October 20, 1944: The Battle of Leyte begins.

In March 1942, after Japanese forces successfully invaded and occupied the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur delivered a speech in which he promised to return to the Philippines and free it from Japanese occupation, declaring “I shall return”. He began his fulfillment of that promise in October of 1944, when he waded ashore on the island of Leyte and announced “People of the Philippines: I have returned.

The Leyte campaign marked the beginning of the combined American-Filipino effort to expel Japanese forces from the Philippines. The American landing on Leyte was followed soon after by the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which, measured by the tonnage of ships in the combined orders of battle, was the largest naval battle in history. At this point in the Pacific War, the Japanese Empire was outmatched in terms of troops and vessels by the Allied forces; the Battle of Leyte also saw the Japanese air force carry out its first ever kamikaze attacks. By the end of the battle in December, the Japanese side suffered over three times as many casualties as the Allied. 

The last of the major Philippine Islands were successfully recaptured in August of 1945, and General Tomoyuki Yamashida, who commanded the Japanese defensive force during the 1944-45 campaign, was executed in 1946 for atrocities committed against civilians and prisoners of war. 

(pictured above) an amusing Japanese pamphlet made to discourage American troops landing on Leyte.

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    Oh my God, that pamphlet.
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