Contents |   Seabirds   |   Colonies   |  Other Sea Life   |   Take a Trip   |   Trip Reports   |   Sources  |    TOP

New England Seabirds

 Wilson's Storm-petrel  Dave Jones

Trip Reports
Midway Atoll NWR

Bird List
White and Sooty Tern
Other Birds
Sea Turtles & Seals




Midway Atoll NWR

World War II

The Battle of Midway

Turning Point in the Pacific War

send mail to webmaster


Midway Atoll became a busy naval base.  The Albatross stayed and went on with their mating and breeding.

Plaque honoring war dead  

The War in the Pacific Comes to Midway Atoll

In June of 1942 some 6 months after their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese planned an invasion of Midway Island with 5000 men. Fortunately the US Navy was warned of the attack and intercepted the Japanese fleet at sea sinking 4 of their carriers in what is now called the turning point of the war in the Pacific. On Midway Island a brave group of men stood ready to defend the island. There is WWII history to be explored on the island and one of the evening movies tells the story of the Battle of Midway.

Just before the war started, the military sent some surplus WW I tanks to Midway Atoll. Nobody there could figure out what to do with them on a small island. Some of the tanks were buried in the ground to be used as a bunker with the gunners crawling in by way of a tunnel.

Roland Tarry is standing beside one of these buried tanks maintained on the island as part of the military history.

Buried Tank top defensive structure from WW II

The Battle of Midway was actually a sea battle fought near the island. The Japanese had 4 aircraft carriers and 5000 men ready to invade the island. The US pilots discovered the location of the Japanese armada and destroyed all 4 carriers. It was the turning point in the war in the Pacific.  The war continued for several year, but the Americans moved steadily across the Pacific Ocean to emerge the final victors.

Being here and exploring these relics of the war really made you think about the bravery of the men who faced into the storm that fateful morning.

Since the invasion by Japanes turned into a sea battle with disasterous results for Japan these bunkers were never used.  The bunkers are now burrows for Short-tailed Shearwaters that emerge only at night.  However if you approach the bunkers in the day time you can hear them moaning.

tank bunker

After the war, Midway becme a naval base and a runway was built on Eastern Island.

 The navy was concerned about the birds and airplanes. They tried to scare the birds away from the runway. The Albatross didn't scare after all that is way they are called gooney birds.

They tried to relocate the birds to other islands, but Albatross have great site fidelity and just returned.

Finally the navy figured it out. Albatross don't like pavement. So they paved and paved. The runway on Eastern Island is now abandoned. Look who is back.

Runway on eastern island

This large gun stands outside the Midway Mall. The mall was a shopping area during the navy period.  It contained a theatre, barber shop, and stores.  Today it is used by the refuge for offices and a small gift shop.


Midway Island was an active naval base after WWII and still has the look and feel of any military installation.

Big Gun on Midway Atoll

The galley is used as the dining hall for staff and guests. Foreign nationals from the Phillippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka are employed on the island to provide the hotel service and grounds keeping. The decoration in the center is a map of Sri Lanka made out of palm frons.

(I assume that now that guest services are no longer offered much of this has changed.)

galley on Midway Atoll

Trip Reports    |   Midway Atoll  | Calender | Bird List  | Albatross Terns | Other Birds  |  Sea Turtles & Seal WWI | Top of Page