World War, Pacific
Battle of Leyte Gulf 23-26 October 1944
The three part Battle of Leyte Gulf.
The Japanese waited for the Americans to make their move into the Philippines, it came at Leyte on Oct 20, 1944. The IJN immediately sortied to attack with four fleets at three locations: Carriers from the north ; battleships through the middle ; and two groups through the south. This was the last gasp of the IJN -- the US had more carriers (46) than the Japanese had destroyers (35).
The Allies (two Australian) had 218 ships against 64 of Japan.
- Sibuyan Sea.
First on the scene was Adm. Kurita's central force with five battleships and ten heavy cruisers. It was sighted the morning of Oct 23
by three submarines that sank heavy cruisers Atago and Maya and stopped Aoba and Takao. U.S. carrier air attack on Oct 24 sank super battleship Musashi. and a destroyer, Karita. Adm. Kurita turned around at 14:00.
- Battle off Cape Engano. Adm Ozawa led a Japanese force of 6 remaining carriers as a decoy to lure the Americans
north, away from the Philippines. Some bombers were flown off to airfields in the Philippines. The decoy worked and was sighted 24Oct 16:40 as the Central force seemed to be withdrawing. Halsey, thinking he had finished off Kurita, moved north at 20:22 with the main fleet to "get carriers".
- Surigao Strait. 1 . That night, 24 Oct 22:00 to 25 Oct 04:00 a Japanese force of two battleships, three destroyers came through the south and were sunk in sucession by PT boats followed by DDs attacking from the sides, and US battleships waiting in line across the "T". The only survivors were a heavy cruiser and destroyer.
2 . 25 Oct 04:00 to 05:00 Another force of 5 cruisers and 7 destroyers followed 40 miles behind and withdrew after colliding with a retreating heavy cruiser, which was sunk by aircraft in the morning.
- Battle off Samar. Adm. Kurita had turned around to stop the air attack and at 17:14, before dark resumed his movement towards the invasion task force that Hasley left unguarded. On the morning of Oct 25 06:58, the Japanese battleships
encountered Taffy-3, a group of escort carriers and destroyers supporting the troops ashore. The US destroyers faithfully attacked and sank heavy crusiers Chikuma and Chokai, delaying the Japanese closing on the slow escort carriers so that only one, Gamblier Bay (CVE-73), and three destroyers were sunk. Adm. Kurita felt he was losing warships for a goal of only empty transports, so turned to seek Halsey's fleet, thought better of that, and retreated entirely.
At 10:50 as the escort carriers were landing aircraft, the first Kamikazes arrived to sink St. Lo (CVL-63) and damage 3 other Taffy carriers.
- Battle off Cape Engano. Halsey reached the decoy carrier fleet and attacked 25Oct 08:30 for three hours, sinking four carriers and a destroyer before returning to help at Samar -- too late, but to sink one retreating destroyer.
- Outcome: Japan lost 4 carriers, Zuikaku, Chitose, Chiyoda, Zuiho; 3 battleships, Musashi, Fuso, Yamashiro ; 6 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers of 64 warships engaged. The US lost
an escort carrier, 2 destroyers, and a destroyer escort in the surface action ; an escort carrier to kamikaze ; and lost light carrier Princeton (CVL-23) to a land based bomber.
This is the last fleet action of the war, the last battleship engagement in history, and the last carrier attack on a fleet at sea. Japan
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About this page: Leyte - very Brief discussion of the last fleet action
of the Pacific War.
Last updated on October 8, 2006
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