Soldier fighting on the beach, Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines
Leyte, landing craft on the beach, 1944

On October 18, a convoy of ships carrying the troops of the 49th left Hollandia. Rumors of the destination abounded, and were soon confirmed: The Philippines. The 49th Group Headquarters was to be set up at Tacloban, the major city of Leyte.

"Monsoon rains and frequent Japanese air attacks during the week following the capture of Tacloban airfield made it difficult for the engineers to lay the 2500 feet of steel matting for a runway for the waiting Fifth Air Force fighters on Morotai. . . . . When the first two squadrons of P-38s landed at the field on October 27, [General] MacArthur and Kenney were waiting to greet the pilots as they stepped down from their fighters."
Air Chronicles

"... generals and brass always seem to know when it's time to exit. The jeeps had only been gone a short time when all hell broke loose. It sounded like a thousand antiaircraft guns opened up all at once, and within seconds, the sky was filled with strings of fireballs and puffs of flak…

"The airstrip was on the tip of the narrow, two-mile-long peninsula of Cataisan. To the northwest was San Pedro Bay and to the east, the Philippine Sea. There weren't any protective revetments and no room to do anything but park our aircraft wingtip to wingtip off in the mud. It was a mess! Bulldozers pushed the Navy wrecks into piles, while Corps of Engineer crews raced to lay down additional steel matting. We heard big guns and saw several fires and billowing black smoke."
- Flight Journal: Terrors of Tacloban

Aerial image of ships docked at Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines 1944
David Atkinson 2017. All Rights Reserved.