The Battle of Manila (Filipino: Labanan sa Maynila) (3 February –3 March 1945) was a major battle of the Philippine campaign of 1944-45, during the Second World War. It was fought by American forces from both the U.S. mainland and the Philippines against Japanese troops in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. The month-long battle, which resulted in the death of over 100,000 civilians and the complete devastation of the city, was the scene of the worst urban fighting in the Pacific theater. Japanese forces committed mass murder against Filipino civilians during the battle. Along with massive loss of life, the battle also destroyed architectural and cultural heritage dating back to the city's foundation. The battle ended the almost three years of Japanese military occupation in the Philippines (1942–1945). The city's capture was marked as General Douglas MacArthur's key to victory in the campaign of reconquest. It is the last of the many battles fought within Manila's history.
Filipino is the national language of the Philippines. Filipino is also designated, along with English, as an official language of the country. It is a standardized variety of the Tagalog language, an Austronesian regional language that is widely spoken in the Philippines. As of 2007, Tagalog is the first language of 28 million people, or about one-third of the Philippine population, while 45 million speak Tagalog as their second language. Tagalog is among the 185 languages of the Philippines identified in the Ethnologue. Officially, Filipino is defined by the Commission on the Filipino Language as "the native dialect, spoken and written, in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region, and in other urban centers of the archipelago."
The Commonwealth of the Philippines was the administrative body that governed the Philippines from 1935 to 1946, aside from a period of exile in the Second World War from 1942 to 1945 when Japan occupied the country. It replaced the Insular Government, a United States territorial government, and was established by the Tydings–McDuffie Act. The Commonwealth was designed as a transitional administration in preparation for the country's full achievement of independence.
Manila, officially the City of Manila, is the capital of the Philippines. As of 2018 it was the most densely populated city proper in the world. It was the first chartered city by virtue of the Philippine Commission Act 183 on July 31, 1901 and gained autonomy with the passage of Republic Act No. 409 or the "Revised Charter of the City of Manila" on June 18, 1949. Manila, alongside Mexico City and Madrid are considered the world's original set of Global Cities due to Manila's commercial networks being the first to traverse the Pacific Ocean, thus connecting Asia with the Spanish Americas, marking the first time in world history when an uninterrupted chain of trade routes circled the planet. Manila has been damaged by and rebuilt from wars more times than the famed city of Troy and it is also the second most natural disaster afflicted capital city in the world next to Tokyo yet it is simultaneously among the most populous and most wealthy cities in Southeast Asia.
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On 9 January 1945, the Sixth U.S. Army under Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger waded ashore at Lingayen Gulf and began a rapid drive south in the Battle of Luzon. On 12 Jan., MacArthur ordered Krueger to advance rapidly to Manila. 83 The 37th Infantry Division, under the command of Major Gen. Robert S. Beightler, headed south. :84:
Sixth Army is a field army of the United States Army. The Army service component command of United States Southern Command, its area of responsibility includes 31 countries and 15 areas of special sovereignty in Central and South America and the Caribbean. It is headquartered at Fort Sam Houston.
Walter Krueger was an American soldier and general officer in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his command of the Sixth United States Army in the South West Pacific Area during World War II. He rose from the rank of private to general in the United States Army.
The Lingayen Gulf is a large gulf on northwestern Luzon in the Philippines, stretching 56 km (35 mi). It is framed by the provinces of Pangasinan and La Union and sits between the Zambales Mountains and the Cordillera Central. The Agno River drains into Lingayen Gulf.
After landing at San Fabian on 27 Jan., the 1st Cavalry Division, under the command of Major Gen. Vernon D. Mudge, was ordered by MacArthur on 31 Jan., to "Get to Manila! Free the internees at Santo Tomas. Take Malacanang Palace and the Legislative Building.". 83–84:
The 1st Cavalry Division is a combined arms division and is one of the most decorated combat divisions of the United States Army. It is based at Fort Hood, Texas. It was formed in 1921 and served during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, with the Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the Iraq War, in the War in Afghanistan and in Operation Freedom's Sentinel. As of October 2017, the 1st Cavalry Division is subordinate to III Corps and is commanded by Major General Paul T. Calvert.
On 31 January, the Eighth United States Army of Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger, consisting of the 187th and 188th Glider Infantry Regiments of Col. Robert H. Soule, and components of the U.S. 11th Airborne Division under Maj. Gen. Joseph Swing, landed unopposed at Nasugbu in southern Luzon and began moving north toward Manila. 182 Meanwhile, the 11th A/B Division's 511th Regimental Combat Team, commanded by Col. Orin D. "Hard Rock" Haugen, parachuted onto Tagaytay Ridge on 4 February. :85–87 On 10 Feb., the 11th Airborne Division came under the command of the Sixth Army, and seized Fort William McKinley on 17 Feb. :89:
The Eighth United States Army (EUSA) is a U.S. field army which is the commanding formation of all United States Army forces in South Korea. It commands U.S. and South Korean units and is headquartered at the United States Army Garrison-Humphreys, in the Anjeong-ri of Pyeongtaek, South Korea.
Robert Lawrence Eichelberger was a general officer in the United States Army who commanded the Eighth United States Army in the Southwest Pacific Area during World War II.
Nasugbu, officially the Municipality of Nasugbu,, is a 1st class municipality in the province of Batangas, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 134,113 people.
Swing was joined by the Hunters ROTC Filipino guerrillas, under the command of Lt. Col. Emmanuel V. de Ocampo, and by 5 Feb., they were on the outskirts of Manila. 87:
The Hunters ROTC was a Filipino guerrilla unit active during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, and was the main anti-Japanese guerrilla group active in the area near the Philippine capital of Manila. It was created upon the dissolution of the Philippine Military Academy. Cadet Terry Adevoso, refused to simply go home as cadets were ordered to do, and began recruiting fighters willing to undertake guerrilla action against the Japanese. This force provided intelligence to the liberating forces led by General Douglas MacArthur, and took an active role in numerous battles, such as the Raid at Los Baños.
As the Americans converged on Manila from different directions, they found that most of the Imperial Japanese Army troops defending the city had been withdrawn to Baguio City, on the orders of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, commander in chief of Japanese Army forces in the Philippines. Yamashita planned to engage Filipino and U.S. forces in northern Luzon in a co-ordinated campaign, with the aim of buying time for the build-up of defences against the pending Allied invasion of the Japanese home islands. He had three main groups under his command: 80,000 men of the Shimbu Group in the mountains east of Manila, 30,000 of the Kembu Group in the hills north of Manila, and 152,000 in the Shobu Group in northeastern Luzon. 72:
The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad-hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.
Tomoyuki Yamashita was a Japanese general of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Yamashita led Japanese forces during the invasion of Malaya and Battle of Singapore, with his accomplishment of conquering Malaya and Singapore in 70 days earning him the sobriquet The Tiger of Malaya and led to the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, calling the ignominious fall of Singapore to Japan the "worst disaster" and "largest capitulation" in British military history. Yamashita was assigned to defend the Philippines from the advancing Allied forces later in the war, and while unable to stop the Allied advance, he was able to hold on to part of Luzon until after the formal Surrender of Japan in August 1945.
General Yamashita did not declare Manila an open city, although General Douglas MacArthur had done so before its capture in 1941. 72 and defend a large area with vast tracts of flammable wooden buildings.Yamashita had not intended to defend Manila; he did not think that he could feed the city's one million residents :
Yamashita ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, Gen. Shizuo Yokoyama, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and then evacuate the city as soon as any large American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi, commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy's 31st Naval Special Base Force, was determined to fight a last-ditch battle in Manila, and, though nominally part of the Shimbu Army Group, repeatedly ignored Army orders to withdraw from the city. The naval staff in Japan agreed to Iwabuchi's scheme, eroding a frustrated Yamashita's attempts at confronting the Americans with a concerted, unified defense. 72–73 Iwabuchi had 12,500 men under his command, designated the Manila Naval Defence Force, :73 augmented by 4,500 army personnel under Col. Katsuzo Noguchi and Capt. Saburo Abe. :73 They built defensive positions in the city, including Intramuros, cut down the palm trees on Dewey Blvd. to form a runway, and set up barricades across major streets. :73 Iwabuchi formed the Northern Force under Noguchi, and the Southern Force under Capt. Takusue Furuse. :74:
Iwabuchi had been in command of the battleship Kirishima when she was sunk by a US Navy task force off Guadalcanal in 1942, a blot on his honor which may have inspired his determination to fight to the death. Before the battle began, he issued an address to his men:
We are very glad and grateful for the opportunity of being able to serve our country in this epic battle. Now, with what strength remains, we will daringly engage the enemy. Banzai to the Emperor! We are determined to fight to the last man.
On 3 February, elements of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division under Maj. Gen. Verne D. Mudge pushed into the northern outskirts of Manila and seized a vital bridge across the Tullahan River, which separated them from the city proper, and quickly captured Malacanang Palace. 91 A squadron of Brig. Gen. William C. Chase's 8th Cavalry, the first unit to arrive in the city, began a drive toward the sprawling campus of the University of Santo Tomas, which had been turned into the Santo Tomas Internment Camp for civilians and the US Army and Navy nurses sometimes known as the "Angels of Bataan".:
Since 4 January 1942, a total of thirty-seven months, the university's main building had been used to hold civilians. Out of 4,255 prisoners, 466 died in captivity, three were killed while attempting to escape on 15 February 1942, and one made a successful breakout in early January 1945.
Capt. Manuel Colayco, a USAFFE guerrilla officer, became an allied casualty of the city's liberation, after he and his companion, Lt. Diosdado Guytingco, guided the American First Cavalry to the front gate of Santo Tomas. 91 Struck by Japanese bullets, Colayco died seven days later in Legarda Elementary School, which became a field hospital. At 9 PM, five tanks of the 44th Tank Battalion, headed by "Battlin' Basic," headed into the compound. :93:
The Japanese, commanded by Lt. Col. Toshio Hayashi, gathered the remaining internees together in the Education Building as hostages, and exchanged pot shots with the Americans and Filipinos. 95 The next day, 5 February, they negotiated with the Americans to allow them to rejoin Japanese troops to the south of the city, carrying only individual arms. :95 The Japanese were unaware the area they requested, was the now American-occupied Malacañan Palace, and soon afterwards were fired upon and several were killed including Hayashi. :95:
On 4 February, the 37th Infantry Division freed more than 1,000 prisoners of war, mostly former defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, held at Bilibid Prison, which had been abandoned by the Japanese. 96:
Early on 6 February, General MacArthur announced that "Manila had fallen"; 97 in fact, the battle for Manila had barely begun. Almost at once the 1st Cavalry Division in the north and the 11th Airborne Division in the south reported stiffening Japanese resistance to further advances into the city.:
General Oscar Griswold continued to push elements of the XIV Corps south from Santo Tomas University toward the Pasig River. Late on the afternoon on 4 February, he ordered the 2nd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment, to seize Quezon Bridge, the only crossing over the Pasig that the Japanese had not destroyed. As the squadron approached the bridge, Japanese heavy machine guns opened fire from a formidable roadblock thrown up across Quezon Boulevard, forcing the cavalry to stop its advance and withdraw until nightfall. As the Americans and Filipinos pulled back, the Japanese blew up the bridge.
On 5 February, the 37th Infantry Division began to move into Manila, and Griswold divided the northern section of the city into two sectors, with the 37th responsible for advancing to the south, and the 1st Cavalry Division responsible for an envelopment to the east. 101 The Americans secured the northern bank of the Pasig River by 6 February, and had captured the city's water supply at the Novaliches Dam, Balara Water Filters, and the San Juan Reservoir. :103:
On 7 February, Gen. Beightler ordered the 148th Regiment to cross the Pasig River and clear Paco and Pandacan. 109 The bitterest fighting for Manila - which proved costliest to the 129th Regiment - was in capturing the steam-driven power plant on Provisor Island, where the Japanese held out until 11 February. :103,122 By the afternoon of 8 February, 37th Division units had cleared most of the Japanese from their sector, but the residential districts were damaged extensively. The Japanese added to the destruction by demolishing buildings and military installations as they withdrew. Japanese resistance in Tondo and Malabon continued until 9 February. :104:
Trying to protect the city and its civilians, MacArthur had stringently restricted U.S. artillery and air support. 103 Yet, by 9 February, American shelling had set fire to a number of districts. :114 "If the city were to be secured without the destruction of the 37th and the 1st Cavalry Divisions, no further effort could be made to save buildings, everything holding up progress would be pounded." :122 Iwabuchi's sailors, marines, and Army reinforcements, having initially had some success resisting American infantrymen armed with flamethrowers, grenades and bazookas, soon faced direct fire from tanks, tank destroyers, and howitzers, which blasted holes in one building after another, often killing both Japanese and civilians trapped inside, without differentiation.:
Subjected to incessant pounding and facing certain death or capture, the beleaguered Japanese troops took out their anger and frustration on the civilians caught in the crossfire, committing multiple acts of severe brutality, which later would be known as the Manila Massacre. 96,107 Violent mutilations, rapes, :114–120 and massacres of the populace accompanied the battle for control of the city. Massacres occurred in schools, hospitals and convents, including San Juan de Dios Hospital, Santa Rosa College, Santo Domingo Church, Manila Cathedral, Paco Church, St. Paul's Convent, and St. Vincent de Paul Church. :113:
By 12 February Iwabuchi's artillery and heavy mortars had been destroyed, and with no plan for withdrawal or regrouping, "each man had his meager supply of rations, barely sufficient arms and ammunition, and a building in which his life would end..." 144 The 1st Cavalry Division reached Manila Bay on 12 February, but it was not until 18 February that they took Rizal Stadium, which the Japanese had turned into an ammunition dump, and Fort San Antonio Abad. :144 On 17 February, the 148th Regiment took the Philippine General Hospital, freeing 7,000 civilians, the University of the Philippines Padre Faura campus, and Assumption College San Lorenzo's original Herran-Dakota campus. :150:
Iwabuchi was ordered by Gen. Shizuo Yokoyama, commander of the Shimbu Group, to break out of Manila on the night of 17–18 February, in coordination with counter-attacks on Novaliches Dam and Grace Park. 142 The breakout failed and Iwabuchi's remaining 6,000 men were trapped in Manila. :142 The destruction of Manila, a quarter of a million civilian casualties, and the subsequent execution of General Yamashita for war crimes after the war was the result. :143 1,010 Americans, 16,665 Japanese and 100,000 to 240,000 civilians were killed. :151 There was no animosity amongst the liberated Filipinos, claiming, "We were with the Americans! We were safe! We were liberated!" :150:
By 20 February, the New Police Station, St. Vincent de Paul Church, San Pablo Church, the Manila Club, City Hall and the General Post Office were in American hands. 156–157 The Japanese retreated into Intramuros on the night of 19 February, and the Manila Hotel was liberated on 22 Feb., but MacArthur found his penthouse in ashes. :155–156 Only Intramuros, plus the Legislative, Finance, and Agricultural Buildings, remained in Japanese hands. :157:
The assault on Intramuros started at 0730 on 23 February, with a 140 gun artillery barrage, followed by the 148th attacking through breaches made in the walls between the Quezon and Parian Gates, and the 129th crossing the Pasig River, then attacking near the location of the Government Mint. 164–167:
The fighting for Intramuros continued until 26 February. 171 Fewer than 3,000 civilians escaped the assault, mostly women and children who were released on the afternoon of 23 February. Colonel Noguchi's soldiers and sailors killed 1,000 men and women, while the other hostages died during the American shelling.:
Iwabuchi and his officers committed seppuku (ritual suicide) at dawn on 26 February. 171 The 5th Cavalry Regiment took the Agricultural Building by 1 March, and the 148th Regiment took the Legislative Building on 28th Feb. and the Finance Building by 3 March. :171–173:
Army Historian Robert R. Smith wrote:
"Griswold and Beightler were not willing to attempt the assault with infantry alone. Not expressly enjoined from employing artillery, they now planned a massive artillery preparation that would last from 17 to 23 February and would include indirect fire at ranges up to 8,000 yards as well as direct, point-blank fire from ranges as short as 250 yards. They would employ all available corps and division artillery, from 240mm howitzers down. (...) Just how civilian lives could be saved by this type of preparation, as opposed to aerial bombardment, is unknown. The net result would be the same: Intramuros would be practically razed.""That the artillery had almost razed the ancient Walled City could not be helped. To the XIV Corps and the 37th Division at this state of the battle for Manila, American lives were understandably far more valuable than historic landmarks. The destruction stemmed from the American decision to save lives in a battle against Japanese troops who had decided to sacrifice their lives as dearly as possible."
Before the fighting ended, MacArthur summoned a provisional assembly of prominent Filipinos to Malacañan Palace and in their presence declared the Commonwealth of the Philippines to be permanently reestablished. "My country kept the faith," he told the gathered assembly. "Your capital city, cruelly punished though it be, has regained its rightful place—citadel of democracy in the East."
For the rest of the month the Americans and Filipino guerrillas mopped up resistance throughout the city. With Intramuros secured on 4 March, Manila was officially liberated, albeit completely destroyed with large areas levelled by American bombing. The battle left 1,010 U.S. soldiers dead and 5,565 wounded. An estimated 100,000 to 240,000 Filipinos civilians were killed, both deliberately by the Japanese in the Manila massacre and from artillery and aerial bombardment by U.S. and Japanese forces. 16,665 Japanese dead were counted within Intramuros alone.
The battle for Manila was the first and fiercest urban fighting in the entire Pacific War. Few battles in the closing months of World War II exceeded the destruction and the brutality of the massacres and savagery of the fighting in Manila. 186,200 In Manila's business district only two buildings were not damaged and those two were looted of their plumbing.:
A steel flagpole still stands today at the entrance to the old U.S. Embassy building in Ermita, pockmarked by numerous bullet and shrapnel hits, a testament to the intense, bitter fighting for the walled city. In this category, Manila is second to Stalingrad as being the city with the fiercest urban fighting during the war.
Filipinos lost an irreplaceable cultural and historical treasure in the resulting carnage and devastation of Manila, remembered today as a national tragedy. Countless government buildings, universities and colleges, convents, monasteries and churches, and their accompanying treasures dating to the founding of the city, were ruined. The cultural patrimony (including art, literature, and especially architecture) of the Orient's first truly international melting pot - the confluence of Spanish, American and Asian cultures - was eviscerated. Manila, once touted as the "Pearl of the Orient" and famed as a living monument to the meeting of Asian and European cultures, was virtually wiped out.[ citation needed ]
Most of the buildings damaged during the war were demolished after the Liberation, as part of rebuilding Manila, replacing European style architecture from the Spanish and early American era with modern American style architecture. Only a few old buildings remain intact.
On February 18, 1995, the Memorare-Manila 1945 Foundation dedicated a memorial called the Shrine of Freedom to honor the memory of the over 100,000 civilians killed in the battle. It is also known as the Memorare Manila Monument and is located at Plaza de Santa Isabel in Intramuros. The inscription for the memorial was penned by National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin and reads:
"This memorial is dedicated to all those innocent victims of war, many of whom went nameless and unknown to a common grave, or even never knew a grave at all, their bodies having been consumed by fire or crushed to dust beneath the rubble of ruins."
"Let this monument be the gravestone for each and every one of the over 100,000 men, women, children and infants killed in Manila during its battle of liberation, February 3 - March 3, 1945. We have not forgotten them, nor shall we ever forget."
"May they rest in peace as part now of the sacred ground of this city: the Manila of our affections."
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Events in the year 1945 in Japan.
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Sanji Iwabuchi was a Rear Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Pacific War of World War II. He committed suicide after facing imminent defeat during the Battle of Manila.
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