Battle of Surigao Strait

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The Battle of Surigao Strait from October 24 to October 25 1944 was dubbed by some naval historians as one of the greatest sea battles in history. It was a battle fought between Japanese and American forces for dominance in Leyte Gulf.

Contents

History

Japanese forces launched an attack on the Allied forces centering at the Leyte Gulf area. They had two forces approaching from the South. The first one was commanded by Vice Admiral Nishimura, with the two old battleships Fuso and Yamashiro. The second was commanded by Vice-Admiral Shima and built around the heavy cruisers Nachi and Ashigara. Their attempt was to reach Leyte Gulf through the Surigao Strait, the southern entrance to the Leyte Gulf.

The vanguard Admiral Nishimura was sighted by aircraft from the Enterprise and Franklin of Rear Admiral Davison on October 24 at past nine in the morning. Davison launched an attack and inflicted bomb hits on the flagship Yamashiro and on the destroyer Shigure, but these hits did not much damage and Nishimura continued his advance. Shima was located by a US Army Air Force bomber later before noon.

Rear Admiral Oldendorf, commanding Kinkaid's Bombardment and Fire Support Group, was ordered to patrol the northern entrance to Surigao Strait and to prepare to meet the enemy ships. Rear Admiral Weyler, commanding Right Flank cruisers and destroyers also joined the force in defense of the Surigao Strait.

Outcome

The Japanese forces retreated on the second day of battle but it did not end the battle. Rather, it was brought to Samar.

It is said that what Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the “Hinge of Fate” finally turned irreversibly in favor of the Allied Forces in the Pacific in the Surigao Strait. The Battle at Surigao Strait was commemorated years after by a cruise along the Surigao Strait, a grand civil-military parade, and an exhibition by Air Force pilots.

References

  • "Battle Narrative," Battle of Surigao Strait: 24-25 October 1944 (Accessed on December 25, 2009)
  • "Battle of Surigao Strait marked today," The Philippine Star online, Updated October 26, 2009 12:00 AM (Accessed on December 25, 2009)
  • The Battle for Leyte Gulf by D Llewellyn James (Accessed on December 25, 2009)

Citation

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