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Battle Of Midway

Battle Of Midway

Battle Of Midway : The Battle of Midway occurred as a result of the Allied strategic victory in the Coral Sea one month earlier. The battle was fought between June 4th and 7th, 1942. 

The Battle of  Midway delivered a decisive and important victory to the American fleet. Midway consolidated the supremacy of the aircraft carrier in the Pacific, a battle tactic first initiated during the engagement in the Coral Sea. 

The Battle of Midway also changed the strategic dynamic of the Pacific campaign. 

The Allies were now able to fully achieve their objective of taking the offensive against the Japanese Imperial Fleet. 

A 1953 Townsville Daily Bulletin article suggests that the Battle of Midway was without a doubt the Pacific War’s turning point, a turning point which began in the Coral Sea. 

The battle of “Coral Sea was the end of the beginning Midway was the beginning of the end.” 

However, some historians have stated that Midway was not the turning point of the Pacific campaign, but rather one episode in a series of greater events.  

It was important for the Allies not only to consolidate their victory at the Battle of Coral Sea but also to provide a foundation for the remainder of the war.

It can be argued that the combined victories of the Coral Sea and Midway enabled the Allies to force a change in the direction of the Pacific War. For this reason, it can be seen that the battles, combined, were significant to the overall defense of the Pacific region.

The Japanese wanted to capture the Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, it was of vital strategy importance.

The Japanese intended to invade the strategic Pacific outpost, drawing in the US Pacific fleet, where Japanese carriers, lying in wait, would deliver a conclusive blow. 

Unfortunately for the Japanese, US code breakers had intercepted Japanese messages which indicated that an invasion force was being sent to the Aleutian Islands and also to another location, assumed to be Midway. 

The intentions of the Japanese to take Midway were made known when a bogus, un-coded US transmission was sent from Midway saying that their ability to produce fresh drinking water had been diminished.

A Japanese transmission was then intercepted noting that invading troops should make extra provisions for drinking water.

Once the Japanese battle intentions were obvious, the American fleet was able to reverse the plan of a Japanese surprise ambush.

The Americans were also able to further count on what can only be referred to as luck once they were in position off the coast of Midway.

The German Aircraft Carrier Graf Zeppelin – what happened?

Scouting planes were sent out from Japanese carriers to search for any Allied warships in the area.

The Japanese scouting plane which was assigned to search the position where the American fleet was lying in wait suffered mechanical problems for twenty minutes, allowing the US Navy further time to prepare their ambush.

As the battle progressed, the Japanese suffered a devastating defeat in which their four carriers present were sunk.

The Americans lost the Yorktown, which had been rapidly repaired after being damaged in the Battle of the Coral Sea. 

The Midway atoll was a small but significant piece of island real estate. 

It stood, as its name suggests, in the middle of the Pacific. Whoever controlled this atoll might ultimately hold the balance of power in the Pacific Ocean.

If the Japanese had been able to capture it, they would have had an uninterrupted run to Hawaii, especially if the US Pacific Fleet had been destroyed or significantly damaged. 

The US fleet would have found it very difficult to force their way back into contention for victory.

It would have been possible for the Japanese to set up a defensive system across the Western Pacific, which would have allowed invasion of several islands, as well as the isolation of Australia. 

The United States Navy had three carriers present at the Battle ofMidway: Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown. These were all pivotal in the action against the Japanese carrier force. The Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu were the fundamental part of the IJNs force headed to Midway, accompanied by a vast array of cruisers and destroyers. 

Akagi at the Battle of Midway was painted by John Hamilton (1919-93). The The original painting is displayed in The Pentagon in Washington, DC

The Japanese had a formidable force. These forces were, however, not a match for the signals intelligence of the Americans which gave them the upper hand in the battle. According to historian Ronald Lewin, “the efforts to intercept, locate, and decrypt the radio communications of the enemy became a salient characteristic of the conflict.”

The skill of the American pilots allowed them to capitalize on this throughout the Battle of Midway.

Furthermore, the Japanese pilots were at a disadvantage because of The Battle of the Coral Sea. It had a profound impact on the Japanese preparedness for their planned attack on Midway.

The Japanese Navy would always use their best pilots on operations, rather than sending a portion of them to work as instructors to teach the next generation. 

The pilot losses suffered by the Japanese at the Battle of the Coral Sea left vacant positions which could not be filled by combat-ready pilots with sufficient training. 

This policy severely hindered their chances of victory at Midway, with the Zuikaku being unavailable for combat operations because of a lack of competent pilots being attached to the ship.

The lack of further carrier power for the Japanese proved critical.

According to historian Charles Bateson’s War With Japan, “At Midway, the Japanese fleet had suffered the greatest defeat in its history.”

The loss of four fleet carriers proved decisive as the war continued. 

The Japanese, following six months of unstoppable victories throughout the Pacific, had finally been halted at the Coral Sea. 

With defeat at Midway, the Japanese faced a huge task to regain control of the Pacific. This proved to be impossible as the Allies soon began to secure further victories.

Battle Of Midway

by Stephen Dos Santos

Edited by Alexander Fleiss