For a good number of you, the Battle of Midway needs no special mention. And that’s especially true of regular visitors of this site. While not discussing the battle in minute detail, we’ve looked at numerous events surrounding this pivotal engagement. But while it may not require an introduction, the introduction of the battle is our subject for today.
On May 28, 1942, the invasion force left Ominato, Japan. And that’s it…almost. The force that left on this day was not Nagumo’s Striking Force – the one with all the carriers destined for catastrophe the following week. It had departed the day before. Nor was it Admiral Kurita’s supporting group of heavy cruisers (though it also left on the 28th). It wasn’t Admiral Kondo’s force of battleships, cruisers, and a light carrier, tasked with reinforcing the invasion of Midway. Neither was it Yamamoto’s Main Force itself, comprised of seven battleships (including the mighty Yamato), yet another carrier, and its screen of support ships…it left on the 29th.
Do you get the idea that the Japanese were really serious about taking Midway?
Anyways, the force in question was yet another invasion force, and it was bound for the Aleutian Islands. The Japanese plans for Midway also involved Alaska. It has long been believed that this particular force was merely diversionary, an attempt to draw off forces from the main battle. When I was in the 7th grade, I gave a speech about Midway in my English class, and that’s what I said about it, too. And while I got an A for the speech, the fact is that the Japanese were serious in having a presence in the northern Pacific region. The empire Japan was building in the Pacific would need its northern flanks guarded, and it was thought that bases at Attu and Kiska (islands in the Aleutians) would provide that.
And so at 5:00pm, a dozen transports and their supporting vessels left their berths and glided from the harbor. Destination: Alaska.
Recommended Reading: Incredible Victory – The Battle of Midway