GUADALCANAL, 12-13 SEPTEMBER, 1942: After a harrowing destroyer ride down the Slot, Kawaguchi’s 124th Regiment landed on Guadalcanal and immediately set out to capture Henderson airfield. Seeking to surprise the Marine defenders, about whom Kawaguchi had very little intelligence, the Japanese moved inland to attack them from behind. Invisible to aerial recon and undetected by Marine patrols, Kawaguchi’s men struggled through the incredible choking forest and tangled, swampy ravines. Kawaguchi's attack schedule was soon set back, twice. At last, the 124th arrived in the area of the jump-off point south of the airfield behind a long, almost treeless ridge. With time running out and uncertain of the enemy’s disposition, Kawaguchi ordered the attack to center on the ridge, which was at least a recognizable feature. The valiant Japanese attacked in waves, raging onto the open top of the ridge with fixed bayonets, hurling grenades and flares. The attacks stormed up from the jungle surrounding the ridge to boil around Marine Raider Cpt. Duryea’s forward company wire and entrenchments. Colonel Edson had moved the Para and Raider line north after the first night’s attack, leaving some open ground between the jungle and the first line of entrenchments. In the impossible jungle south of the ridge, a critical third of the Japanese force simply lost its way and never joined the battle. Still, the other battalions threatened to wash over the Marine line, particularly the positions of B Company of both the Raiders and Paras, stretched across the summit. The Marines held their ground until almost overwhelmed, then fell back to the last semi-prepared position before the airfield itself—a line of shallow foxholes at the foot of a knob in the center of the ridge. After twelve separate rushes, Kawaguchi had to admit defeat near dawn. In the morning, the 124th made a series of small attacks to recover their wounded, then started the long, and quite soon, starving, retreat back to the coast.
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