to consider what the Japanese who were there called Guadalcanal - Starvation Island.
 

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Imagine being sent into the Japanese Army and Marines and deployed to a Pacific Island. Basically a death sentence.
My father, Donald E Roder, turned 18 there, also fought on Pelelu and Cape Glocaster. I recently donated all his Marine items to the marine Corps Museum. miss ya so much, you were and always will be my hero.
 

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A couple of Guadalcanal notes. Eight months to the day after December 7th. Don Adams was a Guadalcanal Marine invalided home with Black Water Fever, he spent the rest of the war as a DI where he developed the dry wit that became his trademark as Maxwell Smart (missed it by this much Chief). I met a fellow member of the Mo. Aviation Society 10 years ago who was an SBD rear gunner on the canal. Went overseas as a ground crew member but volunteered for flying duty. The CAF sent an SBD to the 2014 Air Show inn STL. They gave him a ride at age 92! Unfortunately, he passed a couple of years later.
 

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A couple of Guadalcanal notes. Eight months to the day after December 7th. Don Adams was a Guadalcanal Marine invalided home with Black Water Fever, he spent the rest of the war as a DI where he developed the dry wit that became his trademark as Maxwell Smart (missed it by this much Chief). I met a fellow member of the Mo. Aviation Society 10 years ago who was an SBD rear gunner on the canal. Went overseas as a ground crew member but volunteered for flying duty. The CAF sent an SBD to the 2014 Air Show inn STL. They gave him a ride at age 92! Unfortunately, he passed a couple of years later.
Didn't know about Adams's USMC career. Blackwater Fever is a complication of malaria and is bad news indeed. Lot of malaria among folks who went to the Solomons.

Uncle was in the Solomons, but not on the 'canal. Was in on Cape Gloucester invasion and then others, finishing on Okinawa (where Dad and Mom's brother also served). Uncle Buster was a Marine - "just a truck driver" he once said in response to a question about what the Marines had him doing. Later saw his service record, and then looked up his ships. Yep, "just a truck driver". Across the beaches on the first day of his invasions, including Okinawa.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
A couple of Guadalcanal notes. Eight months to the day after December 7th. Don Adams was a Guadalcanal Marine invalided home with Black Water Fever, he spent the rest of the war as a DI where he developed the dry wit that became his trademark as Maxwell Smart (missed it by this much Chief). I met a fellow member of the Mo. Aviation Society 10 years ago who was an SBD rear gunner on the canal. Went overseas as a ground crew member but volunteered for flying duty. The CAF sent an SBD to the 2014 Air Show inn STL. They gave him a ride at age 92! Unfortunately, he passed a couple of years later.
Explains why he was partial to the "Cone of Silence." ;-) I had no idea; RIP and thank you Don Adams.
 
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