Home
  By Author [ 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 |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ 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 |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Leyte: The Return to the Philippines - The War in the Pacific
Author: Cannon, M. Hamlin
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Leyte: The Return to the Philippines - The War in the Pacific" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



                   UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II

                         The War in the Pacific

                  LEYTE: THE RETURN TO THE PHILIPPINES


                                   by
                            M. Hamlin Cannon


                OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF MILITARY HISTORY
                         DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
                        WASHINGTON, D. C., 1954



    This volume, one of the series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR
    II, is the fifth to be published in the subseries THE WAR IN THE
    PACIFIC. All the volumes will be closely related, and the series
    will present a comprehensive account of the activities of the
    Military Establishment during World War II. A tentative list of
    subseries is appended at the end of this volume.

    Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 53--61979


    For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government
    Printing Office Washington 25, D. C.--Price of this volume, $6.75
    (Cloth)



                   UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II

                Kent Roberts Greenfield, General Editor

                           Advisory Committee

                           (As of 1 May 1953)


  James P. Baxter               Brig. Gen. Verdi B. Barnes
  President, Williams College   Army War College

  John D. Hicks                 Brig. Gen. Leonard J. Greeley
  University of California      Industrial College of the Armed Forces

  William T. Hutchinson         Brig. Gen. Elwyn D. Post
  University of Chicago         Army Field Forces

  S. L. A. Marshall             Col. Thomas D. Stamps
  Detroit News                  United States Military Academy

  Charles S. Sydnor             Col. C. E. Beauchamp
  Duke University               Command and General Staff College

                         Charles H. Taylor
                         Harvard University



                Office of the Chief of Military History

                  Maj. Gen. Albert C. Smith, Chief [1]


  Chief Historian                             Kent Roberts Greenfield
  Chief, War Histories Division               Col. G. G. O'Connor
  Chief, Editorial and Publication Division   Col. B. A. Day
  Chief, Editorial Branch                     Joseph R. Friedman
  Chief, Cartographic Branch                  Wsevolod Aglaimoff
  Chief, Photographic Branch                  Maj. Arthur T. Lawry



                             The History of

                         THE WAR IN THE PACIFIC

              prepared under the direction of Louis Morton


                  The Fall of the Philippines
                  Guadalcanal: The First Offensive
                  Victory in Papua
                  Cartwheel: The Reduction of Rabaul
                  Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls
                  Campaign in the Marianas
                  The Approach to the Philippines
                  Leyte: The Return to the Philippines
                  Triumph in the Philippines
                  Okinawa: The Last Battle
                  Strategy, Command, and Administration



                        ... to Those Who Served



FOREWORD


With the Leyte Campaign the War in the Pacific entered a decisive
stage. The period of limited offensives, bypassing, and island hopping
was virtually over. American troops in greater numbers than ever
before assembled in the Pacific Theater, supported by naval and air
forces of corresponding size, fought and overcame Japanese forces of
greater magnitude than any previously met.

Though the spotlight is on the front-line fighting, the reader will
find in this volume a faithful description of all arms and services
performing their missions. The account is not exclusively an infantry
story. It covers as well the support of ground fighting on Leyte by
large-scale naval operations and by land-based air power under the
most adverse conditions. In addition, careful attention to logistical
matters, such as the movement of supplies and the evacuation of the
wounded, gives the reader a picture of the less spectacular activities
of an army in battle.


ORLANDO WARD
Maj. Gen., U. S. A.
Chief of Military History

Washington, D. C.
30 January 1953



THE AUTHOR


M. Hamlin Cannon received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History
from the American University of Washington, D.C.  He is already
known to American historians for his writings on Mormon and Civil
War history which have appeared in historical journals.  During World
War II he served with the Navy in Australia and New Guinea.



PREFACE


The landing of the American forces on Leyte on 20 October 1944 brought
to fruition the long-cherished desire of General Douglas MacArthur to
return to the Philippine Islands and avenge the humiliating reverses
suffered in the early days of World War II. The successful conclusion
of the campaign separated the Japanese-held Philippine Archipelago
into two parts, with a strong American force between them. More
important, it completed the severance of the Japanese mainland from
the stolen southern empire in the Netherlands Indies from which oil,
the lifeblood of modern warfare, had come.

The Leyte Campaign, like other campaigns in the Pacific, was
waged on the land, in the air, and on and under the sea. In this
operation all branches of the American armed forces played significant
roles. Therefore, although the emphasis in this volume is placed upon
the deeds of the United States Army ground soldier, the endeavors
of the aviator, the sailor, the marine and the Filipino guerrilla
have been integrated as far as possible into the story in order to
make the campaign understandable in its entirety. At the same time,
every effort has been made to give the Japanese side of the story.

Obviously, to include every exploit of every branch of the armed
forces, of the Filipinos, and of the Japanese would be far beyond
the compass of a single volume. A careful selectivity was necessary
throughout in order to avoid the Scylla of omission while skirting
the Charybdis of oversimplification. Despite these precautions,
because of the nature of the available documentary evidence, I may
have unwittingly fallen into some of the very pitfalls that I tried
to avoid.



I wish to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to the many people
who have given fully of their time and talents in the preparation of
this volume.

Especial thanks are due to Dr. John Miller, jr., who, during his tenure
as Chief of the Pacific Section, Office of the Chief of Military
History, carefully reviewed the final draft of the manuscript. His
sound advice and constructive criticism eliminated many a roadblock. I
wish, also, to thank Dr. Louis Morton, Chief of the Pacific Section,
under whose direction this volume was started; he made constructive
criticism of several of the chapters. Dr. Kent Roberts Greenfield,
Chief Historian, Department of the Army, devoted much time and effort
to reviewing the manuscript and his many penetrating comments on the
various chapters were invaluable.

Appreciation is due to the people of the Historical Records Section,
Departmental Records Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, who
helped to locate source material and furnished working space for me
and the records. To Mrs. Lois Aldridge, Mrs. Frances Bowen, Mrs. Clyde
Christian, Miss Margaret Emerson, Mrs. Ellen Garrison, Mr. Robert
Greathouse, Miss Matilda Huber, Mrs. Margarite Kerstetter, Mr. Wilbur
Nigh, Miss Sue D. Wallace, and Miss Thelma K. Yarborough--thanks.

I wish also to thank the members of the U. S. Air Force Historical
Division, Air University, and the Naval History Branch, Naval Records
and History Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, for
placing at my disposal the pertinent air and naval records.

Thanks are also due to the members of the historical sections of the
U. S. Navy and the U. S. Air Force and to the many participating
commanders of various branches of the U. S. armed forces who read
all or parts of the manuscript.

The late W. Brooks Phillips started the editing of the manuscript. He
was succeeded by Col. B. A. Day, Chief of the Editorial and Publication
Division, and Mrs. Loretto Stevens. Mrs. Stevens also prepared the
final copy for the printer. Miss Mary Ann Bacon prepared the index.

Mrs. Martha Willoughby, in addition to accomplishing the arduous
task of interpreting my handwriting, typed many of the drafts of the
manuscript and saw that the subject and predicate agreed. Mrs. Wynona
Hayden, Mrs. Stella Hess, and Mrs. Michael Miller also typed parts
of the manuscript. Miss Elizabeth Armstrong painstakingly typed the
final copy.

Mr. Wsevolod Aglaimoff and Lt. Col. Robert F. O'Donnell, as well as
other members of the Cartographic Branch, spent many months in research
for and preparation of the maps. At the time this volume was being
prepared for publication, no reliable maps of Leyte were available. The
maps for this volume are based on the highly inaccurate maps used by
the troops during the operation. The relief in particular, as shown
on these maps, has little in common with the terrain configuration
which confronted the troops. Thus, both military and geographical
information as given on the maps in the volume should be regarded only
as an approximation of the actual situation at the time of the battle.

Major Arthur T. Lawry selected and edited the photographs used in this
volume. Lt. Roger Pineau (USNR) furnished me the photograph of General
Suzuki. Mr. Israel Wice and his capable assistants in the General
Reference Branch were helpful at crucial stages of the manuscript.

My sincere appreciation and thanks go to Maj. Gen. Harry A. Maloney,
Chief of Military History, and to his successors, Maj. Gen. Orlando
Ward and Maj. Gen. Albert C. Smith, as well as to members of their
staffs, for their understanding and co-operation.


M. HAMLIN CANNON

Washington, D. C.
15 June 1953



CONTENTS


    Chapter                                                   Page

    I. THE STRATEGIC PLAN                                        1

                Preliminary Discussion                           1
                Plans Agreed Upon                                8


    II. THE NATURE OF THE TARGET                                10

                Geography of Leyte                              10
                The Resistance Movement on Leyte                14
                Liaison Between Leyte and Australia             18


    III. PLANS ARE MADE AND FORCES ARE READIED                  21

                Estimate of the Enemy Situation                 21
                The Tactical Plan                               23
                The Logistical Plan                             35


    IV. THE RETURN                                              40

                The Convoy Forms                                40
                Softening the Target                            42
                Japanese Plan of Defense                        45
                Securing the Channel Approaches                 54
                The Convoy Enters Leyte Gulf                    58


    V. A DAY: 20 OCTOBER 1944                                   60

                Bombardment of the Shores of Leyte              60
                X Corps Goes Ashore                             62
                XXIV Corps Goes Ashore                          72
                Bringing in Supplies                            80


    VI. THE JAPANESE REACTION                                   85

                The Air Forces                                  85
                The Battle of Leyte Gulf                        88
                The Japanese Reinforce the Leyte Garrison       92


    VII. SOUTHERN LEYTE VALLEY: PART ONE                       103

                 The SHO Operations                            103
                 Enlarging the 96th Division Beachhead         107
                 Catmon Hill Area                              114


    VIII. SOUTHERN LEYTE VALLEY: PART TWO                      124

                The Dulag-Burauen Road                         124
                Securing the XXIV Corps Beachhead Line         133


    IX. NORTHERN LEYTE VALLEY: PART ONE                        146

                San Juanico Strait                             146
                Leyte Valley Entrance                          157


    X. NORTHERN LEYTE VALLEY: PART TWO                         168

                Drive up Leyte Valley                          168
                Capture of Carigara                            179


    XI. LOGISTICS AND CIVIL AFFAIRS                            184

                Logistics                                      184
                Medical Support                                192
                Civil Affairs                                  198
                Relations With Filipino Refugees               200


    XII. THE MOUNTAIN BARRIER: PART ONE                        206

                The Coastal Corridor                           206
                Battle of Breakneck Ridge                      211


    XIII. THE MOUNTAIN BARRIER: PART TWO                       221

                Reinforcements                                 221
                32d Division Assumes the Offensive             223
                Battle of Kilay Ridge                          227
                Central Mountain Range                         235


    XIV. MEASURE OF THE FIGHTING                               244

                The American Ground Forces                     244
                Japanese Warfare                               251


    XV. BATTLE OF THE RIDGES                                   253

                American Plans and Preparations                253
                Battle of Shoestring Ridge                     257
                Battles of the Hills                           266


    XVI. THE FALL OF ORMOC                                     275

                Plan for Amphibious Movement                   276
                The Movement Overwater                         280
                Drive Toward Ormoc                             284
                Two Sevens Are Rolled in Ormoc                 290


    XVII. BATTLE OF THE AIRSTRIPS                              294

              The American Dispositions                        296
              First Japanese Effort                            297
              Battle of Buri Airstrip                          298
              Attack From the Sky                              300


    XVIII. LOGISTICS                                           306

              Construction                                     306
              Supplies                                         308


    XIX. THE ENTRANCES TO ORMOC VALLEY                         313

              Southern Entrance to Ormoc Valley                313
              The Mountain Passage                             321
              The Drive South                                  323


    XX. SEIZURE OF ORMOC VALLEY                                329

              Drive From the South to the Libongao Area        330
              The 32d Division Resumes the Offensive           339
              Debouchment From the Mountains                   342


    XXI. WESTWARD TO THE SEA                                   347

              The 77th Division Goes West                      348
              X Corps Goes West                                354
              The Japanese Retreat                             358


    XXII. LEYTE IS LIBERATED                                   361

              The Eighth Army Assumes Control                  361
              The Road Ends                                    367


    Appendix

           A. GHQ OPERATIONS INSTRUCTIONS NO. 70,
              21 SEPTEMBER 1944                                371
           B. BASIC MILITARY MAP SYMBOLS                       378


    LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS                                      380

    BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE                                       383

    INDEX                                                      391



Tables

No.                                                               Page

 1. Sixth Army Daily Strength Reports, 12 November-25
    December 1944                                                  222
 2. Shipping Tonnage Discharged in Leyte-Samar Area,
    28 October-25 December 1944                                    310
 3. Airdrops by 11th Air Cargo Resupply Squadron, 11
    November-25 December 1944                                      311
 4. U. S. Army Battle Casualties at Leyte, 20 October
    1944-8 May 1945                                                368
 5. Sixth Army Battle Casualties by Arm or Service, 20
    October-25 December 1944                                       369



Charts

 1. Operational Organization for the Leyte Campaign                 25
 2. Organization of the Central Philippine Attack Force             29
 3. Japanese Army Organization of Major Units for the Leyte
    Operation                                                       48



Maps

 1. Pacific Ocean (National Geographic Society Map)  Inside back cover
 2. Leyte Island                                     Inside back cover
 3. Sixth Army Plan, 23 September 1944                              32
 4. Situation in the Pacific, Mid-October 1944                      47
 5. X Corps Landings, 20 October 1944                               64
 6. XXIV Corps Landings, 20 October 1944                            73
 7. 96th Division Advance, 21-30 October 1944                      105
 8. 7th Division Advance to Dagami, 21-30 October 1944             125
 9. Securing the Tacloban Area, 21-23 October 1944                 147
10. Fight for Entrance to Northern Leyte Valley, 21-25
    October 1944                                                   158
11. Drive to Jaro, 26-29 October 1944                              169
12. Advance to Carigara, 30 October-2 November 1944                177
13. Battle for Northern Entrance to Ormoc Valley, 3-15
    November 1944                                                  207
14. Battle for Northern Entrance to Ormoc Valley, 16
    November-14 December 1944                                      225
15. Shoestring Ridge, 23-25 November 1944                          255
16. Shoestring Ridge, 26-27 November 1944                          261
17. Battle of the Ridges, 5-12 December 1944                       267
18. Situation on Leyte, 7 December 1944                            274
19. Securing the Southern Entrance to Ormoc Valley,
    7-15 December 1944                                             278
20. Japanese Attack on Burauen Airfields, 6 December 1944          295
21. Mountain Passage, 25 November-22 December 1944                 321
22. Seizure of Ormoc Valley, 15-21 December 1944                   329
23. Opening the Palompon Road, 22-31 December 1944                 348



Illustrations

                                                                  Page

Conference at Pearl Harbor                                           5
Guerrillas Prepare for Inspection at Consuegra                      15
Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita                                             51
Lt. Gen. Sosaku Suzuki                                              51
Patrol of Company F, 6th Rangers                                    56
Convoy Off Leyte                                                    61
Landing Beaches                                                     63
Troops of the 1st Cavalry Division                                  66
75-mm. M8 Self-Propelled Howitzers                                  70
Maj. Gen. Franklin C. Sibert                                        71
Beach Area                                                          75
Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger and Col. Ruperto K. Kangleon                79
Unloading Supplies at Dulag                                         81
Japanese Air Attacks                                                87
Air Strikes Against Japanese Installations                          95
Antiaircraft Gun                                                    97
Lockheed P-38                                                       98
Japanese Convoy Under Attack                                       100
Landing Areas and Leyte Valley                                     106
Crew of a Light Armored Car M8                                     109
Filipino Civilian Guides U. S. Tank                                113
San Vicente Hill                                                   118
105-mm. Self-Propelled Howitzer M7 Firing                          120
Dulag and Bayug Airstrips                                          126
Maj. Gen. John R. Hodge                                            127
Disabled M4 Tank                                                   132
Burauen                                                            134
Engineer Troops                                                    140
A Patrol From the 7th Cavalry                                      149
Maj. Gen. Verne D. Mudge                                           150
8-inch Howitzers Readied for Action                                151
General MacArthur                                                  153
Proclamation to the People of the Philippine Islands               154
Tacloban                                                           156
Tank-Supported Infantrymen of the 34th Regiment                    160
Palo                                                               162
Pastrana                                                           172
U. S. Antitank Platoon                                             174
155-mm. Guns Firing on Carigara                                    180
U. S. Patrol Crossing the Canomontag River                         182
Access Road From White Beach                                       186
Tanauan Airstrip                                                   189
LST's Unloading at Tacloban Airfield                               191
Road Conditions                                                    193
A Litter Squad Evacuates a Casualty                                196
A Casualty Receives Treatment                                      196
An Operating Room at the Station Hospital, Tanauan                 197
A Casualty is Evacuated by Ship to a Rear Area                     197
An Officer of a Civil Affairs Unit                                 200
Refugee Area on Orange Beach Near Dulag                            202
Engineers Remove Land Mines                                        214
View From the Ridges Looking North up the Limon Valley             217
American Troops in Limon                                           226
Lt. Col. Thomas E. Clifford, Jr.                                   229
Filipino Carriers Haul Supplies                                    236
Foothills of Central Mountain Range                                238
General MacArthur and Maj. Gen. Archibald V. Arnold                245
Troops of the 77th Division Board LCI's at Tarragona               281
Convoy Carrying 77th Division Approaches Deposito                  282
A Patrol of the 307th Infantry                                     288
Aerial View of Ormoc                                               292
Buri Airstrip                                                      299
San Pablo Airstrip                                                 301
Operational Losses at the Burauen Airfields                        307
Approach Road to Quartermaster Service Center                      309
Heavy Machine Guns Cover Crossing                                  315
U. S. and Japanese Tanks                                           327
Japanese Dug-in Positions Along Highway Banks                      332
Japanese Light Tank                                                335
Palompon After Allied Bombings                                     350


All illustrations but one are from Department of Defense files. The
photograph of Lt. Gen. Sosaku Suzuki on page 51 was contributed by
Lt. Roger Pineau (USNR).



LEYTE: THE RETURN TO THE PHILIPPINES


CHAPTER I

The Strategic Plan


"It is with the deepest regret that I must inform you that conditions
over which I have no control have necessitated the surrender of
troops under my command." [2] With this message of 20 May 1942,
from Lt. Col. Theodore M. Cornell, U.S. Army, to Bernardo Torres,
Governor of Leyte, the control which the United States had held over
the island since 1898 came to an end. Nearly two and a half years were
to elapse before the sound of naval guns in Leyte Gulf would announce
to the world the opening of the Leyte Campaign, the first phase of
the re-entry of American forces into the Philippine Archipelago. (Map
1--inside back cover)

The primary purpose of the Leyte Campaign was to establish an air
and logistical base in the Leyte area in order to support operations
in the Luzon-Formosa-China coast area and particularly to nullify
Japanese strength in Luzon. Leyte is one of the Visayan Islands,
which constitute the geographical heart of the Philippines. It was
hoped that the fertile Leyte Valley, broad and flat, could be utilized
for major airfields and base sites from which large-scale operations
could be launched against the rest of the Philippines.



Preliminary Discussion

Behind the decision to go into Leyte lay a series of strategically
significant victories, which had followed a staggering initial
reverse. American prewar plans for the Pacific had originally been
based on the assumption that only the United States and Japan would
be at war and that the U.S. Pacific Fleet would be in existence. [3]
But the destruction of the fleet at Pearl Harbor and the entrance of
Germany and Italy into the war nullified these plans. The strategy of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff [4] in early 1942, therefore, was concerned
chiefly with trying to limit the rapid advance of the Japanese and
with keeping the line of communications to Australia open. The Pacific
Theater was divided into command areas--the Southwest Pacific Area,
with General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander (he referred to
himself, however, as Commander in Chief), and the Pacific Ocean Area
(which included the Central Pacific), with Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
as Commander in Chief. [5]

In 1942 and 1943 the Allied forces had halted the Japanese at Papua
and Guadalcanal and started to push them back. On 8 May 1943 the Joint
Chiefs approved a "Strategic Plan for the Defeat of Japan," which
was endorsed by the Combined Chiefs in December. The objective of the
plan was to secure the unconditional surrender of Japan, an objective
that might necessitate an invasion of the Japanese home islands. As
such an invasion promised to be a "vast undertaking," it would be
necessary to secure a large supply base from which a great aerial
offensive could be mounted against Japan. According to the original
plan this base was to be located in China, but the Mariana Islands were
afterward substituted for China. The plan called for the acquisition
of successive island bases which could be used as "steppingstones,"
preferably those which would shorten the sea route, provide for its
security, and at the same time deny to the Japanese bases from which
they might interfere with the Allied line of communications. The main
effort was to be through the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Nimitz'
operations were to be conducted west through the Japanese mandated
islands while MacArthur's proceeded northwest along the New Guinea
coast. The two series of operations were to be mutually supporting. [6]

Although no specific islands were named in the Strategic Plan,
the Philippine Archipelago, because of its strategic position and
long possession by the United States, naturally loomed large in the
planning. The Philippines lie athwart all sea routes south from Japan
to the economically important Netherlands Indies--rich in rubber, tin,
oil, and rice. The capture of the Philippines would help to sever this
line of communications and would furnish an excellent staging area
for attacks against China, Formosa, or Japan. Aside from strategic
considerations, the liberation of the Islands was important for
reasons of Far Eastern politics and prestige. [7] The obligation of the
United States to the subjugated Filipino people could not be lightly
ignored. Furthermore, General MacArthur was imbued with a burning
determination to return to the Philippine Islands and avenge the
humiliating defeats suffered by the American forces in 1941 and 1942.

By the spring of 1944 the operations in the Pacific were going
so well that the successes had exceeded even the most optimistic
hopes of any of the planning officers. On 12 March the Joint Chiefs
ordered General MacArthur to prepare plans for a return to Mindanao,
southernmost island of the Philippines, with a target date of 15
November 1944. [8] General MacArthur on 15 June issued a plan for
his future operations. The entrance into the Philippines was to be
accomplished in two phases. The first would be a preliminary operation
on 25 October into the Sarangani Bay area in southern Mindanao in
order to establish land-based air forces to augment the carrier-based
air support for the principal effort. The major effort was to be
an amphibious landing operation with forces mounted from New Guinea
for the seizure on 15 November of airfields and bases on Leyte. [9]
The latter was to follow quickly on the heels of the first operation
in order to take full advantage of the surprise tactics.

Leyte occupies a commanding position in the Philippine Islands. Because
of its central location, its repossession by the United States would
not only divide the Japanese forces in the Philippines but would also
provide an excellent anchorage in Leyte Gulf, together with sites
for bases and airfields from which land-based aircraft could bomb all
parts of the Philippines, the coast of China, and Formosa. To an even
greater extent than Mindanao, Leyte could be made into an excellent
springboard from which to launch subsequent operations against the
Japanese in Formosa or in the rest of the Philippines.

In his planning, General MacArthur recognized that the Leyte operation,
his most ambitious to date, would require "massed carrier-based
air support" and all of the "combined amphibious and naval forces
available at the time." [10]

By June 1944 General MacArthur's forces had pushed up the New Guinea
coast to the island of Biak, about nine hundred nautical miles
southeast of Davao, Mindanao, while those of Admiral Nimitz were
poised to strike at Saipan some twelve hundred miles northeast of
Davao. In most of their previous campaigns the Americans had struck
with overwhelming force at weakly held Japanese garrisons. Since
the tide of war was now so favorable to the Allied cause, the Joint
Chiefs thought that the Pacific timetable of pending operations
might be accelerated. On 13 June they had therefore asked MacArthur
and Nimitz their opinions with regard to three ways proposed for
speeding up operations: "(a) By advancing target dates of operations
now scheduled through operations against Formosa; (b) By by-passing
presently selected objectives prior to operations against Formosa;
and (c) By by-passing presently selected objectives and choosing new
ones including the home islands." Although the Philippine Islands
were not explicitly named as targets that might be bypassed, they
were certainly included by implication. [11]

On 18 June General MacArthur replied to the query of the Joint Chiefs,
[12] and on 4 July Admiral Nimitz made known his opinions. [13]
On the advancement of the target dates, both commanders were in
complete agreement--it was impossible unless certain conditions
could be changed. The logistic resources in the Southwest Pacific
were being strained to the limit to meet the fixed target dates,
while the strengthening of Japanese garrisons made it unlikely that
the Central Pacific could make its present scheduled dates.

With respect to bypassing objectives prior to the seizure of Formosa,
MacArthur thought it would be "unsound" to bypass the Philippines
and launch an attack across the Pacific directly against Formosa--an
attack which would have the benefit of no appreciable land-based
air support and which would be based upon the Hawaiian Islands,
5,100 miles away. In his opinion it was essential to occupy Luzon and
establish land-based aircraft thereon before making any move against
Formosa. [14] Nimitz stated that in a series of informal discussions
between his and MacArthur's planning officers, the latter anticipated
the seizure in early September of Morotai Island, 300 statute miles
southeast of Mindanao. This was to be followed in late October by a
limited occupation of the Sarangani Bay area on Mindanao, which was
to be used primarily as a base for short-range aircraft. The major
operation was to be the occupation of Leyte about 15 November. Nimitz
thought that this timing was "optimistic." He felt that the critical
and decisive nature of the Leyte operation required "practically all
available covering and striking forces, fire support forces, and all
available assault shipping." If successful, however, the Americans
would achieve air supremacy over the Philippines. Therefore, since
the inclusion of the Leyte operation with that of Mindanao would
expedite subsequent operations, Nimitz considered it "advisable." [15]

As to the feasibility of bypassing present objectives and choosing
new ones, including the Japanese home islands, the two commanders were
not in complete agreement. MacArthur pronounced the concept "utterly
unsound," since the available shipping was limited to a seven-division
lift and there was insufficient air support. Nimitz thought that no
decision should be made until after further developments.

The proposals disturbed General MacArthur, who concluded his message
to the Joint Chiefs with the following peroration:


    It is my opinion that purely military considerations demand
    the reoccupation of the Philippines in order to cut the enemy's
    communications to the south and to secure a base for our further
    advance. Even if this were not the case and unless military
    factors demanded another line of action it would in my opinion
    be necessary to reoccupy the Philippines.

    The Philippines is American Territory where our unsupported forces
    were destroyed by the enemy. Practically all of the 17,000,000
    Filipinos remain loyal to the United States and are undergoing the
    greatest privation and suffering because we have not been able
    to support or succor them. We have a great national obligation
    to discharge.

    Moreover, if the United States should deliberately bypass the
    Philippines, leaving our prisoners, nationals, and loyal Filipinos
    in enemy hands without an effort to retrieve them at earliest
    moment, we would incur the gravest psychological reaction. We
    would admit the truth of Japanese propaganda to the effect that
    we had abandoned the Filipinos and would not shed American blood
    to redeem them; we would undoubtedly incur the open hostility
    of that people; we would probably suffer such loss of prestige
    among all the peoples of the Far East that it would adversely
    affect the United States for many years.... [16]


In reply, General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, cautioned
MacArthur to "be careful not to let personal feelings and Philippine
politics" override the great objective, which was to end the
war. He also pointed out that "bypassing" was not "synonymous with
abandonment." [17]

Admiral William F. Halsey, the commander of the Third Fleet, and his
staff, when they heard of the proposal, were enthusiastic about the
possibility of bypassing the more immediate objectives. But in contrast
to Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, who wished to
move directly to Formosa, bypassing the Philippines, Halsey felt it
necessary and profitable to go into the Philippine Archipelago, which
he considered to be "the vulnerable belly of the Imperial dragon." [18]
Halsey stated that when Rear Adm. Robert B. Carney, his chief of staff,
was asked by King, "Do you want to make a London out of Manila?" Carney
replied, "No, sir. I want to make an England out of Luzon." [19]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded that none of the currently
selected objectives could be bypassed. They continued, however, to
search for means by which the tempo of the war in the Pacific might
be accelerated.

In the latter days of July, General Marshall invited General MacArthur
to visit Pearl Harbor in order to confer with Admiral Nimitz on future
plans for the war in the Pacific. MacArthur arrived on 26 July. To his
surprise, the President of the United States was present. President
Roosevelt invited him and Admirals Halsey and Nimitz to dinner. After
dinner the President drew out a map and, pointing to Leyte, is reported
to have said, "Well, Douglas, where do we go from here?" [20]

Although Mac Arthur had been given no intimation that strategy was
going to be discussed, he launched into a long talk on the necessity
of taking Luzon before moving against Formosa. Nimitz did not enter
into the conversation. The following morning the discussions were
continued. Admiral William D. Leahy, who was present, later declared:
"Both General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz felt that they did not
require any additional reinforcements or assistance" for the scheduled
operations. [21] This Admiral Leahy considered most unusual.

Admiral Nimitz reported to Admiral King that the conferences "were
quite satisfactory. The general trend of the discussion ... was along
the line of seeing MacArthur into the Central Philippines...." [22]

There was no strong disagreement between General MacArthur and Admiral
Nimitz. Admiral Leahy said, "I personally was convinced that they
together were the best qualified officers in our service for this
tremendous task, and that they could work together in full agreement
toward the common end of defeating Japan." [23]

Strong efforts were already under way to accelerate operations in the
Pacific. A shortage of shipping appeared to be the bottleneck which
halted all attempts to speed up the operational target dates. General
MacArthur at Brisbane had been directing the whole of his planning
toward the reoccupation of the Philippine Islands, and on 10 July had
issued a plan for all operations into the archipelago. According to
this plan the conquest of the Islands was to be accomplished in four
major phases.

The initial phase envisaged footholds in the southern and central
Philippines for the establishment of bases and airfields from which
subsequent operations could be supported. The first operation, planned
for 1 November 1944, was to be the seizure of the Sarangani Bay area
in southern Mindanao for the purpose of establishing land-based air
forces to augment the carrier-based air support for the advance into
Leyte. The Leyte operation, the main effort of this series, was to
come on 22 November. Major air, naval, and logistic bases were to
be constructed on the shores of Leyte Gulf for the control of Leyte,
Samar, and Surigao Strait, and for the neutralization of the Japanese
aerial strength on Luzon. [24] The other phases covered the occupation
of Luzon and the consolidation of the Philippines.

On 26 July the Joint Chiefs agreed that the primary purpose of the
occupation of the Leyte-Mindanao area was to establish air forces
there in order to reduce the enemy air strength on Luzon. Some of
Admiral Nimitz' assault craft which were suitable for shore-to-shore
operations were to be transferred to General MacArthur. The Joint
Chiefs, therefore, asked their planners to submit their views on the
possibility of advancing the target date for Leyte to 15 November by
compressing the intervals between contemplated operations or by the
elimination of certain scheduled operations. [25]

In furtherance of this directive, planning officers from Washington
met with General MacArthur and his staff in Brisbane in the early
part of August and discussed means of accelerating the target date
for Leyte. General MacArthur told them that a substantial interval
between the operations at Sarangani Bay and Leyte was necessary. His
reasons were as follows: (1) the assault shipping that was used for the
Sarangani Bay operation would have time to turn around, reload, and
then be used for the Leyte operation; (2) in the interval six combat
air groups could be installed in the Sarangani Bay area to support
the Leyte operation; and (3) the carriers would have sufficient time
to execute two strikes before the Leyte operation. [26]

The planners from Washington, however, felt that there was
sufficient assault shipping in the Pacific without using the same
craft for both the Sarangani Bay and the Leyte operations. An
enumeration of the vessels assigned to the Southwest Pacific and
the Central Pacific gave the areas more than a six-division lift. As
Brig. Gen. Frank N. Roberts, chief of the Strategy and Policy Group,
Operations Division, War Department General Staff, in Washington,
told Col. William L. Ritchie, his deputy, who was in Brisbane,
"If you sit down and look at those figures a bit you will see that
there should be sufficient assault lift for Leyte just on playing
the numbers racket, without touching the shipping on Sarangani." [27]

Both Washington and Brisbane recognized that the operations in the
Leyte-Surigao area were necessary in order to provide air bases, depot
areas, and a fleet anchorage for any future advance whether in the
Philippines, against Formosa, or by a direct route into the Japanese
homeland. Consequently, the planners never seriously entertained any
idea of bypassing this area, although they continued to probe for
means which would accelerate the target date.

The determination of the target date was dependent upon the
availability of assault shipping and the desire of General MacArthur
to have each successive advance supported by land-based aircraft. The
existing shipping was needed for operations already scheduled. The
planners concluded that additional shipping could be made available
if certain phases of the campaigns of Central Pacific forces into
the Palaus, scheduled to start on 15 September, were canceled or
set ahead of schedule. The alternatives were to modify the concept
of providing land-based air support for subsequent operations or to
execute the Sarangani Bay and Leyte operations simultaneously. [28]
There the matter rested. Apparently the Joint Chiefs had decided that
the time was not opportune for an acceleration of the target dates.

On 27 August General MacArthur furnished General Marshall a timetable
for future operations by his forces. On 15 September a division and
a reinforced regiment were to seize Morotai in order "to protect
the western flank" and to provide land-based aircraft for advances
northward. On 15 October a division less one regimental combat team
was to land in the Talaud Islands northwest of Morotai in order "to
neutralize the [Japanese] western flank," to establish air bases
from which the neutralization of Mindanao and the western Visayan
Islands could be accomplished, and to set up a base for airborne
troops. On 15 November two divisions were to land in the Sarangani
Bay area in order to construct bases for land-based aircraft that
were to support the Leyte operation. On 7 December a regimental
combat team and a parachute battalion were to drop on Mindanao and
establish an airfield for fighter cover for the aerial neutralization
of the western Visayan Islands and southern Luzon. On 20 December
five divisions were to land on Leyte for the purpose of providing
"major air and logistic bases for operations to the northward." The
plan was predicated on the assumption that there would be available
in the Pacific sufficient amphibious lift and fleet support. [29]



Plans Agreed Upon

On 1 September 1944 the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their 171st meeting
reviewed the situation in the Pacific. The time had come when it
was necessary to issue a directive for future operations in that
area. After much discussion, the Joint Chiefs left in abeyance the
question of what operation should follow Leyte but "directed the Joint
Staff Planners to prepare, as a matter of urgency, a directive to the
Commander in Chief, Southwest Pacific Area, and the Commander in Chief,
Pacific Ocean Areas, to carry out the Leyte operation." [30]

Accordingly, on 8 September, the two commanders were given the
following missions: General MacArthur, after conducting the necessary
preliminary operations, was to take the Leyte-Surigao area on 20
December, with Admiral Nimitz furnishing fleet support and additional
assault shipping. Both commanders were to arrange for co-ordination
of plans and mutual support of operations; to co-ordinate plans with
General Joseph W. Stilwell, Commanding General, United States Army
forces, China, Burma and India, in order to get maximum support from
that theater; and to arrange with General Henry H. Arnold, Commanding
General, Twentieth Air Force, for supporting operations. [31]

Concurrently with the issuance of this directive, momentous events
were taking place in the Pacific. Admiral Halsey was in command of
scheduled operations against the Palau Islands. On 7 and 8 September
aircraft from his carriers struck at Yap and the Palau Islands,
against which Admiral Nimitz had scheduled operations, and for the
next two days bombed Mindanao. On the 12th and 14th the bombers hit
the central Philippines in support of the operations against the
Palau Islands and Morotai.

Admiral Halsey advised Admiral Nimitz that, as a result of the strikes,
few serviceable planes in the Philippines were left to the Japanese,
the bulk of the enemy's oil supplies was destroyed, there was "no
shipping left to sink," the "enemy's non-aggressive attitude [was]
unbelievable and fantastic," and "the area is wide open." [32]
Halsey also told Nimitz that one of his downed carrier pilots had
been told by his Filipino rescuers that there were no Japanese on
Leyte. [33] He therefore felt that it was time to accelerate the
operations in the Pacific, and he strongly recommended that the
intermediate operations--Yap, Talaud, and the Sarangani Bay area on
Mindanao--be canceled. Leyte could be seized immediately and cheaply
without any intermediate operations. Halsey's fleet could cover the
initial landing until land-based aircraft could be established. The
force intended for the occupation of Yap could be made available to
General MacArthur. [34]

When this message was received, the Combined Chiefs of Staff were
attending a conference in Quebec. The recommendations were transmitted
to Quebec by Admiral Nimitz, who offered to place at MacArthur's
disposal the III Amphibious Force, including the XXIV Corps, which
was loading at Pearl Harbor for Yap. General Marshall so informed
General MacArthur and asked his opinion on the proposed change of
target date. [35]

The message reached MacArthur's headquarters at Hollandia, on New
Guinea, while MacArthur was en route to Morotai and observing radio
silence. His chief of staff advised General Marshall that although the
information from the rescued pilot that there were no Japanese on Leyte
was incorrect, the intermediate operations could be eliminated. The
1st Cavalry Division and the 24th Infantry Division with sufficient
service troops were available for the Leyte operation; adequate air
strength could be provided; the logistic support was practicable;
and the XXIV Corps could be used. [36]

General Marshall received this answer at Quebec on 15 September while
he, Admiral Leahy, Admiral King, and General Arnold were at a formal
dinner given by Canadian officers. The Americans withdrew from the
table for a conference. Within an hour and a half after the message
arrived, the Joint Chiefs ordered MacArthur and Nimitz to cancel
the three intermediate operations of Yap, Talaud, and Sarangani,
co-ordinate their plans, and invade Leyte on 20 October. [37]

Later that evening, as he was on his way to his quarters after the
dinner, General Marshall received this message: "Subject to completion
of arrangements with Nimitz, we shall execute Leyte operation on 20
October.... MacArthur." [38]

On 3 October the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed General MacArthur
to occupy Luzon on 20 December 1944, the date originally set for
the entrance into Leyte. [39] The decision had been made. General
MacArthur was to return to the Philippine Islands in force.



CHAPTER II

The Nature of the Target


The Philippine Islands, the largest island group in the Malay
Archipelago, were discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. They became
a Spanish possession in 1565 and remained so until 10 December 1898
when they were ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris as
a result of the Spanish-American war. In the spring of 1942 Japan
secured military domination over the Islands.

The Philippine Archipelago lay in the geographical heart of the Far
Eastern theater of war. As a pivotal point of control the Islands were
centrally placed in relation to Japan, China, Burma, French Indochina,
Thailand, British Malaya, and the Netherlands Indies. Being the most
northerly part of the Malay Archipelago, the Philippines were also
close to the vital areas of Japan and the Chinese-held areas of the
Asiatic mainland. Located southeast of the continent, they occupy
much the same position with respect to the mainland of Asia that the
West Indies do with respect to North America.

The Islands are among the remnants of a great continent that once
extended over the space now occupied by the entire East Indies. There
are some 7,100 islands and islets in the Philippine Archipelago, which
has a land area of 114,830 square miles. Of these, about 460 have an
area of one square mile or more and 2,773 are named. The Philippine
Islands are divided into three main groups--Luzon and adjacent islands
in the northern sector; the Visayan Islands in the central portion,
comprising Samar, Leyte, and numerous others; and finally, in the
southern part, Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. The Philippines
had a prewar population of about 16,000,000, of whom 14,550,000 were
Christians, 678,000 were Mohammedans, 626,000 were pagans, and about
64,000 were Buddhists and Shintoists. [40]



Geography of Leyte

The northeastern Visayan group, which consists mainly of Leyte
and Samar, was selected as the point of entrance into the
Philippines. Leyte had the higher potential military value. The
air distance from the capital city of Tacloban to Manila is 295
miles. Leyte is a natural gateway to the rest of the Philippines, and
its possession would greatly facilitate and support further operations
to the north as well as expedite control over the remaining islands
in the Visayan group. [41]

Leyte roughly resembles a molar tooth with its crown toward Samar
and its roots pointing to Mindanao. The eighth largest island in the
Philippines, with an area of 2,785 square miles, it runs generally from
north to south, with an approximate length of 115 miles and a width
of 15 to 45 miles. It is situated on one of the principal submerged
shelves of the Philippine Archipelago, and the waters over the shelf
have an average depth of 22 fathoms. (Map 2--inside back cover)



The Terrain

The island is mainly volcanic in origin. A range of mountains, the
topographical backbone of the island, extends southeast from Biliran
Strait in the north to Cabalian Bay in the south and separates the
Leyte and Ormoc Valleys. All of southern Leyte is mountainous and,
militarily speaking, of little importance. The northwest coast is
also rugged, and except for the port of Palompon has little tactical
significance. The heavily forested central mountain range is composed
of numerous knifelike ridges and spurs and deep ravines and serves as
an effective natural barrier between the island's eastern and western
coastal areas. It is a major obstacle to the rapid movement of troops
and can be utilized very effectively in defending the island.

Leyte Valley, a broad and fertile plain, stretches across the
northeastern part of the island from Leyte Gulf to Carigara Bay. More
than twenty-five miles wide along the shore of the gulf, it is
gradually narrowed by the mountain ranges to the north and south to
less than ten miles as it reaches Carigara Bay. Most of the island's
population live in this valley, and here too are most of the principal
cities and airfields.

The main road net of the island runs through Leyte Valley, a
great number of streams interlacing it. The numerous rice paddies,
centuries old, disrupt the natural drainage of the valley. Rarely
is the water level more than a few inches below the surface. Even
in the drier months, vehicular movement is limited to the existing
roads. In 1944 these were poor, inadequate, and ill suited for heavy
military traffic. The best of them had only a light bituminous surface
and were neither wide enough nor strong enough for two-way military
traffic. [42] It was hoped that Leyte Valley could be developed into
a large air and logistical base to support further operations, but
it was not well suited for this purpose.

The shore line of Leyte Valley along Leyte Gulf and San Pedro Bay
affords the best landing beaches on the island. This coast is
dangerous for beach landings during northeast monsoon periods,
when heavy surf, high winds, and torrential rains imperil men,
equipment, and shipping. July, August, and September are the best
months for landing. In general there are good firm sand beaches,
onto which landing craft can go directly. A road parallels the shore
line, but there are few exit roads from the beach to this road and
beyond. In many places close to the shore there are swamps and rice
paddies which prevent rapid egress from the beach. There are other
good landing beaches on the east coast of Ormoc Bay, but they are
crossed by innumerable creeks and streams.

Leyte Gulf is large and open, offering an excellent anchorage
for a considerable number of vessels, including those of largest
size. Carigara Bay, to the north of the island, is twenty miles wide,
but shallow waters, swamps, and the hilly terrain of its eastern and
western sides restrict its value for military operations. A narrow neck
of the central mountain range separates the bay from the northern end
of Ormoc Valley. San Juanico Strait, which separates Leyte from Samar
in the north, connects Carigara Bay and San Pedro Bay, the latter being
a northern extension of Leyte Gulf. The strait is thirteen and a half
miles long with an average width of a quarter to a half mile. Small
landing craft can navigate the channel, but there are strong tidal
currents which cause violent rips and swirls at many points.

Wedged in between the central mountain range and the hill mass of the
northwest coast of Leyte, the Ormoc Valley, about five miles wide in
its largest part, extends from Ormoc Bay to the north for fifteen miles
where a narrow neck of the central ridge separates it from Carigara
Bay. Through the valley runs a narrow road, its northern portion marked
by steep grades and sharp curves. Halfway along, a branch road zigzags
its course to Port Palompon on the west coast. Although most of the
southern part of the valley is under cultivation, there are large
patches of forest, scrub growth, and cogon grass in the north. [43]

The largest city on the island, the provincial capital, is Tacloban,
which lies at the head of San Pedro Bay. As the only sizable port in
the area, it handles most of the outbound shipping, mainly from Leyte
and Samar. Its prewar population was about 31,000. Other important
towns are Carigara and Barugo on the north coast; Baybay and Ormoc,
the leading ports on the west coast; and Palo, Tanauan, and Abuyog
along the east coast. All the more significant towns are situated on
the main road system of the island, and the larger coastal barrios
(villages) have roads of a sort.

The road system is divided into a northern and a southern coastal
road net. The former, which is the better, was designed for the
transportation of agricultural produce from the northern interior areas
to Tacloban. The latter is composed of narrow, roundabout roads that
are constantly in need of repair. The two systems are joined by a road,
scarcely better than a trail, which runs west of Abuyog and corkscrews
its way through heavily forested mountains to Baybay. Another road,
long, narrow, and broken in parts, goes north from Baybay to Ormoc
and thence through the Ormoc Valley to Carigara.

The Tacloban airstrip, the principal airfield on the island, was
located on the Cataisan Peninsula, which lies just southeast of
Tacloban. The Japanese had constructed another airfield, known as
the Dulag airstrip, two miles west of Dulag; three others--the Buri,
Bayug, and San Pablo airstrips--near Burauen, five miles west of Dulag;
and still another at Valencia in the Ormoc Valley, eight miles north
of Ormoc.

Control of the island of Leyte is dependent upon control of the Leyte
and Ormoc Valleys and their adjacent hills and mountains. Thus, before
a successful movement into Leyte Valley could be assured, control of
the high ground in the vicinity of Palo would be essential. Continued
dominance over the valley is dependent upon control of the high ground
at its northwestern end in the vicinity of Pinamopoan on Carigara Bay,
possession of which would preclude infiltration from Ormoc Valley. The
control of Ormoc Valley and use of the excellent anchorage and harbor
facilities of Ormoc Bay is dependent upon control of the lowland in
the vicinity of Ormoc city and the commanding hills to the east.



The People

In 1939 the total population of Leyte was 915,853, of whom more
than 912,000 were native Visayans of Malaysian stock. The largest
other group consisted of 3,076 Chinese, half of whom were engaged
in retail trade. There was a sprinkling of other national groups--40
Spaniards, 20 Germans, 81 from other European countries, 56 Americans,
and 73 Japanese.

Because of their insular position and somewhat primitive culture,
the inhabitants are primarily an agricultural and fishing people. The
principal crops are rice, sugar cane, corn, and copra. Judged by
Occidental standards, the mode of farming is backward and shows
little tendency to progress. The Filipinos who have been exposed
to industrial life, however, have been able to adapt themselves to
employment in the limited trade crafts and manufacturing on the island.

According to his own standards, the Filipino lives well enough. His
chief foods are rice or corn, fish, camotes (sweet potatoes), and
occasionally chicken or other meat. The men's clothing is simple;
the average man has several changes of cheap cotton shirts and pants
made of imported cotton cloth or, in the more remote districts,
from homespun material.

Most of the dwelling houses are made of bamboo and sheathed with
palm leaves on roof and sides. The material is gathered locally and
tied with rattan. The houses rarely consist of more than two rooms,
and many are raised on pilings, with space for the family pig and
chickens underneath. In one of the rooms, or outdoors, is an open
fireplace with a mud and stone hearth for cooking. There is little
furniture, and in three out of four families the personal possessions
would not be worth more than ten dollars.

Less than 5 percent of the people have a rising standard of
living. This higher standard is exemplified by a better type of
habitation, which ranges from a three-room house to a dwelling similar
to that of the American middle class. The diet of more prosperous
Filipinos is basically the same as that of the poorer class, but it
offers a greater variety. Clothing follows the Occidental fashion. The
wealthiest people and those with foreign education or contacts, who
make up less than 1 percent of the population, dress and live in the
same manner as Occidentals.

The Japanese, during their occupation, governed through the old
administrative organization of the province. They and their puppet
officials also set up larger governing bodies that exercised superior
jurisdiction. On 6 February 1944 the puppet president of the Philippine
Republic, José Laurel, appointed a commissioner who held supervisory
power over the local governments in the Visayan Provinces.

The governor of the province of Leyte, who previously had been
an elected official, was appointed by the president. He was the
chief operative and administrative head of the province and on all
provincial administrative matters his decision was final. The treasurer
of the province, who reported directly to the governor, was its chief
financial officer and tax assessor. He collected all taxes and license
fees, national and local, and prepared financial statements for the
governor but he had no say in administrative matters. The law officer
of the province was legal adviser to the governor and to the municipal
authorities. He could advise only on administrative matters.

The Japanese Military Administration maintained liaison between
the Japanese Army and the civil government. The military police
collected military intelligence and information and disseminated
propaganda. The Japanese allowed only one political party on the
Islands--the Kalibapi--to which all government officials were
required to belong. This party was one of the principal propaganda
agencies, being the prime mover of the pacification programs in the
province, and exercised general supervision over the local neighborhood
associations. The latter helped in maintaining law and order, assisted
the constabulary, and aided in the distribution of scarce commodities.

It should be emphasized that during most of the occupation there were
few Japanese on Leyte. Southern Leyte in general maintained the same
Filipino institutions and officials as in the prewar years. The heel
of the Japanese conqueror pressed but lightly on most of the people
of Leyte. Beginning in early 1944, however, the Japanese Army forces
on the island were reinforced. From that time forward the Filipinos
had their crops appropriated and in other ways were subjected to the
will of the Japanese. Misery, hunger, and poverty became commonplace
and a resistance movement grew.



The Resistance Movement on Leyte

The Organizing of Guerrilla Bands

A period of uncertainty and confusion followed the surrender of the
American and Filipino forces in the Philippines in the spring of
1942. Civilians and members of the armed forces who did not surrender
to the Japanese Army fled into the hills. Some went because they wanted
to continue the fight, others because they felt that the chaotic
conditions on the Islands would afford unequaled opportunities for
looting and pillaging.

Once in the hills, the men formed themselves into guerrilla bands. [44]
At first all of the bands, because of their lack of money and supplies,
freely raided farms and storehouses for food and equipment whenever
they had the opportunity. Moreover, there were real bandit groups
who frequently and wantonly raped the countryside. For a time all
of the groups were discredited by the people. Gradually, however,
strong men emerged who formed the guerrilla bands into semi-military
organizations. The leader of each band, who was generally an ex-member
of the armed forces, gave himself a "bamboo commission," usually
considerably higher than the one he had hitherto possessed.

The following oath of allegiance taken by the members of one of the
bands is probably typical:


    I do solemnly swear that I shall obey orders from my superior
    officer; that I shall fight the enemy of the Government of
    the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the United States of
    America whosoever and wherever he maybe [sic] in the territory
    of the Philippines; that I shall never allow myself nor any
    arm or ammunition to be caught by the enemy; that I shall never
    turn traitor to my country nor the United States of America; and
    muchless [sic] reveal to the enemy any secret of the Army to which
    I honorably belong; that I shall never abandon a wounded brother
    in arms; that I join the United Forces in the Philippines without
    personal or party interest, but with the determination to sacrifice
    myself and all that is mine for FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY; that I shall
    protect the lives and property of all loyal Filipinos everywhere.

    I make this LOYALTY OATH without mental reservation or purpose
    of evasion.

    SO HELP ME GOD. [45]


For some time the various guerrilla bands on Leyte operated separately,
and there was little or no co-operation between them. They were united,
however, in their hatred of the Japanese. Jealousy and strife between
groups were rampant, but circumstances gradually compelled the smaller
bands to submit to absorption, either by force or persuasion, into
the larger and more powerful groups. The fact that there were few
Japanese on the island enabled the guerrillas and loyal provincial
officials to organize the governments of most of the barrios.

All of the guerrillas declared that their primary purpose was to aid
the civilians, maintain peace and order, and keep the Japanese from
abusing the people. They also assumed control over various phases
of public activities--the allotment of food supplies, the issue of
emergency currency, and the punishment of criminals. The guerrillas
in northern Leyte depended upon voluntary contributions to support
them, while those in southern Leyte levied a loyalty tax. Hard money
having been driven out of circulation, the guerrilla units tried to
issue paper, which was acceptable only in those regions where the
particular unit was active. There was no widespread circulation or
acceptance of any of the guerrilla money.

The most important of the guerrilla leaders on Leyte were
Lt. Col. Ruperto K. Kangleon and Brig. Gen. Blas E. Miranda. Colonel
Kangleon had served for twenty-seven years in the Philippine Army
and was a graduate of the Philippine Academy and General Service
School. General Miranda, [46] a former member of the Philippine
Constabulary, was very hostile to the Japanese and to anyone who
surrendered to them. He killed many former prisoners, whom the Japanese
had released, on the pretext that they were enemy spies. Miranda was
especially bitter toward Kangleon, a former prisoner of the enemy.

Official recognition from General MacArthur's headquarters was
slow in reaching the guerrillas on Leyte, a fact that brought about
misunderstandings. General MacArthur had early established contact with
Col. Macario Peralta on Panay and Col. Wendell Fertig on Mindanao. In
the middle of February 1943 MacArthur sent Lt. Comdr. Charles Parsons,
USNR, to the Islands by submarine. Before his departure, General
Headquarters had established the policies to be followed. The prewar
military districts, as of December 1940, were to be revived. [47] Since
General MacArthur had received information that Colonel Fertig had
successfully created an effective guerrilla organization on Mindanao
and Colonel Peralta one on Panay, he recognized them as commanders of
the 10th and 6th Military Districts, respectively. Radio communication
from MacArthur's headquarters informed Peralta and Fertig of the
appointments on 21 February 1943. Commander Parsons also carried
formal letters, dated 13 February 1943, making these appointments.

Parsons safely reached the Philippines in early March and established
friendly relations with Colonel Fertig. While on Mindanao he made
several local trips, one to southern Leyte where he heard of Colonel
Kangleon who had escaped from the Butuan prison camp and returned to
his home. Parsons visited Kangleon with the promise that he would
be made commander of the 9th Military District (Leyte and Samar),
and succeeded in persuading him to join the guerrilla movement on
Leyte. [48]

Until area commanders could be selected for the 7th, 8th, and
9th (Leyte) Districts, Peralta and Fertig had been authorized by
MacArthur's headquarters, through Parsons, to organize the guerrillas
on neighboring islands, as well as on their own. Each thought he
was to organize the guerrillas on Leyte. Peralta made contact with
General Miranda on northwestern Leyte; Fertig got in touch with
Colonel Kangleon. Both Peralta and Fertig told their contacts to
organize Leyte with the official sanction of General MacArthur's
headquarters. Consequently, Kangleon and Miranda each thought the
other to be a usurper. [49]

Miranda was adamant in his refusal to treat with Kangleon. Colonel
Kangleon thought that Miranda should be ordered to "forget his
established kingdom," but if this failed, he declared, the 92d
Division, commanded by himself, would "force ... Miranda to join
us." [50]

The situation became extremely tense, since both Kangleon and Miranda
felt much bitterness. In August 1943 Kangleon sent a force against
Miranda and during a clash between the two parties some of the men
were killed. Miranda was routed and many of his followers joined
Kangleon. [51] The power of Miranda was broken. Kangleon incorporated
the other guerrillas on the island into the 92d Division, and Leyte
was then unified under his command.

On 21 October 1943 General MacArthur recognized Colonel Kangleon as the
Leyte Area Commander, and in a letter accompanying the appointment he
told Kangleon what he expected of him. "I desire that you establish and
maintain direct communication with this headquarters at your earliest
opportunity and thereafter you keep me informed of major developments
involving enemy movement, dispositions and other activity within your
area and observation." [52]



Japanese Punitive Expeditions

In the latter part of 1943 the Japanese military authorities tried to
conciliate the guerrillas, offering, in return for their surrender,
not only freedom from punishment but also jobs and the opportunity to
resume their normal family life. A great many guerrillas took advantage
of this offer of amnesty and surrendered. [53] Among the guerrilla
units that surrendered to the Japanese were those of Maj. Marcos
G. Soliman and other subordinates of General Miranda's command. [54]
They gave themselves up in January 1944, but General Miranda himself
refused to surrender and left for either Cebu or Bohol.

After their attempts at pacification, the Japanese launched more
frequent and intensive patrols against the guerrillas. The garrison
troops that had been stationed on Leyte were reinforced. Southern
Leyte, which had known few Japanese, was "reinvolved" on 8 December
1943. The guerrillas withdrew and hid in the interior. It was
thought that after a month the troops would leave and be replaced by
constabulary officers. But after two weeks the Japanese turned their
attention to the civilians. Some they arrested and imprisoned for
days without food and water, others they tortured and executed. Houses
were broken into, property was looted, and food was stolen. Spies were
brought in from neighboring islands to locate the guerrilla hideouts.

Since the people begged for action, Colonel Kangleon held a meeting of
his unit commanders on 24 January 1944. With his officers in unanimous
accord, he issued an order to fight, commencing on 1 February 1944. All
officers and enlisted men of his command signed a loyalty oath that
they would not allow either themselves or their weapons to be captured.

From 1 February until 12 June, according to Colonel Kangleon, the
guerrillas in southern Leyte had only 10 casualties. In a report
dated 18 May 1944, the Japanese casualties were listed as 434 killed,
of whom 4 were officers, and 205 wounded.

The Japanese commander in Leyte made quite a different report. He
stated that from 1 January to 31 August his forces had taken part
in 561 engagements with the guerrillas. They had seized 7 vehicles;
7 generators; 37 radios and other items of wireless equipment;
1,556 weapons, including rifles, bayonets, and homemade shotguns;
and 55,348 rounds of ammunition, as well as sticks of dynamite. The
Japanese declared that they had taken 2,300 prisoners of war, including
3 Americans; that 6 Americans and 23,077 Filipinos had surrendered;
1,984 guerrillas had been killed; and that the Japanese casualties
amounted to 7 officers and 208 enlisted men killed, and 11 officers
and 147 men wounded. [55]

In the month of October 1944 General MacArthur's Military Intelligence
Section estimated that the strength of the guerrilla 92d Division
was as follows: Headquarters, Leyte Area Command, 23 officers and
107 enlisted men; 94th Regiment, 71 officers and 1,210 enlisted men;
95th Regiment, 78 officers and 954 enlisted men; 96th Regiment,
37 officers and 710 enlisted men; total strength, 209 officers and
2,981 enlisted men. [56]

Colonel Kangleon stated that as a result of guerrilla activities the
Japanese sent out fewer patrols, staying mainly in the towns. The
civilians, he claimed, were therefore able to plant and harvest their
crops. Despite these brave words the guerrillas were definitely on
the defensive, since Japanese intelligence had accurate information on
their movements and strength. Nevertheless, the Japanese also knew that
the guerrillas had established communication with General MacArthur
in Australia and that they were sending important information to
General Headquarters. This service the Japanese were unable to cut off.



Liaison Between Leyte and Australia

After his arrival in Australia in March 1942, General MacArthur had
maintained radio contact with Corregidor until 6 May, but because
of conditions in the Philippines radio communication with other
parts of the Islands was all but impossible. [57] Before its fall,
Corregidor maintained radio contact with military commanders on the
other islands. Afterward, a few men escaped and made their way to
Australia. The sum of information they brought was not large, but it
included the welcome news that guerrilla units were in existence all
over the Islands. In the summer of 1942 General Headquarters began
to receive messages from the guerrillas in the Philippines, though
at first General MacArthur was not sure that the messages actually
came from the guerrillas.

In August 1942 MacArthur decided to get in touch with the members of
the resistance movement in the Philippines, and for this purpose he
enlisted the services of Maj. Jesus Antonio Villamor, who had escaped
from the Islands and who volunteered to return. [58] From August
to December methods were devised and plans were made for sending
an intelligence party to the Philippines. [59] On 27 December 1942
Major Villamor received orders to return secretly to the Islands by
submarine with three other Filipino officers and two enlisted men. [60]
They were instructed to establish an intelligence and secret service
network throughout the Philippines; develop a chain of communications
within the Philippines and to Australia, together with an escape route
from the Islands for the evacuation of important personages; build
up an organization for subversive activities, propaganda, limited
resistance, and sabotage; and make an intelligence survey to obtain
information on Japanese political, military, and civil intentions
as well as the strength and disposition of Japanese military, naval,
and air forces. [61]

Armed with these instructions, Major Villamor returned to the
Philippine Islands. Slowly but carefully, from December 1942 to
November 1943, he established an intelligence network that covered
Luzon and the Visayan Islands. His story is told in part as follows:


    I established this network principally with the idea that this net
    would be entirely independent of all intelligence nets previously
    established by the guerrillas, believing that in all probability
    you [General MacArthur] could rely more on guerrilla intelligence
    activities for the present. I wanted to establish something that
    would really be underground and as secret as possible. For that
    reason, I took my time about it. I took as much as two months to
    train each individual man. I tried to impress on each man that
    after he left my place, he would be on his own and that no matter
    what happened to me or to the rest of the net, he would carry
    on. I assured him that both GHQ and I would have faith in him. [62]


Kangleon was largely responsible for the Leyte radio network. This
intelligence network did not cover the entire island but only those
positions over which he had control. General MacArthur did not furnish
any considerable supplies for this net until shortly before his return
in October 1944. [63] On 3 July 1944 Kangleon received seventy tons
of supplies; an additional shipment of supplies and men followed on
20 July. [64] This allotment was in addition to money sent him. The
funds available to Kangleon consisted of $50,000 in prewar currency
("only a few hundred" of which were spent by him), $225,000 in "bogus
Japanese" currency, and $479,198 in emergency currency printed in
the Islands and used for "army" purposes. [65]

Several clandestine radio stations were in operation on or near
Leyte in June 1944. These were primarily contact stations established
originally to integrate more closely the activities of the various
guerrilla units with the directives of Colonel Kangleon's headquarters,
which was in touch with General Headquarters. After the Leyte Area
Command was recognized by General MacArthur, the first radio was sent
to Leyte, but the Japanese captured it early in 1944 before it could
be put to use. Kangleon received a new set from Mindanao. There were
two coastwatcher stations in operation--one in southern Leyte and
the other on Dinagat Island. These furnished MacArthur information
on the activities of the Japanese in the area. Colonel Kangleon also
used the radio set in southern Leyte to maintain contact with Colonel
Fertig on Mindanao. [66]

As a result of information received from the intelligence network,
on Leyte and in other areas, together with information from other
sources, General MacArthur's intelligence officers were able to piece
together a reasonably accurate picture of the Japanese units on Leyte,
their strength, dispositions, and fortifications.

Kangleon's network, however, was not as active as most of the
others in the Philippines that were operated by coastwatchers and
guerrillas. From March 1944, when Kangleon's network was established,
to October 1944, when the American forces returned, the monthly
totals of messages received by General Headquarters from Leyte were
as follows: March, 6; April, 7; May, 7; June, 12; July, 13; August,
13; September, 17; and October, 26. [67]

The guerrillas of the Philippine Islands made far-reaching
contributions to the war effort. They were an extremely valuable source
of intelligence; their activities forced the Japanese to retain in
the Philippines comparatively large forces which would otherwise have
been sent south; it is estimated that they killed from eight thousand
to ten thousand Japanese troops; and, finally, they bolstered the
morale, spirit, and loyalty of the Filipino people. [68] They kept
alive the hope and belief that the forces of the United States would
return and redeem the Islands.



CHAPTER III

Plans Are Made and Forces Are Readied


Estimate of the Enemy Situation

American knowledge of the Japanese forces on Leyte was derived
from many sources. [69] The guerrillas on Leyte and other islands
in the archipelago sent information to Australia on the movements,
dispositions, fortifications, and defenses of the Japanese. Commander
Parsons, on his submarine trips to the Islands, brought back with
him important intelligence. Just before the invasion an intelligence
officer from Sixth Army and one from the Seventh Fleet secretly went
ashore from a submarine and gathered material on Japanese coastal
fortifications and defenses in the beach area.

Much effort was expended before the invasion in mapping the island,
but this work was based on prewar maps and the results were very
inaccurate. Since much of the island was under heavy fog for long
periods, the photomaps that were produced had little value. They
missed many important terrain features and misplaced others by
thousands of yards. In general, however, the maps of the beachhead
areas were accurate.

In the spring of 1944 General MacArthur's headquarters received
information that the Japanese were starting to reinforce their
Philippine garrisons. An early estimate, made in June, put the
number of enemy troops on the island at 20,000, a sharp increase
over the 5,900 of the previous month. The increase resulted from
the movement to Leyte from Samar of the veteran 16th Division, which
had fought at Bataan, and the arrival of 4,000 naval troops from the
Palau Islands. [70] For the next month reports flowed in to General
Headquarters that the 16th Division was building coastal defenses and
air-raid shelters, and improving the airfields and garrison defenses
of the island. [71]

In July 1944 the Americans received information that all was not
going well in the Japanese homeland. From a radio interception
they learned that Premier Hideki Tojo and his entire cabinet had
resigned on 18 July. The Japanese message stated: "The situation is
the result of the period of 'sweating blood' and we sincerely regret
causing anxiety to the Emperor. We thank the people at home and at the
front for co-operating with the government...." [72] The tenor of the
announcement and of subsequent statements made it abundantly clear,
however, that the Japanese were determined to do their utmost toward
prosecuting the war to a successful conclusion.

Meanwhile, all the Japanese garrisons in the Philippines were
reinforced. The senior headquarters in the western Pacific was
transferred from Singapore to Manila, and the brigades in the Islands
were being developed to divisional strength. Of the estimated 180,000
troops, 80,000 were believed to be on Luzon, 50,000 in the Visayan
Islands, and 50,000 on Mindanao. It was also believed that the enemy
air strength on the Islands was being greatly increased. There were
100 to 120 airfields in operation and between 700 and 1,500 aircraft,
of which half were combat planes and the others training aircraft. [73]

In September 1944 Sixth Army G-2 estimated that the Japanese forces
on Leyte consisted mainly of 16th Division units and service troops--a
total of 21,700 troops. The 35th Army had just been activated on Cebu
and was to be charged with the defense of all the Visayan Islands. It
was estimated that the Leyte garrison consisted of the following
combat troops: 20th Infantry Regiment, 3,000; 33d Infantry Regiment,
3,000; 16th Division Reconnaissance Regiment, 1,000; elements of
102d Division, 1,700; 7th Independent Tank Company, 125; and 16th
Division Headquarters troops, 1,800. The total amounted to 10,625
men. In addition there were 1,000 base-defense troops and 10,075
service troops.

It was believed that the Japanese would commit one division on the day
of the landing and the equivalent of another division, assembled from
the tactical reserves on the island, not later than three days after
the landing. For the next ten days, five to eight regiments might be
sent in from neighboring islands. These would constitute the "maximum
numbers of reinforcements predicated upon the existence of conditions
most favorable to the enemy." [74] The enemy had an undetermined
number of tanks and armored cars. The only artillery known to be
available were some coastal defense guns emplaced along the east
coast and some artillery pieces on the hills overlooking Tacloban.

Sixth Army believed that on Leyte there were five operational
airfields; three probably operational or under construction; seven
nonoperational; and one seaplane base. The two most important
operational airstrips were the one at Tacloban with forty-five
hardstandings and the one at Dulag with twenty hardstandings. The
Tacloban airstrip could accommodate both bombers and fighters. At
the time of the invasion, it was estimated that the Japanese could
oppose the amphibious movement and the landing with 442 fighters and
337 bombers from airfields scattered throughout the Philippines.

Although the possibility existed that the Japanese Fleet, which was
based in waters near the home islands, might move to the Philippines,
such a move was considered doubtful. It was believed that the principal
and immediate threats consisted of a strong cruiser-destroyer task
force; submarines; and motor torpedo boats and similar craft.

Sixth Army concluded that the town of Tacloban, with its important
port and airfield, was the key to the Japanese defense of the
island. Consequently, a strong perimeter defense of the town and
the surrounding area was expected. Since it was impossible for the
Japanese, with a limited number of their troops on the island, to
defend all of the east coast, strong forces and emplaced defensive
positions were likely to be concentrated at road junctions and at the
operational airfields. Mobile reserves would almost certainly be held
in readiness at key points in Leyte Valley, ready to be rushed to the
east coast areas under attack. It was assumed that strong defenses
were already established in the Ormoc area and along the northeast
coast of Ormoc Bay, since the port of Ormoc could be used to bring in
reserves from the other islands in the archipelago. A strong garrison
was expected at Carigara to protect the northern approaches to Leyte
Valley and to repel any amphibious landing through Carigara Bay.

The plan for the liberation of Leyte called for more men, guns, ships,
and aircraft than had been required for any previous operation in the
Pacific. For the first time ground troops from the Central Pacific
and Southwest Pacific were to join and fight the foe under a common
commander. General MacArthur, who had left Luzon in a motor torpedo
boat, was to return to the Philippines with a vast armada--the greatest
seen in the Pacific up to that time.



The Tactical Plan

The Southwest Pacific Area was the command responsibility of General
MacArthur. He had under his command Allied Air Forces, Lt. Gen. George
C. Kenney commanding; Allied Naval Forces, Vice Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid
commanding; Allied Land Forces, Gen. Sir Thomas Blamey commanding;
United States Army Services of Supply (SWPA), Maj. Gen. James
L. Frink commanding; and Alamo Force, which was virtually Sixth Army,
Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger commanding.

On 31 August 1944 General MacArthur issued his first formal
directive covering projected operations in the Philippines. The Leyte
operation was known as King II. The Southwest Pacific forces were to
"seize objectives in the Mindanao, Leyte and Samar areas in order
to establish air, naval and logistic bases to cover subsequent
operations to complete the reoccupation of the Philippines." The
assigned target dates were as follows: southern Mindanao, 15 November
1944; northwestern Mindanao, 7 December; and Leyte Gulf-Surigao Strait
area, 20 December. The Sixth Army, covered by Admiral Halsey's Third
Fleet and supported by the Allied Air and Naval Forces, was directed
to carry out the three operations. [75] On 15 September General
Krueger received word that the Talaud and Mindanao operations had
been canceled and that the target date--designated as "A Day"--for
the Leyte operation had been advanced to 20 October. [76]



The American Forces

The immediate task assigned the forces of the Southwest Pacific,
supported by the Third Fleet, was the seizure and control of the Leyte
Gulf-Surigao Strait area in order to establish air, naval, and logistic
bases to support further operations into the Philippines. Before
the invasion, air and naval operations were to be conducted so as to
disorganize Japanese ground and air defenses. The ground operation was
divided into three phases. In the first phase overwater movement and
minor amphibious operations to secure entrance into Leyte Gulf were
to take place. The main effort, which constituted the second phase,
was to involve a major assault to capture the airfields and base sites
in Leyte Valley and to open up San Juanico and Panaon Straits. In
the final phase, the remaining portions of the island in Japanese
hands and the western part of southern Samar were to be secured,
and Surigao Strait was to be opened. [77] The target date had been
set for 20 October 1944.

General plans for the operation had long since been worked out,
but not until 20 September did General MacArthur issue his final
plan for the occupation of Leyte. It was based upon the assumption
that American forces were or would be established along the
Marianas-Ulithi-Palaus-Morotai line and that the Japanese land and
air forces in the Philippines and Formosa would have been "seriously
crippled and that the Japanese Fleet would elect to remain in Empire
waters" with only "light forces remaining in the vicinity of the
Philippines." The Japanese were expected to have one well-supplied
division in the area with only limited ability to reinforce it from
others of the Visayan Islands and with all subsequent supply deliveries
cut off. It was assumed that Japanese defenses would be concentrated
in the vicinity of the airfields in the Leyte Valley and at Tacloban.

The command organization was as follows: General MacArthur was
Supreme Commander, but during the amphibious movement and landing
Admiral Kinkaid, as commander of the Naval Attack Force, was to be
in command of all amphibious operations. (Chart 1) Army officers,
who took control of their forces ashore, were to continue under the
Commander, Naval Attack Force, until the next senior Army commander
assumed control. Upon his arrival ashore and after notification to
Admiral Kinkaid, General Krueger was to take control of the ground
troops. General Kenney, as commander of the Allied Air Forces, would
report directly to General MacArthur.

Admiral Halsey, as commander of the Third Fleet, was to co-ordinate
his operations with those of General MacArthur but he was responsible
to Admiral Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Area. The Third
Fleet was composed of Vice Adm. Marc Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task
Force, together with miscellaneous elements. Mitscher's force was
divided into four carrier groups. [78]

The Allied Naval Forces, which consisted principally of the
U. S. Seventh Fleet under Admiral Kinkaid, was to transport and
establish ashore the ground assault force. The Central Philippine
Attack Force consisted of three task forces. Task Force 77, commanded
by Admiral Kinkaid, was to furnish direct air and naval support and
was composed of battleships, light and heavy cruisers, destroyers,
destroyer escorts, carriers, escort carriers, gunboat and mortar
flotillas, mine sweepers, auxiliary vessels, and underwater demolition
teams. The transports and cargo ships of the Northern Attack Force,
Task Force 78, under Rear Adm. Daniel E. Barbey, and the Southern
Attack Force, Task Force 79, under Vice Adm. Theodore S. Wilkinson,
were to transport and set ashore the ground troops. Task Force 79
had been lent to General MacArthur by Admiral Nimitz for the operation.

The Allied Air Forces, principally the Far East Air Forces under
General Kenney, was to neutralize hostile air and naval forces
within range of the Philippines. The Allied Air Forces consisted
of the Fifth Air Force, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ennis P. Whitehead;
the Thirteenth Air Force, commanded by Maj. Gen. St. Clair Streett;
the Royal Australian Air Force Command under Air Vice Marshal William
D. Bostock; and miscellaneous elements. On order, the Fifth Air Force
was to be prepared to take over the mission of furnishing direct air
support to the ground troops.

The United States Army Services of Supply, Southwest Pacific Area,
commanded by General Frink, was to furnish logistic support for
the operation. The Eighth U.S. Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Robert
L. Eichelberger, and the Allied Land Forces, commanded by General
Blamey, were to take over missions previously assigned the Sixth Army
and to assist the latter in training, staging, and mounting the troops
for the Leyte operation.

The ground troops who were to attack Leyte constituted a field
army--the Sixth Army, which had fought its way up the New Guinea coast
since April 1943 as Alamo Force. On 25 September 1944 Alamo Force
was dissolved and Sixth Army assumed its tactical missions. General
Krueger was commanding general for all these campaigns. The principal
component parts of Sixth Army were X and XXIV Corps. The former
consisted of the 1st Cavalry and 24th Infantry Divisions, under
Lt. Gen. Franklin C. Sibert, a seasoned commander who had successfully
fought the Japanese on New Guinea at Wakde-Sarmi. The XXIV Corps,
under Maj. Gen. John R. Hodge, who had defeated the Japanese on
Guadalcanal, New Georgia, and Bougainville, was composed of the
7th and 96th Infantry Divisions. In reserve were the 32d and 77th
Infantry Divisions. The Sixth Army Service Command was to perform
engineer functions on the island and give general logistic support.

Approximately 174,000 troops were made available for the initial
assault phase of the operation. About 51,500 of these made up the XXIV
Corps and 53,000 the X Corps. In addition to these troops, the reserve
32d and 77th Divisions had a strength of about 14,500 and 14,000
troops, respectively. All of the assault divisions were reinforced
with tank battalions, amphibian truck and tractor battalions, joint
assault signal companies, and many attached service units. A total of
about 202,500 ground troops was committed to the Leyte operation. [79]

Headquarters, Sixth Army, had never participated as such in any
campaign, but as Headquarters, Alamo Force, it had directed the
operations up the New Guinea coast. Both the X and XXIV Corps were
yet to be battle tested, though all their divisions with one exception
had participated in previous campaigns against the Japanese. The 1st
Cavalry Division had taken part in the Admiralty Islands campaign;
the 7th Division had defeated the Japanese at Attu and Kwajalein;
the 24th Division had fought in the Hollandia campaign; the 32d
Division had won the Papua Campaign and been victorious at Aitape
on New Guinea; and the 77th Division had shared in the victory at
Guam. Only the 96th Division was yet to be combat tested. [80]

General MacArthur's Warning Instructions 5 and Operations Instructions
70 were used by each of the major commanders as a basis for his own
operations orders. Although each order was derived from the one
next above it, all were planned concurrently. There was need for
constant intertheater, interservice, and intraservice conferences and
discussions on all phases of the plans as they evolved. Frequently
the planning was made easier by using the work done on plans for
other operations. For example, the logistical plan for the canceled
Yap operation was adapted with very little change to the Leyte
operation. The general schemes of maneuver and the employment of
support forces which had been found valuable in previous operations
were also adapted with minor variations to the plans for Leyte.



Air Support

The Navy was to bear the brunt of furnishing air support in the early
stages of the campaign. By arrangement with Admiral Nimitz, the Carrier
Task Force from Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet was to strike northern
Luzon and Okinawa or Formosa, or both, from A Day minus 10 to A minus
7. From A minus 4 through A Day, strikes were to be made on Luzon, the
Cebu-Negros area, and the Leyte area in support of the landings. As
soon as the Palau air base facilities would permit, shore-based air
forces from the Central Pacific were to operate in the Bicol area. [81]

The Allied Naval Forces was to furnish carrier aircraft as protection
for convoys and naval task forces and, supplemented by aircraft of
the Third Fleet and the Allied Air Forces, to provide direct air
support for the landings. In addition, it was to furnish protective
air support and cover by carrier aircraft prior to A Day for the
preliminary landings in Leyte Gulf and for the mine sweeping. [82]

General Mac Arthur assigned air support missions to the Allied Air
Forces. General Kenney's airmen were (1) to make aerial reconnaissance;
(2) in co-ordination with Third Fleet carrier-based aircraft, to
neutralize hostile naval and air forces within range of the Philippines
from A minus 9 in order to cover the movement of naval forces, the
landing, and subsequent operations; (3) within capabilities and when
requested by Admiral Kinkaid, to protect convoys and naval forces and
provide direct support of the landings and subsequent operations;
and (4) to destroy Japanese shipping and installations in the Sulu
and Arafura Seas and the East Indies. [83]

On 24 September General Kenney issued his order for the Leyte operation
and assigned missions to the Allied Air Forces. He designated General
Whitehead's Fifth Air Force as the Air Assault Force. It was to
support the operation by intensified air activities against enemy
installations, destroy hostile air and surface forces in the Celebes
Sea and assigned areas in the Philippine Archipelago, and provide
air defense for existing bases and forces in transit to Leyte within
range of its capabilities. It was also to be prepared to establish,
on order, land-based air forces on Leyte. The Thirteenth Air Force
was to support the missions of the Fifth Air Force, while the Royal
Australian Air Force Command was to destroy Japanese installations
and sources of raw materials in the Netherlands Indies. [84]

Aircraft from other theaters agreed to aid in the operation. The
Fourteenth Air Force from the China-Burma-India Theater and the
Twentieth Air Force from the Central Pacific were to conduct strikes
against Formosa. The Southeast Asia Command was asked to schedule
air offensives against Burma and Malaya just prior to A Day. [85]



Naval Support

The Seventh Fleet under Admiral Kinkaid was assigned the following
mission: "by a ship to shore amphibious operation, [to] transport,
protect, land and support elements of the 6th Army in order to assist
in the seizure, occupation and development of the Leyte area of the
Southern Philippines." [86] (Chart 2)

The Seventh Fleet was designated the Naval Attack Force. For the
operation Admiral Kinkaid organized two attack forces: the Northern
Attack Force (VII Amphibious Force), under Admiral Barbey, and
the Southern Attack Force (III Amphibious Force), under Admiral
Wilkinson. In addition, several subordinate units were created: a
bombardment and fire support group under Rear Adm. Jesse B. Oldendorf;
and a close covering group, an escort carrier group, a mine-sweeping
group, and twelve underwater demolition teams. The Northern Attack
Force was to transport and land the X Corps, while the Southern Attack
Force was to do the same for the XXIV Corps.

The task groups of the two attack forces were to sortie from the
mounting areas at Manus in the Admiralties and Hollandia in Netherlands
New Guinea and rendezvous en route to the objective area. Both were
"to land main elements as nearly simultaneously as practicable at H
Hour on 20 October." Meanwhile, an advance group on 17 October was
to land the 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion on the islands guarding the
approaches to Leyte Gulf. The task groups were to regulate their speed
of advance so that they would arrive at the entrance of the approach
channel to Leyte Gulf at specified times. The mine-sweeping group and
certain units of the bombardment and fire support group which were
to render fire support for initial mine-sweeping operations were to
arrive at 0600 on 17 October. They were to be followed fifteen minutes
later by the attack group assigned to the island approaches. At 1000
on the same day the rest of the bombardment and fire support group
were to arrive. Beginning at 2300 on 19 October the transports and
LST's of the two attack forces were scheduled to arrive in successive
groups. Their time of arrival was also set so that each group would
reach its transport area in sufficient time to dispatch the assault
waves to the beach at the designated hour. [87]

On arrival in the objective area, the bombardment and fire support
group was to divide into northern and southern fire support units,
which were then to move to their respective target areas. The northern
fire support unit consisted of 3 old battleships--the Mississippi,
Maryland, and West Virginia--and 3 destroyers. The southern fire
support unit was composed of 3 battleships--the Tennessee, California,
and Pennsylvania--13 destroyers, 3 light cruisers, 3 heavy cruisers,
and 1 small seaplane tender.

The destroyers in the two target areas were to furnish protection to
the mine sweepers and the underwater demolition teams. The latter were
to cover the northern and southern beaches before A Day and search
out and destroy any obstacles, either Japanese-made or natural, in
the waters surrounding the landing beach areas. The mine sweepers
were to start clearing Leyte Gulf of fixed or floating mines on 17
October, three days before the main assault. On the following days,
including 20 October, they were to make more intensive sweeps of the
channels and landing beach areas, with the vessels going as close to
shore as possible without endangering gear. [88]

Admiral Oldendorf was to direct the bombardment and fire support. The
bombardment was to start on 17 October in preparation for the
landings on the island approaches. The gunfire before 20 October
was for the purpose of rendering unserviceable both airfields and
Japanese aircraft on the ground, in addition to destroying guns and
emplacements, fuel storage and ammunition dumps, naval forces and
shipping, beach defenses and strong points, troops, torpedo launching
ramps, and torpedo barges. Close fire support was to be given to the
underwater demolition teams and destructive fire was to be delivered
against enemy forces attempting overwater movements. Finally, night
harassing fire was scheduled to prevent any night attempts of the
Japanese to reconstruct the fortifications and airfields.

On 20 October the naval gunfire support units were to cover the
approach of the transports to the unloading areas and to furnish
necessary counterbattery fire; thoroughly cover the landing beach
areas from the low-water line to approximately 400 yards inland;
and closely support the landings with rockets, 4.2-inch mortars, and
gunfire of all caliber from the ships. After the landings, the naval
gunfire units were to deliver fire on call and prevent the Japanese
from either reinforcing or evacuating the island. [89]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff had directed Admiral Nimitz to support
General MacArthur's operation against Leyte. Admiral Nimitz ordered
Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet to "destroy enemy naval and air forces
in or threatening the Philippine Area." The Third Fleet was also to
protect the air and sea communications along the Central Philippines
axis. If an opportunity to destroy major portions of the Japanese
Fleet should arise or could be created, such destruction was to be the
primary task of all naval forces from the Central Pacific. Admiral
Halsey and General MacArthur were to arrange the necessary measures
for the co-ordination of their operations. [90]

In support of the Leyte operation the Third Fleet was to contain
or destroy the Japanese Fleet and to destroy enemy aircraft and
shipping in the Formosa, Luzon, Visayan, and Mindanao areas from 9
October through 17 October, and from A Day for as long as necessary
during the next thirty days, in order to "maintain their continued
neutralization." From 18 October until such time as the escort carriers
could assume direct support, the Third Fleet was to destroy enemy
ground defenses and installations in Leyte and adjacent areas. Finally,
the Third Fleet was to provide direct support by fast carrier aircraft
for the landing and subsequent operations. [91]

Submarines from both the Southwest Pacific and Central Pacific were to
support the operations by maintaining an offensive reconnaissance over
the most probable Japanese route of advance, maintaining observation
and lifeguard services and furnishing weather reports and strategic
patrols. Submarines from the Central Pacific were to patrol in the
Formosa, Luzon, Tokyo Bay, and Sasebo areas, while those from the
Seventh Fleet patrolled in the area of Makassar Strait, the Celebes
Sea, and the Sulu Sea. Submarines from both areas were to maintain
a strong patrol in the Hainan--northern Luzon areas. [92]

The naval gunfire, the air support, and the artillery fire were to
be carefully co-ordinated. At every level from battalion to army
representatives from each support arm were to co-ordinate the use
of their support arms against targets in their respective zones
of action. Requests for support were to be screened as they passed
through the various echelons for approval. Commanders in the field
felt that the passage of requests through many channels was time
consuming and consequently sometimes nullified what might have been
an immediate advantage. However, requests for support were usually
acted upon within an hour.



The Ground Forces

The ground forces designated for the Leyte operation came from two
different theaters--the X Corps from the Southwest Pacific and the XXIV
Corps from the Central Pacific. The XXIV Corps, originally intended
for the Yap operation, had been substituted for the XIV Corps,
originally intended for Leyte. As the new assignment of the XXIV
Corps placed it under the operational control of General MacArthur,
it was necessary that agreements on the co-ordination of operations
be reached by the commanders in chief of the two areas. The XXIV
Corps, with its original shipping, had been turned over to General
MacArthur. During the combat phase at Leyte, General MacArthur was to
furnish the replacements required by the XXIV Corps, but subsequent
replacements were to be supplied by Admiral Nimitz. [93]

The initial assault for the island of Leyte was to begin in the dim
half dawn of 17 October, when elements of the 6th Ranger Infantry
Battalion were to land under the protection of naval gunfire and seize
the small islands that guarded the entrance to Leyte Gulf. (Map 3)
Harbor lights were to be placed on Homonhon Island and the northern
tip of Dinagat Island in order to guide the passage of the convoy into
the gulf. Since it was believed that there were valuable mine charts
on Suluan, that island was added to the objectives of the 6th Rangers.

General Krueger had wanted to use either the reinforced 158th Infantry
Regiment or the reinforced 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team
to secure the island approaches to Leyte Gulf and the Panaon Strait
area. The 21st Infantry, which was assigned the mission of securing the
Panaon Strait area, then could have remained with the 24th Division,
its parent unit, and the 6th Ranger Battalion could have been used
wherever and whenever needed. In addition, these missions would have
been put in the hands of a general officer who had an experienced
staff to assist him. Neither of the desired regiments, however,
could be made available for the Leyte operation because of shortage
of troops and previous commitments. [94]

While the Rangers were seizing the small islands, the mine sweepers
and underwater demolition teams were to start clearing the gulf of
natural and man-made obstacles. The fire support units were to move in
and start softening up the beaches. The completion of these missions
would conclude the first phase of the operation.

The second phase comprised "a major amphibious assault to attack and
destroy hostile forces in the coastal strip Tacloban-Dulag inclusive,
and to seize airdromes and base sites therein; a rapid advance through
Leyte Valley to seize and occupy the Capoocan-Carigara-Barugo area;
[and finally] open San Juanico and Panaon Straits...." [95]

In the very early hours of 20 October the Northern and Southern Attack
Forces were to move to their appointed beach areas and be prepared
to disembark their assault troops. The reinforced 21st Infantry
Regiment was to go ashore at 0930 in the vicinity of Panaon Strait
at the extreme southeast tip of Leyte and secure control of that
entrance to Sogod Bay. To the north at 1000, the X Corps was to land
with two divisions abreast in the Marasbaras and Palo areas. About
fifteen miles farther south, in the Dulag area, the XXIV Corps was to
go ashore simultaneously with two divisions abreast. The two corps
would be so widely separated and their objectives so divergent that
initially they could not be mutually supporting. Even within the zones
of action of the two corps, the missions assigned the divisions would
limit the ability of the divisions to support each other. [96]

As General Krueger felt that the Japanese would offer the greatest
resistance in the north, the initial objectives of the X Corps were
limited to the seizure of Palo and the capture of Tacloban and its
airfield. The northernmost unit, the 1st Cavalry Division, actually
an infantry square division, was to land with brigades abreast in
the Marasbaras area, advance to the north, and seize Tacloban and
its airstrip, the most important objective for A Day. Thereafter,
the division was to secure control over San Juanico Strait. To the
left of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 24th Division was to go ashore
with regiments abreast in the Palo area, seize Palo, and then advance
northwest through the Leyte Valley. The two divisions were to converge
on Carigara, at the northern end of Leyte Valley on Carigara Bay. [97]

In the XXIV Corps zone, the 96th Division with regiments abreast
was to land in the area between Dulag and San Roque, and to secure
that portion of Highway 1 in its zone, Catmon Hill, and, finally,
the Dagami-Tanauan area. On its left the 7th Division with regiments
abreast was to go ashore in the Dulag area. One element was to go
south and seize the Highway 1 bridge and crossings of the Daguitan
(Marabang) River at Dao while the main force of the division was
to advance along the axis of the Dulag-Burauen road and capture
Burauen. The 7th Division would then be in a position to move north
toward Dagami. All hostile airfields in its zone of action were to
be seized and occupied. The division was to be prepared, on corps
order, to seize Abuyog, to the south, and Baybay, on the west coast,
destroying enemy forces on the west coast and in the southern portion
of Leyte. [98]

Completion of these missions of the X and XXIV Corps would bring
to an end the second phase of the Leyte operation. By this time,
General Krueger hoped, the back of the Japanese resistance would be
broken. With Leyte Valley and its airfields and base sites firmly
in the hands of the Sixth Army, General Krueger's forces would be in
a position to apply firmly the pincers on the remaining Japanese on
the island. The X Corps was to drive south down the Ormoc Valley to
Ormoc while the XXIV Corps was to move north from Baybay along the
shores of Ormoc Bay and make juncture with the X Corps. The remnants
of the Japanese forces, driven into the mountains of western Leyte,
would be unable to continue an organized resistance. [99]

The eastern shores of Leyte were chosen for the initial landing,
since the beaches on this side were the best on the island, and
were the logical entrance to the important airfields, base sites,
and roads in Leyte Valley.

Since the large number of naval vessels required considerable room
for landing the assault troops and for maneuvering, the landing beach
areas of the two corps were widely separated. In addition, the value of
the road net which connected Dulag with the Burauen airfields formed
an important consideration in the determination of the landing beach
sites of the XXIV Corps. "This latter factor--which took precedence
over the potentiality of strong enemy resistance from Catmon Hill--had
determined the selection of beaches in the Dulag area." [100]

Although it was recognized as necessary for elements of the XXIV Corps
to advance south to Abuyog and then overland to Baybay in order to
destroy the enemy forces on the west coast, these maneuvers would
leave great gaps in the battle line if only four divisions were at
first employed. General Krueger therefore asked General Headquarters
of the Southwest Pacific for additional combat troops, and during the
progress of the campaign General MacArthur made them available. [101]

The Sixth Army was also troubled about its reserve force. Although the
32d Division at Morotai and Hollandia and the 77th Division at Guam had
been designated as Sixth Army Reserve, it would be impossible for these
units to arrive at Leyte before the middle of November. The shortage
of amphibious shipping made it necessary to mount these divisions on
the turnaround of assault shipping. Since the floating reserve would
have to come from one of the assault divisions, it was difficult to
determine from which division to take it. It was decided that the
96th Division, considering its mission, could best spare such a unit,
and the 381st Infantry of that division was therefore selected. [102]

To summarize the mission of the Sixth Army: on 17 October, the 6th
Ranger Infantry Battalion would seize Suluan, Dinagat, and Homonhon
Islands, in the entrance to Leyte Bay. At 0930 on 20 October, the 21st
Infantry Regiment was to land in the vicinity of Panaon Strait and
secure control of that entrance to Sogod Bay. At 1000 on the same day
the Sixth Army with the X and XXIV Corps abreast would make a major
amphibious landing on Leyte. In the north the X Corps, with the 1st
Cavalry Division and the 24th Infantry Division abreast, after moving
ashore in the Marasbaras and the Palo areas, would capture Tacloban,
its airfield, and Palo. In the south the XXIV Corps with the 96th and
7th Infantry Divisions abreast would go ashore to secure control in
the Dulag area. [103]



The Logistical Plan

Construction

The decision to land on Leyte at the beginning of the rainy season
and to construct a major supply and air base thereon presented a
serious problem to the engineers. The poor soil, inadequate roads,
and heavy rains were obstacles that had to be met and in some way
overcome if the operation was to be a logistical success. General
MacArthur recognized the need for making use of Leyte as a logistical
base by creating for the first time in the Southwest Pacific an army
service command and by detailing his chief engineer, Maj. Gen. Hugh
J. Casey, to be its commander. ASCOM, as it was called, was to provide
the logistical services required for the operation and to build and
operate the Army base facilities until the United States Army Services
of Supply (SWPA) could take over. This transfer was expected to take
place about thirty days after the assault troops first landed on the
shores of Leyte. [104]

General Mac Arthur directed the Sixth Army to establish the following
air facilities in the Leyte area: by A plus 5, facilities for two
fighter groups, one night fighter squadron, one photo squadron, one
medium bomber group plus one squadron, three patrol bomber squadrons,
and one Marine reconnaissance squadron; by A plus 30, additional
facilities for two light bomber groups, one air-sea rescue squadron,
one tactical reconnaissance squadron, and one fighter squadron;
additional facilities by A plus 45 for one fighter group, one patrol
bomber squadron, two heavy bomber groups, and one laboratory squadron;
and by A plus 60, further facilities for one photo squadron, one
patrol bomber squadron, two troop carrier groups, and one combat
mapping squadron. [105]

The final Sixth Army plan for the Leyte operation directed ASCOM
to establish naval facilities in the Leyte area as well as the
aforementioned air facilities; to make topographic and hydrographic
surveys, followed by suitable changes in the plans for the construction
of bases, docks, roads, and airdromes; to unload all units, supplies,
and matériel arriving in the area and to store and issue supplies to
ground and air units; and, in co-operation with the Philippine Civil
Affairs Units, recruit and direct native labor. [106]

The construction program as planned for Leyte brought strong
remonstrances from the Sixth Army engineers. On 10 August Col. William
J. Ely, the executive officer, protested against the employment
of Leyte as a major supply and air force base. The reasons for his
objections were prophetic. The operation was to be launched during
the season of heavy rains in an area where high winds and typhoons
occurred. The harbor was so shallow and so obstructed by patches
of coral that the approaches would have to be as much as 800 feet
long. The fact that the flat Leyte Valley was interlaced by many
streams and flooded with rice paddies indicated that the soil was
"most unstable." The condition of the soil and drainage would require
the hauling, frequently for long distances, of considerable quantities
of rock for the construction of roads. The existing roads and bridges,
in most places so narrow as to permit only one-way traffic, would
soon disintegrate under the constant heavy rains and the pounding
of military vehicles. Colonel Ely forecast that, in the light
of past experience with poor conditions of soil and drainage, the
construction and enlargement of the airstrips would be difficult. The
shortage of engineer troops decreased the possibility of providing
major air and supply bases in sufficient time to properly support
further operations. He concluded that "the construction mission
cannot be satisfactorily accomplished with the engineer troops
available, particularly during the first 90 days." Colonel Ely
gloomily summarized, "Perhaps we can mud and muddle through again on
a shoestring but the shoestring must be frayed by this time and if
it broke we may lose our shirt as well as our shoe."

If the strategic plan were fixed, he recommended that one or more of
the following measures be adopted: (1) increase the number of engineer
construction troops; (2) shift the operation to an area where major
air and supply bases could be constructed without encountering the
adverse weather and port conditions existing on Leyte; (3) "decrease
the tempo of the strategic plan"; and finally (4) decrease the scope
of the air and supply requirements. Nothing was to be gained "by
undertaking an overambitious program from the beginning that cannot
be completed on a time schedule that will assure early and adequate
support to future operations." [107]

Col. Samuel D. Sturgis, Jr., Sixth Army Engineer, forwarded Colonel
Ely's report with a strong concurrence to General MacArthur's engineer,
but General Headquarters decided to proceed with the original
logistical plans for the operation. [108]



Supplies

The supplies required for the operation involved staggering
quantities. For an invasion force of 150,000 men, the War Department
figures showed that, for the landing period alone, 1,500,000 tons
of general equipment, 235,000 tons of combat vehicles, 200,000
tons of ammunition, and 200,000 tons of medical supplies were
required. Thereafter, 332,000 tons of equipment would be required
every thirty days. [109] According to the final plan, issued by
General Krueger on 30 September 1944, [110] the units of the Sixth
Army, X Corps, and Sixth Army Service Command, under General Casey,
which were to arrive at Leyte between 20 and 30 October were to take
ashore a minimum of ten days' supply of all classes (except engineer
supplies, which were to be for at least thirty days), and two units
of fire. [111] In this way the strain on ASCOM supply units would be
lessened, and ASCOM, it was hoped, would have time to establish dumps
and make the necessary supply installations. In addition to supplies
accompanying the assault troops, sufficient quantities were to be
brought into Leyte by 30 October to bring the total supplies for the
troops to the following figures, expressed in days: thirty days of
food, clothing, and equipment; fifteen days of motor transport fuel
and distillate; and thirty days of other petroleum products. There were
also to be five units of fire for combat troops and three for service
troops. The original plan had called for a thirty-day supply of all
petroleum products to be brought in by A plus 10, but this quantity
was reduced when General Krueger adopted a plan for the installation
by A plus 7 of bulk fuel storage. The XXIV Corps supply levels were to
remain the same as those planned for the now-canceled Yap operation,
since the corps was already loaded with supplies which were considered
adequate for the Leyte invasion. [112]

There were certain differences in the loads carried by the X and the
XXIV Corps. The XXIV Corps embarked with a thirty-day supply of rations
and medical supplies, twenty days of clothing, weapons, vehicles,
fuels, lubricants, construction matériel, and seven units of fire for
all artillery and five units for other types of weapons. Since the type
of equipment loaded had been selected for the Yap operation, amphibian
vehicles were favored over wheeled vehicles. Less than 50 percent of
the Table of Equipment allowance of general purpose vehicles and dump
trucks accompanied the units. Furthermore, many badly needed items
of organizational equipment were carried by the rear echelons, which
did not arrive until January 1945, after Leyte had been secured. [113]

The supplies which were to accompany the troops during the initial
phases of the Leyte operation were to come from bases in New Guinea
and the Central Pacific. Resupply shipping--to be called for as
needed--was to be loaded at bases in the United States, Australia, and,
if necessary, New Guinea. [114] In addition, ten loaded liberty ships
were to be held in floating reserve, eight at Hollandia and two in the
Palaus. Two of these were loaded with aviation gasoline, two with fuel
oil and lubricants, two with ammunition for the air forces and four
with ammunition for the ground forces. Admiral Nimitz was to furnish
two of the four last mentioned. Except for the LST's transporting
the XXIV Corps, each LST arriving on 20 October was to carry thirty
tons of technical supplies for the air forces. All LST's arriving
from A plus 1 through A plus 4 were to carry forty tons of similar
supplies. [115] General MacArthur charged the Commanding General,
United States Army Services of Supply (SWPA), with providing the
Sixth Army with all supplies, except air force technical supplies,
that would be needed for the operation. [116]

An Army garrison force for Yap under Maj. Gen. Roscoe B. Woodruff
had been scheduled to go with the XXIV Corps, and at Admiral Nimitz'
suggestion this force was designated to accompany the corps to the
new target, Leyte, though the Southwest Pacific Area had never
used an organization of this type. [117] It was hoped that the
force might be useful in taking over "house-keeping" duties and the
development of rear areas, thus relieving the assault commander of
those responsibilities. Incidentally, General Krueger made little
use of the garrison force. Units which furnished logistic support
for carrier operations were also included and were to be assigned to
the Seventh Fleet. Admiral Nimitz was to continue furnishing logistic
support to the XXIV Corps until relieved by General MacArthur. [118]



Shipping

On 21 September, Pacific Ocean Areas and Southwest Pacific Area reached
an agreement on resupply of ammunition for the XXIV Corps. Arrangements
were made for loaded ships from San Francisco to be sent to the Leyte
area periodically to alleviate the shipping shortage. [119] It was
expected that at least twenty-two cargo ships would so arrive from
San Francisco during the operation.

The change in target dates and the substitution of the XXIV Corps for
the XIV Corps reduced the amount of amphibious shipping available for
the Leyte operation. Consequently representatives of the Sixth Army,
the VII Amphibious Force, and the Fifth Air Force met at General
Krueger's headquarters to work out the details for a new shipping
schedule. They made minor changes in the dates for the movement of
convoys, and rearranged echelons, eliminating one. [120] The shipping
for the XXIV Corps and the ten resupply ships were to remain the same
as planned for Yap. [121]

The amphibious shipping allocated to MacArthur was to be made available
for such turnaround shipping as would be required. The date of release
of the amphibious vessels in order to mount subsequent operations would
be announced later, but none were to be released for return to Nimitz'
control without permission from MacArthur. An additional division
lift, which was not included, was to return the 77th Division from
Guam to Guadalcanal or to a location indicated by Admiral Nimitz. [122]

On 25 September Sixth Army submitted to General Headquarters a schedule
of cargo loadings of heavy shipping for the Leyte operation and made
suggestions as to heavy shipping for direct movement of troops. All
troops and supply ships with the assault convoy which were to depart
from Hollandia must arrive in that area not later than A minus 9. [123]

The shipping instructions specified that the ships were to be loaded
for selective discharge; all resupply ships transporting rations,
clothing, vehicles, weapons, and ammunition would be duplicate loaded;
loaded floating reserve ships would be provided; medical supplies would
be top loaded to avoid breakage and damage; and sufficient stevedore
gear would be placed aboard each ship to handle its cargo. On 25 and
26 September General Krueger's transportation officer submitted to
General Headquarters the heavy shipping requirements for the overwater
movement of cargo and troops, respectively. It was considered necessary
to utilize "all types of shipping from Navy LSM's, LST's, and assault
transports to army controlled merchant ships and troop carriers." [124]
Additional shipping was obtained by making use of that which had
carried the 1st Marine Division and the 81st Division to Peleliu and
Angaur in the Palau Islands. [125] The shipping specified above was
assembled at Manus and Hollandia and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry
Division and the 24th Division, which were embarking, respectively,
at those two ports. The XXIV Corps, after leaving the Hawaiian Islands,
was brought to Manus where it remained in its original shipping.

On 8 October General Krueger asked the commanding generals of X
Corps, XXIV Corps, and ASCOM, together with the commanding officers
of the 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion and the 21st Infantry Regiment,
whether they would be able to meet the target date for Leyte. [126]
Upon receiving affirmative replies, he laconically informed General
Headquarters: "Sixth Army Forces designated for KING TWO Operations
are ready to meet KING TWO Target Date." [127]



CHAPTER IV

The Return


For more than two years the high command of the Southwest Pacific had
anticipated the promised return to the Philippines. That objective
had governed nearly all of the planning and most of the earlier
invasions. Now the day had arrived. Plans had been made and troops
and cargo were aboard ships. The fleets of the Pacific Ocean Areas
and the Southwest Pacific Area were about to join forces in a mighty
assault against the Philippines.



The Convoy Forms

That part of the VII Amphibious Force which carried the 24th Infantry
Division and the Sixth Army Service Command assembled at the harbor
of Hollandia, Netherlands New Guinea. In this force were over 470
ships, ranging in size from small rocket-launching craft to 5,000-man
troopships, loaded and now waiting for the message to weigh anchor
and head for the Far Shore, as Leyte was designated. They were
scheduled to pick up that part of the force which was carrying the
1st Cavalry Division from Manus Island and then rendezvous with the
III Amphibious Force.

At 1600 on Friday, the thirteenth of October, the word was given and
the great fleet at Hollandia got under way for the target--Leyte--1,300
miles distant. [128] Minesweeping task groups had preceded it on
11 and 12 October. [129] By sundown the convoy was formed and the
ships were darkened. On 14 October the ships of the convoy crossed
the equator without ceremony. General quarters (battle drill) and
abandon ship drills were held. The part of the force carrying the 1st
Cavalry Division was sighted during the day. On the following day the
two units joined and the convoy proceeded. On 17 October the convoy
made visual contact with the tractor groups of the III Amphibious
Force. This force had come from Hawaii with the XXIV Corps to help
in the liberation of Leyte. [130]



XXIV Corps Afloat

In the early morning hours of 13 September the headquarters
of XXIV Corps at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii, was awake and
active. Breakfast was served at 0330, and all men who had been informed
the day before that they were to embark for an unknown shore shouldered
their barracks bags and carried them to waiting trucks. By 0700 the
men had been loaded on the trucks, which took them to the narrow-gauge
Oahu railroad. In flat cars they traveled some twenty miles to Honolulu
Harbor. The usual seeming delays followed, but eventually the hot,
tired, and perspiring headquarters men boarded the George F. Clymer
and were assigned bunks. The Clymer was but one unit of a large convoy
that stretched toward the horizon in every direction. At 1115 on 15
September the convoy got under way for a destination believed to be
Yap. As the ships departed, word was received that the Yap operation
had been canceled and that Leyte was to be their destination. For
the men on board, life fell into the monotonous routine common to
all transports. Reading, card and dice games, eating, sleeping,
and interminable "bull sessions" helped to pass the time.

On the 25th of the month the Clymer anchored at Eniwetok Island,
an anchorage already crowded with hundreds of transports, warships,
and cargo vessels. The men were allowed to go ashore, where they were
given beer and other refreshments. The XXIV Corps was notified that
it would leave for Manus, in the Admiralty Islands, where further
orders would be received and the staging completed. The LST flotilla
left on 26 September and two days later the transports followed. Maps,
terrain studies, and aerial photographs were distributed and studied
en route. [131] At the same time the XXIV Corps issued a tentative
field order which was distributed to lower unit commanders, who then
held conferences and issued tentative verbal field orders. [132]

Early in October the convoy crossed the equator. On many of the ships
ceremonies were held transforming pollywogs into shellbacks, with the
result that some of the men preferred standing to sitting for a few
days. On 3 October the convoy arrived at Manus. [133] The assault
troops of the XXIV Corps were transferred from AKA's to LST's. The
96th Division on 9 October issued a final field order for the Leyte
operation. This order allowed the regimental headquarters less than
forty-eight hours to complete final orders, plans, and maps, and
distribute them to the headquarters of the assault battalions. [134]

On 11 October the LST transports carrying the assault battalions filed
out of the Manus anchorage, and on 14 October the rest of the convoy
again formed and started on the last stretch of the journey. [135]
Its progress was satisfactory, and on 15 October the President of the
United States sent his best wishes for the success of the operation to
President Sergio Osmeña of the Philippine Commonwealth, who was at sea
with the expedition. [136] When the III Amphibious Force rendezvoused
with the Seventh Fleet, the largest convoy ever seen in the Pacific
up to that time was formed. [137]



Composition of the Convoy

Thirty-four months had been spent in building and preparing these
combatant and amphibious vessels. Practically none of them were
in existence at the time Corregidor was besieged. Most of the 183
vessels of Task Force 77 were warships, while Task Forces 78 and 79,
the amphibious forces, consisted mainly of transports, cargo ships,
and a wide variety of landing ships and craft. Fully 518 ocean-going
vessels were included in Task Forces 78 and 79. [138]

Of the vessels assigned to participate in the operation, 157 were
combatant ships: 6 old battleships, 5 heavy cruisers, 6 light cruisers,
18 escort carriers, 86 destroyers, 25 destroyer escorts, and 11
frigates. There were 420 transport vessels, including 5 command ships,
40 attack transports, 10 LSD's, 151 LST's, 79 LCI's, 21 LCT's, and 18
high-speed transports. The remainder included patrol, mine-sweeping,
hydrographic, and service ships. [139]

The convoy did not include the combatant ships of Admiral Halsey's
Third Fleet. The main striking force of the Third Fleet was Task
Force 38, composed of four powerful carrier task groups, under Admiral
Mitscher. Each group contained fast carriers, cruisers, destroyers,
and the newest American battleships. [140]

After forming, the convoy proceeded toward the target. At this time
a disquieting report was received from the meteorologists on board
the ships: a typhoon was headed toward the Leyte Gulf area. Such a
disturbance could be fatal to the expedition. A severe storm did in
fact lash the gulf area from 14 through 17 October, but it gradually
abated and the morning of A Day, 20 October, was clear. This favorable
weather augured well for a successful landing.



Softening the Target

Early Strikes

Allied aircraft had already visited the Philippine Archipelago. The
first aerial strikes since 1942 were made in the early fall of 1944. On
1 September B-24's from New Guinea bases initiated their first
large-scale air attack against airdromes in the Davao area, though
bad weather prevented the protective fighter escort from attacking the
target. The airborne defense encountered was surprisingly light--only
three intercepting fighters opposed the strike. The bombers dropped
100 tons of bombs, destroying 34 planes on the ground and killing
about 100 men. [141] Two American bombers were shot down and six
received minor damages. [142] General MacArthur believed that the
Japanese were conserving their air strength in order to concentrate
it against anticipated Allied landings. [143]

On 4 September the first aerial reconnaissance flights were made over
Leyte. During the period 9-14 September, Admiral Mitscher launched
a large-scale, carrier-based air assault against the Japanese air
defenses in the Philippine Islands in order to protect the Palau and
Morotai landings. On 9 September aircraft from the carriers attacked
airdromes and installations in the Mindanao area, destroying 60
aircraft on the ground and 8 in the air. On 12 September the attack
was directed against the Visayan Islands. Of an estimated air strength
of 225 aircraft in the sector, 125 were destroyed on the ground and
75 in the air. During the night of 12 September the Japanese flew in
reinforcements from Luzon. A Third Fleet strike on 13 September against
the reinforced air strength destroyed an estimated 135 aircraft on
the ground and 81 in the air. On the 14th, the Third Fleet planes
encountered no enemy air opposition but destroyed from 10 to 15
aircraft on the ground. The air strength which the enemy had conserved
for an anticipated American invasion was thus decimated. About 500,
or approximately 57 percent of the 884 aircraft believed to be in the
Philippines, were rendered nonoperational or destroyed. This successful
knocking out of the Japanese air strength in the Philippine Islands
was an important factor in the decision to speed up the landing at
Leyte by two months.

On 21 September Central Pacific carrier-based aircraft directed their
attention to the Luzon area. In spite of their vigorous defense of
the Luzon airfields, the Japanese lost an estimated 110 aircraft in
the air and 95 on the ground. These included not only combat aircraft
but also reconnaissance, transport, and training planes. The remaining
air strength in the area was estimated to be 350 aircraft, of which
10 percent were in Mindanao, 20 percent in the Visayan Islands,
and 70 percent in Luzon.

At the same time, the carrier-based aircraft made strong strikes
against enemy shipping in the central and southern Philippines. It
was estimated that from 1 September to 15 September 105 merchant
vessels were sunk in those waters by carrier planes, destroyers,
cruisers, and submarines. Although exact information was lacking on
the number of enemy vessels present in the Visayan and Mindanao areas,
it was thought that 50 percent of the Japanese merchant marine in
those areas was eliminated. A successful attrition of the Japanese
air and naval strength in the Philippines had been accomplished. [144]

The Third Fleet's carriers then started to neutralize the approaches
to the Philippine Islands. The carrier-based aircraft launched
strikes against enemy aircraft staging areas in the Ryukyus, of which
Okinawa is the largest and most important. As a result of attacks on
10 October, they destroyed an estimated 23 enemy planes in the air
and 88 on the ground or in the water. Admiral Halsey reported that
his flyers sank 1 subtender, 1 mine sweeper, 1 destroyer escort,
2 mine-craft, 4 midget submarines, 20 cargo ships, and 45 other
craft. In addition, nearly as many ships, mostly of small size,
were damaged. [145] On 11 October the flyers struck at Luzon.



Air and Naval Action in the Formosa Area

The plans of the Third Fleet called for strong carrier-based strikes
against Formosa on 12 and 13 October. The four task groups of Task
Force 38 were assigned targets in the southern Formosa, northern
Formosa, central Formosa, and the Takao areas, respectively. (Takao
is a port city on the southwest coast of Formosa.) After a fast run
on the night of 11-12 October the carriers of Task Force 38 arrived
in position off Formosa in the early morning. Although the Japanese
were aware of the approach of the task force, they made no attacks
against it before dawn. As the first fighters started sweeps over
their respective areas, heavy opposition developed, but it dropped
markedly during the day. From 12 to 14 October the Japanese lost some
280 aircraft, [146] while the Americans lost 76. As a result of the
operation, the Japanese lost half of their naval air strength. This
loss gave assurance that the U. S. forces would have air superiority
over the Leyte area on A Day. [147]

On the evening of 13 October the American heavy cruiser Canberra
was torpedoed eighty-five miles off Formosa. Admiral Halsey kept
his forces in the area another day in order to afford protection to
the Canberra. Attacks, therefore, continued against enemy aircraft,
airfields, and installations. By this time, Japanese reinforcements
had arrived. On the evening of 14 October an aerial torpedo hit the
heavy cruiser Houston.

Admiral Halsey decided to capitalize on the damage inflicted on the two
cruisers. He ordered two task groups, which included the battleships,
to retire eastward out of sight; he sent another of the task groups
to conduct intermittent air raids against northern Luzon; and he
assigned the remaining task group to protect the crippled Canberra and
Houston. Halsey instructed this last task group to send out messages in
the clear begging piteously for assistance. He hoped that by this ruse,
which he called the "Lure of the Streamlined Bait," the Japanese fleet
would be led to believe that this task group was all that remained of
the task force and would therefore sweep down for the kill. The two
task groups which had retired eastward would then appear and engage
the enemy. The Japanese swallowed the bait and dispatched destroyers
and cruisers toward the "crippled" American force. Unfortunately,
their search planes uncovered the two task forces off Formosa, and
the Japanese surface ships hastily withdrew.

The enemy pilots made such greatly exaggerated claims of success that
Imperial General Headquarters decided to order out the 2d Diversion
Attack Force against the Americans. The flying units of Carrier
Divisions 3 and 4 were transferred to the 2d Air Fleet. These air
units proceeded to Formosa on the 12th of October. Carrier Divisions
3 and 4, however, remained in the Inland Sea until they sortied forth
for the Battle of Leyte Gulf. [148] The exaggerated claims of the
Japanese air force were accepted jubilantly on the home islands. The
people felt that the American Navy had indeed been given a death
blow, and the Finance Ministry distributed "celebration sake" to
all households in the country to commemorate the event. The Tokyo
radio made the unfounded claim that "a total of 57 enemy warships
including 19 aircraft carriers and four battleships were sunk or
heavily damaged by the Japanese forces ... the enemy task forces
lost the majority of their strength and were put to rout...." [149]
It also predicted that the Allied losses would delay the invasion of
the Philippine Islands by two months. [150]

Admiral Halsey's reaction was to report that "all 3d Fleet Ships
reported by radio Tokyo as sunk have now been salvaged and are retiring
towards the enemy." [151]

The convoy, as it steamed toward Leyte, received the news of the
United States success with considerable satisfaction. At this time,
however, Admiral Halsey announced that the Third Fleet was being
deployed for action, since he was expecting the Japanese to rise
to his bait. Consequently the Third Fleet, except for the current
strike at Luzon, could not furnish any more carrier support for the
operation. [152] The Third Fleet task group which went to the Luzon
area successfully struck at enemy airfields and shipping. From 17 to
19 October it destroyed an estimated ninety-nine enemy aircraft on
the ground and ninety-five in the air. [153]



Realignment of Air Support

On the heels of Admiral Halsey's announcement that no assistance in
connection with the Leyte landings could be expected from the Third
Fleet, Far East Air Forces stated that the Fifth Air Force would
support the Leyte operation as a "priority mission." [154] At the
same time the Seventh Fleet requested intensive reconnaissance of
San Bernardino and Surigao Straits in the Leyte area. This mission
was assigned to the Fifth Air Force, which was also charged with
neutralizing the Visayan airfields. The Thirteenth Air Force was to
expedite the basing on Morotai of heavy bombers which could be called
forward in support when requested by the Fifth Air Force. From 18 to
19 October the carrier aircraft of the Seventh Fleet protected the
convoy and struck at small vessels and airfields in northern Mindanao
as well as defense and communications installations and airfields on
Leyte. [155]

Although the missions Admiral Halsey had assigned his carriers
apparently prevented any aircraft of the Third Fleet from participating
in direct support of the landings, Halsey nevertheless ordered one
of the task groups to strike at the Leyte, Samar, Cebu, and Negros
areas on 18-19 October and to provide direct air support for the
Leyte operation on 20 October. [156] Moreover, by 18 October news
was received that the Japanese had discovered the ruse and withdrawn
their warships from the Formosa area, thus leaving Admiral Halsey's
forces free to protect the operation by covering San Bernardino and
Surigao Straits. [157]

The carrier force of the Seventh Fleet was to bear the brunt of the
tactical air support. By the afternoon and night of 17 October the
weather had cleared, and flying conditions were perfect as the carriers
moved into their operation areas the following morning. The force was
divided into three units: one unit operated in the southern part of
Leyte Gulf to protect the landings at Panaon Strait; another operated
near the entrance to the gulf in order to support the landings of
the Southern Attack Force at Dulag; and the last operated southeast
of Samar Island to support the landings of the Northern Attack Force
at Tacloban.

During 18 and 19 October, aircraft from the carriers struck at
enemy airfields on Cebu, Negros, and Panay Islands. There was very
little enemy activity from the Japanese airfields in the Leyte area,
since they were still sodden from the recent storms. In the two days'
strikes, the Seventh Fleet aircraft destroyed an estimated thirty-six
enemy planes and damaged twenty-eight more. [158]



Japanese Plan of Defense

The air blows on the Philippines served as a warning that the Americans
were ready to return to the Islands--an event long expected by the
Japanese. By the end of June 1944, the Japanese military situation
had considerably worsened. The outer circle of Japan's perimeter had
been pierced and the impetus of the American drive showed no signs
of slackening. (Map 4)

The Allied nations had hit the Japanese from east and west and
seriously interfered with their seaborne commerce. Japan was in grave
danger of being separated from her stolen southern area--the source
of her raw materials. Units within this area were also being forcibly
isolated from each other. The fall of Saipan had brought about a
"most serious crisis." Premier Tojo was removed and Kuniaki Koiso
formed a new cabinet. [159]

In the summer of 1944 Imperial General Headquarters had started to
strengthen the Philippines, the Ryukyus, the Kurile Islands, and Japan
itself--the "first line of sea defense." If the Allies landed forces
in any of these areas, the Japanese would concentrate their land,
air, and sea forces and attempt to repel the landing force. These
operations were known as the SHO (Victory) Operations. Defense of
the Philippines was SHO I. [160]

The Japanese strategy was simple. Japan wished to remain in the war,
and to do so she must at all costs keep open the lines of communication
to the sources of her raw materials in the Netherlands Indies.

In the first part of August 1944, the headquarters of the 14th Area
Army, which was to be charged with the defense of the Philippine
Archipelago, was organized under the command of the Southern Army,
while the 35th Army, which was to defend the Visayan Islands, was
established under the command of the 14th Area Army. [161]

The Philippine Islands were under the jurisdiction of the Southern
Army, whose command organization was extremely complex. (Chart 3)
The supreme commander was Field Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchi. There
were four area armies in the Southern Army: the 2d Area Army occupied
Netherlands New Guinea, thence west to Timor; the 7th Area Army was
at Singapore; the Burma Area Army was at Rangoon; and the 14th Area
Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Shigenori Kuroda, was in the Philippines
with its headquarters at Manila. The Southern Army also had two air
armies and three garrison armies: the 3d Air Army in Singapore; the
4th Air Army, consisting of two air divisions in the Philippines and
one air division in western New Guinea; and a garrison army stationed
in Thailand, another in French Indochina, and a third in Borneo. The
commander of the 14th Area Army maintained a staff liaison with the
4th Air Army but otherwise had no control over it.

The 1st Air Fleet, under the command of the Southwest Area
Fleet, was stationed in the Philippines, with headquarters at
Manila. Admiral Soemu Toyoda, commander in chief of the Combined
Fleet with headquarters at Tokyo, controlled the entire naval forces,
including the Southwest Area Fleet. [162]



Plans for the 14th Area Army

The Japanese during the summer of 1944 anticipated that the United
States forces would return to the Philippine Islands, but when and
where were two questions for which not even Tokyo Rose, the Japanese
radio propagandist, had the answers. Consequently, the Japanese wished
to keep their troops sufficiently mobile that reinforcements might be
rushed to the point of contact. The original plan called for the main
defensive effort of the ground forces to be made on Luzon, since there
were too few Japanese troops in the archipelago to defend all of the
Philippines. The Japanese Navy and Air Forces, however, were to carry
out "decisive" actions in the central and southern Philippines. [163]

To General Kuroda fell the task of making and executing plans for the
defense of the Philippines by the 14th Area Army. General Kuroda was
essentially a realist. He stated in June 1947 that in October 1944 he
had told Maj. Gen. Seizo Arisue, Chief of Army Intelligence, Imperial
General Headquarters, that "it would be best for Japan to negotiate
an immediate peace before the Americans could destroy our nation
by air power." [164] Kuroda thought that all available land forces
should be concentrated in the Luzon area in order to counterattack
any American landing within the Luzon perimeter. However, because
of their predominant aerial strength, the Americans in their next
attempt could unless they made "some terrible mistake ... land in
force and once ashore, could take the Philippines." [165] General
Kuroda's plan was never considered. Imperial General Headquarters'
plan for the defense of the Philippines called for the employment of
ten divisions and five brigades: five divisions and two brigades in
Luzon, four divisions and two brigades in the southern Philippines,
and one division and one brigade in China and Formosa. The two units
last mentioned would be rushed to the Philippines as soon as the
American landing became imminent. [166] When the Americans landed,
all of these units, acting in concert, were to participate in fighting
a decisive battle against the American troops. This plan was never
carried out in its entirety.

The Japanese occupation troops of the Philippine Islands had grown
soft and had "no particular will to fight." In the spring of 1944,
there were only minor units available to set up an organized defense.

Imperial General Headquarters and the Southern Army thought that
because of the many islands in the archipelago emphasis should be
placed on air power. Air attacks could destroy the American forces
before they arrived at the landing areas or at least before they
could make appreciable gains. The way could then be opened to turn a
defense into an offensive. [167] General Kuroda threw cold water on
this plan by bluntly stating:


    That concept is good, but you cannot fight with concept
    alone. Words alone will not sink American ships and that becomes
    clear when you compare our airplanes with theirs. That is why the
    major battles have been occurring on land. We can say that the
    power of our air force is negligible at this time. No matter how
    much the Fourteenth Army devotes their efforts toward air power,
    in actuality, should there be a decisive fight, they must fight
    on land. The preparation and conduct of an operation, and the
    responsibilities thereof cannot be conducted by airplanes and air
    units. The land army should initiate its own preparations. For
    example, for what purpose were the group of air bases constructed
    at Davao and Tacloban? Even though they are built, they aren't
    used. It amounts to construction for the use of the enemy. [168]


During the month of August, the Japanese devoted their main efforts
toward strengthening the air force. After the first of September
more emphasis was placed on building up the ground troops while
the air preparations continued to some extent. The Southern Army in
late August ordered about one half of a division to Sarangani and
one division to Davao against the wishes of the 14th Area Army. This
meant a reshuffling of the troops that had been moving and repairing
defenses since the first part of August. "The order was carried out
begrudgingly." [169]

Lt Gen. Sosaku Suzuki, the commander of the 35th Army, thinking that
the American Army would land on 1 October, said: "Contrary to what
has been announced by General Headquarters our air force cannot be
prepared and equipped in time, nor can the Combined Fleet be depended
upon. The situation grows worse and for this reason the land force
preparations must be hastened. Yet, in spite of that, we must not
discourage the air forces and should do as much as possible to prepare
aggressive aerial opposition." [170]

In the middle of September, Imperial General Headquarters decided
to replace General Kuroda with General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Not only
did General Kuroda have a concept of the Philippine operations that
differed from that of his superiors, but he was charged with neglecting
his duty as field army commander. [171] Lt. Col. Seiichi Yoshie of
the Personnel Bureau of the War Ministry, who had been sent to the
Philippines to investigate personnel matters in the Southern Army,
said of the incident:


    Stories reached the War Ministry that Lt. Gen. Kuroda was devoting
    more time to his golf, reading and personal matters than to the
    execution of his official duties. It appeared that his control
    over staff officers and troops was not sufficiently strong and
    that there was a good deal of unfavorable criticism of his conduct
    among the troops. There were also indications that discipline
    was becoming very lax.

    On 4 September 1944, I left Tokyo under orders ... to
    investigate. As a result I obtained many statements substantiating
    the unfavorable stories in regard to Lt. Gen. Kuroda. The
    recommendations of all the staff was that Lt. Gen. Kuroda be
    relieved as soon as possible, and be replaced by Gen. Yamashita
    ... who was a superb tactician and excellent leader. [172]


General Yamashita, who was in Manchuria, received notification of
his appointment on 23 September, and on the 9th of October he assumed
command of the 14th Area Army. [173] On his arrival in the Philippines,
he found conditions were "unsatisfactory." Of the eleven members
of the old staff only five were left and the new staff officers
were unfamiliar with conditions in the Philippine Islands. [174]
The state of affairs was well exemplified by a remark of his new
chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Akira Muto, who arrived in the Philippines
on 20 October from Sumatra, where he had been in command of the 2d
Imperial Guards Division. [175] Upon being told that the Americans
had landed on Leyte, Muto is said to have replied, "Very interesting,
but where is Leyte?" [176]

Maj. Gen. Toshio Nishimura, one of three assistants to Yamashita,
states that the planning for the Leyte campaign was "very bad." The
supply situation, however, was favorable. Since Manila was the main
depot not only for the Philippines but also for other places in the
south such as Borneo and Singapore, a sufficient amount of everything
needed was at hand. [177]

There were two tactical concepts of defense of the islands in July
and August 1944. One was termed the policy of "annihilation at the
beachhead" and the other the policy of "resistance in depth." The
respective merits of the two concepts were bitterly debated by their
partisans. The proponents of resistance in depth thought that the
beach defenses, which had been constructed with a great deal of
labor, were useless, since it was believed they could not withstand
naval bombardment. On the other hand, the friends of annihilation
at the beachhead felt that semipermanent beach fortifications could
withstand bombardment. Imperial General Headquarters, after studying
the battle lessons of the Pacific Campaign and the actual effect of
naval bombardment, decided to adopt the resistance in depth tactics and
instructed the entire army forces to comply. Consequently, the various
group commanders abandoned their beach defenses with regret and began
to build strong fortifications in selected areas of the interior. [178]

The control of the Visayan Islands and Mindanao was vested in the 35th
Army, which was the equivalent of an American army corps. General
Suzuki, its commander, compromised between the two concepts of
defense. At a meeting of the 35th Army unit commanders in the middle
of August 1944, he stated that although the main battle was to be
fought away from the beaches some troops should remain to resist
the American landings and "therefore part of the troops must suffer
premature losses." [179]

The 16th, 102d, 30th, and the 100th Divisions, which were in
Leyte, Panay, and Mindanao, were placed under the 35th Army, whose
headquarters was at Cebu. [180]



The Suzu Plan

On 17 August General Suzuki issued the Suzu orders for the defense
of the Visayan Islands and Mindanao by the 35th Army. The 100th
Division was to protect the Davao area on Mindanao while the 16th
Division would defend Leyte. Most of the 30th Division and two infantry
battalions were made mobile units which could be rushed to annihilate
the American force wherever it landed. However, if the Americans landed
simultaneously on Davao and Leyte, the main force of the 30th Division
was to be sent to Davao and the other mobile units would go to Leyte.

In late August, Suzuki received orders to dispose his troops as
follows: a reinforced division in the Davao area, three battalions in
the Sarangani Bay area, three battalions in the vicinity of Zamboanga,
two battalions in the Jolo Islands, a "strong unit" in the vicinity of
Surigao, and one division in the Leyte Gulf area. The 55th Independent
Mixed Brigade was to be assigned to the 35th Army. Units of the
16th Division which were in Luzon were sent to the 16th Division
on Leyte. These elements, which consisted of one engineer company,
an independent transportation unit, and a medical unit, were placed
under the commander of the 33d Infantry Regiment. [181]

Lt. Gen. Shiro Makino, commanding the 16th Division, which was the
major force on Leyte, had directed his efforts since April 1944
toward the construction of defensive positions on the island. The
first line of defense, which was on the east coast in the Dulag area,
was practically completed by the middle of October. The third defensive
line was in the middle of Leyte Valley in the vicinity of Dagami. The
second line of defense was between the two others, while the bulk of
supplies was assembled in the central mountain range at Jaro.

The distribution of the other troops at the time of the American
landings was as follows: one battalion of the 9th Infantry Regiment
in the Catmon Hill and Tanauan district, and the main strength of
the 33d Infantry Regiment in the Palo and Tacloban area. The larger
part of the 33d Infantry Regiment, which was less adequately trained
than the other regiments, had arrived on Leyte in mid-September from
Luzon. Its officers were unfamiliar with the terrain and did not
fortify their positions. [182]

On 17 October General Makino, having heard that American warships
had approached Leyte Gulf, alerted the 16th Division for the
impending battle and ordered all units to "shatter the enemy landing
attempts." [183] On 18 October the 14th Area Army received a report
from the 16th Division which indicated that the latter was not certain
the vessels sighted off Leyte were an enemy attacking force. They
might be ships seeking safety from the storms, or vessels damaged in
the naval battle off Formosa. Consequently, 14th Area Army was not
sure that an attack was imminent at Leyte. [184]



Plans for the 4th Air Army

The principal assignment of the 4th Air Army was to attack
American transports and interdict American shipping and, if given
the opportunity, to attack the American combatant vessels. The
4th Air Army was also to give aerial support to the movement of
reinforcements. [185]

In October the 4th Air Army issued a plan for anticipated
operations. In co-operation with the Army and the Navy, the 4th Air
Army would attempt to destroy the American forces when they struck the
Philippines. The Army air force in concert with the naval air units
would try to destroy carrier-based planes and air bases. In operations
against the American fleet, the Army and Navy air units were to have
"a unified and tactful commitment." If the naval air units could not
co-operate the Army air force was to venture a surprise attack with
a few planes. Dusk, night, and dawn attacks were to be made against
Allied air bases and all means exerted to foil Allied attempts to
establish advance bases in the Philippines. The main strength of the
fighter units was to move into the central and southern Philippines in
order to destroy the principal American landing force. The mission
of the Japanese 4th Air Army, operating from Mindanao, Celebes,
and northern Borneo, would be restricted to checking the current
attempts on the part of the Americans to establish bases on Halmahera
and western New Guinea and the destruction of the planes there. For
this purpose the Japanese air force would use bases in the southern
Philippines.

When the American convoy was sighted moving toward the Philippines, the
heavy bombers were to deploy to the central and southern Philippines
and make preparations for an immediate attack on the convoy after it
had arrived in the harbor. The fighter units were to attack Allied
aircraft and, if the circumstances were propitious, were also to attack
the convoy. If the Americans should attempt simultaneous landings at
various points, the Japanese Army air forces would "try to annihilate
the landing parties one by one," [186] acting in concert with the
Japanese Navy.

Capt. Toshikazu Ohmae, the chief of staff to the commander in chief of
the Japanese Third Fleet, was highly critical of the liaison between
the Army and Navy air forces. "The Army and Navy always quarreled
with each other. In theory they were supposed to cooperate and on the
higher levels it would work, but personalities were the trouble." [187]



Japanese Navy Plans

On 21 July 1944 Admiral Toyoda received a directive which laid down
the basic policies for subsequent "urgent operations." A great deal
of the contracting empire was abandoned. The Southwest Area, which
embraced the region from Manila to Singapore, was ordered to "maintain
security of resources areas, hold vital sectors for their defense, and
place emphasis on protection for fleet anchorages." Thus the Japanese
planned to restrict battle "to the homeland and to the island chain
which protected the last links" of the empire with the south. The
forces in the Japanese home islands, the Ryukyu chain, Formosa, and
the Philippine Islands were told to take "all measures to expedite the
establishment of conditions to cope with decisive battle. In event
of enemy attack, summon all strength which can be concentrated and
hold vital sectors, in general intercepting and destroying the enemy
within the operational sphere of planes of our base air force." [188]

The success of Admiral Halsey's carrier strikes against Formosa had
considerably weakened the strength of Japanese carrier-based planes,
and less than one half of the Army planes remained. The necessity
of sending reinforcements to Formosa also weakened considerably the
Japanese aerial defense of the Philippines. The enemy became almost
completely dependent upon the remaining land-based planes. [189] Within
their capabilities the Japanese had made their plans and readied their
forces, as the American convoy steamed towards Leyte to do battle.



Securing the Channel Approaches

Landings of the 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion

The forward part of the convoy, which was carrying the 6th Ranger
Infantry Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Henry A. Mucci, had
experienced stormy weather since leaving Hollandia, but by dawn of the
17th the storm had slackened, though the ocean was still choppy. The
transports carrying the reinforced 6th Ranger Battalion, preceded by
three mine sweepers, entered Leyte Gulf. [190]

The USS Crosby, carrying Company D, arrived on schedule off Suluan
Island, the outermost of the islands guarding Leyte Gulf. For twenty
minutes the cruiser Denver shelled the island. Under lowering skies
and in a driving rain which rendered impossible the anticipated air
support, [191] Company D, under 1st Lt. Leslie M. Gray, disembarked
from the transport and headed for the island in landing craft. The
mission of the unit was to secure mine charts which were believed to be
located in a lighthouse on the island. At 0805 the boats touched shore.

The landing was unopposed. The men immediately filed south 500
yards on a trail along the coast and then headed east toward the
lighthouse. On the way, four buildings, one of which contained a
Japanese radio, were found and set ablaze. The company then continued
along the trail. Suddenly the enemy fired from a concealed position,
killing one man and wounding another. When Company D went into attack
formation, the enemy force disappeared into the heavy jungle bordering
the trail. The march was resumed and the company reached its objective
without further incident. The lighthouse, which had been damaged by
naval bombardment, and adjoining buildings were deserted. [192]

In searching the documents found in the lighthouse, the company failed
to turn up the hoped-for enemy mine charts. [193] It returned to the
beachhead area and, finding that the landing boats had been hopelessly
battered and broken up by the surf, formed a perimeter for the night.

As Company D was moving along the coast of Suluan Island, naval fire
blasted away at the extreme northwest coast of Dinagat Island. At 0900
the first assault waves of the 6th Rangers, minus Companies D and B,
started for the beach. Although coral reefs approximately one hundred
yards offshore grounded the boats so that the men had to wade the
remainder of the distance, the companies were all ashore by 1230. No
Japanese were on the island and the troops accomplished their mission,
the erection of a navigation light at Desolation Point to guide the
movement of the main portion of the convoy.

Company B of the 6th Rangers was to have landed on Homonhon Island at
the same time landings were made on Suluan and Dinagat. Its mission,
too, was the emplacement of a navigation light, but bad weather
and choppy seas kept the troops confined to the ship throughout the
17th. [194] On the morning of the 18th, the ship's address system
clanged out general quarters. The men went below, put on their gear,
and checked their weapons. At 0900 the troops were told to prepare to
disembark. They bolted up the ladders and spilled out over the deck to
the davits. [195] The boats were lowered and the first wave started for
the beach. At the same time the guns from the destroyer and frigate
which had escorted the transport concentrated fire against the shore
line for twelve minutes. Three minutes later, the boats grounded on a
coral reef forty yards from the beach, and the men waded the remaining
distance to shore. They encountered no resistance and at 1038 the
company commander, Capt. Arthur D. Simons, notified the battalion
commander, "Beachhead secured, supplies ashore. No resistance. No
casualties." [196] The company set up a channel light.

By 18 October, steady white lights were beaming from Dinagat and
Homonhon Islands to guide the convoy in to Leyte Island. The one
on Dinagat had a visibility of twelve miles and that on Homonhon a
visibility of ten. [197]



Mine Sweeping

The mine-sweeping plans contemplated that the mine-sweeping group
would arrive on 17 October simultaneously with the troops that were
to storm Suluan, Dinagat, and Homonhon Islands. On 11 October the
slow-moving mine sweepers lifted anchor at Manus and departed for the
objective area. They rendezvoused near the Palaus with the Dinagat
force, which had left Hollandia on 12 October. On 15 October they were
joined by the carriers and the beach demolition and bombardment and
fire support groups which had sortied from Manus on 12 October. On
14 October information was received from guerrilla sources that
there were no underwater obstacles off the beaches between Abuyog
and Tacloban. Although the northern Surigao Strait was mined, it was
considered doubtful whether the same condition existed at the southern
entrances of Leyte Gulf. [198] The mine-sweeping groups that had left
Hollandia on 11 October arrived in Leyte Gulf during the storm of the
evening of 16 October. Some of the mine sweepers had been delayed
by the storm but were able to arrive in time to begin sweeping the
channels. [199]

In the early dawn of 17 October the mine sweepers began their work
on the channel approaches to Suluan Island. [200] By 0630 they had
accomplished their task and then began to sweep the waters of the
landing areas in Leyte Gulf until the storm forced them to suspend
operations. At 1259 they resumed sweeping with great difficulty. Until
A Day, intensive area and tactical mine sweeping continued. The
sweepers started at dawn each day and worked continuously until
nightfall. By 19 October it was known that the Japanese had heavily
mined the approaches to Leyte Gulf but that there were no mines
within the gulf itself. The northern part of the main channel into
the gulf, however, was not considered safe. [201] By the same date
sweeping had been completed in the southern half, 186 mines having
been destroyed. At about 0135 on 19 October, the destroyer supporting
the mine-sweeping units which were in the gulf struck a floating mine
and while maneuvering away from the area struck another. The ship
was disabled and retired from action. By A Day, a total of 227 mines
had been destroyed and a passage approximately six miles wide had
been cleared just north of Dinagat Island. All ships were therefore
directed to enter Leyte Gulf through that portion of the strait. [202]

As the mine sweepers came close to the land, boats containing Filipinos
moved out to welcome the advance party of liberators. The reception
they met was not enthusiastic. Admiral Oldendorf, the commanding
officer of the bombardment and fire support group, "suspected that
some might have come seeking information so detained them aboard
their respective ships.... Directed no further patriots be taken
aboard ship." [203]



Underwater Demolition Teams

The naval plans for the amphibious phase of the operation contemplated
the use of seven underwater demolition teams--three to cover the
northern coast beaches and four to cover the southern beaches. The
teams, starting A minus 2 (18 October), were to locate underwater
obstructions and detonate mines. On 18 and 19 October the underwater
demolition teams made a reconnaissance of the landing areas,
accompanied by destroyers which bombarded the shores. The two days'
reconnaissance disclosed no underwater obstacles or mines in the
vicinity of the proposed landing beaches.



The Convoy Enters Leyte Gulf

By the evening of 19 October the preliminary operations were almost
completed. The beaches had been surveyed and found suitable for
landing; mines had been cleared from most of the main approach channel;
and the entrances to Leyte Gulf had been secured. [204]

All ships were to be prepared to attach paravanes (mine-cable cutting
devices) on signal at any time after noon on 19 October. [205] Since
the mine sweepers had not sufficiently cleared the gulf, paravanes were
attached preparatory to entering it. The mine sweepers were to have
escorted the convoy into the area, but since they would not be ready
for about two hours, the entry was ordered to be made without them. The
convoy hugged the Dinagat shore line so closely that the distance from
the center of the formation to the shore was only 3,800 yards. [206]
Some of the ships did not see the signal light which had been placed
on Dinagat Island by the 6th Rangers and were delayed on that account.

The convoy advanced without incident toward the target area. On the
18th Admiral Kinkaid radioed General MacArthur that the operations
were going well, though the storm had somewhat delayed matters, and
the General was made "welcome to our city." [207] MacArthur in reply
said that he was "glad indeed to be in your domicile and under your
flag. It gives me not only confidence but a sense of inspiration,"
and, probably thinking of the many arduous months of planning and
amphibious operations, he added, "As Ripley says believe it or not
we are almost there." [208]

As the convoy came ever closer to the target, the atmosphere aboard
the vessels became more and more tense. By 1800 on 19 October most of
the vessels had arrived outside the gulf. The Far Shore was now near
and could be seen vaguely in the distance. On board one of the vessels
Protestant and Catholic evening prayers were broadcast over the address
system. Some of the men felt that it gave them a lift, but many felt
that they were being administered the last rites of their church. [209]

All vessels arrived on schedule. Because the mine barrier in the
entrance had not been completely cleared, the ships entered the
gulf somewhat to the south of the center of the entrance, avoiding
the main channel and keeping close to the northern point of Dinagat
Island. Fears that strong ebb tides might impede progress of the
slower vessels through the entrance proved groundless. Paravanes
were retained until arrival in the transport areas, but no mines were
encountered. [210]

Naval plans called for bombardment of the enemy-held shores on A minus
2 (18 October), but because the water areas had not been completely
swept for mines by that time, ships could not reach the bombardment
area. On A minus 1, bombardment was chiefly for the purpose of
providing effective support and coverage for the underwater demolition
teams. However, many of the defenses and installations of the enemy
on or near the landing beaches, including buildings and supply dumps,
were neutralized or destroyed.

By the afternoon of 19 October, when it had become apparent to the
Japanese that the Americans had returned to the Philippine Islands,
General Suzuki put his defense plan into effect. He ordered the
16th Division to annihilate the American force, and, failing that,
to interfere as much as possible with the use of Leyte airfields by
the American Army. The mobile units, including two battalions from the
30th Division, were to speed to Leyte as fast as possible. Finally,
the headquarters of the 35th Army was to move to Ormoc on the west
coast of Leyte on the 23d or 24th of October. [211]

Through the night of 19-20 October, destroyers near the shore continued
to shell the Japanese forces on land. The American forces were safely
within Leyte Gulf--A Day had arrived.



CHAPTER V

A Day: 20 October 1944


Bombardment of the Shores of Leyte

The waters of Leyte Gulf were glassy calm as the convoys bearing the
assault forces steamed into their appointed positions off the shores
of Leyte in the very early morning hours of 20 October 1944.

There were three stages of the naval gunfire support: the pre-A-Day
bombardment, A-Day bombardment, and close supporting missions to be
delivered after H Hour and to continue until 24 October. A portion of
the fire support group in support of the underwater demolition teams
had bombarded the southern landing beaches and the town of Dulag
on 18 October, a process which was repeated on the following day in
support of the underwater demolition teams on the northern landing
beaches. [212]

At 0600 on A Day, 20 October, the battleships assigned to the
Southern Attack Force opened fire on the beaches. A lone Japanese
plane appeared at 0612 over the northern beaches, circled the convoy,
and despite gunfire from the Maryland and West Virginia disappeared
unscathed. [213] At 0700 the battleships of the Northern Attack Force
commenced firing. For two hours the six battleships, three to each
attack force, fired on the beaches. Since no specific targets could
be discerned or determined, the gunfire was directed at areas. Many
enemy supply dumps and minor military installations were destroyed. An
observer reported:


    Gray smoke plumes are rising from the shores. Battleship
    Mississippi is now working on the northern beaches. She is
    joined by the Maryland whose fire has apparently caused a large
    shore explosion. Jap ack-ack is fired at spotting planes but the
    performance is weak.

    Battleships move inshore and renew their constant
    thunder. Helldivers and Avengers from our CVE's are heading toward
    the shore.... [214]


At 0900 the battleships ceased their fire and the cruisers and
destroyers moved in closer to the shore to deliver their scheduled
bombardment. [215]

At 0850 gunfire was suspended in the vicinity of Catmon Hill,
the most prominent coastal terrain feature near Dulag, in order to
allow an air strike against installations in the interior by the
planes from the CVE's of the amphibious force. During the day a
total of 500 sorties by more than 140 planes were flown in direct
support. Twelve direct support missions were carried out, nine
against selected targets requested by ground troops and three against
targets of opportunity. Dawn and dusk fighter sweeps were made against
airfields. [216] The aircraft from the carriers, which were beyond the
range of the guns of enemy coastal defenses, did not attempt secondary
missions upon the completion of a mission in the target area. [217]

The principal bombing and strafing targets were revetments, dispersal
areas, supply dumps, and bivouac areas, together with aircraft on
islands near Leyte. Grounded planes were strafed and destroyed. The
commander of the escort carriers made the surprising estimate that
aircraft from his carriers had destroyed 125 planes on the ground
and damaged an additional 90 more in the first three days of this
"close support at a distance." [218] Aircraft did not bomb the shore
line, since gunfire from the vessels within the gulf was considered
more effective.

At 0900 the cruisers commenced bombarding the beaches. They were joined
at 0930 by the destroyers. At 0945 the cruisers and destroyers lifted
their fire and directed it at the inland areas, at the flanks of the
landing beaches, and at important roads and towns. [219]

At 0800 the first anchor chains of the vessels had rattled out; LCVP's
were quickly swung over the sides; boats circled mother ships and moved
to their rendezvous areas. [220] The LCI mortar and LCI rocket ships
took their places at the head of the assault waves. It was now 0945,
fifteen minutes before H Hour. The LCI's raced simultaneously to the
shores of Leyte, raking the landing beaches with rocket and mortar
fire. The bombardment grew heavier and more monotonous. Hundreds of
small boats, flanked by rocket ships and destroyers, headed toward
the beaches; thousands of rockets hit the beaches with the rumble of
an earthquake. It was impossible to distinguish one explosion from
another in the unbroken roar. [221] Over a smooth sea a hot, brilliant,
tropical sun beat down. The American forces were ready to land.



X Corps Goes Ashore

Hours earlier reveille had sounded on board the transports and the
troops had dressed by the red lights in the holds where they were
quartered. There was very little talking. Many of the men sat on their
bunks giving their weapons a final check. Others lay back and smoked
in silence. A few sought the chaplains. [222]



Missions of Sixth Army Summarized

The Sixth Army had been ordered to seize and establish beachheads in
the Dulag and Tacloban areas and to secure the airfields in order to
provide naval and air bases; and to seize such objectives in the Panaon
Strait area as would permit safe passage of naval forces through the
strait to the Camotes Sea. [223] To carry out the operation General
Krueger had assigned the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry
Division, to gain control of Panaon Strait; the XXIV Corps was to
secure the Dulag area and its airstrip; and the 1st Cavalry Division
of X Corps was to land in the Marasbaras area and, by advancing north,
capture the Tacloban airdrome, the most important A-Day objective
for the Sixth Army. At the same time, the 24th Division, less the
21st Infantry, of the X Corps was to seize Palo and advance rapidly
to the northwest. [224] The seizure of these areas would secure the
important coastal airstrips for future air operations, cut off any
Japanese attempts at reinforcement from the southern Philippines
through the Mindanao Sea and Sogod Bay, secure the important eastern
entrances into the interior, and enable the American forces to control
San Pedro Bay and San Juanico Strait.

The northernmost unit of X Corps, the 1st Cavalry Division, was to
land in the vicinity of San Jose (also called San Ricardo and San Jose
Ricardo) about three miles north of Palo, on White Beach. White Beach
extended southward 2,000 yards from the Cataisan Peninsula. There
was an interval of 1,500 yards between this beach and the northern
limit of Red Beach, which was also 2,000 yards long. [225] The 24th
Division, less the 21st Infantry, was to land in the vicinity of the
town of Palo, on Red Beach. (Map 5)



1st Cavalry Division

White Beach had a fairly good landing surface of white coral sand,
but even at high tide it was suitable only for shallow-draft landing
craft. Its average width was fifteen yards at low tide, at which
time a small irregular bank two to three feet high appeared at the
water's edge. The underwater gradient was shallow, extending out
half a mile in places. An irregular fringe of coconut trees ran the
length of the beach. In the southern section this fringe was narrow,
with very wet and swampy cleared land behind it. Highway 1 roughly
paralleled the beach about a mile inland. [226]

The roar of many guns could be heard as the 1st Cavalry Division
prepared to disembark into landing boats, which were to rendezvous
at the line of departure 5,000 yards from shore. A pall of lazily
billowing yellow smoke obscured the shores of Leyte. [227]

The 1st Cavalry Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Verne D. Mudge,
was to land on White Beach with brigades abreast--the 1st Brigade
on the left (south) and the 2d Brigade on the right (north)--and
advance inland. The 1st Brigade, under Brig. Gen. William C. Chase,
was to reconnoiter the hills on the west side of Tacloban Valley
and establish observation posts which would command the entrances
to the valley. The 2d Brigade, under Brig. Gen. Hugh F. Hoffman, had
the most important mission of the day. It was to advance northwest,
capture the Tacloban airdrome and seize the Cataisan Peninsula,
reaching Cataisan Point, the northern extremity of the peninsula,
by 1400. Col. William J. Bradley's 8th Cavalry Regiment of the 2d
Brigade was held afloat in division reserve and was to be prepared
to reinforce either the 1st or 2d Brigade. [228]

Flanked by rocket and gunboat LCI's, and preceded by amphibian tanks,
the 5th and 12th Cavalry Regiments, which formed the 1st Brigade,
and the 7th Cavalry, which with the 8th Cavalry (in reserve) composed
the 2d Brigade, raced for the shores of Leyte. The escorting rocket
ships laid down a heavy barrage which covered the beach defenses
to a depth of 1,800 yards inland and left the enemy incapable of
organized resistance. As the boats neared shore, only small arms and
machine gun fire opposed the landing. [229] As planned, the regiments
landed abreast, the 7th Cavalry Regiment on the right (north), the
12th Cavalry Regiment in the center, and the 5th Cavalry on the left
(south).

The 1st Squadron of the 7th Cavalry was to land north of the 2d
Squadron on the northern end of White Beach, which at this point
coincided with the narrow neck of land connecting the Cataisan
Peninsula to the rest of the island, and then go directly north to
secure the entire peninsula and the airstrip. On its left the 2d
Squadron, 7th Cavalry, was to land on the right flank of White Beach,
push inland, capture San Jose and a bridge across the Burayan River
northwest of the town, and seize a beachhead line a thousand yards
west of Highway 1 and three thousand yards from White Beach. The
Cataisan Peninsula would then be sealed off.

Both squadrons landed on schedule, with only slight opposition,
and immediately began to execute their assignments. The 2d Squadron,
within fifteen minutes after landing, knocked out two pillboxes on the
beach, killing eight Japanese in one and five in the other. It then
organized rapidly and pushed on to secure its first objective, the
town of San Jose. In the town the squadron engaged in a house-to-house
search but found few Japanese. By 1230 twenty-four Japanese had been
killed, San Jose was in American hands, and the Cataisan Peninsula
was sealed off. The 7th Cavalry Regiment established its command post
on the west side of the town at 1245. The troops of the 2d Squadron
then set out in a northwesterly direction astride the hard-surfaced,
narrow San Jose-Tacloban road, but they were slowed down by swamps
and flooded rice paddies on either side. [230] At 1400 they crossed
the Burayan River on a bridge which the 33d Infantry Regiment had
attempted to destroy but had only damaged. The engineers strengthened
the bridge so that the medium tanks could cross, and at 1420 the
forward movement continued. By 1630 the squadron had reached its
objective--a point 3,000 yards from White Beach--and immediately set
up its night perimeter.

The 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry, landed in amphibian tractors on the
north end of White Beach a few minutes after initial assault waves of
the 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, had cleared the beach. It moved west off
the beach 100 yards, pivoted to the right, and began to move up the
Cataisan Peninsula. The squadron was expected to secure the peninsula
and the airstrip with great speed. Engineer units had landed just
behind it and were waiting to start work on the airstrip as soon as
it was seized. The 1st Squadron met with only light enemy opposition,
the chief obstacles being the swamps, unoccupied pillboxes--each
of which had to be checked--and the numerous Filipino shacks that
afforded possible protection to the enemy. By 1600 the squadron had
secured the airstrip and the Cataisan Peninsula. [231] Later in the
afternoon the squadron, less Troop A, was withdrawn from the peninsula.

The 5th and 12th Cavalry Regiments landed on White Beach without
incident at exactly 1000. Immediately beyond the narrow landing
beach was a deep swamp through which the regiments must move to reach
Highway 1. The morass was often waist deep, in places even up to the
armpits, and men of the advancing line of troops cursed heartily as
they floundered toward the highway. [232] Under such circumstances it
was impossible for the men to carry all of their personal equipment,
and they had to make three trips in order to complete the crossing of
certain areas. At 1100 a reconnaissance platoon of the 5th Cavalry
Regiment made physical contact with elements of the 34th Infantry,
24th Division, on its left. By 1500 both cavalry regiments were
on Highway 1. They pushed westward immediately toward the next
objective--the foothills west of the highway. [233] Col. Royce
E. Drake, the commanding officer of the 5th Cavalry Regiment, went
forward with a patrol from F Troop. At 1900, about three quarters of
a mile south of Caibaan, the patrol made contact with the enemy. In
the ensuing fight ten Japanese and one American were killed and two
Americans wounded. At 1915 the 12th Cavalry Regiment closed in on
its A-Day objective and formed its night perimeter. [234] The 5th
Cavalry Regiment formed its night perimeter at 2135, a few hundred
yards short of the objective. [235]

The first elements of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2d Cavalry Brigade,
the corps reserve, moved to White Beach at 1040, and by 1130 the entire
reserve regiment was ashore. The regiment continued in corps reserve
throughout the day and spent its first night in the Philippines on
the western edge of San Jose. [236]

At 1400 General Mudge assumed command ashore of the 1st Cavalry
Division and by 1630 had established the divisional command post
at San Jose. [237] Preceded by a ground reconnaissance of the unit
commanders, all of the 1st Cavalry Division artillery landed on White
Beach at 1330 and immediately established a position in the vicinity
of San Jose. Before nightfall all battalions had registered and were
prepared to fire, and beginning at 2115 the 61st Field Artillery
Battalion throughout the night delivered harassing fire on the
hills south of Tacloban. [238] By the end of the day the division
had secured the Cataisan Peninsula and the Tacloban airstrip and,
after crossing Highway 1, had made physical contact with the right
flank of the 24th Infantry Division. [239]

24th Infantry Division [240]

In the southern part of the X Corps zone, to the left of the 1st
Cavalry Division, the 24th Infantry Division (less the 21st Infantry),
under Maj. Gen. Frederick A. Irving, was to land on Red Beach on the
morning of A Day. [241] Although there were no underwater obstacles,
mines, or barbed wire along Red Beach, the water was too shallow to
permit vessels the size of LST's to come in and make a dry landing. Red
Beach was narrow but consisted of firm sand. Back of it was flat,
marshy ground covered with palm trees and jungle growth, extending
inland in a southwesterly direction from the northern end of the
beach. General Makino had converted a small stream bed in this area
into a wide and deep tank trap which paralleled the beach for 1,500
yards. Several large, well-camouflaged pillboxes, connected by tunnels
and constructed of palm logs and earth, were scattered throughout the
area. Between the swamp and a low range of hills one and a quarter
miles inland were open fields and rice paddies. The most prominent
terrain feature was Hill 522 just north of Palo. This hill commanded
the beach area, the town of Palo, and Highway 2, leading into the
interior. It was partly wooded, and the 33d Infantry Regiment had
interlaced it with tunnels, trenches, and pillboxes.

From the beach a single deeply rutted and muddy exit road ran south
to the Palo River, where it turned westward to Highway 1. The river
was just north of the town of Palo and roughly paralleled Highway 2,
which ran in a northwesterly direction from Palo into the interior,
between the hills dominating this entrance to Leyte Valley.

The 24th Division was to occupy Palo, advance with regiments abreast
into the interior in a northwesterly direction, [242] occupy the
Capoocan-Carigara-Barugo area, and secure Highway 1 between Palo and
Tanauan. The 19th Infantry on the left (south) was to establish an
initial beachhead, advance to the west and south, seize Hill 522,
and move on and capture Palo. The 34th Infantry on the right (north)
was to establish an initial beachhead, then move westward into the
interior and be prepared to assist the 19th Infantry in the capture
of Hill 522. [243]

The assaulting forces, having been transferred to landing craft,
met at the line of departure 5,000 yards from shore. After grouping,
they dashed for the landing beaches, each regiment in column of
battalions. The division landed at 1000 with regiments abreast
according to plan. The Japanese allowed the first five waves to land,
but when the other waves were 3,000 to 2,000 yards offshore, they
opened strong artillery and mortar fire against them. [244] A number
of the landing craft carrying the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry,
were hit and four of them sunk. There were numerous casualties:
the commanding officer of Company C was killed; a squad of the
Ammunition and Pioneer Platoon was almost wiped out; and the Cannon
Company suffered the loss of two section leaders, a platoon leader,
and part of its headquarters personnel.

Among the vessels hit by Japanese artillery were four LST's, one of
which was set on fire. Of the five remaining, two were driven away
and three did not get in until much later. The enemy fired upon the
retiring LST's, which carried with them the artillery and most of
the tanks. The commanding officer of Headquarters Company and the
division quartermaster, together with the latter's executive officer,
were wounded. Many of the division headquarters personnel were killed
or wounded.

The first elements of the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, inadvertently
landed 300 yards north of the assigned area and were immediately pinned
down by heavy machine gun and rifle fire. The commanding officer of
the regiment, Col. Aubrey S. Newman, arrived on the beach and, noting
the situation, shouted to his men, "Get the hell off the beach. Get
up and get moving. Follow me." [245] Thus urgently prompted, the men
followed him into the wooded area.

Company I was able to advance, but Company K ran into a defensive
position of five pillboxes along a stream about seventy-five
yards from the beach. It successfully stormed these pillboxes with
rifles, BAR's, and hand grenades. The 3d Battalion then halted for
reorganization. Company L, the reserve company, moved into the line
south of Company K to close the gap between the 19th and 34th Infantry
Regiments, a gap created when part of the 34th landed too far north.

By 1215 the 34th Infantry had cleared the beach area of the enemy,
and the 3d Battalion was ready to advance across an open swamp
to a line of trees 150 yards away. A preparatory concentration by
81-mm. mortars, tanks, and heavy machine guns was first laid down. At
1230 the 3d Battalion moved in. Although the going was rough and the
mud waist deep, the troops reached the trees at 1300 and waited for
the mortars and machine guns to arrive. The 3d Battalion then pushed
on an additional 250 yards.

The 2d Battalion, 34th Infantry, passed through the 3d Battalion,
crossed Highway 1 at 1550, and dug in for the night 100 yards west
of the highway. [246]

The 34th Infantry established contact with the 1st Cavalry Division
on the right and the 19th Infantry on the left. The 1st Battalion,
34th Infantry, remained in the beachhead area.

To the south the 19th Infantry, with the 3d Battalion in the lead,
had also struck heavy opposition on its sector of the beach. Through
error the first waves of the regiment landed almost directly behind the
34th Infantry and 800 yards north of the proposed landing point. The
later waves landed at the planned spot.

Company K did not land on schedule, because its command boat broke
down. Going in under heavy fire, the company had all its officers
except one killed or wounded. One of its platoons was unable to make
contact with the rest of the company until the following day.

Company L, on the right, met little opposition on landing, established
contact with the 34th Infantry, and reached the initial phase line
500 yards in from the beach. Company I, on the left, encountered
stiff resistance fifty yards off the beach. The defenses of the 33d
Infantry Regiment in this sector consisted of a tank ditch and light
automatic weapons, mortars, 75-mm. guns, and light and heavy machine
guns in prepared positions. Company I hit a group of pillboxes and
knocked out several of them as well as a 75-mm. gun. In this action
Pfc. Frank B. Robinson played a spectacular role. Crawling behind a
pillbox, he dropped three grenades into it and then reached down and
pulled the machine gun barrel out of line. After a further advance of
200 yards, when a flame thrower aimed at a pillbox failed to ignite,
he threw a bundle of lighted papers in front of the pillbox. The
operator of the flame thrower then fired through the blaze and the
charge was ignited. By openly exposing himself to fire from a third
pillbox, Robinson enabled tanks to locate its position. [247]

During the next few hours platoons and squads fought independently. The
3d Battalion, 19th Infantry, drove into the interior about 500 yards,
where it reorganized, made contact with adjacent units, and then
established its perimeter on Highway 1. [248]

The 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry, had come in under intense fire in
which several boats were hit, and numerous casualties occurred. The
battalion landed 300 yards north of its selected area, moved in
200 yards, and then made a left, oblique turn in order to reach its
predetermined assembly area. Company B suffered several casualties
when it ran into strong rifle and pillbox fire, which pinned it
down. The company was ordered to break off fighting and move to
the northern edge of the Japanese positions. Lt. Col. Frederick
R. Zierath, the commanding officer of the battalion, ordered the
self-propelled guns to be brought up. They successfully neutralized
the pillbox and a supporting position behind it. Company C, landing
on the left flank of the battalion, was immediately pinned down by
hostile fire. Zierath ordered it to disengage and proceed to the
designated assembly area. Company A, which was split by enemy fire,
regrouped inland and reached the assembly area just ahead of Company C.

The 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, arrived at the beach just as the 1st
Battalion was bypassing the initial resistance. By noon its first
defense was formed around the beachhead. At 1245 Company E, with a
rocket launcher, silenced a 75-mm. gun which had been firing on the
LST's. In its advance the company located two more 75-mm. guns which
had been abandoned. Company G relieved Company E and prepared to move
along the beach road southwest toward Palo. As the point started to
move out at 1300 it was attacked by approximately a platoon from the
33d Infantry Regiment which attempted to retake the gun positions. The
Japanese were repulsed by rifle fire, leaving eleven dead.

At 1430 Company G, in resuming its advance, ran at once into a series
of mutually supporting pillboxes about 500 yards inland, where the
beach road turns to meet Highway 1. A stiff rifle fire fight followed,
in which the Americans suffered fifteen casualties. Since darkness
was approaching, the battalion broke off the action and dug in along
the road for the night.

While the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, was proceeding cautiously
forward the 1st Battalion was working toward Hill 522. This hill,
which rose directly from the river's edge north of Palo, overlooked the
landing beaches and its upward trails were steep and winding. Hill 522
presented the most significant terrain feature which would have to be
overcome before the American forces could push into the interior from
Palo and it constituted one of the chief objectives for A Day. Three
months earlier General Makino had started to fortify it, impressing
nearly all of the male population of Palo for the work. By A Day they
had constructed five well-camouflaged pillboxes of rocks, planking,
and logs, covered with earth. Numerous tunnels honeycombed the hill;
the communications trenches were seven feet deep.

During the preliminary bombardments the Navy had delivered some of
its heaviest blows on the hill, and the bombardment was continued
by Battery B of the 13th Field Artillery Battalion and Battery A
of the 63d Field Artillery Battalion. The 1st Battalion of the 19th
Infantry sent reconnaissance parties to locate a northern route to
the hill. The plan had been to move inland from the extreme south of
the beachhead, but that area was still in Japanese hands. At 1430,
when scouts reported finding a covered route on the northern side
of the hill, the 1st Battalion immediately moved out in a column of
companies. The column had barely started when Company A, in the lead,
was held up by enemy fire from the five pillboxes. The remainder of
the battalion moved north around Company A, and, skirting the woods,
attacked Hill 522 from the northeast, with Company C on the right
and Company B on the left.

The men, although tired from the day's activity and strain, made steady
progress up the slope. As the troops moved upward, American mortars
started to shell the crest of the hill. It was thought that this was
artillery fire and a request was made that it be lifted. It came,
however, from the chemical mortars. After a short delay the firing
ceased. At dusk Company B reached the first crest of the hill and was
halted by fire from two enemy bunkers. The company thereupon dug in.

At the same time scouts from Company C reached the central and
highest crest of the hill and espied about two platoons of Japanese
coming up the other side. They shouted for the remainder of the
company to hurry. Company C got to the top of the hill barely ahead
of the Japanese, and a sharp engagement took place in which about
fifty Japanese were killed. Company C held the highest crest of the
hill. During this attack, 1st Lt. Dallas Dick was struck in the leg
and his carbine was shot from his hands, but he continued to command
his unit until his evacuation forty-eight hours later.

During the night the Japanese made frequent but unsuccessful attempts
to infiltrate the company area and in the darkness they carried
away their dead and wounded. During the action to secure Hill 522,
fourteen men of the 1st Battalion were killed and ninety-five wounded;
thirty of the latter eventually rejoined their units. General Irving,
who had assumed command of the 24th Division ashore at 1420, later
said that if Hill 522 had not been secured when it was, the Americans
might have suffered a thousand casualties in the assault.

By the end of A Day, the division had crossed Highway 1 and established
physical contact with the 1st Cavalry Division on its right flank. In
spite of strong opposition on its left flank, the 24th Division
had secured Hill 522, which dominated the route into the interior
and overlooked the town of Palo, the entrance point into Leyte
Valley. Furthermore, the X Corps had now secured a firm beachhead
area averaging a mile in depth and extending over five miles from
the tip of the Cataisan Peninsula to the vicinity of Palo, and had
captured the important Tacloban airstrip on the Cataisan Peninsula.



XXIV Corps Goes Ashore

While the X Corps was engaged in seizing a beachhead and capturing
the Tacloban airfield, the XXIV Corps was carrying out its mission
more than fourteen miles to the south. (Map 6) It was to land in
the Dulag-San Jose area and establish a beachhead between Dulag and
Tanauan. The Dulag airstrip was the primary objective. The 7th and
96th Divisions--the 7th on the left (south) and the 96th on the right
(north)--made the landings. The most prominent terrain feature near
the shore line is a short, finger-like hill range between the mouth
of the Labiranan River and the village of Pikas. Ranging from 400
feet at its southern extremity, known as Labiranan Head, to 1400
feet at Catmon Hill, southeast of Pikas, this hill mass dominates
the surrounding plain for miles around. (The entire hill mass will
hereafter be referred to as Catmon Hill.)

The 9th Infantry Regiment, less one battalion, was guarding the
Catmon Hill area while the 20th Infantry Regiment, less one battalion,
was defending the Dulag area. [249]

Immediately northwest of Dulag and just off the beach was a swamp,
[250] and along the coast were coconut groves interspersed with rice
fields. Many streams and rivers cut across the coastal plain. [251]
Between Dulag and Labiranan Head was a good section of firm sand beach,
backed by a broad alluvial plain extending ten miles inland.



96th Infantry Division

In the early morning hours of 20 October the Southern Attack Force
moved to a location off the shores of Leyte near the town of Dulag. The
96th Division was to land with regiments abreast in the area between
the Calbasag River and the town of San Jose--the 382d Infantry on
the left (south) and the 383d Infantry on the right (north). The
southern half of the division's beachhead area was designated Blue
Beaches 1 and 2, and the northern half was known as Orange Beaches
1 and 2. The beaches had an average length of about 525 yards. The
northern extremity of Orange Beach was about ten miles from the
southernmost beach of the 24th Division in the X Corps sector.

The order to "land the landing force" of the 96th Division came at
0845, and LVT's immediately began to spill out of the LST's and head
for the line of departure. By 0930 the assault waves, preceded by the
amphibian tank wave, had arrived at their appointed position 4,500
yards offshore. [252] At the head of the column were LCI gunboats
which were to give fire support and act as guides for succeeding
waves. The assault waves then headed for Blue and Orange Beaches.

When the landing craft were within 100 yards of the shore, the
LCI's fired into the interior and to each side of the landing
beaches. Thereupon the amphibian tanks began to fire directly beyond
the beaches, in front of the advancing assault forces. The 382d
Infantry under Col. Macey L. Dill landed at 0950 on Blue Beach, and
the 383d Infantry under Col. Edwin T. May landed ten minutes later
on Orange Beach.

The 383d Infantry landed with two battalions abreast--the 2d
Battalion on the left and the 1st Battalion on the right. By 1045 both
battalions had landed all of their assault troops and had advanced
1,200 yards inland, encountering no resistance except intermittent
mortar fire from the 9th Infantry Regiment in the vicinity of Catmon
Hill. [253] Immediately beyond the highway the two battalions reached
an unsuspected swamp. The amphibian tanks bogged down at 1045 and
were unable to catch up with the assault troops during the rest of
the day. Intermittent Japanese fire continued to fall on the beach
area. The 2d Battalion crossed the swamp without encountering the
enemy and established its night perimeter 2,600 yards inland from
the landing beaches.

The 1st Battalion, 383d Infantry, pushed northwest through the barrio
of San Jose, which was on the beach, and along the marshy ground and
swamps on the south bank of the Labiranan River for 2,200 yards. It
crossed the river at 1610. Company C placed a roadblock at the point
where Highway 1 crossed the Labiranan River. After advancing 400 yards
farther northwest the battalion ran into fire from elements of the
9th Infantry Regiment. At 1900 the battalion, still under enemy fire,
dug in for the night. At the close of the day's action it was at the
base of Labiranan Head in a position which would permit an attack to
be launched on that terrain feature from the west.

The 3d Battalion, which had been held afloat in regimental reserve,
came ashore at 1045. It mopped up in the rear of the 1st and 2d
Battalions and established its night perimeter 800 yards away from the
1st Battalion on the south bank of the Labiranan River. During the
day the 383d Infantry Regiment, slowed by the terrain, had advanced
2,600 yards inland. [254]

As heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire fell on the beach, the 382d
Infantry also landed with two battalions abreast--the 2d Battalion
to the right (north) at Blue Beach 2 and the 3d Battalion to the left
(south) at Blue Beach 1. The 2d Battalion, though momentarily stopped
by debris on the shore, was able to advance quickly and by 1025 had
penetrated 300 yards inland. This gain was increased to 700 yards
by 1115. The battalion crossed Highway 1 before it encountered the
first defensive positions of the 9th Infantry Regiment, a series
of zigzag deserted trenches roughly paralleling the beach. Although
the 2d Battalion met no enemy opposition, the intense heat and the
swampy ground made progress slow. At 1630, when the battalion formed
a perimeter for the night, it had pushed inland approximately 2,500
yards.

The amphibian tractors carrying the 3d Battalion, 382d Infantry, were
held up by the tank barriers of coconut logs and debris on the beach,
and the troops were forced to debark at the water's edge. Several
hundred yards off the beach this battalion began to receive heavy
fire from Hill 120, which was about 600 yards from the beach. The
hill dominated the regimental beach area [255] and was the A-Day
objective for the battalion. The fire pinned down the battalion,
which thereupon called for mortar support and naval gunfire. The
resulting barrage forced the Japanese out of their positions, and at
1040 the battalion advanced and captured Hill 120.

The 1st Battalion, 382d Infantry, which had been in floating reserve,
landed on Blue Beach 1 and moved to the foot of Hill 120 to support
the 3d Battalion. Immediately beyond the hill there was a small meadow
rimmed by a deep swamp. The enemy fired upon the hill throughout the
day but could not dislodge the 3d Battalion. This steady fire and the
presence of the swamp limited the A-Day advance of the 3d Battalion
to 1,300 yards inland from the landing beach.

At the end of the day, despite the swampy terrain and the harassing
fire of the Japanese, the 382d Infantry had advanced approximately
2,500 yards on the northern flank and 1,300 yards on the southern
flank. Contact had been established at 1600 with the 32d Infantry,
7th Division, on the left flank, and the 383d Infantry, 96th Division,
on the right flank. [256]

At 1630 the assault forces of the 96th Division consolidated their
positions and set up defense perimeters for the night. During the
day the division had captured the barrio of San Jose, established
control over both sides of the Labiranan River, captured Hill 120
overlooking the beach area, and progressed well inland. Although all
units of the division fell considerably short of the objective for
A Day, this delay was due fully as much to the swampy and difficult
terrain as it was to enemy resistance. The 381st Infantry Regiment
remained in Sixth Army floating reserve throughout the day. [257]

Maj. Gen. James L. Bradley arrived ashore at 1750, and at 1800
he assumed command of the 96th Infantry Division. The three light
artillery battalions of the division had landed and were in position
by 1800.



7th Infantry Division

Concurrently with the landings of the 96th Division, the 7th Division,
on the left, was establishing a beachhead in its zone of action
just south of the 96th Division. At 0800 the assault troops of the
7th Division began to clamber down the nets of their transports into
landing boats which were to carry them in the dash for the shore. [258]
By 0815 they were boated and at the line of departure.

The 7th Division was to land on Violet and Yellow Beaches. Violet Beach
extended 785 yards north from the northern edge of Dulag. The northern
half of Yellow Beach, called Yellow Beach 2, which was south of Violet
Beach and contiguous to it, was 400 yards long. Between the northern
and southern halves of Yellow Beach was a swamp. The southern half of
Yellow Beach, Yellow Beach 1, was approximately 425 yards in length
and was located south of Dulag and north of the Daguitan River mouth.

The 7th Division was to go ashore between the Calbasag and Daguitan
Rivers with regiments abreast--the 32d Infantry on the right (north)
and the 184th Infantry on the left (south); the 17th Infantry, less
its 3d Battalion, was in reserve. The principal A-Day objectives
were the barrio of Dulag and its airstrip. The 3d Battalion, 17th
Infantry, was to swing south and secure the bridge and the crossing
of the Daguitan River at Dao and the crossing of the Talisay River.

The 32d Infantry, under Col. Marc J. Logie, was to land on the northern
and southern portions of Violet Beach, drive into the interior,
and protect the right flank of the division. The 184th Infantry,
commanded by Col. Curtis D. O'Sullivan, was to land on Yellow Beach 1
and Yellow Beach 2 and then drive inland, directing its main effort
toward an early seizure of the airfield west of Dulag. It was also
to seize and secure the crossings of the Daguitan River.

After the landing waves had formed at the line of departure, the
landing craft started for the beaches, preceded by the 776th Amphibian
Tank Battalion. As it got ashore, the tank battalion received hostile
mortar and small arms fire that came from a tank barrier of coconut
palm logs near the water's edge. The battalion overcame this opposition
fifteen minutes after landing and advanced a distance of 200 yards
inland to positions from which it could support the infantry. [259]
According to plan, the 32d and 184th Infantry Regiments followed
abreast. The 32d Infantry landed with two battalions abreast--the 2d
on the right and the 3d on the left. The regiment encountered minor
resistance at the beach, consisting of light rifle fire and sporadic
artillery and mortar fire. By 1023 the 3d Battalion had landed all its
assault troops and by 1030 seven assault waves of the 2d Battalion
had reached the shore. As the two battalions proceeded inland, they
met opposition from the enemy.

The 2d Battalion landed on the edge of a cemetery in which were small
groups of the enemy very much alive. By 1100 these were subdued by
rifle fire and the battalion was able to advance without difficulty
into the interior. At about 1300 the 2d Platoon of Company F, after
advancing some 600 yards, ran into fire from three pillboxes concealed
in the tall cogon grass on the right flank. Tanks were brought up to
knock out the enemy pillboxes. The advance then continued. By 1315
the 2d Battalion made physical contact with elements of the 96th
Division on the right. Shortly after 1400 the 2d and 3d Battalions
of the 32d Infantry made contact and reached Highway 1. [260]

Companies L and K of the 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry, landed
abreast. Company L, on the left, ran into heavy fire from Japanese
machine gunners who had waited until the leading elements of the
company exposed themselves. The Japanese were entrenched in bunkers
emplaced in hedgerows and banana groves. The pillboxes, which were
mutually supporting, were located at the ends of the hedgerows and
occasionally in the middle of an open field. Each pillbox had machine
guns and antitank guns. Company L suffered a number of casualties
and was pinned down. The enemy gunners then turned to Company K and
stopped its forward movement. In the space of fifteen minutes two
officers and six men of the 3d Battalion were killed, and one officer
and eighteen men wounded. Of the medium tanks that had come ashore at
1030, three were sent to support Company L and two to support Company
K. The latter two were knocked out before they could adjust their
fire on the pillboxes. The leading tank sent in support of Company L
was knocked out by a direct hit from an antitank gun. With two tanks
remaining, it was decided to hit the flanks of the entrenched pillboxes
at 1345. A platoon of Company K went to the right and another platoon
from the company to the left. Simultaneously the remaining elements
of the two companies, coordinating with the tanks, assaulted the
pillboxes. The heavy volume of fire kept the enemy guns quiet until
they could be finished off with grenades. The pillboxes were knocked
out without further casualties.

Paralleling the route of advance of Company L were several hedge
fences, behind which were enemy machine guns and mortars. Although
under heavy fire, the company was able to break through the first
barriers with the aid of the tanks. At 1630, since the enemy fire
continued in volume, the 32d Infantry withdrew and established a
defensive position for the night. During the day the 32d Infantry had
reached a general line along Highway 1. The 2d Battalion had advanced
400 yards beyond the highway and the 3d Battalion 100 yards. [261]

The 184th Infantry landed at 1000, two battalions abreast--the 1st
on the southern half of Yellow Beach and the 3d on the northern
half. They encountered surprisingly little resistance on either
beach and were able to push inland at a much greater speed than had
been anticipated. The 3d Battalion drove through the town of Dulag,
which lay directly in its path, to the Dulag-Burauen Highway. The 1st
Battalion pushed inland and reached the highway at 1210, just fifteen
minutes after the 3d Battalion. At 1530 the two battalions established
physical contact and maintained it throughout the day as they continued
their advance along the highway. At 1255 the 2d Battalion, 184th
Infantry, landed on Yellow Beach and went into regimental reserve on
the regiment's southern flank. As the advance of the 32d Infantry on
the right slowed up, Company G, 184th Infantry, was committed to fill
the gap which had developed between the two regiments. At 1835 the
184th Infantry, although it had failed to secure the Dulag airstrip,
formed its night perimeter along the edge of the strip. [262] At the
end of the day the regiment had no battle casualties, but three men
had been overcome by the heat. Eleven Japanese had been killed in
the regiment's zone. [263]

The 17th Infantry, less its 3d Battalion, was kept in 7th Division
reserve. The 3d Battalion of the 17th had come ashore at 1500 on the
southern end of Yellow Beach. The battalion pushed west and south
through light opposition, seizing the bridge over the Daguitan River
at Dao, and by 2100 had established a bridgehead south of the river
and made contact with the 184th Infantry on the right. At the end of
the first day's fighting the 7th Division had gained possession of the
Leyte shore in its zone and penetrated inland 600 yards on the right
and nearly 2,300 yards on the left. It had also reached the edge of
the Dulag airstrip. By nightfall the XXIV Corps had established a
firm beachhead line extending along the coast from San Jose on the
north to just below Dao on the south.

Seventy miles to the south the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 24th
Division, which was detailed to land in the vicinity of Panaon Strait
on 20 October at 0930, half an hour before the launching of the
great offensive, and to secure control of that entrance to Sogod Bay,
successfully accomplished its mission. It encountered no Japanese.

Thus at the end of A Day the Sixth Army had succeeded in landing
assault forces all along the eastern coast of Leyte and was in
control of Panaon Strait. Its casualties amounted to 49 men killed,
192 wounded, and 6 missing in action. There remained a gap of nearly
ten miles between the X and XXIV Corps. The Tacloban airstrip on the
Cataisan Peninsula had been secured and the American forces were
on the edge of the airstrip at Dulag. Nearly as important as the
capture of the airstrip was the seizure of Hill 522, which commanded
the entrance to the broad Leyte Valley at Palo. The advance echelon
of General Headquarters had opened on Leyte Island at 1200. [264]
On the following day, when adequate communication facilities had
been established, Generals Krueger, Sibert, and Hodge assumed command
ashore of the Sixth Army, X Corps, and XXIV Corps, respectively.

Most of the 16th Division had withdrawn during the naval and air
bombardment which took place just prior to the landing. The immediate
invasion of the troops after this pounding enabled the Americans to
secure most of the coastal defenses before the enemy could regroup
and return. As a consequence, the only Japanese forces encountered
were those left behind to fight a delaying action. The meeting with
the enemy in force was yet to come.



Bringing in Supplies

While the assault forces were securing the beaches of Leyte, supplies
were being poured in to support the operation. Within an hour after
the first assault wave hit the hostile shores, rations, equipment,
and other supplies were being rushed to the beaches. Each man going
ashore carried a change of clothing in his pack, two days' supply
of emergency rations, one day's supply of D rations, and two filled
canteens, in addition to his gas mask, weapons, and ammunition.

The Navy was responsible for transporting the troops and supplies to
the target area. Ships' companies unloaded the cargo from the cargo
vessels and transported it in small craft to the beaches. Many of
the ships had been improperly loaded for the journey to Leyte. The
cargo should have been so loaded that articles first needed would
be the last put on board; instead it had been stowed haphazardly,
with little attention given to the problem of unloading.

As a result of the faulty stowage of supplies on the ships, many
badly needed items were at the bottoms of the holds, and articles
that would not be needed until later in the operation were piled
on top of them. The supplies were set ashore in random fashion and
then were carelessly thrown on trucks and other vehicles. This sort
of handling resulted in a loss of carrying capacity, in slow removal
of the loads, and in a consequent delay in the return of vehicles to
the landing beaches.

The LSM's were used to very good advantage in the unloading of
the APA's and AKA's. Vehicles and supplies could be loaded on them
without difficulty, and in addition, two hatches on the LSM's could
be worked at the same time. On each of the APA's, AKA's, and LST's
which carried troops, a labor crew was detailed to remain on board
to assist in the unloading. [265]

At the beach, the Army took over the cargo and moved the supplies
to prearranged dumps. On the northern beaches in the X Corps sector,
the Army shore party was composed of the 532d and 592d Engineer Boat
and Shore Regiments of the 2d Engineer Special Brigade. After landing,
these units facilitated the movement of troops, vehicles, and supplies
across the beaches and controlled all unloading operations. [266]
The 1122d and 1140th Engineer Combat Groups supervised the unloading
in the XXIV Corps sector. They were assisted by naval beach parties
from the VII Amphibious Force, which brought the cargo ashore.

The beachhead areas at which the supplies were unloaded varied in
quality and depth. Most of the beaches on which the 7th and 96th
Divisions landed were very good, [267] as contrasted with those in the
X Corps area where the 24th Infantry Division and 1st Cavalry Division
came ashore. The greatest difficulty was encountered along Red Beach,
where the 24th Division landed. This stretch of coast line was ill
adapted to the unloading of supplies, having poor exits and offering
few dispersal areas ashore. [268]

LST's approaching Red Beach were under intense enemy fire. Four of them
received direct hits. [269] Nearly all of the LST's were grounded 100
to 200 yards from the beach. Only one of them was able to come within
forty to fifty yards of the beach, and it succeeded in unloading its
cargo of heavy equipment only with considerable difficulty. [270]
Another put off a bulldozer, which disappeared in seven feet of
water. With difficulty the other LST's withdrew and returned to the
transport area. [271]

The shore parties on both Red and White Beaches (X Corps sector)
did not land early enough to effect a proper organization before the
cargo began to come in. Although the parties worked hard, they were
undermanned, and it was necessary to augment them by "volunteers" in
order to unload the large volume of cargo. [272] It had been planned
to establish temporary beach dumps at the point of unloading of
each LST, but since at Red Beach the LST's could not get ashore, the
plans had to be changed. These craft were diverted to the 1st Cavalry
Division's White Beach 2,000 yards north. The LSM's and LCM's were
able to discharge their vehicles in three or four feet of water. Many
of these, being poorly waterproofed, stalled and had to be pulled
ashore. Once there, the heavily loaded vehicles churned up the sand,
and many of them sank so deeply that they had to be pulled out. [273]

The strong resistance of the Japanese and the difficult terrain
limited the depth of the 24th Division's beachhead and prevented
the establishment of division dumps beyond the beachhead areas. As a
result, most of the supplies and nearly all supporting and service
troops had to be concentrated on the first three or four hundred
yards of the beachhead. Fortunately there was no bombing or strafing
of the area, and although the development of exit roads was slow,
the congestion on the beach was cleared before trouble developed. [274]

The diversion of the 24th Division's LST's to the beaches of the 1st
Cavalry Division naturally strained the facilities of the beach and
shore parties on White Beach. The southern end of White Beach also
proved unsuitable for landing LST's, which consequently were shifted
to the northern end. [275] However, the Army shore parties organized
White Beach immediately upon landing. A two-way road was cleared along
the beach with military police directing traffic. Dump areas were
marked off by white ribbons, and sign posts were erected. The supplies
were unloaded from the landing craft by roller conveyors and "fire
brigade methods" directly onto the waiting trucks and trailers. [276]
After the ships had been unloaded the shore parties consolidated all
of the supplies into dumps as rapidly as possible. The rations and
ammunition, which were loaded on fifteen LVT's, were kept mobile to
the rear of the troops. [277]

When Leyte was substituted for Yap as the target, it had been decided
that the 96th Division should unload troops and supplies at Leyte as
rapidly as possible. Consequently, supplies were unloaded with little
regard for the order in which items would be needed ashore. [278]

There was no general unloading on the beach in the XXIV Corps
area until the late afternoon of A Day, when water, rations, and
ammunition were sent ashore. For about an hour the unloading proceeded
satisfactorily, but the beach soon became congested. The beach parties
brought in the supplies faster than they could be handled by the shore
parties. [279] At one time more than eighty loaded boats waited over
five hours before they could be unloaded. The slowness of the shore
parties in unloading the boats was not entirely their fault. Many of
the boats were improperly loaded with mixed cargo, a situation which
caused the boats to ship water. They were forced to come in to the
beach or sink. The shore parties were also handicapped by a lack of
workers. A shore party of 250 men included headquarters personnel,
military police, and communications men, leaving only fifty or sixty
workers. The unloading was further retarded by lack of sufficient
mechanical equipment and failure to make full use of available
transportation. [280]

Loose cargo piled up on the beaches faster than it could be taken to
the dump sites. [281] A deep swamp, 250 yards inland and parallel to
Blue Beach, also limited the extension of dumps in that area. The
congestion was relieved the next day, when the supplies were taken
to selected dump sites nearly as fast as they could be removed from
the boats.

In the Dulag area, the organization of the shore party and its
operations were well co-ordinated. [282] In the initial phase the
7th Division employed the "drugstore system" whereby DUKW's carried
the supplies directly to the front-line consumers of the division
from specially loaded LST's which had been anchored off the landing
beaches. [283] By using this method the division was able to deliver
critical supplies to the combat troops within an hour after the
request was received. At the same time, other supplies and equipment
could be put ashore without interruption.

In the wake of the initial assault waves, the engineer troops landed
and began at once to clear the beaches, prepare dump sites, and build
access roads. The men worked around the clock in six-hour shifts. [284]

Within four hours the 7th Division's shore party was prepared to start
full-scale operations, and two hours later began to issue supplies
to the assault forces. Since the cargo came ashore in nets, it was
possible to use cranes and bulldozers to good advantage. The cargo
was initially moved over the landing beaches to regimental beach
dumps 500 yards inland, and as vehicles landed they were driven to
temporary assembly areas or directly to their organizations. [285]
Six hours after the first assault wave hit the beaches the 7th Division
abandoned the floating drugstore system, since by that time sufficient
supplies had been brought ashore to fill requisitions directly from
the dumps. [286]

During the day a total of 107,450 tons of supplies and equipment were
discharged over the beaches of the Sixth Army. Although the beaches
in some instances were extremely congested, steps had been initiated
to relieve the situation.

News of the success of the American forces in establishing a beachhead
on Leyte--the first foothold in the Philippine Islands--was joyfully
received by the American nation. The President radioed congratulations
to General MacArthur and added, "You have the nation's gratitude
and the nation's prayers for success as you and your men fight your
way back...."  [287]



CHAPTER VI

The Japanese Reaction


The Japanese undertook the defense of Leyte with serene
assurance. Their pilots had erroneously reported the naval battle
off Formosa as a great victory and declared that only remnants of
the once strong American Navy remained. The defeatist attitude of
the summer of 1944 vanished.

During the summer there had been disagreement among the Japanese
military leaders. Imperial General Headquarters felt that the decisive
battle should be fought on Luzon and only delaying actions taken in
other areas. To this the 14th Area Army agreed. The Southern Army,
on the other hand, believed that it would be impossible to wage a
successful battle on Luzon if other areas, especially the Visayan
Islands, were allowed to fall into American hands. Since these islands,
if captured, could be used as Allied air bases, the decisive battle
should be fought whenever and wherever the Americans attacked. [288]

Confident that the U. S. fleet had suffered grievously in the battle
off Formosa, the Japanese closed ranks and all the commands agreed
that the time was most opportune to deliver the coup de grâce. The
foolhardy Americans would take a severe drubbing, and Japan, after
a long series of humiliating and costly defeats, would regain the
initiative. It was therefore a jubilant Imperial General Headquarters
that ordered its armed forces to do battle with the Americans.

The essence of the Imperial General Headquarters plan was simple. The
American convoys and carriers were to be given complete freedom in
their journey to the Philippine Islands. When they were sufficiently
close to make retreat difficult, the main strength of the Japanese
Army, Navy, and Air Forces would descend upon them and deliver a
knockout blow. If the operation were launched too early, the Americans
could annihilate the inferior Japanese air strength before the battle
could be fought; if too late, the Americans could escape and the
objective would be lost. Imperial General Headquarters, therefore,
was "patiently waiting" for the opportune moment. [289]



The Air Forces

On the evening of 17 October the 4th Air Army, upon receiving word that
the U. S. forces were in the vicinity of Suluan Island, ordered the
entire 2d Air Division to attack the Americans. The main strength of
the fighter units was to be concentrated in the central and southern
Philippines areas. Although bad weather prevented a reconnaissance,
the increase in American air raids on the central and southern
Philippines made it imperative for the Japanese to attack with their
main air force. The 2d Air Division was ordered to move from Clark
Field on Luzon to Bacolod on Negros Island. It was unable to do this
because of the bad weather, and it was therefore unable to forestall
the American landings. The commander of the 4th Air Army decided on
21 October, as a result of the American landings, to use the entire
air force under his command, employing the 7th Air Division and the
30th Fighter Group, in addition to the 2d Air Division. The 12th Air
Brigade of the 30th Fighter Group had just arrived in the Philippines
from Japan, via Shanghai, and it was necessary to employ this brigade
immediately because of the impending battle in Leyte Gulf.

All the various units were to launch an attack against the American
land forces and shipping by the evening of 23 October. On 24 October
there was to be a series of aerial attacks, the first early in the
morning with the entire force; the second consisting of two waves;
the third by the entire force in the evening; and during the night
by waves of heavy and light bombers and assault planes. [290]

The Americans anticipated increased aerial activity over Leyte, and
therefore the number of fighters was increased on 24 October to 36,
on call from 0545 till dark, with an additional 16 fighters ready for
immediate action upon request. Twenty-eight of the 36 were assigned
to the attack force commanders and 8, retained by General Krueger,
patrolled the beachhead area and provided additional fighters when
and where they were needed.

The Leyte area was subjected to a heavy air assault on the same day, 24
October, when an estimated 150 to 200 enemy planes (mostly twin-engined
bombers) approached northern Leyte. Sixty-six were definitely shot
down and eighteen others were probably shot down. [291] On the
American side, forty combat air patrol and ten direct supporting
planes participated in this engagement. Three American aircraft
crash-landed--two on the Tacloban airstrip and one in the water. [292]
Only a small percentage of the American air activity was directed
toward the neutralization of the enemy air force, as most of the
available aircraft were attacking the Japanese fleet. The Japanese
were determined to "make Leyte the decisive air battlefield as well as
the decisive ground and naval battlefield of the Philippines." [293]
For the first time since the Allied counteroffensive in the Pacific had
started rolling, the Japanese, for an extended period, risked aircraft
in great numbers in daylight raids as well as at night. The shipping
off Tacloban and Dulag and the Tacloban airfield were the principal
targets, though other air installations on the island were hit. An
example of the enemy's dogged determination occurred during the evening
and night of 27 October. At twilight, twelve enemy fighters and dive
bombers dropped 100-pound bombs in the vicinity of Tacloban and tried
repeatedly but unsuccessfully to strafe the Tacloban airstrip. After
a lull, the Japanese aircraft renewed the aerial assault just before
midnight and continued almost uninterruptedly until dawn. Between
2332 and 0125, there were nine raids of two to four planes each;
between 0340 and 0450, three raids of two to four planes each; and
between 0454 and 0555 five additional planes made an attack on the
area. [294] The Tacloban airstrip frequently was "well illuminated"
by burning aircraft. [295]

The 2d Air Division assaulted American shipping from 24 through 28
October, but because of the increasing necessity for giving air cover
to the convoys the main strength of fighters of the 4th Air Army was
used to protect the transportation of reinforcements of the 14th
Area Army of Leyte. From 25 October on, the Bacolod airfield and
the air forces protecting the Japanese convoys going to Leyte were
attacked by American bombers and suffered serious losses. Since it
had to participate in every phase of the action, the losses of the
4th Air Army were heavy. [296]

After 1 November the Japanese increasingly felt the American air power
through attacks upon their air bases and shipping. Their fighter units,
which had suffered considerable losses in protecting the convoys,
were ordered to counterattack. They were not successful. At the same
time the 4th Air Army received orders to protect the reinforcement
convoys in the Manila area. By this time the Japanese air forces'
wings had been clipped and "what had once been a formidable weapon
was transformed into a sacrificial army of guided missiles." [297]
The suicidal kamikaze pilot became the sole hope of the Japanese
air forces.



The Battle of Leyte Gulf

Japanese Naval Plans

On 21 July the chief of the naval general staff, Imperial
General Headquarters, issued a directive for subsequent "urgent
operations." [298] The operational policy to be followed by the
Combined Fleet was as follows:


    1. Make utmost effort to maintain and make advantageous use of
    the strategic status quo; plan to smash the enemy's strength;
    take the initiative in creating favorable tactical opportunities,
    or seize the opportunity as it presents itself to crush the enemy
    fleet and attacking forces.

    2. Co-operate in close conjunction with the Army, maintain the
    security of sectors vital to national defense, and prepare for
    future eventualities.

    3. Co-operate closely with related forces to maintain security
    of surface routes between Japan and vital southern sources of
    materials. [299]


On 26 July the chief of the naval general staff informed Admiral
Toyoda, Commander in Chief, Combined Fleet, that the future "urgent
operations" were to be known as the SHO (Victory) Operations. There
would be four SHO Operations. The first was to cover the defense of
the Philippine Archipelago. [300] It was essentially the last chance
for Japan to remain in the war. Said Admiral Toyoda of the situation
at the time of the battle of Leyte Gulf:


    Since without the participation of our
    Combined Fleet there was no possibility of
    the land-based forces in the Philippines having
    any chance against your forces at all, it
    was decided to send the whole fleet, taking
    the gamble. If things went well, we might
    obtain unexpectedly good results; but if the
    worst should happen, there was a chance
    that we would lose the entire fleet. But I felt
    that that chance had to be taken....
    Should we lose in the Philippines operations,
    even though the fleet should be left, the shipping
    lane to the south would be completely
    cut off, so that the fleet, if it should come back
    to Japanese waters, could not obtain its fuel
    supply. If it should remain in southern waters,
    it could not receive supplies of ammunition
    and arms. There would be no sense in saving
    the fleet at the expense of the Philippines. [301]


Since their carrier force was weak, the Japanese had developed a
plan based upon the main gunnery strength of the fleet and upon
the land-based air forces. Battleships and cruisers from a southern
base were to approach Leyte from the south, fight their way to the
landing beaches, and destroy Allied assault shipping. A decoy force
was to attempt to lure the U.S. carrier task force away from the
main action. Shore-based air forces were to inflict maximum damage
on the American carrier forces whenever and wherever possible,
but once the invasion came they were to conserve their strength
until the day of the landings, when all the Allied assault shipping
would be concentrated off the beaches and when their attacks on the
U.S. carriers would assist the advancing Japanese fleet. The plan
was designed to get the Japanese naval gunnery force into a position
where it could do the greatest damage. Little attention was paid
to getting it out. "The war had reached a point where the Japanese
fleet, hopelessly outnumbered and, as imminent events would prove,
even more hopelessly out-classed, could not risk the fleet action it
had previously desired but was forced to expend itself in suicidal
attack upon the United States transports." [302]

Upon receiving information on 17 October that American vessels were
off the shores of Suluan Island, Admiral Toyoda immediately alerted
his forces. On 18 October Toyoda, after intercepting American messages
dealing with the landings on the island approaches to Leyte Gulf,
activated his plan for the defense of the Philippine Islands. The
target date (X Day) for the fleet engagement was set for 22 October
but logistical difficulties caused a series of delays and on 21
October Admiral Toyoda changed X Day to 25 October. "From the far
corners of the shrinking Empire the whole combatant strength of the
Japanese Navy converged on Leyte Gulf." [303]



The Naval Battle [304]

The strongest Japanese naval force--the 1st Diversion Attack
Force--moved from the south, reached Brunei Bay in northwest Borneo
on 20 October, and after refueling split into two parts and proceeded
on its way two days later. The main strength of the 1st Diversion
Attack Force, under Admiral Kurita, sailed northeast up the west coast
of Palawan (one of the Visayan Islands), and then turned eastward
through the waters of the central Philippines to San Bernardino Strait,
while the smaller unit commanded by Vice Adm. Shoji Nishimura moved
eastward through the Sulu Sea in order to force an entrance at Surigao
Strait. The 2d Diversion Attack Force, commanded by Vice Adm. Kiyohide
Shima, after leaving the Pescadores on 21 October, sailed south,
past western Luzon, and after refueling in the Calamian Islands,
just south of Mindoro, proceeded to follow and support the southern
part of the 1st Diversion Attack Force in forcing Surigao Strait.

The Main Body, consisting chiefly of partially empty carriers with
a destroyer escort, departed on the 20th, and on the evening of
the 22d turned southwest toward Luzon. It was commanded by Vice
Adm. Jisabuto Ozawa. The Main Body was to act as a decoy to draw
off the main American strength. The Japanese submarines off Formosa
were ordered south toward the eastern approaches to the Philippine
Archipelago and the 2d Air Fleet, shortly before 23 October, began
to arrive on Luzon. [305]

There were two American fleets in Philippine waters--the Seventh
Fleet under Admiral Kinkaid, whose superior was General MacArthur,
and the Third Fleet under Admiral Halsey, whose superior was Admiral
Nimitz. The Seventh Fleet, which consisted of 6 old battleships, 16
escort carriers, 4 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, 30 destroyers,
and 10 destroyer escorts, had escorted the convoy to Leyte and now
stood by to protect it as it unloaded. The Third Fleet was composed
of Task Force 38 under Admiral Mitscher. It consisted of four task
groups which averaged 23 ships each, divided about as follows:
2 large carriers, 2 light carriers, 2 new battleships, 3 cruisers,
and 14 destroyers. The task force was to secure air supremacy over
the Philippines, protect the landings, and apply unremitting pressure
on Japan. If the opportunity to destroy the major portion of the
Japanese fleet should arise or could be created, that destruction
was to be its primary task.

The Japanese had 4 carriers, 7 battleships, 19 cruisers, 33 destroyers,
and 2 battleship-carriers which carried no aircraft; there were 108
planes on the carriers and about 335 shore-based planes in the Luzon
area. [306]

On 23 October two American submarines, the Dace and the Darter,
encountered the 1st Diversion Attack Force and sank two heavy cruisers,
the Atago and Maya, off the western coast of Palawan. The former
was Kurita's flagship; its sinking forced the Japanese admiral to
transfer hurriedly to another vessel. The submarines also seriously
damaged another heavy cruiser.

Upon receiving information that the Combined Fleet was steaming toward
the Philippines, Admiral Oldendorf's fire support group of the Seventh
Fleet moved to the southern end of Leyte Gulf and formed a battle
line across the mouth of Surigao Strait while motor torpedo boats
patrolled within the strait and about its southern entrance. Halsey's
Third Fleet moved toward San Bernardino Strait. The escort carriers
from Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet cruised off Leyte Gulf. [307]

On the 24th, after receiving a report from the submarine, the
carriers of the Third Fleet sent aircraft to search to the west and
southwest. These aircraft sighted the main part of the 1st Diversion
Attack Force south of Mindoro, and sighted and attacked the smaller
force under Admiral Nishimura off Negros, slightly damaging a
battleship and a destroyer. The aircraft of the carriers from their
position off San Bernardino Strait struck repeatedly at Kurita's
force while the smaller Nishimura force was left to the battleships in
the gulf. One Japanese battleship of the 1st Diversion Attack Force
was sunk, one heavy cruiser rendered impotent, and minor damage was
inflicted on other battleships. The Japanese were forced temporarily
"to reverse course to westward." [308]

The aircraft from the Japanese 2d Air Fleet attempted to aid the
naval forces which were moving eastward through the Philippines. In
co-operation with some aircraft from the Main Body, which was now
about 100 miles east of Luzon, they attacked the northernmost unit
of the American carriers. Halsey's airmen sighted and reported the
sacrificial Japanese Main Body in the afternoon. Not knowing that
this force consisted mainly of empty carriers and believing that
the 1st Diversion Attack Force had been severely damaged, Admiral
Halsey withdrew the battleships and carriers of his Third Fleet and
steamed north to meet the new threat, leaving San Bernardino Strait
wide open. At midnight Kurita's 1st Diversion Attack Force moved
unmolested through San Bernardino Strait and turned south toward
Leyte Gulf. The Japanese strategy had worked.

In the early morning hours, Admiral Oldendorf's warships destroyed the
Nishimura force as it sailed into Surigao Strait. Of two battleships,
one heavy cruiser, and four destroyers, only the cruiser and
one destroyer escaped from the strait, and the cruiser, which had
been damaged, was sunk by aircraft from the U. S. carriers the next
morning. [309] Admiral Shima's 2d Diversion Attack Force, entering the
same strait thirty minutes after Nishimura's force, suffered damage to
a light cruiser that was hit by American torpedo boats. Shima's force
then made an abortive attack, during which its flagship was damaged
by collision, and withdrew without having engaged. The Third Fleet
far to the north fell upon the decoy forces, sank all four carriers
of the Main Body and thus "wrote an end to the Japanese carrier air
force." [310]

Admiral Kurita's 1st Diversion Attack Force "for which so much had been
sacrificed" [311] encountered Kinkaid's carriers and destroyers off
the coast of Samar. Admiral Kinkaid was ill prepared to meet the main
thrust of the Japanese Navy, since his carriers were protected only by
destroyers and destroyer escorts. His "handling of the exceedingly
difficult situation" was "superb." [312] The aircraft from his
carriers under Rear Adm. Clifton A. F. Sprague rose to the occasion
and gave a "magnificent performance," [313] continually attacking
the much stronger 1st Diversion Attack Force. Kurita's forces sank
one carrier, two destroyers, and one destroyer escort but lost three
heavy cruisers and had one crippled. The American fighting strength
was greatly diminished at the very time it was needed to protect the
amphibious shipping that had carried the Sixth Army, and which still
lay near the shores of Leyte Gulf. Just as it appeared inevitable that
Kurita would move in and deliver the coup de grâce, he suddenly broke
off the engagement and retired toward San Bernardino Strait. After the
war he stated in justification of this strange move: "The conclusion
from our [the Japanese] gunfire and anti-aircraft fire during the
day had led me to believe in my uselessness, my ineffectual position,
if I proceeded into Leyte Gulf where I would come under even heavier
aircraft attack. I therefore concluded to go north and join Admiral
Ozawa for coordinated action against your northern Task Forces." [314]

Said Admiral Sprague: "The failure of the enemy main body and
encircling light forces to completely wipe out all vessels of
this Task Unit can be attributed to our successful smoke screen,
our torpedo counterattack, continuous harassment of enemy by bomb,
torpedo, and strafing air attacks, timely maneuvers, and the definite
partiality of Almighty God." [315]

The battle for Leyte Gulf was over. It had ended in a resounding
victory for the Americans, whose losses of 1 light carrier, 2 escort
carriers, 2 destroyers, and 1 destroyer escort were small in comparison
with the Japanese losses of 3 battleships, 1 large carrier, 3 light
carriers, 6 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, and 9 destroyers. [316]

As the Japanese retreated throughout the 25th and 26th of October,
carrier- and land-based aircraft struck at the enemy vessels and
inflicted fresh injuries upon them.

The Sixth Army summarized its view of the probable consequences if
the battle had gone against the U. S. Navy as follows:


    Had the [Japanese] plan succeeded the effect on the Allied troops
    on Leyte in all likelihood would have been calamitous, for these
    troops would have been isolated and their situation would have been
    precarious indeed. If it had been victorious in the naval battle,
    the Japanese fleet could have leisurely and effectively carried
    out the destruction of shipping, aircraft, and supplies that were
    so vital to Allied operations on Leyte. An enemy naval victory
    would have had an adverse effect of incalculable proportions not
    only upon the Leyte Operation, but upon the overall plan for the
    liberation of the Philippines as well. [317]


The Sixth Army, however, was depicting the worst of all possible
contingencies. Admiral Halsey's conclusion is quite different:


    That Kurita's force could have leisurely and effectively carried
    out the destruction of shipping, aircraft, and supplies in Leyte
    Gulf was not in the realm of possibilities.... Kurita would have
    been limited to a hit-and-run attack in the restricted waters of
    Leyte Gulf. He would further have been subjected to the attack of
    the cruisers present in Leyte Gulf. He would have been limited
    to minor damage.... The statement that an enemy naval victory
    would have an effect of incalculable proportions not only on the
    Leyte operation, but upon the overall plan for the liberation
    of the Philippines as well, can only be premised on the thought
    that our naval forces would be almost totally destroyed. The
    prognostication of such a condition could be reasoned on none of
    the facts existing during this three days' engagement. [318]



The Japanese Reinforce the Leyte Garrison

The Japanese felt that the honors of the battle were evenly divided
and consequently continued with their program of making Leyte the
decisive battle of the Philippines. Although the American fleet had
soundly whipped the Japanese Navy, the Japanese were still able to
send reinforcements in great numbers to their Leyte garrison. Because
of the lack of sufficient aerial strength, the Americans were unable
to check the steady flow of troops into the port of Ormoc.



American Aerial Retaliation

The carrier strikes of the Seventh and Third Fleets up to and through
A Day had been most successful in forestalling any concentrated
effort on the part of the Japanese against the American shipping
in Leyte Gulf and the troops on the coastal strand. Thereafter, the
Japanese unleashed a furious air assault on the American forces and
shipping. [319]

At the same time, American aircraft from the carriers struck at the
Japanese troops and their installations in close support of the ground
troops. The first called-for air strike was at 0834 on 21 October
against bridges over streams that were not fordable along the road
leading from Ormoc to Carigara, in order to prevent enemy movement
along this road. [320] A total of 121 missions were flown in support
of ground units during the first four days, of which only 33 had been
requested by the air liaison parties. The targets for these missions
included artillery and mortar positions, fuel and supply dumps,
bridges, pillboxes, and other installations, together with trucks,
armored vehicles, and tanks. [321]

During the initial stages of the campaign, Navy flyers gave efficient
close support to the ground forces. [322] The average time required
to carry out each of these support missions was approximately one
hour, though the usual difficulties of locating friendly troops
and pinpointing the target were present. Enthusiastic reports on
the effectiveness of this co-operation from naval air were made by
the 7th Division. Members of this division, which formerly had been
supported by Army and Navy air forces, found Navy air support in the
first days on Leyte far more satisfactory than that which the Army
Air Forces had been able to provide in the past. They believed that
this superiority was due to the system that the Navy had worked out
for directing strikes at close-in targets without endangering friendly
ground forces, and to the Navy's use of rehearsals with ground units
to establish mutual understanding and confidence. [323]

The Battle of Leyte Gulf interfered greatly with the close support
rendered by the Navy, since the carrier-based planes had to be
withdrawn. The combat air patrol assignments were also disrupted
because of surface engagements and the repairing of the CVE's. [324]

At this time the Japanese had about 432,000 men in the Philippines,
including air force and construction units. Most of them believed
that they were well prepared to meet the Americans. In fact a staff
officer of the 14th Area Army, upon hearing that the Americans had
landed on Leyte, is reported to have jumped up and exclaimed: "Good,
they have picked the place where our finest troops are located." [325]
It was also thought that the American troops on Leyte were "having
a difficult time." [326] Nevertheless, General Yamashita, who had
succeeded Kuroda as the commanding general of the 14th Area Army,
sent the 1st Division and other units to Leyte. The Japanese felt that
"if the decisive battle in Leyte results in failure, it will upset
the entire operation in the Philippines and the decisive battle in
Luzon will be lost." [327]

By the 25th of October a battalion of the 55th Independent Mixed
Brigade and one of the 57th Independent Mixed Brigade from Cebu,
together with two battalions of the 30th Division, had arrived on Leyte
to reinforce the 16th Division. Shortly after the Sixth Army landed,
the 35th Army commander, General Suzuki, received orders from General
Yamashita to undertake an all-out offensive against the Americans. All
Japanese air, naval, and land forces were to participate. [328]

On 22 October the 14th Area Army asked the 35th Army how the 26th
Division and 68th Independent Mixed Brigade were to be utilized if
the Japanese decisively won the pending naval battle. The 35th Army
stated that if the Japanese Navy were victorious, the units were
to prevent the landing of more Americans at Leyte Gulf, but if it
were unsuccessful the troops were to be landed at Carigara Bay. The
optimism of the Japanese was high. Said Maj. Gen. Yoshiharu Tomochika,
Chief of Staff, 35th Army: "We were determined to take offensive after
offensive and clean up American forces on Leyte Island.... We seriously
discussed demanding the surrender of the entire American Army after
seizing General MacArthur." [329] Then came the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Despite the setbacks caused by this disastrous sea battle, the Japanese
continued to send troops to Leyte through Ormoc. The reinforcement of
Leyte consisted of moving five major units, in nine echelons: the 35th
Army moved as many of its units as possible from Mindanao, Cebu, and
Panay; the 1st Division was sent down from Luzon on 1 November; then
the 26th Division, the 68th Independent Mixed Brigade, and one third
of the 8th Division were sent from Luzon in the order given. [330]

On 27 October the Fifth Air Force took over the mission of supporting
the Sixth Army. As the airstrips were not in serviceable condition,
only a small detachment--the 308th Bombardment Wing--could be sent
in. Aircraft from the carriers continued to give support. The Fifth Air
Force felt that it could best check the Japanese reinforcement program,
and at the same time give more lasting support to the ground troops,
by attacking the Japanese convoys before they arrived in Leyte. The
Fifth Air Force intended also to attack large movements of land
troops, concentrations, and supply areas. Army Air Forces doctrine
assigned close support as the third priority mission of tactical air
forces. [331] Since there were always insufficient aircraft for the
missions assigned to the air forces, close support of ground troops
suffered.

The Allied Air Forces, which had been given the mission of supporting
the Leyte operation, directed its main efforts against airfields in
bypassed areas. Two fighter groups were on Morotai, one heavy bomber
group was on Noemfoor, off the north coast of New Guinea, and two
heavy bomber groups were on Biak; they completed 175 sorties in strikes
against airfields on Mindanao and the Visayan area. The main targets
of attack were on Mindanao and Cebu and in the Negros area. [332]
The XIII Bomber Command, which carried the burden of this assault,
was to neutralize targets previously hit and protect the southwestern
flank of the American forces in the Philippines. The 42d Bombardment
Group (medium bombers) in October flew the greatest number of sorties
in the history of the group up to that time. [333]

The heavy bombers (B-24's) of the 868th Bombardment Squadron, operating
from Noemfoor, had as their main target enemy shipping in the Makassar
Strait. At the same time, the B-24's that were within range of the Sulu
Sea struck at the Japanese Southern Fleet as it retreated after its
engagement with the Seventh Fleet. The fighters and medium bombers,
which had been used to strike at targets on Mindanao, were alerted
to strike any enemy naval vessels that came within range. [334]

While protecting the southwestern flank of the American forces in
the Philippines, the XIII Bomber Command was extraordinarily busy
on 26 October. Part of the Japanese naval task force, consisting of
three battleships, five cruisers, and four destroyers, had withdrawn
from the Leyte area and was in the Sulu Sea when sighted by the 307th
Bombardment Group. Twenty-eight B-24's of the bombardment group made
their principal targets two of the battleships--one of the Kongo
class and the other of the Yamato class. Three of the planes were
shot down as the Japanese skillfully and evasively maneuvered their
vessels so that none was sunk. At the same time B-24's from the 5th
Bombardment Squadron sighted and sank an enemy light cruiser at a
different location in the Sulu Sea. [335]

General MacArthur had originally allocated the attack of all
land targets in the Philippines to the Allied Air Forces, [336]
and although subsequent events occasioned a modification of this
order the Fifth Air Force officially established its advance units
on Leyte at 1600 on 27 October and assumed operational control of
land-based aircraft. [337] The 308th Bombardment Wing, the advance
echelon of the Fifth Air Force, had two major duties included in
its mission. It was to obtain air superiority over the Philippines
and to isolate the Japanese forces on the battlefield of Leyte. In
addition to these two principal tasks it was to render maximum close
support to the ground forces, establish night fighter patrols and a
system of courier aircraft, and provide maximum protection to Allied
naval vessels. [338] Among the Army flyers of the 49th Fighter Group,
an advance party of the Fifth Air Force that arrived on 27 October,
was Maj. Richard I. Bong, of the 9th Fighter Squadron, the leading ace
of the Army Air Forces. He celebrated his arrival by shooting down an
enemy plane. [339] On 28 October the Army flyers of the 7th Fighter
Squadron got their first enemy airplane on Leyte. Since there were
"only" three enemy air raids during the night, the men were able to
get some much needed sleep. [340]

The 29th of October, however, was a day of heavy action for the Army
flyers, as described in a report of the 7th Fighter Squadron:


    The 29th was a day that will be long remembered.... Two more
    Nips were added to the unit's score;... the 49th Group's 500th
    victory. But more important at that time was the fact ... [that]
    the ... road between the strip and the camp collapsed under
    army traffic.... The already long hours were lengthened still
    more as pilots and men were forced to arise between three and
    four o'clock in the morning, make their way to the barge at
    Tacloban, cross to the strip by water and then sweat out the
    pre-dawn raids. At night, the planes landing at dusk had hardly
    hit the runway before ... BOFORS [40-mm. antiaircraft guns] went
    off and the lights went out. Then down to the end of the strip
    near the gas dumps, and another session of sweating beneath A/A
    [antiaircraft] awaiting the barge for the trip back to Tacloban
    and then to camp. Supper was served as late as 10 o'clock ... a
    few brave individuals tried an alternate road to the south,
    swinging out east to White Beach above Dulag and then north along
    the beach to Tacloban Strip. Japanese snipers soon put a stop to
    this travel during the hours of darkness.

    To add to the "big day"--29 October--the weather observers
    reported a 50 knot gale on the way. Working after dark, pilots
    and linemen minus the regular tie downs and using tent ropes
    and anything available secured the airplanes to jeeps, trucks,
    trailers and tractors. At night, in camp, the small typhoon hit
    and with it went three or four tents, occupants of which awoke to
    find themselves thoroughly drenched and at odds with the world,
    Leyte in particular. [341]


Although 29 October was the most difficult day on Leyte for the
men of the 7th Fighter Squadron, they were again disheartened the
following day, when one of the squadron's pilots was shot down by
friendly antiaircraft. [342]

During the first week of November, offensive operations by the Fifth
Air Force were primarily against targets in Ormoc Valley and enemy
shipping in Ormoc Bay. The barrios of Ormoc, Valencia, and Palompon
were the first land targets. Most of the strikes, however, were
against Japanese shipping in Ormoc Bay and in the vicinity of the
Camotes Islands. [343]

By 4 November a number of P-38's had been destroyed by bombs and
strafing, some of which were completely burned up. To cut down the
aircraft losses, it was decided to have planes of some of the squadrons
use the Bayug airstrip in the Dulag area. But since this was a poor
airfield which soon became overcrowded and subject to Japanese air
attacks, it was finally abandoned. [344]

On 3 November fifteen P-38's of the 49th Bomber Group struck "one of
the most lucrative strafing targets of their history." [345] In an
early morning search for enemy shipping in Ormoc Bay the bombers found
nothing, but on their return they sighted a ten-mile-long convoy of
trucks, artillery, and tanks extending from Ormoc to Valencia. The
convoy was strafed and dispersed, leaving twenty to thirty-five
trucks destroyed and many other vehicles, including two tanks, in
flames. [346] However, two American planes were shot down by enemy
antiaircraft fire, four came in on single engines, and all showed
many bullet holes. The bombers made no further strikes against the
convoy, "as all aircraft received extremely heavy and accurate ground
fire." [347]

The airmen of the Fifth Air Force continued to hit shipping in Ormoc
Bay and in the Camotes Islands, and they also achieved success against
bridges, airfields, troops, camp areas, and transportation. [348]
Although the number of Japanese air raids had diminished by 6
November, the Americans could not yet feel that they were "out of
the rough." [349] There was insufficient direct air support for the
ground troops throughout the operation and the Japanese continued to
send troops into Ormoc. The constant stream of Japanese reinforcements
coming into Leyte augured ill for the success of the operation.



The TA Operation

The TA Operation, by which name the Japanese program for the
reinforcement of Leyte was known, continued from 23 October through
11 December. The numerical weakness of the U. S. land-based aircraft
enabled the Japanese to land many thousands of troops and tons of
supplies on Leyte. Nine convoys in all were sent to the port of
Ormoc, on the west coast. [350] As a whole, however, the operation
was "literally gruesome" to the Japanese, since their transports and
escort vessels were struck again and again by American aircraft.

The first Japanese convoy had three echelons. The first consisted of
a landing barge and an auxiliary sailing vessel carrying about 300
troops of the 102d Division. The second echelon, whose composition
was identical with the first, carried about 150 troops of the same
division. Both safely discharged their troops on 23 and 25 October,
respectively. The third echelon was made up of 2 destroyers, together
with 4 transports carrying about 2,000 men of the 30th Division. The
transports safely unloaded their passengers on 26 October, but American
airmen later sank the destroyers and all but one of the transports. The
remaining vessel was damaged.

The second convoy consisted of three echelons, composed of 3, 1,
and 4 transports respectively. The escorting vessels of the third
echelon, the only one that had an escort, consisted of 6 destroyers
and 4 coast defense vessels. The escort vessels carried the troops of
the 1st Division: the first wave about 1,000 men, the second about
100 headquarters men, and the third approximately 10,000 troops and
about 9,000 ship tons of provisions and ammunition. All vessels safely
debarked their troops on 1 and 2 November.

The 5 transports of the third convoy carried about 2,000 troops of the
26th Division and approximately 6,600 tons of supplies. The convoy
sailed from Manila on 9 November and was escorted by 1 submarine
chaser, 1 torpedo boat squadron, and 4 destroyers. On 10 November,
when the convoy reached the mouth of Ormoc Bay, American airmen
destroyed all of the escort vessels and transports before they could
unload their troops and cargo.

Each of the two echelons of the fourth convoy had 3 transports, but
only the first one had an escort--6 destroyers and 4 coast defense
vessels. The first echelon carried approximately 10,000 troops of the
26th Division and about 3,500 tons of supplies, including provisions,
ammunition, and four long-range guns. The second echelon carried
about 1,000 men of the 1st Division. Both discharged their troops
safely on 9 November, a day earlier than the anticipated arrival of
the third convoy, but because of American air action, they were able
to get only a limited part of the supplies ashore.

The fifth convoy was organized on the same pattern as its predecessor,
but the first wave had a submarine chaser as an escort while the
second had a destroyer. This convoy, which left Manila between 11 and
25 November with an unknown number of troops and quantity of supplies,
was completely destroyed en route to Leyte.

The sixth convoy, composed of 2 transports, 2 submarine chasers,
and 1 patrol boat, carried approximately 2,500 tons of provisions and
ammunition. It entered Ormoc harbor on 28 November and had completed
most of its unloading when the vessels were either sunk or set afire
by U.S. aircraft and motor torpedo boats.

There were four echelons in the seventh convoy. The composition of
the first two is unknown, but it is known that the first echelon
completed unloading at Ipil just south of Ormoc on 30 November. The
third and fourth echelons, consisting altogether of 3 transports and 2
destroyers, also carried an unknown number of troops and quantity of
supplies. As they were unloading at Ormoc on 2 December, the vessels
were attacked by American airmen who sank one of the destroyers and
damaged the other. The transports and the damaged destroyer returned
to Manila.

The 4 transports of the eighth convoy, escorted by 3 destroyers and 2
submarine chasers, carried about 4,000 troops--the main body of the
68th Independent Brigade--and an unknown quantity of provisions and
ammunition. It unloaded some of its troops and a part of the cargo at
San Isidro on the west coast of Leyte on 7 December; but immediately
thereafter, American aircraft sank the transports and heavily damaged
the destroyers.

There were two echelons in the ninth convoy. The first echelon, which
consisted of 5 transports, 3 destroyers, and 2 submarine chasers,
carried approximately 3,000 troops of the 5th Infantry Regiment,
8th Division, and about 900 tons of provisions and ammunition. In
unloading at Ormoc on 11 December, 1 destroyer was sunk and 1 destroyer
and 1 transport were damaged. The remaining vessels then moved to
Port Palompon on the west coast of Leyte and completed unloading. The
second echelon consisted of only one transport and carried an unknown
number of troops and quantity of supplies. It was able on 11 December
to elude the American airmen and complete its unloading. [351]

After the war, General Nishimura, who had been on the staff of the
14th Area Army, made the amazing statement that nearly 80 percent
of the vessels sent to Ormoc were sunk en route. Although most of
the vessels went down close enough to the Leyte shore for the troops
to swim ashore, the equipment lost could not be replaced. [352] It
is estimated that the Japanese landed more than 45,000 troops and
something over 10,000 tons of matériel. [353]

Even though the Japanese had not succeeded completely in their
reinforcement program, General Krueger was faced with a far stronger
foe than had been anticipated. The Leyte Campaign was to be long
and costly and was to upset the timetable for the impending Luzon
operation. At the end of A Day the American assault forces had firmly
established themselves on the shores of Leyte, but the battle for
the island was yet to come.



CHAPTER VII

Southern Leyte Valley: Part One


The SHO Operations

In their preliminary planning, the Japanese considered that the defense
of Leyte would be only a delaying action. The defenders were to inflict
as many casualties as possible upon the invaders and also to prevent
them from using the Leyte airfields, but the decisive battle for the
Philippines would be fought on Luzon. As late as 10 October the chief
of staff of the 35th Army received the following order from Manila:
"Depending on conditions the 35th Army will prepare to dispatch as
large a force to LUZON ISLAND as possible." [354]

On 21 October, after receiving news of the American landings, General
Yamashita activated SHO ICHI GO (Victory Operation Number One). He
made it clear that the Japanese Army, in co-operation with "the
total force of the Air Force and Navy," was to make a major effort
on Leyte and destroy the American forces on the island. The 35th Army
was to concentrate its forces there. The 1st and 26th Divisions, the
68th Brigade, and an artillery unit from the 14th Area Army would be
sent to augment the 35th Army troops. At the same time General Suzuki
received information that the Japanese Air Force and Navy would engage
in "decisive" battles in support. "The morale of the 35th Army rose
as a result."

The Japanese thought that only two American divisions had landed on
Leyte, and that if the 1st, 16th, 30th, and 102d Divisions engaged
the Americans, a decisive victory would be theirs. General Suzuki
decided to send forward the following reinforcements to Leyte: the
main force of the 30th Division, only three battalions of which would
remain in Mindanao; three infantry battalions of the 102d Division;
and one independent infantry battalion each from the 55th and 57th
Independent Mixed Brigades. These forces were in addition to the two
battalions previously sent on 23 October.

General Suzuki believed that the Americans would attempt to join and
strengthen their beachheads in the vicinity of Tacloban and Dulag
before they tried to penetrate inland. At the same time, since Catmon
Hill and the high ground west of Tacloban Valley were in Japanese
hands, the 16th Division should be able to contain the Americans
until reinforcements arrived.

He therefore issued orders based upon these assumptions and also
upon the assumption that the Japanese air and naval forces would be
victorious. The 35th Army was to concentrate its reinforcements in
the Carigara area. The principal elements of the 16th Division were to
occupy Burauen and Dagami, and the rest of the division would occupy
Catmon Hill and the western plateau of Tacloban. The 16th Division was
to protect the concentration of the main force of the 35th Army. The
102d Division was to occupy the Jaro area and give direct protection
to the 1st and 26th Divisions and the 68th Brigade. The 30th Division
was to land at Ormoc Bay in the Albuera area and then advance to the
Burauen area in coordination with the 16th Division and assist the
main force of the 35th Army. The 1st Division was to land at Ormoc,
the 26th Division and 68th Brigade were to land at Carigara. If the
situation were favorable, however, the 68th Brigade was to land in
the vicinity of Catmon Hill. After the main elements of the 35th
Army had assembled at Carigara and the area southeast of it, they
were to move down Leyte Valley and annihilate the American forces in
the Tacloban area. All the important airfields, bases, and roads were
also in the valley.

The part of Leyte Valley where the Americans hoped air and supply
bases could be developed is a broad and level plain inside a
quadrangle formed by the main roads linking Tanauan, Dulag, Burauen
and Dagami. (Map 7) The region extending ten miles westward from
the stretch of coast between Dulag and Tanauan to the foothills of
the central range is an alluvial plain, interlaced by many streams,
in which swamps and rice paddies predominate. Catmon Hill, about half
way between Tanauan and Dulag, was the most prominent terrain feature
near the shore line.

Catmon Hill is actually a series of hills with many spurs. This hill
mass starts at the mouth of the Labiranan River above San Jose where
Labiranan Head meets Highway 1, the coastal road, and extends in a
general northwest direction to the vicinity of San Vicente and Pikas
where it drops abruptly into the coastal plain. It is covered with
cogon grass about six feet high, in the midst of which are found a
few trees. The beach areas between the Calbasag River on the south
and Tolosa on the north, together with much of southern Leyte Valley,
are dominated by this hill mass. [355]

The 16th Division made use of the caves on Catmon Hill for shelters,
artillery positions, and supply dumps, and established well-concealed
coconut log pillboxes and observation posts at numerous vantage points
on the hills. Some of these pillboxes, with good fields of fire and
spider holes, were emplaced in positions to cover the roads. [356] A
spider hole was dug about five feet deep, sometimes camouflaged with a
removable cover, and was large enough to contain a man and his weapon.

The American prelanding naval bombardment destroyed a number of field
pieces of the 22d Field Artillery Regiment, which was deployed in
position along the first line of defense. The gunfire also disrupted
the regiment's radio service, and direct communication with the 35th
Army and the 14th Area Army headquarters was temporarily broken. [357]

After the heavy naval bombardment on A Day and the subsequent landings
by American forces in the Dulag area, General Makino moved the command
post of the 16th Division to Dagami, a step which made communications
very difficult and inadequate. The troops of the division were then
disposed as follows: the 20th Infantry Regiment, though considerably
diminished in number, was holding Julita, and one of its platoons
patrolled the Daguitan River banks; the main part of the 9th Infantry
Regiment was at Catmon Hill, while one of its battalions occupied
Tabontabon. [358]

At the end of 20 October the Sixth Army was established on the shores
of Leyte Gulf. The X Corps was in the north near Palo and Tacloban,
and the XXIV Corps was in the vicinity of Dulag, poised for a drive
into southern Leyte Valley. General Krueger planned to push rapidly
through Leyte Valley and secure its important roads, airfields, and
base sites before General Makino could regroup the 16th Division and
offer a firm line of resistance.



Enlarging the 96th Division Beachhead

General Krueger had assigned the mission of seizing southern Leyte
Valley to the XXIV Corps. The 96th Division was to seize Catmon Hill
and its surrounding area, together with the Dagami-Tanauan road. The
7th Division was to proceed along the Dulag-Burauen road, seize the
airfields in that area, and then proceed north to Dagami.

General Bradley's scheme of maneuver for the 96th Division specified a
movement into the interior from the beachhead area in a northwesterly
direction with regiments abreast--the 383d Infantry on the right
(north) and the 382d Infantry on the left (south). The 1st Battalion,
383d Infantry, was to capture Labiranan Head and secure Highway 1
as far north as San Roque. The rest of the regiment was to proceed
inland, bypass Catmon Hill at first, and then, after artillery,
naval bombardment, and air strikes had neutralized it, to capture
Catmon Hill and the adjacent high ground.

The 382d Infantry was to proceed inland in a northwesterly direction
and seize Anibung, which was erroneously believed to have an
airfield. The regiment was then to be ready to advance either to the
north or to the west. [359]

At the end of A Day the assault troops of the 383d Infantry, commanded
by Colonel May, were approximately 2,500 yards inland. The forward
positions of the 1st Battalion were 400 yards up the sides of the
ridge running north from where the troops had crossed the Labiranan
River. The 3d Platoon of Company C had established a roadblock at the
highway crossing; the 2d Battalion, protecting the regimental southern
boundary, had advanced 2,600 yards inland from Orange Beach 1; and
the 3d Battalion had established a night perimeter 800 yards southwest
of the 1st Battalion on the southern bank of the Labiranan River. [360]

The 382d Infantry, under Colonel Dill, had made a successful landing
on A Day. The 2d Battalion, on the right, had pushed inland 2,700
yards, while the 3d Battalion, on the left, had gained 1,300 yards;
the 1st Battalion was in reserve. Contact had been established with
the 32d Infantry, 7th Division, on the 382d Infantry's left, and with
the 383d Infantry on its right. [361]



Labiranan Head

During the night of 20-21 October the 361st Field Artillery Battalion
fired upon Labiranan Head in support of the 1st Battalion, 383d
Infantry. [362] In addition naval guns, supporting the 96th Division,
fired harassing and interdicting missions against possible enemy
positions and lines of communication. [363] At 0810 on 21 October an
air strike was registered on Labiranan Head, followed by a three-hour
naval and artillery barrage.

The 382d Infantry was to move inland, maintain contact with the
7th Division, and forestall any Japanese attempt to reach the
beaches. Concurrently, the 1st Battalion, 383d Infantry, would advance
on Catmon Hill from Labiranan Head while the 2d and 3d Battalions of
the regiment would swing around the northwest end of Catmon Hill and
squeeze the Japanese in a pincers.

At 1130 an assault force commanded by Capt. Hugh D. Young of the 1st
Battalion, 383d Infantry, attacked the Japanese position on Labiranan
Head. This assault force, a composite company, consisted of a platoon
each from A, B, and C Companies, together with the weapons platoon
from C Company. The troops moved up the ridge and within ten minutes
after starting destroyed one machine gun and drove off the crew of
another. Under cover of mortar fire, the Japanese retired to the
next ridge.

In co-operation with the advance of Captain Young's force, the 3d
Platoon of Company C, which had established the roadblock at the
Highway 1 crossing of Labiranan River on A Day, moved out just below
Labiranan Head and hit the Japanese flank. The platoon met a strongly
entrenched enemy position which consisted of seven pillboxes guarding
ten 75-mm. guns. There were also six coastal guns but only two of
these had been even partially assembled. When the men of the platoon
got within twenty feet of the enemy position, they received fire from
the two flanks and the front. After knocking out a machine gun nest
the platoon withdrew.

Lt. Col. Edwin O. List, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion,
then ordered Captain Young to advance northward up a covered draw and
secure a small hill in the rear of the enemy force. As the troops
advanced up the hill, they observed smoke coming from Labiranan
Head. Company D thereupon placed mortar fire on the position which
contained the ten 75-mm. guns. At 1430 Captain Young requested that
the fire be lifted; this was done, and the advance continued. [364]

At 1600 Captain Young reported that his troops had secured Labiranan
Head. At the same time, friendly naval gunfire shelled Young's
troops. [365] This gunfire was not stopped, since there were
known Japanese positions in the vicinity and it was believed to
be of more lasting importance to knock them out than to hold this
one position. Captain Young evacuated Labiranan Head and withdrew
his troops, who swam across the Labiranan River and formed a night
perimeter on the south bank. At the end of the day the front lines of
the rest of the 1st Battalion, 383d Infantry, were along the northern
banks of the Labiranan River and on the high ground 800 yards west
of Labiranan Head. [366]

During the night the 361st, 363d, and 921st Field Artillery Battalions
delivered harassing fires on the positions of the 9th Infantry Regiment
on Labiranan Head. [367] The following morning, Captain Young's force
rejoined the 1st Battalion, 383d Infantry. The 921st Field Artillery
Battalion continued to pound the enemy emplacements until 1200
and then supported the attack as the 1st Battalion, 383d Infantry,
with Companies A and C as lead companies, moved up the slopes of
Labiranan Head. The antitank platoon of the 1st Battalion set up its
37-mm. guns in a position from which it could rake the south side of
Labiranan Head from the river and support the advance of Company C on
the left. The platoon knocked out four pillboxes and two machine guns
and then directed fire on the enemy 75-mm. guns. Companies A and C
pushed aside the Japanese and at 1630 reached the crest of the hill,
their objective. They immediately dug in, consolidated the position,
and then formed a night perimeter from which the entire beach area
from San Roque to Dulag could be observed. [368]

At 1930 the Japanese centered a counterattack on Company A on the right
flank of the 1st Battalion, 383d Infantry. A combined concentration
from the 921st, 361st, and 363d Field Artillery Battalions repelled
this assault. [369] While Labiranan Hill was being secured, a force
consisting of the 3d Platoon, Company C, the 1st Platoon, Company
D, 763d Tank Battalion, the 1st Platoon, Cannon Company, and the
battalion Antitank Platoon pushed along Highway 1, secured San Roque,
and set up a roadblock. [370] From the 23d to the 26th of October the
1st Battalion, 383d Infantry, patrolled the Labiranan Hill--San Roque
area and protected the right flank of the 96th Division as the rest
of the division slogged through swamps and rice paddies to the south.



Battling the Swamps

At 0840 on 21 October the 2d and 3d Battalions, 383d Infantry,
which were to go in a northwesterly direction around Catmon Hill
and isolate the Japanese force on the hill, moved out westward. They
advanced through swamps and rice paddies but met no Japanese during
the day. At 1640, when they established a night perimeter, the 2d
Battalion was 300 yards north of Tigbao and the 3d Battalion with the
regimental command group was 1,100 yards northeast of the barrio and
south of Catmon Hill. [371]

The 382d Infantry, while protecting the left flank of the 96th
Division, was to advance rapidly into the interior and seize
Tigbao. [372] During the night of 20-21 October artillery fire from
an unknown source fell in the sector of the 2d Battalion, killing
three men and wounding eight others. At 0800, on 21 October, the
2d Battalion, 382d Infantry, moved out, followed at 0812 by the 3d
Battalion. These troops, like the 2d and 3d Battalions of the 383d
Infantry, were confronted with waist-deep swamps which made the going
slow and arduous. The 3d Battalion, 382d Infantry, immediately after
moving out, ran into enemy pillboxes constructed of coconut logs and
defended by machine guns and riflemen. At first the troops bypassed
the pillboxes but at 1030 Company K went back and wiped them out. In
addition to the morass through which the troops were moving, numerous
empty pillboxes slowed up the advance, since each of them had to be
checked. [373] At 1430, because there was a gap between the 2d and
3d Battalions, Colonel Dill committed the 1st Battalion to close the
line. The battalions then advanced abreast and kept lateral contact
with the 2d and 3d Battalions of the 383d Infantry on their right. At
1630, when the battalions established their night perimeters, they
were far short of their objective. [374]

At 1745 Colonel Dill directed all of the battalions of the 382d
Infantry to move out at 0800 on 22 October--the 1st Battalion was
to capture Tigbao and Bolongtohan and then push on to Hindang; the
2d Battalion was to proceed toward Anibung; and the 3d Battalion,
on the right of the 1st Battalion, was to proceed to the northwestern
edge of Bolongtohan. [375]

Since it was known that the Japanese were strongly entrenched
on Catmon Hill, General Bradley had decided to bypass the hill
temporarily. His plan called for the 2d and 3d Battalions of the
383d Infantry to envelop Catmon Hill from the south and then move
north to make contact with the 24th Division at Tanauan. [376] On the
morning of 22 October, Colonel May of the 383d Infantry asked General
Bradley for permission to attack Catmon Hill from the south with his
2d and 3d Battalions. General Bradley refused the request and ordered
Colonel May to continue the enveloping movement he had started on
21 October. [377] Later on that morning, therefore, the 2d and 3d
Battalions, 383d Infantry, moved out north-northwest. Encountering
a deep swamp at 1130, the troops turned northwest. This move did not
materially help the situation, since they found that they had exchanged
the swamp for rice paddies. The advance units reached Anibung at 1630
without encountering any Japanese. By 1800 all units had closed in
on the vicinity of Anibung and set up a night perimeter 400 yards
north of the barrio.

Few supplies had been brought forward because the vehicles of the
battalions had advanced only 200 yards when they bogged down. The
troops hand-carried their weapons and communications equipment, while
civilians with about eight carabaos [378] helped carry the supplies. In
the transportation of supplies forward, ammunition was given priority
over rations and water, even though the supply of the latter items,
which had been issued to the troops before landing, was nearly
exhausted. The men made free use of coconuts for food and drink. [379]

At 0800 on 22 October the three battalions of the 382d Infantry moved
out. By 0900 the 1st and 2d Battalions had pushed through Tigbao,
whereupon the regimental commander changed the orders for the day. He
ordered the 2d Battalion to take Bolongtohan, the 1st Battalion to
seize Canmangui, and the 3d Battalion to go into reserve. [380]

The 1st and 3d Battalions of the 382d Infantry made contact with
each other at 1152. When patrols from the 1st Battalion did not
find any Japanese at Canmangui, the battalion proceeded toward
Bolongtohan. Upon nearing Mati, the 1st Battalion encountered an
entrenched position of the enemy and by outflanking the position
was able to knock it out. The Japanese fought a delaying action and
withdrew during the afternoon. At 2000 the battalion formed its night
perimeter at Mati. The other battalions of the regiment encountered
no Japanese during the day's progress inland, and formed their night
perimeters at 1800--the 2d Battalion 800 yards east of Bolongtohan
and the 3d Battalion 500 yards southeast of Tigbao. During the day
the 382d Infantry had pushed forward approximately 2,000 yards. [381]

At 2300 on 22 October General Makino issued an order for the defense
of the island by the Japanese 16th Division. He organized his troops
into the Northern and Southern Leyte Defense Forces. The Southern
Defense Force was to protect the Dulag-Burauen road and the airfields
in the vicinity of Burauen. It was in the zone of action of the 7th
Division. The Northern Leyte Defense Force [382] was to remain on
Catmon Hill, the high ground south of Tanauan, and the high ground
south of Palo. Elements were to be in the vicinity of Tabontabon and
Kansamada, and a unit was to protect the artillery positions north of
Catmon Hill. The 16th Engineer Regiment (less three platoons) was to
be prepared to demolish the roads connecting Dagami and Burauen and
those connecting Dagami and Tanauan, in order to check the advance
of American tanks. Simultaneously, the main force of the unit was to
secure the road running northwest from Dagami to Tingib. The division
reserve and command post were to be in the vicinity of Dagami. [383]

At 0900 on 23 October the 2d Battalion, 383d Infantry, sent a patrol
to investigate the enemy situation west of Pikas and near the Guinarona
River. At 1130 the patrol reported that there were a few Japanese on a
hill near Pikas. The 2d and 3d Battalions, 383d Infantry, moved out at
1200 with the 2d Battalion in the lead. At 1430 Company G, the leading
company, surprised some Japanese who were swimming in the Guinarona
River. They were "literally caught with their pants down." [384] The
leading companies were able to rout the enemy and continue the advance
despite small forays which were broken up; about fifty of the enemy
were killed. At 1810 the 2d Battalion, 383d Infantry, reached the high
ground on the north bank of the Guinarona River, 600 yards west of
Pikas. A force of approximately 100 Japanese attacked the battalion
as it was establishing a night perimeter. Fortunately the Americans,
just fifteen minutes before, had put their machine guns and mortars
in position and were thus able to fire their weapons immediately and
repulse the attack. The 3d Battalion, 383d Infantry, closed in on the
area at 1900 and each battalion set up a perimeter for the night. [385]

During the day the regiment received a small quantity of supplies
by Filipino and carabao trains and by airdrop from Navy planes. The
amount of food came to about one-half ration for each man. On the
following day Colonel May ordered the 1st Battalion, 383d Infantry,
to remain in position until a supply route could be established. [386]

Early on 24 October General Bradley told Colonel May to hold his
present positions and sent out patrols to find roads, trails, and
solid ground that could be used as or converted into supply routes
to the rear. [387] The communications between the regiment and the
96th Division were very hard to maintain, since the only radios the
troops could move inland were hand-carried sets of short range.

In the early morning hours of 25 October a division reconnaissance
patrol, with light tanks and a motorized engineer platoon, went along
Highway 1 with the mission of reconnoitering the highway as far north
as the Binahaan River and making contact with the X Corps. By 1300 the
patrol reached the river near Tanauan and found a damaged bridge. By
1600 the bridge had been repaired and the patrol pushed through Tanauan
and made contact with Company K of the 19th Infantry, 24th Division,
the first between the X and XXIV Corps since the landing.

The 382d Infantry spent 23 October patrolling. Contact was established
and maintained between all of the battalions of the regiment during
the day. Although the forward movement was slowed to allow much-needed
supplies to come up, an advance of 600 yards was made. As the regiment
advanced farther inland it became apparent that the entire area was
composed of swamps and rice paddies. The roads were only muddy trails
and were impassable for wheeled vehicles. The M29 cargo carriers and
LVT's were pressed into service to carry supplies, but the numerous
streams and waist-deep swamps soon halted all vehicular traffic. The
task of supply and of evacuation of wounded soon assumed staggering
proportions. For days the troops had had little food since priority
had been given to the indispensable ammunition. Filipino and soldier
carrying details were the only means by which the front lines could
be supplied. [388]

On the morning of 24 October General Bradley ordered the 382d Infantry
to have its 2d Battalion close in on Anibung. The 3d Battalion was to
occupy Hindang and the 1st Battalion was to proceed through Hindang
to a position about 500 yards farther north. [389]

At 0830 the 1st and 3d Battalions, 382d Infantry, moved astride the
narrow trail that led to Tabontabon, with the 3d Battalion echeloned
to the right rear. The 1st Battalion passed through Bolongtohan at
0930 and moved on in a northwesterly direction toward Hindang. At
1105, as the 1st Battalion was pushing through Hindang, it came under
enemy rifle fire. The Japanese had dug spider holes under the huts,
and a trench extended along the western end of the barrio. The 1st
Battalion, assisted by troops from Company B, 763d Tank Battalion,
moved through the town, leaving the 3d Battalion the job of mopping
up. The 3d Battalion reached Hindang at 1530 and immediately attacked
the enemy force there. The Japanese offered only slight resistance
and then fled, abandoning thirty-six well-constructed defensive
positions. At 1610 the barrio was secured.

Meanwhile, the 1st Battalion, after driving through Hindang with
Companies A and G abreast, came upon a strong enemy position some 200
yards beyond the town on the left flank of Company A. A platoon of the
Cannon Company and some light tanks had managed to get forward. The
tanks and flame throwers flushed the Japanese into the open where
they were met by the fire of American riflemen who were waiting for
them. By 1600 the enemy strong point was secured and the battalion
moved northwest and formed a night perimeter at 1700.

The 2d Battalion reached Anibung without incident. The airfield
believed to be in the vicinity of the barrio proved nonexistent. At
the end of the day the regiment had advanced approximately 2,200
yards. The 2d Battalion was at Anibung, the 3d Battalion was just
beyond Hindang, and the 1st Battalion was in a position to move
northwest against Aslom. [390]

On the morning of 25 October the 1st and 3d Battalions, 382d
Infantry, moved out in a northwesterly direction toward Aslom,
with the 3d Battalion on the right, while the 2d Battalion moved
out in a northwesterly direction toward Kanmonhag. The Japanese had
withdrawn during the night, leaving only scattered riflemen to oppose
the advance.

In their advance, the battalions were supported by elements of the
763d Tank Battalion. At Aslom the two battalions encountered a strongly
fortified position of five gun emplacements and four pillboxes, which
the tanks were able to knock out. [391] The 1st Battalion formed its
night perimeter near Aslom while the 3d Battalion pushed north 1,500
yards and formed its perimeter.

The 2d Battalion encountered only abandoned pillboxes on its front and
left flank during its advance. At 1200 a patrol which reconnoitered
Kanmonhag found no resistance, and the battalion pushed on to form
its night perimeter on line with the 3d Battalion. [392]

During the first six days of the operation, the casualties of the
96th Division amounted to 5 officers and 89 enlisted men killed, 17
officers and 416 enlisted men wounded, and 13 enlisted men missing in
action. [393] In the same period the division had killed an estimated
531 Japanese and had taken one prisoner. [394]



Catmon Hill Area

By the end of 25 October the 1st Battalion of the 383d Infantry was
in position to attack Labir Hill, while the 2d and 3d Battalions,
remaining in position near Pikas, had sent vigorous patrols into
Tabontabon, San Victor, and San Vicente. The 2d and 3d Battalions
of the 382d Infantry were beyond Aslom while the 1st Battalion was
still at that point. By this time the supply line had been opened up
and the main swamps had been traversed. The 96th Division was deep
in southern Leyte Valley and had isolated a strong enemy force on
Catmon Hill. The way was now open for the division to launch an attack
against Tabontabon, bypass the positions of the 9th Infantry Regiment
on Catmon Hill, and secure the remainder of its beachhead area.



Taking Tabontabon

By 23 October the 383d Infantry, less the 1st Battalion, had
crossed the Guinarona River and established a position west of
Pikas. Having been ordered by General Bradley to hold this position,
the regiment limited its activities to patrolling. While awaiting
orders to advance, Colonel May decided to give battle training to
various units by sending them out on patrolling missions to observe
the enemy. [395] Tabontabon and San Victor were assigned to the 3d
Battalion commander as a training mission for one of his companies,
while San Vicente Hill was assigned to the 2d Battalion commander
for the same purpose. Tabontabon was a key point, since it was one
of the main 16th Division supply centers.

Company K, which had been selected by the 3d Battalion commander
for the first mission, sent patrols into the Tabontabon--San Victor
area on the afternoon of 24 October. The patrol sent to Tabontabon
found that the 9th Infantry Regiment had extensively fortified the
barrio. There were deep foxholes and machine gun emplacements dug
in under the houses. None of the positions appeared to be occupied,
but at the end of the town the patrol saw approximately twenty-five
Japanese preparing their evening meal. Tabontabon was a fairly large
barrio on the Guinarona River, with several blocks of shops and houses,
including a church and several two-story buildings, the axis of the
town running east and west.

On the basis of information brought by the patrol, it was decided to
have Company K move out the following morning to seize Tabontabon. At
0645 on 25 October Company K, reinforced, advanced and at 0730 took
covered positions 200 yards east of the barrio. Under the plan for
attack the 1st Platoon was to approach the northeastern edge of the
village by a covered route, and await the completion of an artillery
concentration scheduled for 0800. After the artillery preparation
a squad from the platoon was to enter and reconnoiter for possible
enemy positions. At the same time, the 2d Platoon, with a similar
mission, was to enter Tabontabon from the southeast side. The 3d
Platoon was to be prepared to support the action of either the 1st
or the 2d. Machine guns and mortars were placed in such a way as to
give direct support to both platoons.

Because of unexplained communication difficulties, the artillery did
not deliver its scheduled fire at 0800. Each platoon, however, sent a
squad into Tabontabon. As soon as advance elements of both platoons
entered the town they came under intense rifle and mortar fire from
enemy positions under the houses. It was obvious that the Japanese
had heavily reinforced the barrio during the night. The reinforcements
consisted of a battalion from the 9th Infantry Regiment. [396]

The rest of the 1st and 2d Platoons came up and a fire fight
ensued. The 3d Platoon was sent in at 1000 to support the 1st Platoon,
and in response to a request for reinforcements, a rifle platoon from
Company I was brought up at 1040. The commanding officer of Company K
advised the 3d Battalion by radio that he could take Tabontabon with
an additional rifle company but could not do so with his present force
without suffering heavy casualties. The battalion commander ordered
him to withdraw. The withdrawal, under supporting fire from the 3d
Platoon, Company K, the platoon from Company I, and mortar and machine
gun fire from the weapons company, was successfully accomplished at
1155. At 1240 Company K rejoined the battalion.

General Bradley ordered the 383d Infantry to direct the patrols
of the 3d Battalion elsewhere, since the 382d Infantry had been
assigned the mission of securing Tabontabon. During the forthcoming
attack the 383d Infantry was to protect the flank of the 382d,
whose 2d and 3d Battalions were to launch a co-ordinated attack on
the town. On 26 October the 2d Battalion of the 382d Infantry moved
west and established contact with the 3d at 1200. After an artillery
concentration had been placed on the town the two battalions moved out.

By 1600 they had forded the shoulder-deep Guinarona River under heavy
enemy fire and had reached the edge of Tabontabon. As the battalions
slowly pushed their way to the outskirts of the barrio, they came
under heavy fire. Elements of the 9th Infantry Regiment had dug in
under the houses, and connecting trenches honeycombed the streets from
one strong point to another. At twilight, after heavy artillery fire,
the enemy launched a strong counterattack which forced the battalions
to withdraw to the river bank, where they established perimeters for
the night. [397] Until midnight, mortar fire from the 9th Infantry
Regiment fell in the 2d and 3d Battalion areas.

At 2100 the 96th Division artillery commenced firing on the town and
continued to fire throughout the night. The 1st Battalion, less Company
B which had been left at Aslom to guard supplies, had by now joined
the rest of the regiment. At 1000 on 27 October the 382d Infantry
launched a co-ordinated attack against Tabontabon with the 2d and 3d
Battalions. As Companies I and K of the 3d Battalion started to wade
the Guinarona River, Colonel Dill, the regimental commander, called
to the men to follow him and then dashed across the bridge, which
was swept by enemy rifle fire. The 3d Battalion followed him over the
bridge and to the southeast corner of the barrio. [398] The troops met
considerable opposition from elements of the 9th Infantry Regiment who
were hidden in the tall cogon grass. After a short fire fight the two
battalions worked their way slowly through the western portion of the
town and then advanced northwest. Although they met fire from several
pillboxes, there was no organized resistance. Night perimeters were
set up about a mile northwest of Tabontabon with the 3d Battalion on
the left side of the road and the 1st Battalion on the right. [399]

The 2d Battalion, which had hit the center of the town, encountered
stiff and determined opposition. Company F proceeded cautiously down
one street as Company G went through the middle of the second block
on its right. The Japanese had riflemen and machine guns under the
houses and on the second floors of the large buildings. By noon the
two companies had worked their way through to the northern edge of
the town, where they encountered the enemy entrenched in force.

The Japanese had placed machine guns to cover the exits from the
barrio. The guns were aimed down each street and so placed that each
gun was protected by another. Since in Company G men were dropping
from heat exhaustion, Company E was sent in to relieve Company G. At
the same time, the 2d Platoon of the Cannon Company moved forward,
but its howitzers were unable to direct their fire effectively. Late
in the afternoon, since it had become apparent that the 2d Battalion
would not be able to secure the town before nightfall, the troops
were called back to the center of the town, where the 2d Battalion
set up its night perimeter. [400]

During the night the Japanese counterattacked, but American artillery
and mortar fire broke up the assault. [401] At 0800 on 28 October the
2d Battalion continued the attack and succeeded in knocking out the
enemy resistance northeast of the town, an action which enabled the
battalion to move out north of Tabontabon at 1200. Leaving Company
G to clear the area immediately outside the town, the 2d Battalion
proceeded along the road toward the road junction at Kiling. [402]
In spite of determined opposition, the Japanese supply center of
Tabontabon had at last been taken and approximately 350 Japanese killed
in the area. During the three days of fighting, the 2d Battalion had
thirty-four men killed and eighty wounded.



Capture of Catmon Hill

The capture of Catmon Hill falls into two separate and distinct
actions--the operations of the 383d Infantry in the San Vicente sector
and the assault of the 381st Infantry against Catmon Hill.

On 24 October a Japanese prisoner stated that the fortifications on San
Vicente Hill, the northern tip of Catmon Hill, were guarded by elements
of the 9th Infantry and 20th Infantry Regiments of the Japanese 16th
Division. [403] On the morning of 26 October the regimental commander
ordered Company E, 383d Infantry, under Capt. Jesse R. Thomas, to make
a reconnaissance in force of San Vicente Hill. [404] Upon receiving
his orders, Captain Thomas made his plans. The 1st Platoon was to
move forward and take the left nose of the hill, operating on the
right of the 2d Platoon. The 3d Platoon was to move into an assembly
area fifty yards behind the line of departure.

On the morning of 26 October the 155-mm. howitzers of the 363d Field
Artillery Battalion laid a ten-minute concentration on the crest of
the hill. This fire was ineffective, since it was too far ahead of the
troops. At 1000 the platoons of Company E moved through the tall cogon
grass to the edge of an open field approximately 200 yards from the
base of the hill. The men were under orders not to fire until fired
upon. As the leading elements of the two platoons entered the field,
the 9th Infantry Regiment opened fire with rifles and mortars. The
3d Platoon then moved up into position along the line of departure,
prepared to support the attack. Since the 2d Platoon was not under
heavy fire, it was ordered to move to the foot of the hill and take
a position from which it could support by fire the advance of the 1st
Platoon. Enemy mortars were dropping shells around the center of the
area, but American mortars silenced them.

The 2d Platoon reported that it was 100 yards from the base of the
hill. The 2d Battalion commander, Lt. Col. James O. McCray, moved
into the company command post, about seventy-five yards behind the
attacking platoons at the edge of the open field. This sector began
to receive heavy fire from the right side of the hill and several
men on the edge of the field were hit. Colonel McCray crawled up and
started to help drag the wounded men to cover. At the same time he
ordered the battalion to open fire against the hill with all weapons
except artillery, but an undetermined number of enemy riflemen in
the rear of the command post and on the left flank of the company
started firing into the command post.

Colonel McCray continued to bring back wounded men. At this time
Captain Thomas was overcome by the heat, and the executive officer of
Company E, 2d Lt. Owen R. O'Neill, took over. He ordered the withdrawal
of the force. It was now 1335 and the company, under continuous fire
since 1000, had been unable to advance. Captain Thomas revived and
again assumed command, directing the withdrawal and the bringing
back of the wounded. The body of Colonel McCray, who had sacrificed
his life while dragging the wounded from the hill, was found about
twenty yards from the command post. The withdrawal was completed.

From 27 to 29 October, the actions of the 2d and 3d Battalions, 383d
Infantry, were limited to reconnaissance patrols in the vicinity of the
town of San Vicente and San Vicente Hill in attempts to find the strong
positions of the enemy on the hill. At 0930 on 30 October Colonel May
ordered the battalions to renew the attack from positions near the
Guinarona River. The two units jumped off at 1300. The 3d Battalion
advanced along the north bank of the Guinarona River, one company
going through Pikas and the rest of the battalion making a wide swing
through a coconut palm grove and open fields. The 2d Battalion moved
along the south bank of the Guinarona River, one company following a
trail from Pikas to San Vicente and the rest of the battalion going
directly to San Vicente Hill, which was taken without opposition
since the enemy force had withdrawn. The 3d Battalion went through
the barrio of San Vicente without difficulty but encountered some
small arms fire along the river 300 yards north of the village. Both
battalions formed their night perimeters near the river.

At the same time, the eastern slopes of Catmon Hill were being
assaulted by elements of the 381st Infantry, which had been in Sixth
Army reserve through 26 October. On 27 October Sixth Army had released
the 381st Infantry to XXIV Corps control. At 1330 on the same day
General Bradley ordered the regiment to relieve on the following day
the 1st Battalion, 383d Infantry, which had been on Labiranan Head
since 22 October. It was then to attack and capture Catmon Hill.

Catmon Hill had been under steady naval and artillery fire since A
Day--20 October. The 96th Division artillery had constantly fired on
targets of opportunity by day and harassed enemy positions in the area
during the night. Starting at 2100 on 27 October, the 105-mm. howitzers
of the 361st Field Artillery Battalion, the 155-mm. howitzers of the
198th Field Artillery Battalion, a battery of 155-mm. howitzers from
the 363d Field Artillery Battalion, and the 75-mm. howitzers from the
780th Amphibian Tank Battalion were to deliver harassing fires on the
hill until 1030 the following day. At that time all of the artillery
units were to commence firing successive concentrations beginning
at the bottom of the hill and working to the top in fifty-yard
bounds. After the 381st Infantry, less the 3d Battalion, attacked
at 1200 on 28 October, the artillery was to fire concentrations in
front of the troops as they advanced. [405]

In making his plans for the capture of Catmon Hill, Col. Michael
E. Halloran, commander of the 381st Infantry, decided to have the 1st
Battalion make an enveloping movement from the northeast while the
2d Battalion pushed west along the main ridge. The 1st Battalion,
383d Infantry, from its position on Labiranan Head, would support
the attack by fire. On the morning of 28 October the 381st Infantry,
less the 3d Battalion, moved into position for the attack. After a
thirty-minute preparation by the artillery, the 381st Infantry jumped
off to the attack at 1200.

The 1st Battalion, 381st Infantry, moved to the foot of the hill, where
it received "a bloody nose" from fire coming out of well-entrenched
positions. It withdrew under cover of smoke and established a night
perimeter in the vicinity of its line of departure. The 2d Battalion,
however, met no enemy resistance and advanced rapidly. At the close of
the day the battalion was just short of Labir Hill. [406] During the
night the Americans expended 3,000 rounds of artillery ammunition on
Catmon Hill, chiefly in front of the 2d Battalion sector. The plans
for 29 October called for a morning attack by the 2d Battalion,
supported by fire from the 1st Battalion, 383d Infantry, which had
not yet been relieved; the 1st Battalion, 381st Infantry, was to seek
a new lane of approach and attack at noon.

After a thirty-minute artillery preparation, the 2d Battalion,
381st Infantry, moved out at 0830. With the support of a platoon
of light tanks, the battalion easily secured both Labir and Catmon
Hills. By 1300 the position had been consolidated. The 1st Battalion,
381st Infantry, supported by the massed fire of forty-five tanks
and the Regimental Cannon Company, jumped off at 1200. The troops
moved through a heavily fortified area, and at 1600 they established
physical contact with the regiment's 2d Battalion.

During the heavy pounding of Catmon Hill, the main body of Japanese
troops, the 9th Infantry Regiment, had withdrawn from the hill on
26 October, unknown to the Americans, and rejoined the main force of
the 16th Division in the Dagami area. [407]

At last Catmon Hill had been secured. The 1st Battalion, 383d
Infantry, was relieved and passed to the Sixth Army reserve. The 381st
Infantry's command post was moved north of San Roque, and at 1800 its
3d Battalion rejoined the regiment south of this position. During 30
and 31 October the entire Catmon Hill area was mopped up--fifty-three
pillboxes, seventeen caves, and numerous smaller emplaced positions
were destroyed by demolition charges. The last enemy stronghold
threatening the landing beaches had been removed.



Convergence on Kiling

Since the main force of the 96th Division was centered in the vicinity
of Catmon Hill, General Bradley had decided to secure the northern
limits of the corps beachhead line--the road running from Tanauan to
Dagami--concurrently with the assault on Catmon Hill. On 25 October
Colonel Halloran had ordered the 3d Battalion of the 381st Infantry
to move north along Highway 1 to Tanauan and thence southwestward
along the Tanauan-Dagami road to Dagami. At the same time the 17th
Infantry, 7th Division, was advancing north toward Dagami on the
Burauen-Dagami road. At 0830 on 26 October the reinforced 3d Battalion
of the 381st Infantry moved out. [408] The forward movement was halted
by a bridge that had been mined and partially blown out. The battalion
forded the river and the advance continued without tanks or vehicles,
while engineers from the 321st Engineer Battalion deactivated the
mines and repaired the bridge. The tanks and vehicles then rejoined
the battalion. Two platoons supported by tanks were sent forward
to guard the two bridges south and east of Tanauan. En route, the
platoons received some machine gun and rifle fire from a hill between
Vigia Point and Tanauan. During the night the enemy made his presence
known by three rounds of mortar fire and by sporadic rifle fire on
the bridge guards.

At 0800 on 27 October the march was renewed. The troops again came
under fire from the hill between Vigia Point and Tanauan. After
a delay of two hours, in which artillery fire was placed on the
hill, the advance continued and the entrance into Tanauan at 1145
was unopposed. The battalion then turned southwestward along the
Tanauan-Dagami road toward Kiling, which is about midway between
Tanauan and Dagami. The 3d Battalion had gone about two miles along the
road when it came under fire from 75-mm. guns, mortars, and machine
guns. Two hours were required for Company A, 763d Tank Battalion,
and two flame-thrower tanks to reduce this resistance. [409] Seven
pillboxes and three 75-mm. guns were destroyed and a command post
was captured. A night perimeter was established on the road, at 1700,
and only sporadic rifle fire occurred during the night.

At 0800 the following day the 3d Battalion, 381st Infantry, moved out
and about 1500 the advance element entered Kiling. An attack supported
by Battery C, 361st Field Artillery Battalion, was launched against
the enemy about 1630. The Japanese countered with heavy machine
gun, mortar, and rifle fire. The attack continued without success
until 1800, when the 3d Battalion withdrew under a smoke screen and
established a night perimeter about 1,000 yards east of Kiling. Battery
C, 361st Field Artillery, fired intermittently during the night to
prevent any Japanese attack against the perimeter. [410]

At 0800 the following morning--29 October--the 3d Battalion, supported
by tanks and artillery, moved out against Kiling. On the outskirts
of the barrio the battalion met stubborn and determined resistance
where the Japanese, with machine guns, mortars, and rifles, fought
"to the last man." The resistance was overcome, and by 1500 the
Americans occupied the town, which was honeycombed with emplacements
and entrenchments. At 1600 the 3d Battalion, 381st Infantry, was
relieved by the 2d Battalion, 382d Infantry, which had come up
from Tabontabon by truck. At 1800 the 3d Battalion, 381st Infantry,
returned by truck to the area north of San Roque. [411]

From Tabontabon two important roads lead to the Tanauan-Dagami
road. One of these runs in a northeasterly direction and meets the
Tanauan-Dagami road at Kiling; the other goes in a northwesterly
direction and meets the road at Digahongan about one and a half
miles east of Dagami. Colonel Dill ordered the 1st and 3d Battalions,
382d Infantry, to pass through Tabontabon on 27 October and then to
proceed northwest along the latter road to Digahongan. They were then
to go northeastward along the Tanauan-Dagami road and at Kiling join
the 2d Battalion, which was to proceed northeast along the road from
Tabontabon to Kiling.

The 1st and 3d Battalions, with the 3d Battalion in the lead, moved
out of Tabontabon and advanced about three quarters of a mile to
Kapahuan where they established night perimeters. During the night
the Japanese charged the perimeter of the 1st Battalion. The attack
was repulsed with only three casualties to the battalion, while about
one hundred of the enemy were killed.

At 0830 on the 28th the 1st and 3d Battalions jumped off abreast
along both sides of the narrow road for Digahongan--the 1st
Battalion on the right and the 3d Battalion on the left. At 1200,
when the battalions were about two miles northwest of Tabontabon,
they encountered a strongly fortified position. The 16th Division had
built coconut pillboxes and many spider holes, which were supported by
two 70-mm. howitzers and a number of 50-mm. mortars. Flame throwers
and demolition teams, supported by the artillery, knocked out this
fortified area. Taking their dead and wounded, the enemy withdrew. The
American troops then advanced under protection of artillery fire toward
the road junction at Digahongan, which they reached at 1500. During
the day the battalions had been harassed by numerous hidden riflemen,
mines, and booby traps.

The 1st Battalion was to move east toward Kiling. The 3d received
orders to stay and guard the road junction at Digahongan, nicknamed
Foxhole Corners, where it went into night perimeter. At 1600
the battalion successfully repulsed a counterattack by about 200
Japanese. In the meantime the 1st Battalion moved as far east on the
Digahongan-Kiling road as Kansamada, where it established a night
perimeter. During the night several small enemy groups of six to eight
men each tried to enter the battalion lines but were driven off. [412]

The 3d Battalion spent 29 October in patrolling the area around
Digahongan and guarding the road junction. It broke up one enemy
attack by about thirty men. At 0800 the 1st Battalion moved out from
Kansamada toward Kiling against scattered enemy fire but at 1130 the
troops were stopped by heavy automatic fire which came from pillboxes
astride the road. Shortly afterward the enemy artillery opened up
and the 1st Battalion was forced to withdraw about a thousand yards
to a point where it established a perimeter. [413] During the fight
Lt. Col. Jesse W. Mecham, the commanding officer of the battalion,
was mortally wounded. His last order to the battalion was that the
troops should not risk their lives to get his body out. [414] That
night, however, Maj. Joseph R. Lewis, who had assumed command of
the battalion, led a small party forward and recovered the body of
Colonel Mecham.

During the night the 9th Infantry Regiment withdrew. On 30 October
the 1st Battalion, 382d Infantry, found no opposition during its
advance forward to Kiling and at 1030 established contact with the
2d Battalion, 382d Infantry. The 2d Battalion, less Company G, had
moved out of Tabontabon on the northeast road to Kiling on 28 October,
spending the night on the outskirts of the town.

The units of the 96th Division spent the next three days in patrolling
and mopping up. The division had secured the beachhead area of the
XXIV Corps in its zone of action. Its units had seized the Catmon Hill
mass, which dominated the landing beaches, had traversed and cleaned
out the inland swamps, and had secured the important communications
center and supply dump of Tabontabon and the main portion of the
significant Tanauan-Dagami road. Since landing they had killed an
estimated 2,769 Japanese and taken 6 prisoners in their zone of
action. [415] The cost had not been light. Casualties of the 96th
Division since 25 October had been 13 officers and 132 enlisted men
killed, 30 officers and 534 enlisted men wounded, and 2 officers and
88 enlisted men missing in action. [416]



CHAPTER VIII

Southern Leyte Valley: Part Two


Before the invasion, the Japanese had reached the conclusion that if
and when the Americans landed on Leyte it would be in the Dulag area,
and their greatest efforts had therefore been directed toward making
that area impregnable. General Makino, commanding general of the 16th
Division, had stationed the following units in the Dulag sector: the
20th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Col. Keijiro Hokoda; elements
of the 22d Field Artillery Regiment; the 54th Air Field Company,
commanded by Comdr. Kazumasa Kumazawa; and the 7th Independent Tank
Company. [417] At 0300 on 21 October, General Makino withdrew from
the Dulag area to Dagami and established his command post in that
sector. [418] The effective fire of the preliminary naval bombardment
had driven the Japanese from the landing beaches.



The Dulag-Burauen Road

The beachhead quadrangle of the XXIV Corps was bounded, generally,
by the Dulag-Burauen-Dagami-Tanauan road. The sections of the road
bordering the northern edge of the quadrangle (Dagami to Tanauan)
and the eastern edge (Tanauan to Dulag) were, in general, in the
96th Division zone of action. The southern and western sides of
the quadrangle were assigned to the 7th Division. The road that ran
along the coast between Dulag and Tanauan was a one-way thoroughfare
which soon disintegrated under the heavy rainfall and military
traffic. (Map 8)

Besides the Dulag airstrip, which was approximately one mile west of
the town, there were three other airfields in the zone of action of
the 7th Infantry Division. The San Pablo airstrip was approximately
five miles west of Dulag and two miles east of Burauen. Its runway
extended generally east to west with a width of 164 feet and a length
of 4,920 feet. The field was overgrown with weeds and had not been
occupied by the Japanese. The Bayug airstrip was just north of the
highway and a half mile east of Burauen. It had a runway approximately
5,000 feet long. The Buri airstrip, the most important one in the
7th Division zone, was about one mile northeast of Burauen, ran in
a general east-west direction, and was also 5,000 feet long. [419]



Halfway to Burauen

General Hodge ordered the 7th Division to capture the Dulag airfield
and then drive west along the Dulag-Burauen road to seize Burauen
and its airfields. After this was done, the division was to turn
north along the Burauen-Dagami road and capture Dagami. [420] The
32d Infantry was to protect the division's right (north), maintain
contact with the 96th Division, and, if necessary, help the 184th
Infantry on its left to secure the Dulag airstrip west of the town of
Dulag. Securing the airstrip was to be the main effort of the 184th
Infantry. [421]

At the end of A Day (20 October), all the assault battalions of the
32d and 184th Infantry Regiments of the 7th Division were ashore. The
32d Infantry was on the right (north) flank and the 184th Infantry
on the left (south) flank. The 32d Infantry had advanced just beyond
Highway 1 in the area northwest of Dulag. [422] The 3d Battalion,
184th Infantry, was on the southern edge of the Dulag airstrip, while
the 1st Battalion of the regiment was directly left of the 3d, and the
2d Battalion was in reserve. [423] The 3d Battalion, 17th Infantry,
protecting the left flank of the XXIV Corps, was across the Daguitan
River at Dao; [424] the 1st and 2d Battalions of the same regiment
were to remain in division reserve.

The 7th Division had scarcely established itself for the night of
20 October when the Japanese launched two small-scale tank attacks
against the perimeter of the division. Since a gap existed between
the 184th and 32d Infantry Regiments, Company G of the 184th was
committed to fill the space. As the men of the company were digging
in for the night, three tanks from the 7th Independent Tank Company
came down the road and sprayed the area with machine gun fire, but
the fire was high and there were no casualties. Though the company
fired rifles, bazookas, and mortars against them, the tanks escaped
without injury. An hour later, when one of the tanks returned,
it was knocked out and its crew were killed by a rifle grenade. An
enemy scout car then dashed down the road, and its occupants killed
two men and wounded three others.

The 3d Battalion, 184th Infantry, had established its night perimeter
on the edge of the Dulag airfield, with its right flank on the
Dulag-Burauen road. At 0130 three Japanese medium tanks moved along
this road. Pfc. George W. Tilk of Company M stopped one of these,
as it came into range, with one shot from his bazooka. The other
two tanks continued down the road but on their return trip they
were destroyed--one by the battalion supply detail and the other by
Pfc. Johnnie Johnson with his bazooka. [425]

The uneasy repose of the 7th Division was again broken at 0400 on 21
October when six enemy tanks attacked the sector of the 3d Battalion,
184th Infantry. Within thirty minutes the battalion knocked out two of
the tanks and forced the others to retreat. [426] The next disturbance
was at 0530 when about fifty Japanese launched a limited counterattack
against the night perimeter of Company K, 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry,
with light machine gun and rifle fire. The Americans broke up the
attack with machine guns, mortars, and artillery. [427] Daylight
revealed thirty-five enemy dead in front of the company perimeter,
and there was evidence that others had been dragged away.

Maj. Gen. Archibald V. Arnold, commander, ordered the 184th and 32d
Infantry Regiments of the 7th Division to move west toward the Burauen
airstrips abreast. Since a gap of several hundred yards existed between
the two regiments, the battalions of the 184th Infantry were ordered
to veer to the right. At 0800 the 7th Division attacked, the 184th
Infantry on the left and the 32d Infantry on the right. There were
four battalions in the assault, from left to right: 1st Battalion,
184th Infantry; 3d Battalion, 184th Infantry; 3d Battalion, 32d
Infantry; and 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry. [428]

As the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, moved forward, it encountered
Japanese entrenched in positions along the hedgerows. Knocking
out these positions from hedgerow to hedgerow greatly retarded the
advance. The 3d Battalion on the left faced an impassable swamp. In
order to establish contact with the 184th Infantry and cover the area,
Company I moved around the left side of the swamp, and Company L went
around the right; Company K was to cover the gap between the 2d and
3d Battalions until the 2d Battalion could close it.

There was an enemy strong point between the 2d and 3d Battalions of
the 32d Infantry, but since Colonel Logie was anxious to continue the
advance of the regiment and straighten the line between the battalions,
he ordered the battalions to bypass the strong point, while the 1st
Battalion under Maj. Leigh H. Mathias was ordered to move from its
assembly area and reduce it. The lines were straightened somewhat,
but the swamps and the heavy foliage made contact very difficult.

The 2d and 3d Battalions came under fire from 75-mm. guns emplaced
in bunkers; tanks reduced these bunkers and the advance continued. A
report of the 32d Infantry boasts that "the reduction of pillboxes was
right down our alley." [429] By 1520 the 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry,
had reached the regimental beachhead line; shortly thereafter the 2d
Battalion came abreast of the 3d.

The 1st Battalion of the 32d Infantry, however, experienced difficulty
in reducing the bypassed strong point, which it reached in the middle
of the afternoon. The Japanese defenses consisted of one 75-mm. and one
antitank gun emplaced in bunkers and four machine guns in pillboxes;
these were completely surrounded by an elaborate system of trenches
and foxholes and were occupied by approximately two platoons of
riflemen. [430] When the battalion reached the position, Companies
A and B, with Company A on the right, were on a line behind five
medium tanks and one M8 self-propelled 75-mm. howitzer from the Cannon
Company. As the troops moved across an open field toward a hedgerow,
the Japanese opened fire upon Company A. Company B also received fire
as it moved beyond the hedgerow. After several men had been killed
and others wounded, Company B halted until the Japanese positions
could be neutralized by the tanks and the howitzer.

As the tanks emerged from the hedgerow they came under heavy fire
from the Japanese antitank gun. Although some of the tanks were
hit, no serious damage was done; but the howitzer received a direct
hit that set it ablaze and exploded its ammunition. [431] The crew
abandoned the burning vehicle. Pfc. Fedele A. Grammatico crawled
up under enemy fire, removed the machine guns, which were intact,
and brought them safely back behind the lines. In the meantime,
Company A tried to advance and knock out the enemy antitank gun but
the Japanese stopped the company with direct fire.

Both companies were halted. The struggle resolved itself into a battle
between the tanks and the Japanese in entrenched positions. The tanks
finally silenced the enemy, and the infantrymen moved in with rifles
and bazookas and cleared out the foxholes. After the reduction of
this strong point, the 1st Battalion tried to overtake the 2d and
3d Battalions. This was not possible, and at 1800 the 1st Battalion
formed its own perimeter.

The 184th Infantry found little opposition in its area, but excessive
heat and the difficulty of maintaining communication in the high
cogon grass rendered its progress difficult. At 0900 the regiment
secured the Dulag airstrip and continued its forward movement against
sporadic rifle and machine gun fire. Contact had been broken with
the 32d Infantry, and at 1245 a gap of 3,000 yards existed between
the regiments. At 1515 the 184th Infantry was ordered to hold up its
advance and establish contact with the 32d. [432] It had advanced
approximately 1,000 yards beyond the division beachhead line.

On 21 October an unidentified Japanese soldier wrote in his diary:


    Finally the enemy's gunfire and bombardment has reached our field
    and road area (except the runway). Gunfire seems to fade to Dulag
    area during the night. It seems that enemy tanks are approaching
    San Pablo vicinity. We are preparing for them.... Barracks and
    fuel dumps are to be burned. I am awaiting the opportune moment....

    I feel alive during the night and dead during the day. Though
    life and death are separated by a thin sheet of paper I will not
    die until I see a face of a Yankee. [433]


During the night of 21-22 October all field artillery battalions
delivered harassing fires, and just before the assault they fired a
fifteen-minute barrage.

At 0800 the 32d Infantry moved out to the attack. The 2d Battalion on
the right faced difficult and swampy terrain lying along the winding,
steep-banked Calbasag River, which the troops had to cross twelve times
during the day's advance. In the afternoon a platoon of amphibian
tractors and another of amphibian tanks were sent to the aid of the
battalion, and engineers from the 13th Engineer Battalion constructed
temporary bridges over the river when necessary. [434] The 3d Battalion
of the regiment paced its speed of advance with that of the 2d.

In the meantime the 1st Battalion overtook the others and at 1000
moved to the right of the 3d Battalion, bringing the three units into
line. Earlier, at 0925, the 3d Battalion was advancing just to the
right of the Dulag-Burauen road when it received enemy artillery fire,
which came from four 75-mm. field pieces to the rear of a hedgerow
600 to 700 yards ahead. When the companies reached the hedgerow,
Company L received heavy fire from four machine guns which had been
emplaced to protect the field pieces.

Light machine guns and mortars were brought up, and the 31st Field
Artillery Battalion placed a five-minute concentration on the enemy
strong point. Three tanks from Company C, 767th Tank Battalion, were
poised for an assault. As soon as the artillery lifted its fire, the
tanks dashed forward and destroyed one machine gun and one 75-mm. field
piece immediately. The tanks then covered the rest of the area with
machine gun fire until Company L moved up and destroyed the remaining
gun positions with rifles and grenades. The action ended at 1240.

As the 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry, was destroying the artillery
position, Company G of the 2d Battalion received heavy enemy machine
gun and rifle fire near the banks of the Calbasag River. The 3d
Platoon of Company G walked into an ambush of machine guns, which
fired from two pillboxes under native shacks. The platoon was pinned
down, having suffered ten casualties from the first burst of fire. To
keep the advance moving, Company G remained behind to knock out the
bunkers while Company F went forward to continue the advance with
Company E. Since the swamps prohibited the use of tanks, and the
mutually supported pillboxes prevented envelopment, and since the
nearness of friendly troops made the use of artillery dangerous,
all of Company G was held up. The 3d Platoon hugged the ground until
darkness enabled it to withdraw.

At 0900 on 22 October, planes from the Seventh Fleet bombed the
Japanese fortifications in front of the 184th Infantry. As on the
previous day, the heat, tangled foliage, and deep swamps, rather
than enemy action, slowed the advance of the regiment. Since the
184th Infantry's rate of advance was more rapid than that of the 32d
Infantry, orders were issued to the 184th after it had moved forward
an additional 2,800 yards to hold its position until the 32d Infantry
could close the gap. [435] The 184th maintained contact with the 3d
Battalion, 17th Infantry, by means of patrols.

The 184th Infantry waited most of the day for the 32d to come
abreast. By 1800 the 1st and 3d Battalions of the 32d Infantry
had advanced approximately half the distance to Burauen. The 3d
Battalion, 17th Infantry, on the southern flank of the division,
sent out reconnaissance patrols, which encountered small groups of the
enemy 1,000 to 1,200 yards south. The rest of the 17th Infantry moved
into an assembly area in the vicinity of the Dulag airfield. [436]



Changes in Plans

On the evening of 22 October both General Makino, commander of the 16th
Division on Leyte, and General Arnold, commander of the 7th Division,
made changes in their plans.

The 16th Division was divided into the Northern and Southern Leyte
Defense Forces. The Northern Leyte Defense Force, consisting of
the 9th Infantry Regiment reinforced by elements of the 22d Field
Artillery Regiment, would defend the Catmon Hill area against the
96th Division. The Southern Leyte Defense Force, which opposed
the 7th Division, was composed of the 20th Infantry Regiment, less
one battalion, the 2d Battalion of the 33d Infantry Regiment, the
7th Independent Tank Company, and two platoons of the 16th Engineer
Regiment. Some troops were to occupy the area in the vicinity of San
Pablo and the Calbasag River. The main force was to be centralized in
a prepared position near Hindang. Another group was to occupy Julita,
from which it would make small night raids. At the same time part
of this force was to operate along the right bank of the Daguitan
River, protecting the 16th Division's right flank. Another unit of
approximately 600 troops was composed of the 98th Airfield Battalion,
the 54th Airfield Company, and air-ground service units. It was
to occupy the key positions--the high ground west of Burauen, the
south end of Burauen, and the Buri airfield--and thus prevent the
Americans from using the airfield and stop the advance of American
tanks along the road. The main strength of the artillery (22d Field
Artillery Regiment, less the 6th Battery) would support the Southern
Leyte Defense Force. The engineers were to be prepared to demolish the
road between Dagami and Burauen and between Dagami and Tanauan. The
main force of the engineers was to secure the road connecting Dagami,
Hiabangan, Rizal, and Tingib. A naval unit was to protect a supply
dump east of Dagami, and all remaining units, together with the 16th
Division command post, would occupy positions in the vicinity of
Dagami. [437]

Three of the four airfields in the zone of the XXIV Corps were in
the vicinity of Burauen. General Arnold wished to seize them as
soon as possible, and at the same time he was anxious to advance so
rapidly that the Japanese would not have time to construct additional
fortified positions near the airfields. He accordingly rearranged
the assault troops. The 17th Infantry, less the 3d Battalion, with
the 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry, attached, was ordered to pass
through the 184th and 32d Infantry Regiments at 0830 on 23 October,
attack west astride the Dulag-Burauen road, and capture the San Pablo
airfield. The 767th Tank Battalion, in support of the regiment, was
either to precede the 17th Infantry or to operate with it, as the
terrain permitted. It was to jump off from the vicinity of the Dulag
airfield thirty minutes earlier than the assault units of the 17th
Infantry. The 32d and 184th Infantry Regiments were to follow 1,000
yards behind the 17th. [438] It was hoped that this "flying wedge"
formation would catch the Japanese off balance and that the rear
elements of the wedge would be able to take care of any disorganized
enemy units that had been bypassed.



On to Burauen

The flying wedge was very successful. The tanks of the 767th Tank
Battalion moved out at 0730 on the morning of 23 October. Though
one of the tanks was knocked out about 3,000 yards west of Julita
at 1000, the others reached the western edge of Burauen at 1712 and
scattered the enemy forces in that area. At 0800 the assault units
of the 17th Infantry jumped off, 400 yards to the rear of the tank
battalion. Because of the narrow front the column of troops was
elongated, and it was not until shortly after 0900 that the 1st
Battalion, 32d Infantry, was able to move forward. Because of the
difficult terrain and the blazing heat, the infantrymen experienced
difficulty in keeping up with the tanks. The troops encountered
sporadic opposition during the day, passed rapidly through the
barrios of Julita and San Pablo, and secured San Pablo airfield. At
1115 General Arnold notified Colonel Logie that the 32d Infantry was
to be responsible for the right flank of the 7th Division's zone of
action, less the 200-yard front covered by the 17th Infantry.

At 1700 the units prepared their night perimeters, the 1st Battalion of
the 32d, 400 yards south of the San Pablo airstrip; the 3d Battalion,
1,500 yards north of Julita; and the 2d Battalion in division reserve,
500 yards southeast of Julita. [439] At the same time the 17th
Infantry was on the west end of the San Pablo airfield. [440] The 184th
Infantry, minus the 2d Battalion, was south of the highway between San
Pablo and Julita. During the day's action, the commanding officer of
the Japanese 20th Infantry Regiment was killed. [441] The action for
the next few days resolved itself into two separate engagements--the
seizure of the Buri airstrip and the battle for Dagami.



Securing the XXIV Corps Beachhead Line

Burauen

The 7th Division attacked at 0830 on 24 October, using the same
formation employed on the previous day except that the 1st Battalion,
184th Infantry, reverted to regimental reserve. The 1st and 2d
Battalions, 17th Infantry, continued along the road to Burauen; the
32d Infantry crossed San Pablo airfield and then went to the right in a
north-northwest direction toward the Buri airstrip. The 2d Battalion,
17th Infantry, fought its way through the northeastern part of the
town of Burauen and managed to reach the road to Dagami. As the main
part of Burauen is south and west of the road, the barrio was in the
zone of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, which was advancing along
the left side of the road.

The 17th Infantry reached the edge of Burauen at 1030. As the troops
explored the situation, they found that though there was no organized
resistance in the town, scattered throughout Burauen were elements of
the 20th Infantry Regiment, dug in under the buildings in spider holes
and armed with satchel charges, Bangalore torpedoes made of bamboo,
and antitank mines. [442]

As the American tanks moved through the barrio, some of the Japanese
jumped out of their spider holes and held explosive charges against
the tanks in an attempt to destroy them at the cost of their own
lives. The assault forces of the 17th Infantry, despite the difficulty
of flushing the enemy from the spider holes under the buildings, made
steady progress and by 1400 had mopped up and secured the town. The
battalions re-formed and were ready to go north to Dagami.



The Buri Airstrip

At 0800 on 24 October, Colonel Logie was transferred to the
headquarters of the 7th Division and Lt. Col. John M. Finn assumed
command of the 32d Infantry. Colonel Finn ordered the 1st Battalion,
32d Infantry, to advance to positions across the San Pablo airfield
and then continue the attack northwest toward the Buri airstrip. The
2d Battalion remained in division reserve.

The Buri airfield was northeast of Burauen, with a heavily wooded
area on its northern edge. On the northern and western edges the
Japanese had constructed pillboxes in the high grass and heavy brush,
together with mutually supporting machine gun pillboxes interlaced
with extensive trench systems. On the southern side of the airstrip
the enemy had twenty strong field fortifications. Approximately
1,000 enemy troops were defending the sector--elements of the 20th
Infantry Regiment, the 98th Airfield Battalion, and the 54th Airfield
Company. The airfield had been extensively mined with 100-pound
aerial bombs buried nose up in the runway and scattered throughout
the dispersal area. Some of these bombs had electric fuzes and could
be detonated by enemy troops hidden in foxholes a short distance
away. [443]

The 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry, met no resistance as it moved out
from the vicinity of the San Pablo airstrip at 1123, but when the
battalion was 1,000 yards northwest of the airfield it ran into
well-camouflaged enemy positions. About 1400 the battalion attacked
the emplacements with Company A on the right, Company C on the left,
and Company B in reserve on the right rear of Company A. In the face
of intense enemy resistance, Company A moved forward and placed heavy
rifle and machine gun fire on the Japanese positions, which crumpled
under the attack. [444]

Although Company C fought valiantly to keep abreast of Company A,
the bulk of the enemy strength was in front of it. Heavy machine gun
fire on its left flank and in front pinned the company down and kept
it from moving forward. This delay created a gap between the two
companies which a platoon from Company B was ordered to fill.

When he found that Company C could not move, Major Mathias, commander
of the 1st Battalion, started out to locate Company A but was wounded
before he could reach it. Maj. Robert C. Foulston, Jr., the battalion's
executive officer, assumed command of the battalion as Major Mathias
was evacuated.

Intense enemy rifle and machine gun fire hit both of the flanks and
the front of Company C and forced the company to start a confused
withdrawal. The 2d Platoon pulled back, but four of its men were cut
off from the others and went the wrong way. These men, picking up
another who was seriously wounded, proceeded three quarters of a mile
behind the Japanese lines before they discovered their mistake. To
cover the withdrawal of the rest of the company a holding force,
consisting of one platoon from Company C and one platoon from Company
B, together with a section of heavy machine guns, was set up about
500 yards to the rear of Company C.

As Company C started its withdrawal, the enemy moved forward. Keeping
well concealed, the Japanese edged forward and laid down a heavy volume
of rifle, machine gun, and mortar fire on the troops, but the holding
force stopped the advance. An intense fire fight broke out in which
both sides suffered many casualties. The Americans held on grimly.

At 1530 Colonel Finn ordered the 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry, to move
to the left of the 1st Battalion, but the swamps and heavy foliage
made progress slow. By 1630 the 3d Battalion was 600 yards to the
left rear of the 1st Battalion.

During the fight Colonel Finn went forward. Grasping the seriousness
of the situation, he ordered the 1st Battalion to withdraw to San
Pablo airstrip and sent one platoon of the 3d Battalion to assist
the 1st Battalion in its withdrawal. The rest of the 3d Battalion was
to protect the withdrawal of the 1st. The troops rapidly carried out
the orders and withdrew to the airstrip. The 2d Battalion, released
from division reserve that evening, moved up on line with the 3d
Battalion. The 32d Infantry formed a defensive perimeter for the
night. [445]

During the day the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, captured a Japanese
private, Isamu Nakamaru, who had been a mechanic with the 7th
Independent Tank Company. He informed his captors that his company
originally had eleven tanks. Eight of these were lost in the action
near Julita; the others were at Buri but were out of commission. All
the tanks were obsolete and had been used mainly to clear and roll
the airstrips. [446]

On the morning of 25 October the 49th Field Artillery Battalion fired
concentrations from 0800 to 0830 in front of the 32d Infantry and
covered an area of 400 yards on each side of the Buri airstrip. [447]
At 0700 the 3d Battalion moved to the right and in front of the
1st. The 32d Infantry was to move out at 0830 with the 2d and 3d
Battalions abreast, each battalion to be preceded by a platoon
of tanks.

At 0830 the battalions attacked, both advancing 1,500 yards before
they encountered any serious obstacle. The 2d Battalion on the right
ran into the system of bunkers that protected the Buri airstrip. The
3d Battalion halted and waited for the 2d to overcome the bunkers and
move forward. Though an antitank gun was brought up to fire on the
bunkers, two futile attacks were launched against them and it became
apparent that the 2d Battalion would be considerably delayed. Colonel
Finn therefore ordered the 3d Battalion to advance and secure the
edge of the Buri airstrip, and, with its reserve company, to close
the gap thus created.

Colonel Finn also ordered the 1st Battalion to move closer to the
right flank of the 3d and prevent an enemy envelopment. Meanwhile,
strong patrols which the 3d Battalion had sent to within 300 yards
of the airstrip reported that they had encountered only one strong
point in the 3d Battalion's zone of advance. In order that the 3d
Battalion could be certain it was moving in the direction of the
airstrip, Colonel Finn requested an artillery liaison plane to drop
a flare over the southwest edge of the airfield. After this was done
the battalion resumed its attack and at 1700 reached the edge of the
airstrip. Fortunately the battalion immediately went into a defensive
position, for at 1715 a sharp enemy assault had to be repulsed with
machine gun and rifle fire. [448]

Meanwhile the 2d Battalion probed at the bunkers located at the edge
of the heavy woods on the northern fringe of the Buri airfield. These
defenses consisted of three bunkers connected by an elaborate system
of trenches and spider holes. Both flanks of the 2d Battalion received
machine gun fire, which became heavier upon any attempt to carry out an
enveloping movement. Under cover of fire from American heavy machine
guns, the 2d Battalion withdrew its wounded. It then formed a night
perimeter and waited for heavier supporting weapons to be brought up.

On the following day the 2d Battalion was to move from its night
perimeter on a 400-yard front and secure the western end of the
airstrip. The 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry, was to follow the 1st
Battalion and protect the regiment from an attack from the north. Each
of the assault battalions was to have attached a platoon of medium
tanks and a platoon from the Cannon Company. [449]

On the morning of 26 October, the 49th Field Artillery Battalion for
ten minutes concentrated its fire for 500 yards on each side of the
airstrip. At 0800 the 32d Infantry attacked. The artillery fire had
been effective, and the 2d Battalion knocked out the pillboxes that had
stopped its advance the previous day. Aided by tanks, the battalion was
able to advance 700 yards along the south side of the airstrip by 1700.

The 1st battalion, on the right, passed through the 3d and attacked
west on the north side of the airstrip on a 400-yard front toward the
other end of the airstrip. The 1st Battalion immediately encountered
a highly intricate system of pillboxes and bunkers, which slowed the
attack until the tanks arrived. From that time on, a fiercely contested
struggle continued throughout the afternoon. The battalion employed
tanks, antitank guns, artillery, and mortars to cover its advance,
and destroyed many bunkers with grenades, demolition charges, and
automatic rifles. [450]

Company B bore the brunt of the assault and, fighting tenaciously,
had battled through 900 yards of the fortified area by 1700. The 1st
and 2d Battalions made contact on the edge of the airstrip and formed
their night perimeters; the 3d Battalion protected the rear. During
the night the 32d Infantry repulsed several light counterattacks.

On the following day, 27 October, the time for the attack was set
an hour earlier in the hope that the Japanese would be caught off
guard. At 0700 the 32d Infantry moved out, with the assault battalions
in the same formation as on the previous day. [451] To their happy
surprise the troops encountered little opposition as they readily
secured bunker after bunker. The 20th Infantry Regiment had spent
its strength. The American troops found enemy dead "in every bunker,
trench, foxhole and bush," and wreckage of enemy 75's, machine guns,
grenade launchers, and rifles was scattered about. More than 400
Japanese dead were found in the sector of the 1st Battalion. [452]
The infantrymen encountered only an occasional rifleman while mopping
up. By 1130 the Buri airstrip was secured.

On 28 October the 2d Battalion was alerted to move to Abuyog at
0400 on the following day. The 3d Battalion was ordered to move to
Guinarona for possible attachment to the 17th Infantry, which had
committed all three of its battalions in the fight north along the
Burauen-Dagami road.



On to Dagami

After securing the barrio of Burauen at 1300 on 24 October, the
17th Infantry had rested for an hour before attacking along the
Burauen-Dagami road. [453] The 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry, remained
attached to the 17th. As the 17th Infantry started north, a patrol
of four jeeps was sent ahead to reconnoiter. It encountered a strong
force of the enemy on a road that forked off to the Buri airfield, and
after a short but determined fire fight the enemy withdrew north. On
its return the patrol reported that the road to Dagami had been mined
with aircraft bombs that were buried nose up in the road and covered
with palm fronds and other vegetation. A platoon from Company A, 13th
Engineer Battalion, removed the mines and the column continued forward.

About 1530 the right flank of the 17th Infantry came under mortar and
machine gun fire which came from a ridge north of Burauen and east of
the road to Dagami. The ridge was about 700 yards long, 50 feet high,
heavily wooded, and covered with dense undergrowth. Most of the fire
seemed to be coming from an eastern spur that overlooked the Bayug
and Buri airfields. On the left (west) of the road the terrain was
flat and marshy.

At 1630 the 17th Infantry began to form its night perimeter on the
southern edge of the ridge. The 1st Battalion protected the left (west)
flank and tied in at the road with the regiment's 2d Battalion. The
lines of the 2d Battalion, 17th Infantry, covered the forward line
of the ridge that extended to the rear where the 2d Battalion, 184th
Infantry, held the entrance to the eastern finger. The perimeter of
the 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry, extended south to tie in with the
1st Battalion, 17th Infantry.

Only the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, was able to set up its night
perimeter without incident. The 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry, ran
into determined resistance but was able to establish a firm bivouac
for itself, using the vacated enemy positions. The 2d Battalion,
17th Infantry, received scattered rifle fire but did not encounter
any of the enemy. During the night the 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry,
and the 2d Battalion, 17th Infantry, were harassed by patrols of ten
to twenty Japanese each, probing for a break in the lines.

Shortly after nightfall there were two abortive charges against the
American lines. As soon as the troops heard the enemy, they called for
protective fire, which prevented any of the Japanese from entering the
lines. The enemy, however, continually fired into the area throughout
the night. Earlier in the day an American tank had bogged down in a
swamp to the left of the road, and the crew was forced to abandon it
under fire, leaving the guns intact. During the night the Japanese
captured the tank and sprayed the areas of the 1st Battalion, 17th
Infantry, and the regimental command post with the tank's 37-mm. and
machine guns, and with four of their own machine guns. Fortunately
the bullets passed harmlessly over the heads of the troops.

During the night Lt. Col. Francis T. Pachler discussed plans for
the following day, 25 October, with his battalion commanders. He was
faced with a choice between two courses of action. On the one hand,
he could take advantage of the tactical surprise occasioned by his
rapid advance, attempt to bypass the Japanese forces on the ridge,
and make a dash along the Burauen-Dagami road, disregarding losses
that might be inflicted on his flank; or, on the other hand, he could
destroy the enemy forces on the ridge before advancing to Dagami. The
first alternative must allow for a strong possibility that fire from
the 32d Infantry, which was pushing west, might fall upon the 17th
Infantry if it continued its advance before the Buri airfield was
secured. After prolonged discussion, Pachler decided to destroy the
enemy forces on the ridge before proceeding to Dagami.

Colonel Pachler therefore ordered the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry,
to remain in its present position until the 2d Battalion, echeloned to
its right rear, could swing up on line facing north. While waiting
for the 2d Battalion to move up, the 1st Battalion would send a
strong reconnaissance patrol along the road north to the barrio
of Buri to determine Japanese strength, and the condition of the
road and terrain. The 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry, would attack and
destroy the enemy force on the finger of the ridge and then come up,
also facing north.

The patrol moved out at 0730 on 25 October. A rifle platoon mounted
the tops and sides of five tanks and headed north towards Buri. On
its way, the platoon encountered and killed Japanese troops who were
emplaced in spider holes and coconut log pillboxes under buildings,
but a destroyed bridge at the edge of Buri prevented any further
advance. The platoon returned at nightfall with the report that the
road to Buri was clear and that it had killed forty-nine of the enemy.

The 2d Battalion, 17th Infantry, made its move without incident. The 2d
Battalion, 184th Infantry, advancing from its position on the heavily
wooded eastern finger of the ridge, was forced to meet and destroy the
enemy force with bayonets and grenades. Its progress was slow until
a platoon of the Cannon Company and a platoon of medium tanks made
a wide encircling movement through the Bayug airstrip and were able
to bring fire to bear on the Japanese. By 1300 the enemy threat was
removed and the battalion commenced its swing to the north to join
the other two battalions. At dusk the three units were in line; the
combat teams had advanced 400 yards and formed their night perimeters.

At 1700 Colonel Pachler rearranged his troops and made plans for the
following day. The 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry, was detached to guard
the ridge. The 3d Battalion, 17th Infantry, which had been guarding the
divisional left flank south of Dao since A Day, was brought forward
by truck to rejoin the regiment. The 17th Infantry would move out
along the highway in a column of battalions--the 1st, 2d, and 3d. [454]

The 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, moved out at 0700, Company A on
the left (west) and Company C on the right (east). Since the tanks
were forced to remain on the road because of swamps on either side,
tank support was reduced to a platoon. After having moved about 300
yards beyond the line of departure, Company C ran into a small pocket
of enemy resistance which it soon destroyed with hand grenades and
small arms fire; twenty-one of the enemy were killed and one was
captured. Company A also met and overcame some resistance from
enemy in foxholes in its zone, but was not held up. At 1000 the
1st Battalion received machine gun fire to its front and observed a
movement in the marsh on its right flank. When the heavy machine guns
and 81-mm. mortars were brought to bear upon the marsh, approximately
sixty Japanese began to run across the open fields. The 4.2-inch
mortars of the 91st Chemical Company also fired on the fleeing enemy.

When the forward elements were about 1,100 yards south of Ginogusan,
Company A encountered a rice paddy to its front. One platoon of the
company went left to move around the rice field, and the support
platoon was committed to close the gap thus created. As the leading
elements got past the field, an enemy force, which was entrenched just
beyond it, started firing. The rear elements of the 1st Battalion
immediately closed in and killed fifteen of the enemy with grenades
and small arms fire. In the meantime, Company C encountered about
twenty-five Japanese who had dug in under native shacks. Two tanks were
called up, and after they had knocked over the shacks the infantrymen
closed in and destroyed the enemy.

During this action the 3d Platoon of Company F, 2d Battalion,
17th Infantry, reinforced by one squad of the antitank platoon of
the battalion Headquarters Company, established a roadblock on one
of the roads that led to the Buri airfield. The troops came under
rifle and machine gun fire from their front. Within a few minutes
the platoon leader and two other men were killed and another man was
wounded. The platoon withdrew about one hundred yards and called for
an 81-mm. mortar concentration on the area. The rest of Company F
was committed against the Japanese south flank.

In the face of heavy fire Company F pushed through the difficult
terrain and forced the enemy to withdraw. However, four Japanese
machine guns remained in position and fired into the company. The
leader of the antitank squad, though wounded in both legs, ran back to
the battalion command post and asked for tanks in support. A cannon
platoon which was sent up silenced the enemy guns. While continuing
the fight during the enemy withdrawal, the company evacuated its
wounded on improvised bamboo litters.

Company F was then relieved by the 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry,
which established a roadblock nearer the main highway. Company F
rejoined its battalion and the regiment formed its night perimeter
about 600 yards south of Guinarona. The night was comparatively
peaceful except for a minor bombing in the 2d Battalion area. The
troops of the 17th Infantry were ordered to move out on 27 October
in a column of battalions in the following order: 3d, 2d, and 1st,
with a distance of 500 yards between battalions. [455] Since aerial
photographs showed that all the bridges had been blown, a platoon of
the 13th Engineer Battalion was attached to the 3d Battalion.

At 0700 the regiment moved out, with the 3d Battalion in the lead,
on a 100-yard front on both sides of the highway. The tanks were
forced to stay on the road. The 3d Battalion was able to cross a small
stream south of Guinarona, although the bridge had been damaged. When
it reached the northern bank of the stream the battalion ran into the
enemy. Approximately twenty Japanese were dug in around a schoolhouse,
with two machine guns mounted in the building. Company K, the lead
company, under cover of machine gun and mortar fire, successfully
stormed the schoolhouse and killed seventeen of its defenders. The
engineer troops from the 13th Engineer Battalion advanced and quickly
repaired the bridge, after which the rest of the 17th Infantry moved
forward. Since the bridge north of Guinarona was also damaged, the same
tactics were used. The infantrymen of the lead company crossed the
stream and stood guard while the engineers repaired the bridge. For
2,500 yards the advance continued, unopposed except for small groups
of Japanese. The heavy machine guns of the regiment fired from the
flanks of the American forces and covered the swamps on both sides
of the road. The 17th Infantry went into night perimeter about 2,200
yards south of Dagami and about 200 yards south of a demolished stone
bridge. As the regiment started to dig in, enemy rifle and machine
gun fire fell on the front of the 3d Battalion but mortars returned
the fire and silenced the enemy. Although there was sporadic air and
ground activity during the night, no attempt was made to penetrate
the lines of the regiment.



Entrance Into Dagami

The 17th Infantry learned from Japanese prisoners that in addition
to elements of the 20th Infantry Regiment in the Dagami sector, the
following units were present: the 2d Battalion, 33d Infantry Regiment
(about 200 men), together with scattered elements of the 16th Engineer
Regiment and the 9th Infantry Regiment. [456]

The Japanese had firmly established themselves in positions in
depth about 1,000 yards south of Dagami. These defenses consisted
of mutually supporting pillboxes made of logs and sandbags, from
which the Japanese could deliver interlocking bands of machine gun
fire. They were situated on higher ground and could be approached
only across open rice paddies. [457]

As the American forces came close to Dagami, the 17th Infantry was
moving north along the Burauen-Dagami road, and the 382d Infantry,
96th Division, was approaching the road between Dagami and Tanauan.

Lt. Col. Kakuda, the commander of the Japanese Central Area Unit of
the 20th Infantry Regiment, issued a series of operational orders. At
1800 on 27 October he ordered the 20th Infantry Regiment to take a
position southwest of Dagami and annihilate the Americans. [458]

The 17th Infantry estimated that there were from 1,500 to 2,500
Japanese in the vicinity to oppose the regiment's advance and that
about 500 of these withdrew from Dagami in orderly fashion. [459]
The commander of the 17th Infantry prescribed a column of battalions
for the attack of 28 October. The 2d Battalion would pass through the
3d Battalion, and the attack north would be in the order of 2d, 1st,
and 3d. All of the supporting arms were attached to the 2d Battalion
for its attack. [460]

At 0730 the 2d Battalion attacked and immediately met very strong
opposition. The stone bridge and road were in the middle of a strip
of waist-deep swamp 100 yards wide, which funneled out to form a
larger swamp. A crescent-shaped coconut grove lay beyond the swamp,
one end in front of the road and the other bent to the south about 800
yards west of the road. The road and the curve in the coconut grove
divided the swamp into three segments--one on each side of the road,
and the third west of and parallel to the road. In the face of intense
rifle, machine gun, and mortar fire coming from an unknown number of
Japanese, Company F and three tanks managed to cross the creek. The
tanks continued north up the road. As Company F waded through the
waist-deep swamp, it pushed through direct enemy fire and past a large
tank trap and found a line of pillboxes to its front and left flank.

The company commander ordered his unit to hold its position and then
returned south of the bridge to bring up more tanks. The 1st Platoon
of Company F moved to the left rear to protect that flank, which was
receiving considerable enemy fire. As the company commander rushed
back to get the tanks, about twenty Japanese attacked the 1st Platoon
in an attempt to envelop the left flank of the company. The platoon
leader ordered his men to hold their fire until the enemy was only five
yards away, and nearly all of the Japanese were killed in the initial
volley. The platoon held its ground to prevent any further enveloping
attempts by the Japanese. Meanwhile, Company F's commanding officer
found that no tanks were available, since they could not cross the
weakened bridge. He returned to Company F and ordered it to retire
to the tank trap, reorganize, and evacuate the wounded.

In the meantime, in order to relieve the pressure on Company G
(on the right), which had run into somewhat the same situation,
Lt. Col. William B. Moore, the battalion commander, committed Company E
to the right (east) flank. Company E initially encountered determined
opposition but managed to flank the enemy and assist Company G in
its sector. At the same time the engineer troops of the 13th Engineer
Battalion, working feverishly under heavy fire, tried to repair the
damaged bridge. One of the armored bulldozers lost three drivers,
successively, to enemy fire.

Under the close supervision of Colonel Moore, who was in the front
lines, the 2d Battalion pressed the attack. Two M8 armored cars were
brought wide around the right flank in order to avoid the swamp. With
their aid, Companies E and G rolled up the east flank of the 20th
Infantry Regiment and broke through the pillboxes in their own area.

Company C was committed to the left of Company F in order to aid
it. Although this move was partially successful, Company C found
itself pinned down by an enemy force entrenched in pillboxes and
zigzag trenches. Since the Japanese defense line extended beyond the
regiment's left (west) flank and around it to the south, Company B was
committed further left to hit the southern flank of the enemy. Although
Company B could not break through the line, it was able to locate
the enemy right flank and neutralize the fire on that flank.

One of the three tanks that had gone north in the morning returned
at 1400 and was guided into the sector of Company F. With all of its
guns blazing, the tank broke through the enemy fortifications, and
Companies C and F were then able to move in and mop up the enemy. The
other two tanks had gone up the road some 250 yards when they met
antitank fire which completely destroyed one and immobilized the other,
trapping its crew. As soon as the bridge was made passable, two M8's,
a medium tank, and a squad from Company F were sent to rescue the
trapped crew. While the medium tank and the infantry covered the
damaged tank, the M8's drew up to it and allowed its crew to escape
into their open turrets. The detail withdrew, having suffered no
casualties, and the immobilized tank was then destroyed.

At dusk the 2d Battalion, 17th Infantry, and the committed companies
from the 1st Battalion pushed some 300 yards beyond the enemy
strong point and formed a perimeter defense for the night. [461]
Company B on the far left flank was withdrawn and closed into the
perimeter. Although machine gun and mortar fire came from the left
line of fortifications, there was no major action on the part of the
Japanese. A few of the enemy, attempting to crawl through a trench
into the position of Company F, became ensnarled in the concertina
wire and were then destroyed by grenades.

Since the 2d Battalion had borne the brunt of the fighting on 28
October and had suffered numerous casualties, the regimental commander
decided to have the battalion drop back into reserve. Although
the drive to Dagami was to continue, the north-south line of enemy
pillboxes on the left flank of the regiment could not be ignored. At
0800 on 29 October the regimental lines were to be reorganized so
that the 3d and 1st Battalions, less Company B, would pass through
the 2d Battalion, which would become the regimental reserve. Company
B with a platoon of M8's would attack the flank and rear of the enemy
in the left line of pillboxes.

At 0800, under cover of a heavy artillery concentration from the 49th
Field Artillery Battalion, the 1st and 3d Battalions, 17th Infantry,
passed through the 2d Battalion without incident. Company B, reinforced
by the platoon from the Cannon Company, moved out to destroy the
enemy force on the regiment's left flank. The company fought the
Japanese from pillbox to pillbox, catching the enemy on his flanks
and rear by rifle and machine gun fire, together with time-burst fire
from the self-propelled howitzers. This completely demoralized the
Japanese, some of whom threw down their arms and tried unsuccessfully
to escape. More than 120 enemy dead were counted in the area. The 1st
Battalion entered the southern part of Dagami without encountering
serious resistance. It then came under artillery fire from the hills
west of the town.

The 3d Battalion proceeded east of the road in a column of companies in
the order L, K, and I, and met no serious opposition until it reached
a cemetery south of Dagami. Overgrown with weeds seven to ten feet
high and containing stone crypts built off the ground, the cemetery
was divided by a path running east to west. As Company L moved into
the burial ground, Company I swung around the right (east) side to
come into position for the night. The leading elements of Company
L passed through the cemetery and Company I moved into position
without incident, but as the 1st Platoon of Company L, the reserve
platoon, crossed the path, a headstone tilted back and from the open
grave four Japanese opened fire with an American Browning automatic
rifle and other small arms. The small arms of the 1st Platoon had no
effect and it became necessary to bring forward a flame thrower to
burn the enemy out. At the same time the platoon received fire from
other open graves, from which the Japanese had removed the bodies. By
punching holes through the stone they used the crypts as individual
foxholes. The platoon broke into small units and pushed through the
cemetery, destroying the enemy forces wherever they could be located.

Company K, which followed Company I, placed two platoons abreast
behind Company L. As it came through the weeds past the cemetery path a
Japanese officer charged on the right flank with his saber and wounded
one man before he could be brought down. Since the platoons were
also receiving heavy fire from the tombs, the commander of Company
K drew his men back to the path where they reorganized. Preceded by
a battery of six flame throwers, the men then marched shoulder to
shoulder through the cemetery and burnt out the enemy. About 1900
the regiment completed the action and formed its night perimeter.

During the fighting, the regimental operations officer, hearing the
heavy fire and not being able to communicate with the 3d Battalion
headquarters, called Company K direct to ascertain if the Japanese had
broken through the American lines. "Hell no," was the reported reply,
"we're breaking through theirs and fighting for our bivouac." [462]
During the night small infiltration parties of Japanese tried
unsuccessfully to penetrate the regiment's defenses, and sporadic
artillery fire was received from the hills west of Dagami.

By 1040 on 30 October Dagami was securely in American hands, and the
17th Infantry continued to mop up for the rest of the day. The 19th
Infantry Regiment of the 24th Division, X Corps, across the Binahaan
River north of Dagami, was reached by an airdrop message from the
artillery spotter plane, and patrols reached the 382d Infantry
of the 96th Division on the east. The mission of the 17th Infantry
Regiment--securing the town of Dagami and effecting junction with the
X Corps and the 96th Division--was completed. The regiment spent the
next two days in mopping up and patrolling the area around Dagami.

The 7th Division had secured the limits of its beachhead line, but
the southern approaches to the line had not yet been secured. The
road farther south, running across the island from Abuyog on the east
coast to Baybay on the west coast, offered a potential route along
which the Japanese might pour in reinforcements.

At 0530 on 29 October the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, left Burauen
for Abuyog via Dao and the coastal road, Highway 1. Its progress was
impeded by muddy roads and the previous destruction of the bridge over
the Bito River. The battalion, less one company, crossed the river
by DUKW's at 0940 and by 1000 was in Abuyog, having encountered no
Japanese. The 7th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, acting as an advance
guard for the battalion, pushed west from Abuyog inland four miles
on the road toward Baybay.

On 30 and 31 October the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, remained
at Abuyog, but on the latter day it sent Company G, reinforced,
toward Baybay on the Abuyog-Baybay road, which corkscrewed through
the mountains for about twenty-seven miles between the east and west
coasts. The company encountered no Japanese. On 1 November no forward
progress was made, but all elements of the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry,
patrolled. On 2 November Company G moved along the road and closed
in on Baybay at 2200.

Far to the south the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Division, had been
engaged since A Day in extensive patrolling of the Panaon Strait
area. On 31 October the 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry, left the Bayug
airfield for Dulag and at 2200 sailed from Dulag to relieve the
21st Infantry. The battalion arrived at Panaon Island at 0700 on 1
November and during the day effected the relief of the 21st Infantry,
which then moved north to rejoin the 24th Division. [463]

The initial mission of the 7th Infantry Division--to land between the
Calbasag and Daguitan Rivers, advance rapidly inland along the axis
of the Dulag-Burauen road, seize hostile airstrips in its zone of
action, secure the Burauen-Dagami road, and protect the XXIV Corps'
left (south) flank--had been accomplished.

Since landing, the 7th Division had killed an estimated 4,211 Japanese
and had taken 19 prisoners. [464] Up to 1000 on 1 November, 32 officers
and 290 enlisted men of the division had been killed; 48 officers,
1 warrant officer, and 777 enlisted men wounded; 15 officers and 223
enlisted men injured; and 21 enlisted men were missing in action. [465]

By 2 November, General Hodge's XXIV Corps had finished its assigned
role for the second phase of General Krueger's plan for the capture of
the island of Leyte. It had seized the southern part of Leyte Valley
with its important roads, airfields, and potential base sites. An
element of the corps had pushed to the west coast of the island,
and was preparing for the move toward the important port of Ormoc as
part of the third phase of the plan. General Makino had been forced
to give up his Dagami headquarters and other positions on the heights
overlooking the town. Far to the north, the X Corps was engaged in
securing the northern part of Leyte Valley.



CHAPTER IX

Northern Leyte Valley: Part One


By the evening of 20 October the Tacloban airfield and Hill 522,
overlooking the town of Palo at the northern entrance to Leyte Valley,
were in the hands of the X Corps. The night of 20-21 October was
free from enemy activity in the sector of the 1st Cavalry Division,
and the exhausted troops were able to obtain an unquiet rest during
their first night in the Philippines. Having secured the Tacloban
airfield they were in position to march on Tacloban, the capital of
Leyte, the following morning. Tacloban is situated on a peninsula at
the head of San Pedro Bay. A string of low hills, stretching from
Anibong Point along the base of the peninsula to the southeast,
commands the approaches to the town. [466] Throughout the night the
61st Field Artillery Battalion delivered harassing fires on the hills
south of the town. [467] (Map 9)



San Juanico Strait

Drive Toward Caibaan

General Krueger wished to push rapidly through Leyte Valley and
secure its important roads and airfields before the Japanese could
regroup and offer a firm line of resistance. In the north, securing San
Juanico Strait would prevent any of the enemy from crossing over from
Samar. Control of the road that led through the interior of northern
Leyte Valley would give the possessor a firm hold on the northern
part of the valley. With a successful two-pronged attack--elements
of the 1st Cavalry Division driving north along San Juanico Strait
and units of the 24th Infantry Division pushing along Highway 2--the
X Corps would arrive at Carigara Bay. At that point the corps would
be in position to contest any Japanese amphibious movement through
Carigara Bay, and at the same time elements of the corps could drive
south through Ormoc Valley and secure the important port of Ormoc.

Preceded by a naval and air bombardment and a preparation by the
61st Field Artillery Battalion, [468] the 1st Cavalry Division at
0800 on 21 October resumed the assault against the Japanese. [469]
The division was to capture Tacloban and then secure control over San
Juanico Strait. [470] The 7th Cavalry, 2d Brigade, had been assigned
the mission of seizing Tacloban, [471] which was defended by elements
of the Japanese 33d Infantry Regiment. [472]

On the morning of 21 October the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry, joined
the regiment's 2d Squadron in a drive on Tacloban. At 0800 the
7th Cavalry moved with squadrons abreast, the 1st Squadron on the
right and the 2d Squadron on the left, astride the highway leading
to Tacloban. Although the squadrons found the terrain extremely
swampy and movement difficult, by 1400 the 1st Squadron was on the
outskirts of the town and the 2d was halted at the foot of a hill
overlooking Tacloban. The Japanese had dug into the hills overlooking
the capital. The division artillery then shelled the hill and the
high ground to the north. [473] At 1500 the fire was lifted and the
forward movement proceeded.

The men of the 1st Squadron entered Tacloban to conduct a
house-to-house search for concealed Japanese. They received a
tumultuous welcome from the Filipinos who lined the sides of the
narrow streets, waving American flags and urging gifts of eggs and
fruit upon the troopers. [474] They were also welcomed by the governor
of the province. The 2d Squadron, on the other hand, was held up by an
estimated 200 Japanese who were entrenched in pillboxes and foxholes
and behind the dense vegetation that covered the hilly area. As heavy
fire from the enemy pinned down the troops, Col. Walter H. Finnegan,
the regiment's commanding officer, sent the Antitank Platoon and
elements of the Regimental Weapons Troop in support of the 2d Squadron,
where that unit faced the southern end of the hill mass. [475]

The Weapons Troop was ordered to lay aside its automatic weapons and
assault the hill with rifles, but it was pinned down by intense fire
from an enemy bunker to the immediate front. Pfc. Kenneth W. Grove,
an ammunition carrier, volunteered to clear the Japanese from the
position. He worked his way through the underbrush to the flank of
the bunker, then charged in the open against its front and killed
the gun crew. [476] The advance then continued.

The movements of the Weapons Troop and the Antitank Platoon were
successful, and by 1800 the southern half of the hill and the town
of Tacloban were in American hands. Shortly after the seizure of
the capital, General Mudge, the division commander, inspected the
town from a medium tank. At one point, where the Japanese had turned
over a truck to form a roadblock, the general personally received the
surrender of forty Formosan laborers. [477] The regimental command post
was established in the building that had housed the Leyte Intermediate
School for Girls.

The following day, after an intensive mortar, artillery, and air
bombardment on a hill southwest of Tacloban, the 2d Squadron of the
7th Cavalry moved out against the hill at 0820. Although the terrain
was rugged, the position was overrun by 1100. The 1st Squadron spent
the day mopping up the town in search of the enemy. At 1108 General
Mudge released the 8th Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Bradley, to 2d
Brigade control.

By the end of 22 October the capital of Leyte and its hill defenses
were securely in American hands. The 7th Cavalry was one day ahead
of schedule, a fact partly explained by the unexpectedly light
resistance of the Japanese and partly by the vigor of the 7th Cavalry's
advance. [478]

On the morning of 22 October the 8th Cavalry made a "victory" march
through liberated Tacloban and went into perimeter to the west of
the 7th Cavalry on the hills overlooking the town. Troop C went to
Anibong Point in order to guard the brigade flank from a suspected
Japanese barge landing through San Juanico Strait.

Shortly after the command post was opened at 1830, the 8th Cavalry
received orders for the 1st Squadron to depart at 0700 on the
following day. It was to pass through the 7th Cavalry and secure the
bridge crossing the Diit River so as to protect the 2d Squadron,
8th Cavalry. The latter was directed to move northwest across the
mountains, seize Santa Cruz, which was on Carigara Bay about sixteen
miles northwest of Tacloban, and locate the remnants of the Japanese
who had opposed the 7th Cavalry in its advance through the city.

The 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry, passed through the 7th Cavalry at 0900
on the morning of 23 October. By nightfall the squadron had crossed
and secured the Diit River bridge and routed small groups of the
enemy. The 2d Squadron experienced difficulty in securing Filipino
carriers for the trip up the Diit River and across the unmapped and
unknown mountains to Santa Cruz. It resolved the situation by driving
a truck through the streets and seizing every able-bodied Filipino
in sight. These "volunteers" were sufficient to get the squadron to
its night bivouac on the Diit River. The "indignant carriers [then]
dissolved into the jungle." [479] The 2d Squadron established its
perimeter near the village of Diit.

Meanwhile, the 1st Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division had been ordered
to move west on 21 October. This maneuver was designed to protect
the southern flank of the 2d Brigade and to prevent the Japanese
from reinforcing their troops in Tacloban. The 1st Brigade moved
out at 0800 toward Caibaan, the 12th Cavalry on the right and the
5th Cavalry on the left. [480] Troop B of the 12th Cavalry advanced
toward the barrio of Utap, and though it ran into enemy opposition it
was able to secure the town after being reinforced by the regimental
and brigade reconnaissance platoons. Swampy ground made the going
very difficult. The troops captured a large Japanese supply dump
which contained quantities of foodstuffs, vehicles, and equipment,
and valuable documents. [481]

The 1st and 2d Squadrons of the 5th Cavalry advanced abreast toward
Caibaan and the high ground beyond the town. They encountered only
sporadic rifle fire in Caibaan but at the foot of one of the hills they
met determined opposition from about half a company of Japanese. After
an exchange of fire, the Japanese signified they wished to surrender
by waving a white flag. The heavy machine guns were brought into
position and the American soldiers signalled for the Japanese to
disrobe in order to forestall their using concealed grenades or other
weapons. The Japanese opened fire and wounded five men. The automatic
weapons then returned the fire, killing thirteen of the enemy. The
remaining Japanese withdrew over the hill, and contact was lost.

There was no enemy activity in the 5th Cavalry's sector during
the night of 21-22 October, and at 0645 the advance elements of
the 1st Squadron began to move up the steep east slope of a hill
west of Caibaan. The squadron continued its advance, and at 1200
engaged in a short skirmish between the hill and Caibaan, killing ten
Japanese. The difficult terrain, rather than the Japanese, slowed the
advance. Hampered by tall cogon grass, which cut off every breeze,
the troops struggled up steep slopes and sharp ridges. Exposed to
the hot sun and burdened with equipment and ammunition, they were
soon exhausted. At 1447 the 5th Cavalry received orders to halt all
forward movement until further notice. The 1st Squadron was in bad
condition physically, since it had been steadily on the move for a
day and a half and had consumed all its rations and water. At the
end of the day, 22 October, the squadron was still at the base of
the hill, but the rest of the regiment had reached Caibaan. [482] On
the following day elements of the 5th Cavalry were sent to Tacloban
to act as a guard of honor for General MacArthur. The other units
remained in position. [483]



Restoration of Civil Government

The guard of honor, consisting of 1st Lt. John Gregory and thirty
enlisted men of the 5th Cavalry, arrived at Tacloban later on 23
October. President Osmeña of the Philippine Commonwealth was also
present, having come ashore for the occasion. [484] A simple but
impressive ceremony was held in front of the municipal building
of Tacloban, though the interior of the edifice was a shambles of
broken furniture and scattered papers. A guard of honor of "dirty and
tired but efficient-looking soldiers" [485] was drawn up in front
of the government building. General MacArthur broadcast an address
announcing the establishment of the Philippine Civil Government with
President Osmeña as its head. Lt. Gen. Richard K. Sutherland then read
the official proclamation. President Osmeña spoke appreciatively of
American support and of the determination of the Filipinos to expel
the enemy. "To the Color" was sounded on the bugle, and the national
flags of the United States and the Philippines were simultaneously
hoisted on the sides of the building. Colonel Kangleon of the guerrilla
forces was then decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross.

Few Filipinos except representatives of the local government were
present for the ceremony. Apparently the inhabitants had not heard of
it, or did not know that they were permitted to attend. Information
quickly spread, however, that the civil government had assumed control,
and as General MacArthur and his party left town the civil population
cheered them. [486]



Drive up the Strait

Though the 1st Cavalry Division had secured Tacloban and the region
surrounding it, there remained the important task of seizing San
Juanico Strait to prevent the Japanese from bringing in reinforcements
from Samar. (See Map 2.) [487] San Juanico Strait, connecting the
Leyte Gulf with Samar Sea, forms a narrow passage between Leyte and
Samar Islands. Highway 1 ends on its western shore, some fourteen miles
north of Tacloban at Guintiguian, a small barrio (not shown on the map)
two miles north of San Isidro. A ferry between Guintiguian and La Paz,
just across the strait on Samar, links the road networks of the two
islands. The 2d Brigade's mission was to seize Guintiguian on Leyte;
La Paz on Samar (including the establishment of a bridgehead on the
north bank of the Silaga River, three miles northeast of La Paz); and
Babatngon on the north coast of Leyte. By shore-to-shore operations
it was also to seize Basey on the island of Samar and the area north
and west of it. [488]


                          GENERAL HEADQUARTERS
                         SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA
                    OFFICE OF THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF


                              PROCLAMATION


    TO THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES:


    I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand
    again on Philippine soil--soil consecrated in the blood of our
    two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed, to the task of
    destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives,
    and of restoring, upon a foundation of indestructible strength,
    the liberties of your people.

    At my side is your President, Sergio Osmeña, worthy successor of
    that great patriot, Manuel Quezon, with members of his cabinet. The
    seat of your government is now therefore firmly re-established
    on Philippine soil.

    The hour of your redemption is here. Your patriots have
    demonstrated an unswerving and resolute devotion to the principles
    of freedom that challenges the best that is written on the pages
    of human history. I now call upon your supreme effort that the
    enemy may know from the temper of an aroused and outraged people
    within that he has a force there to contend with no less violent
    than is the force committed from without.

    Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor
    lead on. As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within
    the zone of operations, rise and strike. Strike at every favorable
    opportunity. For your homes and hearths, strike! For future
    generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of
    your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm
    be steeled. The guidance of divine God points the way. Follow in
    His Name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!


                                                DOUGLAS MacARTHUR.


General Hoffman had been warned that his 2d Brigade would be assigned
the mission of securing San Juanico Strait and possibly landing
on Samar; he therefore directed an overwater reconnaissance of the
sector. Consequently, on 23 October the staff officers of the 8th
Cavalry and of the 1st Squadron of the regiment boarded an LCI at the
Tacloban dock. The landing craft made the trip through San Juanico
Strait to the barrio of Babatngon on Janabatas Channel without
incident. On the return trip, the officers observed some Japanese
positions which overlooked the ferry crossing at the Guintiguian
landing on Leyte. The party made a brief reconnaissance of the
Guintiguian side of the ferry landing and of La Paz on the Samar
side. There was no enemy contact. [489]

As a consequence General Hoffman, in issuing his orders for the next
day, assigned the following missions: the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry,
under Maj. Leonard E. Smith would embark at 0630 on 24 October,
and move overwater to seize the town of Babatngon. This operation
would seal off the western entrance into San Juanico Strait. Troop C,
reinforced, of the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry, under Maj. F. Raymond
King, was also to embark at 0630 from Tacloban and move north to
seize the ferry crossing between Guintiguian and La Paz. At the same
time the rest of the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry, under Lt. Col. Mayers
Shore, would drive north along the highway and effect a juncture with
C Troop at Guintiguian. [490]

The 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry, sailed for Babatngon at 1030 on 24
October. The trip was uneventful, and at 1330 the squadron arrived
at Babatngon, sent out security patrols, and established a perimeter
defense. On 25 October the Japanese launched an air attack, hitting
an LCI in the Babatngon harbor. Eight men were killed and seventeen
wounded, all of them Navy personnel. [491] For the next few days
the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry, made a series of overwater movements
through Carigara Bay and exploited the lack of any strong Japanese
resistance along the northeast coast of the Leyte Valley. [492]

Reinforced Troop C of the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry, was ready to
sail by 0630 on 24 October but was delayed by a Japanese air attack
on the shipping in Tacloban harbor and San Pedro Bay, made by about
fifty medium bombers and Army fighters. Before they could reach the
beachhead area, many of the Japanese planes were shot down by Navy
combat air patrol fliers, who also beat off another wave of about
thirty more planes. Two of the American planes crash-landed on the
Tacloban airfield, while a third landed in the water. [493] There
was minor damage to American shipping.

One of the Japanese planes crashed less than 200 yards from elements
of Troop C but the force got under way. The troopers, after running
down and killing five Japanese in a canoe, arrived at La Paz, Samar,
their destination, without further excitement and established a
roadblock on the road leading to Basey.

The 1st Squadron of the 8th Cavalry, which was to travel overland
by Highway 1 to make junction with Troop C at the ferry crossing,
broke camp at 0700 on the morning of the 24th. The squadron was
accompanied by a platoon of light tanks and weapons carriers with
rations and ammunition. Since the passage was through enemy-held
territory and over unfamiliar terrain, and since the strength of the
Japanese forces was unknown, it was estimated that it would take the
squadron a minimum of two days to cover the sixteen and a quarter
miles between the two forces. The commanding officer of the squadron,
however, by utilizing stream-crossing expedients to the utmost in
snaking tanks and vehicles across the many intersecting streams and
by driving the troops, was able to complete the difficult march to
Guintiguian and go into perimeter with all his men except a rear guard
at 2130 on the same day. At the end of 24 October, the 8th Cavalry,
less the 2d Squadron, was in a position from which it could defend
its beachhead on Samar. [494]

At 2300 an estimated hundred Japanese from the 2d Battalion, 9th
Infantry Regiment, attacked the roadblock which had been established
on the road leading to Basey. The Japanese opened up with machine
gun fire and tossed several grenades against the position. The
defenders repelled the attack with machine gun and mortar fire,
but for the remainder of the night "confusion reigned supreme and
the odds and ends were not rounded up until the next morning." [495]
During the next three days the 8th Cavalry consolidated its position
and extended its perimeter to include a bridgehead on the Silaga River.

By the end of 27 October the 1st Cavalry Division had seized
Tacloban and gained control of San Juanico Strait. Because of supply
difficulties the 2d Brigade on 25 October had ordered the 2d Squadron,
8th Cavalry, to discontinue its movement toward Santa Cruz, to remain
in bivouac along the upper reaches of the Diit River and patrol that
area. At this time the casualties of the 1st Cavalry Division amounted
to 4 officers and 36 enlisted men killed, 14 officers and 185 enlisted
men wounded, and 8 enlisted men missing in action. [496] During the
same period, the division reported it had killed 739 of the enemy
and had taken prisoner 7 Japanese, 1 Formosan, and 1 Chinese. [497]

The opposition had been light--much lighter than had been
expected. Elements of the division had therefore been sent south to
reinforce the 24th Division, which had borne the brunt of the Japanese
opposition in the X Corps sector in its drive through northern Leyte
Valley toward Carigara Bay.



Leyte Valley Entrance

Defense at Pawing

At the end of 20 October the 24th Division had established a firm
beachhead near Palo, averaging a mile in depth, and had secured Hill
522 which overlooked Palo. [498] (Map 10) The 24th Division was to
seize Palo and drive astride the road that ran northwest through
the Leyte Valley to Carigara. The 34th Infantry, in the vicinity of
Pawing, had its 2d Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. James F. Pearsall,
Jr., 100 yards west of Highway 1, with the northern elements of the
battalion in contact with the 5th Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division
on the right. The 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, was just short of
the highway. The leading elements of the 19th Infantry were on Hill
522. [499]

At 0100 on 21 October three companies of Japanese, [500] part of
the 33d Infantry Regiment, [501] under cover of darkness and aided
by heavy machine gun and mortar fire, struck from the south along
Highway 1. The leading elements made a double envelopment of the
American flanks while the main force came down the road and attacked
the perimeter of the 2d Platoon of Company G. By 0200 the enemy,
still employing machine gun and mortar fire, had pushed to within a
few yards of the American positions and had killed or wounded everyone
but Pvt. Harold H. Moon, Jr., in the first two positions.

The Japanese then centered their fire upon Private Moon, who, although
wounded by this fire, replied with his submachine gun. An enemy officer
attempted to throw grenades at Moon's position and was killed. The
Japanese then brought up a light machine gun to within twenty yards
of his position. Moon called back the range correction to friendly
mortars which knocked out the machine gun. For over four hours he
held back the enemy. At dawn an entire platoon with fixed bayonets
charged toward him. From a sitting position he fired into the Japanese,
killed eighteen, and repulsed the attack. He then stood up and threw
a grenade at a machine gun that had opened up on his right. He was
hit and instantly killed. [502] The Japanese then resumed their
attack, but the remnants of Moon's platoon fixed bayonets, charged,
and succeeded in breaking through the enemy line.

In the meantime the enemy hit the perimeter of Company L. For
several hours the Japanese felt out the company positions, and then,
covered by three machine guns, they charged in platoon strength on
the east side of the company's perimeter. The company, supported
by mortar fire, retaliated and assaulted the Japanese in front of
the perimeter. Attempted movements around both the enemy flanks
failed. A frontal assault, protected by fire from both flanks, was
then successfully made by the company, and the Japanese force was
routed. There were 105 enemy dead in the immediate area of the company.

By this time it was dawn, and Pearsall's men began extensive
countermeasures. Concentrated mortar fire was laid down, and, since
Japanese artillery was shelling the American positions, artillery
and air strikes were requested. At 0900 Battery A of the 63d Field
Artillery Battalion fired 150 rounds on the Japanese. [503]

At a point 1,500 yards south of Pawing naval flyers from the Seventh
Fleet strafed the enemy and, in co-operation with the artillery fire,
successfully broke the back of the offensive. The enemy scattered
into the rice paddies. Members of the 2d Battalion were then able
to go down the road and mop up. More than 600 Japanese were killed
during the engagement. [504] Company G, which had borne the brunt of
the attack, lost fourteen men killed and had twelve wounded.

The battalion had scarcely finished breakfast when at 1000 it was given
the mission of seizing a hill mass immediately west of its position
at Pawing. After artillery and naval gunfire had been placed upon the
hill for fifteen minutes, [505] E Company was to take the northern
knoll of the hill mass and F Company to take the southern knoll. It
was not until 1400, however, that the attack jumped off. Company E
met no opposition, and within twenty-five minutes was able to occupy
its objective.

Company F, commanded by Capt. Paul Austin, had more difficulty. Its
objective was a steep hill, heavily covered with cogon grass ten to
twelve feet high, which limited visibility to a few feet. A trail
ran west from a small clump of trees to the top of the hill, and
then south along the crest of the ridge where the grass was only six
inches high. The company proceeded west in a column of platoons and at
1430 reached the foot of the hill. At the western edge of the group
of trees, the 1st and 3d Platoons turned left and advanced directly
toward the highest point of the hill. The 2d Platoon, with machine
guns, continued up the path.

As the 2d Squad of the 1st Platoon reached the crest and as the
1st Squad had nearly done so, an estimated 200 Japanese from the
33d Infantry Regiment opened fire upon the troops with rifles
and two machine guns that were emplaced upon a knoll overlooking
the trail. Enemy riflemen also rolled grenades down upon the 1st
Squad. These actions pinned down both of the squads.

Protected by the machine gun fire, other enemy riflemen worked north
along the reverse slope of the ridge and began to throw grenades down
upon the 2d Platoon. The Japanese possessed a seemingly inexhaustible
supply of grenades, which they rolled down upon the Americans with
telling effect. Company F was unable to advance. By 1500 the 1st and
2d Squads of the 1st Platoon were forced off the forward slope. The
2d Platoon also had been unable to go ahead, and the company had
suffered fourteen casualties. Captain Austin ordered his company to
disengage for reorganization. Since the American mortars could not
fire directly upon the Japanese for fear of hitting friendly troops,
they were forced to fire over the enemy and gradually shorten the range
as the American troops disengaged. Consequently the fire at first was
not too effective. By 1600 the reorganization was complete, but Colonel
Pearsall decided to delay the attack until artillery support could be
obtained. Company F formed its night perimeter 500 yards from Pawing.

The following morning arrangements were made for an air strike by Navy
flyers on the positions of the 33d Infantry Regiment on the hill. It
was not until afternoon, however, that the strike could be effected. At
1345 the 63d Field Artillery Battalion marked with smoke the right
and left limits for the air strike. [506] At 1410 naval dive bombers
bombed and strafed the hill for ten minutes with very good results,
and the Japanese power to resist was broken. [507] Captain Austin's
Company F, accompanied by Colonel Newman, the regimental commander,
then moved out. Supported by artillery fire, Company F captured the
entire ridge by 1515 without a single casualty. The Pawing area was
now securely in American hands. Farther south the 19th Infantry was
engaged in fulfilling its mission of capturing the town of Palo.



Capture of Palo

At the end of the first day's fighting, C Company of the 19th Infantry
had just secured the top of Hill 522 and Company B at dusk had been
pinned down at the southern crest. The following morning artillery fire
effectively knocked out some enemy pillboxes on the north crest. Both
companies then simultaneously launched an attack down the far slope
of the hill. In the sharp fight that followed fifty Japanese from the
33d Infantry Regiment were killed and the hill was secured. [508] It
was not until late in the day, however, that supplies could be brought
to the troops and the wounded be evacuated. The 1st Battalion spent
the next few days mopping up the area and sealing off the tunnels
with grenades.

On the beach the 3d Battalion, 19th Infantry, on the morning of
21 October waited for naval gunfire to knock out positions that
blocked the beach road to Palo. These defenses consisted of mutually
supporting well-constructed pillboxes reinforced with logs and earth,
with intercommunicating trenches and foxholes. They were designed to
be used in resisting attacks from the beach and from the north. After
an all-night mortar concentration, naval gunfire was directed against
the positions, and at 1400 the 3d Battalion attacked. When within 200
yards of a road bend, Company I and elements of the Antitank Company,
leading the main assault, met strong resistance, which forced the
company to dig in. The other companies occupied the same positions
they had held the previous day. [509] During the night Company C of
the 85th Chemical Battalion, expending 500 rounds of ammunition,
laid intermittent fire from the 4.2-inch mortars on the Japanese
positions. [510]

At 0900 on 22 October the 3d Battalion, with Company I in the lead,
attacked with the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, which had been released
from division reserve, on its left flank. This co-ordinated advance
pushed past the defensive positions of the 33d Infantry Regiment,
many of which had been abandoned. The positions of the 3d Battalion,
19th Infantry, were taken over by the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry. The
latter battalion patrolled the road and eliminated scattered Japanese
pockets of resistance south to the Palo River.

The 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, was to secure Palo, which is situated
about one mile inland on the south side of the Palo River. The town
is an important road junction, the meeting point of the Leyte Valley
and east coast road systems. The coastal road, Highway 1, which
goes through Palo, crosses a steel bridge over the Palo River on the
edge of the town. Highway 2, a one-lane all-weather road for most of
its length, extends west to Barugo and Carigara. [511] Just outside
Palo are two hills, one on each side of the highway, which guard the
entrance into the interior. The Americans termed them Hills B and
C. Elements of the 33d Infantry Regiment were guarding Palo. [512]

Early in the morning of 21 October, the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry,
moved west through enemy machine gun and rifle fire and bypassed the
enemy defensive position that had held it up the previous day. At
1155 the battalion reached the junction of the beach road and Highway
1. During the movement two men were killed and two wounded. At the road
junction, the battalion dispersed with machine gun fire a column of
about thirty-five Japanese moving south on Highway 1. Artillery fire
was then laid on a grove of trees, west of the road, to which the
enemy had fled. As the battalion proceeded south along the highway
between the road junction and the bridge, it came under artillery
fire from an undetermined source. The tempo of the march into Palo
was accelerated--"the troops wanted to move as rapidly as possible
from that vicinity. They double timed across the bridge." [513]
At 1500 they entered Palo without further opposition. [514]

The residents of the town were crowded into the church. As the
Americans entered, the church bell rang and the Filipinos came out and
greeted the troops. After the first exuberant welcome had subsided,
the soldiers ordered the civilians back into the church until they
could secure the town. In the house-to-house search, the troops found
some booby traps made from coconuts [515] and encountered Japanese
entrenched under and between houses in the western sector of the
town. Although the battalion had expected to outpost the entire town,
the menace of the Japanese appeared so threatening that a night
perimeter was established around the town square.



Defense of Palo

During the early part of the night there was continuous rifle fire from
individual Japanese. The 13th Field Artillery Battalion had arrived and
began to fire on the roads leading into the town, expending some 300
rounds of ammunition. At midnight some Japanese ammunition stored in a
house exploded, and the ensuing fire lasted for three hours. At 0400
on 22 October elements of the 33d Infantry Regiment counterattacked
along Highway 2 [516] but were repulsed by fire from the outposts. The
enemy then struck at the juncture of the left flank of Company F and
the right flank of Company G. The 81-mm. mortars of the 2d Battalion
fired on this point, expending all their ammunition. In the meantime
Battery B of the 13th Field Artillery Battalion and elements of the
63d Field Artillery Battalion moved up to within a hundred yards of
the front outposts and fired. The enemy stubbornly continued to fight,
throwing "everything he had into the attack." [517] At the same time
nearly a platoon of the enemy came out at the curve of the beach road
and started toward the bridge on Highway 1 at Palo, but these troops
were dispersed by light machine gun fire. Artillery fire forced the
Japanese to withdraw, and they were thrown back on all fronts. [518]
Though the battalion had lost 16 men killed and 44 wounded, it had
killed 91 Japanese. After the engagement, the battalion requested
additional ammunition, supplies, and equipment, and transportation
for the wounded. [519] The requests were complied with, though not
without danger since the Japanese had mined the road.

At 1330 the regimental headquarters of the 19th Infantry moved into
Palo. The regiment's 3d Battalion relieved the 2d Battalion at the
same time, thus enabling the latter to attack Hill B at 1425. [520]
The 3d Battalion spent the rest of the day and the following day
mopping up in Palo and sending probing patrols southward in order to
make contact with the XXIV Corps. [521] A patrol in Palo killed seven
Japanese dressed in civilian clothing, one of whom, a lieutenant,
had his insignia pinned inside his clothes. [522]

On the night of 23 October Col. Tatsunosuke Suzuki, the commanding
officer of the 33d Infantry Regiment, led a raiding detachment,
armed with rifles, sabres, grenades, and mines, into Palo from the
southwest. [523] Using Filipino civilians in front of them, the men
of the detachment tricked the guards at the outpost into believing
that they were guerrillas. The Japanese were thus able to capture two
machine guns and a 37-mm. gun. They penetrated to the town square and
charged, throwing explosives into houses, trucks, and a tank, and broke
into an evacuation hospital where they killed some wounded. They then
moved toward the bridge and mounted the captured machine guns on it,
[524] firing until their ammunition was exhausted and then abandoning
the guns. The American guards on the other side of the bridge, however,
were able to fire upon the bridge and its approaches so effectively
that they killed fifty Japanese, according to a count made the next
morning. The raid was completely broken up, and sixty Japanese,
including Colonel Suzuki, were killed. The American casualties were
fourteen killed and twenty wounded.

The 3d Battalion, 19th Infantry, had sent Company K to reconnoiter to
the south and if possible make contact with the XXIV Corps. On the
morning of the 24th the company entered San Joaquin to the south of
Palo. By 1600 the town had been secured and the company was prepared
to defend it. Engineers began to repair the damaged bridge so that
armored units could proceed southward along Highway 1. On the morning
of 25 October Company K advanced south from San Joaquin and by 1200 had
secured positions on the north bank of the Binahaan River, from which
patrols were sent into Tanauan. At 1430 the patrols met a motorized
unit of the 96th Division, establishing contact for the first time
between the X and XXIV Corps. The rest of the battalion moved out
of Palo the same morning and was able to advance rapidly with little
opposition and set up a perimeter at Castilla, 8,000 yards southwest
of Palo.

Thus the northern and southern approaches to Palo and the beachhead
area east of the town had now been secured. But on the western edge
of Palo were the two hills athwart Highway 2 and blocking passage into
Leyte Valley. Hill B on the southern side of the highway and Hill C on
the northern side would have to be secured before the Americans could
advance. Preliminary reconnaissance had revealed that these hills were
strongly held, and since the 24th Division, contrary to expectations,
had encountered considerably stronger opposition than the 1st Cavalry
Division, General Sibert decided to detach the 1st Brigade from the 1st
Cavalry Division and place it under X Corps control. The 2d Squadron
of the 5th Cavalry remained in position on the high ground west of
Tacloban, while the regiment's 1st Squadron moved into position in
Pawing, to relieve the 2d Battalion, 34th Infantry. The 12th Cavalry
assembled in the vicinity of Marasbaras in X Corps reserve. [525]



Capture of Hill C

At 0800 on 23 October the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, commanded by
Maj. Edwin N. Edris, and the 1st Platoon, 603d Tank Company, assembled
500 yards north of Hill 522 preparatory to launching an attack on
Hill C. [526] It was reported that 300 Japanese were in a strong
defensive position between Hills C and 331, the latter located west
of Pawing. Consequently, an air strike was called for and delivered
on the area, after which the battalion started for Hill C. The first
obstacle encountered was a small ridge known as Hill Nan, and just
beyond this ridge was another hill mass known as Hill Mike. Company
B advanced up Hill Nan in a skirmish line. When the company neared
the crest of the ridge, a machine gun 200 yards to its front opened
up, and at the same time the Japanese from dug-in positions on the
reverse slope began to throw grenades over the crest. The company
was halted. Three times during the afternoon it reached the crest,
only to be driven back by enemy fire. Several counterattacks were
repulsed, but the machine gun was not silenced.

At 1800 the company received orders to disengage so that artillery
fire might be laid upon the enemy positions. The Japanese immediately
counterattacked. An American lieutenant and a sergeant of the company
rushed to the crest with grenades which they threw upon the advancing
Japanese. This action enabled the company to disengage and return to
the assembly area with only a few casualties.

During the night artillery and 4.2-inch mortar fires were placed on
the ridge. As a result, on the following day, 24 October, the 1st
Battalion secured it without meeting any resistance. With this ridge
in American hands, the 3d Battalion was able to pass through the 1st
Battalion and secure without opposition Hill Mike, the last remaining
obstacle before Hill C. During the night artillery pounded Hill C.

On the morning of 25 October the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, moved
out to attack Hill C, with Companies I and K abreast. [527] Although
the troops found the hill difficult to climb, elements of Company
K reached its crest without opposition. The enemy started his usual
tactics of throwing grenades over the crest of the hill at Company I
as it neared the top. Since the company had suffered many casualties,
a platoon from Company K was sent to reinforce Company I. Finally, at
1700, the company took the crest of the hill and dug in for the night.

The 2d Battalion, 34th Infantry, which had been relieved by the 1st
Squadron, 5th Cavalry, moved out of Pawing at 0700 on 24 October. At
1030 it received orders to seize a small hill southeast of Hill
C. With Company E in the lead, the battalion proceeded in single file
up the hill, which was covered with cogon grass. As it had hitherto
been the practice of the Japanese to withhold their main fire until
the Americans neared the top of a hill, the troops expected little
opposition before reaching the crest. But while the company was still
a considerable distance from the top, elements of the 33d Infantry
Regiment opened up with rifles, machine guns, and grenades. This fire
pinned the company down, and the men immediately sought concealment
in the cogon grass. Light machine guns were brought up, but, because
of the steepness of the slope, they were ineffective. Artillery
and mortars fired for two hours against the entrenched Japanese
positions. At 1610 Company E renewed the attack and this time secured
the hill with little opposition. The 34th Infantry now occupied the
hills on the north side of Highway 2.



Seizure of Hill B

On 22 October the 3d Battalion of the 19th Infantry had relieved the
2d Battalion of the regiment at Palo, and the regimental commander
ordered the 2d Battalion to proceed against Hill B. [528] Earlier,
the 2d Battalion had sent patrols out preparatory to attacking the
hill. The 13th Field Artillery Battalion laid maximum supporting fires
on Hill B as naval bombers strafed it. [529] The 2d Battalion moved
out to the attack at 1425, and the concentrated artillery fire enabled
it to secure without resistance a ridge east of Hill B and then push
on down the road toward the hill. But as Company E, the lead company,
reached the foot of Hill B, it was met by a large group from the 33d
Infantry Regiment coming east down the road and around the hill. The
Japanese had left riflemen dug in on the steep banks of the road and
had posted others in the trees along the road. Some of these riflemen
allowed part of the American troops to pass and then opened fire. A
sharp fire fight broke out in which Company E killed an estimated
hundred of the enemy before being forced to withdraw to the ridge,
where the 2d Battalion dug in for the night. During the night the
13th Field Artillery fired on Hill B. At 0730 the following day the 2d
Battalion sent out two patrols to scout the enemy positions. The patrol
on the right flank was stopped by machine gun fire at a point 200 yards
west of the ridge and was forced to return. Mortar fire was placed
on the enemy machine guns, after which the 2d Battalion advanced,
reaching what was believed to be the crest of Hill B at 1530. [530]

As the forward progress was more difficult than had been expected, the
2d Squadron of the 12th Cavalry was sent to relieve the 1st Battalion,
19th Infantry, which had been engaged in mopping up Hill 522. [531]
This relieved battalion was given the mission of attacking Hill 85,
to the south of Palo, where the 24th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop
had located a strong enemy position. During the night the artillery
placed concentrated fire upon Hill 85.

At 0800 on 24 October the men of the 2d Battalion moved out,
attempting to complete the capture of Hill B. [532] They were held
up by well-emplaced pillboxes and foxholes on the highest crest of
the ridge, having discovered that the crest they had first occupied
was not the true crest. Since the 33d Infantry Regiment seemed to
be well emplaced on the hill, Lt. Col. Robert B. Spragins had his
battalion move to the right. It took up a position overlooking a
narrow asphalt road that ran from Highway 2 to a Japanese supply
dump to the south. Colonel Spragins decided to attack Hill B from
this position on the following morning.

The 13th Field Artillery Battalion again pounded the enemy positions
on the hill during the night. On the morning of 25 October the
2d Battalion attacked with Companies G and E abreast. The troops
moved down the slope, across the road, and up the hill, with no
opposition. On reaching the crest, they were met by heavy fire that
came from well-constructed emplacements. Some of these positions were
six feet deep and five feet wide. Very heavy fighting broke out in
which the companies were barely able to hold their positions. The
11th and 52d Field Artillery Battalions fired in front of Hill B,
[533] and the enemy fire was silenced. Company E was forced back,
but Company G held on.

Although the hill was in American hands, the hold was very
precarious. Colonel Spragins therefore moved the rest of the battalion
up to Company G and ordered the latter to move out to a far ridge
in order to secure the hill firmly. This move was accomplished at
twilight. The rest of the battalion moved out to join Company G.

Starting in the dark, the battalion lost its way. At midnight the
troops came to the true crest of the ridge where the enemy had
an observation post surrounded by prepared positions. All were
empty. The Japanese had formed the habit of going to the villages
for the night and returning in the morning to man their posts. The
night movement of the battalion "literally caught them napping away
from their defenses." [534] The battalion had not reached Company G,
but it set up a defensive perimeter for the night. The hills guarding
Leyte Valley were now in American hands.

During the day the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry, secured complete
control of Hill 85 without opposition. The battalion found an abandoned
position, mortar ammunition, and six dead Japanese.

By the end of 25 October the X Corps had made substantial progress
toward securing northern Leyte Valley. After capturing Tacloban,
the 1st Cavalry Division had pushed north and secured control over
San Juanico Strait. The 24th Division had secured Palo and the hill
fortresses that blocked the entrance into northern Leyte Valley. The
corps was now in a position to launch a drive into the interior of
the valley.



CHAPTER X

Northern Leyte Valley: Part Two


General Krueger had expected stronger Japanese resistance in the
zone of action of the 1st Cavalry Division than in that of the 24th
Division. He had therefore thought it safe to release the 21st Infantry
for the landings at Panaon Strait. When events proved otherwise, a
portion of the strength of the 1st Cavalry Division was shifted into
the zone of the 24th Division to enable the latter to free itself of
responsibility for rear areas and direct its effort to the advance
into Leyte Valley. [535] (Map 11)



Drive up Leyte Valley

The Japanese planned to fall back into the mountains if the Americans
were successful in seizing the Tacloban airfield. They expected to
take with them "munition sufficient for one and one-half units of fire
for one division ... and food for 20,000 men for six month[s]." [536]
The rapid advance of the Americans, however, prevented the execution of
this plan. After 25 October the remaining elements of the 33d Infantry
Regiment withdrew to a position about three and three-fourths miles
northeast of Jaro. [537] When the American forces had taken the hills
dominating the entrance into Leyte Valley and overlooking Highway 2,
Lt. Gen. Sosaku Suzuki, the commander of the 35th Army, concentrated
his forces around Jaro on the southern edge of Leyte Valley. The 41st
Regiment of the 30th Division and the 169th Independent Battalion of
the 102d Division, both of which had but recently arrived on Leyte as
reinforcements to the 16th Division, on 26 October were ordered to
proceed from Carigara to Jaro. On the same day the 17th Independent
Battalion, 102d Division, moved toward Jaro. [538]



The 34th Infantry Advances Into the Valley

After the successful capture of Hills B and C, the 24th Division
resumed its attack west. With the 1st Cavalry Division protecting
the 24th Division's northern flank, the 34th Infantry was to proceed
westward into the interior along Highway 2. The 19th Infantry, as the
24th Division's southern prong, was to follow an almost parallel route
to Pastrana. [539] The 1st Cavalry Brigade was to relieve the combat
troops of the 24th Division in the rear areas in order to enable the
division to continue its advance into the interior.

Highway 2 was a one-lane all-weather road, twelve feet wide with
four-foot shoulders. It had a crushed rock and gravel surface. In
general it ran through level ground, with occasional groves of light
timber, bamboo, and abaca. Much of the area was under cultivation. At
Santa Fe a one-lane all-weather branch road ran four miles south to
Pastrana, at which point a seasonal one-lane road ran southward for
about five miles to Dagami and another northwest for about eight and
a half miles to Jaro.

At 1000 on 26 October the 2d Battalion of the 34th Infantry, commanded
by Colonel Pearsall, moved out of its assembly area at Malirong in a
column of companies and pushed westward on Highway 2. The battalion
met slight resistance at the Malirong River bridge, but mortar fire
knocked out the enemy opposition, and the advance continued. Since
the battalion encountered few Japanese, the flank protection, which
had to traverse difficult terrain, was called in, and the advance
then proceeded at a much more rapid pace. The 2d Battalion met,
and killed or routed, small groups of the enemy. It crossed streams
where the bridges had been destroyed. The 3d Engineer Battalion put
temporary structures in for two of these bridges in order that the
first elements might proceed, and it placed a Bailey bridge over a
third stream. The 1st Battalion, which followed the 2d, used Japanese
handcarts to transport supplies between the destroyed bridges and the
forward troops. [540] By 1730 Colonel Pearsall had all of his battalion
in Sante Fe. The following day, Lt. Col. Thomas E. Clifford, Jr.,
who had become the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, pushed
his unit through the 2d Battalion and advanced 7,000 yards without
opposition to the Mudburon River, where the troops established their
night perimeter at 1545. [541]



Mainit River Bridge

On the morning of 28 October Colonel Clifford ordered the 1st Battalion
to move out in a column of companies along Highway 2 toward the town of
Alangalang about a mile and a quarter northwest. At 0900 the battalion
moved out. Company A, the lead company, entered Alangalang without
incident, set up local security, and then fell to the rear of the
battalion, which passed through Alangalang [542] without pausing and
moved toward the Mainit River about one and a half miles farther on.

As Company C reached the Mainit River it made contact with the enemy,
who had dug in on both steeply sloping banks of the river at the
steel bridge crossing. The company suffered five casualties. It was
opposed by the remaining elements of the 33d Infantry, which had been
considerably mauled by the Americans. [543] Company C withdrew 300
yards as Companies B and A pressed forward on the left side of the
road under continuous rifle fire. Colonel Pearsall's 2d Battalion
had followed the 1st Battalion, and both units were to make an
assault against the 41st Infantry Regiment, which had arrived in the
area. Three batteries of the 63d Field Artillery Battalion shelled
the enemy positions for a depth of 300 yards on the eastern side of
the river and 100 yards on the western side.

After the artillery concentration was over, the two battalions
were to move out to the attack--the 1st on the left and the 2d on
the right. The regimental commander ordered the 1st Battalion to
attack, destroy the enemy resistance, and secure the eastern bank
of the river. Five tanks were to follow in the rear of the assault
companies and fire at targets of opportunity. Five hundred yards away,
to the right of the 1st Battalion, Companies E and F of Pearsall's
battalion were to cross the river, destroy enemy resistance on the
western side, and then go south on Highway 2 to contact the enemy at
the bridge. [544]

The 1st Battalion moved to the water's edge, where it was pinned
down by enemy fire. Companies E and F of the 2d Battalion, however,
were able to push north 500 yards through the heavy brush, and amid
a driving rain they managed to ford the river unobserved. Once on
the other side they charged the entrenchments of the 41st Infantry
Regiment on the river, with Company F in the lead. As Company
F neared the bridge it overran three mortar positions without
stopping but was finally halted by heavy machine gun fire. After the
company's 60-mm. mortar had knocked out the machine gun, the unit
continued to advance and passed the bridgehead before it ran out of
ammunition. Company E then relieved Company F, while the latter set up
heavy machine guns to silence enemy machine guns in the woods to the
west. By 1500 the bridge was in American hands. The Japanese had placed
a demolition charge on the bridge, but the American advance had been
so swift that the enemy never had an opportunity to set off the charge.

The 3d Battalion had meanwhile moved up to the rear of the other two
battalions and established contact south of Santa Fe with the 19th
Infantry, which was protecting the southern flank of the division.



Seizure of Pastrana

On 25 October the 3d Battalion, 19th Infantry, advancing toward
Pastrana, had pushed against slight opposition into Castilla and
established a perimeter there. [545] On the morning of the same day,
Maj. Elmer C. Howard, the battalion commander, told Lt. Col. George
H. Chapman, Jr., of the 19th Infantry that he had learned from the
Filipinos that there was no organized resistance along the three
miles from Castilla to Pastrana. He therefore asked permission to
go to Pastrana and establish a roadblock. Colonel Chapman told Major
Howard to stay out of Pastrana but to send patrols to locate defenses
around the town. [546] Colonel Chapman later rescinded this order,
and at 1300 on 26 October Major Howard moved his battalion out from
Castilla to attack Pastrana, which was 5,000 yards southwest of Santa
Fe. Company I, the lead company, proceeded over a trail that was
too narrow to accommodate vehicles. At 1600 the point of Company
I reached the outskirts of Pastrana but came under heavy enemy
fire. The battalion pulled back and then attacked with Companies I
and K abreast. The companies were stopped by fire that came from an
unusual fortification--a star-shaped fort, with a tin roof, which
looked like three or four native shacks in a cluster. The sides
were banked with earth, over which grass had been allowed to grow--a
feature so exceptional that it aroused suspicion and gave away the
nature of the installation. Pillboxes flanked the fortification,
which was backed by a system of trenches. Colonel Chapman ordered
another attack at 1630, but casualties were so heavy that the troops
dug in after getting within 100 yards of the fortress.

At 1750 Battery C, 11th Field Artillery Battalion, placed fire on
the fortification, but after forty-two rounds of ammunition had
been expended, the battery reported that the muddy ground "caused
[the] guns to go out of action." [547] From 1850 to 1905, Battery
A of the 14th Field Artillery delivered harassing fire on Pastrana,
[548] and from 2200 to 2400 the 13th Field Artillery Battalion took
over the task of placing fire on the sector around the town. [549]
With the coming of daylight, the 4.2-inch and 81-mm. mortars took
up the shelling. The night-long pounding of the Japanese positions
around Pastrana was so effective that on the morning of 27 October
Company K of the 3d Battalion was able to move around the town and
establish a roadblock at a demolished bridge a few hundred yards
southwest. The rest of the day the 3d Battalion, assisted by Colonel
Zierath's 1st Battalion, which had followed the 3d Battalion, mopped
up in the town and sent out patrols to investigate the terrain and
enemy dispositions west and south of the town.

The 19th Infantry was to continue to protect the southern flank of the
24th Division, which was driving toward Carigara, by moving toward
Jaro--the proposed assembly point of the 35th Army. On the morning
of 28 October, Colonel Zierath had the 1st Battalion establish a
roadblock north of the Binahaan River in the vicinity of Macalpe. The
2d Battalion pushed forward to Tingib and established a perimeter
there. For the next two days the 19th Infantry sent out patrols in all
directions; they met only scattered resistance from the Japanese. On
29 October Company K left Pastrana and established a roadblock
at Ypad. On the following day it moved south from Ypad to Lapdok,
where it established contact with elements of the XXIV Corps. On
the 30th two platoons from Company C encountered about 100 Japanese
at Rizal. The enemy fought aggressively, but resistance ceased after
artillery fire had been placed on the town. It was estimated that the
majority of the enemy force was killed. As a result of the skirmishes
and patrols, General Makino was unable to establish contact between
elements of the 16th Division at Dagami and those at Jaro. [550]



Fall of Jaro

At the crossing of the Mainit River, a one-lane all-weather branch
road runs southwest for about three and a half miles to Jaro, and
then northwest along the western edge of Leyte Valley for about ten
and a half miles to Carigara on the north coast. At Jaro many dirt
roads and trails branch out in all directions.

The drive of the 24th Division toward Carigara was continued as the
34th Infantry, protected by the 19th Infantry on its flank, moved
toward Jaro. After the seizure of the Mainit River bridge, two tanks
of the 1st Platoon, 603d Tank Company, attached to the 34th Infantry,
scouted north and made contact with forward elements of the 2d Squadron
of the 8th Cavalry, which had arrived in the San Miguel area.

On the evening of 28 October Colonel Newman issued orders to the 34th
Infantry for the following day. The 3d Battalion, under Lt. Col. Edward
M. Postlethwait, was to pass through Colonel Clifford's 1st Battalion
and Colonel Pearsall's 2d Battalion and resume the offensive with
Company L in the lead. From Cavite the battalion would move southwest
along the road to capture Jaro. Company L would be sufficiently in
advance to make reconnaissance of the route before the rest of the
battalion arrived. [551]

At 0900 on 29 October, Company L moved out from Cavite, meeting no
resistance until an hour later when it ran into some of the enemy at
a point about 100 yards from Galotan. [552] The leading scout spied a
man, whom he thought to be a Filipino, dashing into a shack. When he
shouted for the man to come out, the scout was shot in the head. The
company came on and killed the man. It then came under machine gun
fire. Platoons attacked from both flanks against Galotan. Since the
enemy troops had dug in under the shacks, it was slow, bloody work
digging them out with rifles and grenades. The 3d Platoon, which had
been in reserve, closed in when the center of the town was reached and
helped finish the job. In the meantime another unit of the company,
which had been sent to the right on a wide enveloping movement,
came under fire from a wooded knoll. Artillery and mortar fire soon
drove the Japanese off. Unable to retreat westward, the enemy moved
northward down a stream bed and set up a defensive position 500 yards
west of the road and opposite the center of the advancing column of the
3d Battalion. Fortunately, since the Antitank Platoon had displaced
forward by sections, one section was in position at this point and
was able to quickly eliminate the enemy threat. The 3d Battalion
resumed its march and secured Jaro at 1700 without further difficulty.

By this time the 19th Infantry had gained control of the area south
and east of Jaro. Junction between the 34th Infantry and 19th Infantry
was accomplished on 31 October when the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry,
moved into Jaro. Other elements of the 19th Infantry were engaged
in mopping up in the Pastrana sector. The 19th and 34th Infantry
Regiments had been able to advance rapidly in their drives through
Leyte Valley, had maintained contact with the 1st Cavalry Division,
and had arrived within ten miles of Carigara Bay.

By 28 October the XXIV Corps had nearly secured the southern portion of
Leyte Valley. General Sibert was anxious to have the X Corps advance
rapidly to the shore of Carigara Bay and thus bring all of the valley
under control of the Sixth Army. The 24th Division was relieved by
the 1st Cavalry Division of responsibility for protecting the rear
areas from Santa Fe to Cavite. The 24th Division, thus freed, was to
continue pressing the attack to its front with the utmost vigor. [553]

The American advance had been so rapid that General Suzuki did not
have sufficient time to put into effect his plan for making Jaro the
assembly ground for the 35th Army. He was forced to use the Carigara
area as the new point of rendezvous for his troops. On the evening
of 28 October Colonel Newman planned his attack for the remaining
distance to Carigara. He hoped that the troops would make a swift
passage, but later events proved that the Japanese intended to contest
the advance bitterly.



Drive From the North

At the close of 27 October the 7th Cavalry, less the 1st Squadron,
was in reserve, while the 1st Squadron was at Babatngon sending
patrols along the north coast of Leyte and the southwest coast of
Samar. The 1st Squadron of the 8th Cavalry was patrolling Samar in the
La Paz area and the 2d Squadron of the regiment was patrolling from
its bivouac area in the upper reaches of the Diit River. In order to
protect the rear of the 24th Division in its forward advance, the 1st
Squadron of the 12th Cavalry, which had been in reserve, was ordered to
Castilla. The squadron closed on Castilla at 1200 on 28 October. [554]

In accordance with orders from General Sibert, General Mudge
reassigned the various elements of the 1st Cavalry Division. On 28
October General Hoffman issued orders for his 2d Cavalry Brigade to
move toward Carigara. The 2d Squadron, 8th Cavalry, was to establish
a base at San Miguel, secure Cavite with one troop, patrol and mop
up the north and northwest area up to and including the Barugo road,
and maintain contact with patrols of the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry,
that would be operating southeast from Barugo. The 1st Squadron,
7th Cavalry, while maintaining a platoon at Santa Cruz and a troop
at Babatngon, was to move to the Barugo-Carigara area and mop up and
patrol the area to the south and southeast. [555]

In accordance with this plan. Troop C of the 7th Cavalry was to
proceed by water from Babatngon to Barugo and then overland to feel
out the enemy position in Carigara. Troop C, under 1st Lt. Tower
W. Greenbowe, on 28 October made the overwater and overland movements
without incident. The troop entered the eastern end of Carigara without
opposition, but as it neared the main intersection it received fire
from several buildings. In anticipation of this contingency, the men
of Troop C had been well deployed when they entered the town, and
were able to return the fire immediately. As the fight progressed,
the Japanese transported their dead and wounded to five trucks near
the beach road. The fire fight continued until late in the afternoon
when Lieutenant Greenbowe withdrew his force to Barugo, and evacuated
his dead and wounded with him. The enemy had suffered an estimated
75 casualties; Greenbowe's force had 3 men killed, 9 wounded, and 1
missing. The mutilated body of the missing man was found later. [556]

Since intelligence reports stated that as many as 5,000 Japanese
were in Carigara, General Sibert decided that the attack on the town
should be a two-division operation. While the 24th Division was
fighting its way up the road from Jaro to Carigara, additional 2d
Cavalry Brigade units assembled in the Barugo area. The 1st Squadron
of the 7th Cavalry joined its C Troop at Barugo on 29 October; the 2d
Squadron, 8th Cavalry, moved from San Miguel to Barugo on 31 October;
and the advance headquarters of the 7th Cavalry Regiment and the
2d Cavalry Brigade arrived at Barugo on 31 October and 1 November,
respectively. Attached to the 7th Cavalry Regiment was the 2d Squadron,
5th Cavalry, which closed into the Barugo area on 1 November via
Cavite and San Miguel. [557]



Drive to Tunga

On 29 October the Japanese had prepared new plans for the defense
of Leyte. (See Map 2) In order to simplify planning, the 35th Army
headquarters was relieved of command responsibility for Samar by
the 14th Area Army. Almost simultaneously, the 35th Army received
the erroneous report that the Japanese naval forces had destroyed a
large part of the U. S. Navy on 24 and 25 October in engagements off
Leyte and that the losses would prevent the Americans from continuing
the operation. On the contrary, the American naval forces had secured
a decisive victory. The Japanese reverse seriously affected General
Suzuki's attempt to put his new plans for the 35th Army into effect.

The plans provided for the calling up of the 102d Division from Panay
and the 1st and 26th Divisions from Luzon. These divisions were to land
at Ormoc and then proceed in three columns northward along Highway 2
through Ormoc Valley to the shores of Carigara Bay. They were then to
advance eastward and destroy the American forces in the area between
Tacloban and Tanauan. Since it was assumed that Carigara would remain
in Japanese hands, the 68th Brigade, serving as 35th Army reserve,
was expected to land in the north in the vicinity of Carigara. At the
same time the 30th Division was to land at Albuera on the west coast
and drive overland to Burauen, in order to support the operations of
the main body of the 35th Army. [558]

Although the American naval victory and rapid advance of land forces
prevented the Japanese from bringing this plan to full fruition,
sizable enemy forces opposed the drive of U.S. troops toward
Carigara. About 28 October the 41st Infantry Regiment moved from
Carigara to the southeast section of Jaro. The 169th Independent
Infantry Battalion of the 102d Division, together with a battalion
(Tempei Battalion) of the 57th Independent Mixed Brigade, was in the
Carigara area. The advance elements first engaged the Americans about
30 October. [559] These units, however, continued out past Jaro and
took up positions in the mountains.

On the night of 29 October the 34th Infantry had captured Jaro and was
about ten miles from Carigara along the Jaro-Carigara highway. (Map
12) At 0800 on 30 October Colonel Newman ordered the 3d Battalion
of the 34th Infantry to start for Carigara down the highway. As the
battalion left the outskirts of Jaro, with Company L in the lead,
it came under fire from Japanese who were dug in under shacks along
the road. Upon a call from the commanding officer of Company L,
the tanks came up in a column, fired under the shacks, and then
retired. The leading platoon was drawn back so that artillery fire
might be placed on the Japanese, but the enemy could not be located
precisely enough to use the artillery. Colonel Newman then ordered a
cautious movement forward without artillery support, a squad placed
on each side of the road and two tanks in the center. The squads had
advanced only fifty yards when Japanese fire again pinned them down.

When Colonel Newman came forward and discovered why the advance was
held up he declared, "I'll get the men going okay." [560] Upon hearing
that the regimental commander was to lead them, the men started to move
forward. The Japanese at once opened fire with artillery and mortars,
and Colonel Newman was hit in the stomach. Although badly wounded he
tried to devise some means of clearing the situation. After sending
a runner back with orders to have Colonel Postlethwait fire on the
Japanese position, he said, "Leave me here and get mortar fire on
that enemy position." [561] As soon as possible Colonel Newman was
put on a poncho and dragged back to safety. [562]

Meanwhile the troops, unable to move forward, broke contact with
the Japanese in an orderly fashion. Lt. Col. Chester A. Dahlen, the
regimental executive officer, assumed command and at 1209 ordered that
the attack be resumed. [563] The 3d Battalion was to move northwest
along the road to Carigara for 3,000 yards and then set up a night
perimeter. The 2d Battalion, in support astride the highway, was to
secure the high ground 500 yards northwest of Jaro, while the 1st
Battalion was to move to the town of Jaro from its position at the
Mainit River bridge.

The artillery concentrated its fire on the area to the front, and
at 1230 the 3d Battalion renewed the attack with Company K on the
left of the road and Company I on the right. After the troops had
proceeded about 200 yards, heavy artillery, machine gun, mortar,
and rifle fire pinned them down. Company L in the rear thereupon
attempted a flanking movement to the left across an open field but
came under heavy fire from a ridge that commanded the road. All the
companies were forced to pull back. At the end of the day's action,
the forward elements were still on the outskirts of Jaro.

During the night, the 11th, 52d, and 63d Field Artillery Battalions
fired continuously in support of the 34th Infantry. The corps artillery
placed harassing and interdiction fire along the Jaro-Carigara
road. [564]

On the morning of 31 October Colonel Dahlen ordered the 3d Battalion
to move toward Tunga along the Jaro-Carigara road. The 2d Battalion
was to pass through the 3d along the highway, and the 1st Battalion
was to be prepared to follow the 2d. [565] The 19th Infantry was
to protect the rear of the 34th Infantry and forestall any attempt
by the Japanese to send reinforcements from north of the Binahaan
River. The 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry, was to move to Jaro via
Tingib and Macanip to assist the 34th Infantry. [566]

At 0820 the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, supported by the 2d Battalion,
attacked along the Jaro-Carigara highway. Company L went down the
highway and then to the rear of the hill from which it had been
repulsed the previous day; Company I moved forward astride the road;
and Company K was in reserve. As advanced elements of Company I reached
a stream, they came under intense fire but moved to a position from
which they could attack the reverse slope of the hill. Other elements
of the company moved off the road to the top of the hill. When they
pushed westward along the crest they discovered another hill behind it.

In the meantime the troops that had attacked the reverse slope came
under intense fire from the second hill. Concentrated fire was laid
on the second hill and a heavy machine gun was sent to the top of the
first. Company I, protected by the fire, was thus able to assault
and take the first hill. Company K, the reserve company, thereupon
occupied the hill. These assaults drove the enemy into Company L, which
was at the foot of the hill. A determined three-hour fight followed,
and, although at one time elements of the company were driven across
the highway, the company retaliated and eventually cleared the area
of Japanese.

While this fight was going on the 2d Battalion, with Company E as
the point, moved along the highway toward Tunga. At 1130 the Japanese
opened fire on Company E at the Ginagan River. Tanks, which had been
brought up, fired with machine guns at the enemy positions on the left
of the road. The Japanese retaliated with mortar and artillery fire,
pinning down an antitank gun crew and Company E's mortar section. The
artillery fired a concentration on the Japanese positions and the
advance was able to continue.

At 1430 the enemy reopened fire on the 2d Battalion at the Yapan
River. Company G was in the lead, with the 2d Platoon on the left of
the road and the 3d Platoon on the right. Company E was on Company
G's left flank. With all the troops in a skirmish line, the 2d
Battalion, with tanks, moved down the road to attack. When Company
G came under fire the tanks went to its assistance, and the Japanese
then concentrated their fire on the armor.

Meanwhile Company E pushed down the left side of the road but was
halted by fire from an enemy pillbox on a knoll. A self-propelled
105-mm. howitzer was brought up, and fire from this weapon
completely disorganized the Japanese and forced them to desert their
position. When the howitzer had exhausted its ammunition, another
was brought up to replace it. By this time, however, the enemy's
artillery was registering on the spot and the second was disabled
before it could fire a shot.

Elements of the 41st Infantry Regiment, protected by artillery,
gathered in front of Company E and emplaced machine guns in a position
from which they could enfilade the company. Thereupon Company E
committed its reserve platoon to its left flank but shortly afterward
received orders to protect the disabled howitzer and dig in for the
night. A tank was sent up to cover the establishment of the night
perimeter. Company G received orders to fall back and dig in for the
night, and upon its withdrawal the Japanese concentrated their fire
on Company E. Although badly shaken, Company E held on and protected
the howitzer. A tank was sent forward to tow the weapon, but since it
was untowable because of broken treads the crew sent a shell through
it to prevent its use by the enemy. Company E then disengaged and
fell back through Company F, as Company G had done.

Under the protective cover of night, the 41st Infantry Regiment
retreated.

During the day the 19th Infantry had followed closely, protecting the
rear of the 34th Infantry and the southern flank of the 24th Division
and blocking off the enemy escape routes. That night General Irving
gave the plan of action for the following day--1 November--for the
24th Division. The 19th Infantry was to continue to block the enemy
escape routes and protect the southern flank of the division along
the Binahaan River east from Tingib to Yapad, move a battalion into
Jaro, establish a roadblock in the vicinity of Jaro, and protect the
line of communications behind the advance of the 34th Infantry as
far as Gibucauan. The 34th Infantry was to continue advancing along
the Jaro-Carigara highway, seizing every opportunity to make a wide
envelopment, especially from the northeast. [567]

In accordance with this order, Companies A and B, 34th Infantry,
were sent at 0820 to make a wide flanking movement eastward to Tuba
and then strike at Tunga from the northeast. At 0900, after patrols
had reported no enemy contact, the 2d Battalion moved on down the
Jaro-Carigara highway.

Both battalions proceeded rapidly. At 0900 the 1st Battalion was in
Tuba, and at 1100 the 2d had passed through the scene of the previous
day's fighting and was in Giagsam. The troops found much matériel,
including two 37-mm. guns and numerous range finders, machine guns,
rifles, packs, and helmets, which the enemy had left in his precipitous
flight. Both battalions closed on Tunga. They paused for rest and
then moved on down the highway toward Carigara. At 1600 when the 34th
Infantry formed its perimeter for the night, its advance unit, the
1st Battalion, was 1,000 yards from Sagkanan, and its rearmost unit,
the 3d Battalion, was at Tunga. [568]

On the previous day the regimental headquarters had moved into Jaro. It
had been a bloody road to Carigara, but the 24th Division was knocking
at the back door for admittance as the 1st Cavalry Division on the
north was demanding entrance at the front door.



Capture of Carigara

By 31 October it became evident to the Americans that there was unusual
activity on the part of the Japanese, who were apparently building
strong defensive positions around Carigara and pouring reinforcements
into the town. Statements by reconnaissance parties and reports from
guerrillas led to the belief that 2,000 to 3,000 Japanese were in
the town and its environs. [569] The enemy was capable of bringing
up a considerable number of reinforcements along the Ormoc road,
or of attacking the American left flank from the south. [570] The
situation remained unchanged on 1 November.



Plans of X Corps

In view of the apparent strength of the Japanese defenders,
General Sibert felt that no means should be left untried to insure
the successful reduction of the strong point. Both the corps and
division artillery were to fire on the town, with a heavy 15-minute
preparation from 0745 to 0800 on the front of the 24th Infantry
Division to a depth of 1,000 yards. Immediately thereafter a series of
concentrations covering 1,000 yards in depth would be fired from 0800
to 0840, advancing at the rate of 100 yards every four minutes. All
available artillery except one light battalion of the 24th Infantry
Division would then fire in front of the 1st Cavalry Division to a
depth of 1,000 yards from 0845 to 0900. Thereafter the artillery of
each division would support its own division. [571]

The 2d Brigade, reinforced, was to seize Carigara from Barugo,
[572] while the 34th Infantry would attack along the Jaro-Carigara
highway. General Hoffman of the 2d Cavalry Brigade commanded the attack
against Carigara. In preparation for the combined assault, the forces
of the 1st Cavalry Division had been gathering in the Barugo area.

On 1 November General Hoffman arrived at Barugo, examined the troops,
and made last-minute arrangements. The assault from the north was to
be in a column of squadrons: 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry; 2d Squadron,
8th Cavalry; and the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, in reserve. The squadron
last mentioned was to establish and maintain communication with the
34th Infantry, which was to move out in a column of battalions, wait
on the outskirts of Carigara until the town had been secured by the 2d
Cavalry Brigade, and then flank the town and move on to Capoocan. [573]

During the day of 1 November and the night following, General Suzuki
withdrew his troops from Carigara and established very strong
positions in the mountains southwest of the town in the vicinity
of Limon. By "clever deception as to his strength and intentions,"
the enemy completely deluded the Americans into believing that his
major force was still in Carigara. [574]



Seizure of Carigara

Unaware of the Japanese withdrawal, the Americans proceeded with
the execution of their plans. During the American artillery fire on
the morning of 2 November some of the shells landed in the sector of
the 7th Cavalry, an accident which delayed the attack until 0935. At
that hour the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry, followed by the 2d Squadron,
8th Cavalry, jumped off. Since the bridge over the Canomontag River
had been destroyed by the enemy and the river was not fordable,
it was necessary to utilize native canoes, only two of which were
available. This procedure consumed much time, but by 1130 the troops
completed the crossing. Troop E, 5th Cavalry, made contact with the
34th Infantry at 1100. Since the troops encountered no resistance, the
1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry, followed by the 2d Squadron, 8th Cavalry,
entered the town at 1200 and established a perimeter. General Mudge,
the commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, entered the town with the
assault cavalry troops. [575] The 2d Squadron, 8th Cavalry, outposted
the western and southern sections of the town. Patrols from the 34th
Infantry were already in Carigara.

At 0800 on 2 November the 34th Infantry moved out, the 1st Battalion
leaving its bivouac area 1,000 yards southeast of Sagkanan and going
down the highway, followed by the 2d Battalion, less Company G, and
the 3d Battalion. Company G of the 2d Battalion was to reconnoiter
the western side of Carigara in case an enveloping movement became
necessary. [576]

By 0900 the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, reached a small bridge
at the outskirts of Carigara and awaited word from the 1st Cavalry
Division. After a wait of one and a half hours, patrols were sent
into the western portion of Carigara, but they reported no enemy
contact. All was quiet and the town deserted. The battalion then
skirted Carigara and proceeded along the coast toward Capoocan. It
encountered difficulty in crossing the Carigara River, since the
bridge had been destroyed, but was able to get as far as Balud, where
it set up a night perimeter after being halted by enemy fire. The
2d Battalion moved to the Carigara River, where it dug in for the
night and was rejoined there by G Company. The 3d Battalion set up
its perimeter just behind the 2d, and the regimental headquarters of
the 34th Infantry was set up in Carigara.

In the advance through northern Leyte Valley the 24th Division had
lost 210 killed, 859 wounded, and 6 missing in action, but it had
killed an estimated 2,970 Japanese and taken 13 prisoners.

With the capture of Carigara, the second phase of General Krueger's
plan for the liberation of Leyte was completed. Panaon and San
Juanico Straits, respectively south and north of the island, had
been seized. Elements of the Sixth Army were on the west coast in
the vicinity of Baybay on the shores of Ormoc Bay, and others were at
Carigara near the northern entrance to Ormoc Valley. The two forces
were poised for a co-ordinated drive toward Ormoc Valley--the last
important Japanese stronghold on the island. Nearly all the tactically
significant airfields and ports, together with Leyte Valley, were in
the hands of the Sixth Army. Victory appeared to be in sight--but
continued reinforcement of the island by the Japanese and delay in
the construction program for building Leyte Valley into a major air
and supply base were matters of grave concern.



CHAPTER XI

Logistics and Civil Affairs


The old saw that for want of a horseshoe nail the kingdom was lost
is applicable in some degree to the story of logistics on the island
of Leyte. Fortunately the outcome in Leyte was less serious than that
recounted in the proverb. But the cumulative effect of many unfavorable
conditions, each capable of being overcome in itself but each entangled
with the others, resulted in a protraction of the campaign and a
slowing of the schedule for future operations in the Pacific.

Despite the forebodings of Sixth Army engineers with regard to
developing major logistical and air bases in Leyte Valley, General
MacArthur had assigned logistical missions to the Sixth Army which,
even under the best of circumstances, would have taxed its facilities
to the utmost. General Krueger thought that in the planning stages
greater emphasis should have been placed on an appreciation of
terrain when selecting landing beaches and their exits, as well as
sites for base development, airdrome construction, and headquarters
installations. Terrain information should have been carefully analyzed
by competent personnel in order that tactical and development plans
could be based on the utilization of suitable terrain. The target
dates and phase lines should have been flexible enough to allow for
unsatisfactory terrain features. "Airdromes cannot be built speedily
across rice paddies and swamps; bivouac areas, depots and dumps cannot
properly be established in swamps and rice paddies." [577]



Logistics

Scarcely had the assault troops landed when the gloomy predictions
of Colonel Ely that conditions of soil and weather on the island
would make it unfit for the establishment of major bases began to
be realized. Nevertheless, the necessity for early establishment of
land-based air forces to support the operation made it imperative
that the engineers start work immediately on rehabilitation of
existing airfields. Before this task could be carried out, however,
it would be necessary to strengthen and widen the roads in order to
move heavy construction equipment to the airfields. A breakdown of
the transportation system for even a few days could affect adversely
all aspects of the Leyte operation. Because of the shortage of
engineer troops, the lack of road metal, and the continuous traffic,
the construction and maintenance of roads presented a critical and
continuing problem.



Road Construction

The troops found their progress greatly hampered by the poor quality
of roads leading to the interior of the island. The type of soil made
it difficult to provide sufficient approach roads and to maintain
all-weather roads. Drivers did not dare come too near the edge of the
pavement in passing, even on the major two-lane roads, since their
vehicles would probably become mired on the shoulder. The edges of
hard-surfaced roads broke down under the constant wear until the
roads were no longer wide enough for two-way traffic. Vehicles would
often sink to their axles on the shoulders of the highway and on the
many access roads, and frequently the roads into camp areas became
unsuitable for traffic of any sort. [578]

In the 24th Division zone the engineers undertook to build an ancillary
road, from the beachhead area to the existing coastal road, over the
deep swamps and flooded rice paddies. After twenty-four hours' labor
they abandoned the project as not feasible and in a few days rebuilt a
trail that skirted the swamp along higher ground. This new thoroughfare
was pronounced an "excellent" three-lane egress road. [579]

By utilizing a narrow road leading inland to Highway 1, egress from
the 1st Cavalry Division beachhead area was accomplished. Since
the road forked near the beach and ran north to Cataisan Point it
became an access road to the Tacloban airfield. All supplies were
routed along Highway 1 into the interior. When this road went to
pieces under the heavy rains of 25 October, no means remained of
getting overland from the area of the 24th Division to that of the 1st
Cavalry Division. The open country back of the Dulag area made the road
problems of the XXIV Corps zone a little more manageable than those in
the X Corps area. Dulag itself offered graveled streets for traffic,
but unfortunately only one very narrow road, with deep ditches on both
sides, led west toward the mountains. With the coming of heavy rains,
this road was chewed to bits by heavy traffic.

In order to preserve the roads as far as possible, the transportation
officer of the Sixth Army decided to allow their use only to
vehicles having the highest priority and to hold the transportation
of civilians to a minimum. He forbade the use of trucks and other
heavy vehicles for carrying personnel when lighter transportation
was available. [580] Throughout the Leyte operation, though the
engineering troops worked unceasingly, the condition of the roads
remained a tremendous unsolved problem. A rainfall of 23.5 inches
during the month of November forced a continuous contest with the mud,
and men and equipment employed on the airstrips had to be diverted to
the roads, some of which were closed for days at a time while under
repair. Traffic censuses were made as a basis for many corrective
measures that were introduced to control, reduce, and equalize the
flow of traffic. Supplies were issued at night to avoid congestion at
peak periods. ASCOM made strong efforts to keep the road construction
equipment in use and in workable condition, and placed stress upon
provision for proper drainage. Filipino pick-and-shovel crews were
used as much as possible. In spite of these measures, at the end of
November the condition of the roads was "a major hindrance to base
development and operations." [581]



Airfields

The condition of the airstrips produced an even more perplexing
problem than the roads. Immediately upon their arrival, engineer
reconnaissance parties followed the assault infantry and examined
the various sites which had been selected during the planning for
airfields. By 22 October they reported that all the proposed airdrome
sites except Tacloban were unfit for use during the rainy season.

Elements of the Sixth Army had captured both the Dulag and Tacloban
airstrips within twenty-four hours after landing, but the Dulag
airstrip was found to be out of use and unserviceable. [582] Since
the Tacloban field was shorter than had been estimated and was in
need of resurfacing, it was necessary to construct practically a
new airfield. Although Japanese air resistance was moderate for the
first few days and the weather temperate, progress was slow because of
the condition of the roads and congestion of traffic. Trucks bearing
gravel moved at a snail's pace.

On 25 October the 7th and 8th Fighter Squadrons of the 49th Fighter
Group assisted in the work on the Tacloban strip. The 8th Squadron
was dismayed. The entire Cataisan Peninsula, on which the airstrip
was located, was an "unadulterated bog" and the "confusion was awe
inspiring." Labor details were called to work and then dismissed. Upon
returning to their bivouac area, they would be recalled, and the
process repeated. [583] On 25 and 26 October the Japanese air force
came over the airfield in great waves. Many times the men were forced
to drop their tools and sprawl into gullies and slit trenches as the
Japanese "returned for more blood." [584]

With the naval battle of Leyte Gulf under way, activities on the
airfield were further hampered. Construction crews attempted to lay
a base of coral on the airfield for the steel matting at the same
time that Navy planes used the field for emergency landings. About
a hundred aircraft used the field on 25 October, and twenty-five of
these were destroyed in crash landings, one of which set the fuel
dump afire at night. [585] In spite of enemy air raids, the landing
of naval aircraft and the wrecked planes littering the airstrip,
construction continued. By 30 October some aircraft were arriving
and making satisfactory landings on the runway, which at that time
had nearly 4,000 feet of matting. [586]

On 27 October the Fifth Air Force took over the mission of supplying
air support. Because of the poor condition of the airstrips and
the scarcity of available aircraft, however, it was announced on
31 October that only "sporadic bomb support by the heavy bombers"
and strafing could be accomplished. Work on the airstrips had barely
got under way at the end of October. [587]

At the same time General Casey, commanding the Army Service Command,
painted a dark picture of the future. He stated that the construction
of airfields in the Dulag area would require more effort than had
been anticipated during the planning phase, since the Japanese,
contrary to expectations, had placed little or no surfacing material
on the runways and since soil conditions were such that an eight-inch
sand and gravel base covered with steel mat would be required to
support bomber traffic. [588] Furthermore, the labor crews that
were to have been used in airfield construction were being diverted
to road building, still further reducing "the already insufficient
amount of engineer effort available for drome construction." [589]
Aside from labor shortages, the chief causes for the disappointing
delay in airfield construction were poor soil conditions, enemy air
raids, and rain. [590] Under such inauspicious circumstances, the
Allied Air Forces undertook the mission of furnishing air support on
Leyte. Because of the poor condition of the airfields, only a token
force from the Fifth Air Force was able to come in.

Much ingenuity was exercised by the engineers in overcoming
difficulties. In enlarging the Tacloban airstrip, one of the
greatest impediments to progress was the limited supply of coral for
surfacing the runways. The engineers conceived the idea of having
the dredge Raymond, which had been brought forward to dredge the
navigational channel, used to pump coral from the channel bottom
onto the runways. The 2,800-horsepower pumps could transport solid
matter one mile through pipes that extended across the bay and onto
the land, and they could also raise the dredged matter as much as 300
feet above sea level. The engineers found that this pipeline was the
quickest way to transport material to the Tacloban airstrip, though
mechanical difficulties sometimes developed. [591]

Despite constant work on the morasses that constituted the San Pablo
and Buri airfields, these strips continued to be in a generally
unusable condition. Finally, on 25 November, ASCOM dropped all
construction work on them. The Fifth Air Force, however, felt that
it was necessary to continue using the Bayug airfield, and at least
one aviation battalion remained at work on that strip.

When work on the airstrips at Buri and San Pablo was abandoned, the
Sixth Army units thus released began the construction of a new airfield
on the coast at Tanauan, midway between Tacloban and Dulag. This field
became operational on 16 December 1944. [592] The fact that the main
part of the Fifth Air Force was unable to displace forward to Leyte
made it possible for the Japanese to reinforce their Leyte garrison
and thus prolong the campaign.

Although his engineers, before the opening of the campaign, had
protested vigorously to General Headquarters against the establishment
of a major base upon Leyte, General Krueger felt constrained to take
the responsibility. Said he:


    There is no doubt that if I could have made adequate airdromes
    available on Leyte as scheduled we would have had ample air forces
    on hand to stop all Jap reinforcements from coming in. But this
    proved to be impossible, because of terrific rains that flooded
    all level areas on the island. In consequence, we lacked the air
    support necessary adequately to support the operation. This was
    not the fault of the Allied Air Force, however, but mine. [593]



Base Construction

After the assault troops had cleared the beach areas, a perplexing
problem came to the fore. In the plans for the Leyte operation General
Krueger had assigned to the various commands areas for such facilities
as their supply dumps and hospitals. Upon arrival on Leyte, the Army
Service Command discovered that many of the sites were swamps; the
tactical situation delayed reconnaissance for others.

Throughout November the allocation of areas to the units continued to
present difficulties. On 12 November General Krueger formed the Area
Allocation Group, which consisted of representatives from MacArthur's
General Headquarters, the Sixth Army, the Air Forces, the Navy,
and the Army Service Command. The various units submitted requests
for particular areas to this group, which accepted or rejected the
requests, or allocated different sites. Since many of the applicants
wished to be in the Tacloban area, some of the requests could not
be granted because of insufficient space. Many of the sites best
suited for hospitals or storage were occupied by MacArthur's advance
headquarters and other headquarters. The search of ASCOM for suitable
storage areas continued throughout the month. [594] On 28 November
General Krueger moved the Sixth Army command post from Tanauan
to Tolosa so that an airstrip could be constructed in the Tanauan
area. [595]

By 20 November General Krueger's program for hospital construction
was far behind schedule. Of the eight hospitals planned for the
area only one was as much as 34 percent complete, and one was only
5 percent complete. [596] The lack of hospital facilities, which
continued throughout December, was somewhat offset by the rate of
evacuation and the use of hospital ships and LST's operating under
naval medical procedure. Next to airfields and roads the construction
of hospitals was given priority. But "an adequate number of engineer
battalions ... to do justice to the original requirements" was
not available. At the same time General Krueger ordered that the
hospitals be given first priority on structural materials and on
portable buildings. No lumber, including ship dunnage, could be used
in constructing quarters for either officers or enlisted men until the
hospitals were completed. [597] All units that could be spared from
airdrome and road construction were used to build either hospitals
or port and POL (petrol, oil, and lubricants) installations.

As for port facilities, the Japanese failed to destroy two existing
deepwater berths at Tacloban. Despite numerous enemy aerial attacks on
these docks and on shipping, no material damage resulted. By 1 December
ASCOM had constructed an additional dock and several lighterage
wharves. During November the Army Service Command established, in
addition to the main supply base at Tacloban, a subbase at Dulag for
the southern areas and a supply point at Carigara for the troops of
X Corps. [598]



Supplies

Since the assault troops had brought with them only limited supplies
and ammunition and since they were deep inside Japanese territory
and 1,500 miles from their nearest supply base, at Hollandia, the
need for immediate establishment and stocking of supply bases was
especially urgent. [599]

Because some of the LST's offshore in the vicinity of Hill 522 and
Palo were heavily shelled by the Japanese on A Day, the remaining LST's
were directed to the Cataisan Peninsula, where many of them discharged
their loads on the Tacloban airfield, over which the supplies were
scattered. The proposed runway and dispersal areas were strewn with
hundreds of vehicles, together with thousands of tons of ammunition,
rations, and petroleum products. Since there was only one egress road,
the airstrip became tremendously congested. [600]

Another important cause of the congestion was the dictum of General
Headquarters that certain airfields were to be operational by an
early date. The Air Forces had therefore loaded the vessels with a
considerable number of service troops and a quantity of equipment
which could not be used until the airfields were in operation. When
construction of the airfields was delayed, these troops and equipment
were unemployed for many days, thus cluttering the beaches and adding
to the congestion. Ironically, because of limited shipping space,
they had displaced "engineers and other service troops which would
have been of great value." [601]

On 8 November an estimated 120,000 American troops were on
Leyte. The rations of some of these were on board the vessels that
had brought them to the island, and cargo was not being discharged
at a satisfactory rate. Col. William N. Leaf, the supply officer of
the Sixth Army, did not believe that more than sufficient rations,
clothing, and construction equipment to meet minimum requirements
could be unloaded unless the discharge capacity of the ports was
substantially increased. While this condition was not entirely
satisfactory, it was not as bad as appeared, since incoming units
brought and discharged thirty days' supply for themselves. [602]
General Krueger set up a committee to determine the priority
of discharge for the various classes of cargo. On 9 November the
committee gave top priority to the following items, in order of
preference: ammunition, 1,400 tons a day; rations, 1,000 tons a day;
bridge timber, no specified amount; landing field mats, 500 tons a day;
and aviation gasoline, 1,000 drums a day. [603]

On 27 November the priorities committee reviewed the status of
shipping in the harbors and established new priorities for the
unloading of cargo. In order of priority, the following commodities
were given preference: rations, ammunition, landing mats, and aviation
gasoline. [604] Not all the vessels followed the priorities that had
been set up for the discharge of cargo. General Krueger ordered that
"appropriate disciplinary action" be taken against any Army personnel
who were responsible. [605]

Since successive resupply convoys arrived at Leyte before vessels of
the preceding echelon had been unloaded, thus congesting the harbor,
and since the Japanese were bombing the vessels, the assistant G-4
of Sixth Army suggested on 2 December that the number of vessels
to be called forward from the rear area to be kept to an absolute
minimum. [606] The time allocated for the discharge of cargo was
steadily increased: from 20 October to 3 November it was twelve hours
a day, from 4 November to 8 November eighteen hours a day, and from
9 November until Christmas, twenty-four hours a day. [607]

During the first thirty days the supplies in tons, stockpiled
on Leyte or available on board ship for discharge, over and above
current needs, increased as follows: 20 October, 30,313; 21 October
through 30 October, 128,051; 31 October through 9 November, 193,838;
and from 10 November through 19 November, 319,418. [608]

After the supplies were ashore and stored, the problem of getting
them to the divisions and thence to the front-line troops presented
tremendous difficulties. Nearly all types of transportation were
utilized. As the roads disintegrated, more and more dependence was
placed upon water transportation. Naval vessels and amphibian vehicles
were used to carry the supplies as close as possible to the front-line
troops, and motor vehicles transported them for the remaining distance
whenever feasible. At other times the troops and Filipino civilians
often had to hand-carry supplies to the assault forces. In addition
there were many airdrops to troops who were otherwise completely cut
off from the rest of the Sixth Army.



Medical Support

As the assault forces moved across the beaches, medical units
accompanied them. The 110th Portable Surgical Hospital supported the
operations of the 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion in the islands of
Leyte Gulf. In the northern part of Leyte the 19th and 27th Portable
Surgical Hospitals went ashore with the 1st Cavalry Division in the
Tacloban area, while the 16th Portable Surgical Hospital supported
the 24th Infantry Division in the Palo area. The 38th and 58th
Evacuation Hospitals also landed on A Day in the X Corps zone but
did not establish themselves in positions to receive patients. In
the zone of action of XXIV Corps in the vicinity of Dulag, the 7th
and 96th Infantry Divisions were accompanied by the 51st and 52d
Portable Surgical Hospitals, the 394th Medical Clearing Company, and
the 644th and 645th Medical Collecting Companies. Later in the day a
platoon from the 69th Field Hospital landed and before nightfall was
ready to receive patients. Earlier on the same day the 7th Portable
Surgical Hospital had accompanied the 21st Infantry Regiment to Panaon
Strait. [609]



Evacuation of Casualties

General Bradley attached to each assault battalion a platoon
from one of the collecting companies of the 96th Division Medical
Battalion. These platoons landed with the assault waves, collected
the casualties on the beach, gave them the necessary treatment, and
then evacuated them to designated ships by landing craft. After the
Navy beach parties had established aid stations the medical units
cleared casualties through them. [610]

As the battle moved on beyond the beaches, the remaining medical units
came ashore and hospitals were put into operation. For the first few
days, however, the medical units evacuated all casualties to naval
vessels in the harbor, whereupon the vessels sailed for a rear area
base. It frequently happened that a man with a minor wound or illness,
or a nonbattle injury, would be well and fit for further duty by the
time the vessel reached the rear area. [611]

After the campaign had progressed beyond the beaches, both the
corps evacuated to rear areas only those casualties who required
prolonged hospitalization. The Filipino civilian employees of the
Army and members of the Filipino armed forces received treatment but
were not evacuated from the island without approval from Sixth Army
headquarters. Wounded or sick Japanese prisoners were segregated
in the hospitals but, otherwise, they received the same treatment
as other patients. [612] Within three days after landing, the XXIV
Corps set up a field hospital which was ready to receive patients on
the following day. Consequently, all casualties who had already been
evacuated to the ships but who required hospitalization for less than
fifteen days were brought ashore and held in the shore party medical
section or admitted to the hospital. [613]

Co-operation between the medical services of the Sixth Army and those
of the Seventh Fleet was excellent. Col. William A. Hagins, Sixth Army
Surgeon, praised the medical service of the Seventh Fleet in unstinting
terms: "The LST's equipped to provide surgical service conformed to
the highest professional standards and they, together with the APH's
(transports for wounded) and the small PCE(R)'s (patrol craft, escort
(rescue)) formed a floating hospital reserve that varied between
3,000 and 5,000 beds. Without this service, which relieved the hard
pressed hospitals of many cases, the level of medical and surgical
care on Leyte would certainly have been sub-standard." [614]

After the action had progressed beyond the beaches, the evacuation of
troops became more difficult. Each medical collecting company of the
96th Division was furnished nine 1/4-ton trucks and three other cargo
carriers. The swamps and steep hills precluded the use of trucks,
however, and the number of cargo carriers was insufficient for the
task. The latter were most useful in evacuating casualties across
swamps and rice paddies. It was necessary to use litter bearers in
the mountains, but the narrow trails permitted the use of only two
men to carry each litter. For some unexplained reason, attempts to
use Filipinos as litter bearers were not successful. [615] The 24th
Division, unlike the 96th, found the Filipinos to be excellent litter
bearers and recommended their use whenever possible, since they were
willing workers who conserved the efficiency of a combat unit by
replacing the combat soldiers. [616]



Medical Treatment

With very few exceptions, all casualties were treated within one
hour after the wound had been inflicted. At the forward aid stations
the wounded soldier received only initial treatment necessary before
evacuation to the collecting station. When the casualty arrived at
that point, he was bathed and prepared for further evacuation to a
clearing station. There the necessary surgery was performed to make
the patient safe for further evacuation, and he was then taken to a
rear area. Because of the swamps and steep hills in the 96th Division
sector, the time lag in evacuation from the forward aid station to
the clearing station varied from one hour to thirty hours. [617] In
the 24th Division zone, the clearing stations remained mobile. Only
in rare instances, where it was impossible to remove patients because
of heavy fighting, was a casualty more than four hours in reaching
the clearing station. [618]

Initial measures at the aid stations consisted of treatment for
shock, stopping hemorrhage, administering plasma, applying splints,
and dressing wounds. At the clearing stations and portable surgical
hospitals, the initial surgical care consisted mainly of débridements,
emergency laparotomies, and amputations. The medical officer performed
surgical operations in these forward medical facilities only when
it was thought that the wounded soldier could not stand the arduous
trip to the rear or when his condition would not permit the delay
necessary for evacuation. [619]

A great many chest wounds and compound fractures were treated. The
fractures were cleansed, injured tissue was removed, and a splint or
cast applied. The biggest problem in fractures was the immobilization
of the humerus. If the nerves could be readily found they were
anchored. Plasma was extensively used, and whole blood, considered
indispensable by the surgeons, was generally available. [620]

In the first days of the Leyte Campaign, because of the prelanding
bombardment, more civilians than soldiers required treatment by
medical units. In the 7th Division sector for the first two days,
75 percent of the medical facilities of the only clearing company in
operation were used in caring for civilian casualties. On 24 October
the Army established a separate hospital on Leyte for civilians. [621]

The Sixth Army made a survey of 519 patients who died from injuries
suffered in battle. Of these 1 died of bayonet wounds, 2 of blast
concussion, 249 of gunshot wounds, 170 of fragment wounds, and
97 of unclassified injuries, many of which were believed to have
been inflicted by bomb or shell fragments. The location of the
gunshot wounds was as follows: 66 in the abdomen, 21 in the back,
7 in the buttocks, 67 in the chest, 49 in the head, 18 in the lower
extremities, 9 in the upper extremities, 3 of multiple character,
and 9 of unclassified location. Of the fragment wounds 25 were in
the abdomen, 7 in the back, 6 in the buttocks, 30 in the chest, 33 in
the head, 37 in the lower extremities, 11 in the upper extremities,
12 multiple, and 9 unclassified. [622]



Medical Supply

The Sixth Army plan called for the assault troops to go in with five
days' medical supplies. The other units would go in with thirty days'
supply. The original plan provided for 300,000 troops over a sixty-day
period only. Thereafter, it was expected that Sixth Army would depend
upon resupply shipping and the diversion to Leyte of shipments intended
to fill theater requirements of the Southwest Pacific area. The
resupply shipping consisted of medical maintenance units. Since the
average medical maintenance unit contained less than 700 items as
compared to the 3,000 to 3,500 items eventually needed for a balanced
supply, the medical plan of the X Corps called for loading three days'
supply on their organic transports and on their personnel. The rest
of the supplies were bulk loaded. The X Corps also had an emergency
resupply of two medical maintenance units, one of which was never
unloaded because of damage to the ship on which it was carried. [623]

When the XXIV Corps was ordered to prepare for the Yap operation,
the 7th Division began to make its medical plans. After receiving
permission to take a thirty-day supply for 22,000 men on its
assault shipping, the division separated the stock into two sections,
consisting of a ten-day supply and a twenty-day supply. The former was
packed in ten identical units with one unit to a pallet, each weighing
1,840 pounds and having a volume of seventy-two cubic feet. One of
these units was allotted to each battalion of the division and one
to the division headquarters. The twenty days' supply was packed in
three identical units, each weighing about 21,648 pounds and having
a volume of about 864 cubic feet. [624]

The 24th Division drew approximately thirty tons of medical supplies
from the base medical supply. The division then mobile-loaded
twenty of these tons on five 2 1/2-ton trucks and assigned a truck
to each collecting company. The remaining medical supplies were bulk
loaded. Each medical unit also carried a five-day supply for immediate
use upon commitment. [625]

When put into practice, however, this system of the 24th Division
was not entirely satisfactory. Because of the rapid advance of the
assault troops and the lack of transportation, the system of supply
became an acute problem. Resupply became co-ordinated with the chain
of evacuation. Forward units would submit informal requisitions to the
clearing companies at the second echelon of evacuation, whereupon the
supplies would be issued and brought forward by ambulances on their
return to the front. The clearing companies would submit requisitions
to the main dump. The difficulty of resupply can be appreciated when
considerations of time and distance are understood. For instance,
the round trip from Carigara to Tacloban, where the main dump was
located, amounted to about seventy miles. [626] As greater and greater
dependence was placed upon human carriers to bring out the wounded
and bring in supplies, it proved indeed fortunate that the Sixth Army
had established amicable relations with the Filipino civilians.



Civil Affairs

Although the United States Government had interested itself in
the civil affairs of the Philippines as early as 13 January 1944,
it was not until 10 November, after the Leyte Campaign had been
launched, that General MacArthur received his first directive on
civil affairs. Between the two dates strong disagreements developed
between the War and Interior Departments as to who should administer
civil affairs in the Islands. The Interior Department insisted that
a civil representative of the High Commissioner of the Philippines
should accompany the assault troops, and General MacArthur was equally
insistent that he should not. The President finally resolved the
question in favor of MacArthur. [627] Lacking a directive from the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, General MacArthur devised his own policy for
civil affairs during the reoccupation of the Philippines.

The formulation of this policy may be said to have started on 22 July
1944 with a memorandum from Brig. Gen. Bonner F. Fellers, personnel
officer of General Headquarters, to General MacArthur. He stated that
although President Manuel Quezon had established a Division of Civil
Affairs in the Philippine Army, the actual work would have to be done
by the United States Army. General Fellers, therefore, recommended
that General Headquarters immediately assume full responsibility
for civil administration during the reoccupation. Administration
in the occupied areas should be done, however, in the name of the
Philippine Commonwealth and in complete co-operation with its official
representatives. [628]

On 30 August General MacArthur issued a directive creating a civil
affairs unit in his headquarters and outlining the broad policies
that were to be followed in the Philippines. [629] This directive
was subsequently expanded on 28 September [630] but it was not until
9 October, eleven days before the landing on Leyte, that MacArthur
issued detailed instructions on the procedures to be followed. [631]

During the combat stage General Krueger, the senior tactical commander,
was to be responsible for such civil administration and relief as
would be possible under the existing tactical situation. General
MacArthur would delegate the administration of civil affairs and
relief in the liberated areas as promptly as possible to the authorized
representatives of the Commonwealth Government. The only restrictions
placed upon the Filipino people were to be those required by military
necessity. By arrangement with General MacArthur the Philippine
Commonwealth was, in general, to determine the guilt or innocence of
suspected collaborationists, though the U. S. Army commanders were
to retain complete authority to deal with the suspects if necessary.

General MacArthur also established the financial policies to be
followed. A new series of Philippine Treasury certificates called
"Victory Pesos" would be introduced in the liberated areas. The
exchange rate would be two for an American dollar. All prewar currency
and all emergency currency officially determined to be bona fide would
be accepted at face value. All other Philippine or enemy currency would
be worthless. Wage rates to be paid Filipino labor were established
and ceiling prices consistent with the approved wage scale were set.

General Krueger delegated authority for civil administration and relief
to Generals Hodge and Sibert for their respective corps areas. The
commanding general of the Army Service Command was responsible for
the recruitment and maintenance of civilian labor. General MacArthur
attached to the Sixth Army eight Philippine civil affairs units,
which were to assist the field commanders in the administration of
civil affairs and relief. Two of these were retained by Sixth Army,
two were attached to each of the corps, and two to the Army Service
Command. [632]

As soon as the conflict had passed by an area, a civil affairs
unit of the Sixth Army stepped in and started to restore the normal
community life. Temporary appointments of Filipino officials were made,
such appointments going to men who had been screened by the Counter
Intelligence Corps or who were sponsored by Filipinos whose loyalty
was unquestioned. In nearly every case the Philippine Commonwealth
ratified these appointments. In every area reached by the Sixth Army,
civil officials were appointed as soon as the tide of battle passed,
and without exception cordial relations were established. The civil
affairs officers of the Sixth Army did not attempt to interfere with
civil operations unless requested to do so, or unless the military
situation made it necessary.



Relations With Filipino Refugees

While the American assault forces were hitting the shores of Leyte,
a delegation of Filipinos boarded the Blue Ridge and gave General
Irving of the 24th Division information regarding conditions on the
island. They received a cordial welcome, the Filipino steward's mates
giving them much of their spare clothing. [633]

Many refugees who had been driven from their homes by the naval
bombardment came into the American lines on the beaches seeking
comfort and aid. These Filipinos had been without food or water for a
considerable time, some of them for as long as twenty-four hours. Many
of those who had remained in foxholes during the naval shelling were
badly shaken up.



Palo Sector

In the area around Palo [634] fifty to seventy-five civilians had
arrived by nightfall on A Day, 20 October. The Army gave them food
and drink and then quartered them in two houses on the beach. By
the following morning the influx of Filipinos had become very great
and the arrival of many more was expected. The civil affairs officers
therefore secured two more dwellings, had latrines dug, and maintained
constant policing of the area, which was finally encircled by wire
enclosures. The Army set up an evacuation hospital unit in the bivouac
area to take care of the wounded and sick. A baby was delivered in
an emergency obstetrical tent, "both mother and child faring well."

Wells were dug to provide water for washing. During 21 October
between 1,500 and 2,000 refugees crowded into the area. By 22
October the congestion had become so great that a larger site was
imperative. General Sibert decided to move the civilians to Palo,
even though the town had not yet been cleared of Japanese. After
an Army chaplain had said Mass, the refugees proceeded on foot,
in single file, to Palo. The Army adopted this mode of advance in
order to minimize interference with troops, supplies, and equipment
and also to protect the refugees from mines and booby traps which
the Japanese had placed on the shoulders of the road. Many of the
civilians carried all of their effects with them; children, as young
as three or four years, were impressed into carrying their share of
the family's meager possessions.

Because of the inpouring of refugees from surrounding districts,
Palo suddenly grew from a normal population of about 6,000 to one
estimated at 12,000 to 15,000. Nearly 5,000 people with their animals
crowded into a church and its adjacent compound. Sanitary conditions
were very bad.

The Army fed these refugees from captured stocks of rice and
appointed a force of civilian police. After a survey of the area,
the Army instituted sanitary measures for cleaning up the church and
its compound, with removal and burial of the dead animals. Civilian
laborers who had been checked for their loyalty undertook the burial
of American and Japanese dead and the unloading of ships in the
harbor. The Army disarmed all Filipinos except guerrillas and enforced
security regulations, which prohibited civilians from appearing on
the streets after dark. As more military units entered the town,
5,000 of the refugees were moved to its outskirts. The Army set up
a hospital in the compound and surgeries in the schoolhouses, with
separate wards for men and women. Teachers and other qualified women
assisted as practical nurses. Within one week the Army had organized
the town and begun work toward rehabilitation.



Dulag Sector

On the beaches of XXIV Corps a naval civil affairs unit controlled
the Philippine civilians. [635] This unit arrived ashore at 0700 on 21
October. The area which had been previously allocated for a civilian
compound was found to be a swamp. Approximately 1,500 refugees were
scattered around the landing beaches. The Army assembled these and
moved them to a new site in the town of Dulag, but the location
had undergone a three-day naval bombardment which had reduced it to
smoldering rubble. The Army recruited laborers to clean the area.

The military police assisted in control of the civilian population
and procured and distributed food and water. A medical officer and
several enlisted men from the 7th Division gave medical aid to large
numbers of civilians who were treated for minor wounds, injuries,
tropical ulcers, and other ailments. By 22 October the medical officer
had referred at least 100 of the more serious cases to an Army field
hospital near by. Fifteen unclaimed and unidentified civilian dead
were buried in the Filipino cemetery.

By the morning of 22 October, since the civilian population of Dulag
had grown to approximately 10,000, General Hodge issued orders to move
the refugees to a new location. By 23 October, when a suitable place
had been found, the number of refugees had risen to approximately
30,000. The mass migration to the new location, which was two miles
from Dulag, was most difficult, and not until the civil affairs
officers had sent food and water to the new site could civilians
be persuaded to move. The selected area measured about 1,000 by 600
yards and consisted of a coconut grove and a beach. Except for its
inadequate size and its infringement upon military installations,
it was completely satisfactory. After 24 October the civilians were
removed from camp and sent back to their home villages as soon as
the latter were declared secure.



Issuing of Supplies

By the morning of 24 October the Sixth Army was taking care of
some 45,000 people, most of the population of about fifty-six
communities. Although at first there was a shortage of food and water,
by 24 October there was an adequate supply. Before that time the
Army supplied the civilians with C and K rations, since it could not
locate an appreciable quantity of the civilian food supplies. Seventy
percent of these supplies, consisting of fish, rice, and meat, were
later found and distributed by the civil affairs officers.

The Army originally distributed food to individuals but later made
distribution through leaders in the barrios until it could establish
a general store. The civil affairs officers distributed 28,700 full
rations, fifty cases of condensed milk for infant use, and five tons
of captured Japanese rice. About 5,000 full rations were stolen or
not accounted for. An Army purification unit set up a 3,000-gallon
canvas water tank and furnished water to the area.

A general store was in operation by 26 October for the sale of
necessities. Clothing, rice, biscuits, salmon, and candles were the
items most in demand. Some articles were ill adapted to the use or
customs of the Filipinos. "The people would not buy or use the 4,000
rat traps or the rolls of toilet paper furnished nor would they buy or
use canned or powdered milk." [636] Prices were fixed at prewar levels.

The civil affairs units of the Sixth Army opened about 500 schools in
the principal barrios, those in Tacloban being the first to open. Many
school buildings were either rebuilt or repaired under the direction of
civil affairs officers and with funds furnished by them. Since there
were no primary textbooks, in one instance the civil affairs units
mimeographed a series of three schoolbooks which were illustrated
by an Army artist. The teachers of Leyte not only provided excellent
service in school work but also acted as relief workers, sanitarians,
and assistants in the dispensaries and hospitals.

At first, a number of improvised hospitals were opened up. When the
civilian hospital supplies arrived, however, modern hospitals were
established at Tacloban, Baybay, and Carigara. These were staffed
by local doctors and nurses, but the civil affairs unit continued to
furnish food and supervision. Twenty-seven permanent dispensaries were
also established. These were greatly needed, since the Japanese had not
given the people any medical aid and had stopped all preventive medical
measures. Dental treatment was given to more than 2,000 Filipinos,
and smallpox inoculations were administered to more than 8,000. Also,
when they seemed to be required, inoculations were given for typhoid,
typhus, and cholera.

The prescribed amount of civilian medical supplies proved to be
inadequate, a situation which placed an undue burden upon the medical
units and facilities of all echelons of the Sixth Army. The food
supplies, however, were more than adequate. The sizes of clothing and
shoes were often too large and there was not a sufficient supply of
women's and children's garments. On the island 10,000 tons of civilian
supplies were landed, of which 6,830 tons were distributed. About
1,102 tons of rice were sold or given away, a figure which does not
include captured Japanese stocks of rice. More than 400,000 refugees
were fed and 287,000 relief clients were cared for. [637] By 25
December the relief rolls included only the aged, sick, and infirm,
and members of families without a breadwinner.



Recruitment of Filipinos

"Hundreds of self appointed guerrillas whose only claim to
participation in the guerrilla organization was a recently realized
ambition to be of service to their country and to their allies"
confronted the assault forces on the beachheads. These individuals
caused endless confusion, since it was practically impossible for
the Americans to distinguish between the genuine guerrilla and
his opportunistic counterfeit. After the first few days, however,
the Army made contact with guerrilla headquarters and established
liaison with the bona fide guerrillas. [638]

General Krueger made the guerrillas a part of his armed forces, and
they became a source of additional strength to the Sixth Army. These
men frequently operated and patrolled in enemy-held territory and
brought the Americans valuable information on Japanese movements and
dispositions; the unit commanders of Sixth Army, however, tended to
discount reports from such sources with regard to the size of Japanese
forces. The guerrillas also guarded supply dumps and depots, bridges,
and other installations in the rear areas.

The generosity of the American soldier in giving away supplies
made it difficult to recruit civilian labor. Since gifts of food to
prospective laborers diminished their incentive to work, the Sixth
Army issued an order prohibiting such gifts. As early as 21 October
the Army got in touch with political and labor leaders to serve as
advisers and assistants, telling them from day to day how many laborers
would be needed. The Filipino leaders were very co-operative and made
arrangements to secure the necessary labor. Good results were obtained
by enlisting the support of local leaders, especially the parish
priests. General Krueger declared: "In all reported instances, the
priests lent willing assistance and their information on individuals
and conditions was found reliable and outstandingly impartial." [639]
As the fighting reached past Carigara and Dagami and into the central
mountain range the Filipinos acted as supply carriers for the troops
and worked on the roads and trails. At one time there were as many as
8,000 Filipinos engaged in this labor. Army furnished transportation
to the site of the work and paid wages according to the Commonwealth
Government wage scales.

Throughout November the logistical situation on Leyte remained
bad. Work on roads, together with that on airfields and other
installations, consisted largely of temporary expedients. The
difficult problem of getting supplies ashore and to the troops had
not been completely solved, a situation which hampered the progress
of the tactical troops. The lag in construction of airdromes made
it impossible for land-based air forces to give adequate close air
support to the ground forces. This lack of support was another handicap
to General Krueger's men as they fought their way into the mountains.



CHAPTER XII

The Mountain Barrier: Part One


The successful completion of the campaign for the entire Leyte Valley
on 2 November enabled General Krueger to embark on the next phase of
his plan for the liberation of Leyte.

This action was to consist of two drives converging on Ormoc: one
south through Ormoc Valley by X Corps and the other north from Baybay
by XXIV Corps. The remaining Japanese on the island would thus be
forced into the mountains west of Ormoc Valley where they could not
offer effective organized resistance. At first, while some elements
of the XXIV Corps continued to push west to reinforce the troops on
the shores of Ormoc Bay and mopped up in southern Leyte Valley, the X
Corps was to secure control of the coast of Carigara Bay from Carigara
to Pinamopoan. With the completion of this assignment, the northern
elements of the Sixth Army would be in a position to drive south along
Highway 2 which twisted and turned through the northern mountains
and central plains of Ormoc Valley to the port of Ormoc. [640] (Map 13)

General Sibert ordered elements of the 1st Cavalry Division to occupy
Carigara while the 24th Division secured the coastal corridor that
ran from Carigara to Pinamopoan and then drove south along Highway
2 and occupied Ormoc. A battalion from the 24th Division was to move
to the Jaro area and protect the 155-mm. howitzers of the 947th Field
Artillery Battalion which was to assist the advance south by covering
a trail that ran from Jaro to Ormoc. [641]

Since the 21st Infantry had encountered virtually no opposition in
the vicinity of Panaon Strait and since it was desirable that the
regiment rejoin the 24th Division, General Krueger on 30 October had
directed General Hodge to relieve the 21st Infantry with one battalion
of the 32d Infantry. [642] General Irving ordered the 34th Infantry to
continue its attack and secure Capoocan. When the town was captured
the 19th Infantry was to move into it on 4 November while the 34th
Infantry continued the drive west and secured Pinamopoan. [643]



The Coastal Corridor

Capoocan and Pinamopoan

At 0700 on 3 November the 34th Infantry moved west from its perimeter
at Balaud in a column of battalions, with the 1st Battalion, under
Colonel Clifford, in the lead. The 1st Battalion entered Capoocan at
0755 and within ten minutes had secured the town. [644]

At 0830 the battalion moved out and continued west along the coastal
road to Pinamopoan. After an advance of about 1,000 yards, Company B,
the point, encountered an enemy force, estimated at about 100 men,
entrenched on the west bank of a stream. The column halted and placed
mortar fire on the Japanese but failed to dislodge them. The company
then withdrew while the howitzers of the 63d Field Artillery Battalion
pounded the enemy position.

In the meantime a platoon of Company B moved south to secure a ridge
which paralleled the road. When the platoon located some Japanese
dug in on the reverse slope Colonel Clifford sent Company A to its
assistance. The guides took Company A over the wrong trail and the
troops ran into the strong enemy entrenchments well concealed by
underbrush on the western bank of the stream. Company A launched
a frontal assault, but after the first platoon had passed the
hidden positions the Japanese opened fire and forced the company
to withdraw. Colonel Clifford rushed Company C to the assistance of
Company A, ordering it to deploy around the left flank of Company A
and onto the next ridge. The platoon from Company B returned to its
morning position.

Companies A and C then started against the Japanese emplacements on the
opposite bank of the stream. [645] The leader of the advance squad of
Company A was killed and Sgt. Charles E. Mower assumed command. As he
started to lead his men across the stream, Sergeant Mower was severely
wounded. From his exposed position in the middle of the stream he
directed his squad in the destruction of two enemy machine guns and
numerous riflemen, but he was killed when the Japanese turned their
fire against him. Sergeant Mower was posthumously awarded the Medal
of Honor.

At 1530 Colonel Clifford withdrew Company A. After the 63d Field
Artillery Battalion had blasted the ridge parallel to the road,
Company B attacked, while Company C made its envelopment around the
south flank and destroyed the Japanese pocket of resistance. At 1800
the 1st Battalion formed its night perimeter. [646]

Earlier, at 1430, Company K had made a reconnaissance in amphibian
tractors from Capoocan to a point just west of Pinamopoan. Since it
encountered heavy enemy fire, the company withdrew and returned to
Capoocan. [647]

During the night the 11th and 63d Field Artillery Battalions massed
their fires and laid interdiction fire up and down the highway. Under
cover of darkness, the Japanese force opposing the 1st Battalion
withdrew. On the following morning patrols sent out by the 1st
Battalion scouted 1,000 yards to the front but encountered no
enemy. The battalion therefore moved out at 0730 to Colasian where
it set up a defensive position. The 2d and 3d Battalions then passed
through the 1st. The 2d Battalion entered Pinamopoan and dug in, while
the 3d passed through the town and continued west along the highway
1,700 yards. There it set up a defensive position just short of a ridge
of hills that was later to be known as Breakneck Ridge. [648] Between
Capoocan and Pinamopoan the Japanese had abandoned three 75-mm.,
one 40-mm., and five 37-mm. guns, together with ammunition dumps,
signal equipment, and many documents. The 34th Infantry found some land
mines on the road and destroyed them. Since the regiment had quickly
secured the coastal corridor and had started to move down Highway 2,
the X Corps was now in a position from which it could drive south.



Defense of the Coastal Corridor

Some elements of the 26th Division had arrived on Leyte during the
naval battle, and on 1 November most of the 1st Division and the
12th Independent Infantry Regiment of the 26th Division landed
at Ormoc. The 1st Division, which had been activated in Tokyo,
had served in Manchuria during the "China Incident" and had been
transferred to Shanghai in August 1944. Though it had no combat
experience, this division was considered by General Tomochika to be
the best equipped division of the Japanese Army. Under the command
of Lt. Gen. Tadasu Kataoka, it had been held in reserve by Imperial
General Headquarters for the decisive battle, and it was sent to
Manila with great expectations. [649]

The arrival of these troops was in accord with a plan devised after the
Battle of Leyte Gulf. The 102d Division, coming from Panay, and the 1st
and 26th Divisions, sailing from Luzon, were to land at Ormoc. General
Suzuki planned to have these troops move north along the Ormoc-Limon
road (Highway 2) through Ormoc Valley, from which they were to diverge
in three columns and capture the Carigara-Jaro road. After seizing
the road, the Japanese troops were to advance east and destroy the
American forces in the area between Tacloban and Tanauan. After the
1st Division had secured Carigara, the 68th Brigade was to land in the
north as 35th Army reserve. At the same time the 30th Division was
to land at Albuera on Ormoc Bay and advance over mountainous trails
to Burauen and later neutralize all resistance in the Dulag area. [650]

When General Suzuki received information that the Americans had secured
Carigara, he realized that it would be impossible to drive toward
San Pedro Bay with the Americans on his left flank. He believed,
however, that the reinforced 1st Division could easily wipe out the
American forces in the Carigara area. On 3 November he ordered the
1st Division to speed up its passage through Ormoc Valley and the 102d
Division to consolidate its forces with those of the 1st Division for
an all-out attack to annihilate the American troops near Carigara. The
26th Division was to advance on Jaro. [651] No alternative to this
plan had been prepared in case the projected operations were not
successful. [652] On 3 November, American aircraft struck at the
1st Division as it moved up Ormoc Valley in a ten-mile-long convoy
of trucks, tanks, and artillery. They destroyed about thirty trucks
and left two tanks burning. The aircraft received heavy and accurate
ground antiaircraft fire, and two of the planes were shot down by
the Japanese. [653]

The lack of defense at Carigara had come as a surprise to General
Krueger, since the Americans had observed the Japanese reinforcing
the area. General Suzuki had cleverly concealed from the Americans his
strength and intentions and thus had gained time for a withdrawal by a
"very successful" delaying action. [654] At the same time, the 57th
Infantry Regiment of the 1st Division had been able to move north
through Ormoc Valley and establish itself in the northern mountains
surrounding Highway 2.

The bringing in of reinforcements by the Japanese brought into sharp
focus the lack of American aerial strength on Leyte. Although the Fifth
Air Force had numerous aircraft in the rear areas, these could not be
brought forward because of the very poor condition of the available
airstrips. The few aircraft based on Leyte could not prevent the flow
of additional enemy forces into the island or give direct support to
the ground troops of Sixth Army.

Since the Japanese had been able to send without difficulty about
13,500 troops into the Ormoc area, General Krueger recognized that
they were capable also of landing troops on the shores of Carigara
Bay. This landing, if successful, would isolate the American forces
in the Carigara area. To meet this threat, several courses of action
were open to General Krueger: he could devote the full energy of the
X Corps to preparing a defense against a sea force attack; he could
disregard the threat and have the X Corps push vigorously south and
secure a position on ground south of Limon, which was about two and a
half miles southwest of Pinamopoan, before the Japanese could build
defensive positions; or, finally, he could advance south with some
elements, leaving others to guard the Carigara area.

If the Japanese Navy and amphibious assault forces entered Carigara
Bay, the possibilities for effective countermeasures were not very
promising. The escort carriers of the Seventh Fleet, greatly weakened
by the Battle of Leyte Gulf, could not give support, and it was quite
possible that any assistance that could be furnished by the Third
Fleet might not arrive in time.

Ranking officers of the Seventh Fleet, however, did not believe it
likely that the Japanese would launch an amphibious assault through
Carigara Bay. The reasons given were as follows: The Japanese had
never made an assault landing against defended beaches in the past;
they were short of equipment to make a sustained amphibious assault;
and they would be landing in the face of the combined fire of the X
Corps artillery which would cover the beachhead area from positions
well behind the beaches. [655]

Although General Krueger realized that the high ground in the
Limon area was the key to operations farther south, he decided that
the threat to the Carigara area could not be ignored. Since he had
insufficient forces to drive south and at the same time to prepare the
Carigara area for defense, on 4 November he directed General Sibert to
protect the Carigara area from a seaborne attack before the advance
to the south was continued. At the same time the X Corps was to send
out units to explore for trails that led from Daro, about three miles
southwest of Jaro, to Ormoc with the view of emplacing an artillery
battalion of 155-mm. guns within effective firing range of Ormoc. [656]

General Sibert immediately told General Irving to defer until
further orders the advance south by the 24th Division. At the
same time he directed Generals Irving and Mudge to have their
divisions prepare defenses to ward off a seaborne attack against the
Barugo-Carigara-Capoocan area. Patrols of the 24th Infantry Division
and the 1st Cavalry Division were to maintain contact at the Carigara
River. [657]

General Mudge thereupon ordered the 1st Cavalry Brigade to patrol the
Carigara-Jaro road and to protect the movement of supplies and troops
along the road. The 2d Cavalry Brigade was to establish two squadrons
in the Carigara-Barugo area to protect the seaward approaches to the
area, guard the bridge between Barugo and Carigara, and maintain the
security of San Juanico Strait. The brigade was to be prepared to
reinforce the 24th Division. [658]

General Irving, also, redisposed his forces. All the field artillery
battalions had been at Carigara but, with the issuance of the order to
protect the coast of Carigara Bay, the 13th and 52d Field Artillery
Battalions moved to Colasion Point on 4 November, while the 63d and
11th took positions east and west of Capoocan. [659]

On 5 November General Sibert returned the 21st Infantry to the 24th
Division and recommended that General Irving send the regiment to
Pinamopoan to relieve the battle-weary 34th Infantry. [660] By the
end of the day the 1st and 3d Battalions, 21st Infantry, had relieved
the 34th Infantry and were on the edge of Breakneck Ridge west of
Pinamopoan. [661]

The American aircraft made two strikes at the convoy of the 1st
Division as it moved north up Highway 2. The first one at about 1430
destroyed about thirty trucks, several tanks, and an ammunition dump
and killed fifty to seventy-five men and thirty to forty horses. The
second strike at about 1745 hit trucks loaded with Japanese soldiers
who scattered when attacked. All the vehicles were camouflaged with
palm leaves. [662]

By 6 November, since the X Corps had disposed its force to protect
the seaward approaches and since the Navy had given assurance that an
amphibious assault was unlikely, General Krueger felt that the attack
south could be continued. He was anxious to have the Sixth Army drive
rapidly down Highway 2 and secure the port of Ormoc, through which the
Japanese had reinforced the Leyte garrison. He also wished to guard
against the possibility that the Japanese, as more and more of their
troops moved up Ormoc Valley, would attempt to debouch into northern
Leyte Valley. He therefore directed General Sibert to expend his main
effort in the drive south but also to send elements of his force
into the mountains east of Ormoc Valley. These units were to seize
the mountain passes and secure positions in the Daro area from which
the artillery could deliver long-range fire upon Ormoc in support of
the advance south. At the same time, elements of the XXIV Corps were
to guard the mountain passages into southern Leyte Valley. [663]



Battle of Breakneck Ridge

The Battle Begins

On 5 November General Sibert instructed the 24th Division to complete
the relief of the 34th Infantry and at the same time to push strong,
aggressive patrols to the south. The 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry,
was to protect a battalion of 155-mm. guns, which was to deliver
long-range fire on Ormoc, about fourteen miles to the southwest. The
attack south was to begin on 7 November. [664]

Accordingly, General Irving ordered the 21st Infantry, after
the completion of its relief of the 34th Infantry, to reconnoiter
Breakneck Ridge to its front on 6 November and on the following day
to launch its drive south. A battalion of the 19th Infantry was to
move to Pinamopoan and protect the line of communications of the 21st
Infantry as the attack progressed. The rest of the 19th Infantry was
to move to the mountains in the vicinity of Daro and Jaro to protect
the 226th Field Artillery Battalion and secure the mountain passes
that led into Leyte Valley. [665]

The 21st Infantry relieved the 34th Infantry in the vicinity of
Pinamopoan without difficulty and sent out strong patrols to Breakneck
Ridge. One of these patrols was led by Lt. Col. Frederick R. Weber,
the regimental commander.

Breakneck Ridge, over which Highway 2 corkscrewed its way between
Pinamopoan and Limon for about 7,200 yards, was actually a hill mass
with many spurs branching off from an irregularly shaped crest line
toward the shores of Carigara Bay to the north and the Leyte River
valley to the south. Shoulder-high cogon grass was thick on the low
ground, and the pockets between the hills were heavily forested. The
valleys were deep, with precipitous sides. The 1st Division had heavily
fortified the area, taking advantage of the innumerable thickly wooded
pockets that served as natural forts. The Japanese had also built an
elaborate system of trenches and other defensive positions and had
honeycombed the area with spider holes. Many of the latter were on
reverse slopes some distance below the crests and were protected from
direct fire. In front of each spider hole the enemy had cut fire lanes
through the cogon grass, which was left so short that even a crawling
soldier would be exposed to fire. The constant rainfall made the hills
slippery and treacherous, and, more important, provided a protective
curtain in the day and covered movements of the enemy at night. [666]

On 5 November, before the relief of the 34th Infantry, Maj. Kemuel
K. Blacker, leading an artillery forward observer's party from the 52d
Field Artillery Battalion and a patrol from the 34th Infantry, had
reconnoitered far forward on Breakneck Ridge to the top of a knoll,
later called OP Hill, which was some 2,500 yards west of Pinamopoan,
and was directing fire from that point. [667] The party was attacked
by a group of about platoon strength from the 57th Infantry Regiment
and took refuge in an abandoned position. At 1230 Colonel Weber
ordered the 3d Battalion, 21st Infantry, to move out to the party's
assistance. Company K, on the right side of the highway, was able to
secure the northern approaches to the hill and rescue the observation
party, though it ran into heavy machine gun and rifle fire. In the
meantime Company I moved to the left and against stiff resistance
secured a ridge later known as Corkscrew Ridge, which was about 1,200
yards southeast of OP Hill and which formed the southeastern spur of
Breakneck Ridge. Since both companies needed more ammunition, vehicles
with the required supply were sent up along the road. After hidden
Japanese riflemen had punctured the tires, the vehicles withdrew and
the ammunition was carried up by hand. A platoon of riflemen from
Company I cleared out the enemy position but received mortar fire
from an unknown source. [668]

Both companies were so far in advance of the rest of the 21st
Infantry that only limited supplies of ammunition and rations could
reach them. As the afternoon hours wore on, the pressure from the
57th Infantry increased but the companies dug in and held their
positions. During the night they repulsed three counterattacks of about
fifty men each. [669] On the following morning the 57th Infantry placed
mortar fire upon the companies, [670] augmented at first by fire from
one artillery piece and later by fire from a four-gun battery. [671]
The intensity of this fire forced the companies to withdraw from
their position and rejoin the rest of the 3d Battalion on the beach
near Colasion. [672]

During the day the 1st Battalion tried unsuccessfully to secure
positions to support the attack through Breakneck Ridge. At the
close of 6 November the 57th Infantry of the 1st Division securely
occupied Breakneck Ridge and its northern approaches. For the assault
the following day, General Irving attached the 3d Battalion, 19th
Infantry, to the 21st Infantry. The 3d Battalion, 21st Infantry, had
reorganized about 2,000 yards east of Pinamopoan. The 1st Battalion was
on the regiment's right, the 2d Battalion was in the center astride
the highway, and the 3d Battalion, 19th Infantry, was on the 21st
Infantry's left. [673]

The 2d Battalion, 21st Infantry, was the object of a night attack that
started at 2000 and lasted for two hours. The enemy used mortars
and grenades against the battalion but was unable to penetrate
its perimeter. [674] Colonel Weber ordered the 21st Infantry to be
prepared to move out at 0800 on 7 November. The assault was to be
made in column of battalions, the 2d Battalion in the lead, with
a spur of Breakneck Ridge as the initial objective. This spur or
branch ridge extended east and west across the road 400 yards south
of the front line. General Irving ordered the 52d Field Artillery
Battalion to mass its fire immediately in front of the troops for
fifteen minutes just before they jumped off and then to shift its
fire to the ridge. Attached to the 2d Battalion for support were a
platoon from the 44th Tank Company, a company from the 85th Chemical
Battalion, and a company from the 632d Tank Destroyer Battalion. [675]

At 0940 the 308th Bombardment Wing bombed the headquarters of General
Suzuki at Ormoc and strafed the highway near by. Ormoc had also been
under constant fire from the battalion of 155-mm. guns in Jaro, at
a range of 25,000 yards. Only a few houses were left standing after
the bombardment was completed. [676]

The troops moved out as scheduled. Company E, on the west of the
road, reached the branch ridge at 0915 and came under fire from
enemy automatic weapons on the right. Company G ran into about 200
men from the 3d Battalion, 57th Infantry Regiment. They were well
entrenched at a bend of the road on the forward slope of the high
ground, and Colonel Weber had the self-propelled guns of the tank
destroyer battalion brought forward. These fired into the pocket, and
although they killed the commander of the 3d Battalion the unit held
fast. [677] Weber then called two tanks forward, but as they moved
along the road a Japanese soldier jumped out of the high cogon grass
and disabled one of the tanks by planting a magnetic mine against
it. The other tank then withdrew. [678]

General Sibert was dissatisfied with the progress of the 21st
Infantry and felt that Colonel Weber was not sufficiently
aggressive. Accompanied by his G-2, Col. William J. Verbeck, he
visited the command post of Colonel Weber at noon. Dispensing with
the usual command channels and in the presence of General Irving,
he relieved Colonel Weber and made Colonel Verbeck the commanding
officer of the 21st Infantry. Colonel Weber was retained in the
regiment as its executive officer. [679]

Colonel Verbeck ordered Company L, in support of the 2d Battalion,
to make a wide flanking movement to the east and secure the ridge
which had been denied to Company G. The company moved out at 1630
but was unsuccessful. As it withdrew it made contact with Company F
which had successfully pushed forward but because of an unexplained
misunderstanding of orders had withdrawn. [680] Night perimeters were
established on the edge of Breakneck Ridge.

On the same day Colonel Chapman, commander of the 19th Infantry,
ordered his 2d Battalion to send a reinforced rifle company to Hill
1525 about 2,600 yards southeast of Limon, seize this ground, and,
in support of the advance south by the 21st Infantry, direct artillery
fire on Highway 2. Company G, 19th Infantry, moved out on this mission
with only two thirds of a ration per man, since its kitchens were
still in the Jaro area. The guides with Company G lost their way,
and the company set up a night perimeter after a patrol had located
a strong enemy position on a ridge west of its course. The company
position was thought to be in the vicinity of Hill 1525, but it was
actually far east of the hill. [681]

As the 2d Battalion, 21st Infantry, had failed to secure the ridge 400
yards to its front, Colonel Verbeck that night ordered the battalion,
with Company L attached, to continue the attack toward the ridge after
an artillery barrage on the following morning. The 1st Battalion
was to secure Hill 1525, establish contact with the 2d Battalion,
19th Infantry, and from the hill envelop the southern flank of the
1st Division. [682]

On the morning of 8 November a typhoon, moving in from the west, swept
over the entire island. Jan Valtin, a member of the 24th Division,
graphically describes it: "From the angry immensity of the heavens
floods raced in almost horizontal sheets. Palms bent low under the
storm, their fronds flattened like streamers of wet silk. Trees
crashed to earth. In the expanse of ... [cogon] grass the howling of
the wind was like a thousand-fold plaint of the unburied dead. The
trickle of supplies was at a standstill. On Carigara Bay the obscured
headlands moaned under the onslaught of the ... seas. Planes were
grounded and ships became haunted things looking for refuge. Massed
artillery ... barrages to the summit of Breakneck Ridge sounded dim
and hollow in the tempest. Trails were obliterated by the rain. The
sky was black." [683] In the midst of the storm, the infantry attacked.

The 2d Battalion, 21st Infantry, effectively used flame throwers
to drive the enemy troops out of spider holes and caves. [684]
Although shelled by sporadic artillery fire, the battalion continued
to advance. Strong elements of the 57th Infantry hotly contested the
American assault. Meanwhile Company E pushed farther along the road
until it was halted at the site of a bridge which had been destroyed
by the enemy. The Japanese had flanked the site with emplacements
from which rifle, automatic weapons, and mortar fire resisted the
frontal attack of the company. [685] At nightfall Company E fell
back to its morning position. The 57th Infantry continued to make a
determined stand against the 2d Battalion. Concealed Japanese riflemen
fired continuously on the front, flanks, and rear of all positions and
small enemy detachments infiltrated through the lines. In concert with
the attack of the 2d Battalion, the 1st Battalion had moved out that
morning toward Hill 1525. Since the maps were grossly inaccurate, the
precise location of the hill was unknown, but the battalion reported
that it had reached the southern slope of the hill at 1600 and was
digging in under automatic weapons fire. At 0700 the 2d Battalion,
19th Infantry, under Colonel Spragins, moved out through a driving rain
and over precipitous trails to join the battalion's Company G. During
the day Company G drove the enemy off the ridge where the company's
advance had been halted the previous afternoon. In their flight the
Japanese abandoned much equipment, most of which was new. Of more
importance, a significant field order of the 1st Division was found
on the body of a Japanese officer.

When the consolidation of the battalion was made, Colonel Spragins
determined that he was east of Hill 1525 as shown on the maps. Although
the battalion was in a position to observe Leyte Valley, it would
have to move westward in order to get a view of Ormoc Valley. At 1530
Colonel Spragins therefore sent Company E to occupy a ridge 1,000
yards to the west. The battalion then dug in for the night. [686]
On the following morning General Irving placed the battalion under
the operational control of the 21st Infantry.

Immediately in front of the 21st Infantry was a Japanese force
estimated to be of battalion strength. To the east was an undetermined
number of enemy machine guns. In front of Company E a bridge was out
and tanks could not pass. On the steep sides of the gulch around this
bridge site, elements of the 57th Infantry with rifles, automatic
weapons, and mortars stopped all attempts of Company E to move
forward. [687]

Through the night torrential rains fell. At dawn of 9 November two
begrimed, soaked, and weary battalions of the 21st Infantry jumped off
to the attack, the 2d Battalion, less Company F, on the west side of
the road and the 3d Battalion on the east. Heavy artillery preparations
had already pounded the Japanese front lines. As the attack progressed,
mortars and artillery placed fires on targets of opportunity. In
destroying pockets of resistance in the gulch, grenades, rifles,
and flame throwers were used, together with heavy machine guns.

At 0930 Company I, 21st Infantry, reached the crest of the intermediate
ridge on the east side of the road which ran southward toward the
center of Breakneck Ridge. An hour later Company E, 21st Infantry,
moved out from the perimeter it had held for two days. Its mission
was to cut west of the road and secure the commanding high ground in
the rear of the emplaced Japanese at the bridge site where the advance
of the company had been stopped on the previous day. At the same time
Company L, 21st Infantry, passed through Company I and attacked the
center of Breakneck Ridge as Company G started a wide envelopment
to the west from Company E's position to assault OP Hill from the
west. Artillery forward observer parties went with the companies and
called artillery fires on targets of opportunity.

At 1150 Company L encountered determined opposition from enemy
rifle and mortar fire but doggedly pushed ahead for several hours and
secured the top of the ridge. Company G reached its objective, but upon
receiving intense enemy fire was forced to retire to the eastern slopes
of a ridge 300 yards to the north, where it reorganized. Company E also
reached its objective and then formed its night perimeter. At 1815 the
Japanese launched a counterattack against the perimeter of Company G
but the attack was repulsed. For the night a platoon of heavy machine
guns was attached to each rifle company to protect its perimeter.

Since the position of the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, had by this
time become clear, Colonel Verbeck ordered the battalion to move
from the east and to relieve the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, on
Hill 1525. One company was to be established on a ridge overlooking
Highway 2 while the remainder of the battalion was to block the trail
that passed Hill 1525. [688] The 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, was to
push westward from its position on Hill 1525 and cut the Ormoc road
some 1,800 yards south of Limon in order to forestall the escape of
Japanese troops from Breakneck Ridge. Company A was to remain on the
hill and hold it until the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, arrived.

The 1st Battalion, less Company A, jumped off at 0730. After it had
advanced about one and a half miles and was within sight of Highway 2,
the battalion was halted by heavy enemy fire from the front and both
flanks. It renewed the attack and informed Colonel Verbeck that it was
moving slowly northwest and was less than a mile from Limon. In the
meantime the enemy attacked Company A on Hill 1525, and the company
was able to maintain its position with difficulty. Because of this
fight and the fact that no contact had been established with the 2d
Battalion, 19th Infantry, Colonel Verbeck ordered the battalion to
rejoin Company A. The troops therefore returned and took part in the
fight to repel the Japanese. The 1st Battalion withstood the enemy
force until 1400, when an estimated battalion of fresh troops from
the 57th Infantry was thrown into the fight. [689] The Americans then
broke off the engagement, and the battalion, covered by Company A,
withdrew from Hill 1525 to the vicinity of Pinamopoan. [690]

Information that the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, was being attacked
on Hill 1525 reached the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, shortly after
noon as it was on its way to relieve the 1st Battalion. Colonel
Spragins pushed forward immediately with two companies, hoping to
reach the 1st Battalion by 1500, but progress was slowed by steep,
slippery slopes that were often blocked by huge fallen trees. At 1630,
without having heard any sounds of battle, which they had hoped would
guide them to the 1st Battalion's position, the troops reached what
they believed to be the western slopes of Hill 1525. Patrols reported
no contact either with friendly or enemy units and the 2d Battalion
set up its night perimeter.

"At this time," states the 24th Infantry Division operations report on
Leyte, "it began to dawn on all concerned that Hill 1525, as shown on
the map, was not a single hill mass, but a long ridge of many knolls
and hilltops." [691]



Breakneck Ridge: Second Phase

On 9 November the Japanese 26th Division arrived at Ormoc in three
large transports with a destroyer escort. The troops landed without
their equipment and ammunition, since aircraft from the Fifth Air Force
bombed the convoy and forced it to depart before the unloading was
completed. During the convoy's return, some of the Japanese vessels
were destroyed by the American aircraft. [692]

The arrival of these troops was in accord with a plan embodied in
the order which had been taken from the dead Japanese officer on
the previous day. This plan envisaged a grand offensive which was to
start in the middle of November. The 41st Infantry Regiment of the
30th Division and the 169th and 171st Independent Infantry Battalions
of the 102d Division were to secure a line that ran from a hill 3,500
yards northwest of Jaro to a point just south of Pinamopoan and protect
the movement of the 1st Division to this line. With the arrival of
the 1st Division on this defensive line, a coordinated attack was to
be launched--the 1st Division seizing the Carigara area and the 41st
Infantry Regiment and the 26th Division attacking the Mt. Mamban area
about ten miles southeast of Limon. (See Map 2.) The way would then
be open for a drive into Leyte Valley. [693]

General Krueger was quick to realize the significance of this
order. Since General Suzuki apparently wished to make the mountains
of northern Leyte the battleground for the island, Krueger disposed
his forces to meet the enemy threat. The X Corps was to continue
its drive south down Highway 2 but at the same time was to dispose
units in the central mountain range to protect the exits from Ormoc
Valley into Leyte Valley. The XXIV Corps was to send a reinforced
regiment into the hills northwest of Dagami to prevent any Japanese
from infiltrating into Leyte Valley, and the corps was also to be
prepared to assist elements of the X Corps that guarded the trail
running from Daro to Dolores, a village about six miles northeast of
Ormoc. A regiment of the XXIV Corps was to be placed in Sixth Army
Reserve at Dagami, where the central mountain range began. [694]

General Sibert then ordered the 24th Division to continue its
attack south. The 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team, under
Brig. Gen. Julian W. Cunningham, which was expected to arrive on 14
November, was to relieve elements of the 1st Cavalry Division that
guarded the beaches in the Carigara-Barugo area. The 1st Cavalry
Division was then to drive southwest from the central mountains and
relieve some of the pressure against the 24th Division. [695]

General Hodge at the same time ordered the 96th Division to seize the
high ground between Jaro and Dagami, secure all routes of exit from
the west coast through the central mountain range, and send patrols
through the passes to the west coast of Leyte. The division was also
ordered to maintain in the vicinity of Dagami one infantry regiment
in Sixth Army Reserve. At the same time elements of the 7th Division
had reached the shores of Ormoc Bay in the vicinity of Baybay and
were ordered to send patrols toward Ormoc and to prepare the route
for a future advance in strength. [696]

If the attention of the Japanese could be fastened upon the X Corps in
the north and northeast, it might be possible for General Krueger to
put into effect his plan to send a strong force from the XXIV Corps
over the mountains far to the south along the Abuyog--Baybay road
to the eastern shores of Ormoc Bay in order to reinforce elements of
the 7th Division already there. This force was to drive north toward
Ormoc while elements of the X Corps pushed south toward the town along
Highway 2. It might even be possible later to land an amphibious force,
perhaps as large as a division, at a point just below Ormoc. But first
it was all-important that the Japanese be contained in Ormoc Valley
and that their attention continue to be directed to the north. [697]

On 9 November General Irving ordered the 24th Division to launch a
co-ordinated assault on the following day to drive the 1st Division
from Breakneck Ridge and also deny it commanding ground from which the
Japanese could conduct delaying actions just south of the barrio of
Limon. (See Map 13.) The 21st Infantry was to drive south along Highway
2 and the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, was to proceed west from its
position on the east flank of the enemy and establish a roadblock
on Highway 2 about 2,000 yards south of Limon. The 1st Battalion,
34th Infantry, was to make a wide enveloping movement around the
west flank of the 57th Infantry and seize the high ground known as
Kilay Ridge which was about 700 yards from Highway 2 and west of the
proposed roadblock of the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry. General Irving
announced: "Success of the Leyte Campaign depends upon quickly and
completely destroying hostile forces on our front." [698]

By the morning of 10 November the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, had
reorganized and re-equipped itself. The 2d and 3d Battalions of the
regiment were disposed along a ridge southwest of Pinamopoan. The
companies of the two battalions were intermingled. [699]

The rains continued to pour down upon the troops, and the thick
mud was slippery and treacherous underfoot. After the artillery had
fired a ten-minute concentration on Breakneck Ridge, the 21st Infantry
attacked at 0945. Company A, the lead company, passed through Company
E and pushed south. At 0955 Company G seized OP Hill. Simultaneously,
Company I moved to the site of the destroyed bridge 300 yards east of
OP Hill. Company L moved toward the high ground 300 yards southeast
of its position and at 1120 secured this ground.

Colonel Verbeck then ordered the 1st Battalion to attack a ridge 200
yards to its front by maneuvering through the defiles on each side
of the enemy-held spur. The maneuver was unsuccessful and the 1st
Battalion resumed its former position. [700] The Japanese resisted
all efforts of the 2d Battalion to move down the reverse slope of
OP Hill. [701] During the day the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, and
the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, moved out to secure the commanding
positions south of Limon. [702]

The ten guns of the 2d Battalion, 1st Artillery Regiment of the 1st
Division, were moved to a position east of Limon where they could be
used to assist the 57th Infantry Regiment. [703] During the night of
10-11 November the 57th Infantry severed the telephone lines from the
headquarters of the 21st Infantry to all of the regiment's battalions.

That night the American artillery fired heavy interdiction fires, and
before 0900 on 11 November it delivered preparations, including white
phosphorus shells, on enemy pockets and strong points on Breakneck
Ridge. Company C of the 85th Chemical Battalion maintained constant
harassing fires on the reverse slopes of the east ridge and OP Hill,
at the rate of approximately two 4.2-inch mortar rounds every five
minutes. [704] Colonel Verbeck attached Company L to the 2d Battalion.

The 21st Infantry resumed the attack at 0900 with the 1st and 2d
Battalions abreast, the 1st Battalion to the north of OP Hill and
the 2d Battalion south and west of the parts of Breakneck Ridge
previously captured.

Strong elements of the 57th Infantry from the south and from positions
in the wooded ridges east of Corkscrew Ridge immediately fired upon
the 2d Battalion and pinned it down for the rest of the day. The 1st
Battalion encountered little opposition until it reached a point
about 300 yards south of the crest of Breakneck Ridge, where the
Japanese strongly resisted. The troops then moved west of the enemy
left flank about 200 yards to enable the tanks from Company A, 44th
Tank Battalion, to make an attack against the main position of the
57th Infantry on Breakneck Ridge. [705]

The tanks proceeded along Highway 2 up Breakneck Ridge and down its
reverse slope. They destroyed an estimated twenty-five enemy positions
which contained automatic weapons. One tank got stuck when it went off
the edge of the road. As darkness approached, its crew was rescued by
another tank which then put a 75-mm. shell into the stalled vehicle
to prevent its use by the Japanese. [706]

At 1600 the 308th Bombardment Wing dropped twenty-eight 500-pound
bombs on the Valencia airfield in the middle of Ormoc Valley and
twenty-four 500-pound bombs on a Highway 2 bridge in the vicinity of
the airfield. [707]

At nightfall the 1st Battalion had secured its objective, a ridge
300 yards to the southwest of OP Hill, and all positions were
consolidated. During the night the 226th and 465th Field Artillery
Battalions placed harassing fire on the enemy positions. In order
to shake the morale of the Japanese, the artillery fired its rounds
at exact five-minute intervals but scattered the fire throughout the
enemy-held area. [708]

On the morning of 12 November the 3d Battalion, supported by six tanks
and a platoon from the 632d Tank Destroyer Battalion, moved out along
the road skirting the crest of Breakneck Ridge. By 1115 it had passed
over the crest and was moving down the reverse slope. After the 3d
Battalion crossed the hill, the 1st Battalion attacked on the right
of the road with the mission of enveloping the Japanese left (north)
flank. [709] There was little resistance, and soon after 1200 the
crest of Breakneck Ridge was in the hands of the 21st Infantry. But
shortly afterward the 2d Field Artillery Battalion of the 1st Division
shelled the regiment and stopped all forward advance. [710]

On 13 November the 1st and 2d Battalions took up the fight, with
machine guns from the vicinity of OP Hill firing in support. The 1st
and 2d Battalions advanced 600 and 400 yards, respectively. By 14
November it appeared to General Irving that the 21st Infantry had
eliminated nearly all resistance on Breakneck Ridge. The regiment
controlled the ridge proper, but several adjacent spurs, notably
Corkscrew Ridge, were still controlled by the 57th Infantry. On 15
November the 1st Battalion, the most advanced unit, was about 1,500
yards north of Limon. On 16 November the 128th Infantry of the 32d
Division relieved the 21st Infantry. The battle of Breakneck Ridge
had not been an easy one for the 21st Infantry; it had lost 630
men killed, wounded, and missing, together with 135 men from other
causes. By actual count it had killed 1,779 Japanese. [711]



CHAPTER XIII

The Mountain Barrier: Part Two


By the middle of November both the Americans and the Japanese realized
that the struggle for the island of Leyte was going to be long and
costly--far longer and costlier than either had anticipated.

On 9 and 10 November, Field Marshal Hisaichi Terauchi, the senior
officer of the Japanese forces in the Philippines, held a series
of conferences on the progress of the campaign. General Yamashita,
commanding general of the 14th Area Army, strongly urged that
the Leyte operation be discontinued and offered reasons for this
stand: There was little likelihood that additional reinforcements
would reach the Philippines, and the vital manpower needed for the
defense of Luzon would be drained off uselessly at Leyte. The naval
battle of Leyte Gulf, he also thought, had been "unsatisfactory"
and there was reason to believe that the air battle off Formosa
had been equally disappointing. The shortage of shipping and
escort strength greatly aggravated the already difficult problem
of troop transportation. Finally, the land operations were not
proceeding favorably. [712] But Yamashita's superior, Field Marshal
Terauchi, commanding general of the Southern Army, insisted that the
reinforcement program be continued and that the battle for Leyte be
brought to a successful conclusion. General Yamashita is said to have
replied, "I fully understand your intention. I will carry it out to
a successful end." [713]



Reinforcements

At the same time General Krueger was anxious to complete the third
phase of the American campaign, the two-pronged drive toward the
port of Ormoc. He felt, however, that there were insufficient troops
to both protect the mountain passes into Leyte Valley and make the
drives toward Ormoc.

In preparing for the Leyte Campaign, General Krueger had asked
that the units which were to participate be embarked with a 10
percent overstrength. This request was disapproved. Just before the
embarkation, however, he received 5,000 untrained replacements. [714]
He had also requested that during the course of the operation 18,800
replacements be delivered to the combat zone, the first 10,000 to
arrive by A plus 10. During the first thirty days of the operation
he would need the following replacements: 14,300 Infantry, 1,300
Field Artillery, 1,130 Corps of Engineers, 750 Medical Corps, 375
Antiaircraft Artillery and Coast Artillery, 185 Quartermaster Corps,
185 Ordnance, 185 Signal, and all others 375. Approximately 6 percent
of these should be officers. [715]



Table 1--Sixth Army Daily Strength Reports, 12 November-25 December
1944

--------------+-----------------------+-------------------------------
              |   Authorized strength | Difference Between Effective
    Date      |                       |    and Authorized Strength
              +----------+------------+------------+------------------
              | Officers |Enlisted Men|  Officers  |  Enlisted Men
--------------+----------+------------+------------+------------------
12 Nov 1944   |    6,978 |  107,461   |   -1,050   |    -11,754
19 Nov 1944   |    9,290 |  147,497   |   -1,099   |    -15,058
26 Nov 1944   |   11,977 |  185,462   |   -1,603   |    -17,977
 2 Dec 1944   |   11,637 |  191,060   |   -1,819   |    -19,012
 9 Dec 1944   |   10,721 |  174,148   |   -1,194   |    -18,261
16 Dec 1944   |   10,905 |  176,466   |   -1,361   |    -21,059
25 Dec 1944   |   11,019 |  176,628   |   -1,228   |    -22,536
--------------+----------+------------+------------+------------------

Source: Sixth Army Operations Report Leyte, 20 October-25 December
1944, p. 153.



As the fighting extended into the mountains, the lack of sufficient
replacements began to be greatly felt. At no time did General Krueger
know when replacements would arrive, or whether they would be combat or
service troops, or what their individual specialties would be. During
the course of the operation he received only 336 officers and 4,953
enlisted men as replacements.

To add to these difficulties, General MacArthur's headquarters used
figures for "assigned strength" rather than "effective strength,"
that is, the number actually present with a unit, in computing
the need for replacements. Such figures gave an entirely erroneous
picture, since evacuations were to change rapidly the figures for
medical installations, and dispositions reports were delayed for
long periods. For example, on 12 November the assigned strength of
the Sixth Army was only 289 officers and 1,874 enlisted men short
of its Table of Organization strength, but its effective strength
was 1,050 officers and 11,754 enlisted men short of the Table of
Organization strength. By 20 December this shortage had pyramided to
about 21,000--considerably more than a division. (Table 1) General
Krueger was seriously concerned about the situation, especially since
nearly 79 percent of the casualties occurred in the infantry. [716]

Fortunately, the 32d and 77th Infantry Divisions--the Sixth Army
reserve--were due to come in soon or had already done so, and there
were on the island additional units that were to have used Leyte
as a shipping area for subsequent operations. The availability of
the 11th Airborne Division, under Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, and the
112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team, [717] under General Cunningham,
was most timely. They could be used to help guard the mountain passes
into Leyte Valley and also to give support to the drive of X Corps
south down the Ormoc Valley.

At the same time General Krueger proposed that as soon as there were
sufficient troops and supplies available, an amphibious landing be
made near Ormoc to capture the town. This operation would speedily
reduce the Japanese opposition south of Ormoc, cut the enemy's line of
communication at Ormoc, and place the hostile forces in Ormoc Valley
"in a vise which could shortly squeeze them into extermination." [718]

The supporting naval forces, however, could not make available
sufficient assault and resupply shipping to mount and support such
an operation. The Navy also thought that there was insufficient
air support on the island to insure the safe arrival of a convoy
into Ormoc Bay. There was a strong possibility that severe losses
might result from the suicide bombing techniques of the Japanese
pilots. General Krueger therefore set aside his plan until it could
be introduced at a more opportune time. [719] When the 11th Airborne
Division arrived, General Krueger could attach it to the XXIV Corps
in southern Leyte. General Hodge could then relieve some of the troops
that had been guarding the mountain entrances into the valley and also
send additional support to the troops on the shores of Ormoc Bay,
thus enabling the XXIV Corps to launch a strong drive toward Ormoc
from the south.

General Krueger originally had planned to have the 32d Division, under
Maj. Gen. William H. Gill, establish control over southern Samar, but
in view of the limited number of Japanese on that island, he decided
to make use of the division to add momentum to the attack of X Corps
and to give rest to the weary troops of the 24th Division. [720]
On 14 November General Krueger therefore directed General Sibert
to relieve the units of the 24th Division with elements of the 32d
Division. At the same time, the 112th Cavalry was attached to the
1st Cavalry Division in order to give impetus to the attack. [721]



32d Division Assumes the Offensive

General Sibert made arrangements for the introduction of the 32d
Division and the 112th Cavalry into the battle. The 2d Battalion,
19th Infantry, and the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, which had reached
positions overlooking Highway 2 south of Limon, were to remain in those
locations and temporarily under the operational control of General
Gill. The 112th Cavalry was to operate in the mountains between Ormoc
and Leyte Valleys and assist the 1st Cavalry Division in a drive to
the southwest toward Highway 2. A regimental combat team from the 32d
Division was to relieve the 21st Infantry on Breakneck Ridge. Another
regiment from the division would mop up in the vicinity of Hill 1525
and prepare to assist in the drive south. Elements of the division were
to relieve the units of the 24th Division in the Daro area, from which
the artillery had been shelling Ormoc. The 24th Division artillery
was to support the advance of the 32d Division until relieved. [722]
The flanks of the 32d Division were protected. The 2d Battalion,
19th Infantry, had established a roadblock on Highway 2, about 2,000
yards south of Limon, and the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, was on
the high ground known as Kilay Ridge, which was 700 yards from the
road and west of the roadblock of the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry.

General Gill directed the 128th Infantry of the 32d Division, commanded
by Col. John A. Hettinger, to pass through the 21st Infantry and
attack south astride Highway 2, to push through Breakneck Ridge,
and to capture Limon, 1,500 yards to the south. Colonel Hettinger
ordered the regiment to move out on 16 November at 0800 with battalions
abreast--the 3d Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. William A. Duncan,
on the right (west) of Highway 2, and the 1st Battalion, commanded
by Lt. Col. James P. Burns, on the left. [723] (Map 14)

The forward elements of the 1st and 3d Battalions moved out of their
assembly areas on time. They were followed by the remainder of the
troops as fast as rations and ammunition could be distributed. The
battalions assembled immediately in the rear of the 21st Infantry
and at 1200 pushed through that regiment and entered upon their first
battle on Leyte. [724]

Colonel Hettinger ordered Colonel Burns to overcome the enemy
opposition on Corkscrew Ridge. The 1st Battalion made little
progress. Company A was immediately pinned down by machine gun,
mortar, and rifle fire, and Company B went forward only 150 yards. The
3d Battalion encountered no opposition and advanced to a point 350
yards south of its line of departure, from which Company M delivered
machine gun fire and Company L rifle fire at long range on the enemy
in the vicinity of Limon. [725]

On the morning of 17 November the 1st Battalion reached the slopes
of Corkscrew Ridge, where it dug in. At 0737 the 3d Battalion moved
out along Highway 2 with companies abreast--Company K on the right
and Company L on the left. Company K met no resistance, advanced
about 1,000 yards, and reached a ridge about 500 yards north of
Limon. Elements of the 57th Infantry stopped Company L almost
immediately, but a platoon from the company moved fifty yards west
around the pocket of resistance and destroyed it. The company then
continued its advance to the ridge. [726] Companies K and L dug in
on the ridge for the night. [727]

On the following morning Colonel Hettinger ordered the 3d Battalion to
hold its position until the 1st Battalion could come abreast. The 3d
Battalion therefore limited its activities to sending out patrols. The
1st Battalion again attacked Corkscrew Ridge but made very limited
gains.

Elements of the 57th Infantry had dug in on the reverse slope of
the ridge, and heavy jungle prevented complete observation of these
enemy positions. The Japanese regiment had placed automatic weapons
to command the only routes of approach, thus forcing the American
troops to move uphill in the face of hostile fire. The 2d Artillery
Battalion had placed its guns so that they covered Highway 2. [728]

The 1st Battalion continued to besiege Corkscrew Ridge until 20
November, while the 3d Battalion remained on the ridge overlooking
Limon. Late in the afternoon of 21 November, Colonel Hettinger
ordered the 128th Infantry to seize Limon, and then move south to
secure a bridge-crossing over a tributary of the Leyte River. The
1st Battalion was to contain the enemy on Corkscrew Ridge. The two
assault battalions of the regiment got into position on the ridge
north of Limon, the 2d Battalion on the east side of Highway 2 and
the 3d on the west side. [729]

During the night the 120th Field Artillery Battalion delivered
harassing fire along the road between Limon and the Limon
bridge. [730] At 0800 the assault troops moved out. The 3d Battalion
met little opposition, but the 2d met strong resistance from the 57th
Infantry. [731] Company I encountered no resistance as it moved along
a bluff which was just west of the town and which overlooked Limon and
the bridge. Company K and the 2d Battalion pushed through Limon and
at 1400 the leading elements crossed a tributary of the Leyte River
south of the town. A determined Japanese counterattack forced back the
left flank of the 2d Battalion and exposed Company K. A sudden flood
of the stream, caused by heavy rains, cut off the advance elements
of Company K south of the river from the rest of the company. These
troops moved to the right and joined Company I on the bluffs. The
rest of the company and the 2d Battalion established a night perimeter
along a ridge east of the village. The 3d Battalion, less Company K,
established itself for the night around the positions of Company I
that overlooked the bridge and the tributary of the river. [732]

On 23 November the 128th Infantry straightened out its lines and
consolidated its positions. For the next three days activity was
limited to extensive patrols and the placement of harassing fire
on an east-west ridge that overlooked the highway about 1,000 yards
south of Limon. Entrenched on this ridge, elements of the 1st Division
successfully resisted until 10 December all efforts of the 32d Division
to dislodge them. [733]

With the occupation of Limon, the battle of Breakneck Ridge was over,
but a number of bypassed pockets of resistance were not eliminated
until mid-December. The battle cost the 24th and 32d Divisions a
total of 1,498 casualties, killed, wounded, and missing in action, as
compared with an estimated 5,252 Japanese killed and 8 captured. [734]

The Japanese had failed in their attempt to block off Highway 2
at the northern entrance to Ormoc Valley. In no small measure, the
establishment and maintenance of a roadblock south of Limon by the
2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, and the defense of Kilay Ridge in the
rear of the Japanese front lines by the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry,
had made this achievement possible. (See Map 13.) Under constant fire
and greatly outnumbered, these units had prevented General Suzuki
from sending additional troops into Limon. From 12 to 23 November
the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, had defended the roadblock under
extremely difficult conditions. The operations report of the 24th
Division graphically summarizes the deeds for which the battalion
received a presidential citation:


    These bearded, mud caked soldiers came out of the mountains
    exhausted and hungry. Their feet were heavy, cheeks hollow, bodies
    emaciated, and eyes glazed. They had seen thirty-one comrades
    mortally wounded, watched fifty-five others lie suffering in muddy
    foxholes without adequate medical attention. Yet their morale had
    not changed. It was high when they went in and high when they came
    out. They were proud that they had rendered invaluable aid to the
    main forces fighting in ORMOC CORRIDOR, by disrupting the Japanese
    supply lines and preventing strong reinforcements from passing
    up the ORMOC ROAD. They were proud that they had outfought the
    Emperor's toughest troops, troops that had been battle trained in
    Manchuria. They were certain they had killed at least 606 of the
    enemy and felt that their fire had accounted for many more. And
    they were proud that this had all been accomplished despite
    conditions of extreme hardship. Two hundred and forty-one of the
    battalion's officers and enlisted men were hospitalized for skin
    disorders, foot ulcers, battle fatigue, and sheer exhaustion. [735]


The 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, under Colonel Clifford, operated west
of Highway 2 on Kilay Ridge, behind the Japanese front lines. It "wrote
a brilliant page in the history of the campaign" [736] but, since its
influence on the situation was not appreciated until later and since
it affords an excellent example of a battalion fighting independently,
the operation of "Clifford's Battalion" will be discussed separately.



Battle of Kilay Ridge

When General Krueger told General Sibert to push the X Corps south
with all possible speed down Highway 2 toward Ormoc, the latter had
selected the 24th Division to make the drive. General Irving wished
to protect the sides of the road and prevent the Japanese from sending
reinforcements north up the highway. On 9 November he therefore ordered
the 34th Infantry to send a battalion around the Japanese west flank
to harass the enemy's rear and thus relieve the pressure that was
holding up the frontal attack of the 21st Infantry on Breakneck Ridge.



Nipponese Caught Napping

At 0100 on 10 November Colonel Dahlen, commander of the 34th Infantry,
alerted the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, for an amphibious landing
to take place at 0700. The battalion had been in contact with the
enemy for twenty-one days and was reduced to an effective strength
of 560 men. The 1st Battalion, with an observer's party from the
63d Field Artillery Battalion, was ordered to move from Capoocan
in eighteen LVT's and proceed seven miles northwest up the coast of
Carigara Bay. [737] It was then to move inland and seize Kilay Ridge,
which was west of the Ormoc road some 3,000 yards behind the Japanese
front lines. [738]

At 0700 the battalion, under Colonel Clifford, moved out, taking every
available man on the mission and leaving only a minimum of cooks and
drivers behind. Since the troops had to hand-carry their equipment
the Headquarters Company left the antitank guns behind, and Company
D took only one section of heavy machine guns and one section of
81-mm. mortars. Colonel Clifford used the men thus released to carry
other weapons and ammunition. Because of the scant time allowed by
the orders, the battalion left without sufficient rations.

At 0750 Clifford's battalion went aboard the LVT's and at 0930
arrived at its destination. Debarking without opposition it pushed
rapidly inland and at 1145 reached a hill approximately one mile
from the landing area. At dusk the 1st Battalion reached a ridge in
the vicinity of Belen and about 2,000 yards north of Agahang. There
it set up a night perimeter. Since his maps were inaccurate, Colonel
Clifford relied upon the services of Filipino guides from this time
until the end of the mission. The rugged and muddy hillsides, made
considerably worse by almost constant rain and fog, were similar to
those encountered by other units fighting in the area.

At 0730 on 11 November Colonel Clifford sent out patrols to pick up a
promised airdrop of rations. The battalion had been without food since
the morning before. At 0910 Colonel Dahlen ordered Colonel Clifford not
to move on to Agahang, which was about 3,800 yards northwest of Limon,
until he received rations. The rations were not forthcoming but at
1400 Dahlen told Clifford to obtain the promised rations at Agahang,
to which the battalion then proceeded. No supplies were received,
but Filipinos furnished the unit with bananas, cooked rice, boiled
potatoes, and a few chickens. A night perimeter was set up. [739]

At 0850 on the following day Colonel Clifford's men received their
first airdrop of rations. Ten minutes later the commanding officer of
the 1st Battalion of the guerrilla 96th Infantry made contact with
Colonel Clifford and gave him a résumé of the enemy situation. (The
guerrillas rendered invaluable aid to the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry,
throughout the Kilay Ridge episode by furnishing intelligence and
protecting the rear of the unit.) The battalion moved out at 1200
for Consuegra near the Naga River and entered the town at 1240. At
1310 Colonel Clifford outlined to the officers the plan for the next
two days. For the rest of the day, the battalion was to advance to
Cabiranan and bivouac for the night. On the morning of 13 November
it was to split into two columns and make a fast advance by separate
routes to Kilay Ridge, where it would reorganize. As Colonel Clifford
was briefing his officers, LVT's entered Consuegra with rations for
the troops. The LVT's had left Carigara Bay, passed through Biliran
Strait, gone down Leyte Bay and into the Naga River, and then proceeded
up the river to the vicinity of Consuegra.

At 0855 on 13 November a column of Filipino men, women, and children
entered the perimeter and brought approximately thirty-five boxes of
rations from Consuegra. The battalion left the area at 0930 and reached
the ridge without opposition. Trenches and prepared gun positions
without a man in them honeycombed the ridge from one end to the
other. It was evident that elements of the 1st Division had intended
to occupy the area in the latter stages of the battle for Limon. [740]

Kilay Ridge ran from southeast to northwest, with its northern tip
about 2,500 yards directly west of Limon and its southern end about
3,000 yards south and slightly west of the same point. The ridge was
approximately 900 feet high and though narrow in some places in others
it widened to 400 yards. The summit was broken into a series of high
knolls from which the entire Limon area and some parts of the Ormoc
road could be observed. A view of the latter feature was obstructed
to some extent by a ridge, hereafter called Ridge Number 2, between
Kilay and the road. Kilay Ridge was about 3,900 yards southwest of
Breakneck Ridge. It would be necessary to maintain control of Kilay
Ridge and deny its use to the enemy in order to give complete support
to units advancing south from Breakneck Ridge.



Preliminary Attack

On 14 November Colonel Clifford ordered his battalion to entrench
itself along the ridge in positions that would afford the best
tactical advantage. The battalion established strong points and
observation posts on the knolls, placed blocks on the trails leading
through the area, and sent out reconnaissance patrols to locate
enemy positions. Colonel Clifford made arrangements to utilize the
Filipinos as carriers. These men were to use a trail on the north end
of the ridge and bring supplies to the battalion from a supply dump
at Consuegra. The first human pack train arrived in the area at 1010
with twenty-eight cases of rations and a supply of batteries for the
radios. [741]

At 1125 enemy artillery shelled the southern end of the ridge and
twenty minutes later shifted its fire to the Limon area. The battalion
did not succeed in establishing physical contact with the 2d Battalion,
19th Infantry, which was operating east of the road, but it was able
to make radio contact. Throughout the day, patrols of the battalion
were active in searching out enemy positions.

On 15 November Company A sent a patrol to Ridge Number 2, which was
600 yards east of the battalion's positions and which overlooked
the Ormoc road. The patrol found numerous enemy emplacements and
approximately fifty Japanese, who began firing with mortars. After
killing five of the Japanese the patrol retired. [742] During the day
the 24th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop reported to Colonel Clifford
and was assigned the mission of patrolling the west flank of the
battalion. Although patrols from the 1st Battalion pushed east of
the Ormoc highway south of Limon, they again were unable to make
contact with the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry. On 16 November Colonel
Clifford again sent out patrols which tried, still unsuccessfully,
to establish physical contact with this battalion. [743]

A platoon from Company B, on 17 November, carried on a running
fire fight with the Japanese and forced its way past Ridge Number
2. It crossed the Ormoc road and made contact with the 2d Battalion,
19th Infantry, at its roadblock. A line of communication between the
battalions could not be established because of the strong enemy forces
between them. At the same time parts of Companies B and D engaged
the enemy on Ridge Number 3, six hundred yards south of Ridge Number
2 and slightly lower. Approximately 200 of the enemy with rifles,
machine guns, mortars, and artillery were entrenched on Ridge Number
3. The American fire killed at least fifty Japanese. A patrol from
Company D probed the Japanese defensive position but was forced to
retire with two men missing and one wounded. Then Company B entered
the fray, and the fire fight grew in intensity. The Japanese directed
fire from at least three automatic weapons as well as strong rifle
fire against the Americans.

Colonel Clifford went to investigate and found Company B engaged
in a bitter fight. While he was there the company sustained six
casualties. One of the men had been shot through the thigh and was
unable to walk. Since the heavy underbrush and bad trails made it
impossible for two men to carry him on a litter, Colonel Clifford
carried the wounded soldier on his back for about a mile to the
command post, over a difficult mountain trail which ran for several
hundred yards in the bed of a swift stream. [744] Colonel Clifford
was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross. [745]

At nightfall Company B was separated from the rest of the
battalion. Colonel Clifford decided to pull the company off the ridge
and replace it with Company C. He was determined to hold what he had
"at all costs." [746] During the day General Sibert attached the
battalion to the 32d Division.



Red Badge of Courage

At daylight on 18 November Colonel Clifford brought heavy machine
guns into place on the perimeter of the battalion and began to fire
on the enemy positions on Ridge Number 3, catching a group of about
twenty-five Japanese who were cooking their breakfast. At 0700 a
carrying party with rations and medical supplies moved out toward the
besieged Company B, and at 1100 Company C started forward to relieve
the company. Colonel Clifford decided to displace a platoon at a
time during the day. Under intense rifle fire, Company C succeeded in
relieving Company B. The fire fight continued throughout the day, and
approximately fifty more Japanese were killed. At 1200 the battalion
conducted burial services for Henry Kilay, a Filipino soldier and
guide who had served the battalion well. [747] During the night and
continuing into 19 November, Japanese heavy machine guns fired into
the perimeter on Ridge Number 2.

In the meantime the enemy began to deliver heavy fire against
Company B, which had moved to the south flank of the battalion on
Kilay Ridge. Colonel Clifford estimated the Japanese assault force
to be one reinforced company well equipped with mortars and light
machine guns. By 0905 on 19 November the Japanese had destroyed one
heavy machine gun and had begun a flanking movement to the east of
the southernmost outpost of Company B.

The artillery liaison party moved south and directed artillery fire
on the enemy. By 1150, however, Company B was being surrounded and
its ammunition was very low. Colonel Clifford made a reconnaissance
of the area and ordered the besieged company to fall back 100 yards
to the north and set up a strong point with the assistance of Company
A. The next morning Company A was to attack and retake the knoll from
which Company B had been forced to retire. Because of strong Japanese
resistance, the gradual attrition of the battalion's forces, and the
"extreme scarcity" of ammunition, Colonel Clifford also decided to
have Company C withdraw from Ridge Number 2 to Kilay Ridge on the
following morning. [748]

Rain fell constantly upon the troops and churned the surface of the
ridge into a "slick mass of mud and slime." [749] Men were tired. With
insufficient rations, broken sleep in sodden foxholes, and constant
harassing fire, many had sickened. Fever, dysentery, and foot ulcers
were commonplace.

Early on the morning of 20 November Company C withdrew silently in
the rain without the knowledge of the Japanese, who threw an attack
of company strength against the position thirty minutes after it had
been vacated. Company C established a strong position 200 yards south
of the battalion command post. The artillery fired intermittently on
the enemy to the south until 1200, when it concentrated its fire in
front of Company B. So intense was the rain that although artillery
shells were falling only 150 yards away, the artillery liaison party
had to adjust the fire almost entirely by sound. At 1225 Company B
moved out in an effort to retake the knoll from which the enemy had
launched his attacks the previous day, but it came under intense
rifle and mortar fire which forced it to retire. At this point the
battalion's supply of ammunition became critically low. [750]

The downpour continued through the night and the next day. Patrols,
sent to search for a means of flanking the Japanese, were unsuccessful,
but they brought back information which made it possible to place
artillery and mortar fire on enemy positions. At 1430 Colonel Clifford
received the report that two strong Japanese columns were converging
on the battalion from the southeast and northeast. One of the platoons
from Company C moved to the north end of the ridge to assure that
the supply line to Consuegra would be kept open. A carrying party
from Consuegra brought in rations and at 1705 the battalion received
an airdrop of blankets, ammunition, and litters. [751] There was no
major enemy contact.

The rains persisted during the night and the next day, 22
November. Throughout the morning, patrols probed the area. At 1130
the battalion received an airdrop of ammunition, medical supplies,
and ponchos. The main perimeter lines were comparatively quiet until
1430 when the enemy pinned down Company B with heavy fire and assaulted
Company A. These attacks rapidly grew in intensity. The Japanese with
fixed bayonets charged against the perimeters and almost completely
surrounded both companies.

At 2000, since the enemy completely surrounded Company B, Colonel
Clifford ordered the company to break through and withdraw through
Company A to the rear of the battalion command post. Under cover of
machine gun and artillery fire, the company withdrew. When a litter
train of the wounded was ambushed, one of the bearers was killed by
enemy fire.

Within the new perimeter of Company B, 750 yards north of the battalion
command post, Colonel Clifford established a rear command post and
all communications moved to it. From this new location the mortars
from Company D began to fire in front of Company A, the most advanced
company. The battalion cached all supplies and ammunition in case
the enemy should suddenly break through. The rains continued.

Colonel Clifford made tentative plans to withdraw during the night
but abandoned them when General Gill ordered him to hold the ridge at
all costs. Advance elements of the 32d Division had entered Limon,
and the withdrawal of Clifford's battalion would have left their
western flank completely exposed. [752]

Fortunately the Japanese did not follow up the attacks on 23 November,
but there was scattered automatic weapons and artillery fire. Next day
American artillery and mortar fire repulsed a small enemy attack at
0830. A platoon from the battalion slipped through the enemy lines and
brought information on the situation to General Gill. It returned with
orders that the battalion was to hold fast. Two airdrops of supplies,
although they drew enemy fire, were successfully recovered.

For the next two days there was comparative quiet in the sector
except for patrol activity and intermittent fire. At 1000 on 25
November, General Gill sent Colonel Clifford the following message:
"You and your men are doing a superb job. Hang on and keep killing
the Japs...." [753]

At nightfall on 25 November, however, the semiquiet was shattered when
an enemy force armed with automatic weapons, mortars, and artillery
began a heavy assault against the perimeter of Company A. The company
beat off the attack with losses to both forces. On the following
morning, Colonel Clifford had Company C relieve Company A. At 1630
Colonel Dahlen informed him that he, Clifford, was "in a tight spot,"
since the 32d Division could give "no immediate help," and advised
him to "use artillery and hang on." [754] It became apparent that
the Japanese were so disposed that they could launch attacks from
different directions. Further evidence to this effect was supplied
on 27 November, when a Japanese patrol of almost platoon strength
got astride the supply line to Consuegra on the northern front of
Kilay Ridge. A patrol from Company B dispersed the unit and killed
three of the enemy. Colonel Clifford estimated that elements of the
1st Regiment were disposed as follows: a minimum of one reinforced
company was south of him, at least two reinforced companies were on
the ridge about 1,000 yards to the east, and a strong but unknown
number of the enemy opposed him on the west. If this last force pushed
northward Clifford's supply line to Consuegra would be severed. From
1725 to 2020 on 27 November, Company C came under a strong long-range
attack from enemy positions on the ridge to the east. A patrol from
the 128th Infantry, 32d Division, brought Colonel Clifford the welcome
information that reinforcements were en route.



The Main Effort

At 1000 on 28 November the battalion repulsed a small party of the
enemy that attacked from the south. There was a lull until 1930 when
the Japanese unleashed a strong effort to drive the defenders from
Kilay Ridge and recapture it. The opening was marked by 90-mm. mortar
fire upon the outposts of the battalion. Heavy weapons from the ridge
on the east then began firing as at least two machine guns and many
small arms began to rain lead from the west. The enemy fire rose to a
crescendo as the mortars joined in and directed their heaviest fire
at a platoon of Company C on the southwestern end of the ridge. The
Japanese began to deploy troops, apparently in an attempt to reach a
gulch to the west of the battalion's positions. A heavy assault was
launched from the south against Company C.

By 1955 the mortars of the battalion were brought to bear against
the advancing Japanese as the crews worked in feverish haste to break
up the assault. At 2015, although Company C now had mortar support,
the enemy charged with bayonets and grenades. Fighting was at close
quarters and the Japanese began to infiltrate the forward positions. An
hour later the advance platoon of Company C pulled back to join the
company, which had been cut off from the rest of the battalion. The
fire fight continued throughout the night with constant rifle fire,
numerous attempts at infiltration by the Japanese, and intermittent
mortar fire. [755]

At dawn on 29 November the Japanese forces were still on the ridge in
strength and their automatic weapons began to fire anew. All forward
elements of the battalion were under attack and Company C was still
separated from the rest of the battalion. A reinforced platoon from
Company B, at 0730, was able to break through to Company C, kill six
of the enemy, and seize two machine guns en route. As Company C's
ammunition was practically exhausted, Colonel Clifford immediately
sent a carrying party forward. Since the Japanese had blocked off the
trail immediately after the passage of the platoon from Company B,
the carrying party was pinned down.

In the meantime two carrying parties from Consuegra entered the
perimeter of the battalion with food and ammunition. One carried the
"Thanksgiving ration of roast turkey and ... fresh eggs." The battalion
therefore hoped for "a good meal" if the situation permitted. [756]

Colonel Clifford urgently requested General Gill to send
reinforcements. At 1325 Gill told Clifford that he had ordered the 2d
Battalion, 128th Infantry, 32d Division, to proceed to Kilay Ridge
immediately and come under Clifford's control. Colonel Clifford
forcibly reopened the trail to Company C and had food and ammunition
brought into the forward position. A short time later, Company G,
128th Infantry, arrived and Clifford immediately committed it to
reinforce Company C. The remainder of the 2d Battalion, 128th Infantry,
arrived at 1835 and was held in reserve. (See Map 14.)

The action for 1 December began at 0800 when a patrol from Company
B proceeded down a draw to the west of Kilay Ridge. The patrol was
to swing wide and approach the right rear almost directly south
of the enemy-held knolls on Kilay Ridge. These were thought to be
the Japanese strong points and were the objectives for the day. A
preparatory concentration from supporting artillery and from mortars
of both battalions was first laid. The heavy machine gun section of
the 128th Infantry moved into the draw to the west and set up its guns
on the right flank of the ridge in order to be in a position to fire
across the face of the ridge when the main assault began. Company E
of the 128th Infantry then passed through Company C and launched an
attack against the Japanese-held knolls on the southeastern end of
the ridge. Heavy and light machine gun fire from Company C protected
the flanks of Company E.

The company took the first knoll easily, but heavy fire from behind
a huge log on the second knoll halted Company E. Company A sent a
bazooka team forward to knock out the position and Company C sent all
of its grenades forward, but by 1320 the Japanese soldiers were still
resisting all attempts to dislodge them. The patrol from Company B
returned at 1345 with the report that it had been to the rear of its
objective and had seen no enemy activity. No unit made any further
progress that day. At 1720 General Gill ordered Colonel Clifford to
withdraw the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry. [757]

At 0925 on 2 December, Company E, 128th Infantry, attacked the knolls
at the south tip of Kilay Ridge, while Company F moved down the ridge
and swung to the right to attack the ridge to the south--the objective
of the two-battalion assault. The 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry,
withdrew one unit, but at 1245 Colonel Clifford received orders to halt
all further withdrawals pending orders from the commanding officer,
128th Infantry. By then Company E had taken its objective but Company F
had encountered determined resistance fifty yards from the top of the
ridge. It doggedly advanced and by 1625 reached the crest and dug in,
though still receiving hostile mortar fire.

The next day examination of the battlefield where the two battalions
had been fighting revealed numerous enemy dead and the following
abandoned equipment: three 70-mm. mountain guns, four heavy machine
guns, seventeen light machine guns, one 90-mm. mortar, and many
rifles, pistols, sabers, and field glasses. Documents containing
valuable intelligence were also found. On 4 December the 1st
Battalion, 34th Infantry, started to withdraw. During the next two
days elements of the battalion moved through Consuegra and Calubian
to Pinamopoan. The battalion had lost 26 men killed, 2 missing, and
101 wounded, but it estimated that it had killed 900 men of the 1st
Infantry Regiment. The 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, had acquitted
itself well. It had prevented the Japanese from reinforcing the Limon
forces and imperiling the 32d Division. For its work the battalion
received the presidential unit citation.



Central Mountain Range

1st Cavalry Division

As elements of the X Corps were pushing south on Highway 2 through
Breakneck Ridge, other units from the corps were engaged in securing
the central mountain range that divided Leyte and Ormoc Valleys
in order to prevent any Japanese forces from debouching into Leyte
Valley. General Suzuki had ordered the 1st Division commander to place
the 57th Infantry in the Limon area while the 1st and 49th Infantry
Regiments were to go to the central mountain range. The two regiments
last mentioned were to prevent any American attempts to infiltrate into
Ormoc Valley and to exploit any favorable opportunity to break through
into Leyte Valley. About 8 November the 102d Division, including its
signal, artillery, and engineer units, arrived at Ormoc and General
Suzuki immediately sent them into the mountains of central Leyte. [758]

General Krueger had already anticipated this movement and had stationed
elements of the X and XXIV Corps at the principal entrances into
Leyte Valley. On 10 November General Mudge sent elements of the 1st
Cavalry Division to patrol the area extensively. [759]

The northern mountains between Ormoc and Leyte Valleys were high
and rugged, with precipitous sides. The area was heavily forested,
and there were many ground pockets which constituted natural, heavily
wooded fortresses for the Japanese. The very few trails in the sector
were scarcely better than pig trails. The area had not been properly
mapped and at all times the troops were seriously handicapped by
insufficient knowledge of the terrain. The nearly constant rainfall
bogged down supply and made the sides of the hills slippery and
treacherous. From 5 November through 2 December, elements of the 1st
Cavalry Division extensively patrolled the central mountain area and
had many encounters with small forces of the enemy. At all times the
supply situation was precarious.

The 1st Cavalry Division utilized motor transport, LVT's, tractors
and trailers, native carriers, and airdrops to get supplies to
forward troops. Motor transport hauled supplies from the warehouses
in Tacloban to Carigara, a distance of thirty miles. At this point
LVT's of the 826th Amphibian Tractor Battalion hauled the supplies,
through rice paddies churned into waist-deep morasses, to Sugud,
three miles south of Carigara. The supplies were manhandled from the
LVT's into one-ton two-wheeled cargo and ammunition trailers, which
were towed by the tractors of the artillery battalions that fired in
support of the division. The tractors wound their way laboriously
into the foothills through boulder-strewn streams and up steep
inclines that made it necessary for the tractors to be arranged in
tandem. There was always mud, which made traction difficult, and the
LVT's were better able than the tractors to navigate through slick,
soft mud which had little body texture.

The 12th Cavalry established high in the foothills, at the entrance to
the passes through the mountains, a supply base that was also a native
camp, a hospital, and a rest camp. About 300 Filipino carriers were
kept here under the protection of the guerrillas. The carriers had been
hired for six days at a time and were not allowed to leave without
a pass from their Filipino leader. This precaution was necessary,
since the ration-carrying assignment was extremely arduous.


Under armed escort, the long train of carriers, two men to each
fifty-pound load of rations, ammunition, and other types of supply,
began immediately to struggle forward from the supply camp over
narrow, slippery trails, across waist-deep rivers and streams, and
through heavy undergrowth. In the never-ending climb to gain altitude,
it took five hours to traverse a track that measured less than three
miles. At the base of a vertical descent of more than 500 feet, there
was a second supply base, the relay station. From this station it
was another day's forced march to the forward troops. An additional
300 Filipinos were stationed at the relay station in the mountain
wilderness, surrounded by elements of the enemy. These carriers made
the last half of the tortuous journey, while the others returned to
the base camp for resupply. It took four days to get supplies from
the warehouses to the front-line troops. [760]


The 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team, under General Cunningham, had
arrived at Leyte on 14 November. [761] At this time the 21st Infantry
was advancing very slowly along Breakneck Ridge, against strong
resistance, and the units of the 1st Cavalry Division were spread
thinly over the central mountain area. [762] In order to strengthen
the defense line, the 112th Cavalry was committed upon its arrival and
passed to the control of X Corps. [763] On 15 November General Sibert
attached the 112th Cavalry to the 1st Cavalry Division and ordered
it to operate in the Carigara area. [764] General Mudge directed the
112th Cavalry to assume, on 16 November, the responsibility for beach
defenses in the Capoocan-Carigara-Barugo area and to mop up in the
Mt. Minoro area about 3,000 yards south of Capoocan. [765]

The 112th Cavalry patrolled the Mt. Minoro area until 22 November. In
accord with General Krueger's desire to relieve some of the pressure
that was being exerted against the 32d Division in its drive south down
Highway 2, General Mudge on 23 November ordered the 112th Cavalry to
move southwest from Mt. Minoro toward the highway. The combat team
encountered sporadic resistance and on the morning of 30 November
reached a ridge about 2,500 yards east of Highway 2 and about 5,000
yards southeast of Limon. [766] A strongly entrenched enemy force on
the ridge resisted all attempts of the 112th Cavalry to dislodge it.

The ridge was covered with a dense rain forest, and the lower slopes
were thickly spotted with bamboo thickets and other extremely dense
vegetation. Clouds covered the tops of the peak and rain fell almost
continuously, churning the ground into ankle-deep mud. Visibility
was limited to only a few yards. The enemy defensive field works
consisted of foxholes, prone shelters, communication trenches,
and palm-log bunkers. These positions presented no logical avenue
of approach. They were complete perimeters and employed all-round
mutually supporting automatic weapons fire. Although the fields of
fire were limited, the weapons were so effectively placed that they
covered all approaches. [767]

The strong resistance made further progress impossible and the 112th
Cavalry established its perimeter. During the night the Japanese
subjected the 1st and 2d Squadrons, 112th Cavalry, to heavy artillery
fire and launched several patrol attacks against the perimeter of
the 2d Squadron. The night assaults were beaten off. [768]

The next two days were spent by the 2d Squadron, 112th Cavalry,
in trying unsuccessfully to dislodge the Japanese from the
ridge. At 1310 on 2 December the 112th Cavalry received orders
to move north-northwest toward the Leyte River, from which point
they were to send out patrols to make contact with units of the 32d
Division. [769] At this time, however, the 112th Cavalry was still
opposed by a strong enemy force. Troop A nevertheless moved out to
make contact with the 32d Division and to reconnoiter to the west
for further enemy concentrations and for routes by which the 112th
Cavalry could advance to Highway 2.


On 3 December, after an artillery concentration, Troop G, 2d Squadron,
112th Cavalry, started out toward the enemy-held ridge. The slope
was so precipitous that the troops could not climb and shoot at the
same time. The Japanese were able to throw grenades upon Troop G
without exposing themselves, and the troop retired to the bottom of
the hill. An artillery concentration was called for and delivered
on the ridge, after which the troop again started up the hill. The
Japanese, however, quickly regained their former positions after
the artillery fire ceased and again repulsed Troop G with grenades
and small arms fire. The troop withdrew to its former position at
the bottom of the hill. For the remainder of the day, the artillery
placed harassing fire on the enemy strong point while patrols probed
to the south and west around the flanks of the Japanese position,
seeking better avenues of approach. [770]

Troop A journeyed without incident toward Highway 2, at 1415 on 3
December made contact with the left rear of the 126th Infantry west
of Hill 1525, and at the end of the day was moving southwest to make
contact with the leading elements of the 126th Infantry. No contact
had been made with the enemy and there was little sign of enemy
forces. The 1st Squadron received orders to proceed to the Leyte
River and locate a dropping ground. [771]

Henceforward, until 10 December, the 2d Squadron, 112th Cavalry,
was stalemated by the strongly entrenched Japanese force. Each day
repeated attacks were made against the enemy position, but to no avail,
and patrols that probed the flanks of the enemy to discover a means
of enveloping the hostile force had no success. On 8 and 9 December
the 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry, attempted to locate and cut off the
supply line of the Japanese force that was holding up the advance of
the 2d Squadron. [772]

On 10 December the 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, which had been in
the Barugo-Capoocan area, relieved the 2d Squadron, 112th Cavalry,
which passed to the control of Sixth Army. In the meantime the 1st
Squadron, 112th Cavalry, less Troop A had moved west toward the Leyte
River. Troop A reached the left flank of the 126th Infantry. The
progress of the 1st Squadron was slow because of the hilly terrain,
but on the morning of 7 December it arrived at the Leyte River and
established physical contact with Troop A and the 126th Infantry. [773]
At the end of 10 December, the 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry, was on
the Leyte River.

The 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, after relieving the 2d Squadron, 112th
Cavalry, sent out patrols to study the terrain and attempt to find
avenues of approach to the flanks and rear of the enemy strong point
which had long held up the 2d Squadron, 112th Cavalry. An aerial
reconnaissance was made of the area. The aerial observer reported
that the Japanese position was "definitely as bad" as the 2d Squadron,
112th Cavalry, had reported it to be, and that the approach from the
rear was even worse than the one from the front. [774]

The 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, spent 11 December in sending out
patrols on both sides of the enemy-held ridge. The Japanese let the
patrols through and then fired, wounding two of the men. The patrols
then returned. An artillery concentration was placed upon the enemy
position, and at 1245 the 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, moved out behind
a barrage which lifted twenty-five yards at a time. One platoon
attacked frontally while the other platoons attempted to flank the
Japanese. The platoon on the right flank suffered three casualties and
was immediately pinned down. After the other platoons got to within
fifty yards of a Japanese machine gun position, they also were pinned
down. At 1600 they dug in for the night at the base of the hill.

During the engagement fifteen to twenty enemy bunkers were observed on
each side of the ridge and four machine guns were definitely spotted. A
night infiltration party armed with hand grenades, rifles, and knives
was sent to knock out these bunkers. It destroyed two machine guns
and killed four Japanese.

At 0730 on the morning of 13 December, the 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry,
moved out and came under fire from two Japanese machine guns well
emplaced on a cliff. The ridge narrowed to ten feet with sixty-degree
slopes, making forward passage almost impossible. The troops were
pinned down. In the meantime, Troop F of the squadron worked south
in an attempt to envelop the rear of the enemy force but was unable
to do so and returned. The 2d Squadron established night perimeters
near the same positions it had held the previous night.

On the following morning the 75-mm. and 105-mm. artillery and the
4.2-inch and 60-mm. mortars began to register heavy fire on the
Japanese strong point. At 1200 Troop G of the 2d Squadron jumped off,
attacking the enemy position frontally while Troop F moved in from
the rear. Employing flame throwers, Troop G steadily pushed forward
and by 1445 had knocked out four enemy bunkers and destroyed several
machine guns. Of more importance, it was fifty yards beyond the
enemy front lines. Troop F also continued to advance. By the end of
the day the enemy force had been rooted off the high ground, and the
2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, was in firm possession of the ridge. The
unit captured a quantity of enemy ordnance, including 12 light and 3
heavy machine guns, 9 grenade launchers, and 73 rifles, together with
considerable quantities of grenades and ammunition. Before the ridge
was secured, "over 5000 rounds of artillery fire had been placed on
[the] ... position without appreciably affecting it." [775]



The 96th Division

By the end of October the XXIV Corps, having secured the southern
part of Leyte Valley, the Dulag-Burauen-Dagami-Tanauan road net,
and all airfields in the area, was ready for the next phase of its
mission. General Hodge thereupon immediately initiated operations
whereby the XXIV Corps was to liberate southern Leyte concurrently with
the drive of the X Corps in the north. General Hodge's plan called
for the 96th Division to make a holding attack east of the mountains
while the 7th Division drove north from Baybay up the coast of Ormoc
Bay. [776] (See Map 2.) He therefore ordered the 96th Division to
defend the Tanauan-Dagami-Burauen-Dulag area and to relieve as rapidly
as possible all elements of the 7th Division in the area. Finally it
was to mop up all enemy forces in its zone and to furnish security for
all the principal roads and installations in the area. [777] General
Bradley on 2 November ordered Colonel Dill's 382d Infantry to relieve
the 17th Infantry of the 7th Division in the vicinity of Dagami, to
send strong reconnaissance and combat patrols into the hills to the
west and northwest, and to destroy all enemy forces encountered. [778]

General Suzuki was desirous of pushing through to Leyte Valley,
one of the best entrances to which was through the Dagami sector. At
the foot of the central mountain range, Dagami was the center of a
network of roads that led to all parts of Leyte Valley and to the
airfields. Since it was one of the key positions for control of
the valley, its recapture would be of great advantage to the 35th
Army. Just west of Dagami, the central mountain range served as a
natural fortification. The mountains consisted of a series of ridges
separated by deep gorges which were usually covered with a dense
tropical growth. At key points in the area, the 16th Division had
built coconut-log and concrete pillboxes.

There were substantial parts of the 9th, 20th, and 33d Infantry
Regiments of the 16th Division in the mountains west of Dagami. In
the latter part of October the 16th Division became short of food
and General Makino asked that it be supplied by air. The 4th Air Army
therefore attempted with six light bombers to supply the division, but
for some unexplained reason it failed. The 16th Division henceforward
was forced to supply itself and forage off the land. [779]

On 2 November the 382d Infantry started to relieve the 17th
Infantry. The 2d Battalion at 1500 relieved the 3d Battalion,
17th Infantry, just north of Dagami and at 1430, the 1st Battalion
relieved the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, about 1,000 yards west of
Dagami. [780]

Elements of the 16th Division were entrenched on "Bloody Ridge,"
a small promontory on the left side of the road west of Dagami just
short of Hitomnog in front of the 382d Infantry. A waist-deep swampy
rice paddy was between the ridge and the road. The 1st Battalion,
382d Infantry, after moving into this area engaged the enemy, but at
nightfall it broke off the fight and established its night perimeter.

At 0805, the 1st Battalion renewed the attack and met increased heavy
resistance as it advanced through the rice paddy. The companies came
under mortar and automatic weapons fire at 1445 as they came into
the open.

The Japanese took full advantage of the exposed troops and from
machine guns and mortars delivered heavy fire which immobilized
the 1st Battalion. The unit was unable to move in any direction
until nightfall, when, with the aid of some artillery smoke, the
troops began to withdraw. "Men threw away their packs, machine guns,
radios and even rifles. Their sole aim was to crawl back through the
muck and get on solid ground once more. Some of the wounded gave up
the struggle to keep their heads above the water and drowned in the
grasping swamp." [781] After every officer in Companies B and C had
been killed or wounded, 1st Sgt. Francis H. Thompson took charge and
organized the evacuation. He silenced an enemy machine gun and also
assisted in removal of the wounded. As a result of his leadership
both companies successfully withdrew and reorganized. [782]

At 1745 five enemy planes strafed the battalion. The advance units
of the 1st Battalion withdrew some 300 yards in order to consolidate
their defensive positions for the night. During the day Company E of
the 2d Battalion reached Patok, and Company G moved out at 2100 to
reinforce the 1st Battalion. [783]

During the night of 3-4 November the 16th Division launched a strong
counterattack of an estimated two-company strength against the
perimeter of the 1st Battalion. Mortar and artillery fires repulsed
the assault. There was no further enemy activity during the night. On
the morning of 4 November the 1st Battalion moved out against light
resistance, advancing about 800 yards and past the scene of the bitter
fighting of the previous day. Colonel Dill ordered the 2d Battalion
(minus Company E) and one platoon from Company G to move west from
Dagami and join the 1st Battalion. The 2d Battalion joined close behind
the 1st Battalion in a column. At 1430 the 1st Battalion encountered
increased enemy resistance and committed its reserve company on the
left flank. The 2d Battalion received orders from Colonel Dill to move
up to the left flank of the 1st, but the 2d arrived too late for the
two battalions to launch a co-ordinated assault before nightfall. They
therefore consolidated their positions for the night, having advanced
about 1,000 yards. [784]

The night of 4-5 November was not quiet. The Japanese delivered
harassing fire on the 1st Battalion, and at 2205 elements of the 16th
Division launched a heavy assault against the perimeter of the 2d
Battalion. An artillery concentration immediately stopped the attack,
and the Japanese fled, leaving 254 dead and wounded behind them.

The following morning, after the artillery had fired a preparation
in front of the 1st and 2d Battalions, the two battalions renewed the
attack at 0900 and two companies from the 3d Battalion protected the
regimental left (south) flank. The battalions advanced about 1,000
yards before they encountered any strong resistance. The defenses of
the 16th Division consisted of a great many concrete emplacements,
concealed spider holes, and connecting trenches. By nightfall,
at 1700, the two battalions, assisted by the tanks from Company A,
763d Tank Battalion, successfully reduced the enemy to their front
and captured the ridge. Each battalion formed its own perimeter and
made plans to renew the attack on 6 November. [785]

At 0830 the 1st Battalion, with light tanks in support, moved
out in the attack westward against a strong enemy force that was
well entrenched in foxholes and pillboxes. Each of these defensive
positions had to be reduced before the advance could continue. At 1300
the 2d Battalion moved to the high ground on the right flank of the
1st. The 1st Battalion encountered a strong concrete enemy pillbox
which was believed to be a command post, since there were no firing
apertures. As grenades had no effect it became necessary finally
to neutralize the pillbox by pouring gasoline down the ventilation
pipes and setting it afire. Two officers and nineteen enlisted men
of the enemy were killed in the pillbox. The Japanese continued to
fight tenaciously. There was no withdrawal, but by the end of the
day only isolated pockets of enemy resistance remained. [786]

The Japanese 16th Division was taking a bad beating. Its supply of
provisions had run out. All the battalion commanders, most of the
company commanders, and half the artillery battalion and battery
commanders had been killed. On the night of 6 November the 16th
Division contracted its battle lines and on the following day took
up a new position in the Dagami area. The new position ranged from
a hill about four and a half miles northwest of Dagami to a point
about three and three-fourths miles northwest of Burauen. [787]

On 7 November all three battalions of the 382d Infantry engaged the
enemy and maintained constant pressure against his positions. The
1st and 3d Battalions advanced west, while the 2d Battalion drove
north and west. The 3d Battalion encountered the more determined
resistance. Advancing, preceded by tanks, it met heavy enemy machine
gun and rifle fire. A large enemy force assaulted the troops at
close quarters and tried to destroy the tanks, but when the 382d
Infantry introduced flame throwers and supporting machine guns, the
attackers fell back in disorder. The regiment overran the Japanese
defensive positions and killed an estimated 474 of the enemy. [788]
Company E of the 2d Battalion had remained in the Patok area, engaged
in patrolling and wiping out isolated pockets of enemy resistance.

On 8 November strong patrols from the 1st and 2d Battalions probed
west into the hills. They encountered the left flank of the enemy
supporting position at a point about 2,600 yards west of Patok. A very
heavy rainfall on the night of 8-9 November made an assault against
the position impossible on 9 November. After all-night artillery fire,
the 1st and 3d Battalions moved out at 0900 on 10 November. They met
no resistance, but progress was slow because of the swamps. By 1225
the two battalions, supported by a platoon of light tanks, occupied
the ridge formerly held by elements of the 16th Division. The 1st
Battalion had advanced 2,500 yards. [789] The 382d Infantry had
destroyed all organized enemy resistance in its sector and removed
the threat to Dagami.

By this time General Krueger was devoting the main effort of the
Sixth Army toward preventing the 35th Army from debouching into Leyte
Valley. The 96th Division received orders from General Hodge to halt
the relief of the 7th Division and to move north to the Jaro-Palo road
and secure the mountain entrances in that sector. The 7th Division was
to relieve the 96th Division on the Dagami-Burauen road. A regiment
was also to be made available for immediate motor movement to the
north and another for a proposed operation on northern Mindanao. [790]

The 96th Division moved to the mountains northwest of Dagami and sent
extensive patrols into the central mountain range along a ten-mile
line that extended from Dagami to Jaro. Constant small contacts with
the enemy continued until the end of the campaign. The 7th Division
patrolled the Burauen area.

The Sixth Army had prevented the Japanese from debouching into Leyte
Valley. The X Corps had secured Limon, the entrance to Ormoc Valley,
and was in a position to drive south down the valley to the port of
Ormoc. Although General Krueger's troops had performed well, they
had made mistakes which gave their commander serious concern.



CHAPTER XIV

Measure of the Fighting


By the latter part of November, the fighting on the island had entered
a crucial stage. The additional troops received from General MacArthur
had enabled General Krueger to put into effect his squeeze play against
the Japanese. While the X Corps continued to apply unremitting pressure
on the 1st and 102d Divisions in the northern mountains of Ormoc Valley
near Limon, elements of the XXIV Corps would drive north against the
26th Division along the shores of Ormoc Bay toward Ormoc.

General MacArthur had full confidence in the ability of General
Krueger to carry out this plan and thus bring the Leyte Campaign to a
successful conclusion. Once having given the Sixth Army commander the
assignment for the operation, General MacArthur did not interfere with
General Krueger's prosecution of the battle. But from his headquarters
on Leyte, he closely followed the progress of the campaign, frequently
visited the command posts of the Sixth Army units, and made available
to General Krueger additional troops upon request.

Similarly, General Krueger allowed his corps commanders to exercise
their independence of judgment and kept his orders to the minimum. He,
too, made frequent visits to the front lines, observed the progress of
the fighting, inspected the living conditions of the men, and noted
the status of the construction program. General Krueger's concern is
made evident by a critique issued on 25 November in which he analyzed
the performance of the Sixth Army on Leyte. [791]

The Americans had had time to test their experience on Leyte against
past operations, as well as to determine the good and bad features of
their training and tactics and the performance of their weapons and
to contrast them with those employed by the Japanese. An evaluation
of American methods at this point serves to explain in concrete terms
the nature of the fighting that had occurred and of that which would
occur in the critical days ahead.



The American Ground Forces

Tactics

Following the customary procedure, the divisions went ashore with
two regiments abreast. Within the regiments there were variations,
some going ashore with the battalions abreast and others with the
battalions in column. The size of the landing beach and the nature
of the expected opposition determined the type of landing formation
that was employed. Once ashore, the nature of the tactical situation
resulted in numerous independent actions by subordinate units. The
formation most frequently used was the normal one of two units in
the assault and one in reserve.

Frontal assaults were usually employed against enemy positions, and
not enough use was made of envelopments. When envelopments were tried
they were nearly always successful. It was sometimes advantageous to
bypass isolated enemy strong points, leaving them to be mopped up by
the follow-up units.

Although the primary mission of the infantry is to close with
the enemy and destroy or capture him, the natural reluctance of
American infantrymen to engage the enemy in close quarters had to be
overcome. There were several instances in which the American attacking
force felt out the Japanese position and then sat back to wait it
out. In one area no progress was made for four days. On several
occasions strong combat patrols of platoon or company strength were
sent to feel out enemy positions, but as soon as they made contact with
the Japanese the patrols withdrew. They accomplished nothing except
to determine the presence of an unknown number of enemy soldiers.

If more than minor resistance was encountered, the troops frequently
fell back and called for fire from supporting weapons. On one occasion
a company called for artillery fire upon a roadblock and then withdrew
350 yards while the concentration was delivered. After the lifting of
the artillery fire, it was very difficult to reorganize the company
and get it back to the objective. Meanwhile the Japanese had again
covered the roadblock and the whole process had to be repeated.

The American soldiers were too road-bound. Sometimes resistance
along the road stopped the advance of an entire division. This
opposition could have been eliminated quickly by the employment of
simple envelopments and flanking attacks. Although the presence of
swamps, jungle, and rice paddies tended to channelize the attack,
the Japanese had displayed superior adeptness, and willingness to go
into the swamps and stay there until rooted out.

The standard employment of artillery in close support of the infantry
again proved to be very effective and was used extensively. However,
since the artillery fire enabled the infantry to secure many heavily
fortified positions with few casualties, the infantrymen tended to
become too dependent upon the artillerymen and expected them to do
the work of the infantry. General Krueger insisted that the infantry
must be prepared to close in immediately after the cessation of the
artillery fire.

The Americans had developed a strong tendency to telegraph their
punches. In the morning, before an assault by the infantry, the
artillery pounded the Japanese positions, after which the mortars
opened up. The mortar fire nearly always lasted for a half hour, and
then the infantry moved out. Upon occasion, the infantry did not attack
immediately after the preparation by the supporting weapons. This
delay gave the Japanese time and opportunity to regroup and consolidate
their forces, and thus nullified the effects of the preparatory fires.

Parenthetically, it may be remarked that although the actual
casualties per artillery shell were few, the cumulative effect of
the heavy and prolonged fire of the artillery and mortars was very
great. Col. Junkichi Okabayashi, chief of staff of the Japanese
1st Division, estimated that the losses sustained by the division
were distributed as follows: by artillery, 60 percent; by mortars,
25 percent; by infantry fire, 14 percent; and by aircraft, 1
percent. [792]

The employment of tanks singly, or in small groups, materially
aided the infantrymen, since the tanks could be used effectively to
reduce enemy pillboxes and to flush out bamboo thickets. Although
light tanks were more mobile it was found that the mediums were more
efficient in reducing pillboxes. For successful employment, it was
necessary that the tanks have close infantry and engineer support. In
some instances the tanks secured objectives when no infantrymen were
present to consolidate and hold the positions. For example, a regiment
supported by a tank battalion received orders to attack and secure an
objective. The tanks quickly moved out and secured the objective with
little resistance. Since the infantrymen did not arrive during the
day, the tanks withdrew at nightfall. During the night the Japanese
mined the area and four of the tanks were lost when they returned
next morning.

Likewise, tanks were often disabled because the engineers had failed
to remove mines and give support in the crossing of streams. In one
case, the engineers failed to repair a bridge, which collapsed after
three tanks had crossed over it. The Japanese completely destroyed
one of the tanks and disabled the other two. It was necessary for
the Americans to destroy the disabled tanks with their own gunfire
in order to prevent their use as stationary pillboxes by the enemy.

It was found advantageous to establish a night perimeter before
dusk. An early establishment of the perimeter enabled the troops
to take effective countermeasures against Japanese infiltrations
and night assaults. [793] The soldiers also had an opportunity to
become familiar with their surroundings and were less likely to fire
indiscriminately during the night. In spite of this precaution,
there was considerable promiscuous firing during the night and at
dawn. One corps commander effectively stopped this practice in his
command post area by the adoption of two simple measures. First,
he employed a reserve battalion to cover an area extending outward
for one mile and when no Japanese were found the fact was announced
over the loudspeaker. Second, any man caught firing before dawn was
immediately court-martialed and fined fifty dollars. "There was very
little promiscuous firing thereafter." [794]

Although there were three war-dog platoons available for the Leyte
operation, their combat value was practically nil. The unit commanders
to whom they were attached knew little of their capabilities or
limitations. Some expected the dogs to spot a Japanese position
exactly at a distance of 200 or more yards. One unit took the dogs
on a four-day patrol without sufficient dog rations. Another unit
attempted to use dogs in a populated area; the presence of so many
civilians thoroughly confused the dogs.

In general, the troops found that their training had been sound and
that the methods which in the past had been employed in overcoming the
Japanese were also useful on Leyte. It was felt, however, that greater
emphasis in training should be placed on night patrols and night
movements near the enemy lines, as well as on closer co-ordination
between the infantry and the supporting weapons. Finally, it was
believed that the service troops should be given training in basic
infantry tactics and prepared to maintain their own defenses. [795]

All units were in agreement that there could be "no substitute for
aggressive leadership." [796] An infantry unit could be no better
than its leaders. General Krueger said in this connection:


    Infantry is the arm of close combat. It is the arm of final
    combat. The Jap is usually most tenacious particularly when in
    entrenched and concealed positions. Individual enemy soldiers will
    remain in their holes until eliminated. Although the supporting
    arms are of great assistance, it ultimately becomes the task of
    the small infantry units to dig them out. The American soldier
    has demonstrated on many battlefields that he can and will do it,
    but he must be aggressively led. There can be no hesitating on
    the part of his leaders. [797]



Welfare of the Men

At the same time, in order to obtain the best results from the troops,
the unit commanders must concern themselves with the well-being
and comfort of their men. Many commanders were indifferent to such
matters. One corps, for example, had sufficient rations of all
types available, but the meals served the men were poorly prepared
and monotonous. Another corps, at the time it landed, was prepared
to live indefinitely on field rations. As late as ten days after the
landing, no unit--not even any of the fixed installations, including
higher headquarters--operated a mess or served hot meals. Some units
did serve hot coffee after the first few days.

Although there was considerable rain and mud, few units made a genuine
effort to get their men under shelter even when the tactical situation
permitted. Night after night, officers and men slept in wet foxholes
even when no enemy troops were within shooting distance. "It must never
be forgotten," said General Krueger, "that the individual soldier
is the most important single factor in this war.... He is expected
to do a lot including risking his life. But to get the most out of
him he must have the feeling that everything possible under existing
circumstances is being done for his well being and comfort. This is
a prime responsibility of command...." [798]



Weapons and Vehicles

The basic weapons--the U.S. .30-caliber rifle Model 1903, the
U.S. .30-caliber rifle M1, the BAR, bayonets, and grenades--with which
the rifle squads and the individual soldiers of the heavy weapons
company were equipped were generally satisfactory and notably superior
to comparable weapons of the Japanese.

The troops used a variety of hand grenades. The white smoke grenade
was considered to be defective and was frequently discarded. The white
phosphorus grenade was extensively used, mainly as an antipersonnel
weapon. It was thrown with telling effect into foxholes, caves,
and heavy underbrush. An Australian grenade was introduced, but
because the troops were unfamiliar with its use, it was not too
successful. Incendiary hand grenades were effectively used against
enemy weapons, ammunition dumps, and supplies. Colored grenades were
employed to mark strips for the air dropping of supplies. [799] The
fragmentation grenade was most favored by the troops, and after that
the phosphorus grenade. [800]

The Browning automatic rifle was very popular, the best results being
obtained when two were allotted to a squad. The increased fire power
thus obtained was very effective in night defense.

The 81-mm. mortar continued to be highly esteemed as a close support
infantry weapon. The 4.2-inch chemical mortars of the attached chemical
mortar battalions were extensively employed, affording excellent
results when emplaced on firm ground. On marshy or swampy ground,
however, their base plates would sink and cause inaccurate firing
or put the weapons out of commission. The most popular mortar was
the 60-mm., which was very mobile and especially suitable for use in
close terrain. This mortar fired an illuminating shell which was used
constantly for night defense, but its base plate also tended to sink
into the ground.

Flame throwers were employed with very good effect in reducing strongly
fortified positions. The M2-2 flame thrower was an excellent incendiary
weapon against bamboo thickets and shacks. The cartridge type was
considered to be more satisfactory, since the spark-ignited flame
thrower was not dependable in rainy weather. The flame thrower was
considered "a very important factor in overcoming the enemy's inherent
'will to resist.'" [801]

The .50-caliber machine gun again proved its value in defense,
being highly effective not only against ground targets but also
against aircraft. The 96th Division found the Thompson submachine gun
excellent for use by patrolling units but "some difficulty ... has
been encountered with the M3 machine gun in its failure to feed
properly." [802]

The 7th Division found the 75-mm. self-propelled howitzer, because of
its superior mobility, to be the most effective infantry weapon for
reduction of Japanese pillboxes. The 105-mm. howitzers of the field
artillery battalions again proved their worth by the speed, accuracy,
and effectiveness of their fire. The greater striking range of the
155-mm. howitzer had special value for general support missions.

Demolition charges were used effectively by patrols for the destruction
of enemy ammunition dumps in inaccessible locations and not salvageable
because of the tactical situation. Except for this purpose, demolitions
were not extensively used. [803]

The 37-mm. gun was an antitank weapon only occasionally employed by the
7th Division because there were few Japanese armored vehicles against
which to use it. The excessive difficulty of manhandling it into a
position from which fire could be delivered against Japanese pillboxes
and machine guns rendered it ineffective for that purpose. The
90-mm. guns of the antiaircraft artillery had a considerable number
of erratic bursts because of corroded fuzes and worn fuze setting lugs.

The tanks and tank destroyers could have been used more frequently
and with greater versatility. Situations often arose in which an
infantry platoon was held up by enemy machine gun and mortar fire,
but "the use of indirect artillery fire was impracticable either
because of overhead cover for the enemy weapons or because of undue
risk to our enveloping infantry." General Krueger recommended that the
infantry employ direct fire by the tanks or tank destroyers. He felt
that "the tank destroyer commanders lacked aggressiveness and skilled
direction." [804] The tank destroyer commanders admitted that they were
idle but added that the infantry had not called for them. The tanks and
tank destroyers were ideal weapons for the destruction of machine guns,
mortars, and other heavy infantry weapons, but the infantry commanders
seemed to be unaware of their capabilities. Many commanders employed
their armored vehicles down the middle of the road when they could
have used them more effectively on the flanks and for envelopments.

The 96th Division found the Cannon Company's self-propelled
105-mm. howitzer extremely mobile in swamps and mountainous
terrain. It was able to go several miles farther up the mountains
than any other vehicle and gave excellent support in covering the
mountain passes. [805]

The cargo carrier M29 (weasel) proved to be a most useful supply
vehicle. The commanders used it for reconnaissance and visits to
units in isolated areas and over roads that were impassable to
wheeled vehicles. It also was employed to carry supplies and to
evacuate the wounded from inaccessible areas. The weasel was much
less destructive of roads than any of the other tracked vehicles,
but the tendency to use it on dry roads resulted in worn-out tracks
and excessive maintenance requirements.

The 96th Division found the DUKW to be an excellent vehicle when
waterborne but on land, regardless of the condition of the roads and
terrain, it was not half as effective as the 2 1/2-ton cargo truck. On
roads the DUKW was a traffic hazard and an obstacle to other cargo
traffic. [806]

The 7th Division landed with seventeen one-ton trailers. They were
found to be of little value and the division recommended that they
should not be used in any future operation unless a hard-surfaced,
all-weather road net existed at the anticipated target. [807]



Intelligence

General Krueger pointed out that prompt, aggressive reconnaissance
should have been instituted immediately upon the landing of the
troops. The fact that knowledge of the terrain was very limited
before the assault--inaccuracies in the distances on existing maps
were as high as 50 percent--gave urgency to the need for immediate
reconnaissance.

The sources of information on the Japanese were as follows:
ground and aerial reconnaissance, Filipino civilians, guerrillas,
captured documents, and prisoners. Air observation was of limited
value because of the Japanese ability at camouflage and because the
inclement weather prevented aerial observation of many areas. The
tendency of the Filipinos to say "yes" to everything was also a
handicap. In general, the guerrilla reports were more accurate than
those of civilians. Considerable information was obtained from patrols,
which were especially valuable for on-the-spot intelligence.

In interrogating prisoners the best results were obtained by
employing Nisei, who obtained more information from prisoners when
the latter were not subjected to questioning by an officer through
an interpreter. Since most of the prisoners had been separated from
their units for a considerable time and were seriously wounded,
their information was sparse and generally out of date.

Captured documents were the most fruitful source of
intelligence. Although the Japanese made a few attempts to destroy
dog tags and other means of identification before going into battle,
they were not too successful. The fact that General Krueger obtained
information on the proposed ground offensive of the Japanese for
the middle of November from papers found on the body of a Japanese
officer was not an isolated incident. Many officers carried on their
persons sets of orders and maps.

The Japanese received much of their information on the American order
of battle from broadcasts emanating from San Francisco. At first,
the Japanese on the island were unable to find out the American order
of battle for Leyte but within a few days the Americans gratuitously
furnished them the information. Said General Tomochika:


    At the time of the landing, 35th Army Headquarters did not know
    the number or name of the American units which had landed ... but
    within a day headquarters learned.... We found out ... by tuning
    in on the San Francisco broadcasts; Japanese troops in the combat
    area were unable to determine their identity. From the same
    source, we later obtained information which was of considerable
    help in planning. In fact, that was the only way we could get
    information.... Information was always received through the San
    Francisco broadcast before reports from our front line units
    reached headquarters.... Since the information came much sooner
    from the American broadcast than from the Japanese communications,
    the Army Headquarters depended on the American broadcasts for
    much intelligence. [808]



Japanese Warfare

The 24th Division found the Japanese troops on Leyte to be better
trained in combat and more skillful than those the division had
encountered during the Hollandia-Tanahmerah Bay operation. [809] In
general the Japanese fought a delaying action, and when forced to yield
ground they would fall back to previously prepared positions. During
a bombardment by American heavy weapons, the enemy troops would
withdraw but when the fire lifted they would quickly reoccupy the
vacated positions. [810]

The 21st Infantry was impressed with the Japanese "excellence in
battle" on Breakneck Ridge. There were few instances of "reckless
charges, needless sacrifices or failure to observe known tactical
principles." The most notable characteristics exhibited were
the excellent fire discipline and the effective control of all
arms. Without exception individual soldiers withheld their fire until
it would have the greatest possible effect. The heaviest firing would
generally start about 1530 and increase in intensity until about dark,
the fire being accompanied by counterattacks from the front and on
the flanks. These assaults usually came when the Americans' energy
and ammunition were at their lowest point during the day and when
they would prevent proper consolidation of the front lines before
dark. [811]

The Japanese employed reverse slope defense tactics with much
skill and were successful in utilizing terrain for their defensive
positions. Caves and other natural formations were exploited to the
limit and positions were dug in deeply and expertly camouflaged. The
Japanese frequently sacrificed fields of fire for cover and
concealment, a fact which made it very difficult for the Americans
to locate hostile positions.

Captured documents indicated that the Japanese attacks were generally
well conceived but that there were not enough troops at the time of
the assault. The documents also gave repeated indications that units
either did not receive their orders or did not reach the appointed
place on time. The Japanese employed two main types of attack. The
first, which was similar to that employed by the Americans, utilized
a base of fire from supporting weapons, followed by infantry fire and
movement. This type of attack was not usually accompanied by artillery
or mortar support. The other method consisted of a localized charge
in which the Japanese by sheer force of numbers tried to crack the
American lines. The heavy weapons fire of the Americans was nearly
always able to break up both types of attack. Enemy forces, generally
in small numbers, tried repeatedly to infiltrate through the American
lines. The objectives were artillery pieces, supply dumps, and key
installations. Rarely did they accomplish even minor damage.

Artillery weapons were seldom used by the Japanese to maximum
effect. The gunnery techniques were "remarkably undeveloped"
and inefficient, the pieces being used singly or in pairs and only
rarely as batteries. Their fire was never massed. The gun positions
generally were well constructed but they were frequently selected
with such high regard for concealment that the fields of fire were
limited. The use of mines and demolition charges was poor, the mine
fields being hastily and obviously laid.

The troops were well trained and led by officers imbued with a sense
of duty. Consequently, "as long as any officers remain alive, the
remnants of a ... force are capable of determined action." [812]

The Japanese view of American methods was summed up by General
Tomochika as follows: "The strong points of the American strategy
in the Leyte Operation were numerous but the two outstanding points
were (1) the overwhelming striking power of the American Army, and
(2) the American operations were planned in minute detail and on the
whole were carried out scrupulously." [813]



CHAPTER XV

Battle of the Ridges


American Plans and Preparations

With the securing of the beachhead areas in the last week of October
and the first days of November, General Krueger was ready to launch
that part of his plan that concerned a drive north along the west
coast of Leyte. Since a preliminary reconnaissance indicated that
there were not a great many Japanese troops in the southern half of the
island, elements of the 32d Infantry had already started to push west
through the mountains to the west coast along the road from Abuyog to
Baybay. After the attention of the Japanese had been diverted to the
struggle in the northern mountains, the X Corps could launch a drive
against Ormoc, proceeding north from Baybay on Highway 2 along the
shores of the Camotes Sea and of Ormoc Bay. At the same time elements
of the X Corps--the 24th Division and later the 32d Division--could
drive down the Ormoc corridor to Ormoc. The enemy forces would then
be caught between the jaws of a trap, with their freedom of maneuver
limited and most of their strength employed in defensive action. But
the need for blocking the exits from the central mountain range and
the scarcity of combat troops made it necessary for General Krueger
to postpone sending a strong force to the shores of the Camotes Sea
until additional reinforcements arrived on Leyte in the middle of
November. General Hodge was to be prepared, however, to send strong
elements of the XXIV Corps over the mountains.



American Plans

On 30 October General Hodge directed the 7th Division to move elements,
not to exceed one battalion, over the mountain road from Abuyog to
Baybay, the western terminus of the road. He also ordered the 7th
Division to be prepared to move to the west coast when relieved in the
Burauen area. [814] In anticipation of this plan, the 2d Battalion,
32d Infantry, had moved to Abuyog on 29 October to occupy and defend
that area. Company G had spearheaded the advance to Baybay. On 2
November General Arnold alerted the main body of the 32d Infantry,
under Colonel Finn, for a move to Abuyog.

As soon as word was received that the Americans were on the west coast,
General Suzuki, believing these forces to be a small unit of American
and Philippine troops, sent a company from the 364th Battalion south
from Ormoc to hold Albuera until the 26th Division could arrive. [815]
Albuera was important tactically, since from it ran a mountain trail
that the Japanese had tried unsuccessfully to develop into a road to
the Burauen airfield in Leyte Valley.

On 9 November the 26th Division landed at Ormoc after a rough voyage
from Manila. The transport vessels had been repeatedly attacked by
Allied aircraft, which damaged many of the landing barges and ship
hatches. These damaging attacks hindered the unloading of equipment,
which did not proceed as planned. Many of the landing barges were run
aground and destroyed by Allied aircraft, and the transports were
forced to sail away before being completely emptied. They carried
most of the ordnance, provisions, and munitions of the division with
them. On their return trip, all the vessels were sunk by aircraft. The
division consequently came ashore underequipped. The strength of
the 26th Division consisted of Division Headquarters, one battalion
of the 11th Independent Infantry Regiment, three battalions of the
13th Independent Infantry Regiment, and the 2d Battalion of the 12th
Infantry Regiment. These units had only light, portable weapons,
and none was equipped with machine guns except a battalion of the
13th Independent Infantry Regiment.

General Suzuki had intended to use the 26th Division in the Carigara
area but the arrival of American forces in the Baybay area forced him
to change his plans. On 13 November he received word from Manila that
the 26th Division was to be used in the Burauen area and consequently
the main force of the 26th Division was directed to Albuera. General
Suzuki first sent the 13th Independent Infantry Regiment, under
Col. Jiro Saito, [816] but eventually the entire 26th Division,
including the division headquarters, was committed to the Albuera area.

As the troops of the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, moved over the
mountains to Baybay, guerrillas informed them that about three
hundred Japanese soldiers were pushing south toward the Abuyog-Baybay
road. These enemy troops were "six marauding units" of the company
which had been sent south to make contact with the American forces
and contain them until the 26th Division could arrive. [817] Company
E set up an ambush, killed many of the Japanese, and forced the others
to disperse.

By this time the appearance of Japanese reinforcements going north from
Ormoc caused General Krueger to shift the weight of the Sixth Army to
the north to meet the new threat, and to order General Hodge to hold up
on the relief of the 7th Division in the Burauen area. It was not until
after the arrival of the 11th Airborne Division that the 7th Division,
on 22 November, was able to move in force to the west coast. [818]

At 1025 on 14 November General Arnold ordered Colonel Finn to start
moving the 32d Infantry north to the Damulaan-Caridad area and to be
prepared to advance upon Ormoc on further orders. [819] The units of
the 32d Infantry moved to their assigned areas near the Palanas River,
and both the Japanese and Americans made ready their positions for
the clash. (Map 15) The battle that was about to be fought over the
ridge lines along the Palanas River was later called the "Battle of
Shoestring Ridge" by troops of the 32d Infantry. This name applied
to the supply technique rather than to any terrain features of the
ridge, since the supply of the 32d Infantry throughout the battle
was precarious. Said Colonel Finn: "The old slogan 'Too little and
too late' became 'Just enough and just in time' for us." [820]

The Palanas River runs in a southwesterly direction between two ridges
that end abruptly on reaching the road. The ridges slope sharply toward
the river and are separated by a narrow valley. Colonel Finn chose to
stand on Shoestring Ridge, the southernmost of the two, which rises
steeply from the fields. Its northerly face drops precipitately for
more than 125 feet to the valley, where dense bamboo thickets cover
the river banks. The main body of the ridge is covered with cogon
grass, interspersed with palms and bamboo, growth being especially
heavy in the gullies. Between the western tip of the ridge and the
sea are rice paddies and clusters of palm trees, while at a point
3,000 yards northeast of the road the ridge falls into a saddle and
then rises to join Hill 918.



Offensive Preparations

While the 26th Division was building up positions on the opposite
bank of the Palanas River, Colonel Finn had to solve problems that
existed to the rear. Since enemy barges still operated freely a few
thousand yards offshore and two Japanese destroyers had cruised by,
General Arnold thought that the enemy might try to land forces and
seize Baybay in order to separate the American units and sever their
line of communications. There were only three infantry battalions on
the west coast. The mud and floods on the narrow route that connected
this force with the source of supplies at Dulag, on the east coast,
made the road so undependable that the 7th Division could not rely
on a quick transfer of reinforcements to the west.

Lt. Col. Charles A. Whitcomb's 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry, had
moved from Baybay to a position just south of the 2d Battalion on
21 November [821] and established defensive positions in depth. To
have increased the defensive strength on Shoestring Ridge would
have placed the bulk of the forces in a position where they would
be surrounded if the Japanese breached their line. General Arnold,
to prevent such an envelopment, directed that the 2d Battalion, 184th
Infantry, should not be used to reinforce the front lines without his
permission. [822] This order left only Lt. Col. Glenn A. Nelson's
2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, to hold the front. The 1st Battalion
had been sent to the vicinity of Panaon Strait to relieve the 21st
Infantry. In addition to the infantry there was a concentration of
artillery at Damulaan for support. Batteries A and B of the 49th Field
Artillery Battalion (105-mm. howitzer) had moved up and registered
fire by 21 November, [823] and on the morning of 23 November Battery
B of the 11th 155-mm. Marine Gun Battalion arrived at Damulaan. [824]
The regimental Cannon Company brought two more pieces, which boosted
the total to fourteen. All the artillery pieces were only about 1,500
yards behind the front lines, concentrated in a small area in the
vicinity of Damulaan. The light weapons were situated so that their
fire could be placed as far forward as possible, and the 155-mm. guns
were in positions from which they could shell Ormoc. [825] The defenses
of the infantry and the artillery were consolidated on ground that
afforded the best protection.

A platoon from the 7th Reconnaissance Troop patrolled the road between
Baybay and Damulaan, and a platoon of light tanks from the 767th Tank
Battalion at Damulaan was the only armor on the west coast. [826]

For several days preceding the 23d of November, Filipinos moving to
the south through the lines reported that large enemy forces were
massing on the opposite side of the Palanas River and emplacing field
guns. Artillery observers on Shoestring Ridge could see the Japanese
constructing trenches, machine gun pits, and other installations on
the opposite ridge. The Japanese forces consisted of the 1st and 2d
Battalions, 13th Independent Infantry Regiment, and two battalions
from the 11th and 12th Independent Infantry Regiments. [827] Colonel
Saito was ordered to hold back the American advance, which threatened
to cut off a trail the Japanese had been building at Albuera over
the mountains to Burauen.

On 23 November the defenses of the 32d Infantry were stretched very
thin. Because of the great distance involved it was not possible to
have a continuous front line extending from the sea to the mountains,
and therefore some passages of approach had to be left open to the
enemy. Only the longest and most difficult were undefended. [828]
The main defensive sector of the 32d Infantry, just south of the
Palanas River, was astride the highway and on that part of the
ridge which overlooked the regiment's artillery and command post
installations. The defensive sector of Companies F and G was 1,500
yards in width. Company F occupied the flat, marshy land between
the sea and the hills to the east. The men built barricades of dirt
and sandbags at intervals of seventy-five yards and mined the area
in front of them. Company E and guerrillas of Companies F and G,
94th Philippine Infantry, which were attached to the 2d Battalion,
were on a ridge that extended to Hill 918. Some guerrillas were also
outposted between Companies G and E. Regimental headquarters was
at Baybay. [829] "The main strength of the line was American guts
and fighting spirit." [830] During the night, Battery B of the 11th
155-mm. Gun Battalion had moved in and was in position at 0800 to start
firing. The battery was so well camouflaged that during the ensuing
engagement it was never discovered by the enemy. The regiment now had
in support two batteries of 105-mm. howitzers and one of 155-mm. guns.



Battle of Shoestring Ridge

The Battle Begins

At about 1830 on 23 November, the 26th Division opened up the
long-expected attack. [831] The signal for the commencement of
hostilities was an artillery concentration, the first rounds
of which fell in the area of Battery A, 49th Field Artillery
Battalion. The next rounds were scattered. Enemy mortars joined the
artillery and concentrated their fire on the front lines of the 32d
Infantry. Counterbattery fire of the 105-mm. howitzers from Battery B
of the 49th Field Artillery temporarily silenced the Japanese fire. At
2000 the enemy artillery and mortars again opened up against the front
lines of the 32d Infantry and cut all communications between the 2d
Battalion and the regimental headquarters at Baybay. Communications
were later re-established by relay from the 3d Battalion at Caridad.

At 2100 the Japanese infantry launched a well-planned attack, supported
by artillery, mortars, and machine guns, against the lines of Company
E. Although the company retaliated with all weapons at its command,
the Japanese continued to come on, despite heavy casualties, through
the covered draws, high cogon grass, and bamboo thickets. The guerrilla
outpost between Companies G and E withdrew when the Japanese attacked
Company E. The enemy force, which consisted of two reinforced rifle
companies from the 13th Independent Infantry Regiment, seized portions
of the ridge and dug in.

Colonel Nelson, the commander of the 2d Battalion, ordered
Capt. John J. Young, commanding officer of Company E, to withdraw his
troops. Since the Japanese had penetrated the lines and were digging
in, the withdrawal was difficult. At about 2200, when Capt. Roy
F. Dixon, commanding officer of Company G, received word that Company
E was to withdraw to a position behind Company L and thus leave the
right flank of Company G exposed, he ordered the right platoon leader
to move his right from a position in front of the ridge to one on the
ridge facing east, refusing this flank. [832] The two right squads
moved back and secured the right of Company G.

At dawn on 24 November Colonel Nelson re-formed the 2d Battalion. A
patrol from Company F went to the Palanas River and found no enemy
troops. At 0800 three companies moved to the east toward Hill
918. The troops succeeded in pushing back a Japanese force that had
penetrated south of the Palanas River and east of Hill 918. Colonel
Finn ordered Company K to move up from Caridad, and he attached it
to the 2d Battalion.

Battery C of the 57th 105-mm. Howitzer Battalion, which had just
arrived, was placed on the left, south of the Bucan River. [833] By
1800 the troops had regained some of the ground lost the previous
night and occupied a perimeter approximately 2,000 yards long and
less than 1,500 yards deep.

During the day, as far as their limited ammunition would allow,
the artillery units fired at enemy troop concentrations and possible
observation posts. The service troops worked feverishly to move badly
needed ammunition to the front lines. The two most critical items
were 105-mm. and 81-mm. ammunition, and by nightfall the front lines
had received 1,400 rounds of the first item and 1,600 rounds of the
second. General Arnold attached the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry,
to the 32d Infantry but Colonel Finn was forbidden to commit it to
action without permission from the 7th Division.



Japanese Counterattack

The enemy forces did not wait. That night, under a full moon,
they attacked American positions with great ferocity, opening the
engagement with the heaviest artillery barrage the 32d Infantry had yet
experienced. [834] The first rounds fell on the front-line troops, but
the fire then shifted and centered on Battery A, 49th Field Artillery
Battalion, and the infantry and artillery command posts in the rear
at Damulaan. At the same time the enemy pounded the front lines of
Companies G, L, E, and K with heavy mortar fire. Additional mortars
joined the battle and shifted the greater part of their fire against
Battery B. The cannoneers held fast and returned the fire.

After this thirty-minute artillery and mortar preparation, the Japanese
13th Independent Infantry Regiment attacked the front lines of the
Americans, concentrating the assault against three main positions:
the right flank of Company G, the draw between Companies L and K,
and the center of Company K. At the same time, combat patrols moved
from the north against Companies F and G. The companies easily threw
back these patrols.

Colonel Nelson ordered all supporting weapons of the 2d Battalion
to fire. All three artillery batteries fired at the maximum rate
for seven minutes, while the mortars placed their fire directly on
the assault force in order to chop it up or drive it back into the
artillery fire. Colonel Nelson then put the Ammunition and Pioneer
Platoon of the 2d Battalion and a squad from Company B, 13th Engineer
Battalion, in previously prepared positions between Companies G and
E. Company G was thus able to strengthen its lines at the heaviest
point of pressure and repel the frequently repeated assaults.

At about 1900 a strong force of the enemy gathered on the ridge in
front of the right flank of Company L. The American mortars fired
on the ridge but the American machine guns kept silent in order to
conceal their locations. A group of about fifty Japanese came to
within thirty yards of the right platoon of Company L and showered it
with grenades. Mortar fire also fell on this platoon, and at the same
time the platoon of Company K in the draw came under heavy fire. At
least twelve emplaced machine guns, in addition to those carried up
by the assaulting troops, raked the positions of Companies K and L
with intense fire. Company L employed all weapons and threw back the
assault with heavy casualties to the Japanese.

Company K did not fare so well, since it was operating at little
more than half strength and there were only nineteen men in the
platoon that guarded the draw on the company's left flank. Under the
protection of machine gun and mortar fire, the Japanese moved against
the platoon, which was ringed by machine gun fire that cut off any
avenue of withdrawal. The platoon seemed to be faced with imminent
extermination. A Marine machine gunner from the 11th 155-mm. Gun
Battalion, who was stationed on the high ground just south of the draw
of the besieged platoon, opened fire and knocked out the enemy machine
guns which had cut off the line of withdrawal. He then directed his
fire against the Japanese weapons on the ridge across the draw and
raked the ridge from one end to the other. After the enemy guns had
been silenced the platoon made an orderly withdrawal to the foot of
the ridge to positions on its right rear, from which it could cover
the draw. [835] Many enemy dead were left in the vacated positions.

The Japanese then attempted to break through the center of Company
K's line, but were driven off by the use of artillery, together with
the mortars, machine guns, grenades, and rifles of the company. For
the rest of the night the Japanese kept probing the left flank of
the company and placing machine gun and mortar fire along the entire
line. At one time about twenty-five of the enemy pushed past the outer
perimeter to within fifty yards of the perimeter of the command post
and set up two machine guns. Headquarters personnel, medical men,
and engineers who were manning the perimeter drove the group off.

Meanwhile, the Japanese forces in front of Company L withdrew and were
regrouping, preparatory to launching a new attack. Since there was
no artillery observer with the company, 1st Lt. William C. Bentley,
of the Cannon Company, with two men went to a vantage point from which
they could observe the draw and the ridge where the enemy force was
assembling. Lieutenant Bentley directed an artillery concentration on
the draw. Three times the Japanese tried to pierce the right flank of
Company L and three times the artillery drove them back with heavy
casualties. The enemy then tried unsuccessfully to get through the
left flank of the company. The front line of Company L had comparative
quiet for the rest of the night, except for a few infiltrators.

Having failed to pierce the front lines, the 26th Division troops
tried desperately to knock out the artillery supporting the 32d
Infantry--Batteries A and B of the 49th Field Artillery Battalion
receiving the heaviest blows. Battery B had all four of its guns
knocked out, but by "cannibalizing" the damaged guns the battery had
one of them back in operation by dawn. The enemy shelling gradually
slackened in intensity, and by 0400, except for occasional outbursts
of fire, all was quiet.

At dawn of 25 November each company sent scouting patrols 2,000 yards
to its front in order to forestall any Japanese attempts to move
in. The patrols remained out all day. The front lines were reinforced
by Company I, which moved into the draw between Companies K and L. The
troops prepared positions but occupied them only at night, since they
were located in a swampy rice paddy. Headquarters and B Battery of
the 57th Field Artillery Battalion moved into the Damulaan area to
provide additional artillery support. Four 105-mm. howitzer batteries
and one 155-mm. gun battery were then available. The troops of the
3d Battalion reverted to the control of the 3d Battalion commander,
Colonel Whitcomb. Because of the intense firing during the night,
the ammunition in the front lines had been nearly exhausted, but a
sufficient supply was brought forward to the guns by the next evening.

At 2200 the enemy, using the same tactics as on the previous night,
again assaulted the eastern positions of the 32d Infantry with
approximately one battalion, after an artillery preparation. Although
apparently well led and well organized, they were in less strength
than before and were driven back, but not without a grenade battle
and some hand-to-hand fighting.

While the infantry troops were thus engaged, eight Japanese led by
an officer moved unnoticed along the Bucan River about one and a half
miles south of the Palanas River. Coming up on the right of B Battery,
49th Field Artillery Battalion, these enemy troops threw a shower
of grenades at the gun crews and tried to clamber over the river
bank and get at the guns. One man made it, and by placing a satchel
charge behind the breechblock of a howitzer he put it permanently
out of commission. All of the Japanese were killed.

The troops of the 32d Infantry spent the 26th of November improving
their positions, moving automatic weapons, restocking ammunition, and
securing much-needed rest. The only important change in the lines was
the moving of B Company, 184th Infantry, less one platoon, into the
position of B Battery, which was made part of A Battery. [836] (Map 16)



Bloody Bamboo Thicket

At 2100 Colonel Saito renewed the assault against the American
position, following the pattern set by the previous night actions. The
Japanese first laid down mortar and machine gun fire, [837] and
then heavy-weapons fire of the 13th Infantry Regiment hit the
right platoons of Company G, shifting to the east in about fifteen
minutes. Immediately afterward, about a battalion of Japanese infantry
attacked Company G, while twelve machine guns started to fire from
a ridge 1,200 yards to the east. The Japanese moved into the fire of
their own heavy weapons. The 32d Infantry, using all of its artillery
batteries, mortars, machine guns, and rifles, started throwing lead
against the enemy force as fast as its men could load and fire. The
Japanese, employing an estimated fifty machine guns, continued to
come on. "All hell broke loose" [838] as the enemy shot off flares to
guide their own artillery fire. The sharp declivity in front of the
American lines did not allow for a close concentration of friendly
artillery fire. Just as it appeared that the lines were to be overrun,
some more enemy flares went up, and the Japanese withdrew, covered
by heavy machine gun and mortar fire. Colonel Finn, taking advantage
of this fortunate circumstance, hastily rearranged riflemen to fill
gaps caused by casualties and replenished his ammunition supplies. The
mortars of the regiment continued to fire into the draw.

After a short lull Colonel Saito renewed the attack. There was
no preparatory artillery fire, but the mortars and machine guns
introduced the assault. The attack did not seem as determined as the
previous one, though the number of troops was apparently about the
same. The 32d Infantry again called down all types of fire upon the
enemy. Elements of the 13th Infantry Regiment continued to advance,
although "the carnage was terrific," [839] and attempted to pass
through the American lines. A strong enemy group moved into a bamboo
grove on a nose in front of the center platoon of G Company. From
this position the enemy launched an attack which the company resisted
with grenades and bayonets. As Colonel Finn later reported: "The
battle continued to flare up and die down as the valiant soldiers
fought like devils to hold our lines." [840] The 81-mm. mortars from
the mortar platoon of H Company fired 650 rounds in five minutes,
and fire from the 60-mm. mortars was "practically automatic." [841]
After an hour's intense fighting, the enemy force withdrew.

The Japanese had not attacked the left flank of G Company. These
troops heard the battle raging to the right and the sounds of the
Japanese forming below them. A noncommissioned officer in charge
of a listening post sent a man to get permission for his three-man
group to withdraw. After receiving permission he shouted the order
from a distance of fifty yards. As the men from the listening post
started back, they were joined by the left platoon and two squads
from the center platoon. Within forty-five minutes the two platoons,
less one squad, plus the section of heavy machine guns, were moving
south on the highway. "There was no thought in their minds that the
withdrawal was not authorized." [842] After proceeding down the road
250 yards they met the executive officer of Company H who ordered them
back. It was too late, the damage was done. Though the left platoon
was able to regain its position without trouble, the two squads from
the center platoon found the enemy well dug-in in the bamboo thicket
where the squads had been. It was later learned that there were about
two hundred hostile troops with twenty machine guns in the thicket.

The Japanese were within the American lines and in a position from
which they could fire on A Battery and the flanks of Companies E, L,
I, and K. [843] Colonel Finn immediately took steps to contain the
penetrators. The reserve platoon from I Company moved behind E Company
to face north in order to stop any enemy troops moving south along
the high ground. The squad of the center platoon of Company G that
had remained in position was faced to the west in order to forestall
any attempt to roll up the line of G Company. That part of G Company
which had withdrawn was moved along the high ground behind E Company
where it established contact with the rest of G Company that faced
the bamboo thicket. The right of F Company was turned south along the
highway. Although the enemy could not be denied access to the flat,
open ground leading to Damulaan, the rear of E and G Companies was
protected and the flat ground could be covered by fire. The Japanese
apparently did not realize the predicament of the Americans, since
they made no attempt to exploit it.

At the same time that G Company was fighting, the other companies, E,
L, and I, were also hit, though the assault was not so heavy as the
one against G Company. The commanding officer of E Company, next to
G Company, felt that the situation left him "in a hell of a spot,"
[844] but he held his position. The Japanese steadily persisted in
their pressure against the lines of the companies and the fighting
continued throughout the night. The defenders yielded no ground
and effectively used many supporting fires to disrupt the attack
of the 26th Division. The Americans counted 400 Japanese dead the
next morning, but casualties of the 32d Infantry, despite the heavy
fighting, had been surprisingly light. For the twenty-four hour period
ending at 1430 on 27 November, four officers and fifteen enlisted
men had been wounded and one enlisted man killed. [845]

Colonel Finn made plans for the recapture of the ground lost by G
Company, and General Arnold made available to him part of the 1st
Battalion, 184th Infantry, which was at Caridad. The 1st Battalion,
less B Company and two platoons from C Company, left Caridad at 0415
on 27 November, and by 0515 it was in Damulaan in readiness for the
assault. Company G, 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, was also available.

At the same time, the enemy was in the midst of preparing
new plans. The Japanese felt that if they could recapture the
Burauen airfields, all the American forces on Leyte would be in
jeopardy. General Suzuki therefore ordered his troops to prepare for
an operation at Burauen. In order to concentrate the 26th Division
for his daring move across the mountains to strike at the Americans
in the vicinity of the Burauen airfields, General Suzuki risked
his right flank, leaving only a detachment consisting of the 12th
Independent Infantry Regiment, one and one-half battalions of the 13th
Independent Infantry Regiment, and one battery of the 26th Artillery
Battalion with two mobile guns to prevent the Americans from reaching
Albuera and cutting off the base of his attack. At the same time,
staff members of the 26th Division moved south to direct operations
against the 7th Division. [846]

These Japanese measures were taken just as General Krueger was able
to reinforce the attack toward Ormoc. The commanding officer of the
1st Battalion, 184th Infantry, at dawn on 27 November got his troops
ready for the drive toward Albuera. He moved his battalion behind L
and E Companies, 32d Infantry. Because of the limited area involved,
the battalion commander decided that only A Company would make the
attack. The artillery, mortars, and machine guns placed heavy fire on
the bamboo thicket. At 0855 the troops moved out but were stopped by
heavy machine gun fire after they had advanced about 200 yards. They
then withdrew about fifty yards while the artillery and mortars again
covered the area. [847] A second attack was also halted, and A Company
again pulled back. At 1430 a very heavy artillery concentration was
placed on the thicket. [848] Immediately thereafter C Company moved
in swiftly and cleared out and secured the area by 1600. A total of
109 enemy dead was counted and twenty-nine machine guns were removed.

The defensive perimeters of the 32d Infantry were set up. With the
addition of the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry, the lines were much
stronger. During the night of 27 November elements of the 13th
Independent Infantry Regiment made minor attempts to infiltrate
through the lines but were easily repulsed.

By now the Sixth Army had received substantial reinforcements. General
Hodge therefore ordered the 7th Division to assemble all forces in the
Baybay area as rapidly as the logistical situation would permit. [849]
By 27 November sufficient troops had assembled to enable him to order
General Arnold to make "an early and vigorous attack" to destroy the
Japanese in the area and then capture Ormoc. [850] On 28 November all
the assault elements of the 7th Division, with the exception of the
1st Battalion, 32d Infantry, which was patrolling in the vicinity of
Panaon Strait, were either on the eastern shore of the Camotes Sea
or on the way there. The 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry, and the 2d
and 3d Battalions, 32d Infantry, were still engaging the enemy at
a bamboo thicket on Shoestring Ridge south of the Palanas River and
east of Damulaan. [851]

The troops of Colonel Finn's 32d Infantry were weary. They had
prevented the Japanese 26th Division from going south along the eastern
shore of the Camotes Sea and had held back the best the enemy had
to offer. General Arnold desired that the 7th Division push through
the enemy lines with two regiments abreast toward Ormoc. The tired
32d Infantry was to be drawn back and replaced by the 184th and 17th
Infantry Regiments.

On 28 November, after receiving orders from General Arnold, the
commanding officer of the 184th Infantry, Col. Curtis D. O'Sullivan,
outlined to his battalion commanders the new roles they were to
play. The 184th Infantry was to relieve the 32d Infantry and then
attack to the front and cover the division's left sector. The 1st
Battalion of the regiment was to relieve Company F, 32d Infantry,
from the beach inland to a clump of trees held by the enemy 600 yards
inland. Parts of Companies A and C were already at the edge of the
grove. The 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry, with the 57th Field Artillery
Battalion in direct support, was to relieve Companies G and E of the
32d Infantry, tie in with Company L of the 32d Infantry, and attack in
the direction of Hill 918. The 3d Battalion, in regimental reserve,
was to take a position in San Agustin. The 32d Infantry was to fall
back to Tinagan. [852] At 1700 the 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry,
relieved the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, at Damulaan. [853]

At 1945 on 28 November elements of the 26th Division attacked from the
southeast and northeast the right flank of Company A, 184th Infantry,
at the bamboo thicket and pushed it back fifty yards. Battery B,
57th Field Artillery Battalion, fired at the southern point of the
enemy infiltration and also 100 yards to the west. [854] The Japanese
attack was stopped, and the 1st Battalion held fast and dug in. [855]

Company E, 2d Battalion, hurriedly moved into a position from which,
if requested, it could support the 1st Battalion. The 81-mm. mortar
section of the 2d Battalion was prepared to place fire in front of the
zone of Company A, and two platoons from Company C were in position to
fill a gap existing between the 1st and 2d Battalions. [856] By 2045
the 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry, and the 2d and 1st Battalions, 184th
Infantry, were on a line from right to left. [857] The night was quiet
except for sounds of enemy activity in front of the 2d Battalion. [858]

At 0900 on 29 November Company A of the 1st Battalion and Company F of
the 2d Battalion, after a mortar barrage, attacked to retake the lost
ground and to overrun the Japanese position in the bamboo thicket. They
regained the ground without opposition, but as the troops approached
the thicket they met strong resistance. For the rest of the day the
battle seesawed back and forth as elements of the 184th Infantry and
the 26th Division contested for control of "Bloody Bamboo Thicket,"
as it came to be called. Between 1820 and 1920, Company A repulsed
three heavy enemy attacks and killed an estimated fifty to eighty
Japanese. [859] At 1800 Companies A and F made a co-ordinated but
unsuccessful attack against the Japanese. They dug in for the night in
positions from which they successfully withstood enemy attacks. [860]

The following morning both battalions sent patrols to scout out
the strength and installations of the enemy. At 1045 Company A,
which had been in action for several days, was relieved by Company
C and moved to the old position of the latter. [861] At 1400, after
a ten-minute artillery preparation, Company C and two platoons from
Company F on its right were to move out toward a ridge 150 yards
north in order to strengthen the lines and secure positions on the
commanding terrain--part of which was the bamboo thicket over which
Company A and the enemy had fought.

The companies moved out on time and met little resistance until they
had penetrated twenty to thirty yards into the thicket, when the
enemy strongly opposed any further advance. The troops of the 184th
Infantry, however, steadily pushed on, and by 1603 Company C, with
the platoons from Company F just behind it, had cleared the bamboo
thicket. Since the line of Company C extended over a wide front,
it was tightened and shortened and tied into Company B. By 1730 the
troops of Companies C and F had consolidated their positions and
formed a night perimeter on the forward slope of the ridge. [862]
Shoestring Ridge was firmly in American hands.



Battles of the Hills

The attempts of the 26th Division to drive the Americans back had been
checked, but the front lines remained practically the same as they
had been at the outset of the battle for Shoestring Ridge. It had
become apparent that the most one regiment could do was to conduct
a holding action and that if the 7th Division was to continue the
advance it would be necessary to commit a stronger force against the
Japanese. Elements of the 26th Division were by now firmly ensconced
in the hills that overlooked Highway 2 and were in a position to
contest bitterly any forward movement of the 7th Division.

A series of sharply edged ridges with many spurs, heavily overgrown
with bamboo thickets and high cogon grass, rose from the coastal plain
to the central mountain range. (Map 17) One of these, Hill 918, was
especially important tactically, since from it one could observe the
entire coast to the south, and as far as Ormoc to the north. About four
fifths of a mile northeast of Hill 918 was the barrio of Kang Dagit,
and about one and a half miles north of the hill was Kang Cainto. [863]
Other important high points were Hill 380, between the Palanas and
Tabgas Rivers and about one and a third miles east of Balogo on Highway
2, and Hill 606, between the Tabgas River and Calingatngan Creek and
approximately one and a third miles east of Calingatngan on Highway 2.

General Arnold wished to attack north with two regiments abreast. He
therefore ordered Colonel O'Sullivan to send out a strong patrol to
the front of the 184th Infantry but not to attempt any advance until
the 17th Infantry could arrive from the east coast. On 3 December,
when most of the 17th Infantry had reached the west coast, General
Arnold called a meeting of his regimental commanders. He told them that
the 7th Division was to renew the attack north at 0800 on 5 December
with regiments abreast, the 17th Infantry on the right and the 184th
Infantry on the left, and secure the Talisayan River about three and
a half miles north, together with the intervening enemy positions on
Hills 918, 380, and 606. The boundary between the regiments was to be
roughly 2,000 yards from the beach. [864] At this time the front-line
units of the 26th Division, which had been occupying a hill about
two miles northwest of Damulaan, withdrew to the Palanas River and
a hill northeast of the river. A battalion of the 26th Division was
on the western slope of a hill north of the river. [865]

On 4 December the 184th Infantry prepared for the attack and sent
patrols from the 1st and 2d Battalions to the front. These patrols
penetrated as far north as Balogo. The 17th Infantry spent the day
in moving forward the various elements of the regiment. [866] By
nightfall the units of the 7th Division were in readiness for the
offensive which was to start the following morning.



Hill 918

On 4 December General Arnold ordered Lt. Col. O'Neill K. Kane to
move the tanks of the 776th Amphibian Tank Battalion by water under
cover of darkness to a position 1,000 yards at sea to the west of
Balogo, the next coastal town, about a mile to the north of the front
lines. The tanks at dawn on the 5th were to assault the beaches in
that vicinity and fire on the town and on the north slopes of hills
and ravines in the area. These movements of the tank battalion were
to be closely co-ordinated with the 184th and 17th Infantry Regiments,
into whose areas the attack was to be made.

At 0635 on the 5th, the tank battalion in a column formation started
to move north over water. The tanks advanced toward Balogo until
they were at a point offshore about 200 yards from the town. They
then continued north in a column formation and fired into the town
of Tabgas. At the mouth of the Tabgas River, just short of Tabgas,
the tanks attacked in line formation. Moving ashore at 0700, they sent
approximately 2,550 rounds of 75-mm. ammunition in direct fire against
the northern slopes of the hills that confronted the 7th Division.

The tanks completed their mission, took to the water again, and headed
north for a mile to reconnoiter the area around Calingatngan. They
then turned south and started for the bivouac area. On the return,
Colonel Kane, elated over the success of their previous landing and
wishing to use up the remaining ammunition, ordered the tanks to land
500 yards south of the Tabgas River. From here the tanks fired and
then withdrew unhindered by enemy fire. At 1045 they were back in
their bivouac area. [867]

At 0800 on 5 December the 184th and 17th Infantry Regiments moved out
with the 184th Infantry on the left. The 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry,
on the extreme left, reached the Palanas River without incident and
without having to fire a single shot. [868] The Japanese historians,
however, claimed that one of the amphibian tanks was set on fire and
that the 2d Battalion, 12th Independent Infantry Regiment, repulsed
the advance of the 184th Infantry. [869]

There were numerous finger ridges inland which were cut by deep
ravines and gorges that came to within a few hundred yards of the
coast line. The entrenched Japanese, using reverse slope tactics,
were able to deliver deadly fire on the advancing infantry. In many
cases the reverse slopes were so steep that effective artillery
fire could not be placed upon them. [870] The 2d Battalion, 184th
Infantry, moved forward slowly toward a small hill which faced the
Palanas River, and at 0858 it encountered enemy small arms fire from
the western slope of the hill. Using grenades, the battalion pushed
forward, but at 0938 the Japanese opened up with three light machine
guns. The supporting weapons of the 2d Battalion fired on the enemy
positions to the front. At 1037, as the battalion reached the military
crest of the hill, the Japanese launched a small counterattack on the
left flank of Company E. This attack was repulsed, but the companies
continued to receive small arms and machine gun fire.

At 1325 the 1st Battalion renewed its advance and proceeded without
incident, finding the situation "very quiet" to its front. At 1435
the battalion dug in for the night approximately 300 yards south of
Balogo. [871] The 3d Battalion moved through the gap between the 1st
and 2d Battalions and across the front of the 2d Battalion on the
right toward Hill 380, which consisted of a series of ridges. As the
3d Battalion advanced toward the hill, it came under machine gun fire
on each flank. With artillery support, the troops reached the top of
the second ridge of Hill 380 and dug in, nine of the men having been
wounded. [872] At 1635 the battalions of the 184th Infantry received
orders to set up night defense positions in depth and to hold the
"positions at all costs." [873] Colonel O'Sullivan decided that the 3d
Battalion was to bear the brunt of the advance of the 184th Infantry
on 6 December and push on to Hill 380. [874]

On the right of the 184th the 17th Infantry had had a busy day in
working toward its objective, Hill 918. At 0800 on 5 December the
1st and 2d Battalions of the 17th Infantry, with the 1st Battalion
on the left, had moved through the 32d Infantry. At 0906 the advance
elements of the 1st Battalion secured a ridge south of the main ridge
leading from Hill 918, and at 1000 the entire battalion closed on
this ridge. In the face of sporadic rifle and machine gun fire, the
leading platoons pushed forward to secure a ridge that led west from
Hill 918. As the advance platoons neared the crest of this ridge,
they received intense rifle, machine gun, and mortar fire to the
front and on both flanks from the 2d Battalion, 12th Independent
Infantry Regiment. At the same time the rest of the battalion, in
attempting to reach a forward ridge and support the leading platoons,
also encountered cross fire that came down the intervening draw. As
enemy gunfire pinned down the troops, the 1st Battalion lost contact
with Company G, 2d Battalion, and a gap developed between the 1st
and 2d Battalions.

The 12th Independent Infantry Regiment, quickly alert to exploit
this opportunity to drive a wedge between the two forces, threw
approximately a company armed with machine guns and mortars into the
gap. Although they did not penetrate completely, the enemy troops were
able to secure a position which would make any forward movement of
the 1st Battalion very costly. The 1st Platoon of Company B and the
3d Platoon of Company A were still out on the forward ridge and cut
off from the rest of the battalion. The reserve platoon of Company A
tried an envelopment around the right flank of the 1st Battalion but
was stopped by the enemy in the gap. Company C moved up to protect
the rear of Company A. Eventually the forward platoons withdrew to the
battalion lines and preparations were made for the night. Under cover
of darkness the 1st Battalion reorganized and moved into positions
on top of the first ridge. [875]

Earlier that day the 2d Battalion had driven forward with Company E
on the right and Company G on the left. Company E went east along the
Bucan River for approximately 1,000 yards and then turned northeast
to ascend Hill 918. At first, however, the company had to secure a
small ridge southwest of Hill 918 on which was a small but dense banana
grove. Company E encountered and destroyed a small enemy force on this
ridge, after which the company reorganized and at approximately 1300
began to ascend Hill 918 itself. When Company E reached the military
crest of the hill, the Japanese began heavy firing with grenade
launchers and at least three machine guns. The enemy fire swept the
crest of the hill and prevented any movement over the lip of the ridge.

Meanwhile, Company G went to the left of Company E and secured a
small ridge about 1,200 yards from the line of departure and west of
Hill 918. The advance platoon of Company G then received fire from
automatic weapons that were emplaced in a draw to the left front
of the platoon. The rest of the company attempted to move around
to the right of the ridge but also encountered automatic weapons
fire coming from another draw. Since high cogon grass covered the
area, observation was limited to a matter of inches. At about 1300,
elements of the 13th Independent Infantry Regiment counterattacked
through a gap between Company G and Company A of the 1st Battalion. A
machine gun platoon, which was thrown in to plug the gap, succeeded
in stopping the attempted Japanese advance.

Company G, however, continued to be pinned down by the enemy fire
directed at its front. Company F, the reserve company, was then
committed to take a position between G and E Companies. Its mission
was to come abreast of Company E, take Hill 918, and then turn west
and wipe out the resistance in front of Company G. At 1415 Company
F moved up Hill 918 and reached Company E without opposition.

Three spurs led down from Hill 918. The one occupied by Company E ran
southwest, that occupied by Company F ran west, and the third ran
northwest. As the two commanders started to launch a co-ordinated
assault from their respective spurs, their companies received a
concentration of about fifty rounds of mortar fire but pushed through
this fire and secured the crests of both spurs. They immediately came
under automatic weapons and rifle fire from the northwest ridge.

Since the left flank of Company F was in the tall cogon grass, it was
practically impossible for the company to observe the enemy. On the
other hand, Company E was on bare and open ground which exposed it to
machine gun and mortar fire from Hill 918. Both companies also came
under long-range machine gun fire from the vicinity of Kang Dagit,
northeast of Hill 918. It was impractical to attempt an envelopment to
the right, since the flank of Company E rested on a deep ravine which
ran to the bed of the Bagan River. An envelopment to the left would
have necessitated going down the hill, circling behind Company G,
and attacking east from the positions of the 1st Battalion. Because
of these unfavorable conditions, Companies E and F with their wounded
withdrew to make a line with Company G. [876]

In support of the advance of the 17th Infantry, the 49th Field
Artillery Battalion fired 577 rounds of ammunition during the day. The
fires "varied from knocking out machine guns to fire on mortars and
on troops in the open." [877] The 17th Infantry had forced the 1st
Battalion, 12th Independent Infantry Regiment, to start withdrawal
to a hill farther north. At the same time, Japanese engineer and
artillery units at Albuera "were erecting anti-landing obstacles
along the beach and putting up antitank defenses." [878]

At the end of 5 December the 17th Infantry had secured the ridge west
of Hill 918 and the 184th Infantry had secured a line extending from
the beach 300 yards south of Balogo east to the high ground southeast
of the Palanas River. Company K, 32d Infantry, had filled a gap that
had existed between the 17th and 184th Infantry Regiments, while
the 3d Battalion, 184th Infantry, had crossed the Palanas River and,
advancing up the southwest slope of Hill 380, reached the top of the
first ridge. There were no enemy attacks during the night.



Hill 380

General Arnold ordered the regiments to capture all of Hill 918, the
northern slope of Hill 380, and the Palanas River valley. The 1st
and 2d Battalions, 17th Infantry, aided by the 2d Battalion, 184th
Infantry, were to move northeast until their front lines were on an
east-west line south of the Palanas River. They were then to launch an
attack to the north and capture the slope of Hill 380 in their zone of
action. The 3d Battalion, 17th Infantry, was to attack to the north on
the eastern slope of Hill 918 and capture the slope of Hill 380 in its
zone of action. The 184th Infantry was to capture the northern slope
of Hill 380 and assist the 17th Infantry in its movement north. [879]

The 184th Infantry started out at 0800 on 6 December with the 1st
Battalion on the left and the 3d Battalion on the right. Supported
by eight tanks, the 1st Battalion pushed through rifle fire, moved
into Balogo, and cleared the town. The battalion commander then
ordered Company B to seize a ridge just east of Balogo. Though the
company temporarily secured the ridge, at 1155 the Japanese drove
the men off. At 1210 artillery and mortar fire was placed against
the Japanese positions on the ridge. As soon as the supporting fire
lifted, at 1305, Company B sent a platoon through Company K to hit
the ridge from the right flank. [880] Company B secured the ridge
at 1510 but fifty yards farther north on the southern slope of the
next ridge strong elements of the 26th Division had dug in, making
it impossible for the troops to move forward. Before the jump-off of
the 3d Battalion, 184th Infantry, a platoon from Company K secured
the first ridge north of the battalion position. At 1000 the rest of
the battalion reached the top of Hill 380 and secured an enemy field
artillery observation post from which it could see enemy activity
in a deep valley north of Hill 380. Elements of the 26th Division
set up machine guns and delivered mortar and artillery fire on
Hill 380 throughout the afternoon. [881] The 1st and 3d Battalions,
184th Infantry, covered by mortar and artillery fire, set up night
perimeters, the latter on Hill 380 and the former on the ridge east
of Balogo. The 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry, remained in the Palanas
River valley throughout the day.

The 1st and 2d Battalions of the 17th Infantry jumped off abreast. The
1st Battalion reached the ridge which led west from Hill 918 and
overlooked the Palanas River, where it found strong enemy positions
that had been abandoned. While the 1st Battalion reorganized, advance
platoons, one each from Companies B and C, went across the Palanas
River to the next ridge, which overlooked the Tabgas River. The 1st
Battalion, in conjunction with the 2d Battalion, 184th Infantry,
followed the platoons at a distance of about 500 yards. Company
B moved behind a "protective nose" which led south from the main
ridge and Company C pushed "a knife edge east of Company B." [882] As
Company C reached a point just short of the main ridge, the men moved
in single file and were pinned down by heavy machine gun cross fire
from both flanks and to their front. Company B, attempting to envelop
the entrenched enemy from the west, encountered heavy fire on its left
front, which made any envelopment in that direction impossible. At 1500
a strong column of the enemy counterattacked the left flank of Company
C, but six machine guns from Company D broke up the enemy attack. The
1st Battalion dug in for the night halfway up Hill 380. [883]

Meanwhile, at 0800, the 2d Battalion, 17th Infantry, had started
for Hill 918. The 49th Field Artillery Battalion established a smoke
screen on the hill to cover the advance of the infantry, [884] and
at 1100 Company E reached the crest of the hill. A patrol located
a trail that led down to the Palanas River. As Company E moved down
this trail, Company G, though under machine gun fire, pushed straight
ahead through the saddle to its front. [885] By 1715 all elements of
the 2d Battalion had reached the Palanas River and were moving left
to establish contact with the 1st Battalion. From dug-in positions
in the dense bamboo thickets on the northern bank of the river, the
Japanese opened fire upon the 2d Battalion. Nothing serious developed,
however, and the troops formed their night perimeters. The elements
of the 1st and 2d Battalions, 17th Infantry, were now in contact on
a line along the Palanas River. [886]

The 3d Battalion, 17th Infantry, swung to the extreme right towards
Kang Dagit and Kang Cainto in order to hit Hill 380 from the east,
but it was hampered by ravines two to three hundred feet deep. Though
the advance was very slow, the 3d Battalion in a column of companies
with Company L in the lead was able to reach Kang Dagit where it
closed for the night. [887]

At the end of the day the 7th Division had secured the barrio
of Balogo, had overrun Hill 918 and occupied Kang Dagit, and had
established elements of the division on the banks of the Palanas
River and on part of Hill 380.

The night of 6-7 December was quiet. General Arnold ordered the 7th
Division to attack north at 0800 on 7 December and secure Hills 380
and 606. The 184th Infantry was to capture the high ground south of
the Tabgas River. [888] Colonel Pachler ordered the 17th Infantry,
with its 1st Battalion on the left and its 2d Battalion on the right,
to attack north to secure the portion of Hills 380 and 606 in its
sector. The 3d Battalion, 17th Infantry, was to secure Kang Cainto
and to be prepared to attack Hill 380 from the east or to continue
north. At 0630 patrols went out to make reconnaissance and determine
the enemy strength and dispositions to their front. [889]

At 0913 the 184th Infantry moved out. It met little opposition, and
at 1643 the regiment reached the high ground overlooking the Tabgas
River and dug in for the night. [890]

At dawn the 17th Infantry sent out patrols. The one from the 1st
Battalion located an enemy heavy machine gun, two light machine guns,
and a mortar, emplaced 150 yards from the battalion's lines. When the
patrol returned, mortar fire was placed on the position and it was
wiped out. The 1st Battalion moved out at approximately 0900. Though
long-range fire fell on the troops and small arms fire hit the left
flank of Company C, the men continued to push forward. The battalion
found several ridges leading up Hill 380--a knifelike ridge in front
of Company C and a double ridge in the form of a horseshoe, with its
closed end toward the hill, in front of Company B.

Company B moved across the double ridge while Company C forced its
passage through machine gun and rifle fire across the closed part
of the horseshoe. At 1600 the two companies re-established contact
on the northernmost ridge leading to Hill 380. At 1630 the Japanese
with machine guns launched a counterattack against the right flank
of the 3d Battalion, 184th Infantry, and the left flank of the 1st
Battalion, 17th Infantry. The 3d Battalion, 184th, was pinned down
but did not yield any ground. The troops on the front lines of the
1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, at first were forced back slightly but
in a few minutes regained the lost ground. They dug in for the night
on the crest of the ridge. [891]

After its dawn patrols had reported on 7 December, the 2d Battalion,
17th Infantry, jumped off to the attack. Company E secured the first
of the three spurs leading from Hill 380, and continued forward to
the middle spur in the face of light fire that came from in front of
the company in the area the 17th Infantry wished to secure. Presently
the fire grew to considerable intensity and the company's section of
light machine guns and two platoons of heavy machine guns moved onto
the middle spur, where they neutralized the enemy position.

While this action was going on, Companies G and F moved to the first
spur. Company G received orders from the battalion commander to make
a wide envelopment of Hill 380 and then assault the hill from the
east. At 0930 the company dropped below the military crest of the
southern slope of Hill 380 unobserved and made its way very slowly
over the steep terrain and through the thick cogon grass. At 1200 the
49th Field Artillery Battalion laid a five-minute preparatory fire
in front of the battalion. [892] The American troops then routed the
surprised Japanese defenders and killed the majority of them as the
others fled into the mountains northeast of the hill.

Apparently realizing that Hill 380 was the key to defense of the
Tabgas River valley and Hill 606, troops of the 26th Division poured
long-range machine gun fire from Hill 606 into Company G and at the
same time halted the company with small arms fire from the immediate
left along the ridge. At 1355, after a heavy mortar barrage, about
fifty men from the 26th Division counterattacked the positions of
Company G, but the company held firm and mowed down the attackers
with fire from its rifles and automatic weapons. The position on the
hill was maintained.

Although Company G occupied the top of Hill 380, it was not in a
position to aid the advance of Company E. The Japanese troops were
dug in on the reverse slopes and could only be rooted out by close-in
fighting. The commanding officer of the 2d Battalion committed Company
F down the main spur from the east, supported by Companies E and G and
the machine guns from Company H. As soon as Company F started down the
ridge, the enemy concentrated fire upon it both from the north and the
west. In a matter of minutes Company F was reduced to a point where
the number of its riflemen hardly equaled one platoon. The company
commander secured an additional platoon from Company G and renewed the
assault behind a concentration of 100 rounds of 60-mm. mortar fire
and 80 rounds of 81-mm. mortar fire. The attack succeeded, and the
enemy force was overrun and annihilated. Company E thereupon moved
to the main ridge and helped mop up the area. [893]

At 0700 the 3d Battalion, 17th Infantry, moved out, reaching the source
of the Palanas River at 1400. An enemy force of about fifty men was
observed in a natural bowl to its immediate front. The battalion placed
long-range rifle and machine gun fire on the group as two platoons from
Company K attacked from the flank. They destroyed the entire Japanese
force without any casualties to the American troops. The 3d Battalion
then crossed the Palanas River and went into night perimeter at Kang
Cainto. At 1907 eight rounds of artillery fire fell into the area,
killing seven men and wounding eighteen others. [894]

At the end of the day the 184th Infantry was on the banks of the
Tabgas River and the 17th Infantry had secured Hill 380, which
commanded the Tabgas River valley.

Although several days of hard going still lay ahead before the 7th
Division was to reach its objective, the Talisayan River, the backbone
of the Japanese resistance had been broken and the Battle of the Ridges
was virtually won. The division had achieved what the Japanese had
considered impossible. It had pushed through Leyte over the tortuous
mountain road between Abuyog and Baybay, it had held the enemy back
at Shoestring Ridge, and it had then pushed north along the shores
of Ormoc Bay toward Ormoc, decimating the right flank detachment of
the 26th Division in the process. General Suzuki had been forced to
send south much of his tactical strength, which was to have been used
for the defense of Ormoc. The 7th Division had assisted in no small
way in tightening the ever-shortening noose about the Japanese who
remained on the island.

On this day, 7 December, the 77th Division landed at Deposito just
below Ormoc. The 26th Division was caught between two strong American
divisions. It was doomed. At this point the action of the 7th Division
merged with that of the 77th Division in the drive of the XXIV Corps
against Ormoc.



CHAPTER XVI

The Fall of Ormoc


It was a time for decision. By the first of December the two
adversaries had taken the measure of each other, but neither felt
satisfied with the progress of the campaign.

The tide of battle was slowly turning against the Japanese. They had
wagered major stakes that the battle of Leyte should be the decisive
one of the Philippines. Someway, somehow, the Japanese felt, they must
regain the initiative or Leyte, for which so much had been sacrificed,
would be lost to them. The days had dwindled to a precious few.

Imperial General Headquarters was loath to write off the Leyte
Campaign. A daring plan was conceived whereby the ground and air
forces, working in close co-ordination, would attempt to wrest the
initiative from General Krueger's forces. Before the main effort,
suicide aircraft carrying demolition teams were to crash-land on the
Dulag and Tacloban airstrips and render them unfit for use. Thereafter,
the 2d Raiding Group of the 4th Air Army would transport two paratroop
companies to the Burauen airfields. The paratroops in conjunction
with elements of the 35th Army, including the 26th Division, would
then seize the Burauen airfields. The time was to be the evening of
5 December. With the loss of the airfields, the U. S. Sixth Army,
it was hoped, would be in a perilous situation. [895]

General Krueger was also making plans. By the middle of November strong
elements of the Sixth Army were trying to force their way into the
Ormoc Valley and others were on the eastern shore of Ormoc Bay. The
plan of General Krueger was simple. He wanted to secure control of
the valley and the port of Ormoc and thus force the Japanese into
the mountains near the western coast, from which they could escape
only by sea.

At this time the XXIV Corps was with difficulty driving west and
north from the center of the island. The 96th Division was engaged in
mopping up in the mountains overlooking Leyte Valley. Units of the 7th
Division, far to the south, were moving westward toward Baybay on the
shore of the Camotes Sea. The 1st Cavalry Division and the 24th and 32d
Infantry Divisions of the X Corps were making slow progress in driving
down the Ormoc corridor from the Limon-Pinamopoan-Carigara area.

Several courses of action were now open to General Krueger. He could
concentrate on the drive of the 32d Infantry Division and the 1st
Cavalry Division south down the Ormoc corridor, or on the advance of
the 7th Division north along the coast of Ormoc Bay from Baybay to
Ormoc. A third course also presented itself. An amphibious overwater
movement might be attempted by landing troops just below Ormoc in the
midst of the enemy force, thus dividing the Japanese strength. After
landing, the troops could push north, seize Ormoc, and then drive
up the Ormoc corridor and effect a juncture with elements of the X
Corps. This move, though highly hazardous, would considerably shorten
the Leyte Campaign if successfully carried out.

In mid-November, therefore, General Krueger proposed that an amphibious
movement and a landing at a point just below Ormoc be made. At
that time, however, the naval forces did not have the necessary
assault and resupply shipping on hand to mount and maintain such
an operation and to execute as well the Mindoro operation scheduled
for 5 December. Since there was insufficient air support, the local
naval commander felt that a convoy entering Ormoc Bay might be in
jeopardy and that Japanese suicide bombing tactics could cause heavy
losses. Unable to secure the necessary assault shipping, General
Krueger temporarily set aside his plan. [896]



Plan for Amphibious Movement

On 30 November General MacArthur postponed for ten days the Mindoro
operation. [897] The postponement would make available the amphibious
shipping and naval support that were necessary for a landing in the
Ormoc area. From a naval point of view, however, the operation was
very precarious, since the Japanese were still making aerial attacks
that could seriously damage the shipping needed for the forthcoming
Mindoro and Luzon operations. After careful consideration of the
risks involved, Admiral Kinkaid decided to make available to General
Krueger the shipping required for an amphibious movement to a point
below Ormoc. [898]

After issuing a warning order on 1 December, General Krueger on 4
December ordered the two corps to make their "main effort," starting 5
December, toward the defeat of the enemy forces in the Ormoc area. The
X Corps was to advance "vigorously south astride Highway 2 so as
to support the effort made by the ... XXIV Corps." The commanding
general of the XXIV Corps was to arrange with the commander of the
naval task group for the shipping and naval gunfire support necessary
to transport and land a division just below Ormoc. General Hodge,
also, was to arrange with the commanding general of the Fifth Air
Force for close air support for the landing and subsequent operations
ashore. [899] The 77th Division was selected to make the amphibious
movement to the Ormoc area.

In planning for the Leyte operation the Sixth Army had designated
Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce's 77th Infantry Division, then on Guam, as
the second of its two reserve divisions. As a result of the successes
in the first days of the campaign, however, General MacArthur thought
it would not be necessary to use the division on Leyte. On 29 October,
without General Krueger's concurrence, General MacArthur transferred
control of the division from General Krueger to Admiral Nimitz,
Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Area. [900] Shortly afterward the
Japanese began their reinforcements of Leyte and a captured Japanese
field order revealed that an all-out offensive would be launched
against the Americans in the middle of November. These developments
led General MacArthur to request Admiral Nimitz to divert the 77th
Division, which was on its way to New Caledonia, to the Tacoloban area
on Leyte. [901] Admiral Nimitz acquiesced and told General MacArthur
that the division was being sent to Manus. After its arrival there,
operational control over it would pass to General MacArthur. [902]

Upon arrival of the 77th Division at Seeadler Harbor on Manus at 1330,
15 November, General MacArthur ordered it to go to Leyte and come
under the control of General Krueger. [903] After the ships' stores
had been replenished, the convoy sailed out of the anchorage at 1700,
17 November, and made the voyage to Leyte without incident. [904]
The units commenced landing on the eastern shores of Leyte in the
vicinity of Tarragona and Dulag about 1800, 23 November, and came
under the control of General Krueger who assigned the division to
General Hodge. From 23 to 25 November it was engaged in unloading
the transports and establishing bivouac areas.

On 19 November, while it was still at sea, General Krueger had ordered
the 77th Division to furnish immediately after landing a ship-unloading
detail of about 1,200 men for the projected operation at Mindoro. [905]
At 1600 on 27 November the detail, a battalion of the 306th Infantry,
boarded LCI's at Tarragona Beach and departed for the staging area
for the Mindoro operation.

In conformity with General Krueger's plans, General Hodge ordered
the 77th Division to make preparations for the amphibious operation
below Ormoc. (Map 19) It was to be assisted by the 7th Division,
which was to attack and capture the high ground south of the Panilahan
River. General Bruce, once ashore, was to direct and co-ordinate the
attack of the 7th Division with that of the 77th Division. [906]
General Krueger informed General Hodge that he did not approve of
this arrangement and added that such co-ordination as was necessary
should be exercised by Hodge as corps commander. [907]

At a point about three and a half miles southeast of Ormoc was
the barrio of Deposito where the 77th Division was to land. Along
the eastern shore of Ormoc Bay, south from Ormoc, there were many
areas which offered suitable landing beaches. These were crossed by
numerous rivers and streams which discharged into Ormoc Bay. None of
these would be a handicap, since all could be forded except during the
monsoon season. The beach area selected, though narrow, was suitable
for landing, having a surface of hard sand and gravel that could be
used as a road by vehicles.

The terrain was level for about a mile and a half inland from
the beach, and then rose gradually to a height of twenty to thirty
feet. Half a mile farther inland, the mountain slopes began. Highway 2,
which was ten feet wide and composed of sand and gravel, ran along the
entire length of the east coast of Ormoc Bay. Several roads ran from
Highway 2 to the beach: one was about a hundred yards south of the
Baod River and skirted the rice paddies in the middle of the landing
beach area; another, just south of the rice paddies, extended inland
about two miles from the beach. [908]



Naval Plans

When the naval forces were informed that the overwater movement to
Ormoc would take place and that the Mindoro operation was postponed,
the shipping reserved for the Mindoro operation was turned over to
the Ormoc force. Rear Adm. Arthur D. Struble was given command of
Task Group 78.3, which was to transport and land the 77th Division,
together with its supplies and equipment, in the Ormoc Bay area and
support the landing by naval gunfire. [909]

Admiral Struble divided his task group into six units, in addition
to the destroyer which was his flagship. These consisted of: a
Fast Transport Unit of eight transports; a Light Transport Unit of
twenty-seven landing craft and twelve LSM's (medium landing ships);
a Heavy Transport Unit of four LST's (tank landing ships); an Escort
Unit of twelve destroyers; a Mine-Sweeping Unit of nine mine sweepers
and a transport; and a Control and Inshore Support Unit made up of
four LCI(R)'s (infantry rocket landing craft), two submarine chasers,
and one tug. The landing was to be made between the Baod and Bagonbon
Rivers but clear of the Bagonbon River delta. The northern half of
the beach was called White I and the southern half White II. Six
destroyers would bombard the landing beaches.

The line of departure was fixed at 2,000 yards from the beach,
but if the shore fire became heavy the line of departure would be
moved back 1,000 yards. There would be five assault waves with two
LCI(R)'s flanking the first wave to the beach. Each craft would fire
so as to cover the sector of the beach in its area to a depth of 600
yards. After completion of the bombardment the LCI(R)'s would reload
and remain on the flanks to engage targets of opportunity.



Air Support Plans [910]

The Fifth Air Force would provide both day and night air cover for
the journey of the assault convoy to the target, for the landings,
and for the return convoy. It was estimated that on 5 December,
for the journey to the target, seventeen night fighter sorties and
seventy-two day fighter sorties would be required. Protection would
also be furnished by the bombers, and forty-six aircraft would be
available on call for strikes against enemy installations and targets
of opportunity, as well as for special missions.

On the day of the landings, the tempo would be accelerated. There
would be nineteen night fighter sorties and ninety-six day fighter
sorties; ten flights of forty bombers to cover the beachhead; six
nights of twenty-four bombers to cover the return of the assault
convoy; and eleven night fighters to cover the LST and main assault
convoys, the beachhead, and the return convoy. There would also be
available sixteen bombers for interception or additional cover for
the beachhead and convoy; twenty-four P-47's for interception, ground
support, and attacks against enemy shipping or targets of opportunity;
sixteen P-40's for ground strikes; and thirty-four F4U's for cover
or interception.

The 77th Division continued to assemble its troops on Tarragona Beach,
on the east coast of Leyte, and during the night of 5 December the
loading of supplies and equipment on the landing ships began. The
loading was slowed by frequent air alerts. The division had previously
been told that the convoy would be unable to stay in the landing area
more than two hours and consequently there was no attempt to bulk load
supplies, since they would take too long to unload. All supplies and
equipment to support the initial assault had to be mobile-loaded, that
is, loaded on the vehicles taken with the division so that the supplies
could be brought ashore in the vehicles upon debarkation. There
were only 289 vehicles in the initial convoy, including tanks, M8's,
and M10's that could not carry supplies. The LVT's (tracked landing
vehicles) were filled with supplies rather than troops in order that
they could be discharged from the landing ships into the water and
go ashore fully loaded. Furthermore, since the supplies were mobile
they could be moved either by water or inland by motor. [911] The 77th
Division gave the highest priority to ammunition, water, and rations.

About 0700 on 6 December the assault shipping rendezvoused off
Tarragona and Rizal Beaches, and one hour later the assault troops
began to board the vessels. The loading was completed at 1200 and
the convoy assembled offshore from Dulag to await the arrival of the
twelve escorting destroyers.



The Movement Overwater

The Convoy Sails

Two mine sweepers swept the Canigao Channel between Leyte and Bohol
on 27 November and again on 4 and 6 December, but they encountered no
mines of any sort. [912] At 1200 on 6 December the convoy's escorting
destroyers departed from San Pedro Bay and moved to the point of
rendezvous offshore, near the Tarragona-Rizal area. The principal
convoy was formed and got under way at 1330, having been preceded by
four slower-moving LST's escorted by two destroyers. The commander
of the destroyer unit gave additional protection to the transports
with four destroyers until 2300, when the destroyers departed for a
prelanding raid on Ormoc Bay. They were also to intercept any Japanese
surface vessels that might be attempting to bring reinforcements into
Ormoc harbor.

The journey through Leyte Gulf, Surigao Strait, and the Camotes Sea
was uneventful. Several unidentified planes flew over the convoy but
did not launch an attack. The only alert during the voyage was about
twilight on the 6th of December, when an unidentified group of eighteen
bombers flew over the formation in the direction of Tacloban. The
convoy encountered numerous small native craft en route and checked
several of these but found no Japanese. [913]

Throughout the night the vessels steamed toward the target. Silently
they took their stations in Ormoc Bay, off the coast of Deposito,
before dawn. At 0634 on 7 December an enemy shore battery opened fire,
which was answered at 0640 as the destroyers commenced firing upon
their assigned targets. Behind Ipil, in the vicinity of the northern
fire support group, a number of enemy 3-inch gun positions were
observed. The destroyers took the positions under fire and quickly
silenced them. At 0655 a large number of Japanese were observed in the
town of Albuera and these also were taken under fire. The destroyers
covered the landing beaches until ordered to lift fire just as the
first wave of the landing party was approaching the beach. [914]

As the American convoy steamed into position, it received word that
an enemy convoy was on the way to Ormoc with reinforcements. Aircraft
of the V Fighter Command flew to intercept the Japanese vessels,
which comprised six transports and seven escort vessels. During
the morning occurred one of the most intense aerial battles of the
Leyte Campaign. Fifty-six P-47's of the 341st and 347th Fighter
Squadrons dropped ninety-four 1,000-pound and six 500-pound bombs
on the enemy shipping and strafed the vessels. The Army and Marine
land-based aircraft destroyed two cargo vessels and two passenger
transports. [915] Nearly all the available American aircraft were
engaged in the attack. General MacArthur in his daily communique
estimated that the entire convoy was wiped out and that 4,000 enemy
troops lost their lives. [916]



"Land the Landing Party"

The landing of the first wave, scheduled for 0630, was delayed until
0707 to take advantage of better light for the naval bombardment. There
were to be five waves for each regiment. [917] At 0701 the first wave
of small landing craft left the line of departure and raced for the
shore. The first wave was landed at 0707, co-ordinating its spacing
and timing with that of the LCI(R)'s supporting the landing. There
was no opposition, and the troops moved inland.

The dispatch and landing of the fourth wave of LCI(R)'s was delayed
because the third wave had been unable to disembark the troops and
retract according to schedule. The fifth wave of LSM's was delayed
for the same reason. Since the tide was rapidly falling and the sand
bar was exposed, a tug was used in several instances to pull the craft
off. At 1100 the commander of the task group pulled out, leaving behind
one LCI and four LSM's stranded on the beach. The tug left at the same
time, and Admiral Struble ordered the grounded craft to retract at high
tide and proceed back to San Pedro Bay under cover of darkness. [918]

With the departure of the landing waves for the shore, the destroyers
turned their fire upon targets adjacent to the landing beaches. The
Laffey at 0830 opened fire against some enemy troops approaching
the barrio of Ipil from the north and turned them back. At 0930 the
Conyngham fired upon a possible concentration south of Ipil and at
1000 this destroyer's shore fire control party requested additional
support against enemy troops that were moving into Ipil. [919]

At 0820 the Japanese launched a strong aerial offensive against the
American vessels in Ormoc Bay. The enemy air attacks continued for
nearly nine and a half hours. The Fifth Air Force, beginning at 0700,
gave air cover throughout the day and "did an excellent job." [920]
Upon a number of occasions, however, the enemy airplanes slipped
through the antiaircraft fire and the air protection and hit the
shipping. Japanese suicide aircraft struck and badly damaged five
vessels. At 0945 the destroyer Mahan and the high-speed transport
Ward received such damaging blows that they later had to be sunk
by gunfire. [921] The Japanese made sixteen different raids on the
shipping, during which an estimated forty-five to fifty enemy aircraft
attacked the formation. Thirty-six of these were believed to have
been shot down. [922]

The landing waves arrived ashore without incident and without
casualties. Within thirty-five minutes the advance echelon of division
headquarters, including the assistant division commander and the
general staff sections, were ashore. [923] Approximately 2,000 men
were placed on a 1,000-yard beach every five minutes. Mobile-loading
of supplies had made this speed possible. "Logistically it was a
difficult operation to push that mass of troops and equipment on a
beach in so short a time and had there been any considerable unexpected
enemy mortar or artillery fire at any time during the period, great
casualties might have resulted." [924] At 0930 General Bruce assumed
command ashore.



Japanese Plans

Until the middle of November, the commander of the Japanese 35th Army
had failed to put any beach obstacles along the shores of Ormoc Bay,
[925] since he believed that there was little likelihood of an American
thrust up the bay. General Suzuki thought that the Americans would
be deterred by the presence of a Japanese naval base on Cebu in front
of Bohol Strait. As American naval activity increased along the coast
in the last part of November, however, the Japanese finally conceded
that there was "a great possibility" of an American landing at Ormoc
Bay. By the middle of the month the Ormoc Defense Headquarters was
organized under the command of Colonel Mitsui, the commanding officer
of the Shipping Unit. The main force of the Defense Headquarters was
the Shipping Unit, but the Antitank and Antiaircraft Gun Units, the
Automatic Gun Company, and other units were added. In addition, all
units then in Ormoc were temporarily placed under Colonel Mitsui. The
enemy plan of defense was simple. At the town of Ormoc the Japanese,
from their main defensive positions, were to stop the advance and then,
gathering as much strength as possible, they were to counterattack.

The Japanese defenses, however, were not completed at the time of
the American landings. Only individual trenches had been dug along
the coast, and the field positions in the northern part of Ipil were
elementary. Upon being alerted that the Americans had landed, the
Shipping Unit of Colonel Mitsui took up its main defensive positions
in the Ipil area. At the same time, troops of the Nonaka Battalion of
the 30th Division, consisting of an infantry company and a machine
gun company, were placed under the command of Colonel Mitsui. The
major part of the 30th Division remained on Mindanao. The American
strength was estimated to be one regiment.



Drive Toward Ormoc

Ipil

The assault elements of the 77th Division advanced inland immediately
after landing. The 1st Battalion of Col. Vincent J. Tanzola's 305th
Infantry, with two companies abreast, was to seize the crossings
over the Bagonbon River in the vicinity of Highway 2. [926] The
307th Infantry was to move rapidly inland and establish an initial
beachhead line about 1,300 yards east near a bridge over the Baod
River. The 305th Infantry landed in a column of battalions with the
1st, 3d, and 2d Battalions going ashore in that order. The 1st and
3d Battalions moved rapidly inland to the objective while the 2d
Battalion remained in regimental reserve. The 307th Infantry also
reached the bridge without difficulty. In the town of Deposito, enemy
foxholes had been dug in the tall grass and apparently were to be
used only as a protection against Allied air attacks, since they had
no field of fire. Immediately upon landing, a reconnaissance patrol
went to locate a trail leading from the beach to Highway 2. About 300
yards north of the Bagonbon River, the patrol found a small access
road which was put to immediate use. [927] The initial beachhead
line was achieved within forty-five minutes after landing. Most of
the Japanese 26th Division which had been in the area were either
moving over the mountains to participate in a battle for the Burauen
airfields or were engaging the 7th Division south of Deposito. Little
besides service troops remained to oppose the 77th Division.

General Bruce originally had planned to hold the beachhead line,
establish a defensive position, and await the arrival of additional
supplies and reinforcements on the following day. But because of
the lack of organized resistance, the speed with which the troops
moved inland, and his desire to fully exploit the situation before
the Japanese could counterattack, he very early decided to continue
the attack northward astride the highway and extend the division's
beachhead to Ipil. [928]

The 307th Infantry (less the 2d Battalion which was on Samar), under
Col. Stephen S. Hamilton, together with the 2d Battalion of Col. Aubrey
D. Smith's 306th Infantry, which was attached to the regiment after
the landing, was ordered by General Bruce to move northward and take
Ipil. [929] At about 1045, with the 1st Battalion in the lead, the
regiment moved out northward astride Highway 2 toward Ipil. At the same
time the division artillery was in position to support the advance. The
306th Field Artillery Battalion had been previously placed in the 7th
Division area at a position from which it could fire as far north as
Ipil and 6,000 yards inland. [930] At first there was little enemy
opposition, but the troops observed many well-camouflaged foxholes
under the houses, and many stores of Japanese food and ammunition.

Within ten minutes after starting, the 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry,
was 300 yards north of Deposito and by 1215 had advanced 500 yards
farther north. Japanese resistance became heavier as the troops
neared Ipil. The remaining troops of the Nonaka Battalion of the 30th
Division, consisting of an infantry company and a machine gun company,
had landed at Ormoc from junks and "fought bravely" under the command
of the Shipping Unit. [931] The enemy had emplaced machine guns, and
in one instance a cannon, in dugouts under the houses. [932] By 1455
the 307th Infantry was on the outskirts of Ipil, but its advance was
temporarily held up when the Japanese exploded one of their ammunition
dumps. [933] By 1740 the 1st Battalion had cleared the barrio and set
up a night perimeter on its northern outskirts. The regiment had killed
an estimated sixty-six Japanese and had captured one prisoner of war,
a medical supply dump, a bivouac area, and numerous documents. [934]

The 305th Infantry during the day moved south to the Bagonbon River
without serious opposition. Patrols of platoon strength were sent
to scout out enemy positions and, if possible, establish contact
with the 7th Division which was fighting north along the coast from
Baybay. These patrols went as far south as the Panalihan River,
destroying three food dumps and knocking out an enemy pillbox. [935]

During the afternoon enemy aircraft that were molesting the shipping
dropped some bombs ashore but no appreciable damage resulted. The
division artillery established a command post approximately 200 yards
inland on the southern banks of the Baod River. As the beachhead line
extended, the artillery moved to the northern banks of the river. This
position afforded better cover and concealment. The artillery fired
on enemy machine guns, mortars, and troops. [936]

At 1640 General Bruce issued orders for the regiments to consolidate
their positions and form night perimeters. The 77th Division had
established a two-mile beachhead extending from Ipil in the north
to the Bagonbon River on the south and had penetrated inland nearly
a mile.

General Bruce's plan at this time was to push forward vigorously
and capture Ormoc, after which he would drive north, take Valencia,
and make contact with elements of the X Corps. Each day he would
"roll up his rear" to form a defensive perimeter at night. Patrols
would be sent east to locate enemy concentrations and destroy them
by artillery fire, and at the same time other patrols would move to
the east to search out routes and Japanese dispositions with a view
to taking Valencia from the east. [937]

In planning for the amphibious landing, the Fifth Air Force had
ordered the 308th Bombardment Wing to conduct bombing and strafing
missions, in addition to providing cover for the movement. [938]
The plans for 8 December called for the 308th Bombardment Wing to be
prepared on request to bomb Camp Downes--a prewar military post south
of Ormoc--maintain a close vigilance over Ormoc, and continue the
overhead air patrols. [939] The 307th Infantry was to move north at
0800 astride Highway 2 and seize Camp Downes. The 305th Infantry was
to withdraw from the south and move north in support of the attack
of the 307th Infantry and at the same time protect the southern
and southeastern flanks of the division. The 902d Field Artillery
Battalion and Company A of the 776th Amphibian Tank Battalion would
support the attack. At least two patrols of the 305th Infantry would
be sent south to disrupt enemy communications. All other units of
the division were to be prepared to move north on division order. [940]



Camp Downes

Immediately north of Ipil, Colonel Mitsui had constructed a few small
strong points, each of which consisted of two coconut log pillboxes,
several trenches, and foxhole emplacements for machine guns. Between
these positions and Camp Downes were groups of enemy riflemen and
machine gunners on the banks of the streams and at the ends of wooded
ridges that extended from the northeast toward the highway. They
had dug in at the bases of the trees and on the edges of the bamboo
clumps. In the sector between Ipil and Camp Downes the highway was
nine feet wide, with three-foot shoulders, and surfaced with coral or
gravel. Fields of sugar cane or grassy hills lay east of the road,
which was fringed with clumps of acacia or coconut trees. At least
one reinforced enemy company had taken up its last defensive stand
at Camp Downes. Less than a mile from Ormoc, Camp Downes had been an
important Philippine Army and Constabulary camp before the war. The
plateau on which it was situated lay east of the highway and commanded
all approaches, most of which were open and without cover. A ravine
ran along the southern side of the barrio. At Camp Downes the Japanese
had placed thirteen machine guns, two 40-mm. antiaircraft guns, and
three 75-mm. field pieces under the porches and in the foundations
of buildings. These were well camouflaged and mutually supporting
and were protected by concealed riflemen. [941]

As the 77th Division consolidated its positions in Ipil, the Japanese
started to use reinforcements to check any further advance toward
Ormoc. The 12th Independent Infantry Regiment had been assembling at
Dolores, northeast of Ormoc. On the night of 7 December its commander,
Colonel Imahori, ordered the newly arrived Kamijo Battalion, which
consisted of two companies, to co-operate with the Shipping Unit under
Colonel Mitsui in delaying the advance of the American forces until
the arrival of the main body of the 12th Independent Infantry. [942]
By the morning of 8 December it became evident to the 77th Division
that it had surprised the enemy.

At 0615 enemy planes flew over the command post area, and ten minutes
later one of these was shot down by antiaircraft fire. [943] At 0800
Colonel Hamilton's 307th Infantry moved out. [944] By 1000 the regiment
was 200 yards north of Ipil, but it encountered more determined
resistance when it reached the Panalian River at 1200. General Bruce
ordered the attacking force to continue north with the objective of
reaching the ravine just south of the Camp Downes plateau. The 307th
Infantry was to make the assault and employ if necessary all reserves,
while the 2d Battalion of the 306th Infantry continued to be attached
to the regiment in support. The 902d Field Artillery Battalion,
Company A of the 776th Amphibian Tank Battalion, and Company A
of the 88th Chemical Weapons Battalion were also to continue their
support. Farther south, the 305th Infantry would move north to defend
the bridgehead at the Baod River and the 77th Reconnaissance Troop
would move at 1330 to an area 500 yards north of the Panilahan River
to clear out a position for the division command post. [945]

Upon receiving its mission, a platoon from Company A of the 776th
Amphibian Tank Battalion moved over water toward Camp Downes to secure
information on the dispositions of the Japanese. The platoon proceeded
north 500 yards offshore to the vicinity of Panalian Point where it
received heavy enemy artillery fire from Camp Downes. The platoon
returned and reported the location of the enemy artillery. [946]
The 902d Field Artillery Battalion thereupon shelled the Japanese
artillery positions. [947]

The assault units of the 307th Infantry steadily pushed out against
determined opposition in which the enemy used rifles, mortars,
and small artillery from dug-in positions along finger ridges and
streams. The Japanese had a prepared position 1,000 yards in depth from
which they swept the rice fields which the troops had to traverse,
but fire from the American automatic weapons and mortars forced the
Japanese to fall back. [948] An enemy company counterattacked and hit
Company A of the 88th Chemical Battalion. The Japanese were repulsed
on two separate occasions--the first time at 1320 and the second
at 1520, when in company strength they charged the Americans. The
chemical company stopped both charges with high explosive and white
phosphorus shells. [949] The 307th Infantry pressed forward, capturing
considerable quantities of small arms and artillery ammunition,
and by nightfall had advanced some 2,000 yards. The 1st Battalion,
306th Infantry, was to relieve the regiment's 2d Battalion, which
had been attached to the 307th Infantry as an assault battalion. [950]

Colonel Tanzola's 305th Infantry during the day protected the
southern and southeastern flanks of the 77th Division in its advance
northward. At night the regiment's defensive perimeter centered around
Ipil but extended as far south as the Baod River. [951]

The Japanese forces suffered greatly in the course of the day. The
commander of the Kamijo Battalion was severely wounded and the
battalion itself had many casualties. Consequently, the Tateishi
and Maeda Battalions of the 12th Independent Infantry Regiment,
which had been alerted to join the Kamijo Battalion, were ordered
to take positions north of Ormoc, on the night of 9 December. [952]
The Japanese troops in the sector opposing the 77th Division were two
companies totaling 100 men of the 1st Battalion, 12th Independent
Infantry, with three machine guns and two battalion guns; three
companies totaling 250 men of the 3d Battalion of the same regiment
with nine machine guns, two battalion guns, and four antitank
guns; sixty men with three machine guns from the 30th Division; a
paratroop unit of eighty men; a ship engineer unit of 500 men; and
750 personnel from the Navy. The total effective military strength
was 1,740 men. [953]

At 0400 on 9 December the first resupply convoy arrived carrying with
it the rest of the 306th Infantry. The 3d Battalion, 306th Infantry,
was placed on the eastern flank which connected the 305th Infantry on
the south with the 307th Infantry on the north. Its mission was to
protect the east and center of the beachhead. At 0530 the batteries
of the 902d Field Artillery Battalion fired 110 rounds on a harassing
mission and at 0820 they fired 192 rounds in preparation for the
attack by the infantry against Camp Downes. [954] The 1st Battalion,
306th Infantry, was to pass through the 2d Battalion, 306th Infantry,
and continue the attack with the 3d Battalion, 307th Infantry,
on the left. The 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, would protect the
regimental right flank. [955] After the artillery concentration the
307th Infantry at 0830 moved out toward Camp Downes.

The 307th Infantry inched slowly forward. It became evident that the
Japanese had regrouped and emplaced the forces on ridges and high
ground which overlooked all possible approaches to Camp Downes and
Ormoc, In selecting his defensive positions the enemy used "excellent
judgment" [956] and defended the area with at least two companies
heavily reinforced with automatic weapons. The assaulting forces
received intense small arms and artillery fire. [957]

The 902d Field Artillery Battalion supported the attack from positions
north of the Baod River. The 305th Field Artillery Battalion, which
had just arrived, was sent forward to support the attack. [958] At
one of the Japanese strong points that had been overrun were found
eleven heavy machine guns, two 40-mm. antiaircraft guns, and three
75-mm. guns. At 1700, Japanese aircraft strafed the regiment and
inflicted several casualties. At 1750, however, the 307th Infantry
entered Camp Downes, secured the area, and established a night
perimeter. Its total advance for the day was about one thousand
yards. [959]

At 1245 the 305th Infantry, which had been protecting the southern
flank of the division, received a new assignment from General
Bruce. The 2d Battalion of the 305th Infantry was to protect the
division's rear by taking a position just south of Ipil. The 1st and
3d Battalions were to move north of the Panilahan River and 1,000
yards to the east in order to complete an all-around defense of
Camp Downes. [960] At 1345 the battalions moved north. As soon as
the 307th Infantry entered Camp Downes, General Bruce ordered his
forward command post into that area, and the advance echelon of his
headquarters moved out. Upon its arrival at the selected camp site,
a coconut grove on a hill just south of Camp Downes, the advance
echelon became involved in a fire fight between the 307th Infantry
and the enemy forces on the hill. It dug in under fire in the new
area. The Japanese defenders were driven out of the coconut grove as
the rest of the command post moved in. [961]

During the day the 307th Infantry had advanced about 1,000 yards
and captured Camp Downes. The 305th Infantry had secured the area
northeast of Camp Downes and protected the northeastern flank of the
77th Division. The 306th Infantry had moved into an assembly area
600 yards north of Ipil. [962]



Two Sevens are Rolled in Ormoc

At 1830 General Bruce issued verbal orders for the attack on
10 December. Ormoc was the target. The 307th and 306th Infantry
Regiments were to move out abreast. The 307th Infantry would attack
along the highway to its front while the 306th Infantry would move to
the northeast and attempt to envelop the opposing enemy force. The
305th Infantry initially was to remain in position and defend its
part of the line. [963]

Ormoc, the largest and most important commercial center in western
Leyte, possessed a concrete and pile pier at which a vessel with
a sixteen-foot draft, and two smaller vessels, could anchor at
the same time. [964] On the route to Ormoc and in the town itself,
the Japanese dug strong defensive positions. The favored sites were
in bamboo thickets, on reverse slopes, along creek beds, and under
buildings. Individual spider holes about six feet deep were covered
with logs and earth and "beautifully camouflaged." Against such
positions, artillery and mortar fire did little more than daze the
defenders. Each position had to be searched out and destroyed. [965]

On 9 December the commander of the Japanese 35th Army ordered the
four companies of the 12th Independent Infantry Regiment to return
to their regiment from positions north of Ipil and to be prepared to
help defend the Ormoc area. [966]

In preparation for the assault against Ormoc, the 902d Field
Artillery Battalion at 0830 established an observation post at Camp
Downes. At 0920 the battalion fired 100 rounds of ammunition during
a ten-minute period in front of the area which the attacking forces
were to traverse. At 0930 the artillery fire was directed at enemy
positions observed in Ormoc. [967] General Krueger made arrangements
with Admiral Kinkaid for LCM's, LCV's, and LVT's to operate along
the coast at dawn and nightfall for an indefinite period. [968]

At 0900, Company A of the 776th Amphibian Tank Battalion with its
75-mm. howitzers moved into Ormoc--the first American troops to enter
the city. The 2d and 3d Platoons of the company moved through the
streets and sent high explosives and smoke shells into the buildings
occupied by the Japanese. [969] The enemy defenders were also hit
from the bay. LCM(R)'s from the Navy came overwater, moved near the
Ormoc pier, and fired their rockets into the center of the town. As
the rockets were being fired, the crews of the LGM's engaged the enemy
defenders on the pier in a small arms fight, the antiaircraft machine
guns on the LCM's exchanging fire with the Japanese rifles and machine
guns. After the last of the rockets were launched the LCM's withdrew,
still under small arms fire. [970]

Colonel Smith's 306th Infantry was to move to the northeast with the
1st and 3d Battalions abreast and forestall any attempt to reinforce
the Ormoc garrison. At 0945 the commanding officer of the 306th
Infantry announced that both battalions had moved out on time. [971]
The 1st Battalion on the left encountered only light opposition during
the day. The 3d Battalion met light resistance in two deep ravines
but was able to push through without difficulty. Throughout the day,
however, the regiment received harassing fire from well-concealed
riflemen, each of whom generally worked alone. By 1600 the 1st
Battalion was at a bridge on Highway 2 north of Ormoc and the
3d Battalion was within 500 yards of the 1st but was slowed by
the necessity for maintaining contact with the regiment's 2d
Battalion. This unit had been committed on the right in order to
secure contact with the 305th Infantry. [972]

At 0930 the troops of the 307th Infantry moved out. [973] They
encountered little resistance until they neared the outskirts of Ormoc,
where a deep ravine lay between the southern edge of the town and the
front lines of the advancing troops. An enemy force, which had dug in
on both sides and along the top of this ravine, had to be rooted out
with bayonets, grenades, and mortars. In spite of the determined enemy
resistance, American casualties were very light. Entering the western
part of the city, the 307th Infantry hit the front line of the Mitsui
Unit on the left flank of the 12th Independent Infantry Regiment. [974]

Ormoc "was a blazing inferno of bursting white phosphorus shells,
burning houses, and exploding ammunition dumps, and over it all hung
a pall of heavy smoke from burning dumps mixed with the gray dust
of destroyed concrete buildings, blasted by ... artillery, mortar,
and rocket fire." [975]

The 306th and 307th Infantry Regiments squeezed the enemy like a tube
of toothpaste. The 306th Infantry enveloped the northeast flank, while
the drive of the 77th Division up the shore of Ormoc Bay banished any
hopes that the Japanese might have entertained of escaping southeast
by Highway 2. The Japanese were squeezed through Ormoc to the north.

Left behind, however, were some defenders who heroically but hopelessly
fought to delay the American advance. Situated in spider holes beneath
the buildings, they stubbornly fought back until overcome. Street by
street, house by house, the 307th Infantry cleared Ormoc, which was
a scene of gutted buildings and rubble. Many ammunition and signal
supply dumps were captured, including a church that had been filled
with artillery and small arms ammunition. [976]

As his troops were reducing Ormoc, General Bruce made a report to the
commanding general of the XXIV Corps on the status of the attack and
referred to a promise that had been made by the commanding general of
the Fifth Air Force: "Where is the case of Scotch that was promised
by General Whitehead for the capture of Ormoc. I don't drink but I
have an assistant division commander and regimental commanders who
do...." [977]

At the same time that the 77th Division was entering Ormoc, the 32d
Division was pushing southward toward Ormoc Valley, the 11th Airborne
Division was working westward over the mountains toward the town, and
the 7th Division was pushing northward along the eastern coast of Ormoc
Bay in an attempt to make a juncture with the 77th Division. General
Bruce advised General Hodge: "Have rolled two sevens in Ormoc. Come
seven come eleven." [978]

The 307th Infantry pushed through the town and at 1730 established
a night perimeter on the banks of the Antilao River on the western
edge of Ormoc where it tied in with the front line of the 306th
Infantry. At long last, Ormoc was in American hands.

In its drive north the 77th Division killed an estimated 1,506 Japanese
and took 7 prisoners. [979] Its own casualties were 123 men killed,
329 wounded, and 13 missing in action. [980]

On 7 December, the 7th Division moved north from its position about
seven miles south of Deposito to join the 77th Division, which
had landed that day at Deposito. It advanced with two regiments
abreast--the 184th Infantry on the left and the 17th Infantry on
the right. The regiments made slow progress as they pushed over a
series of hills and river valleys. On the night of 9-10 December the
Japanese who were caught between the 7th and 77th Divisions withdrew
into the mountains. At 1000 on 11 December an advance element, the
2d Battalion, 184th Infantry, reached Ipil and established contact
with the 77th Division.

The XXIV Corps was now in undisputed control of the eastern shore
of Ormoc Bay and the town of Ormoc. The capture of Ormoc had very
important effects. It divided the Japanese forces and isolated
the remaining elements of the enemy 26th Division. It drew off and
destroyed heretofore uncommitted enemy reserves, thus relieving the
situation on all other fronts, and it hastened the juncture of the
X Corps with the forces of the XXIV Corps. It denied to the Japanese
the use of Ormoc as a port, through which so many reinforcements and
supplies had been poured into the campaign. Finally, the Japanese were
unable to use Highway 2 south of Ormoc and were driven north up Ormoc
Valley. [981] General Krueger had realized an important part of his
plan for the seizure of Ormoc Valley, since sealing off the port of
Ormoc would enable the Sixth Army to devote its major effort toward
completion of that plan.



CHAPTER XVII

Battle of the Airstrips


Immediately after Pearl Harbor, American submarines began to attack
Japanese shipping to the Netherlands Indies. From the beginning they
were successful. In September 1943 the submarines accelerated the
tempo of their attack. The Japanese lost to the submarines "tremendous
tonnages of shipping ... all over the ocean. No route was secure from
their attack; no ship was safe south of Honshu." [982] By the early
fall of 1944 the Japanese line of communications to the Netherlands
Indies was virtually cut.

With American land-based air strength on Leyte increasing steadily,
a strong possibility existed that the line of communications between
the Japanese homeland and the South Pacific area would be completely
severed, especially if the main American air force should move up from
New Guinea to Leyte. Imperial General Headquarters felt, therefore,
that the Dulag and Tacloban airfields must be neutralized, and the
Burauen airfields in southern Leyte Valley seized before the American
air force could establish itself in strength on the island. Japanese
control of the airfields would also facilitate the movement of Japanese
supplies to the island and greatly assist the ground operations of
the 35th Army. [983]

In the latter part of November, Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, commanding
general of the 14th Area Army, sent a liaison officer from his
headquarters in Manila with orders to Lt. Gen. Sosaku Suzuki, the
35th Army commander, at Ormoc. General Yamashita is quoted as saying:
"If the construction of air bases on Leyte is permitted to continue,
the communications between the Southern areas and the homeland will be
cut and this would be a serious situation. Therefore, we must occupy
Burauen airfield as soon as possible and at the same time neutralize
Tacloban and Dulag airfields. Moreover, we must annihilate the enemy's
air power." [984]

Therefore, in a desperate attempt to gain the initiative, the Japanese
embarked on a rash scheme to seize the airfields of Leyte. Their
plan entailed a co-ordinated effort by both the ground and air
forces. Beginning on 23 November and continuing through 27 November,
the army air force was to launch a campaign to eliminate American air
resistance. On the night of 26 November, aircraft carrying specially
trained demolitionists were to crash-land on the Dulag and Tacloban
airstrips and put them out of commission. [985]

Plans were made for the 3d and 4th Airborne Raiding Regiments to
descend from Luzon on the Burauen airfields. The 26th Division,
together with the 16th Division, which had fought the Americans in
Leyte Valley, and the 68th Independent Mixed Brigade of the 35th Army
were to infiltrate through the mountains and attack and capture the
Burauen airfields. The 16th Division was to move from its position
in the mountains west of Dagami toward Buri, the northernmost of the
Burauen airfields. Elements of the 26th Division which were engaging
the 7th Division on the shores of Ormoc Bay were to break off the
fight, move over the mountains, and attack Bayug and San Pablo, the
southernmost of the Burauen fields. (Map 20) If all went well they
were to proceed east and capture the Dulag airfield, on the shores
of Leyte Gulf. The airborne assault was to be made on the night of
5 December. The ground troops were to arrive early on the morning of
6 December and assist in the attack.

Because he felt that he had not made sufficient preparation, General
Suzuki requested that the attack be postponed until 7 December. General
Yamashita disapproved this request, but since bad weather was forecast
for 5 December, he sent a message to General Suzuki changing the date
of attack to the night of 6 December. This information was immediately
transmitted to the 26th Division. At the same time, efforts were
made by General Suzuki's headquarters to relay the information to
the 16th Division, but because of radio difficulties General Makino
never received the message.

General Makino, after receiving the order for the airborne attack on
the night of 5 December to be followed with an attack by his forces
on the following morning, concentrated the remaining strength of the
16th Division into one battalion. General Suzuki personally took
command of the Burauen operation, and on 1 December he and a part
of his staff moved east into the mountains near Burauen. General
Tomochika was left in command of the Ormoc forces. [986]

Unwittingly, the Japanese were flogging a dead horse. General Krueger
had stopped all work on these airfields on 25 November.



The American Dispositions

The Sixth Army planners for the Leyte operation had not envisaged the
employment of the 11th Airborne Division during the campaign. This
division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, was to have staged
on Leyte for subsequent operations. [987]

On 22 November, however, General Hodge ordered the relief of the 7th
Division, minus the 17th Infantry, by the 11th Airborne Division in
order to free the 7th Division for the drive up the eastern shore of
Ormoc Bay. On the same day the 11th Airborne Division, along with
the 17th Infantry, less the 2d Battalion, was ordered to seize and
secure all exits from the mountains into Leyte Valley in its area. The
division was then to advance through the central mountain range,
and secure the western exits from the mountains in order to assist
the attack of the 7th Infantry Division in its drive north toward
Ormoc. [988] Upon receipt of this order, General Swing assigned to
the units of the 11th Airborne Division the mission of securing the
mountain exits.

General Swing immediately started to relieve elements of the 7th
Division and by 28 November the relief was completed. For several days
the 11th Airborne Division sent patrols to the west and maintained
small security guards at the Buri and Bayug airfields.

There were three airstrips--San Pablo, Bayug, and Buri--north of the
Dulag-Burauen road in the area between San Pablo and Burauen. Both
the Bayug and San Pablo airfields were on the Dulag-Burauen road. The
Buri airstrip was almost directly north of the Bayug airstrip. The
land between the Bayug and Buri airstrips was flat for a distance
of about 800 yards. The northern half of this flat land was a swamp,
sometimes five feet in depth. At the northern end of the swamp was a
narrow stream, about fifteen feet wide, which ran along the base of a
plateau. This plateau, which was directly north of the Buri airfield,
was forested with palm trees and jungle growth. Buri airfield lay
between the swamp and the plateau. [989]

By 27 November information from captured documents and prisoners
interrogated by units of the Sixth Army indicated that the enemy
was planning a co-ordinated ground and airborne attack to seize the
airfields in the Burauen area. The intelligence officers of the XXIV
Corps, however, thought that the Japanese were not capable of putting
this assault plan into effect. The American patrols operating west
of Burauen had found no new trails being constructed nor any old
ones being extensively used. Furthermore, the American forces had
blocked all known trails leading east over the mountains into the
area. Although the enemy might be able to make an airborne attack,
"he is not at this time capable of launching a co-ordinated ground
airborne attack of major proportions in the Burauen area." [990]

Despite the trail blocks, however, elements of the 16th Division were
able to descend upon the Buri airstrip from the mountains southwest
of Dagami. Only one battalion of the 26th Division, which was to
have attacked the airfields in the Burauen area on 7 December, ever
reached the area. The movement over the mountains was difficult, and
it was not until the night of 10-11 December that the unit arrived
west of Burauen. It made a half-hearted attack, which was repulsed
by elements of the 11th Airborne Division. [991]

Although the intelligence officers of the XXIV Corps believed there
was no possibility of a co-ordinated ground and aerial assault,
General Hodge alerted the XXIV Corps to a possible enemy paratroop
landing. All units were directed to strengthen local defenses and
establish in each sector a twenty-four-hour watching post. All men
were to be armed and wear helmets, or to have arms and helmets within
reach at all times. In the event of any unusual enemy activity, the
headquarters of the XXIV Corps was to be notified immediately. [992]

In order to protect the airfields more adequately, a company of the
77th Division was furnished to the 11th Airborne Division to defend the
Dulag airfield, while the latter division held one battalion alerted
at Burauen in readiness to move against hostile forces at any of the
three airfields in the area. [993] One battalion of the 306th Infantry
Regiment and a platoon each from Companies A and B of the 767th Tank
Battalion were stationed north of Burauen; the regiment was to be
prepared to assemble two companies near the headquarters of the Fifth
Air Force for motor movement in defense against airborne attack, and
to maintain security detachments at the Bayug and Buri airstrips. [994]



First Japanese Effort

In the meantime the first phase of the Japanese plan to regain
the initiative had begun. At 0245 on 27 November, three enemy air
transports with lights on flew over Leyte Gulf at an altitude of about
fifty feet. Ten minutes later one of these aircraft crash-landed in
the water about twenty-five yards offshore in the area of the 728th
Amphibian Tractor Battalion, which was about two miles south of Rizal
and about three miles north of Tarragona.

A guard from the battalion, assuming the plane to be friendly,
approached it and climbed on the wing to offer assistance. The Japanese
emerged from the plane and threw grenades at the guard. The men of
the tractor battalion, hearing the noise, came on and killed two
Japanese with small arms fire. Three others, however, escaped and
reached a swamp west of the landing point. Ten or twelve more of the
enemy moved south along the beach in the surf and also disappeared
into the swamp. [995]

One of the other two planes crash-landed on the Buri airstrip and all
its occupants were killed. The remaining plane crashed on the beach
near the Bito River, north of Abuyog. Opposite, across the river,
elements of the 11th Airborne Division were encamped. [996] With the
exception of one soldier, who was killed at dawn, all of the Japanese
in this plane escaped. The 728th Amphibian Tractor Battalion found many
demolition charges abandoned in the plane. In view of this discovery,
and the fact that the enemy made no attempt to follow up the landing
by an airborne attack in force, the Americans concluded that the
Japanese were on a suicide mission of demolition and destruction in
the Dulag and Burauen airfield areas. Although the operation caused
no damage, Radio Tokyo informed the Japanese people that it was
"most successful." If the enemy believed that his attempt had been
successful, however, the possibility existed that other airborne
troops would be landed, either as raiding parties or in force. [997]

By 5 December the XXIV Corps was lulled into a sense of false
security. The 2d Battalion, 511th Parachute Infantry, which had been
in the Burauen area, had rejoined its regiment, which was fighting
for the mountain passes on the trail to Albuera. The 3d Battalion,
306th Infantry, on the northwestern approaches to the airfields,
reverted on 5 December to the control of the 77th Infantry Division,
which was embarking for the Ormoc operation. The only infantry unit
in the Burauen area at the time of the Japanese attack was the 1st
Battalion, 187th Glider Infantry (less one company), which was on San
Pablo airfield. The G-2 periodic report on 5 December at 2000 stated
with regard to the general situation in the Burauen-Dagami-Mount Alto
area: "An examination of reports of action in this area since 1 Nov
may well warrant the assumption that organized resistance has about
ceased." [998] But before morning, the remnants of the Japanese 16th
Division hit the Buri airfield.



Battle of Buri Airstrip

On or about 2 December General Makino, commanding general of the
16th Division, had assembled from the hills southwest of Dagami the
remaining elements of the division. The total strength thus massed
was only about 500 men. The men rested, and then marched on toward
the Buri airstrip. On the way, American artillery and tank fire
killed approximately 200 of them. The remaining force moved to a new
location--a deep gorge about 6,500 yards southwest of Dagami. On
5 December, this force was to move out of the gorge, join the
paratroopers, and launch a combined assault against the Buri airstrip.

The Americans later learned from interrogated prisoners that the morale
of the men of the 16th Division was very low at that time. They were
living on coconuts and bananas, since the officers had taken the few
remaining rations. Wounded men in the force had been abandoned. [999]

The 16th Division was still unaware that the target date for the
Burauen operation had been postponed to the night of 6 December, and
consequently proceeded with its plans to attack the Buri airstrip on
6 December at 0630--over fourteen hours before the paratroopers were
scheduled to land. On the night of 5-6 December, approximately 150
Japanese made their way quietly toward the Buri airstrip.

At 0600, the 287th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, northwest
of Burauen, saw elements of the Japanese 16th Division crossing the
main road south of the battalion's position and heading east toward
the Buri field. The battalion immediately relayed this information
to the XXIV Corps headquarters. [1000] After crossing the road, the
enemy moved into the swamp near the airfield. One Japanese unit of
about 15 men, armed with a machine gun, stationed itself at a Filipino
shack 300 yards west of the highway in order to cover the road. [1001]

At the Buri strip were about 47 men from the 287th Field Artillery
Observation Battalion and 157 miscellaneous troops. [1002] Small
units of engineering troops and a signal company were at the foot of
the bluff, on the northern edge of the strip.

At 0630, the 16th Division launched its surprise attack. Led by a
Filipino, [1003] the Japanese broke into the American bivouac area
while the men were still asleep. Some were bayoneted while in their
blankets, or before they could seize their weapons. Others held the
Japanese off until they could retreat, shoeless and in their shorts
and undershirts, either up the bluff to the headquarters of the V
Bomber Command, or to the road, where an infantry company had come up
in support. [1004] The service troops were "firing at everything that
moves and ... probably inflicting casualties among our troops." [1005]
The Japanese from the 16th Division entrenched themselves in the
woods north of the airstrip.

Meanwhile, General Hodge ordered that the 1st Battalion, 382d Infantry,
be released from the 96th Division and placed under the operational
control of General Swing of the 11th Airborne Division. The battalion
was to proceed immediately to the aid of the two companies of the 11th
Airborne Division in the Buri airfield area. General Hodge emphasized
that the area was "critical" and "must be kept closed." It would be
"dangerous" to let the enemy "get into the service troops along the
road and around airfields." [1006] One reinforced company of the 1st
Battalion was already in the area and the rest of the battalion made
ready to follow. [1007]

Small patrols of combat troops held the enemy forces in check. At
1030 one patrol killed seventeen Japanese north of the Buri airfield,
and another killed three of the enemy west of the airstrip. The
1st Battalion of the 187th Glider Infantry was moved from the San
Pablo airfield to the Buri area and went into position near the
airfield. [1008] By 1800 on 6 December, the enemy had been driven
off the Buri airfield, though pockets of resistance still remained
on the edges of the airstrip. The battalion encountered a portion of
the 16th Division east of the strip and destroyed it. [1009] Forty
of the enemy were known to be dead, and it was believed that as many
more had also been killed.



Attack From the Sky

San Pablo Airstrip

The Japanese air transports were scheduled to be over the airfields
at 1840 on 6 December, with an escort of fighter aircraft. Fighters
were to neutralize the airstrips and, just before the paratroopers
jumped, medium bombers were to strafe the Buri, San Pablo, and Bayug
airstrips. At the same time light bombers were to hit antiaircraft
positions between San Pablo and Dulag and points west. Fifty-one
aircraft in all (transports, bombers, and fighters) were assigned to
the operation. The transports were allotted as follows: twenty to the
Buri airstrip, nine to San Pablo airstrip, six to Bayug airstrip,
and two each to the Tacloban and Dulag airstrips. Each transport
carried fifteen to twenty men. [1010]

The Japanese parachutists were well drilled as to their mission. The
operation was to be divided into five phases. The first phase was to
begin with the jump-off. The men, immediately after landing, were to
attack and destroy aircraft on the ground, and one element was to
attack the barracks and communications. This phase was to end when
the moon rose. In the second phase, ending about 2230, the troops
would destroy matériel, ammunition dumps, bridges, and remaining
barracks. During the third phase, from 2330 to 0300, the paratroopers
were to destroy the remaining aircraft and installations. In the
fourth phase, lasting from 0300 to 0600, they were to build defensive
positions. In the fifth phase, from 0600 on, preparations were to be
made for future operations.

There were to be three assault waves. The first wave would consist
of the headquarters unit with approximately 25 men; the signal
unit with 7; the 1st Company with 100; the 2d Company with 86; the
construction company with 97; and a platoon with 50 men. The second
would be composed of 9 men from the headquarters unit; the 3d Company;
the Heavy Weapons Company; and the signal unit. The final wave would
consist of the remaining troops--about 80 men. [1011]

Just before dark, thirty-nine Japanese transports with supporting
bombers and fighters roared over the Burauen airfields. Several
incendiary bombs fell on the San Pablo strip, setting a gasoline
dump afire and burning a liaison plane. Approximately eighteen enemy
aircraft were shot down. Parachutists began to descend from the
transports. The commander of the 3d Regiment with about 60 of his
men dropped on the Buri strip, while between 250 and 300 parachutists
landed near the San Pablo strip. [1012]

The parachutists, immediately after landing, ran up the north and south
sides of the San Pablo strip. They talked in loud tones and allegedly
called out in English, "Hello--where are your machine guns?" Most of
the enemy forces assembled on the north side of the airstrip. They
burned three or four more liaison planes, a jeep, several tents,
and another gasoline dump, throwing ammunition on the latter.

The only American troops in the area, a small detachment of the 11th
Airborne Division, consisted of elements of the 127th Airborne Engineer
Battalion, the signal company, Headquarters Battery of the division
artillery, special troops as well as Air Corps service troops. During
the night of 6-7 December, confusion reigned on the airstrip. There
was uncontrolled and disorganized firing and much difficulty arose
in establishing a co-ordinated command. [1013]

At dawn, after most of the paratroopers had assembled on the San Pablo
airfield, they moved north and west to the northern edge of the Buri
airstrip and joined elements of the 16th Division.

At the San Pablo airstrip, Lt. Col. Douglas C. Davis, the commanding
officer of the 127th Airborne Engineer Battalion, organized the
miscellaneous service troops into an infantry unit to protect the
San Pablo airstrip. The 674th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion,
which was at the mouth of the Bito River, north of Abuyog, was to
leave its guns at that place and come to the assistance of Colonel
Davis' force. At daylight, the troops of the 127th Airborne Engineer
Battalion moved out toward the airstrip and met the 674th Field
Artillery Battalion, under Col. Lukas E. Hoska. The artillery battalion
swung into line and the two units moved out as a provisional infantry
regiment under Colonel Davis--the airborne engineers on the left and
the artillery battalion on the right.

They encountered strong resistance to the west of the San Pablo
airstrip. After advancing north of the strip, the engineers ran
out of ammunition. The field artillery battalion went forward to a
coconut grove, also to the north of the airstrip. The gap between
the two units was closed by a strong patrol. Since the food and
ammunition situation remained uncertain, the composite force went
into a perimeter in defense of San Pablo strip, where it remained
for the next few days. [1014]



Buri Airstrip

On the night of 6-7 December, the Air Corps service personnel had
abruptly quitted the Buri airfield, leaving behind carbines, rifles,
grenades, small arms ammunition, and machine guns. 2d Lt. Rudolph
Mamula of the 767th Tank Battalion had been ordered to take charge
of the situation, co-ordinate the action of forces on the airstrip,
and recover abandoned armament and ammunition. Apparently he was
unsuccessful, because later in the day the Japanese made "the best
use" of the same arms and ammunition. By the middle of the morning,
on 7 December, the enemy had completely occupied the Buri airstrip.

In anticipation of the landing of Japanese paratroopers, General
Krueger had requested General MacArthur to release elements of the 38th
Division for employment against the enemy airborne troops. The 38th
Division had arrived on Leyte to stage for future operations. General
Headquarters assigned the 149th Infantry to the control of the
commanding general of the Sixth Army; two battalions of the 149th
Infantry were in turn released on 6 December to the control of General
Hodge, the commanding general of XXIV Corps, who put them under the
operational control of the 11th Airborne Division for employment
against parachutists in the Burauen area. The remaining battalion of
the 149th Infantry was alerted for the movement in the Burauen area
on twenty-four hours' notice. [1015]

The 1st and 2d Battalions of the 149th Infantry, 38th Division,
were alerted at 0200 on 7 December for movement to the San Pablo
airstrip. The advance elements of the 1st Battalion were greeted at
the San Pablo airstrip by General Swing, who is reported to have
said: "Glad to see you. I am General Swing of the 11th Airborne
Division. We've been having a hell of a time here. Last night
approximately seventy-five Jap paratroopers dropped on us of which
we have accounted for about fifty. Fifteen hundred yards from here
on an azimuth of 273° is another airstrip just like this one. Between
here and there are about twenty-five Jap troopers. It is now 1400. I
want that strip secure by nightfall." [1016]

The commanding officer of the 1st Battalion decided to attack with
Companies A and C abreast, Company A on the right, with approximately
a 200-yard frontage for each company. A section of heavy machine guns
was attached to each unit, and a platoon of 81-mm. mortars from Company
D was to support the attack from positions on the San Pablo airstrip.

Moving out at 1430, the troops covered the first 400 yards without
incident but were stopped by a rain-swollen swamp. Since attempts to
bypass the swamp were fruitless, the men were forced to go through
it. The water was shoulder-high in places, and the companies lost
contact during the crossing. Company A proceeded to the Buri
airstrip, arriving there about 1630. Company C, which had been
delayed by a slight skirmish with the enemy, did not arrive until
about 1800. Because of the lateness of the hour and the fact that
observation had shown there were "many more Japanese" on the north of
the airstrip than had been estimated by General Swing, it was decided
to establish perimeters for the night. [1017]

By the end of 7 December the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry,
had established a toe hold on the southwestern fringe of the Buri
strip. During the day the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry, northwest of
the Bayug airstrip, had received machine gun fire from an estimated
enemy platoon just west of the Burauen-Dagami road. This enemy force
was contained throughout the day as advances were made southeast toward
the Buri airstrip. At 1630 the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry, and the
1st Battalion, 149th Infantry, established contact at the western end
of the Buri airstrip. The 1st Battalion, 382d Infantry, 96th Division,
had been placed under the control of the 11th Airborne Division. At
dusk of 7 December, it took a position near the 1st Battalion,
149th Infantry. [1018] At 2000 the sector was reported quiet. It
was impossible to estimate the total number of American and Japanese
casualties for the day, but it was believed to be large. [1019]

During the night of 7-8 December, the Japanese brought forward two
machine guns and emplaced them directly in front of Company A of the
1st Battalion, 382d Infantry. At dawn the machine guns opened up. Their
low, grazing fire pinned down the company, but Pfc. Warren G. Perkins,
in the face of enemy bullets, located the guns and called mortar fire
upon the site. The mortar concentration, falling within fifty yards of
Perkins, silenced the machine guns and startled the Japanese. Pvt. Ova
A. Kelley took advantage of the confusion and charged with his M1 rifle
and a carbine. Kelley killed eight of the enemy before he himself was
slain. [1020] The rest of Company A followed Kelley and secured the
edge of the airstrip where it set up a perimeter. During 8 December
the Americans consolidated their positions.

At 1045 on 9 December the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry, attacked
north with Companies A, B, and C on a line. The companies got across
the airstrip but then came under fire from Japanese weapons emplaced
on high ground to the north. The 1st Battalion therefore withdrew to
the southern edge of the strip. During the day it had killed fifty
of an enemy force estimated to consist of two hundred men. The 2d
Battalion remained in position throughout the day. [1021]

At twilight the assault companies of the 1st Battalion, 382d Infantry,
were sent out in various directions to locate enemy patrols said
to be converging upon the airfield. Only a few mortar men and
headquarters personnel were left behind to guard the perimeters. At
midnight approximately 150 Japanese attacked. The headquarters
and service troops with rifle fire, together with the mortar men,
stopped the charge. They killed fifty of the enemy and suffered seven
casualties. [1022]

On 10 December, after a half-hour artillery concentration, the 1st
Battalion, 149th Infantry, attacked with Companies A and C abreast,
and Company B in the rear. After the 1st Battalion had pushed north
300 yards across the airstrip, Companies A and C moved northwest
while Company B went to the northeast. The companies cleared the
airfield area of individual riflemen and destroyed small pockets of
enemy resistance. The 1st Battalion went into perimeter at 1700 on
the Buri airstrip. The 2d Battalion remained in position throughout
the day. [1023]

At 1930 the Japanese launched their final concentrated attack against
the airfields. They began to fire at the administration buildings of
the Fifth Air Force, and some of the bullets went through the plywood
walls of the house of Maj. Gen. Ennis C. Whitehead. "The General
ducked a bullet, ordered someone to find out who the blankety-blank
was responsible and that he'd blankety-blank better stop or think up
a blankety-blank good reason." [1024]

A staff officer immediately started to investigate the situation. He
got Lt. Col. Paul V. Kaessner of the 8th Aviation Signal Battalion on
the telephone. The following conversation is reported to have ensued:


    "Colonel," he said sternly, "you've got to stop that promiscuous
    firing down there immediately!"

    "Like to, sir," answered the colonel, "but the Japs...."

    "Japs," shouted the staff officer, "that can't be Japs. That fire
    is coming from our fifties."

    "That's right ... and the Japs are doing the shooting!"

    "Where in the hell did the Japs get our machine guns?"

    "How in hell should I know, sir?"

    "The bullets are coming right through the general's quarters."

    "Tell the general to get down on the floor. Incidentally, that
    yelling you hear is a Banzai raid on our mess hall." [1025]


The air force personnel were pushed back until they reached the
hospital, where they halted and held. They then counterattacked and
drove the enemy away from the area. The Japanese left thirty of their
dead behind them.

This action was the last major effort of the Japanese against the
Burauen airfields. Only a little more than a battalion of the 26th
Division, which was to have assisted the 16th Division, managed
to reach the airstrips, and it had arrived in a very disorganized
condition. Immediately afterward, General Suzuki, the commanding
general of the 35th Army, learned that the 77th Division had landed
just below Ormoc on the eastern coast of Ormoc Bay. Since Ormoc was the
southern entrance to Ormoc Valley, it was highly important that the
town be defended at all costs. General Suzuki therefore ordered that
the operations against the Burauen airfields be discontinued and that
all troops repair to Ormoc Valley. The return through the mountains
was difficult. Nearly all organization was lost, and the Japanese made
their way back through the mountains as scattered individuals. [1026]

The air transports allotted to Tacloban were destroyed by antiaircraft
fire, while those destined for Dulag crash-landed, killing all their
occupants. [1027]

The Japanese had failed to achieve any major objective. Though
they had destroyed minor fuel and supply dumps and a few American
aircraft, delayed airfield construction, and isolated Fifth Air
Force headquarters for five days, they had not appreciably delayed
the Leyte operation. [1028]

The Japanese attempt to take the initiative away from the Americans
had failed. The Sixth Army was at the northern and southern entrances
to Ormoc Valley. Elements of the X Corps had been battering for a
long time at the northern portal. With the capture of Ormoc, the
XXIV Corps had sprung the lock on the southern doorway and was in a
position to drive north and thus relieve some of the pressure being
exerted against the X Corps.

The arrival of the XXIV Corps at the entrance to Ormoc Valley brought
the critical logistical situation on the island of Leyte to the
fore. The tenuous supply line already had been stretched very thin,
and, with the 77th Division extending its lines, a strong possibility
existed that it might snap altogether.



CHAPTER XVIII

Logistics


The conquest of Leyte was taking longer than had been anticipated. The
decision of the Japanese to make Leyte the decisive battleground
of the Philippines had forced the Americans to commit not only the
reserve 32d and 77th Infantry Divisions but also the 112th Cavalry
Regimental Combat Team, the 11th Airborne Division, and elements of
the 38th Infantry Division. The inability of the Americans to establish
considerable land-based air forces on Leyte, as well as the unexpected
Japanese reinforcement program, had retarded the campaign. Not only
was the timetable of future operations in the Pacific upset, but a
strong possibility existed that it would not be feasible to establish
a major logistical and air base on the island--the primary purpose
of the operation.

The construction program on Leyte was hampered by conflicting
priorities and, as had been foreseen, very poor terrain, bad weather
conditions, and a shortage of service personnel.



Construction

Retelling the disagreements and describing the conflicts that arose
over the everchanging needs of the Army, Navy, and Air Forces would
be involved, tedious, and unprofitable. But the progress of the
construction program must be recounted, since it had direct bearing
not only on the Leyte Campaign but also on the Mindoro and Luzon
operations.



Airfields

The importance of the development of the airfields cannot be
overemphasized. The inability of the Sixth Army to meet its
construction dates on the airstrips, because of poor soil conditions
and heavy rains, prevented the U. S. forces from stopping the flow
of Japanese reinforcements and made it impossible for the Allied
Air Forces to give sufficient land-based air support to the ground
troops. It also forced a postponement of the Mindoro operation. It
is well, therefore, to summarize just what had been accomplished in
airfield construction.

Work on the Tacloban airstrip had been handicapped at first by the
heavy concentration of troops, supplies, and equipment in the area
during the early stages of the operation. Thereafter, work was further
hampered by the insufficient supply of coral for surfacing the runway
and by the very heavy traffic concentrated on the haul road because of
the necessity for unloading cargo over White Beach. By 25 December,
1 runway, 50 dispersal areas, 536,000 square feet of alert apron,
1 diagonal taxiway, 1 parallel dispersal taxiway, and 8,943 feet of
additional dispersal taxiways had been constructed.

The Dulag airfield was located on the flat flood plain of the Marabang
River. The difficulties encountered were numerous: time lost because
of excessive rains that amounted to thirty-five inches in forty days;
air alerts; very poor drainage, which required the construction of
a system of drag-line trenches to the river; and very poor access
roads. The access roads required an excessive expenditure of time,
labor, and material in order to maintain traffic to the airfield. One
runway, 2 alert areas with gravel surface and 2 with mat surface,
1 matted transport parking area, 133 dispersal areas, and 24,200 feet
of dispersal taxiways were constructed by 25 December.

In the latter part of November all construction work was stopped on the
three airfields in the Burauen area, but not before considerable time
and effort had been expended in futile attempts to make the airfields
usable. [1029] Since these airfields could not be made serviceable,
General Krueger received permission from General MacArthur to construct
an airfield in the Tanauan area, and moved his headquarters from
Tanauan to Tologosa on 28 November in order that construction might
be started. The new site had a good sandy surface, its drainage
was satisfactory, and it proved to be an excellent location for an
airfield. By 16 December the field became operational, and by the
25th there had been completed 1 runway with mat surfacing, 1 overrun,
90,000 square feet of warm-up area, 120,000 square feet of alert apron,
1 parallel taxiway, and 26 large dispersal areas. [1030]



Roads

The rehabilitation of roads presented problems as vexatious as those
in airfield construction. In southern Leyte Valley, the road that
ran from Dulag through Burauen to Dagami soon became impassable
for about two miles on each side of Burauen. This section of the
road was completely rebuilt by dumping approximately three feet of
gravel over it. The remainder of the road was kept open most of the
time by permitting only one-way traffic. The other roads were just as
bad. After heavy rains the road in the Army Service Command area was
frequently under at least two feet of water. The streets in Tacloban
disintegrated so rapidly that much engineer effort was required to
keep them open. Such maintenance was necessary to assure continued
operation of the many supply and administrative facilities located
in the city. [1031] The roads on the west coast were, if possible,
even worse. Upkeep of the roads in general required a "profligate
expenditure of engineer troops." It was found that a battalion could
accomplish no more in a month than a platoon could have carried out
in a week under good weather conditions. The roads required a rock or
gravel foundation one to three feet thick, whereas a road-metal surface
of three to four inches on an earth base was normally adequate. Since
priority was given to work on the principal roads and airfields, the
construction of access roads, as well as hardstands for hospitals,
depots, and other needed installations was greatly delayed. In this
connection General Krueger stated: "This, in turn, greatly affected the
supply situation, including construction materials, by lack of access
to the depots, lack of storage space into which to discharge ships,
and lack of facilities and spare parts to permit repair and servicing
of engineer heavy equipment as well as other critical transportation
and combat vehicles." [1032]

On 21 December General Krueger estimated that after the elimination
of certain projects on which informal agreements had been reached,
the extent of completion by 5 January of the other projects would be
as follows: main supply roads, 50 percent; access roads, 20 percent;
Air Forces installations (exclusive of air depot and assembly plants),
44 percent; hospitals, 40 percent; base supply and services, 25
percent; oil and aviation gasoline storage (exclusive of naval oil
storage which had not been started), 50 percent; Navy installations, 20
percent; and headquarters construction, 40 percent. [1033] The gloomy
prognostications of Sixth Army engineers had proven all too true.



Supplies

Inland Movement of Supplies

As the roads on Leyte became more and more unserviceable, greater
reliance was placed on the use of naval vessels to transport supplies
and personnel to various parts of the island. The Transportation
Section, Sixth Army, maintained a small-boat pool that was used
extensively to transport light cargo and personnel between Tacloban,
San Ricardo, Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa, Dulag, and Catmon Hill. [1034]
LCM's were widely employed on the northern and eastern coasts of the
island and LSM's operated on the west coast. [1035] (Table 2)



Table 2--Shipping Tonnage Discharged in Leyte-Samar Area, 28 October-25
December 1944

------------------------------------------------------------------
              | Tonnage  |Average Daily|  Lighterage on Hand
  Period      | Discharge|Rate of      |--------------------------
              |          |Discharge    |LCT's|LCM's|DUKW's| Barges
--------------+----------+-------------+-----+-----+------+-------
    Total     | 571,350  |             |     |     |      |
              |----------+-------------+-----+-----+------+-------
28 Oct-3 Nov  |  33,901  |     4,843   | 11  | 54  | 107  |  18
4 Nov-10 Nov  |  32,421  |     4,632   | 35  | 63  | 315  |  33
11 Nov-17 Nov | 141,238  |    20,177   | 26  | 69  | 219  |  33
18 Nov-24 Nov | 110,494  |    15,785   | 18  | 59  | 253  |  39
25 Nov-1 Dec  |  47,744  |     6,821   | 28  | 71  | 289  |  38
2 Dec-8 Dec   |  56,786  |     8,112   | 24  | 53  | 297  |  43
9 Dec-15 Dec  |  53,387  |     7,627   | 21  | 53  | 294  |  42
16 Dec-22 Dec |  68,677  |     9,811   | 39  | 68  | 300  |  49
23 Dec-25 Dec |  26,702  |     8,900   | 39  | 69  | 287  |  49
------------------------------------------------------------------

Source: G-4 Report, Sixth Army Operations Report Leyte, p. 218.



The troops that were fighting in the mountains were frequently supplied
by airdrops by the 11th Air Cargo Resupply Squadron from supplies that
were available in the Leyte area. From about the middle of November
until the latter part of December, 1,167,818 pounds of supplies
were either dropped or delivered by air. (Table 3) Two hundred and
eighty-two plane loads of supplies were dropped, a total of 2,776
parachutes being used. Because of the nature of the terrain and the
proximity of the Japanese, the proportion of airdropped supplies
that could be recovered varied from 65 to 90 percent. Approximately
60 percent of the parachutes were recovered and returned to the 11th
Air Cargo Resupply Squadron. [1036]



Supplying the West Coast

The landing of the 77th Division on the west coast of Leyte brought
into sharper focus the difficult job of giving adequate logistical
support to the tactical units. The Sixth Army supply lines were
tenuous. There was a shortage of shipping, and furnishing supplies
to the troops fighting in the mountains was especially difficult.

In planning for the amphibious movement of the 77th Division,
the resupply shipping set up for the division was as follows: on 9
December, two days after the division's landing at Deposito, 12 LSM's
and 4 LCI's would bring in supplies; on 11 December, 12 LSM's and 5
LCI's would bring in additional supplies; and on 13 December 12 LSM's
and 4 LCI's would carry further supplies to the division. Thereafter, 3
LSM's would be assigned the task of supplying the 77th Division. [1037]



Table 3--Airdrops by 11th Air Cargo Resupply Squadron, 11 November-25
December 1944

  --------------+--------------------------+-----------+-----------
      Branch    |     Supplies             |Weight in  |  Percent
                |                          | Pounds    |  of Total
  --------------+--------------------------+-----------+-----------
      Total     |                          | 1,167,818 |  100.0
                |                          +-----------+-----------
  Quartermaster | Rations                  |   445,916 |   38.3
                | Miscellaneous            |   357,061 |   30.4
  Ordnance      | Ammunition               |   337,761 |   28.9
  Medical       | Supply and Equipment     |    21,308 |    1.8
  Signal        | Supply and Equipment     |     4,546 |    0.4
  Chemical      | Chemical Warfare Supplies|     1,226 |    0.2
  --------------+--------------------------+-----------+-----------
                   Units Supplied          |  Weight   | Percent
                                           |           | of Total
  -----------------------------------------+-----------+-----------
      Total                                | 1,167,818 |  100.0
                                           +-----------+-----------
  11th Airborne Division                   |   388,570 |   33.3
  1st Cavalry Division                     |   301,058 |   25.8
  32d Infantry Division                    |   167,859 |   14.3
  24th Infantry Division                   |   126,004 |   10.7
  Guerrillas                               |    91,054 |    8.7
  96th Infantry Division                   |    52,973 |    4.2
  77th Infantry Division                   |    14,800 |    1.1
  112th Cavalry Regiment                   |    10,300 |    0.8
  7th Infantry Division                    |     4,200 |    0.3
  Others                                   |    11,000 |    0.8
  -----------------------------------------+-----------+-----------

Source: Report of Transportation Officer, Sixth Army Operations Report
Leyte, p. 271.



The Japanese had sunk two LSM's near Baybay on 4 December and damaged
several other vessels during the Deposito landing. [1038] Because
of the extreme shortage of shipping that resulted, General Hodge
suggested to General Bruce on 8 December that thirty trucks, which
had been scheduled for delivery on the first two convoys of resupply
shipping, be sent overland along the Abuyog-Baybay mountain road and
used to shuttle supplies of the division between the two towns. These
supplies could be sent forward to the 77th Division when its beachhead
merged with that of the 7th Division. [1039] On the following day
the first resupply for the 77th division left Abuyog in a convoy of
trucks which went over the mountains to Baybay, where LCM's took the
cargo and moved it to the area of the 77th Division. [1040]

At 2100 on 10 December, General Hodge notified General Bruce that
the second echelon of resupply was to arrive at 2359 on the following
day at any beach that General Bruce desired. The supplies consisted
of 40,000 rations, 1,000 gallons of 80-octane gasoline, 500 gallons
of diesel oil, 100 tons of ammunition, and 10 tons of medical
supplies. Certain tactical and service units were also to be sent
forward. The third echelon, which was scheduled to arrive on the west
coast on the night of 14-15 December, was to consist of the remaining
units of the 77th Division and "considerable resupply." [1041]

As the tide of battle swept the 77th Division farther northward, its
line of supply and that of the 7th Division became very thin. About 15
December the supply officer of the XXIV Corps summarized the situation
to the corps chief of staff. Between 19 and 25 December three resupply
echelons, consisting of twenty-four LSM's and five LCI's carrying 3,250
tons of supplies, were to arrive on the west coast. He believed this
amount was insufficient. According to his calculations, the daily
requirements for two divisions in heavy fighting were 500 tons of
supplies. He estimated that the supplies of the 77th Division could
not last beyond 18 December. By 19 December the division would be in
short supply unless 100 truck loads of supplies could be sent over
the mountains before that time. The convoy that was to go forward
on the 19th would carry only two days' supplies and there would be
a three-day interval before the arrival of the next convoy. The XXIV
Corps, therefore, was faced with the problem of moving 200 truck loads
of supplies during those three days merely to keep even. After 25
December, one and a half days' supply would be sent overwater every
three days. Since the supply officer of the XXIV Corps had strong
doubts that the road would stand "a movement involving 300 trucks
every three days" it was believed that the supply situation would
steadily worsen. [1042]

On 15 December General Krueger sent a radio message to Admiral Kinkaid
reviewing the critical supply situation and requesting that sufficient
amphibious shipping be made available immediately to carry supplies
to the forces on the west coast. Admiral Kinkaid acquiesced, and
on 22 December a resupply convoy arrived at Ormoc with "sufficient
supplies and equipment to alleviate the critical situation." [1043]

By 26 December a general level of five to ten days' supply of all
classes had been built up, a level that was maintained throughout
the rest of the operation. The XXIV Corps utilized to the maximum
the available space on the LSM convoys, and units on the west coast
employed all available motor transportation to supplement the tonnage
on the convoys. Finally, the supplies were pooled in dumps at Ipil
and Ormoc and then allotted to the units.

On 25 December General Hodge received a Christmas message from his
supply officer: "Best wishes for Merry Xmas and a New Year filled
with supplies, resupplies, more supplies and no supply worries." [1044]

The serious logistical situation was to affect definitely the progress
of the Sixth Army as it fought its way into Ormoc Valley--the last
important enemy stronghold on the island.



CHAPTER XIX

The Entrances to Ormoc Valley


General Bruce's quick exploitation of the surprise landing of the
77th Division just below Ormoc had resulted in the capture of Ormoc
on 10 December. With each successive advance, he had displaced his
entire division forward. General Bruce, as he phrased it, preferred to
"drag his tail up the beach." [1045]

With the seizure of Ormoc, General Krueger's Sixth Army had driven
the main elements of the Japanese 35th Army into Ormoc Valley. The
Japanese were caught in the jaws of a trap--the 1st Cavalry Division
and the 32d Infantry Division were closing in from the north and the
77th Infantry Division from the south. General Krueger ordered the
X and XXIV Corps to close this trap upon the Japanese.



Southern Entrance to Ormoc Valley

Japanese Plans

When General Suzuki, the commander of the Japanese 35th Army, ordered
the action against the Burauen airfields, his anticipations had been
high. Accompanied by his chief of staff and six other staff officers,
he had gone to the headquarters of the 26th Division, in the mountains
near Lubi, in order to supervise the operation personally. General
Tomochika, the deputy chief of staff, remained at Ormoc because of
the advance of the Americans up the west coast, and took command of
operations in the area.

A mixed battalion, consisting of four companies, reinforced the 12th
Independent Infantry Regiment. This regiment, under Colonel Imahori,
was to be prepared at a moment's notice for action in the Ormoc
sector. [1046] The 16th and 26th Divisions received orders to retreat
westward and establish defensive positions in the Ormoc Valley. The
16th Division, which had less than 200 men, had ceased to exist as a
fighting unit. The Japanese decided that henceforward their operations
would be strictly defensive. The 26th Division started to withdraw
through the mountains, but its orders to retreat were very hard to
carry out. The Americans had blocked the road, and the 11th Airborne
Division units, which had advanced west from Burauen, were attacking
in the vicinity of Lubi. As a result, the staff officers of General
Suzuki's 35th Army "disbanded and scattered." General Suzuki passed
through the American lines and reached the command post at Huaton,
four miles north of Ormoc, on 13 December; his chief of staff arrived
there the following day. As for the 26th Division, "all contact with
the Division was lost by Army Headquarters until the early part of
March." [1047]

In the meantime General Tomochika had prepared new plans. On 6
December he was told by a staff officer of the 1st Division, which
was fighting the 32d Division in the north, that the 1st Division had
"reached the stage of collapse." [1048] The mission of the 1st Division
was then changed to one of defense. Colonel Imahori by the night of
7 December had sent two companies south. [1049] These companies,
known as the Kamijo Battalion, were destroyed at Ipil by the 77th
Division in its march to Ormoc. Colonel Imahori, fearful that the
rest of his detachment would suffer the same fate, ordered his main
force, the Tateishi and Maeda Battalions, to construct positions
north of Ormoc. The remnants of the Kamijo Battalion established a
position northeast of Ormoc. In his plan for the parachute attack on
the Burauen airfields, General Suzuki had decided to use as a part
of his attacking force the 4th Air Raiding Landing Unit. In view
of the unfavorable situation that had developed, the 14th Area Army
commander, General Yamashita, decided that after the 4th Air Raiding
Landing Unit landed at the Valencia airfield it was to be kept in
the Ormoc area. From 8 to 13 December approximately 500 men from
the unit arrived in the Ormoc area, and were attached to the Imahori
Detachment. They had traveled only at dawn or dusk to avoid detection.

At the same time, "in order to ease the difficult Leyte Island
Operation," General Yamashita dispatched from Luzon to assist the
troops in the Ormoc sector the Takahashi Detachment, composed of the
5th Infantry Regiment of the 8th Division, an artillery battalion,
a company of engineers, a transportation company, and a Special Naval
Landing Force of 400 men with four light tanks and sixteen trench
mortars. In order to suppress the guerrillas, who were active in the
Camotes Islands off the west coast of Leyte and who were guarding the
entrance to Ormoc Bay, the area army commander ordered a detachment,
known as the Camotes Detachment, to those islands. This detachment was
composed of one battalion (less two companies) of the 58th Independent
Mixed Brigade, an artillery battery, and an engineering platoon.

The transports carrying the troops to the Ormoc area underwent a
severe aerial bombardment from American aircraft. As a consequence,
only the Special Naval Landing Force arrived at its target. On the
same day the transports carrying the Takahashi and Camotes Detachments
were forced to put in at Palompon on the west coast. The subsequent
advance of these detachments toward Ormoc was greatly delayed.

On 9 December the 77th Infantry Regiment, the last of the
Japanese reinforcements for Leyte, landed at Palompon and moved to
Matagob. General Suzuki intended to assemble and integrate these
units and to launch a counteroffensive against Ormoc starting on 17
December. [1050]



Cogon Defenses

On 10 December General Bruce devised a new scheme of maneuver:
the 77th Division was to break loose from its base and use Indian
warfare or blockhouse tactics. At night each "fort" was to establish
an all-round defense from any Japanese night attacks. In the daytime,
an armed convoy was to go "from fort to fort." The Filipino guerrillas
were to guard the bridges and furnish intelligence. [1051]

By nightfall of 10 December the 77th Division had cleared Ormoc. (See
Map 19.) The front lines of the 307th Infantry were on the western
outskirts of the town along the bank of the Antilao River, a stream
which flows past the entire western side of Ormoc. At the city's
northern edge the river is crossed by Highway 2, which then proceeds
directly north about 300 yards west of the river and parallel to it
for a distance of about 1,000 yards. The 306th Infantry on the right
of the 307th Infantry had come abreast of that regiment at twilight.

General Bruce's plan for 11 December provided for a limited attack
north to enable the division to straighten out its lines. The 305th
Infantry in the afternoon would come between the 306th Infantry on the
right and the 307th Infantry on the left. The 305th Infantry was to
be prepared to attack on the morning of 12 December with battalions
abreast, one on each side of the highway. [1052]

At 0930 on 11 December the 306th and 307th Infantry Regiments jumped
off with the 307th Infantry on the left. The assault battalions of
the 307th Infantry and the 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry, attempted to
cross the Antilao River but came under heavy fire and were pinned down.

The fire came from a well-fortified position of the 12th Independent
Infantry Regiment on the north bank of the river at Cogon, a small
barrio on Highway 2 just north of Ormoc. The enemy position was on
a small elevated plateau, adjacent to Highway 2, overlooking the
river to the south and rice paddies to the east and west. Innumerable
spider holes had been constructed throughout the area. The principal
defensive position, slightly east of Cogon, was in the vicinity of a
three-story reinforced concrete building that had been converted into
a blockhouse. The well-camouflaged positions, with the exception of
the fortress, were so situated in the underbrush and the waist-high
cogon grass that it was impossible to detect them at a distance of
more than ten feet. From these positions the Japanese could command
the bridge over the Antilao River and deny the U. S. troops the use
of Highway 2 to the north. An estimated reinforced battalion with
machine guns, antitank guns, and field pieces, together with small
arms, defended the area.

The artillery fired on the enemy front lines, which were only
twenty-five yards in front of the American assault troops, but failed
to dislodge the Japanese. The assault battalions of the 307th Infantry
and the 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry, thereupon delivered point-blank
fire from their tank destroyer guns, amphibian tank guns, light and
medium machine guns, and infantry weapons on the Japanese position
but still could not overcome it. The lack of shipping had prevented
the division from taking its medium tanks with it. Unable to move
forward, the battalions established their front lines and perimeters
for the night along a line just north of Ormoc.

On the division's right, the 3d Battalion, 306th Infantry, moved
forward against increasingly strong resistance from the 12th
Independent Infantry Regiment. After advancing about 1,000 yards the
3d Battalion encountered a well-entrenched position. Elements of the
12th Independent Infantry Regiment had dug in on a steep ridge in
front of which was a deep ravine. Eight hundred yards of rice paddies
lay between this position and the one opposing the other battalions,
though both positions were part of the same defensive system. The
artillery placed fire upon the ridge. Although able to utilize only
a company and a half against the enemy position, the 3d Battalion,
under cover of the artillery fire, attacked and succeeded in gaining a
foothold on the ridge. The 12th Independent Infantry Regiment at the
same time directed two unsuccessful counterattacks against the right
flank and rear of the 3d Battalion. Since the forward elements on
the ridge were vulnerable and any further advance would have exposed
both flanks of the 3d Battalion, the commanding officer of the 306th
Infantry at 1600 ordered the 3d Battalion to withdraw the forward
units on the enemy-held ridge and consolidate its position. [1053]

At 1600 the 2d and 3d Battalions, 305th Infantry, moved north of Ormoc
and took up the position held by the 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry,
between the 307th Infantry on the left and the 3d Battalion, 306th
Infantry, on the right. The relieved battalion was ordered to take a
position to reinforce the 2d and 3d Battalions, 306th Infantry. The
1st Battalion, 305th Infantry, remained just south of Camp Downes as
the extreme right flank of the 77th Division. [1054]

In his plan for the drive of the XXIV Corps up Ormoc Valley, General
Hodge ordered the 7th Division to "continue the attack as directed
and coordinated" by General Bruce. [1055] To strengthen the Ormoc
defenses, elements of the 7th Division were scheduled to be brought
forward. General Bruce planned to attack daily towards Valencia, which
was about six and a half miles north of Ormoc. The 77th Division would
eventually cut loose from the Ormoc defenses and take up each night
an all-round defense. The supply convoy, protected by strong guards,
would move along Highway 2 and measure its advance by that of the
assault units. The 305th Infantry was to proceed along Highway 2
and the 306th Infantry, while protecting the division right flank,
was to be prepared to proceed 2,000 to 3,000 yards east of Highway 2,
move north through the hills to a point due east of Valencia, and then
turn west across Highway 2 and capture that town. The 307th Infantry,
while protecting the division left flank, was to be prepared to relieve
the 305th Infantry. The artillery of the division at the outset was
to support the advance from Ormoc and eventually move with the forward
element of the 77th Division when the latter cut loose from the Ormoc
sector. [1056]



Enemy Night Landings

At 2330 on 11 December the 77th Division beach defense units observed
a Japanese convoy, which was transporting the Special Naval Landing
Force, steaming into Ormoc Bay with the apparent intention of landing
at Ormoc. The Japanese evidently thought that Ormoc was still in their
hands. The first craft noticed by the U.S. forces was a landing barge
with about fifty men, heading directly for the Ormoc pier. By the time
the barge came within range of the shore weapons, all shore units were
alert and waited with guns trained upon it. They withheld their fire
until the barge was within fifty yards of the pier and then all weapons
converged their fires upon the craft. The first rounds squarely hit
the barge, which immediately burst into flames. The Japanese clambered
atop the gunwales and are reported to have screamed, "Don't shoot,"
under the mistaken notion that their forces still occupied Ormoc.

The harbor was lit up by the burning barge and 60-mm. illuminating
shells. During the night the Americans discovered that another enemy
vessel, about the size of an LST, had pulled into shore northwest of
the town under cover of darkness and was busily engaged in discharging
troops and equipment. The tank destroyer guns of the 307th Infantry,
emplaced along the beach within 1,000 yards of the vessel, opened fire
on it while forward observers from the 902d Field Artillery Battalion
directed artillery fire upon the landing area and inland. The enemy
vessel attempted to pull out to sea, but after proceeding less than
fifty yards it burst into flames and sank. About 150 men, two tanks,
a number of rifles, mortars, and machine guns, and a quantity of
ammunition had been unloaded before the vessel sank, but most of the
supplies, including four ammunition trucks, had been destroyed by
American fire while the vessel was unloading.

The early dawn of 12 December revealed another ship of the same type
farther west near Linao. The artillery, mortars, and tank destroyer
guns opened up against this vessel as it fled along the shores of
Ormoc Bay, and their fire followed until it was out of range. Before
the fire ceased, heavy clouds of smoke billowed from the vessel as
it moved at a snail's pace. During the night the American fire had to
be closely co-ordinated, since American vessels, including a resupply
convoy, were in the bay. Not a single U. S. craft was damaged.

Troops of the Special Naval Landing Force who had disembarked got
in touch with Colonel Imahori, who immediately ordered them to go
to Highway 2 as the reserve unit of the 12th Independent Infantry
Regiment. It was impossible for them to carry out the order, since the
77th Division had advanced north from Ormoc. They thereupon decided
to join a naval airfield construction unit at Valencia, but again
they failed. In the latter part of December, the men of the Special
Naval Landing Force were in the eastern part of the Palompon area
without having taken part in the battle for the Ormoc corridor. [1057]



Battle of the Blockhouse

Because the fighting on the previous day had been extremely intense,
General Bruce on 12 December consolidated his positions and brought
forward supplies and supporting artillery. The front-line units sent
out strong combat and reconnaissance patrols to the front and flanks
to secure information on the dispositions of the Japanese. [1058]
Throughout the day and night the artillery battalions of the division
placed harassing and interdiction fires on the enemy positions across
the Antilao River. [1059]

The 902d and 305th Field Artillery Battalions, two batteries of the
304th Field Artillery Battalion, and one battery of 155-mm. howitzers
from the 306th Field Artillery Battalion fired continuously for five
minutes on the morning of 13 December at the enemy position in front
of the 305th Infantry. So intense was the fire that the enemy soldiers
were bewildered and streamed toward the front lines of the division
where they were cut down in great numbers by machine gun and small
arms fire. The Japanese in and around the concrete building, however,
lay low and weathered the barrage.

General Bruce attached Col. Paul L. Freeman, an observer from the War
Department General Staff, to the 305th Infantry. Colonel Freeman was
made the commander of a special attack force, consisting of Companies
E and L, which was to storm the blockhouse. The 305th Infantry, which
was to make the main effort, had the 3d Battalion on the right of
Highway 2 and the 2d and 1st Battalions on the left of the road. The
3d Battalion in a column of companies moved out at 0830. In support of
the 305th Infantry, the 2d Platoon, Company A, 88th Chemical Battalion,
fired on and silenced two enemy machine guns. The Japanese held their
fire until the infantrymen were upon them, making it necessary for
the artillery to fire at very close range. The fire from the 305th
Field Artillery Battalion came to within fifty yards of the American
front lines.

After Company I, the lead company, reached the ridge at 0925, K
Company moved up and attempted to consolidate the 3d Battalion's
position by making an oblique turn to the right flank of Company
I. It was hit at 1155 by the first of five counterattacks by the 12th
Independent Infantry Regiment. The enemy preceded the infantry assault
by artillery, mortar, and automatic weapons fire. The 3d Battalion
estimated the enemy force to be a reinforced battalion. All of the
counterattacks were driven off with heavy casualties on both sides.

The 2d Battalion, 305th Infantry, on the left of the highway, jumped
off at 0830 in a column of companies, Company F leading. At 0845 the
troops ran into concentrated automatic weapons fire, which pinned them
down. Company G moved around the left flank of Company F and also
came under heavy fire. A Japanese force estimated as two reinforced
companies opposed Companies F and G. With the right flank of Company
F on the blockhouse, the 2d Battalion pivoted on this point until
the line ran in a generally northern direction from the blockhouse
and faced toward the east. The 1st Battalion faced north and tied in
with the 307th Infantry on its left. Colonel Freeman's special attack
force was unable to move forward. The 3d Battalion held the commanding
ground east of Highway 2. The battalions of the 305th Infantry arranged
co-ordinating fires that covered all open spaces. [1060]

The 307th Infantry moved westward along the Ormoc-Linao road to
forestall any enemy reinforcements and counterattacks from that
direction. The troops encountered few Japanese. The 307th Infantry
in its advance of 1,000 yards took the barrio of Linao and captured
three artillery pieces and two antiaircraft guns, as well as ammunition
for those weapons. [1061]

The 306th Infantry, protecting the right flank of the 305th, received
no opposition during the day but assisted the attack of the 305th
Infantry by fire. Patrols of the 306th Infantry explored the area in
the vicinity of Donghol, about two miles northeast of Ormoc, but made
no contact with the enemy. [1062]

Although the 77th Division had extended its western boundary during
the day by about 1,000 yards, the front lines in the center remained
generally where they had been in the morning. The 1st and 2d Platoons
of Company A, 88th Chemical Battalion, laid a continuous smoke
screen in front of the troops from 0930 to 1630, enabling the aid
men to remove the wounded from the front lines and carry them to the
rear. [1063]

During the night of 13-14 December the artillery of the 77th Division
delivered harassing and interdiction fires to the front, the principal
target being the concrete house that had withstood the onslaught of
the previous two days. The 1st Battalion, 305th Infantry, received
enemy mortar fire during the night, and both it and the 2d Battalion
received light machine gun fire in the early morning hours. The 2d
Battalion destroyed one machine gun with mortar fire.

At 0930 on 14 December Colonel Freeman prepared his special assault
force to renew the attack. Before the jump-off, artillery and
mortars laid their fire on the blockhouse and beyond. Under cover of
artillery fire the troops cautiously moved out at 1030 with Company
L on the right and by 1105 they had advanced 100 yards. Company L
knocked out two pillboxes with flame throwers and a tank destroyer
gun. Company E found every step of the way contested. The troops used
hand grenades and bayonets and literally forced the enemy out of the
foxholes in tough hand-to-hand fighting. [1064] Capt. Robert B. Nett,
the commanding officer of Company E, although seriously wounded,
refused to relinquish his command. He led his company forward and
killed seven Japanese with his rifle and bayonet. Captain Nett was
awarded the Medal of Honor.

While Company E was so engaged, Company L on its right advanced
through dense foliage and burnt the Japanese out of their foxholes
and the bamboo thicket with flame throwers. The company was assisted
by armored bulldozers from the 302d Engineers. For a hundred yards on
all sides of the blockhouse, the enemy had dug many deep foxholes only
a few yards apart. All the foxholes were covered, some with coconut
logs and earth, and others with improvised lids of metal and earth. One
was protected by an upturned bathtub. The armored bulldozer drove over
the positions, its blades cutting off the tops of the foxholes, after
which small arms fire into the holes killed the occupants. The crews of
the tank destroyers not only fired point-blank at targets but opened
the escape hatches and dropped grenades into the foxholes. [1065]
At 1240 the blockhouse, or what remained of it, was secured.

In the meantime the 1st Battalion, 305th Infantry, flanked the
blockhouse at 1225 and wheeled 1,000 yards to the east, cutting off
the enemy line of communications on Highway 2. The 3d Battalion,
305th Infantry, remained on the high ground. By 1510 the crossroad
north of Ormoc was taken. At the end of the day, the front lines of
the 305th Infantry ran south to north along Highway 2 with Company L
in the blockhouse sector. A large pocket of the enemy, which had been
bypassed by the 1st Battalion, was centered generally in front of the
2d Battalion. The 307th Infantry was on the left flank of the 305th,
while the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry, which had relieved the 306th
Infantry, was on the right flank in Ormoc. [1066]

During the day the 307th Infantry continued its mission of protecting
the left flank of the 77th Division in its northward advance and sent
patrols and a strong reconnaissance force, consisting of two reinforced
rifle companies, one dismounted cannon platoon, and four tanks, west
to the banks of an unnamed river near Jalubon. The reconnaissance
force killed twenty-one of the enemy, also capturing and destroying
great quantities of Japanese matériel and supplies. By the time the
perimeter of the 307th Infantry was established in the late afternoon
of 14 December, as reported by General Bruce, "the coast line from
Ormoc to Jalubon was dotted with fires and the explosions of burning
Japanese ammunition dumps." [1067]

Two other patrols, composed of volunteers from the 306th and
307th Infantry Regiments, reconnoitered approximately 3,000 yards
to the west of the 307th Infantry for possible trails for a wide
envelopment. [1068] These patrols met only scattered groups of the
enemy and advanced within 2,000 yards of Valencia, returning with
the information that an envelopment was feasible. [1069] During the
day the 184th Infantry relieved the 306th Infantry of its mission of
holding the coastal defenses, freeing the latter unit for an enveloping
movement to the north.

On 15 December the 77th Division consolidated its lines and sent out
small patrols. The enemy continued to be very active in the sector
of the 305th Infantry. During the night the artillery operating in
the 1st Battalion sector knocked out four 2 1/2-ton trucks and killed
seventeen of the enemy, while the 2d Battalion beat off two Japanese
counterattacks. In the 3d Battalion sector all was quiet.

By 15 December the port of Ormoc had been sealed off. It was through
this port that the Japanese had sent in a profusion of men, supplies,
and equipment, thus prolonging the battle for the island beyond the
time anticipated in the original American plans for the operation. The
77th Division estimated that for the period from 11 through 15 December
it had taken 9 prisoners and killed 3,046 of the enemy. [1070] Its own
casualties were 2 officers and 101 enlisted men killed, 22 officers and
296 enlisted men wounded, and 26 enlisted men missing in action. [1071]



The Mountain Passage

As a result of General Suzuki's abortive attempt to seize the Burauen
airfields, a number of Japanese soldiers remained in the mountains
west of Burauen. Most of these were from the 26th Division and
they were trying to rejoin the main part of the 35th Army in Ormoc
Valley. Earlier, the 11th Airborne Division had started out over
the mountains from Burauen in order to relieve enemy pressure on the
eastern flank of the XXIV Corps in its drive toward Ormoc. (Map 21)



Mahonag

Just west of Burauen the central mountain range rises abruptly from
Leyte Valley to peaks that are 4,000 feet or more in height. Many of
the deep, precipitous gorges were impassable even for foot soldiers. No
roads went through the mountains but there were short footpaths from
one locality to another. Some of these trails led over boulder-strewn,
swiftly running streams and frequently bridged deep gorges with a
single log where a slip meant a drop of thirty to forty feet. The paths
were often so steep that footholds had to be cut into the hillsides,
and soldiers were forced to use their hands to avoid falling as much
as forty to a hundred feet. [1072]

On 25 November the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment moved west from
Burauen for Mahonag, ten miles away. The almost impassable terrain,
heavy rainfall, and pockets of lurking Japanese made passage very
difficult. It was impossible for the regiment to move as a unit. In
small parties, sometimes even less than a squad, the 511th moved
forward. "The journey to Mahonag defies description. Sucking mud,
jungle vines, and vertical inclines exhausted men before they had
marched an hour. Though it rained often during any one trip, still
there was no drinking water available throughout the journey." [1073]
The 3d Battalion, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, after considerable
hardship entered Mahonag on 6 December. [1074]

On 9 December the 2d Battalion, though encountering heavy fire
from enemy machine guns, mortars, and rifles, pushed steadily
forward and established contact with the other units of the 511th
Parachute Infantry Regiment at Mahonag. For several days thereafter,
this regiment was busily engaged in sending out patrols. Company G,
patrolling in force for two miles to the front, was cut off from the
rest of the regiment, which was held down because of strong enemy
action. On 13 December the 32d Infantry pushed northeast from Ormoc
Bay in an effort to make juncture with the 11th Airborne Division
and assist it in moving out of the mountains.



Drive of 32d Infantry

The 32d Infantry also encountered very precipitous hills and its
advance was bitterly contested by the Japanese. By the evening of 14
December the regiment had considerably reduced the distance between
itself and the 511th Parachute Infantry.

At 0700 on 15 December, as the 3d Battalion was moving out, a patrol
of six men from Company G, 511th Parachute Infantry, entered the
battalion's lines. The rest of Company G was only 700 yards east of
the ridge. The patrol reported that Company G had been cut off from
the rest of the regiment for four days and was without food.

The 3d Battalion encountered only slight resistance and at 0950 was
on top of the ridge. A platoon moved out to make contact with Company
G of the 511th Parachute Infantry. The platoon reached the company,
and at 1855 Company G entered the lines of the 3d Battalion, which
fed and sheltered its men for the night.

In the meantime the 1st Battalion had moved out at 0800 and encountered
scattered resistance. To the east and south of the 32d Infantry was an
impassable canyon, several hundred feet deep. In order to reach the
511th Parachute Infantry, it would be necessary for the regiment to
go either north for an undetermined distance or down the ridge toward
the coast and then up again. A third possibility involved crossing
the Talisayan River in the foothills several miles to the west. With
these facts in mind Colonel Finn asked his executive officer, "Are
we to actually contact the 511th personally[?] What is the purpose
of the contact and are we to lead them out by hand[?]" [1075]

At the same time, General Arnold advised the 511th Parachute Infantry
of the situation and that "present orders" from General Hodge required
the displacement of the 32d Infantry from its positions in order
to wipe out pockets of resistance that remained near Ormoc. The
511th Parachute Infantry was to make every effort to drive toward
the position of the 32d Infantry, since the latter would soon be
withdrawn. The 511th would then have to fight it out alone. General
Arnold finally decided that the 1st and 3d Battalions, 32d Infantry,
would be withdrawn and that the 2d Battalion, which was fresher, would
move up and attempt to establish contact with the 511th Parachute
Infantry. [1076]

At 0700 on 16 December the 2d Battalion started eastward along
the south bank of the Talisayan River. For the next few days the
battalion made slow progress, meeting and destroying small groups of
the enemy pushing west. As the troops advanced they were confronted
with steep and heavily wooded ridges which were separated by gorges
several hundred feet deep. The Japanese, well concealed by the heavy
foliage and entrenched in caves, were most difficult to dislodge,
but the distance between the 2d Battalion and the 511th Parachute
Infantry daily diminished. On 20 December the 2d Battalion was held
up by the terrain and strong enemy opposition on two ridges to its
front. For the next two days the battalion pounded at the Japanese
force in attempts to dislodge it. At this time the distance between the
2d Battalion and the 511th Parachute Infantry had narrowed down. Enemy
resistance was overcome on the morning of 22 December. In the meantime
the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment passed through the 511th Parachute
Infantry Regiment and continued the attack. At 1330 on 22 December the
2d Battalion of the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment passed through the
2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, and pushed on to the coast. The difficult
mountain passes had been overcome. [1077]



The Drive South

Regrouping of Japanese Forces

When the Americans took Limon, the key point of entrance on Highway
2 into Ormoc Valley from the north, the Japanese forces were thrown
into confusion. The Americans, unknown to themselves, had successfully
divided the Japanese 1st and 102d Divisions that had been charged
with the defense of northern Leyte. The Japanese were forced to
regroup their various units in an attempt to correct the rapidly
deteriorating situation along their front lines. The strong American
infantry assaults, which had been co-ordinated with heavy mortar and
artillery fire, induced General Kataoka, the commanding general of
the 1st Division, to redistribute his forces along Highway 2. [1078]

The onslaught of the X Corps had forced General Suzuki to abandon
the earlier plan of advancing the 35th Army north along three widely
separated routes. Instead he had to concentrate the main strength of
the 1st Division along the highway to check the American advance. The
plan to use the 1st Division as a strong offensive force had to be
discarded in favor of using it in a strictly defensive role.

The 1st Division had suffered much: as of 2 December, 3,000 of
its men had been killed or wounded. Furthermore, one third of the
infantry weapons of the 1st Infantry Regiment and two thirds of
those belonging to the 57th Infantry Regiment had been rendered
inoperable. The infantry was short of grenades and ammunition for
the 50-mm. grenade dischargers. "The men were suffering from the
effect of continuous fighting, from lack of provisions, overwork,
and especially from the lack of vitamins." [1079]

By this time communications between the 1st Division and other units
had broken down. Telephonic and telegraphic communications between
the division and 35th Army headquarters were out for long periods of
time, and liaison between the division headquarters and front-line
units was carried out by messengers moving on foot. The supply lines
had also broken down. The 1st Division Transport Regiment found it
virtually impossible to supply food and ammunition to the 1st and
57th Infantry Regiments and the 1st Artillery Regiment.

General Kataoka grouped his forces along Highway 2 in the
Limon-Pinamopoan area in order to concentrate the maximum strength
along Highway 2. The 1st Reconnaissance Regiment was to attack the
left flank of the 32d Division, [1080] which was already opposed by
the 57th Infantry in the Limon sector; the 1st Battalion, less Company
3 and the 2d Battalion, plus Company 11, of the 49th Infantry were to
occupy the 1,900-yard sector two miles southeast of Limon in order to
hold back American forces in that area; and the 1st Artillery Regiment
was to defend its prepared positions south of Limon. The troops of
the 1st Engineer Regiment and other noncombat units were issued small
arms and ordered to take part in the defense of Highway 2. [1081]



Drive of the 32d Division

In order to support the amphibious landing of the 77th Division at
Deposito and its subsequent movement northward, General Krueger had
ordered the X Corps to make its main effort, beginning on 5 December,
by advancing vigorously south astride Highway 2 from the vicinity
of Limon. [1082] Acting on Corps orders, General Gill prepared to
move out with two regiments abreast. The 32d Division consolidated
its positions on 5 December, and readied itself for a strong assault
south down Highway 2. [1083] (See Map 14.)

The 127th Infantry had pushed past the 3d Battalion, 128th Infantry,
which was south of the Leyte River and west of Limon. The 127th
encountered very determined resistance from the Japanese entrenched
on the high ground 1,000 yards south of the Leyte River bridge. The
well-camouflaged enemy defenses consisted of numerous foxholes and
ten-foot-deep spider holes, many of which were connected by interlacing
communication trenches.

The terrain that the troops traversed was adapted to defensive
fighting, and the 1st Division took full advantage of this fact. There
were deep ravines and steep hills where the enemy had dug in on both
the forward and reverse slopes. The entire area was covered by heavy
rain forest with dense underbrush. The nearly constant rainfall made
observation difficult and the maps for the area were very inaccurate.

By 12 December the 32d Division had "detoured" around the 1st and
57th Infantry Regiments of the 1st Division and was assaulting
the Japanese artillery positions south of Limon. On this date the
division straightened out its lines, established physical contact
between the assault battalions, resupplied the assault units,
and sent out patrols. The sector in which the greatest Japanese
resistance was encountered continued to be that of the 2d Battalion,
126th Infantry. Employing mortars and four tanks, this battalion was
able to make only limited gains. [1084]

During the night of 12-13 December the artillery battalions of the
32d Division fired harassing missions near the perimeters of the
126th and 127th Infantry Regiments and southward on Highway 2 as far
as the vicinity of Lonoy.

The 14th Area Army had planned to land the 39th Infantry Regiment
and an artillery company from the 10th Division near Carigara on
16 December, but in view of the American 77th Division's advance to
Ormoc the plan was canceled on 11 December. On 13 December General
Suzuki attached an infantry company of about 100 men from the 102d
Division to the 1st Division in order to strengthen the latter's lines.

On the morning of 13 December the 2d Battalion, 126th Infantry, with
the assistance of its tanks and heavy mortars, pushed past the Japanese
who had held up its advance. In the face of most determined opposition
the battalion moved south, destroying the pockets of resistance which
had been bypassed. At the end of the day the 2d Battalion had advanced
400 yards to a position 200 yards north of a roadblock set up by
the 3d Battalion, 126th Infantry. The 3d Battalion, less Company L,
which was to remain on the high ground overlooking the road, was to
attack south on the east side of Highway 2 and come abreast of the
1st Battalion, 126th Infantry.

At 1521 the 3d Battalion reported that six enemy tanks were coming
up the highway. After heavy fighting, the Japanese tanks withdrew at
nightfall and returned to the south. The 1st Battalion, 126th Infantry,
the southernmost unit of the division, made plans to dislodge the
enemy force between it and the 3d Battalion. The contested ground
consisted of an open space 600 to 700 yards long and 200 to 300 yards
wide, at the southern end of which were two knolls. The 1st Battalion
had men on both knolls but did not control the northern end of the
sector where the Japanese had dug in and were using machine guns,
mortars, and rifles. The 1st Battalion charged against the Japanese
and rooted them out with grenades and mortar fire. Except for this
action, only slight gains were registered during the day. The men
of the battalion were hungry, having been without food since the
previous afternoon. The commanding officer of the battalion renewed
a request for additional rations and ammunition, since the one-third
ration that had been received the day before was insufficient.

The 1st and 2d Battalions of the 127th Infantry received orders from
the regimental commander to advance south with the 1st Battalion on
the left, pinch out the 3d Battalion, 126th Infantry, and link up with
the 1st Battalion, 126th Infantry. The 1st Battalion, 127th Infantry,
moved out in a column of companies and had advanced 400 yards when it
encountered forty to fifty Japanese on a ridge to its front, about 150
yards west of the road. The enemy threw blocks of TNT and grenades
against the battalion, effectively pinning down the troops. A night
perimeter was established.

The 2d Battalion, 126th Infantry, moved abreast of the regiment's 1st
Battalion throughout the day. Its advance was bitterly contested by
the Japanese, who employed machine guns, mortars, and rifles against
the battalion, which dug in for the night under fire. [1085] At 1630
the 11th Field Artillery Battalion fired upon fifteen Japanese who were
walking along the road south of Lonoy and killed twelve of them. [1086]

The night of 13-14 December was not quiet. At 2300 an enemy force
from the 1st Infantry Regiment broke into the command post of the
126th Infantry. The Japanese set up a machine gun in the area and
attacked with grenades and rifles. Bitter hand-to-hand fighting ensued
but by 0325 the enemy force was evicted and the area had quieted
down. At 0630, with the coming of dawn, the Headquarters Company got
things in order and everyone was "happy to hear sound of comrade's
voices." Six Japanese were killed and two Americans and two Filipinos
wounded. [1087]

On 14 December nearly all battalions of the 127th and 126th Infantry
Regiments were engaged in moving slowly forward and maintaining
physical contact with each other. At 1045 the air observer of
the 11th Field Artillery Battalion located what appeared to be a
camouflaged four-gun position at a point 300 yards northeast of
Lonoy. The battalion fired upon the site and the Japanese fled from
the position. The 11th Field Artillery Battalion again fired into
the same general area at 1315 and set a supply and ammunition dump
and three buildings on fire. At 1530 the battalion and the corps
artillery massed their fires in order to cover all of Lonoy. [1088]
At 1730, the 127th Infantry destroyed two enemy tanks going north.

The 126th Infantry, on the same day, moved forward in a column of
battalions. The 1st Battalion made a limited advance, since it was
very short of ammunition and completely out of food. It did establish
a roadblock, however, and made contact with the 2d Battalion, 127th
Infantry. The 2d Battalion, the northernmost unit of the 126th
Infantry, moved slowly behind the 3d Battalion of the regiment. An
interval of about 250 yards existed between the two battalions. The
Japanese in front of the 32d Division, especially in the sector of
the 3d Battalion, had strongly entrenched themselves and resisted
the 3d Battalion from both sides of the highway.


    Every bend of the road was lined with ... foxholes dug into the
    banks of the road and spider holes dug underneath the roots of
    trees and under logs on the hillsides. It was bitter, close hand
    to hand fighting and because of the steepness of the terrain,
    the denseness of the tree growth, the inaccuracy of maps and
    nearness of adjoining units, artillery and mortar fire could not
    be used to its full advantage in reducing these positions. [1089]


The main Japanese defensive line had been reached. By 14 December the
32d Division had advanced more than two miles south of Limon. The
77th Division had crushed the Cogon defenses and was in a position
to drive north and make juncture with elements of the X Corps. The
northern and southern entrances to Ormoc Valley were denied to the
Japanese. The jaws of the Sixth Army trap were starting to close.



CHAPTER XX

Seizure of Ormoc Valley


General Krueger wished the two corps to attack aggressively through
Ormoc Valley toward Valencia, about six and a half miles north of
Ormoc. The X Corps, pushing south along Highway 2, was to seize the
high ground north of Valencia and the XXIV Corps was to continue
its drive north, capture Valencia, and establish contact with the X
Corps. (Map 22) Driving north along Highway 2, the 77th Division was
to seize Valencia and its airfield and effect a juncture with the X
Corps to separate the enemy forces in the mountains east of its zone
of action from those on the west coast in the Palompon area. General
Bruce was to co-ordinate all artillery fires and air support missions
in the Ormoc-Valencia area. [1090]

After the seizure of Ormoc, although the 35th Army still controlled
Ormoc Valley, the Sixth Army had closed the northern and southern
entrances. There remained available to the Japanese as a principal
port only Palompon. A road from this town through the mountains joined
Highway 2 in the vicinity of Libongao and constituted the only main
route from the west coast of Leyte to Ormoc Valley. The Americans
noticed that the Japanese were moving supplies, men, ammunition,
and artillery to the Valencia area and concluded that the Japanese
would make a defensive stand in Valencia. [1091]

By the end of 15 December the forces of General Bruce had cleared
the Japanese defenders from the Ormoc area and were ready for the
next phase of the drive north up the Ormoc corridor. Reports made the
previous day by the reconnaissance patrols from the 306th and 307th
Infantry Regiments indicated that there was little enemy resistance
to the west of Highway 2. These led General Bruce to decide in favor
of a plan for enveloping the enemy from the west. The 306th and 307th
Infantry were to strike the flanks and rear of the Japanese defending
the highway and thus permit a more rapid advance along this road by
the 305th Infantry. [1092]

General Hodge had informed General Bruce that the commanding general
of the Sixth Army desired to have the attack pushed "with all possible
vigor." The operations of the 77th Division were to depend upon the
situation and conditions then existing. [1093] On 14 December General
Hodge visited General Bruce, who explained his plans. General Hodge
thought they were "sound" [1094] and later told General Bruce to keep
his plans flexible in order to take advantage of every break to speed
the advance north. It was imperative that the XXIV Corps secure control
of the roads north before the Japanese could establish positions.



Drive From the South to the Libongao Area

Seizure of the Road Junction

According to its plan of attack for 16 December the 305th Infantry,
from the vicinity of Cogon, was to continue its assault north
on Highway 2, liquidate the remaining enemy forces in Cogon, and
finally secure a large defensive position centered around the road
junction north of Cogon. All three battalions of the regiment were
to consolidate around the point while the 306th and 307th Infantry
Regiments were to drive toward Valencia.

The Cannon and Antitank Companies and the heavy weapons units of the
other two regiments were attached to the 305th Infantry for movement
only and were to be used solely in case of emergency. These units
were to be sent to the 306th and 307th Infantry Regiments upon call
by those regiments.

At 0930 on 16 December the assault units of the 305th Infantry moved
out. The 1st Battalion, on the left of Highway 2, was to attack north,
and the 3d Battalion, on the right of Highway 2, was to attack north
and then northeast to effect a juncture with the 1st and 2d Battalions
at the road junction north of Cogon. The 2d Battalion was to attack
east to flank the enemy positions along the highway. The operation
was to be assisted by artillery.

During the morning the artillery in support of the 1st Battalion
knocked out two antitank guns, a heavy machine gun, and an enemy
dugout position. At 1035 the 1st Battalion had advanced several
hundred yards. As the 3d Battalion came forward, Company L moved in
on the right flank of the 1st Battalion. At 1100 the 2d Battalion
had reached the enemy positions along the highway and by 1215 had
cleared out the enemy pocket and the road in its sector. A light
tank platoon from the 706th Tank Battalion was attached to the 1st
Battalion at 1255 in order to assist the battalion in clearing the
Japanese from their foxholes. Although progress was slow, it was
thorough. The localized envelopments of the enemy's right (west)
flank resulted in the capture of Cogon at the end of the day. The
305th Infantry advanced 400 yards north of the road junction and
established night positions around it. [1095]



Envelopment of Valencia

In the meantime, the 306th and 307th Infantry Regiments had been
ordered to make a series of sweeping envelopments on the Japanese right
(west) flank toward Valencia. The 307th Infantry was to move northwest
about six and a quarter miles through the barrios of Jalubon, Liloan,
and Bao to Catayom on the Bao River, then swing northeast to the barrio
of San Jose and continue northeast to the Valencia airstrip. The
306th Infantry was to follow the 307th Infantry northwest and then
drive east and cut Highway 2. [1096]

The 306th Field Artillery Battalion, though in general support, was to
give priority to the 307th Infantry. The 902d and 305th Field Artillery
Battalions were to support elements of the reconnaissance troops
operating on each flank of the division. The artillery battalions
would fire in the regimental zones of action only on call from or
with the approval of the regiments. [1097]

On 16 December the 307th Infantry crossed the line of departure
on time. Since there were no roads and the route was across rice
paddies, through waist-deep rivers, and over terrain impassable
for vehicles, the troops hand-carried their supplies. Arrangements
were also made for Filipinos to carry supplies, and, as the advance
progressed, more and more Filipinos joined the column of the 307th
Infantry for this purpose. [1098] The regiment met only scattered
resistance. Some Japanese troops encountered in the vicinity of Liloan
were dispersed. At 1525 leading elements of the 307th Infantry passed
through Bao and moved on toward San Jose. On the outskirts of that
barrio, the troops met and destroyed two platoons of the enemy. At
1645 the 307th Infantry dug in for the night in San Jose. The regiment
had covered eight miles, a rapid rate of advance considering the
nature of the terrain and the load carried. At 2340 General Bruce
told the 307th Infantry that an incendiary air strike would be made
on Valencia before 0900 the following day and that the regiment was
to hold its present position until further orders. [1099]

At 0900 on 16 December the 306th Infantry moved past the initial point
of departure on the northwestern edge of Ormoc. At 1035 the regiment
was 1,000 yards west of the starting point and close "on the tail"
of the 307th Infantry. The 306th waited until the 307th cleared and
then moved north. Although it did not encounter any Japanese its
progress was very slow because the route of advance ran through deep
rice paddies. At 1730 the regiment established its night perimeter
about 700 yards south-southwest of Tipic. [1100] During the day the
305th Infantry had cleared Cogon and occupied defensive positions
around the road junction north of the town.

The Japanese had constructed defensive positions along Highway 2 in
the southern part of Ormoc Valley. At the road junction of Highway 2
with the road to Liloan were many trenches three to four feet deep and
parallel to the highway. Trenches had also been dug along the sides of
a machine gun emplacement that occupied a slight elevation commanding
Highway 2 both to the north and to the south. On both sides of the
road from Cogon to Catayom foxholes lined Highway 2, in the ditches
and under the shacks. Some of these positions were dug on a slant and
were six to seven feet deep. At Tambuco the foxholes extended along
the highway for 400 yards, with machine gun emplacements on the sides
of the foxholes. Other positions along Highway 2 consisted of poorly
integrated foxholes and machine guns that covered the road. The field
artillery pieces between Tambuco and Catayom were placed along the
highway, with the exception of a 75-mm. gun that guarded a bridge
and was well concealed inside a roadside shack. [1101]

The 14th Area Army had planned to reinforce the 35th Army by
dispatching the Takahashi Detachment, which consisted of the 5th
Infantry Regiment, one artillery battalion, and one engineer company
and one transport company each from the 8th Division, together with
the Ito Naval Landing Force of 400 troops from Luzon.

The 77th Infantry Regiment had landed at Palompon on or about 9
December from Cebu and moved to Matagob where, after assembling its
troops, it began to move southeast toward Huaton, the new headquarters
of the 35th Army. Huaton was a small barrio on Highway 2 about three
and a half miles north of Cogon. On 13 December General Suzuki,
the commander of the 35th Army, arrived at Huaton from the Burauen
area. After the 12th Independent Infantry Regiment, the 4th Airborne
Raiding Regiment, the Mitsui Shipping Unit, the Ito Naval Landing
Force, and the 77th Infantry Regiment were assembled, General Suzuki
on 15 December ordered an attack, which was to start 17 December,
against the American forces in the Ormoc area. [1102]

The fall of Cogon and the envelopment to the west forced General
Suzuki to change his plans again. The 305th Infantry had captured the
positions of the Tateishi Battalion of the 12th Independent Infantry
Regiment, and the position of the 77th Infantry Regiment was greatly
weakened. As the attack against Ormoc could not be successfully
completed, the 12th and 77th Infantry Regiments were to carry out a
delaying action. [1103]

Since the fall of Valencia might break the organized resistance of the
Japanese in Ormoc Valley, General Bruce decided to push forward rapidly
and take the barrio before the enemy could regroup. [1104] General
Krueger asked General Whitehead for air strikes against Valencia. If
the weather permitted, a strike would be made at 0900 and another would
be delivered on call. In addition, nearly all available artillery of
the division that could arrive within firing distance, as well as the
226th Field Artillery Battalion from positions east of the mountains
near Daro, would shell the town until ordered to lift the fire.

The 305th Infantry was to drive rapidly north on Highway 2 and clear
out the Japanese for a distance of 200 to 300 yards on each side of the
road, even though it might mean bypassing groups of the enemy on the
flanks. A patrol from the regiment was to operate east of its sector
to locate enemy forces. The 306th Infantry was to drive rapidly east
toward Highway 2 and then advance north up the highway, clearing a lane
200 to 300 yards wide. At a point 500 to 600 yards north of Cabulihan,
it was to await further orders. The regiment was to be prepared to
send a battalion south to assist the 305th Infantry in its advance.

General Bruce organized an armored column to carry rations and
ammunition to the 306th and 307th Infantry Regiments. This column,
which was to move north on Highway 2, consisted of five light tanks
from the 7th Division, the Cannon and Tank Destroyer Companies of the
306th and 307th Infantry Regiments, part of Company C, 302d Engineer
Battalion, a platoon from the 305th Infantry, and sufficient LVT's to
carry men and supplies. An artillery observer accompanied the column.

Elements of the 302d Engineer Battalion were to repair immediately
the highway between Ormoc and Valencia and at night retire within
the nearest infantry defensive perimeter. The order was summed up as
follows: "The action will be pressed with the utmost vigor by careful
planning but every effort will be made to save casualties." [1105]

At 0830 on 17 December the 305th Infantry moved out along Highway 2. At
1000 the 1st Battalion reported that it was advancing at the rate of
100 yards every ten minutes against light opposition. By 1145 the 305th
Infantry was fighting through Tambuco. At a road junction just north
of Tambuco, it eliminated some enemy resistance and the advance slowed
down. The regiment moved forward to a point about 300 yards north of
the road junction and established its night perimeter, which extended
300 yards to the northeast along the Tambuco-Dolores road in order
to forestall any Japanese counterattacks from that direction. [1106]

On the same day the 306th Infantry pushed its attack northeast at
0800. The advancing troops almost immediately encountered Japanese
who, apparently taken by surprise, were unable to offer organized
resistance. At 1040, when the forward elements were 1,000 yards
southwest of Cabulihan, the opposition stiffened and the regimental
commander therefore committed the 3d Battalion on the left of the 2d
Battalion. The advance continued. As the regiment neared Highway 2,
resistance became more intense. The 306th Infantry encountered the
Japanese who were fleeing northwest from the assault of the 305th
Infantry and the heavy artillery that accompanied it. (Unknown
to the Americans, General Suzuki and his staff were among the
retreating Japanese. Suzuki succeeded in escaping to Libongao, where
he established a new headquarters for the 35th Army.) At 1440 the 306th
Infantry reached Highway 2 between Catayom and Cabulihan and proceeded
north toward Cabulihan, its objective. Advance elements of the 3d
Battalion reached the outskirts of the town but withdrew three or
four hundred yards to take advantage of more commanding terrain. After
combat patrols had cleared the area, the 306th Infantry established its
night perimeter five hundred yards south of Cabulihan at 1600. [1107]

General Bruce had ordered the 307th Infantry to remain in San Jose
until further notice. Since the guerrilla forces had reported a large
number of Japanese in the area, General Bruce had made arrangements
to soften the sector with an aerial bombardment and artillery fire
before the infantry attack. In response to Bruce's request, fifteen
P-40's from the V Fighter Command had been made available by General
Whitehead for an air strike against the Valencia area.

The 155-mm. guns of the 226th Field Artillery Battalion at Daro began
firing on Valencia and the airstrip on the morning of 17 December
and hit a Japanese ammunition dump. At 1245 the artillery fire
was halted for the air strike, and for fifty minutes the area was
bombed and strafed. With the conclusion of the air attack, at 1335,
the artillery began anew to pound the area. "The medium artillery
... reached out from Ormoc and the 'Long Toms' ... from Daro joined
in the fighting." [1108] In the meantime the 902d Field Artillery
Battalion moved forward to a point from which it could support the
advance of the 307th Infantry. At 1415 the artillery fire stopped
and the 307th Infantry moved out astride the San Jose-Valencia road
toward Valencia. Though the artillery fire and aerial bombardment had
driven some of the Japanese from the area, a strong well-equipped
force, including a number of paratroopers, remained to oppose the
307th Infantry. The regiment pushed forward, however, and at 1640
its leading elements were on the southwestern edge of the airstrip
and within 1,000 yards of Valencia. The 307th Infantry formed its
night perimeter on the edge of the airfield and made preparations to
continue the attack on 18 December. [1109]

During 17 December, despite the disorganization of the Japanese forces,
Colonel Imahori of the 12th Independent Infantry Regiment tried to
reach Ormoc, but he was unsuccessful. [1110] A few enemy artillery
shells landed in the Ormoc area but that was all. General Bruce wrote
later: "The men got a laugh because the General's latrine, unoccupied,
was struck. He wished about that time that he had remained up front
which he had reached by landing in a cub plane on an unimproved jungle
road." [1111]

On the morning of 18 December, since supplies and ammunition for the
306th and 307th Infantry Regiments were becoming dangerously low,
General Bruce pushed the armored column vigorously forward through
the 305th Infantry. The column swept past enemy strong points and
succeeded in bringing supplies to both regiments.

The attack of the 305th Infantry was consequently delayed. The 3d
Battalion of the regiment, however, jumped off in a northeast direction
on the Dolores road in order to cut off any Japanese reinforcements
from that area. At 0945 the rest of the 305th Infantry started
out along Highway 2 and encountered little resistance. By 1400 the
battalions had passed through the barrios of Dayhagan and Huaton (the
former and short-lived headquarters of General Suzuki), and knocked
out fifteen enemy trucks and three tanks. The 3d Battalion proceeded
northeast from the road junction along the road to Dolores, and crushed
all resistance. The battalion then moved west toward Highway 2, leaving
a platoon behind to seal off the Dolores road from Highway 2. [1112]

At 0830 on 18 December the 306th Infantry renewed its attack. At first
the 2d Battalion moved south astride Highway 2 in order to make contact
with the 305th Infantry, which was pushing north along the highway,
but since there was little resistance the battalion withdrew and
rejoined the regiment. As the rest of the regiment continued north
it met moderate opposition but pushed ahead steadily. The troops
encountered many strong points along the road but no organized main
line of resistance.

The 306th Infantry proceeded astride the highway against moderate to
strong opposition. An enemy force estimated as two battalions had dug
in under the houses and in foxholes along the sides of the road. The
Japanese tried to halt the advance with heavy machine guns and a
few mortars, but without avail. Patrols from the 306th Infantry made
contact with the 305th Infantry at 1500. The 306th Infantry reached
the southern edge of Valencia at 1630 and tied in with the 307th
Infantry. Night perimeters were established. [1113]

At 0830 on 18 December the 307th Infantry from the southwestern edge
of the Valencia airstrip renewed the attack. There was no opposition
and at 0905 the airfield and the town of Valencia were in the hands
of the regiment. General Bruce considered the heavy artillery and
aerial assaults of the previous day "most effective." The airfield
was in "fair" condition; it was safe for light aircraft and with
minor repairs could be made suitable for other aircraft. The 307th
Infantry spent the rest of 18 December consolidating its positions
and conducting extensive patrols to the north and east. At 1630 it
established physical contact with the 306th Infantry. [1114]

In three days of relatively fast fighting and maneuvering the 77th
Division had shaken the Japanese forces badly and disrupted the plans
of General Suzuki. The 307th Infantry, by making a wide envelopment
of the west flank, had captured Valencia and its airfield, and the
306th Infantry, making a smaller envelopment, had bisected Highway
2 at Cabulihan while the 305th Infantry moved up the highway from
Cogon. All of southern Ormoc Valley from Ormoc to Valencia, a distance
of about six and a half miles as the crow flies, was securely in
American hands. All units were in contact and ready for the next
phase of their mission.



Drive to Palompon Road Junction

Since elements of the XXIV Corps had been able to make more rapid
progress through Ormoc Valley than the X Corps units, General Krueger
on 19 December enlarged the zone of action of the XXIV Corps to
include Libongao, the barrio just below the juncture of Highway 2
with the Palompon road. [1115] General Hodge thereupon ordered the
77th Division to continue north and seize Libongao and then to secure
the Palompon road and establish contact with the X Corps. [1116]

General Bruce ordered the 305th Infantry to assume responsibility for
the defense of Valencia and its airfield, and thus free the 306th
and 307th Infantry Regiments for new assignments. The 307th was to
move north astride Highway 2 to Libongao and then continue to the
junction with the Palompon road. The 306th was to move across country
and strike northwest toward the Palompon road. Although its advance
would parallel that of the 307th, the 306th was to be about 2,300
yards west of the other regiment. After reaching the Palompon road
in the vicinity of the Togbong River the 306th Infantry would strike
west for the crossing and then move east to the road junction. The
304th, 305th, and 902d Field Artillery Battalions were to remain in
the Valencia area while the 306th Field Artillery Battalion was to
be prepared to move forward on call. [1117]

At Libongao, General Suzuki prepared his defense. In the area he had
his headquarters guard and a part of the 4th Airborne Raiding Regiment,
in addition to a field artillery battalion, an engineering company,
and a transportation company. An advance battalion of the Takahashi
Detachment arrived in the sector from Palompon on the night of 17
December. General Suzuki ordered it to proceed south from Libongao
and destroy the American forces in the Valencia area. [1118]

As the 307th Infantry advanced north at 0900 on 19 December, it
became apparent that General Suzuki had organized a defense of the
highway. Many machine gun and light artillery emplacements were dug
in along the road, and the enemy resistance became more determined
as the troops moved north. A force estimated to be of battalion
strength was dug in in depth along streams and ridges. With the use
of grenades the 307th routed the defenders, the battalion from the
Takahashi Detachment. The 307th Infantry pushed steadily north and
at 1800 established a night perimeter; it had advanced nearly three
miles and captured much enemy equipment during the day. [1119]

The 306th Infantry moved out at 1100 and proceeded rapidly, without
meeting resistance, to a point about 500 yards south of the Palompon
road where it encountered elements of the 5th Infantry Regiment. At
1530 a battery of artillery and infantry mortars and machine guns
fired upon the Japanese. In co-ordination with fire from these
weapons, the 306th Infantry was then able to push forward. At 1800,
though patrols from the regiment had reached the Palompon road, the
regiment itself dug in for the night at a point 300 yards south of
the Palompon road. [1120]

On 20 December, after a five-minute artillery preparation to its
front, the 307th Infantry moved out at 0830 and encountered the
"strongest fortified positions" since it had left Camp Downes. The
Japanese 5th Infantry Regiment and other elements of the 1st Division
resisted any forward advance. By 1000 the 307th Infantry had "mowed
down" and annihilated two suicide counterattacks of fifty men each
on its right flank. An additional force, estimated at 2,000 men,
well equipped with machine guns, mortars, and a limited amount
of artillery, opposed the 307th Infantry from hastily constructed
defensive positions. The attack of the enemy forces was not well
co-ordinated; consequently the regiment, though slowed down, was
able to continue forward. At 1549 the leading elements of the 307th
Infantry were at Libongao. The enemy defensive fire increased in
intensity on the northern outskirts of the village. At 1710, about
200 yards north of Libongao, the regiment repulsed a force estimated
to consist of 200 Japanese armed with machine guns and mortars. The
307th Infantry established its night perimeter about 1,000 yards south
of the road junction. During the day the regiment had captured many
tons of ammunition and matériel in supply dumps, together with more
than thirty enemy trucks. The 307th Infantry put many of the latter
into serviceable condition and made immediate use of them. [1121]

For the same day, 20 December, the 306th Infantry, on the left of
the 307th, was assigned the mission of advancing to the Palompon
road. Upon reaching the road, the 1st Battalion on the left would
turn west along it to seize a bridge crossing the Togbong River and
the 3d Battalion would turn east to seize the junction of the road
and Highway 2. [1122] During the night the enemy artillery heavily
shelled the sector of the regiment. After a ten-minute artillery
preparation the assault battalions moved out at 0830, and by 0925
they had reached the Palompon road. Each of the battalions thereupon
started to execute its part of the mission.

The 1st Battalion pushed steadily forward and reached the eastern
banks of the Togbong River at the bridge crossing, the bridge itself
having been destroyed by the enemy. From a commanding ridge upon
the western banks of the river, just north of the bridge site, a
Japanese force estimated to be a battalion in strength opposed any
further advance. The company on the left forced a passage across the
river south of the bridge site, but the company on the right, despite
repeated attempts, was unable to cross the river. At 1630 the 1st
Battalion received orders to take up a night defensive position on the
eastern banks of the river. During the night the enemy unsuccessfully
launched three counterattacks against the 1st Battalion. In the morning
the battalion counted more than 400 Japanese dead around its position.

The 3d Battalion, 306th Infantry, upon reaching the Palompon road
turned east and encountered steadily increasing enemy opposition. By
1500, however, Company K reached the road junction. At the same
time the 3d Battalion received orders to withdraw west 300 yards
so that the 307th Infantry could register unrestricted fire to its
front. This withdrawal was carried out and the 3d and 2d Battalions
of the 306th Infantry established night positions 300 yards west of
the road junction.

At 1900 General Bruce ordered the 306th Infantry to deliver harassing
fire on the enemy forces to the west during the night of 20-21 December
and the 307th Infantry to fire 500 yards to its front up Highway 2
and east of the highway. [1123]

The Japanese 5th Infantry Regiment had assembled in the Libongao
sector with orders to proceed to the Valencia sector, but the 77th
Division had advanced so rapidly that it was attacking the 35th Army
Headquarters. The Takahashi Detachment suffered heavy casualties
and withdrew to Matagob, on the Palompon road between Palompon and
Libongao. The field artillery battalion and the engineering and
transportation companies that had been left at Matagob were absorbed
by the Takahashi Detachment. On 21 December General Suzuki ordered
the regiment to make a defensive stand, so that the main force of
the 35th Army could withdraw to the Palompon sector on the shore of
the Camotes Sea. [1124]

During the night of 20-21 December the 77th Division artillery expended
half a unit of fire, intermittently bombarding enemy positions west
of the 77th Division and to the east of Highway 2. The bombardment was
the most intensive made by the 77th Division during the campaign. Just
before renewal of the attack on 21 December, the artillery delivered
a concentrated thirty-minute preparation. General Bruce ordered the
306th Infantry to move out at 0630. Since the 1st Battalion was short
of ammunition, it was to await the arrival of Company E, which had
been attached to the battalion, with additional ammunition. At 1250,
having received the ammunition, the battalion moved out and at 1330
secured the ridge (overlooking the bridge site), which had blocked
its advance the previous day.

Immediately afterward General Bruce ordered the battalion to proceed
west along the Palompon road and secure the bridge over the Pagsangahan
River. The ridge was thereupon outposted as the 1st Battalion withdrew
to prepare for continuation of the assault, but elements of the 5th
Infantry Regiment drove the outposts off the ridge and immediately
occupied it. At 1500 the 1st Battalion attacked unsuccessfully in
an effort to retake the position. It formed a night perimeter at the
river crossing at 1600, and at 0750 concentrated a ten-minute artillery
preparation on the enemy positions on the ridge. The 1st Battalion
then moved out toward the high ground and secured the ridge within
twenty minutes, the Japanese offering only slight resistance. [1125]

The 77th Division had reached the Palompon road. In its drive north
the division had destroyed the major elements of the 5th and 77th
Infantry Regiments and the 4th Airborne Regiment.



The 32d Division Resumes the Offensive

Elements of the X Corps were slowly moving south in an attempt to
effect a juncture with the XXIV Corps. On 14 December the 126th and
127th Infantry Regiments of the 32d Division had pushed south down
Highway 2 against very determined resistance and through mountainous
terrain to the main defense line of the 1st Division. The Japanese
were well entrenched on a series of ridges overlooking Highway
2. A heavy rain forest covered the ridges and the deep ravines in
between. The enemy had carefully selected his defensive positions
and camouflaged his machine guns, which were flanked by hidden
riflemen. Targets could not be spotted beyond a range of about
seventy-five feet. The employment of mortars was very limited because
of the lack of visibility, and the hazards of tree burst were equally
dangerous to both the Japanese and the Americans. The troops had to
"approach within spitting distance of the [Japanese machine] guns"
before they could locate the weapons. [1126]

For the next few days the regiments of the 32d Division fought
valiantly against a foe that limited the division's advance to a few
score yards a day. Of the many acts of individual bravery, those of
Pfc. Dick J. Vlug and Sgt. Leroy Johnson were outstanding. Private
Vlug single-handedly destroyed five enemy tanks that were moving
north along the highway. Sergeant Johnson threw himself upon an enemy
grenade that killed him but did not hurt those comrades near him. Both
men were awarded the Medal of Honor.

On the morning of 17 December advance elements of the 126th Infantry
were about 4,000 yards south of Limon. After a preparation of heavy
mortar fire the 1st Battalion moved out at 0730, encountering about a
platoon of the enemy on a knoll 300 yards east of the road. A bitter
fire fight broke out and continued throughout the day. The battalion
was unable to advance farther and set up a night perimeter. During
the fight the 1st Battalion captured four enemy machine guns.

In the zone of the 2d Battalion, east of the highway, all the
battalion's mortars, machine guns, and 37-mm. guns, together with four
medium tanks, massed their combined fires on the enemy positions to
the front. These positions consisted of numerous foxholes, pillboxes
of coconut logs, and L-shaped fortifications dug into the mountain
sides. A rain of steel descended upon the Japanese on the high
ground directly east of the battalion. This preparatory fire had
excellent results and the 2d Battalion, after moving out at 1100,
quickly secured the ridge and consolidated its position. It captured
three 47-mm. antitank guns, three 75-mm. mountain guns, and two
70-mm. battalion guns. About 150 of the enemy were killed by the
preparatory fire and the battalion attack.

Company I, 3d Battalion, quickly secured and destroyed a roadblock
that the enemy had constructed the previous day. Accompanied by the
four tanks, the company then advanced down the highway just behind
the 2d Battalion without encountering opposition. For the rest of
the day the 3d Battalion protected the road and patrolled five or six
hundred yards to the rear. The 127th Infantry to the south remained
in position awaiting the 126th Infantry. [1127]

By the following morning, 18 December, the 126th Infantry was on a
line that extended east of Highway 2. To the front of the regiment,
elements of the 1st Division occupied three positions on an east-west
line approximately 800 yards in length and extending across Highway
2. There were actually three ridges along this line. The first ran
north and south beside the road, and on it was located the western
position of the enemy. From this site the Japanese were able to
roll hand grenades down on the road. About 200 yards to the east
was another strongly fortified north-south ridge, east of which was
a small valley with a banana grove. Still farther east was a small
knoll upon which was located a strong enemy defensive position. An
estimated two reinforced enemy companies, well supported by automatic
weapons and well dug in, occupied this position. The whole area was
covered with a dense rain forest, and it was impossible to spot any
Japanese fortified position more than thirty yards away.

Before the troops moved out, the mortars and tanks placed heavy fire
on the Japanese positions for twenty minutes. At 1010 on 18 December
the 126th Infantry attacked with the 1st Battalion on the right and
the 2d Battalion on the left. In advancing to the ridge nearest the
road, the American troops received considerable small arms fire just
east of the road. The 1st Battalion moved ahead up the ridge east
of the road and by 1230 it had advanced 200 yards to the top of the
ridge. The Japanese resisted strongly and heavy fighting occurred
in which both sides used machine guns, grenades, and bayonets. By
1800 the 1st Battalion was in firm possession of the ridge. The 2d
Battalion, supported by machine guns and mortars, was able to creep
up through the forested ravine to within thirty yards of the enemy
position on the knoll before it was fired upon. A bitter engagement
then ensued. After five hours of intense fighting the battalion drove
the Japanese defenders off the knoll. The 1st and 2d Battalions formed
their night perimeters within fifty yards of the enemy front lines. The
3d Battalion of the 126th Infantry moved south along the road and
closed the gap between the 126th and 127th Infantry Regiments. [1128]
The artillery fired upon several buildings about 800 to 1,500 yards
southwest of the forward elements of the 32d Division. Lucrative
artillery targets were practically nonexistent. [1129]

On the morning of 19 December the 126th Infantry followed the same
procedure that had been used the previous day. A heavy machine gun
and mortar concentration was placed upon the Japanese positions on
the crest of a ridge fifty yards to the front. At 1100 the 126th
Infantry moved out with battalions abreast, the 1st Battalion on
the right and the 2d on the left. Six heavy machine guns immediately
fired on the left flank of the 1st Battalion. The battalion withdrew
and placed a concentration of more than 200 rounds of mortar fire
on the position while its machine guns raked the Japanese force
"fore and aft." The troops then renewed the assault but the Japanese
continued to resist. Elements of the 1st Division had dug in on the
top and both sides of a ridge and had utilized caves to construct
a defensive position in which there were more than 100 foxholes
with communicating trenches. Heavy fighting continued throughout the
day. The 1st Battalion used mortars, flame throwers, white phosphorus
grenades, hand grenades, rifles, and supporting flanking fire from its
heavy and light machine guns, but was able to advance only seventy-five
yards. Although the battalion overran many emplacements, a determined
Japanese force remained to be overcome when the battalion established
its night perimeter on the eastern slope of the ridge.

The 2d Battalion, 126th Infantry, encountered only scattered rifle
fire that came principally from the enemy position on its right
flank. During its advance the battalion delivered flanking machine
gun and rifle fire in support of the 1st Battalion on its right. By
1200 the 2d Battalion had advanced 200 yards and secured the area in
its zone of action. At 1530 the 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry, which
had been protecting the eastern flank of the 32d Division, relieved
the 2d Battalion, which withdrew to an assembly area in the rear.

During the night of 19-20 December, the commanding officer of
Company B, 126th Infantry, which had borne the brunt of the enemy
resistance, placed one platoon of the company along the eastern side
of the ridge and another platoon on the western side. At the same
time he continued the pressure from the south. Throughout the night
the company kept firing at known enemy positions and the sector in
general. The company commander also required each of his men to throw
hand grenades periodically. At first light and without any breakfast
the troops rushed the enemy position. The Japanese had lost the power
to resist and by 1000 the company had taken the last of the three
enemy positions. Two hundred Japanese dead were counted in the area.

At 1245 on 20 December the 127th Infantry took over the conquered
sector and the 1st Battalion, 126th Infantry, withdrew to an assembly
area in the rear. [1130]



Debouchment From the Mountains

Since the 32d Division had borne the brunt of the assault, General
Sibert ordered the 1st Cavalry Division to make the main attack
south. It was to assist the advance of the 32d Division to a bridge
1,000 yards north of Lonoy and then move south and make contact
with the 77th Division. [1131] The 1st Cavalry Division had been
operating in the central mountain chain on the eastern flank of the
32d Division and had been opposed by the 102d Division. The latter,
after its arrival at Ormoc, had gone directly into the mountains in
the vicinity of Mt. Pina. [1132] The 102d Division did not play a
significant role in the Leyte campaign.

The 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team had moved south on the eastern
flank of the 32d Division. The 1st Squadron of the 112th Cavalry had
been able to keep pace with the 32d Division, but the 2d Squadron
had encountered a very strong enemy force on a ridge overlooking the
Leyte River south of Limon. The Japanese resisted all the squadron's
efforts to dislodge them. The 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, relieved the
2d Squadron, 112th Cavalry, and on 14 December it had succeeded in
overcoming the Japanese and had seized the ridge.



Spearhead of the Assault

While the 112th and 7th Cavalry Regiments were busily engaged in
defending the east flank of the 32d Division in its push south along
Highway 2, the 12th Cavalry was mopping up enemy groups entrenched in
the mountains farther to the east. Particularly strong enemy resistance
had been encountered in the Mt. Badian and Hill 2348 sector, which was
about five miles northeast of Kananga, a barrio on Highway 2. [1133]
In the process of reducing the Japanese-held area, it was estimated
that an enemy force of 500 to 600 men had been wiped out. From 28
November to 9 December, the 12th Cavalry remained in the Mt. Badian and
Hill 2348 sector, sent out westward patrols, and slowly moved westward.

On 10 December, General Sibert decided to have elements of the 1st
Cavalry Division debouch from the mountains onto Highway 2 south of
the 32d Division and in the Lonoy area. This move was to be concurrent
with the expected advance of the 32d Division down the highway. [1134]
The 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry, was in the vicinity of Mt. Cabungaan,
and the 2d Squadron, on Hill 2348, was 2,000 yards northeast of
the 1st Squadron. An enemy strong point existed to the north of the
perimeter of the 1st Squadron. The 12th Cavalry spent 10 December
in making preparations for a two-squadron assault against this enemy
force. The plan was for the 1st Squadron to attack at 0830 while the
2d Squadron from Hill 2348 supported the attack by enveloping the
left flank of the enemy. In furtherance of this plan Troop E of the
2d Squadron moved off Hill 2348 at 0800 toward the southwest and dug
in for the night just north of Mt. Cabungaan. [1135]

On the morning of 11 December, an intense mortar and artillery
concentration was placed upon the enemy position in front of the 1st
Squadron. The fire was so close that fragments frequently fell on the
waiting assault troops. After this fire, the 1st Squadron with Troop A
in the lead moved out at 0715. At the same time Troop E attacked from
the northeast. The enemy defenses consisted of seven or eight pillboxes
and many caves dug into the very rugged terrain. The men of Troop A,
closely followed by Troop B, charged up the hill "throwing grenades
and firing from the hip." [1136] The hill fell to the 1st Squadron at
1003 after very heavy hand-to-hand fighting. Troop E had been held
up by the terrain and was unable to assist the 1st Squadron. After
the capture of the Japanese position, patrols established contact
with Troop E at 1200. The regimental reconnaissance platoon returned
from the vicinity of Lonoy with the information that the Japanese
had prepared strong defensive positions in that area. The platoon
had gained a good observation point 900 yards east of Lonoy. [1137]
The next several days were spent in sending out patrols and moving
the 2d Squadron to the position of the 1st Squadron.

On 14 December, the 12th Cavalry was ordered to continue west to
Highway 2 and assist the advance of the 32d Division, to establish a
roadblock on the highway, and to attack the hostile forces to the north
between it and the 32d Division. [1138] In furtherance of this order,
the 1st Squadron, less A and C Troops, moved west on 15 December toward
a previously reconnoitered area that was about 1,800 yards east of the
barrio of Lonoy. This site, a banana plantation, was chosen for its
observation facilities to the west and as an excellent dropping ground
for supplies. The 1st Squadron, having encountered little opposition,
closed on the area before dusk. Thereupon the rest of the regiment
was ordered to close in on the area before nightfall on 17 December.



Lonoy

The 12th Cavalry on 18 December sent out patrols to Lonoy, Kananga, and
to the northwest to make contact with the nearest friendly troops. The
patrols to Lonoy and Kananga, although they ran into scattered groups
of the enemy, were able to locate suitable approaches to Lonoy for
their squadrons. [1139]

At 2235, on 18 December, the 12th Cavalry received orders to move
out the following morning, seize Lonoy, and be prepared to seize
Kananga. The commanding officer of the regiment decided to have the
1st and 2d Squadrons move out abreast with the 2d Squadron on the
left. During the entire night the artillery was to deliver harassing
fire on the highway north of Lonoy and on the area between the routes
of approach of the two squadrons.

After a preparation on 19 December, the 1st and 2d Squadrons moved
out at 0800. The 1st Squadron met only light, sporadic resistance. The
troops observed many Japanese proceeding north along the highway and
had mortar and artillery fires placed upon them. At 1200, the 1st
Squadron seized Lonoy, captured much enemy equipment, and destroyed
many supply dumps. The 1st Squadron moved to assist the 2d Squadron
in the capture of a knoll southeast of the barrio. The 1st Squadron
closed on the knoll about 1400, and aided the assault of the 2d
Squadron by fire and by sending a troop east to assist it.

The 2d Squadron jumped off on schedule but at 0930, when it was 800
yards short of its objective, the squadron came under heavy rifle
and machine gun fire from the thick woods. The 271st Field Artillery
Battalion placed fire on the area and a great many of the enemy were
killed, the remainder fleeing south. The squadron received additional
machine gun fire from the north but a patrol quickly silenced it. In
the meantime the mortar platoon from Troop D, in support of the 1st
Squadron, fired upon Lonoy. The Japanese immediately responded with
fire from a 105-mm. gun, which they had cleverly concealed in the gap
between the two squadrons and about 600 yards from the regimental
observation post at which the gun directed its fire. The enemy
gun killed one man and wounded fifteen others of the command-post
group. The heavy machine guns from the Weapons troop and the artillery
from the 271st Field Artillery Battalion began concentrating their
fires upon the enemy gun. The Antitank Platoon was sent out to destroy
the gun and its crew. Following the machine gun and artillery fire,
the enemy gun was silent for about half an hour. It then suddenly
opened up against the 2d Squadron at a range of about 300 yards. The
enemy fire resulted in tree bursts which killed five men and wounded
fifteen others. Troop G, which suffered the most casualties, and
the Antitank Platoon immediately turned and attacked to the north to
destroy the gun. The 2d Squadron, less Troop G, renewed the attack
towards Lonoy, receiving scattered rifle fire. At 1730 it reached
Lonoy and was in contact with the 1st Squadron.

Meanwhile, Troop G sideslipped to the west and with the Antitank
Platoon attacked and destroyed the enemy gun and four of its crew. A
patrol located another enemy 105-mm. gun but, because of darkness and
point-blank fire from the weapon at a range of about twenty-five feet,
it was unable to knock out the gun. At 2200 Troops G and H, the medical
group, and the Antitank Platoon formed a joint night perimeter. [1140]

Late that night the regimental commander ordered the 2d and 1st
Squadrons of the 12th Cavalry to move south on the morning of 20
December along Highway 2 in a column of squadrons, with the 2d
Squadron in the lead. During the night, in preparation for this
advance, the 271st Field Artillery Battalion fired 1,096 rounds on
Kananga, on the road north of Lonoy, and on sectors occupied by the
enemy artillery. This fire destroyed the enemy 105-mm. gun.

At 0715 on the morning of 20 December the 2d Squadron, less Troop G,
moved out and immediately came under heavy fire from enemy forces that
had dug in underneath houses and behind small pieces of cover along the
road. The squadron eliminated these pockets of resistance by direct
fire and by flanking movements on both sides of the highway. At 1200
the 2d Squadron forced the Japanese off a ridge which was just east
of the highway and about 500 yards north of Kananga. The squadron
then encountered heavy rifle and machine gun fire that came from a
coconut grove and some houses about 200 yards south of the ridge.

In the meantime, the 1st Squadron, at 0830, moved south to support
the attack of the 2d Squadron. At about 1230, the 1st Squadron arrived
behind the ridge occupied by the 2d Squadron and then continued south,
at 1500, seizing and completely dominating a ridge about fifty yards
east of Kananga. The 2d Squadron and a platoon from the 1st Squadron
attacked north, parallel to the highway, and by nightfall cleaned
out the coconut grove and set up a night perimeter.

General Mudge, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, said
of the 12th Cavalry:


    As a result of the stout-hearted efforts of the 12th Cavalry
    Regiment, elements of the Division are within 2,500 yards of making
    contact with forward elements of the 77th Division. Considering
    the fact that the regiment has been reduced to 50% strength by the
    rigors and deprivations of 40 days in the mountains, the display
    of courage, stamina, and drive on the part of the 12th Cavalry is a
    credit to the best traditions of the United States Cavalry. [1141]


During the night General Mudge ordered the 12th Cavalry to move out
at 0800 21 December, seize Kananga, and then make physical contact
with the 77th Division, which was pushing north from Libongao. He
attached the 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry, to the 12th Cavalry.



Juncture of Forces

On the morning of 21 December the 1st and 2d Squadrons of the 12th
Cavalry, supported by the 271st Field Artillery Battalion, moved out
in a co-ordinated assault against Kananga. The 1st Squadron attacked
from the north while the 2d Squadron drove in from the ridge on the
east. The first elements of the regiment reached Kananga at 1157 and
by 1425 the 12th Cavalry was in the town. The regiment methodically
cleared out every hut, ferreted out each Japanese, and destroyed every
installation. While the mopping up was going on, patrols from the 12th
Cavalry pushed to the south to make contact with the 77th Division.

The regimental commander ordered the commander of the 3d Battalion,
306th Infantry, to push east at 0730 on 21 December along the
Palompon road to the juncture of the road with Highway 2 and then
turn north for 1,000 yards and attempt to establish contact with the
1st Cavalry Division. The 3d Battalion moved out on time, and within
fifteen minutes reached the road junction and turned north. The
battalion had gone only 200 yards north when its left-flank company
came under intense fire from a ridge overlooking the road. The 2d
Battalion complied with orders from the regimental commander to
"put out something" on the 3d Battalion's left flank and sent out
one rifle company to envelop the enemy position. This move relieved
the pressure to some extent but the advance was still slow and costly.

In the meantime, the 307th Infantry reached the road junction at 0800,
having advanced without incident. With the slowing up of the 306th
Infantry, General Bruce ordered the commander of the 307th Infantry
Regiment to send forward additional troops. The 2d Battalion, 307th
Infantry, and the Cannon and Antitank Companies of the regiment were
sent to the front to reinforce the 306th Infantry. This maneuver was
successful and the attacking forces pushed forward.

At 1645, the 306th Infantry and Troop A of the 12th Cavalry made
physical contact. At 1115 on 22 December, Col. John H. Stadler, the
commanding officer of the 12th Cavalry, representing General Mudge,
met General Bruce at a bridge south of Kananga. The X and XXIV Corps
had joined hands. Highway 2 was at long last open for its entire
distance from Ormoc to Pinamopoan. [1142]

The Ormoc Valley, in which the Japanese had so tenaciously resisted the
American advance, was now securely in the hands of the Sixth Army. The
northern and southern prongs of the trap had closed. There remained
only Palompon as an exit for the Japanese forces. To the securing of
that port, the X and XXIV Corps, acting in concert, could concentrate
their main efforts. Plans had been readied. The Sixth Army was poised
in a position from which it could drive westward to the sea and bring
the Leyte campaign to a successful conclusion.



CHAPTER XXI

Westward to the Sea


The co-ordinated pressure exerted from the north and south on the
Japanese forces in the Ormoc area had compelled the commander of the
35th Army to make successive changes in his plans. General Suzuki had
abandoned the aerial and ground assault against the Burauen airfields,
transferred the field base of the 35th Army from Ormoc to Palompon
and, finally, had found it necessary to order the remaining Japanese
units on Leyte to retreat to the hills behind Ormoc Valley. General
Tomochika said afterward, "The best that the 35th Army could do from
then on was to hold out as long as possible." [1143]

The northwestern mountains of Leyte west of Ormoc Bay provided a
difficult barrier to any movement toward the northwest coast. The
area was the last one available to the Japanese either for escaping
from Leyte or for staging defensive actions. In general, the terrain
was rough, increasing in altitude from broken ground and low hills
in the north to steep rocky ridges and high hills in the south. The
northern part was either under cultivation or covered with cogon
grass. Toward the south, the cultivated fields and grasslands were
gradually supplanted by dense forests.

Palompon had been extensively used by the Japanese as an auxiliary
port of entry to Leyte. The town was the western terminus of the
road that ran north and eastward across the northwestern hills to
join Highway 2 near Libongao. (Map 23) It was this road junction that
the X and XXIV Corps had seized. The Palompon road, as it was called,
followed the lower slopes of the hills until the flat interior valley
floor was reached. The confining hills were steep-sided with many
knife-edged crests. [1144] Such was the area into which the forces
of the Sixth Army had driven remnants of the Japanese 35th Army.

When the 77th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division joined
forces on 21 December just south of Kananga, Highway 2 between Ormoc
and Pinamopoan was opened to the Americans. The Sixth Army, anxious to
deliver the coup de grâce, arranged its troops for a four-division
thrust to the west coast on a long front. In the south the 77th
Division was to drive west along the Palompon road. To its right
(north) there would be, from left to right, the 1st Cavalry Division
and the 32d and 24th Infantry Divisions. The Sixth Army had started the
Leyte Campaign with two corps on a four-division front and was ending
its part in the campaign with two corps on a four-division front.



The 77th Division Goes West

Overwater to Palompon [1145]

Guerrillas had informed General Bruce that the bridges on the road
that wound through the mountains from the vicinity of Libongao to
Palompon either were intact or could be quickly repaired. General
Bruce decided to verify this by having an engineer patrol work with
the guerrillas and by having a reconnaissance made over the area in
a cub plane. On 19 December General Bruce directed that a fast-moving
force be organized to operate along the road to Palompon. The engineers
later informed him that because of the condition of many of the bridges
it would be impossible to send an advance column along the road. [1146]

On 21 December General Hodge, anticipating the juncture of the X and
XXIV Corps, ordered the 77th Division to be prepared after that event
to move rapidly west and seize the Palompon area. [1147] On 22 December
General Krueger, acting on a recommendation that had been made by
General Bruce through General Hodge, [1148] informed Admiral Kinkaid
that it might be possible to expedite the capture of Palompon by
having an infantry battalion, utilizing amphibian vehicles and LCM's,
make an amphibious movement from Ormoc to the vicinity of Palompon. He
therefore asked Admiral Kinkaid if naval support to escort and guide
this movement could be furnished for either the night of 23-24 or
that of 24-25 December. If possible, the amphibious force should
have a destroyer escort. [1149] Admiral Kinkaid stated, in reply,
that because of preparations for other operations it would be "most
difficult" to provide a destroyer escort but that he could furnish a
PT escort which he believed would be sufficient protection. [1150]
This was satisfactory to General Krueger and he ordered the XXIV
Corps to make plans for the amphibious movement. [1151] In turn
General Hodge told General Bruce to prepare for the operation.

On 22 December, General Bruce put his plan into operation. The 1st
Battalion, 305th Infantry, was to make the amphibious landing in the
vicinity of Palompon while the 2d and 3d Battalions were to proceed
west along the Palompon road, after moving in trucks from Valencia to
the Palompon road near the Togbong River. Previously, on 21 December,
Battery A of the 531st Field Artillery Battalion (155-mm. gun) was
brought with a great deal of effort to a position near San Jose from
which it could fire on Palompon, which the guerrillas and civilians
had received instructions to evacuate. [1152]

The 1st Battalion was to commence loading at 1400 on 23 December
at Ormoc. The convoy was to be protected en route by patrol torpedo
boats and close air support. Upon arriving at Palompon at 0500 on 25
December, the mortar-firing LCM's were to bombard the shore before
the assault forces moved in. Beginning 23 December, the artillery of
the 77th Division was to bombard Palompon and to continue as long as
Lt. Col. James E. Landrum, the task force commander, desired it. [1153]

The 1st Battalion was to move ashore on the beach about 1,500 yards
north of Palompon with Companies C and B in assault, Company C on the
left. Its mission was to destroy the enemy force in Palompon and then
turn north. [1154]

In support of the proposed landing, aircraft from the Fifth Air
Force bombed Palompon on 23 December. The results were "hot stuff,"
an overenthusiastic observer reported, claiming that "only half of
two houses were left standing in the whole town." [1155]

On 23 December, the reinforced 1st Battalion moved to Ormoc to prepare
for the amphibious landing and at 1930 on 24 December the troops
embarked. [1156] The convoy departed at 2000. The vessels included,
in addition to the mechanized landing craft, the LVT's of the 718th
and 536th Amphibian Tractor Battalions. They made the tedious ten-hour
trip without incident as far as enemy action was concerned, although
three of the LVT's "sank owing to mechanical failure."

The vessels took position off the landing beaches on the morning
of 25 December. After the 155-mm. guns of the 531st Field Artillery
Battalion had fired from positions near San Jose, twelve and a half
miles east of Palompon, the mortar boats of the 2d Engineer Special
Brigade softened up the beaches. The landing waves then started for the
shore, the first wave landing at 0720 and the last one at 0755. They
received no hostile fire.

"Meanwhile," wrote General Bruce, "the Division Commander could stand
it no longer and called for a plane, flew soon after daylight across
the mountains and seaward, located the amphibious forces still at
sea, ... witnessed the preparatory fires by the 155-mm. guns and that
from the mortar boats ... saw them going in ... and advance to the
beach. (He obeyed a rather boyish impulse and flew from 25 to 50 feet
above the heads of the troops in the assault boats and leaned out,
giving a boxer's victory sign with both hands.)" [1157]

The troops quickly organized on the beach. A light fast armored
column moved north to clear the road and to forestall any Japanese
counterattack from that direction as the rest of the task force went
rapidly south through the barrio of Look to Palompon, which fell at
1206. This closed the last main port of entrance on the island to the
Japanese. Within four hours after hitting the beaches the battalion
had secured the barrios of Buaya and Look as well as Palompon, and had
strong patrols operating to the northeast and south. The troops met no
opposition at any point. It was doubtless with great satisfaction that
General Bruce sent the following message to the Commanding General,
XXIV Corps: "The 77th Infantry Division's Christmas contribution to
the Leyte Campaign is the capture of Palompon, the last main port of
the enemy. We are all grateful to the Almighty on this birthday of the
Son and on the Season of the Feast of Lights." [1158] The 1st Battalion
received "warm congratulations and thanks" from General Krueger. [1159]

The 1st Battalion occupied a defensive position in the vicinity of Look
on 25 December, and rested on 26 December, which was Christmas Day back
home. It spent the next five days sending out patrols and awaiting the
arrival through the mountains of the rest of the 305th Infantry. On 30
December, Company C made a reconnaissance in force and an amphibious
landing at Abijao, about seven miles north of Palompon. The company
overcame some Japanese resistance and burned down the town to prevent
its reoccupation. It then pushed 1,300 yards north and established
radio contact with elements of the 1st Cavalry Division, which had
pushed through the mountains to the vicinity of Villaba. [1160]



The Palompon Road

The Palompon road wound through the mountains and crossed many rivers,
over which some forty bridges would have to be built or repaired. It
ran northwest two and a half miles from the Togbong River to the
barrio of Humaybunay and then cut sharply to the southwest for about
four miles to Matagob, at which point it went into the hills almost
directly south for about 2,000 yards, and then turned south-southwest
for 1,000 yards. At this point it turned and twisted to the southwest
for approximately five and a half miles to the vicinity of San Miguel,
from where it arched 3,500 yards to Look, on the Camotes Sea.

The Japanese had pockmarked Matagob and the area surrounding it
with foxholes and emplacements and had dug spider holes under the
houses. South of Matagob, where the road climbed into the hills, the
enemy had utilized natural caves, gullies, and ridges on both sides
of the road and dug many deep defensive positions. Some of these were
eight feet deep, two feet in diameter at the top, and widened to six
feet at the bottom. The Japanese had emplaced machine guns in culverts
and had constructed several well-camouflaged coconut log pillboxes
on the forward slopes of the ridges. An excellent, almost invisible
installation, which served as an observation post, was dug in on the
forward slope of a ridge about three miles north of San Miguel. It
had a concealed entrance on the reverse slope. From this post eight
miles of the road to the north and east could be observed.

The Japanese 5th Infantry Regiment was the principal enemy unit in the
sector, although remnants of other units retreating west from Highway
2 were in the area. The following Japanese units were identified: 1st,
3d, and 6th Batteries of the 8th Field Artillery Regiment; elements
of the 8th Division Signal Unit; the 8th Transport Regiment; and the
8th Engineer Regiment. Although intelligence officers estimated that
there were between 2,000 and 3,000 enemy troops in the sector, only
a force of about battalion strength opposed the 305th Infantry. The
rest had scattered into the hills to the northwest.

At 0700, on 22 December, the 2d Battalion, 305th Infantry, left
Valencia followed at 1035 by the 3d Battalion. The 2d Battalion crossed
the Togbong River, moved through the 1st Battalion, 306th Infantry,
and at 1030 attacked along the Palompon road. The battalion had
advanced 1,600 yards northwest by 1230 and secured the Pagsangahan
River crossing. The assault continued with the 3d Battalion coming
up on the right flank of the 2d. The battalions moved through rice
paddies and through Humaybunay and established a night perimeter
about one mile southwest of the barrio.

The 302d Engineer Battalion, which followed behind the assault
battalions, fought the "battle of bridges." [1161] The engineers
worked around the clock, frequently without any infantry protection,
to restore the bridges as soon as possible. The bridges were to
be sufficiently strengthened initially to support 2 1/2-ton truck
traffic for infantry supply, then they were to be reinforced to carry
20 tons in order to bring M8's forward, and eventually to 36-ton
capacity to carry the M10's. General Bruce had hoped that sufficient
Bailey bridges could be made available for important crossings to
carry traffic while engineers built wooden bridges under the Bailey
bridges. Only a limited number of Bailey bridges were furnished,
however, and engineer progress to the west was slowed down. [1162]

The assault battalions of the 305th Infantry that were astride the
Palompon road spent a quiet night. They had before them the enemy's
strongly fortified positions at Matagob. At 0830 on 23 December, the
2d Battalion moved out, followed at 1130 by the 3d Battalion. The 2d
Battalion moved forward west of the road while the 3d advanced east
of the road. Intermittent enemy rifle fire fell upon the 2d Battalion
but it pushed ahead steadily. At 1500, the 2d Battalion was 500 yards
beyond Matagob and the 3d was 300 yards behind the 2d. The troops
came under heavy fire from two enemy 75-mm. guns on the hills west of
Matagob and suffered several casualties. The mortars and artillery
with the 305th Infantry silenced the Japanese guns. The regimental
commander issued orders for the battalions to move out for the assault
at 1000 on the following day against the regimental objective, a road
bend that was 2,000 yards to its front. The 2d Battalion set up its
night perimeter in place while the 3d Battalion withdrew to a point
1,000 yards east of Matagob. The regimental command post moved from
Humaybunay to the 3d Battalion perimeter. [1163]

During the night the Japanese made several attempts to penetrate the
American lines. The 3d Battalion destroyed a demolition squad that
entered its position, while the 2d Battalion beat back one attack
at 0245 and another one, which was accompanied by mortar fire, at
0630. The 305th Infantry killed an estimated 100 Japanese with no
casualties to the regiment. [1164]

At 1000 on 24 December the assault troops jumped off. The Japanese
resistance was light and intermittent, but American progress was
slow because of the rough, irregular hills in which the enemy had
established positions in foxholes, spider holes, and caves. Since it
was not possible to bypass these positions, the regiment had to clear
each one before the advance could continue. The force received some
artillery fire but a mortar platoon from Company A, 88th Chemical
Weapons Battalion, silenced the enemy guns. At 1500 the battalions
set up their night perimeter 500 yards short of the road bend. During
the night a Japanese force of twenty men, which tried to penetrate
the defenses of the 3d Battalion, was killed. [1165]

At 0800 on 25 December the attack was renewed, but made very slow
progress. The enemy, dug in in small pockets along the road, resisted
stubbornly. The 3d Battalion advanced 200 yards and was pinned
down by machine gun, mountain gun, and rifle fire. The 2d Battalion
attempted to envelop the enemy strong point on the Japanese right
(south) flank but was repulsed. [1166]

On 26 December the regiment limited its activity to patrolling. Since
it was Christmas Day in the States, "All guns of the Division Artillery
fired ... at ... 1200 as a salute to the nation on Christmas Day. This
was followed by one minute of silent prayer for the dead and wounded of
the 77th Division." [1167] That night General Bruce ordered the troops
to build bonfires and sing, and employ other ruses in the hope that the
Japanese might believe that the troops were celebrating Christmas and
might therefore try to enter the defensive perimeters. These ruses were
unsuccessful in the sectors of the assault battalions, but a similar
one employed in the area of the regimental command post attracted
some Japanese patrols, which were either destroyed or driven off.

At dawn on 27 December the 3d Battalion moved around the Japanese
left flank toward the high ground six hundred yards from the line
of departure. Despite enemy artillery and machine gun fire and the
difficult terrain, the battalion reached the objective, killing 160
Japanese. The remainder fled to the hills.

When it became apparent that the Japanese resistance was strong and
determined and might unduly delay the progress of the 305th Infantry,
General Bruce decided to move the 2d Battalion of the regiment
overwater to the vicinity of Palompon at the western terminus of the
road. The 2d Battalion could then attack east along the road while the
3d Battalion continued the attack west. The Japanese defenders would
thus be under fire on their front and rear. This eastern attack force,
which was called the Provisional Mountain Force, moved to Ormoc and
thence, after arrangements had been made with the naval representatives
of Krueger's staff, overwater by LCM's to Palompon. It arrived at
the latter without incident at 1500 on 28 December. On the same day
the 3d Battalion, reinforced, continued the attack westward. The
Japanese resisted strongly with small arms fire from pillboxes and
with artillery. The 3d Battalion advanced approximately 1,000 yards
during the day. [1168]

At 0800 on 29 December, the 3d Battalion moved out. The battalion
had advanced 650 yards at 1000 when it encountered very determined
resistance from an enemy force in very well camouflaged, dug-in
positions. The troops were pinned down for the rest of the day. The
Provisional Mountain Force moved out of Look at 1200 to a position
from which it could launch its assault eastward along the road.

At 0930 on 30 December the 305th Infantry struck along the Palompon
road, the 3d Battalion driving west, and the Provisional Mountain
Force attacking east. The Mountain Force encountered only scattered
resistance until 0930, when the Japanese, from well-entrenched
positions in the precipitous sides of the road at a point about
four miles east of Palompon, directed strong machine gun fire along
the road. The Mountain Force dug in for the night on high ground
overlooking the point at which its advance had been halted. The 3d
Battalion succeeded in overcoming the opposition which had halted
it the previous day, and pushed forward to a point about 1,000
yards southwest of Tipolo. The Japanese had emplaced artillery on
curves in the road and could fire directly on the advancing American
troops. Although the 305th Infantry lost one tank to enemy artillery
fire, it was able to destroy three 75-mm. guns and capture two others
intact. [1169]

During the night, the Japanese force withdrew; only scattered troops
were left to delay the advance. At 0800 on 31 December, the assault
forces of the 305th Infantry resumed the attack, and encountered only
sporadic rifle fire. At 1225 at a point two miles northeast of San
Miguel the 3d Battalion and the Provisional Mountain Force met. This
ended all organized resistance along the Palompon road and secured an
overland route from Highway 2 in the Ormoc Valley to Palompon on the
west coast. [1170] The 77th Division made the astounding estimate that
for the period from 21 through 31 December 1944, it had killed 5,779
Japanese, taken 29 prisoners, and had lost 17 men killed, 116 wounded,
and 6 missing in action. [1171]



X Corps Goes West

Meanwhile, to the north of the 77th Division, elements of the 1st
Cavalry Division and the 32d Infantry Division had turned off Highway
2 and were pushing over the mountains to the west coast. [1172]



The 1st Cavalry Division

With the clearing of Highway 2 and the junction of the X and XXIV
Corps at a point just south of Kananga, the 1st Cavalry Division
was in readiness to push toward the west coast in conjunction with
assaults by the 77th Division on its left and the 32d Division on its
right. The troops were on a 2,500-yard front along Highway 2 between
Kananga and Lonoy.

On the morning of 23 December the assault units of the 1st Cavalry
Division moved out from the highway and started west. None encountered
any resistance. The 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry, established a
night perimeter on a ridge about 1,400 yards slightly northwest of
Kananga. The 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry, set up a night perimeter
1,000 yards north of that of the 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry, while
the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry, dug in for the night on a line with
the other two squadrons.

This first day's march set the pattern for the next several
days. The regiments pushed steadily forward, meeting only scattered
resistance. The chief obstacles were waist-deep swamps in the zone
of the 12th Cavalry. These were waded on 24 December. The tangled
vegetation and sharp, precipitous ridges that were henceforward
encountered also made the passage slow and difficult.

On 28 December, the foremost elements of the 5th and 12th Cavalry
Regiments broke out of the mountains and reached the barrio of
Tibur on the west coast, about 2,800 yards north of Abijao. (See Map
2.) By nightfall on the following day, the 7th Cavalry was also on
the west coast but farther north. In its advance it had encountered
and destroyed many small, scattered groups of the enemy, most of
whom showed little desire to fight. The regiment arrived at Villaba,
two and one-half miles north of Tibur, at dusk, and in securing the
town killed thirty-five Japanese.

During the early morning hours of 31 December, the Japanese launched
four counterattacks against the forces at Villaba. Each started with
a bugle call, the first attack beginning at 0230 and the final one at
dawn. An estimated 500 of the enemy, armed with mortars, machine guns,
and rifles, participated in the assaults, but the American artillery
stopped the Japanese and their forces scattered. On 31 December,
the 77th Division began to relieve the elements of the 1st Cavalry
Division, which moved back to Kananga.

On the morning of the 30th of December, the 7th Cavalry had made
physical contact northeast of Villaba with the 127th Infantry, 32d
Division, which had been driving to the west coast north of the 1st
Cavalry Division.



The 32d Division

On 22 December the 127th Infantry had reached Lonoy and made contact
with the 7th Cavalry. On the following day the troops rested. [1173]
The 128th Infantry had been engaged in sending out patrols throughout
the Limon area from 11 to 18 December. These patrols were successful
in wiping out pockets of resistance that had been bypassed by the
advance forces of the 32d Division in the division's drive along
Highway 2 to the south. On 20 December, the 128th received orders
from General Gill to prepare for a move to the west coast. [1174]


    Both the 127th and 128th Infantry Regiments sent out patrols on
    23 December to reconnoiter the terrain. At 0800 on 24 December the
    two regiments started for the west coast. Throughout the march to
    the sea, they encountered only small parties of the enemy, who
    put up no effective resistance, but heavy rains, dense, almost
    impassable forests, and steep craggy hills slowed the advance.


The commanding officer of the 127th Infantry said of the hills
encountered on 24 December:


    The morning was spent in climbing to the top of a mountain
    ridge. The climbing was difficult but as we later found out, the
    descent was much worse. The trail led almost perpendicular down the
    side. After reaching the bottom, another ridge was encountered,
    this almost straight up, everyone had to use hand holds to pull
    themselves up. All in all there were seven ridges from the bottom
    of the first descent to the first possible bivouac area. [1175]


The hills were less rugged from then on. On the morning of 25 December,
the 1st Battalion, 127th Infantry, encountered and dispersed 300 to
400 Japanese. Throughout the march both regiments received supplies
by airdrop, which was not completely satisfactory since none of the
drops was made at the requested time and frequently there was a wide
scattering of supplies.

On the afternoon of 29 December the two regiments were on their
objectives: the 128th Infantry on the high ground overlooking Tabango
and Campopo Bays and the 127th Infantry on the high ground overlooking
Antipolo Point, approximately three miles to the south. Patrols were
sent out to scout the terrain and establish contact with the 1st
Cavalry Division on the south and with the 24th Infantry Division on
the north. [1176]



The 24th Infantry Division [1177]

The 24th Division, after having been relieved by the 32d Division on
Breakneck Ridge, had protected the rear areas on a trail leading from
Jaro to Ormoc. Two weeks before the march to the west coast a large
Japanese convoy had been attacked by U. S. aircraft and forced into
San Isidro Bay on the northern part of the west coast. Although the
vessels were destroyed, some of the troops were able to get ashore. On
9 December they headed toward Calubian, on Leyte Bay about six miles
northeast of San Isidro. General Woodruff, who had replaced General
Irving on 18 November, ordered Colonel Clifford's 1st Battalion,
34th Infantry, which had been defending Kilay Ridge, to wipe out
the part of the enemy force that had landed at San Isidro and fled
northeastward to the vicinity of Calubian.

At 2300 on 21 December, Colonel Clifford notified Colonel Dahlen,
the commanding officer of the 34th Infantry, that a Japanese force of
about 160 men was at Tuktuk, about four miles south of Calubian. He
added that at 0800 on the following morning the 1st Battalion would
move out and destroy the force.

At 0300 a force consisting of a platoon from Company C and a platoon
from Company A moved toward the high ground northwest of Tuktuk in
preparation for the assault, but because of very poor trails the
force was delayed. In the meantime four LVT's with a platoon of
mortars moved overwater to Tuktuk. At 0830 the attack started, with
machine guns mounted on the LVT's and mortars furnishing supporting
fire. The Japanese resistance was sporadic, although some mortar fire
was received. As the troops of the 34th Infantry neared the barrio,
the enemy defenders broke and fled, and the town was deserted as the
soldiers entered. Approximately thirty enemy dead were counted in the
barrio and vicinity. The fleeing enemy force was later destroyed by
patrols that worked over the sector. The Japanese had obviously been
looting because linens, silverware, and women's clothing were found
in their packs. One soldier had a baby's high chair tied on the top
of his pack.

On 23 December, Col William W. Jenna, former commanding officer of
the 34th Infantry, returned from sick leave in the States and assumed
command of the 34th Infantry. With his arrival plans were expedited
to clean up the northwestern end of the Leyte peninsula in conjunction
with the assaults of other units of the Sixth Army.

From 23 to 26 December, extensive patrolling was conducted along the
west coast of the Leyte peninsula. On 26 December the 34th Infantry
issued orders for clearing the part of the Leyte peninsula in its
zone. The 1st Battalion was to secure all trails and high ground in
the interior, prevent any enemy movement to the north and to the east,
and, finally, be prepared to assist the 2d Battalion in the capture
of the San Isidro Bay area.

At 2245 on 26 December the LCM's at Villalon (a barrio on Biliran
Strait and about six miles northwest of Calubian) began to load
Companies F and G. By 2300 the embarkation was completed and the
craft moved to Gigantangan Island, arriving there fifteen minutes
after midnight. The troops disembarked and slept. At 0530 they again
embarked and proceeded to Taglawigan, arriving there at 0730. After
strafing the shore the companies landed, meeting no resistance. At
the same time Company F completed its assignment without opposition,
pushing east and south and encircling Taglawigan. Before noon, some
elements of the 2d Battalion were moving overland to Daha, about two
miles to the south, while others had re-embarked and were making an
overwater movement toward it. By noon Taglawigan and Daha had fallen
to the 2d Battalion.

Company G, reinforced, left Company F at Daha, re-embarked on the
landing craft, and headed toward the San Isidro Bay area, 6,000 yards
to the south. As the convoy neared San Isidro, it came under machine
gun fire from the barrio and the hills to the southwest. A frontal
attack on the town was abandoned and the landing craft moved to the
southwest of the jetty to make their landing. The LVT's mired in the
mud about 100 to 150 yards offshore. The rest of the force, which
was in the LCM's, waded ashore. Some of the troops from the LVT's met
with great difficulty in trying to get ashore but the LVT's finally
succeeded in retracting and picked them up. Approximately 150 soldiers
with supplies for the task force returned to Gigantangan Island. The
convoy had only one casualty.

In the meantime, the 1st Battalion had received orders at 1300 to
take San Isidro. The battalion moved overland from Calubian and at
nightfall it dug in on the high ground overlooking San Isidro.

At 0800 on 28 December, the co-ordinated assault was made against
San Isidro, with elements of the 2d Battalion attacking from the
north while the 1st Battalion attacked from the east. The troops
encountered light resistance, the Japanese defenders being only
partially armed. Fifty-five of the enemy were killed and one prisoner
was taken. By 1230, the 1st Battalion was out-posting San Isidro.

With the capture of San Isidro, the last main point on the Leyte
peninsula was safely in the hands of the 34th Infantry. The troops
moved south along the coast and destroyed small, poorly equipped groups
of the enemy. One group of Japanese, whose only weapons were bayonets
attached to bamboo poles, tried hopelessly to break through the lines.

On 1 January 1945, the 77th Division was ordered to relieve the
32d and 24th Infantry Divisions and the 1st Cavalry Division. The
relieved divisions were to move to staging areas and prepare for
future operations.



The Japanese Retreat

Condition of Japanese Forces

The morale and physical condition of the Japanese Army were very
low. With the juncture of the American X and XXIV Corps, the 35th
Army had begun to disintegrate. Desertion became common. The wounded
would not assemble with their units. The problem of the wounded
became serious since there were no proper facilities for medical
treatment. General Tomochika later said: "Commanders employing
persuasive language frequently requested seriously wounded soldiers
at the front to commit suicide; this was particularly common among
personnel of the 1st Division and it was pitiful. However the majority
died willingly. Only Japanese could have done a thing like this and
yet I could not bear to see the sight." [1178]

Those of the slightly wounded that could not march with the able-bodied
soldiers walked by themselves. They became separated from their units
and some, although able to do so, refused to rejoin their outfits,
giving their wounds as an excuse. In addition there were deserters
who fled to the hills. The 35th Army began the policy of sending the
slightly wounded back to the front lines. Many of the service units,
such as the Mitsui Shipping Unit and the air corps ground crews,
refused to fight since they were not trained as combat troops. "Even
the artillery and antiaircraft units retreated without facing the
enemy. Their excuse was that they were not trained to fight as infantry
and were useless without their guns." [1179]

Doubtless, some of the unwillingness of the Japanese service troops to
serve on the front lines was due to their physical condition. When the
1st Division arrived on Leyte on 1 November it brought with it enough
food and ammunition for one month, and by 1 December this supply was
exhausted. On 3 December an additional one-half month's supply was
brought in at Ormoc; but this was destroyed or captured by the 77th
Division in its advance. Consequently after the 1st of December all
Japanese troops on Leyte "were on a starvation diet and had to live
off the land." [1180] The 1st and 57th Infantry Regiments were the
principal sufferers. The men were forced to eat coconuts, various
grasses, bamboo shoots, the heart fibers of coconut tree trunks,
and whatever native fruits or vegetables they could forage. When the
troops received orders to withdraw to the west coast of Leyte, "they
were literally in a starved condition, ... many instances occurred
in which men vomited seven to ten times a day because they could not
digest some of the food due to their weakened stomachs." [1181]

The 1st Division abandoned much equipment, ammunition, and rations
along the highway through the Ormoc Valley. Many of the stragglers and
deserters clothed and fed themselves with the abandoned matériel. The
chief of staff of the 35th Army stated that when the Americans
captured army headquarters, he left the headquarters without any
clothing. However, he picked up "a new uniform and sufficient food
while on the road." [1182]



Withdrawal Plans

On 19 December, General Suzuki, the commander of the 35th Army
on Leyte, had received word from the 14th Area Army in Manila that
henceforth the 35th Army was to subsist on its own resources and what
it could obtain within its operational area. [1183]

On the same day, probably because of the information received from
Manila, General Suzuki ordered a conference of the staff officers of
the 1st and 102d Divisions. At this meeting, General Suzuki ordered
the 1st Division to retreat to the northern sector of the Matagob area
and the 102d Division to the southern part of the same sector. At
Matagob the divisions were to reorganize for a counterattack. The
order did not give any specific time for the withdrawal; each division
was to take action according to the situation in its sector. On 20
December, General Suzuki moved his headquarters farther west to a
point approximately three and a half miles north of Palompon. [1184]

On 21 December, the 102d Division, which had about 2,000 men, began
to withdraw to the vicinity of Matagob. The division, having failed to
get in touch with the 35th Army, moved to the west coast near Villaba,
approximately ten miles north of Palompon. [1185] It made contact
with the 1st Division at the end of December, and also with the 68th
Infantry Brigade and the 5th Infantry Regiment, which were already
in that sector. [1186] The 1st Division also began to withdraw on 21
December, making the withdrawal in two columns. The southern column
consisted of about six hundred men of the 49th Infantry Regiment,
1st Division Transport Regiment, and other units. On its way west,
it was met on 23 December by the 68th Brigade which, unaware of
the loss of the Ormoc road, was proceeding toward the highway. The
brigade joined the southern column, which reached the Bagacay sector
the following day. (The barrio of Bagacay is six miles northeast
of Villaba.) The northern column also had about six hundred men and
consisted of elements of the Division Headquarters, the 1st Infantry
Regiment, the 57th Infantry Regiment, and other units. The detachment
was forced to cut its way through dense jungle. On 25 December it
was attacked by the Americans and further decimated. That night the
northern and southern columns met at Bagacay and on the following day
started towards Matagob. On the 28th, following orders from General
Suzuki, they turned north and established defensive positions on the
eastern slope of Mt. Canguipot, two and a half miles southeast of
Villaba. [1187]

As the Japanese, pursued by the forces of the X and XXIV Corps,
spiritlessly retreated toward the mountains of western Leyte, Imperial
General Headquarters notified the Japanese people: "Our forces are
still holding the Burauen and San Pablo airfields and continue to
attack the enemy positions. Our forces are fighting fiercely on the
eastern mountain slopes near Ormoc and Albuera." [1188]



CHAPTER XXII

Leyte Is Liberated


On 15 December, General MacArthur had directed General Eichelberger's
Eighth Army to be prepared to assume control of nearly all Sixth
Army units in the Leyte area at 0001 on 26 December 1944 in order to
relieve the Sixth Army for future operations. The Eighth Army was
to relieve the Sixth of all duties and missions in the area except
certain ones dealing with logistics and construction. These were
assigned to the USASOS (SWPA). The Allied Naval and Air Forces were
directed to continue, in support of the Eighth Army, the missions
which hitherto had been specified for the Sixth. [1189]

In furtherance of General MacArthur's instructions, General Krueger
issued orders covering the transfer to Eighth Army control of certain
Sixth Army units. On 21 December he named the units over which he
was relinquishing control as of 0001, 26 December, and stated that
the responsibility for continuing assigned duties and missions in
the area would then pass from him to the Commanding General, Eighth
U. S. Army, the Commanding General, USASOS (SWPA), and the Commander,
Allied Naval Forces. [1190]

General Eichelberger, also, prepared orders for the forthcoming
transfer of authority. The supply and evacuation procedures of
the Sixth Army would remain in effect. The X and XXIV Corps would
"continue on their present assigned missions of destroying Japanese
wherever found, and ... be prepared to conduct overland or amphibious
shore to shore operations to seize enemy supply points and bases,
and ports of entry." [1191]

On 25 December, when elements of the 77th Division had seized Palompon,
the last important port on Leyte, General MacArthur declared that
all organized resistance had ended. He said in a message to General
Krueger: "Heartiest congratulations on capture of Palompon. This closes
a campaign that has had few counterparts in the utter destruction
of the enemy's forces with a maximum conservation of our own. It has
been a magnificent performance on the part of all concerned." [1192]



The Eighth Army Assumes Control

On 26 December, General Eichelberger assumed control of all combat
units in the Leyte-Samar area. It was not until the first part of
January 1945 that the American troops secured the west coast of
Leyte. Thereafter only isolated pockets of enemy resistance remained.



Assembly of Japanese Forces

On 25 December 1944, General Yamashita, commanding the 14th Area Army,
notified General Suzuki, the 35th Army commander, that he had written
off the Leyte Campaign as a loss; henceforward the 35th Army on Leyte
would be self-sustaining and self-supporting, the units on Leyte
would be transferred to other areas, and, finally, the units on the
island would be assembled at a point from which raiding operations
could be conducted. Since these orders were ambiguous and apparently
contradictory, General Suzuki asked that the message be repeated but he
never received an answer. Accordingly, in the latter part of December,
he sent his chief of staff to Manila for further clarification of
the orders. The chief of staff arrived at Manila, by way of Cebu,
in late January, but he was unable to obtain any further information
for General Suzuki.

The decision of General Yamashita to abandon the Leyte operation
followed a series of rapidly moving events. On the 14th of December,
he canceled an optimistic plan for an amphibious assault through
the shallow waters of Carigara Bay against Carigara, an assault that
had been scheduled for 16 December. This cancellation followed the
sighting of an Allied convoy en route to Mindoro. [1193] The convoy
reached Mindoro and the troops landed successfully on 15 December. On
19 December, two days prior to the junction of the X and XXIV Corps
on Highway 2, General Yamashita told General Suzuki that he could no
longer send any reinforcements and supplies to Leyte and that the
35th Army would have to become self-supporting. On the same day,
General Yamashita assigned to the defense of Luzon three divisions
that Imperial General Headquarters had earmarked for Leyte. Shortly
afterward, at a conference with representatives from the Southern
Army and Imperial General Headquarters, the representative from the
latter told General Yamashita to forget the Leyte operation.

In the meantime, General Suzuki interpreted his orders to mean that
units of the 35th Army would assemble at a common point at which
they could be self-supporting. He had selected the western area of
Matagob-Palompon in the vicinity of the road leading from Highway 2
at Libongao over the mountains to Palompon on the west coast. Palompon
was to have been used as the rear center of the line of communications
and the army headquarters was to have been established at Kompisao,
but the seizure of Palompon on 25 December by the 77th Division
forced Suzuki to change the location of his army headquarters. [1194]
He then selected as a base of operations an area in the vicinity of
Ginabuyan that overlooked Silad Bay and was about three kilometers
north of Villaba.

The new area was a plateau with an elevation of about 1,200 feet,
heavily forested and having rocky eastern and western slopes that made
it "a natural fortress." From it one could command a view of Ormoc
Valley to the east and the Camotes Sea and Cebu to the west. There
were a few Filipino huts, and cultivated fields and coconut groves,
interspersed with salt beds, lay along the beach. The area "was
admirably suited for an extended period of defensive action." [1195]
General Suzuki ordered the units of the 35th Army that were retreating
westward to repair to the vicinity of the new base of operations.

The units continued to straggle westward towards the selected area. By
1 January, most of them had taken up positions in the Balanac sector,
which was about three and a half miles southeast of Villaba and
overlooked the Palompon road. They had been hard pressed. The 68th
Brigade and the 1st Division made contact and successfully concentrated
south of Villaba in early January. The 12th Independent Regiment (the
Imahori Detachment), the Mitsui Shipping Unit, the 4th Airborne Raiding
Regiment and the remaining troops of the 77th Infantry Regiment, which
had been operating northeast of Ormoc, reached the southern Matagob
area about the middle of January. It was not until the beginning of
February that these units made contact with the 35th Army. The few
remaining elements of the 16th Division stayed in the vicinity of
Valencia until the end of February. The 26th Division also remained
in this area until the middle of January, when it moved west and
established contact with the 35th Army. [1196]

The 102d Division presented certain difficulties. There had been
instances of forty to fifty deserters fleeing to Cebu or Negros on
boats they had built for themselves. Deserters that were apprehended
were court-martialed. General Suzuki for some time had been out
of touch with Lt. Gen. Shimpei Fukue, the commanding general of
the 102d Division, which was in the Mt. Pina area. By chance, one
of Suzuki's officers learned that Fukue was planning to evacuate
to Cebu. General Suzuki was incensed since he and his staff felt
that Fukue "was violating the military code in taking these steps
without consent." He thereupon sent the following message to Fukue:
"Lt. General Fukue and his headquarters will remain in Leyte and at
the same time I am attaching other units and groups in the Visayan
and Mindanao sectors to your Division. General Fukue and his Chief of
Staff will report to me in person at Army Headquarters." The commander
of the 102d Division did not answer but his chief of staff sent the
following reply: "We appreciate the efforts of Army but at the present
time we are very busy preparing for retreat. The division commander
and chief of staff are unable to report to Army Headquarters." [1197]

General Suzuki was "entirely displeased" with the reaction of Fukue
and sent his chief of staff, General Tomochika, to investigate the
situation. When Tomochika arrived he found that Fukue, with his
chief of staff and some headquarters personnel, had already left for
Cebu. This fact was communicated to General Suzuki by Tomochika, who
states that "for several days I had a difficult time in consoling the
general." [1198] The sequel to these events was that General Suzuki
relieved General Fukue of his command and ordered him to remain on
Cebu until he received further orders. Upon the arrival of Suzuki
in Cebu in the spring of 1945, Fukue was sentenced to confinement
for thirty days. General Suzuki asked Imperial General Headquarters
in Tokyo for authority to court-martial General Fukue; no reply was
forthcoming. General Fukue was released and later returned to command
of the 102d Division. [1199]

In the meantime, the leaderless 102d Division, with a strength of
approximately 2,000 men, crossed Highway 2 north of Libongao and
reached the southern area of Matagob about 24 December. The troops
failed to contact the 35th Army and after remaining for a short time
at Matagob moved to the vicinity of Villaba.

The units that arrived on the west coast were much understrength
and very poorly equipped. All artillery had been lost. There were
only five to ten machine guns per regiment in addition to individual
weapons. Each man had an average of sixty rounds of ammunition and
several hand grenades.

On the 30th of December, General Yamashita sent the following message
to General Suzuki:


    Sixty days have already elapsed since the American forces invaded
    Leyte Island, during which period the Thirty-fifth Army, under
    the forceful leadership of its commander, has waged many a heroic
    battle against superior enemy forces and in the face of numerous
    difficulties. The Army gave a great blow to the enemy. Moreover,
    the Thirty-fifth Army by containing the opposing enemy for this
    long period of time deprived him of freedom of action for the
    coming operation, thereby facilitating the general conduct of
    our operations in this battle and rendering great services to our
    cause. I am deeply impressed, particularly with the fact that the
    Takachiho Unit captured the hostile airfield at BURAUEN after the
    Thirty-fifth Army, despite its inferiority in equipment and number
    of men, and the stoppage of supply, made a timely and resolute
    attack against the enemy with the commander himself leading
    them. However, the enemy, who has increased his material power
    and war potential, now threatens, solely on the strength of his
    material superiority, to bear down on Luzon Island despite the
    heroic and desperate efforts of our sea and air forces as well
    as of the Thirty-fifth Army. In view of the sudden change in the
    situation, we shall seek and destroy our enemy on Luzon Island,
    thereby doing our part in the heroic struggle of the Army and
    avenging many a valiant warrior who fell before the enemy. As
    munitions have not been supplied adequately, I cannot keep back
    tears of remorse for tens of thousands of our officers and men
    fighting in Leyte Island. Nevertheless, I must impose a still
    harder task upon you. Please try to understand my intentions. They
    say it is harder to live than to die. You officers and men, be
    patient enough to endure the hardships of life, and help guard and
    maintain the prosperity of the Imperial Throne through eternal
    resistance to the enemy, and be ready to meet your death calmly
    for our beloved country. I sincerely instruct you as above. [1200]


General Suzuki took steps to make the force on Leyte
self-supporting. In January 1945, he established two principles for
his troops. First, the troops were to utilize as much of the local
food and material as possible and plant sweet potatoes and Indian
corn. Second, all provisions in the area outside of the operation
base were to be purchased. The execution of the first part of his
first precept worked reasonably well but the constant American air
raids and mopping-up operations prevented the Japanese from being too
successful in planting and harvesting the corn and potatoes. They were
also not very fortunate in purchasing supplies from outside the area,
although some supplies were obtained each time the men could pass
through the American protective screen.

The Japanese arrived on the western shores of Leyte at the end of
the harvest season. They secured large quantities of provisions
which the Filipinos had stored and also a great number of coconuts
and sweet potatoes. The soldiers used the carabaos of the island as
meat and obtained salt from sea water. For vegetables, the army's
chief reliance was upon wild ferns, tokay grass, and wild spinach.

In conclusion, "although there was not enough food to increase the
fighting power of the Army, no one died of starvation and some units
stored enough supplies for two to three months." [1201]



The Mop-up

By the end of December, most of the enemy troops were in northwest
Leyte, west of Highway 2 and north of Palompon. Another large enemy
concentration was located in the hills south of Palompon. [1202]

The mop-up of any operation is dangerous, difficult, and unglamorous,
but it is highly essential. The activities of the 7th Division on Leyte
during January and February 1945 are typical of the large-scale mop-up
in which many small units are sent out daily in all directions. This
division was assigned all of the west coast area south of a line from
Palompon to Valencia. Its records state that the division "sent out as
many as forty combat patrols daily to hunt down and destroy thousands
of Japanese stragglers wandering throughout the area." [1203]

Eight divisions were engaged in mopping up for varying lengths of time
on Leyte, but only an outline of their activities will be attempted
here. The operation may be divided into three phases: XXIV Corps
activities from 1 January to 15 February 1945; X Corps activities
from 1 January to 24 February 1945; and Eighth Army Area Command
operations from 24 February to 8 May 1945. [1204]

During the XXIV Corps phase, the 11th Airborne Division encountered an
enemy force well dug in on the southern slopes of Mt. Majunag, five
miles northwest of Burauen. After much bitter hand-to-hand fighting
the Japanese were destroyed. The 96th Division engaged in extensive
patrolling, relieved the 11th Airborne Division, and relieved the
X Corps of all tactical responsibility east of the mountains. The
7th Division sent out numerous patrols in the southern part of the
island, and sent out a reinforced battalion that destroyed all enemy
forces in the Camotes Islands. The 77th Division, which operated
in the northwestern part of the island, cleared up many pockets of
enemy resistance.

In the X Corps phase, the island of Samar was cleared of Japanese
troops. The Americal Division, advance elements of which arrived on
24 January, extensively patrolled both the islands of Leyte and Samar.

During the Eighth Army Area Command phase, the constant searching
out of isolated groups of enemy soldiers continued. In addition to
the Americal Division, the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment patrolled
Leyte. On 8 May, the control of the Eighth Army over the area came
to an end. [1205]



The Japanese Withdrawal

At the time that General Suzuki made his plans for the units of
the 35th Army on Leyte to become self-sufficient, he felt that
there were too many soldiers on the island to make the plan fully
effective. General Suzuki decided therefore to transfer to other
islands those who, because of their good physical condition and morale,
would be able to withstand the rigors of a long fight. Consequently
the sick, weak, and wounded were dropped from the units that were to
be withdrawn. [1206] General Suzuki also considered the selection of
the location of the new headquarters for the 35th Army. Since there
were 15,000 Japanese residents in and around Davao on Mindanao, it
was finally decided to remove the army headquarters to Davao. As a
preliminary step, the 1st Division was to be sent to Cebu. [1207]

General Suzuki had plans drawn up showing the order of precedence
by which the units on Leyte were to be withdrawn and their
destinations. All available landing barges on Leyte and additional
vessels from Cebu and other areas would be used. The order of the
proposed withdrawal and the destinations of the units were as follows:


    1st Division                          northern Cebu and later to
                                          Negros
    41st and 77th Infantry Regiments      Mindanao
    102d Division                         Visayan area
    26th Division                         Bacolod sector of Negros
    Takahashi Detachment                  northern Cebu
    Units of the 68th Independent Mixed
    Brigade                               northern Cebu


General Suzuki and 35th Army Headquarters would leave Leyte about
the same time as the 26th Division. The 16th Division, the 68th
Independent Mixed Brigade, and other small units were to remain on
Leyte and would be under the command of Lt. Gen. Shiro Makino, the
16th Division commander. [1208]

When these plans were announced Lt. Gen. Tadasu Kataoka, the
commanding general of the 1st Division, suggested that as the 1st
Division had lost so many men and officers in the Leyte operation
it might be better to use the 68th Independent Mixed Brigade, which
had fresh troops and would be better suited for the assignment to
Cebu. He was overruled. [1209] There were, however, other officers
who were more anxious to leave Leyte. General Tomochika later wrote:
"Many of the troops rushed to join this movement and Staff Officer
Nakamura experienced difficulty in controlling them. However, quite
a number of men succeeded in transferring without the commander's
orders. The commander was displeased because only a small number of
staff officers were willing to stay on Leyte." [1210]

On the morning of 12 January, four launches arrived at Abijao to begin
evacuation of the 1st Division. The Americans attacked and damaged
the vessels, but three were repaired. By 2300, with the embarkation
of the first party, composed of elements of the 49th Infantry and
Division Headquarters, the evacuation got under way. This group left
Abijao at 0130 on 13 January and reached Tabogon, in northern Cebu,
about 0730. At about the same time, the remnants of the 57th Infantry
reached Cebu. The rest of 1st Division Headquarters, the 1st Infantry
Regiment, and part of the 1st Transport Regiment left Leyte on the
18th, and on the 20th the rest of the 49th Infantry Regiment and the
1st Division Transport quitted the island.

Between the 13th and 20th of January the three launches, each carrying
about seventy men, made four round trips. After the second trip,
the Americans spotted the operation. The hiding place of the craft at
Tabogon was frequently strafed by aircraft and shelled by submarines
and motor torpedo boats, which kept the channel waters under sharp
surveillance. On the night of the 20th, American aircraft sank three
launches. Although additional craft were sent up from Liloan on Cebu,
these were also sunk. It was impossible to evacuate any more personnel
until the middle of March. [1211]

The number of men from the 1st Division evacuated to Cebu was estimated
to be as follows: 1st Division Headquarters, 73; 1st Infantry Regiment,
72; 49th Infantry Regiment, 208; 57th Infantry Regiment, 178; and 1st
Transport Regiment, 212; a total of 743 men. The equipment evacuated
included 332 rifles, 4 heavy machine guns, 11 light machine guns, 5
grenade launchers, and a small amount of small arms ammunition. [1212]
In addition several hundred men obtained their own transportation
and left for other islands in the Philippines.



The Road Ends

From 20 January on, the remaining Japanese forces stayed in the Villaba
sector, hoping that succor would come. On 20 January General Tomochika
"waited on the beach" for a boat that never came. The men were "plunged
into the depths of despair." Time passed. On the evening of 17 March,
two Japanese vessels appeared. General Suzuki and part of his staff
boarded the craft and at 0030, 18 March, left the island of Leyte,
For days the vessels sailed from island to island in the Visayas
only to find that they were too late. The Americans were already in
possession. On the evening of 16 April, the vessel bearing General
Suzuki was bombed by American aircraft off the coast of Negros Island
and Suzuki was killed [1213] The Leyte Campaign had ended.

The liberation of Leyte had been accomplished at no slight cost. During
the peak month, January 1945, there were 257,766 American Army,
including Air Forces, troops on Leyte. [1214] The total Army casualties
for the Leyte Campaign were over 15,500, including more than 3,500
killed and nearly 12,000 wounded. (Tables 4 and 5)

It is impossible, with data now available to determine with any degree
of exactitude the number of Japanese who participated in the campaign
or their casualties. The estimates of the Sixth and Eighth Armies
vary greatly, as do those of the various Japanese sources. The Sixth
Army estimated that it had killed 56,263 and captured 389 men. [1215]
and that as of 26 December 1944 when it relinquished control to Eighth
Army about 5,000 of the Japanese remained on the islands of Leyte and
Samar. [1216] The Eighth Army estimated that, for the mop-up period
from 26 December 1944 to 8 May 1945, it killed and found dead 24,294
and captured 439 Japanese. [1217] General Eichelberger stated that
his forces killed "more than twenty-seven thousand Japanese." [1218]



Table 4--U. S. Army Battle Casualties at Leyte, 20 October 1944-8
May 1945

----------------------------+--------+-------+----------+---------
Organization                |  Total | Killed | Wounded | Missing
----------------------------+--------+--------+---------+---------
   Total                    | 15,584 |  3,504 |  11,991 |      89
                            +--------+--------+---------+---------
  Sixth Army Troops         |    961 |    141 |     831 | [1219]7
  Eighth Army Troops        |    404 |     61 |     340 |       3
  X Corps                   |  7,126 |  1,670 |   5,384 |      72
                            +--------+--------+---------+---------
Americal Div and 164th RCT  |    731 |    162 |     566 |       3
24th Infantry Division      |  2,342 |    544 |   1,784 |      14
32d Infantry Division       |  1,949 |    450 |   1,491 |       8
38th Infantry Division      |    272 |     68 |     171 |      33
1st Cavalry Division        |    931 |    203 |     726 |       2
11th Airborne Division      |    532 |    168 |     352 |      12
1st Filipino Division       |     52 |     14 |      38 |       0
108th RCT                   |     53 |     14 |      39 |       0
112th RCT                   |    160 |     32 |     128 |       0
Corps Troops                |    104 |     15 |      89 |       0
                            +--------+--------+---------+---------
  XXIV Corps                |  7,093 |  1,632 |   5,454 |       7
                            +--------+--------+---------+---------
7th Infantry Division       |  2,764 |    584 |   2,179 |       1
77th Infantry Division      |  2,226 |    499 |   1,723 |       4
96th Infantry Division      |  1,660 |    469 |   1,189 |       2
Corps Troops                |    443 |     80 |     363 |       0
----------------------------+--------+--------+---------+---------

Source: Reports of the Commanding Generals, Eighth U. S. Army,
Inclosure 1, and Sixth U. S. Army, on the Leyte-Samar Operation,
p. 155.



The Japanese historians of the Leyte operation estimate that the total
strength of their army ground troops was 70,000 men. [1220] General
Tomochika, the chief of staff of the 35th Army, was interrogated
several times after the war. On one occasion he estimated that the
total number of Japanese involved in the Leyte operation, including
naval and air personnel and those who lost their lives in transports
sunk en route to Leyte, was 59,400 men, approximately one fifth of all
Japanese forces in the Philippine Islands. [1221] On another occasion
General Tomochika estimated that 61,800 Japanese had been on Leyte,
and that 13,010 were alive and 48,790 had been killed by 17 March
1945. [1222]

In the plan for the defeat of Japan the objective sought in
reconquering the Philippines was not only to liberate the Filipinos
but also to cut off the Japanese from the rich empire that they had
acquired in the Netherlands Indies, and at the same time to establish
a base for the final assault on the enemy's homeland. As early as 1942
Allied submarines had begun to gnaw at the lifeline between Japan and
its new empire, rich in rubber, tin, rice, and, above all, in oil,
without which Japan could not remain in the war. By the fall of 1944
the submarines had virtually cut this lifeline, which ran past the
Philippines. The loss of the Philippines to the Allies would finally
sever it.



Table 5--Sixth Army Battle Casualties by Arm or Service, 20 October-25
December 1944

----------------+------+------+-------------+-------------+-------------
                |    Killed   |  Wounded and|   Missing   |    Total
                |             |    Injured  |  in Action  |
Arm or Service  +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------
                |Number| Per  |Number| Per  |Number| Per  |Number| Per
                |      | Cent |      | Cent |      | Cent |      | Cent
----------------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------
Infantry        | 2,380| 82.42| 7,749| 78.61|   85 | 52.80|10,214| 79.14
Engineer        |   132|  4.58|   762|  7.73|   46 | 28.57|   940|  7.28
Medical         |   100|  3.47|   375|  3.80|    8 |  4.97|   483|  3.74
Field Artillery |    96|  3.33|   328|  3.33|    5 |  3.11|   429|  3.32
Coast Artillery |    47|  1.59|   248|  2.52|    1 |   .62|   296|  2.30
Ordnance        |    45|  1.56|   100|  1.01|    1 |   .62|   146|  1.13
Quartermaster   |    41|  1.42|    67|   .68|    9 |  5.59|   117|   .91
Signal          |    12|   .42|    76|   .77|    0 |   .00|    88|   .68
Transportation  |     7|   .24|    73|   .74|    1 |   .62|    81|   .63
Chemical Warfare|    13|   .45|    44|   .45|    0 |   .00|    57|   .44
Military Police |    13|   .45|    27|   .27|    4 |  2.48|    44|   .34
Chaplain        |     0|   .00|     0|   .00|    0 |   .00|     0|   .00
Miscellaneous   |     2|   .07|     9|   .09|    1 |   .62|    12|   .09
                +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------
      Total     | 2,888|100.00| 9,858|100.00|  161 |100.00|12,907|100.00
----------------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------

Source: Sixth Army Operations Report Leyte, 20 October-25 December
1944, p. 155.



The object of the Leyte Campaign had been to force an entry into
the Philippines and establish a solid base for their reconquest. It
had accomplished this object, though the base had not been secured
and developed as promptly or as effectively as the planners had
anticipated. The construction program on the island had been
a disappointment. Leyte never became a major air base. But the
campaign had other and more important effects that had not been
foreseen when it was launched. In their determination to make Leyte
the decisive battle of the Philippines, the Japanese had committed
the major portions of their fleet and air force in a vain attempt to
stay the American advance. In the Battle of Leyte Gulf the Japanese
Navy suffered irreparable damage--all of the carriers were lost and
most of the capital ships were sunk or damaged. The air force was now
almost completely dependent upon the suicidal kamikaze pilot. Finally,
the dispatch of reinforcements and supplies to Leyte had seriously
crippled the defenses of Luzon--the strategic heart of the Philippine
Archipelago.

The Americans had established an air base in the midst of the
Japanese-held Philippine Islands--a base within medium bomber range
of Luzon, the principal American target in the archipelago. [1223]
As General Yamashita, commanding officer of all Japanese Army troops
in the Philippines later said: "After the loss of Leyte ... I realized
that decisive battle was impossible...." [1224]

Three years of hard fighting over jungle trails had finally brought
the U. S. forces back to the Philippines. Ahead lay months of weary
struggle but ultimate victory was no longer in doubt.



APPENDIX A


GHQ Operations Instructions Number 70, 21 September 1944

GENERAL HEADQUARTERS

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA


A. P. O. 500
21 September 1944.


OPERATIONS INSTRUCTION NUMBER 70


1.   a. See current Intelligence Summaries and Annex
        No. 3--Intelligence.
     b. Allied Forces occupy the line:
        MARIANAS-ULITHI-PALAU-MOROTAI and control the approaches
        to the southern and eastern PHILIPPINES.
     c. The THIRD FLEET, Admiral W. F. Halsey commanding, covers
        and supports the LEYTE GULF-SURIGAO STRAIT Operations by:

            (1) Containing or destroying the Japanese Fleet.
            (2) Destruction of hostile air and shipping in
                the FORMOSA, LUZON, VISAYAS and MINDANAO areas
                during the period A-9 through A-3 and from A
                Day through A+30 as necessary to maintain their
                continued neutralization.
            (3) Destruction of ground defenses and
                installations and shipping in the objective and
                adjacent enemy supporting areas from A-2 until
                the escort carriers assume the mission of direct
                support.
            (4) Providing direct support of the landing and
                subsequent operations by fast carrier aircraft
                as required.

     d. Coordination of operations of THIRD FLEET and SOUTHWEST
        PACIFIC Naval and Air Forces will be published later.
        e. I Time (Zone-9) of Z Time will be used during the
        operation.

2.   a. Forces of the SOUTHWEST PACIFIC, covered and supported
        by the THIRD FLEET, will continue the offensive to reoccupy
        the PHILIPPINES by seizing and occupying objectives in the
        LEYTE and western SAMAR areas, and will establish therein
        naval, air and logistic facilities for the support of
        subsequent operations.
     b. Target Date for A Day: 20 October 1944.
     c. Forces

            (1) SIXTH US ARMY--Lt General Walter Krueger,
                US Army. As constituted, less elements assigned
                by subsequent orders to EIGHTH US ARMY.
                    SIXTH US ARMY reserve:

                        77th US Infantry Division--GUAM
                        6th US Infantry Division--CAPE SANSAPOR,
                        DUTCH NEW GUINEA. Forces allocated for
                        the operation as designated in Annex
                        No. 1. Tentative Troop List for the
                        Operation. The exact composition of the
                        landing force as designated by Commanding
                        General SIXTH US ARMY.

            (2) FIRST AUSTRALIAN ARMY--Lt General
                V. A. H. Sturdee, CBE

                        As constituted.

            (3) EIGHTH US ARMY--Lt General Robert
                L. Eichelberger, US Army.

                        As later specified.

            (4) ALLIED NAVAL Forces--Vice Admiral
                T. C. Kinkaid, US NAVY.

                        As reinforced.

            (5) ALLIED AIR Forces--Lt General George C. Kenney,
                US Army.

                        As constituted.

            (6) USASOS--Maj General J. L. Frink, US Army.

                        As constituted.

3.   a. The SIXTH US ARMY, supported by the ALLIED NAVAL and
        AIR Forces, will:

            (1) By overwater operations seize and occupy:

                    (a) Objectives in the TACLOBAN and DULAG
                        areas in LEYTE and such adjacent areas
                        as are required to initiate and insure
                        uninterrupted naval and air operations
                        therefrom.
                    (b) Objectives in the HOMONHON and DINAGAT
                        ISLANDS and such adjacent areas prior to
                        the main assault in LEYTE as will insure
                        the uninterrupted access for amphibious
                        shipping into LEYTE GULF.
                    (c) Objectives in the PANAON STRAIT area
                        that will permit passage of naval forces
                        through the PANAON STRAIT for operations
                        in the CAMOTES SEA. This objective will be
                        secured simultaneously with (1) (a) above.

            (2) Establish control of SAN JUANICO STRAITS in
                order to permit passage of naval forces through
                the SAN JUANICO STRAITS for operations in the
                SAMAR SEA.
            (3) In subsequent operations, establish control
                over the remainder of LEYTE ISLAND; occupy and
                consolidate the western portion of southern SAMAR
                to include the TAFT-WRIGHT Highway and seize
                objectives that will permit opening of SURIGAO
                STRAITS for naval operations.
            (4) Prepare to conduct such operations as may be
                later directed by this headquarters to:

                    (a) Complete the consolidation of SAMAR.
                    (b) Destroy or contain hostile garrisons
                        in the VISAYAS.

            (5) Occupy and defend sites for radar and air
                warning installations as arranged with the
                Commanders ALLIED NAVAL and AIR Forces.
            (6) Assume control of and direct the operations
                of FILIPINO Forces of the 9th Military District
                (LEYTE-SAMAR).
            (7) Establish facilities for minor naval operations
                at the earliest practicable date in the LEYTE-SAMAR
                area as arranged with the Commander ALLIED NAVAL
                Forces and initiate the establishment of naval,
                air and logistic facilities for the support of
                subsequent operations to reoccupy the PHILIPPINES
                as directed in Annex No 4, Logistics, and Annex
                No 6, Engineer, and as later directed by this
                headquarters.
            (8) Establish air facilities in the LEYTE  area
                with objectives as follows:

                (a) First Objective:           1 fighter gp (P-38)
                    Immediately following the  1 fighter gp (P-40)
                    assault and by A+5 for:
                    1 night fighter sq
                (b) Second Objective:          1 tactical reconnaissance sq
                    Additional by A+15.        1 photo sq
                                               1 medium bomb gp plus
                                               1 sq P. O. A.
                                               3 PBY sqs (tender-based)
                                               1 VMR sq (Marine)
                (c) Third Objective:           2 light bomb gps (A-20)
                    Additional by A+30.        1 air-sea rescue sq
                                               1 tactical reconnaissance sq
                                               1 fighter gp (P-38)
                (d) Fourth Objective:          1 fighter gp (P-47)
                    Additional by A+45.        1 PB4Y sq (Air Ech)
                                               2 heavy bomb gps
                                               1 LAB sq
                (e) Fifth Objective:           1 photo sq (F-5)
                    Additional by A+60.        1 PB4Y sq (Air-Ech)
                                               2 troop carrier gps
                                               1 combat mapping sq (Air Ech)
                (f) As later designated.

     b. The Commanding General EIGHTH US ARMY, supported by
        the ALLIED NAVAL and AIR Forces will:

            (1) Relieve the SIXTH US ARMY of missions
                in NEW GUINEA, the ADMIRALTIES, NEW BRITAIN,
                and the MOROTAI area as later directed by this
                headquarters.
            (2) Prepare to relieve the SIXTH US ARMY in
                the VISAYAN area as later directed by this
                headquarters.
            (3) Assist the Commanding General SIXTH US ARMY
                by training, staging and mounting units of the
                SIXTH US ARMY in the EIGHTH US ARMY area of
                responsibility as arranged with the Commanding
                General SIXTH US ARMY.

     c. The FIRST AUSTRALIAN ARMY, supported by the ALLIED
        NAVAL and AIR Forces, will continue:

            (1) The defense of naval and air installations
                within assigned areas of combat responsibility.
            (2) The neutralization of Japanese forces within
                assigned areas, seizing every opportunity for
                the destruction of hostile forces.

     d. The Commander ALLIED NAVAL Forces, while continuing
        present missions, will:

            (1) Transport and establish landing forces ashore
                in the LEYTE GULF-SURIGAO STRAIT area as arranged
                with the Commanding General SIXTH US ARMY
            (2) Support the operations by:

                    (a) Providing air protection for convoys
                        and naval task forces and direct air
                        support for the landing and subsequent
                        operations, supplemented as arranged
                        with the Commander THIRD FLEET and the
                        Commander ALLIED AIR Forces.
                        (b) Arranging direct air support and cover
                        with carrier aircraft for minesweeping
                        and preliminary landings in the LEYTE
                        GULF area during the period A-2 to the
                        time escort carriers assume the mission
                        of direct support on A Day.
                    (c) Transporting supporting troops and
                        their supplies as required to the LEYTE
                        GULF-SURIGAO STRAIT area in naval assault
                        shipping.
                    (d) Denying Japanese reinforcement of
                        the LEYTE area from the SAMAR, western
                        VISAYAS and northeastern MINDANAO areas.
                    (e) Clearing the SURIGAO STRAIT area of
                        hostile naval forces and shipping and
                        sweeping the SURIGAO STRAIT to open it
                        for naval operations and shipping in
                        the CAMOTES SEA and adjacent waters,
                        in conjunction with operations of the
                        SIXTH US ARMY.

            (3) Provide submarine offensive reconnaissance
                along probable routes of hostile naval forces
                and of water-borne reinforcements and supplies.
            (4) Provide lifeguard services as required.
            (5) Transfer to the Commander ALLIED AIR Forces
                the mission of direct air support when land-based
                fighters and light bombers are established in
                the LEYTE area, at a time as arranged with the
                Commander ALLIED AIR Forces.
            (6) Escort and protect shipping on the lines of
                communication into the LEYTE and SAMAR areas.
            (7) Establish in VISAYAN waters, naval forces
                required to support current and future operations.

     e. The Commander ALLIED AIR Forces, while continuing
        present missions, will:

            (1) Support the operation by:

                    (a) Providing aerial reconnaissance and
                        photography as required.
                    (b) Neutralizing, in coordination
                        with carrier and land-based aircraft
                        of the THIRD FLEET, hostile naval and
                        air forces in areas within range in the
                        PHILIPPINE ARCHIPELAGO, intensifying the
                        neutralization in the western VISAYAS
                        and MINDANAO areas from D-9 to cover the
                        movement of naval forces, the landing and
                        subsequent operations. (Cooperation of
                        air operations of the THIRD FLEET and
                        SOUTHWEST PACIFIC Air Forces will be
                        published later.)
                    (c) Providing protection of convoys and
                        naval forces and direct support of the
                        landing and subsequent operations within
                        capabilities and as requested by Commander
                        ALLIED NAVAL Forces.
                    (d) Assuming the mission of direct support
                        of the operations in the LEYTE-SAMAR area
                        at the earliest practicable date after
                        the establishment of fighters and light
                        bombers in the LEYTE area, as arranged
                        with the Commander ALLIED NAVAL Forces.

            (2) Continuing the destruction of hostile naval
                and air forces and shipping in the ARAFURA and
                CELEBES SEA areas and by initiating strikes on
                northeastern BORNEO and the SULU ARCHIPELAGO at
                the earliest practicable date; denying use of naval
                facilities in the SULU ARCHIPELAGO to the Japanese
                and protecting the western flank of the operation.
            (3) Destroying hostile installations and sources of
                war materials in Eastern NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES.
            (4) Establishing and operating radar and air
                warning facilities as required in the LEYTE-SAMAR
                area, as arranged with the Commanding General
                SIXTH US ARMY.
                (5) Establishing air forces in the LEYTE area in
                the priority as listed in paragraph 3a (8).

        x.  (1) For the coordination of planning the Commander
                ALLIED NAVAL and AIR Forces will cause their
                respective close support commanders to report
                to the Commanding General SIXTH US ARMY, who is
                charged with the coordination of plans.
            (2) A brief of the coordinated plan of operations
                will be furnished this headquarters by the
                Commanding General SIXTH US ARMY by 5 October 1944.
            (3) Commanders ALLIED NAVAL and AIR Forces,
                SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA, will submit to this
                headquarters by 1 October 1944 their respective
                plans for general support to be afforded by their
                forces during the period of operations.
            (4) During the amphibious movement and landing,
                the Commander Naval Attack Forces is in command of
                the amphibious operations; his command continues
                until the landing forces are established
                ashore. Command of the forces ashore is then
                passed to the Landing Force Commanders. The exact
                time of transfer of command from the Commanders
                Landing Forces will be announced by radio. The
                controlling considerations for fixing the time
                when the landing forces are established ashore
                will be as agreed by the Commander ALLIED NAVAL
                Forces and the Commanding General SIXTH US ARMY,
                and will be announced by them to this headquarters
                and appropriate subordinates.
            (5) For coordination of land-based and naval
                aircraft in support of the operation, see Standing
                Operating Procedure Instructions Number 16/1,
                this headquarters, dated 10 August 1944.
            (6) To coordinate the attack of THIRD FLEET
                carrier aircraft, the Commander ALLIED NAVAL
                Forces, in concert with the Commander ALLIED AIR
                Forces and Commanding General SIXTH US ARMY,
                will furnish the Commander THIRD FLEET at the
                earliest practicable date the following:

                    (a) Schedule and tracks of echelons.
                    (b) Target maps of air and surface bombardment.
                    (c) Communication plans.
                    (d) Naval gunfire plans.
                    (e) Other plans and data necessary for the
                        support of the operation by the
                        fastcarrier forces.

            (7) Areas of responsibility for naval and air
                operations of the THIRD FLEET and SOUTHWEST
                PACIFIC Forces will be designated later.
            (8) Instructions for long range reconnaissance,
                and bombing and attack restrictions will be issued
                in subsequent Operations Instructions.
            (9) Annex No. 1 indicates the tentative troop
                list for the Operation, and Annex 2 indicates
                the troop movements for the concentration.

4. See Annex No. 4--Logistics. (to be issued later)

5.  a. See Annex No. 5--Communications.
    b. Command Posts.

            PACIFIC OCEAN AREAS--HAWAII
            THIRD FLEET--AFLOAT
            GENERAL HEADQUARTERS, SOUTHWEST PACIFIC
            AREA--HOLLANDIA

                    Rear Echelon--BRISBANE
                    Advanced Echelon--LEYTE (date and hour
                    of opening to be announced later)

            SIXTH US ARMY--LEYTE (as announced by Commanding
            General SIXTH US ARMY)

                    Rear Echelon--HOLLANDIA

            FIRST AUSTRALIAN ARMY--LAE
            EIGHTH US ARMY--HOLLANDIA
            ALLIED NAVAL FORCES--HOLLANDIA

                    Rear Echelon--BRISBANE

            ALLIED AIR FORCES--HOLLANDIA

                    Rear Echelon--BRISBANE

            UNITED STATES ARMY SERVICES OF SUPPLY--HOLLANDIA

                    Rear Echelon--BRISBANE


By command of General MacARTHUR:


R. K. SUTHERLAND,
Lieutenant General, U. S. Army,
Chief of Staff.


OFFICIAL:
/s/ S. J. Chamberlin,
S. J. CHAMBERLIN,
Major General, G.S.C.,
Asst. Chief of Staff, G-3.
ANNEXES: (Omitted)



LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS


AA             Antiaircraft
AAF            Army Air Forces
Admin O        Administrative Order
AFPAC          U.S. Army Forces, Pacific
AGO            Adjutant General's Office
AGS SWPA       Allied Geographic Section, Southwest Pacific Area
AGWAR          Adjutant General, War Department
AIB GHQ SWPA   Allied Intelligence Bureau, General Headquarters
               Southwest Pacific Area
AKA            Cargo Ship, attack
Amph           Amphibious, amphibian
APA            Transport, attack
APH            Transport for wounded
Arty           Artillery
ASCOM          Army Service Command
ATIS           Allied Translator and Interpreter Section
BAR            Browning automatic rifle
Bn             Battalion
Br             Branch
Bull           Bulletin
Cav            Cavalry
CCS            Combined Chiefs of Staff
CG             Commanding General
CINC           Commander in Chief
CINCPAC        Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet
CINCPOA        Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Area
CINCSWPA       Commander in Chief, Southwest Pacific Area
CM-IN          Classified Message, incoming
CM-OUT         Classified Message, outgoing
CO             Commanding Officer
CofS           Chief of Staff
Com3dFlt       Commander, Third Fleet
COMINCH        Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet
CTF            Commander, task force
CTG            Commander, task group
CTU            Commander, task unit
CVE            Aircraft carrier, escort
Div            Division
DNI            Division of Naval Intelligence
DUKW           Amphibian, 2 1/2-ton, 6 × 6 truck, used for short runs
               from ship to shore
Engr           Engineer
ESB            Engineer Special Brigade
FA             Field Artillery
FE             Far East
FEAF           Far East Air Forces
FEC            Far East Command
Flt            Fleet
FM             Field Manual
FO             Field Order
G-2            Intelligence section of divisional or higher staff
G-3            Operations section of divisional or higher staff
G-4            Supply section of divisional or higher staff
GHQ SWPA       General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area
Gp             Group
GS             General Staff
Hist           History, historical
Hq             Headquarters
HRS DRB AGO    Historical Records Section, Departmental Records Branch,
               Adjutant General's Office
Inf            Infantry
I&HS           Information and Historical Service
Instns         Instructions
Intel          Intelligence
JCS            Joint Chiefs of Staff
Jnl            Journal
LCI            Landing craft, infantry
LCI (R)        Landing craft, infantry (rocket)
LCM            Landing craft, mechanized
LCM (R)        Landing craft, mechanized (rocket)
Log            Logistics
LSD            Landing ship, dock
LSM            Landing ship, medium
LST            Landing ship, tank
Ltr            Letter
LVT            Landing vehicle, tracked
M29            Weasel
MC             Medical Corps
MI             Military Intelligence
Mil            Military
Msg            Message
Mtg            Meeting
OCMH           Office of the Chief of Military History
OCNO           Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Off            Officer
ONI            Office of Naval Intelligence
OP             Observation post
OPD            Operations Division, War Department General Staff
Opns           Operations
PCE (R)        Patrol craft, escort (rescue)
POL            Petrol oil and lubricants
Prcht          Parachute
QM             Quartermaster
Rad            Radiogram
Rcds           Records
Regt           Regiment
Rpt            Report
S-2            Intelligence section of regimental or lower staff
S-3            Operations section of regimental or lower staff
Sec            Section
Ser            Series
Sq             Squadron
SSUSA          Special Staff, U.S. Army
Stf            Staff
SWPA           Southwest Pacific Area
Tel Conf       Teletype Conference
USA            U.S. Army
USASOS         U.S. Army Services of Supply
USMC           U.S. Marine Corps
USN            U.S. Navy
USNR           U.S. Naval Reserve
USSBS          U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey
WD             War Department
WDGS           War Department General Staff
Wkly           Weekly



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE


Records and studies on the Leyte operation fall into eleven general
classes: Joint Chiefs of Staff records, U.S. Army Air Forces records,
U.S. Army records, U.S. Marine Corps records, U.S. Navy records,
guerrilla records, Japanese studies, interviews, manuscript histories,
special studies, and published works.



Joint Chiefs of Staff Records

The official records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as those of
the Combined Chiefs of Staff, are now in the custody of the Research
Analysis Section, Joint Chiefs of Staff. They consist primarily of
the formal papers and minutes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. An almost
complete file of these JCS and CCS papers and minutes was kept for
the Army during the wartime period by the Operations Division of the
War Department General Staff and is now in the possession of the G-3
Division, the successor to the Operations Division. This Army file
contains plans for projected operations, the working papers of the Army
planning personnel, and correspondence with officers in the Pacific
theaters, as well as the copies of the JCS and CCS minutes and papers.



Army Air Forces Records

The archives of the United States Army Air Forces contain manuscript
histories of the various units and commands, written during or shortly
after the war. The quality of these varies considerably. The following
histories are of especial value for a study of the Leyte Campaign:
those of the 7th, 8th, and 9th Fighter Squadrons of the 49th Fighter
Group, 86th Fighter Wing, V Fighter Command, Fifth Air Force; V Fighter
Command; V Bomber Command; XIII Bomber Command; Fifth Air Force;
Thirteenth Air Force; and Far East Air Forces. Two studies are also
useful: Far East Air Forces Staff Study Operation KING II, 12 July
44; and Fifth Air Force Fighter Cover Plan for Ormoc Bay Operation,
file 731.326.



Army Records

The voluminous Army records on the Leyte Campaign vary considerably
in quality and content. The documents range from messages between
the Chief of Staff and theater commanders to company journals.

The Chief of Staff's Log, 1944, which is in the Staff Communications
Office, Office of the Chief of Staff, contains the daily high level
radiograms and telephonic communications between Washington and
the theaters. These give a concise daily summary of the strategic
situation throughout the world, shed considerable light on joint and
combined command, and summarize important plans and decisions.

Most of the records of General MacArthur's headquarters are in
Japan. Available in the Historical Records Section of the Adjutant
General's Office is a nearly complete file of the G-3 journals
for the entire war period. The "Top Secret" messages are not
included. In addition there is a nearly complete file of Allied
Translator Interpreter Section, GHQ SWPA, "Current Translations" and
"Enemy Publications." The Allied Geographical Section, GHQ SWPA,
made terrain studies of the geographical regions in the Southwest
Pacific Area. Although they contain errors three of these were of
value--Special Report 55, Airfields, Landing Beaches and Roads,
Samar, Leyte and Dinagat Group, 10 July 1944; Terrain Study 84,
Leyte Province, 17 August 1944; and Terrain Handbook 34, Tacloban,
25 September 1944. The Military Intelligence Section prepared
information bulletins on the guerrillas that were of some use. These
are: The Resistance Movement on Leyte Island, 7 October 1944, and
The Resistance Movement on Samar Island, 10 October 1944.

The records of the Sixth Army for the campaign are very complete and
in excellent condition. In addition to a fine operations report, there
are complete G-2, G-3, and G-4 journals. These journals contain the
daily messages, reports, and memoranda exchanged between Sixth Army,
General Headquarters, responsible naval commanders, and subordinate
units of the Sixth Army, as well as planning papers, periodic reports
of Sixth Army and subordinate units, field and administrative orders,
interrogations, and estimates of the enemy situation. For the period
after 26 December 1944 the operations report of the Eighth Army
is useful.

The operations report of the X Corps is helpful but too brief. The
journals (G-2, G-3, and G-4) of the corps, however, are good. The XXIV
Corps prepared an inadequate and incomplete operations report and its
journals as a whole are inferior to those of the X Corps. The sections
and sub-sections of the headquarters of the XXIV Corps completed
"histories." These consist mainly of photographs of individuals and
notations of changes in personnel. The "history" of the Sixth Army
Service Command is poor and there are few records of ASCOM in the
Historical Records Section, Adjutant General's Office.

The records of the 1st Cavalry Division and subordinate units are
generally adequate, although those of the two brigades are inferior
to those of the division and of the regiments. The narrative of the
operations report of the 7th Division is inferior but the appendixes
are excellent and very complete; the journals of the division are
good. In general the operations reports and journals of the infantry
regiments are very helpful. The operations report of the 32d Infantry
is excellent and a model for a perfect regimental operations report. In
contrast, the operations reports and journals of the 11th Airborne
Division and subordinate units are very poor and incomplete. The 24th
Infantry Division prepared a superb operations report and kept good
journals. The records of the regiments of the division are sparse
and incomplete and their operations reports are either inadequate or
nonexistent. The records and operations reports of the 32d Division
and its regiments are extremely sketchy and inexact. The 38th Division
used Leyte as a staging area; when the Japanese parachuted into the
Burauen airfields, its 149th Infantry was committed. The operations
report of that regiment for the resultant action is far too brief. The
77th Infantry Division and its regiments have very good operations
reports but their journals are inadequate. The operations reports and
journals of the 96th Division are good. The journals and operations
reports of the Americal Division are only fairly good. There are
"histories" and operations reports of small independent or attached
units, but these are frequently one to three pages in length and very
incomplete. Finally, it should be noted that the operations reports
of the various artillery units are in the main poor and incomplete
and the journals are highly technical.



Marine Records

Special Action Report of Corps Artillery, V Amphibious Corps, 28
December 1944.



Navy Records

The naval records that were consulted include the operation plans and
reports by naval commanders. Copies of most of these are among the
records of the Historical Records Section, Adjutant General's Office,
Department of the Army. All of the documents are in the files of the
Office of the Naval Records and Library, Department of the Navy.



Guerrilla Records

There is in the Office of the Chief of Military History a large,
completely disorganized collection of heterogeneous materials by and
about the guerrillas in the Philippine Islands. These are incomplete,
inadequate, and controversial. Some of the guerrilla bands had no
records and all that is known of others is from violently prejudiced
sources. Some of the American guerrillas published books on their
experiences. These are impressionistic, generally replete with
derring-do, and consequently possess scant value as sources. The
Combat History Division, G-1 Section, AFWESPAC, prepared a four-volume
work--"Triumph in the Philippines," the third volume of which, entitled
"Guerrillas: Enemy Occupation," is colorful, but poor history.



Japanese Studies

At the cessation of hostilities, General MacArthur ordered the former
Japanese War and Navy Ministries to prepare studies on Japanese plans
and operations in World War II. The resulting studies, translations and
originals, of which those mentioned below deal with the Leyte Campaign,
are on file with the Office of the Chief of Military History. Although
there are errors in dates, designations of units, and frequently in
facts, these are the best sources for information on Japanese plans
and operations. An exception is the independent study by General
Tomochika, which despite its garish title is very good and contains
much human interest. Tomochika, evidently a man of strong prejudices,
at times was unduly critical of some of his fellow officers. Japanese
Studies used in this volume are:

Tomochika, Maj. Gen. Yoshiharu, The True Facts of the Leyte Operation,
typescript of translation, 10th I&HS, Eighth Army, 3 December 1946

Japanese Studies in World War II, 5, 4th Air Army Operations, 1914-45

----, 7, 14th Army Operations on Leyte

----, 11, 35th Army Operations, 1944-45

----, 14, Naval Operations in the Philippine Area, 1942-45

----, 21, History of the Southern Army, 1941-45

----, 72, History of the Army Section, Imperial General Headquarters,
1941-45

----, 102, Philippine Area Naval Operations, October 1944-December
1944, Part II, The Battle of Leyte Gulf



Interviews

The following U.S. Army officers furnished the author valuable
information on the Leyte Campaign: Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger,
Maj. Gen. George H. Decker, Col. W. J. Verbeck, Col. Fred Weber,
Col. Sidney F. Mashbir, Col. John M. Finn, Capt. Francis Cronin,
Capt. Robert Ross Smith, and 1st Lt. James J. Frangie. Fleet Admiral
William D. Leahy, Lt. Comdr. Henry M. Dater, Lt. Comdr. Russell
L. Harris, Lt. Comdr. Philip A. Crowl and Lt. Roger Pineau of the
U.S. Navy were very co-operative, helping to clear up moot points
that arose. Capt. Samuel E. Morison furnished information on the
Pearl Harbor Conference of July 1944.



Manuscript Histories

There are in the files of the Office, Chief of Military History,
the following manuscript histories of certain phases of the campaign:

Dean, Captain Tucker--The Liberation of Leyte. A preliminary work
based principally upon the earlier study by Capt. Russell A. Gugeler.

Gugeler, Captain Russell A.--The 7th Division on Leyte. A good study
although poorly documented.

History of the Engineer Corps in the Southwest Pacific, Chapter VI,
Philippine Campaign.



Special Studies

There are available in the Office, Chief of Military History, copies
of special studies that bear upon the Leyte Campaign. As a group they
are capably done, although, of course, some are better than others.

Air Evaluation Board, POA, Leyte Campaign, 1944. Highly critical of
Army close air support.

Committee 16, Officers Advanced Course, The Armored School, Fort Knox,
Kentucky, Armor on Leyte, May 1949.

Division of Naval Intelligence, Office of the Chief of Naval
Operations, O. N. I. No. 93, Field Monograph of the Philippines,
3 parts, III, Visayan Islands, January 1944.

Grigg, Maj. Martin C., The Operations of the 1st Battalion, 149th
Infantry ... in the Battle for the Buri Airstrip ... Advanced Infantry
Officers Class, 1948-1949, The Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia.

MacLaughlin, Maj. Charles V., Operation of the XXIV Corps in the
Invasion of Leyte Island, Advanced Infantry Officers Class, 1947-1948,
The Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia.

Military Intelligence Division, War Department, "Leyte Field
Fortifications," Tactical and Technical Trends, April 1945.

Military Intelligence Service, General Staff, War Department, Survey
of the Philippines, 3 volumes, 15 February 1943.

National War College, Analytical Study, Japanese Opposition at Leyte
and Okinawa, 1948.

Fellers, Col. Bonner F., Psychological Warfare in the Southwest
Pacific Area, 1944-45, 15 March 1946.

Staff Study of Operations of the Japanese 35th Army on Leyte,
typescript of translation,  10th I&HS, Eighth Army (not dated),
4 parts.

Staff Study of Operations of the Japanese 102d Division on Leyte and
Cebu, typescript of translation, 10th I&HS, Eighth Army (not dated).

United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Employment of Forces Under
the Southwest Pacific Command, February 1947.

Williams, Maj. E., Intelligence Activities During the Japanese
Occupation (not dated).



Publications

Arnold, General Henry H., Global Mission (New York, Harper and
Brothers, 1949).

Cronin, Capt. Francis D., Under the Southern Cross, The Saga of the
Americal Division (Washington, Combat Forces Press, 1951).

Davidson, Orlando R., Williams, J. Carl, and Kahl, Joseph A.,
The Deadeyes: The Story of the 96th Infantry Division (Washington,
Infantry Journal Press (now Combat Forces Press), 1947). A divisional
history definitely above the average.

Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., The Army Air Forces
in World War II: V, The Pacific: Matterhorn to Nagasaki (Chicago,
University of Chicago Press, 1953).

Eichelberger, Robert L., Our Jungle Road to Tokyo (New York, The
Viking Press, 1950).

Field, James A., Jr., The Japanese at Leyte Gulf, The Sho Operation
(Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1947). An excellent study
based upon Japanese documents and interrogations. There are many
superb photographs, maps, and charts.

Flanagan, Maj. Edward M., Jr., The Angels: A History of the 11th
Airborne Division, 1943-1946 (Washington, Infantry Journal Press,
1948). A popular history written for the men of the division.

Halsey, Fleet Admiral William F., and Bryan, Lt. Comdr. J., Admiral
Halsey's Story (New York, Whittlesey House, 1947). An interesting and
popular account, of value in showing Halsey's strong interest in an
early return to the Philippines.

Johansen, Maj. Herbert O., "Banzai at Burauen," Air Force, XXVIII,
3 (March, 1945). A popular account based entirely on American sources.

Kenney, George C., General Kenney Reports (New York, Duell, Sloan
and Pearce, 1949).

Karig, Capt. Walter, USNR, Harris, Lt. Comdr. Russell L., and Manson,
Lt. Comdr. Frank A., Battle Report, Victory in the Pacific (New York
and Toronto, Rhinehart and Co., Inc., 1949) (5 vols.), V. A highly
readable journalistic salty account based upon documentary sources
and interviews. There are many excellent photographs.

Leahy, Fleet Admiral William D., I Was There (New York, Whittlesey
House, 1950). Excellent. Based entirely on his diary and notes written
at the time.

Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, July
1, 1943, to June 30, 1945, to the Secretary of War (Washington, 1945).

The Medal of Honor (Washington, 1948). A history of the Congressional
Medal of Honor and the official citations of the men who had been
awarded the medal.

Morton, Louis, "American and Allied Strategy in the Far East,"
Military Review, XXIX, 12 (December, 1949). An excellent analysis of
prewar strategy up to the summer of 1941.

Reel, A. Frank, The Case of General Yamashita (Chicago, The University
of Chicago Press, 1949). An able pleading for General Yamashita by
one of his defense counsel at his trial as a war criminal.

Sturgis, Brig. Gen. S. D., Jr., "Engineer Operations in the Leyte
Campaign," reprint from The Military Engineer, November, December 1947,
and January 1948.

United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Pacific, Naval Analysis
Division, prepared two studies on the Pacific campaigns which are
valuable for the student of the Leyte operation. The Campaigns of
the Pacific War (Washington, 1946) is excellent for a study of the
Battle of Leyte Gulf. The Interrogations of Japanese Officials (2
vols., n. d.) contains much highly important material but it should
be remembered that the interrogated Japanese officers were naturally
desirous of making a good case for themselves and at the same time
were anxious to give an answer which would please the interrogator.

Valtin, Jan [Richard J. Krebs], Children of Yesterday (New York, The
Reader's Press, 1946). An excellent popular account of the activities
of the 24th Division.

Verbeck, Col. W. J., A Regiment in Action, (n. p., n. d., privately
printed, copy in OCMH). The story of the 21st Infantry Regiment which
consists mainly of excerpts from the operations reports and journals
of higher echelons.

Woodward, C. Vann, The Battle for Leyte Gulf (New York, The Macmillan
Co., 1947). An extremely readable popular account based upon
American and Japanese sources and interviews with which Dr. Woodward
became acquainted while an officer on duty with the Office of Naval
Intelligence during the war. The book is valuable in spite of a few
minor errors of fact.



UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II

The multivolume series, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II, consists
of a number of subseries which are tentatively planned as follows:
The War Department, The Army Air Forces, The Army Ground Forces,
The Army Service Forces, The Defense of the Western Hemisphere, The
War in the Pacific, The European Theater of Operations, The War in
the Mediterranean, The Middle East Theater, The China-Burma-India
Theater, Civil Affairs, The Technical Services, Special Studies,
and Pictorial Record.

The following volumes have been published or are in press: [1226]


The War Department

  Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and Preparations
  Washington Command Post: The Operations Division
  Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare: 1941-1942


The Army Ground Forces

  The Organization of Ground Combat Troops
  The Procurement and Training of Ground Combat Troops


The Army Service Forces

  The Organization and Role of the Army Service Forces


The War in the Pacific

  Okinawa: The Last Battle
  Guadalcanal: The First Offensive
  The Approach to the Philippines
  The Fall of the Philippines
  Leyte: The Return to the Philippines


The European Theater of Operations

  The Lorraine Campaign
  Cross-Channel Attack
  Logistical Support of the Armies (Volume I)
  The Supreme Command


The Middle East Theater

  The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia


The China-Burma-India Theater

  Stilwell's Mission to China


The Technical Services

  The Transportation Corps: Responsibilities, Organization, and
  Operations
  The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services, Volume I
  The Ordnance Department: Planning Munitions for War


Special Studies

  Three Battles: Arnaville, Altuzzo, and Schmidt
  The Women's Army Corps


Pictorial Record

  The War Against Germany and Italy: Mediterranean and Adjacent Areas
  The War Against Germany: Europe and Adjacent Areas
  The War Against Japan



NOTES


[1] Maj. Gen. Orlando Ward was succeeded by General Smith on 1
February 1953.

[2] Philippine Municipal Government Reports, Folder 2, App. DD,
Guerrilla File 6910.23 (B), Military Intelligence (MI) Library.

[3] Louis Morton, "American and Allied Strategy in the Far East,"
Military Review, XXIX (December, 1949), 38.

[4] The Joint Chiefs of Staff were General George C. Marshall, Chief of
Staff, United States Army; Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief,
U.S. Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations; General Henry H. Arnold,
Commanding General, Army Air Forces; and Admiral William D. Leahy,
Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief--the President of the United
States. The Joint Chiefs were responsible for the conduct of the war
in the Pacific, subject to the decisions of the Combined Chiefs of
Staff. The latter were representatives of the United States and the
United Kingdom. The Joint Chiefs represented the United States.

[5] Memo, Gen Marshall and Admiral King for President, 30 Mar 42,
no sub, and two incls, "Directive to the Commander in Chief of
the Pacific Ocean Area" and "Directive to Supreme Commander in the
Southwest Pacific," OPD ABC 323.31 POA (1-29-42), 1-B.

[6] JCS 287/1, Strategic Plan for the Defeat of Japan, 8 May 43;
CCS 417, Over-all Plan for the Defeat of Japan, 2 Dec 43.

[7] United States Strategic Bombing Survey [USSBS], Military Analysis
Division, Employment of Forces Under the Southwest Pacific Command
(Washington, 1947), p. 32.

[8] JCS to CINCSWPA, CM-IN 5137, 12 Mar 44. CM-IN and CM-OUT numbers
used in the footnotes of this volume refer to numbers on copies of
those messages in General Marshall's Message Log, on file in the
Staff Communications Office, Office of the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.

[9] GHQ SWPA, RENO V, 15 Jun 44.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Rad, JCS to CINCSWPA and CINCPOA, CM-OUT 50007, 13 Jun 44.

[12] Rad, CINCSWPA to CofS, CM-IN 15058, 18 Jun 44.

[13] Rad, CINCPOA to COMINCH, CM-IN 2926, 4 Jul 44.

[14] Rad cited n. 11.

[15] Rad cited n. 12.

[16] Rad cited n. 11.

[17] Rad, CofS to CINCSWPA, CM-OUT 55718, 24 Jun 44.

[18] William F. Halsey, Admiral Halsey's Story (New York, 1947),
pp. 194-99.

[19] Ibid., p. 195.

[20] Information was furnished by Capt. Samuel Eliot Morison, USNR,
22 January 1951, who stated that Roosevelt had related the incident
to him. Lt. Gen. Robert G. Richardson, who was not present, states
that MacArthur told him that the President pointed to Mindanao when
he made his remark. Ltr, Gen Richardson to Gen Marshall, 1 Aug 44,
Book 21, OPD Exec 9.

[21] Interv with Admiral Leahy, 5 Oct 50, OCMH.

[22] Memo, COMINCH for CofS, 9 Aug 44, OPD ABC 384 Pacific (1-17-43).

[23] Interv with Admiral Leahy, 5 Oct 50, OCMH. See also, Fleet Admiral
William D. Leahy, I Was There (New York, 1950), pp. 247-52. In answer
to an inquiry about the conference made to the director of the Franklin
D. Roosevelt Library, the author was informed that "a careful search of
the papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt in this Library has not revealed
any materials that would be pertinent to the subject...." Ltr, Herman
Kahn to author, 20 Oct 50, OCMH.

[24] GHQ SWPA, MUSKETEER Plan, 10 Jul 44.

[25] Rad, JPS to Staff Planners of CINCPOA and CINCSWPA, CM-OUT 71483,
27 Jul 44.

[26] Tel conf, Washington and Brisbane, 7 Aug 44, WD-TC 797.

[27] Tel conf, Washington and Brisbane, 10 Aug 44, WD-TC 809.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Rad, CINCSWPA to CofS, CM-IN 24770, 27 Aug 44.

[30] Min, JCS 171st Mtg, 1 Sep 44.

[31] Rad, JCS to CINCSWPA and CINCPOA, CM-OUT 27648, 8 Sep 44.

[32] Rad, Com3dFlt to CINCPOA, CM-IN 13120, 14 Sep 44.

[33] Rad, Com3dFlt to CINCPOA, CINCSWPA, and COMINCH, CM-IN 12893,
13 Sep 44.

[34] Rad, Com3dFlt to CINCPOA, CM-IN 12893, 14 Sep 44.

[35] Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army,
July 1, 1943, to June 30, 1945, to the Secretary of War (Washington,
1945), p. 71.

[36] Rad, CINCSWPA to JCS, CINCPOA, and Com3dFlt, CM-IN 12636, 14
Sep 44.

[37] Rad, JCS to CINCSWPA, CINCPOA, and Com3dFlt, 15 Sep 44, OCTAGON
31-A, CofS CM-OUT Log, 15 Sep 44; Biennial Report, p. 71, cited n. 34;
General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold, Global Mission (New York,
1949), pp. 529-30.

[38] Rad, CINCSWPA to JCS, CM-IN 17744, 15 Sep 44.

[39] Rad, JCS to CINCSWPA et al., CM-OUT 40792, 3 Oct 44.

[40] MI Sec, WDGS, Survey of the Philippines, 3 vols., 15 Feb 43;
Div of Naval Intel, Office, Chief of Naval Opns, ONI 93, Field
Monograph of the Philippines, Jan 44; Allied Geographical Sec, GHQ
SWPA, Terrain Study 84, Leyte Province, 17 Aug 44; ASF Manual M365-1,
Civil Affairs Handbook, Philippine Islands, 25 Apr 44.

[41] Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 5. Unless otherwise stated the
material on terrain is based upon this report, pages 5-7.

[42] S. D. Sturgis, Jr., Brigadier General, U.S. Army Air Engineer,
USAF, Engineer Operations in the Leyte Campaign, reprinted from The
Military Engineer, November and December, 1947, and January, 1948,
p. 4.

[43] Allied Geographical Sec, GHQ SWPA, Terrain Study 84, Leyte
Province, 17 Aug 44, p. 43.

[44] Unless otherwise stated, material on the guerrillas is based
upon the Guerrilla Papers, a collection of disorganized, miscellaneous
records by and about the guerrillas in the Philippine Islands. It is
located in the Documents Files Section, G-2, Department of the Army.

The records of the Leyte guerrillas are incomplete, inadequate, and
controversial. Some of the guerrilla bands had no records, and all that
is known of others is from violently prejudiced sources. Consequently,
the full story of the guerrillas can probably never be told.

[45] 24th Div G-2 Jnl, 22 Oct 44.

[46] Miranda's rank is obscure. At various times he is referred to
as lieutenant, major, colonel, and brigadier general.

[47] MI Sec, GHQ AFPAC, Intelligence Series, Vol. II, Intelligence
Activities in the Philippines. During the Japanese Occupation
(hereafter cited as Intelligence Activities in the Philippines),
App. 7.

[48] Intelligence Activities in the Philippines, p. 56.

[49] Ibid., pp. 16-18.

[50] Memo, Col Kangleon for K-50-OCTOPUS (probably for MacArthur),
23 May 43, Guerrilla Papers.

[51] The estimates on the number of deaths vary considerably. In a
letter to President Manuel Quezon by Senator Carlos Garcia, dated 16
October 1943, the deaths are mentioned as "several"; a manuscript by
Mrs. Charlotte Martin, who was on Leyte, says "many lives were lost";
and 1st Lt. Jack Hawkins, USMC, a guerrilla, stated in December 1943
that "over three hundred casualties were suffered by the contesting
sides." Guerrilla Papers.

[52] GHQ FEC, MI Sec, GS, Messages in the Guerrilla Resistance Movement
in the Philippines, Kangleon 201 File, DRB AGO.

[53] Office of Strategic Services, Research and Analysis Br, Rpt,
Guerrilla Resistance in the Philippines, 21 Jul 44, Guerrilla Papers.

[54] ATIS, GHQ SWPA, Current Translations, 148, 6 Feb 45.

[55] ATIS, SWPA, Enemy Publications 359, Guerrilla Activities in the
Philippines, 2 parts, 28 Apr 45, passim, DRB AGO. Any resemblance
between the Japanese figures and those in Kangleon's reports is
purely coincidental.

[56] MI Sec, GHQ SWPA, G-2 Info Bull, The Resistance Movement on
Leyte Island, 7 Oct 44, Doc Files Sec, G-2, Dept of Army.

[57] Intelligence Activities in the Philippines, p. 5.

[58] Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton considered Villamor "the most daring
of the Filipino pilots." Lewis H. Brereton, The Brereton Diaries
(New York, 1946), p. 58.

[59] Interv with Maj Villamor, 12 Oct 50.

[60] The party consisted of Major Villamor, 1st Lt. R. C. Ignacio,
2d Lt. D. C. Yuhico, 2d Lt. E. F. Quinto, Sgt. P. Jorge, and
Sgt. D. Malie.

[61] AIB, GHQ SWPA, Instructions to Maj Villamor, 27 Dec 42,
Guerrilla Papers.

[62] Villamor Rpt on Intel Net in Philippines, Guerrilla Papers.

[63] Intelligence Activities in the Philippines, p. 77.

[64] Ibid., App. 2. The number of men and the amount and kinds of
supplies are not given.

[65] Ibid., App. 1.

[66] Ibid., passim.

[67] GHQ FEC, MI Sec, GS, A Brief History of the G-2 Section, GHQ SWPA,
and Affiliated Units, Plate 10, facing p. 32, copy in OCMH.

[68] Office, Chief of Naval Opns, Guerrilla Activities in the
Philippines, 14 Sep 44, file OP-16 FE.

[69] Unless otherwise stated this section is based upon a report by
Col H. V. White, G-2 Sixth Army, sub: G-2 Est of Enemy Sit, 20 Sep 44,
Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 167-70.

[70] GHQ SWPA Philippine Monthly Combined Sitrep, 15 Jun 44, GHQ G-3
Jnl, 15 Jun 44.

[71] GHQ SWPA Philippine Islands, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit 4, 11-17 Jun
44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 17 Jun 44; GHQ SWPA Philippine Islands, G-2 Est of
Enemy Sit 5, 18-24 Jun 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 24 Jun 44; AAF SWPA Intel
Sum, Ser 216, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 13 Jun 44; GHQ SWPA Philippine Islands,
G-2 Est of Enemy Sit 6, 25 Jun-1 Jul 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 1 Jul 44; GHQ
SWPA Philippine Islands, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit 7, 2-8 Jul 44, GHQ G-3
Jnl, 8 Jul 44; AAF SWPA Intel Sum, Ser 225, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 14 Jul 44.

[72] AAF SWPA Intel Sum, Ser 228, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 25 Jul 44.

[73] Notes, WIDEAWAKE Conference, 20 Jul 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 24 Jul 44.

[74] Sixth Army G-2 Est of Enemy Sit, 20 Sep 44, Sixth Army Opns Rpt
Leyte, p. 170.

[75] GHQ SWPA Warning Instns 5, 31 Aug 44.

[76] GHQ SWPA Warning Instns 5/1, 15 Sep 44.

[77] GHQ SWPA Stf Study, King II, 4th ed., 20 Sep 44. This study was
not a directive but a basis for planning the operation.

[78] CINCPAC-CINCPOA Opn Plan 8-44, quoted in Annex A, CINCPAC-CINCPOA
Opns in POA, Oct 44, pp. 56-57, A-16-3/FF12, Ser 00397, 31 May 45.

[79] Sixth Army FO 25, 23 Sep 44, Annexes 6a-6f.

[80] Hist Div, Dept of the Army, Combat Chronicle, An Outline History
of U.S. Army Divisions, passim, OCMH.

[81] CTF 77 Opns Plan, Ser 00022A, 26 Sep 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 6 Oct 44;
CINCPAC-CINCPOA Opn Plan 8-44, cited n. 10, above.

[82] GHQ SWPA Opns Instns 70, 21 Sep 44.

[83] Ibid.

[84] AAF SWPA Opns Instns 71, 24 Sep 44.

[85] FEAF, History of Far East Air Forces, I, 117, AAF Hist Archives.

[86] CANF SWPA Opns Plan 13-44, 26 Sep 44.

[87] Ibid., Apps. 1 and 2 to Annex C.

[88] Ibid., App. 3 to Annex E.

[89] Ibid., App. 1 to Annex E.

[90] CINCPAC-CINCPOA Opn Plan 8-44, cited n. 10, above.

[91] GHQ SWPA Opns Instns 70, 21 Sep 44.

[92] CANF SWPA Opns Plan 13-44, 26 Sep 44.

[93] Memo, Rear Adm Forrest P. Sherman, Plans Off POA, and Maj Gen
Stephen J. Chamberlin, ACofS G-3 SWPA, for CINCSWPA and CINCPOA,
21 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 21 Sep 44.

[94] Ibid.

[95] Sixth Army FO 25, 23 Sep 44.

[96] Ibid.; Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 23.

[97] X Corps FO 1, 30 Sep 44; 1st Cav Div FO 1, 2 Oct 44; 24th Inf
Div FO 1, 1 Oct 44.

[98] XXIV Corps FO 3, 28 Sep 44; 96th Div FO 2, 10 Oct 44; 7th Div
FO 9,1 Oct 44.

[99] Sixth Army FO 25, 23 Sep 44.

[100] Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 23.

[101] Ibid.

[102] Ibid.

[103] Ibid., p. 20.

[104] Ibid., p. 24.

[105] Ibid., p. 19.

[106] Sixth Army FO 25, 23 Sep 44.

[107] Memo, Col Ely, Exec Off, Sixth Army Engineer, for Col Samuel
D. Sturgis, Jr., Sixth Army Engineer; Air Evaluation Board SWPA,
The Leyte Campaign, pp. 400-403.

[108] Interv with Maj Gen George H. Decker, formerly CofS Sixth Army,
7 Sep 51.

[109] MI, GS, GHQ FEC, History of the United States Army Forces in
the Far East 1943-1945, p. 69.

[110] Sixth Army Admin O 14, 30 Sep 44.

[111] Sixth Army Admin O 14, Annex 4, 30 Sep 44.

[112] Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 24.

[113] XXIV Corps Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 35.

[114] Ibid.

[115] Sixth Army Admin O 14, 30 Sep 44.

[116] GHQ SWPA Opns Instns 70, Annex 4, 21 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl,
21 Sep 44.

[117] Ibid., p. 18.

[118] Rad, CINCPOA to CINCSWPA, 16119, 19 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl,
19 Sep 44; Info Rad, CINCSWPA to CINCPOA, CX 18072, 20 Sep 44, Sixth
Army G-3 Jnl, 21 Sep 44.

[119] Memo, Adm Sherman, Plans Off POA, and Gen Chamberlin, ACofS
G-3 SWPA, for CINCSWPA and CINCPOA, 21 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl,
22 Sep 44.

[120] Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 19.

[121] GHQ SWPA Opns Instns 70, Annex 4, 21 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl,
21 Sep 44.

[122] Ltr, GHQ SWPA to Comdr Allied Naval Forces, 23 Sep 44, Sixth
Army G-3 Jnl, 26 Sep 44.

[123] Ltr, Lt Col James W. Hill, Asst AG Sixth Army to CINCSWPA and
CG USASOS, 25 Sep 44, sub: Heavy Shipping Requirements for King II
Operation, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 25 Sep 44.

[124] Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, Rpt of Transportation Off, p. 270.

[125] CTF 77 Attack Plan A304-44, 2 Oct 44.

[126] Rads, CG Sixth Army to CG X Corps, CG XXIV Corps, CG ASCOM, CO
21st Inf Regt, and CO 6th Ranger Inf Bn, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 8 Oct 44.

[127] Rad, CG Sixth Army to GHQ SWPA, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 10 Oct 44.

[128] Opns Rpt CTF 78 to COMINCH, Ser 00911, 10 Nov 44.

[129] Rpt, Capt Ray Tarbuck, USN, 3 Nov 44, GHQ SWPA G-3 Jnl, 30 Oct
44. (Hereafter cited as Tarbuck Rpt.)

[130] Opns Rpt CTF 78 to COMINCH, Ser 00911, 10 Nov 44.

[131] 96th Inf Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 20.

[132] 7th Inf Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 2.

[133] XXIV Corps Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 4.

[134] 96th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 25.

[135] XXIV Corps Hist Rpt for 1944, Sec Histories, History of the
Adjutant Generals Section from 8 April to 31 December 1944, pp. 10-11.

[136] Tarbuck Rpt.

[137] Ibid.

[138] CTF 77 Opns Rpt, Ser 00302-C, 31 Jan 45.

[139] CINCPAC and CINCPOA Rpt Opns in POA in Oct 44, Ser 002397,
31 May 45.

[140] USSBS, Employment of Forces Under the Southwest Pacific Command,
p. 40.

[141] Japanese Studies in World War II, 14, Naval Air Operations in
the Philippine Area, 1942-45, p. 18. (Monograph numbers cited in this
volume are file designations used by OCMH.)

[142] GHQ SWPA Sum of Enemy Sit 894, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 2 Sep 44.

[143] Ibid.

[144] GHQ SWPA, Philippine Islands, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit 16, 3-9 Sep
44; 905, 13-14 Sep 44; 914, 22-23 Sep 44; 916, 24-25 Sep 44; and 907,
15-16 Sep 44; GHQ G-3 Jnl, 9-25 Sep 44.

[145] CINCPAC and CINCPOA Rpt on Opns in POA in Oct 44, Ser 002397,
31 May 45.

[146] Japanese Studies in WW II, 102, Philippine Area Naval Operations,
Oct-Dec 44, Part II, The Battle of Leyte Gulf, pp. 4-11. (Hereafter
cited as Philippine Naval Opns.)

[147] USSBS, Naval Analysis Div, The Campaigns of the Pacific War
(Washington, 1946), p. 283.

[148] Philippine Naval Opns, pp. 5, 85-86.

[149] AAF SWPA Intel Sum, Ser 247, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 29 Oct 44.

[150] AAF SWPA Intel Sum, Ser 246, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 22 Oct 44.

[151] Rad, Com3rdFlt to CINCPAC-CINCSWPA, 170352 Oct 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl,
17 Oct 44.

[152] Rad, Com3rdFlt to CINCPAC and var., H 2692, 0321,15 Oct 44,
AAF Hist Archives.

[153] Air Evaluation Bd SWPA Rpt, Leyte Campaign--Philippines, 1944,
p. 16.

[154] Hist of FEAF, pp. 261-63, AAF Hist Archives.

[155] Air Evaluation Bd SWPA Rpt, p. 16.

[156] Rad, Com3rd Flt to CTG 38.1, 160216, 16 Oct 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl,
17 Oct 44.

[157] Tarbuck Rpt.

[158] CTG 77.4 Opns Rpt, Ser 00120, 15 Nov 44.

[159] Japanese Studies in WW II, 72, Hist of Army Section, Imperial
General Headquarters, 1941-45, p. 131. (Hereafter cited as Hist of
Army Sec, Imperial GHQ.)

[160] Ibid., pp. 131-32.

[161] Japanese Studies in WW II, 6, 14th Area Army Plans,
1944. (Hereafter cited as 14th Area Army Plans.)

[162] The organization of Japanese forces is discussed in detail in
Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ.

[163] Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, pp. 140-41.

[164] Interv, 2d Lt Stanley L. Falk with General Kuroda, at Sugamo
Prison, Tokyo, 13 Jun 47, copy in OCMH.

[165] Ibid.

[166] Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, pp. 132-33, 135, 140, and errata
sheet to above.

[167] Maj Gen Yoshiharu Tomochika, The True Facts of the Leyte
Operation, p. 8, typescript of translation in OCMH.

[168] Ibid.

[169] Ibid., p. 9.

[170] Ibid., p. 8.

[171] Ibid.

[172] Statement of Lt Col Seiichi Yoshie, Circumstances Leading to
the Relief of General Kuroda, 1 Oct 51, copy in OCMH.

[173] United States vs Tomoyuki Yamashita, Testimony of Yamashita,
XXVIII, 3518-19, DRB AGO.

[174] Ibid., XXVIII, 3519-20.

[175] Ibid., Testimony of Muto, XXII, 2998.

[176] A. Frank Reel, The Case of General Yamashita (Chicago, 1949),
pp. 18-19.

[177] USSBS Interrog 418, Interrog of Maj Gen Toshio Nishimura,
19-22 Nov 45, MS, OCMH.

[178] Tomochika, True Facts of Leyte Opn, p. 6.

[179] Ibid.

[180] Ibid.

[181] Japanese Studies in WW II, 11, 35th Army Operations 1944-45,
pp. 14-20. (Hereafter cited as 35th Army Opns.)

[182] Tomochika, True Facts of Leyte Opn, p. 6.

[183] 16th Division Order 821, Tacloban, 17 October 1944, translation
in App. C to Annex Y, 7th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, DRB AGO.

[184] Japanese Studies in WW II, 7, 14th Area Army Operations on Leyte,
p. 4 (Hereafter cited as 14th Area Army Opns Leyte.)

[185] USSBS Interrog 506, Interrog of Maj. Gen. Yoshiharu Tomochika,
Oct-Dec 44, p. 2, typescript copy in OCMH.

[186] Japanese Studies in WW II, 5, 4th Air Army Operations, 1944-45,
pp. 1-50. (Hereafter cited as 4th Air Army Opns.)

[187] USSBS, Interrogations, I, 160.

[188] James A. Field, Jr., The Japanese at Leyte Gulf: The SHO
Operation (Princeton, N. J., 1947), p. 8.

[189] USSBS, Interrogations, I, 219; II, 500-504.

[190] Unless otherwise noted the account of the activities of the
6th Ranger Infantry Battalion is taken from the 6th Ranger Infantry
Battalion Operations Report Leyte.

[191] Rad, CTG 77.2 to CTF 78, 17 Oct 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 17 Oct 44.

[192] Co D, 6th Ranger Inf Bn, Opns Rpt Leyte.

[193] Msg, CTG 78.4 to Tancier, 18 Oct 44, Sixth Army G-3 Wasatch Jnl,
18 Oct 44.

[194] Rad, GHQ to CofS, 17 Oct 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 18 Oct 44.

[195] Co B, 6th Ranger Inf Bn, Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 1.

[196] Ibid.

[197] Rad, CTG 78.5 to CTF 77, 19 Oct 44, Sixth Army G-3 Wasatch Jnl,
19 Oct 44.

[198] Rad, Parsons to CTF 77, 78, and 79, 14 Oct 44, Sixth Army G-3
Wasatch Jnl, 14 Oct 44.

[199] CTF 77 to COMINCH, Opns Rpt Leyte, Ser 00302-C, 31 Jan 45, p. 8.

[200] Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 31.

[201] Rad, CTG 77.5 to CTF 77, 19 Oct 44, Sixth Army G-3 Wasatch Jnl,
19 Oct 44.

[202] Rpt, COMINCH, Amph Opns--Invasion of the Philippines, COMINCH
P-008, pp. 1-3.

[203] CTG 77.2 to CTF 77, Sixth Army G-3 Wasatch Jnl, 19 Oct 44.

[204] Rpt, CTF 77 to COMINCH, Amph Opn P-008, pp. 1-3.

[205] CTG 79.1 Movement Order, A173-44, 9 Oct 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 16
Oct 44.

[206] Opns Rpt CTG 79.1 to CTF 79, Ser 00454, 26 Oct 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl,
15 Nov 44.

[207] Msg, CTF 77 to CINCSWPA, Sixth Army G-3 Wasatch Jnl, 18 Oct 44.

[208] Msg, CINCSWPA to CTF 77, Sixth Army G-3 Wasatch Jnl, 18 Oct 44.

[209] Tarbuck Rpt.

[210] Opns Rpt CTF 79 to Com7thFlt, Ser 00323, 13 Nov 44, p. 71.

[211] Japanese Studies 11, 35th Army Opns, p. 24.

[212] CTF 79 Opns Rpt, Ser 00323, 13 Nov 44. (All naval records cited
are in the Office of Naval Records and Library.)

[213] COMBATDIV4 Opns Rpt, Ser 0322, 28 Dec 44.

[214] Tarbuck Rpt.

[215] COMBATDIV 4 Opns Rpt, Ser 0322, 28 Dec 44.

[216] COMINCH P-008, pp. 2-8.

[217] Com3dAmph Force Opns Rpt, Ser 00317, 11 Nov 44.

[218] CTG 77.4 (Com Escort Carrier Group), Opns Rpt, COMINCH P-008,
30 Apr 45, Part 2, pp. 9, 10.

[219] CTF 78 Opns Rpt, Ser 00911, 10 Nov 44.

[220] 24th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 4. Unless otherwise stated all
records of tactical units are in DRB AGO.

[221] Tarbuck Rpt.

[222] 24th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 4.

[223] GHQ SWPA Opns Instns 70, 21 Sep 44.

[224] Sixth Army FO 25, 23 Sep 44.

[225] CTF 77 Opns Rpt, Ser 00911, 10 Nov 44.

[226] CTF 78 Opns Plan 101-44, 3 Oct 44.

[227] 1st Cav Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 17.

[228] 1st Cav Div FO 1, 2 Oct 44.

[229] Unless otherwise stated the material on the 1st Cavalry Division
is taken from 1st Cav Div G-3 Jnl, 20 Oct 44, and 1st Cav Div Opns
Rpt Leyte, pp. 2-4.

[230] 7th Cav Regt Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 2-4.

[231] Ibid.

[232] 1st Cav Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 17.

[233] 1st Cav Brig Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 2.

[234] 12th Cav Regt Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 1-2.

[235] 5th Cav S-3 Periodic Rpt 1, 20 Oct 44.

[236] 8th Cav Regt Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 5.

[237] 1st Cav Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 19.

[238] 1st Cav Div Arty Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 3, 1st Cav Div Arty Unit Jnl,
20 Oct 44.

[239] 1st Cav Div Msgs to X Corps, 20 Oct 44.

[240] Unless otherwise stated information in this subsection is
taken from 24th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 2-10, and 24th Div G-3 Jnl,
20 Oct 44.

[241] X Corps FO 1, 30 Sep 44.

[242] Ibid.

[243] Ibid.

[244] 19th Inf Regt Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 1.

[245] 24th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 7.

[246] 34th Inf Unit Rpt 1, 20 Oct 44.

[247] Private Robinson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

[248] 19th Inf Unit Rpt 1, 20 Oct 44.

[249] 35th Army Opns, p. 27.

[250] CTF 79 Opns Rpt, Ser 00323, Encl A, 13 Nov 44.

[251] 383d Inf Regt FO 6A, App. A, 30 Sep 44.

[252] CTG 79.2 Opns Rpt, Ser 0032, 4 Nov 44.

[253] 383d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 1.

[254] Ibid.

[255] 382d Inf Unit Jnl, 20 Oct 44.

[256] 382d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 2.

[257] 96th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 33-37.

[258] Unless otherwise stated, the part of this subsection dealing
with the 7th Infantry Division is taken from the following: 7th Inf
Div Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 3-5; 7th Inf Div G-3 Jnl, 20 Oct 44; and 7th
Inf Div FO 9, 1 Oct 44.

[259] 776th Amph Tank Bn Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 4.

[260] 32d Inf Unit Jnl, 20 Oct 44.

[261] 32d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 4.

[262] 184th Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 2.

[263] 184th Inf Jnl, 20 Oct 44.

[264] Rad, GHQ SWPA to CG Sixth Army, Sixth Army G-3 Rear Jnl, 21
Oct 44.

[265] Extracted Report of Landing on Leyte in the Philippine Islands by
an Australian Officer Attached to the Northern Assault Force Landing
at Red Beach. Copy in OCMH.

[266] 2d ESB Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 1.

[267] Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, Engr Rpt, p. 232.

[268] Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, G-4 Rpt, p. 218.

[269] Ltr, CG 2d ESB to CG Sixth Army, 22 Oct 44, 2d ESB Jnl and
Jnl File.

[270] CTU 78.1.7 Opns Rpt, COMINCH P-008, Part 5, p. 2.

[271] Ltr, CG 2d ESB to CG Sixth Army, 22 Oct 44, 2d ESB Jnl and
Jnl File.

[272] CTU 78.2.1 and 78.2.3 Opns Rpt, COMINCH P-008, Part 5, p. 3.

[273] Lts, CG 2d ESB to CG Sixth Army, 22 Oct 44, 2d ESB Jnl and
Jnl File.

[274] Maj F. W. Doyle to Brig Gen L. J. Whitlock, Rpt of Observations,
KING II Opn, 4 Nov 44, GHQ G-4 Jnl, AGO KCRC.

[275] 2d ESB Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 6.

[276] Maj Doyle to Gen Whitlock, Rpt of Observations, KING II Opn,
4 Nov 44, GHQ G-4 Jnl.

[277] 7th Cav Opns Rpt Leyte, Supplementary Annex, p. 3.

[278] 96th Inf Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 73.

[279] Rpt of Sup Off to CO Funston, 23 Oct 44, in CO USS Frederick
Funston Opns Rpt, Ser 0101, 31 Oct 44. The boat crews and beach parties
had been fortified with a lunch consisting of turkey salad, ham and
cheese, hot steak sandwiches, ice cream, and cold fruit juices. The
Army assault troops carried K rations.

[280] Com3dAmph Force Opns Rpt, Ser 00317, 11 Nov 44.

[281] 96th Inf Div Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 73-75.

[282] CTG 79.1 Opns Rpt, COMINCH P-008, Part 5, p. 15.

[283] 7th Inf Div Opns Rpt Leyte, G-4 Rpt.

[284] CTG 71.1 Opns Rpt, COMINCH P-008, Part 5, p. 15.

[285] 7th Inf Div Opns Rpt Leyte, G-4 Rpt.

[286] 1140th Engr Const Gp Shore Party Opns Rpt Leyte.

[287] The New York Times, October 20, 1944.

[288] Japanese Studies in WW II, 21, Hist of Southern Army, 1941-45,
OCMH.

[289] Hist of Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, p. 139.

[290] 4th Air Army Opns, pp. 38-43.

[291] Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 24 Oct 44.

[292] Sixth Army G-2 Jnl, 24 Oct 44.

[293] Hist of V Bomber Command, Ch. 4, Jul-Dec 44, p. 73, AAF Hist
Archives.

[294] Ibid., pp. 73-75.

[295] Hist of 7th Fighter Sq, 49th Fighter Gp, 86th Fighter Wing,
V Fighter Comd, Fifth Air Force, Nov 44, p. 1, AAF Hist Archives.

[296] USBSS, Campaigns of the Pacific War, p. 285.

[297] Ibid.

[298] Ibid.

[299] Ibid., App. 87, p. 292.

[300] Ibid., App. 88, p. 294.

[301] USSBS, Interrogations, II, 317.

[302] USBSS, Campaigns of the Pacific War, p. 281.

[303] Ibid., p. 284.

[304] It is not within the scope of this history to deal with the
ensuing battle between the Japanese and American Navies. A full
discussion of the "greatest naval battle of the Second World War
and the largest engagement ever fought on the high seas" would
require a volume. Such a study is being prepared by Samuel Eliot
Morison in his series of studies on the U.S. Navy's part in the
war. Two excellent accounts--James Field's The Japanese at Leyte
Gulf, and C. Vann Woodward's The Battle for Leyte Gulf (New York,
1947)--have already appeared. The present volume attempts to present
only those facts needed to understand the effect of the battle on land
operations. (Quotation is from Woodward, Battle for Leyte Gulf, p. 1.)

[305] USSBS, Campaigns of the Pacific War, p. 284.

[306] Admiral Frederick C. Sherman, Combat Command: The American
Aircraft Carriers in the Pacific War (New York, 1950), p. 286.

[307] Field, Japanese at Leyte Gulf, pp, 81-82.

[308] USBSS, Campaigns of the Pacific War, p. 285.

[309] Ibid.

[310] Ibid.

[311] Ibid.

[312] Ltr, Gen Krueger to Maj Gen Orlando Ward, 12 Sep 51, OCMH.

[313] Ibid.

[314] USBSS, Interrogations, I, 44.

[315] CTU 77.4.3 Opns Rpt, Ser 00100, 29 Oct 44, Incl B, p. 2.

[316] Woodward, Battle for Leyte Gulf, p. 229.

[317] Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 43.

[318] Ltr, Adm Halsey to Gen Ward, 6 Jul 51, OCMH.

[319] Hist of V Fighter Comd, Ch. 4, Jul-Dec 44, p. 73, AAF Hist
Archives.

[320] Sixth Army G-3 Wasatch Jnl, 21 Oct 44.

[321] Opns Rpt, CSA Seventh Flt to Comdr Seventh Flt, no ser, 2 Nov 44.

[322] AAF Evaluation Bd POA Rpt 3, The Occupation of Leyte, Philippine
Islands, pp. 27 and 15. This report was prepared by Brig. Gen. Martin
F. Scanlon, who accompanied the XXIV Corps to Leyte as an air observer
for the Army Air Forces in the Central Pacific. By close support is
meant operating to the immediate front of the first-line troops.

[323] AAF Bd POA Rpt 3, p. 15.

[324] Opns Rpt, CSA Seventh Flt to Comdr Seventh Flt, no serial,
2 Nov 44.

[325] USSBS Interrog 418, Interrog of Maj Gen Toshio Nishimura,
19-22 Nov 45, p. 6, OCMH.

[326] 14th Area Army Opns Leyte, pp. 2-3.

[327] Ibid., p. 6.

[328] 10th I&HS, Eighth Army, Stf Study of the Japanese 35th Army on
Leyte, Part I, pp. 3-4, copy in OCMH.

[329] Tomochika, True Facts of Leyte Opn, p. 13.

[330] 14th Area Army Opns Leyte, pp. 17-18, 37, 52, 59, 93, 94, and 99.

[331] FM 100-20, 21 Jul 43, Command and Employment of Air Power, p. 16.

[332] AAF Evaluation Bd, SWPA Rpt, Leyte Campaign, p. 32, AAF Hist
Archives.

[333] Hist of XIII Bomber Comd, Oct 44, p. 5, AAF Hist Archives.

[334] Ibid.

[335] Jane's Fighting Ships, 1947-48 (New York), pp. 473-78; Hist of
XIII Bomber Comd, Oct 44, p. 4, AAF Hist Archives.

[336] Rad, GHQ to CG Sixth Army et al., Sixth Army G-3 Rear Jnl,
28 Oct 44.

[337] Rad, CG Allied Air Forces to CG Fifth Air Force, 27 Oct 44,
Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 1 Nov 44.

[338] Hist of 308th Bombardment Wing, Ch. 3, p. 4, AAF Hist Archives.

[339] Hist of 9th Fighter Sq, Oct 44, AAF Hist Archives.

[340] Hist of 7th Fighter Sq, Oct 44, pp., 5-6, AAF Hist Archives.

[341] Ibid., pp. 6-7.

[342] Ibid., p. 7.

[343] Hist of Fifth Air Force, Ch. V, pp. 42-43, AAF Hist Archives;
Rad, Sixth Army to GHQ, 3 Nov 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 3 Nov 44.

[344] Ibid.

[345] Hist of V Fighter Comd, Jul-Dec 44, Ch. 4, p. 64, AAF Hist
Archives.

[346] Rad, COMAF5 to Sixth Army, 4 Nov 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl,
5 Nov 44.

[347] Msg, 308th Bomb Wing to G-2 Sixth Army, 3 Nov 44, Sixth Army
G-3 Jnl, 3 Nov 44.

[348] Hist of Fifth Air Force, Ch. 5, pp. 42-45, AAF Hist Archives.

[349] OPD 319.1, Sec VII, Case 248, DRB AGO.

[350] Activities of the Japanese Navy During the Leyte Operation,
p. 94, A715 SWPA, Doc 2543.

[351] Trans of Data on Reinforcement and Support of the Leyte Island
Campaign, ATIS Doc 16946.

[352] USSBS Interrog 506, Interrog of Maj. Gen. Yoshiharu Tomochica
et al., MS, OCMH.

[353] 14th Area Army Opns Leyte, Appended Table 1.

[354] 35th Army Opns, p. 30. Unless otherwise indicated, the following
is based upon this study, pp. 30-34.

[355] Allied Geographical Sec, GHQ SWPA Terrain Handbook 34, Tacloban,
25 Sep 44, p. 10.

[356] 96th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 88.

[357] 10th I&HS Eighth Army, Stf Study of Opns of Japanese 35th Army
on Leyte, pp. 2-3.

[358] 35th Army Opns, pp. 22-23.

[359] 96th Div FO 2, 10 Oct 44.

[360] 383d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 3.

[361] 382d Inf Unit Rpt 1, 20 Oct 44.

[362] 361st FA Bn Opns Rpt Leyte.

[363] 96th Div Arty Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 5.

[364] 382d Inf Unit Jnl, 21 Oct 44.

[365] 96th Div G-3 Jnl, 21 Oct 44.

[366] 383d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 9.

[367] 921st FA Bn Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 6.

[368] 383d Inf Unit Jnl, 22 Oct 44.

[369] 921st FA Bn Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 3.

[370] 383d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 10.

[371] Ibid., p. 9.

[372] 382d Inf FO 2, 21 Oct 44.

[373] 382d Inf Unit Jnl, 21 Oct 44.

[374] 382d Inf Unit Rpt 2, 21 Oct 44.

[375] 382d Inf Unit Jnl, 21 Oct 44.

[376] 96th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 38.

[377] 96th Div G-3 Jnl, 22 Oct 44.

[378] A carabao is a domesticated native water buffalo that is used
extensively in the Philippines as a beast of burden.

[379] 383d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 4.

[380] 382d Inf Unit Jnl, 22 Oct 44.

[381] 382d Inf Unit Rpt 3, 22 Oct 44.

[382] This unit consisted of the 9th Infantry Regiment (less the 2d
Battalion) and two batteries of the 22d Field Artillery Regiment.

[383] 96th Inf Div Opns Rpt Leyte, Annex C, Part III, Trans, KAKI
Operational Order A-387, 22 Oct 44.

[384] Orlando R. Davidson, J. Carl Willems, and Joseph A. Kahl,
The Deadeyes, The Story of the 96th Infantry Division (Washington,
1947), p. 23.

[385] 383d Inf Unit Rpt 4, 23 Oct 44.

[386] 96th Div G-3 Periodic Rpt 3, 24 Oct 44.

[387] 96th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 41.

[388] 382d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 2.

[389] 96th Div G-3 Jnl, 24 Oct 44.

[390] 382d Inf Unit Rpt 5, 24 Oct 44.

[391] 763d Tank Bn Unit Rpt 1, 25 Oct 44.

[392] 382d Inf Unit Rpt 6, 25 Oct 44.

[393] 96th Div G-l Daily Strength Rpts, 20-25 Oct 44.

[394] 96th Div G-2 Periodic Rpt 5, 25 Oct 44.

[395] Unless otherwise stated the account of the patrol to Tabontabon
is taken from 383d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, Patrol to Tabontabon, 25 Oct
44, Incl 1.

[396] 35th Army Opns, p. 28.

[397] 382d Inf Unit Rpt 7, 26 Oct 44.

[398] Davidson et al., The Deadeyes, p. 37.

[399] 382d Inf Unit Rpt 8, 27 Oct 44.

[400] Davidson et al., The Deadeyes, p. 38.

[401] 382d Inf Unit Rpt 9, 28 Oct 44.

[402] Ibid.

[403] 383d Inf Opns Rpt, p. 5.

[404] The operations report of the 383d Infantry for the Leyte
Campaign has an "Account of Eyewitnesses Made Immediately Following
the Action," which is Inclosure 2 to the report. Unless otherwise
stated these statements are the basis for this account of the action
on San Vicente Hill.

[405] 96th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 45. Unless otherwise stated the
section dealing with the capture of Catmon Hill is based on 381st
Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 3-3c.

[406] 381st Inf Unit Rpt 4, 28 Oct 44; 381st Inf Unit Jnl, 29 Oct 44.

[407] 35th Army Opns, p. 34.

[408] The reinforcements consisted of a platoon from the Cannon
Company, 381st Infantry; one platoon from Company A, 321st Engineers;
Company A, 763d Tank Battalion; one platoon from Company A, 321st
Medical Battalion; and Battery C, 361st Field Artillery Battalion.

[409] 763d Tank Bn S-3 Periodic Rpt 3, 27 Oct 44.

[410] 381st Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 3-3a.

[411] Ibid.

[412] 382d Inf Unit Rpt 9, 28 Oct 44.

[413] 382d Inf Unit Rpt 10, 29 Oct 44.

[414] Davidson et al., The Deadeyes, p. 41.

[415] 96th Div G-2 Periodic Rpt 13, 2 Nov 44.

[416] Compiled from 96th Div G-1 Daily Strength Rpts, 26 Oct-2 Nov 44.

[417] 7th Inf Div G-2 Periodic Rpt 2, 21 Oct 44, and Rpt 4, 23 Oct 44.

[418] 35th Army Opns, p. 27.

[419] Fifth Air Force Opns Instns 6, Engr Annex, 28 Sep 44, Sixth
Army G-3 Jnl, 30 Sep 44.

[420] XXIV Corps Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 6.

[421] 7th Inf Div FO 9, 1 Oct 44.

[422] 32d Inf Regt Jnl, 20 Oct 44.

[423] 184th Inf S-3 Periodic Rpt 1, 20 Oct 44.

[424] 17th Inf Unit Jnl, 20 Oct 44.

[425] Lt Russell A. Gugeler, Battle for Dagami, pp. 10-11, MS in
OCMH. The author, a combat historian attached to the 7th Division
after the operation, knew many of the participants and has been able
to give details that do not appear in the official records. Much of
the material in this chapter is based on his manuscript.

[426] 184th Inf Unit Jnl, 21 Oct 44.

[427] 32d Inf Regt Jnl, 21 Oct 44.

[428] 7th Div, Detailed Division Narrative, King II, p. 4, DRB AGO.

[429] 32d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 5.

[430] Ibid.

[431] Ibid.

[432] 184th Inf Regt Jnl, 21 Oct 44.

[433] 7th Inf Div Opns Rpt Leyte, App. C to Annex 2.

[434] 13th Engr Bn Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 6.

[435] 7th Div G-3 Periodic Rpt 3, 22 Oct 44.

[436] Ibid.

[437] 96th Inf Div Opns Rpt Leyte, Annex C, Part III, Trans, KAKI
Operational Order A-837, 22 Oct 44.

[438] 7th Div FO 11, 22 Oct 44.

[439] 32d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 6.

[440] 7th Div G-3 Periodic Rpt 4, 23 Oct 44.

[441] 35th Army Opns, p. 28.

[442] 17th Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, The Battle for Dagami, Annex A, p. 1.

[443] 7th Inf Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 7.

[444] 32d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 7.

[445] Ibid., pp. 7-8.

[446] Attachment to 7th Div G-2 Periodic Rpt 5, 24 Oct 44.

[447] 49th FA Bn Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 4.

[448] 32d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 8.

[449] 32d Inf FO 6, 25 Oct 44.

[450] 32d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 9.

[451] 32d Inf FO 7, 27 Oct 44.

[452] 32d Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 9.

[453] Unless otherwise stated the material on the drive to Dagami
is based on 17th Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, Annex A, The Battle for Dagami,
pp. 1-9.

[454] 17th Inf FO 3, 25 Oct 44.

[455] 17th Inf FO 4, 26 Oct 44.

[456] 7th Inf Div G-2 Periodic Rpt 9, 28 Oct 44. Unless otherwise
stated the entrance into Dagami is based upon 17th Inf Opns Rpt Leyte,
Annex A, The Battle for Dagami, pp. 1-9.

[457] 7th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 9.

[458] Central Area Unit Opns Order 2, 27 Oct 44, trans in App. C to
Annex 2, 7th Div Opns Rpt Leyte.

[459] 17th Inf FO 5, 27 Oct 44.

[460] These were the Cannon Company, a platoon of the Antitank Company,
a platoon of the 13th Engineer Battalion, 767th Tank Battalion,
and the 91st Chemical Company minus the 1st and 3d Platoons.

[461] During the day's action, Pfc. Leonard C. Brostrom of Company F
and Pfc. John F. Thorson of Company G so distinguished themselves that
they were awarded the Medal of Honor. Private Brostrom singlehandedly
destroyed a pillbox and killed six Japanese before collapsing from his
wounds. Privat