needed a landing strip to launch his attacks in Luzon. He eyed Mindoro but the
Japanese mistook his intention to be Panay or Negros. He entered Mindoro on
December 12th without a lost of a single soldier with the precise intelligence
reports and mapping operations of the Guerrillas there. On December 23rd two
airfields were in operation in Mindoro.
After the occupation of Mindoro, Gen. Yamashita was greatly concerned MacArthur will stage his invasion off southern coast of Luzon. As a diversionary tactic, MacArthur threatened landings at Legaspi, Batangas and other southern ports hoping to draw the bulk of the Japanese into the south. But his ultimate plan was to land the Sixth Army in an amphibious enveloping movement on the exposed northern shore to cut off the enemyís supplies from Japan. This would confuse the enemy and would move the bulk of their forces to the north, leaving the Eighth Army to land against weak opposition on the south coast. With both forces ashore, he would then close like a vise on the enemy deprived on supplies and destroy Yamashita.
Every possible deceptive measure was taken to conceal his real invasion point of assault at Lingayen. His bombers struck unceasingly at targets in southern Luzon. Aircrafts flew photographic and reconnaissance missions over the Batangas-Tayabas region. Transport plans made dummy jumps over the same area to simulate an airborne invasion. PT boats patrolled the southern and southwestern coasts of Luzon as far north as Manila Bay. Minesweepers cleared Balagan, Batangas and Tayabas Bays. Landing ships and merchantmen approached the beaches in these areas, only to slip away under cover of darkness when fired upon. Guerrillas in lower Luzon intensified their activities and conducted ostentatious operations designed to divert Japanese attention to the south. The Japanese were deceived and moved troops in anticipation of an attack there.
After the Lingayen invasion, Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita moved his center forces to the north and established his headquarters at Baguio opening his escape route to the Cagayan Valley. This allowed the XIV Corps to take advantage of the highway system and unobstructed terrain on the Luzon central plain for a swift southward drive on the direct road to Manila. The I Corps would cover its flank by containing the enemy in the mountains to the northeast. It took them just twelve days to cover the central plane as far as Tarlac, half way to Manila. MacArthur moved his G.H.Q. to Tarlac. The worst resistance was at the approach of Clark Field.
At this critical moment, MacArthur received a shocking order from Washington to release seventy of his transport ships to Admiral Nimitz to be used in the attack on Okinawa.
He worried that his supply base at Lingayen would be defended only by a portion of the Seventh Fleet and would be exposed to attacks and raids from Formosa to the north. He decided to bring the XI Corps of the Eighth Army, commanded by General Hall, forward to the Zambales coast so that if Lingayen is jeopardized, he could shift his supply line to a more secure geographic position.
The movement would also come as a surprise to the enemy and would bar any movement of the Japanese to or from the Bataan Peninsula.
In MacArthurís account, "The XI Corps landed without losing a man nor firing a bullet, seized Olongapo, and by February 5th vital passes to Bataan were in its hands. In the face of growing resistance, I moved in to secure the remainder of Bataan Peninsula and to assist in the opening of Manila Bay. The XIV Corps, after heavy fighting, cleared Clark Field and Fort Stotsenburg, joined contact with the XI Corps at Dinalupihan and prepared to continue its drive toward Manila. The 1st Cavalry Division, under Major Gen. Verne D. Mudge, landed in north Luzon and was attached to the XIV Corps. The I Corps continued to contain the main body of the enemy, cooped up in the Bontoc hills and the Cagayan Valley to the northeast. The Eighth Army landed the 11th Airborne and the 24th Division at Batangas in the south and moved forward to form the lower jaw of the Manila pincer movement."
Washington considered the plan of attack in Lingayen as too daring in scope, too risky in execution. But on January 4th, the assault convoy sailed through narrow straits, by-pass the enemy-held islands, then steam up the China Sea, passing Manila, avoiding the highly fortified Corregidor and Bataan.
The command setup was much the same as the Leyte campaign. Under McArthurís overall command, the ground forces comprised the Sixth Army, under Gen. Krueger and consisted of the I Corps of Major General Innis P. Swift and the XIV Corps of Lieutenant Gen. Oscar W. Griswold, with a strong army reserve. The divisions in the assault waves were the 6th, 37th, 40th and 43rd, with the 25th and other troops in reserve. The plan called for the two corps to land abreast, with I Corps on the left , the XIV Corps on the right. The naval forces comprised the Seventh Fleet and Australian Squadron, under the immediate direction of Admiral Kinkaid, whose subordinate commanders were Admirals Oldendorf, Berkey, Barbey, and Wilkinson. The Third Fleet, under Admiral Halsey, would again provide strategic support. The air forces, comprising the Fifth and Thirteenth Air Force, were under the command of Gen. Kenny, with Gen. Whitehead his operating deputy. To the south was the Eighth Army, under Gen. Eichelberger, and in New Guinea was the First Australian Army under Gen. Blamey.
MacArthur boarded the light cruiser Boise as his flagship on Jan. 4th. They arrived before dawn of January 9, 1945 without much resistance except for a limited mortar fires from the hills fronting the I Corps. Three years before, the Army of Gen. Homma landed on the same shores of Lingayen. More than 2,500 landing crafts descended on the beach.
Before the landing, Pres. Sergio Osmena printed a leaflet dropped all over the Philippines. It read, "In a series of brilliantly conceived blows, Gen. MacArthurís forces of liberation have successfully, in but a short span of time, destroyed the enemy army defending Leyte, seized firm control of Mindoro, and now stand defiantly on the soil of Luzon at the very threshold of our capital city. Thus are answered our prayers of many long months." This rekindled the hope all over the land.
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WW II in Zambales
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