How the Battle of Midway changed the Pacific War
How the Battle of Midway changed the Pacific War

How the Battle of Midway changed the Pacific War

Larry Holzwarth - February 28, 2020

How the Battle of Midway changed the Pacific War
A recovering Ensign George Gay, one of the few survivors from the American torpedo plane attacks, holds a newspaper which exults “Japanese At Midway Smashed”. US Navy

24. Midway ensured the United States would not sue for peace

After the Pearl Harbor attack galvanized America, several catastrophes in the Pacific War had an adverse effect on morale. The fall of the Philippines shocked the United States, as did the surrender of the British at Singapore. Admiral Yamamoto believed that another shock was necessary, one in which the American forces suffered a crushing blow at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Destroying the American carrier fleet (which had been a goal at Pearl Harbor) would make Hawaii indefensible and the American West Coast exposed to Japanese attack. Yamamoto believed that after victory at Midway the Japanese would be able to dictate terms to the Americans.

Instead, six months after the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, some of the same ships which carried out the December 7 attack were sent to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Pride in the American Navy and Marine Corps was restored. The Japanese people weren’t told of the defeat, but the Americans ate up stories of the victory, which was magnified in newspapers and magazines. John Ford produced an 18-minute documentary which won an Oscar in 1942 (Best Documentary) and was popular across the country. Midway ensured the Americans would remain in the war, through the grim campaigns ahead, until the Japanese Empire was destroyed.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway”. Anthony Tully, Jonathan Parshall. 2005

“Fighting for Survival”. David Lee Bergeron, US Naval Institute, Naval History. December, 2019

“The Tale of Eleven”. Barrett Tillman, Naval History Magazine. August, 2019. Online

“Battle of Midway: 4-7 June 1942”. Article, Naval History and Heritage Command. Online

“The Japanese Story of the Battle of Midway”. Report of Chuichi Nagumo, Office of Naval Intelligence, United States Navy. May, 1947

“Code Breaking in the Pacific”. Peter Donovan, John Mack. 2014.

“Thach Weave: The Life of Jimmie Thach”. Steve Ewing. 2004

“The Operational Failure Of U. S. Submarines At The Battle Of Midway – And The Implications For Today”. Thomas G. Hunnicutt, CDR, USN. Naval War College. March, 1997. Online

“Task Force 16 Action Report”. COMMANDER Task Force 16 (Rear Admiral Ray Spruance). June 16, 1942. Online

“Midway’s Strategic Lessons”. Article, Naval History and Heritage Command. Online

“Former World War II ‘Zero’ fighter pilot laments Japan’s wartime past”. Rebecca Wright, CNN. August 13, 2015

“How They Won the War in the Pacific: Nimitz and His Admirals”. Edwin Palmer Hoyt. 1970