A Nation’s New Hope – USMC, Guadalcanal 1942
The third print in Valor Studios’ WWII Marines in the Pacific series, the legend at the bottom of the print reads: “Early December, 1942: a year after Pearl Harbor, U.S. Marine survivors of Guadalcanal swap hard-won war trophies after five brutal months of fighting. These teenagers-turned-veterans had endured savage bombardment by air and sea. They had weathered disease and near starvation. Ultimately, they had gone eyeball to eyeball with a seasoned foe and bested them in combat, giving America her first major land victory of WWII. Now, as the 5th Marine Regiment departs, the Marines of the 1st Regiment await their chance to say goodbye to Guadalcanal. They would leave as victors, the Marines who gave a shaken nation new hope.”
Originally seized by the Japanese in May 1942, the occupation of Guadalcanal represented a direct threat to Australia. The construction of an airfield on the island gave Japan a base from which it could attack Australia with land-based aircraft. Operation Watchtower was not only the first amphibious landing by the United States in the war, but it also marked a significant turning point in the war as it ended Japanese expansion in the Pacific.
The initial landings in early August were not heavily contested but as the Marines moved inland, the defense grew more resolute and the fighting more bitter. The campaign lasted just over six months, with three major land battles, seven large naval engagements and almost daily aerial battles as the two belligerents fought for air supremacy. Overcoming the jungle, a poor supply line, and debilitating weather, the Marines fought their last decisive engagement on the island in November when Japanese forces attempting to retake the airfield via naval gunfire and ground assault were repelled. From that point on, the enemy gradually withdrew and finally evacuated Guadalcanal in February 1943, leaving behind almost 25,000 of their dead, killed during the campaign.
The attack on Guadalcanal included Allied troops from of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Once the island was secured, it became a vital base, supporting the multi-national advance to seize the remaining Solomon islands.
Behind the Art
Seen making a few notes in his diary is Robert Leckie, ‘Lucky’ to his fellow Marines. Born in 1920, he enlisted in January 1942 and served as a machine gunner during the Guadalcanal campaign. Leckie fought through the Pacific until he was evacuated due to wounds suffered during the taking of Peleliu in 1944. In 1957 Leckie published a memoir of his time in the Marine Corps, Helmet for My Pillow.
Sid Phillips, depicted here with a souvenir Japanese battle flag admires a comrade’s captured enemy rifle. Phillips volunteered to enlist the day after Pearl Harbor and served in the Marines as a member of an 81mm mortar squad. After his service he returned to Mobile, Alabama and pursued a medical career and earned his medical degree from Spring Hill College. He published his wartime memoirs; You’ll be Sor-ree in 2010.
Flown by the British as the ‘Martlet,’ the Grumman F4F was used in combat prior to America entering the war. While generally outclassed by the Japanese Zero in speed and performance, the Wildcat was more rugged due to heavier armor and self-sealing gas tanks. The tough airframe and American tactics allowed Wildcat pilots to hold their own against the Zeroes and had a kill-to-loss ratio of 6.9 to 1. Wildcats were produced throughout the war but were transitioned to escort duty in 1943 when they were replaced by the more formidable F6F Hellcat.
Faithfully reproduced from the original artwork, The Victors by Matt Hall, depicts veterans the 1st Marine Regiment. In addition to the caption, the bottom margin of the print includes the insignia of the United States Marine Corps.
- Originally printed by Valor Studios:
- 190 Victory Editions
- 100 Publisher Proofs
- 100 Artist Proofs
- Signer’s Proofs
- Each print is hand-signed by the artist
- Each print includes a Certificate of Authenticity
- This limited edition lithograph is printed on acid-free, archival quality, 100 lb. stock
- Print size: 31″ x 19″
- All prints are sold unframed
- Print color may vary from screen color