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After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese swept through much of Southeast Asia. As of August of 1942 they had control of much of the South Pacific including the Philippines.
The United States had finally gathered enough forces in the Pacific to begin to attack Japan back after Pearl Harbor. They chose the island of Guadalcanal as a place to begin their attack.
The battle began on August 7, 1942 when marines invaded the island. They first took the smaller islands just to the north of Guadalcanal. Then they landed on Guadalcanal. The marines had taken the Japanese forces by surprise and soon had control of the air base.
This was the first time that the Japanese had lost ground in the war and had a major impact on the morale of both sides. The Japanese lost 31,000 soldiers and 38 ships. The Allies lost 7,100 soldiers and 29 ships.
The Japanese did not give up easily, however. They won a naval battle off of Savo Island sinking four Allied cruisers and isolating the U.S. marines on Guadalcanal. Then they landed reinforcements on the island to take it back.
Over the next six months the battle waged. The U.S. was able to protect the island during the day by sending out planes to bomb incoming Japanese ships. However, the Japanese would land at night using small fast ships, sending in more soldiers.
in the middle of November, the Japanese launched a major attack involving over 10,000 soldiers. The fighting was fierce, but the Japanese were unable to advance. They were forced to retreat. From that point the battle turned in favor of the United States and they claimed total control of the island on February 9, 1943.
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