Victory Fever on Guadalcanal: Japan's First Land Defeat of World War II

Victory Fever on Guadalcanal: Japan's First Land Defeat of World War II

Victory Fever on Guadalcanal: Japan's First Land Defeat of World War II

Victory Fever on Guadalcanal: Japan's First Land Defeat of World War II


Following their rampage through Southeast Asia and the Pacific in the five months after Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces moved into the Solomon Islands, intending to cut off the critical American supply line to Australia. But when they began to construct an airfield on Guadalcanal in July 1942, the Americans captured the almost completed airfield for their own strategic use.

The Japanese Army countered by sending to Guadalcanal a reinforced battalion under the command of Col. Kiyonao Ichiki. The attack that followed would prove to be the first of four attempts by the Japanese over six months to retake the airfield, resulting in some of the most vicious fighting of the Pacific War.

During the initial battle on the night of August 20-21, 1942, Marines wiped out Ichiki's men, who--imbued with "victory fever"--had expected a quick and easy victory.
William H. Bartsch draws on correspondence, interviews, diaries, memoirs, and official war records, including those translated from Japanese sources, to offer an intensely human narrative of the failed attempt to recapture Guadalcanal's vital airfield.


The battle of the tenaru, August 20–21, 1942, stakes a strong claim for being the smallest American battle of World War II with the greatest effects. the Japanese reacted to the Marine landing on Guadalcanal by dispatching the Ichiki Detachment with aspirations to recapture the island or at least to prevent completion of the airfield. Col. Kiyonao Ichiki took the first echelon of his regimental command, numbering 916 men, ahead in six destroyers. After landing east of the us perimeter, Ichiki marched most of his men to attack the Americans at the eastern extremity of their position, a tidal lagoon known as Alligator Creek to the locals but misnamed the Tenaru River on Marine photomaps (the Marines never had a true map during the Guadalcanal campaign). During the night of August 20–21, Ichiki hurled multiple assaults at Marine positions. in wild and desperate fighting the green Marines held. the next day, a Marine counterattack came close to annihilating the men Ichiki brought to the “Tenaru.”

William Bartsch has assembled an incredibly vivid retelling of the battle as it appeared to the participants on both sides. Those familiar with Bill’s prior sterling work will expect and find the rewarding fruits of his diligent research from the accounts and memories (judiciously culled) of the us Marines—particularly the enlisted men, for this is a bottom up, not a top down, narrative. What is especially . . .

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