Leyte Gulf, Battle of

Leyte Gulf, Battle of
(Oct. 23–26, 1944) Decisive air and sea battle of World War II that gave the Allies control of the Pacific.

After the U.S. amphibious landing on the Philippine island of Leyte (Oct. 20), the Japanese reacted with a plan to decoy the U.S. fleet north while moving three attack forces into Leyte Gulf. The U.S. discovery of one of the forces as it moved into position set off three days of continuous surface and air clashes. In the largest naval battle of the war, U.S. forces crippled the Japanese fleet and forced it to withdraw, allowing the U.S. to complete its invasion of the Philippines.

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      (Oct. 23–26, 1944), decisive air and sea battle of World War II that crippled the Japanese Combined Fleet, permitted U.S. invasion of the Philippines, and reinforced the Allies' control of the Pacific.

      The battle was precipitated by a U.S. amphibious assault on the central Philippine island of Leyte on October 20. The Japanese responded with Sho-Go (Victory Operation), a plan to decoy the U.S. 3rd Fleet north, away from the San Bernardino Strait, while converging three forces on Leyte Gulf to attack the landing; the 1st Attack Force was to move from the north across the Sibuyen Sea through the San Bernardino Strait, with the 2nd Attack Force and C Force moving from the south across the Mindanao Sea through the Surigao Strait.

      As the Japanese forces moved into position southwest of Leyte, submarines of the U.S. 7th Fleet discovered the 1st Attack Force and sank two heavy cruisers west of Palawan on October 23. A series of almost continuous surface and air clashes followed, especially in the Sibuyen Sea, while the U.S. 3rd Fleet chased the Japanese decoy. Finally, on October 25, the three major engagements of the battle were fought, almost simultaneously. At the Surigao Strait, battleships and cruisers from the 7th Fleet destroyed C Force and forced the 2nd Attack Force to withdraw. Meanwhile, the 1st Attack Force passed through the unguarded San Bernardino Strait and inflicted heavy damage on the 7th Fleet escort carriers off Samar but withdrew unexpectedly just as they seemed ready to attack the landing operations. In the north, off Cape Engaño, part of the 3rd Fleet sank Japanese carriers while another part moved south, attacking and pursuing the 1st Attack Force.

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Universalium. 2010.

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