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Battle of Leyte
The Battle of Leyte in the Pacific campaign of World War II was the invasion and conquest of Leyte in the Philippines by American and Allied forces under the command of General Douglas MacArthur between October 20 and December 31 1944.
MacArthur expected the battle to be a prelude to a main engagement on Luzon, but the Japanese commander Tomoyuki Yamashita saw the landings on Leyte as an opportunity to fight a decisive battle. As both sides built up their forces on the island, the battle became the second bloodiest of the Pacific campaign, after Okinawa.
For the Japanese, holding on to the Philippines was vital: it was an important source of supplies, especially rubber, and it commanded the sea routes to Borneo and Sumatra by which oil was brought to Japan. For the Americans, it was a matter of national prestige to show that it could protect its colonial possessions. It was also a personal matter for MacArthur: two years previously he had left the Philippines vowing to return.
It was clear to the Japanese in mid-1944 that the Philippines would be a logical next step for the Americans after capturing the Mariana Islands. Accordingly, they sent large reinforcements. Good intelligence from decryption of Japanese radio signals allowed the American submarines to sink many transports, but by October 1944 the Japanese had more than 400,000 troops in the Philippines.
The first American plans for the invasion of the Philippines was for a simultaneous landing on Leyte and Mindanao to the south but lack of landing craft and shipping meant that the plan had to be scaled back.
The Japanese saw the Leyte as a chance to fight a decisive battle against the US Army from a position of strength. Accordingly, the 20,000 troops on the island on 20 October were reinforced throughout the battle; by 11 December 34,000 troops had been shipped in. However, the reinforcement convoys were costly in ships as the US inderdiction led to engagements like the battle of Ormoc Bay .
- Leyte from US Army Campaigns of World War II at ibiblio.org
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