Manila massacre

Last updated
Manila massacre
Part of World War II
Japanese atrocities. Philippines, China, Burma, Japan - NARA - 292598.jpg
Photo of a Filipino woman and child killed by the Japanese forces in Manila.
Location Manila, Philippines
DateFebruary 3 – March 3, 1945 (EDT)
Attack type
mass murder, massacre
Deaths100,000+ (est.)
Perpetrators Tomoyuki Yamashita, Akira Mutō, Sanji Iwabuchi
Imperial Japanese Army
Citizens of Manila run for safety from suburbs burned by Japanese soldiers, 10 February 1945 ManilaEscape.jpg
Citizens of Manila run for safety from suburbs burned by Japanese soldiers, 10 February 1945
Destruction of the Walled City (Intramuros), 1945 Manila Walled City Destruction May 1945.jpg
Destruction of the Walled City (Intramuros), 1945

The Manila massacre (Filipino: Pagpatay sa Maynila or Masaker sa Maynila), also called as the Rape of Manila (Filipino: Paggahasa sa Maynila), involved atrocities committed against Filipino civilians in the City of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, by Japanese troops during World War II at the Battle of Manila (February 3, 1945 – March 3, 1945). The combined death toll of civilians for the battle of Manila was about 100,000.


The Manila massacre was one of several major war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army, as judged by the postwar military tribunal. The Japanese commanding general, Tomoyuki Yamashita, and his chief of staff Akira Mutō, were held responsible for the massacre and other war crimes in a trial starting October 1945. Yamashita was executed on 23 February 1946 and Mutō on 23 December 1948.


Before the battle, deciding that he would be unable to defend Manila with the forces available to him, and to preserve as large a force as possible in the rural mountain Luzon region of the Philippines, General Tomoyuki Yamashita had insisted on a complete withdrawal of Japanese troops from Manila in January 1945. However, Yamashita's order was ignored by about 10,000 Japanese marines under Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi who chose to remain in Manila. About 4,000 Japanese army personnel were unable to leave the city due to the advance of the American and Filipino forces.

In the Battle of Manila from February to March 1945, the United States Army advanced into the city of Manila in order to drive the Japanese out. During lulls in the battle for control of the city, Japanese troops took their anger and frustration out on the civilians in the city. Violent mutilations, rapes, and 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. [1] :113 Dr Antonio Gisbert told of the murder of his father and brother at the Palacio del Gobernador, saying, "I am one of those few survivors, not more than 50 in all out of more than 3000 men herded into Fort Santiago and, two days later, massacred. [1] :110

Mass rapes

The Bayview Hotel was used as a designated "rape center". [2] According to testimony at the Yamashita war crimes trial, 400 women and girls were rounded up from Manila's wealthy Ermita district, and submitted to a selection board that picked out the 25 women who were considered most beautiful. These women and girls, many of them 12 to 14 years old, were then taken to the hotel, where Japanese enlisted men and officers took turns raping them. [3]

Despite many allied Germans held refuge in a German club, Japanese soldiers entered in and bayoneted infants of mothers pleading mercy and raped women seeking refuge. At least 20 Japanese soldiers raped a young girl before slicing her breasts off after which a Japanese soldier placed her mutilated breasts on his chest to mimic a woman while the other Japanese soldiers laughed. The Japanese then doused the young girl and two other women who were raped to death in gasoline and set them all on fire. [4]

The Japanese went on setting the entire club on fire killing many of its inhabitants. Women who were escaping out the building from the fire were caught and raped by the Japanese. 28 year old Julia Lopez had her breasts sliced off, raped by the Japanese soldiers and had her hair set on fire. Another woman was partially decapitated after attempting to defend herself and raped by a Japanese soldier. [5]

One Japanese order read, "The Americans who have penetrated into Manila have about 1000 troops, and there are several thousand Filipino soldiers under the Commonwealth Army and the organized guerrillas. Even women and children have become guerrillas."[ citation needed ]

The combined death toll of civilians for the battle of Manila was about 100,000, most of which was attributed to massacres by Japanese forces. Some historians, citing a higher civilian casualty rate for the entire battle, suggest that 100,000 to 500,000 died as a result of the Manila massacre on its own, exclusive of other causes. [1] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

General Yamashita's role in the massacre

General Yamashita was opposed to the plan devised by Imperial Headquarters because his soldiers lacked resources. The soldiers under Yamashita's command were low on ammunition and food. However, he was unable to disobey his superiors and sent approximately 80,000 soldiers to Leyte. Nearly all of his soldiers had died in the Battle of Leyte, and he was forced to move his headquarters from Manila to Saigon. Yamashita had anticipated that U.S. forces would come to the Philippines, so he had to move his headquarters again and evacuate in order to escape the U.S. forces. On January 9, 1945, Yamashita was met by nearly 200,000 U.S. soldiers at Lingayen Gulf. As a result of this operation, nearly 100,000 Filipino civilians were killed by various methods of violence. Unexpectedly, some Filipino casualties were caused by U.S. aerial bombings. Yamashita continued to fight, but his lack of resources and his exposure to disease and sickness led to his capture.

General Yamashita was considered a war criminal for his crimes in Manila. Evidence suggests that General Yamashita was unaware of the crimes committed by Japanese troops in Manila, and that he ultimately did not have control over those troops who committed the atrocities. The morale of his troops was low, and many of the orders he gave were disobeyed. Yamashita had a sense of guilt and failure as a commanding general over the troops under his command. In the end, he took responsibility for the crimes that his troops committed under his command. A group of American military lawyers attempted to defend General Yamashita by appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the appeal failed, 5 votes to 2. As a result, Yamashita was sentenced to death by hanging. He was hanged on February 23, 1946 in Manila. [12]

Rev. Peter Fallon SSC

Rev. Peter Fallon SSC, was an Irish missionary priest kidnapped and killed in the Philippines by Japanese forces in 1945 during Battle of Manila in the Second World War. [13] Born in Ballinlass, Dunmore, County Galway, in Ireland, Fallon studied at All Hallows College, Dublin, before joining the Maynooth Mission to China, in Dalgan Park, where he was ordained in 1922. On ordination, he went to Hanyang, China, and was there until 1930. In 1931 he went to the Philippines, [14] to the Malate Church which the Columbans were stationed. [15] Fallon was first Columban parish priest of what then was the town of Misamis (now Ozamiz City).

Fr. Fallon was one of four priests of the Maynooth Mission to Manila, kidnapped by Japanese Navy forces and killed, along with local parishioners, the other Columbans being Rev John Heneghan, Rev Patrick Kelly, and Rev Joseph Monaghan, during the Battle of Manila. [16] The four Columbans were taken from the Malate Church (Our Lady of Remedies Parish) to the Syquia apartments around February 10, 1945, and were never seen again. [17] Along with the fifth Columban in Malate, Fr John Lalor, who was killed three days later while helping in makeshift hospital in the Malate School, they are often referred to as the "Manila Martyrs". [18] In February 1997 there was a monument erected in front of the Malate Church, in the memory of Fallon, Kelly, Monaghan and Heneghan. [19]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Connaughton, R., Pimlott, J., and Anderson, D., 1995, The Battle for Manila, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN   0891415785
  2. "February 1945: The Rape of Manila |". Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  3. Manila Girls Relate Horror of Mass Rape, The Milwaukee Journal, 1 November 1945
  4. James M. Scott (30 October 2018). Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila. p. 230. ISBN   9780393246957.
  5. James M. Scott (30 October 2018). Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila. p. 231. ISBN   9780393246957.
  6. White, Matthew. "Death Tolls for the Man-made Megadeaths of the 20th Century". Retrieved 1 August 2007.
  7. Khalifa, Hodieb (22 November 2013). Nein. ISBN   9781938759185 . Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  8. Dauria, Tom (2014). Within a Presumption of Godlessness. ISBN   9781480804203 . Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  9. "Battle of Manila". Battle of Manila. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  10. At least 4 of the 5 cited sources do not mention a figure > 100,000.
  11. Brines, Russell, "Sixty Priests, Women, Children Massacred by Japs in College," Evening Star, Washington DC, February 19, 1945, Page A-6
  12. Last Words of the Tiger of Malaya, General Yamashita Tomoyuki, The Asia-Pacific Journal Japan Focus
  13. "Dail Debates. Dail Questions Irish Priests Manilla". . 11 May 2018. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  14. "Columban Martyrs". Archived from the original on 19 July 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  15. McHugh, Kevin. "The Columbans of Malate". Malate Catholic Church Official Website. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  16. "Northern Priest Killed by Japanese". Irish News . 4 April 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  17. Legarda Jr., Dr. Benito J. (5 March 2005). "Manila Holocaust: Massacre and Rape". Free Press. Retrieved 2 January 2019 via Malacañan Palace.
  18. "THE MANILA MASSACRE". Dirkdeklein. 8 July 2018. p. 36. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  19. "MANILA PARISH UNVEILS MONUMENT TO WORLD WAR II VICTIMS". UCA News . 24 February 1997. Retrieved 2 January 2019.[ dead link ]

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Coordinates: 15°35′00″N120°58′00″E / 15.5833°N 120.9667°E / 15.5833; 120.9667