You probably know the details that turned the tide in the Pacific, a clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which was known to be the Battle of Midway.
In this post, we’ll uncover what most of us have missed in this epic naval battle in the Pacific.
1. A fleet carrier that took part in the Battle of the Coral Sea also participated in the Battle of Midway a month later
Out of the four fleet carriers that fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea, only one was able to participate 30 days later. The USS Yorktown would be the only carrier from Coral Sea to see combat at Midway.
To the Japanese, it would be like seeing a ghost. Like Lexington, Yorktown was damaged badly at the Coral Sea. The Japanese believed both carriers to be resting on the ocean floor.
The mighty Yorktown, however, was able to limp back home to Pearl Harbor. Crews worked around the clock to make only the most crucial repairs needed. While she was far from operational, she could carry aircraft and float.
2. It was a day before that the Japanese force was first discovered by an American patrol plane at Midway island
We all know about the Catalina that saw two Japanese carriers on June 4th. However, what really convinced the commander at Pearl Harbor was actually the day before.
On the 3rd, a PBY Catalina saw the Japanese forces southwest of Midway. Admiral Nimitz of the US Navy had no doubt in his mind that Japan’s target was now Midway.
3. There’s footage that was filmed from Midway itself featuring the legendary battle
This footage was from John Ford, a celebrated Hollywood director. It was used for research newsreels and propaganda. In June 1942, Ford happened to be at the perfect place to capture all the action.
He used one handheld camera with him to film all the action from the bunkers on Midway. During filming, Ford was even struck in the arm by a Japanese bullet.
4. The forgotten Marines turned the tide of the war
A group of marines led by Lofton Henderson delayed the landing of the Japanese attack force from their attack. It was composed of SBD Dauntless and SB2U Vindicators, but the Marines were not trained as well as the Navy dive bombers.
Eight of the SBDs would be shot down along with two of the Vindicators. Among the dead was Major Lofton Henderson who was shot down during his bombing run.
Because of the delay the Marines caused, the battle swung in the favor of the Americans.
5. Richard Fleming received the only medal of honor given for combat at the Battle of Midway
The next day on June 5th, the surviving marine Vindicators took off again with a new leader- the 24-year-old Richard Fleming. He led the other dive bombers in a risky low-level attack on the Japanese heavy cruiser Makuma.
Undeterred, he pressed on, taking a direct hit causing his bomber to take substantial damage. He still carried on to release his bomb. After a close miss on the cruiser, their plane crashed into the ocean killing Fleming and his gunner.
This courageous attack resulted in Fleming receiving the only Medal of Honor for combat at the Battle of Midway.