7 Aug. 42
And when he gets to heaven, to Saint Peter he will tell: "One more Marine reporting, sir-- I've served my time in hell." -Marine Grave inscription on Guadalcanal, 1942.
Responding to the invasion, the Japanese sent their 17th Army from Rabaul to reinforce Guadalcanal, commanded by Lt. General Hyakutake Haruyoshi, landing when they could evade patrols. The reinforcements sent to Guadalcanal were only lightly armed, on foot, and not sufficient to dislodge the U.S. landings, although they fought aggressively and caused many American casualties. One of the first engagements came at 0300 on 21 August when a force of about 1,000 Japanese attacked the Marines at the Tenaru River (Hell’s Point) in a furious Banzai charge. The Marines held the line and killed most of the Japanese (about 800). Their commander killed himself in shame.
The second phase of operations on Guadalcanal pushed out the Marine perimeter far enough so that Japanese artillery could not reach Henderson Field, with the objective of overrunning the Japanese 17th Army headquarters at Kokumbona, nine miles west of the airfield. On the morning of 1 November, following naval, air, and field artillery fire, Marine units began the attack both east and west, joined by Army units on 4 November. In a major victory during 9-12 November near Koli Point, 1,500 freshly landed Japanese reinforcements were trapped against the sea and killed or driven into the bush.
In December, the battle-hardened but disease-wracked 1st Marine Division was withdrawn, leaving the Americal commander, Maj. Gen. Alexander M. Patch in command of all American units on the island, reorganized as XIV Corps. Patch planned to take Mount Austen to secure both Henderson Field and his left flank for the next push toward Kokumbona. Starting on 17 December, American units engaged the Japanese in a series of small but tough battles against the Gifu position and other strong points, securing Mount Austin on 2 January 1943. On 10 January they moved west across the Matanikau River against a hill called Galloping Horse, a major Japanese strong point. It took courage and determination to overcome the enemy, the terrain and water shortages, but by the afternoon of 13 January Galloping Horse was secure.
"Before Guadalcanal the enemy advanced at his pleasure-- after Guadalcanal he retreated at ours."Admiral "Bull" Halsey
The total cost of the Guadalcanal campaign to the American ground combat forces was 1,598 officers and men killed, with 4,709 wounded. Of these 1,152 Marines were lost and 2,799 wounded. Marine aviation casualties were 147 killed and 127 wounded. The Japanese in their turn lost close to 25,000 men on Guadalcanal, about half of whom were killed in action and the rest lost to illness, wounds, and starvation.