70 years ago. It’s hard to grasp just how badly the US was being beaten in the first six months of the War in the Pacific. The Japanese juggernaut seemed almost invincible. In six months of war, the US and its allies had lost almost every key outpost, suffered humiliating defeats, crippling losses, and saw their pre-war plans rendered completely irrelevant.
But on this day 70 years ago, the US Navy turned the tide. Its own losses in the battle, in terms of aircrew and airplanes, and even ships, were enough to leave the fleet almost exhausted. And it took a while for our sailors to realize that they had indeed broken the back of the Japanese fleet. But the sacrifice and courage of what in later years of the war would be considered just a small task force completely shifted the strategic momentum in the Pacific. No longer would the Japanese advance. There remained more than three grueling, bloody years of war, and indeed the costs in ships and men would only go up from there. But the first toll-gate on the road to victory had been passed.
SteelJawScribe has a fantastic series of posts on this key battle in the Pacific. Here’s today’s link. Be sure to go read the entire series, and especially enjoy some of the terrific illustrations and pictures.