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Guadalcanal Essay

1169 words - 5 pages

Some of the bloodiest fight of World War II came in the Pacific. Much of that fighting came at the Battle of Guadalcanal. A remote island in the Solomons Island chain, Guadalcanal was not thought of as important, prior to 1942. For several reasons, Guadalcanal was the most significant battle of the war in the Pacific. The Battle of Guadalcanal was the first offensive the United States took in World War II. Because of its location, Guadalcanal pushed back the Japanese defensive ring, and put the U.S. in an aggressive mindset. As an intangible factor, the victory at Guadalcanal provided a much needed morale boost to U.S. servicemen, who had not had a decisive triumph against the ...view middle of the document...

With the Japanese beginning to fortify islands in the Pacific, time was running out for the U.S. to mount an attack (WWII Major Operations of the Asian and Pacific Theater). Taking the fight to the Japanese proved to be a bold, and effective move.
The key to Guadalcanal’s importance was its location; central to both the plans of Japan, and the U.S. Guadalcanal, if controlled by the Japanese, gave them complete domination of the region (Hastings 249). The Japanese did not need to invade mainland America or Europe to win the war. They only needed to defend their holdings. If properly fortified, Guadalcanal would be the ideal fortification; it had room for an airfield, and was located on the outskirts of a chain of islands. For the very reasons Guadalcanal was essential to the Japanese, the U.S. could not allow them to possess the island. Plus, Guadalcanal was only 600 miles from Rabaul, the major Japanese naval base. For land based aircraft, that distance would be ideal for bombing runs. Fortunately for the U.S., the Japanese had not stationed a significant number of troops on Guadalcanal by 1942. As the Japanese began to construct an airfield on Guadalcanal, the U.S. decided that it was imperative to strike before the completion of the airfield. The location of Guadalcanal also was important for its ability to act as a supply point for either side, the U.S. or Japan (Gray 314). Holding Guadalcanal would provide the USMC with a much needed, protected, resupply point. The USMC not only had to fight the Japanese, but they were also fighting malaria, and extreme hunger. The Japanese had been quite successful in breaking up many American resupply and reinforcement missions. Taking Guadalcanal from the Japanese not only gave the U.S. a logistical victory, but also a boost in morale.
The victory at Guadalcanal gave the weary U.S. servicemen a much-needed morale victory. Taking Guadalcanal provided the USMC with several reasons to be happy. Only 11,000 of the of the original 20,000 Marines, and even less then half of their supplies, were able to land on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942 (McMillian 111). Heavily undersupplied for a large portion of the campaign, the men of the USMC were overjoyed to find large quantities of food and ammunition on the island (Tregaskis 154). These stores of ammunition and food largely belonged to the Japanese. Much of their supplies arrived on the...

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