By Samuel B. Griffith
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Extra resources for The Battle for Guadalcanal
In midafternoon Mason reported a dozen unescorted dive bombers on the way; again ships were ready and fighters on station. " Actually, three dive bombers were shot out of the air; six ran out of gas and ditched on the way back to base. Their pilots were not recovered. Of 51 planes which left Rabaul that day, thirty did not return. Among the pilots who did was Saburo Sakai, Japan's greatest ace. His Zero was shot to pieces but still flew. Blinded in one eye and bleeding from multiple wounds, Sakai by a supreme effort of will made Vunakanau, skidded to a landing and fainted.
Rosecrans then colleced his battalion and moved into position to support Edson. Resistance first developed in the former Chinese settlement which hugged the Burns-Philp docks on the north coast opposite tiny Makambo Island. Here, just before noon on August 7, marines suffered their first battle casualties of the South Pacific campaign. ) Samuel Miles, a young Navy doctor, was killed, and a company commander critically hit. Raiders moved warily toward the flimsy shacks, the Japanese brought light mortars into action.
Burdened with excessively heavy packs and extra ammunition, blasted by the heat and stupefying humidity, short of water and salt tablets, they were in no condition to press forward, much less to fight. Fortunately, Cates's marines did not encounter any Japanese on their first afternoon ashore. Nor was the progress of the Fifth Marines any more satisfactory. In spite of repeated exhortations from the regimental commander, his 1st Battalion advanced westward at an exasperatingly slow rate. By nightfall, this battalion had, however, reached its objective for the day: the east bank of Alligator Creek, a sluggish, semi-tidal stream about two miles west of Red Beach.