Takeo Kurita was born in Japan in 1889. He joined the Japanese Navy and by 1941 had reached the rank of rear admiral. On the outbreak of the Second World War he was given command of the Western Attack Group and successfully led the amphibious assault on Java on 28th February 1942.
At the battle of Midway Kurita served under Nobutake Kondo. He also directed the bombardment of Henderson Field on Guadalcana during October 1942. The following year he was given command of the 2nd Fleet and in June 1944, Kurita and Jisaburo Ozawa suffered a disastrous defeat at the Marianas.
When General Douglas MacArthur invaded the Philippines on 20th October 1944, Kurita led the campaign to oust the US troops. His plan to draw the US Navy from the San Bernardio Strait worked successfully when Admiral William Halsey headed north with 64 ships to attack Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa.
Kurita, leading the formidable First Striking Force, now planned to attack the remaining US ships in Leyte Gulf. However, on his way to San Bernardio Strait he was attacked by two US submarines and his ship, the Atago, was sunk. Kurita survived and now switched to the Yamato. He was then faced by a small group of US ships but believing he was outnumbered, ordered his ships to disengage.
Takeo Kurita, who was much criticized for his performance at Leyte Gulf, died in 1977.