Battle of Midway

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The Battle of Midway, fought near the Central Pacific island of Midway, is considered the decisive battle of the war in the Pacific. Before this battle the Japanese were on the offensive, capturing territory throughout Asia and the Pacific. By their attack, the Japanese had planned to capture Midway to use as an advance base, as well as to entrap and destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Because of communication intelligence successes, the U.S. Pacific Fleet surprised the Japanese forces, sinking the four Japanese carriers, which had attacked Pearl Harbor only six months before, while only losing of one carrier. After Midway, the Americans and their Allies took the offensive in the Pacific.

Following the outbreak of the Pacific War in December 1941, the Japanese armed forces conducted military operations against U.S., British Commonwealth, and Dutch possessions in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. The first phase of these operations, which was the seizure of Malaysia, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, and various island groups in the central and western Pacific, was virtually complete by March 1942.

The second phase, initiated by Japanese Imperial Headquarters on January 23rd, was designed to isolate and neutralize Australia and India. In the Pacific, this plan envisioned the seizure of bases in Papua/New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, which would be used to support future operations against New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa. By early March, with the seizure of Lae and Salamaua, the entire north coast of Papua/New Guinea had fallen to Japanese forces that were planning for an amphibious invasion of Port Moresby.

By this time, two secure American naval intelligence centers were in operation in the Pacific: one in Melbourne, Australia, and another at Pearl Harbor. A third, at Corregidor, was rapidly disintegrating under Japanese air and artillery attacks on the island.