Gen. Robert Eichelberg’s Leyte

Col. Aubrey Newman depicted in Leyte 1944, “Follow Me” H. Charles McBarron

“Eighth Army took over Leyte on Christmas Day.  There were 8 divisions fighting there when I assumed command.  When the 32nd Div. and 1st Cavalry broke through on a narrow front, GHQ described the Leyte campaign as officially closed and future operations as “mopping-up.”

“Actually, the Japanese Army was still intact.  I was told there were only 6,000 Japanese left on the island.  This estimate was in serious error.  Soon, Japanese began streaming across the Ormoc Valley, well equipped and apparently well-fed.  It took several months of the roughest kind of combat to defeat this army.  Between Christmas Day and the end of the campaign, we killed more than 27,000 Japanese.

“Many others, evacuated safely by bancas (small boats), and reappeared to fight the 8th Army on other islands.  I called these singularly alive veteran troops the Ghosts of Leyte.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur with Maj. General Joseph Swing, Lt. Gen. Richard Sutherland, and Gen. Robert Eichelberger. (US National Archives)

“I am a great admirer of Gen. MacArthur as a military strategist…  But I must admit that after 6 years serving under him, I never understood the public relations policy that either he or his assistants established.  It seems to me ill advised to announce victories when a first phase had been accomplished…

“Too often, as at Buna, Sanananda, as on Leyte, Mindanao and Luzon, the struggle was to go on for a long time.Often these announcements produce bitterness among combat troops, and with good cause.  The phrase “mopping-up” had no particular appeal for a haggard, muddy sergeant of the Americal Division whose platoon had just been wiped out in western Leyte…  Or to the historian of the 11th Airborne, who wrote:

‘Through mud and rain, over treacherous rain-swollen gorges, through jungle growth, over slippery, narrow, root-tangled, steep foot trails, the Angels pushed wet to clear the Leyte mountain range…  It was bitter, exhausting, rugged fighting – physically the most terrible we were ever to know.’

457th Field Artillery/11th Airborne Div., Leyte

The combat infantryman deserved the best and usually fared the poorest in the matter of sugar plums, luxuries and mail from home.  The home folks in America were vastly generous, but transport to the front could not always carry out their good intentions.  Ammunition and rations came first.  This – the G.I. could understand… But, it was disconcerting to find out he had only been “mopping -up”.

“If there is another war, I recommend that the military and the correspondents and everyone else concerned, drop the phrase “mopping-up” from their vocabularies.  It is NOT a good enough phrase to die for.”

This informational quote is from “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo” by General Robert Eichelberger.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Carrington – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Norman Fraser – No. York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Virgil Hess – South Bend, IN; USMC, WWII, PTO

Thomas Kinsman – Renton, WA; US Army, Vietnam, B/3/60/9th Infantry Div., Medal of Honor

Roger ‘Whitey’ Lebon – Pana, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Anne Morrissy Merick – NYC, NY; civilian war correspondent, Vietnam

Roger Moore – London, ENG; Royal Army Service Corps # 372394, Captain, (beloved actor)

Amos Smith – Houma, LA; US Army, WWII

Richard Tuff – Salem, OR; US Navy, WWII, USS Enterprise

Joseph Valderrama – brn: SPN/NJ; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Faunce & Breckenridge

Wayne Wills – Hampton, VA; US Coast Guard, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 25, 2017, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 77 Comments.

  1. it’s again an excellent post.Thanks you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Only 6,000 Japanese left on the island ?, I think there were many discrepancies fed to Macarthur during the war years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Info wasn’t clearly getting to the Japanese either – a whole different world back then, eh Ian? Now we have tablets, cellphones and satellites at war and the wars drag on longer [Afghanistan 16 years], what’s up with that?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I say again what I’ve said before; if the politicians who decree we should ‘go to war’ were the first on the battlefield, wars would be over the same day as they started. There is no glory in war, only the gore of honourable troops. Your posts are phenomenal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the headaches with being the guy in charge is that the people writing the checks want to hear you are making progress. Sometimes, I suspect Gen. MacArthur obliged those people too readily. The fog of war fools even great generals.

    Like

  5. I agree with the men. “Mopping up” is better reserved for spills on the kitchen floor. Some of the stories you share here are just astounding. We have so many good people in our country today, and despite reports from some quarters, some very good young people, too. But this was extraordinary — I hope we never have to face such wars again. I heard an interview with some Navy Seals today, and I think they could do some real story-swapping with these men.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sheri DeGrom lights up my life when she says that the Little Rock VA puts my site on their ‘big screen’ and the posts started the vets from the different wars actually talking to each other. The psychiatrists hadn’t been able to do that but my small contribution to in this corner of the web did – I don’t think I ever smiled wider!!!
      [a little teary too, but don’t tell anybody, sssush..]

      Like

  6. Gen. Eichelberger’s book is going to be added to my reading list

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Whilst I have popped in a few times before I don’t think I have ever read a post in its entirety until now, history is truly amazing and this piece had me thinking about the pointless loss of life in conflict. I will try and read more now that I’m following 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • History is not everyone’s “cup-of-tea”, but I appreciate those that make an effort to understand what it actually takes for us to be free, so free to do as we please that we [our different generations] tend to forget and take them granted.
      Welcome. We have a great group here that enjoy talking talking to each other, not just boring old me, add the stories they heard from friends and relatives and ask questions. I hope you enjoy your visits, Eddy.

      Like

  8. Profound views expressed here, GP

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent, with a great picture of the kind I would like on our walls, (but my wife wouldn’t.) What is said about the sergeant and the phrase “mopping-up” is extremely reminiscent of the attitudes of troops in the First World War. They could get pretty bitter too on occasion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John, you could always remind your wife how colorful the painting is….
      It seems to be a persistent attitude with the ‘higher-ups’, but certainly not the soldier in the field!!

      Like

  10. I have nominated you for an award if you wish to accept it:
    https://thisisnotbangkok.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/sunshine-blogger-award/
    Thank you so much for sharing your incredible talent with us all – Keep up the great work!

    Like

  11. Found the large number of Japanese still on the island amazing. 27,000 killed! I realize they were the enemy, but that’s a lot of deaths in a short time with our troops fighting under terrible conditions.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “Mopping up” sort of reminds me of George Bush standing in front of the “Mission Accomplished” sign. Not the most accurate terminology when so much fighting lies ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Interesting – I just finished reading Gen. Eichelberger’s book, “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo.” and read that section with interest. Interesting book.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “It seems to me ill advised to announce victories when a first phase had been accomplished…” Tell that to all the poor blokes still in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria. It seems like just more of the same 70 years on.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks for sharing such an interesting account from Gen. Eichelberger. Can’t imagine what it was like to encounter such an unpleasant surprise in the number of Japanese still on Leyte.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Did they ever finish mopping up after disposing of that scruffy guy with the moustache? (No, not Hitler, I mean ol’ Sidearm Hassan or wotever his name was. All sweetness and light there now, I understand?)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It ain’t never gonna happen … but we can dream:

    any news media publishing such stuff should publish only ‘stuff’ from their embedded reporter(s) at the front. Verbatim.
    Reporters in harm’s way, that is—with the troops, living with and as the troops — AND any reports should be vetted by two guys: (a) the official guardian of intelligence, and an overriding Committee of facts. Disagreements can be settled by sending the disagreeing party to the front to actually see for himself.

    For myself I prefer to sit back and watch Hollywood win …

    Like

  18. Mopping up an army of at least 27,000. That’s quite a clean-up operation. And they gave Bush such a hard time about Mission Accomplished.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Was good to get the General’s take. The problem of announcing victory before it is fact is the plague of the politically minded. Thanks, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Wow! This account on the concept of ‘mopping up’ and its cruel reality was an eye opener for me. In war time there should be the maxim for the commanding general and his fighting men to be prepared for the worst scenario and if lucky find a better situation than claiming victory too soon. Super post, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Interesting! About ten years ago, when I was doing research for my first book, “BAHALA NA”, I read about the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the kamikaze. I became so interested I bought a few books about the battle. Also, my sister-in-law’s family owns properties in Ormoc and I would like to see the place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amazing story, isn’t it?!! I don’t even come close to doing it justice. If you ever see your sister-in-laws family home – please take pictures. It would be good to see a Then and Now composite.

      Like

  22. Good post and two great comics. So timely. I’m all about PC.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The fastest way to lose any battle is lose your own people. The psychological factor is HUGE in all matters. Especially War. Morale. Some never seem to get that. The soldier really needs to know – and believe – that the bosses understand what they hell you’re doing and going through. Are you a spear? – or just a pawn? Unimaginable what these guys endured.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. “But I must admit that after 6 years serving under him, I never understood the public relations policy that either he or his assistants established. It seems to me ill advised to announce victories when a first phase had been accomplished…”

    One of many examples throughout his career where MacArthur’s ego got ahead of the facts …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some feel that way, yet MacArthur knew the Philippines and that they would stay on the Allied side if they knew things were improving. I can’t say about the islands today, but it seems they admired all his fanfare back then.

      Like

  25. This is very well-written history.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I love the painting GP and your text, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I remember my dad having a particular bad taste for the term “mopping-up” and the people who would say it.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Interesting perspective on the premature announcement of victory. Who are you quoting here? I must have missed something??

    Liked by 1 person

    • You didn’t miss a thing, Amy, I DID! I never put in “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo” by General Robert Eichelberger. As soon as I finish answering the comments, I’ll need to edit the post. Thank you for mentioning it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • OK, at least I haven’t lost my ability to read carefully. I inferred that General Eichelberger must have written from your post title, but wasn’t sure. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know what you mean. I’ve been on other blogs where I’m not quite sure what the heck I’m reading — always asking myself, “Did I read that right? or did I miss something?” It’s fixed now thanks to you!

          Like

  29. I’m writing a story now about Battle of Leyte Gulf and saw the name Ormoc Bay. What a coincidence we’re thinking of the same locale today! This is very interesting. Thanks for your information.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Good poignant comment from that historian, about ‘mopping up’.
    More mention of that mud too.
    The painting is very well done. Good work from Mr. McBarron.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I told you I was having trouble finding anything about Leyte without the mention of the mud! 🙂 I love that painting, and the real men who were on that beach I’m sure will always remember their commander yelling “Follow Me!”

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Thank you for the reminder of the sacrifices of our armed forces. The plaque was especially poignant.

    Like

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