||Osprey Publishing Ltd.
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In the summer of 1942, the United States was battling to reverse the tide of the Pacific War. !n the few months since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the nation had taken further staggering blows with the loss of Guam and Wake Island, the humiliating fall of the Philippines in April 1942, and the surrender of Corregidor Island in May. The British Commonwealth had suffered its own equally disastrous setbacks throughout the region, and the Dutch East Indies, with its vast natural resources, had fallen under Japanese control. The Japanese conquest did not reach its fullest extent until August 1942. The road back would be difficult, and every opportunity to inflict damage on the all-conquering Japanese had to be taken. On April 18, 1942, the Doolittle bomber raid on Tokyo was launched, inflicting little real damage, but proving to be a tremendous morale boost to the American people. Even before the Philippines fell, American defense forces began occupying South Pacific islands not yet seized by the Japanese. The Japanese had originally planned to continue their conquest across the South Pacific. Their strategy was to first take Midway in early June, and then in August move on Fiji, New Caledonia, and Samoa - all defended by Allied forces, mostly American - in hopes of cutting the supply line between Hawaii and Australia and New Zealand. The Imperial Japanese Navy suffered the disastrous loss of four aircraft carriers during the June 4—5 battle of Midway, which led to the cancellation of the more ambitious plans on July 11. Though at the time it was not fully realized how vital it was, the US Navy's victory at Midway allowed the Allies to begin launching offensive operations. The Australians began to fight back on Papua and New Guinea the following month, and US forces were ready to take the fight to the Japanese too.