Leyte Gulf 1944(1)

...Campaign 370 from Osprey Publishing

Title: Leyte Gulf 1944(1)
Author: Mark Stille
Publisher: Osprey
ISBN: 978-1-4728-4281-7

The first of two planned volumes on the subject and this one tackles the Battles of the Sibuyan Sea and Samar, 2 of the 4 naval battles that over 2 days are remembered under the heading of Leyte Gulf. Number 370 in the Campaign series, a 96-page soft-cover book presented in the common style of the series.
The introduction explains the background, and includes some staggering numbers. While the Japanese mustered 69 major warships (from destroyer upwards to the 2 largest battleships ever built) and the US Navy had over 220, organised in 2 fleets. Incredible numbers by any standard. Next is a section looking at the commanders involved on both sides before going on to a more detailed look at the makeup of the Opposing Forces, which does include a listing of their respective Orders of Battle. The plans for each side come next, as the Japanese did have a good idea of what the USN were planning to do for their next offensive. Opening skirmishes involved air attacks off Formosa and USN submarines making an Ambush at Palawan. Then, in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, USN aircraft pounded, and finally sank the huge battleship Musashi, and that sequence of attacks is given in detail. Then there is the story of the decision by IJN Admiral Kurita to abandon his attempt to get his First Diversion Attack Force into Leyte Gulf itself, where it could have wrought havoc among the American invasion fleet. Then there is the account of the Battle off Samar, when Kurita's strong naval force came upon the USN Escort Carrier groups under USN Rear Admiral Sprague. A final part of the story which comes in at the end, is the record of the first Kamikaze attacks. Ending with a summary of the Aftermath, the results for both sides and assessment of Kurita's decision to exit the battle, that brings this first volume on the subject to a close.
Plenty of archive photos as ever throughout the book, along with some fine artwork as we'd expect and some very good colour diagrams showing the two sides/individual ships and the courses they took during the different encounters. An interesting read and good value for money for a nice clear assessment of the story of what happened back in 1944.
Thanks to Osprey for the review copy.

Robin