Thursday, June 4, 2009

The End of the Beginning

(N.B.: I posted this at my home blog. On further reflection, I should have posted it here, so I am cross-posting it.)
Today is the 67th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. The battle marked the turning point of the war against Japan. The Japanese sent a large force to invade Midway Island, spearheaded by four carriers. The US Navy had three carriers and, thanks to the Navy's code breakers, some knowledge of what the Japanese plan was.

The Japanese carriers launched strikes against the island, only to be found and attacked.

USN divebombers badly damaged three of the carriers on the morning of June 4th. All three were out of the fight, they were all abandoned and scuttled.

The fourth Japanese carrier struck back. Her planes badly damaged the USS Yorktown, which was later sunk by a Japanese submarine while under tow. This photo shows the Yorktown under attack.

The fourth Japanese carrier was sunk that afternoon.

Turning points to a war are only apparent long after they happen. At this point, the US and her allies in the Pacific had been at war with Japan for six months, the war would continue on for three more years.

The person who saw this most clearly, though, was Admiral Yamamoto, who, in 1940, was quoted as saying this about the prospect of a general war in the Pacific: "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."

He was right and he was proven to be so 67 years ago today.


PhysioProf said...

That's a fascinating quote from the Japanese admiral. I find it very interesting that throughout history, a repetitive theme seems to be military leaders being unable to get their civilian political commanders to see reality correctly.

Dr. Bubbles said...

A couple of years ago I was at the Nat'l Air & Space museum. They have a Wildcat and a Dauntless on display. I was amazed by how tiny they are. It made the Midway achievement seem that much more remarkable.