Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Invasion of Leyte:  October 20, 1944

The U.S. Navy landed four Sixth Army divisions ashore on Leyte on October 20, 1944.   Japanese aerial counter-attacks damage USS Sangamon (CVE-26) and a few other ships, but do not hinder the landings.   Later in the day, General Douglas A. MacArthur, USA, gave his "I have returned" radio message to the Philippine people.   Previously, he departed the Philippines by PT Boats in March 1942.     To the Japanese, if Leyte was to be lost, the rest of the Philippines would soon follow, so they prepared to send five strong naval forces to drive off the American fleet and add more troops for the land fighting.  In the following days, this response would lead to World War II's biggest and most complex sea fight, the multi-pronged Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Image:  USA C-260:  Invasion of Leyte, October 20, 1944.   General Douglas A. MacArthur, USA, (center), accompanied by his staff inspecting Leyte Island beachead.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.