Battle of Vella LaVella
Battle of Vella LaVella: October 6-7, 1943
In the last surface engagement in the Central Solomon islands, USS O'Bannon (DD-450), USS Chevalier (DD-451), and USS Selfridge (DD-357), the Northern Group, led by Captain Frank R. Walker, USN, intercepted nine Japanese destroyers. The Southern Group, led by Captain Harold O. Larson, consisted of USS Ralph Talbot (DD-390), USS Taylor (DD-468), and USS La Vallette (DD-448). The Japanese force was led by Rear Admiral Matsuji Tjuin and en-route to Rabaul after evacuating the garrison on Vella LaVella. The Japanese escaped northbound but Chevalier and Selfridge sank Yugumo. In return, all three destroyers were damaged, with Chevalier scuttled by La Vallette due to the damage she received earlier from Yugumo. Though the Japanese may have tactically won the battle, they would not be able to match United States production and with the mind set of they were winning the war. As a result, the Allies now had to the initiative to fight when and where they wanted to fight.
Image: 80-G-274873: USS Selfridge (DD-357), damaged to her bow from the Battle of Vella LaVella, October 6-7, 1943. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collection of the National Archives.