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Guadalcanal is an island in the Solomon Islands archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. It was the location of the Battle of Guadalcanal fought between 7 August 1942 and 7 February 1943 by American and allied forces to eject the Japanese occupiers of the island.

Guadalcanal was one of the most important battles of their history for U.S. Marines. Guadalcanal was the first island taken by the Americans in World War II, and the battle for it was one of the hardest fought of the war.

Guadalcanal is named after the town of Guadalcanal in Spain, which in turn derives from the Arabic Wadi [river] el Ganar.

World War II

After the Japanese seized Guadalcanal, they started building an airfield on it. The new airbase would be hundreds of miles closer to Allied supply lines than the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, making its completion a grave threat. Conversely, the same base in American hands would greatly facilitate taking back the Solomon Islands from the Japanese.

After the Battle of Midway, American planners were ready to take the offensive. Many in the US Navy wanted a thrust through the central Pacific, which was part of the pre-war strategy in the event of a war with Japan. But the goings on at Guadalcanal focused attention there. A landing was also planned for the nearby island of Tulagi, the site of a Japanese seaplane base.

With intensive naval support, the Marines landed on Guadalcanal with little opposition and quickly seized the airfield and surrounding area. Engineers finished the air strip, and the Marines dubbed it Henderson Field. Henderson soon became home to squadrons of Marine and Army planes.

The Japanese Army still held most of the island, and made several attempts to take Henderson back. In addition, the Japanese Navy was still dominant in the area, and the waters off Guadalcanal saw many naval battles.

See also