Wade McClusky and the Battle of Midway, David Rigby, Osprey Publishing, hbk, illus, 384pp, £25
Turning the tide of war is rarely the work of just one man, but it’s a distinction that has often been credited to Rear Admiral Clarence Wade McClusky. Flying from the USS Enterprise with US Navy unit VF-6, Wade – as he was generally known – made the decision to continue looking for the enemy, despite running increasingly low on fuel. In finding them, he gave the US fleet a significant tactical advantage. According to Admiral Chester Nimitz, Wade’s actions on June 4, 1942, “decided the fate of our carrier task force and our forces at Midway”.
Thanks to his dogged determination that day, US forces were able to destroy three of Japan’s four aircraft carriers, sealing a crucial victory. This book, by award-winning author David Rigby, tells the story of McClusky’s life and career, understandably focusing on how his airmen’s intuition changed the course of the Pacific war. It’s a story that might be new to readers in the UK, and one that’s well worth reading. Presented in hardback, Rigby offers a compelling and detailed account, paying tribute to a modest man who would later attempt to downplay his role at Midway. The USS McClusky frigate was named in the protagonist’s honour, and today the Wade McClusky Award is presented annually to the US Navy’s top squadron.