bigpigeon.us webpage WW II - Japan > Japan Overreaches, updated by RAC 7 Oct '19.
From December 1941 to Jun 1942, Imperial Japanese military forces made remarkable advances in:
- Southeastern Asia against British Empire forces (Malaya, Singpore, and Burma).
- The Western Pacific (the Philippines and the Netherlands East Indies).
- The Central Pacific (Guam and Wake islands and the Gilbert Islands).
- Islands in the Southwestern Pacific (New Britain and portions of the Solomon Islands and the northern coast of New Guinea).
Revised Japanese Military Goals
Early in 1942, the Japanese military, intoxicated by their ongoing success, began planning a second, more-ambitious, phase of their Pacific offensive. The second phase included isolating Australia, which would both impede the future use of Australia as a springboard for Allied counteroffensives and facilitate a possible future Japanese invasion of Australia. The second phase was entrusted to Imperial Japanese Navy forces, as much of the Imperial Japanese Army was tied up in the war in China.
Goals for this new offensive included (in a clockwise direction across the Pacific Ocean starting in the north):
Meanwhile the military high command in the United States reached two conclusions:
- With the December destruction of the US battleship fleet at Pearl Harbor, It was pointless to attempt reinforcing our military still fighting in the Philippine Islands, 5,000 miles west of Hawaii.
- If the second Japanese offensive succeeded, communications between Australia, our major partner in the Pacific, and the United States would become much more difficult. Thus, it was necessary to begin rushing army and marine units to various locations in the Pacific in an effort to deal with such a contingency. Soon US military units were located in Australia, in all the locations on the above bullet list except for Attu and Kiska, and in other locations such as Samoa and New Zealand.
Starting in May 1942, American and Austrailian forces stopped the second Japanese advance in the Pacific by a series of difficult victories, thus keeping the sea and air lanes open between the United States and Australia and keeping Japanese bases out of range of Pearl Harbor:
- The Battle of the Coral Sea,fought by the US Navy against the Imperial Japanese Navy off the northeastern coast of Australia.
- Most spectacularly, west of Hawaii in the Central Pacific, the US Navy decisively defeated the June 1942 Japanese attack on Midway Island.
- By the Australian Army, In two locations in Papua in southeastern New Guinea.
Operation MO --> Battle of the Coral Sea - 4-8 May 1942
As the first step in isolating Australia, Japan sent an invasion fleet into the Coral Sea to seize Port Moresby, the major town in eastern New Guinea, and a locality with both harbor and air facilities.
The Japanese fleet was intercepted by the US Navy in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the first sea battle fought exclusively by carrier-launched aircraft. Although Coral Sea was a draw tactically with equal losses on both sides, it was an Allied victory as the Japanese fleet turned back.
Operation MI --> Battle of Midway - 4-7 June 1942
The Japanese Operation MI offensive had two components:
With a combination of good intelligence, good luck, and large amounts of personal courage, United States forces prevailed in the climatic Battle of Midway. Japan lost four large aircraft carriers to American dive bombers; while the United States lost the carrier Yorktown.
After their defeat at Midway, Japan cancelled Operation FI, the planned offensive to extend Japanese power further into the South Pacific.
Later Japanese Attacks in Southeastern New Guinea
In March 1942, a sizable Japanese force had landed in the Buna area on the north coast of the Australian Territory of Papua.
In the summer of 1942, after Coral Sea and Midway, Japan made two further attempts to gain a foothold on the southern coast of New Guinea. Both attempts were turned back by Australian troops with some American assistance.
In late 1942, the Kokoda Trail operations segued into the Buna-Gona battle, outlined in the New Guinea webpage.
Sources for the WW II - Japan Overreaches webpage
- The header photo, USS Enterprise at Midway, courtesy of theatlantic.com, shows the preparation of Torpedo Squadron VT-6 for their fatal flight. Of the 41 planes of the three torpedo squadrons that flew from American carriers at Midway, only six returned.
- The Pacific Ocean map is courtesy of CartoGIS Services, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, Canberra.
- The Coral Sea map is courtesy of https://geog.ucsb.edu at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
- The June 1942 Japanese Naval Operation MI is courtesy of pinterest.com
- The Eastern New Guinea map is courtesy of wikipedia.
Pottawattamie County, Iowa WW II Dead - Japan Overreaches
(taken from the bigpigeon.us WW II Dead webarea)
(taken from the bigpigeon.us WW II Dead webarea)
- 04 - Japan Overreaches (three dead, updated 5 Oct ’19)
† Decker, Richard Charles - SN 17-017-220, USAAF
69th Bomb. Sqdn., 38th Bomb. Gp., 5th AF; Martin Marauder B-26B #41-17570 nose gunner; KIA 4 Jun ’44 off Midway, Hawaii; low-level torpedo attack by four Marauders on Japanese fleet, two planes lost; Battle of Midway; BNR.
† Mowrey, Robert Edward - SN 1721702, USMC Aviation
VMF-221 Sqdn., MAG 22, 2nd Marine Air Wing; KIA 4 Jun ‘42 on Midway Is., Hawaii; direct hit on aircraft rearming station during air attack; Battle of Midway.
† O’Dell, Charles Henry - SN 3167835, US Navy
aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2); KIA 8 May ’42, Coral Sea, South Pacific; ship sunk by Japanese planes, 216 dead; BNR; Battle of The Coral Sea.