WWII: The Battle for Leyte ( 1 of 4 )
One of the most memorable images of World War II is that of MacArthur wading ashore at Leyte, making good on his pledge to return to and liberate his beloved Philippines. But often lost in the story is the epic battle being waged around him, which included the greatest naval engagement in history and a long, difficult land campaign.
As both prongs of the Allied advance -- MacArthur's and Nimitz's -- gained speed in 1944, the Japanese grew determined to make a stand in the Philippines. Most American war planners expected the greatest resistance in Luzon, where Japanese air bases in China, Formosa, Okinawa and Indochina could play a decisive role. But the Japanese defense plan, code-named "Sho-1," called for a massive commitment at Leyte to cripple the American fleet and destroy the invading force. The plan nearly worked.