Leyte, 1944: The Soldiers' Battle

Leyte, 1944: The Soldiers' Battle

by Nathan N. Prefer


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When General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia in March 1942, having successfully left the Philippines to organize a new American army, he vowed, "I shall return!" More than two years later he did return, at the head of a large U.S. army to retake the Philippines from the Japanese. The place of his re-invasion was the central Philippine Island of Leyte. Much has been written about the naval battle of Leyte Gulf that his return provoked, but almost nothing has been written about the three-month long battle to seize Leyte itself.

Originally intending to delay the advancing Americans, the Japanese high command decided to make Leyte the "Decisive Battle" for the western Pacific and rushed crack Imperial Army units from Manchuria, Korea, and Japan itself to halt and then overwhelm the Americans on Leyte. As were most battles in the Pacific, it was a long, bloody, and brutal fight. As did the Japanese, the Americans were forced to rush in reinforcements to compensate for the rapid increase in Japanese forces on Leyte.

This unique battle also saw a major Japanese counterattack—not a banzai charge, but a carefully thought-out counteroffensive designed to push the Americans off the island and capture the elusive General MacArthur. Both American and Japanese battalions spent days surrounded by the enemy, often until relieved or overwhelmed. Under General Yamashita's guidance it also saw a rare deployment of Japanese paratroopers in conjunction with the ground assault offensive.

Finally there were more naval and air battles, all designed to protect or cover landing operations of friendly forces. Leyte was a three-dimensional battle, fought with the best both sides had to offer, and did indeed decide the fate of the Philippines in World War II.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612007168
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Publication date: 10/04/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Sales rank: 732,503
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Nathan N. Prefer is retired with graduate degrees in Military History. His life-long study of the Second World War has resulted in three prior military studies including MacArthur's New Guinea Campaign, March-August 1944; Patton’s Ghost Corps, Cracking the Siegfried Line and Vinegar Joe ‘s War, Stilwell ‘s Campaigns in Burma. He resides in Fort Myers, Florida.

Table of Contents


1. Decision For The Philippines
2. I Have Returned”
3. Into The Valleys
4. Into The Mountains—Breakneck Ridge
5. Into The Mountains—Kilay Ridge
6. Into The Mountains—Shoestring Ridge
7. The "Old Bastards” Land
8. The Last Valley
9. The Japanese Retreat
10. The Bitter End

Appendix 1: U.S. Forces Order Of Battle, Leyte, 1944
Appendix 2: Japanese Order Of Battle, Leyte, 1944
Appendix 3: U.S. Army Battle Casualties, Leyte, 20 Oct 1944 - 8 May 1945

Bibliographical Note

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Leyte, 1944: The Soldiers' Battle 1.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This effort adds nothing new to the subject matter regarding Operation King II. There is scant attention paid to the Japanese side of the campaign, which I find unforgivable given the passage of time and access to long available Japanese sources. The Army Official History is still the best source for this overlooked campaign.
George59 More than 1 year ago
This book is a jumble of information. The writer assumes that you have the complete knowledge of the Infantry Regiments involved in the battles and bounces back and fourth between them which in this case left this reader confused. His writing about the 77th Infantry Division which I am familiar with contains many errors. This leads me to question many of his other facts.