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WWII: The Battle for Leyte     ( 3 of 4 )


Japanese Navy

But the Japanese were preparing a trap for the American fleet. A decoy fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa lured Admiral William "Bull" Halsey's Task Force 34 north, away from Leyte, leaving the landing force highly exposed. Three other Japanese striking forces converged, while Nimitz frantically wired Halsey, "Where is Task Force 34...? The world wonders."

The Japanese plan would have worked had it not been for the courageous improvisation of Admiral Clifton Sprague's vastly outgunned task force, all that remained between the Japanese and the American invasion force. Their clever, vigorous attack convinced Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita that he was facing a formidable American group, and he withdrew through the San Bernardino Strait. Despite the debut of a deadly new Japanese weapon -- the kamikaze -- in the following days, the largest naval engagement in history had been decided in favor of the Americans.
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