IntroductionUS Marine vs Japanese Infantryman Guadalcanal 1942–43
, item Combat 8
, is a title in Osprey Publishing LTD's
series Combat. Combat sizes up and compares the combat performance of two adversaries in a particular battle, or campaign, or even throughout a conflict.
US Marine vs Japanese Infantryman Guadalcanal 1942–43
is authored by Gordon L. Rottman and illustrated by artist Johnny Shumate. It contains 80 pages and is cataloged as CBT 8
. Available in paperback and two e-versions, the hard copy is ISBN 9781472801340.
The brutal fighting between US Marines and Japanese infantry on the island of Guadalcanal in many ways came to typify the island-hopping war in the Pacific. This book not only explores the differing tactics and equipment used by the two combatants but also shows how the challenges of fighting in inhospitable tropical jungles impacted on soldiers on the ground, as combatants had to deal not only with their determined opponents but also the twin issues of disease and stretched supply lines. Written by a former special forces veteran with extensive knowledge of jungle warfare, this fully illustrated book lifts the veil on one of the most pivotal and ferocious close combat duels of World War II. - Osprey
Why is a book being reviewed at figure modeling site Historicus Forma? US Marine vs Japanese Infantryman
can be used as not only an inspiration for figure subjects and scenes, it is also a good reference for detailing those subjects.
Author G. L. Rottman explores the watershed campaign on Guadalcanal through 80 pages of 10 sections/chapters:
The opposing sides
Role, organization, and tactics
Leadership and communications
Logistics and morale
The Battle of the Tenaru: August 19-21, 1942
The Henderson Field Attack: September 12-14, 1942
The Matanikau Counteroffensive: October 23-26, 1942
Lessons learned: USMC
Lessons learned: IJA
Orders of battle
With his unique background, the author can impart an impression of jungle warfare to the reader. The book is interesting due to the comparisons and contrasts of The opposing sides
. The subsequent exploration of elan amongst Marines and IJA infantry is presented, as well as their views of the opponents. Marines went ashore on Guadalcanal seeking vengeance upon a heretofore unstoppable enemy; IJA believed they had moral and spiritual superiority and gave no respect to any other military. Both quickly learned that it would be a hard fought campaign. Indeed, after the first big battle where Marines saw the Japanese fight to the death, China and Banana Wars veteran Major General Vandegrift is quoted as stating, "I have never heard of this kind of fighting".
The three battles are recounted in good detail, often with first-person narratives. A Marine watching USMC tanks mop up after the Tenaru battle wrote
We watched these awful machines as they plunged across the spit and into the edge of the grove. It was fascinating to see them bustling amongst the trees, pivoting, turning, spitting sheets of yellow flame. It was like a comedy of toys, something unbelievable to see them knocking over palm trees which fell slowly, flushing thew running figures of men from underneath their treads, following and firing at the fugitives.
This book includes quotes are from both American and Japanese sources.
The author also compares USMC and IJA weapons and ordnance. I appreciate that he includes IJA designations and Japanese words for the objects.
Each battle is described in detail. Each is also prefaced with a map, descriptions of key events, and Battlefield environment
, a description of the ground and conditions the adversaries fought in.
Two commanders are profiled in short insets: Major General Alexander Archer Vandegrift, USMC
, and Lieutennant-General Maruyama Masao, IJA
tells of changes made after the Guadalcanal experience, or what was deemed successful. Both sides came away with both reinforced opinions of the enemy, as well as new found respect for certain characteristics. Aftermath
recounts the remaining campaign and the casualty rates and types of the two forces. Where the survivors wound up for R&R is also mentioned, as is their subsequent campaigns. The final page lists Orders of battle
for each battle.
The accounts captivate and educate. The images and ideas are grist for modelers seeking new subjects to create.
Photographs, artwork and graphics
Many books have been penned about the extraordinary campaign for Guadalcanal and all of those books have contained photographs. Admittedly, I have not read every one of those books, yet I am comfortable noting that some of the photographs are new to me. Photographic support is excellent and supports the text. The images also are a good source to inspire the creative process for modelers and dioramaists. Most of the photos are black-and-white prints from WWII yet, and adding excellent source detail. Several color photographs of USMC and IJA equipment, i.e., radios, rifles, machine guns, flags, "knee mortars", are vignettes in corners of several pages; another modern color photo of Guadalcanal from the sea shows the area where much fighting took place. Other images revel equipment surprises such as a Marine with the drum magazine Thompson submachine gun.
Original artwork by artist Johnny Shumate includes:
a. Rifleman, 2/1st Marines, The battle of the Tenaru, August 19-21, 1942
: front and back view of a Marine keyed with 11 equipment components. Item colors are commented upon (yellow-painted hand grenades) as well as qualities of items.
b. Private 1st Class, II/28th Infantry, The battle of the Tenaru, August 19-21, 1942
: IJA soldier, front and back view with 13 equipment components. Item colors are commented upon as well as the types and quality of equipment.
c. In-action split-view The fight at "L Company Ridge"
: US view and Japanese view. The two-page scene depicts fighting positions and weapons, and describes the physical and atmospheric conditions of the fight.
d. In-action centerfold Death on the sandbar
: a two-page scene from behind a Marine 37mm strongpoint with infantry defeating the Japanese tank attack over the Matanikau River.
These maps are an overview of the recounted battle. They show terrain, units and sequenced, keyed major events of each move for the the American and Japanese forces.
1. The Guadalcanal campaign 1942-43
: keyed with 14 events, a two-page map of "The 'Canal" and vicinity, plus insets showing it in relation to the Solomons, and the globe.
2. The 2/1st Marines and II/28th Infantry at the battle of the Tenaru, August 19-21, 1942
: keyed with 16 events.
3. The 3/5th Marines and II/124th Infantry in the Henderson Field Attack, September 12-14, 1942
: keyed to 13 events.
4. The 3/1st Marines and II/4th Infantry in the Matanikau Counteroffensive, October 23-26, 1942
: keyed to 8 events.
Maps help the reader orient and visualize the battle. The battle artwork draws the reader into the text, as well as illustrates interesting uniform, equipment and ordnance items.
ConclusionUS Marine vs Japanese Infantryman Guadalcanal 1942–43
is a topic for which I have anxiously awaited as the Guadalcanal campaign is one I have focused on for decades. Osprey has released over a dozen Combat titles to date and I have enjoyed the few I've read. Indeed, I hope there will be more titles focused on New Guinea and the Solomons campaigns.
I appreciate the insight presented by author Rottman. His descriptions and analysis both supports and clarifies previous understandings of the USMC, IJA, and the Guadalcanal fights. Artwork is good and supports the text supremely well, as does the gallery of photographic support.
For modelers and historians and artists seeking source material and inspiration concerning these subjects, US Marine vs Japanese Infantryman Guadalcanal 1942–43
should be an excellent source. I happily recommend it.