Appendix E: First Marine Division Operation Order--Guadalcanal

First Marine Division
Fleet Marine Force
Wellington, N.A.
[20 July 1942]1


Maps: H.O. CHART #2896 (Solomon Islands) reproduced by D-2 Section.

D-2 Section Map North Coast Guadalcanal Island--Lunga Point to Aola, 9 Sections, 15 July, 1942, RF 1/24,000.

D-2 Section Map Tulagi and adjacent islands, 7/14/42, (4 sheets) c RF 1/12,000.

D-2 Section--Special map Tulagi--1/12,000, 15 July, 1942.

(a) COMBAT GROUP A [5th Mar, Reinf] (less Combat Team #2 (less Btry E 11th Marines)) Col. LeRoy P. Hunt, USMC
(b) COMBAT GROUP B [1st Mar, Reinf] Col. Clifton B. Cates, USMC
(c) TULAGI GROUP 1st Raider Bn Combat Team #2 (less Btry E 11th Marines) LtCol. Merritt A. Edson, USMC
(d) GAVUTU GROUP First parachute Battalion Maj. Robert H. Williams, USMC
(e) SUPPORT GROUP 1st Eng Bn (less Cos A, B, & C) 11th Marines (less 1st, 2d, 3d and 4th Bns) 1st Spl Wpns Bn (less 1st & 3d Pl Btry A) 1st Pion Bn (less Cos A & B) Col. Pedro A. del Valle, USMC
(f) DIVISION RESERVE 2d Marines (Reinforced) (less Combat Team A) Col. John M. Arthur, USMC
(g) FLORIDA GROUP Combat Team A. Maj. Robert E. Hill, USMC

1. See Annex A Intelligence

Naval Attack Force will furnish naval gunfire and air support (see Annexes B and C gunfire and air support plans respectively). Minesweepers will cover landing of FLORIDA GROUP by concentration on BUNGANA ISLAND [south of Halavo Peninsula] and GAVUTU.

2. This Division will attack and destroy the hostile garrisons of TULAGI, GUADALCANAL, GAVUTU, and MAKAMBO by simultaneous landings on D day. It will then organize and defend those islands.
For Transport Area, Line of Departure, beaches, objectives, Boundaries see Operation Overlay Annex D.

3. (a) Land on Beach RED at Zero Hour with 2 CTs in assault on a front of 1600 yards seize beachhead (see operation overlay). When passed through by Combat Group B, Combat Group A (less CTs #2 & 3) attack toward LUNGA with its right resting on the shore line. Seize the line of the TENARU RIVER. Combat Team #3 attack and seize line of woods running southeast from TENAVATU [eastern flank of Red Beach] (see operation overly). Hold that line until relieved by Support Group. Then operate as directed by Task Organization Commander.

(b) Land on Beach RED at Zero Hour plus 50 minutes (see operation overlay) pass through right of Combat Group A and attack on magnetic azimuth 260º. Seize grassy knoll 4 miles south of LUNGA POINT. Be prepared for further advance.
Formation--Column of battalions echeloned to the left rear. Maintain contact with Combat Group A on right.

(c) Land on front of 500 yards on Beach BLUE at H hour, and seize that portion of TULAGI ISLAND lying northwest of line A (see D-2 Section Special Map TULAGI 1/12,000, 15 July 1942). Fire GREEN STAR CLUSTER to call for five minutes air and naval bombardment of TULAGI southeast of line A, after H plus 1 hour. Upon completion of bombing and lifting of naval gunfire, attack and seize the remainder to TULAGI ISLAND. Upon completion seizure of TULAGI ISLAND 1st Raider Bn reembark at Beach Blue and report completion of reembarkation to Division Headquarters, prepared for further landings. Upon seizure of TULAGI, control passes to Commander Combat Team #2. Combat Team #2 then reembark sufficient troops and seize MAKAMBO ISLAND, then organize and defend those island. Following seizure of TULAGI and MAKAMBO, and of GAVUTU and TANAMBOGO by 1st Parachute Battalion, relieve 1st Parachute Battalion with one rifle company plus one machine gun platoon.

(d) Land on east coast of GAVUTU ISLAND at H plus 4 hours, and seize that island, then seize TANAMBOGO. Fire GREEN STAR CLUSTER to call for five minutes naval gunfire on TANAMBOGO ISLAND. Reembark upon relief prepared for employment elsewhere.

(e) Land on Beach RED on order, assume control of 2d and 3d Battalions 11th Marines, provide artillery support for the attack, and coordinate AA and close in ground defense of Beachhead area.

(f) Be prepared to land Combat Team B less all reinforcing units on GAVUTU ISLAND at H plus 4 hours. Be prepared to attach Combat Team C less all reinforcing units to the TULAGI GROUP.

(g) Land 1st Battalion 2d Marines (less one rifle company and one machine gun platoon) on promontory at x3022 [Halavo Peninsula] at H hour plus 30 minutes and seize village of Halavo. Then support by fire the attack of the 1st Parachute Bn on GAVUTU. Land one (1) rifle company reinforced by one machine gun platoon at H minus 20 minutes in cove at W7837 [Haleta] and seize and hold point to southeast thereof.

(h) Execute following on order:

  1. Land Battalion less 1/3 AA elements on Beach RED. These pass to CO Support Group on landing. Assist in AA defense of beach area.
  2. Land 1/3 AA elements on TULAGI and GAVUTU, and provide AA defense that area.


  1. Land tanks with combat groups and move to cover near east boundary of beachhead. Tanks not to be committed except on division order.
  2. Land 1st and 3d platoons Battery A Special Weapons Battalion on flanks of beach and furnish AA defense beach area, 1st Platoon to right 3d platoon to left. These revert to battalion control upon landing of Headquarters 1st Special Weapons Battalion.
  3. Scout cars will not land.
  4. All artillery of combat troops will be landed with those groups and pass to control 11th Marines upon landing 11th Marines Headquarters.
  5. Assistant Division Commander will command operations in TULAGI-GAVUTU-FLORIDA Area.

4. See Administrative Order.

5. (a) See Annex E. Signal Communication.

(b) Command Posts afloat:

(c) Axis of Signal Communication all units: CP afloat--locations ashore to be reported.

(d) Use local time, zone minus eleven (zone suffix letter Love), in all communications with Division.


W.C. James,
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps,
Chief of Staff.


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[1] With the exception of the information in brackets which was added to assist the reader, this operation order is an exact transcription of a copy of the original order contained in Final/Rept, Phase I, Annex F. Map Nos. 13, 14, and 15 of this volume should be used as references with the order.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation