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The Second World War engaged the energies of the American people for almost four years and was fought on a scale not even conceived by prewar observers The war in the Pacific was long and arduous due to the fact the Japanese were never willing to surrender At the beginning of the war most battles were fought between aircraft carriers and their planes The most significant of these was the Battle of Midway This island was barren but a strategically important outpost guarding the western approaches to the Hawaiian Islands and the United States itself The Battle of Midway was the turning point of the war in the Pacific In 1895 Japan embarked on an imperialist policy of expansion when she occupied Formosa In 1931 Japan invaded Manchuria and in 1937 she attacked China When Germany overran France and Holland in 1940 placing British French and Dutch far eastern colonies at Japans mercy following her attack on Pearl Harbor Japan advanced in three directions the Dutch east Indies and Philippines into mainland China and into the Pacific towards Guam By the spring of 1942 Japan had overrun most of the Southern and Western Pacific and needed to protect the oil and raw materials it had seizedThe commander and chief of the Japanese Navy Admiral Isoraku Yamamoto conceived an intricate plot to ambush and destroy Admiral Chester Nimitzs Pacific fleet at Midway This small but strategically important island guarded the Western approaches to the Hawaiian Islands and the United States Yamamotos plan called for a decoy attack on the islands of the Aleutian chain in the Northern Pacific Then a bombardment of Midway by a powerful carrier strike force was to be followed by an infantry landing Yamamoto believed this would lure the American Pacific Fleet out into the open where he could destroy itThe Americans however had broken the Japanese code and knew that a major attack on one of the Pacific bases was imminent
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