On Monday, 08 December, the United States declared War on Japan immediately
after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Following quickly, on 11 December. Germany
and Italy declared war on the United States in keeping with the Tri-Partite
Pact with Japan.
Although the 1st Cavalry Division was created as a result of a proven need for large horse-mounted formations, by the late '30s many thought the march of progress had left the need for the cavalry operations far behind. All doubt was erased with the surprise of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Immediately, troopers returned to the Division from all over the United States. They outfitted their horses and readied their weapons and vehicles in anticipation of the fight against the Axis.
1942 dawned with the Division fated to continue in the role of border patrol which its currently assigned regiments had performed during World War I. Although the Division was anxious for immediate combat, its first wartime mission was to continue border surveillance as a component of the Southern Land Frontier and the Southern Defense Command.
In May 1942, 1,250 1st Cavalry Division Troopers selected from the 5th, 7th,
8th, and 12th Regiments were transferred from Ft. Bliss, Texas as a Non
Commissioned Officer (NCO) Cadre group to assist in the organization of the
91st Infantry Division at Camp White, Oregon. In April 1944, the 91st Division
went overseas, arriving at Oran, Africa in preparation for the invasion of
A major factor in the delayed deployment of the Division was rooted in the
questionable need for a cavalry to support the execution of the current war
plan. Army Command Forces relieve organizations of the 1st Cavalry Division
and deployed them to the North African Campaign. For example, the 91st
Reconnaissance Squadron who had joined the Division in November, 1928
designated as the 1st Armored Car Squadron. The Armored Car Squadron had
remained with the Division through its various reorganizations and in 1941 it
had been redesignated the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron. In 1943, it was
deployed to join the African campaigns, fighting in the deserts of North
Africa against the Germans and Italians in the Kasserine Pass and later, in
Tunisia and Sicily. In the same time period, the 62nd Armored Field Artillery
and the 161st Engineers left for the European Theater.
An important operational factor of the horse cavalry was that it could quickly
get around and over hazardous terrain such as hills, rocks, trees or desert,
but the majority of actual enemy engagement is done fighting dismounted. On
such ground, supported by its own artillery and armored units, the 1st Cavalry
Division could lick its weight in enemy tanks. At the organizational core of
the division were four mounted regiments, each composed of six rifle troops,
one machine gun troop, one special weapons troop, and one headquarters troop.
Each brigade, composed of two regiments, had another special troop of 37mm
anti tank guns and 81mm mortars. In addition, special strong, mobile,
mechanized units were being integrated as organic or attached to the Division
to support the combat units, quartermaster units, medical corps, and engineer
units, that now all rode on wheels.
However, even with the advantages of terrain mobility, the deployment of the
cavalry divisions proved to be a thorny problem. The cavalry units remained
unpopular with theater commanders because their horses and equipment required
shipping space and logistic support far more than that of other units.
However, the need for units in the Southwest Pacific led General McArthur to
accept the 1st Cavalry Division on the condition that they be dismounted.
Hong Kong had surrendered to the Japanese on 25 December 1941. In Malaya the Japanese overwhelmed an Allied army composed of British, Indian, Australian and Malay forces. The Japanese were quickly able to advance down the Malayan Peninsula, forcing the Allied forces to retreat towards Singapore. The Allies lacked aircover and tanks; the Japanese had total air superiority.By the end of January 1942, the last Allied forces crossed the strait of Johore and into Singapore. In the Philippines, the Japanese pushed the combined Filipino-American force towards the Bataan peninsula and later the island of Corregidor. By January 1942, General Douglas MacArthur and President Manuel L. Quezon were forced to flee in the face of Japanese advance. This marked among one of the worst defeats suffered by the Americans, leaving over 70,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war in the custody of the Japanese.
In February 1943, the entire 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for an overseas assignment. Many of the proud cavalrymen would rather turn their stripes, bars, or stars than trade in their saddles for a seat in any vehicle to become "cushion pounders". On 28th February, each of the Mounted Regiments, 5th, 7th, 8th and 12th Cavalry held a dismount ceremony before they were stripped of their horses and with mixed emotions, began the process of turning in horses, saddles, and bridles.
The 1st Cavalry Division was then converted with equipment as an Augmented Leg Infantry Division. In the meantime, the troopers continued to feed and water their horses until the Quartermaster assumed control of them. Rather than return the horses to the remount stations, the majority of them were auctioned, at bargain prices, to owners of the large ranches around the El Paso area. For many years following the end of WWII - many of the cavalry horses, identifiable by the Preston Brand on their neck, were still serving out their duty to the ranchers.
Well ahead of schedule, the Division began the historic transition and retraining of the troopers in a mobile environment. As planned they began staging for movement to the Southwest Pacific theater as foot solders with the support of mechanized vehicles; tanks, armored cars, trucks, bantam and scout cars. This modern cavalry division had gained tremendous advantages in rapid mobility, extended range and firepower.
The overseas deployment from Camp Stoneman, California to Brisbane, Australia was made in two echelons. The first body, elements of the 5th and 7th Cavalry Regiments, and the 8th Engineer Combat Squadron would be followed by the remaining units of the main body of the Division. The first echelon traveled by train to the embarkation port of San Francisco, California, arriving on 28 May. Later on 01 June they boarded the USS Maui, a converted troopship leased from the Matson Navigation Company. Traveling under blackout conditions and following the standard procedure of anti-submarine zig-zag maneuvers, the sea voyage took twenty-two days. Arriving in Brisbane on 23 June, Australia, they moved to Camp Strathpine, near the tiny locality of Pine Rivers, and began preparations for the arrival of the main body of the Division.
|HHT, 1st Cavalry Division||21 Jun 1943||26 Jun 1943||11 Jul 1943|
|HHT, 1st Cavalry Brigade||21 Jun 1943||03 Jul 1943||24 Jul 1943|
|5th Cavalry Regiment||20 Jun 1943||02 Jul 1943||24 Jul 1943|
|12th Cavalry Regiment||20 Jun 1943||03 Jul 1943||24 Jul 1943|
|HHT, 2nd Cavalry Brigade||18 Jun 1943||26 Jun 1943||11 Jul 1943|
|7th Cavalry Regiment||18 Jun 1943||26 Jun 1943||11 Jul 1943|
|8th Cavalry Regiment||18 Jun 1943||25 Jun 1943||11 Jul 1943|
|HHB, 1st Cavalry DivArty|
|61st Field Artillery Battalion||03 Jul 1943||24 Jul 1943|
|82nd Field Artillery Battalion||04 Jun 1943||23 Jun 1943|
|99th Field Artillery Battalion||23 May 1943||23 Jun 1943|
|1st Medical Squadron|
|7th Cavalry Recon Squadron||26 Jun 1943||11 Jul 1943|
|1st Antitank Troop|
|1st Signal Troop|
|27th Ordnance Company|
|8th Engineer Squadron||23 May 1943||18 Jun 1943|
|16th Quartermaster Squadron|
By 18 June 1943, the last troops of the division departed Ft. Bliss, Texas for Camp Stoneman, California and later, on 03 July boarded the USS Montery and the USS George Washington, bound for Australia and their subsequent operations in the Southwest Pacific.
On 26 July, three weeks later, the Division arrived at Brisbane and began a fifteen mile trip to its new temporary home, Camp Strathpine, Queensland, Australia. The 1st Cavalry Division, comprised of 15,000 men, totally overwhelmed the civic minded elders of Pine Rivers (and its approximately 4,800 people), who welcomed their arrival. Helped by the troopers' enthusiasm and construction abilities; plus Australian carpenters, woodsmen, road builders, and other experts, Camp Strathpine grew into a modern training operation.
|CAMP STRATHPINE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA|
The Australian Government furnished facilities and support|
personnel to make Camp Strathpine a showcase military facility.
It was divided into six main areas:
Area 1 - Divisional Headquarters located at Joyner, bordered by|
One Mile Creek, Swift Drive (Samsonvale Rd.) and Pershing Drive.
Area 2 - Special Troop Units garrisoned in huts:|
Area 3 - Regimental Troops garrisoned in tented camps:|
Area 4 - Regimental Troops garrisoned in tented camps:|
Area 5 - Now known as French's Forrest Estate at Petrie, was|
utilized by the Artillery Battalions:
Area 6 - Water pumping station at Young's Crossing and quarters|
for the Civil Construction Workers who were drafted by the
Australian Government to support and carry out building and
There were two infantry assault courses in the area, one being near the intersection of Forrest Road and Howze Road west of Area 4. General Infantry training and compass exercises were carried out near Samsonvale township and as far away as Samford, Whiteside and to the north of Petrie. The Division received six months' of intense combat jungle warfare training at Camp Strathpine in the wilds of scenic Queensland and amphibious training at nearby Toorbul Point north of Brisbane Moreton Bay, Port Stephens in northern New South Wales and Camp GanGan, another amphibious training site.
During the fall of 1943, more changes came to the Division. On 11 October, the
firepower of the Division was improved by the activation of the 271st Field
Artillery. In the reorganization of 04 December, weapons troops "D" and "H"
were added to each of the regiments. The 7th Reconnaissance Squadron was
reorganized into the 603rd Light Tank Company and the 302nd Reconnaissance
Troop (Mech). The 302nd had a specific Table of Organization and Equipment
(TO&E) which incorporated a unique radio unit with troops of Lakota and Dakota
Indian Tribes who used their ancient tribal Sioux language to communicate with
other divisional headquarters troops. This secret organization, formed in the
foothills of Australia and later to be known as "The Code Talkers" was
recruited at the direction of General MacArthur. The close-knit group of
individuals, Phillip Stoney LeBlanc, Edmund St. John, Baptiste Pumkinseed,
Eddie Eagle Boy, Guy Rondell, and John Bear King took their task seriously.
They saved many American lives using their language as an unbreakable code to
fool the Japanese throughout the subsequent Island Campaigns.
The front lines were not far away, and a few eager, enterprising troopers found their way into battle - with the US Marines who had recently invaded Cape Gloucester on the Island of New Britain. The fighting was hard and the Leathernecks needed supplies. Many tons of food, ammunition and other essential equipment were loaded on trucks of the 1st Cavalry Division that were driven on Landing Ships, Tank (LST) and moved to Cape Gloucester.
Many of the troopers who had driven the trucks to the supply dumps near the fighting wasted no time when they got there. They grabbed their weapons and moved up to the front lines. The Marines were startled to see the troops taking up positions beside them. They welcomed the help and added firepower. Several of the troopers received decorations from the Marines. However, Headquarters of the 1st Cavalry Division finally - and sternly - quickly put an end to the freelance fighting.
After a period of staging and training in New Guinea, it was time for the 1st Cavalry Division to receive its baptism of fire. On 26 February, with most of the elements of the Division in the vicinity of Camp Borio taking part in the 1st Brigade Amphibious Training Problem, word was received to stop all training. Immediate preparations were made for movement into combat.
The units of the 1st Cavalry Division selected to lead the invasion of the
Island made final preparations for landing. These units included:
|ORDER OF BATTLE - Admiralty Islands Invasion|
LEAD INVASION UNITS - Brigadier General William C. Chase |
SUPPORT FORCES - Colonel Hugh Hoffman |
|BALANCE OF THE DIVISION - Held In Reserve|
At 1400 hours the next day, the 2nd Squadron, 5th Cavalry began to load at Oro Bay. Half of the troops and their equipment were loaded onto three High Speed Transport (APD) destroyers, the USS Brooks, USS Humphreys, and USS Sands, which had been converted to troop ships. Nine other destroyers, each carrying an average of fifty-seven soldiers, transported the remainder of the landing force. The rest of the 5th Cavalry, moved by truck from Camp Borio to Oro Bay where they embarked on LSTs for their role as a support force if the reconnaissance succeeded.
At 0645 hours on 28 February, 1,026 troopers and their equipment, identified as Task Force BREWER consisting of three High Speed Transport (APD), destroyers; the USS Brooks, USS Humphreys, and USS Sands, moved out of Cape Sudest, Oro Bay, New Guinea under the command of Brigadier General William C. Chase. They were under the escort of the destroyers USS Reid, USS Stockton, and USS Stevenson. At 0819 hours, six other destroyers, the USS Flusser, USS Manhan, USS Drayton, USS Smith, USS Bush and USS Welles joined the Task Force. Their destination was a remote, Japanese occupied island of the Admiralties, Los Negros, where they were to make a reconnaissance in force and if feasible, capture Momote Airdrome and secure a beachhead for the reinforcements that would follow.
Even as the Task Force was underway, it received supplementary reconnaissance intelligence from a patrol of Alamo Scouts, a volunteer organization trained to live off the land for weeks at a time and make use of natives familiar with the area and disposition of Japanese troops. Under cover of a diversionary bombing attack, they had landed a mile south of planned invasion area and reported that the enemy was still present in force in a large bivouac area on the southeast part of Los Negros. This information permitted refinements in the Naval Operational Orders to include three separate fire support areas in the supporting bombardment plans.
A rendezvous point, fixed at some twenty miles below Cape Cretin, was reached
at 1326 hours. Here the attack group was met by the cruisers USS
Nashville, and USS Phoenix and the destroyers USS Daly, USS
Hutchins, USS Beale, and USS Bache, which had come from the Cape
Sudest area. General MacArthur and the Commander of the Seventh Fleet,
Admiral Kinkaid were aboard the USS Phoenix, The route lay through the
Vitiaz Strait, between Long Island and the coast of New Guinea, then into the
Bismark Sea. Unchallenged, the convoy arrived at a point about 10 miles south
of Los Negros at 0600 hours on D day. The USS Phoenix, USS Daly, and
USS Hutchins led out in column to conduct a reconnaissance approach
toward Southeast Point. With the approach of daylight, two observation planes
took off from the cruisers.
This video of the 1st Cavalry Division, is a film of combat activities of the 1st Cavalry Division during the Battle of Los Negros in Admiralty Islands. On orders from General MacArthur, the 2nd Squadron (dismounted), 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division conducted a Reconnaissance in Force mission at Los Negros,Admiralty Islands. The film clip opens with Spitfire aircraft from No. 73 Wing, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) attacking Japanese positions in the jungles near the beach, prior to their landing. Simultaneously, the US Navy warships bombard the area and B-25 bombers from the 345th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force, striffed and bombed the landing beach areas.
Just after 0800 hours on 29 February, under cloudy skys and a light falling
rain, the 1st Cavalry troopers climbed down the nets of the APDs and into the
Landing Craft, Medium (LCM) and Landing Craft, Personnel, Ramped (LCPR), the
flat bottomed landing craft of the Navy. The landing at Hayane Harbor took the
Japanese by surprise. The first three waves of the assault troops from the 2nd
Squadron, 5th Cavalry reached the beach virtually unscathed. The fourth wave
was less lucky. By then the Japanese had been able to readjust their guns to
fire lower and inflicted many casualties during their landing. Troops under
the command of Lieutenant Colonel William E. Lobit of Galveston, Texas, fanned
out and attacked through the rain.
After landing, the Reconnaissance Squadron, reinforced with other Cavalry Division troops, advance into dense jungles. Troops cover the forward areas with machine gun and mortar fire. An out-take shows troops firing a field gun with "Bataan" written in chalk, on the barrel. Minimizing the level of forward threats, B-25 bombers fly very low over the edge of Momote airfield and drop bombs.
As soon as the each area is cleared, medics provide temporary life saving care including plasma to the wounded soldiers before they are transported to nearby hospital ships. The 1st Cavalry troops fought their way to the Momote Airdrome and had the entire facility quickly under control in less than two hours. The United Press would hail the Los Negros landing as "one of the most brilliant maneuvers of the war." The Associated Press would call it "a masterful strategic stroke."
Shortly after 1400 hours on "D" day, General MacArthur came ashore to inspect
the battle damage and praise the cavalry troops' actions and accomplishments.
He then ordered General Chase to defend the Momote Airdrome at all costs
against Japanese counterattacks. He finally headed back to the beach where he
presented the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Marvin J. Henshaw, 5th
Cavalry, of Haskell, Texas. Lieutenant Henshaw had been the first American to
land on Los Negros in the first wave, leading his platoon ashore through the
narrow ramp of a Higgins boat.
After a period of staging in New Guinea, the 12th Cavalry Regiment departed
from New Guinea as a part of the combat reinforcements of the Admiralty
Campaign. On 02 March, the 12th Cavalry embarked at Cape Sudest, New Guinea
in four LSTs and moved to join the forward forces of the 1st Cavalry
On 06 March, the 12th Cavalry, along with the 271st Field Artillery Battalion landed on Los Negros Island with minimal resistance. Under cover of the B-25 bombing, they joined up with the 2nd Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment to seize the Salami Plantation and Salami Beach, about three miles north of the Momote Airdrome. The Japanese, expecting an amphibious landing had their guns directed toward the beach. They were surprised by the ground attack from the rear,
The next day after landing, the 12th Cavalry joined with the 2nd Squadron of the 7th Cavalry and the 5th Cavalry and quickly went into action to seize the Papitalai Mission and Lombrum Point before the Japanese could complete building a well fortified defense. In retreat, the enemy left behind large amounts of their food and equipment. On 06 March, the 5th Cavalry went back into action to occupy Porolka and the first American airplane landed on the Momote Airdrome which had been repaired by the Seabees. The next day the 5th Cavalry pushed south and after executing a short amphibious landing assault, overran Papitalai Village.
On 08 March, members of the 12th Cavalry liberated a contingent of sixty nine Sikh solders of the British Empire Forces who had been captured in Singapore in 1942 and moved to Turk, Rabaul and finally to the Momote Airdrome on the Admiralties to be used as forced labor in the construction of defenses for the islands.On 09 March additional forces arrived at Seeadler Harbor and the same day came ashore at Salami Beach. These forces included the 2nd Brigade, the remainder of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, the 61st Field Artillery, and a detachment from "A" Company, 69th Signal Battalion.
By 11 March, mop up operations were underway all over the northern half of Los Negros and attention was being shifted to a much bigger objective immediately to the west: Manus Island. Successful occupation of Manus Island depended upon control of the area around the coastal village of Lorengau, where the majority of the Japanese defenses were positioned. It was decided that taking the positions at minimum loss would require the establishment of forward artillery positions on some of the small islands west of Seeadler Harbor and north of Lorengau.
Teams from the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop and divisional artillery were sent out to scout three islands in enemy territory. Butjo Island was unoccupied. Bear Point was also unoccupied, but unsuitable as an artillery position. However, Hauwei Island proved to be a "hornet's nest" of Japanese. The 26 man reconnaissance team in a Landing Craft, Vehicle (LCV) was escorted by a Patrol, Torpedo (PT) boat for firepower and protection. Landing and moving inland, they were ambushed and had to engage in fierce fighting resulting in five killed in action, fourteen wounded and three missing in action. They battled back to the beach and reboarded the LCV.
An enemy shell hit the LCV, blowing out one side, and sank it. The PT boat commander had withdrawn without communicating his intentions. The survivors were in water about four hours before being spotted by a B-24, which sent another PT boat to rescue them. All of the survivors had been wounded. One of the men tied himself to a tree to shield himself from the friendly fire. He swam and waded from island to island the next day. Another of the men swam to a bell buoy and was recovered the next day.
The reconnaissance mission was costly, yet it revealed that Hauwei, a former
coconut plantation, could support two battalions of artillery, providing a
level of firepower that would save many American lives during the attack on
Lorengau. The assault on Hauwei began on 12 March. Ships anchored inside
Seeadler Harbor blasted the island. The 61st Artillery Battalion, firing from
Mokerang Plantation near the southern tip of Los Negros, laid down a heavy
barrage on the Japanese defenders. The Royal Australian Air Force strafed and
bombed the beaches and inland areas shortly before the landing of the 2nd
Squadron, 7th Cavalry. By sundown, 13 March, Hauwei Island was cleared of
The capture and defense of the Momote Airfield by the 1st Cavalry Division was a critical keystone for the follow-on plans and offence to the New Guinea Campaign. As soon as construction crews could rebuild the airstrip for US aircraft to operate from, a series of attacks would begin. 1.) The first, the 1st Cavalry Division would move to the Manus for a strong offensive engagement against the Japanese; 2.) the second, a unit of 1st Marine Division moves from Gloucester to Talasea which is only 60 miles from Rabaul to attack the Japanese 17th Army; 3.) The third is shown by an animated map illustrating the movement of the 163rd and the 127th Infantry planned landing at Tadji Airstrip and; 4.) The 24th and 41st Division plan to land in Hollandia to capture three airstrips Hollandia, Sentani and Cyclops.
Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur review the plans and alternate actions. The 5th Air Force will launch a major attack against Hollandia.. At the same time, the Australian infantry will begin movement and advance through the New Guinea jungles. The final scenes shows a briefing of the 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers, explaining the importance of team work.
At dawn, 15 March, the Manus Island invasion commenced with heavy shelling, naval bombardment and air attacks. Soon afterward, the 2nd Brigade, under the command of Brigadier General Verne D. Mudge, surprised the enemy by swarming ashore at two beaches near the Lugos Mission Plantation. By dusk the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry had advanced past snipers and scattered resistance and dug in on the western edge of Lorengau Airdrome, the last airfield controlled by the Japanese. The sixteenth of March was a day of heroes - and casualties - as troopers charged or crawled through heavy machine gun fire to wipe out the enemy positions. Lorengau Airdrome was captured the next day, after the 7th Cavalry moved up to relieve the weary 8th Cavalry fighters.
On 18 March, the 2nd Brigade crossed the river in force and drove the enemy from Lorengau Village. The objectives were Rossum, a small village south of Lorengau and Salesia Plantation. By 21 March, the 8th Cavalry had won control of most of the plantation, but the battle for Rossum was slowed by heavy jungle that the Japanese used to their advantage. After ninety-six hours of bitter combat the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry was relieved by the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry. The final push to Rossum was made behind heavy artillery fire and air bombardment.
With attention focused on the opening of new operations at Hauwei Island, the 5th and the 12th Cavalry began working their way south of Papitalai Mission through the rough hills and dense jungles in hand-to-hand combat. Tanks sometimes would give welcome support, but mostly the troopers had to do the dangerous job with small arms and grenades. Two final attacks wiped out the remaining resistance on Los Negros Island. On 22 March, two squadrons from the 5th and 12th Regiments overran enemy positions west of Papitalai Mission. Once again it was tough fighting with the terrain, overgrown with thick canopies of vines, favoring the Japanese. On 24 March, the 5th and 12th Regiments overcame fanatical resistance and pushed through to the north end of the island. On 28 March, the battles for Los Negros and Manus were over, except for mop up operations.
On 31 March, the 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry moved from Lombrum Point to Mokerang Peninsula and on 01 April launched an attack on Korunist and Ndrilo Islands which lay just off the western tip of Mokerang Peninsula, Los Negros. After land, sea, and air forces had given those islands a hard pounding, the troopers, transported in eighteen native canoes, four captured Japanese collapsible boats, and sixteen engineer half boats landed unopposed. On 03 April, the 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry moved to Rambuto Island, southeast of Los Negros, to search out and destroy small bands of enemy soldiers. Because of the numerous coral reefs, the troopers carried their supplies and equipment as they waded ashore in waist-high water. On 07 April, the 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry was sent on a combat mission to Pak Island where they met light resistance.
On 18 May 1944, the Admiralty Islands campaign officially ended. Japanese casualties stood at 3,317 killed. The losses of the 1st Cavalry Division included 290 dead, 977 wounded, and 4 missing in action. Training, discipline, determination, and ingenuity had won over suicidal attacks. The troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division were now seasoned veterans.
With the fighting at a lull, the men of the division had time to take stock of what they had just been through. There had been many heroic deeds and many unselfish actions. To preserve the history of accomplishments, traditions and spirit of the 1st Cavalry Division, they decided to organize a 1st Cavalry Division Association which would be open to all members of the division. There on the battlefield, the Association was chartered to promote fellowship, help troopers keep in touch with one another, and hold annual reunions.
General Swift, reassigned to command I Corps, left the Division. General Mudge received his second star and along with it, the command of the 1st Cavalry Division. Colonel Hugh F. T. Hoffman assumed command of the 2nd Brigade and was promoted to Brigadier General. Thus the Division command structure had evolved as the farsighted General Swift had arranged. Invasion planning for the next mission, the assault on the Philippine Island of Leyte, began to take shape.
The task force for the Leyte invasion consisted of the Sixth Army commanded by Lieutenant General Walter Krueger. Divisions designated for the A-Day assault were the 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions of the XXIV Corps and the 1st Cavalry Division of the X Corps. Initial plans were carried out by the movement of the 1st and 2nd Brigades from their base camps at Koruniat and Hauwei Islands to staging areas on the beaches of Los Negros Island. The Division Artillery staged for the combat movement directly from its base on Ndirlo Island.
Transportation, designated to become part of Task Group 78.2, was provided by the US Navy Fleet Command. They furnished seven Amphibious Transports (ATA), two Transports (AP), two Attack Cargo Ships (AKA), one Cargo Ship (AK), two Landing Ships, Dock (LSD), nine Medium Landing Ships (LSM) and two Liberty Ships. In addition to its regular organization, the 1st Cavalry Division was reinforced to include assigned elements as follows:
|ORDER OF BATTLE - Leyte / Samar Invasion|
FORWARD ECHELON, 1st Cavalry Division |
1st BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM |
2nd BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM |
DIVISION RESERVES |
DIVISION ARTILLERY |
SHORE PARTY |
REAR ECHELON, 1st Cavalry Division |
Embarkation was completed by 2400 hours on 08 October followed by a naval rehearsal on 09 October. In the afternoon of 12 October, Columbus Day, the 1st Cavalry Division (Reinforced) sailed away from its hard earned bases in the Admiralties for the Leyte invasion, Operation KING II. On 15 October, Task Force 78, transporting the 1st Cavalry Division joined with Task Force 79, carrying the 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions of the XXIV Corps and the complete armada proceeded toward Leyte.
Meanwhile, 738 ships of the Navy's Third Fleet sailed toward the Gulf of Leyte. Among the most powerful naval force ever assembled were eighteen aircraft carriers, six battleships, seventeen cruisers and sixty-four destroyers. The invasion force must have appeared awesome as it moved toward the eastern shores of Leyte near Tacloban.
At about 0530 hours, when it began to grow light, on 19 October the invasion
forces moved to assigned positions off the landing beaches. The invasion body
was composed of two major thrusts; the Southern Attack Group that was divided
into two components; Attack Group "Able", carrying the 7th Infantry Division;
Attack Group "Baker", carrying the 96th Infantry Division; and the Northern
Attack Group that was divided into three components; the San Ricardo Group,
carrying the 1st Cavalry Division, who were designated to land on Beach White,
a mile long sandy beach extending southward from the base of Cataisan
Peninsula; the Palo Group, carrying the 24th Infantry Division, who were
designated to land on Beach Red; and the Panaon Group, carrying the 21st
Regimental Combat Team (RCT), who were designated to land on Panaon Island off
the southernmost point of Leyte. At 0900 hours, escort ships started giving
the enemy at Tacloban a taste of things to come.
At 0645 hours 20 October the flagship USS Blue Ridge signaled "Deploy" and the San Rocardo Group, under the command of Admiral W. M. Fechtler and transporting the 1st Cavalry Division, turned to follow the channel between Mariquitdaquit Island and Somar. Designated as Task Group 78.2, the San Rocardo Group consisted of the attack transports USS Fremont, USS Harris, USS Leonard Wood, USS Pierce, transports USS Herald Of The Morning, USS La Salle, attack cargoes USS Arneb, USS Electra, LSDs USS Oak Hill and USS White Marsh was supported by a Destroyer Screen composed of the destroyers USS Anderson, USS Fletcher, USS Lavallette, USS Jenkins and thirty-five various support vessels. By 0800 hours the TG had moved to its assigned position, seven miles off the beach transport area.
This video of the 1st Cavalry Division, is a film of combat activities of the
1st Cavalry Division during the Battle of Leyte in 1944. Following heavy fire
support which began at 0945 hours, landing operations began. Precisely at
H-hour, 1000 hours, the first wave of the 1st Cavalry Division moves out for
the beach. The planned landing site, at "Beach White" was between the mouth of
the Palo River, to the south, and Tacloban, the capital city of Leyte. The
film begins with the launch of their landing craft being launched from the
ramp of the main transport followed by a close up of the troops on the landing
craft. The next cutaway gives a broad view of the landing operations
simultaneously underway and the extent of the naval bombardment provided to
give cover to landing parties.
By mid afternoon, cargo ships were unloading rapidly. The 7th Cavalry, along
with the 44th Tank Battalion, was assigned the mission of securing the
Talcoban Airstrip that would be used as a US fighter-bomber base, Troopers of
the 5th, 7th, 8th, and 12th Cavalry quickly fanned out across the sands and
moved into the shattered jungle against occasional sniper fire.
Even before the smoke of gunpowder could clear, with fighting underway only two miles outside the city of Tacloban, General MacArthur, acting on his own, decided to restore the right to govern the island to civilian hands. On 23 October, in a brief ceremony at the steps of the provincial capital, he formally proclaimed the resumption of constitutional government to the hands of President Sergio Osmena. In a brief speech, MacArthur said "On behalf of my government, I restore to you, a constitutional administration by countrymen of your confidence and choice. As our forces advance, I shall in like manner, restore the other Philippine cities and provinces throughout the entire island."
The Japanese had been able to put an additional 20,000 combat troops ashore on the west side of Leyte shortly after the invasion by the First Team. In a counterattack, Japanese reinforcements had landed at Ormoc Valley, on the other side of the mountain range. They began menacing the X Corps flank from the southwest. Accordingly, the 1st Brigade advanced into the mountains to blunt the threat. The battle through the mountains was the outstanding achievement of the campaign. In record rains, which flooded the island, the supply lines were stretched to the breaking point. The Japanese had dug in on the reverse slopes of the knife-edged ridges, almost immune to artillery fire.
The missions of the 1st Cavalry Division in late October and early November included moving across the northern coast of Leyte, through the rugged mountainous terrain, and deeper into Leyte Valley. After the breakout and securing of the Tacloban Airstrip, the next day, the troops of the 8th Cavalry and the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop moved out on their mission to the island of Samar, leaving the 5th, 7th, and 12th Cavalry who moved out to both the swamps and the Japanese to the south, on a two prong approach drive to the north and northwest, clearing the Leyte Valley on the way. On 02 November the 1st Cavalry Division and the 24th Infantry Division attacked Carigara and captured it easily.
As the Japanese continued to pour reinforcements north through the Ormoc Valley, the menace of an infiltration from the mountains separating Leyte and Ormoc became increasingly apparent. To counteract this event, the 12th Cavalry was ordered to push into the high ground west of Leyte Valley and attack the defenses there. On 09 November the Regiment launched its attack at 0900 hours with the support of the 271st Field Artillery. This action began a long and bitter struggle which lasted nearly two months.
While the 12th Cavalry was attacking in the Mt. Pina - Mt. Badian areas, the 5th Cavalry began a probe on the southern flank of the enemy and by 10 November the 1st Squadron had occupied Hill 2926 - Mt. Pina Area. On 11 November the 7th Cavalry took over the defense of the entrance to the Leyte Valley. On 13 November, the 12th Cavalry ran into heavy opposition while pushing to the southwest from Blaud. Two definite Japanese forces were located on high ground above the Naguisan River. On 14 - 15 November the Division continued to secure high ground between Leyte Valley and Ormoc-Pinamapoan Highway.
On 15 November enemy resistance in front of the 7th Cavalry faded after a heavy barrage from the 82nd and 271st Field Artillery Battalions. The 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment got into an intense fight with the Japanese who were well entrenched on Hill 2348, about two miles east of the Ormoc Pinamapoan Highway. The battle for Hill 2348 continued the next day and threatened to be a bloody stalemate. Individual cavalrymen of "G" Troop advanced through heavy machine gun fire and began to silence the Japanese strongholds one by one.
Also on 15th November, the 112th Regimental (Cavalry) Combat Team was attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, and assumed responsibility for the Capocan-Carigara-Barugo area. During the next week the enemy fought defensive delaying actions. On 19 December, the two squadrons of the 12th Cavalry battled their way into the barrio of Lonoy, moving south the next day toward Cananga. The war seemed to speed up as the troopers could use conventional infantry tactics in the open countryside. On 18 November the 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry relieved the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the Mt. Minoro area.
On 20 November, the rest of the 12th Cavalry became heavily engaged around Mt. Cabungaan, about three miles south of Hill 2348. The enemy had dug in on the reverse side of sharp slopes. Individual troopers were again faced with the task of searching out and destroying positions in the fog. Throughout the night of 21 - 22 November the 271st Field Artillery kept the Japanese on the northwest side of Mt. Catabaran awake by heavy concentrations of fire. Before the day was over, patrols from the 12th Cavalry had established observation posts within 150 yards of Cananga on Highway 2 in the Ormoc Valley.
On 26 November, both the 12th and 112th Cavalry Regiments launched attacks
against their immediate opposition. The enemy positions that had given heavy
resistance to the 112th Cavalry on the two previous days were seized in the
afternoon after a pulverizing barrage from the 82nd and 99th Field Artillery
Battalions. On 28 November the 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry launched another
successful attack on Hill 2348 which took the form of a double envelopment.
The 1st Squadron renewed their attack on positions on Mt. Cabungaan but sharp
ridges held up their advance, The 112th Cavalry continued to move toward its
On 01 December the 112th Cavalry engaged the enemy at the ridge south of Limon. On the night of 02 December, the battle for Hill 2348 reached its climax. The 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry suffered heavy casualties from the heavy machine gun fire, mortars, and waves of Japanese troops in suicidal attacks. On 04 December, the 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry attacked and overcame a position to its front with the enemy fleeing in the confusion. "A" Troop, of the 112th, in a drive to the northwest, made contact with the left flank elements of the 32nd Division. Thus the drive became an unremitting continuous line against the Japanese and enemy elements that were caught behind the line were trapped.
Throughout 07 and 08 December, patrols of the 5th and 12 Cavalry continued mop up operations. The 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry moved out to locate and cut supply lines of the enemy who were still holding up the advance of the 2nd Squadron. On 09 December, heavy rains brought tactical operations to a near standstill and limited activity to patrol missions. On 10 December, the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry relieved the 2nd squadron, 112th Cavalry southwest of Sinayawan. Enemy action remained at a lull.
Having fought its way to the commanding heights of the mountain ranges after two weeks of laborious action, the Division now had to fight its way down into the Ormoc Valley and seize control of Highway 2. By 14 December the 12th Cavalry was continuing progress to the northeast from Mt. Cabungaan, meeting resistance from small enemy groups determined to initiate a delaying action. The 112th Cavalry continued its push south from Bonbon, along the Leyte River.
On 15 December, while the 5th Cavalry maintained the screen from Mt. Laao, on the south to Mt. Cabungaan on the northwest, patrols from the 7th, 12th and 112th Cavalry mopped up enemy positions that had been overrun on the previous days actions. On 21 December, the 12th Cavalry launched a coordinated attack fighting its way through the mountains and cutting the enemy supply line - Highway 2 and capturing Cananga. The 5th Cavalry followed the path of the 12th Cavalry, and assembled on high ground overlooking Highway 2.
On 22 December the 7th and 112th Cavalry, with the 32nd Division, swept aside the remains of the once formable "Yamashita Line" and proceeded south. On 23 December the 5th, 7th and 12th Cavalry, supported by the 61st Field Artillery Battalion, began a determined drive toward the west coast Leyte. The 112th Cavalry continued its mission of cleaning out stragglers and isolated pockets of Japanese in the rear areas.
The Division continued the attack west toward the coast over swamps against scattered resistance. By 29 December the 7th Cavalry had reached the Visayan Sea and initiated action to take the coastal barrio of Villaba. On 31 December after four "Banzai" attacks, each preceded by bugle calls, the small barrio fell. Joined by the 5th Cavalry who assisted in mop up operations, the 7th Cavalry moved on to reach the coast at Tibur. Meanwhile the remainder of the 12th and 112th Cavalry were moved by motor convey to the Leyte Valley to close in on their respective staging areas. The long wet Leyte/Samar campaign was over except for mop up operations.
Meanwhile on 23 October, in parallel with the above operations, the 8th Cavalry along with the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop had moved out to the neighboring island of Samar, the third largest island in the Philippines. They landed at La Paz and the threat of enemy reinforcements coming from Samar to aid enemy troops Leyte was dispelled. Elements of the 302nd patrolled extensively along the south and southwest coast of Samar, but failed to find any evidence of any enemy strength. At first, the 8th Cavalry advanced slowly north toward Hinabangan which was located on a main east-west road connecting Wright and Taft. By 07 December, Hinabangan was captured. The troopers pushed on and Wright was occupied on the 13th. Taking a left movement, the troopers raced westward toward Catabalogan, the capital of the island, which they secured on the 19th of December. With the aid of guerrillas the Wright-Taft highway was opened. Soon afterward, Taft fell, and the Samar portion of the campaign was over.
By 08 January 1945 the 8th Cavalry and the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop had returned from their actions on Samar Island and rejoined the main body of the Division. On 11 January 1945, when the Leyte-Samar Campaign ended, the Japanese losses were estimated to be nearly 5,937 killed in action and only a handful - three hundred eighty-nine had surrendered. With the last of the Leyte strongholds eliminated, the Division began preparations for movement to Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. Leyte had indeed been the largest campaign in the Pacific War, but the record was about to be shattered by the invasion of Luzon.
On 26 January the 1st Cavalry Division boarded Task Group (TG) 78.8, a LSD Reinforcement Group, under the command of Captain R. W. Cutler. The TG consisting of the USS Linenwald, USS Oak Hill, USS Casa Grande, USS Epping Forest, USS White Marsh and USS Shadwell and escorted by the destroyers USS Sterett and USS Wilson, formed convoys and departed for the Lingayan Gulf, Luzon Island, the Philippines. On 27 January, under heavy air coverage, the Division came ashore in the Mabilao area of Lingayen Gulf, Luzon without incident, and assembled in the vicinity of Urdaneta.
From 28 to 30 January, the Division relocated thirty-five miles inland and opened its Command Post at Guimba. On 30 January, the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop was given the mission of patrolling to the southeast, along the Pampanga River, to find crossings in order to secure the highway leading south from Cabanatuan. On 31 January the 112th Cavalry Regiment, who had supported the Leyte Campaign, was relieved from attachment to the Division. The final planning for the operations in the south and southwest areas of the island were reviewed and updated with the most recent findings of the reconnaissance teams.
Legend has it that General Douglas MacArthur was so impressed by the Cabanatuan raid, which was still in progress at the time, that he went immediately to the 1st Cavalry Division headquarters located at Guimba. On 31 January, General MacArthur issued the order "Go to Manila! Go around the Japs, bounce off the Japs, save your men, but get to Manila! Free the internees at Santo Tomas! Take the Malacanan Palace (the presidential palace) and the legislative building!". At the time of the order, nobody knew about the 1,300 or so military and civilian prisoners at the old Bilibid prison which was only a few blocks from Santo Tomas.
In an assessment of the situation, the Division Commander, Major General Verne D. Mudge. decided to attack on a broad front with three mobile tank columns because the positions of the Japanese were vague and the columns had to cross the wide Pampanga River, south of Guimba, en route to Manila. The resulting mission, and the participating units, were dubbed a "Flying Column" by General Mudge. The rescue operation was divided into three specialized "serial" elements,
|ORDER OF BATTLE - Flying Column|
|Commanded By Brigadier General William C. Chase|
1st SERIAL - Lt. Colonel William E. Lobit |
2nd SERIAL - Lt. Colonel Haskett L. Conner, Jr. |
3rd SERIAL - Lt. Colonel Tom A. Ross |
At one minute past midnight, 01 February, the three serials, led by Brigadier General William C. Chase, moved out of Guimba to slice through 100 miles of Japanese held territory. The mission of the 1st Cavalry Division was to dash through the enemy lines and take only force as necessary to get to Manila, not to become embroiled in any large scale battle. At all times during the three day sweep, the nine Marine scout dive bomber patrol, operating as flank guards remained airborne at all times, roaming across the valleys searching every road and trail for signs of enemy movement. Whenever roadblocks were spotted, they reported on the situation and when permission was granted, cleared the area by precision bombing or aerial machine gun screens.
Early in the morning, the 5th Cavalry crossed the Pampanga river and encountered enemy resistance. By 1300 hours, the cavalry forces were locked in a bitter fight with the Japanese near Cabanatuan. The 8th Cavalry crossed the river south of town and turned north to catch the enemy in a pincers movement. By dusk, the 7th and 12th Cavalry had advanced and took over the fight from the lead units.
The Reconnaissance Squadron had swung farther south early on 01 February and
approached the town of Gapan at 1330 hours. As the attack moved on to the
bridge across the Penaranda River the commander, Lieutenant. Colonel Ross was
killed. The commander of the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop, Captain Don Walton,
took over the Squadron command immediately and the forces were able to secure
the bridge and later, with the arrival of "G" Troop, 8th Cavalry, defended it
so that the columns could continue their march.
The "race" for Manila was now between the 37th Division and the 1st Cavalry Division, with the cavalry in the lead. In addition to the 302nd Reconnaissance Troops, liaison aircraft of the field artillery battalion were used to conduct route reconnaissance and column control. Since the operation began, the reconnaissance units had been fortunate enough to find bridges and fordable crossings almost everywhere they went. The column was able to get around, over, and past each obstacle in its path. The 37th Division, on the other hand, was slowed by difficult crossings which forced it to either ferry its artillery and tanks across or wait for the engineers to build bridges. By 02 February, the Flying Column was dashing toward Manila, sometimes at speeds of fifty miles per hour, with individual units competing for the honor of reaching the city first.
During 02 February, the columns pushed south and the 2nd serial leading the way reached Plaridel early in the morning. As the serial crossed the wide Angat River, the 8th Cavalry ran into a Japanese Battalion which was dug in on high ground. Grinding out a tough advance, they broke through and continued on. By dusk, the 2nd serial was near Santa Maria. In parallel, the 1st serial crossed the Angat River at Sabang and spent several hours in a bitter fight with a small Japanese force. Following the battle, they turned east on Highway 65 toward Norzagaray.
Early in the morning of 03 February at 0430 hours, the 1st serial moved out. Driving on, they reached Norzagaray at dawn and found the town occupied by Filipino guerrillas. Not stopping, the column turned southwest toward Santa Maria and, fording many streams, reached it at 1500 hours. The 2nd serial, which had crossed the Santa Maria River at noon, moved along Highway 64 to the junction at Highway 52, an outpost manned by the Japanese. After fighting their way through, they left one troop behind to hold the intersection for the units that followed.
By 1630 hours, elements of the 1st Cavalry Division pushed into the town of
Novaliches, in the northern outskirts of Manila, with only the steep-sided
Tuliahan River separating them from the city proper. A squadron of the 8th
Cavalry reached the bridge just moments after Japanese soldiers had finished
preparing it for demolition. As the two sides opened fire on one another, the
Japanese lit the fuse leading to the carefully placed explosives. Without
hesitation, Lieutenant James P. Sutton, a Navy demolitions expert attached to
the division, dashed out onto the stone arched bridge and cut the burning
fuse. He disregarded the heavy Japanese fire and heaved the other mines and
dynamite charges into the gorge under the bridge. The way to Manila was clear.
As the sun set over the ocean behind the advancing Americans, a single tank named Battling Basic crashed through the walls surrounding Santo Tomas University, the site of a camp holding almost 4,000 civilian prisoners. The Japanese guards put up little resistance. By 2100 hours, the internment camp at Santo Tomas was liberated and the prisoners, many of whom had been incarcerated for nearly two years, were liberated.
The First Team was -
"First in Manila"
Late on the afternoon of 04 February, the 2nd Squadron, 5th Cavalry, was ordered to seize the Quezon Bridge, the only crossing over the Pasig that the Japanese had not destroyed. As the squadron approached the bridge, enemy heavy machine gun fire opened up from a formidable roadblock thrown up across Quezon Boulevard. The Japanese had pounded steel stakes into the pavement, sown the area with mines, and lined up old truck bodies across the road. Unable to advance farther, the cavalry withdrew after nightfall. As they pulled back, the Japanese blew up the bridge.
The next day, 05 February, went more smoothly. Once the 37th Division reached Manila, the northern section of Manila was divided into two sectors. The 37th Division responsible for the western sector and the 1st Cavalry Division responsible for the eastern sector.
Mopping up was in process when it was discovered that the Japanese Guard commander and 70 of his men had taken 200 of the internees as hostage and had moved them to the Education Building. With the hostage situation rendering a direct attack on the building impossible, a strong guard was posted and a defense of the area was organized. The next day, under a flag of truce, negotiations for the release of the prisoners began. Late in the afternoon, the Japanese Commander took the position that he and his men, along with their arms and equipment, were to be escorted to a point outside the city or else he would kill all the hostages and make a suicide defense of the building.
Considering the lives of the hostages more important than the capture of the Japanese Commander and his solders, the terms were agreed to. At daybreak, on 05 February, "G" Troop, 5th Cavalry closed in on the door of the Education Building to form an escort for the Japanese who filed out of the building. The small column and their escorts moved to a point near the Pasig River where the two forces parted, the Japanese moving out of sight south and the Troopers returning back to Santo Tomas.
A secondary objective, other than freeing the prisoners and looking out for the needs of the individual inhabitants, was to safeguard city functions such as water and power supplies of Manila as US forces entered the city. Manila's steam power generating plant was on Provisor Island, on the south side of the Pasig River, and elements of the 37th Infantry Division would not reach it until 09 February. Manila's water system lay northeast of the city, and securing and protecting it was one of the first missions assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. The main features of the system were the Novaliches Dam, the Balara Water Filters, the San Juan Reservoir, and the pipelines that carried water among these and to Manila. From 05 to 08 February, the 7th Cavalry Regiment captured all of these facilities intact, despite some being wired for demolitions.
For the next three tough days, troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division battled with flame throwers, bazookas and every weapon on hand to clear the historic Manila Hotel, one of the finest hotels in the Far East and former home of General MacArthur. "A" Troop, 12th Cavalry led the attack, supported by medium tanks and one platoon of heavy weapons. In addition to the maze of tunnels running beneath the building, nearly every room of each floor was heavily fortified with sandbags and automatic weapons. Veteran troopers had to fight "room-to-room" in order to gain control.
By 10 February, the cavalry had extended its control south of the river. That night, the XIV Corps established, for the first time, separate bridgeheads on both banks of the Pasig River. Despite initial American euphoria, much fighting remained. Although the approach to the city had been relatively easy, wresting the capital from the Japanese proved far more difficult. Manila, a city of 800,000, was one of the largest in Southeast Asia. While much of it consisted of ramshackle huts, the downtown section boasted massive reinforced concrete buildings built to withstand earthquakes and old Spanish stone fortresses of equal size and strength. Most were located south of the Pasig River which bisects the capital, requiring that the Americans cross over before closing with the Japanese.
On 13 February, the 12th Cavalry reached the waterfront turning the axis of its attack to the North. During the Battle for Manila, a new type of combat was added to the 1st Cavalry Division repertoire, that of combat engagement in a modern city - urban warfare. They thrust south to the Pasig River, launching a drive through the city.
On 23 February, during this hard hand-to-hand fighting, a trooper of "E" Troop, 5th Cavalry, Private First Class William J. Grabiarz, was a scout with a unit that was advancing with tanks along a street in Manila. Without warning, enemy machine gun and rifle fire from concealed positions in the Customs building swept the street, striking down the troop commander and driving his men to cover. As the officer lay in the open road, unable to move and completely exposed to the pointblank enemy fire, Private First Class Grabiarz voluntarily ran from behind a tank to carry him to safety, but was himself wounded in the shoulder. Ignoring both the pain in his injured, useless arm and the shouts of his comrades to seek the cover which was only a few yards distant, the valiant rescuer continued his efforts to drag his commander out of range. Finding this impossible, he rejected the opportunity to save himself and deliberately covered the officer with his own body to form a human shield, calling as he did so for a tank to maneuver into position between him and the hostile emplacement. The enemy riddled him with concentrated fire before the tank could interpose itself. Later, the troops found that he had been successful in preventing bullets from striking his leader, who survived. For his valiant action, Private First Class William J. Grabiarz received the Medal of Honor.
One of the final assignments undertaken by the 8th Cavalry was to clear out the Japanese soldiers who had taken cover in the world famous "San Miguel Brewery" and had provided the earlier heavy sniper fire in the attempt to stop their drive to the Malacanan Palace. It is said that rather than dislodge the occupants using direct artillery fire (which may have also destroyed the inventory of the building), Captain Hickman ordered a fixed bayonet charge which easily put down the Japanese resistance. Soon after the "liberation" of the San Miguel Brewery, General MacArthur joined General Chase and the troopers in a pitcher of the brew before they moved on. By 03 March 1945, organized resistance in Manila was finally wiped out.
The next assignment given to the First Cavalry Division was the difficult task of cracking the Shimbu Line, a few miles east of Manila, and securing a front from Taytay on the North to Antipolo on the south. The goal was to prevent Japanese reinforcements from reaching Manila. Securing the Shimbu Line proved to be a different type of enemy engagement than previously encountered. The division had fought in the jungles of the Admiralties, the mountains and mud of Leyte, open country, and the street fighting of Manila. They were now engaged in eliminating the Japanese who were occupying fortified positions in the mountainous environments. The regiments of the division fought abreast as they destroyed the southern flank of the Shimbu Line. From north to south, the units involved were the 5th, 7th, 8th and 12th Cavalry. On 28 February, General Mudge suffered a serious wound in the abdomen while observing the demolition of a cave that had supposedly been cleared. From deep inside the cave, a diehard Japanese defender managed to lob a grenade that caught General Mudge and his party by surprise.
Brigadier General Hugh F. T. Hoffman immediately assumed command of the
Division and carried out the mission. On 11 March, the 1st Brigade Combat
Team captured dominating terrain features in and around Antipolo and began mop
up operations. The high ground west of Antipolo was secured by the 2nd Brigade
Combat Team. Once high ground had been taken, the troopers were relieved by
the 43rd Infantry Division and given a week of rest before taking on a new
assignment to help clear southern Luzon of organized Japanese resistance.
On 03 April, operations against the final Japanese forces in the Mt. Malepunyo hills began. The 5th Cavalry joined with the 43rd Infantry Division on the eastern shores of Laguna de Bay, severing the main escape route to the north. By the 10th of April, the 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry, reinforced by a platoon of tanks, entered Mauban of the Pacific to completely cut the Bantangas in half, isolating and trapping the Japanese to the south.
On 12 April, the 5th Cavalry began a drive southeast, down the Bicol Peninsula to clear it of Japanese and link up with the 158th Regimental Combat team. The two forces finally converged at Naga on 29 April, after "B" Troop, 5th Cavalry and a group of engineers made an amphibious assault across the Ragay Gulf at Pasacao.
On 24 April, the 2nd Brigade started its movement north to Siniloan in preparation for relief of the 43rd Infantry Division. Patrols found that the main enemy strength was concentrated around the Kapatailin Sawmill. Next to Antipolo, this position was the most elaborately constructed defense system encountered. On 07 May, after a heavy air bombing, the 7th Cavalry moved toward the sawmill and attacked. Elements of the 8th Cavalry joined in to conduct mop-up operations and consolidate gains. By 09 May, the Sawmill and Nursery areas were secured with only a few scattered remnants of the Japanese to contend with.
On 14 June, the campaign had turned into a rear area skirmish with patrols continuing to mop up stragglers and preventing movement of enemy forces. On 30 June 1945, when the Luzon Campaign was declared finally completed, the 1st Cavalry Division accounted for 14,114 of the enemy killed and 1,199 prisoners of war. At last, the troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division were able to enjoy a longer rest in Lucena, at the southern end of the Tayabas Province.
In July, a new era in the organizational change of the 1st Cavalry Division
began with the promotion of Major General William Chase who immediately
assumed command of the Division. Planning and training began for a mission
that would promise to be more difficult than anything they had previously
encountered. In this mission to bring the rages of war home to the Japanese.
In Operation DOWNFALL, scheduled for 01 November 1945, the 1st Cavalry
Division was to be among the first American Forces to invade the beaches of
the main islands of Imperial Japan, Kyushu.
MacArthur selected General Walter Krueger, commanding general of the Sixth Army, to command the Kyshu Invasion Force, consisting of three Army and one amphibious (Marine) corps, totaling 14 combat divisions. The 550,000 man invasion force would be delivered by approximately 3,000 ships, including 66 aircraft carriers and over 2,600 combat aircraft, under the command of the Fifth Fleet. The Third Fleet would support the invasion by blocking any enemy attempts to reinforce Kyushu from Honshu and Hokkaido.
Army Intelligence estimated that approximately 735,000 enemy troops occupied Kyushu and several small islands to the south. In addition, a force of 5,000 Kamikazes were also ready to descend on the invaders. The first phase of Operation OLYMPIC was scheduled for 27 October. The 40th Infantry Division and the 158th Regimental Combat team would seize positions in the Koshiki islands southwest of Kyushu, and on Tanega, Make, Take, and Io Islands south of Kyushu, where it was estimated 25,000 Japanese troops were dug in waiting for the invasion.
The 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Marine divisions would invade near Kushikene island, on the southwest coast and split into two elements. One would move toward Sendai and the other to the port city of Kagoshima. Meanwhile, the Eastern Assault Force consisting of the 25th, 33rd, and 41st Infantry Divisions, would land on the southeast coast and capture Miyazzki and the adjacent airfield. In a simultaneous attack, the Southern Assault Force, composed of the 112th Regimental Combat Team and the 43rd Infantry, 1st Cavalry, and Americal Divisions, would land at Ariake Bay and drive inland to capture Shibushi and Kancya.
Three days after the main invasion, the 77th, 81st, and 98th Infantry Divisions, would assault the southern coast of the island west of Kiaman-Dake and attempt to move north and west, bottling up the enemy forces on the southern tip of Kyushu. The 11th Airborne Division, would stand in reserve to support the assault divisions. If not needed as reserves, the 11th Airborne would also land at Kiaman-Dake and link up with the Marine Forces at Kagoshima.
Depending on the success of Operation OLYMPIC, The massive undertaking of Operation CORONET, a 4 month operation, would be launched on 01 March 1946. As many as 28 divisions were earmarked for this phase, including all six Marine divisions and the remainder of all US Naval forces in the Pacific. In all, nearly 5 million men would participate in the operation.
Estimates of the casualties in the battle for the main islands of Japan were
addressed. The early stages of the landings would have been particularly
bloody with both sides suffering a combined death rate of some 1000 men an
hour according to one estimate. Recent intelligence estimates indicate that if
Operations OLYMPIC and CORONET had been executed as planned, it would have
been the largest bloodbath in American history. These recent estimates set
estimated losses at more than one million with a death toll exceeding the
number suffered in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf.
Although American forces had superior fire power and were better trained and
equipped than the Japanese soldier, the close-in, fanatical combat between
infantrymen would have been mutually devastating.
On 12 August, the United States announced that it would accept the Japanese surrender, making clear in its statement that the Emperor could remain in a purely ceremonial capacity only. Debate raged within the Japanese government over whether to accept the American terms.
On 13 August 1945, the 1st Cavalry Division was alerted that they had been selected to accompany General Douglas MacArthur to Tokyo and would be part of the 8th Army in the occupation of Japan. Movement of the 1st Cavalry Division to Yokohama, Japan was under control of Navy Task Force (TF) 33, commanded by Rear Admiral John L. Hall. Preparation for loading out began immediately and continued night and day. A staging area was set up at Llipa and an advanced command post was set up at Batangas Bay. Soon, ships of the Navy Transport Division 16 began arriving.
On 14 August, the Japanese people learned of the surrender negotiations for the first time when B-29s showered Tokyo with thousands of leaflets containing translated copies of the American surrender terms. Later that day, the emperor called another meeting of his cabinet and instructed them to accept the Allied terms immediately.
On 15 August, the emperor's broadcast announcing the surrender of Japan was
heard all over Japan. For most of his subjects, it was the first time that
they had ever heard his voice. Over the next few weeks, Japan and the United
States worked out the details of the surrender. By 16 August, leaders of Japan
announced that their delegates would leave Tokyo for Manila on 19 August. It
was now only a matter of days before the long-awaited moment of final
surrender would become a reality.
On 18 August, the attack transports USS Brisco, USS Cecil, USS Highlands, USS Missoula, USS Rutland, USS St. Mary's, USS Talladega and the attack cargo ships USS Yancy and USS Whiteside began loading personnel and equipment of the 1st Cavalry Division for the last leg of their WW II journey through the Western Pacific Ocean. The loading was completed on the 23rd and as part of TF 33, they weighed anchor on the 25th. However, TF 33 had to turn back because of a tropical storm in the vicinity. The typhoon delayed the TF for only a day, as they weathered the fringes of the storm at Subic Bay before getting underway again and headed north along the east coast of Luzon through the China Sea.
On 28 August at 0900 hours, the first American landings in Japan were made by
an advance party of 150 communications experts and engineers. Deplaning at the
large navy airfield at Atsugi - Kanagawa Prefecture. twenty miles southwest
of Tokyo, the group began setting up the operational facilities for the other
aircraft that would bring the 11th Airborne Division to establish the American
airhead in the Atsugi area. This advance group was followed three hours later
by thirty-eight troop transports carrying combat forces along with necessary
supplies of gasoline, oil and support equipment.
The occupation plan was predicated upon the ability of the Emperor to maintain
psychological control over his people and to quell any recalcitrant elements.
It was thought that the majority of the Japanese people would obey the
Imperial command to surrender peaceably. Shortly after 1400 a famous C-54,
with the name "Bataan" in large letters on its nose, circled the field and
glided in for a landing. General MacArthur talked to briefly to the Japanese
and Allied newsmen, and then along with his staff paused momentarily to
inspect the airfield. The landing party then stepped into a waiting
automobile, an ancient American Lincoln - furnished by the Japanese, for the
drive to Yokohama. Thousands of Japanese troops were posted along the fifteen
miles of road to guard the route of the Allied motor cavalcade as it proceeded
from Atsugi to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) Headquarters
temporarily located at the Grand Hotel in the great seaport city of Yokohama,
On the morning of 02 September, the long convey of ships steered into Yokohama Harbor with the leading ships in place in the inner harbor of Yokohama. As destroyers delivered participants from Yokohama to USS Missouri's port side, officers from nearby ships were arriving by boat and being piped aboard at the battleship's starboard side. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Pacific Commander in Chief and the official representative of the United States at the surrender ceremonies, came aboard at 0805 hours.
Shortly before the Japanese were scheduled to arrive, spectators, the press and the Allied participants took their places. MacArthur, Nimitz and Admiral William F. Halsey walked past them to their own positions. At 0856 hours, the Japanese delegation began to come on board and participated in the signing of the formal articles of surrender on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri. After the conclusion of those ceremonies, all of the ships of TF 33 hauled down their battle flags and headed into the dock areas to start unloading operations.
The First Team was -
"First in Tokyo"
The First Team was given the honor of leading the Allied Occupational Army into Tokyo. At 1030 hours, advance elements of the 1st Cavalry Division landed unopposed at the Yokohama docks. At that time, a reconnaissance party headed by Colonel Charles A. Sheldon, the 1st Cavalry Division Chief of Staff, went ashore to contact the advance party of Lieutenant Colonel Moyers S. Shore which had arrived by plane five days earlier to reconnoiter and select Assembly Area (AA) locations for the landing parties. The initial Assembly Areas were within five blocks of the docks. By nightfall, the troops of the 1st Cavalry Division were occupying staging areas throughout the Yokohama Harbor.
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Revised 14 Jun '13 SpellChecked