October 22nd, 2005
Battle of Leyte Gulf 23-26 October 1944 |
The three Battles of Leyte Gulf.
The Japanese waited for the Americans to make their move into the Philippines, it came at Leyte on Oct 20, 1944, and they then attacked with four fleets at three locations: Carriers from the north ; battleships through the middle ; and two groups through the south.
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 two submarines that sank two heavy cruisers : Atago and Maya and stopped Takao. Carrier air attack on Oct 24 sank super battleship Musashi. and a destroyer, Karita. Adm. Kurita turned around at 15:00.
Battle off Cape Engano. Adm Ozawa lead 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 with the main fleet to get carriers.
Surigao Strait. 1 . 24 Oct 2200 - 25 Oct 03:00 a Japanese force of two battleships, three destroyers were sunk 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 . Another force of 5 cruisers and 7 destroyers followed 40 miles behind and withdrew after colliding with the retreating heavy cruiser, which was sunk by aircraft in the morning..
Samar. Adm. Kurita had turned around to stop the air attack and at dark resumed his movement towards the invasion task force that Hasley left unguarded. On the morning of Oct 25, the Japanese battleships encountered Taffy-3, a group of escort carriers and destroyers supporting the troops ashore. The US destroyers faithfully attacked and sank 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.
The first Kamikazes arrived to sink St. Lo (CVL-63) and damage 3 other carriers.
Battle off Cape Engano.Halsey reached the decoy carrier fleet and attacked 25Oct 08:30 for three hours, sinking three carriers and a destroyer before returning to help at Samar -- too late to but sink one retreating destroyer.
Outcome: Japan lost 4 carriers, Zuikaku, Chitose, Chiyoda, Zuiho; 3 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers of 64 warships engages. The US an escort carrier, 2 destroyers, and one DE in the surface action ; lost Princeton (CVL-23) to a land based bomber ; and an escort carrier to kamikaze. This is the last fleet action of the war, the last battleship engagement and the last carrier attack on a fleet at sea.
"It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle." - Norman Schwarskopf, Commander of Desert Storm Operations