Leyte file photo [399]

Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign

22 Oct 1944 - 21 Dec 1944

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ww2dbasePreparations
10-16 Oct 1944

ww2dbaseIn preparation for the invasion of the Philippine Islands, on 5 Oct 1944, United States Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz ordered Admiral William Halsey to strike Japanese airfields at Taiwan, China and Ryukyu Islands, Japan.

ww2dbaseOn 10 Oct, American aircraft struck Okinawa, Yaeyama, and Miyako Islands, Japan. Okinawan city of Naha was heavily damaged; many of the 548 deaths occurred in Naha, as many of the 698 wounded. 11,451 buildings were destroyed, which included a great number of civilian residences. Although Japanese strength in the region would likely to be unable to successfully defend against such a large scale attack in any case, the situation was worsened by the lack of some officers who had not yet returned from the previous day's anti-aircraft exercises and the subsequent banquet in Naha. The raid was later named the Oct 10 Aerial Raid by the Japanese.

ww2dbaseOn 12 Oct, a cloudy day, a total of 90 Japanese aircraft were sent to attack Halsey's carriers off Taiwan, which included Army B6N Tenzan torpedo bombers, Army Ki-49 Donryu bombers, and Navy P1Y Ginga bombers. The counter-attacked as deemed a failure as 54 aircraft failed to return without causing significant damage. Exaggerated Imperial General Headquarters reported that 100 American aircraft were shot down during the attack.

ww2dbaseOn 13 Oct, 947 American aircraft struck several Japanese airfields at Taiwan. The Japanese staged a counter attack that achieved little, but inflated reports on damage inflicted on the enemy provided the Japanese leaders the false information that the counter strike sunk one aircraft carrier and one battleship; meanwhile, the Japanese admitted to only two aircraft lost.

ww2dbaseOn the following day, American aircraft struck Taiwan and northern Luzon, Philippine Islands. About 240 Japanese aircraft were lost on this day both in the air and on the ground, including aircraft lost during another failed counter strike. Imperial General Headquarters reported that, once again based on inflated reports from the field, that at least three American carriers, one destroyer, and three unidentified warships were sunk, with another carrier and another warship damaged.

ww2dbaseOn 15 Oct, 16 Oct, and 19 Oct, successive corrections to the reports further increased the number of American ships damaged and/or sunk during the counter strikes at the US 3rd Fleet operating east of Taiwan. By the time the Imperial General Headquarters released the battle report on 19 Oct, it noted that 11 carriers, 2 battleships, and 7 cruisers and destroyers American ships were sunk. Furious but yet somewhat amused, William Halsey noted to Chester Nimitz that "[a]ll Third Fleet ships recently reported sunk by Radio Tokyo have been salvaged and are retiring at high speed toward the Japanese Fleet", and Nimitz promptly made that message into a public relations piece. The top ranks of Japanese leadership bought into their own propaganda, with Emperor Showa personally delivered a word of congratulations for the achievement that never took place. Captain Rikihei Inoguchi who was located at an airfield in northern Luzon, however, was one who did not believe the propaganda. After a 20 Oct 1944 raid, he witness that "[a]s the enemy air raid ended, we stepped out of the shelter.... Enemy planes were flying east in perfect formation, uninterrupted, undisturbed, unopposed."

ww2dbaseJapanese Army's Plan for Defense

ww2dbasePost-war analysis estimated that during the American invasion preparation operations in the Taiwan-Ryukyu Islands-Luzon region, the Japanese losses were between 300 and 1,000 aircraft. Instead of over 20 major warships sunk and hundreds of aircraft shot down, the Allies suffered two damaged warships (heavy cruiser Canberra and light cruiser Houston) and 89 aircraft. The inaccurate intelligence reports had profound impact on Japanese Army strategy. Believing that the American fleet was severely weakened and would be unable to sustain the long supply routes to the Philippine Islands, Japanese Army leadership decided to confront the American invasion at the forward location of Leyte rather than Luzon, where they would have had a greater tactical advantage.

ww2dbaseJapanese Navy's Plan for Counter Attack

ww2dbaseWhen Okinawa was attacked on 10 Oct, Combined Fleet commander-in-chief Admiral Soemu Toyoda was visiting Taiwan. The attack on a Japanese home island struck too close to heart, leading him to activate Operation Sho-Go, or "victory", to defend the Philippines and the home islands. Sho-Go called for Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's depleted Mobile Force, its carriers practically denuded of aircraft, to sail from Japan in an attempt to draw the American fleet northward, away from Leyte. Simultaneously, two battleship groups that had been training in Singapore and Borneo was to cruise separately in an attempt to reach the Leyte landing beaches through the northern (San Bernardino Strait) and southern (Surigao Strait) approaches to the island. Should Ozawa's decoy fleet be successful, the formidable big guns had a chance to obliterate the American invasion force. "[T]here was a chance that we would lose the entire fleet, but I felt that chance had to be taken", said Toyoda. He understood that if he saved his fleet and let Philippines fall, his fleet would either be stranded in Japan without fuel, or stranded in Singapore and Borneo without supplies. "There would be no sense in saving the fleet at the expense of the loss of the Philippines." On 11 Oct, Halsey struck Luzon, and moved on to bombard Taiwan from 12 Oct thru 15 Oct. The attack on Taiwan disabled or destroyed every single one of the 230 fighters that Admiral Shigeru Fukudome had available to him at Taiwan. Other pre-invasion operations included bombing of Hong Kong, Dutch East Indies, and Mindanao.

ww2dbaseIn the Philippine Islands, Vice Admiral Takajiro Onishi, who had only just taken over the First Air Fleet in the Philippines less than a month before, pondered how he could best use his air units to aid Sho-Go efforts. For the operation to succeed, American carriers must be disabled or destroyed so the playing field would be more even. At this stage of the war, however, Japan's air power was so weak that conventional attacks would not achieve it. Therfore, special measures must be taken. He decided that special attacks, tokko, was to be used in order to disable American carriers. "[O]n behalf of your hundred million countrymen, I ask of you this sacrifice and pray for your success", he said to the pilots who had volunteered for suicide duties.

ww2dbaseBetween Oct 1944 and Jan 1945, a total of 421 Japanese Navy and 400 Japanese Army aircraft were dispatched on special attacks. Later commonly referred to as Kamikaze attacks more so by westerners, these suicide attacks claimed 105 and 154 hits, respectively. Although actual sinkings were much lower at 16 vessels destroyed (including 2 escort carriers and 3 destroyers), the Americans feared that such suicide tactic might seriously damage morale.

ww2dbaseLand Actions at Leyte
20 Oct-26 Dec 1944

ww2dbase"Leyte was to be the anvil against which I hoped to hammer the Japanese into submission in the central Philippines - the springboard from which I could proceed to the conquest of Luzon, for the final assault against Japan itself", said Douglas MacArthur in his memoir. After a two-day naval bombardment, the US Sixth Army landed on the northeastern coast on the island of Leyte on 20 Oct 1944 under the command of General Walter Krueger. The US 7th Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Thomas Kinkaid provided transport and protection for the 175,000-strong landing force. Against the advice of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo (IGHQ) sent in reinforcements to Leyte from Luzon and as far as China, determining to fight the decisive land battle against the American land forces at Leyte. Landing troops almost whenever they wished, the US forces largely accomplished the goals set for the first day of landing. On 21 Oct, the US 7th Cavalry Regiment reached Tacloban, the capital of Leyte. Civilians cheered them on as they entered the city, but the Japanese were still well dug-in. On 22 Oct, the US 8th Cavalry Regiment secured the high ground around Tacloban, slowing strangling any remaining resistance in the area. At this stage, the American troops at Tacloban realized their mission became as much a humanitarian one as a combat one, for that many thousands of Tacloban residents were in dire need of food and shelter; some of the soldiers offered the little rations they had, while others opened up Japanese warehouses and distributed whatever they thought could help.

ww2dbaseMacArthur made sure that he made his return to the Philippine Islands on the very first day of the invasion. On 20 Oct 1944, accompanied by President Sergio Osmeña, General Basilio Valdez, and General Carlos Romulo, MacArthur waded ashore with the third assault wave. Observers recalled that the general's hands were shaking from overwhelming emotions. He recalled the landing in his memoir.

As we slowly bucked the waves toward 'Red Beach,' the sounds of war grew louder. We could now hear the whining roar of airplane engines as they dove over our heads to strafe and bomb enemy positions inland from the beach. Then came the steady crump, crump of exploding naval shells. As we came closer, we could pick up the shouts of our soldiers as they gave and acknowledged orders. Then, unmistakably, in the near distance came the steady rattle of small-arms fire. I could easily pick up the peculiar fuzzy gurgle of Japanese machine gun seemingly not more than 100 yards from the shoreline. The smoke from the burning palm trees was in our nostrils, and we could hear the continual snapping and crackling of flames. The coxswain dropped the ramp about 50 yards from the shore, and we waded in. It took me only 30 or 40 long strides to reach dry land, but that was one of the most meaningful walks I ever took. When it was done, and I stood on the sand, I knew I was back again-against my old enemies of Bataan, for there, shining on the bodies of dead Japanese soldiers, I saw the insignia of the 16th Division, General Homma's ace unit. "People of the Philippines: I have returned", he said to the people of Philippine Islands on 22 Oct 1944 in one of the most famous radio speeches during all of WW2. As soon as Tacloban secured, MacArthur restored Osmeña's government there as the ruling body of the Philippines. "On behalf of my government," MacArthur announced, "I restore to you a constitutional administration by countrymen of your confidence and choice." This action deeply offended Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes who believed his jurisdiction had been violated by MacArthur. It was Ickes' belief that Philippines was a possession of the United States and should be governed from Washington. This incident would continue to haunt the relationship between Ickes and MacArthur.

ww2dbaseDuring the remainder of Oct 1944, the US 1st Cavalry Division and the US 24th Infantry Division fought in northern Leyte. On 24 Oct, troops of the US 8th Cavalry Regiment crossed the strait to the island of Samar. By 25 Oct, all initial goals had been met, with slightly lighter casualties than expected.

ww2dbaseOn 1 Nov, dismounted American cavalry units spearheaded an offensive on Carigara in northern Leyte. Finding that Carigara had already been evacuated, the troops pushed on into Ormoc Bay in western Leyte to prevent further Japanese reinforcements from reaching the island; to date, the Japanese had delivered 20,000 men via Ormoc Bay. Inaccurate maps and stiff Japanese resistance made the American advance difficult. The Japanese were known to hold position in the many ridges of the rough northern Leyte terrain. The Japanese positioned machine gun nests on the top of ridges, making American advances upwards costly; when the Americans attempted to use mortar fire to attack the machine gun positions, the Japanese quickly fell back to the reverse slop where mortar fire could not reach, and rush back to other, sometimes same, positions as soon as the mortar attack paused. Sometimes American advances were slowed simply by the Japanese rolling down many grenades from the top of hills. Only through successful flanking moves that the Americans were able to make progress. After a series of failed Japanese counteroffensives, which included paradrops and commando raids, the Americans captured the port city of Ormoc on 10 Dec, which stopped Japanese reinforcements as well as giving the Americans control of east-west transportation across the island to ease the logistics difficulties that they had experienced from the first day of the landings.

ww2dbaseMacArthur reported to Washington on 26 Dec that the Leyte-Samar campaign could be regarded as closed except for mop-up operations. The Americans suffered 3,320 killed. Estimates of Japanese lives lost range from about 49,000 to 80,557 (as reported by MacArthur). There were no survivors from Masaharu Homma's 16th Division.

ww2dbaseThe Japanese decision to fight the decisive battle at Leyte had been ill-considered. Similar to how the Japanese Navy fritted away its capacity in dispersed attempts to halt the American advance instead of in concentrated strength, the deployment to Leyte cost Japan significant amounts of human and material resources that could have posed serious threats to American invaders for Luzon.

ww2dbaseAmbush in the Palawan Passage
23 Oct 1944

ww2dbaseTwo battleship forces, one under Admiral Takeo Kurita, the other under Admiral Shoji Nishimura, left Borneo separately on 22 Oct. Kurita's force headed for the Palawan Passage, a narrow strip of dangerous, reef-infested waters. American submarines Darter and Dace came across the fleet on 23 Oct. At 0524, Darther fired a spread of torpedoes and scored four or five hits on Atago; she sank roughly 30 minutes later with heavy casualties. At 0534, Darter hit Takao twice, sending her back to Singapore for repairs; Takao would remain in Singapore for the rest of the war. At 0556, Dace attacked Maya, hitting her with four torpedoes; Maya exploded and sank at 0605, also with heavy casualties. Kurita, whose flag was on Atago at the start of the journey, found himself in the water. He was rescued and transferred his flag to the battleship Yamato.

ww2dbaseBattle of Sibuyan Sea
24 Oct 1944

ww2dbaseOnce Kurita's force made it into the Sibuyan Sea, west of Leyte, they were immediately spotted by American aircraft from carrier Intrepid at about 0800 on 24 Oct. At 1030, 260 American carrier aircraft attacked the group of warships, followed by subsequent waves that lasted for most of the day. Japanese land-based air cover was inadequate and ineffective and was driven off in a very short time, but anti-aircraft fire from the fleet was intense; "there was more flak in the air than you could shake a stick at", recalled SB2C Helldiver gunner Russ Dustan of American carrier Franklin. Most of the American attacks targeted the battleship Musashi, although they had no idea whether she was Yamato or Musashi because they looked identical. To counter the American torpedo bombers, Yamato and Musashi fired their 460-mm (18.1-in) main weapons into the water, making geysers so intense that they could knock down the American aircraft. "Even at a distance," said Franklin's TBF Avenger pilot Ensign Jack Lawton, "I felt the muzzle blast each time they fired. I could swear the wings were ready to fold every tie these huge shockwaves hit us."

ww2dbaseAt the end, there was only so much surface ships could do without air cover. After being hit by twenty torpedoes, seventeen bombs, and eighteen near misses, Musashi first listed to port then succumbed to her wounds at about 1935. 1,023 lives were lost, compared to only 18 aircraft lost during the attack on the fleet.

ww2dbaseWhile the battle raged on, Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi directed part of his 80 land-based aircraft against American carriers of Task Group 38, whose aircraft were preoccupied with offensive missions. Light carrier Princeton was hit by a 250-kg bomb through the flight deck, quickly disabling her. As her crew began to evacuate to cruiser Birmingham at 1530, her aft torpedo magazine erupted into a massive explosion. Human losses were catastrophic; 229 men aboard Princeton, and 80 of exposed Princeton evacuees and Birmingham gunners aboard Birmingham were killed. Princeton was eventually scuttled at 1750.

ww2dbaseAfter the battle, Kurita briefly turned his force around to the west to get out of American air range, but then returned to an eastward heading an hour later. At San Bernardino Strait, Halsey was convinced that Kurita would not make a return, and ordered his entire task force to chase after Ozawa's decoy force. Kurita now headed for San Bernardino Strait without any opposition.

ww2dbaseBattle of Surigao Strait
25 Oct 1944

ww2dbaseAdmiral Shoji Nishimura's southern pincer's main offensive power lay in the two least-modernized battleships in the Japanese inventory, Fuso and Yamashiro. The force had thus far proceeded only with minor air attacks in the afternoon of 24 Oct, likely because Kurita's force had drawn the bulk of attention. The force entered Surigao Strait that night.

ww2dbaseWaiting for them was an ambush by the battle group under Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf. The battle group included six American battleships (five of which had been attacked at Pearl Harbor), nine cruisers, 29 destroyers, and 39 torpedo boats. The American fleet not only outnumbered the Japanese, but five of the six American battleships were also equipped with either 10cm or 3cm fire control radar systems. As the Japanese ships sailed around Panaon Island at 0200 in the morning of 25 Oct, the ambush was sprung. Torpedo boats attacked first, followed by destroyers an hour later. Before the Japanese battleships could return fire, Nishimura had already suffered damage on destroyers Asagumo, Yamagumo, and Mishishio. The most disheartening news for Nishimura was that Fuso was fatally hit; she had broken up in two pieces, though did not sink.

ww2dbaseAt 0350, American battleships "crossed the T" and opened fire at a range that the Japanese could not answer. Yamashiro, Mogami, and Shigure were crippled by the American battleships' 406mm armor piercing shells, with the Yamashiro sinking at 0419. It seemed that the only thing that went wrong for Oldendorf's fleet was a slight mismaneuver by California, which resulted in breaking the formation of the battleship line slightly; although it might have had disastrous results, the American battleships recovered quickly, and continued to fire. At 0425, Kiyohide Shima's force of two cruisers which had been unable to coordinate movements with Nishimura due to radio silence reached the battle. Mistaking the two pieces of Fuso as two separate wrecks of Fuso and Yamashiro (though Yamashiro had been sunk elsewhere as well), he concluded the battle had already been lost and began to retreat. Shima's flagship Nachi collided with Mogami during the retreat and caused damage to the latter, eventually causing Mogami to gradually fall behind. Mogami was caught up by American aircraft and sunk the next morning. Of Nishimura's force of seven ships only Shigure survived. Nishimura himself died during the battle as well.

ww2dbaseThis battle became the last naval battle in history to be fought between two groups of battleships.

ww2dbaseBattle off Samar
25 Oct 1944

ww2dbaseWhile Oldendorf's fleet devastated the southern pincer, Kurita's northern pincer moved through San Bernardino Strait without incident. At about 0600 hours on 25 Oct, Japanese lookouts spotted aircraft on the southeastern horizon that appeared to have just taken off, which hinted presence of American carriers. At 0644, lookouts spotted masts. These masts belonged to a group of six escort carriers, three destroyers, and four destroyer escorts whose main responsibility was providing air power for the ground forces on Leyte. This force was part of a larger Task Group consisting of sixteen escort carriers, nine destroyers, and fourteen destroyer escorts divided into three Task Units. Nearest to the attacking Japanese force was TG 77.43, "Taffy 3", the northernmost of the three Task Units that comprised TG 77.4. None of the American vessels carried anything larger than 5-inch guns, and the escort carriers did not possess the speed to outrun Japanese warships.

ww2dbaseWith little choice, the Americans attacked with their ill-prepared aircraft, destroyers, and destroyer escorts at overwhelming odds. By 0615, after dropping whatever type of bombs they carried at the time of the attack (in some cases even depth charges), the aircraft were running short on effective anti-ship weapons. Many aircraft simply made mock torpedo runs to draw fire from those that might still carried ammunition. In one of the great feats in naval history, seven American destroyers and destroyer escorts charged the Japanese. Hopelessly outgunned, they put up a smoke screen as they dashed for the larger Japanese ships and launched their torpedoes. By the end of the attack, destroyers Hoel and Johnston and destroyer escort Samuel B. Roberts were sunk, but they had done their jobs by disrupting the Japanese formation.

ww2dbaseAfter inflicting considerable damage on the Japanese ships, these "tin cans" convinced Kurita, who already thought he had caught American fleet carriers in the open, that he must be attacked by cruisers. The Japanese gunners used armor piercing shells in order to fight against these mistakenly-identified fleet carriers and cruisers, but as the AP shells hit the destroyers, they went through the ships without detonating. "Even when our shells hit them, nothing happened", recalled Ensign Hinoki of the cruiser Tone. "Of course the Admiral would have known.... I didn't imagine that the highly trained watched officer on Yamato wouldn't know." Assuming the leadership must know what was going on, men like Hinoki did not report up the chain of command. As the result, the Japanese continued to attack the American ships until Yamato came to about 400 meters from the burning escort carrier Gambier Bay, when Kurita was finally made aware that the carriers they were attacking were converted merchant ships.

ww2dbaseAt this time, Kurita had no idea whether Ozawa had been successful to the north or not in his attempt to lure Halsey's carrier forces away from the Philippine Islands. The Americans were equally clueless about the location of Halsey's fleet and desperately called for his support. "WHERE IS TASK FORCE THIRTY FOUR... THE WORLD WONDERS", radioed Nimitz. As it turned out, Halsey was indeed lured by Ozawa, but that fact was unknown to both sides at Samar. Then, timing of a message from the South West Fleet that reached Yamato changed the course of the battle. As Kurita realized that the American ships he was attacking were smaller ships, he began to decide whether he should let the remnant of the strategically unimportant fleet go, and instead engage in the pursue of his primary targets, the American transports. The message noted that an American task force was located 5 degrees and 113 nautical miles from the Sulutan lighthouse. At only 30 nautical miles northeast of Kurita's current location, it took Kurita only a brief moment to decide that he should engage the American task force. "What had we come this far for? Bringing so many ships, and also losing so many ships - wasn't it in order to win a victory at Leyte?" Kurita told his former students in his home in Dec 1977. "I thought it went without saying to steer towards the enemy force that was stronger." This reflects Kurita's mentality as a battleship admiral; to him, and in his own words, the transports were "just a collection of soldiers" and not worthy of his time when there was an enemy task group nearby. The message being sent from the South West Fleet, led by Gunichi Mikawa, his close friend since the Naval Academy days, also helped in making his decision.

ww2dbaseThus, to the Americans' surprise, Kurita seemingly withdrew to the northeast at 0920 hours. The report that an American task group existed 30 nautical miles from his fleet was found to be incorrect. After failing to find the Americans, he led his fleet through San Bernardino Strait at 2130 on 25 Oct. En route, Halsey's fleet returned, and his aircraft damaged several Japanese ships and picked off the destroyer Nowaki which had fallen out of formation from the rest of the fleet.

ww2dbaseKurita had been criticized by some for not taking the opportunity to destroy Taffy 3 and press further to destroy the undefended transports that carried valuable supplies for MacArthur's troops at Leyte and Samar. Though he largely remained quiet during the post war years, on the rare occasions he spoke about the war he defended his decision, citing that he was going after American battleships and fleet carriers, which were deemed as targets of greater value than transports. "Naval war consists of warship sinking warships. Transports shipping is an opponent for land forces to deal with, isn't it?" He said in Dec 1977. Some historians speculated that Kurita made bad judgment due to exhaustion or even being shaken after having to dive into water to save his life as Atago sank two day prior. Kurita denied those hypotheses, saying "[y]ou don't get tired when you are making war. A commander who makes errors after three or four nights without sleep just doesn't measure up." United States Navy historian Samuel Eliot Morison very much agreed that Kurita had made a sound decision based on the fact that had Halsey abandoned his chase for Ozawa's fleet at the first request for his help, Halsey's fleet would have very likely met Kurita's Center Force and dealt serious damage upon it with his carrier aircraft. Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet Soemu Toyoda also agreed with Kurita's decision as he revealed after the war for much the same reasons as Morison's. "Looking back on it now, I think that withdrawal was not a mistake", Toyoda said, "when we learned that Admiral Halsey's Task Force was further south than we thought it was, I believe that Admiral Kurita then would have been within the range of air attack from your Task Force, so that it was not unwise for him to have turned back at that time.... I would not criticize."

ww2dbaseHalsey, too, received his share of criticism for taking his entire fleet of four task forces in pursuit of Ozawa even though he had received reports from the aircraft of USS Independence that Kurita's fleet might be returning. Halsey was also criticized for not sending relief forces at Kinkaid's first request for help. He argued that Kurita's fleet was so badly hurt at the Battle of Sibuyan Sea that "it could no longer be considered a serious menace to Seventh Fleet".

ww2dbaseMacArthur blamed the total lack of communications that led to the Samar near-disaster squarely on Washington politics. Washington placed Halsey under the command of Nimitz in Hawaii, while Kinkaid reported to MacArthur who was in the immediate region. Had there been an unified command under him and therefore better communications between the task forces, MacArthur argued, the near-disaster could have been averted.

ww2dbaseBattle off Cape Engaño
25 Oct 1944

ww2dbaseDuring the Battle off Samar, Admiral Ozawa played out his role to the fullest. Knowing that he and his force would be sacrificed if need be to lure the American heavy units away from the beaches, Ozawa bravely set forth to drag his coattails in front of Halsey. His force of carriers and two hybrid battleship-carriers counted only 108 aircraft between them, so he hardly had any strength to defend himself should he be attacked. Having intercepted the mistaken message that Kurita was retiring after the Battle of Sibuyan Sea, Ozawa turned his fleet north for Japan, but Toyoda overruled him. Halsey, as noted earlier, went on a pursuit for Ozawa's fleet. Ever since the attack on Pearl Harbor, Halsey had been obsessed in destroying Japanese carriers as his personal revenge, and he was not about to let the opportunity slip by.

ww2dbaseOn the morning of 25 Oct, Ozawa launched 75 planes to attack the Americans, doing little damage. Halsey responded by sending an attack group of 180 aircraft, which wiped out the 30-aircraft Japanese defensive screen at 0800. Eventually, Halsey would send 527 sorties up in the sky. The overwhelming American air power followed up by surface ships sent three Japanese carriers, Zuikaku, Zuiho, and Chiyoda, to the ocean floor. Destroyer Akitsuki was also sunk.

ww2dbaseBattle of Ormoc Bay
11 Nov-21 Dec 1944

ww2dbaseEven after their defeat in the Decisive Battle, Japan still tried to run in reinforcements and supplies down from Manila to Leyte aboard fast warships. This particular operation was conceived as two convoys coming down a day apart. The plan called for the destroyer transports from the first convoy would offload their cargo, then double back to the second convoy and escort it in as well, thus doubling the available anti-aircraft shield. While the plan made perfect sense in planning, when American aircraft intercepted the group even the doubled quantity of anti-aircraft guns could do little to deter the attack. Destroyers Shimakaze, Wakatsuki, Hamanami, and Naganami, along with five transports, were destroyed. Rear Admiral Mikio Hayakawa died during this battle aboard Shimakaze.

ww2dbaseOn 23 Nov, an attempt was made from Manila to Port Cataingan and Port Balancan. Of the six transports, five were found and sunk by aircraft. On 27 Nov, two transports left Manila with three coastal patrol vessels. They were found and attacked by American torpedo boats in the night of 28 Nov and were all destroyed. On 1 Dec, Lieutenant Commander Masamichi Yamashita took destroyers Take and Kuwa to escort another convoy run of three transports. The convoy docked at Ormoc City in the following night, where it was found and attacked by Captain John Zahm's three destroyers. Kuwa was sunk, taking Yamashita with her, but Take was able to launch her torpedoes and sank American destroyer Cooper.

ww2dbaseOn 5 Dec, US Marines made a landing at San Pedro Bay, 27 miles north of Ormoc City. Japanese forces responded by sending tokko aircraft against the landing craft and support vessels, sinking 15. On 7 Dec, the US 77th Infantry Division under the command of Major General Andrew Bruce landed unopposed at Albuera, 3.5 miles south of Ormoc City, but was also attacked by tokko which sank destroyers Ward and Mahan.

ww2dbaseOne last convoy was sent from Manila and entered Ormoc Bay on 11 Dec, successfully landing troops. Again found by American aircraft, the convoy was attacked, and destroyers Juzuki and Uzuki were sunk; destroyer Kiri escaped with damage.

ww2dbaseAmerican air superiority over Ormoc Bay ensured the American victory over Leyte. Historian Irwin J. Kappes argued that naval historians have unjustly neglected the importance of these engagements, writing "[i]n the end, it was the rather amorphous Battle of Ormoc Bay that finally brought Leyte and the entire Gulf area under firm Allied control."

ww2dbaseConclusion of the Leyte Campaign

ww2dbaseAt the campaign's conclusion, the third of the Japan Navy's decisive battles had been fought, and it was by far the biggest disaster of the three. After the Leyte campaign, Japan no longer had a functional fleet worthy of mention, and the few ships that remained began to suffer from fuel shortage. However, it was Toyoda's belief that it was a gamble he had to take, for that Philippines was too important an objective to lose. This notion was supported by Lieutenant General Shuichi Miyazaki, who said after the war that "viewed from the standpoint of political and operational strategy, holding the Philippines was essential.... The loss of the Philippines would greatly affect civilian morale in Japan. The islands were essential for the enemy advance on Japan."

ww2dbaseWith Leyte and Samar secured, MacArthur now had advance air bases necessary to further his quest to liberate the remainder of his beloved Philippines.

ww2dbaseSources:
James Hornfischer, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors
Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences
William Manchester, American Caesar
Jiro Oka, "The Truth About the Leyte Turnaround of Kurita Force"
Gordon Rottman, World War II US Cavalry Units
Joseph Springer, Inferno
Dan van der Vat, The Pacific Campaign
Steven Zaloga, Kamikaze
"Interrogations of Japanese Officials"
"Operational Experiences of Fast Battleships"
Wikipedia

Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign Interactive Map

Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign Timeline

15 Oct 1944 Rear Admiral Masafumi Arima of the Japanese 26th Air Flotilla in the Philippine Islands attempted a special attack with a D4Y Suisei aircraft against an American carrier; it was said that "This act of self-sacrifice by a high flag officer spurred the flying units in forward combat areas and provided the spark that touched off the organized use of suicide attacks in the battle for Leyte."
22 Oct 1944 Japanese fleets set sail for the Philippine Islands in search of a decisive confrontation with the US Navy.
23 Oct 1944 US submarines Darter and Dace detected a Japanese fleet in the Palawan Strait and reported the movement. Darter sank cruisers Atago and Maya.
24 Oct 1944 Japanese battleship Musashi was lost in the Battle of Sibuyan Sea to overwhelming American air power.
28 Oct 1944 Landing ship No. 101 was sunk by US aircraft in Ormoc Bay, Philippine Islands.
2 Nov 1944 The US X Corps captured the coastal town of Carigara, Philippines at the head of the Leyte valley which would permit an advance on the port of Ormoc from two directions thereby cutting the Japanese reinforcement route.
6 Nov 1944 The wolfpack consisted of submarines USS Batfish, USS Guitarro, USS Bream, USS Raton, and USS Ray attacked Japanese convoy Ma-Ta 31 off Luzon, Philippine Islands. USS Guitarro scored three torpedo hits (nine torpedoes were expended) on Kumano while USS Ray's attack disabled the light cruiser.
11 Nov 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched air strikes on targets in the Philippines in support of the Leyte invasion for the next two weeks.
12 Nov 1944 The Japanese Army Banda Squadron in the Philippine Islands launched its first tokko mission against American ships in Leyte Gulf, claiming the sinking of a battleship and a transport although the actual damage done to the Americans was minimal.
13 Nov 1944 The Japanese Army Fugaki Squadron, based in the Philippine Islands, conducted its first tokko mission with five converted Ki-67-I Kai To-Go aircraft, without success.
27 Nov 1944 The US submarine chaser SC-744 was sunk by a Japanese special attack aircraft in Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands.
14 Dec 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) rendezvoused with the other carriers and began launching air strikes on Luzon, Philippines.
17 Dec 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) began retirement from the Luzon, Philippines strikes for refueling.

Photographs

US Navy pilot Ensign C. V. Strike photo taken from planes flying from USS Essex of the attack on Surigao Harbor in northern Mindanao, Philippine Islands, 9 Sep 1944F6F-5 Hellcats being prepared for take-off aboard the carrier Franklin off Luzon, Philippine Islands, Oct 1944. Note SB2C Helldivers spotted aft.Naha, Okinawa, Japan seen from an American carrier aircraft during the raid of 10 Oct 1944
See all 146 photographs of Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign

Maps

Map of Leyte Gulf, Philippine IslandsMap of Luzon, Philippines from Lingayen Gulf to Manila BayMap of the Philippine IslandsMap showing Japanese positions across the southern Pacific, published in US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas Information Bulletin No. 124-44 of 15 Aug 1944
See all 19 maps of Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign



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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
4 Apr 2007 12:53:47 PM

Sweet...my grandpa was involved with that, saw MacArthur come ashore.
2. Anonymous says:
18 Apr 2007 09:25:25 PM

My grandfather will be 87 soon. He fought in the Army infantry...maybe you could have links to lists of soldiers that fought in all these battles, or some search database, something. His name is Gene Barnett. He won the purple heart fighting on Leyte...
3. Adam VanMeter says:
20 Apr 2007 01:24:47 PM

My greatest respect goes out to Captain Johnston of the USS Johnston, who bravely attacked the Japanese Navy head on in a tin can destroyer, putting the most powerful battleship of the war out of action, then never relinquishing control of the ship while heavily wounded...abandoned ship with his men but was never seen again. Awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
4. Anonymous says:
25 Apr 2007 12:33:30 PM

Correction-Captain Evans. Johnstons the name of the ship...
5. Anonymous says:
26 Apr 2007 12:36:37 PM

Well...Gene Barnett is dying...I posted about him earlier...he got no great honors but he fought, all the same...I honor him for that and hope he rests in peace when he goes.
6. Vicky says:
23 May 2007 09:21:27 AM

My dad was on Leyte Island Phillipines during VJ DAY. He saw the fireworks celebration. He was in the 13th Jungle Army Air Force Band. On shore he performed for the troops and officers. See my photos at my webshots website.http:community.webshots.comuservickyvalentine Thank you.
7. Anonymous says:
16 Jun 2007 11:15:34 PM

The whole world wants to know where is Task Force 34, was in fact radioed by Admiral Nimitz. the decoding before & after became famous: Turkey run on water and The world wonders which was mistaken by Halsei to be part of the original message.
8. Anonymous says:
4 Sep 2007 04:50:32 PM

MY FATHER WAS KILLED DE.5,1944 ON THE MARCUS DALY MERCHANT MARINE SHIP HEADING TO LEYTE ISLAND. IF ANYONE HAS ANY INFORMATION ON THIS BATTLE PLEASE CONTACT ME.
9. FanofLucky"E"(EEnterprise) says:
26 Apr 2008 10:57:24 PM

Admiral Halsey is a great naval man amongst many great naval leaders in our U.S. history, but as a 'man' he's also capable of making 'mistakes' like we all can and have. I agreed with the conclusion of the above article. Halsey's biggest strategic mistakes is he dismissed too easily Admiral Kincaid's first plead for help. The story on the U.S.S. Johnstons was very inspiring to me from the readings. I have great respects for the late Captain Ernest E. Evans of the Johnstons. You can't help but come to the conclusion that only by the grace of God Almighty that that small task force 'Taffy 3' was aided from heavens above in causing the vasly superior Japanese task force to believe they were facing a larger U.S. fleet. Now how do you explain that?? That wonderfully courageous Captain and his men of the Johnstons were the spearheaded instrument of the mercy of God to spare our soldiers taking the Philipines.
10. Darren says:
12 Feb 2009 06:36:24 PM

Been through the area a few times and always wonder what went on here. I have vistited some of the memorials. The U.S. one is not well maintained. Japanese one are reasonably well maintained. See some pictures of them here: http://www.agtabeach.com/gettherepage.php

Don't have a picture of the landing site which is quite well maintained in Tacloban.

A better site for the land portion of this campaign is here:http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/leyte/leyte.htm
11. Anonymous says:
28 Sep 2009 12:32:12 PM

my Dad was Captain, Company K, 305th Infantry, 77th Division at Ormoc. any connections out there, please contact me.
12. GELEMA says:
22 Dec 2009 05:04:35 PM

My father was also killed Dec.5, 1944 on the Marcus Daly. If anyone has infomation on this please contact me.I have contacted the military for information, but they said his records were destroyed in a fire in St. Louis.I would really like to know what happened.
13. Reza says:
12 Jan 2010 05:20:44 PM

The Battle off Samar will particularly be remembered as the great struggle of american tiny fleet against the massive Kurita fleet. I salute their gallant efforts and sacrifices of the sailors and their officers, the result could've been different but they deserved the shining victory against all odds! It's incredible sometimes how a battle's course could change in a short moment, surely battle off Samar & the battle of Midway ranked in it.
14. Anonymous says:
25 Aug 2010 10:50:00 AM

TO ANON 4 SRPT 7 2007
I WAS IN HQ CO OF THE 3RD BAT OF THE 305TH DID NOT KNOW A LOT OF GUYS IN THE LINE COMPANIES
15. Lisa Wandrei says:
2 Sep 2010 09:20:33 PM

My uncle, Richard Eugene Eacobacci was a pilot with the USMCR. His plane was shot down in Leyte, Philippines on Dec 11, 1944. He was 22 years old. His plane/remains were never found. Any info on him or this incident would be greatly appreciated.
16. Patrick Tobias says:
1 Feb 2011 06:34:55 AM

In response to posting #6 by Anonymous & posting #12 by Gelema who's fathers were killed on the Marcus Daly on 5 Dec 1944, my grandfather was on the Antoine Saugrain which was traveling in the same convoy with the Marcus Daly and was attacked and sunk by the Japanese during the same attack. I have a lot of information on that convoy if you are still interested. My e-mail is bigmoviefan1@aol.com
17. John Requardt says:
8 Nov 2011 10:03:23 AM

My father Clarence "Jack" Requardt was in the gun tub hit on Dec 5. He survived barely and is still alive today. He is 85 years young and finally foing into assisted living. Seaman First Class Requardt was awarded the Purple Heart and and the Bronze Star for hel efforts as a Navy gunner on the Marcus daly.
18. Anonymous says:
19 Feb 2012 11:46:41 AM

My father, Walter M. Barrett, was a Motor Machinist Mate First Class with MTBRON7, served in Philippines during Battle of Leyte Gulf. Any news from fellow veterans would be welcome.
19. Blaise says:
9 Apr 2012 08:45:48 PM

My Dad was on the USS Enterprise during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. I have his medals and have been in contact with a friend of his who lives in Tampa, Florida. I was told my Dad's ilot was Ed Holley, who commanded the Blue Angels later.
20. Joe Wray says:
1 Jun 2012 08:22:33 AM

God Bless the men of that day. Some gave all. All gave some. I say honor what they fought for by doing ALL you can to save the great Nation they helped preserve.
My Uncle Edwin Wray perished the night of Oct 31, 1941 in the North Atlantic aboard DD-245 USS Reuben James.
Don't 'give' it away.
21. Anonymous says:
20 Jun 2012 03:34:41 PM

My father was KIA on April 24, 1945,, neat Balete Pass, Luzon, Philippines. I have had trouble finding information about the battle for Balete Pass and the millitary activities there although there were nearly 3000 casualties there.
22. Anonymous says:
2 Feb 2013 03:05:09 PM

My father served on LST 700 and was at Leyte. He is 87 and still going strong.
23. Blue Republic says:
31 Jul 2013 06:42:05 AM

An excellent article but it would benefit from including a bit more about the situation of the Japanese command. General Yamashita arrived (from being more or less exiled to Manchuria after his early victory in the Malaysia campaign and the taking of Singapore) and took command of Japanese Army forces less than two weeks before the Leyte landings.

Even after taking command he was pressured and second-guessed about his actions. It should be made clear that the situation he inherited was highly disorganized and also that he opposed attempting to make major efforts to
reinforce against the Leyte landings since it would be a pointless waste of resources which could be used more effectively elsewhere.

Events proved that he was right, but he was overruled by higher commanders (none of whom were actually in the Philippines, of course).
24. John Paul Areglo says:
5 Jan 2014 05:18:40 AM

Your comments are really interesting, learned so much but you still missed something. During the Battle of Leyte Gulf was literally won not only by Americans but also by the Filipinos. While the US Navy is still bombarding the shore and fighting with the Emperial Fleet (Japan's Fleet), the Filipino forces were attacking the Japanese Defense Lines from behind. It cost lots of Filipino and American soldiers for that attack. When Gen. McArthur's Forces landed on the shore, it was like the most happiest thing for the people of Leyte to see. It was 3 years since the General said his famous words: "I shall return..". And now it finally came true. Months from the attack the American Forces got full control of the Philippines and rescued thousands of POWs (Prisoners Of War) but it didn't take that long to do all this. Now that the Philippines is the stronghold of US Forces, the course of war will much be shorter and the chances of winning will be favored to the United States Of America. Today you can still see the McArthur monument in the province of Leyte.
25. Sheila says:
6 Jun 2014 09:02:44 PM

My uncle Harold Mason Brandt was a paratrooper serving with Company F, 511th Parachute Infantry of the 11th Airborne Division. He was mortally wounded on December 8, 1944 on Leyte Island in the Philippines and died on December 15, 1944. I found no mention of paratroopers in this article. I always assumed he was mortally injured parachuting down. Anyone know anything about the paratroopers?
26. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
7 Jun 2014 09:54:48 PM

To Sheila:
Paratroopers were used when it was desirable to insert troops by air but they were by no means limited to airborne operations. If no airborne assaults were needed or planned, paratroopers were part of the ground pounding infantry same as any other rifleman. Airborne divisions were used more in this way than in aerial operations. In the Pacific, this meant paratroopers arrived at the battlefield by landing ship as much or more than by airplane.

As for the 511th PIR in Dec 1944, it seems they arrived on Leyte on Nov 18 and not by way of an airborne drop. Their task was to drive northward along Leyte’s west coast as part of a pincer movement to deny the Japanese access to the Ormoc Corridor as well as to secure the mountain passes southeast of Ormoc. Fighting was particularly intense during the first week of Dec 1944 and this is apparently when your uncle received his wounds.

Recommend:
1. Reports of General Macarthur; The Campaigns of Macarthur in the Pacific Volume I, Prepared by his General Staff [Chapter VIII, page 233] at
http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/MacArthur%20Reports/MacArthur%20V1/ch08.htm

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/511th_Parachute_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States)

3. Blossoming Silk Against the Rising Sun: U.S. and Japanese Paratroopers at War in the Pacific in WWII by Gene Eric Salecker
http://www.amazon.com/Blossoming-Silk-Against-Rising-Sun/dp/0811706575/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402202626&sr=8-1&keywords=Blossoming+Silk+Against+the+Rising+Sun+Gene+Eric+Salecker
27. RIZA says:
7 Oct 2015 08:04:40 PM

how can we find the list of the filipino troupers who fought WW2? my grand father is one of the troupers. and he was died on that war. please i need an answer for this. my grand farthers name is DOROTEO T. SABALZA OF LEYTE.
28. Anonymous says:
5 Mar 2016 01:59:49 PM

My father was on the uss James l. Dailey went kamikazee attacked in Leyte.

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More on Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
Participants:
» Arima, Masafumi
» Barbey, Daniel
» Bong, Richard
» Evans, Ernest
» Fukudome, Shigeru
» Halsey, William
» Holden, Carl
» Inoguchi, Rikihei
» Inoguchi, Toshihira
» Kasai, Tomokazu
» Kinkaid, Thomas
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» Sprague, Thomas
» Tamai, Asaichi
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» Wilkinson, Thomas
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Locations:
» Philippines
» Taiwan

Ship Participants:
» Abukuma
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» Atago
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» Yukikaze
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Documents:
» Interrogation Nav 29, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida
» Interrogation Nav 34, Commander Chikataka Nakajima
» Interrogation Nav 35, Rear Admiral Tomiji Koyanagi
» Interrogation Nav 36, Captain Toshikazu Ohmae
» Interrogation Nav 41, Commander Tonosuke Otani
» Interrogation Nav 55, Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa
» Interrogation Nav 58, Commander Kokichi Mori
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US Navy pilot Ensign C. V.
See all 146 photographs of Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign




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"Since peace is now beyond hope, we can but fight to the end."

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