The Coral Sea lies to the northeast of the Australian mainland. Between 4–8 May 1942, it was the scene of a wide-ranging naval battle between United States and Japanese forces during World War II. Although U.S. naval losses exceeded those of the Japanese, the effective loss of two aircraft carriers hampered the Japanese at the critical Battle of Midway soon afterward. It was the first major battle in which Americans and Australians were allies. Australia provided aircraft and ships during the battle. The purpose of the Japanese offensive was not the invasion of Australia, as often thought, but the conquest of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Samoa, a move that would have cut Australia off as a base for military operations against the Japanese. See also JAPAN.
Summary Article: CORAL SEA, BATTLE OF THE
from Historical Dictionary of Australia