The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, from Oct. 23-25, 1944. The battle showcased the bravery, steadfast determination, and initiative of our service members who fought in WWII.
USS Constitution, we are proud to honor those who came before us and to share lessons and inspirational stories from our history.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf
[Nathaniel] – The Battle of Leyte Gulf stands among the greatest and largest naval battles in history. The battle was a last-ditch effort by the Imperial Japanese Navy to maintain critical supply routes, established in southeastern Asia.
Today, the Battle of Leyte Gulf continues to inspire generation after generation of naval leaders.
My name is Nathaniel R. Shick. I’m the 75th commanding officer of the USS Constitution. And today, Old Ironsides proudly shares its birth, here at Charlestown Navy Yard with the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cassin Young to commemorate the battle and to honor the sacrifices of so many.
My sailors and the National Parks of Boston staff will recall the Battle of Leyte Gulf’s most gripping moments.
[Patrick] – The precursor to the Battle of Leyte Gulf is the Battle of the Philippine Sea, fought on the 19th and 20th of June, 1944.
Known as the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, the battle proved a decisive victory for the United States. The greatest carrier battle of the war, the Allies eliminated Japan’s Naval Air Power, destroyed much of its carrier force. The stage was set for a final decisive battle, one in which the Allies hoped would establish complete control of the sea and destroy what was left of Japan’s mobile strength.
[Yummy] – On October 15th, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched Operation Sho, which pulled together the rest of their navy to stop the impending U.S. invasion of the Philippines.
[Braidon] – The stage is set for Leyte Gulf. At the helm for the Allies was Admiral William Halsey of the U.S. deck fleet and Admiral William C. Kinkade who commanded the Seventh Fleet, made up of American and all Australian navy forces. Admiral Takeo Kurita commanded the Japanese naval forces during the battle.
[Jaida] – To set off the battle on October 23rd, two United States submarines, USS Darter and USS Dace spotted Admiral Kurita’s Central Force along the Palawan Passage. One of the submarines was spotted, however the force did not act.
Darter and Dace both successfully moved ahead of the strike force and attacked, knocking down two heavy cruisers, including a flagship, scoring an early victory for the Allies.
[Jacob] – October 24th, Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet was attacked in the Sybian Sea by the Japanese Navy, supported by land-based aircraft. Most of the Japanese aircraft were destroyed by fighters from the USS Essex and the USS Langley.
However, a Japanese torpedo bomber struck the USS Princeton, a light carrier. The ship was abandoned by the end of the day.
USS Cassin Young, our Charlestown Navy Yard partner, participated in the battle and saved over 120 men while the Princeton sank.
[Jason] – After the initial Japanese attack, the American Forces counter-attacked and scored major hits against the Japanese fleet, which caused them to retreat. But, despite the heavy losses, the Japanese advanced again, this time under the cover of darkness.
Halsey’s fleet, believing the main Japanese force to be gone, moved north to intercept another assault. Now, this allowed the Japanese fleet to successfully slip through the San Bernardino Strait, and they were now able to directly threaten the Allied landing forces.
[Carl] – On the morning of October the 25th, support elements of the Allied Seventh Fleet met the Japanese forces off the Surigao Strait. The American fleet was able to set a trap and outmaneuver the enemy. The Japanese were decimated.
During the battle, the USS Mississippi would fire the last rounds that a battleship would fire on another battleship. Additionally during the battle, this was the first time that Kamikazes were used, as the Japanese sent five planes to attack American escort carriers.
[Thomas] – Later on the 25th, Japanese Central Forces were engaged to support an element of the Seventh Fleet, also known as Taffy 3 off Samar.
Not knowing that Halsey’s Third Fleet had gone north to intercept another attack, the Japanese remained cautious. They amassed their ships together to better prepare for what they thought was an oncoming air attack. Seizing the initiative, Commander Ernest E. Evans of USS Johnston sailed into the amassed Japanese ships to confuse them.
He succeeded, and after a decisive battle, the Japanese were ordered to retreat. The Battle of Samar, also known as the Sacrifice of Taffy 3, would finally put a stop to the Japanese efforts to prevent an invasion of the Philippines.
[Andrew] – October 26, Operation Sho had been successfully repelled. After the Battle at Leyte Gulf, the strategic threat posed by the Japanese Navy had been eliminated. The Japanese had suffered approximately 12,500 killed and wounded. The Allied Forces suffered approximately 3,000 killed and wounded.
This battle was the largest naval battle in world history, and its lasting testament to the importance of initiative and decisive action in battle continues to this day.
For his initiative and leadership, Commander Ernest E. Evans was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Here at USS Constitution, we proudly promote our navy’s rich history as we continue to draw inspiration and lessons from our past.
Thank you U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Samoluk for the Battle of Leyte Gulf video.