The Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway took place during World War II from June 4th, 1942 until June 7th, 1942. It took place on Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,100 miles west of Pearl Harbor. Earlier, in 1867, the United States had annexed Midway Island. The Battle of Midway is one of the turning points in World War II.

Breaking the Code

The United States had known that the Japanese were planning an attack on Midway. The Americans had learned how to crack the Japanese code and they were able to know that Japan had plans of attacking Midway. From breaking the code the United States now knew that the Japanese planned an attack on the Aleutian Islands as a diversion to get the United States fleet away from Midway. They did not want the United States to know that Midway was their main target.

The United States broadcasted a message in a code that the Japanese knew how to break saying that they were ‘out of fresh water.’ After breaking that coded message the Japanese broadcasted that “AF is out of water.” American code breakers had suspected that AF stood for Midway and that message proved it.

The Start
Some say that the Battle of Midway really began on June 3rd, where as others will say it began on the 4th. On June 3rd, United States Navy patrol planes reported that a force of enemy ships were about 700 miles west of Midway, heading in the direction of Midway. Nine United States Army “Flying Fortresses” (four-engine B-17 bombers) that were stationed on Midway were immediately ordered to attack the enemy ships. The Japanese force consisted of cruisers, transports, cargo vessels, and other escort ships. Two ships, a cruiser and a transport, were severely damaged by the United States Army bombers. Some of the other Japanese ships had damage done to them, but the damage wasn’t bad. That night four Navy “Catalina” planes attacked the same enemy force by moonlight. These planes had two torpedo hits on large enemy ships, one of which may have been sunk.

The Battle
Early the next day, June 4th, groups of Army bombers and Marine Corps dive bombers and torpedo planes left Midway to attack the enemy force that was approaching Midway. These planes attacked the enemy ships leaving a battleship smoking and listing and also one carrier was left heavily smoking.

Shortly after the Marine Corps planes left Midway a large group of enemy aircraft-based planes. The Marine Corps fighter force that was still at Midway met the enemy planes in the air and although heavily outnumbered they succeeded in shooting down forty of the enemy planes and damaging several more. These aerial attacks caused the enemy to change course. It was concluded that the enemy was retreating.

Therefore, fifteen torpedo planes located the enemy and attacked them without assistance or protection. The damage from this attack will never be fully known because not even one of the fifteen torpedo planes returned to base. The only survivor of this attack of thirty men was Ensign G. H. Gay Jr., U.S.N.R. who had one torpedo hit on a carrier before he was shot down. Other groups of torpedo planes also went after the enemy fleet to continue the attack. Results from these attacks included that the Kaga, Akagi, and Soryu, enemy aircraft carriers had been severely damaged to the point that gasoline in planes caught fire and burned until each carrier had sunk. These attacks also included that two enemy battleships had been hit and one was left burning fiercely; and one destroyer was hit and it is believed to have sunk.

End of Day One
By the end of the day the United States was leading in the Battle of Midway. The Kaga, Akagi, and Soryu had sunk before the day had ended after several attacks. An aircraft carrier, the Hiryu, had been put out of action and sank early the next morning. Two enemy battleships had been damaged, one enemy destroyer had been sunk, one enemy transport and several other ships had been sunk, and also the U.S.S. Yorktown had been put out of action.

The Next Few Days
On June 5th, the attacks continued. An enemy submarine attacked from just offshore of Midway, however they