Skip to comments.This Day In History | World War II - 1942 The Battle of Midway begins
Posted on 06/04/2006 6:17:01 AM PDT by mainepatsfan
This Day In History | World War II
1942 The Battle of Midway begins
On this day in 1942, Japanese Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, commander of the fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor, launches a raid on Midway Island with almost the entirety of the Japanese navy.
As part of a strategy to widen its sphere of influence and conquest, the Japanese set their sights on an island group in the central Pacific, Midway, as well as the Aleutians, off the coast of Alaska. They were also hoping to draw the badly wounded U.S. navy into a battle, determined to finish it off.
The American naval forces were depleted: The damaged carrier Yorktown had to be repaired in a mere three days, to be used along with the Enterprise and Hornet, all that was left in the way of aircraft carriers after the bombing at Pearl Harbor.
On the morning of June 4, Admiral Nagumo launched his first strike with 108 aircraft, and did significant damage to U.S. installations at Midway. The Americans struck back time and again at Japanese ships, but accomplished little real damage, losing 65 of their own aircraft in their initial attempts. But Nagumo underestimated the tenacity of both Admiral Chester Nimitz and Admiral Raymond Spruance, commanders of the American forces. He also miscalculated tactically by ordering a second wave of bombers to finish off what he thought was only a remnant of American resistance (the U.S. forces had been able to conceal their position because of reconnaissance that anticipated the Midway strike) before his first wave had sufficient opportunity to rearm.
(Excerpt) Read more at historychannel.com ...
In my opinion the aleutians were a more valuable target and they would have been wiser to concentrate their attack there.
*Note to self. Get more coffee
The previous sentence would lead one to conclude that one or more crriers were lost during the Pearl Harbor attack. No carriers were lost in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The USS Lexington was lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea. The USS Saratoga was in drydock in San Diego.
There is an apparent misconception in the narrative that leads one to believe that our carriers were somehow damaged at the Pearl Harbor raid. In fact none of the US aircraft carriers were at Pearl during the day of infamy. Had they been, the Battle of Midway might have had a different conclusion, instead, the Battle of Midway was perhaps the decisisve battle of the war when all of the Japanese carriers involved were sunk.
Cracking the Japanese code and Nimitz daring to act on it was a providential turn even greater than the discovery of Lee's Special Orders 191. The stakes were greater and the number of things that had to go right were greater as well.
Hats off to the brave men who gave their all 64 years ago.
The Aleutians were utterly worthless, and one of the tragedies of the war is that we spent so many lives and resources pointlessly recapturing them - it actually prolonged the war.
The two light carriers in the Northern (Aleutians) operation of course were undamaged - they were raced south after the first attack sinking the Akagi, the Kaga, and the Soryu. But they failed to arrive in time.
There were also, I believe, two light carriers protecting the Japanese Main Body. Not part of Nagumo's striking force.
But the four fleet carriers the Japanese lost were the ones that mattered. They were four of Japan's six biggest carriers, with her best pilots and crews. And she never recovered from that loss.
A historical argument continues, to this day, as to whether FDR knew of the Pearl Harbor attack. Cordell Hull, Secy of State, had seen the translation of the 14 part message which was to be Japan's official declaration of war and was to preceed the Pearl Harbor attack. In the movie Tora Tora it is accurately portrayed that the Japanese were "late" in delivering the message and the declaration was moot since the bombs had already fallen!!!
Midway was important not just in terms of the Pacific war but the entire world war as well. A Japanese victory would have made it very difficult for the U.S. to contribute much in Europe for some time.
Previously, the aleuts were not consider a strategic asset. What good were they? Too far a way and too difficult to support in a cold weather environment. We did however, use them to make 2 bombing runs into northern Japan, demostrating their long term usefulness. The amount of dollars spent in the Aleuts and all of Alaska to this day continue to demostrate their value.
If the japanese had concentrated on the aleuts and been able to take mainland alaska, she would have been in a far better place for attacks up and down the Pacific Coast, then we would have been for attacks into Japan.
utterly worthless? Hardly. We wouldn't have spent so many men and dollars retaking them or the great numbers of dollars that have been spent their since.
What a miserable campaign that was.
I'm not so sure that the European support had not already taken place and the Pacific war was the one less supported from the beginning. The first two to three years we were fighting on our terms, bypassing the large islands and choosing our battles very carefully to husband the limited resources we had in the pacific.
I think the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 marked the first full scale invasion against a very large Japanese force and the full brunt of the Kamikaze pilots. By April 1945 the Euorpean war appeared to be won, and so it was time to step up the pressure in the Pacific.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the huge losses we and the japanese experienced at Okinawa probably figured into the decision to use the BOMB, instead of invading Japan proper. According to an article read, the losses were so great, over 12,000 US dead, and 38,000 US wounded, they sparked congressional crys for investigations.
It was but a Japanese victory on that scale (the destruction of the American carriers) would have changed all that.
Of course the Americans obtained knowledge of the Japanese plans by illegally listening to their military coversations without a warrant.LOL!
I have no idea what the specific thought process was of those making the decisions back then, but I'm guessing that it was plan-B.