Skip to comments.THE LEGACY OF WORLD WAR II: THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY
Posted on 06/03/2012 3:50:59 PM PDT by smokingfrog
Spanning hundreds of leagues and four days, June 4-7, 1942, the Battle of Midway pitted an overmatched American fleet against a Japanese armada in a desperate struggle for command of the Pacific. What unfolded more than 1,000 miles northwest of Hawaii was, British historian John Keegan maintains, the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.
Saturday in San Diego, the U.S. Navy celebrated this triumphs 70th anniversary. Aboard the retired aircraft carrier named for the battle, 1,000 guests were to hear videotaped comments from a handful of survivors.
They included aviators, Marines and one plucky steward.
The Japanese had the most ships, that steward, 97-year-old Andy Mills, said during an earlier interview in his San Diego home. But we knew they were coming we had cracked their codes. We had the upper hand.
The U.S. Navy may have had another advantage it was stocked with flexible, creative officers and sailors. Mills, a black man in the then-segregated Navy, began the Battle of Midway as a steward aboard the carrier Yorktown, making meals and cleaning rooms. Before the battles end, he would crack a safe, struggle to save a doomed vessel and abandon ship twice.
Midway turned the tide of World War II in the Pacific, snapping a string of Japanese victories that had begun six months earlier at Pearl Harbor.
(Excerpt) Read more at utsandiego.com ...
4 Japanese fleet carriers sunk in one day. Kaga, Akagi, Soryu and Hiryu. 4 June 1942 was the death of the IJN.
Here’s a great commemorative short film about some of the men who gave all at Midway.
But because of the Japanese distribution of forces we weren't as overmatched as is commonly thought - it really boiled down to three American decks & and island base with 450 aircraft versus four Japanese decks and 270 aircraft.
Though they had momentum on their side the Japanese were beaten before the battle even started by virtue of their tactical plan - forces to widely spread - and strategic goal - split between taking Midway and destroying US naval airpower.
Great Story, Thanks for posting.
I don't know what would have happened if the Midway came out differently. I guess the final outcome would have been the same, but it might have taken longer.
Every time I read or see on film the accounts these WWII battles by the Navy, Marines, Army etc. it astounds me.
They were incredibly brave and also incredibly capable.
I do too. I’m in the midst of my second consecutive viewing of the series “The Last Days of WWII” Just incredible, everything. The heroism, the dedication, the suffering. And yet today people complain about such little things.
Should be mandatory viewing by every liberal. Let them see the horrors brought on by concentrated central power.
Agreed. No better example than the VT squadrons’ hopeless attacks on the Japanese carriers flying 150 MPH deathtraps.
The Japanese Naval aviators before WWII were the most selective and also most highly trained of any. They were so selective that once they lost a lot of those prewar aviators their replacements were not even close.
They also lost a lot of maintenance crews.
they probably could replace the carriers but not those superb air crew.
The hero of midway - the SBD Dauntless.
You are correct. Even if the USN lost all 3 carriers at Midway and the Japs lost none, the outcome would still be the same. By 1 July 1944 we would have 10 Essex class, 9 Independence class and 50 Casablanca class carriers in commission. The Japanese were doomed even if we had a terrible defeat at Midway.
Well and the pilots that flew them
He was off by exactly 6 months.
A couple of years ago, a guy sent me the complete U.S. Signal Corps history of my Father’s battalion in WWII. They were Combat Engineers.
The thing which totally got my attention and really surprised me is just how capable they were. They would accomplish jobs in a few days which one would think would take months or even longer.
I also am impressed with our enemies courage and capability. I recently saw a show on the History Channel or maybe another similar show about a German Tank Battalion. Goodness they went through hell and kept fighting. I also remember an interview and real film of one of the German veterans. Even those tankers were impressed with their own combat engineers, although he called them sappers.
They showed film of the tanks crossing pontoon bridges while the Russians were shelling them. He said they were basically safe from the artillery but the sappers had nothing but their helmets to protect them.
For some reason, unlike the RN and Trafalgar, the USN does not hold fleet-wide Midway celebrations.
Thanks for sharing the link.
They sacrificed so much.
I think the Battle of the Coral Sea was also very important.
Although we lost, it showed the American Navy could go head to head with the Japanese. This was the first time any allied forces fought them effectively.
I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet them. Those guys really had something special.
Almost the death of the IJN...they still had enough to kick our butts at Savo Island a couple of months later, and continued to make life tough for another six months to a year, but...I do think Midway spelled doom for japanese military aviation.
They continued to throw their best pilots back into the meat grinder until they were all gone. We rotated our best pilots out, and over time, that was the difference.
Even as early as the battle of the Eastern Solomons or Cape Esperance, gunners on ships noticed a clear change in the quality of the Japanese pilots they encountered, fighters, bombers and torpedo planes. Earlier in the war, they had been tenacious and good. They became, even that early, much less persistent and noticeably less capable.
It is kind of amazing, when you think of it. The Japs had years to prepare, train their forces, and plan their initial and follow on attacks. The US was basically caught unaware and not really on a war footing.
Yet, within a few months, the US had organized itself to build the mobile strike forces (carriers), the air forces (B-29's and long range fighters) and the ultimate atomic weapons that would win the war. The training, tactics and logistics involved were figured out and implemented. Meanwhile the Japs were spreading their forces thinly all across the Pacific. Training, logistics, and a strategy to actually defeat the US were sorely lacking.
VDH writes about the "western way of war" and how western nations, from ancient Greece to now, are better able to organize their societies to destroy their enemies. I don't think anything has changed.
Too bad that Laser Guidance timing lagged so much.
The attack of the SBDs was 15 minutes that changed the world. I’ve sailed over the spot where the Yorktown sank in RIMPAC 1994 Very moving to sail those same seas.
The Japanese thought we(and all their opposition) would just fall over dead or run away. There is not much need to create a long term plan for victory if you are racially superior.
The Japanese plan had been to strike as close as possible to “out of the blue” (only translation difficulties in the Japanese embassy in D.C. prevented a “formal” declaration of war being announced before the start of the Pearl Harbor attack), overrun and grab as much territory as possible while the Western colonial powers were still reeling, establish themselves in their new lands, then step forward with a peace offering before the Americans and British could recover and mount a counteroffensive.
How little the Japanese understood their foes....
Do you think that if things had gone very badly at Midway that there may have started a “peace with Japan” movement in late 1942?
"In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success."
A disputed quote, but it sounds good:
"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."
He said he lost track of the number of times the Aussies thanked him for the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Japan never had a chance in a war with the United States. In 1939 the USA produced 51.3 million tons of steel. Japan produced 5.8 million tons of steel.
One thing I recall from Saburo Sakai’s book is he considered the American Pilots early in the war to be of really high quality but their planes were very inferior.
I also remember him saying the best pilot he ever faced was a Dutchman very early in the war. He was flying an old obsolete fighter but every time Sakai was ready to shoot, he would evade. He eventually did shoot him down but Sakai clearly thought he would have lost to him if the Dutchman had a good plane.
Sakai also said the reason the Americans eventually prevailed was the quality of their planes fairly soon became better than the Japanese. He said they did develop some fighters which were just as good as the mustang but they were too few and too late.
It doesn't really matter. Liberals would point out the "divinity" of the Japanese emperor and blame the war on religion...
Otherwise known as the speedy three.
No. The American people did not forget about Pearl Harbor. They wanted victory and a defeat at Midway would make them even more motivated, not less.
Wow..... You were certainly privileged and you have my envy.
One of the things I’m amazed with is how quickly they could get things done, developed, invented, repaired, etc. All the new weapons, ship repairs, The Bomb, conversion of factories to wartime use....training of personnel . . .what an incredible effort home and abroad.
Fortune was in our favor on this day.
Good fortune, and untold bravery.
But they went in anyway.
I think the great depression had something to do with it. It toughened us and also our enemies.
Also our morality and sense of national patriotism was far far stronger than now. I can recall my Father mentioning that all their officers were fine men.
I agree and I came to realize my parents didn’t really talk much about it, nor toss it back at me when I complained about something. Their generation and the one before it just went out and got it done. Then went on about their business working and raising a family.
Yeah...the deck eventually became stacked against them.
Funny thing is, you talk to people today, and they talk as if the outcome of WWII was a foregone conclusion.
Early on, when we met the Japanese around the Solomons, they were a tough, evenly matched foe with us, and superior in some facets.
We learned from our mistakes. They did not. A great book that explains how we embraced technology and tactics, and how they stubbornly refused to change is “Neptune’s Inferno”, about the naval battles around the Solomon Islands. Of course, it also highlights how some of our leadership refused to learn as well, particularly with respect to torpedoes...we were stuck on gunnery. Even as late as November 1942, there were commanders in the fleet who did not understand either the deficiencies with our torpedoes, or the clear superiority and performance specifications of theirs (Long Lance).
Well before my time, yet tears streaming. Unfortunately the Greatest Generation didn’t teach their young well. They are the long grey haired freaks pretending to teach their Grand Children about right and wrong.
Another thing these early battles proved was just how vulnerable aircraft carriers were to dive bombers. A single 500lb bomb could destroy one.
The Navy had broken the Japanese Naval Code(JN25), that helped. The Japs didn’t have radar, that helped too. Personally, I think just six months after Pearl Harbor the US Navy was just Hell-bent for revenge. God Bless the US Navy and Naval Aviation..
Six months after Pearl Harbor the war was lost for all intents and purposes in this one battle. There were a lot of battles to be fought yet, but the Japs weren’t going to win the war
Midway, El Alamein and Stalingrad, 1942 a bad year for the Axis forces
Wow. I’m impressed Reb.(Don’t forget LT. Cmdr. Wade McCluskey.)
I think the problem is these hardened WWII and depression era veterans and their equally hard working wives wanted to make things easy for their children. They did not realize the hard times they went through is what made them tough and in some sense, good.
Also the end of WWII coincided with Marxists taking control of the country just as McCarthy said. they did it without the average American even knowing it.