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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Restricted December 23, 1944

This attack was on the Allied air bases on Leyte, in central Philippines.  The Allies had not yet taken Manila, which was still under Japanese control. 

I have to wonder how Uncle Len smuggled out a restricted document such as this.



     The plan was bold and dating, and in every way worthy of Nippon's glorious
tradition.  Covered by a great force of fighters and bombers, a battalion of para-
troops would descend from a fleet of transport planes simultaneously on all the
Allied air bases on LEYTE.  The attack would be ade at dusk, when Americans are
notoriously sluggish after their heavy materialistic evening meal; but there
would still be enough light to land safely and perform much work of destruction
before complete darkness.  The main effect would be made on the strips in the
BURAUEN Area, where the paratroops could expect help from their brave  comrades
of the 16th and 26th Divisions, who had slashed their way from the mountains through
the Allied lines.  Small specially picked groups would land at TACLOBAN Strip, and
destroy all the planes they could before being killed -- there was probably no
avenue of escape for these heroes.  Confusion and chaos were to be spread every-
where.  If all went well, not a single American plane would be able to fly on
the following day, and thus an important convoy containing a whole brigade of
sorely needed reinforcements would be able to anchor and unload at ORMOC without

     Moreover, the timing of the attack was such that the great and decisive re-
sults could be announced on December 8th, the anniversary of PEARL HARBOR, and
this give a badly needed fillip to home morale, sagging under the steady reverses
in the PACIFIC and the B-29 raids on TOKYO.

     These, in brief, seem to have been the objectives of the Jap paratroop attack
of 6 December; but as was so often the case with other bold and daring attacks,
the performance did not measure up to the promise.

     Actually, only about 200 to 300 paratroops reached the ground alive.  Of one
flight of 51 planes, comprising transports, bombers and flighters, AA gunners
claim to have shot down 18 planes.  Some of the transports also evidently lost
their way, for reports were received of paratroop landings at remote localities.
The bulk, however, comprising probably 20 planeloads, descended in the vicinity
of SAN PABLO and BURI strips; by actual count, 124 parachutes, compactly grouped,
were located along a north-south line just west of SAN PABLO field, while about
80 paratroops descended on BURI.  At SAN PABLO, the dropping was preceded by bom-
bing and the laying of a smoke screen.

     The attacks on DULAG and TACLOBAN strips completely miscarried.  One enemy
plane flew low over DULAG airfield, dropping 2-5 parachutists; it later crashed
in flames in the sea.  One Jap of this group was killed as he attempted to set
up a machine gun along the BURAUEN-DULAG ROAD.  Another plane crashed 4500 yds
northeast of DULAG field.  That was the extent of the attack on this strip.

     At TACLOBAN, two converted "Betty" bombers approached the strip in the nor-
mal landing pattern, with flaps and wheels lowered.  One was shot down in the
sea, the other crashed near the strip.

     A Jap first lieutenant , leader of the TACLOBAN attack, was fished out of
SAN PEDRO BAY.  He stated he had 30 men under his command; they had taken off in
three converted bombers.  He had been given orders to attack either TACLOBAN or
DULAG airfield, depending upon the "ferocity" of the AA defense. He chose TAC-
LOBAN and his plane was to land there followed by the other two planes.  If con-
ditions were such that they could not take off on completion of the mission, the
pilots were to burn their planes.  The men were to disperse in groups of two or
three if planes were few on the strip, or singly if planes were numerous.  They
were to disregard defense against enemy fire and concentrate on igniting as many
Allied planes as possible before they were killed.  They had no expectation of

     Unfortunately for the Jap plan, and whether by accident or design, the bulk
of the paratroops dropped as the unserviceable and non-operational SAN PABLO and
BURI Strips, where the only planes present were a few L-5s.  According to a small
group of the 11th A/B Division, who were on SAN PABLO Strip when the descent was
made there, the Jap paratroops came down the runway acting as if they were drunk


[page 2]


or had been drugged.  They were singing, yelling, and three of them were playing
musical instruments--a jewsharp, harmonica and small norn.  They shouted 'Hello!
Hello!  Where are your machine guns" and other irreleant comments.  Their work
of destruction had neither rhyme nor reason.  Two or three L-5s were burned, and
other planes of the same type standing nearby were left unmolested.  Large am-
munition dumps, CP area, and other important installations were not disturbed,
while the Japs shot holes in washstands, burned up a jeep, and overturned a truck.
Flares were discharged promiscuously.

     On the following day, the paratroops were driven off the SAN PABLO Strip;
they retreated northward to a pocket near the BURI Strip, where they held out
against all attacks for several days.  There they were joined by remnants of the
16th Division who had early in the morning of the 6th infiltrated from the west
into BURAUEN--BURI Area.

     According to prisoners, about 500 of the remaining troops of the 16th Div
were assembled west of BURAUEN on 2 December, and were told by their officers that
after a few days' rest, they would attack towards the airfields in conjunction with
an airborne invasion.  Artillary fire and tank action dispersed all but about 200
of them; the remainder launched an attack on the morning of the 6th; the apparent
mis-timing was due, according to the prisoners, to the failure of the paratroops
to land as originally schedule.  In corroboration of this statement, some of the
captured documents do indicate the airborne phase was supposed to have occurred
on the night of the 5th.

     A battalion of the 13th Ind Inf Regt of the 26th Division was likewise to
cooperate in the attack, by moving on the BURI and BAYUG Airfields from the south.
In this case there was a complete lack of coordination--this battalion did not
attack until the night of 10 December, after the paratroops had already been

     By 12 December, the combined air-ground attack was eliminated; the thee air-
fields in the BURAUEN Area were cleared of enemy; a total of 215 dead Japs had
been counted in the BURI Area, of which one-third were paratroops, and 125 dead
were counted at SAN PEDRO all of whom were paratroops.

     The paratroops were picked fanatics, all of whom had volunteered from various
branches of the Japanese Army for a suicide missionn the nature of which was not
specified when they joined.  Details of their recruitment and organization will
be found in the Order of Battle Section of this report.  They had been in FORMOSA,
and flew down to MANILA on the 5th, the day before the attack. Actual contact
proved, however, that they were no better in combat than the average Jap infantry-

     They were superbly equipped.  For example, one typical paratroop had on his
person the following:  an 8-mm tommy gun of new type; an 8-mm pistol; 8 M-97 gren-
ades; 2 smoke candles, a bayonet; a case with tommy gun clips; a case containing
two Molotov cocktails; one magnetic mine and case with spare parts; a parachute;
a set of waterproof clothing; pieces of rope; sack of rations; and canteen.
Others carried radios, demolition equipment of new and unusual types, folding-type
rifles, and other special equipment described elsewhere in this report.  Elaborate
plans for deception were not overlooked.  Seven dead Japs removed from the TACLO-
BAN plane were found to have either American or civilian clothes under their
regular uniforms.

     Captured orders indicate that the plans for destruction of airfield instal-
lations wer thorough and detailed.  Paratroop leaders were furnished with aerial
photographs of the airfields, with annotations showing the location of main in-
stallations.  All were  thoroughly briefed beforehand on the general plan, and
some carried out arehearsal at their home base.  The work of destruction was ot
proceed in phases, with airplanes naturally being the prime target; after them AA
positions, gas dumps, radio installations and bridges were to receive attention.
Assembly areas for use before and after the assault were carefully pinpointed.


[page 3]


     A document recovered from one of the planes contained a list of phrase in
Japanese and English which the commander had evidently thought would prove use-
ful.  The English prhases are reproduced here exactly as written:

          "1.  Kill a Yankee!
           2.  Got to Hell, Beast!
           3.  Have done, all the resistance (struggle)!
           4.  Lay down arms (surrender) quickly!
           5.  If don't, shall die (shall be shoot dead)!
           6.  Hold up!
           7.  Where is the (General) Headquarters?
           8.  How many airplanes are there?
                Consolidated B-24 (Liberator)
                (Warlike) Material Warehouse
                the powder magazine
                gasoline tank
                the mine zone
                (mortar) car
           9.  Come along!  Draw map!
          10.  Go ahead!

     "All the Japanese Army has done great attack for enemy from tonight.  And
the other airdrome of DORAG, BRAOUEN, SAN PABRO has been taken already.
     "It is resistless, so that get away frin here in this night, do what I say,
must help your life.  If don't , shall die all these captives."

     Although the attack had caused damage and some dislocation, it had com-
pletely failed in its main objective - the crippling of Allied LEYTE-based air
power.  Nevertheless, as long as the enemy still had more transport planes and
an apparently inexhaustible supply of zealots, he could be depended upon to at-
tempt similar exploits in the future.


Reproduced by Hg, 11th A/B Div, 23 Dec 44.                           HJM:RMA


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