What Happened in the Battle of Midway?

happened-battle-midway Credit: Keystone / Staff/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In the World War II Battle of Midway, the United States forces, having been warned through broken Japanese code of an impending attack, decisively defeated most of the Japanese fleet and stopped the impending invasion of Midway Island. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, this battle was a turning point in the war and helped end the danger of further Japanese invasion in the Pacific.

Because American intelligence had broken the codes of the Japanese fleet, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz had detailed advance warning of the Midway invasion plans. Japanese Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku intended the attack on Midway, an island northwest of Hawaii, to draw out the American fleet so he could destroy it. Nimitz sent out three heavy aircraft carriers to engage and defeat the Japanese fleet. Though a U.S. bomber attack from Midway Island and the first wave of torpedo bombers from the carriers were ineffective, the subsequent wave of dive bombers from the carriers badly destroyed most of the Japanese fleet in a matter of minutes.

In all, the Americans destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers, a heavy cruiser and 228 planes. The Americans lost an aircraft carrier, a destroyer and 145 planes. In addition, 340 Americans and 3,057 Japanese were killed.The defeat severely depleted the strength of the air arm of the Japanese Imperial Navy. Together with the Battle of Guadalcanal, it reversed the initiative of the war in the Pacific from the Japanese to America and its allies.