No one will ever accuse the Marine Corps of having a short memory. Indeed, it is all but an article of faith within the Corps that much of its misery at Guadalcanal can be traced to the Navy’s logistics failures. And in truth, the criticism is not without merit. At the start of Operation Watchtower, neither the Navy nor the Marine Corps was prepared to move personnel and matériel off cargo ships and across the shore quickly in a contested environment. Doctrinally, while Landing Operations, U.S. Navy (FTP 167) acknowledged the tasks associated with conducting offload operations, it failed to lay out the command-and-control expectations.1 The result was an undermanned and uncoordinated traffic jam that became a debacle once Japanese forces counterattacked in earnest.
1. MAJ John L. Zimmerman and GEN C. B. Cates, USMC, The Guadalcanal Campaign (Washington, DC: Historical Section, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1949).
2. George C. Dyer, The Amphibians Came to Conquer: The Story of Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, vol. I (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1969).
3. Samuel Eliot Morison, The History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II, vol. V, The Struggle for Guadalcanal (Edison, NJ: Castle Books, 1949).
4. LCOL Frank L. Hough and MAJ Verle E. Ludwig, USMC, and Henry L. Shaw, Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal: History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, vol. I (Washington, DC: Historical Branch, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1958), 11-164042-327.
5. Morison, The History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II.
6. Dyer, The Amphibians Came to Conquer.
7. Hough, Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal.
9. Dyer, The Amphibians Came to Conquer.
10. John Miller Jr., Guadalcanal: The First Offensive (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1959).
11. Morison, The History of US Naval Operations in World War II.
12. Dyer, The Amphibians Came to Conquer.
14. U.S. Navy, Building the Navy’s Bases in World War II: History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineering Corps 1940–1946, vol. 1 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1947).
15. Megan Eckstein, “DOT&E: JHSV Effective at Intra-Theater Transport But Challenged in Other Missions,” 16 October 2015, USNI News.