August 1942 (1)

USS Gregory carries the 1st Raiders to Tulagi, 8 August 1942

USS Gregory carries the 1st Raiders to Tulagi, 8 August 1942

7-8 August – the 1st Marine Division (19,000 men) landed on Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands, unopposed.  The Japanese intelligence had failed to release an advance warning.  The enemy lookouts at Tulagi radioed: “LARGE FORCE OF SHIPS UNKNOWN NUMBER OR TYPES ENTERING SOUND WHAT COULD THEY BE?”  Seconds later, at 0613 hours, the 8″ guns of the cruiser, USS Quincy thundered.  The Tulagi enemy commander radioed at 0630, “ENEMY FORCE OVERWHELMING.  WE WILL DEFEND OUR POSTS TO THE DEATH.”  That was the final message as the warships bombed the transmitting station.

Tanambogo Island, enemy stronghold, bombed before Solomons landings, 7 Aug. 1942

Tanambogo Island, enemy stronghold, bombed before Solomons landings, 7 Aug. 1942

On the slopes of Guadalcanal, Australian Coastwatcher, Captain Martin Clemens wrote in his diary: “Wizard!!!  Caloo, Callay, Oh!  What a Day!”  He also noted down that the morale of his native scouts went up 500% as he tuned in his shortwave radio to listen to the American pilots.

The first wave of troops went ashore on Red Beach, Tulagi and signaled for the next wave to come ahead and hit Blue Beach.  The town was taken by late morning, but farther inland they were met by scattered snipers and the enemy in dugouts.  Fierce hand-to-hand combat ensued.  Even further, they encountered 2,000 defenders who fought the attack and refused to surrender.  The Americans were encountering their indoctrination to the Japanese belief of bushido, the warrior way; only 23 of the enemy were taken alive.  The Marines had lost 100 men.

Death on the battlefield and by suicide.

Death on the battlefield and by suicide.

On Red Beach at Lunga Point, with its ¾-finished airfield (later called Henderson Field), was found deserted.  The Japanese construction crews were without weapons and had abandoned everything.  The Marines found hundreds of cases of Japanese beer and the refrigeration plant, which they aptly signed as: “TOJO ICE FACTORY – UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.”

The enemy had been taken by surprise.  Admiral Mikawa’s bombers were taking off to support their troops on New Guinea and the cruisers were scattered.  On Yamamoto’s orders, Mikawa’s plans were changed.  He boarded the Chokai and led 5 heavy cruisers and 2 light cruisers to retake Guadalcanal.  The Coastwatchers and air patrols notified the US of the advancing force, but air reconnaissance failed to locate the ships. During the moonless night, the enemy aircraft made their way over Savo Island.

Guadalcanal

Guadalcanal

HMAS Canberra received 24 hits and a torpedo found the USS Chicago.  The USS Astoria, hit and ablaze, did manage to get her gun crews into action.  Still, 2 torpedoes hit the Quincy and the USS Vincennes was blasted out of the water.

Mikawa’s decision to withdraw after winning the Battle of Savo saved Guadalcanal from being a total disaster and Operation Watchtower from collapsing.  This was the worst naval defeat in US history with 4 cruisers [in 90 minutes] and over 1,000 Allied seamen on the bottom of what would come to be known as “Ironbottom Sound.”  A US submarine had gotten the enemy cruiser Kako.

Guadalcanal

Guadalcanal

In view of impending air attacks, Admiral Turner withdrew his surviving warships.  Vandergrift’s 6,000 men on Tulagi and the 10,000 on Guadalcanal were left with less than a month’s rations.  Japanese and US troops alike dug in at their positions.

— Eventually, the Allies would have a total of 32 ships at the bottom of Ironbottom Sound and Japan had 14.  For those of you interested, Wikipedia has both a list of the names and a map indicating the locations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironbottom_Sound

TO BE CONTINUED….

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

AviationHumor-0091

Army+humor_59d2e2_5229801

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Best – Powderly, KY; US Army, WWII, (beloved actor)

Samuel Charters – Sacramento, CA; US Army, Korea21_gun_salute

Joseph Dionisi – Mountain Home, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Arthur Evans – AUS; RA Air Force, Signals, WWII

Robert Hite – Texas; US Army Air Corps, WWII, LtCol., co-pilot, Doolittle Raider, POW

Mary Knox – Anchorage, AK; US Air Force

Carl Lovendale – MA & ME; US Navy, WWII, minesweeper, 2 Bronze Stars

Norman McLeod – Sunnynook, NZ; RNZ Army # 204440, K Force

Richard Murphy – Wadsworth, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO, 75th Inf/289 Div., Bronze Star/ Korea, 2nd Inf. Div.

Bill Romano – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea

Gene Saks – Hackensack, NJ; US Navy, WWII, ETO, (Broadway director)

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on April 9, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.

  1. Surprise seems to be a great tactic. I’ve been reading recently about Morgan’s Raid during the Civil War and surprise was one of the main ways they succeeded for as long as they did.

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    • It is the main tactic 99% of the time – you just don’t always accomplish it. There has been a lot in the Smithsonian mag. about the Civil War the past 3-4 issues, so I’ve had a brush-up course on my history lately too. My father-in-law is very big on that history.

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  2. With reference to your newspaper clipping and its mention of Tenaru… Incredibly poor battle decisions by the Japanese commanders led to the incredibly stupid “banzai” charges. While some Japanese troops made it across the creek upstream, hundreds were killed in frontal assaults founded in old army tactics. They were met by BAR, .30 caliber and .50 caliber fire from the Marines in addition to 37mm guns that essentially fired buckshot. Incredibly, true to lore, the Marines were always the last to be equipped with the latest; at the “Tenaru” battle, they were firing the antiquated 1903 Springfields. On a somewhat weird note: due to a mix-up in the Marines’ pre-invasion maps, the sandbar they were at was mistakenly labeled “Tenaru”. Instead, the correct name was Alligator Creek.

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  3. I have the photo of my father with his monkey and two of his Marine buddies on my site now. It is now incorporated under the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm page, under the Marcus and Hope cats section. Since Marcus cat was named after my father, I thought that would be a good place for it. The identities of his buddies are unknown to me. Since the monkey was with him, the photo probably was taken overseas.. My brother made the copy with his cell phone camera. Best I can do, for now.

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    • Thank you and please convey my thanks to your brother! What a great picture – the monkey even looks like he’s posing for the camera with the same expression as the men! Sorry it took so long to get back – I have very little computer time on the weekends. I appreciate you going to the trouble for me to see the photos, Lavinia.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I will convey your thanks to him. That is my favorite photo of my father. He had a real affection, and way, with animals. I remember when we had the two geese. He would open their pen and “order” them out. The geese came marching, and went wherever he told them to go. The reverse process happened at night.

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        • Cute story Lavinia, especially since geese are reputed to rather nasty at times. Some people just know how the talk to animals.

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          • The geese, and ducks, used to pick on my mother, pecking at her nylons. I remember her coming home from work one day and the ducks spied her, and started nibbling at her nylons when she got out of the car. She was standing there, trying to shoe them away with her handbag, and my father standing in the doorway, laughing. Mom was not amused, but it seemed she had a bullseye target painted on her for those birds to pick on.

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  4. Fantastic reading gp,activity playing out nonstop, unbelievable words,WE WILL DEFEND OUR POSTS TO THE DEATH.
    Coast watchers were heroes and played many integral roles in the war, even our isolated Aboriginals, whose lands skirted the coastlines.

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  5. Another great piece! Would love to connect through email. Feel free to reach me at caroline.sommers@marquette.edu

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    • As much as I would like to, this is an agreement I reached with the other user of my current email address; I fell the readers have a right to know what I’m up to, as well. I do moderate my comments – should something be personal or for my eyes only [for some reason] you can mention that fact and I will delete the comment after reading it. I hope this suits whatever ideas you have in mind, Caroline. I am always trying to assist.

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  6. HAPPY WEEKEND hugs!

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  7. Gutes Wee-kend für dich gruß Gislinde

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Seeing the aircraft carrier brought back fond memories. My brother retired from the USS Forrestal. I have a night video he shot of the flight deck. Impressive! If there was a way to share it, I would. It’s on a VHS tape.

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  9. One happier thought, GP. I bet the Marines quickly developed a taste for Japanese beer. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • In that heat, and a refrigerator was included, I don’t think they even tasted it as it went down!! Can you just imagine how hard the officer in charge had to control himself so as to control his men?

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  10. I often wonder why they did commit suicide by enemy warrior rather than their own hand. I’d probably understand that better if ever I was in battle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bushido is the Japanese word for ‘the warrior way’ – they most certainly pulled the trigger or slashed the knife themselves. It is a code by which they were raised, a tradition, if not followed, brought disgrace to his family.

      Liked by 1 person

    • If I may add to gpcox’s good info (and as the newspaper clipping stated), nearly all would commit suicide rather than surrender. However, as the war dragged on and more and more farm and city boys were conscripted, the urge to commit suicide waned. They wanted to go home, too.

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  11. What a story and sounds like too many lives were lost. So sad and would be heartbreaking to visit. Last day online so will catch up to future posts in a week or so.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow what very gritty confronting photographs. The pictures of the Japanese soldiers who suicided were so sad to me. War is sad and useless. Why is it the only ones who really suffer are the innocent first, and the soldiers also, as they really are innocents, who were made to fight. I saw a photograph yesterday (I just can’t remember where, probably online) and it was of a young soldier in uniform I swear he looked 14. There was no information about him, but I just couldn’t believe how young he was. Still these photographs are real, it can’t be denied can it? I am lucky I was not alive when war happened, at least not where it affected me. And even now with Australian troops in the Middle East, as with USA and Uk soldiers, I know I am no personally affected, but many families are. It breaks my heart when I hear of a young soldier, not just from my country, who has lost his life in these unwinnable battles. It seems like WW1 and WW2 battles were in a way “won” but these new battles in the middle east (although not really new) seem to me that there will never be a winner . Just more destruction of life and a way of life. So very sad. With April 25th, Anzac Day about to happen here, and the 100th year of commemoration of the battle of Gallipoli we will remember again the terrible senseless loss. Thank you again though for your words and pictures, which remind us all of what happened. Cheers again from Vicki in Adelaide South Australia

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is always so nice to hear from you, Vicki. Yes, as far as I am concerned [and history will bear us out], the battles in Afghanistan are unwinnable. If only the leaders would read their history and that of the Middle East to learn what can and can not be done.
      I’ve recently read 2 articles about Gallipoli one about each side of that horrid place that no one really wanted. All those boys killed, so terribly sad indeed. I’ve had a previous post on ANZAC Day, I hope I do them justice.
      https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/anzac-day/

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  13. Father Paul Lemmen

    Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

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  14. Thank You for sharing…….How long were the Marines unsupported after the Naval Battle? What a scary situation for all involved.

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  15. Another great tale, thank you. My (English) dad used to say “Wizard!”. And obviously the Australians did too. He never managed the full set phrase, however…..”Wizard Prang”

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  16. Great post today and sad. Your readers may like the poem by Walter A. Mahler, Chaplain, USS Astoria that I have in my post from last 8/8/13. https://mholloway63.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/what-happened-on-august-8th-9th-battle-of-savo-island/
    Ironbottom Sound will come up on my post tomorrow too in the A to Z Challenge – I is for Ironbottom Sound. I will post a link to your post.

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    • Thank you for the full poem and a wonderful link about Ironbottom Sound, Maryann. With the fighting at Guadalcanal lasting from August to January, this place is the final resting ground for too many men – on both sides. I appreciate you co-ordinating our sites on the same subject, you truly do a wonderful job.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Pierre Lagacé

    On a lighter note…

    Incoming!

    Check your mailbox early next week.

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  18. We sadly know not much about this chapter of war, I’m grateful for your posts to learn more. Many Thanks. I like that they bring a wreath every year to this place, so no one is forgotten…

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m very glad people like yourself and derrick are getting something out these posts. I feel it is the least I can do for the memories of these men.

      Like

  19. It was a time of world war. The children of today do not get it. They think the isolated actions of today are war. Total war. Every continent involved. Actions on all oceans. A newspaper had casualties posted each day. It was a time of commitment and grief.

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  20. Your posts are really educating me about a sphere of the war I didn’t know about

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  21. There is a good article in Wikipedia (which I don’t usually like ) about the George Medal. for special service on Guadalcanal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faciat_Georgius

    Liked by 2 people

  22. What a sad place Ironbottom Sound must be.

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  23. Thank you, Maryann. We can work together to keep the memories alive of these gallant men.

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  1. Pingback: World War II from #AtoZChallenge #NaPoWriMo – I is for Ironbottom Sound – Naval Graveyard | IF I ONLY HAD A TIME MACHINE

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