Wednesday, May 21, 2014

European theater versus the Pacific theater - Battle of Midway

While my books are focused in Europe, I have a keen interest in the Pacific war. As I've mentioned before, I read a lot of WWII non-fiction to deepen my knowledge. Additionally, I record and watch many shows on the Military and History channels. 

One recent show was about the Battle of Midway between Admirals Nimitz and Yamamoto. It gave a particularly good account of the battle. It highlighted the Japanese arrogance including their own operational security failures such as mentioning "Midway" in clear radio transmissions prior to the battle.

In what can only be described as the fog of war, or perhaps merely drawing the wrong conclusions from intelligence, the Japanese made terrible command decisions. Among them were events that led to having fueled and armed aircraft parked on the deck far too long, and the Zero air cover being too low (fighting off the Avenger torpedo bombers). This resulted in allowing the Dauntless dive bombers to arrive at the correct altitude. 

In another show, a Dauntless pilot talked about making the first hit on the aft of a carrier deck: the stress of the near-vertical dive, releasing at the right moment to get the bomb to fall where the zig-zagging carrier would be, and then pulling up out of the dive which took all of his strength. 

The final outcome was four carrier losses for the Japanese. This turned out to be the fatal blow for them because they never recovered their naval strength again. The Battle of Midway was when momentum shifted in the Pacific. From that time on, the United States began to win over and over again. This is not to say it was a forgone conclusion, that would be insulting to the sailors and marines and soldiers who died after June 7th.

This Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember those before us who gave everything.