Today in History, November 13, 1942:
The First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal takes place in what would become known as “Iron-bottom Sound” off Guadalcanal.
US intelligence had warned US Navy forces that the IJN planned to bombard Henderson Field and its Marines, and land reinforcements on the embattled island.
Admirals Callahan and Scott took their forces to interdict IJN Admiral Abe’s forces. In a fierce, confusing, intense night action the Japanese won a tactical victory by sinking more American ships, while the Americans won a strategic victory…Henderson was not bombarded and the American troop ships remained undamaged.
But it came at a heavy cost for both sides.
Admirals Callahan and Scott would be the only US Admirals to be killed in direct ship to ship combat in the war, and aboard the USS Juneau, the five “Fighting Sullivan” brothers would all be lost. Of course many more Americans died that night, good Irish names or not.
For the Japanese, surviving battleship Hiei, among others, would fall prey to air attacks from Henderson, Espirito Santo, and the USS Enterprise. And this was only the beginning of the battle. The American aircrews missed by the Japanese were eager to get some retribution for their big gun Navy comrades.
Lessons came out of the devastation. Commanders learned how to utilize their newly assigned radar equipment to their advantage; they learned how effectively trained the Japanese were at night fighting.
And, they changed the rules to forbid siblings and close relatives from serving in the same units…so some poor Officer wouldn’t have to knuckle a door and tell a mother that ALL FIVE of her sons who she had raised and loved were gone from one horrific action.