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[footnoteRef:32] This lack of forces for other Pacific struggles generally weakened the Japanese war effort, as the Japanese were forced to fight those battles with insufficient men, weapons, ammunition and other related materiel. [27: Eric Hammel. Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea: The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13-15, 1942. Pacifica, CA: Pacifica Military History, 1999, p. 346.] [28: Colin G. Jameson. "Battle of Guadalcanal: 11-15 November, 1942." www.history.navy.mil Web site. 1944. http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/battleguadalcanal1942.htm (accessed March 18, 2013), p. 78.] [29: Robert Leckie. Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War (Paperback). New York, NY: Bantam Books, 2010, pp. 127-128.] [30: Mark Stille. USN Cruiser vs. IJN Cruiser: Guadalcanal 1942. New York, NY: Osprey Publishing, 2009, pp. 19-20.] [31: Leckie, p. 306.] [32: Ibid.]

The Allied victory at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal through the leadership of Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, the Southwest Pacific Theater commander, was also a turning point in the Pacific Theater because that victory caused and marked a decisive shift in Japanese military efforts from offensive to defensive action. In retrospect, the defeat was so devastating to Japanese forces that the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was the last major attempt by the Japanese to regain control of Guadalcanal and its surrounding waters. As Allied forces were strengthened and became more adept at naval warfare in the Pacific Theater,[footnoteRef:33] they were better able to take on and defeat Japanese forces, particularly in key night engagements.[footnoteRef:34] the increased effectiveness and courageous actions of the U.S. navy at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal so sufficiently defeated Japanese forces that they forced the Japanese to withdraw from the fight, [footnoteRef:35] giving Allied forces a major victory to rival the victory at the naval battle of Midway.[footnoteRef:36] the loss proved to be not only materially devastating to the Japanese but also psychologically devastating to them. After the Japanese loss of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Japanese actions on and around Guadalcanal provided supplies to existing Japanese troops rather than providing fresh troops and assertively staging attacks.[footnoteRef:37] in addition, this defeat shifted Japanese actions on and around Guadalcanal from assertive attempts to provide fresh troops and stage new attacks to mere attempted evacuations of existing troops and redeployment of those troops to other battle sites.[footnoteRef:38] Ultimately, the Japanese entirely retreated from the island in January of 1943 and the Allies were assured of utter control of the island approximately one month later.[footnoteRef:39] Consequently, both the literal defeat and the psychological effects of this Allied victory caused Japanese forces to shift their strategy in the Pacific from one of an aggressive seizer of islands to a gradually retreating defender of diminishing control throughout the Pacific. [33: Richard B. Frank. Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle. New York, NY: Penguin Books USA, Inc., 1992, pp. 428-9.] [34: Mark Stille. USN Cruiser vs. IJN Cruiser: Guadalcanal 1942. New York, NY: Osprey Publishing, 2009, pp. 77-8.] [35: Roger Letourneau and Dennis Letourneau. Operation KE: The Cactus Air Force and the Japanese Withdrawal from Guadalcanal. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2012, pp. 192-3.] [36: Ibid., pp. 247-8.] [37: Ibid.] [38: Leckie, p. 399.] [39: Ibid., p. 401.]

The U.S. victory at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal also proved to be a turning point of the Pacific Theater war in that it proved to be a unique key to Allied victory in the Pacific Theater. As the decisive battle lessened Japanese aggression and power, it simultaneously increased U.S. assertiveness, skill and power in the Pacific. The victory allowed the United States to readily deliver fresh troops and resupply the U.S. forces on the island of Guadalcanal itself.[footnoteRef:40] in addition, the victory proved to be the initial step in eventual conquest of the entire chain of Solomon Islands.[footnoteRef:41] Finally, through increased forces, psychological effects and delivery of fresh troops and supplies, the victory at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal greatly assisted the United States in isolating and neutralizing significant Japanese bases in the Pacific.[footnoteRef:42] in sum, the victory at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal proved to be an extraordinary means for utter control of the island and for serial Allied victories in the Pacific Theater. [40: Ibid.] [41: Hammel, Carrier Clash, p. 119.] [42: Ibid.]

3. Conclusion

The fight for Guadalcanal was the result of the Japanese attempt to secure other valuable acquisitions in the Pacific Theater and to disrupt Allied military efforts in that Theater. Having successfully seized control of the Philippines, British Malaya, Singapore and the East Indies, the Japanese sought to protect those interests by seizure of additional islands. In addition, the Japanese sought to increasingly disrupt effective cooperation among Allied forces in the Pacific Theater by seizure of secondary islands. Guadalcanal was one of those secondarily seized islands. Aware of the importance of these islands, the Allied forces monitored Japanese movements throughout late 1941 and early 1942, though the U.S. Navy had suffered significant losses and was in some respects insufficient to successfully fight Japanese forces at that time.

When Allied forces became aware of the Japanese commencement of air field construction at Lunga Point on Guadalcanal in August of 1942, the Allied forces decided that they had to act, ready or not. Consequently, Allied forces fought the Japanese for Guadalcanal in a series of actions leading up to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. U.S. Marines were transported to Lunga Point, seized the partially completed air field and completed it as Henderson field. For approximately six months, the Allied and Japanese forces engaged in continuous fighting for control of the island. Despite Allied partial control of the island, the Japanese were able to transport fresh troops and attendant materiel through night runs of its "Orient Express." Allied forces continually attempted to stop this force of fast-moving vessels and were ultimately successful in fighting those vessels during the naval Battle of Esperance in October of 1942. These battles served to weaken Japanese control to the point at which the Japanese decided to engage in a major battle for control of Guadalcanal and the waters surrounding it.

The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was essentially Japan's last major attempt to control the seas surrounding Guadalcanal and/or retake control of the island itself. The battle itself and Allied victory in this battle served as a turning point in the Pacific Theater War, for several reasons. Occurring November 13 -- 15, 1942, the Battle's very existence and importance weakened the Japanese overall war effort. Japanese concentration of limited forces for the Battle resulted in a decrease of needed land forces, thereby weakening Japanese war efforts elsewhere. In addition, Allied victory in the Battle succeeded in shifting Japanese efforts from aggression to defense: Japanese actions on and around Guadalcanal provided supplies to existing Japanese troops and evacuated troops rather than providing fresh troops and assertively staging attacks; also, the Japanese entirely retreated from the island in January of 1943 and the Allies were assured of utter control of the island approximately one month later. Finally, Allied victory and Japanese defeat at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was a unique key to Allied victory in the Pacific Theater: the United States was then readily able to deliver fresh troops and supplies on Guadalcanal; Guadalcanal proved to be a stepping stone to Allied victories in the entire Solomon chain of islands; and the United States was better able to isolate and neutralize other Japanese bases in the Pacific. Consequently, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was just as vital a turning point as was the Battle of Midway in World War II's Pacific Theater.

Bibliography

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Leckie, Robert. Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War (Paperback). New York, NY: Bantam Books, 2010.

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