Solomon Islands - Melanesia - Pacific Ocean
Solomon Islands History and Facts in Brief
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Tokyo Express was the name given by Allied
forces to the use of Imperial Japanese Navy
ships at night to deliver personnel, supplies,
and equipment to Japanese forces operating in
and around New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
during the Pacific campaign of World War II.
Japanese troops load onto a warship in preparation
for a "Tokyo Express" run sometime in 1942.
|Active||August, 1942 - November, 1943|
|Country||Empire of Japan|
|Allegiance||Axis Powers of World War II|
|Branch||Imperial Japanese Navy|
|Type||Ad hoc military logistics organization|
|Role||Supply and reinforcement to|
Japanese Army and Navy units
located in the Solomon Islands
and New Guinea
|Garrison/HQ||Rabaul, New Britain|
and Buin, Solomon Islands
"Rat" or "ant" transportation
Battle of Cape Esperance|
Battle of Tassafaronga
Battle of Blackett Strait
Battle of Kula Gulf
Battle of Kolombangara
Battle of Vella Gulf
Battle off Horaniu
Naval Battle of Vella Lavella
Battle of Cape St. George
The tactic involved loading personnel or supplies
onto fast warships, such as destroyers or other
warships, and using the warships' speed capability
to deliver the personnel or supplies to the desired
location and return to the originating base all
within one night so Allied aircraft could not
intercept them by day.
The original name of the resupply missions was
"Cactus Express" as coined by Allied forces on
Guadalcanal, using the codename for the
After the U.S. press began referring to it as the
"Tokyo Express," apparently in order to preserve
operational security for the codeword "Cactus,"
Allied forces also began to use that phrase in
place of "Cactus Express."
The Japanese called the night resupply missions
Rat Transportation, because they took
place at night.
Organization and history
Rat Transportation was necessary for Japanese forces
due to Allied air superiority in the South Pacific
that was established soon after the Allied landings
on Guadalcanal and Henderson Field began operating
as the "Cactus Air Force" in August, 1942.
Delivery of troops and material by slow transport
ships to Japanese forces on Guadalcanal and New Guinea
soon proved too vulnerable to daytime air attack.
Thus, Japanese Combined Fleet commander, Admiral
Isoroku Yamamoto, authorized the use of faster warships
at night to make the deliveries when the threat of
detection was much less and aerial attack
The Tokyo Express began soon after the Battle of Savo
Island in August, 1942 and continued until late in
the Solomon Islands campaign when one of the last,
large Express runs was interdicted and almost completely
destroyed in the Battle of Cape St. George on
November 26, 1943.
Although the fast destroyers typically used were not
configured for cargo handling, many supplies were
simply pushed into the water, inside of sealed steel
drums tied together with strings that floated ashore
or were picked up by barge.
A typical night in December resulted in 1500 drums
being rolled into the sea, but only 300 were
Most of the warships used for Tokyo Express missions
came from the 8th Fleet, based at Rabaul and Bougainville,
although ships from Combined Fleet units based at
Truk were often temporarily attached for use in
The warship formations assigned to Express missions
were often formally designated as the Reinforcement
Unit, but the size and composition of this unit
varied from mission to mission.
John F. Kennedy and PT-109
John F. Kennedy's PT-109 was lost on a "poorly planned
and uncoordinated" attack on the Tokyo Express.
15 PT boats with 60 torpedoes did not register a single
hit, let alone a sinking.
The PT-109 was struck by a destroyer returning from its
supply run, estimated to be traveling in excess of 30
knots with no running lights.
^ Evans 176
^ Coombe, Derailing the Tokyo Express, p. 33.
^ History of USMC Operations in WWII, Vol I, Chapter 9:
Final Period, 9 December 1942 to 9 February 1943
^ Frank, p. 559.
^ National Geographic Search for the PT-109 DVD
- Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two.
Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X.
- Coombe, Jack D. (1991). Derailing the Tokyo Express.
Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole. ISBN 0-8117-3030-1.
- Crenshaw, Russell Sydnor (1998). South Pacific
Destroyer: The Battle for the Solomons from Savo
Island to Vella Gulf. Naval Institute Press.
- D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese
Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub.
- Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the
Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute
Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1.
- Evans, David C. (1986 (2nd Edition)). "The
Struggle for Guadalcanal", The Japanese Navy in
World War II: In the Words of Former Japanese
Naval Officers. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval
Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-316-4.
- Frank, Richard (1990). Guadalcanal: The
Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle.
New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-58875-4.
- Griffith, Brig. Gen. Samuel B (USMC) (1974).
"Part 96: Battle For the Solomons", History of
the Second World War. Hicksville, NY, USA:
- Hara, Tameichi (1961). Japanese Destroyer
Captain. New York & Toronto: Ballantine Books.
- Kilpatrick, C. W. (1987). Naval Night Battles
of the Solomons. Exposition Press.
- Lord, Walter (1977 (Reissue 2006)).
Lonely Vigil; Coastwatchers of the Solomons.
Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-466-3.
- Lundstrom, John B. (2005 (New edition)).
First Team And the Guadalcanal Campaign: Naval
Fighter Combat from August to November 1942.
Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-472-8.
- McGee, William L. (2002). The Solomons
Campaigns, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to
Bougainville--Pacific War Turning Point, Volume
2 (Amphibious Operations in the South Pacific
in WWII). BMC Publications. ISBN 0-9701678-7-3.
- Miller, Thomas G. (1969). Cactus Air Force.
Admiral Nimitz Foundation. ISBN 0-934841-17-9.
.Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). The Struggle for
Guadalcanal, August 1942 - February 1943, vol.
5 of History of United States Naval Operations
in World War II. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.
ISBN 0-316-58305-7. Online views of selections
of the book:
- Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). Breaking the
Bismarcks Barrier, vol. 6 of History of United
States Naval Operations in World War II. Castle
- Potter, E. B. (2005). Admiral Arleigh Burke.
Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-692-5.
- Roscoe, Theodore (1953). United States Destroyer
Operations in World War Two. Naval Institute
- Rottman, Gordon L.; Dr. Duncan Anderson
(consultant editor) (2005). Japanese Army in
World War II: The South Pacific and New Guinea,
1942-43. Oxford and New York: Osprey.
- Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
- Hough, Frank O.; Ludwig, Verle E., and Shaw,
Henry I., Jr.. "Pearl Harbour to Guadalcanal".
History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World
War II. Retrieved on 2006-05-16.
- Parshall, Jon; Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp,
& Allyn Nevitt. "Imperial Japanese Navy Page
(Combinedfleet.com)". Retrieved on 2006-06-14.
- Shaw, Henry I. (1992). "First Offensive: The Marine
Campaign For Guadalcanal". Marines in World War II
Commemorative Series. Retrieved on 2006-07-25.
- Shaw, Henry I.; Douglas T. Kane (1963). "Volume
II: Isolation of Rabaul". History of U.S. Marine Corps
Operations in World War II. Retrieved on 2006-10-18.
- U.S. Army Centre of Military History. "Japanese
Operations in the Southwest Pacific Area, Volume II
- Part I". Reports of General MacArthur. Retrieved on
2006-12-08.- Translation of the official record by the
Japanese Demobilization Bureaux detailing the Imperial
Japanese Army and Navy's participation in the Southwest
Pacific area of the Pacific War.
- Zimmerman, John L. (1949). "The Guadalcanal Campaign".
Marines in World War II Historical Monograph.
Retrieved on 2006-07-04.
For more information about
Tokyo Express see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This page was retrieved and condensed from
see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, November 2008.
All text is available under the terms of the
GNU Free Documentation License
Copyrights for details).
This information was correct in November 2008. E. & O.E.
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