The Battle of the Tenaru
21st August 1942: The U.S. Marines make a famous stand on Guadalcanal and annihilate the Japanese force that attacks them
The Japanese reacted quickly to the U.S. Marine Corps landing on Guadalcanal on 7th August. Colonel Kiyono Ichiki of the Imperial Japanese Army and 900 of the 28th Infantry Regiment were sent by fast destroyers to counterattack the Marines who had established themselves near the airfield.
They landed some twenty miles away and advanced through the thick jungle. Ichiki did not wait for the balance of his forces - a further 1200 men - to join him. It would had made little difference. The Japanese did not realise that the USMC had established a force of some 11,000 on the island.
And a Japanese advance patrol had been caught and virtually wiped out out by the Marines on the 19th. Papers found on the bodies indicated a much larger Japanese force - so the Marines were some extent forewarned.
They were dug in along one bank of the river bordering the Lunga Point - in fact not the Tenaru River which has given its name to the battle - and ready and waiting by nightfall of the 20th August. Marine Jim Donoghue1 was to record the action in his diary:
It all started about 3 a.m. in the morning. However, we were warned about 11 o’clock to “Stand by your guns.” Each man passed on to the other all the way down the line. Was this going to be the real test?
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