With the recent completion of our historical monograph project, the Marine Corps historical program entered a new phase. This book is the first of a projected five-volume series covering completely, and we hope definitively, the history of Marine operations in World War II.
The fifteen historical monographs published over a period of eight years have served to spotlight the high points in this broad field. The basic research which underlay their preparation will be utilized again in this project. But a monograph by its very nature aims at a limited objective, and in its concentration on a single battle or campaign necessarily ignores many related subjects. All too often it has been difficult to avoid conveying the impression that the specific operation under discussion was taking place in a vacuum. Thus, while much valuable history has been written, the story as a whole remains untold.
This lack the present project aims to rectify. The story of individual battles or campaigns, now isolated between the covers of separate publications, will be largely rewritten and woven together in an attempt to show events in proper relation to each other and in correct perspective to the war as a whole. In addition, new material, especially from Japanese sources, which has become available since the writing of the monographs, will be integrated into the story. Only when the broad picture is available can the significance of the Marine Corps' contribution to the final victory in the Pacific be fairly evaluated.
Now a word about Volume I which sketches briefly the development of the Marine Corps' amphibious mission from its inception and then carries the story of World War II through Guadalcanal. As logistical officer of the 1st Marine Division, I was privileged to take part in this, our first effort to strike back at the Japanese. looking rearward from the vantage point of later years when our materiel superiority was overwhelming, it is difficult to visualize those lean first months in the Pacific when there was never enough of anything, and Allied strategy of giving top priority to Europe meant that there would not be for some time to come. Thus our initial offensive quickly and richly earned the nickname "Operation Shoestring". But the shoestring held during those early critical days when its holding appeared highly questionable; and when it did, the ultimate outcome of the war in the Pacific ceased to remain in doubt.R. McC. Pate
General, U.S. Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps
This book covers Marine Corps participation through the first precarious year of World War II, when disaster piled on disaster and there seemed no way to check Japanese aggression. Advanced bases and garrisons were isolated and destroyed: Guam, Wake, and the Philippines. The sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, "the day that will live in infamy", seriously cripples the U.S. Pacific Fleet; yet that cripple rose to turn the tide of the entire war at Midway. Shortly thereafter the U.S. Marines launched on Guadalcanal an offensive which was destined to end only on the home islands of the Empire.
The country in general, and the Marine Corps in particular, entered World War II in a better state of preparedness than had been the case in any other previous conflict. But that is a comparative term and does not merit mention in the same sentence with the degree of Japanese preparedness. What the Marine Corps did bring into the war, however, was the priceless ingredient developed during the years of peace: the amphibious doctrines and techniques that made possible the trans-Pacific advance--and, for that matter, the invasion of North Africa and the European continent.
By publishing this operational history in a durable form, it is hoped to make the Marine Corps record permanently available for the study of military personnel, the edification of the general public, and the contemplation of serious scholars of military history.
This initial volume was planned and outlined by Lieutenant Colonel Harry W. Edwards, former Head of the Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. Much of the original writing was done by Lieutenant Colonel Frank O. Hough, formerly Head of the Writing Section, Historical Branch. Three historical monographs, Lieutenant Colonel Robert D. Heinl, Jr.'s The Defense of Wake and Marines at Midway, and Major John L. Zimmerman's The Guadalcanal Campaign, were adapted to the needs of this book by Major Verle E. Ludwig, who also contributed considerable original writing of his own. Mr. Kenneth W. Condit wrote the chapter on landing craft development and shared, with Colonel Charles W. Harrison and Major Hubard D. Kuokka, the authorship of the chapter treating the evolution of amphibious doctrine. The buildup of Pacific outpost garrisons, the opening moves of the war, and the record of Marines in the defense of the Philippines were written by Mr. Henry I. Shaw, Jr. The final editing was done by Colonel Harrison, present Head of the Historical Branch.
A number of the leading participants in the actions described have commented on preliminary drafts of pertinent portions of this manuscript. Their
valuable assistance is gratefully acknowledged. Special thanks are due to those people who read and commented on the entire volume: Lieutenant General Edward A. Craig, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired; Dr. John Miller, Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army; Captain Frederick K. Loomis, U.S. Navy, Naval History Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Department of the Navy; and Colonel Heinl, who initiated the original program of monographs dealing with Marine actions in World War II.
Mrs. Edna Clem Kelley and her successor in the Administrative and Production Section of the Historical Branch, Miss Kay P. Sue, ably handled the exacting duties involved in processing the volume from first drafts through final printed form. The many preliminary typescripts and the painstaking task of typing the final manuscript for the printer were done by Mrs. Miriam R. Smallwood and Mrs. Billie J. Tucker.
Most of the maps were prepared by the Reproduction Section, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia. However, we are indebted to the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, for permission to use Maps Nos. 3, 14, 15, 20, 21, and 23-27, which were originally drafted by its Cartographic Branch. Official Defense Department photographs have been used throughout the text.E.W. Snedeker
Major General, U.S. Marine Corps
Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3
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