Raiders of Leyte Gulf (1963)




Director:     Eddie Romero

Starring:     Jennings Sturgeon (Emmett Wilson), Michael Parsons (Lieutenant Robert Grimm), Efren Reyes (Captain Shirai Akira), Eddie Mesa (Angel Zabala), Leopoldo Salcedo (Colonel Lino Sebastian), Liza Moreno (Aida Rivas), Oscar Keesee Jr. (Leon Magpayo).

With the help of a few Americans, Philippine guerrilla fighters attack the Japanese in their country as MacArthur and his troops come ashore to rescue American POWs. 



Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the movie.

1944. The action in the Pacific moves to the Philippines. The goal of the United States is to attack the Island of Leyte.

The Japanese capture Major Wilson of the United State army. He is taken in to see the head of the Japanese forces in the area, Captain Shirai Akira. The Captain tells him that he is somewhat of a local hero in the Philippines. Major Wilson objects that he was twelve years old when he left the Philippines. Then the Captain tells Wilson that he was examining Japanese coastal defenses: "You are a captured spy." Captain Shirai Akira seems to enjoy telling his captive that he can kill him any time he feels like it.

Lieutenant Robert Grimm arrives in the Philippines by parachute. His job is to free Major Wilson from the Japanese. Grimm meets the head of the local Philippine forces, Colonel Lino Sebastian. The Colonel tells Grimm that the Japanese now only have a company of soldiers to impose them. But the Philippine fighters need training. There is an unspoken truce between the Japanese and the Philippine forces to stay out of each otherís way. The Filipinos worry that if they make a local attack, the 20,000 people in Sudentown will be placed at the murderous mercy of the Japanese.

A local nurse who works with the Filipino forces, Aida Rivas, takes an immediate liking to Lt. Grimm. In turn the Lt. shows an interest in the pretty Filipino nurse.

Captain Shirai Akira has Major Wilson tortured. He later comes to Major Wilson to tell him that he regrets the nature of his duty, but he has to carry out his orders. The Major tells him "Iím sorry, I cannot help you." This makes the Japanese captain very angry.

Lt. Grimm gets the Filipinos to agree to make an attack on the Japanese in order to free Major Wilson. At 2 p.m. Grimm and the main body of troop attack the water tower. As planned, Captain Shirai Akira gets a truck full of his troops out to the water tower to oppose the attack.

Meanwhile, a small group of Filipinos attack the main Japanese barracks. But the man in charge, Angel Zabala, fails miserably in his attempt to grab Major Wilson. He was only yards from the hiding place for the Major, but he turned away without grabbing the prisoner from his only two Japanese guards.  The problem is that the Japanese commander realized that he was facing a mere diversion and returned with his soldiers to the barracks.  This scared Angel into abandoning the search for the major too quickly. 

The mission failed. The Japanese chase the Filipino forces into the mountains. The fighting becomes very fierce with both sides losing quite a few men.

The Japanese commander, on a virtual whim, lets Wilson out of his jail cell. Only one Japanese guard watches the major who is free to walk around the village. The major finds shelter with Leon Magpayo and his family.

The Filipino guerilla fighters start to fight amongst themselves. Angel, who led the unsuccessful raid on the Japanese barracks, wants to attack the Japanese again and again, while the commander of the guerilla forces wants to retreat to the mountains. The two groups come to blows. Lt. Grimm, firing his automatic weapon, has to stop the in-fighting. The commander reluctantly agrees with Angel to attack the Japanese again.

Taking revenge on the villagers for the raids on the water tower and the barracks, the Japanese start publicly bayoneting to death one Filipino prisoner a day. This is very demoralizing for the villagers.

Aida talks with Lt. Grimm. She explains that she is a trained nurse. She was married for three months when the Japanese came. Since her husband decided to stay in the village rather than escape to the mountains, two Filipinos from the mountains shot her husband dead as a suspected cooperator. Lt. Grimm and Aida start kissing.

By now the villagers have come to believe that the zombie-like Major Wilson is an informer for the Japanese. The people of the town will try to leave the village at night. But Lt. Grimm gets a message to them to act as a diversion for an armed attack on the Japanese. At night different groups of villagers approach the various checkpoints. The Japanese soldiers start to fire on them killing many. Villager Leon Magpayo shoots Major Wilson because he believes that the major was informing on the villagers. The Japanese commander goes to check on Wilson and Wilson stabs him with a Japanese bayonet. The Japanese captain then finishes off Wilson.

The guerrillas enter the town. The guerrilla commander is killed. Lt. Grimm finds the dead bodies of both Wilson and the Japanese commander.

Lt. Grimm has to leave Aida behind as he returns to the American forces.

Using real newsreel footage, we watch as Gen. MacArthur returns to the Philippines.


An o.k. movie.  Nothing special. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

Historical Background:


1944 (June)  --  Allied victory in the Battle of the Philippine Sea destroyed Japanese carrier power.  The Allies now held both air and sea superiority over the Western Pacific.

1944 (October 12)  --   Admiral Nimitz launched a carrier raid against Formosa (Taiwan now) to make sure that the Japanese planes based there could not intervene in a planned attack at Leyte.  The Japanese responded by launching waves of attacks against the American carriers.  The Japanese lost 600 planes in three days of battle.  The loss of Japanese air power was almost complete, leaving the Japanese navy without air cover.

1944 (October 21)  --  the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Australia was hit. 

1944 (October 23 to October 26)  --  the Battle of Leyte Gulf occurred around the island of Leyte in the Philippines.  It was the largest naval battle in history and one of the last major sea battles to use traditional line of battle tactics. 

The goal of the Japanese was to repel or destroy the Allied invasion of Leyte. To accomplish this goal, the Japanese made their first use of kamikaze aircraft. 

1944 (October 25)  --  the Japanese organized suicide attacks by the "Special Attack Force".

The Japanese did not succeed in their goal.  Instead, the Allies inflicted a major defeat on the outnumbered Imperial Japanese Navy. This ended Japan's strategic force in the Pacific.




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