Video:Major Battles of WWII: Pacific Theaterwith Omar Saad
WWII's Pacific Theater presented one of the most challenging fronts in American warfare history. In this history video from About.com, get an overview of the four most important battles during World War Two's Pacific campaign.See Transcript
Transcript:Major Battles of WWII: Pacific Theater
Hi, I'm Ben Arrona here for About.com. I'm a historian with a Masters Degree in American history, and today we're going to take a look at some major battles that occurred in the Pacific Theater during World War Two. While there were six major battles that occurred in the Pacific Theatre in World War Two, this discussion is limited to the four major ones.
The Battle of the Coral Sea
The first of these battles occurred on May 7th and 8th in 1942, only a few months after the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7th 1941. The Battle of the Coral Sea was fought southwest and of the Solomon Islands and was the first air to sea battle in history. Leading up to the conflict the United States had broken the Japanese communication code. This information allowed the United States Navy to position their aircraft carriers in the Coral Sea so that they surprised the Japanese as they were headed toward the Solomon Islands.
When the fighting concluded the US had lost one aircraft carrier, one destroyer, and one of its fleet oilers, plus damage to a second carrier. However, the Japanese lost as light carrier, a destroyer, and some smaller support ships. Most importantly two of Japan's big carriers were eliminated from the upcoming battle at midway, which helped ensure a US victory.
The Battle of Midway
The next battle in the Pacific, which took place between aircraft carrier based forces, was the Battle of Midway, which occurred on June 4th through 7th 1942, approximately one month after the battle of the Coral Sea. This battle would prove to be a decisive victory for the United States.
The battle was fought on and around the U.S. Mid-Pacific base at the Midway Atol. Leading up to this historic battle, Japan possessed clear Naval Superiority over the United States. The Battle of Midway left the two countries fleets as equals, which allowed the US to begin taking the offensive in the Pacific.
The Japanese attack plan at Midway was to lure the US aircraft carriers into a vulnerable position where they could be ambushed and destroyed. The United States learned of this plan due to their ability to break Japanese codes and United States Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Nimitz developed a counter plan that ambushed the Japanese and destroyed four of their aircraft carriers, while only losing one US air craft carrier. This allowed the United States to keep their airbase at Midway, which proved very helpful in the island hopping campaign of the Pacific Theatre of WWII.
The Battle of Guadalcanal
The next battle in the Pacific was the Battle of Guadalcanal, which began in August of 1942 and ended in February of 1943. The Japanese military arrived at Guadalcanal on June 8th of 1942 in an attempt to build an airbase prior to the United States forces arriving at the island.
The United States Marines landed without opposition on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942 in hopes of taking the 2500 square mile island, located in the Solomon chain. The hard fought Battle of Guadalcanal also ensured that Australia would no longer be in danger from invasion by the Japanese.
The contentious six month fight for Guadalcanal led to the Japanese losing approximately 24,000 of its 36,400 army contingent on the island. The United States Military, however, lost less than 2000 soldiers in the battle.
The battle for Okinawa
The battle for Okinawa was one of the most brutal of the island hopping campaign. Okinawa would be the last of the battles in the Pacific. It began April 1, 1945 and ended June 21, 1945. It was also the largest of the Pacific battles, featuring more than 200,000 United States troops against 130,000 Japanese soldiers. Control of airbases critical to the pending invasion of Japan were the reason for attacking this island. This battle resulted in over 12000 U.S. casualties and over 36,000 wounded, to go with around 110,000 lost on the Japanese side. The battle for Okinawa was a costly one.
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