Diary of Basilio J. Valdes

December 7, 1944 — Thursday

I found out that at 6 p.m. last night two Japanese transport planes using U.S. Army Air Corps radar IFF managed to come in for a landing. This was discovered before the first plane hit the ground. They found seven Japanese dead inside the plane. The second plane did not land and dropped a small bomb. It is feared that nine paratroopers may have landed somewhere in Tacloban. At the same time 6 p.m. the Japanese dropped 200 parachute troops in the vicinity of San Pablo. They captured the small landing strip in Buri and destroyed five piper cubs and blew up an ammunition dump. The Air Corps troops killed more than one half of the parachutists. The effort was a desperate attempt of the Japanese at diversion, and sabotage. The effort was a feeble one and promptly rendered abortive

The 77th Division of the XXIV Corps landed this morning in Ormoc bay in the enemy’s rear. In an amphibious operation with air and naval support, the troops went ashore three miles south of Ormoc and are rapidly advancing northward. The landing caught the enemy unaware on the west with his reserves already committed to meet our converging attacks from the north, east and south. The Japanese resistance to the landing was negligible and we had practically no losses. By this maneuver we have seized the center of the Yamashita line from the rear and have split the enemy’s forces in two, isolating those in the valley to the north from those along the coast to the south. Both segments are now caught between our columns which are pressing in from all fronts. Immediately, after our landing an enemy reinforcement convoy of thirteen vessels consisting of four large transports of 7000 to 8500 tons each, two freighter transports of 2500 tons each and seven destroyers and destroyer escorts was discovered approaching from the north with strong air cover. Our airforces immediately attacked and our own convoy was attacked by the enemy’s planes. A desperate melee resulted, in which all thirteen vessels in the enemy’s convoy were sunk without unloading. The transports were heavily packed with troops and 4000 were estimated as lost. We had one destroyer and one small transport hard hit by aerial torpedoes and after transferring the crews, abandoned the ships and sank them. Fifty-two enemy planes were shot down by army fighters and tem by Navy fighters — total 62. Major Richard Bong got two more making his total 38; Major John McGuire got three making his total 30; Major Johnston two — total 23, Colonel Charles McDonald three total 20. We lost five planes but rescued the pilots. At the end of the day our airforce spotted and sank six small craft loaded with troops along the northwest coast of Leyte.

Busy all day with the hearing of Bernardo Torres, collaborationist.

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