Will Bakhmut, a fierce battlefield in Ukraine, become Putin’s “Stalingrad”?

The Turning Point of the War as Seen by Historians (Part 1)

Photo: ZUMA Press/AFLO

(History author: Sosei Nishimata)

Even if the fight in an unexpected place depends

In war, the offensive and defensive battle of a particular place can be the turning point of the entire battlefield. Speaking of which, many people may think that locations of strategic importance and transport hubs should be places of fierce battles.

However, when we look back at history, a startling fact emerges. There are many cases where a place that is not so important or so important becomes the field of a fierce battle, or a battle in a completely unexpected place, and as a result, the situation of the whole battle is affected.

In this article, for those who are not familiar with military matters, I will try to avoid using difficult military terminology and proper names (names of places, names of persons, names of units) as much as possible Outlines famous battles.

Guadalcanal is a place name you may have heard of if you read this website. The island was one of the fiercest battlefields of the Second World War between Japan and the United States, and is also known as the battlefield of a terrible famine.

Guadalcanal is currently the capital of the Solomon Islands and is about half the size of Shikoku. During the summer of 1942 (Showa 17), when this island became a battlefield, even the staff of the Imperial General Headquarters did not know the name Guadalcanal. The story of how this island swallowed up so many soldiers is as follows.

With the start of the war against the United States and Great Britain, the Japanese Navy advanced south and established an air base in today’s Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. Since Rabaul and Guadalcanal are separated by 1000 km, there is no need to build a base at Guadalcanal to defend Rabaul.

The reason the Japanese military wanted to secure Guadalcanal was because of the glaring problem of aviation. At that time, the main forces of the Japanese Navy, the Type 0 fighter and the Type 1 land attack aircraft, had a very long cruise range, so they were mainly active in Rabaul. There was talk of the need for an auxiliary airfield to temporarily accommodate aircraft that had suffered engine failure during operations or had been damaged during enemy engagements.

Therefore, a base construction party will be sent to Guadalcanal. Guadalcanal at that time was like an empty field of military power for both sides. The Japanese side had no idea that the US military would launch an attack on such an island, so the construction party that landed was virtually unarmed.

On the other hand, the US forces, who had suffered so far from the Japanese army, were devising a plan to somehow seize the opportunity to counterattack. They planned and prepared for a plan to advance little by little along the islands towards Solomon.

At that time, the news came that the Japanese army had landed on Guadalcanal. US forces landed the Marines on Guadalcanal to signal a counter-attack. The unarmed Japanese army building party is not even a single one.

Marines landing at Guadalcanal, August 1942

The surprised Japanese side plans to recapture Guadalcanal. However, due to a combination of lack of awareness among the top military officers and mistakes made at the field level, the Japanese army’s recapture campaign did not proceed smoothly, and took on the appearance of a typical “sequential use of forces”. ‘.

On the other hand, the US forces sent reinforcements and heavy equipment one after another, and the landing force of the Japanese army fell into trouble. Naturally, the navies of both sides would try to interfere with the other’s shipping, and there were naval battles, large and small, many times in the waters around Guadalcanal.

However, on the Japanese side, the cooperation between the army and the navy was poor, and even if they won the naval battle, it did not contribute to the situation of the battle at Guadalcanal, and Japan was gradually driven to the inferior position in the battle air. Guadalcanal and the surrounding area became a huge graveyard for soldiers, ships and aircraft.

The war of attrition continued like this, but in the end the US forces were able to secure Guadalcanal, and the defeat of the Japanese army became decisive. During this period, the difference in national power between Japan and the United States became decisive.

When the battle at Guadalcanal ended, the US side was ready to counter-offensive, with the weapons and ammunition that had been mass-produced under the war regime and the mobilized personnel arriving the battlefield On the other hand, the Japanese side, especially the navy, exhausted its ships, planes, and many skilled pilots, leaving the United States far behind in terms of military strength. (Continue)