These Are 10 of the Toughest and Most Important Battles US Marines Ever Fought
Battle of Guadalcanal — “Guadalcanal is no longer merely the name of an island … It is the name of the graveyard of the Japanese army.”
Solomon Islands: August 7, 1942 to February 9, 1943
In the first major Allied offensive against Japan during the Second World War, the US Marines of the 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal determined to blunt Japan’s march toward Australia.
As the battle began, the Marines rushed ashore, quickly taking control of a strategic airfield.
While the Devil Dogs, supported by the Army, captured ground on land, the US Navy suffered a serious defeat that allowed the Japanese to regain control of the sea, forcing the logistics and support ships to withdraw and leaving the Marines cut off, except for the occasional supply drop from the air.
For three months, the Marines, who were unable to be reinforced, endured daily Japanese naval bombardments referred to as the Tokyo Express. The US troops also faced terrifying Banzai charges as Japanese forces poured onto the island. The Japanese made regular attempts to retake key strategic positions, but US troops stopped them in their tracks.
The US Navy ultimately took back control of the surrounding waterway, and the Japanese secretly retreated.
The Marines, together with the Army, achieved a great victory, successfully ending Japan’s southward expansion. The US Marines lost more than 1,500 men. The Japanese lost tens of thousands.
After the battle, a victory that turned the tide of the war for the allies, Japanese Major Gen. Kiyotake Kawaguchi is said to have commented that Guadalcanal “is no longer merely the name of an island.”
“It is the name of the graveyard of the Japanese army,” the general said.