December 1944 Leyte

USS Ward off of Ormac

6 December – the main thrust of Operation Wa on Leyte, P.I. was provided by the Japanese 26th Division, minus the battalion that was attempting to protect Ormoc, but the enemy found it difficult to maintain their schedule given to them by the Manila headquarters.  General Suzuki requested a 2-day delay, but he was denied.

Only 300 Japanese paratroopers of the 16th Division were left after desertions to jump on the Buraen airfield.  The 700 troopers of the 3rd Parachute Regiment, flying in from Luzon, ran into heavy flak and lost 4 planes.  The remaining Japanese

Major Shirai Tsuneharu suiting up for Leyte jump.

aircraft dropped their troopers on the 11th Airborne Headquarters Company.  [Smitty’s unit] (an eye witness story on this will appear next Monday)

8→9 December – 500 more enemy paratroopers were assigned to to jump on an airfield above Ormoc near Highway 2, but they landed 5 miles north of their target.  Col. Mitsui, with poorly armed service units, was dug-in on a high ground position below the city waiting for support.  MGen. A. Bruce’s US 77th Division broke through the defense.  He sent the following message to Corps Commander, John Hodge: “HAVE ROLLED TWO SEVENS IN ORMOC. COME SEVEN, COME ELEVEN.”  [referencing to the 77th; 7th and 11th divisions].

Mortars by Ormac

9 December – two more enemy convoys were enroute to Ormoc Bay.  The first convoy had 3,000 men of the 8th Division and 900 tons of matériel and supplies in 5 transports, 3 destroyers and 2 sub-chasers with an escort of about 30 fighters.  US Marine Corsairs sank 3 transports and then one more was sunk in a combined USMC/Army aircraft effort.

The other convoy of 2 destroyers and 2 transports carried 700 men, tanks, and mortars.  These were spotted by the destroyer Coghlan which proceeded to sink one of the Japanese vessels.  Despite the fact that so many enemy ships were destroyed, a very large number of reinforcements made it to shore, but their effectiveness was hampered by the amount of supplies that went to bottom of the ocean.

Oryoku Maru sinking and POWs abandon ship in Subic Bay. This picture was provided by David Demether.

13 December – 1,800 prisoners at Santo Tomás, Luzon began marching to Pier 7 to board the enemy “hell ship” Oroyoku-Maru.  It was sunk 2 days later near Subic Bay by American carrier aircraft.  Angry Japanese guards shot at the men trying to escape the ship’s sinking hull and those struggling in the water.  Those that made it to shore were sent out on other ships 27 December and 2 January.  Out of the original 1800 Americans, 1,426 perished.

Also on this date, the cruiser USS Nashville and destroyer USS Haraden were damaged by kamikaze pilots.

15→20 December – The Visayan Force [ between Mindanao and Luzon are the Visayan Islands – Cebu, Panay, Negros, Leyte and Samar.], the US 24th Division landed on Mindoro just off the SW coast of Luzon.  The island only had a small garrison, but 4 abandoned airfields that would soon be used by the US Army Air Corps.  The 503rd PRCT came ashore.  They could not jump in due to the weather.

On and over Luzon, US carrier aircraft destroyed 225 enemy aircraft in 3 separate attacks.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gus M. Betzares – Richmond, VA; USMC, WWII & Korea

Seth F. Beyeler – Fish Haven, ID; USMC, WWII, PTO

Francis DiMarco – Stonington, CT; US Army, WWII, Medic, 117th Evac

A. Linwood Holton Jr. – Big Stone Gap, VA; US Navy, Japanese Occupation, submarine service

Paul Kitagaki – Oakland, CA; US Air Force, radar/electronics

Dow H. Luetscher – Madison, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co L/347/87th Infantry Division

Pacquale Manno – brn: ITA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Fenton D. McVannan – W.Endicott, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO

William O’Donnell IV – Brighton, MI; US Army, 101st Airborne Division

Joseph Pallotta – Cleveland, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO

William Pencak – Adams, TN; US Army, HQ Co/3/511/11th Airborne Division

John Soliz – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Medical/221/11th Airborne Division

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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 November 15, 2021, in SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 81 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing, GP. Difficult to imagine what Ormoc was like during the war. Currently–it’s one of my 3 favourite cities in the PH.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Out of the original 1800 Americans, 1,426 perished.” That was a lot of lives lost.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My goodness! This is overwhelming.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Tarot of the Missing

    Very cool

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That’s a unique 📯 post

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I smile thinking that my dad and Smitty might have crossed paths 🇺🇸

    Liked by 2 people

  7. There is a very detailled knowledge about what had happend, but otherwise it was a very sad war. Thanks for sharing, G.P. Have a nice week! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “. . . the enemy found it difficult to maintain their schedule given to them by the Manila headquarters. General Suzuki requested a 2-day delay, but he was denied.”

    Nothing is impossible to one who doesn’t have to do it himself.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Japanese Airborne Assault on Leyte

    Br General Henry “Butch” Muller related an interesting story about the Japanese parachute assault on the US 11th Airborne HQ in Dec 1944. During WWII Muller served as G2 for the 11th AB. When the 11th landed in New Guinea in 1944 Major Muller spent a few days at General MacArthur’s HQ receiving briefings from MacArthur’s G2, General Willoughby. Muller was told that at some point he might receive special secret messages from SW Pacific HQ. These messages would provide accurate info regarding the enemy . The special secret messages were called “Crystal Ball” and the source was NOT to be shared, not even with 11th AB CG Swing. When he asked Willoughby how he could share this info with Swing without divulging the source Willoughby told him he would need to come up with a plausible “made up” story. Needless to say Major Muller was perplexed.

    When the 11th Airborne landed on Leyte sure enough Muller eventually received a Crystal Ball message. The message informed him to expect a parachute attack by the Japanese. The message included the date of the attack. Now, Muller’s task was to relate the info to General Swing without divulging the source. Later, Henry Muller learned that the US forces had deciphered the Japanese codes. But at the time he had to contrive a story to convince Swing to act. Basically, he told the General that given the resources the Japanese had availiable rhat they should expect a parachute attack at any time. General Swing almost laughed Muller out of his office.

    Sure enough the Japanese assault came like clockwork. However, the attack was poorly executed and although airplanes and buildings were set on fire the overall operation failed miserably. General Swing never said a word to G2 Major Muller and Muller thought it would be a good idea to “let sleeping dogs lie”. However, the General’s staff pretty much decided that Muller was brilliant.

    In 2001 General Muller relayed the story to me when I interviewed him and we both had a good chuckle. He had previously told the story in an article and public appearances. Other than my 11th Airborne Division dad I would have to say that Henry Muller is my WWII hero. I got a chance to tell him that over the phone when I spoke to him in the Summer of 2020. He was 103 years old at the time and is still going as far as I know. He is a gentleman of the highest order and was always blessed to not take himself too seriously considering his lifetime of successes.

    Regards, Craig Davis

    On Mon, Nov 15, 2021, 3:08 AM Pacific Paratrooper wrote:

    > GP posted: ” 6 December – the main thrust of Operation Wa on Leyte, P.I. > was provided by the Japanese 26th Division, minus the battalion that was > attempting to protect Ormoc, but the enemy found it difficult to maintain > their schedule given to them by the Manila hea” >

    Liked by 3 people

  10. “Pacquale Manno – brn: ITA; US Army, WWII, ETO”

    Is this actually Pasquale Manno? (1923 – 2021) – Parma, OH
    https://obits.cleveland.com › us › cleveland › name › p…
    Nov 2, 2021 — Age 98. WWII Disabled Veteran. Recipient of a Purple Heart and 4 Bronze Stars. Served with the 44th Infantry Division

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The thought of 1,426 perishing out of 1,800 — and in such terrible conditions — is just horrid. There are days when I read the news and get a little nervous. There are people abroad in the world today who would be more than willing to put their ‘enemies’ through such things.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I believe there has always been people like that, Linda, that’s why there has always been war. Humans refuse to learn from their mistakes. Or maybe it is that they don’t think of war as a mistake?

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I emailed your a few pics of some huge bullets that go inside Bradley tanks. No hurry and no pressure!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. The Wa Operation to protect the airstrips in Leyte did not end well for the Japanese. In spite of us losing 1,426 on the Oroyoku-Maru, the Americans killed more than 27,000 Japanese at the end of the campaign. War is horrible. I hope we don’t have another one!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. A lot of action, GP. Thanks for the history.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. That post left me exhausted and shaken, JC. Waiting to read about the attack on the 11th’s HQ.
    Gen Bruce’s message reminds me of an Airborne song: Seven come eleven and we’re jumping in from heaven. Jump Geronimo – Geronimo.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. “Out of the original 1800 Americans, 1,426 perished.” The Japanese liked to keep up their standards,didn’t they? I have tried hard to cut the Japs some slack over the years but I just can’t manage it. I cannot imagine any of the Western Allies behaving like that and although some German U-boat crews did the same things as the Japanese, they were largely the exceptions. I don’t think that the Japanese ever had any exceptions to their barbarity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The worst of the Japanese were those in power, with complete control over the public, as Hitler did and China does today. The ordinary Japanese soldier or sailor were far too frightened of their superior officers to behave any differently. (Some of course believed in the Samurai way, but not the majority).

      Like

  17. It’s hard to conceive all of this was after the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The area just didn’t calm down.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. It’s horrifying to think of those prisoners on the sinking ship…
    Stay safe and well. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I too was surprised to learn of Japanese desertion.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Like Derrick and others have mentioned, I was very surprised to read that the Japanese deserted–you hear so much about the fanatical Bonzai charges that it is hard to imagine them deserting. I had to smile at the Space Force humor. No matter what the force, the grunt work remains. 😉 Thanks for the credit in your comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Nooit gedacht dat Japanners deserteerden.Altijd gedacht dat die streden tot de dood.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Your posts make war real. Thank you, GP. I was unaware of the desertions, but your explanation makes a lot of sense.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. By this time, the Japanese had to know the Ned was coming, but they were raised and trained to fight to the end. That some of them deserted is surprising.

    I love the space force humor.

    I hope you have a great week, GP.

    Liked by 4 people

  24. It was a surprise to read of the Japanese desertions

    Liked by 5 people

  25. It always seems so tragic to read of allied POWs being killed by the sinking of ships they were being transported in. Another reminder that total war is such an awful thing.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 5 people

  26. Things are certainly hotting up for Smitty. Recently saw a map of ships sunk during the war — could almost not make out the land masses around.

    Liked by 4 people

  1. Pingback: December 1944 Leyte – Nelsapy

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