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Solomon Islands campaign


Solomon Islands campaign

Solomon Islands campaign
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II

Map of the Solomon Islands showing the Allied advance during 1943 and key air and naval bases.
Date January 1942 – 21 August 1945
Location British Solomon Islands/Territory of New Guinea, South Pacific
Result Allied victory

 United States

 New Zealand
 United Kingdom
Colony of Fiji

Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
Chester Nimitz
Douglas MacArthur
Robert Ghormley
William Halsey, Jr.
William Sydney Marchant[1]
Alexander Patch
Frank Jack Fletcher
Richmond K. Turner
Eric Feldt[2]
Roy Geiger
Theodore S. Wilkinson
Oscar Griswold
Stanley Savige
Isoroku Yamamoto 
Chūichi Nagumo
Shigeyoshi Inoue
Nishizo Tsukahara
Takeo Kurita
Kiyohide Shima
Jinichi Kusaka
Shōji Nishimura
Gunichi Mikawa
Raizo Tanaka
Hitoshi Imamura
Harukichi Hyakutake
Minoru Sasaki
Casualties and losses
10,600 killed
40+ ships sunk,
800 aircraft destroyed[3]
86,000 killed
50+ ships sunk,
1,500 aircraft destroyed[3]

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 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 were then bypassed. The Solomon Islands campaign then converged with the New Guinea campaign.


  • Background 1
    • Strategic background 1.1
    • Japanese advance into the Solomons 1.2
  • Course of campaign 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes and references 4
  • Sources 5
  • External links 6
  • Further reading 7


Strategic background

On December 7, 1941, after failing to resolve a dispute with the United States over Japan's actions in China and French Indochina, the Japanese attacked the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack crippled most of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's battleships and started a formal state of war between the two nations. Attacks on British Empire possessions in the Pacific, beginning with an attack on Hong Kong almost simultaneous with the Pearl Harbor attack, brought the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand into the conflict. In launching this war, Japanese leaders sought to neutralize the U.S. fleet, seize possessions rich in natural resources, and obtain strategic military bases to defend their far-flung empire. In the words of the Japanese Navy's Combined Fleet Secret Order Number One, dated November 1, 1941, the goals of the initial Japanese campaigns in the impending war were to, "(eject) British and American strength from the Netherlands Indies and the Philippines, (and) to establish a policy of autonomous self-sufficiency and economic independence."[4]

The Empire of Japan accomplished its initial strategic objectives in the first six months of the war, capturing the Philippines, Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, Wake Island, New Britain, the Gilbert Islands, and Guam. A Japanese goal was to establish an effective defensive perimeter from British India on the west, through the Dutch East Indies on the south, and to island bases in the south and central Pacific as its southeastern line of defense. Anchoring its defensive positions in the South Pacific was the major Japanese army and navy base at Rabaul, New Britain, which was captured in January 1942. In March and April, Japanese forces occupied and began constructing an airfield at Buka in northern Bougainville, as well as an airfield and naval base at Buin, in southern Bougainville.[5]

Japanese advance into the Solomons

In April 1942, the Japanese army and navy together initiated Operation Mo, a joint plan to capture Port Moresby in New Guinea. Also part of the plan was a navy operation to capture Tulagi in the southern Solomons. The objective of the operation was for the Japanese to extend their southern perimeter and to establish bases to support possible future advances to seize Nauru, Ocean Island, New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa and thereby cut the supply lines between Australia and the United States, with the goal of reducing or eliminating Australia as a threat to Japanese positions in the South Pacific. The Japanese Navy also proposed a future invasion of Australia, but the army answered that it currently lacked enough troops to support such an operation.[6]

Japanese naval forces successfully captured Tulagi but its invasion of Port Moresby was repulsed at the Battle of the Coral Sea. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese navy established small garrisons on the other northern and central Solomon Islands. One month later, the Japanese Combined Fleet lost four of its fleet aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway.[7]

The Allies countered the threats to Australia by a build-up of troops and aircraft,[8] with the aim of implementing plans to approach and reconquer the 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,[10] became the Solomon Islands campaign.

Course of campaign

The Allies created a combined air formation, 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, which continued until the end of the war.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ The British Resident Commissioner of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate and therefore nominally the commander of the Commonwealth military forces in the Solomon Islands
  2. ^ Commanded the Coastwatchers.
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ Parker, A Priceless Advantage, p. 3.
  5. ^ Murray, p. 169–195, Spector, pp. 152–53
  6. ^ Parker, A Priceless Advantage, p. 5, Spector, pp. 152–53, and Frank, Guadalcanal, p. 21–22.
  7. ^ Spector, pp. 152–53
  8. ^ Spector, pp. 143–44
  9. ^ Spector, p. 185, 201, citing Memorandum of King for President, 5 March 1942
  10. ^ Spector, pp. 185-86


  • Altobello, Brian (2000). Into the Shadows Furious. Presidio Press.  
  • Bergerud, Eric M. (1997). Touched with Fire : The Land War in the South Pacific. Penguin.  
  • Bergerud, Eric M. (2000). Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific. Boulder, CO, USA: Westview Press.  
  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press.  
  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub.  
  • Drea, Edward J. (1998). "An Allied Interpretation of the Pacific War". In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.  
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press.  
  • Gailey, Harry A. (1991). Bougainville, 1943-1945: The Forgotten Campaign. Lexington, Kentucky, USA: University Press of Kentucky.  
  • Griffith, Brig. Gen. Samuel B (USMC) (1974). "Part 96: Battle For the Solomons". History of the Second World War. Hicksville, NY, USA: BPC Publishing. 
  • Hoyt, Edwin P. (1990). Glory Of The Solomons (Reissue ed.). Jove.  
  • Kilpatrick, C. W. (1987). Naval Night Battles of the Solomons. Exposition Press.  
  • Lord, Walter (2006) [1977]. Lonely Vigil; Coastwatchers of the Solomons. Naval Institute Press.  
  • McCarthy, Dudley (1959). Volume V – South–West Pacific Area – First Year: Kokoda to Wau.  
  • McGee, William L. (2002). The Solomons Campaigns, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville--Pacific War Turning Point, Volume 2 (Amphibious Operations in the South Pacific in WWII). BMC Publications.  
  • Murray, Williamson; Allan R. Millett (2001). A War To Be Won : Fighting the Second World War. United States of America: Belknap Press.  
  • Odgers, George (1968). Volume II – Air War Against Japan, 1943–1945.  

External links

  • Browning, Robert M., Jr., (1999). "The Coast Guard and the Pacific War" (PDF). U. S. Coast Guard Photography. U.S. Coast Guard. Retrieved 2006-12-07. 
  • Bullard, Steven (translator) (2007). Japanese army operations in the South Pacific Area New Britain and Papua campaigns, 1942–43. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. ) Senshi Sōshō (translation of excerpts from the  
  • Chapin, John C. (1997). "TOP OF THE LADDER: Marine Operations in the Northern Solomons". World War II Commemorative series. Marine Corps History and Museums Division. p. 1. Retrieved August 30, 2006.  Also available at: [2]
  • Craven, Wesley Frank; James Lea Cate. "Vol. IV, The Pacific: Guadalcanal to Saipan, August 1942 to July 1944". The Army Air Forces in World War II. U.S. Office of Air Force History. Retrieved October 20, 2006. 
  • Dyer, George Carroll. "The Amphibians Came to Conquer: The Story of Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner". United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved October 20, 2006. 
  • Gillespie, Oliver A. (1952). ; The Battle for the Solomons (Chapter 7)"The Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War, 1939–1945". New Zealand Electronic Text Center. Retrieved July 11, 2006. 
  • Hoffman, Jon T. (1995). "FROM MAKIN TO BOUGAINVILLE: Marine Raiders in the Pacific War" (brochure). WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES. Marine Corps Historical Center. Retrieved 2006-08-29. 
  • Lofgren, Stephen J. Northern Solomons. The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II.  
  • Melson, Charles D. (1993). "UP THE SLOT: Marines in the Central Solomons". WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. p. 36. Retrieved September 26, 2006. 
  • Miller, John, Jr. (1959). "CARTWHEEL: The Reduction of Rabaul". United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific. Office of the Chief of Military History, U.S. Department of the Army. p. 418. Retrieved October 20, 2006. 
  • Mersky, Peter B. (1993). "Time of the Aces: Marine Pilots in the Solomons, 1942-1944". Marines in World War II Commemorative Series. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. Retrieved October 20, 2006. 
  • Rentz, John (1952). "Marines in the Central Solomons". Historical Branch, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. Retrieved May 30, 2006. 
  • Shaw, Henry I.; Douglas T. Kane (1963). "Volume II: Isolation of Rabaul". History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II. Retrieved 2006-10-18. 
  • WW2DB: Solomons Campaign
  • Japanese Operations in the Southwest Pacific Area, Volume II - Part I. Reports of General MacArthur (. Pacific War- Translation of the official record by the Japanese Demobilization Bureaux detailing the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy's participation in the Southwest Pacific area of the  
  • U.S. Army Air Forces (1992). "Pacific Counterblow: The 11th Bombardment Group and the 67th Fighter Squadron in the Battle for Guadalcanal". Wings at War (Reissue ed.). Office of Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  • U.S. Army Air Forces (July 1945). "Guadalcanal and the Origins of the Thirteenth Air Force" (PDF). Office of Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, Historical Division. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-04-28. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 

Further reading

  • Crawford, John (1992). New Zealand's Pacific frontline: Guadalcanal-Solomon Islands Campaign, 1942-45. New Zealand Defence Force.  
  • Hungerford, T.A.G.. (1952). The Ridge and the River. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. Republished by Penguin, 1992; ISBN 0-14-300174-4.
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