"Operation Watchtower" was the codename for the Guadalcanal Campaign in the Pacific Theater that began this date in 1942 and lasted through February 9, 1943. The campaign to invade the islands of Guadalcanal in the southern Solomon Islands was the first major strategic offensive by the Allied forces against Japan. It was also and the longest and most bitterly fought campaign. The objective was to deny Japan its use of the islands to threaten the supply and communication routes between the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. The Allies also intended to use Guadalcanal and Tulagi as bases to support a campaign to eventually capture or neutralize the major Japanese base at New Britain in Papua New Guinea.
On August 7, supported by U.S. Navy forces, 6,000 U.S. Marines landed on Guadalcanal and seized the enemy's airfield (later named Henderson Airfield), surprising the island’s 2,000 Japanese defenders. The force also captured the islands of Tulagi and Florida.
But the Japanese did not give up easily, and both sides began landing reinforcements by sea. Bitter fighting ensued in the island’s jungles, and the Japanese made several attempts between August and November to retake the airfield. Three major land battles, seven large naval engagements, and continual air battles culminated in the decisive Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on November 12-15, in which the last Japanese attempt was defeated. Many of the damaged American ships will be taken to the island nation of Tongatabu, where some will be repaired by my dad's ship, the USS Vestal. As the Battle of Guadalcanal continues, Dad's ship will be moved to the base at Espiritu Santo, where he will work on other battle-damaged ships in this long campaign.
The 6-month Guadalcanal Campaign will become a significant victory for the Allied forces. It will mark a turning point in the war in the Pacific, resulting in Japan's eventual surrender and the end of World War II.
|Source: Awesome Stories|