Operation Battle of Henderson Field

The 'Battle of Henderson Field', which is also known as the 'Battle of Guadalcanal' or 'Battle of Lunga Point' by the Japanese, was fought between Japanese and US forces on an around the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon islands group (23/26 October 1942).

A land, sea and air battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, the 'Battle of Henderson Field' was comparatively small in terms of the numbers of men involved, but of great operational and strategic significance in the the Pacific War, and was centred on the last of three major land offensives conducted by the Japanese during the Guadalcanal campaign. In the battle, US Marine Corps and US Army forces under the overall command of Major General Alexander A. Vandegrift repulsed an attack by the Japanese 17th Army under the command of Lieutenant General Harukichi Hyakutake. On 23 October, however, Vandegrift had flown to Nouméa on the island of New Caledonia to meet with Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, commander of a carrier task force but soon to be elevated to command of the South Pacific Area in succession to Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley, but Major General William H. Rupertus, the deputy commander of the 1st Marine Division, remained in Guadalcanal and exercised tactical command of the defence against the Japanese offensive in Vandegrift’s absence.

The US forces were defending the Lunga perimeter that guarded Henderson Field in the US lodgement on the northern coast of Guadalcanal, which the US forces had captured from the Japanese in the 'Watchtower' landing of 7 August 1942. Hyakutake’s force was sent to Guadalcanal in response to the Allied landings with the mission of recapturing the airfield and driving the Allied forces off the island. The Japanese troops conducted numerous assaults over three days at various locations around the Lunga perimeter, but all of these were repulsed with heavy Japanese losses. At the same time, Allied aircraft operating from Henderson Field successfully defended the US positions on Guadalcanal from attacks by Japanese naval air and sea forces.

The battle was the last serious ground offensive conducted by Japanese forces on Guadalcanal. The Japanese attempted to deliver further reinforcements for the decimated 17th Army, but failed during the 'Naval Battle of Guadalcanal' in November 1942, and Japan conceded defeat in the struggle for the island and in 'Ke' (i) evacuated many of its remaining forces by the first week of February 1943.

On 7 August 1942, predominantly US forces landed on Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Florida islands in the Solomon islands group in 'Watchtower' and 'Ringbolt'. The landings were designed to deny their use by the Japanese as bases from which to threaten the supply routes between the USA and Australia, and to secure the islands as starting points for a campaign with the eventual goal of isolating the major Japanese base at Rabaul on New Britain island while also supporting the Allied campaign on New Guinea. The 'Watchtower' landing initiated the six-month Guadalcanal campaign.

'Watchtower' and 'Ringbolt' took the Japanese by complete surprise, and by the fall of night on 8 August, the 11,000 Allied troops under Vandegrift’s command, comprising largely elements of the US Marine Corps, had secured Tulagi and nearby small islands, as well as an airfield which the Japanese were in the process of constructing at Lunga Point on Guadalcanal. The airfield was later named Henderson Field by the Allied forces, and the Allied warplanes which subsequently operated out of the airfield became known as the 'Cactus Air Force' after the Allied codename for Guadalcanal. To protect the airfield, the US Marines established a perimeter defence around Lunga Point.

In response to the Allied landing on Guadalcanal, the Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo assigned Hyakutake’s 17th Army, a corps-sized formation based at Rabaul, with the task of retaking Guadalcanal. On 19 August, various units of the 17th Army began to arrive on the north-western end of Guadalcanal.

Because of the threat posed by the aircraft of the Cactus Air Force based at Henderson Field, the Japanese were unable to use large, slow transport ships to deliver troops and supplies to the island, and instead used warships based at Rabaul and the Shortland islands group to carry their forces to Guadalcanal. The Japanese warships, mainly light cruisers and destroyers of the 8th Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa, were usually able to make the round trip down 'The Slot' to Guadalcanal and back in a single night, thereby minimising their exposure to Cactus Air Force attack. The delivery of the formation in such a fashion, however, prevented the simultaneous delivery of most of the army’s heavy equipment and supplies, such as heavy artillery, vehicles and much food and ammunition. These high-speed warship runs to and from Guadalcanal occurred throughout the campaign and came to be known as 'Tokyo Express' missions by the Allied forces and 'Rat Transportation' by the Japanese.

The first Japanese attempt to recapture Henderson Field failed when a 917-man force was defeated on 21 August in the 'Battle of the Tenaru'. The next attempt took place on 12/14 September, when the 6,000-man force commanded by Major General Kiyotake Kawaguchi was defeated in the 'Battle of Edson’s Ridge'. After the defeat at Edson’s Ridge, Kawaguchi and the surviving Japanese troops regrouped in the area to the west of the Matanikau river.

Hyakutake immediately began to prepare for another attempt to recapture Henderson Field. The Japanese navy promised to support Hyakutake’s next offensive by delivering the necessary troops, equipment and supplies, and by stepping-up air attacks on Henderson Field and sending warships to bombard the airfield.

As the Japanese regrouped, the US forces concentrated on improving and strengthening their defences on the Lunga perimeter. On 18 September, a naval convoy delivered 4,157 men of the US 7th Marine Regiment: previously an element of the 3rd Provisional Marine Brigade, this unit was fresh from garrison duty in Samoa, and its arrival allowed Vandegrift, beginning on 19 September, to establish an unbroken defence perimeter completely around the Lunga perimeter.

Vandegrift and his staff were aware that Kawaguchi’s troops had retreated to the area lying to the west of the Matanikau river, and that numerous groups of Japanese stragglers were scattered throughout the area between the Lunga perimeter and the Matanikau river, so Vandegrift decided to conduct a series of minor operations around the Matanikau river valley.

The first of these operations against the Japanese forces to the west of the Matanikau river, on 23/27 September by elements of three US Marine battalions, was repulsed by Kawaguchi’s troops under Colonel Akinosuke Oka’s local command. In the second action, on 6/9 October, a larger force of US Marines crossed the Matanikau river, attacked newly landed Japanese forces of the 2nd Division under the command of Lieutenant General Masao Maruyama and Major General Yumio Nasu, the commanders of the division and its infantry group respectively, and inflicted heavy casualties on the 4th Regiment. The second action forced the Japanese to retreat from their positions on the eastern side of the Matanikau river.

In the meantime, Major General Millard F. Harmon, commander of the US Army forces in the South Pacific, convinced Ghormley that the US Marine forces on Guadalcanal must be reinforced immediately if the Allies were to be successful in the defence of the island from the next expected Japanese offensive. Thus on 13 October, a naval convoy delivered the 2,837-man 164th Infantry, a National Guard unit of Major General Alexander M. Patch’s Americal Division, commanded by Colonel Robert Hall, to Guadalcanal.

Mikawa’s ships continued their nocturnal deliveries of men and matériel to Guadalcanal. Between 1 and 17 October, Japanese convoys delivered 15,000 troops, comprising the remainder of the 2nd Division and one regiment of Lieutenant General Tadayoshi Sano’s 38th Division, as well as artillery, tanks, ammunition and provisions. One of these convoys, on 9 October, landed Hyakutake on the island to lead the Japanese forces in the planned offensive. Mikawa also sent heavy cruisers on several occasions to bombard Henderson Field. On the night of 11 October, one of these missions was intercepted by US naval forces and defeated in the 'Battle of Cape Esperance'.

To help protect the transit of and important supply convoy to Guadalcanal, consisting of six slower cargo ships, on 13 October Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the Combined Fleet, despatched a naval force from Truk in the Caroline islands group under the command of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita, to bombard Henderson Field. Kurita’s force comprised the battleships Kongo and Haruna, escorted by one light cruiser and nine destroyers, and approached Guadalcanal unopposed to open fire on Henderson Field at 01.33 on 14 October. Over the next 83 minutes, the Japanese battleships fired 973 14-in (355.6-mm) shells into the Lunga perimeter, most of them falling in and around the area of the airfield. The bombardment inflicted heavily damage on the airfield’s two runways, ignited almost all of the available aviation fuel, destroyed 48 of the Cactus Air Force’s 90 aircraft, and killed 41 men including six aircrew.

Despite the heavy damage, Henderson Field personnel were able to restore one of the runways to operational condition within a few hours. Over the next several weeks, the Cactus Air Force gradually recovered as more aircraft, fuel and aircrew were delivered to Guadalcanal. Observing the Japanese deliveries of troops and supplies to the island, the US forces were expecting an imminent offensive, but were unclear where and when this would happen.

As a result of the loss of their positions on the eastern side of the Matanikau river, the Japanese decided that an attack on the US defences along the coast would be very difficult and prohibitively costly. After observation of the US defences round Lunga Point by his staff officers, Hyakutake therefore decided that the main thrust of his planned attack would be from the area to the south of Henderson Field. His 2nd Division, supplemented by one regiment of he 38th Division, under Maruyama and totalling 7,000 men in three regiments each of three battalions, was instructed to march through the jungle and attack the US defences from the south at a location near the eastern bank of the Lunga river. The 2nd Division was divided into three units: these were the Left-Wing Unit under the command of Nasu and comprising the 29th Regiment, the Right-Wing Unit under the command of Kawaguchi and comprising the 230th Regiment of the 38th Division, and the division reserve under the command of Maruyama and comprising the 16th Regiment. The attack was scheduled for 22 October and, in order to distract the US forces from the attack from the south, Hyakutake’s heavy artillery plus five battalions of infantry totalling about 2,900 men under the command of Major General Tadashi Sumiyoshi, the commander of the 17th Army's artillery, were to attack the US defences from the west along the coast. The Japanese estimated that there were 10,000 US troops on the island, whereas there were in fact about 23,000 men.

At this time, the Lunga perimeter was defended by four US regiments totalling 13 infantry battalions. The 164th Infantry guarded the easternmost sector. Extending from the 164th Infantry to the south and west across Edson’s Ridge to the Lunga river was the 7th Marines under Colonel Amor L. Sims. Covering the sector to the west of the Lunga river to the coast were the 1st and 5th Marines. Defending the mouth of the Matanikau river were two battalions under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William J. McKelvy: these battalions were the 3/1st Marines and the 3/7th Marines. McKelvy’s force was separated from the Lunga perimeter by a gap that was covered by patrols.

On 12 October, a company of Japanese engineers began to break a trail, the so-called 'Maruyama Road', from the Matanikau river toward the southern portion of the US Lunga perimeter. The trail crossed some 15 miles (24 km) of Guadalcanal’s most difficult terrain, including numerous rivers and streams, ravines that were borth deep and muddy, steep ridges, and dense jungle. Between 16 and 18 October, the 2nd Division began its march along the Maruyama Road, led by Nasu’s unit and followed in order by those of Kawaguchi and Maruyama. Each soldier had been ordered to carry one artillery shell plus his pack, rifle and ammunition.

Early in the morning of 20 October, Maruyama reached the Lunga river. Believing that his units were about 4 miles (6.4 km) to the south of the airfield, he ordered the Left-Wing Unit and Right-Wing Unit to advance abreast of each other parallel to the Lunga to the north in the direction of the US line, and set the time of the attack for 18.00 on 22 October. Maruyama was mistaken, however, for he and his men were actually 8 miles (13 km) to the south of the airfield. By the evening of 21 October, it had become clear to Maruyama that his units would not be in position to attack on the following day as planned, so he postponed the attack to 23 October and put his men on half rations to conserve their dwindling supply of food. At the fall of night on 22 October, much of the 2nd Division was still strung out along the Maruyama Road, but Maruyama ruled out any further postponement of the attack.

During this time, Sumiyoshi prepared his command to attack the US forces from the west. On 18 October, he began shelling Henderson Field with 15 150-mm (5.91-in) howitzers. What remained of the 4th Regiment under the command of Colonel Nomasu Nakaguma began to gather openly near Point Cruz, on the coast just to the west of the Matanikau river. On 19 October, Colonel Akinosuka Oka led the 1,200 men of his 124th Regiment inland across the Matanikau river and started to move up the river’s eastern bank toward the high ground lying to the east of the river.

On 23 October, Maruyama’s forces struggled through the jungle to reach the US line. On his own initiative, Kawaguchi began to shift his Right-Wing Unit to the east, believing that the US defences were weaker in that area. Through one of his staff officers, Maruyama ordered Kawaguchi to keep to the original attack plan. When he refused to comply, Kawaguchi was relieved and replaced by Colonel Toshinari Shoji, commander of the 230th Regiment. That evening, after learning that the Left-Wing Unit and Right-Wing Unit were still struggling to reach the US line, Hyakutake ordered the postponement of the attack to 19.00 on 24 October. The US forces remained completely unaware of the approach of Maruyama’s forces.

On 24 October, the Japanese 11th Air Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Jinichi Kusaka and based at Rabaul, despatched 16 Mitsubishi G4M2 'Betty' twin-engined medium bombers and 28 Mitsubishi A6M2 Reisen 'Zero' single-engined fighters to attack Henderson Field. In response, 24 Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat and four Bell P-400 Airacobra single-engined fighters of the Cactus Air Force rose to meet them, resulting in a large aerial battle. To Allied observers, the Japanese appeared to lose several aircraft in the day’s engagements, but their actual losses are unknown. The Cactus Air Force lost one Wildcat to battle damage but the pilot was uninjured.

Sumiyoshi was informed by Hyakutake’s staff of the postponement of the offensive to 24 October, but was unable to contact Nakaguma to inform him of the delay. Thus, at dusk on 23 October, two battalions of Nakaguma’s 4th Regiment and the nine tanks of the 1st Independent Tank Company launched attack on the US defences at the mouth of the Matanikau river. The tanks attacked in pairs across the sandbar at the mouth of the Matanikau river behind a barrage of artillery. Marine 37-mm anti-tank guns and artillery quickly destroyed all the tanks. At the same time, four battalions of marine artillery, totaling 40 howitzers, fired more than 6,000 rounds into the area between Point Cruz and the Matanikau river, inflicting heavy losses on Nakaguma’s infantry battalions as they tried to approach the marines' line. Nakaguma’s attacks ended by 01.15 on 24 October, inflicting only light casualties on the marines and gaining no ground.

Partly in response to Nakaguma’s attacks, on 24 October the 2/7th Marines under Lieutenant Colonel Herman H. Hanneken deployed to the Matanikau river. After Oka’s forces had been spotted approaching the marines' Matanikau river positions from the south, Hanneken’s battalion was placed on a ridge facing south to create a continuous extension of the inland flank of the marines' horseshoe-shaped Matanikau river defences. However, there was still a gap between Hanneken’s eastern flank and the main perimeter.

With the redeployment of Hanneken’s battalion, the 700 men of the 1/7th Marines under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Lewis B. 'Chesty' Puller were left to hold the entire 2,500-yard (2285-m) line on the southern face of the Lunga river perimeter in the area to the east of the river. Late on 24 October, marine patrols detected Maruyama’s approaching forces, but it was now too late in the day for the marines to rearrange their dispositions.

At 14.00 on 24 October, Maruyama’s Left-Wing Unit and Right-Wing Unit began to deploy for their attacks. The Japanese had very little artillery or mortar support for their planned assault, having abandoned most of their heavy weapons along the Maruyama Road. Between 16.00 and 21.00 there was heavy, which delayeds the Japanese approach and caused chaos in the Japanese formations, which were completely exhausted after the long march through the jungle. Shoji’s Right-Wing Unit accidentally turned parallel to the marine line, and all but one battalion failed to make contact with the US defences. Shoji’s 1/230th Regiment 'stumbled' into Puller’s lines at about 22.00 and was driven back. For unknown reasons, Maruyama’s staff then reported to Hyakutake that Shoji’s unit had overrun Henderson Field. At 00.50 on 25 October, Hyakutake signaled Rabaul that '[a] little before 23.00 the Right Wing captured the airfield.'

At about this time, the battalions of Nasu’s Left-Wing Unit finally began to reach the marine defenses. At 00.30 on 25 October, the 11th Company of Nasu’s 3rd Battalion, under the command of Captain Jiro Katsumata, found and attacked Company A of Puller’s battalion. Katsumata’s attack was impeded by heavy barbed wire in front of the marine line and then hit heavily by US machine gun, mortar and artillery fire. By 01.00, the marine fire had killed most of Katsumata’s company.

Farther to the west, the 9th Company of Nasu’s 3rd Battalion charged straight into Puller’s Company C at 01.15,and within five minutes a marine machine gun section led by Sergeant John Basilone killed almost all of the 9th Company's men. By 01.25, heavy fire from the marine divisional artillery was falling into Nasu’s troop assembly and approach routes, causing considerable casualties.

Recognising that a major Japanese attack was in progress, Puller requested reinforcement and at 03.45 the 3/164th Infantry, commanded by Hall and part of the reserve, was fed piecemeal into Puller’s line. In spite of the darkness and intermittent heavy rain, the army troops had been deployed in Puller’s defences before the arrival of dawn.

Just before this, Colonel Masajiro Furimiya, commander of the 29th Regiment, together with two companies of his 3/29th Regiment plus his headquarters staff, was able to penetrate the marine artillery fire and reach Puller’s line at about 03.30. Most of Furimiya’s men were killed during their assault, but about 100 broke through the US defences and created a salient 150 yards (135 m) wide and 100 yards (9o m) deep in the centre of Puller’s line. After the sun had risen, Furimiya’s 2/29th Regiment joined in the assault on Puller’s position, but was thrown back. At 07.30, Nasu decided to withdraw most of his remaining men back into the jungle and prepare for another attack in the following night.

During 25 October, Puller’s men attacked and destroyed the salient in their line and hunted small groups of Japanese infiltrators, killing 104 Japanese soldiers. In total, more than 300 of Maruyama’s men were killed in their first attacks on the Lunga river perimeter. At 04.30, Hyakutake rescinded the message announcing the capture of the airfield, but at 07.00 declared that the results of Maruyama’s attack were unknown.

During this period, the 8th Fleet had task units ready to support the army’s attacks on Guadalcanal. Upon receipt of Hyakutake’s message declaring success at 00.50 on 24 October, the task units went into action. The light cruiser Sendai and three destroyers patrolled to the west of Guadalcanal to interdict any Allied ships trying to approach the island. A 1st Assault Unit of three destroyers and a 2nd Assault Unit of the light cruiser Yura and five destroyers approached Guadalcanal to attack any Allied ships off the island’s northern or eastern coasts and also to provide gunfire support for Hyakutake’s forces.

At 10.14, the 1st Assault Unit arrived off Lunga Point and chased away Zane and Trever, a pair of elderly US destroyers converted to minesweepers, which were delivering aviation fuel to Henderson Field. The Japanese destroyers then sighted and sank the US tug Seminole and patrol boat YP-284 before beginning their bombardment of the US positions around Lunga Point. At 10.53, a marine shore gun hit and damaged the destroyer Akatsuki, and all three Japanese destroyers withdrew while being strafed by four F4F fighters. As the 2nd Assault Unit approached Guadalcanal through Indispensable Strait, it was attacked by five Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless single-engined dive-bombers of the Cactus Air Force. After bomb hits had caused heavy damage on Yura, the unit reversed course to try to escape. More air attacks on Yura throughout the day caused further damage, and the cruiser was abandoned and scuttled at 21.00 on that same night.

Meanwhile, 82 Japanese bombers and fighters of the 11th Air Fleet and from the aircraft carriers Junyo and Hiyo attacked Henderson Field in six waves throughout the day and were engaged by fighters of the Cactus Air Force and marine anti-aircraft guns. By the end of the day, the Japanese had lost 11 fighter, two bomber and one reconnaissance aircraft along with most of their aircrews. Two of the Cactus Air Force’s fighters were destroyed in the day’s fighting but both pilots survived. The Japanese air attacks caused only slight damage to Henderson Field and the US defences.

Throughout 25 October, the US forces redeployed their units and improved their defences against the Japanese attack they were expecting that night. In the west, Hanneken and the 5th Marines closed the gap between their two forces. Along the southern portion of the perimeter, Puller’s and Hall’s troops disentangled from each other and repositioned themselves. Puller’s men fortified the western 1,400 yards (1280 m) of the sector and the 164th Infantry took the eastern 1,100-yard (1005-m) sector. The divisional reserve, the 3/2nd Marines, was placed directly behind Hall’s and Puller’s positions.

Maruyama committed his reserve, the 16th Regiment, to Nasu’s Left-Wing Unit. Beginning at 20.00 on 25 October, and extending into the early morning hours of the following day, the 16th Regiment and what left of Nasu’s other units made many but universally unsuccessful frontal assaults on Puller’s and Hall’s lines. Marine and army rifle, machine gun, mortar, artillery and direct canister fire from 37-mm anti-tank guns shattered Nasu’s men. Colonel Toshiro Hiroyasu, commander of the 16th Regiment, and most of his staff, as well as four Japanese battalion commanders, were killed in the assaults. Nasu was hit by rifle fire and mortally wounded. A few small groups of Nasu’s men, including one led by Furimiya, broke through the US defences, but were all hunted down and killed over the next several days. Shoji’s Right-Wing Unit was not involved in the attacks, choosing instead to remain in place to cover Nasu’s right flank against a possible attack in that area by US forces that never appeared.

At 03.00 on 26 October, Oka’s unit finally reached and attacked the marine defences near the Matanikau river. Oka’s troops assaulted along an east/west saddle ridge held by Hanneken’s battalion but concentrated on Hanneken’s Company F, which defended the extreme left flank of the marine positions on the ridge. One machine gun section of Company F killed many of the Japanese attackers, but Japanese fire eventually killed or injured almost all the marine machine gunners. At 05.00, Oka’s 3/4th Regiment succeeded in scaling the steep slope of the ridge and pushed the surviving members of Company F off the crest. Responding to the Japanese capture of part of the ridgeline, Major Odell M. Conoley, Hanneken’s battalion executive officer, quickly gathered a counterattack unit of 17 men, including communications specialists, messmen, one cook and one bandsman. Conoley’s scratch force was joined by elements of Hanneken’s Company G, Company C and a few unwounded survivors of Company F, and attacked the Japanese before they could consolidate their positions on top of the ridge. By 06.00, Conoley’s force had pushed the Japanese off the ridge, effectively ending Oka’s attack. The marines counted 98 Japanese bodies on the ridge and 200 more in the ravine in front of it. Hanneken’s unit suffered 14 killed and 32 wounded.

At 08.00 on 26 October, Hyakutake cancelled any further attacks and ordered his forces to retreat. Maruyama’s men recovered some of their wounded from near the US lines on the night of 26/27 October, and began to withdraw into the deep jungle. The US forces recovered and buried or burned as quickly as possible the remains of 1,500 of Maruyama’s men left lying in front of Puller’s and Hall’s lines.

The survivors of the Left-Wing Unit were ordered to retreat to the area lying to the west of the Matanikau river while those of the Right-Wing Unit were told to head for Koli Point, to the east of the Lunga perimeter. The men of the Left-Wing Unit, who had run out of food several days before, began the retreat on 27 October, and during the retreat many of the Japanese wounded succumbed to their injuries and were buried along the Maruyama Road. The first elements of the 2nd Division reached the 17th Army's headquarters area at Kokumbona, to the west of the Matanikau river, on 4 November. On this same day, the Right-Wing Unit reached Koli Point and made camp. Decimated by battle deaths, combat injuries, malnutrition and tropical diseases, the 2nd Division was now incapable of further offensive action and therefore fought as a defensive formation for the rest of the Guadalcanal campaign. Later in November, US forces drove the men of the Right-Wing Unit from Koli Point back to the Kokumbona area, with a battalion-sized marine patrol attacking and harassing them almost the entire way. Only about 700 of the Right-Wing Unit's original 3,000 men ultimately returned to Kokumbona.

At the same time that Hyakutake’s troops were attacking the Lunga perimeter, Japanese warships under the overall direction of Yamamoto moved into a position near the southern end of the Solomon islands group in the hope of engaging and inflicting a decisive defeat on any US naval forces, especially carrier forces, that responded to Hyakutake’s ground offensive. Allied naval carrier forces in the area, now under the command of Halsey, who had succeeded Ghormley, also hoped to meet the Japanese naval forces in battle. The two opposing carrier forces confronted each other on the morning of 26 October, in the 'Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands'. After an exchange of carrier air attacks, Allied surface ships retreated from the battle area after the loss of one carrier sunk and another heavily damaged. The participating Japanese carrier forces, however, also fell back as a result of their great aircraft and aircrew losses as well as significant damage to two carriers. This was a tactical victory for the Japanese in terms of ships sunk and damaged, but the loss of veteran aircrews was a long-term strategic advantage for the Allies, whose aircrew losses in the battle were relatively low.

Although the Japanese army’s attack on the Lunga perimeter had been decisively defeated in this battle, the Japanese were not yet ready to give up the struggle for Guadalcanal. The Japanese army and navy made immediate plans to move the rest of the 38th Division to the island, along with Lieutenant General Hidemitsu Nakano’s 51st Division, for another offensive against Henderson Field in November 1942.

The Japanese again planned to bombard Henderson Field with battleships in order to allow a convoy of transport ships to deliver the 38th Division's troops and heavy equipment. However, in contrast with what occurred on 14 October, this time the US Navy moved to intercept the battleship forces sent by Yamamoto from Truk to shell the airfield. During the ensuing 'Naval Battle of Guadalcanal' on 13/15 November, Allied naval and air forces turned back two Japanese attempts to bombard Henderson Field and almost completely destroyed the transport convoy carrying the remainder of the 38th Division. After this failure this troop reinforcement effort, the Japanese commanders finally conceded defeat in the battle for Guadalcanal and opted to evacuate most of their surviving troops by the first week of February 1943. Building on their success at Guadalcanal and elsewhere, the Allies pressed forward in their 'island-hopping' campaign against Japan.