BALITANG BETERANO: THE HISTORICAL LANDING IN LEYTE 60 YEARS AGO
MANILA, October 8, 2004 (BALITANG BETERANO Culled by Col (Ret) Frank B. Quesada, Former Senate Committee Secretary, Veterans and Military Pension Associate, PMA’44) Gen. D. McArthur’s proposal to attack Leyte Islands in the Philippines, was a hot issue and was not settled until the US Joint Chiefs-of-Staff met in September and was finally agreed on December.
Gen. McArthur felt an obligation to the Filipino people and to himself to redeem his solemn promise to return and liberate the Philippines. He deeply knew he failed in Bataan and Corregidor under the US betrayal of the United States Army in the Far East (USAFFE) when the US abandoned the Philippines as a wretched pawn in World War II.
McArthur was preoccupied in his leap-frogging campaign in Morortai when Admiral Halsey’s planes had already attacked Mindanao and the Visayas. On the other hand, Admiral Nimitz had his own agenda that Mindanao should be by-passed and that Leyte should be attacked immediately. Bum information saying that there were no Japanese forces in Leyte was incorrect, and was refute by McArthur’s headquarters and instead informed Gen. Marshall to the contrary.
Filipino guerrillas have furnished McArthur precise intelligence about the exact estimated of 20,000 Japanese forces in Leyte. Joint US Chiefs-of-Staff decided to lend McArthur escort carriers and other vessels from Nimitz’s command in Palau for the assault of Leyte. McArthur was back on top of the situation – thus, was in command of Halsey’s Third Fleet with Gen. Kenney’s air force plus the Australian RAAF Command. He was also provided with 174,000 troops . With such support, Minister W. Churchill had taken interest in McArthur and the Pacific War. McArthur then formed the US Eight Army under Maj. Gen. Eichelberger who was to relieve Maj. Gen. Krueger of the US 6th Army. In mid-October Gen. Kenny’s air force raided Formosa with Admiral Halsey’s forces. McArthur was confident that Leyte would be a decisive battle of the Pacific War. At this point and time there was already a convergence of 700 ships heading for Leyte.
The attack came at dawn and after the first wave landed, McArthur embarked ashore on a landing craft, waded into the water along with the then Philippine President Sergio Osmena. Under a heavy monsoon, McArthur over Leyte, spoke over the microphone and broadcast his personal message to the Filipino people. He said, and I quote, to wit:
“People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God. our forces stand again on Philippine soil. – soil so consecrated by the blood of our two peoples.”
McArthur added to say that Pres. Osmena was by his side, and that the government of the Philippines was now “firmly re-established on Philippine soil,” He urged all Filipinos to rally to him. “Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor head on in the name of your sacred dead. Let no heart faint, let every arm be steeled. The guidance of Divine God points the way. Follow in His name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory.”
McArthur’s resounding voice and prose gave an impact on every Filipino who believed in McArthurs promise to come back under his incredible word, “I Shall Return.” And he did - a bit late.
McArthur sent a scribbled note to his Commander-in-Chief, Pres. F. Roosevelt urging the latter to grant the Philippines an early independence. And asked Roosevelt to attend the ceremony in person. McArthur told Roosevelt, “Such a step will electrify the whole world and redound immeasurably to the credit and honor of the U.S.. for thousand years.”
On the other side of the coin, the Japanese were not impressed of the McArthur’s words and/or by his accomplishments. On October Japanese intelligence picked up the information that the US forces were to land in Leyte, Admiral Kurita’s ship had sunk four ships of Admiral Kincaid’s Seventh Fleet. McArthur opined that there was lack of definitive coordination between the US Navy and the Army. Every day McArthur went ashore to supervise the operations.
In fact, McArthur was correct in agreeing to by-pass Mindanao in favor of Leyte to save GI lives. His strategy paid off then who had ample supplies for his operations. By early December, his troops landed in the West coast of Leyte went off with out loss of life, albeit Gen. Yamashita was prepaid to give up the island without fight.
Airfield in Dulag and Tacloban were attacked. The Japanese were faced with eight divisions in the Pacific War. Filipino guerillas were hot on the trail of every Japanese all over the archipelago upon learning that McArthur was back and with plentiful of war supplies. The tide of war has reversed and the Japanese were on the run.
McArthur finally won his internal internecine squabble over the rest of his protagonists in Washington D.C. and in the Pacific. He was now in full command. Gen. Marshall have even given him the rank of General of the Army, which was accepted. Leyte was won like a piece of cake, so to speak, and mopping up of Leyte was with the tremendous help of blood-thirsty Filipino guerrillas all out for revenge. It was recorded that the liberation of the Philippines – Filipino guerillas saved thousands of American GI lives and billions of dollars for the U.S. that shortened the war.
Let it be known that One (1) million Filipinos perished in America’s war against Japan, which was not inherently not their own. No matter how the U.S. tried to elude or dodge its great obligation of $3.2 billion incurred in WW-II to Filipinos – God’s truth can not be distracted or swept under the rug - or craftily turning this subject aside, facts can not slipped away with less contrivance. There were 200,000 Filipino troops involved by the US in its imperial war under the U.S. flag.
McArthur’s determination to liberate Luzon on December was a cinch after the victory in Leyte. He fielded the US Sixth Army and the US Eight Army that landed in Luzon. The Sixth Army landed in Lingayen, Pangasinan while the Eight Army landed in Nasugbu, Batangas. Both forces were on a race to liberate Manila, and the US Sixth Army and the 37th Division rescued the POWs in the University Sto Tomas in Manila.
For our part , the Hunters-PMA, ROTC Guerrilla met the US Eight Army in the beach of Nasugbu – and mounted a joint- liberation of Southern Luzon with other guerrilla units. Yamamshita escaped to the Cordilleras in Northern Luzon. Then Hunters-PMA-ROTC Guerrilla together with elements of the US 11th Airborne Division rescued all 2,000 Americans and allied POWS in Los Banos, Laguna in Feb. 23, 1945 a fact so little-known to the whole world.
The US Sixth Army beat us one day earlier in entering Manila. We were stymied by the suicidal forces of Admiral Iwabuchi in the Southern jaw of Manila. The Japanese defense force lost approximately 49,000 of their number, while the allies lost 35,000 in Leyte. They would suffer more in Luzon.
In Luzon, Yamashita knew, just as McArthur knew a little more than three years before that loss of superiority was a fact. The Philippines was lost, and the Filipino guerrillas continued the fight from 1942 to 1945. This article was culled from the suggested reading: (Return to the Philippines, Ballantine History Illustrated and the book 'Mc Arthur'.) # # E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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