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Monday, October 29. 2007
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I read the entire article and not to rain on Vin's parade too heavily, since I haven't fact checked some of his "history" I can tell you that he makes several major errors within the first few paragraphs.
The Marines landed on Guadalcanal unopposed until they moved closer to what would become Henderson Field, named after Major Lofton R. Henderson who was killed at Wake Island. They took the airstrip, but they didn't build it, the Japs did. The Marines set up a parameter around the airstrip and began landing Marine F4F-3's for it's defense. They held out under heavy Japanese assaults both day and night. During the day the Marine Aviators would fly the "Slot" and sink Japanese reinforcements of men and material.
It should be noted that after the Navy landed the Marines they boogied out of the area leaving the Marines on a Japanese held island without ant resupply or support. Parenthetically it should be known that, that theater of operations was commanded by Vice Admiral John S. McCain, Commander,Aircraft,South Pacific...John McCain's father.
Long story short the article's point was that there were some tremendously heroic acts performed by the air and ground Marines at Guadalcanal. It wouldn't be their last test in the Pacific though. My father made five landings until he received orders to flight training.
As boy growing up I met most of the original "Cactus Air Force" which was what the Marines designated themselves who were on Guadalcanal, including two Medal of Honor Winners, too many "aces" to count and heard first hand of their deeds. I mean , after all when Pappy Boyington is your next door neighbor (El Toro, MCAS) when you're born you hear stuff, ya know......all true..
Those guys were giants--there was no book saying America wins Guadalcanal--and nobody had yet stopped the EOJ--anywhere.
In Navy's defense, the admiral who hauled ass did so after a whole lot of USA iron was on the bottom of Ironbottom Sound (see Savo Island, Battle of) and with nothing to spare (see Operation Shoestring) he withdrew, leaving the Marines living off whatever they could take from the enemy.
But Navy soon replaced the man with Bull Halsey, whose first act as commander was to go onto the island and hang out with the line troops long enough to get the real picture. The fleet under Halsey never again left the area until it was secured.
Buddy, you are exactly correct and looking at my phraseology, it was poor. The Navy had to leave the area and even the Marines felt they could get the job done for a time without offshore cover. Things at that time were still dicey although Midway had charted the course for the eventual conquest of EOJ.
well, I'm redder-faced than you--you're of course correct, EOJ had been stopped at Midway several months before the Guadalcanal landings. Had the four EOJ carriers lost at Midway been around for the Solomons Campaign--wow--what an alternate history question that is.
For starters, quite likely there'd've been no Habu!
Skook, i usually have six or eight books going at a time--i skip read, like a fool, even in an individual book. I'm really enjoying "The Cactus Air Force" at the mo--it's by Thomas G. Miller, Jr., one of the "Bantam War Book" series. Before that, the long section on Guadalcanal in William Manchester's "Goodbye Darkness" is so descriptive and gripping it's almost hallucinatory. If you don't have that book, your liberry has a hole in it.
Thanks. Both are on the list. I'm back to Lewis and Clark at the moment. Volume 9 - Sgt. Ordway's diary. Only three more volumes to go...
And exactly what did Ghormley do wrong? Or was it more a personality clash between him and Nimitz?
You can find lots of different angles on that, skook.
For starters, since he got replaced while he was more-or-less losing the campaign, everything he did was wrong in retrospect.
Had Halsey gotten clobbered, then everything Ghormley had done wrong would've turned out to've been right. and he'd've been the cautious genius in history, with Halsey (and Nimitz) the overly-aggressive goat.
But basically, his non-aggressive tactics were breaking up the unity of his command--most notably viz the Marine commander on that crazy island.
And he was ill, i think i read he was having a lot of dental problems, and some look back and now say he was obviously clinically depressed. Also, he had been against the entire operation when in the planning stage, on the grounds that Navy wasn't ready yet for such an ops. So that was a bad situation right there, before the landings even started.
Or was Ghormley the guy who lost at Ironbottom Sound?
The Battle of Savo Island was so early in the campaign, and was such a clobbering, that the amazing thing was that the allies didn't withdraw right then & there. But Ghormley wasn't the battle commander--the fleet was strung out thru the chain of islands and the units which fought the battle were under a British commander.
What happened was, the EOJ units surprised the allied force in a night action, which I've read, though it's probably apocryphal, didn't account for the radar dead zones created by the numerous small islands, behind which the EOJ snuck up.
Nope, he said to himself - it was Turner and Callahan.
You can click on the picture and it will become large enough to read:
I don't mean to be a spoil sport... but it is the likes of Paige, Browning cradled in his arm, that makes the difference. No radar, no advanced technology, nothing but guts, determination, and bravery beyond the pale. Boots still hold the balance, as yet, to this day.
Cookie cleaners can surprise you, when you least expect it. I'm 12.
Dang, hadn't thought of it that way... always looking on the bright side, are you BL.
Where did we get Men like that.
"Get after'em, Washington!"
Good Lord; How lucky we are.
I'd recommend Goodbye, Darkness as well, great book. Manchester's long been one of my favorite writers -- The Last Lion is the greatest biography I've ever read, shame he didn't finish it -- and his World War II reminiscences are worth reading.
Great article, many thanks for posting this.
Last I heard, there was a research assistant to Mr. Manchester that might (possibly) be able to pull the last volume of the Churchill Bio together. All the notes and research exist.
A great movie on Guadalcanal is "The Gallant Hours", out of print for years. James Cagney was the personal choice of the Halsey family to play the Admiral. A fascinating war movie without a single scene of battle which put across (to me at least) the burden of command.
Cagney sounds perfect for Bull Halsey. Love to see that film.
Let's hope. Thanks for the heads-up. Amazing writer, Manchester -- who else can make a German armaments manufacturing family fascinating for over 500 pages?