TwHP Lessons

The Battle of Midway: Turning the Tide in the Pacific

[Photo] Bunker on Midway Island.
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,Kevin Kilcullen, photographer)


or centuries, thousands of albatrosses have lived on the desolate islands that comprise the Midway Atoll. Beautiful in flight, but ungainly in their movement on land, the albatrosses were called "gooney birds" by the men stationed on the islands during World War II. The birds soiled the runways, clogged the engines of departing aircraft, and were always, always underfoot. Today, the shadows of their huge wings still dapple the glassy sea as they glide towards the islands to nest. They still perch on the airport runways and the old ammunition magazines and gun batteries, but they no longer need to do daily battle with America's armed forces for possession of the islands.

Inhabited by humans for less than a century, Midway dominated world news for a brief time in the early summer of 1942. These tiny islands were the focus of a brutal struggle between the Japanese Imperial Navy and the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. victory here ended Japan's seemingly unstoppable advance across the Pacific and began a U.S. offensive that would end three years later at the doorstep of the Home Islands.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Japanese offensive, 1941-42
 2. Midway Atoll

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Out of Obscurity
 2. The Battle of Midway
 3. Voices from Midway

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Midway Atoll, 1941
 2. Midway after Japanese attack, 1942
 3. Bombing of U.S. carrier Yorktown, 1942
 4. Dive bombers, 1942
 5. Bombers on Midway, 1942
 6. Ammunition magazine on Midway

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Victory or Defeat?
 2. Technology and Warfare
 3. Remembering the Battle of Midway
 4. Local War Memorials

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This lesson is based on the World War II facilities at Midway, among the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The facilities have been designated a National Historic Landmark.



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