Japanese counter-attack U.S. Marines on Guadalcanal

A U.S. Marine Corps M2A4 “Stuart” light tank is hoisted from USS Alchiba (AK-23) into a LCM(2) landing craft, off the Guadalcanal invasion beaches on the first day of landings there, 7 August 1942.

Landing craft off Beach “Red” on Guadalcanal Island, circa 7-9 August 1942, when U.S. Marines came ashore to capture the Lunga Point area and its airfield from the Japanese. The airfield is out of view to the right.

On the 7th August 1942, just eight months since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, the United States started its island campaign in the Pacific – the U.S marines landed on the South Solomon islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Florida. The landings themselves were unopposed and the Japanese who had been holding the airfield on Guadalcanal, later to be known as Henderson Field, retreated into the jungle.

U.S. Marine Corps LVT(1) amphibian tractors move toward the beach on Guadalcanal Island.
This view was probably taken during the 7-9 August 1942 initial landings on Guadalcanal.
Ship in the background is USS President Hayes (AP-39)

On the 8th August the Japanese fought back with a furious aerial assault on the U.S.fleet. So began one of the longest of the island campaigns fought in the Pacific. The Marines on the islands were just beginning to come to terms with impenetrable jungle, tropical heat, torrential rain, thick mud, strange diseases, vermin, mosquitoes, ants and flies. That was before they faced an enemy ready and willing to fight to the death with suicidal recklessness.

James R. “Rube” Garrett was with the 1st Marines:

August 8, 1942

Hauled ammunition from battery to ammo dump and had an air raid at noon. The USS Elliot, a Marine Transport, was hit by suicide dive bomber. It was very damaged and was beached to keep it from sinking in the harbor. A destroyer was damaged also. There was one Jap plane and prisoners taken during the battle. Wild shooting during the night.

See A Marine Diary: My Experiences On Guadalcanal

Japanese Navy Type 1 land attack planes (later nicknamed “Betty”) fly low through anti-aircraft gunfire during a torpedo attack on U.S. Navy ships maneuvering between Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the morning of 8 August 1942.Note that these planes are being flown without bomb-bay doors.

A Japanese torpedo plane attack on U.S. transports between Guadalcanal and Tulagi, 8 August 1942.
Several G4M1 bombers are visible, flying low through anti-aircraft shell bursts near the destroyer in the center.

Ships maneuvering during the Japanese torpedo plane attack on the Tulagi invasion force, 8 August 1942. Several Japanese Navy Type 1 land attack planes (“Betty”) are faintly visible at left, center and right, among the anti-aircraft shell bursts. Destroyer in the foreground appears to be USS Bagley (DD-386) or USS Helm (DD-388). A New Orleans class heavy cruiser is in the left distance, with a large splash beside it. Column of smoke in the left center is probably from a crashed plane.

Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: