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Bicol Campaign, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 3-4 April 1945. 158th Regimental Combat Team, the "Bushmasters."

Introduction to Luzon

Long before invasion of the Philippines, the question had arisen among United States strategists as to what the next target would be. Originally the plan had been to bypass the Philippines and to conduct the B-29 strategic bombing program from bases in China. Subsequently, plans were made for the conquest of Taiwan as an additional base for B-29's after a foothold had been gained in the Philippines.

With the overrunning of airfields and planned sites for B-29's by the Japanese in China, and with the Marianas available as a base for strategic bombing operations, a change of plans was indicated. United States military strategists became embroiled in a behind-the-scenes debate as to what the next move should be. The outcome of this controversy was a decision on the part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to make Luzon the next target, discard the plan to bomb Japan from bases in China, and bypass Taiwan. Troops scheduled to take Taiwan were to be used to invade Okinawa and other islands in the Ryukyus beginning in March 1945.

In keeping with the plan, the U.S. Sixth Army made a massive amphibious assault on Luzon along the shores of the Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945. The Japanese commander, General Tomoyuki Yamashita, did not intend to defend the Central Plains-Manila Bay area, but sought only to pin down major elements of MacArthur's forces in order to delay Allied progress to Japan. Nevertheless, strong Japanese forces, primarily naval, disregarded Yamashita's plan and held out in Manila.

A powerful American force drove down the central valley from the Gulf of Manila, which fell in March after a month of bitter fighting. Yamashita concentrated his forces in three mountainous strongholds where they could conduct a protracted defense. Except for one strong pocket in the mountains of north-central Luzon, where the Japanese were still fighting when the war ended, organized Japanese resistance in Luzon was overcome by the end of May.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Eighth Army had completed the operation on Leyte, subdued the Japanese in the southern Philippines in a series of amphibious attacks, and conducted the mop-up phase of operations on Luzon.

Luzon Features

Heroes of Luzon

Fascinating, inspiring stories and details about the heroes of Luzon who were recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

[The primary source for this text is the U.S. Army Center for Military History. For a more general overview of the war see the Brief History of WWII e-text."]

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