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United States Military Academy Library

Luzon: Getting Started

Introduction to the liberation of Luzon, 1945

Following the liberation of the island of Leyte, the American strategists faced a decision regarding their next major geographic stepping stone on the way to Japan. After considering an assault on the island of Formosa, American leaders settled on a campaign to retake the island of Luzon.  Aware that Luzon had suffered under Japanese occupation for four years, American leaders looked forward to liberating the main island of the archipelago and the site of the capital of the Philippine Commonwealth. 


Prior to starting your research, familiarize yourself fully with the assignment instructions and any specific guidance you have received from your instructor.  Follow those instructions.  The contents of this help guide are relevant to all HI 302 sections with a WR assignment on the campaign in Luzon, but some instructors may have provided cadets in their section(s) with specific additional and/or modified instructions.  Therefore some of the resources on this help guide may be also linked from any written guidance you received, but in many cases this guide provides additional explanatory notes, etc. for those resources as well as additional ones.

Starting Your Research

Before you conduct research with primary source materials, you will need a general understanding of the basic course of the campaign.  Read several scholarly secondary sources to gain an overview of the general course of events, the overall strategic setting, the commanders and units involved, and the main issues each side faced.   By doing so you will gain an understanding of the historical context of the primary sources you will examine.


A very general overview of the campaign in the Philippines in 1945 is available in the relevant section of your textbook, West Point History of Warfare.  After reading that you should, of course, move on to more detailed scholarly secondary sources.  Several useful ones are available from the U.S. Army Center of Military History.  Reasonable next steps are the U.S. Army Center of Military History study by Andrade (linked below, referred to in your assignment instructions, and also available on the Luzon research paper materials on your Microsoft Teams site).


Once you have identified a research question and specific topic for your paper, it may be helpful to read more deeply on parts of the campaign relevant to your topic.  A useful secondary source for this stage is Robert Ross Smith's Triumph in the Philippines the Center of Military History "Green series" volume on the Luzon campaign (see under "Additional Secondary Sources"  tab at the top of this page).

Geography and Terrain

As you read introductory material to familiarize yourself with the campaign and as you conduct your research in primary sources, you will find it helpful to refer to maps.  Additional detailed maps are available in both the shorter work by Andrade and in the "Green Series" volume by Smith.


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