World War II
World War II in the Pacific in 1942
Unit 7: Learning Objective M,
We are now entering into 1942. And just a reminder - It´s been a little over two years since the beginning of WW II in Europe when the Nazis invaded Poland. And even before that, as early as 1937, you´ve had all-out war between the Chinese and the Japanese. And even before that you´ve had conflicts since the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. So Asia has been in conflict for some time. But as we go into 1942, the United States has just entered into World War II. You might remember - December 1941, Japan goes on a major offensive, tries to knock out the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, attacks Wake Island, attacks Guam, attacks Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaya. Then shortly thereafter goes after other possessions, Burma, goes after the Dutch-East Indies in its quest for natural resources. And so you can imagine as we go into 1942, the Americans are eager to retaliate. And in these videos - these are overview videos, I cannot talk about every action and battle that happens. I`m just trying to give you the hightlights - But the first notable action in 1942 is the Doolittle Raid. Named after Colonel Doolittle, who is the architect of this raid. The idea is not so much as a strategic victory but more of a psychological one. If the U.S. could somehow attack the mainland of Japan, bomb the mainland of Japan, it would be a huge morale booster for the Americans, and it might cause the Japanese people to question their own leadership. And so the idea is sent a carrier within bomber range roughly 1000 miles of the coast of Japan - and I tried to do research on where they went but I wasn`t able to find - but roughly 1000 miles of the coast of Japan and then send 16 B-25 bombers to bomb the mainland. And they are actually able to do this. 15 of the bombers, since they can`t land back onto the carrier, they are to heavy and to large to do that, they land in China and one of them gets diverted to Russia or the Soviet Union. And out of the 80 crewman all of planes get lost but out of the 80 crewman three are killed in action, eight are captured, and three are killed in captivity by the Japanese. But for the most part a hugely successful operation. Only months after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. is able to attack the Japanese mainland. Once again, more of a psychological victory then a strategic one, but a major psychological accomplishment from the ally point of view. This was in April, then you can fast forward to May, where you have the first major naval engagement between the Japanese and the American navy. And that happens at the Battle of Coral Sea, or the Battle of the Coral Sea, which occurs roughly over there. And this is significant because the U.S. loses more than the Japanese do, but it is able to cripple the Japanese navy enough that as they go into the next major offensive, they don´t have quite the firepower that they need. And that next major offensive happens in June at Midway. In June you have the Battle of Midway. At the Battle of Midway this is a Japanese offensive. Their goal is to further knock out the United States. But it ends up going the other way. And this is considered a big deal. This is the first Japanese naval loss since the Battle of Shimonoseki Straits in 1863. You have a U.S. victory here. Many historians consider this one of the most significant naval battles. We have a U.S. victory here. Once again, it´s only seven months since Pearl Harbor. You have Coral Sea which cripples the Japanese navy. - maybe cripple is a strong word but tears them down a little bit - Then you have Midway which is a major U.S. victory. And then that takes us to August where you have the Battle of Guadalcanal. There are several islands over here, the U.S. want to take it, the Japanese want to retake it. But between the on-the-ground forces and the naval forces, the U.S. is able to defeat the Japanese and keep them from taking Guadalcanal. This is a big deal because between Midway and Guadalcanal in 1942, this is the turning point. And after this point, Midway, the Japanese were on the offensive here, the Japanese tried to get the U.S. out of Guadalcanal in August. But in both of those the U.S. are able to defeat the Japanese at Midway, they are able to fend them off at Guadalcanal. This is the turning point where the U.S. is able to go on the offensive. 1942 is a very big deal. It´s only months after Pearl Harbor, months after the U.S. enters the war but it´s able to start turning the tide, and start to go on the offensive against the Japanese in the Pacific. And what we´ll see in the next video is 1942 also marks the turning of the tide in Europe.