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Why I make Such Heavy Weather of Guadalacanal

 
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Why I make Such Heavy Weather of Guadalacanal - 4/24/2007 3:11:26 AM   
KG Erwin


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It's simple --the tremendous air, land, and naval battles made the Guadalcanal campaign the true turning point of the Pacific War. The immensity of the conflict, in three dimensions over six months, really has no parallel in the history of WWII.

The Japanese Navy was never again capable of launching a major attack against Allied assets, the core of experienced aviators that launched the attack on Pearl were pretty much wiped out, and we proved that our ground forces could make mincemeat of the Japanese ground capability when they elected to attack.

This is the primary reason why I elect to start my USMC long campaigns right here. My battalion is just a small part of something much larger -- the first offensive launched by the United States, supported by assets of the Australian fleet, in WWII.

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RE: Why I make Such Heavy Weather of Guadalacanal - 4/24/2007 1:09:37 PM   
vahauser


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Gudalacanal was important for many reasons.  But it was not as important as Midway or Stalingrad or El Alamein, etc.

Guadalcanal was important, yes.  And the heroism of the US forces in the face of serious adversity was the stuff of legends.  But always remember that the USA was putting over 80% of all its resources into "Hitler first".  The Chiefs of Staff always knew that the war in Europe was the more important war, and that winning against Hitler was the top priority--by a wide margin. 

And to be historically accurate, the REAL war was won by the Soviets.  The war on the Russian Front was by far the most important theater of conflict in WW2.  I think it's important to keep things in the proper historical perspective.

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RE: Why I make Such Heavy Weather of Guadalacanal - 4/24/2007 8:26:47 PM   
KG Erwin


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Hmm, well, Victor, I would argue that the Guadalcanal campaign was more decisive in the outcome of the Pacific War than Midway was.

One COULD argue that even if Midway had been captured by the Japanese, its relative isolation would have made it impossible to hold for any length of time.

At Guadalcanal, on the other hand, possession of that island would have solidified the network of air bases the Japanese had established, and seriously threaten communications with Australia.

However, a discussion of grand strategic aspects is probably beyond the scope of the SPWaW forum.

Maybe I should ask the guys at the WITP subforum or the Pacific War forum.

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RE: Why I make Such Heavy Weather of Guadalacanal - 4/25/2007 6:05:46 AM   
vahauser


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Glenn,

If the Americans don't win Midway then they won't win Guadalcanal.  At Midway the Japanese lost 4 carriers and over 300 of the most elite aircrews who have ever flown.  If the Japanese have those carriers in August 1942 (and the elite aircrews on them), then that means that the American carriers have been defeated at Midway and the landings at Guadalcanal could not be successful.  Indeed, if the Americans don't win at Midway, then the Americans will probably not even try to land at Guadalcanal.  Midway was the decisive battle of the Pacific War. 

But to stay on topic, I agree that the Guadalcanal campaign was an epic one against a very formidable opponent.  However, the Japanese made crucial blunders that gave the Americans a fighting chance.  For example, if Admiral Tanaka does not turn back for Rabaul after winning a major victory in the Battle of Savo Island (the worst naval defeat in American naval history), then Tanaka could easily (and was specifically ordered to) attack all the American transports like sitting ducks off the beaches.  And that would have been a decisive Japanese victory.  No amount of heroism by the American ground troops could have saved them if Tanaka had carried out his orders.  That is how close it was at Guadalcanal. 

--V 

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RE: Why I make Such Heavy Weather of Guadalacanal - 5/29/2007 3:30:14 PM   
Hussar

 

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Perhaps (I am playing devils advocate again here!) the single decisive part of the entire Pacific Campaign was Dec 6th. Even if the US carriers had been destroyed at Pearl then the Japan would still have lost eventually. It would only be a matter of time before American industry replaced her carriers and then the shortage of raw materials and manpower would have doomed Japan. Every single event of the Pacific campaign whether Iwo, the Canal, the Coral Sea, Midway, the Solomons, Aleutians, Burma, Philippine's or whatever, no matter how bitterly fought or heroically conducted, Japan was doomed from the outset and Dec 6th was the deciding moment. For, if the US had not entered the war at that point, and I know that it can be argued that it already had through lease-lend, Japan would certainly have defeated the European colonial powers, and Britain would probably have been denied the Australian,NZ and Indian allies that were so important in the Middle East and American manpower and resources that finally turned the tide against Germany.

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RE: Why I make Such Heavy Weather of Guadalacanal - 5/30/2007 12:32:29 AM   
Wild Bill

 

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Gentlemen, both were equally important. The Allies had control of the Atlantic, once the U-Boat menace had been put in check by late 1943.

The Pacific was another matter, another one entirely. The control of the seas was basically lost by the Japanese at Midway. It would be awhile before the US could fully take control of the Pacific, but Japan would never again dominate the ocean.

On the other hand, the United States had yet to really face the Japanese. The defeats at Wake Island, Guam, the Philippines, Singapore and the East Indies left a certain anxiety. Just how good was the Japanese soldier? Could he be beaten. Guadalcanal determined that he could, and resoundingly. Outnumbered and cut off, the 1st Marine Division and part of the 2nd took a stand and beat the Nips resoundingly.

Thus both on the seas and on the ground and as soon would be proven, in the air, the Japanese could be beaten and would be. Not only by superior firepower, manufacturing capacity or greater strategy, but by cold hard fighting, steel to steel, flesh to flesh.

I would have to say that these two battles coming only months apart in 1942 changed the course of the war in the Pacific.

Wild Bill

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Wild Bill Wilder
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