World War Two: Marines; Carlson’s Raiders-Makin Atoll 17 August 1942

Evans Carlson, still the idealist, more than ever the believer in Gung Ho, was now 46 years old, gaunt, his face deeply lined, hair grayed. His 2nd Raider Battalion was just nine months old. The Raiders were a controversial pet idea of President Roosevelt and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. Before the United States entered the war, two young captains, Samuel B. Griffith II, and Wallace M. Greene Jr., had been sent to England and Scotland to observe the British Commandos; and on their recommendation, Commandant Holcomb had authorized two raider battalions. Lieutenant Colonel Merritt A. Edson formed one on the East Coast; Lieutenant Colonel Carlson the other on the West Coast. They were organized to make hit-and-run raids, spearhead amphibious landings and fight as guerrillas behind enemy lines.

The Raiders were all picked men, all hardened to hike 50 miles a day without food and then to fight a battle with automatic weapons and knives. They were tough, and with great confidence in themselves and a pride of being a Raider.

Although half of Carlson’s battalion had been diverted to Midway, the rest was about to launch the first truly Raider operation. This raid on Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, was planned, allegedly, to distract the enemy from the Guadalcanal landings, although the value and purpose of this bit of bravado are not certainly clear today.

Two big submarines, Nautilus and Argonaut, slipped out of Pearl harbor on August 9, 1942, two days after the Marines had landed on Guadalcanal. Crowed in the boats were 222 Marines of A and B Companies, 2nd Raider Battalion. It was thought that on Makin the Japanese had only some 43 defenders, but the Marine raid would still have very mixed results.

On the moonless night of August 17, the men, faces blackened, poured into rubber boats. The high seas flooded their out board motors. Helped by the tides, the Marines paddled for an hour toward the east side of Butaritari, Makins larges Island. As dawn broke, 15 of the boats grounded on the designated beach across the island from Government Wharf; three other boats landed slightly to the north, and one boat a mile south–as it turned out, behind enemy lines. The men in the main element hid their boats, posted guards, made contact with the subs by radio and oiled their soaked weapons. Suddenly, the great advantage of surprise was lost whena Raider accidently fired his BAR.

The small Japanese garrison quickly manned its machinegun posts, and its snipers climbed to the bushy tops of the coconut palms. Lieutenant Merwyn C. Plumley and his A Company crossed the island to the lagoon side, and headed toward the enemy strong point two miles south. Carlson had Nautilus shell both it and two ships in the lagoon. Machine gunners and snipers worked over the Raiders. Second Lieutenant Wilfred S. LeFrancois and his men turned back a Banzai charge. The former enlisted man from Watertown, New York, was hit in the right shoulder by five machinegun bullets. Constantly in the van, with a shotgun for close-in fighting, sergeant Clyde Thomason, a reservist from Atlanta, wiped out a Japanese attack before a sniper killed him. He was the only man in this operation to receive the Medal of Honor.

Carlson was everywhere, encouraging his men, coolly smoking his pipe. Machine guns, a flamethrower, snipers slowed the Marine advance; and Carlson had to send in B Company. Just before noon, Japanese planes bombed and strafed the invaders; and two flying boats put ashore 35 more Japanese. The Marines destroyed the planes. Frustrated by the snipers in the coconut grooves, Carlson retreated northward to draw Japanese into more open ground. It worked. The enemy pursued, and the next enemy bombing raid clobbered them–in the Marines former position.

Lieutenant Oscar F. Peatross and 11 Marines in the boat that had landed far to the south wrecked the Japanese storngpoint and radio station and killed a number of the enemy. After dark, Peatross’s eight surviving Raiders returned to their submarine.

Carlson also tried to slip off the island, as the plan required; but less than half the men made it. The rest paddled and bailed, boats capsized, men lost their weapons, giant waves threw the exhausted men back onto the beach. Among the 120 Marines now on the Atoll, more than half od them were wounded. During the rainy night, red-headed Private First Class Jesse Hawkins of Paragould Arkansas took two bullets in the chest but drove off an enemy patrol.

In the morning, Major James Roosevelt, Carlson’s executive officer, plowed through the surf with four boats. Five Marines on Nautilus volunteered to bring ashore weapons, ammunition and aline. They were strafed by seaplanes, and only one man reached the beach. There were now 70 Americans left on Makin.

There is a story that a Raider officer set out to surrender but could find no Japanese left on Butaritari to surrender to. The raiders discovered that the enemy were either dead or had fled to a smaller islands. The Raiders armed themselves with Japanese weapons, destroyed arms and installations and counted 86 enemy dead. That second night with natives help, the Raiders put their lost four boats and a native canoe into the water on the lagoon side and struggled back to the submarines, this time they made it.

In addition to Thomason’s Medal of Honor, the Raiders bravery was recognized when Carlson, LeFrancois, Peatross, Plumley, Roosevelt and 13 others received the Navy Cross. But 21 Marines were dead, and nine Raiders, still alive, had been left behind. They were captured and moved to Kwajalein. Vice Admiral Koso Abe ordered them executed; and on October 16, they were beheaded. After the war, Abe was hanged on Guam for this atrocity.

Although Makin raid heartened the folks back home and Carlson’s Raiders were widely publicized, the action had another disastrous aftermath. In good part as a result of it, the Japanese recognized their vulnerability and fortified the Gilberts intensely. The Marines found nearly 5,000 dug in Japanese waiting for them on Tarawa.

SOURCE: U.S. Marine Corps Story: BY: J. Robert Moskin

World War Two: Marines; Midway


Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Izdubar Falls In Love With Mua (Part 46)

(And Offers Her His Hand)

“O Mua! thou bright Waters of the Dawn!
Oh, where art thou?” one cries as he doth run
Through the bright garden. See! ’tis Izdubar!
Immortal! glorious! our King of War!
And now in love is seeking Mua here.

He scarcely treads the ground as he comes near;
A glow of youth immortal on his cheek,
A form that sorrow, death, will never seek
Within these Happy Fields, his eyes with light
That Love alone may give, show his delight.

A dazzling pillared vista round him shines,
Where golden columns bear the bowering shrines,
With gemmed domes that clustering round him rise,
‘Mid fruit-trees, flashing splendors to the skies.

He goes through silver grots along a zone,
And now he passes yonder blazing throne,
O’er diamond pavements, passes shining seats
Whereon the high and holy conclave meets
To rule the empires vast that spread away
To utmost bounds in all their vast array.

Around the whole expanse grand cestes spread
O’er paths sidereal unending lead.
As circling wheels within a wheel they shine,
Enveloping the Fields with light divine.
A noontide glorious of shining stars,
Where humming music rings from myriad cars,
Where pinioned multitudes their harps may tune,
And in their holy sanctity commune.

And see! here Mua comes! she stops and waits
Within a “gesdin” bower beside its gates.
Around, above her spreads a flowering vine,
And o’er a ruby fountain almandine.

And on a graven garnet table grand,
Carved cups of solid pearl and tilpe[1] stand.
A Zadu[2] reservoir stands near, which rounds
The fount wherein the fragrant nectar bounds.
The ground is strewn with pari[3] gems and pearls,
Wherefrom the light now softly backward hurls
Its rays o’er couches of paruti[4] stone,
Soft cushioned, circling in the inner zone
Beside the shining kami-sadi way,[5]
Where nectar fountains in their splendor play.
The path leads far along Life’s beauteous stream,
That ever through this World of Joy doth gleam.

And see! the hero comes! and now doth near
The maiden, where with Love she waits him here.
She flings a flowering garland, weaves it round
His form as he comes by! He turns around,
And she enwraps his breast and arms, and says:

“Dear Izdubar! and thus my lover strays!
I’ll bind thee with this fragrant chain to keep
Thee ever by my side! thy pleasant sleep
Hath kept my lover from my side too long!”

“O thou sweet spirit, like a warbling song
Thy words are to my heart! I sought for thee,
And thy bright face and presence did not see;
I come to tell thee that I must return,
When from thy father all the past shall learn.”

“And wilt thou go from me to earth again?
No! no! dear Izdubar, I thee enchain!”

“‘Tis true, my love, I must return to men;
My duty calls me to my throne again.”

“Dear Izdubar! my friend! my love! my heart!
I cannot let thee from my soul depart!
Thou shinest in my breast as some bright star!
And shall I let thee from me go afar?”

“But Mua, we immortal are, and we
There might return; and thou on earth shalt see
The glories of my kingdom,–be my queen!

Upon a couch I’ll seat thee, there to reign
With me, my beauteous queen,–beside me sit;
And kings will come to us and kiss thy feet.
With all my wealth I’ll clothe thee, ever love
Thee, fairest of these glorious souls that move
Within this Happy World. My people there
Shall love us,–ever drive away all care!”

When Mua heard him offer thus his hand,
She then unbinds him,–thoughtful now doth stand.

[Footnote 1: “Tilpe,” a precious gem known only to the Babylonians.]–[Footnote 2: “Zadu,” a precious gem known only to the Babylonians.]–[Footnote 3: “Pari,” an unknown gem.]–[Footnote 4: “Paruti,” an unknown gem.]–[Footnote 5: “Kami-sadi” way, a path paved with unknown gems. These precious stones are mentioned on the various inscriptions in the list of precious jewels with gold, diamonds, pearls, etc., taken as spoils from their enemies.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VIII (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Mua’s Answer (Part 47); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: King Is Cured By The Incantations Of Khasisadra (PArt 45) Assyrian

World News Headlines: 01-18-2019


Trans-Atlantic rebuke for Trump downgrade of EU ambassador; There was no about-face in the US government after DW broke news that the EU ambassador’s status had been downgraded. But one expert has said lawmakers’ responses show the trans-Atlantic network still operates – a bit. The Trump administration’s recent downgrading of the EU ambassador’s status without prior notice, first reported by Deutsche Welle, has led to parliamentary action on both sides of the Atlantic. In a strongly worded letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 27 congressional Democrats denounced the diplomatic downgrade. “Disturbingly, this step, which appears to have taken place late last year, occurred without congressional consultation or apparent notification to the European Union,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter published this week. Led by the new chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Representative Eliot Engel, the group slammed the unannounced demotion. “Both the substance of this decision and the undiplomatic way in which it was carried out needlessly denigrate trans-Atlantic relations.”

Major powers ‘largely absent’: HRW wants more from Merkel; The head of Human Rights Watch appeals on DW for Germany and Angela Merkel to do more for rights abroad. Kenneth Roth noted that “the traditional powers” on the world stage, the US and UK, “were largely absent” of late. Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Kenneth Roth had good reason to present his organization’s annual report in Berlin on Thursday. Roth told DW, “If you look around the world, the traditional powers were largely absent” when it came to championing human rights over the past year. Roth praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, noting her work on applying pressure on rights abuses in Hungary and ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Most importantly he said that Merkel had helped prevent a bloodbath in Syria: “In a step that probably saved more lives than anything else, Chancellor Merkel was at the forefront of pressing Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to a ceasefire in the Idlib Province in Syria, where 3 million civilian lives were at risk because Russia and Syria were about to begin an indiscriminate bombardment there.”

As UK’s EU withdrawal nears, Germany steps up Brexit prep; The Bundestag has ensured that Brits in Germany can still apply for citizenship even after Brexit. But opposition politicians warn that customs officials are not ready for the impending bureaucratic nightmare. On Thursday, the German parliament passed a new law in preparation for Britain’s impending withdrawal from the European Union. The Brexit transition legislation was passed unanimously by almost all political parties in the Bundestag — only the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) voted against the plan. The law, which would come into force when Britain formally leaves the EU and the so-called transitional phase begins, is supposed to create clarity for people likely to be affected by Brexit, especially British nationals living in Germany and Germans living in the UK. Perhaps most relevant for the almost 120,000 British people registered in Germany, the measure means that UK citizens would still be able to apply for citizenship during the transitional phase, which is expected to last until the end of 2020, with the date of their applications taken into special consideration. After that, however, the obstacles to becoming German will be significantly greater. Authorities have recorded a massive increase in the number of British people keen to take German citizenship since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

German media made Frank Magnitz the new face of the AfD; Reaction to the attack on Frank Magnitz, a Bundestag member for the far-right Alternative for Germany, reveals just how polarized the country has become. The AfD has received a clear boost from the media hoopla. According to press reports, in an internal party document circulated by members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), Frank Magnitz says it was his intention to dramatize the recent attack on him to stir up “attention” and “media outrage.” That’s why Magnitz, a member of the Bundestag and AfD’s party leader in the state of Bremen, distributed a press release and images of his bloodied face — making sure to implicate the German left in his detailed account of the attack. Since then, however, details have emerged that contradict Magnitz’s account. Surveillance footage does show three men attack him from behind, but exactly how he sustained a massive wound on his face remains inconclusive. (The injury is visible in the video, and one assessment suggests that it may have been caused by his fall.)

Dieselgate: Four Audi managers charged in the US over emissions scandal; Four German managers at carmaker Audi were the latest to be charged in the United States as part of a diesel emissions cheating scandal. The company has already paid an €800 million fine as part of a case in Germany. A US grand jury in Detroit has indicted four Audi engineering managers from Germany on allegations of conspiracy, wire fraud and violations of the Clean Air Act. The indictment alleges the four men took part in nearly a decade-long conspiracy to deceive the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by cheating on emissions tests for 3-liter diesel engines. Audi tests showed emissions were up to 22 times higher than the allowed US limit, the indictment added. Read more: Why veering Germans away from cars is tough The indictment said the employees realized there was not enough room in the vehicles to meet VW design standards for a large trunk and high-end sound system while still holding a big tank for fluid to treat diesel emissions, which led the four to design software to cheat on the emissions tests so they could get by with a smaller tank for the fluid. None of the men are in custody, and they are believed to be in Germany, a US Justice Department spokesman said. Audi is a luxury brand owned by German automaker Volkswagen. VW pleaded guilty in 2016 to criminal charges in the scandal and will pay more than $30 billion (€26.3 billion) in penalties and settlement costs.

Former Macron bodyguard in French custody over misuse of diplomatic passports;
Alexandre Benalla, who was fired last July after he was filmed beating a May Day protester, has been taken into custody in Paris. Prosecutors say he illegally used diplomatic passports to travel to Africa and Israel. French President Emanuel Macron’s former bodyguard and security adviser Alexandre Benalla was taken into custody by officials on Thursday for his misuse of diplomatic passports. The Paris Prosecutor’s Office said that Benalla had used diplomatic passports to facilitate his consultancy work in Africa. Additionally, prosecutors are investigating possible forgeries and the unlawful acquisition of administrative documents. Benalla initially denied that he had used the passports, only to confess last week that he had. On Wednesday, Patrick Strzoda, Macron’s chief of staff, informed the French Senate that Benalla had begun traveling on his two diplomatic passports within a week of his firing on July 22. Benalla lost his job after he was filmed attacking a May Day protester in Paris.

Norway forms first conservative majority government in 30 years; A cycle of minority governments had plagued Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s tenure. The Conservative Party leader reached a deal with the Christian Democrats, agreeing to their demand for changes to Norway’s abortion law. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg reached a deal with the small Christian Democratic Party on Thursday to form a center-right majority government. The move is set to strengthen Solberg, who has been in power since 2013 and was re-elected in 2017. “This is a historic day. Norway is getting its first non-socialist majority government since 1985,” said Solberg, who has led Norway’s Conservative Party since 2004. “We had tough negotiations,” Solberg said, celebrating the deal alongside leaders of the Christian Democrats and her existing governing partners of the Progress Party and the Liberal Party. But the new majority did not come without a cost, as the deal involved caving to demands by the Christian Democrats to amend Norway’s abortion law. The parties in Solberg’s coalition agreed to end so-called “selective abortions,” a woman’s right to abort a fetus in a multifetal pregnancy, which can be done to limit the number of births. But Solberg stopped short in the most controversial Christian Democrat proposal, which sought to end the right to late-term abortion, in cases where a fetus is diagnosed with Down’s syndrome or other genetic conditions.

UN health organization to investigate racism, misconduct allegations; Among the allegations are charges of “systematic racial discrimination against Africans” working at the World Health Organization in Geneva. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus ordered a probe last year. A series of anonymous emails that circulated within the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has triggered an investigation into “allegations of misconduct,” the agency said Thursday. The allegations depict the WHO as an organization is rife with racism, sexism and corruption. As a result, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus ordered an internal oversight office to carry out a probe. Tedros, a former health minister of Ethiopia and WHO’s first African director-general, did not speak about the details of the allegations. The WHO stressed that since he took office in 2017, he had “championed openness, transparency and diversity”.
The UN agency is “working consistently to increase geographical diversity and improve gender balance at all levels as part of its ongoing transformation process,” an organization statement added.

African Union calls on Congo to hold off election result announcement; The African Union says “serious doubts” remain over Democratic Republic of Congo’s election results. The AU isn’t alone in expressing qualms about the outcome of the presidential election. The African Union (AU) on Thursday called on the Democratic Republic of Congo to suspend the release of the final results of its disputed presidential election due to its doubts over the provisional results. The AU’s call came after a meeting of the bloc’s leaders in Addis Ababa, where AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said “serious doubts” remained after Felix Tshisekedi was declared the presidential election winner. “The heads of state and government attending the meeting concluded that there were serious doubts on the conformity of the provisional results as proclaimed by the National Independent Electoral Commission with the verdict of the ballot boxes,” the AU said in a statement.

Russian lawmakers vote to keep up Council of Europe boycott; The Russian parliament has agreed not to send representatives back to the Council of Europe and not to resume funding of the organization. Human rights advocates fear Moscow may leave the organization completely.Russian lawmakers on Thursday voted against sending a delegation to the Council of Europe (CoE) and to not resume funding of the body. Deputies in the Russian parliament, the Duma, accused the council of “grossly” violating the rights of Russia by stripping their delegation of voting rights over the Crimea crisis. “As a result of the lengthy anti-Russian campaign, the activities of Russia in the Council of Europe were actually suspended along the parliamentary line, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe itself, violating the basis of parliamentarism, found itself in a deep systemic crisis,” the lawmakers said in a statement published on the Duma website. The Strasbourg-based council is a non-EU organization aiming to uphold human rights across the continent. It incorporates 47 European states. The body is in charge of electing judges for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

FRANCE (France24)

Sweden’s Social Democratic PM set for second term; Sweden will end a four-month political vacuum Friday when lawmakers elect Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to a second term, after he elbowed out the far-right to save one of Europe’s few left-wing governments. Lofven, 61, may have won a victory, but the former welder emerges weakened by months of wrangling after September’s election forced him to concede to centre-right parties to win their support. Members of parliament are due to vote at 9am (0800 GMT) on the speaker’s nomination of Lofven as prime minister for a four-year term. His minority centre-left government, comprising his Social Democrats and the Greens, will be one of the weakest in Sweden in 70 years, with just 32.7 percent of voters having cast ballots for the two parties. Lofven has secured the support of the Centre and Liberal parties — until now members of the four-party centre-right opposition Alliance — with whom he has signed a political policy document. Together, the four parties hold 167 of 349 seats in parliament, eight fewer than the 175 that constitutes a majority in the Riksdag. The ex-communist Left Party had backed Lofven’s previous minority government since 2014, providing key support to pass legislation in parliament. But this time, the Left, which now holds 28 seats, was excluded as Lofven shifted his government toward the centre. To block the far-right Sweden Democrats from wielding any influence in parliament, the Left announced it would still allow Lofven to be elected.

Davos assembly faces Brazilian populism and Brexit; Government and business leaders trek to the freezing Swiss Alps next week for the annual Davos conclave, taking heat from a populist wave encapsulated in Brazil’s new far-right leader, trade conflicts and the looming onset of Brexit. US President Donald Trump stole the show at last year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) with a tax-cutting agenda that harmonised with the corporate priority-list, even if many in the audience were agog at his more outspoken rhetoric on trade and the media. But Trump ruled out a repeat visit, and on Thursday cancelled any representation by US officials at this year’s forum as a government shutdown drags on due to a funding row over his demand for a border wall with Mexico.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been slated to join Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan in Davos, as the two countries try to negotiate a truce to a punitive tariff war. That leaves the stage clear for Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro to steal the spotlight on his first trip abroad since taking office earlier this month. The high-powered week of networking and socialising kicks off Monday and will feature an eclectic lineup of discussions devoted to issues such as mindful parenting in the digital age, chronic loneliness, and harnessing artificial intelligence without destroying jobs. The week is expected to draw some 3,000 political and business figures, including 65 government leaders from Germany, Israel, Zimbabwe and elsewhere.

France will remain ‘militarily engaged’ in Middle East through 2019; “The retreat from Syria announced by our American friends cannot make us deviate from our strategic objective – eradicating Daesh,” Macron said in a speech at an army base near Toulouse, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. “We are staying invested to participate in the stabilisation of the region,” Macron said, adding: “Any rush to withdraw would be a mistake.” Macron also expressed condolences for “our four American friends killed on Syrian soil” in a bomb blast claimed by the Islamic State group on Wednesday.

Several killed in suspected car bomb blast at Bogota police academy; The defense ministry said the “terrorist act” was carried out using a vehicle packed with 80 kilograms (around 175 pounds) of explosives. “Unfortunately, the preliminary toll is 21 people dead, including the person responsible for the incident, and 68 wounded,” Colombian police said in a statement, adding 58 of those injured had been discharged from hospital. The defense ministry had previously reported 11 dead and 65 injured. “All Colombians reject terrorism and we’re united in fighting it,” President Ivan Duque tweeted in the aftermath.


Kim Jong Un’s close aide arrives in US; A close aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in the United States, apparently to discuss a second summit between the two countries’ leaders. Kim Yong Chol, who is in charge of high-level talks with the US, arrived at an airport near Washington on Thursday evening via Beijing. A crowd of reporters was awaiting him. He walked through the terminal building and left in a car. Kim Yong Chol is expected to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to lay the groundwork for the summit. Speculation is rife that the summit may be held in an Asian country such as Vietnam, a country that Washington sees as a possible model for North Korea’s future development. Attention is focused on whether the two sides can reach an agreement on the summit’s venue and timing. Just before the first US-North Korea summit last June, the high-ranking official visited the White House to deliver a letter from Kim Jong Un to US President Donald Trump. Whether he will meet with Trump on this trip is also being closely watched.

N.Korea’s suspected violations reported to UN; NHK has learned that the Japanese government filed a report with the UN Security Council on North Korea’s suspected violations of sanctions resolutions. Sources close to the Security Council say that last November the Japanese government informed the Council’s sanctions committee in writing of two apparent ship-to-ship transfer cases in which North Korea’s involvement was suspected. The document said a North Korean-registered tanker was detected alongside a Singaporean-flagged tanker in high seas of the East China Sea from the night of September 12th to the next morning. The document said a hose between the two vessels raised the possibility that refined petroleum products were being transferred between them. It also said a tanker subject to the sanctions and a Singaporean-registered tanker were spotted alongside each other in the same area on October 28th. The sources close to the Security Council say these cases will be included in a report by the sanctions committee that is due to be released as early as March. The Security Council will likely convene talks to discuss the possible violations of the sanctions resolutions.

Indonesia presidential candidates in first debate; Indonesia’s two presidential candidates sparred in their first TV debate on Thursday, ahead of the election in April. Incumbent President Joko Widodo and former military leader Prabowo Subianto discussed terrorism and human rights, among other issues. On measures against terrorism, Prabowo said people develop extreme ideas because they are poor or think society is unfair. He said he will resolve these problems by investing in education and creating jobs. In response, Joko, who is aiming for his second term, stressed his achievements. He said he has been stepping up anti-terrorism measures by revising laws. Joko said his efforts to reform former Islamic extremists are serving as a model for other nations. A series of terrorist bombings last year in Indonesia’s second largest city of Surabaya targeted Christian churches. The two candidates will hold three more TV debates to exchange views on poverty, economic policy and other issues. In the latest opinion poll, Joko leads Prabowo by about 20 percentage points.

Workers in Tunisia go on strike; Public servants in Tunisia staged a nationwide strike on Thursday to demand higher salaries in the economically struggling country. About 670,000 public sector workers, except those who work in emergency medical treatment, left their offices after 10 AM to go on strikes throughout the day. Workers marched through the capital Tunis. Some were calling for the administration’s resignation. Tunisia is called the only country to succeed in the “Arab Spring” democracy movement. But the people are increasingly frustrated with the government as rising prices erode their living standard. Tunisian workers staged similar strikes in November, but the government did not meet their demands. The government has been avoiding spending increases because the International Monetary Fund has been helping the country deal with its economic crisis. The workers union leading the strikes says it is considering stepping up its actions against the government.

Ghosn’s defense team requests bail again; The defense team of former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn has again asked the Tokyo District Court to grant bail to their detained client. The attorneys filed the second request for bail on Friday. On Thursday, the court rejected the appeal filed by his lawyers over its decision to deny bail. Ghosn was charged with aggravated breach of trust a week ago. Prosecutors allege the auto tycoon inappropriately transferred about 15 million dollars from a Nissan subsidiary to a Saudi Arabian businessman’s company after he helped Ghosn to cover personal investment losses. Ghosn denies the charges. Under the Japanese legal system, an accused person can be kept in custody for up to two months after indictment. Lawyers can file bail requests repeatedly. Sources close to the matter say the defense team is willing to accept conditions for bail, such as requiring Ghosn to stay in Japan. Ghosn had earlier wanted to travel to France if he was granted bail.

World War Two: Guadalcanal (4); Consolidating the Beachhead

The Enemy Strikes Back: The Japanese garrisons on Guadalcanal and in the Tulagi area had not been able to resist the American attack effectively, although an enemy report claimed that ten transports and the greater part of the escorting naval forces had been destroyed. The air attacks on 7-8 August had not seriously damaged the Amphibious Force, but they had caused serious delays in unloading.

These were only preliminaries, however, to the heavy blow the Japanese were preparing to deliver. Five heavy and two light cruisers and one destroyer assembled in St. George’s Channel off Rabaul on the morning of 8 August with orders to attack the American transports in Sealark Channel. This force sailed south along the east coast of Bougainville until sighted by an Allied patrol plane from the Southwest Pacific Area, which radioed a warning to Melbourne. The Japanese ships then reversed their course for a time, but after the plane departed, turned west through Bougainville Strait and then south through the narrow waters (the “Slot”) between the two chains of the Solomons.

At 1800 on 8 August, Admiral Turner received word that the Japanese force was approaching. The Screening Force, augmented by the fire support warships, was then covering the northern approaches to Sealark Channel. Two destroyers, the Ralph Talbot and the Blue, were posted northwest of Savo Island on either side of the channel to maintain watch by radar. Three cruisers, the Australia, Canberra, and Chicago, and the destroyers Bagley and Patterson, were patrolling the waters between Savo and Cape Esperance. The cruisers Vincennes, Astoria, and Quincy and the destroyers Helm and Wilson patrolled between Savo and Florida. Two cruisers, screened by destroyers, covered the transports.

Aircraft from the American carrier force southwest of Guadalcanal had been supporting the Amphibious Force during daylight hours, but this protection was about to be withdrawn. Two days of enemy air action and operational losses had reduced fighter strength from ninety-nine to seventy-eight planes. Fuel was running low. Admiral Fletcher, commanding Task Force 61, was worried by the numbers of enemy bombers operating in the area. At 1807, 8 August, he asked Admiral Ghormley for permission to withdraw his carriers. Admiral Ghormley consented. The force would be withdrawn, he announced, until enough land-based aircraft to protect the line of communications to Guadalcanal could be assembled, and until sufficient stocks of aviation fuel could be maintained at Guadalcanal to support fighter and bomber operations. The carrier forces retired southward early the next morning.

When informed that the carrier forces were to be withdrawn, Admiral Turner called General Vandegrift and Admiral Crutchley aboard the flagship McCawley. General Vandegrift left his command post at the mouth of the Ilu River to board the McCawley about 2325, 8 August. Admiral Crutchley took the flagship Australia out of the Screening Force and sailed aboard her to the McCawley to attend the conference. Turner informed them that the imminent retirement of the carriers would leave the Amphibious Force without effective air protection and that he had decided to withdraw the ships of the Amphibious Force at 0600 the next morning.

General Vandegrift was seriously disturbed by this news. The retirement of the ships, he felt, would place his division in a “most alarming” position. Unloading of supplies at Tulagi had not even started at 7 August because the Japanese had held so much of the island. The 1st Marine Division’s plans were based on the assumption that the transports would remain offshore until 11 August, and by the night of 8-9 August more than half the supplies embarked by the division still remained in the ships’ holds.

Battle of Savo Island

Meanwhile the Japanese cruisers and destroyers which had earlier been discovered had now approached Savo Island undetected. Shortly before reaching Savo, the cruisers catapulted seaplanes which flew over Sealark Channel to search for the American and Australian ships. About midnight of 8 August the Allied ships in the channel reported that unidentified aircraft were overhead. About 0145, 9 August, a seaplane from the Japanese cruiser Chokai dropped flares over the transports, while the Japanese warships slipped unobserved past the Ralph Talbot and the Blue.

 After passing the destroyers, the Japanese sighted the Allied ships between Savo and Cape Esperance. Still undetected, they fired torpedoes which struck the Chicago and the Canberra. After this attack the Japanese left to strike the American ships between Savo and Florida. They illuminated their targets briefly with searchlights, then put heavy fire into the American cruisers. Unwilling to risk further action with the Allied cruisers and fearful that American aircraft might attack his ships at daylight, the Japanese commander then led his force northward away from Savo. On the morning of 9 August the Japanese force reached Rabaul. The next day, off New Ireland, the cruiser Kako was sunk by torpedoes from an American submarine.

The Battle of Savo Island was one of the worst defeats ever suffered by ships of the U. S. Navy. The enemy had taken them by surprise and defeated in detail the two forces on either side of Savo. The only enemy ship damaged was the Chokai, whose operations room was destroyed. The Vincennes and Quincy sank within one hour after being attacked. The badly hit Canberra burned all night and was torpedoed by American destroyers the next morning to sink her prior to the departure of the Amphibious Force. The severely battered cruiser Astoria sank about midday on 9 August. The Chicago and the Ralph Talbot had both been damaged. Fortunately the Japanese commander had lacked sufficient daring to execute his orders to attack the weakly defended transports in Sealark Channel. Had he done so, he could have effectively halted Allied operations in the South Pacific and completely cut off the 1st Marine Division from reinforcement and supply, for all the transports and cargo ships of the South Pacific Force were present in Sealark Channel.

The damage which the Japanese inflicted upon the warships delayed the departure of Admiral Turner’s ships, which remained in Sealark Channel until the afternoon of 9 August. But at 1500 ten transports, one cruiser, four destroyers and the minesweepers sailed toward Noumea, followed at 1830 by the remaining ships. Admiral Turner accompanied the latter force.

Of the original marine landing force of over 19,000 men, nearly all were ashore before the departure of the ships, but a few detachments of the 1st Marine Division remained on board. Most of the men of the 2nd Marines, Reinforced, had landed, but 1,390 men of the regiment, including regimental headquarters, companies from the 2nd Amphibian Tractor and 2nd Service Battalions, and part of the 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines (75-mm. pack howitzers), were subsequently landed at Espiritu Santo by the retiring Amphibious Force. Almost 17,000 marines and naval personnel had landed on Guadalcanal and Tulagi.

Supplies for these men were limited. Of the sixty days’ supplies and ten units of fire with which the division had embarked, less than half had been unloaded. There were about four units of fire available on Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Guadalcanal had 6,000,000 rounds of .30-caliber ammunition, and 800 90-mm. shells. Food stocks were low. When an inventory was completed about 15 August, it was found that food for only thirty days was on hand—B rations for seventeen days, C rations for three days, and Japanese rations for ten days. Troop rations were reduced to two daily meals.

None of the 3rd Defense Battalion’s 5-inch coast defense guns, nor any long-range warning or fire control radar sets had been landed. Only eighteen spools of barbed wire had been brought ashore. Heavy construction equipment was still in the ships’ holds. Since the liaison planes assigned to the division had been destroyed on board their cruisers in the Battle of Savo Island, air reconnaissance of Guadalcanal would not be possible.

The departure of the Air Support and Amphibious Forces left the 1st Marine Division alone in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area exposed to Japanese attacks, without air cover or naval surface support. The nearest Allied outpost was the primitive base at Espiritu Santo. The enemy posts at Buka and the Shortlands were only 363 and 285 nautical miles away, respectively, and Rabaul itself lay only 565 nautical miles to the northwest. The 1st Marine Division was virtually a besieged garrison.

Consolidating the Beachhead

In a letter to General Marshall on 11 August, General Harmon, the commander of U. S. Army Forces in the South Pacific, expressed serious doubts about the possible success of the invasion: “The thing that impresses me more than anything else in connection with the Solomon action is that we are not prepared to ‘follow up’ . . . . We have seized a strategic position from which future operations in the Bismarcks can be strongly supported. Can the Marines hold it? There is considerable room for doubt.”

A week later he pointed out that two lines of action lay open to the Japanese. They might deliver an amphibious assault, with strong air and surface support, against Guadalcanal and Tulagi, or they might move into New Georgia and infiltrate into Guadalcanal. They probably would not occupy Malaita or San Cristobal, for these would be within fighter range of the newly won Allied base at Guadalcanal, where, to achieve significant results, the Japanese would need to land strong forces. A rapid development of Allied air power at Guadalcanal would render New Georgia untenable for the Japanese. It was Harmon’s view that American forces should mount intensive air and surface operations to destroy Japanese surface forces; base fighters, dive bombers, and heavy bombers on Guadalcanal; replenish Guadalcanal’s supplies; and as General Vandegrift desired, send more troops to Guadalcanal at the earliest possible time.

Admiral Ghormley also stressed the precariousness of the Allied situation in the South Pacific. He warned Admirals King and Nimitz that there could be no further advances until more troops and planes arrived, or until the new positions could be consolidated. If the three aircraft carriers then assigned to the South Pacific were to be withdrawn, or if no reinforcements were to be made available, Guadalcanal and other South Pacific positions might fall to the Japanese. Yet using the carriers to support the Guadalcanal garrison, he observed, would be dangerous. Expenditure of carrier-based aircraft and of destroyers in supporting Guadalcanal would jeopardize the carriers, which were then the principal defense of the line of communications between the United States and New Zealand and Australia. Sending supplies by ship to Guadalcanal would be dangerous until planes could be based there.

Construction and Defense of the Airfield

The rapid completion of the airfield on Guadalcanal was a project of the utmost importance, for planes were needed there immediately to protect supply ships and the newly captured position, and to carry on the offensive against the Japanese. On Guadalcanal work on the uncompleted airstrip had begun on 9 August, when the 1st Engineer Battalion had moved to Lunga Point from Beach Red. The battalion’s equipment was inadequate, for the ships had withdrawn before power shovels, bulldozers, or dump trucks had been unloaded.

Using abandoned Japanese equipment, the engineers put forth their best efforts and added 1,178 feet to the 2,600 feet of runway completed by the Japanese. To fill a 196-foot gap in the center of the runway, they moved 100,000 cubic feet of earth with hand shovels, trucks, and captured dump cars. At first there were no steel mats to surface the field, which in consequence was covered with sticky mud after every hard rainfall.

On 10 August General Vandegrift announced that the field, named Henderson Field after Major Lofton Henderson, a Marine hero of the Midway battle, might be used by thirty-six fighters and nine scout bombers. No ground crews were then present, but there were 400 drums of aviation gasoline, and some oil and machine gun ammunition. The first plane to use Henderson Field was a Navy patrol bomber (PBY) which landed for a short time on 12 August. On 17 August the radio station at Tulagi reported that the field was ready for operation.

On 12 August Admiral Ghormley ordered Admiral McCain, commanding Task Force 63, to load all available destroyer-transports with aviation gasoline and lubricants, bombs, ammunition, and ground crews and dispatch them from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal. Sending these speedy ships to Guadalcanal bore a close resemblance to blockade-running. To avoid being attacked by Japanese planes while lying offshore during daylight, they were to leave Espiritu Santo in time to reach Guadalcanal in the late afternoon, and to depart from there early in the morning. Aircraft of Task Force 63 were to cover them.

Admiral Ghormley ordered the South Pacific carrier forces to operate generally south of Guadalcanal against Japanese carriers, transports, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and other shipping, in that order of priority. He ordered the carriers not to venture north of latitude 10 degrees South unless they were pursuing a promising target within striking distance. In addition Admiral Ghormley directed the carrier forces to protect the line of communications between Noumea and Espiritu Santo, and to cover the shipborne movement of ground crews and equipment to Guadalcanal. South Pacific land-based aircraft under Admiral McCain were to serve as a scouting and attack force, sharing with the surface forces the responsibility for defending and supplying Guadalcanal. Admiral McCain was to be responsible for the movement of all airborne supplies and reinforcements to Guadalcanal.

The immediate effects of the completion of Henderson Field were disappointing. Air operations were severely limited by lack of equipment. General Harmon believed that this shortcoming stemmed from the fact that the campaign “. . . had been viewed by its planners as [an] amphibious operation supported by air, not as a means of establishing strong land based air action.” The marines on Guadalcanal could not obtain gasoline, airfield matting, or bulldozers, General Harmon wrote, because “.. . the plan did not have as its first and immediate objective the seizure and development of Cactus [Guadalcanal] as an air base… Airdrome construction … is going to be disappointingly slow . . . ,” the Army commander reported on 28 August after an inspection trip, for the marines lacked enough “worthwhile equipment.”

The primitive conditions obtaining at Henderson Field limited the use of heavy bombers. There were no bomb-handling trucks, no carts, bomb hoists, or gas trucks. All planes had to be fueled from gasoline drums by hand pumps. Further, pending the arrival of sufficient fighters and antiaircraft guns to defend the field, General Harmon felt that it would be too risky to base B-17’s permanently on Guadalcanal. Suggesting to General Marshall that Army P-38 fighters be made available to the South Pacific, he also warned that fighters at Henderson Field would experience intensive action and a high attrition rate.

Until heavy Army bombers could be based permanently on Guadalcanal, General Harmon suggested staging them from rear bases through Henderson Field to their targets. The B-17’s could not carry profitable bomb loads from the New Hebrides directly to Faisi, Gizo, Tonolei, Kieta, Rekata Bay, Buka, and other targets in the northern Solomons, but they could reach and strike those areas from the New Hebrides by refueling at Guadalcanal, and continuing northward.

Even with improved defenses at Henderson Field, it would be difficult to stage the B-17’s through. A round-trip flight from the New Hebrides to Buka was over 1,800 nautical miles by the shortest route. Henderson Field lay about 560 nautical miles from Espiritu Santo and about 400 nautical miles from Buka. To send twenty B-17’s, each carrying one ton of bombs, from Espiritu Santo through Henderson Field to Buka required that 35,800 gallons of gasoline be pumped into the B-17’s at Henderson Field by hand, and Henderson’s fuel stocks could rarely support such an operation.

The first planes arrived for duty at Henderson Field on 20 August. Marine Fighting Squadron 223 (VMF 223) and Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 232 (VMSB 232) had reached Noumea from Pearl Harbor on the escort carrier Long Island. From Noumea they flew to the New Hebrides, refueled, and continued their way to Henderson Field. These squadrons, the forward echelon of Marine Air Group 23 of Brig. Gen. Roy S. Geiger’s 1st Marine Air Wing, included nineteen Grumman fighters (F4F-4’s) and twelve Douglas dive bombers (SBD-3’s). Eleven dive bombers of Flight 300 from the carrier Enterprise landed at Henderson Field on 24 August, to remain there for three months. The first Army Air Force planes—five P-400’s of the 67th Fighter Squadron—came on 22 August, and were followed on 27 August by nine more.

The 67th Fighter Squadron had debarked at Noumea, New Caledonia, on 15 March 1942, and had trucked its crated aircraft over the mountains along the narrow twisting trail (the “Little Burma Road“) which led to the squadron’s base. When the squadron’s mechanics uncrated the planes, they discovered forty-five P-400’s, a converted model of the P-39 designed for export to the British, and two P-39F’s. None of the pilots had ever flown a P-400 before, and only two had flown a P-39. None of the mechanics had ever worked on a P-400, and no instruction books for this type had been included in the shipment. However, they successfully assembled the planes, and the pilots learned to fly them.

To get from New Caledonia to Henderson Field, the P-400’s flew the 277 nautical miles from New Caledonia to Efate, then the 153 nautical miles from Efate to Espiritu Santo, and, using extra gasoline tanks and guided by a B-17, flew the 560 nautical miles to Henderson Field. Operations of the P-400’s were disappointing at first. They could not fly higher than 12,000 feet, and thus were no match for high-flying Japanese aircraft.

It was standard practice, when Henderson Field was warned of air attack, for the Army P400’s and Marine SBD’s to take off from the field before the raid to prevent these vulnerable craft from being destroyed on the ground. During the raids they strafed and bombed Japanese positions. The P-400’s armor, its 20-mm. cannon and two .50- and four .30-caliber machine guns, and its ability to carry one 500-pound bomb made this plane extremely effective in close support of ground troops.

On 20 August, when Henderson Field began operating, supply and evacuation by air were inaugurated by the twin-engine R4D’s (C-47’s) of Marine Air Group 25. These planes made daily flights from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal, usually bringing in 3,000-pound cargo loads, and evacuating sixteen litter patients per trip.

The combat troops on Guadalcanal began to construct defenses for the airfield immediately after its capture. Since they lacked enough tools, sandbags, or barbed wire, the work was difficult A small quantity of wire was salvaged from the coconut plantations and added to the original eighteen spools. Captured rice bags served in place of sandbags. By the afternoon of 9 August hasty positions had been established. Considering that an enemy amphibious attack against the shore line was the most immediate danger, General Vandegrift concentrated the bulk of his strength to hold the beaches. The marines built a defense along 9,600 yards of shore line from the mouth of the Ilu River to the village of Kukum. The right (east) flank was refused inland 600 yards along the west bank of the Ilu, where the river line would give the defending forces a tactical advantage. The left (west) flank line at Kukum was refused inland over the flat ground between the beach and the jungle to the first hills. Caliber .30 and .50 machine guns and 37-mm. guns, supported by riflemen, defended the beach front. The 5th Marines (less one battalion) held the left sector, from the Lunga to Kukum; the 1st Marines held the right, from the Lunga to the Ilu.

Except for troops required to cover the beach defense weapons, the infantry battalions were concentrated inland to be in position to launch counterattacks, or to contain any forces which might penetrate the beach line. In the south (inland), a 9,000-yard-long stretch of jungle running from the Ilu across the Lunga to Kukum posed a grave problem. The northern line along the shore of Lunga Point ran across ground which was generally flat and covered with even rows of coconut trees. But the inland line ran up and down steep, heavily jungled ridges and hills where visibility was extremely limited. There were not enough troops to hold a continuous line in the south sector, and the rough, tangled terrain increased the difficulty of maintaining contact between separated units. Local security detachments from the artillery, pioneer, engineer, and amphibian tractor battalions first held separated strong points in the southern sector until continual nocturnal enemy infiltration made necessary an outpost line between the Ilu and the Lunga. However, large-scale enemy operations in the south sector at first seemed unlikely because of the difficult terrain.

Mortars, 60-mm. and 81-mm., were placed in supporting positions for normal fire missions. The 1st Special Weapons Battalion dug in its 75-mm. tank destroyers in positions inland, but were ready to move to firing positions on the beach in the event of an attack. The troops dug foxholes, slit trenches, and dugouts to protect themselves from enemy rifle, artillery, and naval gun fire, and from the frequent bombing raids. On the outpost and beach lines the troops built two-man foxholes fitted with fire slits; deep pits to catch rolling hand grenades were dug in front of these emplacements.

There was not enough artillery. The 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Battalions of the 11th Marines had landed their howitzers and set them up in central positions from which they could put fire in front of all sectors. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions had 75-mm. pack howitzers, the 5th Battalion, 105-mm. howitzers. There were no 155-mm. howitzers or guns for effective counterbattery fire, nor any sound-and-flash units for locating enemy artillery pieces, a deficiency that was to prove costly. The defenses against air and surface attack were to be inadequate for many weeks. The radars and 5-inch seacoast guns of the 3rd Defense Battalion had not been brought ashore prior to the hasty departure of the Amphibious Force. Automatic antiaircraft weapons, 90-mm. guns, and searchlights, however, had been landed on both Guadalcanal and Tulagi. An air warning system was obviously necessary, and one was established on 9 August in the “Pagoda,” a tower which the Japanese had built on the airfield. From the Pagoda, observers could alert the Lunga garrison before an air attack by sounding a siren which the Japanese had abandoned. The adequacy of the defenses against Japanese ground attacks was soon to be tested.

Action on the Ilu River

The Japanese forces on Guadalcanal in August 1942 were believed to be concentrated near Lunga Point between the Matanikau River, approximately 7,000 yards beyond Lunga Point, and the native village of Kokumbona, about 7,500 yards west of the Matanikau. A prisoner captured on 12 August confirmed this belief, and intimated that some of the Japanese garrison, many of whom were believed to be wandering aimlessly without food, might be willing to surrender, 1st Sergeant Stephen A. Custer of the division intelligence section prepared a plan to take a patrol by boat from Kukum to the Matanikau area to make contact with the Japanese and give them an opportunity to surrender. Colonel Frank Goettge, the division intelligence officer, decided to lead the patrol himself. The patrol embarked from Kukum about dusk on 12 August. Colonel Goettge had planned to land between the Matanikau River and Point Cruz, about 1,200 yards west of the river, but in the darkness he landed at an unknown spot somewhere west of the river. The Japanese, instead of surrendering, attacked the patrol and killed all but three men who escaped by swimming. Colonel Goettge, three other officers, and Sergeant Custer were among the casualties. Subsequent patrols never found any traces of Colonel Goettge’s party.

A vigorous effort one week later to clear Matanikau and Kokumbona villages west of the river mouth met with greater success when B, L, and I Companies of the 5th Marines attacked the villages from three sides. I Company took landing craft to the beach west of Kokumbona, landed, and pushed east through the village while B and L Companies attacked Matanikau from the east and south. L Company, having crossed the river about 1,000 yards upstream from its mouth, attacked northward after a brief artillery preparation by the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Battalions of the 11th Marines. As L Company advanced, it met rifle fire from enemy emplacements on the ridges to its front and left flanks. By 1400 the company had reached the outskirts of Matanikau village.

Meanwhile, enemy fire had prevented B Company from crossing from the east bank over the sand bar at the river mouth. B Company engaged the Japanese in the village with rifle and machine-gun fire while L Company pushed through the village. The three companies killed about sixty-five Japanese, themselves losing four killed and eleven wounded, before returning to Lunga Point. As the division commander wrote later, this skirmish did not affect the outcome of the campaign, but did reveal the location of those Japanese who had retreated from the Lunga area. The Matanikau River, flowing through a deep valley, was to prove an important terrain feature. Deep, swift, and about 160 feet wide, it could not be forded in the coastal area. In the absence of bridges the alluvial sand bar across the mouth was the only means by which vehicles and artillery could cross the river. To protect Henderson Field from artillery fire it was essential that the marines hold the easily defended east bank, but not until the addition of more troops to the Lunga garrison would enough men be available to extend the lines from Kukum to the Matanikau.

During the first weeks on Guadalcanal the white coastwatchers and friendly natives were proving their value. The coastwatchers were performing an invaluable service for the Allied cause by giving warning of approaching enemy aircraft almost three hours before their arrival over the Lunga. In August, coastwatchers were stationed on the south coast of Guadalcanal, and on Buka, Bougainville, New Georgia, Santa Isabel, and Malaita, to radio reports on Japanese aircraft and ship movements to the intelligence section of the division. Since most enemy bomber flights from Rabaul passed over New Georgia, the coastwatcher on that island was especially valuable, and his reports usually enabled the U. S. fighter planes on Guadalcanal to take to the air in time to meet the oncoming enemy. Other sources of intelligence were reports from higher headquarters, observation posts, regimental and battalion patrols, and air reconnaissance. The few Japanese captured during the campaign usually poured out information voluminously. Also useful to the Allied cause was the Japanese habit of carrying orders, diaries, and other documents to the front lines. A vast quantity of such papers was captured on Guadalcanal and sent to Noumea.

Shortly after the 1st Division had landed, Capt. Martin Clemens of the British Solomon Islands Defense Force, who was also British District Officer for Guadalcanal in the Protectorate Government, left Vungana, his hiding place in the hills south of Aola Bay. With his sixty native scouts he entered the marine lines to offer their services to General Vandegrift who accepted.

On 19 August came the first evidence that Japanese ground forces were planning to attack the Lunga airfield. Patrols had already informed division headquarters that the Japanese were operating a radio station about thirty-five miles east of Lunga Point. Ordered to patrol the coast eastward to locate the enemy, A Company of the 1st Marines surprised a Japanese party of four officers and thirty enlisted men walking openly along the beach near Taivu Point, about twenty-two statute air miles east of Lunga Point. The company killed all the Japanese but two who escaped into the jungle. Examination of the dead men’s effects revealed that these were enemy soldiers who had recently landed.

Their helmets bore the Army star instead of the anchor-and-chrysanthemum insignia of the Special Naval Landing Forces. Among the documents which A Company captured was a code for ship-to-shore communication during landing operations. That an enemy force might attack by land against the 1st Marine Division’s east flank, or force a landing against the Lunga shore defenses in an effort to recapture the airfield, or to attempt both, was an inescapable conclusion. Headquarters of the Japanese 17th Army at Rabaul, acting on orders issued from Tokyo on 13 August, had just assumed responsibility for directing ground operations on Guadalcanal, but its intelligence estimates were extremely inaccurate. The landing on 7 August had taken the Japanese by surprise. They had retaliated with surface and air attacks, but there were not enough troops under 17th Army command to permit the immediate dispatch of strong forces to Guadalcanal. The Japanese thought that a small force had been landed on 7 August.

Some estimated that only 1,000 American troops had come ashore. The Japanese Army apparently based its estimates of the forces needed to destroy the American beachhead upon its experiences in China and Malaya.24 The officer who was later to become Chief of Staff of the 17th Army, Major Gen. Shuicho Miyazaki, was then in Tokyo. He wrote later that “at that time we had no means of ascertaining actual facts regarding the extent of the enemy counter-offensive.”

The 17th Army, commanded by Lieutenant Gen. Harukichi Hyakutake, had decided to retake the Lunga area. Hyakutake planned to use initially a force composed of part of the 28th Infantry of the 7th Division and the Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Forces, and later the 35th Brigade—about 6,000 troops in all. The 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry, had been formed into a 2,000-man combat team of infantry, artillery, and engineers known as the Ichiki Force, after its commander, Colonel Kiyono Ichiki. This force had been attached to the Navy to make the projected landing on Midway. When the Japanese carrier fleet was defeated, the Ichiki Force had sailed for Guam. On 7 August, when the force was at sea bound for Japan, it received orders to reverse its course. Landing at Truk on 12 August, it was attached to the 35th Brigade, which was then in the Palau Islands. This brigade, commanded by Major Gen. Kiyotake Kawaguchi, was usually called the Kawaguchi Force. The first echelon, about 1,000 men of the Ichiki Force, including Colonel Ichiki, sailed for Guadalcanal via Rabaul. They made the trip from Rabaul to Guadalcanal on the “Tokyo Express,” the Japanese destroyers and cruisers which operated at night among the islands. This echelon landed at Taivu Point about 18 August, at approximately the same time that 500 men of the Yokosuka 5th Special Naval Landing Force landed at Kokumbona. The soldiers whom A Company of the 1st Marines had killed on 19 August were from Ichiki’s first echelon. Ichiki apparently decided to attack immediately because his forces had been discovered, for he did not wait for his second echelon to land before advancing west against the airfield.

The 1st Marine Division was then holding Lunga Point with four infantry battalions in line, one in reserve, and three field artillery battalions in support. As division headquarters was not sure of the size of the enemy force to the east, nor even certain that one had been landed, it could not risk sending troops beyond the front lines to attack the enemy. The marines continued to work on the defenses and extended the eastern line farther inland along the west bank of the Ilu.

The first important ground action on Guadalcanal, after the landing, opened on the evening of 20 August when marines in listening posts on the east bank of the Ilu opened fire at some enemy troops hidden in the jungle. They then fell back to the west bank to report that enemy forces were moving up from the east. Some rifle fire followed, then subsided. The Ilu front lay quiet until about 0310, 21 August, when about 200 infantrymen of the Ichiki Force tried to cross the sand bar at the mouth of the Ilu in a bayonet assault designed to overrun the positions occupied by the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. The defending battalion had emplaced a 37-mm. gun, protected by machine guns and rifles, to cover the 45-yard-wide sand bar. As the Japanese drew near, the 2nd Battalion opened fire with rifles, machine guns, and the 37-mm. gun which was firing canister. A few of the Ichiki Force succeeded in crossing the bar to overrun some of the 2nd Battalion’s positions which were not protected by barbed wire. The majority were killed or wounded by the defenders’ fire. The few who had crossed were prevented from reorganizing or extending their foothold by fire from the positions which the 2nd Battalion had been able to hold. G Company of the 2nd Battalion then counterattacked and drove the enemy survivors back across the river. The Ichiki Force installed itself along the beach east of the river mouth.

At 0403 the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, which had previously registered on the area, put howitzer fire on the narrow triangle of beach from which the Ichiki Force had begun the attack, and repeated the concentrations at 0515, 0722, 0742, and 0851. When the initial rush failed, the Ichiki Force concentrated artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire on the marine positions at the end of the sand bar. All available marine weapons replied immediately. From their positions on the west bank the marines enfiladed the enemy on the sand bar and beach, and by morning the sluggish river mouth was filled with enemy corpses.

By daybreak it was apparent that the 2nd Battalion, aided by artillery support and the tactical advantages of its position, could hold the west bank of the Ilu. The 1st Battalion of the 1st Marines was ordered out of division reserve to cross the Ilu upstream to attack the enemy left flank and rear. The 1st Battalion crossed the river in column and posted one heavy weapons platoon to cover the Japanese escape route. By 1230, 21 August, C and A Companies had advanced over 2,000 yards, and C Company, on the right, had reached the mouth of the Block Four River in the rear of the Japanese. When the enemy was surrounded, at 1400, the battalion delivered its assault Some Japanese ran into the sea in an effort to escape, and D Company stopped some who were attempting to retreat inland. Others fleeing to the east were attacked by fighter planes.

To conclude the engagement before dark and to destroy some obdurate enemy machine gunners at the west end of the beach, a platoon of light tanks, supported by infantry, crossed the sand bar at 1500 and with 37-mm. canister and machine-gun fire attacked the Ichiki Force survivors and destroyed them. Two tanks suffered light damage, but by 1700 the engagement had ended. The attacking Japanese force had been destroyed, and Ichiki committed suicide.

Japanese casualties numbered almost 800; only 130 survived. Thirty-five marines had been killed, seventy-five wounded. Captured Japanese materiel included 10 heavy and 20 light machine guns, 20 grenade dischargers, 700 rifles, 20 pistols, an assortment of sabers and grenades, 3 70-mm. guns, 12 flame throwers (which were not used in the engagement), and demolition equipment. One Japanese had surrendered, and fourteen, of whom twelve were wounded, had been taken prisoner.

At no time had the Ichiki Force seriously threatened the airfield. The amazingly small force which attacked the marines indicated either defective intelligence work, or sublime confidence on the part of the enemy. If by 20 August Ichiki had become aware of the numerical strength of the Americans he was attacking, he must have had complete contempt for the military prowess of the marines.

The Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Before the Ichiki Force had launched its hopeless attack, the Japanese had attempted to send a second force to Guadalcanal. An impressive amount of naval strength had been concentrated near Rabaul. By 23 August Allied air reconnaissance reports led to the estimate that there were 3 or 4 aircraft carriers, 1 or 2 battleships, from 7 to 15 light and heavy cruisers, from 10 to 20 destroyers, 15 or more transports, cargo ships, and oilers, and 160 land-based aircraft at Rabaul. The increase in enemy naval strength since early August led to the conclusion that the Japanese were preparing to put a major force ashore on Guadalcanal.

Admiral Ghormley’s naval forces were weaker than those of the Japanese. Total American naval strength in the South Pacific included three aircraft carriers, one battleship, six cruisers, and eighteen destroyers, organized into three carrier task forces under Admiral Fletcher’s command. A fourth force, built around the Hornet, had left Pearl Harbor on 17 August and reached the South Pacific on 29 August after the Battle of the Eastern Solomons had ended. Thirty-nine PBY’s and thirty B-17’s, plus the Guadalcanal aircraft, were also available in the South Pacific.

Four Japanese transports carrying about 1,500 men of the second echelons of the Ichiki Force and the Yokosuka 5th Special Naval Landing Force, screened by four destroyers, had left Rabaul on 19 August to attempt to land the troops on Guadalcanal on 24 August. Two screening units were sailing south about a hundred miles to the east. The total enemy force included three aircraft carriers, eight battleships, four heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and twenty-one destroyers as well as the four transports. The 25th Air Flotilla at Rabaul provided land-based air cover.

The three U. S. carrier task forces under Fletcher were then operating about one hundred miles southeast of Guadalcanal. When erroneous intelligence reports on 23 August led to the belief that the Japanese naval forces had retired north of Truk, the Wasp force departed from the main body to refuel, leaving only two carrier forces under Fletcher’s command, including the carriers Saratoga and Enterprise, one battleship, four cruisers, and ten destroyers.

That the Japanese had not retired but intended to attack became clear on 23 August after the Wasp’s departure, when American patrol planes sighted the four transports about 350 miles north of Guadalcanal. The next day, 24 August, American carrier planes discovered the enemy screening forces about the same time that Japanese pilots located Admiral Fletcher’s ships. The ensuing engagement, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, was fought well to the east of Guadalcanal.

Like that at Midway, it was a battle of aircraft against ships. Surface craft did not exchange a single shot. American land-based aircraft joined the carrier planes to attack the enemy ships, and some Japanese planes bombed the Lunga area on 25 and 26 August. The Japanese lost the carrier Ryujo, one destroyer, one light cruiser sunk, ninety planes shot down, and the seaplane carrier Chitose and one cruiser damaged. The Enterprise suffered damage, and twenty American planes were lost.

Late on 24 August Admiral Fletcher retired southward expecting to return and resume the fight next day. But the Japanese force also withdrew and by next morning, 25 August, was out of range. Marine dive bombers and Army B-17’s attacked the enemy transport force on 25 August, and search planes located other scattered enemy ships converging toward Guadalcanal. By noon the Japanese ships everywhere in the southern Solomons had reversed their courses to follow the carriers northward. The Battle of the Eastern Solomons did not prevent the Japanese from landing troops on Guadalcanal, but it did postpone their landing for a few days. The postponement gave the 1st Marine Division more time to strengthen its defenses.

After the victory in the Eastern Solomons, the naval force of the South Pacific, already weakened by the return of nine cruisers and destroyers to the Southwest Pacific, lost several more ships in action, but did not inflict serious damage upon the enemy.

On 31 August the Saratoga, patrolling west of the Santa Cruz Islands, was hit by an enemy torpedo. The crippled carrier reached Tongatabu safely, made emergency repairs, and on 12 September sailed for Pearl Harbor where she remained incapacitated until November. The Wasp, patrolling south and east of the Solomons, sank on 15 September after being struck by three torpedoes from enemy submarines. The battleship North Carolina, escorting the Wasp, was torpedoed on the same day and forced to return to Pearl Harbor. The South Pacific thus lost the services of four major fleet units. Its carrier strength was reduced to one—the Hornet.


The lack of provision for re-supply and reinforcement of the 1st Marine Division, the withdrawal of the supporting naval forces from Guadalcanal, the cruiser losses at Savo Island, and the failure to complete the unloading of the transports of the Amphibious Force had placed the division in a precarious situation. Having embarked sixty days’ supplies to obtain freedom of action, General Vandegrift had been able to bring less than one-half that amount ashore. The lack of shipping, combined with air and surface weakness, would have prevented a free and rapid flow of Allied forces and supplies to Guadalcanal even if unlimited troops and materiel had been available to the South Pacific. To complicate matters further, the fact that the Japanese were free to land strong forces on Guadalcanal protracted the campaign for six months and required the commitment of many more American troops than had been originally planned.

After landing on Guadalcanal, the marines had begun to move the supplies from Beach Red to Lunga Point immediately. Fortunately the Japanese aircraft had not bombed or strafed Beach Red during the crucial period when a tangle of rations, ammunition, spare parts, and other materiel lay exposed. But the supplies had to be moved quickly lest the Japanese exploit the opportunity they had hitherto missed. The division, which had landed only 30 percent of its authorized 2½-ton trucks, put to use every available vehicle, including artillery prime movers, amphibian tractors, and captured Japanese trucks. The pioneers repaired a Japanese-built bridge over the Lunga and improved the coast road. Beach Red was cleared in five days of hauling. The supplies were segregated and dispersed throughout Lunga Point. Observation of the results of the naval bombardment and air attacks on D Day showed the marines that “the probability of damage to supplies varied directly in proportion to the vertical height of the dump.” The dumps were therefore kept at the lowest possible heights.

The 1st Marine Division, expecting that its sixty days’ supplies would prove ample, had naturally not made provision for immediate re-supply. When advanced supply depots were established at Noumea and Espiritu Santo on 20 August by order of Admiral Turner, they were not under divisional control.

On Guadalcanal the movement of supplies brought in by ships proved difficult Once the beachhead was secured, the handling of supplies from the beach to supply dumps was theoretically a naval responsibility. The nucleus of a Naval Operating Base had been formed on 9 August by landing craft and crews from the Amphibious Force, but there were not enough men for effective operation. The division pioneers, later supplemented by hired native labor, continued to unload ships until October when enough sailors to perform this duty had arrived. All supplies had to be lightered from the ships to the beaches, unloaded, placed aboard trucks, and hauled inland. But there were never enough trucks. The arrival of reinforcing units did not alleviate the shortage of 2½-ton trucks, for, to save cargo space, only 1½-ton trucks were now being shipped.

No major reinforcements were sent in during the first month. Before Admiral Turner’s departure on 9 August, Vandegrift had recommended that the 2nd Marines remain with the division instead of occupying Ndeni, and most of the 2nd Marines landed before Admiral Turner’s departure. Admiral Ghormley agreed to Vandegrift’s proposal, and on 9 August he directed the 2nd Marines to remain in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area if they had already landed. The remainder of the regiment, 1,390 men, debarked at Espiritu Santo on 12 August.

Colonel Arthur, commanding the 2nd Marines, and his staff remained at Espiritu Santo for a few days, and on 22 August landed at Tulagi from the Alhena. The first ships to reach Guadalcanal after the landing were destroyer-transports which on 15 August put ashore aviation ground crews and supplies. By 20 August, when the bulk of Task Force 62 was operating out of Noumea, six destroyer-transports had been assembled to run between Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal. The next day the destroyer-transports Colhoun, Gregory, and Little brought 120 tons of rations, enough for 3½ days, to Guadalcanal, and the seaplane tender MacFarland landed more aviation materiel. The original plan of 12 August for the destroyer-transports to operate under McCain was changed on 17 August, when Admiral Ghormley charged Turner’s force (Task Force 62) with the responsibility of establishing the line of communications to Guadalcanal. Task Force 62 was to defend and strengthen the Marine garrison there. Turner would plan and control all surface movements to Guadalcanal, including that of aviation personnel and materiel. Admiral McCain was to notify Turner whenever such personnel and supplies were available for shipment by water.

The arrival of fighter planes at Henderson Field permitted large ships to enter Sealark Channel in daylight with some degree of safety. The cargo ships Alhena and Fomalhaut, escorted by destroyers, succeeded in landing some supplies and weapons during daylight on 22 and 23 August, although one of the destroyers was torpedoed and sunk. Seven destroyer-transports and destroyers brought supplies to Guadalcanal and Tulagi on 29 August. The small amounts involved in these shipments may be illustrated by the fact that the Colhoun was carrying only seventeen tons of stores when she was sunk in the afternoon of 30 August during an attack on the ships by eighteen enemy bombers.

By the end of August the 1st Marine Division was in a slightly stronger position than had been the case on 9 August. The defenses of the airfield had been established, the field was in operation, the Ichiki Force had been defeated, and a tenuous line of communications between Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal had been established. But the Americans were not yet firmly established on Guadalcanal.

Source: Guadalcanal: The First Offensive ; BY: John Miller, Jr. (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Guadalcanal(5);Counteroffensive 12-14 September

World War Two: Guadalcanal (3); Marines Come a Shore

World War Two: Japanese Imperial Navy: Battle of Badung Strait 19-20 February 1942

On 19 February 1942 ABDA Command knew that a Japanese occupation force was at sea, because an invasion armada had left Ambon on 18 February, backed by seaplane tender Mizuho, sailing from Kendari to provide air cover over the Banda Sea. ABDA Command felt (wrongly) that Timor would be the objective of the next invasion, and had tried desperately to reinforce the island’s defenses with a convoy of troops, escorted by the heavy cruiser Houston, which had sailed from Port Darwin on the 15 February. This convoy had come under bomber attack, however, as it neared Timor the following day, and consequently was recalled.

Admiral Doorman could have taken on the Bali Occupation Force successfully, if his forces had been concentrated. His one task force, however, was just disengaging itself at the eastern end of Java, while four American destroyers were refueling at Ratai Bay, in south Sumatra. British ships were escorting a convoy of troopships through the Sunda Strait, and the heavy cruiser Houston was returning to Java from Port Darwin. Still, while he could not gather all his naval forces, Admiral Doorman used whatever he could to fight it out with the Bali Occupation Force. Later on 18 February, coming from Tjilatjap, he took to Sanur Roads his two light cruisers, the De Ruyter and Java, the destroyer Piet Hein (destroyer Kortenaer was unavailable, after running a ground in the treacherous entrance at Tjilatjap harbor during the sotie) and the American destroyers Pope and John D. Ford. A second group, formed at Surabaja, contained the Dutch light cruiser Tromp and the American destroyers Stewart, Parrott, John D. Edwards, and Pillsbury. This group was due to arrive at Badung Strait shortly after Admiral Doorman’s force had made an first attack and retired to the north. A third group of eight Dutch Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB) would attack last.

Doorman’s battle plan was for his group to attack Japanese escort warships and transports which were involved in a reported landing at Sanur Roads, on the southeast coast of Bali. A little before midnight 19 February. The group would make its approach through Badung Strait, a narrow channel only fifteen miles wide, separating Bali and the island of Nusa Besar. After a strink and the partial destruction of the Japanese force, the second wave would arrive several hours later. Finally the MTB’s would arrive in the confusion of the battle to create further havoc.

Admiral K. Kudo in the light cruiser Nagara had reason , then, to move his occupation force swiftly as he reached the perimeter of ABDA’s remaining strength. The convoy made the voyage in one day, 18 February, arriving at Sanur Roads shortly after midnight. There was no effective opposition to the landing, and the transports were unloaded quickly. Admiral Kudo want to leave this advanced and exposed position as soon as possible. On the next day, his force was harassed by sporadic B-17 raids; one transport, the Sagami Maru, received a serious hit but was able to get under way homeward that afternoon, protected by the destroyers Arashio and Michishio. The other transport Sasago Maru, was leaving for Makassar, escorted by the Asashio and Oshio, when Doorman’s first wave arrived. The Battle of Bali was about to begin.

The Bali Invasion force was now scattered. The Arashio and Michishio were escorting the damaged Sagami Maru to a safe port, and the Nagara and her destroyers were bound for Makassar. At 23000, just as the Asahio and Oshio were weighing anchor, the enemy ships were spotted to the south, headed on a northerly course. The light cruisers De Ruyter and Java, in column, led their three destroyers, with the Piet Hein 5,000 yards astern, and the Pope and John D. Ford the same distance behind Piet Hein.

At once the Asashio and then the Oshio left their transport, turned on their searchlights and illuminated the are with star shells, and headed east. This course closed the range and put them in the position of crossing the British light cruisers’ “T”. The Java immediately fired on the Asashio, and the De Ruyter on the Oshio, at a range of 2,200 yards. The fire was returned by the Japanese ships; however, neither side scored any hits. After the initial salvos, the two light cruisers turned northeast and retired from the battle, finally heading north. The Asashio steamed east for several minutes and then turned south-southeast. The Oshio followed a parallel course but went farther east before taking a southeasterly course, which put her on the Asashio’s port beam.

At 2305, the Piet Hein, still coming north, made smoke which obscured the Pope and Ford, but which also hid the two Japanese destroyers from the two American destroyers. It was a dark, cloudy night, and as so often happens in night battles, it became difficult to tell foe from friend. Finally the Piet Hein, turning south, fired torpedoes at the Asashio and opened gunfire at 2310. Within a minute the Asashio returned fire, as the two antagonists closed range. At 2316, the Piet Hein was torpedoed, and sank at once.

The Pope and John D. Ford had also turned south, away from the battle, and were also paralleling the Asashio. ( the Oshio was screened by the Piet Hein’s smoke, and had not yet entered the fight) At 2324 the Asashio opened fire on the two U.S. destroyers, which then made smoke and continued south. The Asashio followed them, exchanging torpedoes with the Pope and Ford, and firing at the Ford. To avoid the Asashio’s fire, the two American destroyers began to circle, first theading south then, in accordance with Admiral Doorman’s pre-battle orders, trying to exit to the north. There ensued another brief but brisk engagement, as the two Japanese and two American destroyers followed parallel courses. The Asashio and Oshio continued firing, while dodging five torpedoes launched by the Pope. The American destroyers, temporarily screened from the Asashio and Oshio by smoke made by the Ford, then retired to the southeast.

As the Oshio reversed from the retiring American destroyers, sighted still another ship, thought to be an American destroyer, and opened fire. Fire was returned, but after a few minutes it died down, and the Oshio joined the Asashio. Each ship claimed she had fired on and sunk an American destroyer. It was later determined, however, that only two American destroyers had been involved in this phase of the battle, and neither was sunk, which suggest that the Oshio and Asashio had probably been firing on each other. The Pope and John D. Ford heard the gunfire to the north as they retired, and were puzzled by it. The intrepid Asashio and Oshio then returned to their damaged transport.

The second wave of the ABDA attack was, however, about to strike. Four U.S destroyers, the Stewart, Parrott, John D. Edwards, and Pillsbury, followed by the Dutch light cruiser Tromp, were entering Badung Strait, following the same course taken by the first wave. Sailing up the strait , they saw a number of green signal lights, which confused them. (ABDA Command had complied French/English code books, but they had not been distributed to Doorman’s ships, so there was confusion as to whether the lights were signals of friend or foe) Commander T. H. Binford USN, commander of the American destroyers was in a blind situation on a dark night not knowing what to expect.

The first blow would be crucial, however , so at 0045 he ordered his destroyers to fire torpedoes to port. The sent fifteen torpedoes in the direction of the Asashio and Oshio, and the Sasago Maru, still bearing off Sanur Roads. The torpedoes were avoided, and once again the Asashio and Oshio went out to face an enemy of unknown strength.

The two were then spotted by the Stewart off her port beam. The Stewart illuminated the area, and began firing at 0215. The John D. Edwards also attempted a torpedo launch at the same time, but was only able to launch two. The Oshio and Asashio answered with rapid and accurate fire, and the Stewart received a direct hit, knocking out her steering engine room. The John D. Edwards had to veer hard to starboard to avoid a collision with the Parrott. The Pillsbury had left the column formation early, following a course parallel to the other ships on her starboard side. The fire of the Oshio and Asashio was so effective that the American destroyers never did charge, as was their assignment, into the transport anchorage site, and were instead forced to the northeast.

The light cruiser Tromp brought the rear. The course of the Asashio and Oshio cut the wakes of the John D. Edwards, Parrott, Stewart, placing the Japanese between the three-destroyer column and the Pillsbury. The Tromp found herself farthest to the west, acting as arear guard against the aggressive Asashio and Oshio. The tow opposing forces followed roughly parallel courses, bearing to the northeast. Little gunfire was exchanged until the ABDA force turned east, then at 0241, the Tromp was hit eleven times on her superstructure by gunfire from Asashio. At the same time, she managed to avoid torpedoes launched by Oshio. ( her damage was sufficient that she was later sent to Australia for repairs.) The Oshio was hit forward, with seven men killed. Finally, the Oshio and Asashio, like good shepherds circled to starboard and gain returned to their transport.

By this time ABDA forces were considerably scattered. The Parrott, then the ship closest to Bali, ran aground briefly but was able to get way again. She did not renter the battle, however. At 0241, the John D. Edwards and the Stewart were still in column, steaming northeast. The Tromp was on a easterly course, 8,000 yards off the starboard quarter of the two American destroyers. The Pillsbury, on a northeasterly course , was 3,000 yards away on the Tromp’s starboard beam, on an intersecting course. At that moment, destroyers Michishio and Arashio, which had left the damaged transport Sagami Maru and returned to aid the Japanese ships still at Bali, came rushing in on a southwest-by-west course; they soon found themselves at close quarters, between the John D. Edwards and the Stewart on their starboard beam and the Tromp and Pillsbury on their port beam. The Stewart turned on her searchlights, and both sides began firing and launching torpedoes at 0247. The Michishio could not withstand the concentrated attack from both flanks, so she veered to the north to avoid Stewart’s searchlights, only to be hit repeatedly by fire from the John D. Edwards. The Michishio went dead in the water, out of the fight, with thirteen men killed and eighty-three wounded. (She survived, was repaired, and eventually returned to duty) The battle was over, for the opposing columns had closed at high speed, and after passing in their firefight, neither reversed course. It is understandable that they felt confused and uncertain at this point; because this was a night engagement, neither side knew the size or position of its opposition.

The planned strike by eight Dutch MTBs went through the strait on schedule, in two waves of four. Originally nine were sent out, but on leaving Surabaja one hit a lightbouy and retired, so the formation was revised. The first wave spotted some ships at a distance, but fired no torpedoes, while the second wave saw nothing. (Because a MTB lies so low in the water, her crew has a short field of view.)

The box score of the battle was un-impressive, given the number of ships involved and the disparity in numbers. One Japanese destroyer severally damaged, two were lightly damaged, and two transports damaged; but the entire Bali Occupation Force returned safely to port. On ABDA’s side, the light cruiser Tromp was badly damaged, and the destroyer Piet Hein was sunk.

The ABDA fleet has frequently been criticized for fighting the Battle of Badung Strait ineptly. True its ship were not so concentrated as they would have been, had time allowed; and the cruisers, their crews desperately tired, met only two destroyers, when they were looking for larger ships to engage. These factors contributed to the ABDA force’s inept fighting. However, it must be noted that, while it is true the Japanese destroyers were never, stronger, and more heavily armed than the Allied destroyers, it was the two destroyers Oshio and Asashio that waged efficiently and audaciously fought battles that, in the end, negated Doorman’s battle plan.

Bali and Lombok fell to Japanese forces on 19 February, and the Bali airfield was receiving Japanese planes the next day. No place in Java was then out of reach of Japanese power, and no ABDA reinforcements, air , naval, or army, could now be provided to the forces there.

SOURCE: Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1941-45; BY: Paul S. Dull

World War Two: Japanese Imperial Navy: Makassar Straits / Darwin Raid, February 1942

World War Two: Papuan Campaign (7); Road to Ioribaiwa

General Horii Pushes the Australians Back: While the battle of Milne Bay was being fought, the Japanese on the Kokoda Trail were winning some of their most spectacular victories of the campaign. General Horii, who had left for the front on 22 August, had issued orders on the 24th for a general offensive. The attack began at dawn on 26 August and developed such power after a week of unremitting pressure that the Australians found themselves unable to stand firm with the forces at hand. They had no choice but to give ground. Not only were they heavily outnumbered, but their supply difficulties were greater than those of the Japanese who were supplied from nearby Kokoda and whose way, once their supply parties had reached the crest of the range, lay down, not up.

The enemy advance continued despite the mountain trail, the bitter resistance of the Australians, and the sustained bombing and strafing of Japanese supply lines by the Allied Air Force. By 7 September, the date organized resistance ceased at Milne Bay, the troops of the South Seas Detachment had made tremendous gains. They had driven the Australians from Isurava, Alola, Eora Creek, and Templeton’s Crossing.

They had gained possession of the Gap, had taken Myola, Kagi, and Efogi on the southern slopes of the range, and stood poised to take Menari, Nauro, and Ioribaiwa, the last villages between them and Port Moresby.

The Opposing Forces

General Horii had opened the attack with the 144th Infantry, reinforced by elements of the 55th Mountain Artillery, miscellaneous mortar and machine gun units, and the main body of the 15th Independent Engineers. The artillery troops had left their guns behind pending a study of how they were to be brought forward, and the engineers were advancing with the infantry troops, improving the track as they went.

One of the two battalions of the 41st Infantry, which had come in from Rabaul a few days before, joined in the attack on 28 August. The remaining battalion was held in reserve in the Kokoda area, where it helped out with supply. On the night of 2-3 September, approximately 1,500 Japanese reinforcements from Rabaul were landed safely at Basabua from a large convoy which managed to elude detection by the Allied Air Force. The reinforcements included the remaining battalion of the 41st Infantry and the rear echelon of the Nankai Shitai—the 67th Line of Communications Hospital, more service troops, and an “emergency” transport unit including vehicles and 300 pack horses. The incoming battalion was immediately ordered to the front and reached the scene of operations a few days later.

In contrast to General Horii’s five reinforced battalions, the Australians, until Efogi was reached, never had more than three battalions in the forward area to oppose the Japanese advance. One of them was the depleted 39 Battalion, which had been in action for more than a month and should have been relieved long before. The Japanese, using continuous flanking operations, had no trouble driving the Australians back. Two regimental combat teams, one under command of Colonel Masao Kusunose, commander of the 144th Infantry, and the other under Colonel Yazawa, commander of the 41st Infantry, alternated in pressing home the attack. They were thus able to outflank the Australians almost at will and, by bringing pressure to bear from different directions, to push them from one ridge after another.

When the Japanese opened their offensive in late August, the only combat troops facing them were the 39 Battalion, 30th Brigade headquarters, and the 53 Battalion. Two battalions of the 21st Brigade, the 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions (which were to be followed by the third battalion, the 2/27), were on the way to the forward area but had not yet arrived. They began arriving company by company the following day, each company being thrown into battle as soon as it came up.

The fighting was desperate and the Australians, weighed down with heavy packs and cumbersome .303 rifles, outnumbered and repeatedly outflanked, suffered heavy casualties. The 2/14 Battalion relieved the 39 Battalion on 29 August, and the latter unit moved to the rear to reorganize, as did the 53 Battalion which had been badly cut up in the battle. From 1 September to 5 September the 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions, bearing the full brunt of the enemy attack, were under such heavy pressure that they were forced to withdraw through the Gap and take up positions on the other side of the range.

The Australians found it impossible to make a stand, not only because they were outnumbered but also because they were running short of food and ammunition. Their supplies had come either via native carriers or by airdrops, and neither carriers nor planes had been able to get enough supplies to them for more than hand-to-mouth operations. The forward supply system on the trail, which at best had operated only by fits and starts, collapsed completely when the Myola dropping grounds were lost, and the natives, demoralized by the Japanese advance, began to desert in large numbers. Suffering from exhaustion, fever, and dysentery, the Australians had to pull back to a defensive position closer to their source of supply, from which, after being properly reinforced, they could hope to launch an effective counterattack. The retreat was bitterly contested but, despite the enemy’s superior strength, orderly.

The enemy’s losses were heavy, but the cost to the Australians, continuously in danger of being surrounded and overwhelmed if they held a position too long, were heavier still. When the 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions fell back on Efogi Spur on 6 September (where they joined the 2/27 Battalion which was already in position there), the 2/14 Battalion was at half-strength and the 2/16 Battalion only a company stronger.

General MacArthur Plans a Turning Movement

All this time General Headquarters had strength on the trail was slight, and that the enemy had no real intention of advancing on Port Moresby. It therefore did not immediately understand the reason for the swift Japanese advance. General MacArthur indeed found himself puzzled by the situation. Being certain, he said, that the Australians on the trail outnumbered the Japanese, he had General Chamberlin ask Allied Land Forces on 7 September for an explanation of the repeated Australian withdrawals.

The explanation came the next day from General Rowell himself, and was communicated immediately to General Chamberlin. General Rowell pointed out that, contrary to the prevailing opinion at General Headquarters, his forces had been heavily outnumbered during the previous week’s fighting. He added that the Japanese appeared to have on the trail the maximum number of troops that they could supply there.

While he was certain that he could regain the initiative with the help of the 25th Brigade, which was then disembarking at Port Moresby, he felt that he would need more troops later on in the operation. Because none of the CMF brigades at Port Moresby seemed to have enough training for the task, he asked that one of the two 6th Australian Infantry Division brigades that had recently come in from Ceylon be transferred to Port Moresby at once for action on the trail.

On 9 September the 16th Australian Infantry Brigade of the 6th Division was ordered to Port Moresby, and the 25th Brigade was rushed to the front. Since there now appeared to be sufficient Australian troops to contain the Japanese advance, General MacArthur began to plan a flanking movement by an American regimental combat team which would cut in on the enemy’s rear and hasten his withdrawal from the Kokoda-Gap area.

Choice of the unit was left to Major General Robert L. Eichelberger (then newly arrived in Australia and soon to be promoted to lieutenant general), to whom as Commanding General, I Corps, U. S. Army, the 32nd and 41st Divisions had been assigned on 5 September. General Eichelberger had already decided that the 32nd Division would precede the 41st to New Guinea. He made this decision because the training camp of the 32nd Division at Camp Cable near Brisbane was inferior to that of the 41st Division at Rockhampton. The general believed the 32nd should go first because it would in any event have to be moved to another camp.

After consulting with General Harding, commanding general of the 32nd Division, and learning from him that the 126th Infantry under Colonel Lawrence A. Quinn was the best-trained and best-led of his three regiments, General Eichelberger chose the 126th for the task. The regiment was at once alerted for transfer to New Guinea. The men prepared for immediate movement, and, on General Eichelberger’s orders, a Brisbane cleaning establishment began dyeing the men’s fatigues a mottled green for action in the jungle.

General MacArthur’s plan of maneuver was ready on 11 September, and he communicated it at once to General Blamey, Commander Allied Land Forces, to whom I Corps had been assigned for operational control. He was satisfied, General MacArthur wrote, that the dispatch of the 25th and 16th Brigades to Port Moresby would probably be sufficient to arrest any further forward movement of the Japanese toward Port Moresby, and ultimately to drive them back across the Owen Stanley Range. Since the Japanese were known to be extremely tenacious in holding ground once they had gained it, he believed that to force the Japanese back by direct attack along the Port Moresby—Kokoda track alone would be a very slow business. To hasten a Japanese withdrawal, he had therefore ordered “a wide turning movement” by the 126th U. S. Infantry to cut in behind the Japanese at Wairopi. This, General MacArthur thought, could best be accomplished by an overland advance from Port Moresby, via Rouana Falls and the Mimani, Irua, Mugoni, and Kumusi Rivers, a route his staff had particularly recommended be used.

The following day, Brigadier General Hanford MacNider, of the G-4 Section GHQ SWPA, who had been chosen by General MacArthur to make advance arrangements for the regiment’s reception and march over the mountains, left for Port Moresby by air.

General MacNider was accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph S. Bradley, the 32nd Division G-4 (who returned to Australia several days later), and members of Colonel Quinn’s staff including Major Bernd G. Baetcke, his executive officer, Captain William F. Boice, his intelligence officer, and Captain Alfred Medendorp, the assistant S-4. Suitable arrangements were made by these officers for the reception of the troops, and two days later, 15 September, the first element of the 126th Infantry left Brisbane for Port Moresby by air, the men’s fatigues still wet with dye.

The movement consisted of Company E, a medical officer, Captain John T. Boet, four aid men, and an attached platoon of Company A, 114th Engineer Battalion. The detachment, 172 men in all, was under command of Captain Melvin Schultz, commanding officer of Company E. These former National Guard troops, most of them from Big Rapids, Michigan, arrived at Port Moresby from Amberley Field near Brisbane on the afternoon of 15 September, the first American infantry unit to set foot in New Guinea.

General Harding had come down to Amberley Field to see the company off and, before it left, had given the men a little talk, in which he referred to them as “The Spearhead of the Spearhead of the Spearhead.” Pleased with the general’s happy phrase, Company E called itself thereafter, “The Three Spearheads.”

General MacNider’s group had no sooner arrived at Port Moresby than it discovered that the route proposed by General MacArthur’s staff for the advance to Wairopi was an impracticable one. Not only did it intersect the Australian rear and extend into an area where troops using it could be cut off by the Japanese, but it was so rough and mountainous that the only way to supply troops using it would be from the air.

Consideration was then given to an alternative route—the eighty-five mile trail, Port Moresby-Kapa Kapa-Kalikodobu-Arapara-Laruni-Jaure. From Jaure lesser trails led to Wairopi and Buna. Little was known about the route for it had not been used in years. The coastal natives avoided it because they believed it to be haunted, especially at the divide; and no white man had passed that way since 1917, a quarter of a century before. Although the route had the advantage that troops operating over it could be supported logistically by land and sea for about a third of the distance, it had also a very serious disadvantage—a 9,100-foot mountain crossing, which the Australians feared was impracticable for marching troops. General Rowell strongly opposed using it and favored an alternative route running from Abau to Jaure where the crossings were under 5,000 feet.

After thinking the matter over, General MacNider and his group decided to send a pathfinder patrol, under Captain Boice, to reconnoiter the Kapa Kapa-Jaure trail; and General Casey, who was at Port Moresby at the time, ordered his deputy, Colonel Lief J. Sverdrup, to reconnoiter the Abau route.

On 17 September, the same day that Colonel Sverdrup and a small party left for Abau to reconnoiter the route Abau-Debana-Namudi-Jaure (the Abau track), Captain Boice, accompanied by 1st Lieutenant Bernard Howes and six enlisted men of Company E, an officer of ANGAU, and forty native carriers, left Port Moresby for Kapa Kapa by lugger to begin the reconnaissance of the track leading from that point to Jaure.

The rest of Company E and its attached medical personnel and engineer platoon were moved out to help a company of the 91st U. S. Engineers construct a motor road from Tupeselei (a few miles southeast of Port Moresby) to Kapa Kapa, and thence to a rubber plantation at Cobaregari near Kalikodobu where an advanced base was to be established. The opening of the road Tupeselei-Kapa Kapa-Kalikodobu, as General McNider explained, would allow the advance base near Kalikodobu, nicknamed “Kalamazoo,” to be supplied both by road and by water and would remove entirely the need for air supply until the mountains were reached.

The main body of the regiment was now ready to move. The combat team, less artillery—180 officers and 3,610 enlisted men—took ship for New Guinea on 18 September. Colonel Quinn, who had been at Brett’s Wharf, Brisbane, to see his men off, arrived at Port Moresby by air on the 20th, accompanied by two of his staff officers, Major Simon Warmenhoven, the regimental surgeon, and Captain Oliver O. Dixon, the regimental S-3, and reported at once to General Rowell.

The regiment reached Port Moresby in convoy on 28 September to find that the 128th Regimental Combat Team, also less its artillery, was already there, having completed its move to Port Moresby by air five days before. The two American regiments, each with attached division engineer, medical, and signal troops were parceled out on arrival to different Australian commands.

The 128th Infantry, commanded by Colonel J. Tracy Hale, Jr., was assigned to the Port Moresby garrison force, and, as such, came under the operational control of Headquarters, 6th Australian Infantry Division, which was then in charge of Port Moresby’s ground defense. It relieved the 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion (which had been pulled from its normal airfield construction duties and given a combat role) and took up a defensive position along the Goldie River, north of Port Moresby. The 126th Infantry and attached troops were assigned directly to New Guinea Force for use in the advance on Wairopi. They went into bivouac at Bootless Inlet and were for the time being kept in garrison reserve.

The reason for the swift and dramatic movement to New Guinea by air of the 128th Infantry (the greatest that the Air Force had undertaken up to that time) soon became obvious. It lay in the continued advance along the Kokoda Trail of General Horii’s troops. Not only did Horii still have the initiative, but he seemed to be threatening Port Moresby as it had never been threatened before.

The Japanese Take Ioribaiwa

When General Horii attacked Efogi spur on 8 September, he had five reinforced battalions of infantry in action. The 21st Brigade, on the other hand, was down to nine companies, and only four of them (the four companies of the 2/27 Battalion) had fresh troops. Exploiting their numerical superiority, the Japanese first struck the 2/27 Battalion, cutting it off from the balance of MAROUBRA Force, then pushed the unit completely out of the fight by forcing it off the trail. Another Japanese column struck elements of the 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions echeloned along the trail in rear of the 2/27 positions, established a trail block, and isolated 21st Brigade headquarters and a company from the 2/14 Battalion. With control lost, the command group and the Australian infantrymen fought their way through the block and with the rest of the 2/14 Battalion withdrew through the 2/16 Battalion to Nauro by nightfall on 9 September. General Horii had meanwhile called in his reserve, the 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry. After its arrival in the front lines about 12 September, the Japanese had two full infantry regiments on the trail, depleted in strength but with engineer and other attached troops, a force of at least 5,000 men.

[NOTE: G-2 Daily Summaries Enemy Intel No. 170, 8-9 Sep 42, No. 171, 9-10 Sep 42, No. 172, 10-11 Sep 42: Lanops Bul No. 30, 9 Sep 42, in G-3 Jnl, GHQ SWPA; ALF, Rpt on New Guinea Opns, Buna-Ioribaiwa; Nankai Shitai Opns Order No. A-115, 11 Sep 42, in ATIS EP No. 33; Diary, Actg Comdr No. 2 MG Co, 2nd Bn, 144th Inf , in ATIS CT 29, No. 358. The figure, 5,000, is of course an approximation, but it appears reasonably clear from captured enemy records that General Horii’s frontline force, even allowing for heavy losses, and the diversion of part of its strength to supply duties, was at least 5,000 strong at the time.]

The 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions, now with a combined strength of 320 men and fighting as a composite battalion, yielded Nauro and fell back to an east-west ridge north of Ioribaiwa during 10-11 September. Already established on the ridge were the 2/1 Pioneer Battalion and the 3 Battalion, 14th Brigade (which had come up from Port Moresby ahead of the 25th Brigade). The 2/31 and 2/33 Battalions, the leading elements of the 25th Brigade, under Brigadier Kenneth W. Eather, reached Ioribaiwa on 14 September and attempted to drive past both flanks of the Japanese position. When these flanking movements were met by a strong counterthrust that pierced the Australian line, a further withdrawal was ordered to the Imita Range, a strong defensive position, a full day’s march from Ioribaiwa, and separated from it by the deep valley of Ua-Ule Creek.

The Japanese reached Ioribaiwa on 16 September and took up a position there. The Allied situation was not as difficult as it seemed. The Australians, then only one pack stage away from Uberi, their main rearward supply base, were finally in position to counterattack. The Japanese supply situation had by this time become impossible. That this was the case was in large part due to General Kenney, who had taken command of the Allied Air Forces on 4 August. The Fifth Air Force, the American element of the Allied Air Forces, which Kenney in the interests of greater operational efficiency had established as a separate command in early September, had completed disrupted Japanese supply. The advance echelon of the air force at Port Moresby, under General Kenney’s deputy commander, Brigadier General Ennis P. Whitehead, was doing a magnificent job of pulverizing Japanese lines of communication.

[NOTE: Msg, Gen Kenney to Gen Marshall, No. A-201, CM-IN 1752, 4 Aug 42: Fifth Air Force GO No. 1, 3 Sep 42. When he established the Fifth Air Force, General Kenney drew a clear line of demarcation between its responsibilities and those of the RAAF. Thus, while the Fifth Air Force became responsible for operations in the Northeast Area, the RAAF took over the responsibility for defense of the Australian continent and particularly of the Darwin area. In practice, the Fifth Air Force always had the support of Australian squadrons in its operations to the northeast of Australia, and the RAAF in turn was repeatedly reinforced bv Fifth Air Force units, especially at Darwin, which was still under regular Japanese air attack. From Darwin, in turn, attacks were being mounted on strategic points in the Netherlands Indies. AAF, Air Actn in Papua. 21 Jul 42-23 Jan 43, pp. 51-52, copy in USAF Hist Off.]

After considerable experimentation it had been found that the A-20 bomber, modified to carry eight forward machine guns and using a parachute fragmentation bomb invented by General Kenney himself, was particularly effective in low-level attacks on Japanese supply trains, dumps, and landing barges.

The runway at Buna and the suspension bridge at Wairopi were under almost continuous attack. As fast as the Japanese naval construction troops at Buna filled in the runway, the Fifth Air Force would see to it that it was pitted again; and efforts of the 15th Independent Engineers to keep the Wairopi Bridge in use were being continually set at naught by Fifth Air Force and attached RAAF units that would roar in at low levels to demolish it. Because of the relentless air attack, Japanese supply trains were virtually forced off the trails.

Food, as a result, though still available to the Japanese in the rear areas, was not getting through to the front lines. Whole battalions of the South Seas Detachment were foraging everywhere along the trail for food. Native gardens along the line of march were being stripped of sugar cane, taro, yams, pumpkins, melons, and everything else that was edible, but there was not enough food in that poor upland area to feed such a host for long. By September the front-line ration was down to less than a cupful of rice per day. By 17 September, the day after the Japanese seizure of Ioribaiwa, with the beach at Port Moresby almost visible from the height on which the Japanese found themselves, there was not a grain of rice left on the ridge for issue to the troops.

General Horii’s Orders Are Changed

When he first opened his offensive on 26 August, General Horii’s objective had been Port Moresby. The deterioration of the situation at Milne Bay, and the difficulty of getting troops ashore at Guadalcanal in the face of Allied naval and air forces operating in the Solomons area, caused General Hyakutake on 29 August to instruct General Horii to halt the South Seas Detachment as soon as it had reached the southern foothills of the Owen Stanley Range. The advance was not to be resumed, he was told, until such time as Milne Bay had been taken and the Guadalcanal operation was progressing satisfactorily. Imperial General Headquarters concurred in these orders and two days later directed that General Horii go on the defensive as soon as he had crossed the Owen Stanley Range.

Upon receipt of these instructions, General Horii had pressed through the Gap, looking for a defensible position on the other side of the range which he could hold until he was ordered to resume the advance on Port Moresby. Horii’s first choice had been Nauro, but after sending out a reconnaissance party forward of Nauro he chose Ioribaiwa as the place to make his stand. The day after its seizure the troops holding it were told that they were to wait there until the middle of the following month, when it was expected that the final push against Port Moresby would be undertaken.

On 20 September General Horii called together his commanders at a hill near his headquarters at Nauro and told them how things stood. He praised them for the way in which they and their men had succeeded in crossing “the so-called impregnable Stanley Range,” and explained that the reason for the halt was to regain their fighting strength, so as to be able, at the proper time, “to strike a crushing blow at the enemy’s positions at Port Moresby.” How this was to be done with the existing state of supply was not explained.

Shortly after General Horii had ordered his subordinate commanders to hold Ioribaiwa he received, as a result of further Japanese reverses at Guadalcanal, instructions which in effect ordered his withdrawal from Ioribaiwa. The Kawaguchi Detachment, which had finally reached Guadalcanal in late August, was virtually wiped out on the night of 13-14 September, in the Battle of Edson’s or Bloody Ridge. The Japanese were thus left without an effective striking force on the island. Because of this new reverse, and the complete failure of the Milne Bay operation, Imperial General Headquarters felt impelled once again to revise its operational plan for Port Moresby. On 18 September new orders were issued which emphasized that everything was to be subordinated to the retaking of Guadalcanal.

Existing positions in New Guinea were to be held as long as possible, but the South Seas Detachment was to be absolved of the responsibility of maintaining itself indefinitely in the southern foothills of the Owen Stanley Range. Instead, it was to begin preparations at once for the defense of the Buna-Gona beachhead, which it was to hold as its primary defensive position until again ordered to advance.

By concentrating on the Guadalcanal operation and ordering the South Seas Detachment back from the southern foothills of the range to the more easily defended beachhead, Imperial General Headquarters could still hope to retrieve the situation in both the Solomons and New Guinea.

It was now planned that, as soon as Guadalcanal was retaken, the forces committed to that operation would be diverted to New Guinea. A part would seize Milne Bay and then, in accordance with the original plan, would move on Port Moresby by sea. The rest would be used to reinforce the South Seas Detachment, which, at the proper time, would sally forth from the beachhead, recross the mountains, and, in spite of all previous reverses, complete the Port Moresby operation in concert with the forces coming in from Milne Bay.

Complying with his new instructions, General Horii began at once to prepare for an orderly withdrawal that would commit a minimum number of troops while allowing the forces to the rear the maximum possible time to reinforce the beachhead.

He left the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 144th Infantry at Ioribaiwa and two companies of the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry, immediately to the rear at Nauro. The and supporting troops General Horii ordered to Isurava. The main body of the 41st Infantry, less the two companies at Nauro and a company at Kokoda, was ordered to the Sanananda—Giruwa coastal area. General Horii’s instructions to the main body of the 144th Infantry were that it was to hold Ioribaiwa as long as possible and then retire northward to be relieved at the proper time by the troops in the Kokoda-Isurava area. As the latter fell back, they would be relieved in turn by troops from the beachhead.

On 24 September, the day the 2nd Battalion, 144th Infantry, was pulled out of the line and sent to Isurava, the 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry, reached Giruwa. It was followed in a few days by the main body of the 41st Infantry, under Colonel Yazawa. The naval garrison and the airfield at Buna were under the command of Navy Captain Yoshitatsu Yasuda, who had come in from Rabaul on 17 September with 280 Yokosuka 5th SNLF troops. Colonel Yazawa took over command in the Giruwa coastal area, where were to be found the main Japanese supply dumps and the most important medical installation, the 67th Line of Communications Hospital.

Work on beachhead defenses was well under way by 23 September. There were several thousand service troops in the rear area to do the job, and as each new increment of troops reached the coastal area it joined with the others in building bunkers, emplacing guns, clearing fields of fire, and otherwise preparing the beachhead for defense.

The Australians Take the Offensive

Allied Land Forces lost no time in taking the offensive. On 23 September General Blamey, Commander ALF, arrived at Port Moresby and took over command of New Guinea Force. Lieutenant General Edmund F. Herring, succeeding General Rowell, became Commander, Advance New Guinea Force.

On 26 September, after aggressive patrol action to fix the enemy’s position, and a short preparation which included an artillery bombardment by two 25 pounders brought up from Uberi, the 25th Brigade began an all-out attack on Ioribaiwa, taking it with relative ease two days later. The Japanese had put up only token resistance. Instead of making a stand, they had abandoned their elaborate positions on Ioribaiwa Ridge almost on contact, and had retreated so swiftly up the trail that the Australians, who took up the pursuit, were unable to keep up with them. Like the attempt to take Milne Bay, the Japanese overland offensive had collapsed.

The Japanese had again done the unexpected. Instead of holding Ioribaiwa tenaciously as General MacArthur had assumed they would, they had thinned out their lines and withdrawn after the opening encounter. Their withdrawal, if unexpected, nevertheless enabled GHQ for the first time in the campaign to issue a comprehensive plan on 1 October looking to the envelopment and destruction of the enemy at the Buna-Gona beachhead. This plan and the more detailed instructions of 11 October provided for the recapture of Goodenough Island and stipulated that the troops available to the Commander, New Guinea Force, would move on the beachhead along three axes of advance: along the Kokoda Trail; via the Kapa Kapa-Jaure track or the Abau-Namudi-Jaure route; and up the coast northwestward from Milne Bay.

The advance would be in two stages. The troops moving overland would, before any further advance, secure the line of the Kumusi River from the Owalama Divide (north of Jaure) to the crossing of the Buna-Kokoda track at Wairopi. Those moving up from Milne Bay would first secure Goodenough Island and the coastal area to the northward as far as Cape Nelson. When these areas were secured, a concerted advance by all land forces upon the Buna-Gona area would be ordered.

SOURCE: Victory in Papua, BY: Samuel Milner (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Papuan Campaign (8); Recapture of Kokoda

World war Two: Papuan Campaign (6): Japanese Offensive Collapses

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: King Is Cured By The Incantations Of Khasisadra (PArt 45) Assyrian

(And He Becomes Immortal)

When Izdubar awakes, they lead the way
To the bright fount beside the jasper sea.
The seer, with Mua and Ur-Hea, stands
Beside the King, who holily lifts his hands
Above an altar where the glowing rays
Of sacred flames are curling; thus he prays:

“Ye glorious stars that shine on high,
Remember me! Oh, hear my cry,
Su-ku-nu,[1] bright Star of the West!
Dil-gan, my patron star, oh, shine!
O Mar-bu-du, whose rays invest
Dear Nipur[2] with thy light divine,
The flames that shines, upon the Waste!

O Papsukul, thou Star of Hope,
Sweet god of bliss, to me, oh, haste,
Before I faint and lifeless drop!
O Adar,[3] Star of Ninazu,
Be kind! O Ra-di-tar-tu-khu.
Sweet U-tu-ca-ga-bu,[4] dear Star
With thy pure face that shines afar!

“Oh, pardon me! each glorious Star!
Za-ma-ma,[5] hear me! O Za-ma-ma!
Ca-ca-ma u Ca-ca-ma.”[6]

“[7]Remember him! O dear Za-ma-ma!
Ca-ca-ma u Ca-ca-ma.”

As Izdubar doth end his holy prayer
He kneels, and they now bear his body where
A snowy couch doth rest beneath a shrine
That stands near by the glowing fount divine,
And Khasisadra lifts his holy hands,
His incantation chants, and o’er him stands.

“O Bel, Lord of An-nu-na-ci,
O Nina, Hea’s daughter! Zi![8]
This Incantation aid,
Remember us, Remember!

“[9]Ye tempests of High Heaven, be still!
Ye raging lightnings, oh, be calm!
From this brave man his strength is gone,
Before thee see him lying ill!
Oh, fill with strength his feeble frame,
O Ishtar, shine from thy bright throne!
From him thine anger turn away,
Come from thy glowing mountains, come!
From paths untrod by man, oh, haste!
And bid this man arise this day.
With strength divine as Heaven’s dome,
His form make pure and bright and chaste!
The evil curse, oh, drive away!

“Go! A-sac-cu-kab-bi-lu,[10] go!
O Nam-ta-ru-lim-nu,[11] oh, fly!
U-tuc-cu-lim-nu[12] from him flow!
A-lu-u-lim-nu,[13] hence! away!
E-ci-mu-lim-nu,[14] go! thou fiend!
Fly, Gal-lu-u-lim-nu,[15] afar!
Fly from his head! his life! I send
Thee, fiend! depart from Izdubar!

Go from his forehead, breast, and heart,
And feet! Avaunt! thou fiend! depart!
Oh, from the Curse, Thou Spirit High!
And Spirit of the Earth, come nigh!
Protect him, may his spirit fly!
O Spirit of the Lord of Lands,
And Goddess of the Earthly Lands,
Protect him! raise with strength his hands!

“Oh, make him as the Holy Gods,
His body, limbs, like thine Abodes,
And like the Heavens may he shine!
And like the Earth with rays divine!
Quick! with the khis-ib-ta[16] to bring
High Heaven’s Charm–bind round his brow!

The sis-bu[17] place around his hands!
And let the sab-u-sat[18] bright cling!
The mus-u-kat[19] lay round him now,
And wrap his feet with rad-bat-bands,[20]
And open now his zik-a-man[21]
The sis-bu cover, and his hands
The bas-sat[22] place around his form!
From baldness and disease, this man
Cleanse, make him whole, head, feet, and hands!

“O Purity, breathe thy sweet charm!

“Restore his health and make his skin
Shine beautifully, beard and hair
Restore! make strong with might his loins!
And may his body glorious shine
As the bright gods!–

Ye winds him bear!
Immortal flesh to his soul joins!
Thou Spirit of this man! arise!
Come forth with joy! Come to the skies!”

And lo! his leprosy has fled away!
He stands immortal,–purged! released from clay!

[Footnote 1: “Su-ku-nu” or “Kak-si-di,” the star of the West.]–[Footnote 2: “Nipur,” the city from which Izdubar came.]–[Footnote 3: “Adar,” the star of Ninazu, the goddess of death, who cursed him with leprosy in the cavern. This star was also called “Ra-di-tar-tu-khu.”]–[Footnote 4: “U-tu-ca-ga-bu,” the star with the white or pure face.]–[Footnote 5: “Za-ma-ma,” another name for Adar. This is the deity for whom Izdubar or Nammurabi built the great temple whose top, in the language of the Babylonians, reached the skies. It was afterward called the “Tower of the Country” or “Tower of Babylon.” This was perhaps the Tower of Babel. He also restored another temple called “Bite-muris,” which was dedicated to the same goddess.]–[Footnote 6: “Amen and amen!” The word “amen” is usually repeated three times.]–[Footnote 7: The response of the priest Khasi-sadra.]–[Footnote 8: “Zi,” spirits.]–[Footnote 9: See “T.S.B.A.,” vol. ii. p. 31.]–[Footnote 10: “A-sac-cu-kab-bi-lu,” evil spirit of the head.]–[Footnote 11: “Nam-ta-ru-lim-nu,” evil spirit of the life or heart.]–[Footnote 12: “U-tuc-cu-lim-nu,” evil spirit of the forehead.]–[Footnote 13: “A-lu-u-lim-nu,” evil spirit of the breast.]–[Footnote 14: “E-ci-mu-lim-nu,” evil spirit of the stomach.]–[Footnote 15: “Gal-lu-u-lim-nu,” evil spirit of the hands.]–[Footnote 16: “Khis-ib-ta,” a strip of parchment or linen on which was inscribed a holy text, a charm like that used by the Jews, a philactery.]–[Footnote 17: “Sis-bu,” the same as the preceding.]–[Footnote 18: “Sab-u-sat,” was perhaps a holy cloth, also inscribed in the same manner.]–[Footnote 19: “Mus-u-kat,” was also of the same character as the preceding.]–[Footnote 20: “Rad-bat-bands,” similar bands to the khis-ib-ta.]–[Footnote 21: “Zik-a-man,” this is unknown, it perhaps was the inner garment.]–[Footnote 22: “Bas-sat,” supposed to be the outside or last covering placed over the person so treated. That some such ceremony was performed in the case of Izdubar seems to be undoubted. See “Trans. Soc. Bib. Arch.,” vol. ii. p. 31; also Sayce’s edition Smith’s “C.A. of G.,” p. 290.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VIII (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Khasisadra On The Shore Sees The Vessel Coming (Part 44) Assyrian

World News Headlines: 01-17-2019


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wins confidence vote; The vote came after a key minister in the Greek government quit last week over the Macedonia name dispute. Prime Minister Tsipras said he would put the ratification of the Macedonia name-change agreement on the agenda. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday won a confidence vote in parliament, just days after the country’s governing coalition collapsed.Tsipras received the minimum 151 votes he needed from the parliament for his government to survive. Speaking after the vote, Tsipras said winning a vote of confidence was a vote for stability in Greece. “Today the Greek parliament gave a vote of confidence in stability,” he said. “We received a vote of confidence with our only concern to continue to address the needs and interests of the Greek people.” Panos Kammenos, the defense minister in Tsipras’ government who leads the small nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, was the latest minister to quit the coalition over a proposed name-change agreement with neighboring Macedonia. Greece has been blocking Macedonia from joining NATO and the European Union for a decade over the name row.

Vladimir Putin to meet with troubled Serb counterpart; Ecstatic crowds are expected to greet Vladimir Putin as he enters the Church of St. Sava in Belgrade alongside Aleksandar Vucic. For over a month, thousands have turned out for weekly protests against Serbia’s president. The tabloids report that 70,000 people will turn out in Belgrade on Thursday to warmly welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin. That could be the case: Putin is popular in Serbia. The greeting has been organized by small political associations founded by politicians from nationalist splinter groups that have close ties to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). On the internet, there are offers for day packages that include lunch and bus transportation to the festivities for about €13 ($15). Street vendors are even selling T-shirts bearing Putin’s face and Russian flags.

Taiwan prepares to hold large-scale military drills to deter China; Amid heightened tensions in cross-strait relations, Taiwan’s military is starting a series of newly designed large-scale military drills. Taiwanese analysts say the island should enhance its combat preparedness. Taiwan’s armed forces are on Thursday holding their first live-fire drill for this year, an exercise aimed at improving their military readiness. It comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping recently reasserted Beijing’s right to use force to unify the self-governing island with mainland China. Thursday’s drill is part of the large-scale military exercises designed to counter the growing threat from China. Even though Taiwan’s military holds such exercises regularly, this year’s training adopts new tactics aimed at “defending against a possible Chinese invasion,” said Major General Yeh Kuo-hui, the Taiwanese defense ministry’s planning chief.

German police raid suspected KKK members’ homes; Police conducted raids on several properties throughout Germany thought to be connected to an extremist group that associates itself with the Ku Klux Klan. A total of 17 people are at the center of the investigation.German police on Wednesday raided 12 apartments in eight different German states belonging to suspected members of an extreme-right group calling itself the National Socialist Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Deutschland. A total of 200 police officers searched properties in Baden-Württemberg, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate, Saxony Anhalt and Thuringia. More than 100 weapons — including air guns, swords, machetes and knives — were seized in the raids, prosecutors and regional police in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg said.

ICC halts release of Ivory Coast ex-President Laurent Gbagbo; Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his right-hand man had been acquitted of crimes against humanity. But they will have to stay in custody until the court evaluates an appeal by prosecutors. The International Criminal Court on Wednesday halted the release of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, after prosecutors filed an appeal to keep him in custody on charges of crimes against humanity. Judges on Tuesday ordered Gbagbo and his right-hand man, Charles Ble Goude, to be immediately freed after clearing them of any role in a wave of post-electoral violence in 2010 and 2011 that killed 3,000 people.

UN officials, international parties talk Yemen in Berlin; Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has hosted further talks aimed at ending the civil war in Yemen and building on the breakthrough achieved in Stockholm in December. No representatives from the country were at the table. Representatives of 17 governments and international organizations gathered at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin on Wednesday in the latest round of talks to end the civil war in Yemen. The High-Level Strategic Dialogue on the Peace Process and Prospects for Stabilization in Yemen was intended to build on the breakthrough achieved in Stockholm in December, when an agreement for a ceasefire around the key port city of Hodeida was reached. The discussions in Sweden marked the first time that the belligerents in Yemen had come together at all since 2016. “For the first time in a long time, we’ve seen good news from Yemen,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the roundtable of diplomats in his welcoming remarks. “We’ve taken an important step towards a peace process that we would like to see in other crises and conflicts we are confronted with at the moment.”

Sweden to end months without a government; Stockholm has been trapped in deadlock, with no party wanting to govern with the far-right Sweden Democrats. Social Democrat PM Stefan Lofven is set to retain his post by promising to bring his party to the right. Sweden looked set to finally resolve four months of political deadlock on Wednesday and allow Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to take a second term in office. The Left party said it would abstain in a crucial vote on Friday, clearing the way for Lofven and his patchwork coalition. Lofven, leader of the Social Democrats, has been leading a caretaker government since elections on September 9 yielded inconclusive results. Although the Social Democrats won the most votes, their 31.1 percent support left them grappling to form a coalition in a country with eight mainstream parties and proportional representation. These problems were compounded by the fact that most other parties wanted to govern without the support of the Left and the far-right Sweden Democrats, who are rooted in Norwegian white supremacist circles.
But the Social Democrats have managed to pull together an unusual union of the left and right wing by gaining the support of the Greens, Liberals, and the Center party. In doing so, however, Lofven has had to promise to take his traditional center-left party to the right. “Sweden needs a government,” said Lofven, adding that he was “humbled to have been nominated” for Friday’s vote.

FRANCE (France24)

At least 30 people abducted’ by separatists in Anglophone Cameroon”; More than 30 people were kidnapped yesterday on the road between Buea and Kumba” in the Southwest Region, a source close to the authorities there said, confirming an account by a local NGO. Since October 2017, the Southwest and neighbouring Northwest Region have been in the grip of an armed revolt by anglophones demanding independence from the majority French-speaking country. The people were kidnapped after suspected separatists attacked buses plying the highway, one of the most dangerous roads in the country, one of the sources said.

Suspected extremists abduct Canadian in Burkina Faso; The Canadian man, identified as Kirk Woodman, was abducted overnight during a raid on a mining site in Tiabongou, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Mansila in Yagha province, said ministry spokesman Jean Paul Badoum. Woodman worked for the Progress Mineral Mining Company. Burkina Faso recently declared a state of emergency in the region as attacks by Islamic extremists increase, especially along the border with Niger and Mali. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said her government has seen the reports of the kidnapping.

Syria Kurds reject proposed ‘security zone’ under Turkish control; Senior political leader Aldar Khalil said the Kurds would accept the deployment of UN forces along the separation line between Kurdish fighters and Turkish troops to ward off a threatened offensive. “Other choices are unacceptable as they infringe on the sovereignty of Syria and the sovereignty of our autonomous region,” Khalil told AFP. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Ankara would set up a “security zone” in northern Syria suggested by US President Donald Trump.

Macau denies entry to Hong Kong former activist leader; A former leader of Hong Kong’s student-led Umbrella Movement protests has been refused entry to Macau as a “public security” threat in what critics said was a new escalation in Beijing’s drive to curb the movement of dissidents. Yvonne Leung, 25, was a prominent leader of the 2014 pro-democracy movement and the only female student leader to meet with senior government officials at the height of the rallies. But in recent years she has retreated from the political frontlines. She was refused entry to Macau on Wednesday, a decision that took some by surprise because of Leung’s less prominent public profile. Leung told AFP that the reason provided to her from authorities in Macau was “strong references that you intend to enter to participate in certain activities which may jeopardise the public security or public order”. She declined to provide further comment, including the purpose of her visit.


Kim Jong Un aide expected to visit US; A close aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to go to the United States soon to discuss a second summit between the leaders of the two nations. Kim Yong Chol, a vice chairman of the Workers’ Party of North Korea, flew in to Beijing on Thursday. He is in charge of high-level talks with the US, and may leave for Washington later in the day for talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Just before the first US-North Korea summit last June, the vice chairman visited Washington to deliver a letter from Kim Jong Un to US President Donald Trump. It remains to be seen whether Kim Yong Chol will meet Trump this time around. In his talks with Pompeo, Kim faces the challenge of narrowing the differences between the two sides over North Korea’s denuclearization to pave the way for a second summit. The US has been urging Pyongyang to take more specific measures toward dismantling its nuclear program, while North Korea wants sanctions to be lifted. North Korea also wants to negotiate a peace treaty to officially end the Korean War and to have its political system guaranteed.

Japan, US defense chiefs confirm close cooperation; The defense chiefs of Japan and the United States have reaffirmed their close cooperation in dealing with China’s growing maritime presence and other regional matters. Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya met acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan in the United States on Wednesday. It was Iwaya’s first meeting with Shanahan, who assumed his post at the start of this month after James Mattis resigned as Secretary of Defense. Iwaya and Shanahan agreed to maintain close Japan-US cooperation in the domains of space and cyberspace with China’s increasing maritime activities in mind. They reaffirmed that Article 5 of the Japan-US Security Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, and that the US has an obligation under this article to defend them. Japan controls the islands. The Japanese Government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. China and Taiwan claim them.

Expert warns about Shindake volcanic flows; A volcano expert says footage of the latest eruption on Kuchinoerabu Island shows flying rocks and pyroclastic flows from the crater. He is urging residents to be on the alert. Kyoto University Professor Masato Iguchi spoke with NHK in a telephone interview on Thursday. He said these phenomena were now limited to an area within two kilometers from the crater of Mount Shindake. Professor Iguchi urged people to follow the advice of the eruption alert level not to approach the volcano. The level is currently at three on a scale of one to five.


World War Two: Guadalcanal (3); Marines Come a Shore

While the invasion force was assembling and rehearsing, Army B-17’s of the 26th Squadron of the 11th Bombardment Group, which were part of Task Force 63, had been executing daily bombardments of Guadalcanal and Tulagi to “soften” them before the invasion. The 26th Squadron was then based at Efate and Espiritu Santo. The air strips at both islands were each 5,000 feet long and 150 feet wide by the end of July, but facilities were primitive. The runways were soft and were frequently covered by water from the many rains. For night take-offs, the ends of the runways were marked by truck headlights, and the sides by rags stuck in bottles of gasoline and set ablaze. Beginning on 31 July, the B-17’s bombed Guadalcanal and Tulagi for seven days. One B-17 was lost, but the 26th Squadron shot down three Japanese fighters. Since the airfield on Guadalcanal had no planes, the principal targets were the runways and suspected supply depots and antiaircraft positions on both Guadalcanal and Tulagi.

The Approach

The Amphibious Force, covered by the Air Support Force and by Task Force 63, had left Koro in the Fijis on a southwesterly course on 31 July. Four days later the Betelgeuse and Zeilin with their escorts joined Transport Groups X and Y, respectively, to bring the total number of ships in the Expeditionary Force to 82, and the number of men in the landing force to over 19,000. Sailing in three great concentric circles—the transports in the middle, the cruisers around them, and the screening destroyers in the outer circle—the Amphibious Force reached a point south of Rennell, then swung north and set its course for Savo Island, while the carriers sailed for a point southwest of Guadalcanal. On 5 and 6 August, during the Amphibious Force’s northward run west of Guadalcanal, overcast skies and a heavy haze reduced visibility to four miles and limited air operations. Intermittent rain squalls helped to cover the ships, which were maintaining radio silence. There were no contacts with the enemy.

The weather cleared for the approaching American ships on the night of 6-7 August, and the Amphibious Force, still undetected, raised Savo Island at 0200. Clear skies and a moon in the last quarter provided good visibility as the force passed into the calm, narrow waters between Savo, Guadalcanal, and Florida. The transport groups separated at 0240, 7 August. The four transports and four destroyer-transports of one group sailed around Savo to enter Sealark Channel between Savo and Florida. The fifteen transports of the Guadalcanal Group entered the channel between Savo and Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal. As daylight broke, the islands lay quiet. The Japanese were taken by surprise; not one shot had been fired at the Amphibious Force.

The supporting warships took station, while their observation planes flew over the target areas. The three cruisers and four destroyers of the Guadalcanal Fire Support Group opened fire on their targets between Kukum and Koli Point on Guadalcanal at 0614. Two minutes later the cruiser and two destroyers comprising the Tulagi Fire Support Group opened fire on Tulagi. The minesweepers covered their assigned areas but found no mines. By 0651 the transport groups had reached their areas, 9,000 yards off the landing beaches, and lowered landing craft into the water. A calm sea permitted the troops to descend via cargo-net gangways on both sides of all transports into the landing craft. H Hour, the time for the Tulagi landing, was set for 0800. Zero Hour, the time for the landing on Guadalcanal, was finally set at 0910.

Ships’ gunfire and strafing by fighter planes quickly sank a small gasoline schooner, the only visible enemy vessel in Sealark Channel. Dive bombers and fighters from the carriers, then maneuvering seventy-five miles to the south in open waters, bombed and strafed the target areas, but encountered only feeble antiaircraft fire. Forty-four planes struck at Guadalcanal, and forty-one attacked Tulagi. Eighteen Japanese seaplanes were destroyed.

The Northern Attack


The initial Allied landing in the Solomon Islands, which preceded those on Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo, was made by a covering force. Supported by fire from the cruiser and destroyers of the Tulagi Fire Support Group and the minesweepers, landing boats put B Company of the 2nd Marines ashore near Haleta, a village adjoining a promontory on Florida Island which commands Beach Blue on Tulagi. The remainder of the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Marines landed at Halavo on Florida to cover the landings. No enemy forces opposed either landing, and the battalion was later withdrawn.

Covered by fire from the supporting cruiser and destroyers, the first wave of landing craft carrying B and D Companies of the 1st Raider Battalion sailed to Beach Blue on Tulagi, a small, hilly island about three miles long. The enemy was not defending Beach Blue but had retired to caves and dugouts in the hills and ravines on the southeast part of the island. The only casualty in landing was one raider killed by rifle fire. The second wave, A and C Companies, quickly followed B and D Companies which then advanced north across the island. The 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, then came ashore and pushed northwest to clear out the enemy in the northwest part of the island. The raider companies turned right and advanced to the southeast, supported by E Company, the raiders’ heavy weapons company. There was no hard fighting until the afternoon when fire from Japanese caves and dugouts halted the raiders about one mile short of Tulagi’s southeast tip. The marines discovered that the ships’ gunfire and dive bombing had not destroyed the caves and dugouts, most of which would withstand everything but a direct hit. Machine-gun fire was relatively ineffective against the tunnels and caves, which were not constructed along straight lines. The most efficient means for destroying the enemy positions were grenades and high explosive charges placed by hand.

The Japanese sailors and laborers fought from foxholes, pillboxes, slit trenches, and caves. They refused to surrender and fought until they were shot or blown up. Machine gunners fired their weapons until they were killed. When one gunner fell, another would take his place, a process that continued until all in the position were dead.

By late afternoon it had become obvious that the raiders could not complete the capture of Tulagi on 7 August, and the battalion established a defensive line about 1,000 yards from the southeast tip of the island. The five raider companies and G Company of the 5th Marines occupied these positions, which the enemy attacked repeatedly but unsuccessfully throughout the night of 7-8 August.

The first reports estimated that the raiders had suffered casualties amounting to 22 percent of their total strength on Tulagi; the 1st Parachute Battalion was reported to have lost from 50 to 60 percent on Gavutu. General Vandegrift requested Admiral Turner at 0135, 8 August, to release the remaining battalions of the 2nd Marines from division reserve for the Tulagi-Gavutu operation. Admiral Turner assented.

On the morning of 8 August F and E Companies of the 5th Marines, having cleared the northwest part of Tulagi, joined G Company and the five companies of the 1st Raider Battalion. The combined force pressed its attack, reduced the enemy positions, and by 1500 had completed the occupation of Tulagi. Only three of the original Japanese garrison surrendered; an estimated forty escaped to Florida by swimming. The remainder, about 200 men, were killed. The Marine casualties on Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo, which had been exaggerated in the first reports, were lighter than those of the Japanese. On Tulagi thirty-six were killed and fifty-four wounded.14 Captured materiel included trucks, motorcycles, ammunition, gasoline, radio supplies, two 13-mm. antiaircraft guns, one 3-inch gun, and ten machine guns.

Gavutu and Tanambogo

While the 1st Raider Battalion and the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Marines were reducing Tulagi, the islets of Gavutu and Tanambogo, lying 3,000 yards to the east, also saw hard fighting. Gavutu is 250 by 500 yards in size and Tanambogo, a slightly smaller island, is joined to Gavutu by a 300-yard-long concrete causeway. Dive bombers (SBD’s) attacked Gavutu from 1145 to 1155 on 7 August.

The Tulagi Fire Support Group shelled Gavutu from 1155 to 1200 to cover the 7-mile approach of the thirteen landing craft bearing the 1st Parachute Battalion to the seaplane slips and jetties on Gavutu’s northeast corner. The bombardment had knocked several large concrete blocks from the ramps into the water, and the parachutists were forced to land at the docks and mount them in face of enemy small-arms fire. The first wave reached shore safely, but succeeding waves were hit hard, about one man in ten becoming a casualty. By 1400 the parachutists were advancing inland under fire from the Japanese emplaced on the island’s single hill and on near-by Tanambogo. By 1800 the battalion had secured the hill and raised the national colors there. The Japanese retained possession of several dugouts until the afternoon of 8 August, when they were reduced by the parachutists and two companies of the 2nd Marines.

In spite of air bombardment and naval shelling, the Japanese on Tanambogo continued active on 7 August. After being withdrawn from Haleta, B Company of the 2nd Marines attempted to land on Tanambogo’s north coast after a 5-minute naval bombardment, but the attack failed. About 1130 the next day, the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Marines and two light tanks attacked Tanambogo from the beach and the causeway and secured most of the island by late afternoon. By nightfall all the Japanese were dead. Marine casualties in the Tanambogo-Gavutu attacks had been relatively heavy; 108 were dead or missing, 140 wounded. The marines later estimated that nearly 1,000 Japanese had held Gavutu and Tanambogo, but the actual figure was about 500. On 8 and 9 August the 2nd Marines completed the northern attack by seizing the adjacent islets of Mbangai, Makambo, and Kokomtambu.

The Invasion of Guadalcanal

The Landings

Beach Red, which lies about 6,000 yards east of Lunga Point, between the Tenaru and Tenavatu Rivers, had been selected for the Guadalcanal landings. The transports of Group X initially anchored 9,000 yards off Beach Red on the morning of 7 August. The destroyers of the Guadalcanal Fire Support Group took their stations 5,000 yards north of the beach at 0840 to mark the line of departure for the landing craft. The assigned liaison planes made eight runs at low altitudes to mark the extremities of the beaches with smoke. The three cruisers and four destroyers of the Guadalcanal Fire Support Group began firing at 0900, to cover a 3,200-yard-long area from a point extending 800 yards on either side of Beach Red to a depth of 200 yards.

The first wave of landing craft, carrying troops of the reinforced 5th Marines (less the 2nd Battalion), crossed the line of departure 5,000 yards off Beach Red. As the landing craft drew to within 1,300 yards of the beach, the warships ceased firing. There were no Japanese on the beach. The marines went ashore at 0910 on a 1,600-yard front, the reinforced 1st Battalion on the right (west), the reinforced 3rd Battalion on the left. Regimental headquarters followed at 0938, and by 0940 heavy weapons troops had come ashore to act as regimental reserve. All boat formations had crossed the line of departure promptly and in good order, and had reached their assigned beach areas. The assault battalions of the 5th Marines then advanced inland about 600 yards to establish a beachhead perimeter bounded on the west by the Tenaru River, on the east by the Tenavatu River, on the south by an east-west branch of the Tenaru, and to cover the landings of successive units.

Landing of the reinforced 1st Marines in column of battalions had begun at 0930. The 2nd Battalion led, followed by the 36 and 1st Battalions. By 1100 the entire reinforced regiment had come ashore. Meanwhile, in the absence of enemy mines and shore defenses, the transports had moved 7,000 yards closer to the shore.

To provide direct support, the 75-mm. pack howitzers of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 11th Marines came ashore with the assault battalions of the 5th and 1st Marines. The 105-mm. howitzers of the 5th Battalion, 11th Marines, had been assigned to general support but were not ready for action until the afternoon. The howitzers were landed separately from their prime movers, which had been held on board ship because there were not enough ramp boats to bring them ashore promptly. When the 105’s reached shore, there were no prime movers immediately available to pull them up the beach. Whenever amphibian tractors were available at the beach, they were used to pull the 105’s until the prime movers (1-ton trucks, instead of the authorized 2½-ton 6-wheeldrive trucks) came ashore in the afternoon. The artillery battalions reverted to control of Headquarters, 11th Marines, when that headquarters landed. All battalions upon landing registered their fire by air observation.

The Advance

When the assaulting regiments and their supporting pack howitzers were ashore, the advance toward the airfield was ready to begin. The 1st Battalion of the 5th Marines was to advance west along the beach toward the Lunga River while the 1st Marines attacked southwest toward Mount Austen. The 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marines, the artillery, engineer, pioneer, and special weapons and defense battalions were to hold the beach during the advance.

At 1115 the 1st Marines passed through the 5th Marines’ lines. Engineers put a temporary bridge upstream on the Tenaru, using amphibian tractors as pontoons. The 1st Marines crossed the river and turned southwest toward Mount Austen. On the beach the 1st Battalion of the 5th Marines crossed the mouth of the Tenaru at 1330 and marched toward the Ilu. Neither regiment met any Japanese.

The 1st Marines, advancing inland with battalions echeloned to the left and rear, progressed slowly. The only, map which the regiment had to guide it was vague; the angle of declination between grid and true north was not shown. The regimental historian stated later that, had commanders been able to study aerial photographs before the landing, they might have picked easy, natural routes instead of a straight compass course through the jungle.

The troops were heavily loaded with ammunition, packs, mortars, and heavy machine guns as they struggled through the thick, fetid jungle. The humid heat exhausted the men, whose strength had already been sapped by weeks aboard crowded transports. Salt tablets were insufficient in number. Troops in the Solomons needed two canteens of water per day per man, but the number of canteens available had permitted the issue of but one to each man. All these factors served to slow the advance of both regiments.

By dusk the regiments had each advanced about one mile. General Vandegrift, who had come ashore at 1601, ordered them to halt in order to reorient and establish contact. The 1st Battalion of the 5th Marines established a perimeter defense at the mouth of the Ilu River, while the three battalions of the 1st Marines dug in for the night in the jungle about 3,500 yards to the south.

Considering the division’s state of training and the inexperience of the junior officers and noncommissioned officers, tactical operations were satisfactory, but General Vandegrift criticized the “uniform and lamentable” failure of all units to patrol their fronts and flanks properly. Organization for landing and the ship-to-shore movement of troops had been very good. As the Japanese were not opposing the advance, the operation did not involve a thorough test of methods of controlling ships’ gunfire by shore-based fire control parties, but nothing had indicated the need for fundamental changes in doctrine.

Co-ordination between ground forces on the one hand, and naval and air units on the other, had been unsatisfactory, for the naval forces were not using the same map as the 1st Marine Division.25 In view of the relatively few air support missions requested by the ground troops, the centralized control of supporting aircraft had been satisfactory. Had the division met heavy resistance on Guadalcanal, a more direct means of air-to-ground communication would probably have been necessary. The problem had been recognized in advance, but there had not been time to organize and train air control groups for liaison duty with regiments and battalions. The liaison planes furnished little information to division headquarters, for the pilots were not able to observe very much in the jungle, and some of the messages they transmitted were vague.

The Capture of the Airfield

At 2000, when 10,000 troops had come ashore, General Vandegrift ordered the 1st Marines to attack toward the Lunga the next morning instead of taking Mount Austen. He recognized that Mount Austen commanded Lunga Point, but because it was too large and too far away for his relatively small force to hold he decided not to take it immediately.

Supported by tanks, the 1st Battalion of the 5th Marines crossed the Ilu at 0930 on 8 August. Progress was slow at first as the battalion advanced on a wide front. General Vandegrift, then convinced that his division was not faced by a sizable organized force on Guadalcanal, ordered the battalion to contract its front, cross the Lunga River, and seize Kukum village before nightfall. By 1500 the advance guard had traveled almost 6,000 yards to overrun a small party of Japanese firing rifles and machine guns from knolls on the outskirts of Kukum. Kukum, containing one 3-inch antiaircraft gun, one 1-inch antiaircraft gun, two 37-mm. antitank guns, and heavy machine guns, was otherwise undefended. Meanwhile the 1st Battalion of the 1st Marines had covered 4,500 yards to capture the airfield by 1600.

The enemy garrison, composed of 430 sailors and 1,700 laborers, had fled westward without attempting to defend or destroy their installations, including the nearly completed runway. General Vandegrift wrote: The extent to which the enemy had been able to develop their Lunga Point positions was remarkable in view of the short time of occupation. Since 4 July they had succeeded in constructing large semi-permanent camps, finger wharves, bridges, machine shops, two large radio stations, ice plants, two large and permanent electric power plants, an elaborate air compressor plant for torpedoes, and a nearly completed airdrome with hangars, blast pens, and a … runway.

Besides the runway and the weapons in Kukum, the Japanese had abandoned a store of .25-caliber rifles, .25-and .303-caliber machine guns, two 70-mm. and two 75-mm. guns, ammunition, gasoline, oil, individual equipment, machinery, Ford and Chevrolet-type trucks, and two radars. They left stocks of rice, tea, hardtack, dried kelp, noodles, canned goods, and large quantities of beer and sake behind. The marines took over the abandoned weapons and used them to bolster their defenses. The 100-pound bags of rice and other food in the commissary dumps were added to the marines’ limited stores. The Japanese left among their personal belongings many diaries which were valuable sources of information for Allied intelligence.

About thirty-five of the Japanese trucks were serviceable. Lighter than American military transport, they proved less efficient. Without powered front axles, they stuck easily, but were a valuable addition to the 1st Marine Division’s limited motor transport, and were used as long as they held together. The division engineers also used the Japanese rollers, mixers, surveying equipment, gasoline locomotives, and hopper cars in the subsequent completion of the airfield.

Tactical operations had proceeded favorably. The Guadalcanal forces had landed unopposed and captured the airfield without casualties. In the Tulagi-Gavutu-Tanambogo area, all objectives had been taken at the cost of 144 killed and 194 wounded, while the defending garrisons had been destroyed. By 9 August, 10,900 troops had landed on Guadalcanal, and 6,075 on Tulagi. To support the infantry, 3 field artillery battalions, with 3 units of fire, plus special weapons, tanks, tank destroyers, and part of the 3rd Defense Battalion, had landed on Guadalcanal, while the 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines (75-mm. pack howitzers), and part of the 3rd Defense Battalion had landed on Tulagi.


Logistical operations, in contrast with tactical developments, had seriously bogged down. The 1st Pioneer Battalion had been charged with the duty of unloading supplies from the landing craft as they touched at Beach Red, while a navy beachmaster and shore party directed the boat movements at the beach. Of the 596 men (including naval medical personnel) of the Pioneer Battalion, one platoon of 52 went to Tulagi with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, and another remained on board one of the cargo ships. About 490 men on Beach Red were to handle supplies for the Guadalcanal force of the 1st Marine Division. By 1043 of 7 August the beachmaster’s party was operating on Beach Red.

Unloading the landing boats proved to be an exhausting and almost impossible job, for so many of them lacked movable bow ramps which could be let down to speed the removal of supplies from the boats. The pioneers had to lift the supplies up and over the gunwales to unload them. On the other hand, the unarmored amphibian tractors “demonstrated a usefulness exceeding all expectations.” Used as an ambulance, a prime mover, and an ammunition carrier, the amphibian tractor, later to play such an important tactical role in the Pacific, was able to move directly from ship’s side to inland dump, easily traversing the sea, reefs, beaches, and swamps without halting. But there were only a few amphibian tractors.

Too few troops had been provided to unload boats and move materiel off the beach. While loaded landing craft hovered off Beach Red, which was already cluttered with unsorted gear, hundreds of marines who were waiting to move forward were in the vicinity, but did not assist on the beach. General Vandegrift later stated that the unloading party had been too small; he pointed out that he had anticipated that his division would have to fight a major engagement before capturing the airfield and he had therefore expected to use most of his troops tactically. At that time, too, the 2nd Marines (less one battalion) had not been released by Admiral Turner.

When supplies began to pile up on the beach, sailors from the transports joined the shore party to try to get the boats unloaded and the supplies moved farther inland. Pioneers and sailors worked to the point of exhaustion; the extreme heat caused many to suffer from nausea and severe headaches. But the beach remained cluttered.

Enemy air attacks also delayed unloading operations. Twenty-five twin-engine Japanese bombers from Rabaul attacked the ships in the early afternoon of 7 August. Several planes were shot down by the covering fighters and gunfire from the transports and screening warships. The Bougainville coast-watcher had warned the Allied ships in time so that none were hit, but the transports had been obliged to cease unloading and get underway. About one hour later, a second wave of Japanese bombers drove the transports off again and damaged the destroyer Mugford. The Japanese aircraft fortunately did not attack the gear which crowded the beach, but three hours of unloading time had been lost.

By nightfall on 7 August 100 landing craft were beached, waiting to be unloaded, while an additional 50, unable to find landing room on the beach, stood offshore. Unloading was continued into the night, but the tired shore party could not cope with its task and operations broke down completely. At 2330 the shore party commander, stating that unloading was “entirely out of hand,” requested that the ships cease discharging cargo until 1000, 8 August, when he estimated the beach would be cleared. Admiral Turner and General Vandegrift assented.

To provide more room for incoming supplies, General Vandegrift doubled the length of the beach by extending Beach Red’s boundary west to the Block Four River on 8 August. But the situation did not improve. Forty more enemy bombers flew over Florida about noon to disperse the ships again, this time setting the George F. Elliott afire and damaging the destroyer Jarvis. The Elliott burned until she was a total loss. The Jarvis left for Noumea but was never heard from again. A false air alarm later in the afternoon forced the ships to get underway once more.

Source: Guadalcanal: The First Offensive ; BY: John Miller, Jr. (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Guadalcanal (4); Consolidating the Beachhead

World War Two: Guadalcanal (2);

World War Two: Guadalcanal (2); Logistics

The problems of logistics proved as serious as had those of procuring information about enemy strength and dispositions. Preparations began before the intelligence section had completed its work and before the final tactical plans were prepared. The logistical plans were based upon General Vandegrift’s organization of the division for combat. On 29 June he organized the division into two regimental combat groups each of about 4,500 men. Each group was organized into a headquarters and support group and three battalion combat teams. Every combat group consisted of one infantry regiment, one artillery battalion, one company each from the tank, engineer, pioneer, amphibian tractor, and medical battalions, and scout, special weapons, and transport platoons. Each combat team was originally composed of one infantry battalion, one field artillery battery, and platoons of engineer, pioneer, and amphibian tractor personnel. Scouts, signal, medical, and other service personnel were added to the combat teams prior to the invasion.

Combat Group A, commanded by Colonel Le Roy P. Hunt, was composed of the 5th Marines and supporting troops. Combat Teams Nos. 1, 2, and 3 of Combat Group A consisted of the reinforced 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions, respectively, of the 5th Marines. Combat Group B, Colonel Clifton B. Cates commanding, was made up of the 1st Marines and supporting troops. Combat Teams Nos. 4,5, and 6 of Combat Group B consisted of the reinforced 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions, respectively, of the 1st Marines. On 9 July the division support group was organized. It consisted of about 3,500 men under Colonel Pedro A. del Valle organized into four subgroups made up of headquarters, communications, medical, artillery, special weapons, pioneer, engineer, and amphibian tractor personnel and the 1st Parachute Battalion. The parachutists, fighting as infantry, were later assigned to the assault on Gavutu. The rear echelon, 1,729 men from all divisional units, including the 4th Battalion, 11th Marines (155-mm. howitzers), was to remain in Wellington when the division departed.

[NOTE: 1st Mar Div Opn Ord No. 5-42, 29 Jun 42, in 1st Mar Div Rpt, I, Annex B. The terms in the operation order differ from present day usage. The combat groups would now be regimental combat teams. The combat teams would be battalion landing teams.]

As each combat group was to be embarked in a transport division consisting of three transports and one cargo ship, every transport in each division was assigned to carry one combat team, three units of fire, thirty days’ rations, and quartermaster, ordnance, engineer, chemical, signal, and medical supplies. Supporting troops, heavy equipment, seven units of fire, thirty days’ rations and other supplies, and clothing stocks were “assigned to each cargo ship. The logistical difficulties did not stem from shortages of materiel, for the division had come overseas with nearly all its equipment and supplies. The shortages were in dock space, time, and shipping. In late June there were just seven ships of the Amphibious Force in Wellington Harbor—five transports and two cargo ships. More vessels had been assigned, but it was apparent that there would not be enough cargo space to combat-load all the division with its supplies and equipment. To embark the maximum number of troops, General Vandegrift ordered that “all units . . . reduce their equipment and supplies to those items that are actually required to live and fight.”

The division was ordered to embark bulk supplies, including rations and fuel, for sixty days instead of the ninety days then considered necessary. The ammunition allowance was reduced by one-half. Office equipment, cut to a minimum, included no more than two typewriters per battalion headquarters and four per regimental headquarters. Mess equipment was limited to water bags, vacuum food carriers, camp kettles, coffee mills, and stoves. The order directed that all the division’s motor transport would be embarked; all sandbags, rubber boats, outboard motors, camouflage and chemical warfare equipment, all engineering materiel, water purification equipment, sixty days’ clothing replenishment (shoes, socks, and green utility suits), and thirty days’ post exchange supplies (tobacco, matches, soap, and razor blades only) were to be embarked. Officers and enlisted men were ordered to take with them all their individual equipment but to reduce their baggage to a minimum. Each officer was allowed one bedding roll, clothing roll, or handbag, while enlisted men were limited to what they could carry in their packs.

Loading the division’s weapons and supplies on board the ships was a difficult matter. Aotea Quay in Wellington was small and could berth only five ships at the same time. Combat Group A had already landed, unloaded, and been established inland in base camps prior to 29 June. To clear the quay for the second echelon, it was decided to begin the embarkation of Combat Group A and its equipment and supplies on 2 July. The division supply officer organized the embarkation and combat loading, exercising control through transport quartermasters on the ships and through field officers in charge of the 300-man working parties assigned to each ship. Organized into three reliefs, the working parties labored around the clock in 8-hour shifts. Except for a few skilled civilian operators of loading machines, cranes, hoists, carriers, and stacking machines, marines performed all dockside labor. All divisional motor transport plus eighteen 10-wheeled trucks of the 1st Base Depot and thirty flat-bedded New Zealand Army lorries moved supplies, equipment, and ammunition from their depots to the dockside. By 13 July Combat Group A and its gear had been embarked. A few shortages were made up by local purchases in Wellington, and others were alleviated by materiel carried by the second echelon. After embarkation Combat Group A practiced landings in Wellington Harbor.

The second echelon—largely troops of Combat Group B and the Support Group—encountered much greater difficulty. It arrived at Aotea Quay on 11 July, while Combat Group A was completing its embarkation. As it had not been anticipated that the division would be tactically employed after its arrival in New Zealand, the ships had not been combat-loaded before leaving the United States. Most of the troops had been carried across the Pacific aboard passenger vessels, while cargo ships carried their supplies and equipment. The second echelon was forced to unload, sort, and classify stores and equipment on the limited dock space, and to reload for combat by 22 July. The weather had been clear while the first group had embarked, but, during the entire period of the second echelon’s unloading and re-embarkation, cold, driving rains typical of a New Zealand winter made the task miserable. The morale of the troops, working in the rain, was low. Many of the supplies had been packed in cardboard cartons, which, becoming soggy from the rains, burst and strewed their contents over the docks. Other cardboard cartons, stacked inside the warehouse, were crushed.

Lack of cargo space prevented the division from loading all its motor transport aboard the twelve available ships. Nearly all the quarter-ton and one-ton trucks were put aboard, but 75 percent of the heavier vehicles were left behind in Wellington with the rear echelon. The engineers expected that the Lunga Point airfield would perhaps be almost complete by D Day, but put earth-moving equipment, in addition to bridging equipment and a portable dock, aboard the cargo ship Fomalhaut.

Medical preparations for the campaign had not been difficult. Those medically unfit for foreign service had been left behind in the United States. The standard of health remained fairly high, except for troops on board one transport of the second echelon. Among those marines rotten food on the voyage to New Zealand had caused a loss of weight varying from sixteen to twenty pounds per man, as well as a diarrhea epidemic. Exposure while loading in Wellington had resulted in some cases of colds and influenza, and a few sporadic cases of mumps broke out en route to the target area. The medical plans provided for medical care, under combat conditions, of 18,134 men for ninety days. By 22 July reloading had been completed, and the division was ready to sail from Wellington.

Tactical Plans

On 20 July, when logistical preparations had been almost completed in Wellington, General Vandegrift issued tactical orders for the landings. The grouping of forces for Tulagi and Guadalcanal was based upon the premise that of the 8,400 Japanese which the intelligence section believed to be defending the objectives 1,400 troops, including one infantry and one antiaircraft battalion, were in the Tulagi area. One reinforced infantry regiment, one antiaircraft battalion, one engineer battalion, pioneers, and others—7,000 in all—were thought to be on Guadalcanal. The major part of these were expected to be at Lunga Point, with a smaller force at Koli Point. These estimates greatly exaggerated enemy strength. In early August there were about 780 Japanese in the Tulagi-Gavutu-Tanambogo area, and 2,230 on Guadalcanal. Admiral Ghormley’s original estimate of 3,100 had been correct.

As it was anticipated that the invasion of the Tulagi area, involving direct assaults against small islands, would be the most difficult, the most experienced battalions were assigned to this attack. To protect the flanks of the units landing on Tulagi and other islets, small forces were to land first on near-by Florida. One battalion would then land on Tulagi, followed quickly by a second. A third battalion would land on Gavutu at H plus 4 hours to seize Gavutu and Tanambogo.

The Guadalcanal landing presented a simpler tactical problem than did the landing on Tulagi. The large number of undefended beaches on the north coast would make it possible for the remainder of the division to land unopposed at some distance from the Japanese. The area selected for the landing lies between the Tenaru and Tenavatu Rivers, about 6,000 yards east of the Lunga airstrip, well away from both Lunga and Koli Points. Having landed and established a beachhead, the Guadalcanal Group of the division under General Vandegrift could then attack west to capture the airfield. This maneuver would require the troops to cross both the Tenaru and the Ilu Rivers, but the Tenaru and the Tenavatu Rivers, on either flank of the beach, would help to protect the beachhead if the Japanese counterattacked while men and supplies were coming ashore.

The orders issued on 20 July utilized the previous organization of the division into combat groups, combat teams, and the support group. The orders also organized the reinforcing units—the reinforced 2nd Marines, the 1st Raider Battalion, and 3rd Defense Battalion—which had not then joined the division. The In the early maps, the names of the Tenaru and the Ilu Rivers were transposed. The Ilu lies about 2¾ miles east of the Lunga. The wide part of the river is also known as Alligator Creek.

2nd Marines, Reinforced, commanded by Colonel John M. Arthur, included the 2nd Marines, the 3rd Battalion of the 10th Marines (75-mm. pack howitzers), and engineer, pioneer, amphibian tractor, tank, medical, and other service troops—a total of 4,840 men. This reinforced regiment was organized like the others into a headquarters and support group and three combat teams of about 1,300 each. Combat Teams A, B, and C were composed of the reinforced 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions, respectively. The 1st Raider Battalion, totaling 828 men, was commanded by Lt. Colonel Merritt A. Edson. The 3rd Defense Battalion, Colonel Robert H. Pepper commanding, totaled 872 men. These reinforcements, when they arrived, increased the division strength to over 19,000.

The 20 July orders prescribed eight groups of varying strengths: Combat Group A, Colonel Hunt commanding, 4,398 (to be subsequently reduced by about 1,100 by the assignment of Combat Team No. 2, one reinforced infantry battalion, to the Tulagi attack); Combat Group B, Colonel Cates commanding, 4,531; the Support Group, Colonel del Valle commanding, 3,537; the Tulagi Group (the 1st Raider Battalion and Combat Team No. 2 of Combat Group A), Colonel Edson commanding; the Gavutu Group, Major Robert Williams commanding, 395 of the 1st Parachute Battalion; the Florida Group, Major Robert E. Hill commanding, 1,295 of Combat Team A (1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, Reinforced); the 3rd Defense Battalion; and the Division Reserve—the 2nd Marines, Reinforced (less Combat Team A)—Colonel Arthur commanding, 3,545.

These forces were to attack and destroy the hostile garrisons on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo, and Makambo by landings on D Day, and then to organize the defense of those islands. There were not enough landing craft, however, to execute all landings simultaneously. At H minus 20 minutes, one rifle company and one machine gun platoon of Combat Team A (1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, Reinforced) were to land at Haleta on Florida, just west of Tulagi, to cover the Tulagi landing. At H plus 30 minutes the remainder of Combat Team A would seize Halavo, the peninsula on Florida just east of Gavutu, and support the Gavutu assault by fire.

The Tulagi Group, led by the 1st Raider Battalion, would land on a 500-yard front on Tulagi at H Hour and seize the northwest part of the island. Having reached the first phase line about 1,500 yards northwest of the southeast shore, the assault troops would signal for a 5-minute air and naval bombardment upon the defense positions in the hills and ravines around Government House, the cricket field, the hospital, the prison, and the radio station, then attack and capture that area. Once taken, the island was to pass to the control of the commander of Combat Team No. 2 (2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, Reinforced, less E Battery, 11th Marines) of Combat Group A. The 1st Raider Battalion would then prepare to re-embark for further operations. Combat Team No. 2 was to embark enough troops to seize Makambo, northeast of Tulagi, and also was to relieve the 1st Parachute Battalion after it had captured Gavutu and Tanambogo. The 3rd Defense Battalion was to land one-third of its antiaircraft strength on Tulagi.

The 1st Parachute Battalion was to land on the east coast of Gavutu at H plus 4 hours, seize it, and then take Tanambogo, the small island connected with Gavutu by a concrete causeway. The firing of a green star cluster would be the signal for five minutes of naval gunfire on Tanambogo from the Tulagi Fire Support Group. After the capture of the islets the battalion was to be prepared to re-embark for employment elsewhere.

While operations were being conducted against the northern islets by air squadrons, the Tulagi Fire Support Group, Transport Group Y, and the Marine units under General Rupertus’ command, the rest of the force—air squadrons, the Guadalcanal Fire Support Group, Transport Group X, and the majority of the Marine division under General Vandegrift—would be operating against Guadalcanal. Combat Group A (5th Marines, Reinforced), less Combat Team No. 2 (2nd Battalion, Reinforced, less E Battery, 11th Marines), was to land at Zero Hour on a 1,600-yard front with combat teams abreast to take the beachhead.

Combat Group B (1st Marines, Reinforced) was to land in column of battalions at Zero plus 50 minutes, pass through Group A, and attack westward toward the “grassy knoll” (Mount Austen) which was erroneously believed to be only four instead of six miles southwest of Lunga Point. This course, it was hoped, would prevent the Japanese from escaping southward into the mountains. The 1st Marines was to maintain contact with the units advancing on its right. The formation would be a column of battalions echeloned to the left and rear to protect the left flank. Group A, after Group B had passed through, was to send Combat Team No. 1 (1st Battalion, 5th Marines) west along the shore to seize the Ilu River line. In the order the Ilu was mistakenly called the Tenaru.

Combat Team No. 3 (3rd Battalion, 5th Marines) was to seize the line of woods running southeast from the Tenavatu River, thus covering the east line of the beachhead. The division’s light tanks, landing with the combat groups, were also to cover the east flank of the beachhead but were not to be committed to action except on orders from General Vandegrift. Platoons of A Battery of the 1st Special Weapons Battalion were to land on the flanks of the beach to provide antiaircraft defense with automatic weapons. They were to revert to control of the 1st Special Weapons Battalion of the Support Group upon the landing of that battalion’s headquarters.

The artillery battalions of the combat groups were to land with their groups, but to pass to control of the headquarters of the 11th Marines of the Support Group upon the landing of that headquarters. The Support Group, including elements of the artillery, engineer, special weapons, and pioneer battalions was to land on orders from division headquarters, and to co-ordinate the artillery support for the attacks of the Combat Groups as well as the antiaircraft defense of the beachhead. The 3rd Defense Battalion (less one-third of its antiaircraft units) was to land on divisional order, pass to control of the Support Group, and assist in the defense of the beachhead.

Combat Team A of the division reserve (2nd Marines, Reinforced) had been released to General Vandegrift for the Florida landing, but the remainder of the reserve was to remain under Admiral Turner’s control for the occupation of Ndeni if it was not required for Guadalcanal and Tulagi. General Vandegrift ordered the reserve, however, to be prepared to land Combat Team B less its reinforcing elements at H plus 4 hours, and to be ready to attach Combat Team C minus its reinforcing units to the Tulagi Group.

Final Preparations

While the division was making ready for combat, the other units which were to make up the invading force were sailing toward their respective rendezvous areas. The carrier Wasp came from the Atlantic Ocean through the Panama Canal. On 1 July she sailed from San Diego, escorting the five ships bearing the 2nd Marines, Reinforced, across the Pacific. On 7 July the carrier Saratoga, with Admiral Fletcher on board, and her supporting warships departed from Pearl Harbor, followed by the carrier Enterprise and her supporting ships. The destroyer-transports, which had helped to escort the Enterprise, left the carrier at sea and sailed to New Caledonia to embark the 1st Raider Battalion. The ships from the Southwest Pacific left Brisbane, Australia, on 14 July and arrived at New Zealand five days later to come under Admiral Turner’s control. On 21 July Admiral Fletcher, commanding Task Force 61, ordered all units to rendezvous southeast of the Fiji Islands at 1400, 26 July. The 3rd Defense Battalion, on board the Zeilin and Betelgeuse, escorted by two destroyers, did not leave Pearl Harbor until 22 July and did not join die task force until 3 August.

The twelve transports and cargo ships of the Amphibious Force, carrying the 1st Marine Division together with their escorts, sailed from Wellington on 22 July under Admiral Turner’s command. On 26 July the entire Expeditionary Force (Task Force 61), except the Zeilin and Betelgeuse and their escorts, assembled southeast of the Fijis, and on the next day sailed to Koro for the rehearsal.

From 28 through 31 July the Expeditionary Force rehearsed with carrier air groups participating. The rehearsal was far from being a success. One of the most serious handicaps was the necessity for maintaining radio silence which made ground-to-air communication impossible and impeded the co-ordination of ground force attacks with close air support. Two complete landing exercises simulating the scheme of maneuver had been planned, but coral reefs made the beaches impracticable for landings. General Vandegrift, who firmly believed in the necessity for complete rehearsals, later wrote that the advantages gained from the Koro rehearsal were “dubious” when compared with the loss of “priceless time.” The rehearsal had some value, however, for the force received practice in debarkation procedure and in the conduct and timing of boat waves. The forces supporting the ground troops had an opportunity for firing and bombing practice. Since McCain, Fletcher, Turner, and Vandegrift all attended the rehearsal, they seized this first opportunity for close personal conferences during which they discussed their plans in detail.

Since the performance of landing craft at the rehearsal led the commanders to expect numerous mechanical break-downs, a boat pool was organized. It was at Koro that the decision was made to land first at Tulagi and later at Guadalcanal on D Day. The transport Heywood, carrying both the 1st Parachute Battalion and elements of the Guadalcanal Support Group, would have to unload the Parachute Battalion in the Tulagi area and then cross the channel to land tanks on Guadalcanal.

The landing craft carried by the ships of the Amphibious Force amounted to 480 1942-model boats of various types,54 in addition to the vehicles of the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion of the 1st Marine Division. There were 8 30-foot landing craft. 308 36-foot LCP(L)’s and LCP(R)’s, 116 36-foot LCV’s, and 48 45-foot LCM’s. The 30-foot boats and the LCP(L)’s were the old fixed-bow type without ramps. The LCP (R)’s, the LCM’s and the LCV’s were equipped with movable bow ramps. The LCV’s, each with a 10,000-pound cargo capacity, could carry 75-mm. and 105-mm. howitzers or 1-ton trucks, but heavier equipment (90-mm. and 5-inch guns and heavy trucks) would have to be carried in the LCM’s. The LCP(L)’s could carry troops and portable supplies, but all supplies brought ashore by the LCP(L)’s would have to be lifted over the gunwales by hand at a considerable expense of time and manpower. The amphibian tractors (LVT’s), about to make their first appearance in action, were an early, unarmored type mounting two machine guns.

The final details of organization of the boat pool, including all boats from the ships of the Amphibious Force, were completed during the rehearsal. Ten boat groups, varying in size from sixteen to sixty-four boats of various types, were organized. Nearly every group included one craft assigned as a repair boat. Four groups, including 103 craft, were assigned to the Tulagi area to unload Transport Group Y, and the remaining six groups were assigned to unload Transport Group X at Guadalcanal. The assaulting combat teams would be brought ashore by ninety-one craft—sixty-three carrying Combat Team No. 1 and Headquarters and supporting troops of Combat Group A, and twenty-eight carrying Combat Team No. 3. Combat Group A’s tanks would be brought in by sixteen LCM’s. Forty-one boats would carry the next waves—Combat Team No. 4 and Headquarters, Combat Group B. Following the landing of the first elements of Combat Group B the forty-one boats would join an additional fifty-one to carry Combat Team No. 5. Combat Team No. 6 would be borne ashore by fifty-seven craft.

After the landing of the assault troops, the LCM’s of the boat groups, in general, were to continue unloading heavy equipment from certain specified ships, while the other boats returned to their mother ships to unload them, bringing in supporting troops and supplies on the second, third, and succeeding trips to shore. General Vandegrift also ordered that amphibian tractors be used wherever possible to haul supplies. Although not a tactical vehicle, the unarmored amphibian tractor could sail from ship to shore, surmount the beach, and carry supplies overland directly to regimental and battalion dumps, with a resulting economy in both time and labor.

Those troop commanders who were to be responsible for the complete unloading of the ships were to assign enough men to work all ships’ holds twenty-four hours per day, for all ships were to be unloaded in the shortest possible time. Supplies were to move over the beaches in accordance with the following priority: ammunition, water, combat transport, rations, medical supplies, gasoline, other transport, and lastly, miscellaneous supplies.

All men, as originally planned, were to wear green utility suits and to carry head nets and cot nets for protection against mosquitoes. Each man was to carry two canteens of water if enough canteens were available. The men of the task and landing forces were to initiate the first Allied offensive in the Pacific, one of the largest amphibious operations in the history of the United States up to that time. The tactical plans were hastily prepared, but they had a broad and well-established base in the doctrines governing landings on hostile shores which had been developed during the years preceding the outbreak of war. It is significant to note that whereas plans for the landing operations proper were detailed and comprehensive, there was no reference to systematic re-supply of the 1st Marine Division which carried sufficient supplies for sixty days. Although on 14 July Admiral Ghormley had directed the 7th Marines in Samoa to be ready to embark on four days’ notice with ninety days’ supply and ten units of fire, no Army units for reinforcing or relieving the division were alerted.

Source: Guadalcanal: The First Offensive ; BY: John Miller, Jr. (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Guadalcanal (3); Marines Come a Shore

World War Two: Guadalcanal (1-2); Plans for Invasion