On August 7, 1942, 8 months to the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, US Marines of the 1st Division landed on an obscure Pacific Island called Guadalcanal. It marked the first American offensive of WWII. The campaign to secure the island lasted six months, and for much of its course the balance teetered precariously from one side to the other. It included six major naval battles, daily aerial engagements and countless clashes on land.
The origin of Operation Watchtower, the code name for the Guadalcanal invasion, began on December 7, 1941 with the Japanese strike at Pearl Harbor. In the weeks that followed, Japanese forces swept virtually unchallenged through the vast reaches of the Pacific. However, in May of 1942, the tide began to turn at the Battle of the Coral Sea, before the shattering American victory at Midway opened the way for the United States to strike back. The question was where, and the answer was the Solomon Islands. In this volume, join the Marines as they go ashore on the Japanese-held islands of Tulagi and Guadalcanal and watch as the enemy quickly counters their early successes.
Cactus was the American code name for Guadalcanal and for the men who fought and died there, the name was eerily prophetic. The Marines' most significant asset was an airstrip known as Henderson Field, little more than a wide spot in the road, but crucial to the defense of the island. The Japanese fully understood its strategic value and sought to wrest control of the airfield through a series of furious attacks. Frustrated by their inability to dislodge the Americans, the Japanese launched a massive assault on the island in mid-November in an all-or-nothing effort. The pressure on the Japanese built to the breaking point as they struggled to regain control over what they called "The Island of Death."