Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
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 OsmeĂ±a, 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.
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 EngaĂ±o
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.
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"
Last Major Update: May 2009
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."|
|16 Oct 1944||After the Army Signal Corps installed special long-range radio equipment, United States Army General Douglas MacArthur and an Army observation party arrived aboard the cruiser USS Nashville at Hollandia, New Guinea to observe the landings at Leyte Gulf four days later.|
|18 Oct 1944||USS Portland entered Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands in preparation for pre-invasion bombardments.|
|18 Oct 1944||As a screening destroyer of the 'Taffy 3' escort carrier task group, USS Hoel took station east of the Philippine island of Samar as part of the covering force for the upcoming landings at Leyte Gulf.|
|19 Oct 1944||USS Honolulu, USS Tennessee, USS California, and USS Portland began two days of shore bombardments on Leyte, Philippines in advance of Army landings.|
|19 Oct 1944||USS Portland shells the east side of Leyte Island, Philippines in advance of the landings to take place the following day.|
|20 Oct 1944||While conducting a shore bombardment in Leyte Gulf, Philippines, USS Honolulu was struck amidships by an aerial torpedo.|
|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||USS Nicholas covered landings of reinforcement convoys at Leyte Gulf, Philippines.|
|24 Oct 1944||Japanese battleship Musashi was lost in the Battle of Sibuyan Sea to overwhelming American air power.|
|24 Oct 1944||While withdrawing, damaged cruiser Kumano is again attacked in Tablas Strait, this time by aircraft from USS Hancock. Kumano was hit by two 1,000lb bomb hits and a near miss caused flooding that disabled several boilers. The cruiser went dead in the water. After emergency repairs, Kumano makes 10 knots, then is towed by cruiser Ashigara, and enters Coron Bay.|
|24 Oct 1944||As Kuritaâ€™s Center Force transited the Tablas Strait in the Philippines they came under attack from aircraft from carriers USS Essex and USS Lexington (Essex-class). Kumano received a bomb hot (a dud) to the roof of number 4 turret causing no damage.|
|25 Oct 1944||USS Nicholas screened Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorfâ€™s cruiser column as they made their withdrawal following the Battle of Surigao Strait.|
|25 Oct 1944||In the Battle off Samar in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, destroyers USS Hoel and Heerman launched three Mark XV torpedoes at two different Japanese cruisers and missed. The torpedoes went on to advance on the battleship Yamato, the Japanese force flagship. Yamatoâ€™s evasive action took the force commander, Admiral Takeo Kurita, so far from the action that he effectively lost his ability to command the battle and likely contributed to his ultimate decision to break off the engagement and withdraw his force.|
|25 Oct 1944||Destroyer USS Shaw departed Humboldt Bay, Hollandia (now Jayapura), New Guinea bound for Leyte Gulf, Philippines with a deck load of 128 barrels of fog oil.|
|25 Oct 1944||As Kuritaâ€™s Center Force closed on Clifton Spragueâ€™s escort carriers off Samar, destroyer USS Johnston attacked and launched torpedoes against the cruiser Kumano, blowing off Kumanoâ€™s bow and forcing her withdrawal.|
|25 Oct 1944||After six days of shore bombardments of the island of Leyte in the Philippines, USS Portland withdrew to join the battleship and cruiser force tasked with intercepting Japan's Southern Force in the Surigao Strait. Portland was part of the force that crossed the "T" of the Japanese force and directed most of her fire against the cruiser Mogami. After the decisive victory in the Surigao Strait, Portland returned to Leyte Gulf and prepared to fend off Japan's Center Force, then engaged with Task Force 77.4.3 in the Battle off Samar.|
|25 Oct 1944||USS Cassin Young screened carriers while their aircraft engaged in the Battle off Cape EngaĂ±o.|
|25 Oct 1944||Ernest Evans was killed in action during the Battle off Samar during the Leyte Campaign in the Philippine Islands.|
|25 Oct 1944||The Fletcher-class destroyer USS Hoel was sunk by the Japanese cruiser Kongo off Samar, Philippine Islands.|
|25 Oct 1944||Destroyer Yukikaze assisted in the sinking of USS Johnston during the Battle off Samar off the Philippine Islands.|
|25 Oct 1944||USS Alabama supported landing operations on Leyte, Philippine Islands.|
|27 Oct 1944||Damaged cruiser Kumano departed Coron Bay for Manila.|
|27 Oct 1944||Destroyer USS Shaw entered Leyte Gulf, Philippines.|
|28 Oct 1944||Destroyer USS Shaw departed Leyte Gulf bound for Hollandia (now Jayapura) with 68 survivors of the carrier USS Gambier Bay, including the commanding officer.|
|28 Oct 1944||Damaged cruiser Kumano arrived at Manila, Philippines.|
|28 Oct 1944||Destroyer USS Helm, assisted by destroyer USS Gridley and TBF Avenger aircraft from carrier USS Belleau Wood, sinks either Japanese submarine I-46 or I-54, 100 miles east of Samar, Philippines. [Both I-46 and I-54 were lost the same day in the same area so there is some uncertainty, but I-46 is more likely.]|
|28 Oct 1944||Landing ship No. 101 was sunk by US aircraft in Ormoc Bay, Philippine Islands.|
|29 Oct 1944||Damaged cruisers Kumano and Nachi are attacked by American carrier aircraft while in Manila Bay, Philippines.|
|1 Nov 1944||A battleship force on station at the northern entrance to Surigao Strait consisting of battleships USS Mississippi, California, and Pennsylvania screened by cruisers USS Phoenix, Boise, Nashville, and HMAS Shropshire along with destroyers Ammen, Bush, Leutze, Newcomb, Bennion, Heywood L. Edwards, Robinson, Richard P. Leary, Bryant, and Claxton came under an intense Japanese air attacking force that included special attack aircraft. USS Ammen sustained a glancing blow from a Yokosuka P1Y 'Francis' that caused considerable topside damage and killed 5 men. An Aichi D3A 'Val' crashed across Abner Read's main deck as it dropped a bomb down one the destroyer's stacks that exploded in the engine room. Abner Read jettisoned her torpedoes which immediately began their runs toward other ships in the group. Abner Read began sinking by the stern and 20 minutes after the attack, she rolled over and sank. 24 were killed. Meanwhile, Mississippi and Nashville had to take emergency evasive actions to avoid the torpedoes.|
|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.|
|3 Nov 1944||After repairs, damaged cruiser Kumano made some test runs off Manila, reaching a maximum speed of 15 knots.|
|4 Nov 1944||As part of a small convoy, Kumano departs Manila bound for Takao, Formosa (Taiwan).|
|6 Nov 1944||Kumanoâ€™s convoy was attacked by a wolfpack of four United States submarines Guitarro, Bream, Raton, and Ray off Cape Bolinao, Luzon, Philippines. Kumano was struck by two torpedoes that blew off her replacement bow section and flooded her engine rooms. Doryo Maru towed Kumano to Dasol Bay, Luzon.|
|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.|
|7 Nov 1944||Kumano shifted to Santa Cruz Harbor, Luzon, Philippines and began repairs.|
|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.|
|15 Nov 1944||Destroyer USS Shaw departed New Guinea bound for Leyte Gulf as an escort for a convoy of 50 auxiliary and supply ships.|
|18 Nov 1944||Ships and aircraft from the hunter-killer group built around escort carrier USS Anzio conducted a coordinated attack 350 miles east of the Philippines on the submerged Japanese submarine I-41 commanded by LtCdr Kondo Fumitake. Destroyer escort USS Lawrence C. Taylor launched a successful spread of Hedgehog anti-submarine mortars and the I-41 was lost with all hands. Other ships in the Anzio group were USS Melvin R. Nawman, USS Tabberer, USS Oliver Mitchell, and USS Robert F. Keller.|
|19 Nov 1944||Destroyer USS Shaw arrived in Leyte Gulf, escorted 12 LSTs to Dulag Beach, and anchored in San Pedro Bay.|
|25 Nov 1944||The already badly damaged cruiser Kumano was again attacked by United States carrier aircraft in Santa Cruz Harbor, Luzon, Philippines. A well-coordinated bombing and torpedo attack by planes from USS Ticonderoga sent four 1,000lb bombs through Kumanoâ€™s deck and six well-spaced torpedoes into her port side. Within six minutes of the attack, the cruiser rolled over and sank.|
|27 Nov 1944||US Navy Task Group 77.2 consisting of battleships USS Maryland, USS West Virginia, USS Colorado, and USS New Mexico, cruisers USS Denver, USS St. Louis, USS Columbia, USS Minneapolis, and USS Montpelier, destroyers USS Nicholas, USS Waller, USS Eaton, USS Cony, USS Mustin, USS Conway, USS Pringle, USS Lang, USS Sigourney, USS Saufley, USS Aulick, USS Renshaw, USS Taylor, USS Edwards, and USS Mugford, tanker USS Caribou, and other patrol craft were patrolling in Leyte Gulf, Philippines when the group came under a concentrated Japanese special air attack from 20 to 30 aircraft. All but two of the Japanese planes dived on the formation in the sustained attack. Submarine chaser SC-744 was sunk and battleship Colorado and cruisers St. Louis and Montpelier were damaged.|
|29 Nov 1944||US Navy Task Group 77.2 consisting of battleships USS Maryland, USS West Virginia, and USS New Mexico, cruisers USS Denver, USS Columbia, USS Minneapolis, USS Montpelier, and USS Portland, destroyers USS Nicholas, USS Waller, USS Cony, USS Conway, USS Pringle, USS Lang, USS Saufley, USS Aulick, USS Renshaw, USS Edwards, USS Mugford, and USS Connor, and other patrol craft were patrolling in Leyte Gulf, Philippines when the group came under a Japanese air attack where special attack aircraft that damaged Maryland, Saufley, and Aulick.|
|29 Nov 1944||Destroyer USS Shaw and her convoy were attacked by one Nakajima Ki-43 (Oscar) and two Nakajima B6Ns (Jill) with no damage to ships or planes.|
|2 Dec 1944||Along with destroyers USS Conyngham, Flusser and Reid, USS Shaw engaged in anti-submarine patrols within Leyte Gulf without results.|
|3 Dec 1944||With her Type 93 torpedoes, Japanese destroyer Take torpedoed and sank the Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer USS Cooper in Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands.|
|4 Dec 1944||Destroyer USS Shaw escorted the landing of supplies at Baybay on the west side of Leyte Island, Philippines.|
|5 Dec 1944||While returning to San Pedro Bay, destroyer USS Shaw withstood an aerial special attack when a Japanese plane dove on the ship and crashed into the sea 25 yards off Shaw's port bow. Shaw sustained no damage.|
|5 Dec 1944||SS Antoine Saugrain was rendered dead in the water after being struck by two aerial torpedoes in Philippine waters. The ship claimed to have shot down several Japanese aircraft. She was carrying 450 passengers and crew; some were wounded during the attack, but all would eventually be accounted for after all survivors were rescued.|
|6 Dec 1944||SS Antoine Saugrain, damaged by two Japanese aerial torpedoes on the previous day, sank while under tow in the Surigao Strait in Philippine waters.|
|7 Dec 1944||Shortly after midnight, destroyers USS Nicholas, USS Oâ€™Bannon, USS Fletcher, and USS LaVallette made a sweep of Ormoc Bay, Leyte, Philippines. Finding no Japanese shipping, they conducted a shore bombardment along Apali Point on the west side of the bay.|
|8 Dec 1944||Destroyer USS Shaw assumed anti-submarine patrol at the eastern opening of Surigao Strait in the Philippines.|
|9 Dec 1944||Destroyer USS Shaw departed Leyte Gulf bound for Hollandia (now Jayapura) with 78 survivors of the destroyer USS Ward that had been sunk by special attack aircraft two days earlier.|
|12 Dec 1944||USS Nashville sailed from San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, Philippines as flagship for RAdm A.D. Struble's Task Group 78.3 bound for the invasion of Mindoro Island.|
|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.|
|21 Dec 1944||While escorting a supply convoy for Mangarin Bay in the Philippine Islands, USS Kimberly came under Japanese aerial attack; her gunners claimed to have shot down one and assisted in the downing of two others.|
|5 Jan 1945||Destroyer USS Helm was struck by a Nakajima Ki-43 'Oscar' special attack fighter that damaged Helm's searchlight and injured six men.|
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