There are few battles in history that can truly be denoted as the turning point in a war, the Battle of Midway is one of these events. Craig Symonds focus is on the strategic viewpoints of the opposing forces during World War II, in reference to sea power. The fundamental effect on the global war and how naval battles changed the outcome.
Craig Symonds does not fully explore the importance of the global war fought on land, but it is not lost on the author. He reminds the reader that war was not being fought only in the Pacific. One major feature of this book is how the events are interrelated which allows the reader to see the interrelationship between events, actions and the effects as the war ensued. For example, the U-Boat and the Allied shortage of shipping capacity affected military decisions and operations. The strategic decisions of naval leaders from all the powers are put in order. To give the reader a more complete view of the conflict at sea from global perspective.
Symonds narrates not only the planning stages but the prewar buildup of the Japanese war machine. His representation of Japanese naval commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto as a show-off poker player who at Midway played the wrong hand. Symonds also defines the Pacific Fleet’s swift recovery from Pearl Harbor, under the leadership of two remarkable admirals; Admiral Ernest J. King and Admiral Chester W.
Nimitz. Events at Midway were not merely a lucky hand put rather a series of calculated decisions. During the first six months of the Pacific War, Japan’s single most important tactical asset was the Kido Butai (“Mobile Force”). This force consisted of six heavy carriers grouped together in a single task force. Unlike the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Americans and British also operated their carriers in tactical units built around a single carrier and its escorts. This tactical mistake was no match for the Kido Butai.
The most powerful naval force in the world. The Kido Butai was able to cripple the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, devastate the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean and inflict heavy damage at Darwin, Australia.
Craig Symonds maintains that “the Battle of Midway is best explained by focusing on the people involved.” He does so by focusing on the command officers and staff of the American and Japanese fleets. The character of these select few played into their decision making. Nimitz, cool under pressure, Frank Flap Jack Fletcher a hardened no-nonsense veteran of naval service. This is not a one side book that only looks at the great American navy, Craig Symonds also builds the character of the enemy.
Yammamoto, keenly intelligent, self-confident and understood the importance of aviation in naval conflict. Additionally, Craig Symonds explores the evolution of Pacific War strategies and tactical positions that eventually effected decision making in the battle to come. I had the impression the author viewed the Japanese naval officers as master chess player play with a novice opponent. Until the opponent saw the weakness in the master and capitalized on it. Craig Symonds focuses on major flaws or weakness of Japanese leadership. They were conscious of the fact they could not maintain a naval force indefinitely.
America was out producing the Japanese naval industry and the aviation program was not keeping up with the loses. With Pearl Harbor and other triumphs still fresh the Japanese caught a bad case of “victory disease.” They thought quick victories would persuade a deflated United States to surrender The Japanese saw that a series of successes might lure the remnants of the Navy into a strategic mistake off Midway. It didn’t occur to them that the Americans might already have the ability read much of the Japanese code but moreover the Americans were waiting.
It was at Midway, that whatever hopes the Japanese had of victory died, as they themselves ended up in a trap. The Battle of Midway of 1942 is one of the most significant actions of World War II. In Symonds describes it as “the most complete naval victory since…Trafalgar.” Midway had sweeping effects on the course of the Pacific conflict and the path America took.
The American Navy went on the offensive, they took the war to the Japanese fleet. Symonds explains, June 4 the Japanese navy initiative was in a position to choose from a half-dozen or so strategic options. U.
S. Navy still reeling from the Pearl Harbor attack, was on the defensive and could do little beyond defending vulnerable outpost on Midway Island. By the end of that first day’s battle the Japanese had lost their largest and best aircraft carriers. U.
S. Navy had gained a strategic initiative which would never again be relinquish and completely reversed the hold in the Pacific by Japan. The imperial navy had no options from then on, other than trying to preserve a defensive posture of their Pacific gains.
Symonds lays out an excellent perspective on the timeline of the decisions and actions taken by central figures such as Roosevelt, Churchill, Yamamoto, Nimitz, King, and others. This helps give the reader a better understanding of the situations that molded those choices prior to and during the perilous moments of action. Symonds also explains how, in many ways, Midway was decided long before the war even began.
He writes, “Japan’s carrier airplanes were among the best in the world, and this in turn contributed to the decision to go to war with the United States in the first place. It also meant that once the war began, Japan would be unable to produce replacement airplanes quickly or in large numbers. Equating triumph with quality over quantity.
In a war of attrition, the gamble that the war would be short one, quantity reigned supreme. The political and philosophical superiority of the Japanese officers, specifically those in the Imperial navy, had as much to do with the battle’s result as any tactical choices made in combat. Symonds, however, insists the outcome was “primarily the result of decisions made and actions taken by individuals who found themselves at the nexus of history…
” At the heart of the story, Midway is the issue of eventuality of battle. To say that eventuality was a aspect in the Pacific, by no means constitute divine intervention. It wasn’t a matter of if Japan was going to meet a fiercer opponent but when.
Midway was the sudden shift in the war’s direction brought about by the battle’s outcome. Studying this battle remains valuable for better understanding of how these kinds of shifts take place. Midway was a pivotal battle and its story is told from the perspective of both sides. From the in the highest echelons of power to the men that achieved the strategic goal. An almost complete destruction of the Japanese Navy’s strike force, could not have achieved without the contributions of those men that deciphered enemy codes, gathered intelligence and interpreted information.
The US Navy didn’t just balance the scales in the Pacific they tilted the scales in American favor. The U.S. had the industrial capacity and manpower reserves to replace what they would lose not only at Midway but in the hard slog across the Pacific to come, the Japanese did not.
While they were able to make the US pay a heavy price for victory in the Pacific, the Japanese would never be able to stem the tide of the American advance.