Gulf Battle Stopped Wartime Advance; Tweed Historian Di Millar Looks at the WWII Battle of Lingayen Gulf {Mdash} a Turning Point in the Global Conflict

Article excerpt

The Battle of Lingayen Gulf on the northwest coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines culminated in an Allied amphibious landing on the island on January 9, 1945.

It heralded the return of General Douglas Macarthur, who had been in command of the Filipino and American troops overrun at Lingayen Gulf by the Japanese in late December 1941. More importantly, it marked the beginning of the fight to liberate the Philippines from those enemy forces.

Japan, intent on military expansion, had attacked the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941 as the first step in its plans to seize control of economic resources in the Pacific and Far East that included the oil rich region of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).

More attacks were launched on Guam, an American Pacific Island territory in the West Pacific Ocean and Wake Island, a small coral atoll in the North Pacific Ocean. Troops moved into Thailand and Malaya and air attacks took place on Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and the Philippines.

Japanese forces took control of the Gilbert Islands, a chain of 16 atolls and coral islands in the western central Pacific Ocean. Clark Field Air Base, an American military facility in the Philippines, was bombed.

On December 11 Japan invaded Burma and the following day its forces landed on the southern Philippine islands of Samar, Jolo and Mindanao.

Japanese forces continued their push into Malaya and became firmly established in the northern Philippines. More Japanese forces landed at Lingayen Gulf on the northwest coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines on December 22 and by Christmas Day 1941 Wake Island and Hong Kong had fallen.

Japanese occupation forces tightened their hold on captured territories, extracted resources and subjugated the inhabitants.

IN early January 1945 the US Seventh Fleet, supported by ships of the Royal Australian Navy, fought a running naval battle at Lingayen Gulf in support of General Douglas Macarthur's 6th army assault landing on Luzon Island.

The Royal Australian Navy ships Australia (cruiser), Shropshire (cruiser), Arunta (destroyer) and Warramunga (destroyer), while under sustained air attacks, were engaged in escort and support duties for the planned American landings and provided naval gunfire support during the landings.

Leading up to and during landing operations HMAS Gascoyne (frigate) and HMAS Warrego (sloop) carried out survey operations and escort duties in Lingayen Gulf whilst under attack from both enemy aircraft and shore artillery batteries.

Three former passenger ships that had been requisitioned into the Royal Australian Navy as armed merchant cruisers and infantry landing ships, HMAS Manoora, HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Westralia, were designated as transport ships and carried troops and stores to the landing zone. …

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