USS Quincy: Ghost of Savo Island

August 1942, the Battle of Midway has torn the heart out of the Japanese Empire. Siezing on the opertunity the United States and Australia undertake the first major offensive operation of the Pacific War:

Operation: Watchtower,

A mission that would go down in history as the Battle of Guadalcanal. Among the task force embarking on the mission was the New Orleans Class Heavy Crusier USS Quincy.

At first it seemed as though the mission would be over in a few days, yet that night the Quincy whileon rutine patrol with three other Cruisers would find themselves facing down the guns of 8 warships of the Japanese 8th Fleet, in a night long battle that would go down in history as the worst defeat in the history of the US Navy during the Second World War:

The First Battle of Savo Island, the Quincy was soon reduced to a flamming hulk having wondered into the crossfire of the Japanese Cruisers Aoba, Furutaka, and Tenryu before plunging into the abyss, the first ship lost in an area that would come to be known as Ironbottom Sound, taking with her 370 of her 807 crew, including her commanding officer Capt. Samuel Moore

The Battle of Savo Island, also known as the First Battle of Savo Island and, in Japanese sources, as the First Battle of the Solomon Sea, and colloquially among Guadalcanal veterans as The Battle of the Five Sitting Ducks, was a naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval forces.

The battle took place on August 8–9, 1942 and was the first major naval engagement of the Guadalcanal campaign, being the first of several naval battles in the straits later named Ironbottom Sound, near the island of Guadalcanal. The battle was the first of five costly, large scale sea and air-sea actions affecting the ground battles on Guadalcanal itself, as the Japanese sought to counter the American offensive in the Pacific.

These fierce sea battles took place every few days, with increasing delays on each side to regroup and refit, until the November 30, 1942 Battle of Tassafaronga (sometimes referred to as the Fourth Battle of Savo Island or, in Japanese sources, as the Battle of Lunga Point —after which the Japanese, eschewing the costly losses, attempted resupplying by submarine and barges, until the final large naval battle months later, the Battle of Rennell Island , took place on January 29–30, 1943 when they tried to withdraw and evacuate their remaining land forces.

In response to Allied amphibious landings in the eastern Solomon Islands, Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa brought his task force of seven cruisers and one destroyer down New Georgia Sound (also known as "the Slot") from Japanese bases at New Britain and New Ireland to attack the Allied amphibious fleet and its screening force.

The screen consisted of eight cruisers and fifteen destroyers under British Rear Admiral Victor Crutchley VC, but only five cruisers and seven destroyers were involved in the battle. Mikawa surprised and routed the Allied force, sinking one Australian and three American cruisers, while suffering only light damage in return. Mikawa's force immediately retired following the battle without attempting to destroy the Allied transport ships supporting the landings.

The remaining Allied warships and the amphibious force withdrew from the Solomon Islands, temporarily ceding control of the seas around Guadalcanal to the Japanese. Allied ground forces had landed on Guadalcanal and nearby islands only two days before.

The withdrawal of the fleet left them in a precarious situation, with barely enough supplies, equipment, and food to hold their beachhead. Mikawa's failure to destroy the Allied invasion transports when he had the chance, however, would prove to be a crucial strategic mistake for the Japanese as it allowed the Allies to maintain their foothold on Guadalcanal and eventually emerge victorious from the campaign.

 

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