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Battle of Leyte
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Coordinates:

1057N 12450E

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This article is about the battle on the island of Leyte. For the naval battle, see Battle of Leyte

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Battle of Leyte

26 December 1944. The operation code


named King Two[8] launched the Philippines
campaign of 194445 for the recapture and
liberation of the entire Philippine Archipelago
and to end almost three years of Japanese
occupation.
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General Douglas MacArthur and staff, accompanied by


Philippine president Sergio Osmena (L), land at Palo
Beach, Leyte, 20 October 1944.

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Beach, Leyte, 20 October 1944.

Contents [hide]

Page information
Wikidata item

1 Background

Cite this page

2 Battle

Date

17 October 26 December 1944 (Initial


phase involving Sixth Army) guerrilla
phase under Eighth Army continued until

2.1 Landings

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2.2 Campaign in the Leyte Valley

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2.3 Japanese counterattacks

Printable version

2.4 Advance Towards the Ormoc Valley


2.5 Battle of Breakneck Ridge, Battle of

Languages

March 1945[1]:324
Location

Leyte Island, Philippines


1057N 12450E

Result

Decisive Allied victory

Belligerents

Kilay Ridge

Deutsch

2.6 Battle of Shoestring Ridge

Espaol

2.7 Battle of the Ridges

Franais

2.8 Battle of the Airfields

2.9 Fall of Ormoc

Bahasa Indonesia

2.10 Westward march to the coast

Italiano

3 Aftermath

4 See also

Nederlands

6 Further reading

Polski

Franklin C. Sibert
John R. Hodge
Ruperto C. Kangleon

7 External links

Portugus

Trke
Ting Vit

Background

Japan had conquered the Philippines in

Edit links

1942. Controlling it was vital for Japan's


commanded sea routes to Borneo and
Sumatra by which rubber and petroleum were
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Tomoyuki Yamashita
Ssaku Suzuki
Shiro Makino [2]
Tsunehiro Shirai [3]
Yoshimi Adachi [4]
Kyoji Tominaga[1]:39

Units involved

[ edit ]

survival in World War II because it

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Commanders and leaders


Douglas MacArthur
Walter Krueger
Robert L.
Eichelberger

5 References

Allies
Axis
United States
Empire of Japan
Commonwealth of the
Second Philippine
Philippines
Republic

Sixth Army (Initial


phase)

Fourteenth Area
Army:

X Corps

35th Army

1st Cavalry Division

1st Infantry Division

24th Infantry Division

16th Infantry Division

XXIV Corps

26th Infantry Division


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shipped to Japan.[1]:7

7th Infantry Division

30th Infantry Division

For the US, capturing the Philippines was a

96th Infantry Division

100th Infantry Division

key strategic step in isolating Imperial Japan's


military holdings in China and the Pacific
theater. It was also a personal matter of pride
for MacArthur.[1]:5 In 1942, just a month
before Japan forced the surrender of all
USAFFE forces in the Philippines, US

102nd Infantry Division

Other

organize the US forces gathering in


Australia,[1]:22 which were meant to relieve the
USAFFE. Those relief forces were nonexistent;[1]:22 Roosevelt's true intentions in

Fifth Air Force


Naval elements:
Third Fleet

Strength
Sixth Army:
~200,000
Air and naval forces:
~120,000[1]:324
3,000 guerrillas

Japanese. Still, MacArthur had vowed that he


would return to the Philippines. He repeatedly

65,000 for Sixth Army


phase[5]
20,000 during Eight
Army's phase[6]

Casualties and losses

ordering MacArthur to flee the Philippines


had been to prevent his capture by the

55th Mixed Brigade

Aerial elements:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt had ordered


MacArthur to leave the Philippines and

54th Mixed Brigade

6th Ranger Battalion

USA:[1]:337
3,504 killed
11,991 wounded
89 missing

70,000[7]

stated that it was a moral obligation of the US


to liberate the Philippines as soon as
possible. In March 1944, the Joint Chiefs of
Staff ordered MacArthur to plan an attack on
the southern Philippines by the end of the
year, and Luzon in early 1945.[1]:78 In July
1944, Roosevelt met with MacArthur and
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V T E

Philippines

[hide]

campaign (194445)
Major battles in bold
Luzon
Mindoro Lingayen Gulf Bessang Pass Baguio
Kirang Pass Bacsil Ridge Bongabon Gabaldon

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Chester Nimitz in Hawaii, where the decision


was made to invade the Philippines, from
which land air bases could be used for the
Pacific Theater of Operations.[1]:89
Over the summer of 1944, planes from the
aircraft carriers of the US 3rd Fleet under
Admiral William F. Halsey carried out several
successful missions over the Philippines and
found Japanese resistance lacking.[1]:9
Halsey then recommended a direct strike on
Leyte, canceling other planned operations,
and the Leyte invasion date moved forward to
October.[1]:10
Leyte, one of the larger islands of the
Philippines, has numerous deep-water
approaches and sandy beaches which
offered opportunities for amphibious assaults
and fast resupply. The roads and lowlands
extending inland from Highway 1, that ran for
40 mi (64 km) along the east coast between
Abuyog town to the north and the San

Kirang Pass Bacsil Ridge Bongabon Gabaldon


General Tinio Pearanda Nampicuan Pampanga
Macabebe Tarlac Capas Cabanatuan Bulacan
San Ildefonso San Miguel Plaridel Malolos Bataan
Zambales Manila Quezon City Marikina
Paraaque Corregidor Southern Luzon Rizal
Morong Antipolo Cainta Taytay Tanay Laguna
Cavite Batangas Tayabas Baler Los Baos Bicol
Camarines Albay Sorsogon Catanduanes
Lubang Island Mindoro Palawan
Visayas
Leyte Panay Antique Capiz Iloilo Guimaras
Romblion Simara Negros Cebu City Cebu
Daanbantayan Toledo Talisay Bantayan Island
Pardo and Basak Bohol Leyte Samar
Mindanao
Camiguin Agusan Bukidnon
Cotabato and Maguindanao Davao (Ising) Lanao
Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental Surigao
Zamboanga
Naval operations
Convoy Hi-71 Shinyo Maru Incident Formosa
Leyte Gulf Ormoc Bay Convoy Hi-81
Action of 24 July 1945

Juanico Strait between Leyte and Samar


Islands, provided avenues for tank-infantry
operations, as well as suitable ground for airfield
construction. American air forces based on Leyte
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could strike at enemy bases and airfields anywhere


in the archipelago.[1]:10
A heavily forested north-south mountain range
dominates the interior and separates two sizable
valleys, or coastal plains. The larger Leyte Valley
extends from the northern coast to the long
eastern shore and contains most of the towns and
roadways on the island.[1]:1011 The other, Ormoc
Invasion of Leyte Map, 20 October 1944

Valley, situated on the west side, was connected to


Leyte Valley by a roundabout and winding road,
Highway 2; it ran from Palo town on the east coast,

then west and northwest through Leyte Valley to the north coast, it then turned south and wound
through a mountainous neck to enter the northern Ormoc Valley. This continued south to the port
of Ormoc City, then along the western shore to Baybay town. The road then turned east to cross
the mountainous waist of the island and it connected with Highway 1 on the east coast at Abuyog.
Below these towns, the mountainous southern third of Leyte was mostly undeveloped.[1]:10 High
mountain peaks over 4,400 ft (1,300 m), as well as the jagged outcroppings, ravines, and caves
typical of volcanic islands offered formidable defensive opportunities.[1]:11 The timing late in the
year of the assault would force combat troops and supporting pilots, as well as logistical units, to
contend with monsoon rains.
Leyte's population of over 900,000 peoplemostly farmers and fishermen[1]:11could be
expected to assist an American invasion, since many residents already supported the guerrilla
struggle against the Japanese in the face of harsh repression.[1]:12 Japanese troop strength on
Leyte was estimated by US intelligence at 20,000; mostly of the 16th Division[1]:1617 under
Lieutenant General Shiro Makino.[1]:1
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Battle

[ edit ]

Landings

[ edit ]

Preliminary operations for the Leyte invasion


began at dawn on 17 October with minesweeping
tasks and the movement of the 6th Rangers toward
three small islands in Leyte Gulf.[1]:26,37 Although
delayed by a storm, the Rangers were on Suluan
and Dinagat islands by 0805.[1]:3435,39 On Suluan,
Amphibious forces approach Leyte, October
1944

they dispersed a small group of Japanese


defenders and destroyed a radio station, while
they found Dinagat unoccupied.[1]:35 The next day,
the third island Homonhon, was taken without any

opposition.[1]:35 On Dinagat and Homonhom, the Rangers proceeded to erect navigation lights for
the amphibious transports to follow.[1]:26,35 Meanwhile, reconnaissance by underwater demolition
teams revealed clear landing beaches for assault troops on Leyte.[1]:38 Independently, the 21st
Infantry Regiment on 20 Oct. landed on Panaon Strait to control the entrance to Sogod Bay.[1]:27
Following four hours of heavy naval gunfire on A-day, 20 October, Sixth Army forces landed on
assigned beaches at 10:00.[1]:39 X Corps pushed across a 4 mi (6.4 km) stretch of beach between
Tacloban airfield and the Palo River. 15 mi (24 km) to the south, XXIV Corps units came ashore
across a 3 mi (4.8 km) strand between San Jos and the Daguitan River. Troops found as much
resistance from swampy terrain as from Japanese fire.[1]:41 Within an hour of landing, units in most
sectors had secured beachheads deep enough to receive heavy vehicles and large amounts of
supplies.[1]:40 Only in the 24th Division sector did enemy fire force a diversion of follow-up landing
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craft. But even that sector was secure enough by 13:30 to allow Gen. MacArthur to make a
dramatic entrance[9] through the surf onto Red Beach[1]:4748 and announce to the populace the
beginning of their liberation: "People of the Philippines, I have returned! By the grace of Almighty
God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."
By the end of A-day, the Sixth Army had moved
1 mi (1.6 km) inland and five miles wide.[1]:47 In the
X Corps sector, the 1st Cavalry Division held
Tacloban airfield,[1]:40 and the 24th Infantry
Division had taken the high ground on Hill 522
commanding its beachheads.[1]:47 In the
XXIV Corps sector, the 96th Infantry Division held
the approaches to Catmon Hill,[1]:50 and the 7th
Infantry Division held Dulag and its airfield.[1]:54
General Makino spent the day moving his

US 1st Cavalry troops wade through a


swamp in Leyte

command post from Tacloban, 10 mi (16 km)


inland to the town of Dagami.[1]:46 The initial fighting was won at a cost of 49 killed, 192 wounded,
and six missing.[1]:343 The Japanese counterattacked the 24th Infantry Division on Red Beach
through the night, unsuccessfully.[1]:6063

Campaign in the Leyte Valley

[ edit ]

The Sixth Army made steady progress inland against sporadic and uncoordinated enemy
resistance on Leyte in the next few days. The 1st Cavalry Division of Maj. Gen. Verne D. Mudge
secured the provincial capital, Tacloban, on 21 October, and Hill 215 the next.[1]:75 On 23 October,
Gen. MacArthur presided over a ceremony to restore civil government to Leyte. 1st and
2nd Cavalry Brigades initiated a holding action to prevent a Japanese counterattack from the
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mountainous interior, after which the 1st Cavalry was allowed to move on. The 8th Cavalry
established itself on Samar by 24 Oct., securing the San Juanico Strait.[1]:75
On the X Corps left, the 24th Infantry Division
under Maj. Gen. Frederick A. Irving, drove inland
into heavy enemy resistance. After days and nights
of hard fighting and killing some 800 Japanese, the
19th and 34th Infantry Regiments expanded their
beachhead and took control of the high ground
commanding the entrance to the northern Leyte
Valley. By 1 November, after a seven-day tankinfantry advance supported by artillery fire, both
regiments had pushed through Leyte Valley and
US infantrymen move cautiously toward a
machinegun nest

were within sight of the north coast and the port of


Carigara, which the 2nd Cavalry Brigade occupied
the next day after Suzuki ordered a

withdrawal.[1]:99106 In its drive through Leyte Valley, the 24th Division inflicted nearly 3,000 enemy
casualties.[1]:106 These advances left only one major port on LeyteOrmoc City on the west coast
under Japanese control.
From the XXIV Corps beachhead Gen. Hodge had
sent his two divisions into the southern Leyte
Valley, which already contained four airfields and a
large supply center. Maj. Gen. James L. Bradley's
96th Infantry Division was to clear Catmon Hill, a
1,400 ft (430 m) promontory, the highest point in
both corps beachheads, and used by the
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Japanese as an observation and firing post to fire


on landing craft approaching the beach on A-day.
Under cover of incessant artillery and naval

A US 105 mm (4.1 in) howitzer fires at


Catmon Hill

gunfire, Bradley's troops made their way through


the swamps south and west of the high ground at
Labiranan Head. After a three-day fight, the 382nd Infantry Regiment took a key Japanese supply
base at Tabontabon, 5 mi (8.0 km) inland, and killed some 350 Japanese on 28 October.
Simultaneously two battalions each from the 381st Infantry Regiment and 383rd Infantry Regiments
slowly advanced up opposite sides of Catmon Hill and battled the fierce Japanese resistance.
When the mop-up of Catmon Hill was completed on 31 October, the Americans had cleared 53
pillboxes, 17 caves, and several heavy artillery positions.[1]:6569
On the left of XXIV Corps, the 7th Infantry Division
under Maj. Gen. Archibald V. Arnold moved inland
against the Japanese airfields of San Pablo 1 and
2, Bayug, and Buri, using "flying wedges" of
American tanks, the 767th Tank Battalion, which
cleared the way for the infantrymen.[1]:8081
Between Burauen and Julita, the 17th Infantry
overcame fanatical but futile resistance from
US armored car at Labiranan Head

Japanese soldiers concealed in spider holes, who


placed satchel charges on the hulls of the
American tanks.[1]:80 A mile north, 32nd Infantry

soldiers killed more than 400 Japanese at Buri airfield. While two battalions of the 184th Infantry
patrolled the corps' left flank, the 17th Infantry, with the 184th's 2nd Battalion attached, turned
north toward Dagami, 6 mi (9.7 km) above Burauen. Using flamethrowers to root the enemy out of
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pillboxes and a cemetery, US troops captured Dagami on 30 October, which forced Gen. Makino to
evacuate his command post further westward.[1]:9596 Meanwhile, on 29 October, the
32nd Infantry's 2nd Battalion, preceded by the 7th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, moved 15 mi
(24 km) south along the east coast to Abuyog for a probe of the area, and then over the next four
days patrolled west through the mountains to Baybay, all without opposition.[1]:96

Japanese counterattacks

[ edit ]

With 432,000 Japanese soldiers in the Philippines, General Yamashita decided to make Leyte the
main effort of the Japanese defense, and on 21 October, ordered the 35th Army to coordinate a
decisive battle with the Imperial Japanese Navy.[1]:64,73 The 16th Division was to be reinforced by
the 30th Infantry Division from Mindanao, landing on Ormoc Bay.[1]:64 The 102nd Infantry Division
would occupy Jaro, where the 1st and 26th Infantry Divisions were concentrating.[1]:64 Battalions
from the 55th and 57th Independent Mixed Brigades were on Leyte by 25 Oct.[1]:73
As the Sixth Army pushed deeper into Leyte, the Japanese struck back in the air and at sea. On
24 October, some 200 enemy aircraft approached American beachheads and shipping from the
north.[1]:70 Fifty American land-based aircraft rose to intercept them, and claimed to have shot
down between 66[1]:70 and 84 of the attackers. Day and night air raids continued over the next four
days,[1]:71 damaging supply dumps ashore and threatening American shipping. But by 28 October,
counterattacks by US aircraft on Japanese airfields and shipping on other islands so reduced
enemy air strength that conventional air raids ceased to be a major threat. As their air strength
diminished, the Japanese resorted to the deadly kamikazes,[1]:71 a corps of suicide pilots who
crashed their bomb-laden planes directly into US ships. They chose the large American transport
and escort fleet that had gathered in Leyte Gulf on A-day as their first target and sank one escort
carrier and badly damaged many other vessels.
A more serious danger to the US forces developed
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A more serious danger to the US forces developed


at sea. The Imperial Japanese Navy's high
command decided to destroy US Navy forces
supporting the Sixth Army by committing its entire
remaining surface fleet to a decisive battle with the
Americans. The Imperial Navy's plan was to attack
in three major task groups. One, which included
four aircraft carriers with few aircraft aboard, was
to act as a decoy, luring the US 3rd Fleet north
away from Leyte Gulf. If the decoy was successful,
the other two groups, consisting primarily of heavy
surface combatants, would enter the gulf from the
west and attack the American transports.
On
23
Four Japanese snipers shot and killed in the
muddy water of a bomb crater

October, the approach of the enemy surface


vessels was detected. US naval units moved out to
intercept, and the air and naval Battle of Leyte
A US anti-aircraft gun at Tacloban airfield in
action

Gulfthe largest naval battle in the Pacific[1]:70


and also one of the largest naval battles in
history[10]was fought from 23-26 Octoberthe
Japanese suffered a decisive defeat. Nonetheless

by 11 December, the Japanese had succeeded in moving more than 34,000 troops to Leyte and
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over 10,000 short tons (9,100 t) of materil, most through the port of Ormoc on the west coast,
despite heavy losses to reinforcement convoys, including engagements at Ormoc Bay, because of
relentless air interdiction missions by US aircraft.

Advance Towards the Ormoc Valley

[ edit ]

The Japanese reinforcement presented severe problems for both Krueger and MacArthur.[1]:107
Instead of projected mopping up operations after clearing the east side of Leyte, the Sixth Army
had to prepare for extended combat in the mountains on its western side,[1]:110 which included
landing three reserve divisions on Leyte, this pushed MacArthur's operations schedule for the
Philippine campaign back and the War Department's deployment plans in the Pacific.
Gen. Krueger planned a giant pincer operation to clear Ormoc Valley, with X Corps forces moving
south, and XXIV Corps units pushing north from Baybay.[1]:111 To overcome the expected
increased resistance, especially in the mountain barrier to the north, Krueger mobilized his reserve
forces, the 32nd and 77th Infantry Divisions, while MacArthur activated the 11th Airborne Division.
The 21st RCT pulled out from the Panaon area to rejoin the 24th Division and were replaced by a
battalion of the 32nd Infantry. On 3 November, the 34th Infantry Regiment moved out from west of
Carigara to sweep the rest of the northern coast before turning south into the mountains. The
1st Battalion soon came under attack from a ridge along the highway. Supported by the 63rd Field
Artillery Battalion, the unit cleared the ridge, and the 34th Infantry continued unopposed that night
through the town of Pinamopoan, recovering numerous heavy weapons abandoned by the enemy,
then halted at the point where Highway 2 turns south into the mountains.[1]:111113

Battle of Breakneck Ridge, Battle of Kilay Ridge

[ edit ]

On 7 November the 21st Infantry went into its first sustained combat on Leyte when it moved into
the mountains along Highway 2, near Carigara Bay.[1]:115 The fresh regiment, with the
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19th Infantry's 3rd Battalion attached, immediately ran into strong defenses of the newly arrived
Japanese 1st Division, aligned from east to west across the road and anchored on a network of
fighting positions built of heavy logs and interconnecting trench lines and countless spider holes,
which became known as "Breakneck Ridge" to the Americans, or the "Yamashita Line" to the
Japanese.[1]:116 General Krueger ordered the 1st Cavalry to join the 24th Infantry Division in the
attack south, and the X and XXIV Corps (96th Infantry Division) to block routes through the central
mountain range, anticipating General Suzuki's renewed attack with the arrival of his 26th Infantry
Division.[1]:120121 Additionally the XXIV Corps had the 7th Infantry Division in Baybay.[1]:121 Plus,
Krueger had access to the 32nd and 77th Infantry Divisions, and the 11th Airborne Division, which
MacArthur was staging in Leyte in preparation of the Luzon invasion.[1]:133
A typhoon began on 8 November, and the heavy rain that followed for several days further
impeded American progress.[1]:116 Despite the storm and high winds, which added falling trees and
mud slides to enemy defenses and delayed supply trains, the 21st Infantry continued its slow and
halting attack, with companies often having to withdraw and recapture hills that had been taken
earlier. The Americans seized the approaches to Hill 1525 2 mi (3.2 km) to the east, enabling Irving
to stretch out the enemy defenses further across a 4 mi (6.4 km) front along Highway 2. After five
days of battling against seemingly impregnable hill positions and two nights of repulsing enemy
counterattacks proved fruitless, Irving decided on a double envelopment of the enemy defenders.
On the east, the 19th Infantry's 2nd Battalion, under Lt. Col. Robert B. Spragins, swung east
around Hill 1525 behind the enemy right flank, cutting back to Highway 2, 3 mi (4.8 km) south of
'Breakneck Ridge', blocking the Japanese supply line.[1]:133140 On the west, Irving sent the
34th Infantry's 1st Battalion under Lt. Col. Thomas E. Clifford, over water from the Carigara area to
a point 2 mi (3.2 km) west of the southward turn of Highway 2, and moved it inland. This
amphibious maneuver was made in eighteen LVTs of the 727th Amphibian Tractor Battalion.[11]
After crossing a ridge line and the Leyte River, they approached the enemy left flank at 900 ft
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(270 m) on Kilay Ridge, the highest terrain behind the main battle area.[1]:147 Both battalions
reached positions only about 1,000 yd (910 m) apart on opposite sides of the highway by
13 November despite strong opposition and heavy rains. The Americans were aided by the 1st
Battalion, 96th Philippine Infantry, a local guide who "owned" Kilay Ridge, and Filipinos carrying
supplies.[1]:148149
It took Clifford's men two weeks of struggle through
mud and rainoften dangerously close to friendly
mortar and artillery fireto root the Japanese out
of fighting positions on the way up Kilay Ridge. On
2 December Clifford's battalion finally cleared the
heights overlooking the road, and 32nd Division
units quickly took over. Clifford's outfit suffered
26 killed, 101 wounded and two missing, in
contrast to 900 Japanese dead.[1]:162 For their
arduous efforts against Kilay Ridge and adjacent
areas, both flanking battalions received
Presidential Unit Citations.[1]:147,162 Clifford and
Spragins both received the Distinguished Service
Filipino volunteers carry supplies to the 12th
Cavalry Brigade

Cross for their actions.[1]:142,152 It was not until


14 December that the 32nd Division finally cleared
the BreakneckKilay Ridge area, and linked up
with the 1st Cavalry Division on 19 Dec., placing

the most heavily defended portions of Highway 2 between Carigara Bay and the Ormoc Valley
under X Corps control.[1]:266,269
Throughout this phase, American efforts had become increasingly hampered by logistical
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problems. Mountainous terrain and impassable roads forced Sixth Army transportation units to
improvise resupply trains of Navy landing craft, tracked landing vehicles, airdrops, artillery tractors,
trucks, even carabaos and hundreds of barefoot Filipino bearers. The 727th Amphibian Tractor
Battalion made daily, often multiple, trips with ammunition and rations between Capoocan and
Calubian. From Calubian, the 727th tractors would navigate the Naga River to Consuegra and
then traverse overland to Agahang. On their return trip, they would evacuate the casualties. Not
surprisingly, the complex scheduling slowed resupply as well as the pace of assaults, particularly in
the mountains north and east of Ormoc Valley and subsequently in the ridgelines along
Ormoc Bay.

Battle of Shoestring Ridge

[ edit ]

For the naval battle, see Battle of Ormoc Bay.


In mid-November XXIV Corps had the 32nd Infantry Regiment, under the command of Lt. Col. John
M. Finn, in western Leyte, and 7th Division remnants securing Burauen, but the arrival of the
11th Airborne Division on 22 November, allowed Gen. Hodge to move the rest of the 7th Division to
the west.[1]:182 On the night of 23 November, the 32nd Infantry suddenly came under attack by the
Japanese 26th Division, along the Palanas River.[1]:187188 The regiment's 2nd Battalion was
pushed back off Hill 918 to a defensive position along the highway and their artillery base, which
consisted of Batteries A and B of the 49th Field Artillery Battalion, and Battery B of the USMC 11th
155mm Gun Battalion.[1]:186 Gen. Arnold earlier had placed the 2nd Battalion, 184th Infantry, as a
reserve for just such a counterattack.[1]:186 Also, a platoon of tanks from the 767th Tank Battalion
was stationed at Damulaan.[1]:186 Battery C, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, arrived the next day.[1]:189
That night, the night of 24 November, Japanese attacks put four 105 mm (4.1 in) pieces of Battery
B out of action.[1]:192 The 2nd Battalion, 184th Infantry was then released by Gen. Arnold to Col.
Finn.[1]:192 The defensive battle for 'Shoestring Ridge', so named to reflect the supply situation,
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continued until 29 November, when US troops were able to take the offensive.[1]:199 During their
failed attacks of the previous days, the Japanese under the command of Col. Saito, had committed
six infantry battalions.[1]:199

Battle of the Ridges

[ edit ]

Gen. Arnold finally began his advance toward Ormoc with a novel tactic. On the night of
4 December, vehicles of the 776th Amphibian Tank Battalion put to sea and leapfrogged south
along the Leyte coast and positioned themselves west of Balogo.[1]:201 On 5 Dec., the tanks moved
to within 200 yd (180 m) of the shore and fired into the hills in front of the advancing 17th and
184th Infantry.[1]:200 This tactic proved effective, greatly disorganizing the defenders, except where
ground troops encountered enemy pockets on reverse slopes inland, shielded from the offshore
tank fire. The 7th Division pushed north with two regiments which encountered heavy enemy fire
coming from Hill 918, from which the entire coast to Ormoc City could be observed. By 8 Dec., the
American forces had taken Hills 918, 380 and 606, plus the surrounding ridges.[1]:200205 By
12 December, Gen. Arnold's lead battalion was less than 10 mi (16 km) south of Ormoc City.

Battle of the Airfields

[ edit ]

While Gen. Arnold moved closer to Ormoc, on the 6th Dec., the Japanese made a surprise attack
on the Buri Airfield with the 16th, combined with 250 paratroopers of the 2nd Raiding Brigade, the
Takachiho Paratroopers.[1]:226228 At the time, the 11th Airborne Division, commanded by General
Joseph May Swing defended the Burauen area.[1]:221,229 The Japanese aimed to recapture
eastern Leyte airstrips and use them for their own planes. Descending Japanese paratroopers
were "cut to shreds by the antiaircraft and field artillery units," according to one American artillery
officer.[12]
Although poorly coordinated - only one battalion of the Japanese 26th Infantry Division reached
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the battlefield - the enemy attack yielded the seizure of some abandoned weapons which they
managed to use against the Americans over the next four days.[1]:232 The 11th Airborne Division,
supported by the 149th Infantry, 38th Infantry Division, and the 382nd Infantry, 96th Infantry
Division, plus hastily mustered groups of support and service troops, eventually contained the
attack, and turned the tide by 9 Dec.[1]:230231 With a few American supply dumps and aircraft on
the ground destroyed and construction projects delayed, the enemy attacks on the airfields failed
to have any effect on the overall Leyte Campaign.[1]:233 Gen. Suzuki ordered a retreat so he could
deal with the American landing at Ormac, but with only 200 men returning, the 16th Division
ceased to exist.[1]:232,251

Fall of Ormoc

[ edit ]

Meanwhile, on the western side of Leyte, the XXIV


Corps received reinforcements on 7 December
with the landing of the 77th Infantry Division under
Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce south of Ormoc
City.[1]:233 The 77th Division's 305th and 307th
Infantry Regiments came ashore at 0700
unopposed, supported by a company from the
776th Amphibian Tank Battalion.[1]:233234
However, Admiral Arthur D. Struble's naval convoy
was subjected to kamikaze air attacks, fifty-five
aircraft making sixteen raids.[1]:234236 Yet, the
arrival of the 77th Division proved decisive. This
enabled the 7th Division to resume its march north,
and the enemy defenders were quickly squeezed
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between the two forces.[1]:234


Moving north, the 77th Division faced strong
opposition at Camp Downes, a prewar Philippine

Situation at Leyte, 7 November-31 December


1944

constabulary post.[1]:239,360 Supported by the newly


arrived 306th Infantry Regiment, plus the 902nd
and 305th Field Artillery Battalions, Gen. Bruce's troops pushed through and beyond Camp
Downes on 9 Dec., and entered Ormoc City on 10 December.[1]:239240 The 7th and 77th Infantry
Divisions linked up the next day.[1]:242
In its final drive, US troops killed some 1,506 enemy and took seven prisoners while sustaining
123 killed, 329 wounded and 13 missing.[1]:242 With Ormoc City captured, the XXIV Corps and
X Corps were only 16 mi (26 km) apart. In between at Cogan, the last enemy salient with its
defenses anchored on a concrete blockhouse, north of Ormoc, and held by the 12th Independent
Infantry Regiment, resisted the Americans for two days.[1]:257 On 14 December, the 305th Infantry
closed on the stronghold, aided by heavy artillery barrages and employing flamethrowers and
armored bulldozers. Hand-to-hand combat and the inspiring leadership of Medal of Honor awardee
Captain Robert B. Nett cleared the enemy from the blockhouse area, while the leading Company,
E, of the 2nd Battalion, 305th Infantry moved forward through intense fire and killed several
Japanese soldiers.[1]:258

Westward march to the coast

[ edit ]

After breaking out of Ormoc, the 77th Division took Valencia airfield, 7 mi (11 km) north, on
18 December, and continued north to establish contact with X Corps units.[1]:274 That same day,
Gen. Sibert ordered the 1st Cavalry Division to complete the drive south. The 12th Cavalry
Regiment pushed out of the mountains on a southwest track to Highway 2, then followed fire from
the 271st Field Artillery Battalion to clear a 3 mi (4.8 km) stretch of the road. North of Ormoc
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Valley, the 32nd Division had met determined opposition from the defending Japanese 1st Division
along Highway 2, after moving south past Kilay Ridge and entering a heavy rain forest, which
limited visibility and concealed the enemy. Using flamethrowers, hand grenades, rifles, and
bayonets, troops scratched out daily advances measured in yards, and in five days of hard
fighting, the 126th and 127th Infantry Regiments advanced less than 1 mi (1.6 km). Contact
between patrols of the 12th Cavalry and the 77th Division's 306th Infantry on 21 December
marked the juncture of the US X and XXIV Corps and the closing of the Sixth Army's pincer
maneuver against Ormoc Valley.[1]:284
While the 77th and 32nd Divisions converged on the valley, Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing's
11th Airborne Division had moved into the central mountain passes from the east. With blocking
positions established south of Leyte Valley on 2224 November, the 511th Parachute Infantry
Regiment pushed farther west into the mountains on the 25 November. After an arduous advance,
the 511th reached Mahonag, 10 mi (16 km) west of Burauen, on 6 December, the same day
Japanese paratroops landed at the Buri and San Pablo airfields. On 16 December, the
2nd Battalion, 32nd Infantry, made slow but steady progress into the mountains from the
Ormoc Bay area to meet the airborne regiment and assist its passage westward. On 23 December,
after battling scattered Japanese defenders on ridges and in caves, the 7th Division infantrymen
met troops from the 2nd Battalion, 187th Glider Infantry Regiment, which had passed through the
511th, to complete the cross-island move, and basically destroying the Japanese 26th Infantry
Division in the process.[1]:258264
Gen. Bruce opened the drive on Palompon by sending the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 305th Infantry,
with armor support, west along the road on the morning of 22 December.[1]:289 The
302nd Engineer Battalion followed, repairing and strengthening bridges for armor, artillery and
supply vehicles. Assault units progressed rapidly through sporadic enemy fire until they hit strong
positions about 8 mi (13 km) short of Palompon. To restore momentum, Gen. Bruce put the
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1st Battalion, 305th Infantry, on Navy landing craft and dispatched it from the port of Ormoc to
Palompon. Supported by fire from mortar boats of the 2nd Engineer Special Brigade and from the
155 mm (6.1 in) guns of the 531st Field Artillery Battalion, the infantrymen landed at 07:20 on
25 December and secured the small coastal town within four hours.[1]:290
Learning of the seizure of the last port open to the Japanese, Gen. MacArthur announced the end
of organized resistance on Leyte.[1]:290 As these sweeps continued, he transferred control of
operations on Leyte and Samar to the Eighth Army on 26 December. Farther north, other US
forces made faster progress against more disorganized and dispirited enemy troops. 1st Cavalry
Division troops reached the coast on 28 December[1]:295 as 24th Division units cleared the last
enemy positions from the northwest corner of Leyte on the same day and two days later met
patrols of the 32nd Division. But Japanese defenders continued to fight as units until
31 December, and the ensuing mop-up of stragglers continued until 8 May 1945.

Aftermath

[ edit ]

The campaign for Leyte proved the first and most decisive operation in the American reconquest
of the Philippines. Japanese losses in the campaign were heavy, with the army losing four divisions
and several separate combat units, while the navy lost 26 major warships and 46 large transports
and hundreds of merchantmen. The struggle also reduced Japanese land-based air capability in
the Philippines by more than 50%. Some 250,000 troops still remained on Luzon, but the loss of air
and naval support at Leyte so narrowed Gen. Yamashita's options that he now had to fight a
passive defensive of Luzon,[1]:325 the largest and most important island in the Philippines. In effect,
once the decisive battle of Leyte was lost, the Japanese gave up hope of retaining the Philippines,
conceding to the Allies a critical bastion from which Japan could be easily cut off from outside
resources, and from which the final assaults on the Japanese home islands could be launched.
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See also

[ edit ]

Iliff David Richardson


Francis B. Wai
Harold H. Moon, Jr.
John F. Thorson
Leonard C. Brostrom
Charles E. Mower
Richard Ira Bong
Ova A. Kelley

MacArthur's Landing, by Anastacio


Caedo at MacArthur Landing Memorial
National Park on Leyte Gulf

Elmer E. Fryar
William A. McWhorter
Leroy Johnson (Medal of Honor)
Dirk J. Vlug
Thomas McGuire
George Benjamin, Jr.
Bataan death march

References

[ edit ]

This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Army Center of Military
History document "The Leyte Campaign" .
Drea, Edward J. (1998). "Leyte: Unanswered Questions". In the Service of the Emperor:
Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-80321708-0.
History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 13: The Liberation of the
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PhilippinesLuzon, Mindanao, the Visayas, 1944-1945 by Samuel Eliot Morison (2002)


University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-07064-X
Battle for Leyte, 1944: Allied And Japanese Plans, Preparations, And Execution by Milan N.
Vego (2006) Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1-55750-885-2
World War II in the Pacific: An Encyclopedia (Military History of the United States) by S. Sandler
(2000) Routledge, ISBN 0-8153-1883-9
1. ^ a

b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au

av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf
cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg

Prefer, N.N., 2012, Leyte

1944, Havertown: Casemate Publishers, ISBN 9781612001555


2. ^ http://www.generals.dk/general/Makino/Shiro/Japan.html
3. ^ http://www.j-aircraft.com/faq/japanese_paratroop_operations_in.htm
4. ^ http://www.generals.dk/general/Adachi/Yoshimi/Japan.html
5. ^ Ronald Spector: Eagle Against the Sun pg. 511
6. ^ Hastings: Retribution pg. 189
7. ^ Keegan: The Second World War pg. 560
8. ^ Cutler, Thomas J., The Battle of Leyte Gulf: 2326 October 1944, Naval Institute Press, 2001, p.52
9. ^ Video: Third Army blasts Nazi Strongholds, 1944/11/02 (1944) . Universal Newsreel. 1944.
Retrieved February 21, 2012.
10. ^ Woodward, C. Vann (1947). The Battle for Leyte Gulf. New York: Macmillan.
11. ^ Journal, 727th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 6 Nov 1944 to 10 Nov 1944
12. ^ Miller, Donald (2001). The Story of World War II. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 422. ISBN 9780743227186.

Further reading

[ edit ]

Prefer, Nathan N. (2012). Leyte 1944: The Soldiers' Battle. Havertown, PA: Casemate
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Publishers. ISBN 978-1612001555.

External links

[ edit ]

Ibiblio.Org: U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II,

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media related to Battle of
Leyte.

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Battleship.Org: Battle of Leyte
Soldiers of the 184th Infantry, 7th ID in the Pacific, 19431945
U.S. Intelligence Report on Japanese Use of Mines on Leyte

MacArthur Landing Memorial Park (Red Beach, Palo, Leyte, Philippines)


Categories: Conflicts in 1944

1944 in the Philippines

South West Pacific theatre of World War II


Battles and operations of World War II involving the Philippines
History of Southern Leyte

History of Leyte (province)

Battles of World War II involving Japan

Battles of World War II involving the United States

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