In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army

By Edward J. Drea | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER NINE
LEYTE: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Three U.S. Navy task forces converged on the central Philippines in mid- October 1944. Their objective was Leyte, a natural gateway to the rest of the islands. More than 150 warships of Task Force 77 protected the 518 ocean-going vessels included in Task Forces 78 and 79. These two task forces carried four U.S. Army divisions, the 160,000 troops set to invade Leyte. Meanwhile Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey's Third Fleet, organized around four powerful carrier task groups, was steaming north and east of Leyte, striking Japanese targets on Luzon. Then his fast carriers returned to Leyte to soften up the beaches.

Just after midnight on 20 October the invasion convoys entered Leyte Gulf and approached the invasion beaches. Continual flashes of naval guns created an artificial sunrise in the otherwise somber gray skies. After several hours of bombardment, the four divisions landed simultaneously on Leyte's northeastern shore. By nightfall they had seized a lodgment at a cost of 247 army casualties, and more than 100,000 tons of supplies had been put ashore. The Japanese had fled into the rugged interior of the island. 1

General Douglas MacArthur, commander in chief, Southwest Pacific was jubilant. The general visited Red Beach just three hours after the first infantrymen had landed. He had made good on his promise to return to the Philippines. MacArthur had received personal congratulations from the president of the United States and the prime minister of Great

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