World War II in Yugoslavia
Simultaneously, a multi-side civil war was waged between the Yugoslav communist Partisans, the Serbian royalist Chetniks, Croatian fascist Ustaše and Home Guard, as well as Slovene Home Guard troops. Both the Yugoslav Partisans and the Chetnik movement initially resisted the occupation, after 1941, Chetniks extensively and systematically collaborated with the Italian occupation forces until the Italian capitulation, and thereon with German and Ustaše forces. The Axis mounted a series of offensives intended to destroy the Partisans, coming close to doing so in the winter, despite the setbacks, the Partisans remained a credible fighting force, gaining recognition from the Western Allies and laying the foundations for the post-war Yugoslav state. The human cost of the war was enormous, the number of war victims is still in dispute, but is generally agreed to have been at least one million. Non-combat victims included the majority of the countrys Jewish population, many of whom perished in concentration and extermination camps run by the client regimes, the Croatian Ustaše regime committed genocide against Serbs, Jews and anti-Fascist Croats.
The Serbian Chetniks pursued genocide against Muslims and Croats and Partisan Serbs, the Wehrmacht carried out mass executions of civilians in retaliation for resistance activity e. g. the Kragujevac massacre. In the same time, the country was destabilized by internal tensions, rather than reducing tensions, the agreement only reinforced the crisis in the countrys governance. These events resulted in Yugoslavias geographical isolation from potential Allied support, Air force officers opposed to the move staged a coup détat and took over in the following days. These events were viewed with great apprehension in Berlin, and as it was preparing to help its Italian ally in its war against Greece anyway, the plans were modified to include Yugoslavia as well. On 6 April 1941 the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was invaded from all sides by the Axis powers of Germany, during the invasion, Belgrade was bombed by the German air force. The invasion lasted little more than ten days, ending with the surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army on 17 April.
Besides being hopelessly ill-equipped when compared to the German Army, the Yugoslav army attempted to defend all borders, large numbers of the population refused to fight, instead welcoming the Germans as liberators from government oppression. Two of the constituent national groups and Croats, were not prepared to fight in defense of a Yugoslav state with a continued Serb monarchy. The only effective opposition to the invasion was from units wholly from Serbia itself, the Serbian General Staff was united on the question of Yugoslavia as a Greater Serbia ruled, in one way or another, by Serbia. On the eve of the invasion, there were 165 generals on the Yugoslav active list, of these, all but four were Serbs. The terms of the capitulation were extremely severe, as the Axis proceeded to dismember Yugoslavia, mussolinis Italy gained the remainder of Slovenia and large chunks of the coastal Dalmatia region. It gained control over the Italian governorate of Montenegro, and was granted the kingship in the Independent State of Croatia, Hungary dispatched the Hungarian Third Army to occupy Vojvodina in northern Serbia, and forcibly annexed sections of Baranja, Bačka, Međimurje, and Prekmurje.
The government in exile was now recognized by the Allied powers
The Continuation War consisted of hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1944. The Continuation War began shortly after the end of the Winter War, in the Soviet Union, the war was considered part of the Great Patriotic War. Germany regarded its operations in the region as part of its war efforts on the Eastern Front. Acts of war between the Soviet Union and Finland recommenced on 22 June 1941, the day Germany launched its invasion of the Soviet Union, open warfare began with a Soviet air offensive on 25 June. Subsequent Finnish operations undid its post-Winter War concessions to the Soviet Union on the Karelian Isthmus and Ladoga Karelia, on the Karelian Isthmus, the Finns halted their offensive 30 km from Leningrad, at the pre-World War II border between the Soviet Union and Finland. Finnish forces did not participate in the siege of Leningrad directly, in 1944, Soviet air forces conducted air raids on Helsinki and other major Finnish cities. A ceasefire ended hostilities on 5 September and was followed by the Moscow Armistice on 19 September, the 1947 Paris peace treaty concluded the war formally.
Finland ceded Pechengsky District to the Soviets, leased Porkkala peninsula to them, shortly afterward, Germany invaded Poland and as a result the United Kingdom and France declared war against Germany. The Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland on 17 September, Moscow demanded that the Baltic states allow the establishment of Soviet military bases and the stationing of troops on their soil. The Baltic governments accepted these ultimatums, signing corresponding agreements in September and October 1939, the Finnish government refused, and the Red Army attacked Finland on 30 November 1939. Condemnation of the Soviets by the League of Nations and by all over the world had no effect on Soviet policy. International help for Finland was planned, but very little actual help materialized, the Moscow Peace Treaty, which was signed on 12 March 1940, ended the Winter War. By the terms of the treaty, Finland lost one eleventh of its national territory, Finland had avoided having the Soviet Union annex the whole country.
Finlands foreign policy had been based on multilateral guarantees for support from the League of Nations, Finnish public opinion favored the reconquest of Finnish Karelia. Finlands government declared the countrys defense to be its first priority, Finland purchased and received donations of war material during and immediately after the Winter War. On Finlands southern frontier the Soviet Union had acquired a base in Hanko near the capital Helsinki. Finland had to resettle some 420,000 evacuees from the lost territories, to ensure the supply of food, it was necessary to clear new land for the evacuees to cultivate. This was facilitated by the Rapid Settlement Act, the Finnish leadership wanted to preserve the spirit of unanimity that was commonly felt throughout the country during the Winter War
Siege of Malta (World War II)
The Siege of Malta was a military campaign in the Mediterranean Theatre of the Second World War. From 1940–42, the fight for the control of the important island of Malta pitted the air forces and navies of Italy and Germany against the Royal Air Force. The opening of a new front in North Africa in mid-1940 increased Maltas already considerable value, British air and sea forces based on the island could attack Axis ships transporting vital supplies and reinforcements from Europe. General Erwin Rommel, in de facto command of Axis forces in North Africa. In May 1941, he warned that Without Malta the Axis will end by losing control of North Africa, the Axis resolved to bomb or starve Malta into submission, by attacking its ports, towns and Allied shipping supplying the island. Malta was one of the most intensively bombed areas during the war, the Luftwaffe and the Regia Aeronautica flew a total of 3,000 bombing raids over a period of two years in an effort to destroy RAF defences and the ports.
Success would have made possible a combined German–Italian amphibious landing supported by German airborne forces, in the event, Allied convoys were able to supply and reinforce Malta, while the RAF defended its airspace, though at great cost in material and lives. By November 1942, the Axis had lost the Second Battle of El Alamein, the Axis diverted their forces to the Battle of Tunisia, and attacks on Malta were rapidly reduced. The siege effectively ended in November 1942, in December 1942, air and sea forces operating from Malta went over to the offensive. By May 1943, they had sunk 230 Axis ships in 164 days, the Allied victory in Malta played a major role in the eventual Allied success in North Africa. Malta was a military and naval fortress, being the only Allied base between Gibraltar and Alexandria, Egypt, in peacetime it was a way station along the British trade route to Egypt and the Suez Canal to India and the Far East. When the route was closed Malta remained a base for offensive action against Axis shipping.
Owing to its position close to Italy, the British had moved the headquarters of the Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet from Valletta, Malta in the mid-1930s to Alexandria in October 1939. Malta is 27 km ×14 km with area of just under 250 km2 and it had a population of around 250,000 in June 1940, all but three or four per cent of them native Maltese. According to the 1937 census, most of the inhabitants lived within 6.4 kilometres of Grand Harbour, where the population density was more than six times that of the island average. Amongst the most congested spots was Valletta, the capital and political and commercial centre, across Grand Harbour, in the Three Cities, where the dockyards and the Admiralty headquarters were located,28,000 people were packed into 1.3 km2. It was these areas that suffered the heaviest, most sustained and concentrated aerial bombing in history. There were hardly any defences on Malta because of a conclusion that the island was indefensible
The Anglo–Iraqi War was a British military campaign against the rebel government of Rashid Ali in the Kingdom of Iraq during the Second World War. The campaign resulted in the re-occupation of Iraq by the British Empire, the Kingdom of Iraq was governed by the United Kingdom under a League of Nations mandate, the British Mandate of Mesopotamia, until 1932 when Iraq became nominally independent. Before granting independence, the United Kingdom concluded the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930, the conditions of the treaty were imposed by the British to ensure control of Iraqi petroleum. Many Iraqis resented these conditions because Iraq was still under the control of the British Government, after 1937, no British troops were left in Iraq and the government had become solely responsible for internal security. The Royal Air Force had been allowed to retain two bases, RAF Shaibah, near Basra and RAF Habbaniya, between Ramadi and Fallujah, the bases protected British petroleum interests and were a link in the air route between Egypt and India.
At the beginning of the Second World War RAF Habbaniya became a base, protected by No.1 Armoured Car Company RAF, Iraq Levies and locally raised Iraqi troops. In September 1939, the Iraqi Government broke off relations with Nazi Germany. In March 1940, the nationalist and anti-British Rashid Ali replaced Nuri as-Said as Prime Minister of Iraq, Rashid Ali made covert contacts with German representatives in Ankara and Berlin, though he was not yet an openly pro-Axis supporter. In June 1940, when Fascist Italy joined the war on the side of Germany, the Italian Legation in Baghdad became the chief centre for Axis propaganda and for fomenting anti-British feeling. In this they were aided by Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the Grand Mufti had fled from the British Mandate of Palestine shortly before the war and received asylum in Baghdad. In January 1941, Rashid Ali resigned as Prime Minister and was replaced by Taha al-Hashimi amidst a political crisis, public opinion in Iraq became less favourable to Italy after it suffered defeats in Greece, Albania and East Africa during 1940.
On 31 March, the Regent of Iraq, Prince Abd al-Ilah, learnt of a plot to arrest him, from Habbaniya he was flown to Basra and given refuge on the gunboat HMS Cockchafer. On 1 April, Rashid Ali, along with four army and air force officers, seized power via a coup détat. The Golden Square deposed Prime Minister Taha al-Hashimi and Rashid Ali again became Prime Minister of Iraq, Ali did not overthrow the monarchy and named a new Regent to King Faisal II, Sherif Sharaf. Faisal and his family took refuge in the home of Mulla Effendi, the leaders of the National Defence Government began to arrest pro-British citizens and politicians but many managed to escape through Amman in Transjordan. The new regime intended to further concessions to Britain, retain diplomatic links with Fascist Italy. The putschists considered Britain to be weak and that its government would negotiate with the Golden Square, on 17 April, asked Germany for military assistance in the event of war with the British. Ali tried to restrict British rights under Article 5 of the 1930 treaty when he insisted that newly arrived British troops be quickly transported through Iraq, the RIrA was composed of approximately 60,000 men, most in four infantry divisions and one mechanized brigade
The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and East Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean and islands, the South West Pacific, South-East Asia, and in China. The Pacific War saw the Allied powers pitted against the Empire of Japan, the formal and official surrender of Japan took place aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. In Allied countries during the war, The Pacific War was not usually distinguished from World War II in general, or was known simply as the War against Japan. Japan used the name Greater East Asia War, as chosen by a decision on 10 December 1941. Japanese officials integrated what they called the Japan–China Incident into the Greater East Asia War, in Japan, the Fifteen Years War is used, referring to the period from the Mukden Incident of 1931 through 1945. The Phayap Army sent troops to invade and occupy northeastern Burma, involved were the Japanese puppet states of Manchukuo and Mengjiang, and the collaborationist Wang Jingwei regime.
The official policy of the U. S. Government is that Thailand was not an ally of the Axis, Japan conscripted many soldiers from its colonies of Korea and Formosa. To a small extent, some Vichy French, Indian National Army and Italy both had limited involvement in the Pacific War. The German and the Italian navies operated submarines and raiding ships in the Indian, the Italians had access to concession territory naval bases in China, while the Germans did not. After Japans attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declarations of war, Free France and many other countries took part, especially forces from other British colonies. Between 1942 and 1945, there were four main areas of conflict in the Pacific War, the Central Pacific, South East Asia, U. S. sources refer to two theaters within the Pacific War, the Pacific theater and the China Burma India Theater. However these were not operational commands, in the Pacific, the Allies divided operational control of their forces between two supreme commands, known as Pacific Ocean Areas and Southwest Pacific Area.
In 1945, for a period just before the Japanese surrender. By 1937, Japan controlled Manchuria and was ready to move deeper into China, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on 7 July 1937 provoked full-scale war between China and Japan. In August 1937, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek deployed his best army to fight about 300,000 Japanese troops in Shanghai, the Japanese continued to push the Chinese forces back, capturing the capital Nanking in December 1937 and committed which was known as Nanking Massacre. In March 1938, Nationalist forces won their first victory at Taierzhuang, but the city of Xuzhou was taken by Japanese in May. In June 1938, Japan deployed about 350,000 troops to invade Wuhan, the Japanese achieved major military victories, but world opinion—in particular in the United States—condemned Japan, especially after the Panay incident
Strategic bombing during World War II
Strategic bombing during World War II was the sustained aerial attack on railways, cities, workers housing, and industrial districts in enemy territory during World War II. Strategic bombing is a strategy which is distinct from both close air support of ground forces and tactical air power. As the war continued to expand, bombing by both the Axis and the Allies increased significantly, in September 1940, the Luftwaffe began targeting British cities in The Blitz. From 1942 onward, the British bombing campaign against Germany became less restrictive and increasingly targeted industrial sites and eventually, when the United States began flying bombing missions against Germany, it reinforced these efforts and controversial firebombings were carried out against Hamburg and other German cities. In the Pacific War, the Japanese bombed civilian populations throughout the war, the effect of strategic bombing was highly debated during and after the war. Both the Luftwaffe and RAF failed to deliver a blow by destroying enemy morale.
The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, which address the codes of conduct on land. Despite repeated diplomatic attempts to update international humanitarian law to include aerial warfare, many reasons exist for the absence of international law regarding aerial bombing in World War II. Most nations had refused to ratify laws or agreements because of the vague or impractical wording in treaties such as the 1923 Hague Rules of Air Warfare. Also, the major powers possession of newly developed advanced bombers was a military advantage. Article 25 of the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions on Land Warfare did not provide a guideline on the extent to which civilians may be spared. Consequently, cyclical arguments, such as advanced by Italian general and air power theorist Giulio Douhet. Before World War II began, the pace of aviation technology created a belief that groups of bombers would be capable of devastating cities. For example, British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin warned in 1932, when the war began on 1 September 1939, Franklin D.
If the Luftwaffe confined attacks to purely military targets, the RAF should launch an attack on the German fleet at Wilhelmshaven, the first RAF raid on the interior of Germany took place on the night of 15/16 May 1940 while the Battle of France was still continuing. During the German invasion of Poland, the Luftwaffe engaged in air raids against Polish cities, bombing civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. Notably, the Luftwaffe bombed Warsaw, Wieluń, and Frampol, in his book, Eyes on the Sky, Wolfgang Schreyer wrote, Frampol was chosen as an experimental object, because test bombers, flying at low speed, werent endangered by AA fire. Also, the centrally placed town hall was an orientation point for the crews
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of the Second World War, when the Royal Air Force defended the United Kingdom against the German Air Force attacks from the end of June 1940. It is described as the first major campaign fought entirely by air forces, the primary objective of the Nazi German forces was to compel Britain to agree to a negotiated peace settlement. In July 1940, the air and sea blockade began with the Luftwaffe mainly targeting coastal shipping convoys and shipping centres, such as Portsmouth. On 16 July Hitler ordered the preparation of Operation Sea Lion as an amphibious and airborne assault on Britain. Nazi Germany was unable to sustain daylight raids, but their continued night bombing operations on Britain became known as the Blitz. Its first Chief of the Air Staff Hugh Trenchard was among the military strategists in the 1920s like Giulio Douhet who saw air warfare as a new way to overcome the stalemate of trench warfare, interception was near impossible with fighter planes no faster than bombers.
Their view was that the bomber will always get through, Germany was forbidden military air forces by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, but developed aircrew training in civilian and sport flying. In 1926 the secret Lipetsk fighter-pilot school began operating, a winter 1933–34 war game indicated a need for fighters and anti-aircraft protection as well as bombers. On 1 March 1935 the Luftwaffe was formally announced, with Walther Wever as Chief of Staff, the list excluded bombing civilians to destroy homes or undermine morale, as that was considered a waste of strategic effort, but the doctrine allowed revenge attacks if German civilians were bombed. A revised edition was issued in 1940, and the central principle of Luftwaffe doctrine was that destruction of enemy armed forces was of primary importance. In the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe in the Condor Legion tried out air fighting tactics, wolfram von Richthofen become an exponent of air power providing ground support to other services. The difficulty of hitting targets prompted Ernst Udet to require that all new bombers had to be dive bombers.
Priority was given to producing large numbers of aeroplanes. The speed with which German forces defeated most of the armies in Norway in early 1940 created a significant political crisis in Britain. In early May 1940, the Norway Debate questioned the fitness for office of the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, on 10 May, the same day Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister, the Germans initiated the Battle of France with an aggressive invasion of French territory. The Germans were so convinced of an imminent armistice that they began constructing street decorations for the parades of victorious troops. Instead, Churchill used his skilful rhetoric to harden public opinion against capitulation, the Battle of Britain has the unusual distinction that it gained its name before being fought. In secret conference on 23 May 1939 Hitler set out his rather contradictory strategy that an attack on Poland was essential, if this is impossible, it will be better to attack in the West and to settle Poland at the same time with a surprise attack
North African Campaign
The North African Campaign of the Second World War took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco, the campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had colonial interests in Africa dating from the late 19th century. The Allied war effort was dominated by the British Commonwealth and exiles from German-occupied Europe, the United States entered the war in December 1941 and began direct military assistance in North Africa on 11 May 1942. Fighting in North Africa started with the Italian declaration of war on 10 June 1940, on 14 June, the British Armys 11th Hussars crossed the border from Egypt into Libya and captured the Italian Fort Capuzzo. Information gleaned via British Ultra code-breaking intelligence proved critical to Allied success in North Africa, victory for the Allies in this campaign immediately led to the Italian Campaign, which culminated in the downfall of the fascist government in Italy and the elimination of a German ally.
On 10 May 1940, the Wehrmacht had started the Battle of France, one month later, it was plain to see that France would have to surrender within two weeks. On 10 June 1940, the Kingdom of Italy aligned itself with Nazi Germany and declared war upon France, British forces based in Egypt were ordered to undertake defensive measures, but to act as non-provocatively as possible. However, on 11 June they began a series of raids against Italian positions in Libya, following the defeat of France on 25 June, Italian forces in Tripolitania—facing French troops based in Tunisia—redeployed to Cyrenaica to reinforce the Italian Tenth Army. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini ordered the Tenth Army to invade Egypt by 8 August, two days later, no invasion having been launched, Mussolini ordered Marshal Graziani that, the moment German forces launched Operation Sea Lion, he was to attack. The battle plan was to advance along the road, while limited armoured forces operated on the desert flank. To counter the Italian advance, Wavell ordered his forces to harass the advancing Italians, falling back towards Mersa Matruh.
Positioned on the flank was the 7th Armoured Division, which would strike the flank of the Italian force. By 16 September, the Italian force had advanced to Maktila, around 80 mi west of Mersa Matruh, in response to the dispersed Italian camps, the British planned a limited five-day attack, Operation Compass, to strike at these fortified camps one by one. The British Commonwealth force, totalling 36,000 men, attacked the forward elements of the 10-division-strong Italian army on 9 December, following their initial success, the forces of Operation Compass pursued the retreating Italian forces. In January, the port at Bardia was taken, soon followed by the seizure of the fortified port of Tobruk. Some 40,000 Italians were captured in and around the two ports, with the remainder of the Tenth Army retreating along the coast road back to El Agheila. Richard OConnor sent the 7th Armoured Division across the desert, with a reconnaissance group reaching Beda Fomm some ninety minutes before the Italians.
Although desperate attempts were made to overcome the British force at the Battle of Beda Fomm, the Italians were unable to break through, and the remnants of the retreating army surrendered
The Norwegian Campaign was fought in Norway between Norway, the Allies and Germany in World War II after the latters invasion of the country. In April, the United Kingdom and France came to Norways aid with an expeditionary force, despite moderate success in the northern parts of Norway, Germanys invasion of France in May eventually compelled the Allies to withdraw and the Norwegian government to seek exile in London. The campaign ended with the occupation of Norway by Germany, the 62 days of fighting made Norway the nation that withstood a German invasion for the second longest period of time, after the Soviet Union. Britain and France had signed military assistance treaties with Poland and two days after the German invasion, both declared war on Nazi Germany. However, neither country mounted significant offensive operations and for several months no major engagements occurred in what known as the Phoney War or Twilight War. Winston Churchill in particular wished to move the war into an active phase.
During this time both sides wished to open secondary fronts, for the Allies, in particular the French, this was based on a desire to avoid repeating the trench warfare of the First World War, which had occurred along the Franco-German border. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, the Norwegian government had mobilized parts of the Norwegian Army and all, the Norwegian Army Air Service and the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service were called up to protect Norwegian neutrality from violations by the warring countries. The first such violations were the sinkings in Norwegian territorial waters of several British ships by German U-boats, in the following months aircraft from all the belligerents violated Norwegian neutrality. Following protracted negotiations between 25 September and 20 November 1939, the Norwegians agreed to charter 150 tankers, as well as other ships with a tonnage of 450,000 gross tons. The Norwegian governments concern for the supply lines played an important role in persuading them to accept the agreement.
Norway, although neutral, was considered important for both sides of the war for two main reasons. Narvik became of greater significance to the British when it became apparent that Operation Catherine, the Norwegian ports could have served as holes in the blockade of Germany, allowing the latter access to the Atlantic Ocean. The principal reason for Germanys invasion of Norway was its dependence on Swedish iron ore, by securing access to Norwegian ports, the Germans could more easily obtain the supply of iron ore they needed for their war effort. Control of Norway was considered to be important to Germanys ability to use its sea power effectively against the Allies. While Norway was strictly neutral, and unoccupied by either of the fighting powers, but the weakness of the Norwegian coastal defences, and the inability of her field army to resist effectively a determined invasion by a stronger power were clear. A successful invasion of Norway by either side had the potential to strike a blow against the other without getting bogged down in the trench warfare of the previous conflict.
Norway had particular importance to the Germans during the Battle of the Atlantic
USS Lexington (CV-16)
USS Lexington, nicknamed The Blue Ghost, is an Essex-class aircraft carrier built during World War II for the United States Navy. Originally intended to be named Cabot, word arrived during construction that the USS Lexington had been lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea and she was renamed while under construction to commemorate the earlier ship. She was the fifth US Navy ship to bear the name in honor of the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington, Lexington was commissioned in February 1943 and saw extensive service through the Pacific War. For much of her service, she acted as the flagship for Admiral Marc Mitscher and she was the recipient of 11 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation. Following the war, Lexington was decommissioned, but was modernized and reactivated in the early 1950s, she was reclassified as an antisubmarine carrier. In her second career, she operated both in the Atlantic/Mediterranean and the Pacific, but spent most of her time, nearly 30 years, Lexington was decommissioned in 1991, with an active service life longer than any other Essex-class ship.
Following her decommissioning, she was donated for use as a ship in Corpus Christi. In 2003, Lexington was designated a National Historic Landmark, the ship was laid down as Cabot on 15 July 1941 by Bethlehem Steel Co. In May 1942, USS Lexington, which had built in the same shipyard two decades earlier, was sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea. In June, workers at the shipyard submitted a request to Navy Secretary Frank Knox to change the name of a currently under construction there to Lexington. Knox agreed to the proposal and Cabot was renamed as the fifth USS Lexington on 16 June 1942 and she was launched on 23 September 1942, sponsored by Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson. Lexington was commissioned on 17 February 1943, with Captain Felix Stump USN in command, the Japanese referred to Lexington as a ghost ship for her tendency to reappear after reportedly being sunk. This, coupled with the dark blue camouflage scheme, led the crew to refer to her as The Blue Ghost. After a shakedown cruise in the Caribbean, Lexington sailed via the Panama Canal to join the Pacific fleet, one of the carriers first casualties was 1939 Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick.
During the ships voyage in 1943, Kinnick and other naval fliers were conducting training flights off her deck. The Grumman F4F Wildcat flown by Kinnick developed an oil leak while airborne and was unable to return to the Lexington. Neither Kinnick nor his plane was ever recovered, from 19–24 November, she made searches and flew sorties in the Marshalls, covering the landings in the Gilberts. Her aviators downed 29 enemy aircraft on 23 and 24 November, Lexington sailed to raid Kwajalein on 4 December