More to Explore
People and Groups
This Day in History
World War II
On this day in 1940, Benito Mussolini arrives in Munich with his foreign minister, Count Ciano, to discuss immediate plans with the Fuhrer, and doesn't…
George Marshall remains, after George Washington, the most respected soldier in American history.
The first air-sea battle in history, this battle resulted from Japanese efforts to make an amphibious landing at Port Moresby in southeast New Guinea.
From mid-1943 to early 1944, Allied forces in World War II carried out a series of amphibious assaults in the southwest Pacific aimed at encircling and isolating the major Japanese base located at Rabaul, on the island of New Britain.
Text of Hirohito's surrender on August 15, 1945.
August 1942-February 1943
When Japanese troops arrived on Guadalcanal on June 8, 1942, to construct an air base, and then American marines landed two months later to take it away from them, few people outside of the South Pacific had ever heard of that 2,500-square-mile speck of jungle in the Solomon Islands. But the ensuing six-month Guadalcanal campaign proved to be the turning point of the Pacific war.
Strategically, possession of a Guadalcanal air base was important to control of the sea lines of communication between the United States and Australia. Operationally, the Battle of Guadalcanal was notable for the interrelationship of a complex series of engagements on the ground, at sea, and in the air. Tactically, what stood out was the resolve and resourcefulness of the U.S. Marines, whose tenacious defense of the air base dubbed Henderson Field enabled the Americans to secure air superiority.
By the end of the battle on February 9, 1943, the Japanese had lost two-thirds of the 31,400 army troops committed to the island, whereas the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Army had lost less than 2,000 soldiers of about 60,000 deployed. The ship losses on both sides were heavy. But by far the most significant loss for the Japanese was the decimation of their elite group of naval aviators. Japan after Guadalcanal no longer had a realistic hope of withstanding the counteroffensive of an increasingly powerful United States.
BRADFORD A. LEE
The Reader's Companion to Military History. Edited by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker. Copyright © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!
Keep up with the latest History shows, online features, special offers and more.Sign up
Classroom Study Guides
Classroom companion for the new HISTORY series Vietnam in HD.