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Quiz about Solomon Islands Naval Battles
Quiz about Solomon Islands Naval Battles

Solomon Islands Naval Battles Trivia Quiz


Test your knowledge of the Solomon Islands campaign when two evenly matched opponents slugged it out for control of the waters around Guadalcanal in 1942-43.

A multiple-choice quiz by mstanaway. Estimated time: 7 mins.
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Author
mstanaway
Time
7 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
260,045
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
20
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
13 / 20
Plays
2326
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: Guest 136 (6/20), Guest 73 (15/20), Guest 75 (18/20).
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Question 1 of 20
1. The Solomon Islands became the focus of attention of allied planners in late June 1942. Why? Hint


Question 2 of 20
2. On August 7 1942 units of the 1st Marine division led by General Vandergrift landed on Gaudalcanal and nearby Tulagi Is. completely surprising the Japanese defenders. The still incomplete airfield was quickly secured and later renamed ________________ field. Hint


Question 3 of 20
3. On the evening of August 8th Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher commanding Task Force 61 which was covering the landings was forced to withdraw his three carriers _____________, _____________, and _______ because land based enemy planes had inflicted heavy losses on his aircraft and he could not risk his precious flat tops. Hint


Question 4 of 20
4. On the night of August 8 Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa led a force of seven cruisers and a destroyer into the channel between Guadalcanal and Savo Is. and inflicted a stunning defeat on the Allied cruiser force screening the landings.


Question 5 of 20
5. The victims of the Battle of Savo Island were the first of dozens to litter the seabed between Savo Island, Tulagi and Guadalcanal. The area was soon dubbed ___________
___________.
Hint


Question 6 of 20
6. The looming silhouette of _________ Island formed the backdrop to all the major surface actions fought in the waters north of Guadalcanal. Hint


Question 7 of 20
7. The Japanese high command was determined to dislodge the Marines' foothold on Guadalcanal and troops were despatched to do this. They were landed and supplied in nightly runs by destroyers and transports led by Admiral Raizo Tanaka in an operation which soon became known as the '____________
____________'.
Hint


Question 8 of 20
8. As Japanese reinforcements approached Guadalcanal from their bases at Rabaul and New Ireland they had to run the gauntlet known as 'The __________' a narrow stretch of water between two parallel island chains. Hint


Question 9 of 20
9. Time and again throughout the six month campaign General Vandegrift and his Marines received early warning of the approach of Japanese air strikes and seaborne reinforcements by a dedicated group of observers known as ____________. Hint


Question 10 of 20
10. Admiral Yamamoto, still smarting from the defeat at Midway, was determined to engage the American carrier force and inflict a defeat, saw an opportunity on August 23 when the Combined Fleet sallied from Truk lagoon to provide distant cover for one of Admiral Tanaka's supply runs. The resulting two day carrier action established the reputation of the _____________ as a lucky ship. Hint


Question 11 of 20
11. On September 15 the __________ became the third major US carrier to be lost in the Pacific theatre in 1942 when she was sunk by an enemy submarine south east of San Cristobal Island. Hint


Question 12 of 20
12. Lookouts on the cruiser Helena reported "Ships visible to the naked eye" to which an exasperated radar operator exclaimed "What are we going to do, board them!" This was the tense situation on the night of October 11 which preceded the clash which became known as the ______
__ ____
________.
Hint


Question 13 of 20
13. The Marines at Henderson Field suffered the worst bombardment of the campaign on the night of October 13-14 when the battleships ____________ and ________ subjected them to several hours of sustained 14 inch shell fire. Hint


Question 14 of 20
14. On October 26 the carrier fleets of both sides again clashed in the 'Battle of _______
__________'.
Hint


Question 15 of 20
15. The struggle for supremacy in the waters around Guadalcanal reached a climax in mid November as both sides shaped up for a knockout punch. According to one US commander the action on the night of November 12-13 resembled the 'Gunfight at OK Corral'.


Question 16 of 20
16. During the night action of November 12-13 two American Admirals perished. Who were they? Hint


Question 17 of 20
17. A tragic aftermath to this night action took place the next morning when the badly damaged cruiser Juneau was torpedoed and sunk by a submarine taking with her the five _______________ brothers. Hint


Question 18 of 20
18. When Admiral Halsey heard of the deaths of Admirals Callaghan and Scott in the terrible events of the night before, he realised he had nothing to counter the next Japanese move except his two big battlewagons which were acting as escorts to his last operational carrier, Enterprise. Without hesitation he dispatched the battleships _____________ and __________
___________ the following night to the waters around Guadalcanal to protect Henderson Field from the Japanese Navy.
Hint


Question 19 of 20
19. On the night of November 30 a remarkable action took place when destroyers of Admiral Tanaka's Tokyo Express devastated an American cruiser force with their _______
_________ torpedoes.
Hint


Question 20 of 20
20. On January 29-30 1943 the last major naval battle of the Guadalcanal took place and resulted in the loss of the heavy cruiser USS ____________.

Answer: (One Word ... windy city)

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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The Solomon Islands became the focus of attention of allied planners in late June 1942. Why?

Answer: For all of these reasons

When reports reached strategic planners that the Japanese were constructing an airfield on Guadalcanal, the most south easterly of the Solomons chain, they decided to forestall this by staging an invasion. An airfield at this location would give air supremacy across the sea lanes between the US west coast and Australasia to whoever possessed it. With the defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy at Midway in early June, where they lost four carriers, the US Navy and Marines felt they could seize the airfield with a good chance of success, before it became operational. Such an operation would demonstrate that the US was at last taking the offensive after an eight month rampage by Japanese forces.
2. On August 7 1942 units of the 1st Marine division led by General Vandergrift landed on Gaudalcanal and nearby Tulagi Is. completely surprising the Japanese defenders. The still incomplete airfield was quickly secured and later renamed ________________ field.

Answer: Henderson

The airfield was named Henderson field in honour of Major Loften Henderson, the Marine dive bomber squadron leader who had been killed in action in the Battle of Midway the previous June. The Marines quickly completed the airfield using captured construction equipment abandoned by the Japanese and the first Dauntless dive bombers and Wildcat fighters arrived just 13 days later to become the core of what would be known as the 'Cactus Air Force' after the allied codename for Gaudalcanal.

This first amphibious assault by the Marines was a somewhat chaotic affair compared to later operations, so it was fortunate that they only encountered light opposition.

A rehearsal in Fiji the previous month was a complete shambles and reflected the fact that the 1st Marine division was expected to have six more months of training in the South Pacific theatre before being committed to combat.

The urgency of the situation in the Solomons had forced a drastic change in plans.
3. On the evening of August 8th Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher commanding Task Force 61 which was covering the landings was forced to withdraw his three carriers _____________, _____________, and _______ because land based enemy planes had inflicted heavy losses on his aircraft and he could not risk his precious flat tops.

Answer: Enterprise, Saratoga and Wasp

Task Force 61 was comprised of USS Enterprise, Saratoga, and Wasp. Yorktown was lost at Midway in June, Lexington was lost in the Coral Sea battle in May, the Langley, the Navy's very first carrier, had been lost during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies back in February, the Hornet was in Pearl harbour having radar fitted, and the Essex, the first of the new fleet carriers, had not yet been commissioned.

The withdrawal of TF 61 alarmed Admiral Turner who was in charge of the amphibious force and he had to inform Gen Vandegrift he would have to temporarily withdraw his transports under cover of darkness even though they had not yet disembarked all of his troops and equipment.

However the situation was more acute than either commander realised.
4. On the night of August 8 Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa led a force of seven cruisers and a destroyer into the channel between Guadalcanal and Savo Is. and inflicted a stunning defeat on the Allied cruiser force screening the landings.

Answer: True

The Battle of Savo Island, as this action is known, demonstrated the superiority of Japanese night fighting abilities at this stage of the war and resulted in the loss of the cruisers HMAS Canberra, USS Vincennes, Quincy and Astoria along with 1,077 crew. Moderate damage was inflicted on three of the Japanese cruisers.

The Allied force had been caught somewhat flat footed as commander of the Allied cruiser force, British Rear Admiral Crutchley was in conference with Turner and Vandegrift discussing the withdrawal of the amphibious force and had left no one in overall command of the allied cruisers. Only five of his force of eight cruisers were in patrol positions in two groups north and south of Savo Island, the other two were patrolling the eastern approaches and he had detached his flagship Australia to confer with Turner and Vandegrift.

The two western groups were surprised by Mikawa's force when searchlights suddenly stabbed out in the darkness and the allied ships were illuminated by flares exposing them to withering fire from the Japanese force. Both groups of allied cruisers were soon reduced to flaming wrecks.

Although the allied ships were equipped with radar these were early models and were not very effective in the waters between Guadalcanal and Savo Is and the crews were still not familiar with the new technology.
5. The victims of the Battle of Savo Island were the first of dozens to litter the seabed between Savo Island, Tulagi and Guadalcanal. The area was soon dubbed ___________ ___________.

Answer: Ironbottom Sound

Ironbottom Sound became the graveyard of the many victims of the naval battles around Guadalcanal in 1942-43. Before the war it was called Sealark Sound.
6. The looming silhouette of _________ Island formed the backdrop to all the major surface actions fought in the waters north of Guadalcanal.

Answer: Savo

Savo Island a volcanic island and lies to the north east of Ironbottom sound. Its familiar outline can be seen in many photographs taken at the time of the six month campaign and seems to provide a sinister backdrop for the violent events that took place there.
7. The Japanese high command was determined to dislodge the Marines' foothold on Guadalcanal and troops were despatched to do this. They were landed and supplied in nightly runs by destroyers and transports led by Admiral Raizo Tanaka in an operation which soon became known as the '____________ ____________'.

Answer: Tokyo Express

The Tokyo Express operated for the entire six months of the campaign and its commander was soon dubbed 'Tenacious Tanaka' because of his skill at running the operation and his determination to see the mission accomplished. The operation soon developed a pattern with the operation commencing from the major bastion at Rabaul during daylight hours and a high speed run to unload supplies under cover of darkness and to be clear of Ironbottom sound by daylight in order to avoid the attention of the Cactus Air Force.

The operation ran in reverse during the later months of the campaign when the Japanese were withdrawing their defeated and starving troops.
8. As Japanese reinforcements approached Guadalcanal from their bases at Rabaul and New Ireland they had to run the gauntlet known as 'The __________' a narrow stretch of water between two parallel island chains.

Answer: Slot

The Slot stretched about 300 miles between the two major islands of the Solomons chain, Bougainville to the North West and Guadalcanal to the South East. Its relatively confined waters exposed ships traversing it to aerial attack with little manoeuvering room and observation from Coastwatchers.
9. Time and again throughout the six month campaign General Vandegrift and his Marines received early warning of the approach of Japanese air strikes and seaborne reinforcements by a dedicated group of observers known as ____________.

Answer: Coastwatchers

The Coastwatchers were set up by the Australian Navy when they recruited former plantation owners, colonial officials and locals to stay behind as the Japanese occupied the various island groups north of Australia. They were equipped with the bulky tele-radios of that time and reported on enemy movements, gathered intelligence and rescued downed airmen and shipwrecked sailors. Perhaps the most famous of these was the (future) President John F Kennedy and his crew who were rescued by Coastwatchers when PT 109 was run down by a Japanese destroyer in the dark.

Their early warnings saved the bacon of the 'Cactus Air Force' on many an occasion and they could have no greater tribute paid to them than that from Admiral William Halsey commander in chief of the South Pacific when he said: "The Coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal, and Guadalcanal saved the Pacific".
10. Admiral Yamamoto, still smarting from the defeat at Midway, was determined to engage the American carrier force and inflict a defeat, saw an opportunity on August 23 when the Combined Fleet sallied from Truk lagoon to provide distant cover for one of Admiral Tanaka's supply runs. The resulting two day carrier action established the reputation of the _____________ as a lucky ship.

Answer: Enterprise

This action became known as the Battle of the Eastern Solomons where the Enterprise received several hits from a strike force dispatched by Shokaku and Zuikaku which disabled her steering gear and put an elevator out of action. Fortunately a second strike missed her by a few miles and the Enterprise was able to limp away and fight another day.

The bulk of the American strike was concentrated on the light carrier Ryujo which was soon dispatched and sunk. The attacks on Shokaku and Zuikaku were largely ineffective.

The Battle of the Eastern Solomons is generally regarded as a case of missed opportunities by both sides. However the Japanese lost 75 planes and their highly trained crews which could not be easily replaced to the American loss of 25 aircraft, a loss rate that could not be sustained. Admiral Tanaka was forced to call off his supply run when his flagship the cruiser Juntsu was badly damaged and one of his destroyers and a transport were sunk by aircraft from the 'Cactus Air Force'.
11. On September 15 the __________ became the third major US carrier to be lost in the Pacific theatre in 1942 when she was sunk by an enemy submarine south east of San Cristobal Island.

Answer: Wasp

The Wasp was part of a task force escorting a convoy bringing reinforcements to Guadalcanal when the submarine I 19 launched a spread of four torpedoes. Two of these struck the Wasp causing explosions and gasoline fires which soon became uncontrollable.

The crew was eventually evacuated and the Wasp was abandoned and sank seven hours later. By extraordinary chance, I 19's other two torpedoes travelled on for several thousand metres, one striking the battleship North Carolina and the other hitting the destroyer O'Brien which eventually sank.
12. Lookouts on the cruiser Helena reported "Ships visible to the naked eye" to which an exasperated radar operator exclaimed "What are we going to do, board them!" This was the tense situation on the night of October 11 which preceded the clash which became known as the ______ __ ____ ________.

Answer: Battle of Cape Esperance

The advantage of surprise was quickly being squandered as Admiral Scott led his force of four cruisers and six destroyers to intercept an opposing force of three heavy cruisers and two destroyers led by Admiral Goto in a clash that became known as the Battle of Cape Esperance. Scott had led the unengaged eastern cruiser group in the Battle of Savo Island and was eager to reverse that humiliation.

His line ahead formation had become disorganised when he turned to intercept the approaching Japanese formation and he held his fire for fear of hitting his own destroyer screen, hence the tense verbal exchanges among his crews. Scott was fortuitously in the position of crossing Goto's 'T', who was still unaware of the enemy's presence, a reversal of the situation at Savo Is.

Helena's captain finally opened fire followed by the rest of the cruisers and quickly took out the lead Japanese cruiser Aoba, mortally wounding Admiral Goto in the process. At one point the American force had the Japanese on the run, but the undamaged Kinugasa rounded on her pursuers launched a torpedo spread on Helena and Boise then proceeded to disable the Boise with shellfire. Both forces retired with the Japanese losses being one cruiser and three destroyers including two dispatched the next day and the American side lost the destroyer Duncan with the Boise being heavily damaged. Psychologically it was an American victory as they had proved they could match the Japanese at night fighting but had still been unable to prevent the Tokyo Express from unloading its cargo of artillery and troop reinforcements.
13. The Marines at Henderson Field suffered the worst bombardment of the campaign on the night of October 13-14 when the battleships ____________ and ________ subjected them to several hours of sustained 14 inch shell fire.

Answer: Haruna and Kongo

During this sustained attack from the Haruna and Kongo Admiral Tanaka's Tokyo Express landed 4,500 men, the largest troop contingent of the campaign. This was part of a build-up for a third attempt to dislodge the Marines. The Japanese consistently underestimated the size of the American force holding the island and were never able to commit and supply a large enough force to achieve victory.

Despite this punishing bombardment, which destroyed over 40 aircraft, survivors of the 'Cactus Air Force' were back in action the next morning and managed to sink three of the retiring transports.
14. On October 26 the carrier fleets of both sides again clashed in the 'Battle of _______ __________'.

Answer: Santa Cruz

Both sides had provided carrier support for respective attempts to supply their forces on Guadalcanal. Each side found the other's carriers almost simultaneously and launched air strikes against each other. The Enterprise continued its lucky streak by running into a rain squall during the initial attack but sustained damage in later strikes.

The Hornet was not so lucky and was soon hit by bombs and torpedoes. Salvage attempts proved futile and she soon sank becoming the major American loss of the battle.

The battleship South Dakota was also superficially damaged when she took a bomb hit on 'A' turret which showered the bridge with shrapnel, a piece of which hit Captain Gatch narrowly missing his jugular vein. The Japanese suffered no losses but the fleet carrier Zuikaku, the light carrier Zuiho and the heavy cruiser Chikuma were all put out of action and had to retire to Truk lagoon for repairs. Aircraft losses were 99 Japanese and 81 American.

The Battle of Santa Cruz left the Americans with the damaged Enterprise as the only operational fleet carrier in the entire Pacific theatre! The Wasp had been torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine back in September and the Saratoga had hit a mine a week after the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and been forced to retire to the US west coast for repairs.
15. The struggle for supremacy in the waters around Guadalcanal reached a climax in mid November as both sides shaped up for a knockout punch. According to one US commander the action on the night of November 12-13 resembled the 'Gunfight at OK Corral'.

Answer: False

What he actually said was that the action quickly degenerated into a 'bar-room brawl after the lights had been shot out'. This is probably an accurate analogy of how the action played out. The Japanese plan was for Admiral Abe to lead the battleships Hiei and Kirishima together with the light cruiser Nagara and six destroyers to deliver a heavy bombardment to Henderson Field similar to that in October while the Tokyo Express dashed down the Slot to land much needed reinforcements and supplies to the hard pressed ground forces. On this occasion Abe's force, deployed in arrow formation, ran into a force of five cruisers and eight destroyers steaming in line ahead led by Admiral Callaghan who had been alerted to the Japanese presence.

There was no time for a co-ordinated battle plan and Callaghan, surrounded by the Abe's ships, was forced to give the less than satisfactory order for odd ships to fire to starboard and even ships to fire to port. With searchlights and flares lighting up the darkness the battle quickly became a brawl with ships engaging each other at will.

At one point American destroyers riddled the upper works of the battleship Hiei with 5 inch shell and machine gun fire at point blank range while she was unable to respond effectively because her 14 inch guns could not be depressed low enough. Morning found the waters of Ironbottom sound littered with the flotsam of battle the final toll being two cruisers and four destroyers from the American side and two Japanese destroyers lost. The Hiei was dispatched the next day by the Cactus Air Force when she was found sailing in circles near Savo Is. Round one of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal had gone to the Japanese.
16. During the night action of November 12-13 two American Admirals perished. Who were they?

Answer: Rear Admiral Scott and Rear Admiral Callaghan

Admiral Scott was killed on the bridge of the Atlanta along with most of the ship's command when she inadvertently sailed into crossfire from San Francisco during the confused battle. Admiral Callaghan was killed when the bridge of San Francisco was riddled with shellfire a few minutes later as she traded blows with the Hiei. So in addition to their heavy losses the Americans lost their first and second commanding officers. On the other hand the Japanese had to call off their planned bombardment of Henderson Field and Tanaka's Tokyo Express was forced to turn back to base.
17. A tragic aftermath to this night action took place the next morning when the badly damaged cruiser Juneau was torpedoed and sunk by a submarine taking with her the five _______________ brothers.

Answer: Sullivan

Joseph, Francis, Albert, and Madison went down with the Juneau. Their brother George died in a life raft while awaiting rescue. The five brothers had overcome official reluctance and served together on the same ship amid much publicity when they had enlisted. Official policy was changed after this tragedy to prevent members of a family from serving together on the same ship.
18. When Admiral Halsey heard of the deaths of Admirals Callaghan and Scott in the terrible events of the night before, he realised he had nothing to counter the next Japanese move except his two big battlewagons which were acting as escorts to his last operational carrier, Enterprise. Without hesitation he dispatched the battleships _____________ and __________ ___________ the following night to the waters around Guadalcanal to protect Henderson Field from the Japanese Navy.

Answer: Washington and South Dakota

Admiral Lee, in charge of Washington and South Dakota accepted his orders with glee and was eager to show what his well rehearsed crews could do with their 16 inch guns. Unlike Callaghan and Scott he was well versed in the use of radar and his ships were equipped with the new SG type. Meanwhile Admiral Tanaka was to attempt once again to land his troops supported by Admiral Kondo leading a force centred on the battleship Kirishima the survivor of the Nov 13 battle. Kondo knew he would meet some opposition but grossly underestimated the size of the force steaming to meet him, figuring the largest ships he would face would be heavy cruisers.

When darkness fell, Lee's ships entered Ironbottom sound in line ahead with four destroyers leading his two battlewagons. First blood was drawn by the Japanese when the cruiser Nagara sank the two leading American destroyers Preston and Walke and the other two were forced to withdraw. Lee had now lost his destroyer screen but their sacrifice had not been in vain, as they had screened the battlewagons from enemy torpedoes.

At this critical moment South Dakota lost electrical power to its radar screens and fire control equipment, a problem which occurred intermittently throughout the battle. South Dakota was now out of position and soon came under heavy fire from Kondo's main force causing severe damage to her upper works. She lost communication and was forced to retire. Washington, which had remained undetected, now took on the enemy sending salvo after salvo of 16 inch shells into the Kirishima. She took nine major hits including some below the waterline and was reduced to a flaming wreck. Washington managed to avoid several spreads of torpedoes fired by destroyers before retiring. This was one of the last battleship surface actions and demonstrated that the Kongo class WWI battleships with their 14 inch guns, which had originally been built as battlecruisers but were modified with increased armour and engines in the 1930's and re-classified 'Fast Battleships', were no match for the state of the art Washington and South Dakota with their radar and 16 inch guns. Tanaka was forced into the drastic action of beaching his transports in order to deliver their now desperately needed supplies as they probably would have been sunk by air attack the next day.
19. On the night of November 30 a remarkable action took place when destroyers of Admiral Tanaka's Tokyo Express devastated an American cruiser force with their _______ _________ torpedoes.

Answer: Long Lance

Tanaka's force of nine destroyers were unloading supplies packed in drums when they were surprised by a superior force of four heavy cruisers, one light cruiser and six destroyers equipped with the new SG radar. The experienced Tanaka with his well trained crews managed to reverse the situation by avoiding all the American torpedoes before launching a huge spread of his own Long Lance torpedoes. Compared to the American Mark XV torpedo the Long Lance was faster, had a larger warhead, had more than three times the range and most importantly usually exploded on impact unlike the high number of duds in the American inventory.

These had a devastating effect on the cruisers Pensacola, New Orleans, Minneapolis and Northampton which were all ripped open. Northampton finally sank but frantic efforts by their crews managed to save the other three. One of the reasons cited for the poor performance of the Americans at what is known as Battle of Tassafaronga was that their force had been cobbled together from the remnants of earlier units and had never worked together.

This action was Admiral Tanaka's finest hour.
20. On January 29-30 1943 the last major naval battle of the Guadalcanal took place and resulted in the loss of the heavy cruiser USS ____________.

Answer: Chicago

The Chicago, just returned to duty following repairs after the Battle of Savo Is six months before, was part of a task force (TF18) that was to conduct a sweep of 'The Slot' to protect a convoy which was delivering reinforcements to Guadalcanal. Halsey was replacing the battle weary and weakened troops of Gen Vandegrift's hard pressed 1st Marine division who had been in continuous action since the initial landings on Aug 8 with fresh troops from the 2nd Marine division and Army units.

It was feared the Japanese were building up their forces for a new push.

In fact the Japanese High Command had taken the decision to evacuate Guadalcanal because of the difficulties of supplying their troops and to set up a new defence on New Georgia Island, the next group up the Solomon Island ladder. Reconnaissance aircraft soon located TF 18 near Rennell Island SE of Guadalcanal on the evening of the 29th and it was soon under attack from a force of torpedo carrying Betty bombers. Chicago took two hits and was taken in a slow tow in the pitch darkness by Louisville while the rest of TF 18 withdrew.

The next morning the Japanese renewed their attacks and put four more torpedoes into Chicago which sank her shortly afterward and scored one hit on the destroyer La Vallette. With Japanese air assets occupied with this battle Halsey's convoy was able to proceed to Guadalcanal and achieved its mission unmolested. For their part the withdrawal of TF 18 enabled the last runs of the Tokyo Express to take place over three nights in Feb 1943 when 13000 emaciated survivors were evacuated from a force of 36000 that had attempted to retake Henderson Field over the previous six months.
Source: Author mstanaway

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