The Law of Contact

The Battle of Midway (September 14, 1942)

The Battle of Midway

Released on September 14, 1942: This movie, produced by the U.S. Navy, edits actual film from the battle shot by director John Ford, who was wounded as he filmed, but never stopped his camera, capturing the reality of the Japanese attack of Midway on June 4, 1942.

Directed by John Ford.

The Actors: Henry Fonda (narrator), Jane Darwell (narrator), Donald Crisp (main narrator), Irving Pichel (narrator), Logan Ramsey (himself), James Roosevelt (himself, US Army Major, son of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt).


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December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, inflicting many deaths and much destruction on the U.S. forces stationed there. Six months later the U.S. was building up their war assets, and preparing to battle the enemy wherever we could. On 4 June, 1942 the Japanese attacked the U.S. base on the Midway Atol, halfway between Pearl Harbor and the Japanese mainland. The Japanese expected that we would be as unprepared as we were at Pearl Harbor, but outnumbered 4 to 1, the U.S. forces prevailed over four days of fighting to inflict some of the heaviest damage of the war on the Japanese Navy. John Keegan, a World War II historian, claimed that it was, "the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare."

John Ford, famous Hollywood movie director, was serving in the U.S. Navy as a camera man on the Midway atol, and as the battle raged he continued filming what he could, even after being wounded in the attack. He later recieved the Legion of Merit award, which is the highest award given for non-combat service. This short 18 minute film also won an academy award, and helped galvanize the U.S. determination to put everything it had into the war effort.