Interesting Facts about the Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway 1942 Morgan Stewart

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USS Yorktown at the Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway
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For those who want to test their knowledge on the Battle of Midway, we’ve posted a quiz:

The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History)

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    On 5 June, Yamamoto canceled the invasion of Midway. Spruance pressed further his attack on the retreating Japanese fleet and sank the cruiser Mikuma. The American naval triumph was flawed when a lurking Japanese submarine torpedoed the listing and vulnerable Yorktown, along with a lone ministering destroyer. On 7 June, the Yorktown succumbed to its many wounds and the Battle of Midway was over. The U.S. Navy, having inflicted enormous and irreparable damage on a vastly superior fleet, effectively turned the tide of the naval war in the Pacific.

  • Midway, island group (2 sq mi/5.2 sq km), central Pacific, c.1,150 mi (1,850 km) NW of Honolulu, comprising Sand and Eastern islands with the surrounding atoll. Discovered by Americans in 1859, Midway was annexed in 1867. A cable station was opened in 1903. In 1935, Midway became a commercial air station of Pan American Airways, and in 1941 a U.S. naval base was opened. The last navy facilities on the island closed in 1993. In 1996 the islands were transferred from the U.S. Navy to U.S. Dept. of the Interior, which manages them as a national wildlife refuge. The battle of Midway (June 3–6, 1942), one of the decisive Allied victories of World War II, involved the island but mainly occurred between opposing fleets at sea. Fought mostly with aircraft, it resulted in the destruction of four Japanese aircraft carriers, crippling the Japanese navy.

    See C. L. Symonds, The Battle of Midway (2011).

    The Battle of Midway resulted in the U.S. Navy inflicting a huge defeat on the Japanese navy. The Imperial Navy lost the four large aircraft carriers that had been used in the attack on Pearl Harbor, while the Americans had only lost one. More importantly, the Japanese lost more than 100 trained pilots that would later prove irreplaceable later in the war. The defeat at Midway derailed the Japanese offensive in the Pacific and prevented them from following their plans to take New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa next in the war. Shortly after the Battle of Midway, the U.S. and other Allied Powers fighting in the theater of war would start the offensive against Japan.

    The Battle of Midway: Turning the Tide in the Pacific

    (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,Kevin Kilcullen, photographer)


    or centuries, thousands of albatrosses have lived on the desolate islands that comprise the Midway Atoll. Beautiful in flight, but ungainly in their movement on land, the albatrosses were called "gooney birds" by the men stationed on the islands during World War II. The birds soiled the runways, clogged the engines of departing aircraft, and were always, always underfoot. Today, the shadows of their huge wings still dapple the glassy sea as they glide towards the islands to nest. They still perch on the airport runways and the old ammunition magazines and gun batteries, but they no longer need to do daily battle with America's armed forces for possession of the islands.

    Inhabited by humans for less than a century, Midway dominated world news for a brief time in the early summer of 1942. These tiny islands were the focus of a brutal struggle between the Japanese Imperial Navy and the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. victory here ended Japan's seemingly unstoppable advance across the Pacific and began a U.S. offensive that would end three years later at the doorstep of the Home Islands.

  • Chart: Track of the Battle of Midway. Facing Page
    Illustration: Japanese Mogami class cruiser after attack by our carrier-based planes June 6th Frontispiece
    Chart: Midway Islands 1
    Chart: June 3d.  
    Illustrations: Army planes: B-17 and B-26 10
    Chart: June 4th.  
    Illustration: Direct hit on the Yorktown by Japanese dive bombers 11
    Chart: June 5th.  
    Illustration: Navy planes: TBD and TBF 42
    Chart: June 6th.  
    Illustrations: Destroyers standing by the Yorktown  
      Deck of the damaged Yorktown 43
    Chart: Hawaiian Islands:  
    Illustrations: Burning oil tanks on Midway  
      Interior of hangar, Midway 60

    Now days when filmmakers shoot war films, they add camera shake as an effect to simulate combat. When John Ford shot his award-winning documentary The Battle of Midway, the camera shake is there because the enemy combatants were firing heavy artillery at his boat. He got injuring while shooting that film. How many other filmmakers would risk as much for the things they value?

BBC - History - World Wars: The Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway has often been called "the turning point of the Pacific". However, the Japanese continued to try to secure more strategic territory in the South Pacific, and it would take several more months of hard combat before the U.S. moved from a state of naval parity to one of increasing supremacy. Thus, although Midway was the first major victory against the Japanese, it did not radically change the course of the war; instead it was the cumulative effects of the and Midway which reduced Japan's ability to undertake major offensives. In addition Midway paved the way for the landings on , and the prolonged of the , both of which finally allowed the Allies to take the strategic initiative and swing onto the offensive for the rest of the . Finally, Midway bought the United States valuable time until the first of the new fleet carriers became available at the end of 1942.