Combat Narratives Battle of Midway June 3-6, 1942

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NZ Fighter Wing scoreboard, Allies in the South Pacific. Malarial control unit at work in the Pacific. New Zealand soldiers on Nissan Island. New Zealand soldier cemetery, Vella Lavella. Military camp in Fiji during Pacific war. Shop display for Liberty Bonds. Sound: Noel Rosoman describes the war in the Pacific. Loading anti-aircraft guns during war in the Pacific. Personal effects of an American killed in the Pacific war. Aircraft on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal. Sound: POW camp conditions in Burma.

American supplies on Wellington wharves. Sound: Peter Renshaw describes the war in the Pacific. Sound: Ian Newlands describes the war in the Pacific. Sound: John McKay describes the war in the Pacific. Private Hunt, the parakeet mascot. Bodies on the beach during Pacific war. This was the situation when our carrier attack began.

On the 3d, while our carriers moved northward, messages were received both from Midway and from the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, with information of the enemy force sighted to the west of Midway. It was evident, however, that this was not the enemy's striking force, which was expected from the northwest. Rain squalls and low visibility made the search difficult and there were no results.

During the night of June 3d-4th our task forces moved south-southwest to a position about miles north of Midway.

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It was hoped that they would be able to catch the enemy striking force on the flank when it launched its anticipated attack on the islands. At on June 4th the Yorktown launched a security search of the sector to the north and put a fighter patrol into the air. Because it had planes in the air, and because only two enemy carriers had been reported, the Yorktown 's planes were temporarily held in reserve.

Unfortunately the wind was light from the southeast, so that our carriers had to turn away from the enemy for launching and for relieving combat patrols. The order of launching was 1 fighters for patrol; 2 dive bombers; 3 torpedo planes; and 4 fighters to accompany the torpedo planes. Deferred departure was used, and the launching required about an hour.

The Hornet put into the air 35 scout bombers armed with pound bombs, 15 torpedo planes with torpedoes and 10 fighters. The Enterprise launched 33 scout bombers, 14 torpedo planes and 10 fighters. Of the scout bombers, 15 carried one 1,pound bomb each, 12 carried one and two pound bombs, and 6 carried one pound bomb each. Meanwhile, no more enemy carriers had been reported and the danger arose that the Yorktown might be caught with her planes on deck. Therefore at about all the torpedo squadron 12 VTB , half the bomber squadron 17 VSB , and 6 fighters were launched.

The 17 remaining scout bombers were held in reserve in the hope that 2 more enemy carriers might be found. Each torpedo plane carried one MK13 torpedo and each bomber one 1,pound bomb. The torpedo planes headed for the target at once. The scout bombers were ordered to circle for 12 minutes before proceeding to overtake the torpedo planes. To conserve fuel, the fighters were not launched till The three squadrons effected rendezvous at as they proceeded toward the target, which they found at the same time as did the Enterprise group.

Before our carriers had completed launching their planes they were probably sighted by an enemy seaplane. Thus it was essential that our planes reach the enemy carriers before their planes could return from Midway and refuel for a second attack, which would almost certainly be directed at our carriers. It was possibly because of our carriers having been sighted that the Japanese carriers turned northward instead of continuing their course toward Midway. This reversal of the course of the enemy carriers occurred about an hour after our planes had left the Hornet and the Enterprise.

Our carriers did not break radio silence to inform our pilots of this fact. Consequently, the planes failed to find the enemy. The Hornet group commander with his 35 scout bombers and 10 fighters turned to search toward the south and made no contact. All the fighters exhausted their gasoline and landed in the sea before reaching Midway, but 8 pilots were rescued. All but 2 of the dive bombers eventually returned to the Hornet. Thirteen reached Midway, where 2 landed in the lagoon.

The remaining 11 refueled and returned to the Hornet. The Hornet 's torpedo squadron, led by Lt. John C. Waldron, had proceeded at a lower altitude and became separated from the rest of the group, although there were only scattered clouds. This squadron turned north, found the enemy carriers, and launched an attack without support of any kind. When this attack was made, at about , there were four carriers in the group. The Akagi , Kaga , and Soryu were not far apart, the last damaged and smoking. The fourth, the. Hiryu , was standing off a distance to the north.

Another ship, probably the battleship hit by the Marine SBU's an hour earlier, was also damaged and smoking. In the formation were two more battleships, four cruisers, and six destroyers. A moment later it ran into a heavy screen of antiaircraft fire thrown up by the destroyers and cruisers. One by one our planes fell, but those that were left pressed home the attack. It is known 20 that they shot down some Japanese fighters and scored some hits. Of the 15 planes, not one returned from the attack. Only one pilot, Ensign George H.

Gay, survived. After attacking and probably scoring a hit on the Kaga , he crashed near the Akagi. By hiding under a floating seat cushion and refraining from inflating his life raft till after dark, he saved his own life and witnessed the succeeding attacks by our carrier forces. Ensign Gay had been in the water less than an hour when the Enterprise and Yorktown groups arrived. The Enterprise torpedo squadron had been launched at about and proceeded independently to the target.

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On the way it lost its fighter escort of 10 F4F-4's, which later joined the Yorktown 's torpedo squadron, so that the Enterprise 's Torpedo SIX also launched its attack without protection. At about it sighted the Japanese force, but the fourth carrier was not visible from the low altitude at which they were flying. This maneuver kept our planes on their quarter, forcing them to make a wide circle in their attempt to approach on the beam of the carriers. This prolonged the time of their exposure to antiaircraft and fighter fire. Choosing the carrier to the west as their target, our planes attacked under fire from about 25 fighters and passing through an extremely heavy antiaircraft barrage.

Probably the majority of them never had a chance to drop their torpedoes, but the attack is thought to have produced one hit. At the same time that this was taking place, the Yorktown 's torpedo squadron was making its attack. The squadron, led by Lt. Lance E. Massey, had been launched about En route to the target it had been overtaken, as planned, by the rest of the Yorktown. At about approximately the same moment as the Enterprise squadron this squadron sighted enemy ships. While still about 14 miles from their target they were engaged by Zero fighters and dropped to feet to avoid antiaircraft fire.

Our own fighters were able to give them some protection in the early stages of the approach, but were soon engaged by superior numbers and became separated from the torpedo squadron. From a point about a mile east of an enemy carrier the squadron commander turned in for the attack. As he turned he was shot down in flames by an enemy fighter, but the remainder of the squadron pressed on.

Six more fell on the way and only five remained to launch their torpedoes. Three more fell a moment later. The attack was, however, effective. The commander of the fighter squadron saw three torpedo hits on the large carrier to the east and one on the smaller carrier near the center of the formation. Three enemy carriers had been under torpedo attack, and probably all had been hit.

The fourth, a few miles to the north, had escaped for the time being. But our torpedo squadrons had paid heavily. The Hornet 's VT-8 had been wiped out. Of the 14 planes in the Enterprise squadron VT-6 only 4 returned, and of the Yorktown 's 12 planes constituting VT-3 only 2 survived the attack. This sacrifice had, however, two beneficial results. First, the attacks forced the Japanese carriers to maneuver so that they could not launch their own bombers.

Secondly, the Japanese, recognizing the greater menace of the torpedo planes, concentrated their fighters on the low-flying VT's so that few were in position to interfere when our dive bombers arrived. The dive bomber attack was intended to coincide with the torpedo attack, and very nearly did so. Whether the torpedo squadrons would have been spared such severe losses if the dive bombers had come 2 or 3 minutes sooner is an unanswerable question.

At any rate, the few surviving torpedo planes were scarcely clear when the dive bombing squadrons from both the Enterprise and the Yorktown began their attack. The Enterprise air group, like that of the Hornet , had failed to find the enemy carriers in the expected position because of their reversal of course. But their group commander, Lt. Clarence W. McClusky, Jr. After searching for 45 minutes from an altitude of 19, feet, he sighted the Japanese force at Four carriers were observed, and both Enterprise and Yorktown pilots were definite on this point no.

At the attack was made by sections on two of these carriers on the west of the formation. The group commander's section and VS-6, each plane of which was armed with one pound and two pound bombs, took as. This ship probably the Kaga lay on the left as our planes approached from the south. At least eight direct hits were observed.

The planes of the first division of VB-6, each armed with one 1,pound bomb, took the carrier to the right, which they believed was the Akagi , and scored at least three hits. Both carriers burst into flame. The second division, which had temporarily withheld its attack, now dove on the carrier to the left. Several hits with 1,pound bombs produced violent explosions. The third division attacked both carriers, scoring further hits. Antiaircraft fire was light and there was no fighter opposition until after bombs had been dropped because of the preceding torpedo attack, which had drawn down the enemy fighters.

As the dive bombers pulled out, however, they were attacked by Zero and Messerschmitt type fighters and were at the same time subjected to concentrated antiaircraft fire from the screening vessels. Of the 33 SBD's, 18 failed to return, but it is thought that most of these were forced down on the water when they ran out of fuel. At the same moment that the Enterprise squadron was attacking the two enemy carriers to the west, the one to the east was under attack by Yorktown planes.

This squadron VB-3 consisted of 17 scout bombers, each with one 1,pound bomb. It had proceeded with the rest of the Yorktown attack group and had sighted the enemy at about At it had lost contact with the torpedo squadron, which was then attacking. At VB-3 was ordered to attack. From about 14, feet the bombers opened their dive on a carrier which pilots believed was of the Akagi class.

The carrier was turning southward into the wind in an attempt to launch her planes. As the first Japanese plane started to take off our first bomb exploded in the midst of the planes assembled on deck, turning the after part of the flight deck into a mass of flames. Five direct hits and three near hits followed as our planes dove from the south on the ships' fore-and-aft line. Four planes of the squadron, seeing the carrier so badly damaged, transferred their attack to a cruiser and a battleship nearby, scoring a hit on the stern and a near hit on each.

The battleship was left smoking and the cruiser stopped. There was no fighter opposition until after the dive, and our planes withdrew at high speed low over the water, dodging heavy antiaircraft fire. The entire squadron returned safely to the Yorktown. The fighters which accompanied the Yorktown group were too heavily outnumbered to give full protection. They did, however, shoot down six Zeros and possibly a seventh. A torpedo bomber rear gunner was seen to shoot down an eighth. Of the fighters, two planes were lost, one crash-landed on the Hornet , and the rest returned to the Yorktown.

The results of Midway's and our carriers' attacks of June 4th on the enemy's striking force were as follows:. The fourth carrier, the Hiryu had withdrawn to the north undamaged. Badly as it had been hit, the Soryu survived the bombing to receive its coup de grace from a submarine.

Our submarines had been notified that morning of the Japanese attack force northwest of Midway, and nine were ordered to close the enemy. The Grouper found the enemy force, but did not attack because of plane and depth-bomb attacks. The Nautilus , 21 after doggedly trailing a force of enemy battleships and cruisers, made an unsuccessful attack and was heavily depth charged in return. Then at she sighted columns of smoke on the horizon, coming from the enemy carriers which had just been dive-bombed by our carrier forces. Upon closing, the Nautilus encountered the Soryu , now on even keel with the hull apparently undamaged.

She was smoking, but there were no flames and the fires seemed under control. She was making knots, accompanied by two cruisers when the Nautilus approached and at fired three torpedoes into her. The cruisers at once made a heavy depth-charge attack. When this passed the Nautilus rose to periscope depth and found the carrier completely aflame and abandoned. She sank at The Yorktown 's bombers had not been on board long after their return from attacking the enemy carriers when they were ordered to get clear.

The Yorktown was about to be attacked. Our planes took off to the eastward and subsequently landed on the Enterprise , except for two planes which were forced by lack of fuel to land on the water. It was on the same eventful day, June 4th, that the Yorktown suffered the first two of the three attacks which ultimately sent her to the bottom. The first of these was made by dive bombers, the second by torpedo planes. At that morning, while our carriers were launching their last planes for the attack on the Japanese striking force, the radar of Task Force SUGAR detected a Japanese twin-float seaplane 36 miles to the south.

It is thought that this plane reported the position of our carriers - probably the first intimation the enemy had of their presence. Undoubtedly the enemy intended to launch a second attack, this time directed at our carriers, as soon as his planes could be refueled and rearmed. But the attack of our torpedo squadrons came just in time to prevent his launching, and our dive bombing attack caught a large number of his planes on deck. However, one of the enemy carriers, the Hiryu , remained undamaged and had withdrawn to the north. It was from this ship that the planes came to attack the Yorktown.

Three hours later while the Yorktown was under attack by torpedo planes, a plane of this group discovered the Hiryu and made a report which enabled the Enterprise and the Hornet to attack her. About the same time that this search group was launched, a combat air patrol of 12 fighters took off. The patrol of 6 planes which was thus relieved, and the surviving 4 fighters of the escort force which had just. He was first heard to ask our carriers' position 4 minutes after our planes approached his carriers.

There seemed to be 5 groups, apparently climbing as they approached. Immediately refueling operations were suspended. The 16 VSB planes which had recently returned from attacking the Japanese carriers and were still in the landing circle were ordered to clear the ship. Fuel lines were drained and C0 2 introduced under pressure.

An auxiliary gasoline tank on the stern was dropped overboard. Our fighters were ordered out in two waves to intercept the approaching planes. At 15 or 20 miles they encountered about 18 single-engine Bakugeki type 99 Navy dive bombers and 18 fighters at 8,, feet. So effective were our fighters that only 8 bombers broke through to meet the formidable screen of antiaircraft fire thrown up by our ships.

When the attack took place the Yorktown was accompanied by two cruisers, the Astoria and Portland , and five destroyers, the Hammann , Morris , Russell , Anderson , and Hughes , cruising in disposition "Victor". When at fire was opened at a range of 9, yards the Portland on the Yorktown 's starboard bow and the Astoria on her starboard quarter were near the line of attack and had a clear field of fire. Since only eight bombers succeeded in evading our fighters, our gunners had to choose individual targets rather than lay a barrage. As the next plane came in and dove to its bomb release point it was cut to pieces by antiaircraft fire, but its bomb tumbled on the Yorktown 's deck just abaft the number two elevator.

The third plane dove and was hit at the instant its pilot released his bomb, which fell so close astern that fragments wounded gunners on the fantail and started small fires, while pieces of the plane fell in the Yorktown 's wake. Three planes dove from the port beam and released their bombs before our gunners found them. Two bombs were. Each screening vessel is on an assigned true bearing from the carrier at the center.

As the carrier maneuvers, the screening vessels conform to maintain their distance and true bearing though not their relative position from the carrier. This account depicts the bombing as seen from the Yorktown. The plane which dropped it crashed into the sea beside the ship. A seventh plane circled and dove from ahead. The bomb, dropped an instant before the plane was shot down, hit the number one elevator and exploded above the fourth deck, starting a fire. The last plane missed on the starboard beam.

Three hits had been made. It was all over by Not one of the bombers escaped. Her screening vessels circled her at 2, yards, zigzagging at high speed. Damage to the Yorktown proved not to be serious. The first bomb, mentioned above, blew a hole 10 feet in diameter in the flight deck. It killed and wounded many men on 1. It set fires in planes on the hangar deck, some of which were loaded with torpedoes, but the prompt release of the sprinkler system by Lt. Alberto C. Emerson prevented a serious conflagration. The second bomb, coming from the port side, went through the flight deck on the starboard side, and, still traveling outward to starboard, penetrated the uptakes, where it exploded just above the third deck level.

It was this hit which stopped the Yorktown. The concussion extinguished the fires in all boilers except number one. It also wrecked the Executive Officer's office and ignited paint on the stack. It ruptured the uptake from 1, 2, and 3 boilers in the forward fire room and completely disabled boilers 2 and 3. All boiler rooms were filled with smoke, as No. Steam pressure dropped and the Yorktown lost speed. However, the personnel of No. When the throttle was closed, this single boiler was able to maintain pressure for the auxiliary equipment. The third bomb, probably an pounder, struck on the starboard side and penetrated to the fourth deck, where it exploded and started a fire in a rag stowage space.

This was near a 5-inch magazine, which had to be flooded, and near a gasoline tank, which was protected by CO 2. Repairs were made quickly. The hole in the flight deck was covered in less than half an hour. By repairs to the uptakes permitted the other boilers to be cut in, except for Nos. By the ship was in condition to do about 20 knots, and fires were sufficiently under control to permit refueling of fighters on deck. There was already in the air a combat patrol of six Yorktown fighters which had rearmed and refueled on board the Enterprise. Four of these were vectored out to intercept the enemy, and in a few seconds the other two followed.

The first four, flying at 10, to 12, feet, overran the enemy planes, which were coming in at 5, feet, and had to turn back to find them. The other two met the Japanese 10 to 14 miles out. Meanwhile on the Yorktown fueling of the planes on deck was hastily suspended and CO 2 again introduced into the gasoline system.

Of the 10 fighters on deck, 8 had sufficient gasoline to go into action. The fourth of these was being launched when the Yorktown 's port battery opened fire, and the vessels to starboard of the Yorktown had to hold their fire till our own planes got clear. The Yorktown 's speed had been gradually increased to about 20 knots. The planes which our fighters intercepted at about 12 miles distance proved to be 12 to 16 type 97 Kogekiki Navy torpedo bombers , escorted by about the same number of fighters. Our fighters shot down 5 to 7 of the torpedo planes before our ships opened fire. About 8 came on, one of which fell soon after coming within range of our anti-aircraft fire.

When fire was opened, the Pensacola and Portland were on the side of the screen advanced toward the attack. The approaching planes were in two groups. One of five headed to pass astern of the Pensacola toward the Yorktown , and two or three to pass ahead of her. They had already started their glide when our vessels to port of the Yorktown. The curtain of fire thrown up by our ships was so heavy that it seemed impossible for a plane to pass through it and survive. Indeed, according to some reports, a few enemy planes circled outside, not daring to come in.

Seven or eight, however, came through. As they passed our screening vessels our gunners followed them even though our own ships lay beyond in the line of fire. It seems that only four or five survived long enough to drop their torpedoes. Two of these the Yorktown avoided by skillful maneuvering, so that they passed under her bow. Two others, however, could not be avoided, and they caught her admidships on the port side. The two explosions at were about 30 seconds apart. The planes which scored these hits were shot down either in passing the Yorktown or in attempting to pass through the fire of her escorting vessels.

It is believed that not one of the attacking squadron returned to its carrier. By firing ceased. The Yorktown , listing heavily to port, was losing speed and turning in a small circle to port. She stopped and white smoke poured from her stacks. The screening vessels began to circle. Inside the Yorktown all lights had gone out. The Diesel generators were cut in, but the circuit breakers would not hold and the ship remained in darkness.

Without power nothing could be done to correct it. The Commanding Officer and the Damage Control Officer thought it probable that the ship would capsize in a few minutes, and at orders were given to abandon ship. Inside, men clambered over steeply sloping decks in total darkness to remove the wounded. After an inspection on which no living personnel were found, the Commanding Officer left the ship.

One was seen leaving with one of our fighters in pursuit. Revenge for the Yorktown was not long in coming. That forenoon at , shortly before the first attack on her, the Yorktown had launched a search group of 10 scout bombers. At about , almost at the moment that the Yorktown was undergoing the torpedo attack, Lt. At the Enterprise began launching an attack group of 24 scout bombers, 14 of which were from the Yorktown. Of the 24, 11 were armed with one 1,pound bomb each and 13 with one pound bomb each.

The Hornet at began launching a squadron of 16 scout bombers. Off to the south could be seen three columns of smoke marking the three carriers attacked earlier that day. There were only 6 to 12 Zeros to oppose our planes, but they shot down one of our attacking planes before it began its dive, and two as they were pulling out. A few minutes later our planes dove in from the sun from 19, feet. Six direct hits were made on the Hiryu , which was soon a mass of flames. Others of our bombers gave their attention to a battleship, which they hit twice.

Less than half an hour later the Hornet squadron arrived. By this time the carrier was burning so fiercely that it was no longer a useful target, and the attack was diverted to a battleship and a cruiser. Three hits, two of which were by 1,pound bombs, were scored on the former, and two pound bomb hits on the cruiser. All planes of the Hornet squadron returned from the attack. With the bombing of the fourth Japanese carrier we had won control of the air; but it was not yet certain whether there was a fifth enemy carrier to be reckoned with. Midway had received the first blow of the day, and the battered island was to strike the last.

But in the interval were hours of acute anxiety. During the forenoon our patrol planes continued to report enemy vessels. Only fragmentary news of our attack on the enemy carriers had come in. At Lt. Sweeney had reported that the B attack was completed and one enemy carrier had been damaged.

At the report came that only one TBF and two B's had returned. They had launched their torpedoes at carriers but had been unable to observe results. At the Marine dive bomber group reported two hits on a carrier and one on a battleship. Before noon there was an air-raid alarm, and the seven B's that were fueled and ready for flight took off for Hickam Field.

This left only eight on Midway, of which four were immediately fit for service. Later two more were repaired. In the words of Capt.

Combat Narratives – The Battle of Midway, 6/3-6/42 › Page 5

While the reports of damage to Japanese carriers are noted as being made earlier, those from the Marine air group were made by voice to Eastern Island and had not been received at the command center. Our estimate at this time was as follows: One Japanese carrier had been damaged by the Army. The losses of the Marine air group were so heavy that it appeared their attack had been broken up before reaching the enemy.

The Yorktown had been hit It appeared that it was quite possible we would be under heavy bombardment from surface vessels before sunset. Arrangements had been made to evacuate nonessential personnel and some planes when news of our attacks on the enemy carriers drastically and happily changed the picture. Refueling and servicing of planes was extremely slow because of damage to the gasoline system and other equipment. This prevented the striking force which remained from making repeated attacks on the enemy during the afternoon. The four serviceable B's, commanded by Lt.

ABOARD SHIP

Sweeney, were ordered at to attack the enemy convoy approaching. The carrier found in this area was burning and appeared to have been abandoned. A nearby battleship was also burning. Consequently, it was decided to attack a heavy cruiser. They reported that at least one hit was scored, and the ship was left smoking heavily. A transport was also attacked, with unobserved results.

Two B's, delayed by engine trouble, took off an hour later under the command of Capt. Carl E. Wuertele, U. These planes found what was evidently a part of the same enemy force. In view were two damaged carriers, two battleships or heavy cruisers, and six or eight light cruisers or destroyers. Bombing from 9, feet, the B's reported that they hit a battleship twice and dropped two more bombs on a damaged carrier. While these two planes were bombing the battleship, six more B's were seen below. This squadron, commanded by Maj. George A. Blakey, U. Air Corps, was en route from Molokai to Midway when it was ordered at to attack before landing.

To save gas, it attacked from its cruising level of 3, feet. This was about Several enemy Zero fighters, possibly from the Hiryu , were encountered and four were shot down. The Fortresses reported that they scored a hit on a damaged carrier and on a destroyer and strafed the decks of several ships as they passed.

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They reached Midway after sundown. Midway made other less successful attempts that evening. VMSB was ordered to attack with all available dive bombers. In order to avoid enemy fighters it was decided to delay the attack until night. Because the B's were serviced and fueled first, this squadron was not ready till Then the six remaining flyable SBD's under Capt.

Marshall A. Rain squalls and clouds were encountered and the enemy force was not found. All planes returned safely except that of Major Norris, which plunged into the sea on the return. About the 11 PT boats left Midway to attack the damaged carrier and other Japanese forces in the same locality.


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Although the squally weather and bad visibility provided excellent conditions for such an attack, it also prevented the finding of the target. Having found nothing before dawn, the PT's returned to Midway on June 5th. In the morning a. Japanese scout-observation plane strafed and bombed one of the boats without causing any serious damage. The Battle of Midway was decided on June 4th with the destruction of the enemy's air power.

The 2 succeeding days were devoted to destroying as large a part as possible of the fleeing enemy forces. In this endeavor our success was limited. On the 5th our carrier-based planes made only one unimportant contact, and planes from Midway were responsible for the only damage inflicted on the enemy that day. There were several reasons for the lack of success on the part of our surface forces on the 5th.

The necessity for a conservative policy and concern for the defense of Midway were in a sense fundamental. The delay in reports which revealed the true situation was more directly responsible, and finally, generally reduced visibility, particularly to the north where the enemy's striking force was fleeing, prevented the location of some targets. During the night of June 4th the situation was by no means clear. As noted above, that evening Major Blakey's six B's attacking a burning carrier and other Japanese ships at about had encountered several Zeros. These may have been left in the air from the Hiryu , which had.

Neither was it certain that the loss of their air support would deter the Japanese from attempting a landing on Midway. There were indications that they were still coming, and at on the 4th our submarines were ordered to form on a circle at radius miles from Midway. They were to arrive on station and dive before dawn. Task Force FOX moved off to the eastward during the night and did not participate in the action on the 5th.

Admiral Fletcher detached the Hughes to stand by the damaged Yorktown , with orders to prevent anyone from boarding her and to sink her if necessary to prevent her capture or if a serious fire should break out. At sunset clouds began to gather. At a radar contact caused "some unscheduled movements," first to the east and then to the south.

As Admiral Spruance explains in his report, "I did not feel justified in risking a night encounter with possibly superior enemy forces, but on the other hand, I did not want to be too far away from Midway in the morning. I wished to have a position from which either to follow up retreating enemy forces or to break up a landing attack on Midway. At this time the possibility of the enemy having a fifth CV somewhere in the area, possibly with his occupation force or else to the northwestward still existed. About the submarine Tambor reported "many unidentified ships" about 90 miles west of Midway.

When this report was relayed to our ships, to Admiral Spruance "this looked like a landing, so we took a course somewhat to the northwest of Midway at 25 knots. As the forenoon drew on, reports began to come in which indicated a retreat and not an attack. While I had not believed that the enemy, after losing four carriers and all their planes, would remain in an offensive frame of mind, still that possibility could not be overlooked, especially with the uncertainty about a fifth carrier in the area.

The Tambor 's report might mean only that the retirement order had been slow in being issued or had failed to reach the ships sighted. The commander of the Tambor at sighted and reported at once several ships with which he maintained contact till dawn before being able to identify them as hostile. He had been warned that our own ships might cross this area during the night, and his report of "many unidentified ships" was sent in the hope of being informed whether they could be ours. However, as we have seen, this report created the impression that the Japanese were coming in for a landing, and at a number of our submarines, already brought in to the mile circle from Midway, were ordered in to a radius of 5 miles.

As further information came in, this order was modified and the submarines involved formed on a mile arc. At it received a receipt for this report from both Midway and Honolulu. The morning of June 5th was overcast and visibility poor. Our attacks left the four carriers severely damaged and burning. At least one battleship and one heavy cruiser were seriously damaged and on fire. Other enemy vessels received undetermined damage. Our plane losses were heavy.

Plan now to close Midway to attack enemy force believed 50 miles west of there. Cruisers and destroyers gave splendid support to the superb work of our carriers. It appears from these reports that two enemy carriers were still afloat and had escaped to the north. One of these was almost certainly the Hiryu which, according to survivors, sank very shortly afterward.

It has been suggested that the two reports that of 6V55 at and that of 8V55 at dealt with the same carrier. However, the positions given are some distance apart, and one carrier was reported screened by several ships, while the other was apparently alone. The only incident was the picking up of the crew of a patrol plane found on the water about by the Monaghan , which was then ordered to join the Yorktown. We had reports of two groups, either of which contained good targets.

One was to the west of Midway, the other to the northwest. I chose the one to the northwest.


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It was farther away, but it contained the crippled CV and 2 BB's, one of them reported damaged. With a full night's head start, the Japanese had an excellent chance of reaching it. Then, shortly after the th meridian was crossed, course was altered to the westward. The chase continued at 25 knots through the afternoon. At 4 PT boats were sighted, returning from their unsuccessful night's search for the enemy.

At about a flight of B's passed over. Admiral Spruance signaled his intention of launching an attack about The planes did not reply, but were heard. Later Admiral Spruance received the "disquieting information" that the B's had failed to find the enemy force. His last report of the enemy's position was based on a morning contact, and as the afternoon wore on prospects became less and less promising. At , when the enemy force was estimated to be about miles distant, the Enterprise began launching 32 scout-bombers, 30 armed with one pound bomb each.

The Hornet followed at by putting 26 scout bombers into the air. There was a heavy overcast, and visibility was poor. The Enterprise group pushed their search to miles without making any contacts. On the return a light cruiser Katori class was sighted at and attacked. The cruiser maneuvered at full speed and its antiaircraft fire was exceptionally heavy.

Our planes made several near hits but could claim no direct hits. The Hornet group fared no better. After an unsuccessful mile search, they attacked a light cruiser or destroyer at No hits were observed. With fuel nearly exhausted by their long search, all planes returned safely except for one which landed out of gas near the Enterprise. Personnel were rescued by Aylwin. For most of the pilots this was the first landing on a carrier by night.

Our planes had found no enemy force for miles ahead. Moreover, our task force was approaching the bad weather area into which it was futile to follow the Japanese forces. There remained the chance that the enemy striking force might turn west toward Japan, or southwest to join the transport forces. At Midway on the night of June 4th the same uncertainty as to the enemy's intention prevailed.

The probability of a landing attempt seemed greater when at on the 5th a submarine shelled the island. Our batteries answered and claimed a hit. In the words of Captain Ramsey, "At this time our estimate of the situation was that he the submarine commander was following the original plan to create a diversion to cover the attack of a landing party. However, in view of the losses sustained by the Japanese, it was felt, when nothing further developed, that a retreat had been ordered and that the Japanese commander was the proverbial one who didn't get the word. The night was spent in hard work.

The gasoline system had not yet been repaired, and all available men from the Marine air group, Patrol Squadron FORTY-FOUR, and two raider companies worked all night loading 45, gallons of gasoline in gallon drums and transferring it by hand pumps to the planes. In addition they hung 85 pound bombs. About midnight two PBY-5A planes, each with a torpedo, were sent to attack the transport group to the west.

Presumably they failed to find their target, for none of the available reports mentions them further, except that one requested MO's radio signals on which they might take bearings at At the submarine shelled Midway without causing any damage. At four B's no longer fit for combat left for Oahu. At all hands were called to the alert. Shortly before dawn the search planes took the air. Coverage was excellent, and within 2 hours contact reports began to come in. The 12 remaining B's followed the patrol planes into the air at At these B's Flight 92 reported their failure to find the target.

They were told to return to Kure and await further orders. As more contact reports came in the B's eventually found the two ships, but not before they had already been bombed by the remnants of the Marine dive bombing squadron. Only 12 planes were fit for the mission, 6 SBD-2's under the command of Capt.

Tyler, and 6 SB2U-3's commanded by Capt. Richard E. The plan was for the first group to make a dive bombing attack from 10, feet, to be followed by the SBU's in a glide bombing attack from 4, feet. These planes took off at Weather was clear with scattered clouds at 8, feet. After flying about 45 minutes they found an oil slick leading off to the west. Following this for 40 miles they found their targets and attacked at Captain Tyler's unit was at 10, feet and began nosing down to pick up speed when the ships were sighted.

Choosing the damaged cruiser as their target, our planes soon met heavy and accurate antiaircraft fire. They had to weave and dodge on their approach, and some were buffeted about by the bursts. As they dropped their bombs several near hits probably inflicted additional damage on the ship, but no direct hits were observed. The glide-bombing attack followed shortly.

Captain Fleming's own section attacked from the stern. As he began his glide his plane was hit and smoke poured from his engine. He held to his glide, however, and released his bomb at feet for a near hit at the stern. At the pull-out his plane burst into flames and he went down. The second section came in from the sun on the beam of the damaged cruiser. Two near hits were seen off the starboard bow, then a hit on the forward part of the ship. It was left listing and turning in circles to starboard as our planes returned low over the water, followed for some distance by antiaircraft fire.

Only Captain Fleming's plane was lost, but two others were damaged by "flak. Within a few minutes the Japanese cruisers were attacked again, this time by the B's commanded by Major Blakey. After some difficulty in finding their target, 8 of the 12 planes which left Midway sighted the Japanese cruisers at At this time the two ships were 4 or 5 miles apart. As our planes approached they turned to port to head south.

The first element of four planes took the cruiser to the right; i. The medal, awarded posthumously, was presented by President Roosevelt to the flyer's mother on November 24th, Their pattern of 19 pound bombs was well placed, yielding three near hits and two possible hits. The second element took the ship to the south, also coming in from the sun. Antiaircraft fire was too low to be effective. Most of the pattern of twenty pound demolition bombs fell to feet from the target, but one was seen to strike the stern.

Our Army pilots had little rest. After refueling and rearming, Flight 92, this time with 7 planes, took off again at Their objective was the two carriers reported to the northwest, distance miles from Midway. As they flew northward visibility diminished and the enemy force was not found. On the return contact was made at with a large cruiser on a northerly course.

Thirty-two pound demolition bombs fell with two reported hits and three near hits. The second element of three planes attacked from the east on the ship's starboard beam. One plane's bombs would not release. Of the 16 which were dropped, one is reported to have hit the target and one was a near hit. Antiaircraft fire was very light and did no damage.

The last attack of the day from Midway was made by five B's Flight 93 commanded by Capt. Donald E. Ridings, which took off at Again the objective was the enemy carriers to the northwest. By this time clouds had gathered in the north to a heavy overcast at 12, feet, and Flight 93 had no better fortune than Flight 92 in finding their target.

The ship maneuvered violently and threw up heavy antiaircraft fire, which was ineffective at the 11, foot altitude from which our attack was made. Thirty-two bombs were dropped, with 2 near hits, but no direct hits were seen. On the second run over the target the bomb bay gasoline tank fell with the bombs from Capt.

Robert S. Porter's plane, 32 which left the formation. The squadron commander followed him down to render any aid he could, and saw him head for Midway. About the plane radioed "out of gas and landing" and was not seen afterwards. On the return the planes became separated in the clouds and could not find Midway until guided in by radar. Glen H. Kramer's plane. Durrett, radio operator.

These two were the only B's lost in the entire Midway battle. One heavy cruiser One large cruiser The sea was smooth and visibility excellent. A light wind from the southwest enabled our carriers to launch and recover with a minimum of deviation from the course the Task Force was to follow most of the day. At the Enterprise launched a search group of 18 scout-bombers, each carrying one pound bomb.

This force was reported to consist of. No direct hits were observed. A large oil slick with men in it was seen. It appears that one enemy carrier capable of operating planes remains. Assume we are searching for it at present. Very disturbing to have so little information. This placed the second group about 50 miles southeast of the first. Our Task Force took as its target the group to the north which was not only closer but contained, as it was thought, a battleship.

Visibility and coverage were excellent, but apparently the first information received at Midway was at when CINCPAC relayed to the island the contacts reported by the Enterprise scouts. Several additional B's had been sent to Midway on the 5th and 6th, so that 26 were now available. This entire group was dispatched at to attack the enemy ships at the southern contact.

Despite the excellent visibility, none of these planes found the enemy force. At , a flight of 6 B's flying at more than 10, feet sighted a vessel about 25 miles east of the expected target. Identification of the type was difficult from that height. The first element of 3 planes dropped 4 bombs each, which seemed to hit the target, for it disappeared in 15 seconds. Admiral Spruance says that this force was subsequently found to consist of two heavy Cruisers Mogami class , one light cruiser or destroyer, and two destroyers, but this is based on a reconstruction of the action which may be in error.

Although minor discrepancies in reports are common, those of our pilots on the 6th contain more contradictions than usual, as will he seen. At the Commander of Cruisers remarks: "Composition of enemy force is still not clear. A contact at a greater distance is reported when the plane returns from its search. In this case radio silence had already been broken in reporting the first contact. There was no attack signal and the second element did not attack except that the leader's two wingmen by mistake dropped bombs which fell wide of the now submerged target.

Some pilots thought they had sunk a cruiser in 15 seconds. Fortunately, she was not damaged. This was the only attack of the day by Midway planes. Meanwhile, our Task Force had had considerably greater success. Eight fighters were sent too as a precaution against possible air opposition. This group found the enemy force without difficulty. To pilots it appeared to consist of a battleship, 41 a heavy cruiser and three destroyers.

Our planes attacked at The results were:. Since there was no air opposition our fighters occupied themselves by strafing the destroyers, probably causing very heavy casualties. One bombing plane was shot down by antiaircraft fire during the attack, but the rest returned safely to the carrier by At once they were refueled and rearmed in preparation for a second attack. This Hornet attack was followed by one from the Enterprise. Between and this carrier put into the air 31 scout bombers with one. It is not in agreement with the composite chart of the battle which appears at the end of this narrative.

The composite arbitrarily transposes positions to accord with the hypothesis that the Enterprise and Hornet attacked a single enemy force. They were told further that three torpedo planes were being sent to join them. The force maneuvered to await the torpedo planes, but contact with them was never made, and the torpedo planes did not take part in the attack. Why it was thought at this time that the enemy force was so composed does not appear in the reports. After failing to make contact with our bombing planes, they found an enemy ship independently and circled an hour awaiting our bombers which did not appear.

Finally lack of fuel forced them to return to the Enterprise. This clearly indicates the presence of two enemy groups. It will be remembered that the Hornet group had sunk one destroyer, reducing the enemy force to four ships.

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