Leyte Landing Memorial - History and Facts | History Hit

Leyte Landing Memorial

Baras, Leyte, Philippines

The Leyte Landing Memorial commemorates a vital point in the World War II Battle of Leyte, when American forces landed.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Leyte Landing Memorial

The Leyte Landing Memorial commemorates a vital point in the World War Two Battle of Leyte, when American forces landed. The Leyte Landing Memorial is located at the very place where General Douglas MacArthur led American liberation troops onto Red Beach in Palo in the Philippines.

Leyte Landing Memorial history

Part of the Pacific campaign of the war, the Battle of Leyte began on 17 October 1944 and saw American and Australian troops work together with Filipino guerrilla forces to invade and capture this area from the Japanese.

When US forces were forced to make a hasty retreat from the Philippines in December 1941, control of the area was relinquished to the invading Japanese. General Douglas MacArthur made a famous speech, stating that “I shall return”. The Philippines endured three brutal years of occupation but on 20 October 1944 US forces returned led by General MacArthur. Famous footage shows MacArthur wading knee-deep ashore on Red Beach in Palo, 10km south of Tacloban, accompanied by a group of high-ranking soldiers, including the future Filipino President Sergio Osmeña. His return speech began with, ‘People of the Philippines, I have returned’.

Known as the A-Day Landing, photographer Gaetano Faillace captured the significant moment of MacArthur and his entourage wading ashore on film. Consequently, it became one of the most iconic photographs of World War II. For this reason, the Leyte Landing memorial comprises seven bronze statues portraying the A-Day Landing.

The statues were designed by sculptor Anastacio Caedo and stand at almost 10-feet tall. They were officially inaugurated in 1981 at the 37th anniversary of the A-Day Landing. In front of the sculpture, two information plaques – one in Filipino and one in English – describe the symbolism of the statue and the reasoning for being positioned there.

Within the park, there is also a small museum that contains a selection of photographs, a copy of MacArthur’s speech and a diverse selection of items collected to reflect MacArthur’s involvement in the Philippines throughout World War Two. Ceremonies are held annually on the 20th of October to mark the Leyte Gulf landing and the subsequent Allied victory.

The Battle of Leyte is also linked to the famous naval clash known as the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which took place in the nearby waters. This is commemorated in San Diego in the United States, at the Battle of Leyte Gulf Memorial.

Leyte Landing Memorial today

Today, the Leyte Landing Memorial dramatically depicts the moment on 20 October 1944 that General MacArthur waded through the water with his men. It is part of the Leyte Landing Memorial Park, previously known as MacArthur Memorial Park or Imelda Park.

The park is the site of the annual memorial rites and re-enactment of the historic landing attended by local and foreign dignitaries together with war veterans and their families. In November 2013, the memorial was damaged by Typhoon Haiyan with one of its seven statues knocked from its base. It was immediately repaired by the government and the statue was restored.

Getting to Leyte Landing Memorial

Going there from downtown Tacloban, one can ride a Campetic bound multicab or jeepneys going to Palo, Tolosa or Dulag and get off at Campetic Junction and the fare is P10 per person.

There are jeepneys and pedicabs from the junction that can take you to Leyte Landing Memorial for P10 per person.