The Battle of Leyte Gulf: The Last Fleet Action

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Indiana University Press, Aug 19, 2005 - History - 416 pages

"The Battle of Leyte Gulf was an extremely unusual battle. It was unusual on five separate counts that are so obvious that they are usually missed. It was unusual in that it was a series of actions, not a single battle. It was unusual as a naval battle in that it was fought over five days; historically, naval battles have seldom spread themselves over more than one or two days. It was unusual in terms of its name. This battle involved a series of related actions subsequently grouped together under the name of just one of these engagements, but in fact none of the actions were fought inside Leyte Gulf.... More importantly, it was unusual in that it was a full-scale fleet action fought after the issue of victory and defeat at sea had been decided, and it was unusual in that it resulted in clear, overwhelming victory and defeat." -- from Chapter One

The Battle of Leyte Gulf -- October 22-28, 1944 -- was the greatest naval engagement in history. In fact the battle was four separate actions, none of which were fought in the Gulf itself, and the result was the destruction of Japanese naval power in the Pacific. This book is a detailed and comprehensive account of the fighting from both sides. It provides the context of the battle, most obviously in terms of Japanese calculations and the search for "a fitting place to die" and "the chance to bloom as flowers of death." Using Japanese material never previously noted in western accounts, H.P. Willmott provides new perspectives on the unfolding of the battle and very deliberately seeks to give readers a proper understanding of the importance of this battle for American naval operations in the following month. This careful interrogation of the accounts of "the last fleet action" is a significant contribution to military history.


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One The Nature of War and of Victory
The American Situation in the Aftermath of the Victoryin the Philippine Sea
The Japanese Situation in the Aftermath of Defeat in the Philippine Sea
618 October 1944
1824 October 1944
25 October 1944
The Postscript 26 October30 November 1944
Blame Responsibility and the Verdict of History
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Secondary Sources

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About the author (2005)

H. P. Willmott has written extensively on warfare in general and the Second World War in particular. Among his books are Empires in the Balance; The Barrier and the Javelin; The Great Crusade (a military reinterpretation of the Second World War); Grave of a Dozen Schemes: British Naval Planning and the War against Japan, 1943--1945; and When Men Lost Faith in Reason: Reflections on Warfare in the Twentieth Century. He lives in Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey.

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