October 1942 (2)

Guadalcanal, courtesy of History.com

Guadalcanal, courtesy of History.com

11-25 October – [continued from October 1942 (1) post] – Henderson Field, on Guadalcanal, received heavy bombardment from two Japanese battleships, the Kongo and Haruna.  The US gun batteries damaged 2 of the enemy battleships in the area.

Aviation Engineers on Guadalcanal, 1942

Aviation Engineers on Guadalcanal, 1942

On the 12th, the US Army’s Americal troops arrived and received their baptism under fire rather quickly that night.  The SeaBees went into round-the-clock action to fill the airstrip’s craters created by the enemy’s mortars, that the Marines called “Pistol Petes.”  The barrage seemed endless with man-sized projectiles flying through the air causing the sound of screeching railroad cars.  Gen. Geiger’s pilots began taking fuel from damaged planes as the Cactus Air Force became shred to pieces with the constant action.

destroyed Japanese ship

destroyed Japanese ship

18 October – Adm. Halsey, having recovered from his illness, arrived at Noumea to take over command from Ghormley.  His orders were waiting for him: “You will take command of the South Pacific area and South Pacific Forces immediately.”  Halsey’s first reaction was, “Jesus Christ and Gen. Jackson!  This is the hottest potato they ever handed me.”  He knew the situation in that vast area of ocean and also that he lacked ships, men and supplies.  After his request for all of these were denied, he wrote: “Europe is Washington’s darling, the South Pacific is only a stepchild.”  But the news of the admiral’s return gave the men of Guadalcanal renewed hope.

Japanese soldiers after an initial battle.

Japanese soldiers after an initial battle.

By the 23rd, Henderson Field was attacked by 20,000 enemy troops, under Gen. Maruyama, in their usual wave strategy.  For 3 days along the southern positions, at the rivers, wave after wave was defeated until the Japanese had lost about 3,500 men and the offensive collapsed.

USS Hornet during the Battle of Santa Cruz

USS Hornet during the Battle of Santa Cruz

24 October – Gen. Marshall ordered MacArthur to get every bomber, in range, to the Solomons – even at the expense of New Guinea.  With a stunt learned from an old enemy, LtCol. Chesty Puller and his 1st Battalion hung a barbed-wire perimeter with shell fragments to warn themselves of Japanese infiltrators during the night.  Puller was wounded during one of the attacking waves, but remained at the front.

The USS Hornet while ablaze.

The USS Hornet while ablaze.

25-26 October – the Japanese Combined Fleet headed to Guadalcanal were met by US Task Forces 16 and 17 near Santa Cruz.  The US aircraft failed to find their targets the first day, but the next morning, the opposing aircraft were visible and battled for 4 hours.  The Enterprise suffered a smashed flight deck and the Hornet (CV-8) was destroyed by 2 torpedoes and 6 bomb strikes and had to be abandoned.  The enemy carriers, Zuiho and Shokaku were not badly damaged, but their loss of 100 pilots and aircraft left them inoperable.

American and Australian troops worked together to build a road in the jungle

American and Australian troops worked together to build a road in the jungle

In New Guinea, in an attempt to delay the Australian advance of Kokoda, Gen. Horii directed his retreating battalions to enter Eora Creek ravine in the heart of the Owen Stanley Mts.  They climbed to the heights and dug into an elaborate complex of concealed weapon pits; their last line of defense at Oivi on the road from Kokoda to Buna.

28 October – repeated attempts by the Australians to climb up the slopes were met with heavy artillery fire and were thwarted back.  Suddenly, the enemy began a fierce bombardment and under the cover of fire and dark of night, Horii withdrew his garrison to Oivi.  In 2 months time of the savage struggle at Buna, the Allies lost 3,095 KIZ and 5,451 WIA – an even bloodier struggle than the better-known Guadalcanal.

Aerial view of Japanese seaplanes at Attu, Alaska.

Aerial view of Japanese seaplanes at Attu, Alaska.

30 October – the Japanese landed a second invasion force on the island of Attu in the Alaskan Aleutian islands.  The naval battles have been on-going since August and would continue until May 1943.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – by Sad Sack – 

Yank magazine

Yank magazine

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Adair Jr. – Jupiter, FL; US Army, Vietnam

A Thousand Winds

A Thousand Winds

Arthur Clarke – Santa Cruz, CA; US Navy, Corpsman (Ret. 29 yrs), WWII, Korea & Vietnam

William Deitz – DE & FL; US Navy, WWII, ETO, LST 656 helmsman

L. Vern Francis – NZ, RNZ Army, WWII, D Company

Jacob Kendall – Ontario & Oregon, US Navy, WWII, ETO

Donald John Nibert – Point Pleasant, WV; US Navy

John Roberts – AUS; RA Air Force # 135801, WWII, PTO, 41st Squadron

Ken Smith – Paeroa, NZ; NZ Army # 444787, WWII, 23rd Battalion, Pvt.

Arnold Stern Sr. – Anniston, AL; US Army (Ret. 23 yrs), WWII, Korea & Vietnam

George Thompson – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

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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 May 4, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. Interesting post. My dad had a book of Sad Sack cartoons. I’ll have to figure out which sister grabbed it.

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  2. One of the points to come out of your posts gp, is the fact of the works of the engineers during the battles, these guys worked tirelessly and under extreme pressure, especially repairing field strips, these would have been paramount.
    Great interesting post mate.

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  3. So many bits of history I’ve never heard. Thanks, GP.

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    • I suppose I shouldn’t be so judgmental of our school systems, as so much was going on all at the same time. I was always disappointed tho that Europe was still being considered the priority subject.

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  4. Bless Chesty and the Marine Corps… Guadalacanal was a test for ANY military man – Allied or Japanese. Unbelievable heroism and determination.

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  5. Sad Sack was still around in the funnies of my day as a child, if I remember correctly.

    One of the things that I have learned from your posts, GP, is how much of an unwanted step-child the Pacific war was opposed to the European front when it came to resources. I suspect with the political influence of the Western US that wouldn’t be the case today. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The battles in the Far East were long and hard. This goes to show how hard. Each island a battle field and the terrors possibly ‘worse’ than in Europe.

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  7. Interesting post and again something that I didn’t learn in school.

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  8. Man I always enjoy reading your posts, thank you.

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  9. It’s good to see a photo of Aussies and Yanks working together.

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  10. One wonder why Buna has not been more prominently mentioned – heard of Guadalcanal many times, but this is the first I have known about those hectic engagements.

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  11. Another interesting read. The story of Guadalcanal makes me want to watch the Terrence Malick film ‘The Thin Red Line’ all over again. Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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