And so it begins …
22 November 1944, the 11th Airborne Division received orders to relieve the 7th Infantry Division along the Burauen-La Pag-Bugho line and destroy all enemy on their way and in that sector. While the 77th and 32d divisions converged on the valley, the 11th moved into the central mountain pass from the east. During this time on Leyte, the 11th A/B was under the command of the Sixth Army.
Field Order Number 28 instructed them to continue through a very rough and densely forested area called the Cordillera. The rainy season dragged on and on and the mud not only caked on their boots (making it difficult to walk), but it ate clear through the footwear within a week. The uniforms began to rot away. The men were quickly beginning to realize why the natives wished to be paid in clothing rather than food or cash.
One part of the Headquarters Company was left guarding the perimeter of Mawala and the remainder of the unit went upstream to Manarawat to defend that perimeter. Here, the 221st Airborne Medical Company, with two portable surgical hospitals, took nip-thatched huts and lined them with parachutes. Despite the trials and tribulations of the troopers after they landed between Abuyog and Tarragona just four days previous, they proceeded in their mission to relieve the 24th and 37th infantry divisions.
Considering the advances the U.S. forces had already gained, especially at the ports and airfields, the Japanese Imperial Headquarters sent an edict to their troops demanding the destruction of Dulag and Tacloban airstrips. Japanese paratroopers immediately set out to jump on the Burauen airstrip; some missed their targets and landed on other airstrips.
At approximately 1800 hours on 6 December 1944, the American troopers heard and sighted Japanese bombers circling San Pablo airfield, but only a few bombs were dropped. Shortly afterward a large “V” of transport aircraft went overhead flying at 700 feet and 300 paratroopers of the Katori Shimpei Force landed and spread out. The Japanese command had named this operation, Te-Go. The Americans were taken by surprise. The only units stationed at the airfield were the 127th Engineers, the Signal Company and Headquarters Battery of Division Artillery. Many of the Japanese troopers died or were wounded when they jumped on Leyte due to a flaw with their quick release style parachute. Some of the men were being released 400 feet above the ground only to watch the earth rise toward them in their last seconds of life. Nevertheless, this did not stop the Japanese or even slow them down.
The enemy troopers commenced at once to set fire to the planes and supply dumps, but they appeared to be less than organized. Colonel Hildebrand arrived on the scene with the 187th RCT and the 674th Field Artillery division and they began to clear out the area. Many of the Japanese escaped into the jungles.
Posted on November 20, 2012, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged 11th airborne, 11th airborne division, Airborne, Army, Gen. Swing, History, Leyte, mauldin cartoon, Military, Military History, Pacific War, paratroopers, Philippines, veterans, war, war letters, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.