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Operations on Leyte

Discussion in 'The War In The Pacific' started by Jim, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The Kaoru Airborne Raiding Detachment, November 1944

    The Kaoru Airborne Raiding Detachment was formed as an element of the Guerrilla Unit (Yugekitai), of which two companies were raised in December 1943, largely recruited from the Takasago tribe on Formosa. The Takasago were famous as courageous and skilled jungle fighters, who traditionally carried a short giyuto (“loyalty sword”.) Officers and technical soldiers such as medics and signallers were Japanese. Inspired by the success of provisional raider units formed in eastern New Guinea, the Yugekitai was trained by the staff of the Nakano intelligence school in guerrilla and infiltration tactics, demolitions, camouflage, and the use of special weapons and equipment. In May 1944 two guerrilla companies were assigned to the 2nd Area Army, responsible for the Netherlands East Indies and headquartered at Manado; and in June they landed at Manila, capital of the Philippines. The2nd Guerrilla Co moved to Halmahera, but the 1st Co remained on Luzon. (The 2nd Guerrilla Co was later sent to Morotai Island, NEI, after the American landings in September 1944.) When US forces landed on Leyte in the Philippines on October 20, 1944, the 4th Air Army decided to use the1st Guerrilla Co for an airborne attack on airfields now in American hands. Under the command of Lt Shigeo Naka, they were quickly trained in air-landing operations; it was planned that transport aircraft carrying guerrillas armed with demolition charges would deliberately make belly landings on the airfields. The unit was named the Kaoru Airborne Raiding Detachment (Kaoru means “distinguished service”), and the operation was designated Gi. Four transports each with ten raiders aboard were to land on the North and South Burauen airfields in the US beachhead on east central Leyte, to attack parked aircraft and installations. The unit was alerted on November 22nd and on the night of the 26th; four Type 0 “Tabby” transports carrying 40 Kaoru Unit raiders under Lt Naka took off from Lipa airfield south of Manila. Flying at very low altitude to avoid American fighters, they headed for Leyte some 350 miles to the southeast. Two hours after take-off they reported that they were over the target - and that was the last that was heard from them. Next day no American aircraft appeared over Ormoc Bay on the west of Lute, where Japanese convoys were landing reinforcements, so it was assumed that the Gi Operation had been successful. In fact, judging from the crash of some aircraft near airfields other than the raid’s objectives, it appears that the pilots went astray. One transport landed in the sea just offshore near Dulag airfield. When an American patrol approached, the occupants threw a grenade; the patrol returned fire, killing two raiders, but the remainder swam ashore and escaped inland. The second plane landed on Bito Beach near Abuyog airfield; US troops killed one raider, and the rest escaped into the jungle. The third plane reached the two Burauen airfields, but was shot down by AA fire and all aboard were killed. The fourth plane missed its course and landed near Ormoc, where the raiders linked up with Japanese troops. The escaped Kaoru raiders may have attempted to carry out independent guerrilla attacks, but are more likely to have joined up with 16th Div troops fighting the invaders; details are unknown.

    Men of the Kaoru Airborne Raiding Detachment in the wicker seats of a Type 0 “Tabby” transport during a practice flight. Kneeling in the center, holding his sword (note that his white gloves have been painted black) is Lt Kaku; he wears his field cap under his helmet, and has a chest haversack for demolitions charges, as worn by most of these raiders for their Leyte operation on November 26, 1944. In the foreground note one of the white recognition sashe worn by officers and NCOs for the operation.

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    Akira Takizawa
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The 2nd Raiding Brigade, December 1944

    During the IJA paratroopers’ long rest in Japan, additional units were organized. The 1st & 2nd Training Raiding Regts were disbanded and their personnel assigned to new 3rd & 4th Raiding Regts in August 1944, the 5th Raiding Regt being absorbed into the new 1st & 2nd Glider Infantry Regiments. The 2nd Raiding Bde was activated on November 6 that year under command of Col Kenji Tokunaga; its codename was “Takachiho” (after a town in central Kyushu, with mystical significance in Shinto legends), and the formation were sometimes called the “Takachiho paratroopers.” The US landings on Leyte in October 1944 finally brought the IJA paratroopers back into action; on October 25, IGHQ ordered the forming 2nd Raiding Bde to deploy to the Philippines. The 3rd Raiding Regt (Maj Tsuneharu Shirai) left Japan aboard the aircraft carrier Junyo on October 30, avoiding US submarines and aircraft and arriving at Manila, Luzon, on November 11; the 2nd Raiding Bde HQ arrived by air the same day. The 4th Raiding Regt (Maj Chisaku Saida) sailed aboard the transport Akagisan Mani on November 3, and arrived at San Fernando, Luzon, on November 30. The 2nd Raiding Bde then assembled at Clark Field north of Manila, but their 1st & 2nd Raiding Flying Regts remained on Formosa.

    Members of the Kaoru Detachment cheer the Emperor before departing for their attack on the Burauen airfields on Leyte: "Tenn halka! Banzai, banal, banal!" ("May the Emperor live ten thousand years!"). Officers and NCOs, with white sashes, raise their swords and some enlisted men the glyuto knives of the Formosan Takasago tribesmen. Note the white armbands worn by rankers.

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    Akira Takizawa
     
  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The Burauen raid

    The Japanese were willing to make major sacrifices to eject US forces from Leyte, and regardless of the failure of the Kaoru unit they were not deterred from another attempt against US-held airfields. This would be a larger and better coordinated effort as part of a continuing air offensive, and its planning by 14th Area Army on Luzon and 4th Air Army (LtGen K yoji Tominaga) had begun before the Gi Operation was attempted as a stop-gap measure. Japanese forces on Leyte were under 35th Army LtGen Sosaku Susuki.) The paratroopers and the 16th Div (LtGen Shiro Makino) were tasked with occupying the three Burauen airfields-, where the 26th Div
    (LtGen Tsuvuo Yamagata) was to reinforce them by crossing the mountains eastwards from Ormoc. The airborne operation was codenamed Te, and the ground operation Wa. Later, airborne attacks against the Dulag and Tacloban airfields were added to the plan by request of the 3rd Raiding Regt commander. For the Te Operation the 3rd Raiding Regt and part of the 4th were divided into three echelons; the detachment targeted on each airfield sometimes included men from both units. Type 100 “Helen" heavy bombers were to crash-land on the airfields; raiders riding in these were to attack the priority targets - parked aircraft and supply dumps - with demolition charges. Other paratroopers would jump from Type 100 "Topsy" transports, to engage US forces and attack AA gun positions and any other facilities they found: Burr (Burauen South) airfield 204-260 men of 3rd & 4th Raiding Regis 17x Type 100 transports Bayug (Burauen .North) airfield 72 men, 3rd Raiding Regt 6 x Type 100 transports San Pablo airstrip 24-36 men, 4th Raiding Regt 3 x Type 100 transports Dulag airfield 84 men, 4th Raiding Regt 20 men, 3rd Raiding Regt 7 x Type 100 transports 2 x Type 100 heavy bombers Tacloban airfield 44 men, 4th Raiding Regt 2 x Type 100 transports 2 x Type 100 heavy bombers.

    The second echelon comprised the 3rd & Heavy Weapon Cos of 3rd Raiding Regt, and the signal unit; a third echelon consisted of the remaining 80 men. Initially X-Dav for the Wa Operation was set for December 5, in spite of the unreadiness of 16th and 26th Divisions. These commenced their attacks on the night of the 5th - never having been informed of a change of plan that would delay the airborne phase until the next night due to bad weather. On December 5 the transports arrived at Clark Field
    from Formosa, and were immediately camouflaged to avoid US air raids. At 1540hrs on December 6, 35 transports and four heavy bombers took off from Clark Field. As soon as the formation was over Leyte AA fire began bursting around them. The transports bound for Burauen reached their area, but because enemy fire confused the pilots most paratroopers were dropped over San Pablo airstrip, with only Maj Shirai and about 60 men jumping on Buri. The transports bound for Dulag and Tacloban were all shot down.
    Only 17 of the 35 transports returned to Lipa airfield, most of them damaged. The next day the second echelon's eight transports and two bombers took off, but bad weather over Leyte caused them to abort. Because of the US advance on Ormoc by the 1st Cavalry and 77th Inf Divs, further flights to Burauen were cancelled. Defending the Burauen area was the US 11th Airborne Div (MajGen Joseph M.Swing), which had landed by sea on November 18th to reinforce XXI1 Corps. The division's elements were widely scattered in the rugged hills, and relied on the 35 single-engine L-4 liaison aircraft at Bayug to airdrop supplies. Elements of the 127th Engineer, Bn and 408th Quartermaster and 511th Signal Cos were located beside Bayug, and the Division HQ and Division Artillery HQ were near San Pablo. The 1st Bn, 187th Glider Infantry was at Buri, and AA units to the west. The Japanese transports appeared at 1800hrs on December 6th, and parachutes blossomed over the airfields. Some 300 Japanese troops from the 16th Div also fought their way down from the hills and dug-in in a wooded area on the north side of Buri. Some paratroopers were shot down as they landed, but many managed to reach the packed lines of liaison aircraft at Bayug and began grenading them. Fuel and supply dumps were set on fire, and the raiders seized and used abandoned US weapons. They called out to the Americans to surrender, since it was futile to resist; but some 60 US supply men and ground crews dug-in on the south side of the Bayug strip and held out all night. Divisional HQ troops secured the San Pablo strip, while the 127th Engineers counter-attacked, fighting as infantry.
    At daylight on December 7th the 674th Glider Field Artillery Bn, reorganized as infantry, arrived from the beach and joined the 127th in action. By nightfall on the 7th the engineers and gunners had secured much of the area and were dug-in north of the airfields. Flyable liaison aircraft took off to resume dropping supplies to frontline units. The 1st Bn, 187th Glider, with the aid of 1st Bn, 149th Infantry from 38th 111f Div and the 767th Tank Bn, continued mopping up until December 11. No raiders were taken prisoner. The Japanese had counted on the shock effect of raiders parachuting from the sky, but this was lost on the 11th Airborne, to whom it appeared perfectly natural. Bottles of liquor were found on some of the Japanese dead, with instructions that it was not to be drunk until airborne. The raiders hoisted a Rising Sun flag on a palm tree beside the San Pablo strip, which two US soldiers cut down under fire. It was inscribed: "To Tsuneharu Shirai, Katori Shimpei. Exert your utmost for your country. Kyoji Tominaga, Lieutenant-General, December 3, 1944.113 After losing about half his men Maj Shirai withdrew from Buri and on December 8th went to Bayug, but found no comrades there. They returned to Buri, but after the second echelon failed to arrive they marched west overland, linking up with a unit from 26th Div on December 18th. Because many elements of different American units were committed piecemeal, it is unclear how many US casualties were caused. The loss of 11 liaison aircraft and some degree of damage to most others hampered the resupply of frontline units until they were replaced some days later.

    Lt Gen Kyoji Tominaga, commanding 4th Air Army, shakes hands with the Kaoru Detachment's commander Lt Shigeo Naka as the raiders prepare to leave Lips airfield, Luzon, for the G1 Operation to Leyte. The lieutenant has goggles fastened around his slung helmet.

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    Akira Takizawa
     
  4. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The battle of Ormoc

    Knowing the Americans had landed near Ormoc on December 7th, the 4th Air Army dispatched the rest of the 4th Raiding Regt there. Between December 8th and 14th, 481 paratroopers dropped on to Valencia airfield, 9 miles north of Ormoc. There were some 1,700 Japanese at Ormoc, mostly rear service troops, with only 350 men of the 12th Independent Inf Regt (the Imabori Unit).
    The first 90 paratroopers of the 1st Co, 4th Raiding Regt jumped on Valencia on December 8 and rapidly moved south. They successfully attacked a US-held hill position east of Ormoc, but shellfire soon killed the company commander, Lt Takakuwa, and half his men became casualties. After dark they withdrew and joined the Imabori Unit.

    November 26, 1944: Lt Kaku supervises Kaoru raiders loading on to a Type O "'Tabby" heavily camouflaged on the edge of Lipa airfield near Manila. Note the small rolled shelter cape carried on their backs, and the fact that most - e.g. left foreground - carry pouches for LMG magazines in addition to their Type 99 rifles.

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    Bad weather on the 9th prevented fling; on the 10th, the regimental commander Maj Saida jumped in with 84 paratroopers of his 3rd Company. The 35th Army HQ attached his force to the Imabori Unit, and they took up position on a hillside above the road north of Ormoc. The next morning a US battalion attacked under cover of a heavy bombardment. At a critical moment Saida ordered a couter-attack; the 3rd Co commander, Lt Akashi, and his 70 men crept along a rice paddy ditch, emerging to charge the enemy at close range and forcing them to withdraw. Akashi's company were surrounded by a renewed American advance, however, and came under shellfire; Akashi vanished in an explosion (only his sword was found), and the company lost about one-third its strength. From this point the battered paratroopers conducted no further direct attacks; they remained dug-in by daylight, though after dark they conducted raids (kirikoni) to destroy ammunition and fuel dumps and steal food. The Japanese defense was broken on December 16th and US troops advanced towards Valencia. On December 20th the 35th Army ordered the remnants to retreat to the Canquipot Mountains; only about 100 of Maj Saida's surviving paratroopers reached there. On the night of December 14, Capt Ohmura and 35 men of his Heavy Weapons Co, 4th Raiding Regt, had dropped near Valencia - the sixth and final party to jump, due to the impossibility of prodding arty more aircraft. They had a lucky escape when they jumped early, since Valencia was under bombardment. At 35th Army HQ they were sent north to Limon to link tip with the exhausted Japanese 1st Div (LtGen Tadasu Kataoka.) Collecting survivors of his regiment's 3rd Co, Ohmura led 75 men north; Gen Kataoka was delighted to see these elite soldiers with their clean paratrooper uniforms and sub-machine guns.

    IJA paratroopers descend from "Topsy" transports using the Type 4 (1944) parachute, a parabolic design with cambered skirts to reduce oscillation - the swinging to which the earlier rigs were prone, and which could be fatal if a jumper struck the ground during a down-swing. In recent years a myth has emerged that late in the war Japan was experimenting with "kamikaze skydivers," who would strap on a bomb and freefall towards an Allied ship. A 50kg (1101b) bomb would have greatly hampered freefall manoeuvring, and would have inflicted little damage - to say nothing of the fact that freefall parachuting was not developed until the late 1950s.

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    After delaying actions under heavy fire from US artillery, on the night of December 21st they were ordered to retreat, escorting the 1st Div HQ they suffered repeated attacks by Filipino guerrillas armed with mortars, and only 47 of these paratroopers reached Canquipot on December 31st. In January 1945, Ohmura's party was strengthened to 100-plus by paratroops’ stragglers and Kaoru unit survivors. Late in the month Maj Shirai brought in a dozen survivors of 3rd Raiding Regt; he himself was suffering from jaundice, and died a few days later. According to Capt Ohmura's account, the last survivors from 4th Raiding Regt brought total strength to about 400 paratroopers. Under repeated attack during February, the surrounded Japanese were steadily weakened by combat casualties, disease and hunger.
    On March 17th, Maj Saida. Capt Ohmura and 76 fit paratroopers were ordered to escort 35th Army HQ to the coast for shipping to Cebu. They had to abandon their wounded and sick, and lost more men during their evasion and march to the rendezvous. Only two of the expected four Daihatsu landing barges arrived, so half the party had to be left behind (none of the 100 paratroopers left on Leyte survived the war.) The two barges reached Tabogon on the north of Cebu, but were then destroyed by US PT boats; on March 24th the survivors rejoined 1st Div personnel at Cebu city. When the Americans landed on Cebu 35th Army HQ again escaped, using native canoes and escorted by Maj Saida and 20 paratroopers. On June 14th they were strafed at sea by a US fighter and Gen Suzuki and his staff were killed; Saida and a few paratroopers managed to reach Mindanao. Paratroopers remaining on Cebu joined 1st Div survivors who had also withdrawn from Leyte. They hid in the jungle to avoid US troops and Filipino guerrillas, but only 17 paratroopers on Cebu survived the war.


    "Takachiho paratroopers" of the 2nd Raiding Bde study a terrain board representing the Burauen airfields on Leyte; the man at left holds an aerial photograph. They wear shirtsleeve tropical service uniform with standard rank patches on the collar, and the hachimaki headbands traditionally worn by warriors going into battle, to keep sweat out of their eyes and as a sign of determination. While certainly worn by kamikaze pilots, the hachimaki was not exclusive to them, as has been suggested.

    [​IMG]

    Akira Takizawa
     
  5. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The 2nd Raiding Brigade after Leyte

    After the main body of the 2nd Raiding Bde was sent to Leyte, about 500 of the Takachiho paratroopers remained on Luzon. Following the fall of Leyte, Allied landings on nearby islands were expected, and 4th Air Army dispatched a paratrooper detachment to Bacolod airfield on the north of Negros Island. The Heave Weapons Co, 3rd Raiding Regt formed the core, under Capt Honmura. While flying in on December 17 and 18, two transports were shot down by CS fighters; about 60 paratroopers reached Bacolod. The Japanese 77th Inf Bde, detached from the 102nd Div on Cebu, was stationed on Negros; this was a second-line unit whose only combat experience had been against guerrillas. Their commander, Maj Gen Takeshi Kohno, welcomed the arrival of these elite soldiers and asked them to instruct his men in antitank tactics, and the demonstrations by the well-trained paratroopers made a great impression. The US forces initially by-passed Negros and landed on Luzon. For over three months the paratroopers took part only in local anti-guerrilla operations, until March 29, 1945, when the US 40th Inf Dix- landed on the west coast and advanced towards Bacolod. The Japanese units deployed on the plain were pushed into the mountains, which offered excellent positions. On April 9 the Americans, reinforced by 503rd Parachute Inf Regt, launched an offensive. The Takachiho detachment opened fire on their counterpart paratroopers at close range; their defence against infantry and tanks was so determined that the Americans were unable to overrun their positions until June 2. Captain Honmura was killed; the surviving Japanese troops withdrew deeper into the mountains, and were only harassed by US patrols until the war’s end. During that time thousands of the Negros garrison died of disease and starvation, and only 30 Takachiho paratroopers survived. After the US landing on Luzon on January 9, 1945, the remaining men of 2nd Raiding Bde moved to Echague in the north, accompanying 4th Air Army HQ. In March they were ordered to Balete Pass and attached to the 10th Div (LtGen Yasuvuki Okamoto.) They resisted the US advance, but on May 27 the Americans broke through the pass and the Takachiho unit was left behind. They retreated eastwards into the Mamparang Mountains, where word reached them of Japan’s surrender at the end of August, by which time only about 80 men survived.

    Akira Takizawa
     
  6. Echos

    Echos New Member

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    Thankx Jim, this was so informative. My Father was in the battle of Leyte Gulch. This was a great resourse for me to read. I never new much, except for what he told me about the battle. He was with the Army/Air Force. He always claimed he went deaf, during that battle and now I can see why!:blue:
     
  7. AzraelValley

    AzraelValley New Member

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    It was a fearful moment to most of my countrymen on the old days. I think that I don't want to leave on such a place where there is war around you. It's too frightening.
     

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