By the time the sun rose over Guadalcanal on August 9, 1942, the US Navy was just beginning to come to terms with the tragedy that had occurred in the dark night before. Many Naval Historians consider the action of the night of August 8-9, 1942 to be the worst defeat ever suffered by the US Navy, including Pearl Harbor.
Just two days before the Marines had landed on the island and seized the airstrip which the Japanese had begun to build there. Just nine months after the war began, it was a bold move, made with confidence and élan. But now, that confidence was gone. destroyed at the point of Long Lance torpedoes fired by Japanese cruisers that had gone virtually undetected. Five Allied heavy cruisers were sunk or heavily damaged and more than a 1000 sailors had perished.
Shock and dismay flooded through the Navy and its Commanders. The Marines ashore understood that nothing was going to be easy now. What had seemed to be an easy victory the day before, was now in serious doubt.
But as the sun rose over the South Pacific that terrible morning, virtually no one realized the error that had been made. And despite the loss of five heavy cruisers and a thousand men, it hadn’t been the US Navy that made it…