Battle of Luzon

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Battle of Luzon
Part of the Philippines campaign (1944–1945) of World War II

A squad leader points out a suspected Japanese position at the edge of Balete Pass, near Baguio, where troops of the 25th Infantry Division are in fierce combat with Japanese forces. 23 March 1945.
Date9 January 1945 – 15 August 1945
Luzon, Philippines
Result Allied victory
Allies liberate the Luzon island group

 United States


Commanders and leaders

United StatesUnited States
Sixth Army (9 January-30 June 1945)[2]

  • 146,119 authorized, 143,993 assigned (17 Jan)
  • 247,085 authorized, 232,925 assigned (12 Feb)
  • 187,022 authorized, 179,746 assigned (30 Jun)
  • Total replacements 9 Jan-30 Jun: 51,940

Eighth Army (1 July-15 August 1945)[3]

  • 76,989 authorized, 72,922 actual (1 Jul)
  • 83,210 authorized, 80,305 actual (15 Aug)
  • Total replacements 1 Jul-15 Aug: 11,375

Fifth Air Force (During Sixth Army period)[4]

  • 550 fighters[a]
  • 192 light bombers[b]
  • 128 medium bombers[c]
  • 192 heavy bombers[d]
  • 66 reconnaissance[e]
  • 166 Marine SBDs
  • 1,294 total (2/3 operable)

(under USAFFE)[f]

  • 59,723 (Sixth Army phase)[5]
  • 43,000 (Eighth Army phase)[6]

Empire of JapanJapan
(Including Naval personnel)
US Post-battle Estimate[7]

  • 126,760 Mobile Combat
  • 35,580 Base Defense
  • 95,550 Service Troops
  • 257,890 Total (excludes ~13,000 laborers)

Per US Army Official History[8]

  • 275,685 (includes 23,500 civilians)
Casualties and losses
United States United States

Army Battle Casualties

  • Total[9][g]
  • 8,436 killed and missing
  • 32,129 wounded

Army Nonbattle Casualties

  • Sixth Army:[10]
  • 86,954 sick
  • 5 missing
  • 254 deaths
  • 6,209 injured
  • Eighth Army:[13]
  • 6,443 total

Navy, Merchant, Shipboard[h]

  • 13 Dec. 1944-13 Jan. 1945[14]
  • Includes Royal Australian Navy
  • 1,655 killed
  • 2,100 wounded
  • 24 ships sunk
  • 67 ships damaged

Philippines Philippines

  • USAFIP (NL):[15]
  • 1,441 killed
  • 84 missing
  • 3,475 wounded
  • Other guerrilla losses unknown
  • Mexico Mexico
  • 5 dead (non-combat)[16]
Empire of Japan Japan

Battle/Nonbattle Casualties


  • US estimate to 30 June 1945[21]
  • 308 tanks
  • 51 armored vehicles
  • 2,022 motor vehicles
  • 955 artillery pieces
  • 686 AA guns and cannon
  • 1,196 mortars (837 50 mm and "knee mortars")
  • 600 aircraft (13 Dec. to 13 Jan. 1945)[22]

Interned after 20 August 1945

  • 63,500+ survivors[23]

The Battle of Luzon (Tagalog: Labanan sa Luzon; Japanese: ルソン島の戦い; Spanish: Batalla de Luzón) was a land battle of the Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II by the Allied forces of the U.S., its colony the Philippines, and allies against forces of the Empire of Japan. The battle resulted in a U.S. and Filipino victory. The Allies had taken control of all strategically and economically important locations of Luzon by March 1945, although pockets of Japanese resistance held out in the mountains until the unconditional surrender of Japan.[24] While not the highest in U.S. casualties, it is the highest net casualty battle U.S. forces fought in World War II, with 192,000 to 217,000 Japanese combatants dead (mostly from starvation and disease),[25] 8,000 American combatants killed, and over 150,000 Filipinos, overwhelmingly civilians who were murdered by Japanese forces, mainly during the Manila massacre of February 1945.


The Philippines was considered to be of great strategic importance because their capture by Japan would pose a significant threat to the U.S. As a result, 135,000 troops and 227 aircraft were stationed in the Philippines by October 1941. However, Luzon—the largest island in the Philippines—was captured by Imperial Japanese forces in 1942. General Douglas MacArthur—who was in charge of the defense of the Philippines at the time—was ordered to Australia, and the remaining U.S. forces retreated to the Bataan Peninsula.[26]

A few months after this, MacArthur expressed his belief that an attempt to recapture the Philippines was necessary. The U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Chester Nimitz and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest King both opposed this idea, arguing that it must wait until victory was certain. MacArthur had to wait two years for his wish; it was 1944 before a campaign to recapture the Philippines was launched. The island of Leyte was the first objective of the campaign, which was captured by the end of December 1944. This was followed by the attack on Mindoro, and later, Luzon.[26]


Before U.S. forces could launch the attack on Luzon, a base of operation needed to be established close to the island. Airbases in particular had to be established in order to provide the advancing troops with air support. Troops under Brigadier General William C. Dunckel captured the island of Mindoro, with the assistance of the 7th Fleet. By 28 December, two airbases were controlled by the U.S. and were ready to assist in the attack on Luzon, which was scheduled to be launched on 9 January 1945. With the capture of Mindoro, U.S. forces were positioned south of Luzon. However, MacArthur intended to land his forces at Lingayen, further north.[27] This would place his troops close to several roads and railways on Luzon, which led to Manila—the main objective—through the plains in the center of the island.[24]

Deception operations[edit]

U.S. aircraft constantly made reconnaissance and bombing flights over southern Luzon, intending to deceive the Japanese forces into believing that the attack on Luzon would come from the south. In addition, transport aircraft were used to make parachute drops with dummies. Minesweepers were used to clear the bays of Balayan, Batangas, and Tayabas, located to the south of Luzon, and Filipino resistance fighters conducted sabotage operations in southern Luzon. These deception operations failed to convince General Yamashita, the leader of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines, and he built significant defensive positions in the hills and mountains surrounding Lingayen Gulf in Northern Luzon.[27]

Opposing forces[edit]


Theatre and ground force commanders for the liberation of the Philippines
Gen. Douglas MacArthur
Walter Krueger as a full general
Naval and ground commanders for
Lingayen area
Vice Adm. Theodore S. Wilkinson
Oscar W. Griswold as a lieut. general
Naval and ground commanders for
San Fabian area
Vice Adm. Daniel E. Barbey
Major Gen. Innis P. Swift
US Army artillery preserved
105mm gun
155mm gun

Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific Area[28]
General Douglas MacArthur

US Sixth Army (193,901 officers and enlisted)
Lieutenant General Walter Krueger

Western Landing Area (Lingayen)

XIV Army Corps
Major General Oscar W. Griswold
Embarked in Task Force 79 (Vice Adm. Theodore S. Wilkinson)
Left (Crimson and Yellow) beaches
37th Infantry ("Buckeye") Division
Major General Robert S. Beightler
129th Infantry Regiment
145th Infantry Regiment
148th Infantry Regiment
6th, 135th, 140th Field Artillery Bttns. (105mm)
136th Field Artillery Bttn. (155mm)
Right (Orange and Green) beaches
40th Infantry ("Sunshine") Division
Major General I. Rapp Brush
108th Infantry Regiment
160th Infantry Regiment
185th Infantry Regiment
143rd, 164th, 213th Field Artillery Bttns. (105mm)
222nd Field Artillery Bttn. (155mm)

Eastern Landing Area (San Fabian)

I Army Corps
Major General Innis P. Swift
Embarked in Task Force 78 (Vice Adm. Daniel E. Barbey)
Left (White) beaches
43rd Infantry ("Winged Victory") Division
Major General Leonard F. Wing
103rd Infantry Regiment
169th Infantry Regiment
172nd Infantry Regiment
103rd, 152nd, 169th Field Artillery Bttns. (105mm)
192nd Field Artillery Bttn. (155mm)
Right (Blue) beaches
6th Infantry ("Red Star") Division
Major General Edwin D. Patrick [l]
1st Infantry Regiment
20th Infantry Regiment
63rd Infantry Regiment
1st, 51st, 53rd Field Artillery Bttns. (105mm)
80th Field Artillery Bttn. (155mm)


Lt. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita

Fourteenth Area Army[m][28]
General Tomoyuki Yamashita[n]

Northern Luzon

Shobu Group (Gen. Yamashita)
approx. 152,000 officers and enlisted

Central Luzon

Kembu Group (Lieut. Gen. Rikichi Tsukada)
approx. 30,000 officers and enlisted

Southern Luzon

Shimbu Group (Lieut. Gen. Shizuo Yokoyama)
approx. 80,000 officers and enlisted


The battleships Pennsylvania and Colorado lead three heavy cruisers into Lingayen Gulf for the pre-assault bombardment of Japanese shore positions

The assault on Luzon was launched, as planned, on 9 January 1945, codenamed S-day. The Japanese forces reported more than 70 Allied warships entering Lingayen Gulf, though the total Allied invasion force involved that month would equal close to 800 ships. Pre-assault bombardment of Japanese shore positions from roughly 70 battleships and cruisers began at 7:00. The landings were commenced an hour later.[29] The landing forces faced strong opposition from Japanese kamikaze aircraft. The escort carrier Ommaney Bay was destroyed by a kamikaze attack, with a total of around 47 ships damaged, and four sunk, on January 3–13, primarily by kamikazes.[30] [27] Aircraft from the 3rd Fleet assisted the landings with close air support, strafing and bombing Japanese gun positions.[31]

Captain Radamés Gaxiola of Escuadrón 201 stands in front of his P-47D with his maintenance team after returning from a combat mission over Luzon.

The landings at Lingayen Gulf on 9 January were carried out by the 6th Army under the command of General Walter Krueger. Approximately 175,000 troops from the 6th Army landed along the 20-mile (32 km) beachhead within a few days, while the I Corps protected their flanks. XIV Corps under General Oscar Griswold then advanced south toward Manila, despite Krueger's concerns that his eastern flank was unprotected and vulnerable if the Japanese forces attacked. However, no such attack occurred, and the U.S. forces did not meet much resistance until they reached the Clark Air Base on 23 January. The battle there lasted until the end of January, and after capturing the base, XIV Corps advanced toward Manila.[24]

The first wave of troops approaching the beaches of Luzon.

A second amphibious landing took place on 15 January, 45 mi (72 km) southwest of Manila. On 31 January, two regiments of the 11th Airborne Division made an airborne assault, capturing a bridge, and later advanced toward Manila. On 3 February, the 1st Cavalry Division captured the bridge across Tullahan River leading to the city. They advanced into the city that evening, beginning the battle for the capture of Manila. On 4 February, the paratroopers of the 11th Airborne—approaching the city from the south—came to the main Japanese defences south of the city of Manila where their advance was halted by heavy resistance. General Yamashita had ordered his troops to destroy all bridges and other vital installations as soon as the U.S. forces entered the city, and Japanese forces entrenched throughout the city continued to resist U.S. forces. General MacArthur announced the imminent recapture of Manila on the same day. On 11 February, the 11th Airborne Division captured the last Japanese outer defences, thus encircling the whole city. U.S. and Filipino forces carried out clearing operations in the city in the following weeks.[24] Military casualties totalled 1,010 Americans, 3,079 Filipinos and 12,000 Japanese.[citation needed]

In the campaign to recapture the island of Luzon in the Philippines, American planes dropped more than one million gallons of napalm in support of ground forces.[32] The weapon attracted little attention during World War II in part because the name “napalm” was classified.[33]


Battles continued throughout the island of Luzon in the following weeks, with more U.S. troops having landed on the island. Filipino and American resistance fighters also attacked Japanese positions and secured several locations.[34] The Allies had taken control of all strategically and economically important locations of Luzon by early March. Small groups of the remaining Japanese forces retreated to the mountainous areas in the north and southeast of the island, where they were besieged for months. Pockets of Japanese soldiers held out in the mountains—most ceasing resistance with the unconditional surrender of Japan, but a scattered few holding out for many years afterwards.[24] Total Japanese losses were 217,000 dead and 9,050 taken prisoner.[35] U.S. losses were 8,310 killed and 29,560 wounded. Civilian casualties are estimated at 120,000 to 140,000 dead.[36]


Weapons on hand and ammunition expended by Sixth Army units, 9 January 1945 to 30 June 1945, exclusive of Eighth Army phase (173 days):[37]

Item/Ammunition Type Ammunition Expended Average per Day Maximum number of weapons
Carbine 12,992,493 75,101 77,773
Automatic Rifle 11,467,625 66,267 3,145 BAR, 3,212 '03 Rifle
M1 Rifle 22,388,947 129,416 58,380
.30 cal. MG 25,257,659 145,998 5,369
.45 cal. pistol 7,102,776 41,057 9,664 pistol, 13,533 SMG
.50 cal. MG 4,318,847 24,964 3,756 ground, 1,829 AA
40 mm AA gun 33,053 191 280
90 mm AA gun 44,570 258 102
37 mm Tank & AT gun 64,524 373 116 Tank, 355 AT
37 mm T-32 10,818 63 33
57 mm AT gun 25,244 146 235
60 mm mortar 691,969 4,000 892
81 mm mortar 1,061,620 6,136 559
75 mm Tank gun 81,524 471 229
76 mm AT gun 15,398 89 36
3 inch (76.2 mm) AT gun 10,948 63 72
75 mm howitzer 144,959 898 52 Field Artillery, 21 LVT/SP
105 mm howitzer M2A1 689,010 9,763 380 Field Artillery, 135 SP-Tank, 10 Tank
105 mm howitzer M3 17,296 141 12
155 mm howitzer M1 384,288 2,220 180
Launcher, rocket, 2.36 inch 83,494 483 5,892
Rifle & Carbine grenades 117,322 678 18,250 launchers
Hand grenades 841,413 4,864 --
155 mm gun 56,424 326 36
8 inch (203 mm) howitzer 14,026 92 12
240 mm howitzer 5,445 41 6
Land mines/Bangalore torpedoes 11,923 69 --
Artillery fuses 374,493 2,165 --
Flares, signals, projectors 36,978 214 --
Total Tonnage Expended (short tons) 111,327 644 --

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 225 P-51, 225 P-28, 100 P-47
  2. ^ all A-20s
  3. ^ all B-25s
  4. ^ all B-24s
  5. ^ 16 B-25, 50 P-51
  6. ^ Includes only those guerrillas who were 'actively supporting the efforts of the US Army.'
  7. ^ Sixth Army's After Action Report gives 8,297 killed and missing and 29,557 wounded from 9 January to 30 June 1945.[10] Eighth Army's After Action Report gives 643 battle casualties from 1 July to 15 August (147 killed, 21 died of wounds, 1 missing, and 474 wounded.).[11] The Operational Monograph of the Luzon mop-up gives 655 casualties until 20 August (149 killed, 505 wounded, 1 missing.[12] Casualties to Army Air Force, Navy, and RAAF units other than those directly attached are omitted, even if they occurred in the area of operations.
  8. ^ Includes approximately 150 US Army soldiers killed and 200 wounded. It's uncertain whether these losses are included in the overall total listed above.
  9. ^ According to Japanese estimates, up to 80% of their deaths in the Philippines were from non-combat causes[17] Comparing figures published in the Sixth Army's after action report and JM-7, the American figure for counted dead after 27 days (17,724 and 179 prisoners[18]) exceeds the Fourteenth Area Army's self reported total of 6,500 killed and wounded[19] one month after S-Day by 2.75 times. JM-7 reports that by the beginning of April 1945 shortages of foodstuffs had "greatly weakened" the Fourteenth Area Army's fighting power around Baguio.[20]
  10. ^ Sixth Army reported 173,563 counted dead from 9 January to 30 June 1945. Eighth Army reported 20,301-20,311 from 1 July to 20 August, a total of 193,864 or 193,874.
  11. ^ Sixth Army reported taking 4,072 prisoners from 9 January to 30 June 1945. Eighth Army reported 2,396-2,397 from 1 July to 20 August, a total of 6,468 or 6,469.
  12. ^ Killed in action east of Manila. Patrick was mortally wounded by Japanese machine gun fire and died the following day.
  13. ^ A Japanese area army was equivalent to a Euro-American army. (A Japanese army was equivalent to a Euro-American corps.)
  14. ^ Hanged after the war for atrocities committed by troops under his command.


  1. ^ Escuadrón 201, a Mexican fighter–bomber squadron that participated during the last phase of the battle.
  2. ^ Report of Luzon Operation, vol. III pp. 4-5, 8. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  3. ^ Report of Commanding General, Eighth Army on Luzon mop-up Operation p. 38. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  4. ^ Report of Luzon Campaign vol. I pp. 100-101. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  5. ^ Report of Luzon Operation, vol. III p. 3. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  6. ^ Operational Monograph of Luzon mop-up p. 7. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  7. ^ Enemy on Luzon: An Intelligence Summary p. 152. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  8. ^ [1] Smith, "Triumph in the Philippines"] p. 694 Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  9. ^ a b "The War With Japan" Part 3, p. 95. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  10. ^ a b Report of Luzon Operation, vol. III p. 7. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  11. ^ Report of Commanding General, Eighth Army on Luzon mop-up Operation p. 35. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  12. ^ Operational Monograph of Luzon mop-up p. 58. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  13. ^ Report of Commanding General, Eighth Army on Luzon mop-up Operation p. 52. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  14. ^ Smith, "Triumph in the Philippines" pp. 65-66
  15. ^ Liberation of Northern Luzon (after-battle Report) p. 110. Retrieved 29 Feb. 2024
  16. ^ Vega, J. G.; (March 1997); The Mexican Expeditionary Air Force in World War II:The Organization, Training, and Operations of the 201st Squadron; (Mexico); Retrieved 2 October 2019
  17. ^ John Dower, "Lessons from Iwo Jima" quoting Akira Fujiwara, Uejinishita Eireitachi ("The War Dead Who Starved to Death"). Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  18. ^ Report of Luzon Campaign vol. I p. 36. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  19. ^ JM-7 p. 100. Retrieved 23 Dec. 2023
  20. ^ JM-7 p. 135. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  21. ^ Enemy on Luzon: An Intelligence Summary pp. 221-222 Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  22. ^ Smith, "Triumph in the Philippines" pp. 65-66
  23. ^ Report of Commanding General, Eighth Army on Luzon mop-up Operation p. 41. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023
  24. ^ a b c d e "Luzon 1944–1945". Archived from the original on 15 December 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  25. ^ Spector, Eagle Against the Sun, p. 529
  26. ^ a b "The Philippines". Archived from the original on 22 February 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  27. ^ a b c C. Peter Chen. "Philippines Campaign, Phase 2". Archived from the original on 15 December 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  28. ^ a b Chun, Clayton K.S. (2017). Luzon 1945: The final liberation of the Philippines. Oxford. ISBN 978-1-47281-628-3.
  29. ^ "The Battle of Luzon Compared With Other Battles of World War II". Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  30. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (2001) [First published 1959]. The Liberation of the Philippines, Luzon, Mindanao, the Visayas, 1944–1945. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. XIII. Edison, New Jersey: Castle Books. pp. 325–326.
  31. ^ "Target: Luzon". Time. 15 January 1945. Archived from the original on 15 December 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  32. ^ Brooks E. Kleber and Dale Birdsell, The Chemical Warfare Service: Chemicals in Combat (Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1966), 628, 630-35. The United States military used napalm as a tactical weapon in support of ground forces during World War II.
  33. ^ Louis F. Fieser, The Scientific Method: A Personal Account of Unusual Projects in War and in Peace (New York: Reinhold, 1964, box 764, Chronological File 1949-June 1954, Office of Security Review, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative and Public Affairs, RG 330, NA.
  34. ^ "The Guerrilla War". American Experience. PBS. Archived from the original on 25 February 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  35. ^ "The Philippines (Leyte Gulf)". The War. WETA. September 2007. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2017. The Battle for Luzon cost Japan some 217,000 killed and 9,050 captured.
  36. ^ Smith, Triumph in the Philippines Appendix H. Archived 24 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine . Page 692
  37. ^ Report of Luzon Operation, vol. III pp. 103-108. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2023

Further reading[edit]

Smith, Robert Ross (2005). Triumph in the Philippines: The War in the Pacific. University Press of the Pacific. ISBN 1-4102-2495-3.

External links[edit]