Pacific Naval War!
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 4 transports.
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 22 minutes.
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 low ebb.
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 refuel.
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 Sydney Harbour.
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 repairs.
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 forces.
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 Milne Bay.
The US aircraft-carrier Saratoga is attacked and damaged by a Japanese submarine near Santa Cruz.
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 Kirishma.
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