Just after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded the Philippines and overran the islands by April, 1942. In March 1942, FDR ordered the Commander of the Philippine Department and Field Marshal of the Army of the Philippines Gen. Douglas MacArthur to Australia in order to prevent his capture by the Japanese. Upon arriving in Australia he said, “I came through and I shall return”.
Over two years later on 20 October 1944, Gen Krueger’s US Sixth Army splashed ashore on the Philippine Island of Leyte and linked up with Col Ruberto Kangleon’s various American and Filipino guerilla organizations. Later that afternoon, MacArthur staged a dramatic and meticulously scripted personal landing on Leyte, where he announced, “People of the Philippines, I have returned! By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil.”
Taking advantage of the bad October weather, Gen Tomoyuki Yamashita, the commander of all Japanese forces in the Philippines, heavily reinforced Leyte, and planned on making a fight of the island in order to force MacArthur’s invasion fleet, and the US Fifth and Seventh Fleets to concentrate. In the coming days, the still powerful and numerous battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy used the cover of the monsoon to try and close with and destroy the US ships in the close waters of the Leyte Gulf. Operation Sho I was the Imperial Japanese General Staff’s last chance at Kantai Kessen, or the final decisive battle to end the war on terms favorable to the Japanese.
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