After landing in Leyte on Oct. 20, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur’s troops started the drive to retake the Philippine Islands. When Gen. MacArthur returned, the guerillas were in good number. Some Filipinos went underground and joined the guerilla movement. Some joined the American troops.
A few days after the landing, one of the greatest naval battles in history began on October 23, 1944 when 64 Japanese warships engaged 216 American warships in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Fighting took place simultaneously in three areas: off Cape Engaño, off Samar, and in the Surigao Strait (south of Samar). This three-day battle, Oct. 23-25, 1944 marked the last use of battle-line formation, in which giant battleships faced and fired on each other at point-blank range.
The first and coordinated kamikaze suicide units were used by the Japanese forces on Oct. 25, 1944. Out of desperation, the Japanese pilots employed kamikaze tactics – the suicidal method of dive-bombing their enemies at the Battle at Leyte Gulf. Hoping to win the war in their favor, the Japanese planned to blow away the Allied Forces by loading planes with bombs and extra gasoline. The kamikaze planes were flown deliberately to crash into their targets. Inspite of the kamikaze tactics, the Japanese fleet was decimated at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Kamikaze means “divine wind”. The word was used for the new Japanese suicide pilots of World War II. It recalled the legend of Ise, the wind god who had saved Japan from an enemy invasion in ancient times. This legend was based on an event that happened on Aug. 14 and 15, 1281 when Japan was saved by a famous typhoon that blew away a Sino-Mongol invasion of 3,500 ships with more than 100,000 warriors under the command of the great Kublai Khan of China to invade Japan.