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In Solemn Rememberance….. December 7, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Society.

………we here highly resolve that those who have died shall not have died in vain.  “An unprovoked……..and dastardly attack……a state of war has existed between the Empire of Japan, and the United States of America:”

Some of the most savage fighting in modern memory followed.  I pray for the repose of the souls of all who died, and am in incredible debt for their service. 

The fighting was perhaps nowhere worse than on the Kokoda trail, which climbed from the northern shore of New Guinea, up to altitudes of 14000 feet over the Owen Stanley mountains, and back down to Port Moresby on the southern coast, the very gateway to Australia:

In the second half of the campaign, the Japanese were reduced to cannibalism, something they took to with an aplomb the Americans and Australians, who starved almost as much, could not fathom.

The war at sea was the greatest naval conflict in the history of the world, with the world’s two largest navies, both naval powers of long standing, both daughters of the Royal Navy, fighting to the last over the entire western half of the Pacific, about 1/4 of the globe.  Midway is often seen as the turning point, but don’t forget about the 2nd Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.  Had that battle been lost, and the US subsequently lost control of the sea around that island, the Japanese may have completed their conquest of the Solomon Islands,  extended their defensive perimeter hundreds of miles south and west, and threatened Australia gravely.  The terrible attritional warfare around Guadalcanal had ground the US Navy down to its last assets – 2 brand new, untested battleships and a few destroyers.  The Japanese came steaming down the ‘Slot’ with 1 battleship, 2 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 9 destroyers.  Early on, the US destroyers were largely put out of the fight, and the brand new battleship South Dakota (BB-57) was caught too close to the Japanese forces, suffered an electrical failure robbing it of all ability to fight, and was peppered with 28 shells of 6″ and up, including some 14 inchers from Kirishima.   But, then, Vice Admiral Willis A. “Chink” Lee, in his flagship USS Washington (BB-56) came out of nowhere (to the Japanese) and opened fire, inflicting crippling damage on battleship Kirishima and a Japanese destroyer.  The final major Japanese bid for naval supremacy around Guadalcanal was thwarted, after almost a dozen major engagements and the loss of dozens of ships on both sides.  It was the brutal attritional warfare on and around Guadalcanal, 6 months of grinding hell, that broke the back of Japanese air and naval power. 

Before entering combat, “Chink” Lee called ashore to the US naval installation on Tulagi to insure that friendly torpedo boats would not attack his force.  To prove his identity in some muddled communication conditions, he stated the following:

This is Ching Chong China Lee. Refer your big boss about Ching Lee. Call off your boys!     

Willis Augustus Lee, Chink Lee, looked decidedly Asian, although he was not.  He, like his confederates John Slew McCain and Marc Mitscher died almost immediately after the war’s end, all of sudden heart attacks.  It would appear they gave their all.

Slew McCain and Bill Halsey.

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