As has already been noted, the enemy on July 4th occupied the north central shore of Guadalcanal Island, and immediately began construction of an airport, wharves, and other installations. Simultaneously, he commenced a parallel movement down the east coast of New Guinea, on July 21st-22d putting troops ashore at Ambasi, 120 miles southeast of Salamaua, and at Buna. Both of these operations, particularly that at Guadalcanal, were supported by considerable numbers of sea and land-based planes.
Chapter 2: Strategical Situation
These developments also increased the desirability of prompt action on our part, for it was becoming apparent that if we did not act soon the enemy would be so firmly entrenched in the area that it would be extremely difficult to dislodge him. Moreover, the prospect of his seizing the Solomons-New Hebrides-New Caledonia line was potentially more menacing to us that a similar move by us was to the Japanese. While the latter would pave the way for a most damaging blow to the enemy, his successful
occupation of that vital series of islands would immediately imperil our convoys to Australia.
Because of the enemy's losses in he Midway and Coral Sea Battles and also because of intelligence reports which regularly omitted any reference to the presence of large enemy ships in waters near the southern Solomons, it was reasonably believed that his forces there consisted almost exclusively of planes, submarines, and small surface craft. He was known to have seaplane bases in the Solomons at Gavutu (near Tulagi), and at Gizo, Rekata Bay, Kieta and Buka Passage. The planes operating from these bases might easily be overcome. What most concerned out commanders--assuming the absence of carriers--was the major land-plane base which the Japanese had established at Rabaul in New Britain, 675 miles from Guadalcanal, and the bases which they were building at Kieta, on Bougainville Island only about 300 miles from Guadalcanal, and on Guadalcanal itself. The possibility of our expeditionary forces being exposed to torpedo or bombing attacks by swift, numerous, land-based planes was a serious consideration.
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