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This Day In History, May 4th, 2022 – “The Battle of the Coral Sea”

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It was just 80 years ago today, May 4, 1942, when the first ever naval battle took place in which no ship from either side saw their enemy. The Battle of the Coral Sea took place off the north eastern coast of Australia, in the Empire of Japan’s attempt to cut off supplies from the United States to Australia by taking Port Moresby on the south eastern coast of New Guinea. At the time, things were not going so well for the Americans. The Empire of Japan continued to spread out and terrorize Asia and the Far East. If America and her allies did not stop the rising sun, the situation could be horrific, and leading the way was a massive Japanese task force, with only a handful of American and Australian ships to stop them.

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The “Lady Lex” after being hit by Japanese planes. Image courtesy of Wikicommons, Public Domain.

The battle, as mentioned before, was not ship to ship. It was an aerial battle, both sides had two large aircraft carriers. The U.S., the U.S.S. Lexington, and the U.S.S. Yorktown, whilst the Empire of Japan had the Shokaku, and the Zuikaku, both of whom were at Pearl Harbor, and a light carrier, the Shoho. In the battle that would rage until May 8, the Shoho was sunk, “scratch one flattop” was the phrase of the day. Sadly, the “Lady Lex” was sunk, and the Yorktown was badly damaged, but made it back to Pearl Harbor for repairs. The Battle of Coral Sea did not defeat the Japanese Navy, but they did turn around, and Port Moresby was saved.

What was happening yesterday, on May 3rd?

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