History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II

Volume 1: Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal


Lieutenant Colonel Frank O. Hough, USMCR,

Major Verle E. Ludwig, USMC,

Henry I. Shaw, Jr.

Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps

Table of Contents



Part I: Introduction to the Marine Corps

Chapter 1: Origins of a Mission

Chapter 2: Evolution of Modern Amphibious Warfare, 1920-1941

Chapter 3: Development of Landing Craft

Chapter 4: Marine Occupation of Iceland

Chapter 5: The Marine Corps on the Eve of War

Part II: War Comes

Chapter 1: Prewar Situation in the Pacific

Chapter 2: Japan Strikes

Chapter 3: The Southern Lifeline

Part III: The Defense of Wake

Chapter 1: Wake in the Shadow of War

Chapter 2: The Enemy Strikes

Chapter 3: Wake Under Siege

Chapter 4: The Fall of Wake

Chapter 5: Conclusion

Part IV: Marines in the Philippines

Chapter 1: China and Luzon

Chapter 2: Bataan Prelude

Chapter 3: The Siege and Capture of Corregidor

Part V: Decision at Midway

Chapter 1: Setting the Stage: Early Naval Operations

Chapter 2: Japanese Plans: Toward Midway and the North Pacific

Chapter 3: Midway Girds for Battle

Chapter 4: Midway Versus the Japanese, 4-5 June 1942

Chapter 5: Battle of the Carrier Planes, 4 June 1942

Part VI: The Turning Point: Guadalcanal

Chapter 1: Background and Preparations

Chapter 2: Guadalcanal, 7-9 August 1942

Chapter 3: Tulagi and Gavutu-Tanambogo

Chapter 4: The Battle of the Tenaru

Chapter 5: The Battle of the Ridge

Chapter 6: Action Along the Matanikau

Chapter 7: Japanese Counteroffensive

Chapter 8: Critical November

Chapter 9: Final Period, 9 December 1942-9 February 1943


Appendix A: Bibliographical Notes

Appendix B: Chronology

Appendix C: Marine Task Organization and Command Lists

Appendix D: Marine Casualties

Appendix E: First Marine Division Operation Order—Guadalcanal

Appendix F: Military Map Symbols (omitted)

Appendix G: Guide to Abbreviations (omitted)

Appendix H: Unit Commendations



1. Scene of Battle (in the Maps chapter at the end)

2: Japanese Capture of Guam, 10 December 1941

3: South Pacific

4: Defense Installations on Wake, 8–23 December 1941

5: Landing on Wake Island, 23 December 1941 (in the Maps chapter at the end)

6: Situation on Wilkes Island, 0300–Dawn, 23 December 1941

7: Japanese Landing on Bataan (in the Maps chapter at the end)

8: Corregidor with Inset Showing Manila Bay (in the Maps chapter at the end)

9: Marshalls, Gilberts, and Eastern Carolines

10: Midway Islands, June 1942 (in the Maps chapter at the end)

11: Solomon Islands with Inset Showing Santa Cruz Islands

12: Makin Raid, 17–18 August 1942

13: Guadalcanal and Florida Islands (in the Maps chapter at the end)

14: Initial Dispositions, 7 August 1942 (in the Maps chapter at the end)

15: Landings in Tulagi Area, 7 August 1942 (in the Maps chapter at the end)

16: The Perimeter, 12 August 1942

17: Battle of the Tenaru, 21 August 1942

18: The Perimeter, 12–14 September 1942

19: Edson’s Ridge—First Phase, 12–13 September 1942

20: Edson’s Ridge—Final Phase, 13 September 1942

21: Matanikau Action, 24–27 September 1942

22: Matanikau Offensive, 7–9 October 1942

23: October Attacks on the Perimeter (in the Maps chapter at the end)

24: Push Toward Kokumbona, 1–4 November 1942

25: Koli Point, 4–9 November 1942 (in the Maps chapter at the end)

26: Battle Area, December 1942–January 1943 (in the Maps chapter at the end)

27: XIV Corps Plan—First January Offensive (in the Maps chapter at the end)

28: Capture of Kokumbona and Advance to the Poha River, 23–25 January 1943 (in the Maps chapter at the end)

29: Final Phase, 26 January–9 February 1943


Continental Marines—Marines of Huntington’s Battalion—Marines in France in World War I—Bandit-Hunting Patrol in Nicaragua—Experimental Amphibian Tractor—Early Version of Landing Craft—Air Evacuation of Wounded in Nicaragua—Army Light Tank Landing at New River, N.C.—Pearl Harbor Attack—Japanese Landing on Guam—Japanese Patrol Craft Lost at Wake—Japanese Naval Troops Who Took Wake—Japanese on Bataan—Aerial View of Corregidor Island—Effect of Japanese Bombardment of Corregidor—An Army B-25, One of Doolittle’s Raiders—Japanese Carrier Shoho—Camouflaged Lookout Tower at Sand Island—Japanese Cruiser Mikuma—Crude Sketch Map of Guadalcanal—Equipment for the 1st Marine Division—Marine Raiders and the Crew of the Submarine Argonaut—The Original Henderson Field—Unloading Supplies at Guadalcanal—Tulagi Island—Tanambogo and Gavutu Islands—Marine Commanders on Guadalcanal—LVT Bridge Built by marine Engineers—Solomons Natives Guide a Patrol—90-mm Antiaircraft Guns of the 3rd Defense Battalion—105-mm Howitzer of the 11th Marines—Raiders’ Ridge—Marines of the 2nd Raider Battalion—The Pagoda at Henderson Field—Cactus Air Force Planes—Five Blasted Japanese Tanks—Marine Light Tanks—Japanese Torpedo Plane—Naval Gunfire Support—37-mm Guns of the Americal Division—1st Division Marines Leave Guadalcanal