Sunday, June 25, 2017

Midway + 75

Japanese Zero

Seventy-five years ago this month the Battle of Midway was fought in the Pacific by the Imperial Japanese Navy and the US Navy.

Jimmy Doolittle Bust
IWM Duxford, UK
The Japanese launched the Midway campaign as a direct result of Jimmy Doolittle's raid on Tokyo.  The defensive perimeter of the Empire needed to be expanded in order to prevent further American raids onto the home islands.  In the Midway campaign Japanese forces struck north seizing the Aleutian islands of Attu and Kiska.  The US had no carriers assigned to the Alaskan theater.  Dutch Harbor was bombed.  American soil was invaded and occupied.

But the major thrust of the campaign was aimed at Midway Atoll -- a small island in the Hawaiian archipelago.  Control of this island would allow Japanese land based bombers to strike Pearl Harbor at will.

Admiral Chester Nimitz

The Battle of Midway was fought over three days from June 4 to June 7.  Chester Nimitz of Fredericksburg Texas was in command of US Naval forces.  The result was a decisive American victory.  Four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk while the Americans lost only one carrier -- the Yorktown.

Midway meant that Japan would never again contest naval supremacy in the Pacific.  As a result of the battle Japan would be forced to fight a defensive struggle to hold onto the massive territorial gains it had made in the six months since the Pearl Harbor attack.

1942 was the turning point of the war.  Prior to 1942 the Axis was triumphant on all fronts.  During 1942 the Axis lost at Midway, at El Alamein in the Egyptian desert and at Stalingrad.  After 1942 the Axis had no major victories. World History turned decisively at Midway seventy-five years ago.

The "inevitability" of Allied victory is a illusion caused by the passage of time and a failure of the imagination.  Those sailors, officers and airmen at Midway, regardless of which side on which they fought, certainly did not enjoy any feeling of inevitable victory or defeat.

Midway was a Japanese strategic roll of the dice that came up craps.

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America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil is coming in 
August 2017!

1 comment:

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