On this day in 1943, Japanese troops evacuate Guadalcanal, leaving the island in Allied possession after a prolonged campaign. The American victory paved the way for other Allied wins in the Solomon Islands.
Guadalcanal is the largest of the Solomons, a group of 992 islands and atolls, 347 of which are inhabited, in the South Pacific Ocean. The Solomons, which are located northeast of Australia and have 87 indigenous languages, were discovered in 1568 by the Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendana de Neyra (1541-95). In 1893, the British annexed Guadalcanal, along with the other central and southern Solomons. The Germans took control of the northern Solomons in 1885, but transferred these islands, except for Bougainville and Buka (which eventually went to the Australians) to the British in 1900.
The Japanese invaded the Solomons in 1942 during World War II and began building a strategic airfield on Guadalcanal. On August 7 of that year, U.S. Marines landed on the island, signaling the Allies’ first major offensive against Japanese-held positions in the Pacific. The Japanese responded quickly with sea and air attacks. A series of bloody battles ensued in the debilitating tropical heat as Marines sparred with Japanese troops on land, while in the waters surrounding Guadalcanal, the U.S. Navy fought six major engagements with the Japanese between August 24 and November 30. In mid-November 1942, the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, died together when the Japanese sunk their ship, the USS Juneau.
Both sides suffered heavy losses of men, warships and planes in the battle for Guadalcanal. An estimated 1,600 U.S. troops were killed, over 4,000 were wounded and several thousand more died from disease. The Japanese lost 24,000 soldiers. On December 31, 1942, Emperor Hirohito told Japanese troops they could withdraw from the area; the Americans secured Guadalcanal about five weeks later.
The Solomons gained their independence from Britain in 1978. In the late 1990s, fighting broke out between rival ethnic groups on Guadalcanal and continued until an Australian-led international peacekeeping mission restored order in 2003. Today, with a population of over half a million people, the Solomons are known as a scuba diver and fisherman’s paradise.
Under the command of Major General Orde Wingate, the 77th Indian Brigade, also called the Chindits, launch guerrilla raids behind Japanese lines in Burma.
Wingate was an eccentric British officer famous both for quoting the Bible and advocating irregular warfare tactics. His career as a guerrilla fighter began when he organized Jewish underground patrols to beat back Arab raids in British-controlled Palestine in the 1930s. In 1941, Wingate led a mixed Ethiopian and Sudanese force in retaking Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, from the Italians, who had invaded in 1935.
Upon the beginning of Japan’s China-Burma campaign, Wingate was sent to India to use his experience as a guerrilla fighter to train and organize the Chindits–a brigade of specially trained Gurkha (Nepalese), Burmese, and British troops. The Chindits were composed of two units of Long Range Penetration Groups, each made up of men and mules. Wingate and his brigade entered Japanese-controlled Burma from the west, crossed the Chindwin River, and launched their campaigns: penetrating Japanese-held territory, attacking supply lines, and cutting communications. Once in the field, the Chindits were cut off from other units and could be supplied only by airdrops.
One of the Chindits most effective attacks was against the Mandalay-Myitkina railway, when they blew up three bridges while also beating back Japanese troops determined to stop the demolitions. The Chindits continued to wreak havoc–at one point killing 100 Japanese soldiers while suffering only one loss themselves–until a lack of supplies and troublesome terrain forced them back to India. They were disbanded in the latter half of 1944.
On this day in 1918, the United States Army resumes publication of the military newsletter Stars and Stripes.
Begun as a newsletter for Union soldiers during the American Civil War, Stars and Stripes was published weekly during World War I from February 8, 1918, until June 13, 1919. The newspaper was distributed to American soldiers dispersed across the Western Front to keep them unified and informed about the overall war effort and America’s part in it, as well as supply them with news from the home front.
The front page of the newspaper’s first World War I issue featured A Message from Our Chief, a short valedictory from General John J. Pershing, commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF): The paper, written by the men in the service, should speak the thoughts of the new American army and the American people from whom the army has been drawn. It is your paper. Good luck to it.
The World War I-era Stars and Stripes was largely the creation of Second Lieutenant Guy T. Viskniskki, an AEF press officer and former censor at the American Field Test Headquarters in Neufchateau, France. Featuring news articles, sports news, poetry, letters to the editor and cartoons, among other content, the eight-page weekly publication was printed on presses that had been borrowed from Paris newspapers. Viskniskki’s staff was made up mostly of enlisted men and featured prominent journalists like Harold Ross, future co-founder of The New Yorker magazine, Alexander Woollcott, a former drama critic for The New York Times, and Grantland Rice, who went onto become known as the dean of American sports writers. At its peak during the war, Stars and Stripes reached a circulation of 526,000.
Stars and Stripes resumed publication during World War II, during which circulation reached 1,000,000. Serving as a daily hometown newspaper for service members, government civilians and their families stationed around the world, it has been in continuous publication in Europe since 1942 and in the Pacific since 1945. In these two regions, Stars and Stripes reaches 80,000 and 60,000 readers respectively. It also publishes a Middle East edition as well as an electronic edition on the Internet.
Thursday, February 8, 2018
Thrown Out Thurs.
by M. Bouffant at 20:18