Guadalcanal Campaign

The Guadalcanal Campaign consisted of numerous battles that took place on and around the island of Guadalcanal during the Pacific Theatre of WWII. The invasion of Guadalcanal was part of Operation Watchtower conducted by the U.S Navy. Operation Watchtower was fought from August 7, 1942 to February 9, 1943. It was the first military offensive conducted against the Japanese Empire by the Allied Forces. The Guadalcanal Campaign was significant in that it relied heavily on Combined Arms, which meant the use of different types of units working together in the same operation. The main force involved in this campaign was made up of mostly marines from the 1st Marine Division.

Major Battles
Tenaru : Ichiki's unit conducted a nighttime frontal assault on Marine positions at Alligator Creek on the east side of the Lunga perimeter in the early morning of August 21. Ichiki's assault was defeated with heavy Japanese losses in what became known as the Battle of the Tenaru. After daybreak, the Marine units counterattacked Ichiki's surviving troops, killing many more of them, including Ichiki. In total, all but 128 of the original 917 members of the Ichiki Regiment's First Element were killed in the battle. The survivors returned to Taivu Point, notified 17th Army headquarters of their defeat and awaited further reinforcements and orders from Rabaul

Henderson Field: This battle was fought on land, on sea, and in the air as well. In the battle, U.S. Marine and Army forces, under the command of Major General Alexander Vandegrift, successfully held back an attack by the Japanese 17th Army, under Japanese Lieutenant General Harukichi Hyakutake. The U.S. forces were defending the Lunga perimeter, which guarded the Henderson Air Field on Guadalcanal, that had been captured from the Japanese by the Allies in landings on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. Hyakutake's force was sent to Guadalcanal in response to the Allied landings with the mission of recapturing the airfield and driving the Allied forces off of the island.

Edson Ridge: Edson Ridge, also known as Hill 123, was near the Henderson Field. U.S Marines were authorized to defend Edson's Ridge from the Japanese units' attempts to retake it along with the Air Field. The main Japanese assault happened on Lunga ridge south of Henderson Field, held by troops from several U.S. Marine Corps units, primarily troops from the 1st Raider and 1st Parachute Battalions under U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Merritt A. Edson. Although the Marine defenses were almost overrun, Kawaguchi's attack was defeated, with heavy losses for the Japanese.
Because of the key participation by Edson's unit in defending the ridge, the ridge was commonly referred to as "Edson's" ridge in historical accounts of the battle in western sources. After Edson's Ridge, the Japanese continued to send troops to Guadalcanal for further attempts to retake Henderson Field, affecting Japanese offensive operations in other areas of the South Pacific.

Personnel Involved
U.S. Marine Major General Alexander Vandegrift was ordered to prepare his 1st Marine Division for the operation. Other Allied land, naval, and air force units were sent to establish strategic bases in Fiji, Samoa, and other Pacific Islands. Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, was the headquarters and main base for the offensive, codenamed Operation Watchtower, which started on August 7, 1942. At first, the offensive was planned just for Tulagi and the islands of Santa Cruz, not including Guadalcanal. However, after Allied reconnaissance discovered the Japanese airfield construction efforts at Lunga Point on Guadalcanal, its capture was added to the plan, and the Santa Cruz operation was dropped. The Watchtower force, numbering 75 warships and transports assembled near Fiji on July 26, 1942. They practiced one rehearsal landing prior to leaving for Guadalcanal on July 31. The commander of the Allied expeditionary force was U.S. Vice Admiral Frank Fletcher. Commanding the amphibious forces was U.S. Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner. Vandegrift led the 16,000 Allied, consisting of mostly U.S marine infantry for the landings.
Map of Guadalcanal
Map of Guadalcanal