Four US destroyers and some submarines
attack a Japanese convoy in the Macassar Strait between Borneo
and Celebes, sinking 1 destroyer and four transports, while
only suffering damage to one of their destroyers. This action
delays the impending Japanese invasion of Java.
The US enquiry in to the
disaster at Pearl Harbour finds Admiral Kimmel, then the C-in-C
of the US Fleet, guilty of dereliction of duty. A court martial
is announced later.
The battle of Lumbok Strait results
in a Japanese victory, as an Allied naval squadron attempts
to prevent the Japanese landing on Bali. The Allies lose 1
Dutch destroyer sunk and 2 Dutch cruisers and a US destroyer
damaged. Japanese Carrier based planes raid Darwin in northern
Australia, inflicting severe damage to the port.
The Battle of the Java
Sea begins and continues for three days, during which the Allies,
under the command of the Dutch Admiral, Karel Doorman lose
five cruisers and six destroyers, while the Japanese lose just
The heavy cruiser USS
Houston and light cruiser HMAS Perth, along with 1 British,
1 Dutch and 2 US destroyers, fleeing from the debacle at the
Battle of Java Sea, surprise an IJN landing force at Bantam
Bay near the Sundra Strait, and are sunk by torpedoes and gunfire.
The Japanese force, comprising 2 heavy cruisers, one light
cruiser, 9 destroyers, and various transports, manage to sink
a minesweeper and a transport of their own, and seriously damage
3 more transports, through the unprecedented firing of 87 torpedoes.
Aircraft from the American Aircraft
Carriers Lexington and Yorktown make attacks against the Japanese
at Lae and Salamaua.
180 Japanese planes from
five aircraft carriers attack the Royal Navy's base at Colombo
in Ceylon. These came from Admiral Nagumo's 1st Air Fleet under
Admiral Kondo's Southern Force which was tasked with destroying
the Royal Navy's Fleet in the Indian Ocean. However, the British
received prior warning and sailed the bulk of their fleet to
the Maldives, although the armed merchant cruiser Hector and
destroyer Tenedos were sunk. Fifty-three Japanese carrier-aircraft
did however locate and sink the Royal Navy's heavy cruisers
Dorsetshire and Cornwall, to the south east of Ceylon, in just
Colonel James H. Doolittle leads 16
US Army B25 bombers from the carrier Hornet in first ever air
raid on Japan. They took of from the carrier Hornet, about
750 miles east of Tokyo. Escort fighters were provided by the
carrier Enterprise. Bombs were dropped on Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama,
Nagoya and Yokosuka. Only one aircraft was damaged during the
raid, although all 16 were lost on crash landings in China.
The material damage inflicted by the raid was minimal, although
the damage to Japanese prestige was considerable and gave the
allies a boost when their fortunes in the Pacific were at a
The US aircraft carriers, Hornet and
Enterprise set sail from Pearl Harbor for the Corel Sea under
the command of Admiral William 'Bull' Halsey.
The Lexington and Yorktown,
link up 250 miles south-west of Espiritu Santo, and begin to
Admiral Fletcher, leaves the Lexington
and her escorts to refuel, taking the Yorktown and her escorts
and steamed north towards Tulagi.
The Japanese covering force at Tulagi,
which consisted of the carrier Shoho and escorts leaves to
act as cover for the Port Moresby landings.
With its naval support stripped away,
the Japanese invasion fleet at Tulagi is attacked by aircraft
from the American carrier Yorktown. 1 destroyer is disabled,
while 3 minesweepers and 4 landing barges are sunk for the
loss of just 3 US aircraft. Admiral Fletcher, now doubled back
to meet up with the Lexington in the Coral Sea.
The main Japanese striking force which
is built around the carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku, enters the
Coral Sea and bombs Port Moresby.
B-17's from Australia spot the Port
Moresby Invasion Fleet south of Bougainville. They attack the
Japanese Carrier Shoho but miss. Admiral Fletcher is now convinced
that the main Japanese force would make for the Jomard Passage
between Papua and the Louisiade Archipelago and so organises
his forces for the coming battle.
The Battle of the Coral Sea begins,
as the Japanese Striking Force (Admiral Inouye), which consists
of the carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku, 2 cruisers and 6 destroyers
make the first strike. This is against the oiler Neosho and
her escorting destroyer, which are on their way to rendezvous
with Admiral Fletchers Task Force 17, which includes the carriers
Yorktown and Lexington, 8 cruisers and 11 destroyers. The Neosho
takes serious damage and eventually has to be scuttled. Admiral
Fletcher then orders a cruiser squadron consisting of HMAS
Australia, Hobart, USN Chicago and 2 destroyers to attack the
Port Moresby invasion force, but this soon comes under Japanese
air attack, although it did divert Japanese attention away
from the American carriers. At the same time, Admiral Inouye
orders the Invasion Force to turn away from the Jomard Passage
until the American carriers have been dealt with. Admiral Fletcher
now launched a strike from the Yorktown against what he thought
was a major Japanese task force, but which turned out to be
only 2 light cruisers and 2 gunboats. However, aircraft from
the Lexington spotted the Japanese carrier Shoho and sank her.
Later that afternoon the Japanese launched 27 aircraft against
the US carrier Task Force, but they failed to locate their
targets and only 6 returned safely. At midnight, Admiral Inouye
decided to postpone the invasion of Port Moresby for two days.
At about 0800 hours both the Japanese
and American carrier groups spot each other and send out attack
aircraft. The Japanese succeed in torpedoing the Lexington,
which severely damaged and later abandoned, while the Americans
disable the Shokaku, which is withdrawn to Truk. Later in the
day, the Japanese launch more attacks to destroy the remainder
of Admiral Fletchers force, but this had withdrawn out of range.
Admiral Yamamoto issues his orders
for Operation 'Mi'. 2nd Carrier Striking Force under Admiral
Hosogaya (2 small aircraft carriers, 2 cruisers and 3 destroyers)
was to mount an air-strike on Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians
on the 3rd June, this was designed to decoy part of the American
force northwards. If this happened then they would be met by
a Guard Force of 4 battleships, 2 cruisers and 12 destroyers,
which would position themselves between Pearl Harbor and the
Aleutians. Then on the 5th June, the transports carrying the
Japanese assault force would land on Attu and Kiska Islands
on the 5th June. Meanwhile the 1st Carrier Striking Force under
Admiral Nagumo, which included the Carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu
and Hiryu, plus 2 battleships, 2 cruisers and 11 destroyers,
would sail from Japan for Midway on the 4th June. Following
this would be Transport Force which was commanded by Admiral
Kondo with the invasion troops, additionally protected by 3
cruisers from Guam. Finally the Main Support force, commanded
by Admiral Yamamoto onboard the super battleship Yamato and
including a further 3 battleships, 4 cruisers and escorting
destroyers would be ready to move up to engage the American
Fleet if required. In order to be sure of the position of the
American Fleet, 3 cordons of submarines were positioned north
and west of Hawaii and 2 flying boats were stationed at French
Frigate Shoal, about 500 miles north-west of Hawaii.
Japanese Combined Fleet lifts anchor
and sets sail for Midway. On the same day, Admiral Nimitz,
having been for warned of the impending Japanese attack against
Midway by US intelligence who were intercepting Japanese naval
signals, issues orders for Task Force 16 (Admiral Spruance)
with the carriers Enterprise and Hornet, plus 6 cruisers, 11
destroyers, 2 tankers and 19 submarines, to sail for Midway
the next day.
Admiral Nimitz orders for Task Force
17 (Admiral Fletcher) consisting of the carrier Yorktown, 2
cruisers and 6 destroyers, which had been refitting at Pearl
Harbor after operations in the Coral Sea, to set sail for Midway
and meet Admiral Spruance there.
A Japanese midget submarine enters
Task Force 16 (Spruance)
and 17 (Fletcher) meet 350 miles north-east of Midway. Admiral
Fletcher takes overall command of the joint task force, although
the two would act separately. US land based aircraft from Midway
spot the Japanese Transport Force about 600 miles from Midway.
They launch attacks against this force, but without success.
US reconnaissance aircraft spot the 2 carriers of the Japanese
2nd Carrier Striking Force, which were about 400 miles from
Kiska in the Aleutians.
At 4.30am aircraft of Admiral Nagumo's
1st Carrier Striking Force makes strikes against Midway. However,
the American garrison received prior warning of this from a
spotter aircraft. This raid fails to sufficiently neutralise
US airpower on Midway and so Nagumo orders a second attack
against Midway. However, his aircraft are in the middle of
being rearmed with torpedoes for a strike against the US carriers,
should they be spotted. The Admirals orders mean that the Japanese
aircraft must first replace their torpedoes with bombs, before
another strike against Midway can take place. At 8.20am Japanese
reconnaissance aircraft reported sighting the American carriers
and at 8.55am warned that US torpedo aircraft had been launched
and were on their way towards the Japanese fleet. While this
is going on, the Japanese aircraft which had been sent out
on the second strike against Midway, begin to return and by
9am had all been landed. Crews were now swarming round the
aircraft with fuel hoses and bomb racks in a desperate attempt
to get them ready for a strike against the American Carriers.
At 9.30am the torpedo bombers from the Hornet and Enterprise
found the the Japanese carriers, but by 9.36am they had all
been shot down. The Hornet's and Enterprise's dive-bombers
failed to find the Japanese carriers and so turned for home,
although many ran out of fuel on the way. A similar fate was
suffered by all the fighters on this mission. The torpedo bombers
of the Yorktown now found and attacked the Japanese carriers,
but with the same result as the previous attacks and by 10am
it all seemed to be over and Admiral Nagumo could prepare for
his counter strike in what seemed total safety. However, because
his fighters had been drawn down to sea level to deal with
the Yorktown's torpedo-bombers, the sky above the Japanese
carriers was left temporarily exposed to attack. At 10.25am
a lost dive-bomber group from the Enterprise stumbled upon
the undefended Japanese carriers. The 37 Dauntless dive-bombers
plunged down in to the attack. With their decks cluttered with
aircraft in the throws of being re-armed and refuelled, the
Japanese carriers were in serious danger. Admiral Nagumo's
flagship, the Akagi was the first to be hit and a bomb started
a fire in the torpedo store. This fire was so fierce that the
Admiral had to abandon the Akagi and shift his flag to a destroyer.
The carrier Kaga was hit next by four bombs, which set ablaze
the ships aviation fuel and forced her also to be abandoned.
The Soryu was hit as well, this time by 3 bombs. These started
a fire on deck amongst the parked aircraft and also caused
her engines to stop. In just five 5 minutes 3 Japanese carriers
had been put out of action, but the agony was not yet over.
At noon an American submarine found the stricken Soryu and
sank her by torpedo. The Hiryu, which so far was undamaged,
was ordered to withdraw at speed from the area in order to
save herself. During her withdrawal the Hiryu managed to launch
two strikes against the Yorktown at noon and 2.40pm, which
caused severe damage to the Yorktown. At 3.30pm Admiral Yamamoto
gave the order for the Akagi to be scuttled by torpedo as it
had not been possible to save her. By 5pm the Kaga had also
succumbed to her wounds and sank. At the same time the Hiryu's
luck ran out when she was spotted and attacked by dive-bombers
from the Enterprise. Hit by four bombs, the Hiryu was set on
fire from stem to stern and had to be scuttled by her crew.
Farther north, aircraft from the Japanese 2nd Carrier Strike
Force bomb Dutch harbor in the Aleutians as planned, damaging
the islands fuel tanks and a US ship. US efforts to locate
this force are unsuccessful.
During the early hours, Admiral Yamamoto
orders the withdrawal of the Japanese invasion fleet and abandons
his efforts to capture Midway. The US fleet loses contact with
the Japanese later in the day. The US destroyer Hammam is torpedoed
and sunk by a Japanese submarine.
The US carrier Yorktown,
having been damaged on the 4th June, is torpedoed and sunk
by a Japanese submarine whilst enroute to Pearl Harbor for
Japanese naval counter-attack
beaten off in Solomon Islands.
Battle of Savo Island begins as 7
Japanese cruisers and a destroyer approach undetected west
of Savo Island, Solomon Islands and sinks the U.S. heavy cruisers,
Quincey, Vincennes and Astoria and the Australian cruiser Canberra.
They also damage 1 cruiser and 2 destroyers. The allied ships
depart leaving the Guadalcanal area is in the control of the
Japanese send 4 transport ships with
an close escort of a cruiser and 4 destroyers to strengthen
their land forces on Guadalcanal, Solomon Is. Movement is covered
by 3 carriers, 2 battleships, 5 cruisers and 17 destroyers.
Battle joined in the Eastern Solomons
with the Japanese trying to land reinforcements on Guadalcanal.
US forces beat off the Japanese Combined Fleet sinking the
carrier Ryujo, but suffering damage to the carrier Enterprise.
Battle of Eastern Solomon's continues
with a Japanese destroyer being sunk off Santa Isabel.
Japanese warships begin to evacuate
The US aircraft-carrier Saratoga
is attacked and damaged by a Japanese submarine near Santa
The US Navy surprises
a Japanese naval squadron in the night 'Battle of Cape Esperance',
off Savo Island in the Solomons. The Japanese lose one cruiser
and a destroyer, while the US Navy loses just a single destroyer.
Battle of Santa Cruz, with US forces
attacking the large Japanese supporting fleet near Guadalcanal
and shooting down 100 aircraft, damaging two carriers, a battleship
and three cruisers.
The Japanese fleet forced to retreat
in the Solomons.
First sea battle off Guadalcanal
in the Pacific begins in confusion.
Another night action off Guadalcanal
costs the US Navy three destroyers for Japanese battleship