World War II: Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Campaign


Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan prepared to deal one more decisive blow to the U.S. Naval forces in the Pacific. Its aim was to destroy U.S. aircraft carriers and occupy Midway Atoll -- a tiny but strategically important island nearly halfway between Asia and North America, that was home to a U.S. Naval air station. American codebreakers deciphered the Japanese plans, allowing the U.S. Navy to plan an ambush. On June 3, 1942, the Battle of Midway commenced. Aircraft launched from Midway Atoll and from carriers of both navies and flew hundreds of miles, dropping torpedoes and bombs and fighting one another in the skies. At the end of several days of fighting, the Japanese Navy had lost four aircraft carriers and nearly 250 aircraft and suffered more than 3,000 deaths. In contrast, U.S. losses amounted to a single carrier and 307 deaths. It was a decisive victory for the U.S. Navy, and was later regarded as the most important battle of the Pacific Campaign. But at the same time as this battle was taking place, a Japanese aircraft carrier strike force thousands of miles to the north was attacking the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. After bombing Dutch Harbor, Japanese forces siezed the tiny islands of Attu and Kiska. It was the first time since the War of 1812 that American soil had been occupied by an enemy. The Japanese dug in and held the islands until mid-1943, when American and Canadian forces recaptured them in brutal invasions. (This entry is Part 11 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)
Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Ads are being blocked

For us to continue writing great stories, we need to display ads.

Un-block Learn more
Back

Whitelist

Please select the extension that is blocking ads.

Back

Please follow the steps below

Most Recent

  • John Moore / Getty

    On the Border

    The border between the United States and Mexico stretches 3,169 kilometers (1,969 miles), crossing deserts, rivers, towns, and cities from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico.

  • SIPA Asia via ZUMA Wire / Corbis

    The Beauty of Terraced Fields

    For thousands of years, when farmers in mountainous regions have expanded their farms to grow crops on the steep slopes, they have carved massive steps into the terrain.

  • Matthias Schrader / AP

    Fall Is in the Air

    It’s starting to feel like my favorite time of year once more—the autumnal equinox took place last week.

  • Phyllis B. Dooney

    Rejecting the Deadbeat Dad Stereotype

    Parenting in the age of mass incarceration, the War on Drugs, and frequent exposure to crime and trauma

Join the Discussion