Coral Sea - USS Lexington

USS Lexington on fire - a tactical victory for the Allies but with heavier losses.

May 9, 1942 – Coral Sea Postmortem – Conflicting Reports – Wishful Thinking.

Coral Sea - USS Lexington
USS Lexington on fire – a tactical victory for the Allies but with heavier losses.

May 9, 1942 – News Of The World – NBC – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

May 9, 1942 – news for this day had to do with a battle which took place in the Coral Sea which was between Australia, New Guinea and The Solomon Islands and had ended only hours earlier.

In an attempt to strengthen their defensive position in the South Pacific, the Japanese decided to invade and occupy Port Moresby (in New Guinea) and Tulagi (in the southeastern Solomon Islands). The plan, Operation Mo, involved several major units of Japan’s Combined Fleet. They included two fleet carriers and a light carrier to provide air cover for the invasion forces, under the overall command of Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue.

On the evening of 6 May, the two carrier forces came within 70 nmi (81 mi; 130 km) of each other, unbeknownst to anyone. On 7 May, both sides launched airstrikes. Each mistakenly believed they were attacking their opponent’s fleet carriers, but were actually attacking other units, with the U.S. sinking the Japanese light carrier Shōhō and the Japanese sinking a U.S. destroyer and heavily damaging a fleet oiler, which was later scuttled. The next day, each side found and attacked the other’s fleet carriers, with the Japanese fleet carrier Shōkaku damaged, the U.S. fleet carrier Lexington critically damaged and later scuttled, and the fleet carrier Yorktown damaged. With both sides having suffered heavy losses in aircraft and carriers damaged or sunk, the two forces disengaged and retired from the area. Because of the loss of carrier air cover, Inoue recalled the Port Moresby invasion fleet with the intention of trying again later. And the Battle of The Coral Sea was over.

In other news – From Stockholm came word that it looked like the War would extend into another Winter, if certain military experts had anything to say about it. One Military observer said the Germans had miscalculated the size of the Russian Army and that the large majority of Russian troops hadn’t been used yet.

And from Washington came optimistic news that perhaps the war would be over by the Summer or the end of the year at the latest. Others, like vice-President Wallace spoke of the possibilities of an invasion from Japan by way of Alaska and an uprising and overthrow by Axis forces in South America. So on the one hand you hand blind optimism and on the other, stark pessimism.

And that’s how the news was being made, this May 9, 1942 as reported by NBC’s News Of The World.




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