1944 ending / 1945 opening

New Guinea and the Philippine Islands


Shortly before the invasion of Leyte began, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed MacArthur to invade Luzon on December 20, 1944, thus settling the argument as to whether Luzon or Formosa should be the next object of attack. It was not expected that Luzon would be easily reclaimed, but it was believed that the conquest of Formosa would be much more difficult and might require as many as nine divisions, more than were then available in the Pacific area.

While construction of airfields on the muddy terrain of Leyte moved slowly forward, and while the fleet recovered from the Battle of Leyte Gulf, MacArthur decided to occupy the island of Mindoro, directly south of Luzon, for the construction of additional airfields.

The attack on Mindoro began on December 15 and the invasion of Luzon was rescheduled for January 9, 1945. Both invasions were undertaken by the U.S. 6th Army under Lieut. Gen. Walter Krueger, supported by the 3rd and 7th fleets, and by the Army air forces in the area.

After the preliminary air attacks on Luzon at the turn of the year, the 3rd Fleet moved into the South China Sea to hit Formosa, Hong Kong and Chinese coastal points.

Barrage rockets during the invasion of Mindoro, Philippines, in December 1944. Launched in salvoes …

UPI/Bettmann Newsphotos

The U.S. troops encountered little opposition on the ground at Mindoro but they were subjected to heavy air attacks both en route and after landing. The Japanese had now begun to use kamikaze attacks on a regular basis and, although many such suicide planes were shot down, many others reached their targets. Before the end of the year new airfields on Mindoro were ready to handle planes supporting the larger invasion of Luzon.

On the way from Leyte Gulf to the landing site at Lingayen Gulf on the west coast of Luzon, the invasion armada suffered damage from repeated kamikaze attacks. One pilot plunged his plane onto the bridge of the battleship New Mexico, killing more than 30 persons, including the captain of the ship.

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

The troops of the I Corps and the XIV Corps would go ashore at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945, and be met with little resistance because the Japanese had not expected a landing at that point. The Japanese commander in charge of defending the island was Gen. Yamashita Tomoyuki, the conqueror of Singapore and Bataan, who commanded the Japanese 14th Area Army.

Realizing that the diversion of forces to Leyte and the inability of the Japanese High Command to send reinforcements to Luzon gave him little hope of defeating the 6th Army, Yamashita decided upon static defense aimed at pinning down Allied troops on Luzon for as long as possible. He established three principal defensive sectors: one in the mountains west of Clark Field in the Central Plains; a second in mountainous terrain east of Manila; and the third and strongest in the mountains of northwestern Luzon, centering initially on Baguio.   Manila was also strongly defended, though Yamashita at one time apparently had some thought of abandoning the city.

A Japanese kamikaze pilot aiming his plane at a U.S. warship in the Lingayen Gulf, off the coast of …

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph

Mindanao, second largest island in the Philippines, had been MacArthur’s first target before the change in plans made in September 1944, but as events turned out it was the last island to be retaken.


Military Humor – 




Farewell Salutes – 

Ronald Borm – Dayton, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Wintle

Rhoderick Brown – Edmonton, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO

Samuel Ervin – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII

William ‘Jack’ Griffis – VillaRica, GA; US Navy, WWII, Destroyer Escort DE-702

Pauline Jensen – Huey, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Richard Kramer – E.St. Louis, IL; US Navy, Lt.Commander (Ret.), Purple Heart

James Norton – Boulder, CO; US Navy, WWII

John ‘Pappy’ Polythress – Rincon, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-23 radioman

Raymond Rechlin – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Nolan Stevenson – Brown’s Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # 435119, 3891; WWII


About GP

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

Posted on October 23, 2017, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 102 Comments.

  1. I enjoyed this article, but would offer one correction. The Japanese commander on Luzon toward the end of the war was General Tomoyuki Yamashita, not Yamashita Tomoyuki.


  2. Great post gp, in many of your posts it is mentioned about the construction of airfields, the work of the Engineers must have been an extraordinary task, being done under a lot of time strain and urgency, Men of Valor each and every one.
    As regards the Kamikaze, imagine the emotions standing on the deck of a US Warship and watching these planes crossing the skies, unbelievable.
    Thanks for a great post mate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember how my father spoke about the engineers and how little could have been accomplished without them! They really aren’t recognized as they should be. {maybe the SeaBees do, but not the Army engineers).
      Kamikaze aiming at me? Whoa – all I think I could imagine – seeing one coming at me – would be watching my death come ever closer.
      It sure is good to have you back, Ian!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The USS New Mexico survived the kamikaze attack and was repaired back at Pearl to fight again. She had an interesting history and was still in service when the war ended.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A cousin of my wife, Lt. William J. Lang, lost his life on a “hell ship” bound from Manilla to Formosa in October 1944. Bill was an aviator in WWII, having joined the Air Corps right out of University of Texas. In October, 1944, the Japanese were attempting to evacuate Mindanao prisoners of war by shipping them to another location on an unmarked Japanese transport, the Arisan Maru, when it was sunk by one of two US submarines, either the USS Shark or the USS Snook. Out of 1,783 prisoners, less than a dozen survived. Bill was killed in this incident, officially lost at sea.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mindoro is not that far from Batangas, my home province where the 11th Airborne landed north of where my parents lived. I was barely a year old when the march to Manila passed my home town. I have no memory of it but my father told me in later years.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your site. My father was an Army officer serving in the Pacific during WW2 and these stories are so good – rounds out what one reads in books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel a person can only read so many statistics before they stop reading and close the book. There are so many stories behind those statistics that ought to be told, heard and remembered. You must be very proud of your father and I am very happy to have you as a reader. [you round out my interests too with your ghost stories!!] Thanks, Jan.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You must not quit
    … visit please


  8. My dad talked about Mindanao many times. I wish I had asked him more about his army days. But, he really didn’t like to talk about the difficult days. I’m sure it was easier to try and forget.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, like so many others. They dealt with what happened in those years silently or just between others who were there. I honestly believe that some remained silent so as to try and shield us from the horrific things that occurred. My father also mentioned Mindanao specifically – i’m going to take a closer look into that island.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like an excellent review for Hanson’s work. Although the article does say the opus is about the entire war, his examples are mostly about Europe, little of the Pacific and none of the APO or CBI. A problem I have with many history books. I agree with him on how other history texts read and his method of portraying his research. I’ll look into Hanson later today. Thank you very much for the link.


  9. There are some big missions coming up in early 1945.

    What are you going to do on your blog once you get through the end of the war?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose it’s going to sit in cyberspace hoping someone is interested enough now and then to look into it. When I try to print some of it out, all the comments come with it and my printer keeps running out of paper. Any ideas?


  10. There were several ships of the Royal Australian Navy involved in some/most of these events.

    A kamikazi attack on HMAS Australia , a Kent Class cruiser of 10K tons was also hit on the bridge killing the Captain and about 30 other “officers & men”

    On 5th Jan -’45 at Lingayen Gulf she was again hit, apparently the Japs could not get enough of the ‘Aussie’, as she was again attacked on the 6th 8th & 9th. losing a further 44 KIA & 69 WIA.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. There have been suicide missions on both sides, when all soldiers involved knew that the chances of survival were minimal. But kamikaze attacks required total commitment to one’s country with zero chances of coming out of them alive. Would know of an exception, GP?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The end is coming, G. 🙂 What are you going to do with your life when you are finished? Thanks for some more great history. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am always amazed when I read things that indicate that Japan knew the end was near, but that they kept on fighting so hard, and at such a cost.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m really not one to say, Dan, but I would venture that pride and a need to survive as an independent nation had something to do with that. Thank you for reading it today.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Japanese culture and history go a long way in explaining the phenomenon. Their Emperor and God were considered one and the same, and there was no greater glory for an individual than to die in their defense. Honor was everything. The individual counted for very little. The Japanese had nothing but contempt for anyone who surrendered, accounting for the horrific treatment accorded to American, Filipino, and Aussie prisoners of war following their surrender on Bataan and Corregidor.


  14. I have a new-found interest in this area, thanks to my son. Formosa (Taiwan) is almost connected to Okinawa by an island chain. I read with interest your article.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Uf- the stories of retaking those islands always sound pretty horrible 😦 At least they were able to achieve some surprise landing on this one, I suppose. Thanks for another piece of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once we get into 1945, the action is 100-fold. In these 5 years of blogging, I have to admit I have skimmed a lot of data. The Pacific is huge and I did not want to have the readers become so confused as to what island, military service, or unit I was talking about – wait till this final year begins!! I just hope i do these troops justice!!

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Japan sensed Danger which like countries in Southeast Asia, Japan possibly be colonized.
    If Enemy will land on the mainland Japan …unless japanese soldier must stop enemy coming closer to Japan.
    Enemy northward from the South, finally came to Okinawa.
    In order to stop it, the “Battleship Yamato” had a sortie, but it could not win the Enemy “fighter plane”, already.
    The era was “aircraft” instead of “ship”, but Japan had no more energy.
    …, I am passed down from wartime person (Older,90~95 y).

    Topics!!,about Excavation and return of the Soldiers remains(from Iwo-shima etc)
    The Japanese government had been planning the remains of soldiers, including Southeast Asia and Iwo Jima(硫黄島).
    Since last year ,doing in progress!! 😀

    Pictures of the bereaved family site ↓

    http://www.nippon-izokukai.jp/2017/01/23/% e5% b 9% b 3% e 6% 88% 90% ef% bc% 92 f e c% 98% e 5% b 9% b 4% e 5 % ba% a 6% e 9% 81% ba% e 9% aa% a 8% e 5% 8 f 8 e% e 9% 9 b% 86% e 6% b 4% be% e 9% 81% a 3% e 3% 80% 80% e 7% a 1 % ab% e 9% b b% 84% e 5% b 3% b 6% e 3% 80% 81% e 3% 82% bd% e 3% 83% ad% e 3% 83% a 2% e 3% 83% b 3% e 8% ab% b 8 /? last_cat = 26

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Once again, such an excellent post, prompting me to delve into my bookshelf. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I was away for a few days walking in the Ardennes. .War is not the right thing for problems. The war in he Pacific was during so long .Pour soldiers so long from home in terrible conditions

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Such a long haul. December 1944, and so many long months still to go, before the end. It sometimes feels that the Pacific war just never stopped, not a moment of respite. It wears me out reading about it, let alone having to endure it by being there.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s why I never understood why it took a backseat to Europe as far as money, materiel and media and the money end of the CBI (no offense). The Pacific War brought the US into the war, lasted longer had a wider territory to cover. And just think – I have skimmed over a tonne of information.

      Liked by 4 people

      • To your point about the Pacific war taking a backseat to Europe – CNO Admiral Ernest King, aside from being a notorious Anglophobe, fought hard to make the Pacific theater first and Europe second in priority. Of course, he was overridden by FDR on that. Given that our military in the Pacific was in the position until VE Day of, in effect, being given only hand-me-downs to fight with, they did an extraordinary job against Japan.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I certainly think they did one heck of a bang-up job at that too! Japan was quite the formidable enemy to go up against. I’ve been reading the book, “Japanese Destroyer Captain” by Captain Tameichi Hara, and he gives his own opinion as to what he felt the mistakes were that his country made. Very interesting.


      • Interesting question, GP. Could it be because Americans identified more with western Europeans than with Asians and so were more concerned about the people being killed or occupied in Europe? Even today our media tends to cover disasters in the West with far more intensity than those in the East.

        Liked by 1 person

      • In Germany vs UK, UK asked USA for Help.
        President Roosevelt was pledging not to let American citizens go to the battlefield.
        For that reason, as a “reason to participate in the war(WW2)”, he pointed to Pearl Harbor attacks and Southeast Asian colonial looting.
        The Pacific War began.

        In short, until the Pacific War, there were Expectation of each country (USA, UK, Russia, Germany, Japan, France …). 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • In my opinion, yes. FDR had over-stepped his authority in how much Lend-Lease Program money and supplies he sent to the UK, even our Congress had no idea (but FDR knew they would eventually find out). He needed to get into the war. He prodded Germany, but Hitler did not want the US in the war – so, FDR cut Japan off from their imports – (and as they say), the rest is history.

          Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, many months still to go. My dad, Colonel Arthur Philip Murphy, had been missing in action (and presumed dead) in the mountains of North Luzon ever since 8 December 1941. Even after the Leyte landings in October 1944, the end was nowhere in sight. Once the Allies reached North Luzon and were in full communication with the guerrillas there in the spring of 1945, my dad could have come home, but he insisted on staying until the job was finished, until the last of Yamashita’s forces were finally dug out of their caves and bunkers in the Cordillera Central. He didn’t show up on our doorstep in Berkeley, California, until September 17th, a night to remember!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a great story, Patricia.
        My own father didn’t return until 1948. As a regular, he stayed on in India for the Partition, then returned via a short stint in South Africa. They were a generation that endured in a way we hardly understand now.
        Best wishes, Pete.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. I appreciate your help.


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