Operation Victor (iii)

This was the Allied overall designation of the strategic plan created by General Douglas MacArthur’s South-East Asia command for the US recapture, within ‘Princeton’, of the southern and central parts of the Philippine islands group by Lieutenant General Walter C. Krueger’s 6th Army and Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger’s 8th Army (1944/45).

The Philippine islands group was intended as the main base area from which the Allies would launch the proposed ‘Downfall’ invasions of the Japanese home islands and so encompass the final defeat of the Japanese empire, so the security of the main islands was important to Allied long-term strategy. But it was also decided that Mindanao island and the smaller islands lying between Luzon and Mindanao (as well as Palawan to the south-west) should be cleared of the scattered garrisons of Lieutenant General Sosaku Suzuki’s 35th Army for additional security and as a means of facilitating the delivery of fuel from Borneo after the capture of its main oil-producing regions in the ‘Oboe’ operations to be undertaken by Lieutenant General Sir Leslie Morshead’s Australian I Corps.

The formation allocated the primary operational responsibility for ‘Victor’ was Eichelberger’s 8th Army under MacArthur’s overall control, with Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid’s 7th Fleet as its naval and amphibious support element. US plans had initially called for the isolation rather than the reduction of these Japanese-held islands (except by Filipino forces), but on 6 February MacArthur ordered Eichelberger to begin ‘Victor’, and this modification to the overall strategic plan was accepted by the US Joint Chiefs-of-Staff on 3 April.