Battle of the Coral Sea (World War 2, 7 May 1942 to 9 May 1942)

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About This Campaign

Very excellent news has been received. A naval engagement between United States of America and Japanese forces on 4th May resulted in the following damage to the enemy: one light cruiser, two destroyers, four gun-boats and one supply vessel were sunk. One 9,000-ton aircraft tender, one light cruiser and one cargo vessel were damaged. Six enemy aircraft were destroyed. This highly successful action took place in the vicinity of the Solomon Islands. It was accomplished with the loss of only three aircraft.
Prime Minister John Curtin, House of Representatives, Friday 8 May 1942, Hansard, Volume 170, p1028.

The Coral Sea was integral to the Japanese plan for Port Moresby, as its control would allow the Japanese to protect the flank of their invasion force. In adddition, it would allow Japan to cut Australia off from US supply lines. Unfortunately for Japan, the joint US and Australian naval unit, Fleet Radio Unit Melbourne (FRUMEL) intercepted and decoded a number of messages through which the Japanese communicated both their objective and their preparations for the attack on Port Moresby.[1] As a result, the Japanese faced a much stronger Allied force than they might have expected.

In the largest naval battle fought so close to Australia, the Royal Australian Navy played an important role with the cruisers HMAS Australia and Hobart, along with the USS Chicago and two American destroyers, USS Perkins and Walke under the command of Rear Admiral J.G Crace RN. With no fighter protection, the support group was detached to protect the Jornard Passage, the stretch of water between New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, through which Japan intended to approach Port Moresby. The support group succeeded in blocking the Japanese advance through the passage, despite coming under enemy fire.

Prime Minister Curtin’s jubilation notwithstanding, both the Allies and the Japanese portrayed the Battle of Coral Sea as a victory. On the Allied side, the Japanese were prevented from occupying Port Moresby. However, the Japanese forces were by no means destroyed.

For further information, see http://www.navy.gov.au/history/feature-histories/battle-coral-sea. (www.navy.gov.au)



[1] Straczek, Jozef. “Battle of the Coral Sea.” Royal Australian Navy – Feature Histories, viewed 05/04/2016, http://www.navy.gov.au/history/feature-histories/battle-coral-sea (www.navy.gov.au).

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Names

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KUHLMANN, William Mortimer

Service number 19114
Petty Officer
HMAS Matafele
Royal Australian Navy
Born 25 Feb 1910