Military Naval Support at Guadalcanal Research Paper

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Military -- Naval Support at Guadalcanal

The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal is commonly relegated to a less important position than is the Battle of Midway in the course of World War II. However, analysis of the leadership, organization, tactics, strategy and consequences of Guadalcanal reveal that the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was just as vital a turning point as was the Battle of Midway in World War II's Pacific Theater. Though the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal served numerous purposes during World War II, three results are certain. First, the Battle itself forced Japanese concentration of resources for Guadalcanal, to the detriment of other poorly-resourced military efforts. Secondly, the Allied victory at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal forced the post-Guadalcanal shift of Japanese efforts from aggressive acquisition to defensive resupply and eventual evacuation of existing troops. Finally, this naval victory served as a distinctive key for other Allied victories in the Pacific Theater. All three results of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal significantly contributed to Guadalcanal's elevation to "turning point" status in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

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Research Paper on Military Naval Support at Guadalcanal Assignment

The struggle for Guadalcanal was not among the earliest struggles in the Pacific theater; rather, it eventually occurred due to the Japanese attempt to protect initially larger Pacific conquests and effectively disrupt Allied cooperation. Emboldened by their largely successful attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and its weakening effect on U.S. Naval forces,[footnoteRef:1] the Japanese proceeded to take control of numerous islands in the Pacific.[footnoteRef:2] Determined to drive out non-Asian influences in the Pacific region, the Japanese achieved numerous successes in late 1941 and early 1942,[footnoteRef:3] wresting occupation and control of the Philippines,[footnoteRef:4] British Malaya and Singapore[footnoteRef:5] and the East Indies[footnoteRef:6] from the Americans, British and Dutch, respectively. The Philippines, British Malaya, Singapore and the East Indies were all highly valuable conquests in the Pacific Theater, for strategic placement as well as an abundance of raw materials needed by the Japanese forces.[footnoteRef:7] Consequently, the Japanese were not merely content to achieve those conquests and treat them as mere possessions; rather, the Japanese sought to protect those conquests by pushing further into the Pacific Theater and seizing further islands in part to form a protective area around the Philippines, Singapore, British Malaya and the East Indies.[footnoteRef:8] in addition, the Japanese sought additional island conquests in order to disrupt ready cooperation among Allied forces, chiefly America, New Zealand and Australia, in the Pacific.[footnoteRef:9] Guadalcanal was one of those secondary, protective islands sought and partially seized by the Japanese.[footnoteRef:10] as early as May of 1942, Allied intelligence noted the Japanese presence on the island of Guadalcanal.[footnoteRef:11] Guadalcanal was strategically located, both for protecting Japanese interests in the Pacific and for either disrupting or assisting Allied cooperation, depending on whether the Japanese or the Allies controlled the island.[footnoteRef:12] as a result, both destroying any Japanese stronghold on the island and regaining Allied control of the island became important facets of the Allied strategy in the Pacific theater. [1: Eric Hammel. Carrier Clash: The Invasion of Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons: August, 1942. St. Paul, MN: Zenith Press, an imprint of MBI Publishing Company, 2004, p. 39.] [2: John Prados. Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun. New York, NY: New American Library, 2012, pp. 33-4.] [3: Gerhard L. Weinberg. A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1995, p. 2.] [4: Prados, p. 19.] [5: Ibid., p. 163.] [6: Ibid., pp. 33-4.] [7: Weinberg, p. 166.] [8: Prados, p. 19.] [9: Ibid.] [10: Weinberg, p. 323.] [11: Ibid.] [12: Ibid., p. 340.]

The struggle for control of Guadalcanal involved numerous military conflicts leading up to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, which illustrate the island's importance to both Japanese and Allied forces. In late 1941 and early 1942, U.S. forces were significantly impacted by the attack on Pearl Harbor[footnoteRef:13] and were, in some respects, inadequate for a decisive defeat of the Japanese around Guadalcanal, due to devastating losses and inexperience in the Pacific Theater.[footnoteRef:14] Nevertheless, Allied forces were intent on matching and defeating Japanese forces in the Pacific Theater and therefore anxiously monitored Japanese presence and activities on Guadalcanal.[footnoteRef:15] in the summer of 1942, it became clear from Allied reconnaissance that the Japanese were building an airfield on Guadalcanal's northern coast, specifically at or near Lunga Point.[footnoteRef:16] Consequently, though weakened by Pearl Harbor and other early defeats and though hampered by inexperience in the Pacific, Allied forces believed they had no choice but to act.[footnoteRef:17] the United States landed Marines at Lunga Point in August of 1942[footnoteRef:18] in order to seize the partially completed Japanese airfield.[footnoteRef:19] This initial invasion of Guadalcanal was relatively easy and at least initially successful. However, despite the relatively easy seizure of Lunga Point by the Marines,[footnoteRef:20] that landing marked the beginning of months-long struggles between Allied forces and the Japanese for control of the island and the waters surrounding it.[footnoteRef:21] Despite U.S. presence on the island and the U.S. completion and conversion of the Japanese air field as Henderson field in posthumous honor to an American hero,[footnoteRef:22] the Japanese were able to run military personnel and attendant weapons and supplies to the island as a matter of course, [footnoteRef:23] primarily through the use of "The Orient Express," a small group of rapid vessels operating at night to quickly run to and from the island.[footnoteRef:24] This small group of vessels was repeatedly able to land men, weapons, ammunition and other attendant supplies at night, and then quickly retreat just before daylight, thereby continually replenishing Japanese forces on Guadalcanal, despite the American presence. Despite their best efforts, Allied forces were unable to stop this continuous nighttime flow of Japanese men and materiel onto Guadalcanal. Fortunately, a less prominent but effective naval battle waged to defeat an arm of "the Orient Express" was the naval Battle of Esperance,[footnoteRef:25] successfully fought by Allied naval forces in October of 1942 to intercept and defeat this Japanese re-manning and re-supplying process.[footnoteRef:26] Consequently, even prior to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and specifically the period commencing from the Marine landing in August of 1942 through the late fall of 1942 was rife with ongoing struggles between the Allies and the Japanese for control of highly important Guadalcanal and its surrounding waters. [13: Ibid., p. 239.] [14: George Baer. One Hundred Years of Sea Power: The U.S. Navy, 1890-1990. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993, p. 188.] [15: James D. Hornfischer. Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal (Paperback). New York, NY: Bantam Books, 2011, p. 4.] [16: Ibid., p. 40.] [17: Ibid.] [18: Mueller, Joseph N. Guadalcanal 1942: The Marines Strike Back (Paperback). London, UK: Osprey, 1992, p. 19.] [19: William W. Rogal. Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Beyond: A Mud Marine's Memoir of the Pacific Island War. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2010, p. 69.] [20: Ibid.] [21: Hornfischer, pp. 216-217.] [22: Ibid., p. 105.] [23: Richard Tregaskis and Mark Bowden. Guadalcanal Diary (Modern Library War) (Paperback). New York, NY: Modern Library, 2000, pp. 55-6.] [24: Ibid., p. 56.] [25: Merrill B. Twining. No Bended Knee: The Battle for Guadalcanal (Paperback). New York, NY: Presidio Press, 1996, p. 151.] [26: Hornfischer, p. 165.]

The ongoing struggle between Allied forces and Japanese forces for control of Guadalcanal and its surrounding waters culminated in the major naval battle that is the subject of this paper. The heart of this ongoing struggle, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, marked a decisive turning point in the Pacific Theater of World War II. One way in which it was a decisive turning point was that, by its very existence and importance, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal weakened the Japanese overall war effort. The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal itself occurred in November 13-15, 1942.[footnoteRef:27] as Japanese concentration on the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal indicates, the Japanese were as aware of Guadalcanal's importance as were the Allies, believing that victory or defeat in this battle would ultimately result in victory or defeat in the entire Pacific Theater.[footnoteRef:28] Furthermore, after months of struggle between Allied forces and Japanese forces on and around Guadalcanal, the opposing forces were essentially deadlocked: Japanese forces were unable to retake the aforementioned air field and/or completely dislodge the Allied forces from Guadalcanal; meanwhile, Allied forces were unable to completely force Japanese forces from Guadalcanal and completely control the island. Determined to break the stalemate, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Japan's Combined Fleet, decided to wage a naval battle as a major attempt by the Japanese to seize control of the seas around Guadalcanal or to retake the island.[footnoteRef:29] Consequently, the Japanese accordingly threw exceptionally large resources of vessels, men, weapons, ammunition and related supplies into this pitched battle.[footnoteRef:30] Owing to the losses already suffered by the Japanese from warfare and disease, and the limitation of Japanese resources after many months of struggle for control of this island and of the Pacific in general,[footnoteRef:31] Japanese concentration of resources on the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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