This realistic story of the early taking of Guadalcanal was based on the book by Richard Tregaskis.
Marines relax on deck in the south Pacific and join a large fleet for an attack on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in the first major combat of the war in the Pacific. Sgt. Malone (Lloyd Nolan) instructs his men. On August 7, 1942 they attack with battleship artillery, planes, and marines. They cross the beach without resistance and find a village abandoned. They capture three natives. One of their men is shot dead, and Father Donnelly (Preston Foster) prays over him. On a rainy night another man is killed. They take over equipment and dig in. Col. Grayson (Minor Watson) sends men in two boats after the "Japs." A submarine attacks them and hits one boat. The other picks up the men, and shore batteries destroy the submarine. Captain Cross (Roy Roberts) lands at night, and they fight on the beach. All are killed except Alvarez (Anthony Quinn), who escapes by swimming and reports back. Another force is sent by land. Anderson (Richard Jaeckel) asks Sgt. Malone about killing people, and he replies it is kill or be killed and not to think about it lest he go crazy. Anderson is shot, and Malone carries him to the doctor. The enemy at Matanikau is defeated.
At camp the men gather for mail and read their letters. Planes fly over and bomb them. On October 10 the army arrives. Patrols go after the men in caves. Potts (William Bendix) kills a bunch of them with TNT. At night they are attacked by artillery from ships and bombs from planes. Potts talks about prayer. The next day the dead are buried, and Father Donnelly speaks. US planes fly over, and more reinforcements arrive. An offensive is planned for November 10. Men write letters as others sing. They attack in three places. Men fight and are killed, and eventually the Japanese are driven into the sea. The marines pull out on December 10, and Father Donnelly reads their commendation.
This drama depicts the marines at the cutting edge of
the first campaign to defeat the Japanese empire by attacking
the islands they occupied.