Battle of the Coral Sea

Battle of the Coral Sea

After occupying nearly all of Southeast Asia within a few months, Japan was at the height of its power. After a series of humiliating and severe defeats, the Allies began building the necessary force to counterattack. This was the first of a series of six Japanese battles against the Americans in the Pacific. It took place on 15th May 1942 on the background of the Japanese attempt to capture Port Moresby, the capital of New Guinea, and thereby to complete the capture of these islands and as a bridgehead for an offensive against Australia.

This was the first naval battle in which the Americans exploited their advantage in the field of signal intelligence (“Operation Magic “) and aircraft of the US naval force, which included two aircraft carriers were directed according to interception of Japanese Naval communications and discovered first the Japanese fleet, which included two of the aircraft carriers which had attacked Pearl Harbor. The planes of both sides attacked. The Americans lost one aircraft carrier and the second one was badly damaged (out of a total of four aircraft carriers that they had in the Pacific). The Japanese had one aircraft carrier damaged and the other lost most of its aircraft during the battle.

The results of the battle were clearly in favor of the Japanese, and the balance of power in the sea worsened from an American point of view.

However, the Japanese postponed their landing at Port Moresby for the time being. From Australia's point of view, this battle allowed a breathing space, as it delayed the Japanese invasion of their territory and enabled them to continue the building up of the forces needed to defend their country. The damage to Japanese aircraft carriers and their airpower led to unexpected results. Due to the Japanese reinforcement and rehabilitation methods, they were not able to participate in the Battle of Midway which took place a month later.

The Allies' strategy at that time, was focused on defense and build-up of the US Army, and this Japanese unpreparedness to commit forces to the battle of Midway gained most crucial time to the Marine force in New Caledonia, and the Australian air and land force in Port Moresby (south New Guinea).