This was the US reconquest of Luzon island, the largest of the Japanese-occupied Philippine islands group, which the Japanese had taken in 'M' (ii) (9 January/15 August 1945).
Luzon is the largest and the most northerly major island of the Philippine islands group, measuring about 340 miles (545 km) along its north/south axis and possessing an area of 42,458 sq miles (109965 km²). The island is characterised by three north/south mountain ranges separated by wide alluvial plains. The Sierra Madre along the upper east coast reaches to 6,188 ft (1886 m) and is separated from the Cordillera mountains to the west by the Cagayan river valley, which is the second most important agricultural area in the Philippine islands. The Cordillera mountains reach a maximum height of 9,587 ft (2922 m) and are divided from the Caraballo mountains to the south-west by the central Luzon plain, which is the most productive agricultural area in the entire Philippine islands group. The Caraballo mountains reach a maximum height of 6,686 ft (2038 m) and their southern extension forms the Bataan peninsula. To the south-east of the main body of the island is the Legazpi peninsula, which was largely undeveloped jungle in 1941.
Luzon was the most populous and highest developed of the Philippine islands group in 1941, with a population of 7.385 million persons. There was a good road network and more than 700 miles (1125 km) of railway, and most of the towns were connected by telephone and telegraph.
The island includes the superb harbour of Manila Bay, which was protected in 1941 by several airfields and also the fortress into which Corregidor island had been turned. The island produces sugar (about 1.3 million tons per year in 1941) and rice, mostly on the central plain to the north of Manila Bay and the Cagayen river valley in the north-eastern part of the island. Chromium and manganese were mined in the Zambales mountains along the west coast.
The 'Mike I' undertaking was central to the overall strategic thinking of General Douglas MacArthur, heading the South-West Pacific Area command, commander-in-chief of the US Army Forces in the Pacific, and commanding general of the US Army Force Far East. The concept was not so enthusiastically embraced by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz’s Pacific Ocean Areas command, which was all too aware of the threat to major naval units now posed by Japanese kamikaze tactics, especially as Luzon was closer to the main Japanese air bases in Formosa, the Ryukyu islands and the Japanese home islands than either Leyte or Mindoro islands, which had been retaken from the Japanese in the 'King II' and 'Love III' campaigns characterised by significant US ship losses to kamikaze aircraft. For this tactical reason, as well as his long-held belief that greater strategic advantage would accrue to the Americans from a blow to the west into Formosa and thence the mainland of China, Nimitz would have preferred that the Luzon invasion not take place.
Holding the five-star rank of General of the Army since 18 December 1944, MacArthur had secured the approval of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the plan therefore went ahead, albeit after a delay imposed by the comparatively slow pace of operations on Leyte and the decision first to take Mindoro as a base for the tactical aircraft of Major General Ennis C. Whitehead’s US 5th AAF, the air formation which had supported MacArthur’s ground forces throughout the campaign in New Guinea while under the command of Lieutenant General George C. Kenney, now heading the Far East Air Forces command which controlled the 5th AAF and Major General St Clair Streett’s 13th AAF as well as Major General Robert W. Douglass’s Hawaii-based 7th AAF.
The date originally laid down for the start of ‘Mike I’ had been 20 December 1944, but the ‘King II’ and ‘Love III’ operations, to retake Leyte and Mindoro islands respectively, had combined with poor weather to cause a postponement to 9 January 1945. Under the overall command of MacArthur, the landings were planned with the close support of Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid’s US 7th Fleet (Task Force 77), whose 850 ships included Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf’s Bombardment and Fire Support Group (Task Group 77.2), a force of 164 ships including six battleships, six cruisers and 19 destroyers tasked with the escort of the invasion forces and with the provision of gunfire support for the landings 1.
Oldendorf was to remain in immediate command at the invasion beaches until Kinkaid arrived with Vice Admiral Theodore C. Wilkinson’s 3rd Amphibious Force and Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey’s 7th Amphibious Force, whereupon Kinkaid would assume command. Kinkaid’s Task Group 77.1, otherwise the Fleet Flagship Group, comprised the the amphibious force flagship Wasatch, light cruiser Boise and destroyers Smith, Frazier, Coghlan and Edwards.
Strategic cover for ‘Mike I’ was provided by Admiral William F. Halsey’s 3rd Fleet, which controlled as its main element Vice Admiral John S. McCain’s Task Force 38 with Rear Admiral Arthur W. Radford’s TG38.1, Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan’s TG38.2, Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman’s TG38.3 and Rear Admiral Matthias B. Gardner’s TG38.5.
On 30 December McCain’s TF38 departed the great US forward base and anchorage in the lagoon of Ulithi atoll 2. After the ships had refuelled on 2 January, TF38 started its attacks on 3/4 January when TG38.1’s aircraft raided northern Formosa, TG38.2’s aircraft raided southern Formosa and the Pescadores island group, and TG38.3’s aircraft raided central Formosa and the southern part of the Ryukyu islands group. The carrierborne air efforts were considerably affected by poor weather and had, at least in part, to be abandoned. Even so, some 100 Japanese aircraft were destroyed for the loss of 22 US machines, and the Japanese minesweeper W-41 was sunk.
After the ships had refuelled again on 5 January, 757 sorties were flown on 6/7 January against kamikaze airfields in preparation for ‘Mike I’ and to ensure air superiority over Luzon: some 75 to 80 Japanese aircraft were destroyed for the loss of 28 US machines. After the ships had refuelled yet again on 8 January, a new attack was made on Formosa and the Ryukyu islands group, in particular Okinawa, on 9 January. The US forces lost 10 aircraft, but sank the destroyer Hamakaze, corvette Kaibokan 3, one submarine chaser and five tankers and freighters, and also damaged the frigates Yashiro and Miyake, four corvettes, one minesweeper, two submarine chasers and three merchant ships.
Simultaneously, Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers of the USAAF attacked targets on Formosa from bases in China.
On 10 January TF38 entered the South China Sea and refuelled for one day from Acuff’s fast supply group.
On 12 January TG38.5 launched its aircraft at night, and early in the day the aircraft of all the task groups attacked targets along the coast and in the harbours of Indo-China, the main assault being delivered by the aircraft of TG38.2 on Cam Ranh Bay, where large Japanese warships were believed to be present. The sortie toward the coast was made by New Jersey, Wisconsin, Baltimore, Boston, Pasadena, Astoria, Wilkes-Barre and a number of destroyers, but met with no success. In the course of 1,465 US air sorties, which cost the Americans just 23 aircraft, the Japanese lost 29 merchant ships totalling some 116,000 tons, the training cruiser Kashii operating as a convoy flagship, frigate Chiburi, corvettes Kaibokan 23, Kaibokan 51, Kaibokan 17, Kaibokan 19, Kaibokan 35 and Kaibokan 43, submarine chasers Ch-31 and Ch-43, patrol boat PB-103, minesweeper W-101 and one landing ship, and additionally suffered damage to other frigates, corvettes, minesweepers, landing ships and submarine chasers. In Cam Ranh Bay the Vichy French light cruiser Lamotte-Picquet was destroyed.
After further refuelling on 13/14 January, and despite being impeded by strong winds, the carrierborne aircraft flew flew fighter sorties and attacked targets in southern Formosa, the Pescadores islands group and the Chinese province of Fukien on 15 January. The Japanese destroyers Hatakaze and Tsuga, the landing ship T-14, one transport and one tanker were sunk for the loss of 12 US aircraft.
On 16 January the carrierborne aircraft attacked targets along China’s south coast between Hong Kong and Hainan and, for the loss of 27 of their own number, sank two ships and damaged five escort vessels. Adverse weather was a severe hindrance to US operations, and the planned refuelling at a location to the west of Luzon, which began on 17 January, had to be interrupted on the following day because of heavy seas. When the refuelling had been completed on 19 January, the US force returned through the Luzon Strait on Nimitz’s orders.
On 21 January there followed a new attack on Formosan targets, and in 1,164 sorties the US warplanes destroyed 104 Japanese aircraft, sank 10 merchant ships, and damaged the destroyer Harukaze and escort destroyers Kashi and Sugi as well as two landing ships. In Japanese air attacks, one aeroplane hit Langley and a single kamikaze struck Ticonderoga. An attack by seven kamikaze and six fighter aircraft was intercepted by the fighter cover from Cowpens. In a second attack by eight kamikaze aircraft escorted by five fighters, there were single hits on Ticonderoga and Maddox. A returning US bomber lost a bomb when landing on Hancock, which was badly damaged in the resulting explosion, and lost 205 dead and 351 injured. Ticonderoga withdrew, escorted by two cruisers and three destroyers.
On 22 January the carrier aircraft flew 682 sorties against targets in the Ryukyu islands group, with the emphasis on Okinawa. After refuelling on 23 January, TF38 returned to Ulithi, arriving on 25 January to become the 5th Fleet under the command of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance on the following day.
In this vast sweep operation the Americans, for the loss of 201 aircraft and 167 aircrew, sank 300,000 tons of Japanese shipping and destroyed 615 Japanese aircraft. In the five-month period during which it had been commanded by Halsey, the 3rd Fleet had destroyed some 7,000 Japanese aircraft, 90 Japanese warships and about 600 Japanese merchant ships.
As Halsey’s carrier-based naval forces were decimating Japanese air and sea power in the areas from which the Japanese forces on Luzon could be reinforced and supported, the US invasion fleet for ‘Mike I’ was moving from Leyte Gulf through the Surigao Strait, the Sulu Sea and the Mindoro Strait toward Lingayen Gulf. On 2 January TG77.6 (the Minesweeping and Hydrographic Group, comprising 68 minesweepers of various types and sizes) set out under the escort of TG77.7’s destroyers Bush, Halford, Stanly and Stembel (Destroyer Division 48), Australian minesweeping sloop Warrego and Australian frigate Gascoyne.
On 3 January there followed the Oldendorf’s TG77.2 divided as arranged into Weyler’s Unit 'M' (Task Unit 1) for San Fabian and Oldendorf’s own Lingayen Fire Support Unit (TU2) for Lingayen. At much the same time Durgin’s Escort Carrier Group (TG77.4) divided into Durgin’s own Lingayen Carrier Group (TU1) for Lingayen, Stump’s San Fabian Carrier Group (TU2) for San Fabian, and Cronin’s Hunter-Killer Group. These primary warship assets were followed after only a short interval by the all-important group of underwater demolition teams in 10 troop-carrying destroyer conversions in preparation for the clearance of mines and other obstacles from the selected landing beaches and the approaches to them.
On 4 January, Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey’s San Fabian Attack Force (TF78), with the formations of Lieutenant General Innis P. Swift’s I Corps and the amphibious force headquarters ship Blue Ridge, departed Leyte for Luzon. Barbey’s own White Beach Attack Group (TG78.1) carried Major General Leonard C. Wing’s 43rd Division in the ships of three transport groups (Transport Group A with the attack transports DuPage, Fuller and Wayne, transport John Land, and cargo ship Aquarius; Transport Group B with the attack transports Cavalier and Feland, transport Golden City, cargo ship Thuban and dock landing ship Shadwell; and Transport Group C with the attack transports Fayette, Heywood and Leedstown, cargo ship Hercules and dock landing ships Epping Forest and White Marsh. There was also an LST Group (20 LSTs divided in equal numbers into Units A and B), an LSM Group with 10 LSMs, an LCI Smoke Group with 13 LCIs, an LCT Group with six LCTs, a Control Unit with four submarine chasers and three patrol craft, and an LCI Support Unit with three LCI(M), 11 LCI(R) and five LCI(R) vessels. These were screened by the destroyers Charles Ausburne, Drayton, Shaw, Russell, Jenkins, La Valette, Converse, Foote and Braine of Destroyer Squadron 23, destroyer escorts Charles J. Kimmel and Thomas F. Nickel, and two large submarine chasers.
Rear Admiral William M. Fechteler’s Blue Beach Attack Group (TG78.2) carried Major General Edwin D. Patrick’s 6th Division in the ships of three transport groups (Transport Division 20 with the attack transports Leonard Wood, Pierce and James O’Hara, transport La Salle, attack cargo ship Electra, cargo ship Auriga and dock landing ship Belle Grove; Transport Division 26 with the attack transports Callaway and Sumter, transport Storm King, cargo ship Jupiter, vehicle landing ship Monitor and dock landing ship Gunston Hall; and Transport Division 32 with the attack transports Barnstable, Elmore and Banner, transport Herald of the Morning, cargo ship Mercury and evacuation-fitted transport Rixey. There was also a Tractor Unit with 30 LSTs, an LSM Unit with 10 LSMs, a Control Unit with three large and four small submarine chasers, a Support Unit with two LCI(G)s, a Rocket and LCI Unit with five LCIs and seven LCI(R)s, an LCT Unit with six LCTs, and a Salvage Unit with two LCIs. These were screened by the destroyers Morris, Lang, Stack, Mustin, Dashiell and Wilson, and the destroyer escorts Day, Hodges, Peiffer and Tinsman.
Air support was provided by the warplanes of the escort carriers Kadashan Bay and Marcus Island, which were escorted by the destroyers Charette and Conner.
On 5 January Vice Admiral Theodore C. Wilkinson’s Lingayen Attack Force (TF79), with the formations of Lieutenant General Oscar W. Griswold’s XIV Corps and the headquarters ship Mount Olympus, put to sea from Leyte toward Luzon with two task groups each carrying one infantry division.
Rear Admiral Ingolf N. Kiland’s Attack Group Able (TG79.1), with the amphibious force flagship Mount McKinley, carried Major General Robert S. Beightler’s 37th Division in the ships of Transport Group Able (TG79.3)'s, which comprised Transport Division 28 with the attack transports Harris, Doyen, Bolivar and Sheridan, cargo ship Almaack, vehicle landing ship Ozark and dock landing ship Oak Hill; Transport Division 8 with the attack transport Sarasota, attack cargo ship Titania and Australian infantry landing ships Manoora, Kanimbla and Westralia; and Transport Division 38 with the attack transports Lamar, Harry Lee and Alpine, transport Starlight, evacuation-fitted transport Pinkney and cargo ship Alshain. There was also a Tractor Group Able (TG79.5) with an LST Assault Unit of eight LSTs, an LST Reserve Unit with 11 LSTs, an LSM Assault Unit with seven LSMs, an LSM Reserve Unit with 11 LSMs and an LCT Unit with six LCTs; an LCI Group Able (TG79.7) with a Salvage and Firefighting Unit of three LCI(L)s, a Rocket Gunboat Unit with 13 LCI(G), and a Mortar Unit with six LCI(M)s; and a Control Group Able (TG79.9) with the destroyer escort Abercrombie, three large submarine chasers, three medium submarine chasers, three yard minesweepers and one small submarine chaser. These were screened by TG79.11 with the destroyers Waller, Saufley, Philip, Renshaw, Cony and Robinson of Destroyer Squadron 22, and destroyer escorts Le Ray Wilson and Gilligan.
Rear Admiral Forrest B. Royal’s Attack Group Baker (TG79.2), with the amphibious force flagship Rocky Mount, carried Major General Rapp Brush’s 40th Division in the ships of Transport Group Baker (TG79.4), which comprised Transport Division 10 with the assault transports Clay, William P. Biddle, Arthur Middleton and Baxter, transport George F. Elliot, vehicle landing ship Catskill and the attack cargo ship Capricornus; Transport Division 18 with the assault transports Cambria, Monrovia and Frederick Funston, transport War Hawk, and attack cargo ship Alcyone; and Transport Division 30 with the assault transports Knox, Calvert and Custer, attack cargo ship Chara, and dock landing ships Lindenwald, Ashland and Casa Grande.
There were also a Landing Craft Control Unit with the destroyer escort Walter C. Wann, three large submarine chasers, four small submarine chasers and two rescue escort vessels; a Tractor Group Baker (TG79.6) with Assault Unit Green of five LSTs, Assault Unit Orange of four LSTs, an LST Reserve Unit of 10 LSTs, an LSM Reserve Unit of 31 LSMs, and an LCT Unit with of LCTs; and an LCI Support Group (TG79.8) with a Mortar Unit of six LCI(M)s, a Rocket and Gunboat Unit of 13 LCI(G)s, and a Salvage Unit of two LCI(L)s. Screening for the transport group was provided by the destroyers Bush, Halford, Conway, Eaton, Sigourney and Stembel of Destroyer Divisions 44 and 48, and destroyer escorts Richard W. Suesens and Oberrender, and for the landing craft by the destroyers Picking, Isherwood, Luce, Sproston, Wickes, Young and Charles J. Badger of Destroyer Squadron 49.
The other main components of the 7th Fleet were Rear Admiral Richard L. Conolly’s Reinforcement Group (TG77.9) and Rear Admiral Robert O. Glover’s vital Service Group (TG77.1).
Headquartered on the amphibious force flagship Appalachian escorted by the destroyer Remey, the ships of TG77.9 were were to deliver Major General Charles L. Mullins’s 25th Division, the 158th Regimental Combat Team and the 13th Armored Group. TG77.9 operated in a number of detachments including, most importantly, the Noumea Transport Unit with the assault transports Zeilin, President Jackson, President Adams, La Porte, Latimer, Oxford, Oconto, Laurens and Audrain, transports President Monroe and Comet, attack cargo ships Algol, Navajo Victory, Manderson Victory, Las Vegas Victory, Bedford Victory, H. T. Dodge and Solon Turman, ammunition ship Wrangell, and cargo ship Fomalhaut. These were screened by the destroyers McNair, Norman Scott and Melvin.
TG77.9’s smaller detachments were the Bougainville Unit with the attack transport Libra, transport President Polk and destroyer escort Harmon; the Milne Bay Unit with the attack transport Warren and destroyer escort Darby; the Oro Bay Unit with the cargo ship Uvalde and destroyer escort J. Douglas Blackwood; the Lae Unit with the attack transport Olmsted; the Finschhafen Unit with the evacuation-capable transport Tryon and attack cargo ship Warrick; the Hollandia Unit with the attack transpo0rt Appling, transport Winged Arrow and high-speed transport Coolbaugh; the Noemfoor Unit with the attack transports Leon, Adair and Haskell, attack cargo ship Diphda, and high-speed transports Kilty, Schley, Crosby, Herbert, Lloyd, Newman, Kephart, Cofer, Talbot, Manley and Goldsborough; the Leyte Transport Unit with the attack transport Gilliam and oilers Bennington and Birch Coulie; and the LST Unit comprising the subordinate Bougainville LST unit with three LSTs and destroyer escort Greenwood, Oro Bay LST Unit with five LSTs and destroyer escort Loeser, Hollandia LST Unit with seven LSTs, seven cargo ships, destroyer Monssen and submarine chaser SC-735, Noemfoor LST Unit with six LSTs and large submarine chasers PC-462 and PC-563, Sansapor LST Unit with one LST and large submarine chaser PC-464, Morotai LST Unit with 13 LSTs and destroyers McDermut, McGowan and Mertz, and Leyte LST Unit with 15 LSTs.
Glover’s TG77.1 Service Group had a miscellany of vessels of which the most important were oilers, patrol tankers, ammunition ships, water distillation ships, and various repair ships and floating dry docks. This group was divided into a Leyte Service Unit, Lingayen Service Unit and Mindoro Service Unit with screening provided by the destroyer escorts Thomason, Lovelace, Manning, Neuendorf, James E. Craig and Eichenberger.
Shorter-range air support was provided, under the command of Ofstie, by the warplanes of the escort carriers Kitkun Bay and Shamrock Bay, which were escorted by the destroyers John C. Butler and O’Flaherty. Slightly longer-range air support was the responsibility of Rear Admiral Frank D. Wagner’s Aircraft, 7th Fleet (TF73) with Wagner’s own Lingayen Group (TG73.2) with a Search and ASW Unit based on the seaplane tender Currituck, small seaplane tender Baritaria and three aircraft rescue vessels with 11 Martin PBM-3 Mariner and 12 Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boats, and a Spotting and Rescue Unit based on the small seaplane tender Orca with six PBY-5 flying boats. Also under Wagner’s command were a number of somewhat more distant elements such as the Manus Group (TG73.3) with 12 SB2C and 12 Lockheed PV-1 Ventura aircraft, the Morotai Group (TG73.4) with the seaplane tender Heron, nine Consolidated PB4Y and 12 PV-1 aircraft, the Leyte Rescue Group (TG73.5) with the seaplane tender Tangier and six PBY flying boats, the Leyte Search Group (TG73.6) with 27 PB4Y and 12 PV-1 aircraft. and the Mindoro Group (TG73.7) with the small seaplane tenders Half Moon and San Pablo, and 12 PBM flying boats.
From 3 January some of the US naval movements were detected by Japanese coast watchers and reconnaissance aircraft, and as an initial measure the two-man submarines stationed in Cebu and the kamikaze aircraft of Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi’s 1st Air Fleet were deployed against them. On 3 January the midget submarine Ha-84 missed three ships but kamikaze aircraft damaged the oiler Cowanesque. On 4 January the escort carrier Ommaney Bay was damaged so severely by kamikaze aircraft from Sarangani, to the west of Panay, that she had to be sunk by the destroyer Burns. Other kamikaze aircraft scored near-misses on the escort carrier Lunga Point and hit a freighter, which disintegrated, damaging the oiler Pecos and minelayer Monadnock as she exploded.
On 5 January the Japanese midget submarines Ha-69, Ha-81 and Ha-82 unsuccessfully attacked TF78 in the Sulu Sea, although Ha-82 only narrowly missed the cruiser Boise of the TG77.1 Flagship Group with the headquarters ship Wasatch (carrying Kinkaid and Krueger, commanders of the 7th Fleet and 6th Army respectively) Boise (carrying MacArthur), and four destroyers; and Berkey’s Close Covering Group with the light cruisers Phoenix, Montpelier and Denver, and six destroyers. The attacking submarine was sunk by Taylor of TG77.3’s escorts.
In the area to the west of Manila, Bennion, with Warrego and Gascoyne from the minesweeping group, encountered the Japanese destroyers Momi and Hinoki, which had been despatched from Manila Bay. The latter escaped, but Momi was first damaged by Bennion and then sunk by aircraft.
The Japanese attack on the invasion intensified considerably on 5 January as groups of 16, four and 15 kamikaze aircraft took off from Mabalacat on Luzon to attack TF77. The cruisers Louisville and Australia, escort carrier Manila Bay, destroyer escort Stafford, tender Orca, tug Apache and LCI(G)-70 were all damaged by hits, and the escort carrier Savo Island and destroyers Arunta and Helm by near-misses. There were 54 US dead and 168 injured.
The worst day of the invasion force’s approach to Luzon was 6 January, when a total of 29 kamikaze aircraft, with 15 escorting fighters, lifted off from various airfields to attack TG77.2 as it entered Lingayen Gulf to shell the assault area. The minesweeper Long was sunk, battleships New Mexico and California, cruisers Australia, Columbia and Louisville, destroyers Walke, Allen M. Sumner and O’Brien, and minesweepers Brooks and Southard were all damaged by hits (Brooks not being repaired), and the cruiser Minneapolis and destroyers Richard P. Leary, Newcomb and Barton were damaged by near-misses. There were 156 dead and 452 injured. The US escort carriers flew 126 sorties to provide fighter protection.
The transport convoy was spared the worst of the kamikaze assault, which was concentrated on the covering force. The worst kamikaze attacks, during the morning of 8 January, damaged an escort carrier and an attack transport, but not a single soldier of the invasion force was injured. The passage of the invasion force to Lingayen Gulf showed the kamikaze force at the peak of its effectiveness. A relatively modest number of aircraft inflicted the most serious casualties on Allied navies since the Battle of Tassafaronga. However, the kamikaze assault did not halt the invasion, and the casualties were actually less than thise projected in the most pessimistic Allied projections.
During the night of 6/7 January individual Japanese torpedo aircraft attacked and sank the minesweeper Hovey (22 dead and 24 injured). On 7 January individual bombers attacked and sank the minesweeper Palmer (28 dead and 38 injured) and just missed Boise in the Mindoro Strait. LST-912 and the transport Callaway were damaged by seven kamikaze aircraft; there were 33 dead and 22 injured. Off Lingayen, the minesweeper Palmer was sunk by an air-launched torpedo and bombs. During the night of 7/8 January, in the last surface engagement of the Pacific War, the destroyers Charles Ausburne, Braine, Shaw and Russell sank the Japanese escort destroyer Hinoki.
On 8 January several kamikaze aircraft from Clark Field attacked the 7th Fleet off Lingayen Gulf, damaging the escort carriers Kadashan Bay and Kitkun Bay, and cruiser Australia; there were 17 dead and 36 injured. Fortunately for the Americans, however, the Japanese began to run out of kamikaze aircraft soon after the US forces had entered Lingayen Gulf and Oldendorf had warned Kinkaid that his escort carriers could take the burden only a short while longer as they carried close-support aircraft rather than modern interceptor fighters.
As the ‘Mike I’ landings started on 9 January, TF38 began to support the landings with carrierborne air attacks on Japanese shipping round Formosa, and airfields on Formosa, the Ryukyu islands group and the Pescadores islands group. The corvette Kaibokan 3, the submarine chaser Ch-61 and a total of six oilers and freighters were sunk, and the frigate Yashiro, escort destroyer Miyake, tanker Kamoi, corvettes Kaibokan 9, Kaibokan 13 and Kaibokan 60, minesweeper W-102 and other ships were damaged.
The Japanese reacted with kamikaze attacks by Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukodome’s 2nd Air Fleet and Lieutenant General Kiyoji Tominaga’s 4th Air Army. On 9 January nine kamikaze aircraft were escorted by seven fighters for an attack which damaged the battleship Mississippi and cruisers Columbia and Australia with direct hits, and damaged the destroyer escort Hodges with a near-miss. During the night of 9/10 January some 70 Japanese explosive-filled motor boats attack from San Juan, but were able to sink only LCI(M)-974 and LCI(G)-365, and to damage the destroyers Robinson and Philip, transport War Hawk and tank landing ships LST-610, LST-925 and LST-1028. On 11 January there were more attacks with explosive-filled motor boats, and these damaged LST-610. A bomber attacked the destroyer Wickes, and kamikaze aircraft attacked the destroyer escort Le Ray Wilson and transport Du Page.
In the period 9/10 January the US Navy lost 114 men killed and 377 injured.
On 11 January Conolly’s 3rd Amphibious Group, with the headquarters ship Appalachian, arrived with the 25th Division, 158th RCT and 13th Armored Group in 13 troop-carrying destroyer conversions, 17 attack transports, three transports, seven attack cargo ships, eight cargo ships, 10 Liberty ships and 50 tank landing ships, escorted by the destroyers Remey, McNair, Norman Scott, Melvin, Mertz, McGowan, McDermut and Monssen of Destroyer Squadron 54, and destroyer escorts Greenwood and Loeser. Air support was provided, under the command of Henderson, by the escort carriers Saginaw Bay and Petrof Bay escorted by the destroyer escorts Richard S. Bull and Richard M. Rowell.
The Japanese submarines still available were Ro-43, Ro-46, Ro-49, Ro-50, Ro-55 and Ro-109, and of these Ro-49 made an unsuccessful attack on a battleship and Ro-46 on transports. Kamikaze aircraft attacked the approaching and departing transports and escort vessels: the converted destroyer transport Belknap, attack transport Zeilin, LST-700 and destroyer escorts Gilligan and Richard W. Suesens were damaged, the first not being considered worthy of repair; there were 50 dead and 107 injured. Four Liberty ships and a tank landing ship from a supply convoy were damaged by six kamikaze aircraft off Bataan, resulting in 129 dead and 23 injured. On 13 January, in a final kamikaze attack on the landing fleets, one hit was obtained on the escort carrier Salamaua, killing 15 men and injuring another 88.
On 15 January the escort carrier Hoggatt Bay was damaged in an area to the west of Luzon when bombs on board exploded accidentally. Japanese air attacks now came to an end as all operational aircraft had been lost and the remaining units of the 2nd Air Fleet were withdrawn. From 14 to 27 January four more supply convoys arrived to supplement the US invasion forces. From 17 January the units of the 6th Army were no longer dependent on naval support, and the last warships were withdrawn. The escort carriers had flown 6,152 sorties between 6 and 17 January, including 1,416 for close support, and lost only two of their aircraft.
Much of this was in the near future, however, as the first landing on Luzon took place on 9 January. This landing was the responsibility of the 200,000 men of Lieutenant General Walter C. Krueger’s US 6th Army, and took place in Lingayen Gulf to the north of Manila on the west coast of the island. Krueger had planned a two-corps landing in the south of Lingayen Gulf between Damortis in the north-east and Lingayen in the south-west. On the left was Swift’s I Corps with Patrick’s 6th Division (1st, 20th and 63rd Infantry) delivered from Sansapor and Wing’s 43rd Division (103rd, 169th and 172nd Infantry) from delivered Aitape, to be reinforced as rapidly as possible by Gill’s 32nd Division (126th, 127th and 128th Infantry) delivered from Leyte and Major General Percy W. Clarkson’s 33rd Division (123rd, 130th and 136th Infantry) delivered from Finschhafen and Toem; and on the right was Griswold’s XIV Corps with Beightler’s 37th Division (129th and 145th Infantry but not the 158th Infantry) delivered from Bougainville and Brush’s 40th Division (108th, 160th and 185th Infantry) delivered from New Britain, to be reinforced as rapidly as possible by Major General Verne D. Mudge’s 1st Cavalry Division (1st Brigade with the 5th and 12th Cavalry and 2nd Brigade with the 7th and 8th Cavalry) delivered from Leyte and Brigadier General Julian W. Cunningham’s 112th Cavalry from Leyte. Mullins’s 25th Division (25th, 35th and 161st Infantry) delivered from Nouméa on New Caledonia and Brigadier General Hanford MacNider’s 158th Infantry delivered from Noemfoor island were the 6th Army’s reserves.
This army’s other major elements for ‘Mike I’ were the 4th Engineer Special Brigade, 68th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade and 13th Armored Group. Also on call as further reinforcements were Major General Charles P. Hall’s XI Corps with Major General Henry L. C. Jones’s 38th Division and 34th Regimental Combat Team detached from Major General Roscoe B. Woodruff’s 24th Division, and Major General Joseph M. Swing’s 11th Airborne Division.
The task facing the I Corps and XIV Corps was formidable, for before the XIV Corps could undertake its task of driving to the south for the liberation of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, the left flank of the US lodgement had to be secured by the I Corps from any Japanese counter-offensive from the east or north.
On Luzon the Americans were faced by a formidable adversary in the form of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, commanding the 14th Area Army under the overall control of Field Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchi’s Southern Expeditionary Army Group headquartered at Saigon in occupied French Indo-China. The 14th Area Army had a strength of some 275,000 men on Luzon, but Yamashita was all too aware of his army’s limitations, for most of its units were understrength and short of supplies as a result of the blockade of the sea lanes between the Philippine islands group and the Japanese home islands by US aircraft, surface ships and submarines. To compound the difficulties of his ground forces, Yamashita had only the most modest air support left after the beginning of January 1945, in the form of 120 aircraft of Tominaga’s 4th Air Army and 150 aircraft of Fukutome’s 2nd Air Fleet. It was decided that these air assets should be expended in kamikaze attacks on the US invasion fleet. By 12 January Yamashita had only four liaison aircraft left to him, so the 4th Air Army’s personnel were converted to infantry while the remnants of the 2nd Air Fleet were sent back to Onishi’s 1st Air Fleet on Formosa; after 12 January the Japanese managed to ‘make’ 27 more aircraft by cannibalisation, and these were expended in kamikaze attacks on 15, 21 and 25 January.
At the beginning of the Philippine islands campaign, Yamashita had a strength of 275,000 men, as noted above, and planned to sacrifice the other islands so that the main strength of the 14th Area Army could be concentrated on Luzon, which he reckoned was the ideal defensive battlefield for a lengthy defence as it provided plentiful supplies and offered his forces room to manoeuvre before falling back to three well prepared final defensive bastions. Yamashita had been overruled by Terauchi, however, and forced to detach major formations to the fighting in the south.
Thus at the beginning of ‘Mike I’, the 14th Area Army had on Luzon a combatant strength of perhaps 90,000 army troops 3, and with non-combatants this strength was at least doubled. The Japanese manpower was bolstered by Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi’s 31st Special Base Force (16,000 naval personnel) and Rear Admiral Ushie Sugimoto’s 26th Air Flotilla (15,000 naval anti-aircraft, service and construction personnel but no aircraft) of Vice Admiral Denshichi Okawachi’s South-Western Area Fleet and Southern Expeditionary Fleet around Manila, which Yamashita had decided to declare an open city.
This was a useful overall strength, but Yamashita nonetheless believed that he could not hold Luzon with the forces available as these did not provide him with the capability for a mobile defence over an area so large and rugged as Luzon. The Japanese commander therefore opted for a static defence, which demanded the sacrifice of the Manila area and its plains, the use of only very limited resources in the region of Lingayen Gulf where the Japanese had landed in 1941 and was an obvious US landing site, and a rejection of MacArthur’s concept of withdrawal into the Bataan peninsula which he saw as a trap. Yamashita felt that the area of the Lingayen Gulf and the Agno and Pampanga river valley corridor to Manila was indefensible in the face of US air power and the combined firepower and manoeuvre capability of the US ground forces. As a result of all these factors, Yamashita therefore opted to concentrate his forces in three mountain strongholds which the US forces would be able to overrun only at a great cost in lives, matériel and time.
Thus the Japanese would fight only delaying actions round Lingayen Gulf and in the Agno/Pampanga valley, and many thousands of tons of supplies were moved into the mountain strongholds.
The main stronghold was in the central Cordillera mountain range of northern Luzon to the east and north-east of Lingayen Gulf, and included the food-producing Cagayan river valley in the north-east. The 14th Area Army established its headquarters at Baguio, a summer mountain resort about 25 miles (40 km) to the north-east of Lingayen Gulf. The 152,000-man ‘Shobu’ Group was assembled in the mountains with most of the 2nd Armoured Division, most of the 10th Division, the 19th Division, 23rd Division and 103rd Division, the 58th Independent Mixed Brigade and other elements directly under the command of Yamashita, who organised the creation of a redoubt, shaped like an isosceles triangle: this was anchored in the north on Bontoc and in the south on Baguio and Bambang, some 35 miles (55 km) apart and 50 miles (80 km) to the south of Bontoc. The 23rd Division with the 58th Independent Mixed Brigade attached established light defences on the eastern shore of Lingayen Gulf and would conduct a fighting withdrawal into the redoubt. The 10th Division defended the southern approaches to the redoubt. The 2nd Armoured Division and 19th Division was to defend the Agno/Pampanga valley as they withdrew, but were prepared to conduct counterattacks into the valley or toward Manila. The 103rd Division established a network of defences along the upper part of the western coast and was to withdraw to the east into the Cagayan river valley where they and elements of the 2nd Armoured Division and 19th Division were to hold the valley until supplies could be withdrawn into the redoubt. The ‘Tsuda’ Detachment, based on the 11th Regiment, established defences on the east coast on Dingalan Bay and Cape Encanto. The 61st Independent Mixed Brigade was stationed on Batan and Babuyan islands off the northern coast of Luzon.
The 80,000-man ‘Shimbu’ Group was led by Yokoyama, commander of the 8th Division, whose forces comprised most of the 8th Division, the 105th Division and the 31st Special Base Force. This group defended the southern end of Luzon including Manila, the eastern side of Manila Bay and the Bicol peninsula. It was also to defend the mountains to the east and north-east of Manila, and to fight delaying actions on the Bicol peninsula.
Manila was garrisoned largely by naval troops, but in Yamashita’s planning was not to be defended and certainly not held after the US landings.
The 30,000-man ‘Kembu’ Group was assigned the southern portion of the Caraballo mountain range on the western side of the Agno/Pampanga valley and the part of the valley on which Clark Field and Fort Stotsenburg were located. During its preparations the group had several commanders, but by the time of the ‘Mike I’ invasion the group was led by Tsukada, commander of the 1st Raiding Group, a division-level parachute and glider unit. The ‘Kembu’ Group included the 2nd Glider Regiment of the 1st Raiding Group (the group’s only remaining unit), the 2nd Mobile Regiment of the 2nd Armoured Division, and most of the 39th Regiment of the 10th Division plus a larger part of the 4th Air Army of which elements were also attached to the ‘Shobu’ Group and ‘Shimbu’ Group, and 15,000 naval anti-aircraft, air service and construction troops under Sugimoto.
The Japanese estimated that the main US landings would be made at either Lingayen Gulf or Batangas on the southern end of the main Luzon land mass to the west of the isthmus connecting it with the Bicol peninsula. The Batangas area provided a good road network and was less distant from Manila to the north than the city was from Lingayen. The capture of Mindoro immediately across the narrow Verde Island Passage from Batangas and the recent diversionary operations in the area convinced many Japanese staff officers by mid-December that Batangas would be the location selected by the Americans for a landing in the middle of January 1945.
On 19 December the 14th Area Army began deploying units in accordance with the defence plan and additional units were deployed in the south in the event of a landing at Batangas.
It was not until the US invasion force was spotted off of the Bataan peninsula that it became certain that a landing at Lingayen Gulf was intended. TF77 (Luzon Attack Force) was provided by the 7th Fleet with the 7th Amphibious Force (TF78) transporting the I Corps and the 3rd Amphibious Force (TF79) carrying the XIV Corps. The many units assembled in Leyte Gulf had arrived from their distant staging areas between 1 and 5 January. There were no fewer than 12 task groups supporting the operations, these including a bombardment force of six older battleships and six cruisers, and a close air support force of 21 escort carriers. The 3rd Fleet was to provide additional carrier support by attacking targets, most especially airfields, throughout the Philippine islands group and elsewhere. The postponement of the Mindoro landing had a corresponding impact on the Lingayen Gulf landing, which had initially been scheduled for 20 December 1944 and was then moved to 9 January, which offered favourable tide and moon conditions.
The first elements of the invasion force departed Leyte Gulf on 2 January, the rest of the task groups sailing by 6 January. The invasion force extended over a length of some 40 miles (65 km), and steamed to the west past the north coast of Mindoro, then to the north-west, skirting the western side of the Visayan islands group. Japanese air attacks, including kamikaze aircraft, began on 4 January and caused the sinking of one ship and the damaging of 24 vessels before the fleet entered Lingayen Gulf: by 13 January 24 ships had been sunk and another 67 damaged by kamikaze attack.
The preliminary naval bombardment of the landing areas on the southern end of the gulf began on 6 January and continued even though there was no Japanese response, no Japanese were seen, and Filipinos were seen attempting to organise a welcoming parade. The landing forces entered the gulf at 04.00 on 9 January, and the landing from 09.30 were unopposed on the ground, though air attacks on the fleet continued. The landing beaches were level and free of natural or man-made obstacles, but narrow. Inland the coastal plain was also level, but there were numerous swamps and rivers and streams edged with rice paddies as well as swamps, and there were also large areas of salt evaporators bordering some streams. There was a well-developed road network, however, linked to the roads heading south through the Agno/Pampanga valley corridor to Manila 120 miles (195 km) distant to the south. The valley was flanked by foothills, then forested mountains. There was only one small airstrip in the area, on the western side of Dagupan.
The I Corps landed on the eastern part of the gulf’s southern end centred on San Fabian, a small town beside the mouth of the Patalan river. The 43rd Division landed on two beaches to the east of San Fabian, and on a third directly in front of the town. To the west of San Fabian the 6th Division landed on two beaches. The 43rd Division’s task included securing the grass-covered terraced ridge lines progressively rising in steps from 100 to 600 ft (30 to 185 m) on the eastern flank, where six Japanese battalions held well prepared defences in depth.
The boundary between the I and XIV Corps was the wide mouth of the Dugupan river, and then from the town of Dugupan followed a road inland.
The XIV Corps’ 37th Division landed on two beaches to the east of the Lingayen airfield, and its 40th Division on two beaches directly in front of the airfield and just to the east of the town of Lingayen.
By the fall of night on 9 January the 6th Army had established a beach-head 17 miles (27.4 km) wide and 4 miles (6.4 km) deep with the I Corps on the left and the XIV Corps on the right. Despite the fact that there was no Japanese opposition to the formations of the XIV Corps, inland swamps impeded the advance following the landings. The XIV Corps drove slowly but surely toward Manila, while the I Corps pushed to the east toward the line between San Jose and Pozorrubio to provide a shield for the XIV Corps’ left flank. The I Corps began to meet increasing opposition from the ‘Shobo’ Group as it approached Yamashita’s headquarters at Baguio, and on 16 January a Japanese counterattack punched a hole through the I Corps nearly to the sea. The I Corps’ movement to the south was slowed by the resistance on its northern flank, but the XIV Corps made good progress until it approached the Clark Field complex of 11 airfields on 23 January. These included four all-weather airfields (Clark, Zablan, Nielson and Nichols Fields) needed for the basing of US tactical aircraft.
The ‘Kembu’ Group delayed the US advance for a week, and Clark Field was not in US hands until the end of the month. Spurred on by MacArthur, who wished a rapid advance to Manila so that the US forces would have a good port, secure, and release the prisoners in military and civil camps before the Japanese harmed them further, the XIV Corps now headed to the south at a greater pace but against increasingly determined opposition to reach the outskirts of Clark Field and to take San Fernando on 29 January, forcing the ‘Kembu’ Group to pull back westward into the Cabusilan mountain range.
The 1st Cavalry Division arrived on 26/27 January to reinforce the XIV Corps: carried by trucks and supported by armour, its 1st Brigade drove toward Manila while the rest of the division mopped up in its wake. The brigade reached the northern outskirts of Manila on 3 February.
On the right flank of ‘Mike I’, ‘Mike VII’ began on 29 January when Hall’s XI Corps landed at San Antonio above Subic Bay, some 25 miles (40 km) to the north-west of the Bataan peninsula. The XI Corps and Jones’s 38th Division (149th, 151st and 152nd Infantry), reinforced by the 34th Infantry of Woodruff’s 24th Division, had arrived from Leyte. Guerrillas had reported the landing area free of Japanese defenders, so the planned naval bombardment was cancelled and the landing proceeded without opposition. The 38th Division was checked by a Japanese force at Zigzag pass to the north-east of Olongapo, and it took almost two weeks for the defences to be reduced, resulting in the replacement of Woodruff as divisional commander by Brigadier General William C. Chase.
The XI Corps then closed on the right flank of the XIV Corps and cut off the Japanese forces on the Bataan peninsula, although the evacuation of some of the defenders was achieved to Corregidor island and to the mainland across Manila Bay. To reinforce the drive to Manila yet another amphibious assault was executed on 31 January as ‘Mike IV’. In this Swing’s 11th Airborne Division (187th and 188th Glider Infantry) arrived from Leyte and landed in Nasugary Bay near Nasugbu, just to the south of the entrance to Manila Bay, at 08.15 without opposition. The division pushed inland against only slightly increasing resistance with the aim of approaching Manila, some 55 miles (90 km) to the north. Some 1,455 men of the division’s third regiment, the 511th Parachute Infantry, flying from Mindoro, parachuted on to Tagaytay Ridge at 08.15 on 3 February, but some troops were inaccurately dropped and reached the ground some 5 miles (8 km) to the east-north-east of the intended drop zone. The 11th Airborne Division fought its way to Manila’s southern outskirts by 5 February.
Considering the city could not be defended, Yamashita had ordered the ‘Shimbu’ Group to destroy bridges and key installations, and then to evacuate the city, but Iwabuchi ordered the men of his 31st Special Base Force to remain, and thus there began a bitter battle for the city between 4 February and 4 March. Manila was one of the largest cities in the Pacific region and much of its centre comprised heavily constructed modern concrete buildings intended to resist earthquakes, and a large, massively constructed Spanish fortress area near the port, the Intramuros, was defended by the Manila Naval Defence Force, the last stronghold in the city to fall. The Intramuros accommodated a number modern government buildings, and massive artillery was required to blast the defenders out of their strongpoints, although air attacks were restricted to avoid inflicting too heavy a death toll on the civilian population of the area. Much of the city was devastated and almost all of its infrastructure was shattered.
Shortly before the city’s fall to the US forces, MacArthur declared the re-establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. The XIV Corps lost more than 1,000 men killed and 5,500 wounded, and as many as 100,000 Filipinos may have died in Manila, with thousands wounded and more others murdered by retreating Japanese. About 16,000 Japanese troops, mostly of the Japanese navy, were killed inside and on the outskirts of Manila.
Some 40 miles (65 km) to the south of Manila was the Los Banos internment camp containing about 2,150 US civilians. Fearing the Japanese might murder the civilians, 130 men of Company A, 1/511th Parachute Infantry jumped onto a drop zone immediately outside the camp on 23 February. The rest of the battalion landed by amphibian tractor from Laguna de Bay. In less than 20 minutes all of the 250 Japanese guards were dead. No US civilians were killed, and the US military losses in this nicely executed operation were one paratrooper killed and another wounded.
On 14 February the 151st Infantry (South Force) boarded landing craft at Olongapo on Subic Bay and landed at Mariveles on the southern end of the Bataan peninsula. The 1st and 149th Infantry (North Force) swept down the Bataan peninsula’s east coast beginning on 12 February. At Pilar the North Force split, part of it moving to the south to link with the South Force at Limay on 18 February, while the other element moved across the peninsula’s centre on a west/east axis, along the road linking Pilar and Bagac, to link with another element of the South Force at Bagac on 21 February.
On 16 February the 1/503d Parachute Infantry parachuted onto Corregidor island with its drop zone on Topside, while the 3/34th Infantry, assaulted the south coast of ‘The Rock’, landing at Bottomside. More than 2,000 US troops were involved in the initial assault on Corregidor, which was defended by 5,670 Japanese, most of them naval personnel. The first lift of paratroopers began landing at 08.33 on 16 February after a flight from Mindoro. The amphibious assault hit the beach at 10.28, and at 12.40 came the second lift of paratroopers. Two more battalions landed from the sea on the following day. Corregidor was cleared and back in US hands at 16.00 on 26 February.
MacArthur returned to Corregidor on 2 March, nine days short of three years from that on which he had been ordered to leave, and the US flag was raised once again. US casualties in this small operation were 445 men killed, 560 wounded and 340 injured, the last by the hazards of the small rubble-strewn drop zone and other accidents. The Japanese lost all but 35 men taken prisoner. The other fortified islands in Manila Bay were cleared between 27 March and 16 April by elements of the 38th Division.
The first US ships were able to dock in Manila on 15 March: the Japanese had left some 350 wrecked ships in the harbour, but US engineers found ways swiftly to refloat and tow aside the wrecks, and by May the harbour was handling 90,000 tons of cargo per week. By the end of the war, 24 Liberty ships could berth simultaneously, and this in fact rendered Yamashita’s surviving forces militarily irrelevant.
While the Battle for Manila continued, on 20 February the XIV Corps began an offensive to clear the southern part of Luzon, and as a first step advanced to the east from Manila. On 14 March the XIV Corps was relieved by the XI Corps and the ‘Shimbu’ Group was driven to the south down the Bicol peninsula. Although the XI Corps assumed overall command of these operations, the divisions already in the area continued to operate in the south. The divisions fighting in the south were thus the 1st Cavalry, 11th Airborne, and 6th, 38th and 43rd Divisions. To these was added a significant guerrilla force known as the US Army Forces in the Philippines, Northern Luzon, under the command of Colonel Russell W. Volckmann. Well organised, it contained 20,000 men disposed in the 11th, 14th, 15th, 66th and 121st Infantry along with service elements. Supported by US artillery battalions, these guerrilla forces fought as conventional units alongside US units.
Separated from the 14th Area Army, the ‘Shimbu’ Group was redesignated as the 41st Army on 6 March 1945 under the command of Yokoyama, who also continued as the commander of the 8th Division. The US forces made two small amphibious landings on the peninsula to cut the Japanese line of retreat: on 1 April the 158th Infantry landed at Legazpi in Albay Gulf on the lower part of the Bicol peninsula’s eastern side, and on 27 April the 5th Cavalry landed at Pasacao on the central part of the west coast. The southern part of Luzon was declared secure on 31 May.
Responsibility for the clearance of the northern part of Luzon was entrusted to the I Corps, which began operations against the bulk of the ‘Shobu’ Group on 21 February. Engagements were fought in the valleys, hills and ridges until the end of the war as the Japanese withdrew deeper into the mountains with their emphasis placed increasingly on survival rather than on defending the island.
On 30 June the 6th Army was relieved by Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger’s 8th Army to complete the mopping-up of northern Luzon on 30 June, but the formations currently involved were generally retained. The formations involved in the fighting in the northern part of Luzon included the 25th, 32nd and 33rd Divisions. The Filipino guerrilla forces also played a valuable role in the clearance of the northern part of Luzon with many units undertaking direct combat action in addition to their normal intelligence-collecting and guide duties.
On 3 September, Yamashita surrendered some 61,100 troops to Gill, commander of the 32nd Division, at Baguio, the anchor of the south-western corner of the ‘Shobu’ Group’s mountain stronghold.
Casualties during the Luzon had been heavy on each side. US Army losses were 8,310 men killed and 29,560 wounded, while more than 93,400 US troops suffered non-battle injuries, disease and illness, the highest non-battle casualty rate experienced by the USA in any campaign of World War II. An estimated 205,535 Japanese died on Luzon, this figure including those who succumbed to disease and starvation, and 9,050 were taken prisoner before the surrender. Japan’s matériel losses were also very considerable. In October 1944, for example, the 4th Air Army had available some 300 aircraft in the Philippine islands group, and between October 1944 and January 1945 received 2,300 more aircraft. Yet in the middle of January there remained only 30 aircraft for evacuation. This does not include the hundreds of aircraft which the Japanese navy had lost.
The heavy warships of TG77.2 were supported by a light cruiser force in the form of Rear Admiral Russell S. Berkey’s TG77.3, otherwise the Close Covering Group, with the the light cruisers Phoenix, Montpelier and Denver, and destroyers Nicholas, Fletcher, Radford, O’Bannon, Taylor and Hopewell.
TG77.2 was further supported by an escort carrier group in the form of Rear Admiral Calvin T. Durgin’s Task Group 77.4, otherwise the Escort Carrier Group, with Durgin’s own Lingayen Carrier Group (escort carriers Makin Island with 16 General Motors FM-2 Wildcat fighters and 12 Grumman TBF-3 Avenger bombers, Lunga Point with 14 FM-2 and 12 TBM-3 aircraft, Bismarck Sea with 16 FM-2 and 12 TBM-3 aircraft, Salamaua with 14 FM-2 and 10 TBM-3 aircraft and Hoggatt Bay with 16 FM-2 and 12 TBM-3 aircraft); Rear Admiral Ralph A. Ofstie’s Lingayen Protective Group (escort carriers Kitkun Bay with 16 FM-2, one FM-2P and 11 TBM-3 aircraft, Shamrock Bay with 20 FM-2, 11 TBM-3 and one TBM-3P aircraft, and destroyers John C. Butler and O’Flaherty); Captain J. C. Cronin’s Hunter-Killer Group (escort carrier Tulagi with 11 FM-2 and 12 TBM-3 aircraft, and destroyer escorts Stafford, William Seiverling, Ulvert M. Moore, Kendall C. Campbell and Goss) and Destroyer Squadron 6 (destroyers Maury, Gridley, Bagley, Helm, Ralph Talbot, Patterson and McCall, and destroyer escorts Edmonds and Howard F. Clark); Rear Admiral Felix B. Stump’s San Fabian Carrier Group (escort carriers Natoma Bay with 18 FM-2 and 12 TBM-3 aircraft, Manila Bay with 20 FM-2 and 12 TBM-3 aircraft, Wake Island with 23 FM-2 and 12 TBM-3 aircraft, Steamer Bay with 16 FM-2 and 12 TBM-3 aircraft Savo Island with 19 FM-2 11 TBM-1C and one 1 TBM-1CP aircraft, and Ommaney Bay with 19 FM-2, 10 TBM-1C, one TBM-1CP and one TBM-3 aircraft, and Destroyer Squadron 51 with the destroyers Hall, Halligan, Bell, Burns, Paul Hamilton, Twiggs and Abbot); and Rear Admiral George R. Henderson’s Close Covering Group (escort carriers Saginaw Bay with 20 FM-2 and 12 TBM-3 aircraft, Kadashan Bay with 24 FM-2, 10 TBM-1C and one TBM-1CP aircraft, Marcus Island with 24 FM-2 Wildcat and nine TBM-1C aircraft and Petrof Bay with 20 FM-2 and 12 TBM-1C aircraft, and Destroyer Division 104 with the destroyers Charrette and Connor, and destroyer escorts Richard S. Bull and Richard M. Rowell.
There were 86 other vessels including the essential minesweepers of TG77.6, otherwise the Minesweeping and Hydrographic Group (Sweep Unit 1 with the high-speed minesweepers Hopkins, Chandler, Southard, Hovey, Long and Preble, high-speed transport destroyer conversion Brooks and four ramped personnel landing craft; Sweep Unit 2 with the high-speed minesweepers Hamilton, Dorsey, Palmer, Hogan and Howard and light minelayer Breese; Sweep Unit 3 with the minesweepers Requisite, Pursuit, Sage, Scuffle and Triumph; Sweep Unit 4 with the minesweepers Saunter, Salute, Scout, Scrimmage and Sentry; as well as Sweep Unit 5 (eight yard minesweepers), Sweep Unit 6 (eight yard minesweepers), Sweep Unit 7 (eight yard minesweepers), Sweep Unit 8 (eight yard minesweepers), Sweep Unit 9 (five yard minesweepers), Sweep Unit 10 (five yard minesweepers), Sweep Unit 11 (four ramped personnel landing craft); the Hydrographic Unit (four vessels); the Service Unit (minesweeper Monadnock).
The Screening Group (TG77.7) comprised Destroyer Division 48 with Bush, Stanly, Halford and Stembel.
The Salvage and Rescue Group (TG77.8) comprised the salvage vessels Grasp, Grapple and Cable, landing craft repair ships Amycus and Egeria, tugs Apache, Chickasaw, Chowanoc, Potawatomi, Hidatsa, Quapaw and Rail, rescue tug ATR-61 and eight large infantry landing craft.
Bogan’s TG38.2 comprised the fleet carriers Lexington (72 F6F, 15 SB2C and 15 TBM aircraft), Hancock (54 F6F, 25 SB2C and 18 TBM aircraft) and Hornet (51 F6F, 23 SB2C and 18 TBM aircraft) and light carrier Cabot with 25 F6F and nine TBM aircraft) supported by the battleships New Jersey, Iowa and Wisconsin, light cruisers Pasadena, Miami and Wilkes-Barre, light anti-aircraft cruiser San Juan, and destroyers Capps, David W. Taylor, Evans, John D. Henley, Boyd, Brown, Cowell, Trathen and Hazelwood of Destroyer Division 102, Owen, Miller, The Sullivans, Stephen Potter and Tingey of Destroyer Division 103, Hickox, Hunt, Lewis Hancock and Marshall of Destroyer Division 104, Ault, English, Charles S. Sperry, Waldron and Haynsworth of Destroyer Division 123, and John W. Weeks and Hank of Destroyer Division 124.
Sherman’s TG38.3 comprised the fleet carriers Essex (44 F6F, 24 SB2C and 18 TBM aircraft as well as 18 Vought F4U Corsair fighter-bombers) and Ticonderoga (75 F6F, 22 SB2C and 16 TBM aircraft), light carriers Langley (25 F6F and nine TBM aircraft) and San Jacinto (24 F6F and nine TBM aircraft) supported by the battleships Washington, North Carolina and South Carolina, light cruisers Santa Fe, Mobile, Biloxi, Vincennes and Flint, and destroyers Clarence K. Bronson, Cotten, Dortch, Gatling and Healy of Destroyer Squadron 50, Cogswell, Caperton, Ingersoll and Knapp of Destroyer Division 100, Porterfield, Callaghan, Cassin Young and Preston of Destroyer Squadron 55, and Laws, Longshaw, Prichett and Halsey Powell of Destroyer Division 110.
Optimised for night operations, Gardner’s TG38.5 comprised the fleet carrier Enterprise (14 F6F and 27 TBM aircraft), light carrier Independence (nine F6F and eight TBM aircraft) and destroyers McCord, Trathen and Hazelwood of Destroyer Division 93, and Haggard, Buchanan and Franks of Destroyer Division 94. By day this group operated with TG38.2.
TG38 was supported by Captain Jasper T. Acuff’s At Sea Logistics Group (TG30.8) with the oilers Atascosa, Aucilla, Cacapon, Cache, Caliente, Chicopee, Chikaskia, Cimarron, Enoree, Guadalupe, Housatonic, Kankakee, Kennebago, Lackawanna, Manatee, Marias, Mascoma, Merrimack, Millicoma, Monongahela, Nantahala, Neches, Neosho, Niobrara, Pamanset, Patuxent, Saugatuck, Taluga and Tomahawk, escort carriers Altahama, Anzio, Cape Esperance, Kwajalein, Shipley Bay, Nehenta Bay, Sargent Bay and Rudyerd Bay, destroyers Dewey, Aylwin, Dale, Dyson, Farragut, Hailey, Hickox, Hobby, MacDonough, Thatcher, Thorn and Welles of Destroyer Squadron 1, destroyer escorts Bangust, Crowley, Donaldson, George, Grady, Hilbert, Kyne, Lake, Lamons, Lawrence C. Taylor, Lewis, Lyman, Melvin W. Nawman, Mitchell, O’Neill, Osmus, Reynolds, Riddle, Robert F. Keller, Swearer, Tabberer, Waterman, Weaver and Wesson, ammunition ships Sangay, Mauna Loa, Australia Victory, Provo Victory, Rainier, Mount Baker and Nitro, and tugs Hitchiti, Jicarilla, Mataco, Molala, Sioux, Tekesta and Zuni.