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.1 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."2
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.3 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,
TABLE 1Source: Sixth Army Operations Report Leyte, 20 October-25 December 1944, p. 153.
SIXTH ARMY DAILY STRENGTH REPORTS
12 NOVEMBER-25 DECEMBER 1944
Date Authorized strength Difference Between Effective and Authorized Strength
12 Nov 1944
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
185 Signal, and all others 375. Approximately 6 percent of these should be officers.4
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.5
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,6 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."7
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.8 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.9 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.10
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.11 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.12 (Map 12)
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.13
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.14
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.15 Companies K and L dug in on the ridge for the night.16
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 2.17
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
Battle for Northern Entrance to Ormoc Valley
16 November-14 December 1944
east side of Highway 2 and the 3d on the west side.18
During the night the 120th Field Artillery Battalion delivered harassing fire along the road between Limon and the Limon bridge.19 At 0800 the assault troops moved out. The 3d Battalion met little opposition, but the 2d met strong resistance from the 57th Infantry.20 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.21
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.22
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.23
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 11.) 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,
AMERICAN TROOPS IN LIMON (above), and taking cover there as enemy shells hit the area (below).
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.24
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"25 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.26 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.27
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.28
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.29
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.
LT. COL. THOMAS E. CLIFFORD, JR., discusses plans with his staff as Filipino guerrillas look on.
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.30
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.31 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.32
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.33 Colonel Clifford was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross.34
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."35 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.36 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.37
Rain fell constantly upon the troops and churned the surface of the ridge into a "slick mass of mud and slime."38 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.39
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.40 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.41
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. . . ."42
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."43 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.44
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.45
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 12.)
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.46
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.47
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.48
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
FILIPINO CARRIERS HAUL SUPPLIES over slippery mountain trails for the 12th Cavalry.
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.49
The 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team, under General Cunningham, had arrived at Leyte on 14 November.50 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.51 In order to strengthen the defense line, the 112th Cavalry was committed upon its arrival and passed to the control of X Corps.52 On 15 November General Sibert attached the 112th Cavalry to the 1st Cavalry Division and ordered it to operate in the Carigara area.53 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.54
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.55 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.56
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.57
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.58 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.
FOOTHILLS OF CENTRAL MOUNTAIN RANGE are patrolled by elements of the 1st Cavalry Division.
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.59
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.60
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.61
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.62 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.63
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."64
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.65 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.66 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.67
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.68
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.69
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."70 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.71
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.72
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.73
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.74
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.75
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.76
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.77 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.78 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.79
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.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (12) * Next Chapter (14)
1. GHQ FEC, MI Sec, Hist Div, Statements of Japanese Officials of World War II, Vol. II, p. 687, Statement of Maj Gen Toshio Nishimura [Asst CofS 14th Area Army], copy in OCMH.
2. Ibid., I, 541.
3. G-1 Rpt, Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 152.
4. Ltr, CG Sixth Army to CINC SWPA, 29 Aug 44, sub: Replacements for Forthcoming Opn, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 29 Aug 44.
5. Ltr, Gen Krueger to Gen Ward. 12 Sep 51, OCMH.
6. This unit was a separate regimental combat team.
7. Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 62.
10. Sixth Army FO 32, 14 Nov 44.
11. X Corps FO's 12-15, 12-16 Nov 44.
12. 128th Inf FO 4, 15 Nov 44.
13. 3d Bn, 128th Inf, Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 1.
14. 128th Inf Unit Rpt 1, 16 Nov 44.
15. Capt Julius A. Sakas, The Operations of the 3d Battalion, 128th Infantry . . . at Limon . . ., p. 29, Advanced Infantry Officers Course, 1949-50, The Infantry School, Ft. Benning, Ga.
16. 128th Inf Unit Rpt 2, 17 Nov 44.
17. 35th Army Opns, p. 66; 128th Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 2.
18. 128th Inf Unit Rpt 6, 21 Nov 44; 128th Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 3.
19. 32d Div Arty Unit Rpt 2, 20 Nov 44.
20. X Corps G-2 Jnl, 23 Nov 44.
21. X Corps G-3 Periodic Rpt 34, 22 Nov 44; X Corps G-2 and G-3 Jnls, 22 Nov 44.
22. 32d Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 7.
23. X Corps Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 29.
24. 24th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 59.
25. X Corps Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 27.
26. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 10 Nov 44.
27. 24th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 61. Unless otherwise stated this subsection is based on the above report, pages 61-68.
28. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 11 Nov 44.
29. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 13 Nov 44.
30. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 14 Nov 44.
31. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 15 Nov 44.
32. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 16 Nov 44.
33. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 17 Nov 44.
34. Curiously enough, while on leave in the United States, he had been caught without his dog tags and arrested for "impersonating an officer." 24th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 78.
35. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 17 Nov 44.
36. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 18 Nov 44. Jan Valtin in Children of Yesterday, page 247, states that Henry Kilay was the owner of the ridge. Properly the ridge bears his name.
37. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 19 Nov 44.
38. 24th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 63.
39. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 20 Nov 44.
40. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 21 Nov 44.
41. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 22 Nov 44.
42. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 25 Nov 44.
43. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 26 Nov 44.
44. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 28 Nov 44.
45. 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 29 Nov 44.
46. The message to Colonel Clifford, a former all-American football player from West Point, concluded: "You and your men have not been forgotten. You are the talk of the island, and perhaps the United States. Army beat Notre Dame 59 to 0, the worst defeat on record." 24th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 67; 1st Bn, 34th Inf, Unit Jnl, 1 Dec 44.
47. 35th Army Opns, pp. 47-48.
48. 1st Cav Div FO 9, 10 Nov 44.
49. 1st Cav Div Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 43-45.
50. 112th Cav Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 1.
51. Sixth Army G-3 Periodic Rpt 514, 14 Nov 44.
52. Sixth Army FO 32, 14 Nov 44.
53. X Corps FO 14, 15 Nov 44.
54. 1st Cav Div FO 11, 14 Nov 44.
55. X Corps G-3 Periodic Rpt 47, 5 Dec 44.
56. 7th Cav Opns Rpt, Leyte, Part IV, S-2 Rpt, Tactical and Technical Characteristics of the Enemy, pp. 2, 5.
57. 1st Cavalry Division G-3 Periodic Rpt. 42, 1 Dec 44.
58. 112th Cav S-2 and S-3 Jnls, 2 Dec 44.
59. 1st Cav Div G-3 Periodic Rpt 45, 4 Dec 44; 112th Cav Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 6; 112th Cav S-2 and S-3 Jnl, 3, 4 Dec 44.
60. 112th Cav S-2 and S-3 Jnl, 3, 4 Dec 44; 112th Cav Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 6.
61. 112th Cav Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 6-8; 112th Cav S-2 and S-3 Jnl, 4-10 Dec 44; 1st Cav Div G-3 Periodic Rpts 46-51, 5-10 Dec 44; 1st Cav Div Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 46-50.
62. 112th Cav Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 6-8; 1st Cav Div Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 47-50; 112th Cav S-2 and S-3 Jnl, 4 Dec 44, 6-9 Dec 44; 1st Cav Div G-3 Periodic Rpts 46-51, 10 Dec 44.
63. 112th Cav S-2 and S-3 Jnl, 10 Dec 44.
64. 112th Cav S-2 and S-3 Jnl, 9-14 Dec 44; 7th Cav Div Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 11-12; 112th Cav Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 7-9; 1st Cav Div G-3 Periodic Rpts 53-56, 12-15 Dec 44.
65. XXIV Corps Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 9.
66. XXIV Corps FO 22, 8 Nov 44. This order confirmed previously issued oral orders.
67. 96th Div FO 3, 2 Nov 44.
68. 14th Area Army Opns Leyte, p. 8.
69. 382d Inf Unit Rpt 14, 2 Nov 44.
70. Orlando Davidson, J. Carl Willems, and Joseph A. Kahl, The Deadeyes: The Story of the 96th Infantry Division (Washington, Infantry Journal Press [now Combat Forces Press], 1947), p. 49.
71. Sergeant Thompson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
72. 96th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 54; 96th Div G-3 Periodic Rpt 14, 3 Nov 44; 382d Inf Unit Rpt 15, 3 Nov 44; Davidson et al., The Deadeyes, p. 49.
73. Davidson et al., The Deadeyes, p. 51; 96th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 54; 382d Inf Unit Rpt 16, 4 Nov 44; 96th Div G-3 Periodic Rpt 15, 4 Nov 44.
74. Davidson et al., The Deadeyes, p. 51; 382d Inf Unit Rpt 17, 5 Nov 44; 96th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 55; 96th Div G-3 Periodic Rpt 16, 5 Nov 44; 763d Tank Bn Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 5.
75. 96th Div Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 55; 382d Inf Unit Rpt 18, 6 Nov 44.
76. 35th Army Opns, pp. 57-58.
77. 382d Inf Unit Rpt 19, 7 Nov 44.
78. 382d Inf Unit Rpt 22, 10 Nov 44.
79. XXIV Corps Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 11.