Solomon Islands campaign


Solomon Islands campaign

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Solomon Islands campaign
partof=the Pacific Theater of World War II


caption=Map of the Solomon Islands showing the Allied advance during 1943 and key air and naval bases.
date=January 1942 – August 21, 1945
place=British Solomon Islands/Territory of New Guinea, South Pacific
result=Decisive Allied victory
combatant1=flag|United States|1912
flag|Australia
*flagicon|Australia New Guinea [Bougainville and Buka were politically part of the Australian Territory of New Guinea.] flag|New Zealand
flag|United Kingdom
* Colony of Fiji [Fiji was under British rule and Fijian troops were attached to the New Zealand and Australian militaries.]
* Solomon Is. [Guadalcanal and the rest of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate (which excluded Bougainville and Buka) was technically under UK political control during World War II.]
* [Tonga was an independent, British protected state during World War II.]
combatant2=flagicon|Japan|alt Empire of Japan
commander1=Chester Nimitz
Douglas MacArthur
William Sydney Marchant [The British Resident Commissioner of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate and therefore nominally the commander of the Allied military forces in the Solomon Islands]
Robert Ghormley
William Halsey, Jr.
Alexander Vandegrift
Alexander Patch
Frank Jack Fletcher
Richmond K. Turner
Eric Feldt [Commanded the Coastwatchers.]
Roy Geiger
Theodore S. Wilkinson
Oscar Griswold
Stanley Savige
commander2=Isoroku Yamamoto
Shigeyoshi Inoue
Nishizo Tsukahara
Jinichi Kusaka
Gunichi Mikawa
Raizo Tanaka
Hitoshi Imamura
Harukichi Hyakutake
Minoru Sasaki
strength1=
strength2=
casualties1=4,500 dead (ground),
5,500 dead (naval),
600 dead (aircrew),
40+ ships sunk,
800 aircraft destroyed [Numbers include personnel killed by all causes including combat, disease, and accidents. Ships sunk includes warships and auxiliaries. Aircraft destroyed includes both combat and operational losses.]
casualties2=71,000 dead (ground),
7,000 dead (naval),
2,000 dead (aircrew),
50+ ships sunk,
1,500 aircraft destroyed [Numbers include personnel killed by all causes including combat, disease, and accidents. Ships sunk includes warships and auxiliaries. Aircraft destroyed includes both combat and operational losses.]

The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942. The Japanese occupied these locations and began the construction of several naval and air bases with the goals of protecting the flank of the Japanese offensive in New Guinea, establishing a security barrier for the major Japanese base at Rabaul on New Britain, and providing bases for interdicting supply lines between the Allied powers of the United States and Australia and New Zealand.

The Allies, in order to defend their communication and supply lines in the South Pacific, support their counteroffensive in New Guinea, and isolate the Japanese base at Rabaul, counterattacked the Japanese in the Solomons with landings on Guadalcanal, (see Guadalcanal Campaign) and small neighboring islands on 8 August 1942. These landings initiated a series of combined-arms battles between the two adversaries, beginning with the Guadalcanal landing and continuing with several battles in the central and northern Solomons, on and around New Georgia Island, and Bougainville Island.

In a campaign of attrition fought on land, on sea, and in the air, the Allies wore the Japanese down, inflicting irreplaceable losses on Japanese military assets. The Allies retook some of the Solomon Islands (although resistance continued until the end of the war), and they also isolated and neutralized some Japanese positions, which then were bypassed. The Solomon Islands campaign then converged with the New Guinea campaign.

Strategic background

The Empire of Japan accomplished its intitial strategic objectives in the first six months of the war, establishing a defensive perimeter from British India on the west, through the Dutch East Indies on the south, and island bases in the south and central Pacific as its southeastern line of defense. Japan's attempts to take all of New Guinea were checked at the Battle of the Coral Sea, and an eastward naval attack was decisively defeated at the Battle of Midway. It was still able to take the offense, and did so in a drive southeast from its newly-conquered base at Rabaul in New Britain, down the island chain of the Solomons toward Fiji and Samoa. By this offense the Japanese sought to interdict Allied supply lines from North America to Australia. [Spector, pp. 152–53]

The Allies countered the threats to Australia by a build-up of troops and aircraft, [Spector, pp. 143–44] with the aim of implementing plans to approach and reconquer the Phillipines. In March 1942 Admiral Ernest King,then Commander-in Chief of the U. S. Fleet, had advocated an offense from New Hebrides through the Solomon Islands to the Bismarck Archipelago. [Spector, p. 185, 201, citing "Memorandum of King for President", 5 March 1942] Following the victory at Midway, General Douglas MacArthur, who had taken command of the South West Pacific Area, proposed a lightning offense to retake Rabaul, which the Japanese were fortifying and using as a base of operations. The United States Navy advocated a more gradual approach from New Guinea and up the Solomon Island chain. These competing proposals were resolved by Admiral King and U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, who adopted a three-task plan. Task One was the capture of the island of Tulagi in the Solomons. Task Two was an advance along the New Guinea coast. Task Three was the capture of Rabaul. Task One, implemented by a directive of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 2 July 1942 and named the initial attacks Operation Watchtower, [Spector, pp. 185-86] became the Solomon Islands campaign.

Course of campaign

The Allies created a combined air formation, Cactus Air Force, establishing air superiority during the daylight hours. The Japanese then resorted to nightly resupply missions which they called "Rat Transportation" (and the Allies called "the Tokyo Express") through New Georgia Sound ("The Slot"). Many pitched battles were fought trying to stop Japanese supplies from getting through. So many ships were lost by both sides that the area became known as "Ironbottom Sound".

Allied success in the Solomon Islands campaign prevented the Japanese from cutting Australia and New Zealand off from the U.S. Operation Cartwheel — the Allied grand strategy for the Solomons and New Guinea campaigns — launched on June 30, 1943, isolated and neutralized Rabaul and destroyed much of Japan's sea and air supremacy. This opened the way for Allied forces to recapture the Philippines and cut off Japan from its crucial resource areas in the Netherlands East Indies.

The Solomons campaign culminated in the often bitter fighting of the Bougainville campaign (1943–45), which continued until the end of the war.

ee also

*New Guinea campaign
*New Britain Campaign
*Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign
*Guadalcanal Campaign
*AirSols

Notes and References

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External links

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title = TOP OF THE LADDER: Marine Operations in the Northern Solomons
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work = World War II Commemorative series
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publisher = Marine Corps History and Museums Division
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*cite web
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* [http://www.ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=8 WW2DB: Solomons Campaign]
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Further reading

* Hungerford, T.A.G.. (1952). "The Ridge and the River". Sydney: Angus & Roberston. Republished by Penguin, 1992; ISBN 0-143-00174-4.


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