Chapter III
Plans Are Made and Forces Are Readied

Estimate of the Enemy Situation

American knowledge of the Japanese forces on Leyte was derived from many sources.1 The guerrillas on Leyte and other islands in the archipelago sent information to Australia on the movements, dispositions, fortifications, and defenses of the Japanese. Commander Parsons, on his submarine trips to the Islands, brought back with him important intelligence. Just before the invasion an intelligence officer from Sixth Army and one from the Seventh Fleet secretly went ashore from a submarine and gathered material on Japanese coastal fortifications and defenses in the beach area.

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

In the spring of 1944 General MacArthur's headquarters received information that the Japanese were starting to reinforce their Philippine garrisons. An early estimate, made in June, put the number of enemy troops on the island at 20,000, a sharp increase over the 5,900 of the previous month. The increase resulted from the movement to Leyte from Samar of the veteran 16th Division, which had fought at Bataan, and the arrival of 4,000 naval troops from the Palau Islands.2 For the next month reports flowed in to General Headquarters that the 16th Division was building coastal defenses and air-raid shelters, and improving the airfields and garrison defenses of the island.3

In July 1944 the Americans received information that all was not going well in the Japanese homeland. From a radio interception they learned that Premier Hideki Tojo and his entire cabinet had resigned on 18 July. The Japanese message stated: "The situation is the result of the period of


'sweating blood' and we sincerely regret causing anxiety to the Emperor. We thank the people at home and at the front for cooperating with the government. . . ."4 The tenor of the announcement and of subsequent statements made it abundantly clear, however, that the Japanese were determined to do their utmost toward prosecuting the war to a successful conclusion.

Meanwhile, all the Japanese garrisons in the Philippines were reinforced. The senior headquarters in the western Pacific was transferred from Singapore to Manila, and the brigades in the Islands were being developed to divisional strength. Of the estimated 180,000 troops, 80,000 were believed to be on Luzon, 50,000 in the Visayan Islands, and 50,000 on Mindanao. It was also believed that the enemy air strength on the Islands was being greatly increased. There were 100 to 120 airfields in operation and between 700 and 1,500 aircraft, of which half were combat planes and the others training aircraft.5

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

It was believed that the Japanese would commit one division on the day of the landing and the equivalent of another division, assembled from the tactical reserves on the island, not later than three days after the landing. For the next ten days, five to eight regiments might be sent in from neighboring islands. These would constitute the "maximum numbers of reinforcements predicated upon the existence of conditions most favorable to the enemy."6 The enemy had an undetermined number of tanks and armored cars. The only artillery known to be available were some coastal defense guns emplaced along the east coast and some artillery pieces on the hills overlooking Tacloban.

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

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


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

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

The Tactical Plan

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

On 31 August 1944 General MacArthur issued his first formal directive covering projected operations in the Philippines. The Leyte operation was known as KING II. The Southwest Pacific forces were to "seize objectives in the Mindanao, Leyte and Samar areas in order to establish air, naval and logistic bases to cover subsequent operations to complete the reoccupation of the Philippines." The assigned target dates were as follows: southern Mindanao, 15 November 1944; northwestern Mindanao, 7 December; and Leyte Gulf-Surigao Strait area, 20 December. The Sixth Army, covered by Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet and supported by the Allied Air and Naval Forces, was directed to carry out the three operations.7 On 15 September General Krueger received word that the Talaud and Mindanao operations had been canceled and that the target date--designated as "A Day"--for the Leyte operation had been advanced to 20 October.8

The American Forces

The immediate task assigned the forces of the Southwest Pacific, supported by the Third Fleet, was the seizure and control of the Leyte Gulf-Surigao Strait area in order to establish air, naval, and logistic bases to support further operations into the Philippines. Before the invasion, air and naval operations were to be conducted so as to disorganize


Japanese ground and air defenses. The ground operation was divided into three phases. In the first phase overwater movement and minor amphibious operations to secure entrance into Leyte Gulf were to take place. The main effort, which constituted the second phase, was to involve a major assault to capture the airfields and base sites in Leyte Valley and to open up San Juanico and Panaon Straits. In the final phase, the remaining portions of the island in Japanese hands and the western part of southern Samar were to be secured, and Surigao Strait was to be opened.9 The target date had been set for 20 October 1944.

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

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

Admiral Halsey, as commander of the Third Fleet, was to co-ordinate his operations with those of General MacArthur but he was responsible to Admiral Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Area. The Third Fleet was composed of Vice Adm. Marc Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force, together with miscellaneous elements. Mitscher's force was divided into four carrier groups.10

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


Chart 1
Operational Organization for the Leyte Campaign


Attack Force, Task Force 79, under Vice Adm. Theodore S. Wilkinson, were to transport and set ashore the ground troops. Task Force 79 had been lent to General MacArthur by Admiral Nimitz for the operation.

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

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

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

Approximately 174,000 troops were made available for the initial assault phase of the operation. About 51,500 of these made up the XXIV Corps and 53,000 the X Corps. In addition to these troops, the reserve 32d and 77th Divisions had a strength of about 14,500 and 14,000 troops, respectively. All of the assault divisions were reinforced with tank battalions, amphibian truck and tractor battalions, joint assault signal companies, and many attached service units. A total of about 202,500 ground troops was committed to the Leyte operation.11

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


been victorious at Aitape on New Guinea; and the 77th Division had shared in the victory at Guam. Only the 96th Division was yet to be combat tested.12

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

Air Support

The Navy was to bear the brunt of furnishing air support in the early stages of the campaign. By arrangement with Admiral Nimitz, the Carrier Task Force from Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet was to strike northern Luzon and Okinawa or Formosa, or both, from A Day minus 10 to A minus 7. From A minus 4 through A Day, strikes were to be made on Luzon, the Cebu-Negros area, and the Leyte area in support of the landings. As soon as the Palau air base facilities would permit, shore-based air forces from the Central Pacific were to operate in the Bicol area.13

The Allied Naval Forces was to furnish carrier aircraft as protection for convoys and naval task forces and, supplemented by aircraft of the Third Fleet and the Allied Air Forces, to provide direct air support for the landings. In addition, it was to furnish protective air support and cover by carrier aircraft prior to A Day for the preliminary landings in Leyte Gulf and for the mine sweeping.14

General MacArthur assigned air support missions to the Allied Air Forces. General Kenney's airmen were (1) to make aerial reconnaissance; (2) in co-ordination with Third Fleet carrier-based aircraft, to neutralize hostile naval and air forces within range of the Philippines from A minus 9 in order to cover the movement of naval forces, the landing, and subsequent operations; (3) within capabilities and when requested by Admiral Kinkaid, to protect convoys and naval forces and provide direct support of the landings and subsequent operations; and (4) to destroy Japanese shipping and installations in the Sulu and Arafura Seas and the East Indies.15

On 24 September General Kenney issued his order for the Leyte operation and assigned missions to the Allied Air Forces. He designated General Whitehead's Fifth Air Force as the Air Assault Force. It was to support the operation by intensified air activities against enemy installations, destroy hostile air and surface forces in the Celebes Sea and assigned areas in the Philippine Archipelago, and provide air defense for


existing bases and forces in transit to Leyte within range of its capabilities. It was also to be prepared to establish, on order, land-based air forces on Leyte. The Thirteenth Air Force was to support the missions of the Fifth Air Force, while the Royal Australian Air Force Command was to destroy Japanese installations and sources of raw materials in the Netherlands Indies.16

Aircraft from other theaters agreed to aid in the operation. The Fourteenth Air Force from the China-Burma-India Theater and the Twentieth Air Force from the Central Pacific were to conduct strikes against Formosa. The Southeast Asia Command was asked to schedule air offensives against Burma and Malaya just prior to A Day.17

Naval Support

The Seventh Fleet under Admiral Kinkaid was assigned the following mission: "by a ship to shore amphibious operation, [to] transport, protect, land and support elements of the 6th Army in order to assist in the seizure, occupation and development of the Leyte area of the Southern Philippines."18 (Chart 2)

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

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

On arrival in the objective area, the bombardment and fire support group was to divide into northern and southern fire support units, which were then to move to their respective target areas. The northern fire


Chart 2
Organization of the Central Philippine Attack Force


support unit consisted of 3 old battleships--the Mississippi, Maryland, and West Virginia--and 3 destroyers. The southern fire support unit was composed of 3 battleships--the Tennessee, California, and Pennsylvania--13 destroyers, 3 light cruisers, 3 heavy cruisers, and 1 small seaplane tender.

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

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

On 20 October the naval gunfire support units were to cover the approach of the transports to the unloading areas and to furnish necessary counterbattery fire; thoroughly cover the landing beach areas from the low-water line to approximately 400 yards inland; and closely support the landings with rockets, 4.2-inch mortars, and gunfire of all caliber from the ships. After the landings, the naval gunfire units were to deliver fire on call and prevent the Japanese from either reinforcing or evacuating the island.21

The Joint Chiefs of Staff had directed Admiral Nimitz to support General MacArthur's operation against Leyte. Admiral Nimitz ordered Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet to "destroy enemy naval and air forces in or threatening the Philippine Area." The Third Fleet was also to protect the air and sea communications along the Central Philippines axis. If an opportunity to destroy major portions of the Japanese Fleet should arise or could be created, such destruction was to be the primary task of all naval forces from the Central Pacific. Admiral Halsey and General MacArthur were to arrange the necessary measures for the co-ordination of their operations.22

In support of the Leyte operation the Third Fleet was to contain or destroy the Japanese Fleet and to destroy enemy aircraft and shipping in the Formosa, Luzon, Visayan, and Mindanao areas from 9 October through 17 October, and from A Day for as long as necessary during the next thirty


days, in order to "maintain their continued neutralization." From 18 October until such time as the escort carriers could assume direct support, the Third Fleet was to destroy enemy ground defenses and installations in Leyte and adjacent areas. Finally, the Third Fleet was to provide direct support by fast carrier aircraft for the landing and subsequent operations.23

Submarines from both the Southwest Pacific and Central Pacific were to support the operations by maintaining an offensive reconnaissance over the most probable Japanese route of advance, maintaining observation and lifeguard services and furnishing weather reports and strategic patrols. Submarines from the Central Pacific were to patrol in the Formosa, Luzon, Tokyo Bay, and Sasebo areas, while those from the Seventh Fleet patrolled in the area of Makassar Strait, the Celebes Sea, and the Sulu Sea. Submarines from both areas were to maintain a strong patrol in the Hainan-northern Luzon areas.24

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

The Ground Forces

The ground forces designated for the Leyte operation came from two different theaters--the X Corps from the Southwest Pacific and the XXIV Corps from the Central Pacific. The XXIV Corps, originally intended for the Yap operation, had been substituted for the XIV Corps, originally intended for Leyte. As the new assignment of the XXIV Corps placed it under the operational control of General MacArthur, it was necessary that agreements on the coordination of operations be reached by the commanders in chief of the two areas. The XXIV Corps, with its original shipping, had been turned over to General MacArthur. During the combat phase at Leyte, General MacArthur was to furnish the replacements required by the XXIV Corps, but subsequent replacements were to be supplied by Admiral Nimitz.25

The initial assault for the island of Leyte was to begin in the dim half dawn of 17 October, when elements of the 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion were to land under the protection of naval gunfire and seize the small islands that guarded the entrance to Leyte Gulf. (Map 1) Harbor lights were to be placed on Homonhon Island and the northern tip of Dinagat Island in order to guide the passage of the convoy into the gulf. Since it was believed that there were valuable mine charts on Suluan, that island was added to the objectives of the 6th Rangers.

General Krueger had wanted to use either the reinforced 158th Infantry Regiment or


Map 1
Sixth Army Plan
23 September 1944

the reinforced 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team to secure the island approaches to Leyte Gulf and the Panaon Strait area. The 21st Infantry, which was assigned the mission of securing the Panaon Strait area, then could have remained with the 24th Division, its parent unit, and the 6th Ranger Battalion could have been used wherever and whenever needed. In addition, these missions would have been put in the hands of a general officer who had an experienced staff to assist him. Neither of the desired regiments, however, could be made available for the Leyte operation because of shortage of troops and previous commitments.26

While the Rangers were seizing the small islands, the mine sweepers and underwater


demolition teams were to start clearing the gulf of natural and man-made obstacles. The fire support units were to move in and start softening up the beaches. The completion of these missions would conclude the first phase of the operation.

The second phase comprised "a major amphibious assault to attack and destroy hostile forces in the coastal strip Tacloban-Dulag inclusive, and to seize airdromes and base sites therein; a rapid advance through Leyte Valley to seize and occupy the Capoocan-Carigara-Barugo area; [and finally] open San Juanico and Panaon Straits. . . ."27

In the very early hours of 20 October the Northern and Southern Attack Forces were to move to their appointed beach areas and be prepared to disembark their assault troops. The reinforced 21st Infantry Regiment was to go ashore at 0930 in the vicinity of Panaon Strait at the extreme southeast tip of Leyte and secure control of that entrance to Sogod Bay. To the north at 1000, the X Corps was to land with two divisions abreast in the Marasbaras and Palo areas. About fifteen miles farther south, in the Dulag area, the XXIV Corps was to go ashore simultaneously with two divisions abreast. The two corps would be so widely separated and their objectives so divergent that initially they could not be mutually supporting. Even within the zones of action of the two corps, the missions assigned the divisions would limit the ability of the divisions to support each other.28

As General Krueger felt that the Japanese would offer the greatest resistance in the north, the initial objectives of the X Corps were limited to the seizure of Palo and the capture of Tacloban and its airfield. The northernmost unit, the 1st Cavalry Division, actually an infantry square division, was to land with brigades abreast in the Marasbaras area, advance to the north, and seize Tacloban and its airstrip, the most important objective for A Day. Thereafter, the division was to secure control over San Juanico Strait. To the left of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 24th Division was to go ashore with regiments abreast in the Palo area, seize Palo, and then advance northwest through the Leyte Valley. The two divisions were to converge on Carigara, at the northern end of Leyte Valley on Carigara Bay.29

In the XXIV Corps zone, the 96th Division with regiments abreast was to land in the area between Dulag and San Roque, and to secure that portion of Highway 1 in its zone, Catmon Hill, and, finally, the Dagami-Tanauan area. On its left the 7th Division with regiments abreast was to go ashore in the Dulag area. One element was to go south and seize the Highway 1 bridge and crossings of the Daguitan (Marabang) River at Dao while the main force of the division was to advance along the axis of the Dulag-Burauen road and capture Burauen. The 7th Division would then be in a position to move north toward Dagami. All hostile airfields in its zone of action were to be seized and occupied. The division was to be prepared, on corps order, to seize Abuyog, to the south, and Baybay, on the west coast, destroying enemy forces on the west coast and in the southern portion of Leyte.30

Completion of these missions of the X and XXIV Corps would bring to an end the second phase of the Leyte operation. By this time, General Krueger hoped, the back of the Japanese resistance would be broken.


With Leyte Valley and its airfields and base sites firmly in the hands of the Sixth Army, General Krueger's forces would be in a position to apply firmly the pincers on the remaining Japanese on the island. The X Corps was to drive south down the Ormoc Valley to Ormoc while the XXIV Corps was to move north from Baybay along the shores of Ormoc Bay and make juncture with the X Corps. The remnants of the Japanese forces, driven into the mountains of western Leyte, would be unable to continue an organized resistance.31

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

Since the large number of naval vessels required considerable room for landing the assault troops and for maneuvering, the landing beach areas of the two corps were widely separated. In addition, the value of the road net which connected Dulag with the Burauen airfields formed an important consideration in the determination of the landing beach sites of the XXIV Corps. "This latter factor--which took precedence over the potentiality of strong enemy resistance from Catmon Hill--had determined the selection of beaches in the Dulag area."32

Although it was recognized as necessary for elements of the XXIV Corps to advance south to Abuyog and then overland to Baybay in order to destroy the enemy forces on the west coast, these maneuvers would leave great gaps in the battle line if only four divisions were at first employed. General Krueger therefore asked General Headquarters of the Southwest Pacific for additional combat troops, and during the progress of the campaign General MacArthur made them available.33

The Sixth Army was also troubled about its reserve force. Although the 32d Division at Morotai and Hollandia and the 77th Division at Guam had been designated as Sixth Army Reserve, it would be impossible for these units to arrive at Leyte before the middle of November. The shortage of amphibious shipping made it necessary to mount these divisions on the turnaround of assault shipping. Since the floating reserve would have to come from one of the assault divisions, it was difficult to determine from which division to take it. It was decided that the 96th Division, considering its mission, could best spare such a unit, and the 381st Infantry of that division was therefore selected.34

To summarize the mission of the Sixth Army: on 17 October, the 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion would seize Suluan, Dinagat, and Homonhon Islands, in the entrance to Leyte Bay. At 0930 on 20 October, the 21st Infantry Regiment was to land in the vicinity of Panaon Strait and secure control of that entrance to Sogod Bay. At 1000 on the same day the Sixth Army with the X and XXIV Corps abreast would make a major amphibious landing on Leyte. In the north the X Corps, with the 1st Cavalry Division and the 24th Infantry Division abreast, after moving ashore in the Marasbaras and the Palo areas, would capture Tacloban, its airfield, and Palo. In the south the XXIV Corps with the 96th and 7th Infantry Divisions abreast would go ashore to secure control in the Dulag area.35


The Logistical Plan


The decision to land on Leyte at the beginning of the rainy season and to construct a major supply and air base thereon presented a serious problem to the engineers. The poor soil, inadequate roads, and heavy rains were obstacles that had to be met and in some way overcome if the operation was to be a logistical success. General MacArthur recognized the need for making use of Leyte as a logistical base by creating for the first time in the Southwest Pacific an army service command and by detailing his chief engineer, Maj. Gen. Hugh J. Casey, to be its commander. ASCOM, as it was called, was to provide the logistical services required for the operation and to build and operate the Army base facilities until the United States Army Services of Supply (SWPA) could take over. This transfer was expected to take place about thirty days after the assault troops first landed on the shores of Leyte.36

General MacArthur directed the Sixth Army to establish the following air facilities in the Leyte area: by A plus 5, facilities for two fighter groups, one night fighter squadron, one photo squadron, one medium bomber group plus one squadron, three patrol bomber squadrons, and one Marine reconnaissance squadron; by A plus 30, additional facilities for two light bomber groups, one air-sea rescue squadron, one tactical reconnaissance squadron, and one fighter squadron; additional facilities by A plus 45 for one fighter group, one patrol bomber squadron, two heavy bomber groups, and one laboratory squadron; and by A plus 60, further facilities for one photo squadron, one patrol bomber squadron, two troop carrier groups, and one combat mapping squadron.37

The final Sixth Army plan for the Leyte operation directed ASCOM to establish naval facilities in the Leyte area as well as the aforementioned air facilities; to make topographic and hydrographic surveys, followed by suitable changes in the plans for the construction of bases, docks, roads, and airdromes; to unload all units, supplies, and matériel arriving in the area and to store and issue supplies to ground and air units; and, in co-operation with the Philippine Civil Affairs Units, recruit and direct native labor.38

The construction program as planned for Leyte brought strong remonstrances from the Sixth Army engineers. On 10 August Col. William J. Ely, the executive officer, protested against the employment of Leyte as a major supply and air force base. The reasons for his objections were prophetic. The operation was to be launched during the season of heavy rains in an area where high winds and typhoons occurred. The harbor was so shallow and so obstructed by patches of coral that the approaches would have to be as much as 800 feet long. The fact that the flat Leyte Valley was interlaced by many streams and flooded with rice paddies indicated that the soil was "most unstable." The condition of the soil and drainage would require the hauling, frequently for long distances, of considerable quantities of rock for the construction of roads. The existing roads and bridges, in most places so narrow as to permit only one-way traffic, would soon disintegrate under the constant heavy rains and the pounding of military vehicles. Colonel Ely forecast


that, in the light of past experience with poor conditions of soil and drainage, the construction and enlargement of the airstrips would be difficult. The shortage of engineer troops decreased the possibility of providing major air and supply bases in sufficient time to properly support further operations. He concluded that "the construction mission cannot be satisfactorily accomplished with the engineer troops available, particularly during the first 90 days." Colonel Ely gloomily summarized, "Perhaps we can mud and muddle through again on a shoestring but the shoestring must be frayed by this time and if it broke we may lose our shirt as well as our shoe."

If the strategic plan were fixed, he recommended that one or more of the following measures be adopted: (1) increase the number of engineer construction troops; (2) shift the operation to an area where major air and supply bases could be constructed without encountering the adverse weather and port conditions existing on Leyte; (3) "decrease the tempo of the strategic plan"; and finally (4) decrease the scope of the air and supply requirements. Nothing was to be gained "by undertaking an overambitious program from the beginning that cannot be completed on a time schedule that will assure early and adequate support to future operations."39

Col. Samuel D. Sturgis, Jr., Sixth Army Engineer, forwarded Colonel Ely's report with a strong concurrence to General MacArthur's engineer, but General Headquarters decided to proceed with the original logistical plans for the operation.40


The supplies required for the operation involved staggering quantities. For an invasion force of 150,000 men, the War Department figures showed that, for the landing period alone, 1,500,000 tons of general equipment, 235,000 tons of combat vehicles, 200,000 tons of ammunition, and 200,000 tons of medical supplies were required. Thereafter, 332,000 tons of equipment would be required every thirty days.41 According to the final plan, issued by General Krueger on 30 September 1944,42 the units of the Sixth Army, X Corps, and Sixth Army Service Command, under General Casey, which were to arrive at Leyte between 20 and 30 October were to take ashore a minimum of ten days' supply of all classes (except engineer supplies, which were to be for at least thirty days), and two units of fire.43 In this way the strain on ASCOM supply units would be lessened, and ASCOM, it was hoped, would have time to establish dumps and make the necessary supply installations. In addition to supplies accompanying the assault troops, sufficient quantities were to be brought into Leyte by 30 October to bring the total supplies for the troops to the following figures, expressed in days: thirty days of food, clothing, and equipment; fifteen days of motor transport fuel and distillate; and thirty days of other petroleum products. There were also to be five units of fire for combat troops and three for service troops. The original plan had called for a thirty-day supply of all petroleum products to be brought in by A plus 10,


but this quantity was reduced when General Krueger adopted a plan for the installation by A plus 7 of bulk fuel storage. The XXIV Corps supply levels were to remain the same as those planned for the now-canceled Yap operation, since the corps was already loaded with supplies which were considered adequate for the Leyte invasion.44

There were certain differences in the loads carried by the X and the XXIV Corps. The XXIV Corps embarked with a thirty-day supply of rations and medical supplies, twenty days of clothing, weapons, vehicles, fuels, lubricants, construction matériel, and seven units of fire for all artillery and five units for other types of weapons. Since the type of equipment loaded had been selected for the Yap operation, amphibian vehicles were favored over wheeled vehicles. Less than 50 percent of the Table of Equipment allowance of general purpose vehicles and dump trucks accompanied the units. Furthermore, many badly needed items of organizational equipment were carried by the rear echelons, which did not arrive until January 1945, after Leyte had been secured.45

The supplies which were to accompany the troops during the initial phases of the Leyte operation were to come from bases in New Guinea and the Central Pacific. Resupply shipping--to be called for as needed--was to be loaded at bases in the United States, Australia, and, if necessary, New Guinea.46 In addition, ten loaded liberty ships were to be held in floating reserve, eight at Hollandia and two in the Palaus. Two of these were loaded with aviation gasoline, two with fuel oil and lubricants, two with ammunition for the air forces and four with ammunition for the ground forces. Admiral Nimitz was to furnish two of the four last mentioned. Except for the LST's transporting the XXIV Corps, each LST arriving on 20 October was to carry thirty tons of technical supplies for the air forces. All LST's arriving from A plus 1 through A plus 4 were to carry forty tons of similar supplies.47 General MacArthur charged the Commanding General, United States Army Services of Supply (SWPA), with providing the Sixth Army with all supplies, except air force technical supplies, that would be needed for the operation.48

An Army garrison force for Yap under Maj. Gen. Roscoe B. Woodruff had been scheduled to go with the XXIV Corps, and at Admiral Nimitz' suggestion this force was designated to accompany the corps to the new target, Leyte, though the Southwest Pacific Area had never used an organization of this type.49 It was hoped that the force might be useful in taking over "housekeeping" duties and the development of rear areas, thus relieving the assault commander of those responsibilities. Incidentally, General Krueger made little use of the garrison force. Units which furnished logistic support for carrier operations were also included and were to be assigned to the Seventh Fleet. Admiral Nimitz was to continue furnishing logistic support to the XXIV Corps until relieved by General MacArthur.50



On 21 September, Pacific Ocean Areas and Southwest Pacific Area reached an agreement on resupply of ammunition for the XXIV Corps. Arrangements were made for loaded ships from San Francisco to be sent to the Leyte area periodically to alleviate the shipping shortage.51 It was expected that at least twenty-two cargo ships would so arrive from San Francisco during the operation.

The change in target dates and the substitution of the XXIV Corps for the XIV Corps reduced the amount of amphibious shipping available for the Leyte operation. Consequently representatives of the Sixth Army, the VII Amphibious Force, and the Fifth Air Force met at General Krueger's headquarters to work out the details for a new shipping schedule. They made minor changes in the dates for the movement of convoys, and rearranged echelons, eliminating one.52 The shipping for the XXIV Corps and the ten resupply ships were to remain the same as planned for Yap.53

The amphibious shipping allocated to MacArthur was to be made available for such turnaround shipping as would be required. The date of release of the amphibious vessels in order to mount subsequent operations would be announced later, but none were to be released for return to Nimitz' control without permission from MacArthur. An additional division lift, which was not included, was to return the 77th Division from Guam to Guadalcanal or to a location indicated by Admiral Nimitz.54

On 25 September Sixth Army submitted to General Headquarters a schedule of cargo loadings of heavy shipping for the Leyte operation and made suggestions as to heavy shipping for direct movement of troops. All troops and supply ships with the assault convoy which were to depart from Hollandia must arrive in that area not later than A minus 9.55

The shipping instructions specified that the ships were to be loaded for selective discharge; all resupply ships transporting rations, clothing, vehicles, weapons, and ammunition would be duplicate loaded; loaded floating reserve ships would be provided; medical supplies would be top loaded to avoid breakage and damage; and sufficient stevedore gear would be placed aboard each ship to handle its cargo. On 25 and 26 September General Krueger's transportation officer submitted to General Headquarters the heavy shipping requirements for the overwater movement of cargo and troops, respectively. It was considered necessary to utilize "all types of shipping from Navy LSM's, LST's, and assault transports to army controlled merchant ships and troop carriers."56 Additional shipping was obtained by making use of that which had carried the 1st Marine Division and the 81st Division to Peleliu and Angaur in the Palau Islands.57 The shipping specified above was assembled at Manus and Hollandia


and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division and the 24th Division, which were embarking, respectively, at those two ports. The XXIV Corps, after leaving the Hawaiian Islands, was brought to Manus where it remained in its original shipping.

On 8 October General Krueger asked the commanding generals of X Corps, XXIV Corps, and ASCOM, together with the commanding officers of the 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion and the 21st Infantry Regiment, whether they would be able to meet the target date for Leyte.58 Upon receiving affirmative replies, he laconically informed General Headquarters: "Sixth Army Forces designated for KING TWO Operations are ready to meet KING TWO Target Date."59


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (2) * Next Chapter (4)


1. Unless otherwise stated this section is based upon a report by Col H. V. White, G-2 Sixth Army, sub: G-2 Est of Enemy Sit, 20 Sep 44, Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, pp. 167-70.

2. GHQ SWPA Philippine Monthly Combined Sitrep, 15 Jun 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 15 Jun 44.

3. GHQ SWPA Philippine Islands, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit 4, 11-17 Jun 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 17 Jun 44; GHQ SWPA Philippine Islands, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit 5, 18-24 Jun 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 24 Jun 44; AAF SWPA Intel Sum, Ser 216, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 13 Jun 44; GHQ SWPA Philippine Islands, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit 6, 25 Jun-1 Jul 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 1 Jul 44; GHQ SWPA Philippine Islands, G-2 Est of Enemy Sit 7, 2-8 Jul 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 8 Jul 44; AAF SWPA Intel Sum, Ser 225, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 14 Jul 44.

4. AAF SWPA Intel Sum. Ser 228, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 25 Jul 44.

5. Notes, WIDEAWAKE Conference, 20 Jul 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 24 Jul 44.

6. Sixth Army G-2 Est of Enemy Sit, 20 Sep 44, Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 170.

7. GHQ SWPA Warning Instns 5, 31 Aug 44.

8. GHQ SWPA Warning Instns 5/1, 15 Sep 44.

9. GHQ SWPA Stf Study, KING II, 4th ed., 20 Sep 44. This study was not a directive but a basis for planning the operation.

10. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Opn Plan 8-44, quoted in Annex A, CINCPAC-CINCPOA Opns in POA, Oct 44, pp. 56-57, A-16-3/FF12, Ser 00397, 31 May 45.

11. Sixth Army FO 25, 23 Sep 44, Annexes 6a-6f.

12. Hist Div, Dept of the Army, Combat Chronicle, An Outline History of U.S. Army Divisions, passim, OCMH.

13. CTF 77 Opns Plan, Ser 00022A, 26 Sep 44, GHQ G-3 Jnl, 6 Oct 44; CINCPAC-CINCPOA Opn Plan 8-44, cited n. 10, above.

14. GHQ SWPA Opns Instns 70, 21 Sep 44.

15. Ibid.

16. AAF SWPA Opns Instns 71, 24 Sep 44.

17. FEAF, History of Far East Air Forces, I, 117, AAF Hist Archives.

18. CANF SWPA Opns Plan 13-44, 26 Sep 44.

19. Ibid., Apps. 1 and 2 to Annex C.

20. Ibid., App. 3 to Annex E.

21. Ibid., App. 1 to Annex E.

22. CINCPAC-CINCPOA Opn Plan 8-44, cited n. 10, above.

23. GHQ SWPA Opns Instns 70, 21 Sep 44.

24. CANF SWPA Opns Plan 13-44, 26 Sep 44.

25. Memo, Rear Adm Forrest P. Sherman, Plans Off POA, and Maj Gen Stephen J. Chamberlin, ACofS G-3 SWPA, for CINCSWPA and CINCPOA, 21 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 21 Sep 44.

26. Ibid.

27. Sixth Army FO 25, 23 Sep 44.

28. Ibid.; Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 23.

29. X Corps FO 1, 30 Sep 44; 1st Cav Div FO 1, 2 Oct 44; 24th Inf Div FO 1, 1 Oct 44.

30. XXIV Corps FO 3, 28 Sep 44; 96th Div FO 2, 10 Oct 44; 7th Div FO 9, 1 Oct 44.

31. Sixth Army FO 25, 23 Sep 44.

32. Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 23.

33. Ibid.

34. Ibid.

35. Ibid., p. 20.

36. Ibid., p. 24.

37. Ibid., p. 19.

38. Sixth Army FO 25, 23 Sep 44.

39. Memo, Col Ely, Exec Off, Sixth Army Engineer, for Col Samuel D. Sturgis, Jr., Sixth Army Engineer; Air Evaluation Board SWPA, The Leyte Campaign, pp. 400-403.

40. Interv with Maj Gen George H. Decker, formerly CofS Sixth Army, 7 Sep 51.

41. MI, GS, GHQ FEC, History of the United States Army Forces in the Far East 1943-1945, p. 69.

42. Sixth Army Admin O 14, 30 Sep 44.

43. Sixth Army Admin O 14, Annex 4, 30 Sep 44.

44. Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 24.

45. XXIV Corps Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 35.

46. Ibid.

47. Sixth Army Admin O 14, 30 Sep 44.

48. GHQ SWPA Opns Instns 70, Annex 4, 21 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 21 Sep 44.

49. Ibid., p. 18.

50. Rad, CINCPOA to CINCSWPA, 16119, 19 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 19 Sep 44; Info Rad, CINCSWPA to CINCPOA, CX 18072, 20 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 21 Sep 44.

51. Memo, Adm Sherman, Plans Off POA, and Gen Chamberlin, ACofS G-3 SWPA, for CINCSWPA and CINCPOA, 21 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 22 Sep 44.

52. Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, p. 19.

53. GHQ SWPA Opns Instns 70, Annex 4, 21 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 21 Sep 44.

54. Ltr, GHQ SWPA to Comdr Allied Naval Forces, 23 Sep 44, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 26 Sep 44.

55. Ltr, Lt Col James W. Hill, Asst AG Sixth Army to CINCSWPA and CG USASOS, 25 Sep 44, sub: Heavy Shipping Requirements for KING II Operation, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 25 Sep 44.

56. Sixth Army Opns Rpt Leyte, Rpt of Transportation Off, p. 270.

57. CTF 77 Attack Plan A304-44, 2 Oct 44.

58. Rads, CG Sixth Army to CG X Corps, CG XXIV Corps, CG ASCOM, CO 21st Inf Regt, and CO 6th Ranger Inf Bn, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 8 Oct 44.

59. Rad, CG Sixth Army to GHQ SWPA, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl, 10 Oct 44.

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation