The Americans had everything going for them. The Marshalls, Marianas, Solomans, and Carolines were all theirs again. The American Air Force was proving effective destroying many targets in Japan as well as in the Philippines. U.S. submarines had destroyed more than 700 Japanese ships. General MacArthur's promise to return to the Philipines was about to be fulfilled.
The only thing standing in America's way was Peleliu Island. The Battle of Peleliu Island was one of the most heavily fought for islands in the war. American soldiers encountered endless fire on the beaches of the island as they were froze with fear. But the soldiers left the beaches and went to wipe out the Japanese on the island. In the heavily defended area called Bloody Nose Ridge, the Japanese set up their key defense. Heavy pillboxes and caves were the key to the Japanese defense, but it didn't stop the Americans. The island was finally won, and 12,000 Japanese died trying to defend it. America was now prepared for the Philippine's invasion.
The next step to invasion was key bombings on the Philippine. The American Air Force bombed key targets in southern Mindanao island and northern Luzon. Countless air battles were fought over the Philippine leaving 3,000 Japanese planes in ruin.
October 21, 1944 was the day of the invasion. Over 600 ships and 250,000 men entered Leyte Island. Following the troops was General MacArthur. He stepped ashore after leaving the Philippine in a desperate evacuation over two years ago. The beachheads were established and a further Philippine invasion was set.
On late October 1944 166 American warships met with 70 Japanese warships. The Americans also had 1,280 American airplanes and the Japanese had 716 airplanes. The Japanese also had a little something else up their sleeve. Kamikazes crashed down on American ships hoping to sink one with honor. The Japanese gave everything it had because if they lost the Philippines, they most likely lost the war.
The Japanese also had a 3-way plan. Three groups of the Japanese navy would go on seperate routes to whipe out the American navy in the Philippines. One force would enter in Surigao Strait between Mindanao and Leyte. One striking force would enter the San Bernardino Strait between Mindanao and Leyte. The third fleet would try to trick the U.S. into following them, to lure them away from Leyte. The plan was to capture the American Navy by surprise and isolate the Americans already ashore on Leyte.
The Americans were waiting. They were to hold Leyte at all costs, and capture invading Japanese fleets and whipe them out. The battle was going to be interesting.
The Americans were blocking the northern end of the Surigao Strait with destroyers, cruisers, battleships and PT boats. Vice Admiral S. Nishimura led the Japanese force into the blockade. The result: two battleships, and three destroyers that were sunk by the Americans. Vice Admiral S. Nishimura was killed in the attack. He later lost a cruiser in his task force. The second task force ran off because they saw the slaugher that the Americans had delt on the first task force.
The third Japanese fleet under Admiral Kurita went for Leyte. However, the Americans spotted them. Two U.S. submarines sank two cruisers. One battleship was also sank due to aerial bombings. The Japanese were doing something right though. The decoy planned by the Japanese was working. The American fleet at Leyte went to intercept the decoy force and left the men on Leyte alone.
Admiral Sprague was later trapped near Samar with three destroyers, four escort destroyers, and six baby flattops. The Japanese were firing upon them with extreme force, but Sprague's force fought back. Sprague's force sank 1 cruiser and destroyer by plane. Sprague encountered losses as well. A carrier, two destroyers, and a destroyer escort were destroyed by the Japanese navy. Kamikaze pilots sank an escort carrier.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf was clearly in American hands. The four day battle was over, and Americans had conquered Leyte Gulf.
At the end of October of 1944, the Japanese were driven from south and north Leyte. Under General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the remaining Japanese on the island built pillboxes and forts to hold up the rest of the island from the Americans.
The Japanese were clearly losing the island, and reinforcements were to be sent in. On December 6-7, the Japanese effort to send reinforcements to the island resulted in the sinking of 6 Japanese warships. Througout the next week more transports were sunk by Americans, and on December 16 the Americans had taken Yamashita's corp. By the new year, the Americans held firm ground on Leyte and had taken the island. After the battle, the Japanese woke up to chaos. About 56,263 Japanese were killed, with only 389 prisoners taken. Only 2,888 Americans were killed in battle.
With the Americans in control of Leyte and the seas around it, the Japanese could not send supplies to the thousands of Japanese in the Philippines. The Japanese, however, were not giving up yet. Orders came to defend the Philippines at all costs, which the Japanese soldiers were prepared to do.
When the Americans were taking Leyte, General MacArthur landed troops on Mindoro on December 15. They repaired an airstrip and started planning for the invasion of Luzon island in the Philippines. Meanwhile, in January of 1945, troops under Lieutenant General Krueger sailed through Surigao Strait and went into the Mindanao and Sulu Seas. The Americans used Lingayen Gulf to start the invasion of Luzon, the northern island which held the capital of Manilla.
On January 9, 1945, the Americans stormed ashore Lingayen with 68,000 troops. They later established a beachhead. The Americans drove on and finally were only 110 miles from Manilla. The only Japanese resistance on the island hid in the mountains on the north and east of the island. On January 30, 1945, the Americans stormed Cabanatuan prison camp, freeing 500 prisoners. They discovered the cruelty of the Japanese. They starved, murdered, and mutilated many American soldiers in the Bataan death march and many civilians. On February 23, 1945, Los Baņos was liberated and thousands of prisoners broke free.
Earlier, American soldiers had landed on the west and south of Luzon. Soon, with coordinated efforts, all of the American forces on the island dashed for Manilla. When the Americans got there, they discovered a devestating sight. There was no water, buildings were burning, and many structures had collapsed. But behind all the wreckage were remaining Japanese soldiers who fought till the end.
On Corregidor, the Americans parachuted onto the island where the Japanese were hidden in the tunnels built earlier by the Americans. After a few weeks of fighting, the Japanese destroyed itself by blowing up the man-made tunnels and crushing themselves. The small island was won back on February 22, 1945.
On March 10, 1945, Mindanao was invaded by the Americans. The island's capital Davao was taken on May 4. By July, the Japanese forces on the island were neutral due to the isolation and entrapment of the soldiers.
On July 5, 1945, General MacArthur realized a dream. He had won back the island for America and claimed to have whiped out 400,000 Japanese troops.
The Philippines were once again in American hands. Indo-China, Malaya, and the Netherland East Indies were isolated from Japan. Oil also could not be obtained from the Indies, which meant that the Japanese were now running on fumes. It was now only a matter of time before the Japanese were defeated.