Midway

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
User avatar
Wally
Member
Posts: 82
Joined: 16 Jan 2004 20:09
Location: Alexandria, LA

Midway

Post by Wally » 05 Aug 2004 17:26

Any good books about the Battle of Midway? I have read the book "Miracle at Midway" by Prange, Goldstein & Dillon, which I thought was excellent. If anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know.

Thanks,

Wally

Goldfish
Member
Posts: 410
Joined: 31 May 2004 13:51
Location: Atlanta, USA

Post by Goldfish » 05 Aug 2004 17:44

Try Fuchida's book, "Midway:The Battle that Doomed Japan", available from Naval Institute Press. Fuchida was the lead bomber pilot at Pearl Harbor and witnessed the battle of Midway (he was sidelined there after having had his appendix removed). Also, "Incredible Victory" by Walter Lord, a little dated, but very dramatic. You may also want to check out some of the Midway threads at J-Aircraft.org as they provide very detailed info from the Japanese Navy's viewpoint.

User avatar
Jack Nisley
Member
Posts: 354
Joined: 19 Dec 2002 02:37
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Post by Jack Nisley » 05 Aug 2004 22:38

" The Barrier and th Javelin" by Willmott and "The First Team" by Lundstrom, both by Naval Institute Press. Cover more than Midway, but the best I know of. Morison is also good.

Jack Nisley

User avatar
R Leonard
Member
Posts: 408
Joined: 16 Oct 2003 02:48
Location: The Old Dominion

Post by R Leonard » 06 Aug 2004 03:12

John Lundstrom's, of course, "The First Team - Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway" is the classic, and definitive work. John was able to catch the participants in the mid 1970s while health was good and memories were clear. From my father's squadron (VF-3) he spoke with thirteen pilots, there's only three of those left now.

Gordon Prange's "Miracle at Midway" gives a nice overview, especially looking in from the Japanese side. Prange was an interviewer with SCAP after the war and made some inroads with Japanese participants. On the other hand, his book was put together by a couple of his assistants after he died. Unfortunately, either Prange, himself, one, or both, of his assistants, and certainly his editor, display an appalling carelessness in recounting the US side of the story, with many fairly easily spotted and glaring errors.

The best book dedicated totally to the Battle of Midway is a collaborative work by Robert Cressman, Steve Ewing, Barrett Tillman, Mark Horan, Clarke Reynolds, and Stan Cohen entitled "A Glorious Page in Our History - The Battle of Midway 4-6 June 1942". A thorough working of the material, meticulously researched, and lavishly illustrated.

I'd also suggest if you are seriously interested in discussion of the Battle of Midway that you take a look at:

http://www.lodinet.com/rruss/midway/

Regards,

Rich

User avatar
Sewer King
Member
Posts: 1711
Joined: 18 Feb 2004 04:35
Location: northern Virginia

Post by Sewer King » 06 Aug 2004 03:46

I second the Fuchida book, which should still be fairly available in US Naval Institute Press reprint. Just saw a hardcover copy of it recently.

His account of the loss of carrier Hiryu is interesting, for it explains that photo of her dead in the water with her ravaged flight deck. And then, there's his mention of Kaga being torpedoed by submarine USS Nautilus... instead of holing the crippled carrier, the dud torpedoes simply broke on impact and saved some crewmen in the water by giving them a raft.

It's less remembered that Fuchida converted to Christianity after the war. His family resided for a time in the Philippines in the late 1960s, where his children were classmates of my brother. Unfortunately we never got to meet the man himself because he was frequently away on business and goodwill work.

A Glorious Page... is as excellent as was said, and not so far from Stan Cohen's other work about Pearl Harbor, East Wind Rain.

The easily available Robert Ballard book Return to Midway is of some interest for the marine archaeology approach the author took for Guadalcanal and PT-109. I wish they had found the Japanese carriers. But they are probably in much worse shape than Yorktown is. Not only were they were bombed, burned, and torpedoed, but I expect they crashed on the bottom hard unlike the American carrier.

Well-known and widely-written-about campaigns have sometimes been reexamined from new angles. A good account of the great intelligence success of Midway is in W.J. Holmes' Double-Edged Secrets: US Naval Intelligence Operations in the Pacific during WW2 (Naval Institute Press, 1979). Not just the code-breaking successes, but insights into the thoughts of men and organizations that made them possible.

Goldfish
Member
Posts: 410
Joined: 31 May 2004 13:51
Location: Atlanta, USA

Post by Goldfish » 06 Aug 2004 08:53

A good first-person account is George Gay's "Sole Survivor". Gay was the only survivor of Torpedo Squadron 8's attack on the Japanese carriers and then watched the dive bomber attack from the water in the middle of the Japanese fleet!

Tiornu
Member
Posts: 922
Joined: 20 Aug 2003 20:16
Location: NAmerica

Post by Tiornu » 06 Aug 2004 11:47

Gay was not the only survivor from VT 8. He was the only one to survive from Hornet's torpedo contingent. The rest of VT 8 flew from Midway, but they got chewed up rather badly as well.
Folks in Japan have dismissed Fuchida long ago as a ceaseless liar. I would not count on him too much.
Jon Parshall's book on Midway is supposed to be out next year some time, and it promises to fill in lots of holes concerning Japanese operations.

User avatar
Sewer King
Member
Posts: 1711
Joined: 18 Feb 2004 04:35
Location: northern Virginia

Post by Sewer King » 07 Aug 2004 04:17

Folks in Japan have dismissed Fuchida long ago as a ceaseless liar. I would not count on him too much.
Why do they do that? I never heard of this before. There have been some other Japanese veterans who wrote for US naval history, such as Masataka Chihaya (a prewar USNA Annapolis graduate).

I have had the suspicion that wartime history as seriously discussed in Japan is a closed field. Not just because they lost, but because many matters of war guilt have long been in denial. And because the younger generations of Japanese have only recently and tentatively been schooled in the past. But who is dismissing Fuchida and why would they? What has he to lie about so much? More importantly for us, where was this written?
Gay was the only survivor of Torpedo Squadron 8's attack on the Japanese carriers and then watched the dive bomber attack from the water in the middle of the Japanese fleet!
There was a downed Zero pilot who also watched the loss of his carrier division from the water not so far away from Gay, but I can't remember what his name was.

Goldfish
Member
Posts: 410
Joined: 31 May 2004 13:51
Location: Atlanta, USA

Post by Goldfish » 07 Aug 2004 07:36

The main complaint about Fuchida, I think, is his timing regarding the Japanese re-arming and re-feuling at Midway. According to Fuchida's account, which became Gospel (Fuchida was Prange's primary Japanese source on Midway), the Japanese were ready to launch their aircraft at the American carriers, and were even starting to launch, when the American dive bombers struck. This showed that Nagumo's muddled handling of his aircraft was only bad luck and that if he had only had ten more minutes, the course of the battle, and history, would have been changed in Japan's favor.

However, recent evidence has shown that in reality, Nagumo's planes were all in their hangers and were about half an hour from launching. Consider that the undamaged Hiryu did not launch its planes at the Americans for about half an hour. Also the ship's logs show the average time for re-arming that can be used to determine when the Japanese should have been ready. This new evidence underscores Nagumo's incompetence and immediately calls into question why Fuchida's story would be so far off, unless he was lying to preserve his former commander's reputation. I think that Parshall (or was it Jim Lonsdale?) wrote about this in an article for World War II Magazine and also in many posts on J-aircraft.org. Anyway, I think that this is probably the information that will be presented in the new book.

User avatar
Sewer King
Member
Posts: 1711
Joined: 18 Feb 2004 04:35
Location: northern Virginia

Post by Sewer King » 09 Aug 2004 05:09

...Fuchida's account, which became Gospel (Fuchida was Prange's primary Japanese source on Midway), the Japanese were ready to launch their aircraft at the American carriers, and were even starting to launch, when the American dive bombers struck. This showed that Nagumo's muddled handling of his aircraft was only bad luck...
This is the general account I have always seen too -- the first launch was rolling forward when the Dauntlesses struck. If it isn't true, then does the sequence of events just before, such as the rearmament for bombing Midway to attacking US ships instead, also come into question?
Also the ship's logs show the average time for re-arming that can be used to determine when the Japanese should have been ready.
This is the sort of thing I mean, where if the IJN carriers' logs tell a different story, they are not open for historical research. How did later researchers get hold of them? I have heard that the modern Japan Defense Agency does maintain wartime archives, but seldom see references to them in general accountings.

Shouldn't this have come out in the IJN's own investigation of the Midway debacle?
This new evidence underscores Nagumo's incompetence and immediately calls into question why Fuchida's story would be so far off, unless he was lying to preserve his former commander's reputation.
There is a current belief that Hideki Tojo was effectively made to play a scapegoat for the Tokyo tribunal, partly so that the Emperor could be let off any responsibility for conduct of the war. Some of this is in Sterling Seagrave's Yamato Dynasty, and I'm not fully convinced by his telling -- but there are others who take this line.

Nagumo seemed to have been demoted down to a lesser command of a naval component in the unified defense of the Marianas in 1944, which of course was never truly unified. Still, in the earlier post Fuchida is said to be discredited in Japan for his account of Nagumo's performance. That implies that there was at least some serious debate about this among Japanese historians themselves.

I don't say this new information is untrue, but so far as I know it hasn't been taken up in the US Navy's strong historical circles. The US Naval Institute and its magazine Proceedings, as well as the US Naval Historical Center would take up a rewrite of Midway's crucial moments if the proof is that strong. They should have no face to save, as Fuchida is alleged to have done.
I think that Parshall (or was it Jim Lonsdale?) wrote about this in an article for World War II Magazine...
Occasionally I get back issues of that magazine. It does interest me that they sometimes take up controversy like Japan's own A-bomb program reported in occupied Korea. A rewrite of Midway would fall into this same class. It would have to refute Fuchida, and I'd like to look for it.

Goldfish
Member
Posts: 410
Joined: 31 May 2004 13:51
Location: Atlanta, USA

Post by Goldfish » 09 Aug 2004 10:29

Parshall co-wrote an article for the Naval War College Review (Summer 2001, I think) on this topic. Most of his info comes from translation of Japanese documents, most of them recently translated, including the ship's logs and a lot of the focus is on an analysis of IJN procedures (for example, the anti-ship aircraft that Nagumo ordered re-armed for a second Midway strike were not spotted on the deck ready to go, as is commonly thought, but were actually on the lower hanger deck, as per procedure). As for the other details, I guess you'll have to read the book or the articles.

As for the IJN inquiry, it was headed by Fuchida and so this would, again, be an example where his "testimony" would refute other evidence. As to where the ship's logs and other documents came from, I am not sure. However, I am sure the book will cover the provenance of the sources.

I don't recall Tojo ever being blamed for the disaster at Midway, Yamamoto (strategy) and Nagumo (tactics) were usually held at fault. Nagumo was not appointed to the Marianas post until after he had suffered additional defeats in the South Pacific and Yamamoto had been killed.

If this new evidence is valid, it could change the entire perception of one of the 20th Century's most decisive battles from a lucky break that could have gone either way to a decisive stroke by the US Navy (who planned their attack for just such a situation) and a series of fatal blunders by Nagumo.

User avatar
R Leonard
Member
Posts: 408
Joined: 16 Oct 2003 02:48
Location: The Old Dominion

Post by R Leonard » 09 Aug 2004 21:40

Dallas W. Isom wrote about Midway in an article for the Naval War College Review entitled: “The Battle of Midway: Why the Japanese Lost “ in which he gives his analysis of the reasons for the American victory. You can read it at:

http://www.nwc.navy.mil/press/Review/20 ... t3-Su0.htm

Jon Parshall, Tony Tully and David Dickson responded to Isom’s article with one of their own, “Doctrine Matters - Why The Japanese Lost At Midway” also appearing in the NWCR, which you can find at:

http://www.nwc.navy.mil/press/Review/20 ... d1-su1.htm

This article give us a really good heads-up on their forthcoming work which, as I understand it, is at the publisher.

Isom responded to their essay with:

http://www.nwc.navy.mil/press/Review/20 ... mv-su1.htm

Some of us are anxiously (and rubbing our hands together with glee) awaiting the Parshall/Tully/Dickson tome.

Regards,

Rich

User avatar
Sewer King
Member
Posts: 1711
Joined: 18 Feb 2004 04:35
Location: northern Virginia

Post by Sewer King » 10 Aug 2004 04:56

This is all fairly momentous, and Thanks for all the references -- if the Naval War College has given the Midway rewrite a forum, I would have expected it to echo in Naval Institute circles. Especially because they were the ones who printed and reprinted the Fuchida book. But maybe they discussed it and I simply missed out, as here.
I don't recall Tojo ever being blamed for the disaster at Midway, Yamamoto (strategy) and Nagumo (tactics) were usually held at fault..
Tojo was connected to the loss of Saipan, or at least was made to step down from the War Ministry in its aftermath. I did not mean to imply his connection to Midway, but I think Tojo became something of a focus for postwar justice in the Tokyo tribunals. The war against Japan had no single Hitler-like figure to hate, whose execution would bring a sense of retribution.

If Midway has grounds for historical rewrite, imagine what could be done with the Tokyo trials. There are some relatively recent books on them, which note that many people know or remember the Nuremberg trials, generally. But in general, who remembers the Tokyo proceedings just as well?

User avatar
Barrett
Member
Posts: 240
Joined: 12 Dec 2004 21:57
Location: Western US

Post by Barrett » 22 Dec 2004 00:18

Concur with Rich Leonard about Prange's work. He compiled an enormous amount of info but his acolytes consistently display an amazing lack of knowledge about their subject, and one of 'em was an AF officer. The Midway book is replete with astonishing glitches: confusing USMC and USN ranks, TBDs and SBDs, uncertainty as to the relation between squadron and air group, etc, etc. Some defenders might cite poor editing, and while obviously the editor(s) didn't have a grasp of the subject, authors are supposed to know the basics!

BTW: My contribution to "A Glorious Page" was merely an overview of the aircraft involved. Bob Cressman deserves most of the credit for that fine book.

JamesNo1
Member
Posts: 50
Joined: 26 Nov 2004 07:30
Location: Australia

Midway

Post by JamesNo1 » 23 Dec 2004 05:56

Wally might also like to have a look at Walter Lord's book "Midway: The Incredible Victory". I found it an absorbing account of the battle. Lord interviewed both American and Japanese participants in the battle and weaves their stories and comments into the narrative. If there is a fault in Lord's book, it is the lack of analysis of what the Japanese were actually intending to achieve with their Midway Operation.

The full scope of the "Eastern Operation" was revealed by the research of Japanese history expert Professor J. J. Stephan of the University of Hawaii in his book "Hawaii under the Rising Sun". It was out of print last year, but I understand from Professor Stephan that a new edition is about to be released.

For those who can't locate his book at this time, I have included a short account of Professor Stephan's research in my own Midway web-site at:

http://www.users.bigpond.com/pacificwar/Midway.html

Frankly, I don't believe that Midway's place as the most important battle of the Pacific War can be challenged even if Fuchida got it wrong in his account of Japanese preparations to launch their strike at the American carriers. The Japanese carriers were floating powder kegs whether the bombers were in the hangars or on the flight decks! It appears that Zeros were being fuelled and armed on flight decks that were littered with fuel lines and carelessly stowed ordnance when the SBDs struck.

In the hope of clarifying the issue whether Fuchida misrepresented the situation on the Japanese carriers at the time when the SBDs from Yorktown and Enterprise struck, I asked Jon Parshall whether it would have been possible for any of the Japanese Kates or Vals to have been fuelled, armed, and parked off to one side of Akagi's flight deck so as not to impede the continuing operations of the combat air patrol Zeros. Jon admitted very frankly that he could not answer my question at that time.
I am hoping that this issue will be clarified in his forthcoming book.

Return to “WW2 in the Pacific & Asia”