With the Leyte Campaign the War in the Pacific entered a decisive stage. The period of limited offensives, bypassing, and island hopping was virtually over. American troops in greater numbers than ever before assembled in the Pacific Theater, supported by naval and air forces of corresponding size, fought and overcame Japanese forces of greater magnitude than any previously met.

Though the spotlight is on the front-line fighting, the reader will find in this volume a faithful description of all arms and services performing their missions. The account is not exclusively an infantry story. It covers as well the support of ground fighting on Leyte by large-scale naval operations and by land-based air power under the most adverse conditions. In addition, careful attention to logistical matters, such as the movement of supplies and the evacuation of the wounded, gives the reader a picture of the less spectacular activities of an army in battle.

Washington, D.C. Maj. Gen., U.S.A.
30 January 1953 Chief of Military History


The Author

M. Hamlin Cannon received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History from the American University of Washington, D.C. He is already known to American historians for his writings on Mormon and Civil War history which have appeared in historical journals. During World War II he served with the Navy in Australia and New Guinea.



The landing of the American forces on Leyte on 20 October 1944 brought to fruition the long-cherished desire of General Douglas MacArthur to return to the Philippine Islands and avenge the humiliating reverses suffered in the early days of World War II. The successful conclusion of the campaign separated the Japanese-held Philippine Archipelago into two parts, with a strong American force between them. More important, it completed the severance of the Japanese mainland from the stolen southern empire in the Netherlands Indies from which oil, the lifeblood of modern warfare, had come.

The Leyte Campaign, like other campaigns in the Pacific, was waged on the land, in the air, and on and under the sea. In this operation all branches of the American armed forces played significant roles. Therefore, although the emphasis in this volume is placed upon the deeds of the United States Army ground soldier, the endeavors of the aviator, the sailor, the marine and the Filipino guerrilla have been integrated as far as possible into the story in order to make the campaign understandable in its entirety. At the same time, every effort has been made to give the Japanese side of the story.

Obviously, to include every exploit of every branch of the armed forces, of the Filipinos, and of the Japanese would be far beyond the compass of a single volume. A careful selectivity was necessary throughout in order to avoid the Scylla of omission while skirting the Charybdis of oversimplification. Despite these precautions, because of the nature of the available documentary evidence, I may have unwittingly fallen into some of the very pitfalls that I tried to avoid.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to the many people who have given fully of their time and talents in the preparation of this volume.

Especial thanks are due to Dr. John Miller, jr., who, during his tenure as Chief of the Pacific Section, Office of the Chief of Military History, carefully reviewed the final draft of the manuscript. His sound advice and constructive criticism eliminated many a roadblock. I wish, also, to thank Dr. Louis Morton, Chief of the Pacific Section, under whose direction this volume was started; he made constructive criticism of several of the chapters. Dr. Kent Roberts Greenfield, Chief Historian, Department of the Army, devoted much time and effort to reviewing the manuscript and his many penetrating comments on the various chapters were invaluable.


Appreciation is due to the people of the Historical Records Section, Departmental Records Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, who helped to locate source material and furnished working space for me and the records. To Mrs. Lois Aldridge, Mrs. Frances Bowen, Mrs. Clyde Christian, Miss Margaret Emerson, Mrs. Ellen Garrison, Mr. Robert Greathouse, Miss Matilda Huber, Mrs. Margarite Kerstetter, Mr. Wilbur Nigh, Miss Sue D. Wallace, and Miss Thelma K. Yarborough--thanks.

I wish also to thank the members of the U.S. Air Force Historical Division, Air University, and the Naval History Branch, Naval Records and History Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, for placing at my disposal the pertinent air and naval records.

Thanks are also due to the members of the historical sections of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force and to the many participating commanders of various branches of the U.S. armed forces who read all or parts of the manuscript.

The late W. Brooks Phillips started the editing of the manuscript. He was succeeded by Col. B. A. Day, Chief of the Editorial and Publication Division, and Mrs. Loretto Stevens. Mrs. Stevens also prepared the final copy for the printer. Miss Mary Ann Bacon prepared the index.

Mrs. Martha Willoughby, in addition to accomplishing the arduous task of interpreting my handwriting, typed many of the drafts of the manuscript and saw that the subject and predicate agreed. Mrs. Wynona Hayden, Mrs. Stella Hess, and Mrs. Michael Miller also typed parts of the manuscript. Miss Elizabeth Armstrong painstakingly typed the final copy.

Mr. Wsevelod Aglaimoff and Lt. Col. Robert F. O'Donnell, as well as other members of the Cartographic Branch, spent many months in research for and preparation of the maps. At the time this volume was being prepared for publication, no reliable maps of Leyte were available. The maps for this volume are based on the highly inaccurate maps used by the troops during the operation. The relief in particular, as shown on these maps, has little in common with the terrain configuration which confronted the troops. Thus, both military and geographical information as given on the maps in the volume should be regarded only as an approximation of the actual situation at the time of the battle.

Major Arthur T. Lawry selected and edited the photographs used in this volume. Lt. Roger Pineau (USNR) furnished me the photograph of General Suzuki. Mr. Israel Wice and his capable assistants in the General Reference Branch were helpful at crucial stages of the manuscript.

My sincere appreciation and thanks go to Maj. Gen. Harry A. Maloney, Chief of Military History, and to his successors, Maj. Gen. Orlando Ward and Maj. Gen. Albert C. Smith, as well as to members of their staffs, for their understanding and co-operation.

Washington, D.C. M. HAMLIN CANNON
15 June 1953  


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