Captain Martin Clemens (rear centre), a coastwatcher on Guadalcanal, provided intelligence to Allied forces during the battle for the island (August 1942 – February 1943). The men with him were all members of the Solomon Islands police force.

Captain Martin Clemens (rear centre), a coastwatcher on Guadalcanal, provided intelligence to Allied forces during the battle for the island (August 1942 – February 1943). The men with him were all members of the Solomon Islands police force.

On August 24, 1942, U.S. forces continue to deliver crushing blows to the Japanese, sinking the aircraft carrier Ryuho in the Battle of the East Solomon Islands. Key to the Americans’ success in this battle was the work of coastwatchers, a group of volunteers whose job it is to report on Japanese ship and aircraft movement.

Chart - 'The Battle of the Eastern Solomons, August 23-25, 1942.'

U.S. Navy map from 1943 showing approximate paths and actions of Japanese (top) and Allied (bottom) naval forces in the battle from 23–26 August 1942. Guadalcanal is the large, roughly oval-shaped island in the center-left of the map.

The Marines had landed on Guadalcanal, on the Solomon Islands, on August 7. This was the first American offensive maneuver of the war and would deliver the first real defeat to the Japanese. On August 23, coastwatchers, comprised mostly of Australian and New Zealander volunteers, hidden throughout the Solomon and Bismarck islands and protected by anti-Japanese natives, spotted heavy Japanese reinforcements headed for Guadalcanal. The coastwatchers alerted three U.S. carriers that were within 100 miles of Guadalcanal, which then raced to the scene to intercept the Japanese.

The disabled Ryujo (just right of center) under high-level attack by B-17 bombers on August 24, 1942, . The destroyer Amatsukaze (center bottom) is moving away from Ryujo at full speed and Tokitsukaze (faintly visible, center right) is backing away from the bow of Ryujo to evade the falling bombs

The disabled Ryujo (just right of center) under high-level attack by B-17 bombers on August 24, 1942, . The destroyer Amatsukaze (center bottom) is moving away from Ryujo at full speed and Tokitsukaze (faintly visible, center right) is backing away from the bow of Ryujo to evade the falling bombs

By the time the Battle of the Eastern Solomons was over, the Japanese lost a light carrier, a destroyer, and a submarine and the Ryuho. The Americans suffered damage to the USS Enterprise, the most decorated carrier of the war; the Enterprise would see action again, though, in the American landings on Okinawa in 1945.

USS Enterprise (center left), maneuvering radically under aerial attack and afire on 24 August 1942. Anti-aircraft shell bursts directed at the attacking Japanese dive bombers are visible above the carrier.

USS Enterprise (center left), maneuvering radically under aerial attack and afire on 24 August 1942. Anti-aircraft shell bursts directed at the attacking Japanese dive bombers are visible above the carrier.

enterprise-bomb-explosion

As for the coastwatchers, Vice Adm. William F. Halsey said, “The coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal, and Guadalcanal saved the Pacific.”

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One response

  1. Birgit says:

    To see these pictures it is a wonder how The Enterprise could escape being sunk

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