Kinugawa Maru- Click to Enlarge
The wreck of the Kinugawa Maru, beached and destroyed in 1942.

The Island of Guadalcanal in World War II

Flag of Solomon Islands


Introduction to the Island

Guadalcanal in WWII

Tours of Military Sites

Campaign & Battle Details


- Languages: English (1-2%) (official), Melanesian pidgin (lingua franca), 120 indigenous languages

- Area total: 5,302 km².

- Capital: Honiara

- Latitude/ Longitude: 9° 32' S, 160° 12' E

- City Calling code: 677

- Time Zone: GMT+11

- Monetary Unit: Solomon Islands dollar

- Population: Solomon Islands: approx. 477,000. Honiara: approx. 68,000.

- Ethnicities/races: Melanesian 94.5%, Polynesian 3%, Micronesian 1.2%, Other/unspecified 1.3%

- Government: parliamentary democracy

Solomon Islands Travel Guides

> Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau

> South Pacific Travel Guide with airline information

> South Pacific Tourism Organization

More Related Links

> U.S. Army Information on the Battle of Guadalcanal

> Historic Sites/Wrecks on Guadalcanal

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Guadalcanal: Pivotal in World War II

The Pacific island of Guadalcanal is well-known for its pivotal role in World War II, with the classic "battle of Guadalcanal" becoming forever immortalized in films and books as to turning the tide in favor of the American Allies in the Pacific theater in the early 1940's.

Guadalcanal Marines, 1942
US Marines resting in the field on Guadalcanal, 1942

This page attempts to give the reader an overview of the history of the island during those times.

Today, visitors to Guadalcanal can still see many classic World War II relics and monuments, in addition to its many tropical and cultural highlights not related to the war specifically.

Scroll down to see some of the organized island and military site tour operators that can show you the many facets of this Pacific island.

Keeping the History Alive!

In 2015, Diane Basilone Hawkins raised money for editing footage from Guadalcanal filmed in the exact location where Sgt. John Basilone fought and was awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II.


John Basilone went back to help train the men for the battle of Iwo Jima. Diane was carrying on his legacy to continue to help the men and women who have defended our freedoms by bringing awareness to the public that they desperately need help healing from PTSD.

The people who made contributions to the documentary helped in three ways: to keep the history of WWII alive, to finalize a film honoring Sgt. John Basilone and his men who fought bravely by his side, and to raise awareness for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) more recently known as Post-traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI).

If you'd like to help with the cause, please visit the website and make a tax-deductible 501-3C donation at or mail checks payable to:
The Sgt. John Basilone Foundation
560 West 218 Street
Suite 3D, New York, New York, 10034
Any size donation is greatly appreciated.

Thank you from the Sgt. John Basilone Foundation- Semper Fi

For more information on returning tours to Guadalcanal 1-800-842-4504 or email

Guadalcanal in World War II:

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US Military Cemetary, Guadalcanal, 1943

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US Coast Guard Landing Craft & Barges Delivering Supplies to Guadalcanal, Late 1942

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US Marines moving in a column on Guadalcanal, January 10th, 1943

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US M2A4 Light Tanks,
Guadalcanal, August 1942

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Tenaru River, Guadalcanal, 1942

The first major offensive launched by the Allies against Japan in World War II took place on Guadalcanal from August 7, 1942, to February 9, 1943. Since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Japanese had advanced toward the South Pacific, threatening the Allies' South Pacific ferry route connecting Australia and the United States.

In May and June, 1942, the U.S. Navy made headway against the Japanese advance in the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. These successes led the U.S. military to pursue a two-pronged assault in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea.

Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands, invaded by the Japanese in July, 1942, was one of the most important Japanese strongholds due to its proximity to Australia. The Japanese built an airfield at Lunga Point and artillery positions in the hills nearby and had about 8,400 men on the island by August.

On August 7, 1942, U.S. Marines landed on the northern beaches of Guadalcanal after Navy ships fired onto the island ahead of them. Over the next three months, the Marines secured the airfield and a 6 mile wide section of the beach.

On October 13, an Army unit arrived to reinforce the Marines. The Marines and Army soldiers repelled a Japanese attack on the 23rd, inflicting heavy losses on the Japanese and pushing the Japanese out further during the rest of the month.

On November 4th, the U.S. Infantry fought 1,500 Japanese troops that landed on the beach at Koli Point. They killed half the Japanese force. The rest escaped into the jungle.

In mid-November, the U.S. Navy fought the Japanese at the Battle of Guadalcanal, when the Japanese attempted a major reinforcement of troops via the "Tokyo Express" run of supply-laden destroyers.

In this four-day battle, the U.S. Navy foiled the reinforcement effort, and only 4,000 of 10,000 Japanese troops reached land.

After this battle, the American troops pushed on in an effort to take Mount Austen. Thrashing through the jungle, they faced heavy fire from Japanese troops.

Finally, during the first two days of 1943, in a two-pronged attack on the Mount Austen stronghold at Gifu, American troops succeeded in securing most of the Gifu area and the west slopes of the mountain.

USS Minneapolis with Torpedo Damage
USS Minneapolis, December 1942

Learn more at Wikipedia
Japanese "Betty Planes"

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Scout Bomber Destroyed in Air Attack - Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, 1942

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US Military Cemetary,
Guadalcanal, 1943

Overall, between 400 and 500 Japanese troops died, and over 100 American troops died in the effort to take Mount Austen.

During January, 1943, the American troops battled Japanese strongholds on Mount Austen to take areas known as Galloping Horse and Sea Horse and secure the Gifu area.

In the third week of January, the American troops took the Japanese headquarters at Kokumbona.

American troops mounted attacks by land and sea to annihilate the Japanese, but in the end, about 13,000 Japanese troops escaped.

Nevertheless, by February 9, 1943, the U.S. troops took control of the island, helping to turn back the Japanese drive toward Australia and secure a base from which to launch attacks at the Japanese in the South Pacific.

All told, 1,592 American troops were killed in action and 4,183 were wounded.

Thousands more were disabled by tropical diseases like malaria.

The Japanese lost 14,800 in battle and 9,000 from disease. About 1,000 Japanese men were taken prisoner.

Organized Tours of Guadalcanal Military SitesGuadalcanal Memorial

With all the fascinating battle history, ruins, and military significance of this island, there are a few companies that offer organized fantastic tours of the important battle sites on Guadalcanal.

And while it is also possible to hire local guides, we recommend contacting our friends at Valor Tours, for a variety of reasons...

Click to enlarge...Valor Tours offers an annual 10-day tour every August to commemorate the anniversary of the landings, as well as a 10-day cruise/tour through the Solomon Islands.

These organized tours are unique vacation alternatives as they not only include detailed analysis and information regarding the fascinating military history and various battles fought on the island and their famous role in World War 2, but also take you to many of the non-military sights, sounds, and culture of this fascinating Pacific island.

They can also arrange private tours for individuals with specific travel needs. 

Click to enlarge...Applications for commemorative plaques and trees can be purchased through Valor Tours to honor a loved one, as part of the Honiara Beautification Project.

Book a Guadalcanal Tour, or Read more about Valor Tours here

Guadalcanal Campaign & Battle Related Links:

This is fascinating stuff...
A Guadalcanal Chronology & Order of Battle- 7 August 1942- 6 March 1943 - 

This fascinating sketch of the events of the Guadalcanal campaign is based on several sources- the original one being Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI), a wargames simulation company during the 1970's.

70 year old tank on Guadalcanal - Photo by John Shively This 70 year old Stuart Tank had been buried on the island for years... Photo courtesy of John Shively

Click to read the details...Guadalcanal Campaign, August 1942- February 1943 - 

This is an overview and special image selection from the Naval History & Heritage website of the US Navy. Read the details of the harrowing six month campaign between the US and its Pacific Allies and the Japanese for possession of the previously obscrure island of Guadalcanal.


Valor Tours, Ltd. is a resource for veterans, their families, military service organizations, unit associations, reunion groups, historical societies and government institutions with an interest in the Pacific and Europe wartime theaters.
Valor Tours 38th anniversary

(It was a consultant to the Pentagon's WWII 50th Anniversary Committee.)

Today, tour participants are largely veterans' sons, daughters, grandchildren and the general public, especially WWII history buffs, seeking a meaningful focus for their vacation travels.

Check out the website for all the details!

TRAVEL to Guadalcanal!

Use HONIARA as your destination city and compare the travel services.

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