Operation Watchtower

WWII: The Greater East Asia War

East Asia 1942.0826

Operation Watchtower

World War II, Pacific War, Second Sino-Japanese War (26 August 1942)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

After their defeat at Midway, Japan canceled further plans of seaborne invasions in the South Pacific, instead deciding to conquer New Guinea by land and to build air bases in the Solomons to strike at Allied shipping. The US responded by landing troops in the Solomons, disrupting the construction of a large Japanese airfield on Guadalcanal, while the Australians moved to defend New Guinea.

Main Events

Japan begins constructing airfield on Guadalcanal

Kokoda Trail campaign

Japanese troops land near Gona, on the north coast of the island of New Guinea and part of the Australian Territory of Papua, the starting point of their attempt to capture Port Moresby by advancing south over the Owen Stanley Range using the Kokoda Trail. On 23 July they are met by Australian forces at Awala, south of Kokoda, with whom they fight a series of battles before eventually being forced to withdraw. The Australians retake Kokoda on 2 November, reaching the north end of the track by 16 November.

Guadalcanal Landings

At 09:10 on 7 August, 11,000 US Marines under the command of Major General Alexander Vandegrift come ashore on Guadalcanal, in the British Solomon Islands, between Koli and Lunga Points. They encounter little resistance, capturing their main objective - an airfield under construction by the Japanese - by 16:00 on 8 August. Meanwhile Japanese aircraft attack the invasion fleet from Rabaul, damaging a transport and a destroyer.

Japan occupies Nauru

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