The Battle of Guadalcanal

Naval History Special Edition

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Overview

Building upon the expertise of the authors and historians of the Naval Institute Press, the Naval History Special Editions are designed to offer studies of the key vessels, battles, and events of armed conflict. Using an image-heavy, magazine-style format, these Special Editions should appeal to scholars, enthusiasts, and general readers alike.
The Guadalcanal Campaign began in August 1942 with Operation Watchtower. This first Allied offensive in the Pacific, undertaken before U.S. forces were fully prepared, thwarted an impending Japanese operation and initiated a six-month struggle to control the island and its surroundings. Desperate fighting occurred in the jungles of Guadalcanal, in the skies above it, and on—as well as below—the seas around it. Possession of the island’s airfield allowed the U.S. garrison to dominate the skies during the day. At night, the Imperial Japanese Navy bombarded the airfield and brought supplies and reinforcements to the island. The U.S. Navy’s attempts to stop these nocturnal incursions triggered a series of battles that were some of the most furious, confused, and chaotic in naval history. As melees erupted in bewildering darkness, concerted action proved impossible. Formations disintegrated, and ships fought individually. So many were sunk that sailors nicknamed the narrow waters off Guadalcanal “Iron Bottom Sound.”
Within those waters, the men of the U.S. Navy fought tenaciously. In nights filled with flares, flames, the reek of gunpowder, and blinding explosions, their “heroic actions without number” blunted Japanese reinforcement efforts. Victories at the Battle of Cape Esperance in October and the First and Second Naval Battles of Guadalcanal in November were especially crucial. Unable to keep pace with the increasing number of U.S. supplies and reinforcements, the Japanese abandoned the island. This volume recounts those battles, the heroic actions that led to victory, and the Allied triumph at Guadalcanal.

 

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