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5 Things You Might Not Know About the Battle of Midway

November 8, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

The mighty clash between Japanese and U.S. naval forces in June 1942 ended in a stunning—and surprising—Allied victory.

In May 1942, things were going Japan’s way. Since their surprise attack on U.S. forces at .

A celebrated Hollywood director shot footage of the battle.

A film still shows a US Navy aircraft carrier, likely the USS Enterprise, during the Battle of Midway, from the John Ford-directed documentary ‘The Battle of Midway,’ 1942.

Best known for his masterful Westerns, and his longtime collaboration with John Wayne, director John Ford was also an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and was tasked with making documentary films for the Navy during World War II.

At Admiral Nimitz’s request, the director was stationed on Midway during the battle, and suffered a “bomb concussion” and gunshot wound during the Japanese raid, according to now-declassified records. U.S. Marines gave Ford first aid, but he “did not leave his station until he had completed his photographic mission.”

Ford’s footage of the battle, and particularly the activities of U.S. B-17s (Flying Fortresses), appeared in The Battle of Midway, which won an Oscar for best documentary that year. Ford went on to lead the photographic unit for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA, for the remainder of the war.

The battle was a turning point—but maybe not for the reason you think.

Battle of Midway Tactical Overview – World War II (TV-PG; 14:57)

Over the years, Midway has assumed near-mythic status as the moment fortunes shifted in World War II’s Pacific theater. Its impact has sometimes been attributed to the battle’s devastating impact on the Japanese strike force, which included the loss of four aircraft carriers, nearly 300 planes and as many as 3,000 men, including Japan’s most experienced pilots.

In fact, as historian Evan Mawdsley has pointed out, Japan’s fleet rebounded from the battle relatively quickly: Yamamoto retained his two most modern carriers, Shokaku and Zuikaku, and four smaller carriers that had not accompanied the Kido Butai carrier battle group to Midway. The United States also sustained damaging losses at Midway, and by the time of the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942, Japan was able to assemble a more powerful carrier fleet than the Americans.

Midway did, however, represent the point when the momentum shifted from the Japanese to the Americans in the Pacific. Japan’s Imperial Navy …read more

Source: HISTORY

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