December 1944 (2) Leyte

16 December – Douglas MacArthur was promoted to Five-Star General.  It seemed that General MacArthur’s promotion to General of the Army would require assistance from many sides.  It posed a problem in the respect that there was no such object as a five-star insignia in existence in the Pacific.  A clever Filipino silversmith created one from a miscellaneous collection of Dutch, Australian and Filipino coins.

Deck of the USS Anzio during Typhoon Cobra

17 December – Typhoon Cobra hit the Philippine Islands.  TF-38 was caught off-guard and the destroyers, USS Hull, Mongham and Spence were sunk and 22 other vessels received damage.  While 150 aircraft were blown off the decks of the carriers, more than 750 sailors drowned.

19 December – Adm. Nimitz was made Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Areas, thereby promoting him to Fleet Admiral of the US Navy, a 5-Star Admiral.

USS Bryant

21→22 December – an American destroyer, the USS Bryant was damaged by the Japanese kamikaze pilots off Mindoro, P.I.  The Bryant had seen the plane approaching and while maneuvering to avoid collision, the kamikaze basically just clipped her and exploded beneath the waves.

22→29 December – Japanese Gen. Yamashita radioed Gen. Suzuki’s headquarters in Cebu City: “RE-DEPLY YOUR TROOPS TO FIGHT EXTENDED HOLDING ACTIONS IN AREAS OF YOUR CHOICE.  SELECT AREAS SUCH AS BACALOD ON NEGROS WHICH ARE HIGHLY SUITABLE FOR SELF-SUSTAINING ACTION.  THIS MESSAGE RELIEVES YOU OF YOUR ASSIGNED MISSION.”

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

This message would not reach Suzuki for 3 days, by which time his troops were being surprised by Gen. Bruce’s men.  The enemy fled to San Isidro and Palompon was taken by the 77th Division unopposed on Christmas Day.  Suzuki and about 10,000 of his troops concentrated at Mount Canquipot, whose eastern and western slopes made the sector a natural fortress.  They could hear Christmas carols coming from the G.I.’s.  Stragglers arrived from the Japanese 1st Division and 68th Brigade, but lost 100 men a day due to starvation.

29 December – Suzuki received a message from Gen. Fukue stating that the 102nd Division were leaving in boats for Cebu.  When Suzuki ordered them to remain in place – his message was ignored.  Approximately 743 men, all that remained of the prize Gem Division would evacuate by 12 January 1945.  Gen. Eichelberger’s 8th Army closed in on Suzuki and Mount Canquipot.

Ormac after taking it back from the Japanese.

25 December – Yamashita informed Suzuki that he considered Leyte a lost cause and this date was originally designated as the end of organized resistance on Leyte, but the troops that remained assigned to the “mopping-up” of the island [7th Division] would beg to differ.

26 December – a Japanese naval force bombarded US installations on Mindoro and the Americans sank the IJN destroyer Kiyoshimo, (清霜, “Clear Frost”).

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

Farewell Salutes – 

Leon E. Clevenger – Durham, NC; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co K/3/21/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Chonui, SK)

Ian Fishback – Newbury, MI; US Army, Middle East, Captain, 82nd Airborne Division, West Point graduate, Green Beret

U.S. Flag, courtesy of Dan Antion

John Heffernan Jr. – NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI; 1st Lt. # 0-797000, navigator, 490 BS/341 BG/10th Air Force, KIA (Letpadaung, BUR)

Marylou Loustalot – IA; US Navy WAVES, WWII

Charles G. McMahon – Boston, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., bombardier, 68 BS/44 BG/8th Air Force, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

Clement Mitchell – Greenwich, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 82nd Airborne Division

Newman R. Nesmith – Sylvania, GA; Vietnam, Pfc. # 14810842, helicopter repair, KIA (Quang Nam Provence, SK)

Edward F. Pasternak – Farrel, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Sgt.

Ross H. Thompson – Blount County, TN; US Army, WWII, PTO, Finance Dept., TSgt. # 333157, POW, KIA (Cabanatan Camp, Luzon, P.I.)

Naoma A. (Zellers) Seidel – Kewanna, IN; Civilian, WWII, bombs & ammo, Kingbury Ordnance Plant

Harvey Swack – OH; US

Harold E. Vasderband – Canyon Lake, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 711th Ordnance/11th Airborne Division, (Ret. 21 y.)

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 29, 2021, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 97 Comments.

  1. The news info is also great teaching stuff, GQ. Last week, we had a big storm hit Leyte again, and it tells me that these typhoons in December are actually normal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps now, I was repeating news from over 80 years ago. Frankly I admire the Philippines, they have always had horrific natural disasters, no matter what the month, but they pick up and rebuild.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. December was a brutal month that year. I don’t know how your posts have gotten away from me.
    I search you out better. Cheers friend

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done, GP. And the Jurassic Park cartoon slayed me. 😀 Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love what you do dear
    Thanks ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lulu: “Wow, I don’t think even I could dig out that Army-Stuck truck! Unless maybe there was a gopher underneath it …”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One more great post. My father had told me about going through a hurricane/typhoon during his Pacific Navy time. He said it was pretty horrible. I had no idea that those storms took such a huge toll to our Navy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They tremendous storms that occurred a number of times while we were fighting there. They still reek havoc with these islands, I don’t know how they remain above water!

      Like

  7. It never ceases to amaze me how much we have to be grateful for in the West.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I noticed MacArthur was made a 5-star general on Dec. 16 and Nimitz was made a 5-star admiral on Dec. 19. Is there a connection between the two events? I wonder!!!
    Nothing significant happened on Dec. 20? That was my 1st birthday! hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My goodness. War is calculated, yet Christmas carols can throw off the Japanese. Isn’t that wonderful?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am amazed at your detailed knowledge. Maybe I shouldn’t be, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I first got the interest when I was a kid and found my father’s scrapbook, that my grandmother put together – after that – it was a lot of reading and research. I thank you for reading my short versions of what transpired, Rod.

      Like

  11. It would have been nice if the “end of organized resistance” had meant the end of the fighting.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Interesting WW2 history that we don’t learn at school. Philippine typhoons are indeed very destructive, then and now.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Enjoyed hearing how that first 5-star General insignia was created. Also liked the fact that soldiers were singing Christmas carols on Christmas Day. You know by now that I like to look for unusual facts along the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I, too, thought the typhoon deaths terrible

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I wonder if the episode where General Suzuki’s orders were ignored was the first time that that had ever happened with the Japanese forces. The Japanese were not exactly known for failing to follow orders.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Reading the Farewell Salutes i am always very sad about all the men and women served in all the past wars, and lost their lives. Lets hope there will never be anything like this again. Thank you for sharing another piece of interesting history, G.P. Be well and stay safe. We got a new variant with 30 mutants. More and more i think this also could be a biological weapon. ;-( xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sure wouldn’t be surprised about that, Michael. Actually, being as it came out of a lab in Wuhan, China – it seems quite plausible.
      Thank you for reading the Farewell Salutes. Thank goodness for our accounting people who are gradually identifying and sending home those who were lost in action. There have been far too many wars!!

      Like

  17. Great post GP. If memory serves, the Kamikazes were named for a Divine Wind, a typhoon that destroyed an invading Chinese fleet some centuries ago. It is a story that is still celebrated at some shrines I saw in Tokyo. It almost happened again in the Philippines, this time to an American fleet.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Thanks for sharing, GP. I learn about my country’s history from you.
    ‘Hope you get to tick/strikethrough ‘Ormoc’ from your bucket list someday!
    Bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I feel sadness at the losses and horrible conditions experienced by both sides. I hope someday there will be no more war.

    That was a resourceful Filipino silversmith, finding materials to make a 5 star insignia!

    Your Michel’s tree is doing well, and is far taller than me now. It is deer fence time again, and I need to take care of that for the line of coastal sequoias, too.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I share with your empathy and your hope for peace. This would certainly be the time of year for most people to feel the same.
      Thank you so much for caring for Michael’s tree. I tell so many people what you did (do).

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Always enjoy your posts and learn from each one. Thanks again.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. The dark areas you can see peeking out of the clouds behind my cousin Masako is Mt. Canquipot.

    https://www.flickr.com/gp/p47koji/7nj83S

    Liked by 3 people

  22. We recently visited the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids and learned that he almost lost his life in that typhoon while serving on the USS Monterey.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Another terrific post, GP. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. A lot more to history than simple facts, isn’t there. Thanks, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. The role of disease is often enough mentioned, but I can’t remember coming across reports of information about that typhoon, or other weather issues during the war. Usually, that kind of report involves cold and snow in the European theater. It occurs to me that just as communication capabilities were far less developed than they are today, weather information would have been, too. In a day when we can casually click on the radar to watch migrating birds or a developing storm oceans away, it’s quite something to think of what they had to deal with.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. All the planning and hard work, the commitment and bravery… then nature takes a swipe and plans have to change.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. We never got much information or reactions from my Dad, but when he heard the expression “mopping up” in a movie, he bristled and let fly a few choice words.

    So sad to read about nature joining the war. That’s a lot of men to lose.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. You are giving me a much clearer picture of the war in the Pacific than I had heretofore…many thanks.
    Enjoyed today’s military humour too!

    Liked by 2 people

  29. I wonder if MacArthurs thought it only appropriate that he got promoted before Nimitz. Wish the Navy cartoon was a bit bigger so I could better figure out what the officer was afraid of facing. Interesting all of the varied things that happened that month. It certainly touches on the breadth of what was going on in the Pacific.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Uncle Don said they (USS Hancock CV-19) were on the edge of that typhoon and that it was rough. He had me get “Typhoon: The Other Enemy” by Capt. C. Raymond Calhoun. It not only tells the story of those lost Farragut-class destroyers and 778 men, but includes the court of inquiry investigation about the losses.

    Liked by 4 people

  31. Sad to hear that 750 sailors drowned due to the typhoon. There is so much more to war than combat and battlefield injury. Disease, general illness, and now weather. That the Japanese soldiers were losing ground due to malnutrition is yet another side to war that we rarely see in films.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. .What a terrible battle in many places and nature did not cooperate either. Also so many deaths in the last month of the year. So many painful messages for parents, brothers, moms and dads who won’t come home anymore. Terrible

    Liked by 4 people

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