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."1 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.2

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."3

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.4


Map 18
Japanese Attack on Burauen Airfields
6 December 1944

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 Burauren fields. (Map 18) 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.5

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.6

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.7 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.8

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."9

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.10

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.11

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.12 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.13

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.14

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.15 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.16

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."17 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.


BURI AIRSTRIP as it appeared in 1946.

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.18

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.19 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.20

At the Buri strip were about 47 men from the 287th Field Artillery Observation Battalion


and 157 miscellaneous troops.21 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,22 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.23 The service troops were "firing at everything that moves and . . . probably inflicting casualties among our troops."24 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."25 One reinforced company of the 1st Battalion was already in the area and the rest of the battalion made ready to follow.26

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.27 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.28 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


SAN PABLO AIRSTRIP as it appeared in 1946.

Dulag airstrips. Each transport carried fifteen to twenty men.29

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.30


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.31

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.32

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.33

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.34

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."35

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.36

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.37 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.38

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.39 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.40

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.41

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.42

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."43

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."44

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.45

The air transports allotted to Tacloban were destroyed by antiaircraft fire, while those destined for Dulag crash-landed, killing all their occupants.46

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.47

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.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (16) * Next Chapter (18)


1. USSBS, The War Against Japanese Transportation, 1941-1942 (Washington, 1947), p. 48.

2. Japanese Studies, II, 35th Army Operations 1944-45, p. 74, OCMH.

3. Tomochika, True Facts of Leyte Opn, p. 23.

4. Japanese Studies in World War II, 7, 14th Area Army Operations on Leyte, p. 11; 10th I&HS, Eighth Army, Stf Study of Japanese 35th Army on Leyte, Part III, The Part Played by the Japanese Air Force . . . p. 5.

5. 35th Army Opns, pp. 80-84.

6. Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 62.

7. XXIV Corps FO 28, 22 Nov 44.

8. 149th Para-Glider Inf Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 1.

9. XXIV Corps G-2 Periodic Rpt 39, 27 Nov 44.

10. 11th Airborne Div After Action Rpt, 18 Nov-11 Dec 44.

11. Msg, CG XXIV Corps to CG 7th Div et al, 27 Nov 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 27 Nov 44.

12. Msg, G-3 XXIV Corps to CG 11th AB Div, 28 Nov 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 28 Nov 44, and Sixth Army G-3 Periodic Rpt 528, 28 Nov 44.

13. 11th Airborne Div FO 3, 29 Nov 44.

14. 728th Amph Tractor Bn Unit Rpt 30, 27 Nov 44, and 20th Armored Gp Unit Rpt 5, in 20th Armored Gp Opns Rpt Leyte.

15. The history of the 11th Airborne Division tells the following story about the landing of the third plane. "An antiaircraft machine gun crew, which outfit is forgotten now, was in position on the alert for enemy aircraft. When the plane landed and came to a halt, they called across the small river: 'Need any help?' 'No, everything OK,' someone yelled back, and the machine gun crew went back to watching the skies for enemy aircraft." Maj. Edward M. Flanagan, Jr., The Angels, a History of the 11th Airborne Division, 1943-1946 (Washington, 1948), p. 34.

16. XXIV Corps G-2 Periodic Rpt 43, 1 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 2 Dec 44; XXIV Corps G-2 Periodic Rpt 45, 3 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 4 Dec 44.

17. XXIV Corps G-2 Periodic Rpt 47, 5 Dec 44.

18. XXIV Corps G-2 Periodic Rpt 50, 8 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 9 Dec 44.

19. Msg, Corps Arty to G-2 XXIV Corps, 0710, 6 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 6 Dec 44.

20. Msg, 96th Div to CG XXIV Corps, 1350, 6 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 6 Dec 44.

21. Msg, 287th FA Obsn Bn to XXIV Corps, 1350, 6 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 6 Dec 44.

22. This man was later caught and turned over to the Filipino guerrillas.

23. Combat History, 5th Bomber Command, 8 June 44-May 45, pp. 5-6, AAF Archives.

24. Msg, 11th Airborne Div to XXIV Corps, 1220, 6 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 6 Dec 44.

25. Msg, CG XXIV Corps to CG 96th Div, 1400, 6 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 6 Dec 44.

26. 96th Div G-3 Periodic Rpt 47, 6 Dec 44.

27. XXIV Corps G-2 Periodic Rpt 48, 6 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 7 Dec 44.

28. Flanagan, The Angels, p. 49.

29. Air Evaluation Board, SWPA, Leyte Campaign, p. 174, AAF Archives.

30. Msg, GG XXIV Corps to CG Sixth Army, 1440, 9 Dec 44, XXIV G-3 Jnl, 9 Dec 44; XXIV Corps G-2 Periodic Rpt 50, Incl 1, 8 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 9 Dec 44. Both are translations of Japanese documents giving plans for the airborne attack.

31. Davidson et al., The Deadeyes, pp. 67-68; Flanagan, The Angels, pp. 40-50; 408th Airborne QM Co, Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 10-11; CG 11th AB Div to CG XXIV Corps, 2205, 6 Dec 44, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 7 Dec 44.

32. Rpt, Capt Charles Bellows to G-3 XXIV Corps, 8 Dec 44, Investigation of Enemy Paratroopers, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 8 Dec 44.

33. 127th AB Engr Bn Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 1-2; Flanagan, The Angels, p. 51.

34. Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 72.

35. Maj Martin C. Grigg, The Operations of the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry . . . in the Battle for the Buri Airstrip . . ., pp. 6-7, OCMH.

36. Ibid.

37. Davidson et al., The Deadeyes, p. 67.

38. Rpt, Capt Charles Bellows to G-2 XXIV Corps, 8 Dec 44, Investigation of Enemy Paratroopers, XXIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 8 Dec 44.

39. Private Kelley was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

40. 149th Inf S-3 Periodic Rpt, 9 Dec 44, 149th Inf Opns Rpt Leyte.

41. Davidson et al., The Deadeyes, p. 69.

42. 149th Infantry S-3 Periodic Rpt, 1800, 10 Dec 44, 149th Inf Opns Rpt Leyte.

43. Maj Herbert O. Johansen, "Banzai at Burauen," Air Force, Vol. 28, No. 3, March 1945, p. 7.

44. Ibid.

45. Japanese Studies, II, p. 86, OCMH.

46. Air Evaluation Board, SWPA, Leyte Campaign, p. 174, AAF Archives.

47. Ibid.

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation