Was Manila the Dresden of SE Asia, and was that a warcrime?

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Andy H
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Was Manila the Dresden of SE Asia, and was that a warcrime?

Post by Andy H » 20 Apr 2005 17:45

This article was originally posted by Mondo in the Axis Nations area in regards to the Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita
1945 BATTLE OF MANILA
High Ground : Over 100,000 civilians killed… but does anyone remember?

Posted 10:25pm (Mla time) Jan 30, 2005
By William Esposo
INQ7.net



THIS February will mark the 60th anniversary of the unwarranted death of over 100,000 civilians whose lives were sacrificed in the 1945 Battle of Manila. The casualty count was that immense because advancing US troops and their commander, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, did not consider that these non-American civilian lives deserved to be protected and secured by US troops whose role after all is to absorb the risk of war. But I wonder if anyone has even cared to remember this national tragedy?
Next to Warsaw, Manila registered as the city most devastated by World War II. Early accounts obviously peddled by the victors had imputed the enormous civilian casualty to acts and atrocities perpetrated by retreating Japanese forces. But historians had since debunked this reason. It was the US’ relentless bombardment and razing of Manila coupled with the callous disregard for civilian lives that turned any inhabitant in no man’s land a sitting duck for the remorseless American assault on the Philippine capital city in 1945.

However, this is not to deny the fact that Japanese forces had indeed committed some of the most barbaric and the most vicious atrocities that matched the brutishness of the ancient savage. The retreating Japanese forces showed no mercy. They raped and they slaughtered with wanton abandon. Babies were flung to the air and skewered by bayonets as they fell. Samurai swords swished in a mad harvest of decapitated heads.

But for all the terrifying stories of Japanese atrocities, the greatest number of civilian casualties was dealt by the careless and cold-blooded American bombardment. Post-war photos bear testimony to the virtual annihilation of all landmarks south of the Pasig River. The US forces were situated north of the Pasig River and by February 1945, there was hardly any Japanese air force to contend with. Manila was held by Japanese marines who were cut off from the main Japanese force that retreated to Northern Luzon with the legendary “Tiger of Malaya”, Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, to make their last stand there.

MacArthur liked to avoid unnecessary engagement of troops. For the most part, his Pacific campaign strategy – dubbed the envelopment strategy – avoided unnecessary troop engagement and instead isolated enemy bases from their supply lines. MacArthur posited: “Never take with bravado what you can attain with strategy”. And that is exactly how over 100,000 innocent lives ended up as sacrificial lambs to MacArthur’s troop preservation strategy. Instead of sending in US troops – whose job is to take combat risks and minimize civilian casualties – MacArthur opted for the deployment of the artillery and the air force to clear the Japanese held section of the city. In the process, Japanese defenders as well as innocent civilians were killed; with the greatest number of casualties being those of the civilian non-combatants.

Yet days earlier, the US commanders opted to send their troops to secure American prisoners in the University of Santo Tomas. How else can we view this contrast in US military approach except to conclude that the lives of US troops may only be risked when Americans and only American lives are on the line?

If you happen to be one who still believes in the old propaganda line that the 1945 Battle of Manila was a battle for Filipino liberation, you may want to read “The Battle for Manila” by Anderson, Connaughton and Pimlott. Well-researched and insightful, the book dissolves the propaganda myths and opens one’s mind to the truth and ugliness of this episode of the Pacific theatre of the war. Liberation gave the Battle of Manila a noble sounding cause but in reality it was a mere retaking of lost US strategic territory.

The Filipino’s easy gullibility to the propaganda cover-up surrounding the facts behind the 1945 Battle of Manila clearly exposes our shallow sense of history. Ironically, we keep quoting a favorite Filipino maxim: “ang hindi marunong tumingin sa pinanggalingan ay di makakarating? sa paroroonan” (one who cannot appreciate his origins will not get to his destination). Somehow the meaning of this otherwise profound advice has been narrowly confined. Many people understand it to be only about repaying a “personal debt of gratitude” (or utang na loob) rather than looking back at one’s historical roots.

Having such a superficial sense of our own history, it is not surprising to see educated Filipinos having a better grasp of the American, French and Russian Revolutions rather than their own 19th century Philippine Revolution. Let’s not even go that far – barely 19 years after the historic and awe-inspiring 1986 People Power revolt, many of our youths hardly even look back to try to grasp and understand that shining moment of our nation’s history.

Over 65% of the Philippine population is young and many of them now even think that living conditions were better during the Marcos era. I can’t blame them for thinking thus. Three years into her presidency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is certainly making it look like life was a bed of roses during the Marcos term. A nation that regards Marcos as a good leader can only have a very shallow sense of history. It means that people can only appreciate and recall things relevant to their particular generation as though these things existed in a vacuum and unconnected with the historical tapestry of the past.

The baby boomers like me who lived through our heyday as the second most prosperous Asian country after Japan, (this was before Marcos became president) know the truth about the Martial Law era. But to the Gen Xers and Gen Yers who did not live through the early 60s, Macapagal-Arroyo’s dismal performance makes Marcos, and even Estrada, look good. The fiscal numbers and the misery index easily ‘rationalize’ that impression.

Three different generations bearing different perspectives to the national problem indeed create what it takes to be a divided people. This is the stiff price we are now paying for not knowing our history and the truth about our problems. Knowledge and information in the head more than money in the pocket are what separate the haves and the have-nots. Collect all the wealth and divide it equally among the people and in ten years time the more knowledgeable and better informed will again emerge as the upper class in the socio-economic ladder.

During the 1950s, one heard many stories about the personal tragedies that Filipino families suffered in the 1945 Battle of Manila. Up to the mid-50s, many Filipinos continued to seethe with so much hatred for the Japanese – it became prudent for a Japanese to avoid visiting Manila. A decade after the war, I remember how my mother would shake with rage every time she saw any Japanese. She relived the loss of her dear father, our Scottish grandfather who came here in the early 1900s, fell in love with the country and our grandmother, and decided to call the Philippines home.

It was February 14, 1945 and my mother and her family were in the relative safety of a bombed house’s basement near the De La Salle College – which was also the site of a massacre of civilians by the Japanese. The main Japanese defense line was just meters away in Vito Cruz and it was obvious that shells raining around the area were US shells directed at the Japanese. Our grandfather was felled by one such shell that exploded behind him, a shell that was fired upon the orders of, ironically, a fellow Scot (Douglas MacArthur’s roots are in Scotland and his biography acknowledges how MacArthur took immense pride in his Scottish lineage). Our family knew that our grandfather was felled by an American shell but still the strong emotions were reserved for the Japanese who invaded this hitherto perfect paradise and showed brutality never before experienced in the hands of previous invaders and colonizers.

On Valentine’s Day, 1945, a day dedicated to love, our Scottish grandfather, 1920 and 1921 Philippine Open Golf Champion Ian Macgregor was killed. It was typically Celtic of him to die on the eve of Allied victory.

Many Filipinos who suffered personal losses from Japanese atrocities during the 1945 Battle of Manila have long forgiven the Japanese for the anguish that they inflicted. To forgive is Christian and laudable. But as a people we should never forget. Forgiving allows you to move on. Forgetting dooms you to repeat the traumatic experience.

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Post by Larry D. » 20 Apr 2005 19:05

I have just one comment for the author: PROVE it was the savage, butchering Americans who intentionally bombed, shelled and machine gunned to death the 100,000 residents of Manila and not the direct result of the no-survivors defense carried out by the loving, kind and gentle Japanese military.

The TRUTH is that Manila was suicidally defended by the Manila Naval Defense Force (HQ 31st Special Base Force) under Rear Adm. Sanji IWABUCHI with 16,700 troops reinforced by 5 strengthened battalions of regular Japanese infantry from the Kawashima Force and the Kobayashi Force to the northeast and east of the city. These men fought to the death. The Pacific historians maintain that the battle for Manila (2-17 Feb 45) was as savage as the fighting on Iwo Jima a few days later. The defenders went bezirk in an orgy of torture and slaughter of the civilian population that was almost unprecedented in the fighting in the Pacific. The U.S. 1st Cav. Div. and other units were faced with house-to-house fighting, bunkers, barricaded streets, snipers, you name it. Casualties were enormous. One of the main concerns and objectives was to clear the city before the defenders could kill any more innocent Filipinos. Did the U.S. bomb and strafe? Of course. Were Filipinos in Manila killed as a result of American bombing and shelling? Of course. But the overwhelming mass of casualties were the result of massacres carried out by the defenders as well as the intense fighting to clear the city. There are many, many accounts of the battle for Manila. A little searching on the internet should lead to additional reading. The most factual account is in: [Center for Military History]. Reports of General MacArthur. Japanese Operations in the Southwest Pacific Area. 2 volumes. Vol. 2, Chapter XV, pp.490-500.

Mr. Esposo is either naive in the extreme or has intentionally written an anti-American tract to appeal to the anti-American masses in his home country. What crap. No good deed goes unpunished. Maybe we should have bypassed the Philippines and left it to perish under Japanese occupation.

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Post by David Thompson » 20 Apr 2005 19:32

Mr. Esposo is either naive in the extreme or has intentionally written an anti-American tract to appeal to the anti-American masses in his home country.
I agree. The article is an unsourced and polemical rant.

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Post by Andy H » 20 Apr 2005 19:34

Thanks Larry my understanding of this battle is very vague, I'll consign it to the rubbish pile

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Post by David Thompson » 21 Apr 2005 03:20

Readers interested in learning more about the Battle of Manila may find the following references of interest:

US Army Campaigns of WWII: Luzon
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... index.html
The Battle of Manila Online
http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber.html

There is a more detailed account of the battle in the US Army History volume Triumph in the Philippines, but it is in the process of being scanned and isn't up on the Hyperwar site yet:

Triumph in the Philippines
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-P-Triumph/

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Post by WalterS » 21 Apr 2005 04:34

The quoted essay from Mr Esposo is absurd. He criticizes Mac Arthur for valuing the lives of his troops ! Mr Esposo in no way blames the Japanese brutality for the losses suffered at Manila. He blames the Americans. What crap.

Here's a description of the battle for Manila from historian John Costello:

The fanatical Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabachi had discounted Yamashita's order making Manila an open city. He commanded the naval garrison of 17,000, whom he had ordered to fight to the death alongside the 4,000 army soldiers who also found themselves trapped. A four-day initial battle left much of northern Manila in flames as the American tanks and artillery spearheaded the push to the Pasig River, which divided the city........

The Battle of Manila was to be fought with a savagery that made nonsense of MacArthur's February 7 communique proclaiming that "our forces are rapidly clearing Manila," and predicting that the "complete destruction" of the enemy was "imminent." ......

"Day and night the shelling goes on," Time magazine correspondent W.P. Gray reported, as the Pacific War's only major battle for a city ground relentlessly on. "How many hundreds or thousands of civilians have already dies by fire or shellfire outside Intramuros, nobody knows. Hundreds of city blocks are burned and flattened. Many unburned buildings are pocked or shattered by gunfire." The civilian population suffered horribly. Over 100,000 Filipinos died from the heavy bombardment and the butchery and indiscriminate rape by increasingly desperate Japanese troops.

John Costello, "The Pacific War," p.533

The Japanese had invaded and occupied the Philipinnes for nearly four years. The reason for the destruction in Manila was the decision by Admiral Iwabachi to defy Yamashita's orders and fight for Manila, and the savage brutality of the Japanese troops toward Filipino civilians.

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Post by WalterS » 21 Apr 2005 04:47

I wish to take issue with the Moderator who started this thread for choosing the title :"Was Manila the Dresden of SE Asia, and was that a warcrime?" What is meant by "The Dresden of SE Asia?" Is Andy H implying that Manila was not a military objective? That it was undefended? That there was no reason to attack because the war was almost over? Those claims, all false, are often made by critics of the Dresden bombing. I am astonished that a Moderator of this forum would even try to make this connection between Dresden and Manilla. It is false and perjorative.

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Post by JariL » 22 Apr 2005 09:32

Did the Japanese defenders actually have the necessary fire power to destroy the city or were they just determined to force the americans into street fighting? Did Japanese soldiers go bezerk before the americans attacked or first after the attack started and they knew it was all over anyway? Was head on attack to the city the best available solution or was it chosen because Philippinos were "expendable"? It is hard to claim that the attack to Mannila was a war crime, but serious questions of the US actions can be raised if such an attack would never have been made to a city populated for example by friendly white men. This is also the allegation that the writer of the article is doing not white washing the role of the Japanese. So, seriously, did Mac Arthur make a mistake with his choice of strategy in this case, which resulted in unnecessary loss of life? Later on in Korea he for example wanted to use the A-bomb against the Chinese which was also a brute force solution. Was destruction of Manilla the result of same kind of thinking?

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Post by David Thompson » 22 Apr 2005 09:42

Was head on attack to the city the best available solution or was it chosen because Philippinos were "expendable"? It is hard to claim that the attack to Mannila was a war crime, but serious questions of the US actions can be raised if such an attack would never have been made to a city populated for example by friendly white men.
When MacArthur was defending Manila in December 1941 he withdrew his troops and declared it an open city, so I doubt the choice to attack and reduce the Japanese garrison in 1945 was based on the supposed expendability of the Filipino population.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... .html#14-1
serious questions of the US actions can be raised if such an attack would never have been made to a city populated for example by friendly white men
I think this suggestion of racism is unfounded. See, for instance, the US reduction of the German garrisons in the French ports of Brittany and elsewhere in 1944.

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Post by JariL » 22 Apr 2005 15:14

Hi,

I am not an expert in the Pacific war, but I seem to recall that Mac Arthur declared Manila open city in 1941 because the american defence plan was not based on holding Manila but Bataan and Corregidor, which were much easier to defend with the troops available. So I don't think that what happened in 1941 proves that much about Mac Arthurs attitudes and perceptions.

I don't think that any major European city outside of Germany was levelled to the same extent as Manila was and with similar loss of civilian life by US or British troops. Some cities took serious damage and lots of civilians died, but at least with the harbours there was clear military logic behind taking them fastt. But that brings us back to the initial question, was the course of action chosen by Mac Arthur the right one and can it be justified also by some objective standards today? Or was it a high price military blunder from the part of the commander, which has been hushed under the carpet as suggested by the writer of the article? And please don't take this as anti american ranting because it is not intended as such. I am truly interested in hearing more opinions about this.

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JariL

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Post by David Thompson » 22 Apr 2005 16:26

Here are some factors for the readers to consider:

(1) The decision to attack Manila
In January of 1945, U.S. commanders were also engaged in an animated debate over whether and when to capture Manila. MacArthur, commander of the Southwest Pacific Area, believed it was essential to seize the city as soon as possible. Manila provided port and aviation facilities needed for the coming invasion of Japan, and also had major political significance as the Philippine capital. Nonetheless, Lieutenant General Walter Krueger, commander of the U.S. 6th Army, apparently believed that Manila was not a genuine center of gravity and planned to bypass it. Krueger, whose force landed on the beaches of Lingayen Gulf on 27 January 1945, also favored delaying any attack on Manila until he could build up his assets and consolidate his position on the Lingayen coast. He was concerned, with some justification, that if he immediately advanced 100 miles to Manila, his lines of communication would be exposed to counterattacks from Yamashita’s Kembu and Shobu Groups. [x] MacArthur, however, favored entering Manila as soon as possible. He hoped that the Japanese would abandon the city and declare it open, as he himself had done in 1942. In fact, Yamashita’s 14th Area Army’s policy was to do exactly this; at the end of January, MacArthur’s intelligence told him, accurately, that the Japanese army was evacuating Manila. [xi]

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html
Almost from the beginning there was friction between MacArthur and some of his subordinates. Krueger wanted the I Corps to secure the roads leading east into the mountains before the XIV Corps advanced south. Already, he pointed out, I Corps had encountered opposition on the beachhead's northern, or left, flank, while the XIV Corps had found little resistance to the south. Cautious, Krueger hesitated before committing his army to a narrow thrust directly toward Manila with his eastern flank open to a possible Japanese attack.

MacArthur disagreed. He thought it unlikely that the Japanese were capable of mounting an attack in Sixth Army's rear or flank and directed Krueger to follow his prearranged plans, seizing Clark Air Field and the port facilities at Manila as soon as possible. So on 18 January Griswold's XIV Corps moved south with the 37th and 40th Infantry Divisions, leaving Sixth Army's eastern flank undefended as it proceeded from the beachhead area. But with Yamashita's Shobu Group relatively inactive, Krueger's concerns proved unwarranted. As at the beachhead, the Japanese put up little opposition to the drive south, having evacuated the central plains earlier. Only when Griswold's troops reached the outskirts of Clark Field on 23 January did they run up against determined resistance, and it came from the relatively weak Kembu Group. For more than a week the Japanese fought a stubborn battle against the advancing Americans, and it was not until the end of January that the airfield was in American hands. Leaving the 40th Division behind to occupy the area, Krueger regrouped the XIV Corps and on 2 February continued south toward the capital.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... index.html (p. 9)
Securing Manila was significant for both military and psychological reasons, but from a logistical point of view the seizure of Manila Bay was especially crucial. The supply lines at Lingayen Bay, which had so ably supported the American advance south on the capital, were strained almost to the breaking point. Yet, despite the fact that Manila's world-class harbor was in American hands, it could not be used unless the Bataan Peninsula, which encompassed the bay's western shore, was secure.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... index.html (p. 18)
(2) The unexpected resistance
By the time U.S. forces reached Manila on 3 February 1945, much of the city was already fortified by the Japanese defenders, especially south of the Pasig. The overall commander of the Japanese army forces in the Philippines was General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Yamashita’s command was subdivided into several “groups,” with the Shimbu Group under Lieutenant General Shizuo Yokoyama responsible for Manila. Yamashita wished to pull all his forces into a mountainous stronghold in Northern Luzon, so he ordered Yokoyama to conduct an orderly evacuation from Manila and not defend it. This order included Japanese naval forces in the Manila area, which were under Yokoyama’s command. However, Vice Admiral Denshichi Okochi, commander of the Southwestern Area Fleet based in the Philippines, who reported to Combined Fleet, not to Yamashita’s 14th Area Army, had ordered naval personnel to defend naval facilities in Manila regardless of Yamashita’s withdrawal strategy. So as Americans approached Manila in January 1945, Japanese army troops moved out of the city while Japanese naval troops moved in. Okochi organized the Manila Naval Defense Force [MNDF] and placed in command Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi, already the commander of the 31st Naval Special Base Force in the Manila area. Okochi himself relocated to Baguio, Yamashita’s headquarters, early in January, but ordered Iwabuchi to hold Manila and Nichols Field south of the city as long as possible, and then to destroy all Japanese naval facilities and supplies in the Manila Area. [ii]

What this meant was that Iwabuchi in Manila was ordered by Gen. Yamashita, his legal superior, to withdraw, but ordered by Vice Adm. Okochi, his superior by way of loyalty and training, to stand firm. It eventually became clear that Iwabuchi intended to resist Japanese army expectations, and instead to fulfill his naval missions at all costs. Yamashita and Yokoyama evidently wished throughout that Iwabuchi would leave Manila and not fight there. Yokoyama’s and Iwabuchi’s staffs held a series of probably tense conferences from 8 to 13 January, in which the latter made clear that they intended to defend Japanese naval facilities in Manila. Lt. Gen. Yokoyama felt he had little choice but to accept this; however, at the end of January, he issued still somewhat equivocal orders to Iwabuchi that authorized defense of the city. Yokoyama, in accord with standard Japanese practice, placed Japanese army forces still in Manila under Iwabuchi’s command. These army elements were gathered under Colonel Katsuzo Noguchi as the Noguchi Detachment and would later be given responsibility to defend north of the Pasig. [iii]

Nonetheless, even as late as mid-February, when U.S. forces had already invested Manila, Lt. Gen. Yokoyama was still trying to get Rear Adm. Iwabuchi to leave the city. On 13 February, Yokoyama ordered Iwabuchi to move to Ft. McKinley (southeast of Manila) and then to break out of the American ring as Shimbu Group forces broke in with coordinated attacks on 17-18 February. Iwabuchi did not move to Ft. McKinley at this time, however, and instead radioed to the Shimbu Group that leaving the city was now impossible. Still, the several thousand Japanese troops already in Ft. McKinley did managed to evacuate eastward to join the Shimbu Group in the mountains during the Shimbu Group’s otherwise largely ineffectual attacks toward Manila on 17-18 February. [iv]

To Lt. Gen. Yokoyama at Shimbu Group headquarters, Iwabuchi radioed his response to the order to evacuate to Ft. McKinley, “In view of the general situation, I consider it very important to hold the strategic positions within the city. . . . Escape is believed impossible. Will you please understand this situation?” Meanwhile to Vice Adm. Okochi, commander of Southwest Area Fleet, he radioed, “I am overwhelmed with shame for the many casualties among my subordinates and for being unable to discharge my duty because of my incompetence. . . . Now, with what strength remains, we will daringly engage the enemy. ‘Banzai to the Emperor!’ We are determined to fight to the last man.” Iwabuchi reported legally to one commander, but morally to another. [v]

The gap in understanding between the Japanese army and navy at Manila may strike some readers as unusual. The basis for this gap lay not only in the particular circumstances at Manila, but also in the traditions of the respective services. The prewar Japanese army and navy were well known for their insularity. Each strove to operate independently of the other as much as possible. They were engaged in bitter budgetary struggles at each other’s expense and tended not to share intelligence. The Japanese army operated its own maritime shipping system -- to include its own cargo submarines at the end of the war -- so as not to depend on the navy. The prewar Japanese army and navy constituted a good case study of the high cost of failing to achieve effective interservice cooperation.

The Japanese navy fought in Manila without the help of the Japanese army and in defiance of the Japanese army joint commander’s direct orders to evacuate. Fighting alone had enormous consequences. The Manila Naval Defense Force would operate with no armor, little artillery, and with what was probably a limited supply of close-combat weapons. Moreover, the MNDF had no prior organization or training for urban warfare. Iwabuchi’s force consisted of the 31st Naval Special Base Force as its core, to which were added ship and aviation crews stationed in the Manila area, Korean and Formosan construction troops, and some civilian employees of the naval base. [vi] The MNDF were naval staff of every description. Few had had training for ground warfare of any kind, let alone urban warfare. One of the lessons of Manila was that it is possible to defend a city for a time without prior doctrine, organization, training, or equipment for urban warfare.

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html
Regarding Manila as indefensible, General Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, General Yokoyama Shizuo, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and evacuate the city as soon as strong American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Adm. Iwabachi Sanji, the naval commander for the Manila area, vowed to resist the Americans and countermanded the order. Determined to support the admiral as best he could, Yokoyama contributed three Army battalions to Iwabachi's 16,000-man Manila Naval Defense Force and prepared for battle. The sailors knew little about infantry tactics or street fighting, but they were well armed and entrenched throughout the capital. Iwabachi resolved to fight to the last man.

On 4 February 1945, General MacArthur announced the imminent recapture of the capital while his staff planned a victory parade. But 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. As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, "Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it's dying on Nichols Field." All thoughts of a parade had to be put aside.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... index.html (p. 14)
(3) Protection of civilians
The principal U.S. units involved in the Battle of Manila, the 37th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division, had not fought in cities before, but they apparently had to some extent been trained for city fighting and followed established doctrine for urban warfare (see Figure 1). Their methods differed from doctrine on only two points: air strikes were not allowed within the city, and artillery fires in the early phases of the battle were prohibited except against observed pinpoint targets known to be enemy positions.

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html
Corps and division staffs made sure that regiments and battalions were operationally and tactically coordinated. Tanks were used to the maximum for direct fires and suppressive fires from the time they became available to 37th Infantry Division on 14 February, and by 1st Cavalry Division throughout. Airpower, however, was never used to bomb or strafe Japanese positions in the city of Manila, as MacArthur repeatedly denied requests from subordinate units for air bombardment. This was a major departure from U.S. combined arms doctrine, justified by MacArthur’s desire to spare Philippine civilians in the city. Airpower was used in other ways, however. Cub planes were used continuously for artillery spotting. The 1st Cavalry Division used airpower, indeed joint airpower, for close air support and scouting in the division’s sweep around the outer edge of the city. Marine Air Groups 24 and 32, flying from an airstrip near Lingayen Gulf, kept nine SBDs over 1st Cavalry Division’s leading elements, and P-40s from the 5th Air Force flew reconnaissance missions to 1st Cavalry’s left and front. Moreover, U.S. airpower closed the skies completely to Japanese aircraft. [xlviii]

The restrictions on air bombardment within the city may have mattered little, however, because the enemy was contained within a confined space easily within artillery range. U.S. forces had abundant artillery assets and could get effects similar to those of air bombardment by employing massed artillery. Initially, artillery fires were also limited by MacArthur to “observed fire on known targets.” These restrictions were abandoned on 10 February because of mounting U.S. casualties. This was shortly after the 37th Infantry Division had crossed the Pasig and encountered developed Japanese strongpoints. Permission was obtained for “area artillery fire in front of advancing lines.”[xlix]

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html
While Manila offers many tactical lessons pertinent to the military dimension of urban warfare, it also offers many lessons in the other dimension of urban warfare -- the civic dimension. In this dimension, problems were not always as amenable to technical solutions as they had been in the military dimension.

What were Manila’s lessons for civil affairs? Operators faced two categories of problems, one being to preserve or revive the functions of the city as a whole, and the other being to provide for the multitude of citizens as individuals. The 6th Army was keen to keep the major collective services in the city -- water and electricity -- from being destroyed. The 1st Cavalry Division succeeded in preserving most of the water system, which lay outside the city, but the electrical steam power generator at Provisor Island within the city was destroyed, in spite of 6th Army’s good intentions. Moreover, the city’s refuse collection stopped, the sewage system was damaged, public transportation ceased to function, and roads and bridges were destroyed throughout the central city. Local government barely had existed in Manila during the early weeks of the battle, but was revived soon after MacArthur reestablished the Commonwealth Government on 28 February. Local authorities, although they existed after 28 February, were heavily assisted by the 37th Infantry Division until the latter’s departure on 29 March. The division also performed major service after the battle by keeping order, clearing mines and helping repair facilities. The lesson of Manila as regards collective municipal functions, government, water, electricity and the like, is to do as the 1st Cavalry Division and the 37th Infantry Division did: safeguard them as much as possible and, failing that, restore them as soon as possible.

The multitude of civilians also provided many challenges for U.S. forces in Manila. Civilians in pursuit of various purposes sometimes obstructed military activity for the 37th Infantry and the 1st Cavalry Divisions. One of these cases was the celebration by jubilant crowds at the beginning of the battle. This public celebration impaired force movement, though it may also have helped troop morale. On several occasions during the battle, civilians fled against or across the U.S. axis of advance, obstructing movement or fire. The presence of civilians made U.S. authorities unwilling to use air bombardment and reluctant to use area artillery fire. Americans believed Japanese were establishing positions in facilities such as hospitals and churches where civilians were present, knowing U.S. artillery would not fire on them there. [liv] In one case, at Santo Tomás, civilians were held hostage by Japanese troops in exchange for safe passage of lines.

Besides hampering military operations, civilians often made positive demands on U.S. service support activities that could not be ignored. At Bilibid Prison, the 37th Infantry Division was suddenly forced to evacuate then house some 1,300 internees in the way of an advancing fire. Civilians injured in the battle, some of whom were victims of Japanese atrocities, came to U.S. medical aid stations for help. [lv] Finally, individual civilians immediately after the battle depended on military personnel to maintain order and protect them from looting and other transgressions.

The lesson here for operators in an urban warfare environment is that they must be prepared to exercise patience in their operations given that in urban terrain, more than any other terrain, there are likely to be numerous nonbelligerents present. The lesson for planners in an urban warfare environment is to make sure that friendly forces have a superabundance of food and medical supplies, and of service assets, medical transportation, engineering, and so on. During and especially after the battle, they may have to devote these to that part of the mission objective that is to re-establish the fabric of civic life. The Manila battle is rich in lessons for urban warfare in its civil dimension as well as in its military dimension.

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html
(4) Tactics used in the Battle of Manila
The 37th Infantry Division completed its crossing of the Pasig on 8 February, and began deploying south and west out of its bridgehead. [xxii] The hardest fighting the 37th Infantry Division would face in Manila was in this district south of the river, between the crossing of the Pasig on 7 February and the assault on Intramuros on 23 February. Japanese defenders had established a series of strongpoints in major buildings in this area and contested them fiercely. On 8 February, the 129th Infantry Regiment moved westward along the Pasig shore and on 9 February crossed the Estero de Tonque by boat to assault Provisor Island where Manila’s steam electrical generation plant was located. The Japanese defenders placed sandbagged machine gun emplacements in buildings and at entrances and were able to blanket the whole island with machine gun positions to west, southwest, and south. The 129th Infantry Regiment approached the island in engineer assault boats, then conducted a cat and mouse struggle with Japanese for control of the buildings, fighting with machine guns and rifles among the structures and heavy machinery. The 129th was able to secure the island on 10 February, but lost twenty-five troops killed in the process. The vital electrical generation equipment, which Krueger in 6th Army’s plans had hoped to capture intact, was hopelessly damaged by both Japanese defenders and American fires. [xxiii]

While the 129th Infantry Regiment swept west out of the Malacanan bridgehead, in a close arc, the 148th Infantry Regiment swept in a broad arc, southeast, then back westward. The two regiments moved in line through the Pandacan district to the southeast with relatively little resistance, but then found themselves in a pitched battle in the Paco district for control of the Paco Railroad Station, Paco School, and Concordia College. On 9 February, both 129th Infantry Regiment and 148th Infantry Regiment advanced only 300 yards. [xxiv]

Given the new intensity of the fighting in the 37th Infantry Division’s sector, the division requested and received a lifting of the restrictions previously imposed on artillery fires. To that point, fires had been restricted to observed enemy positions, but had failed to force an enemy withdrawal. Thereafter, fires would be allowed “in front of . . . advancing lines without regard to pinpointed targets.” In other words, fires could blanket enemy positions U.S. troops were assaulting. “Literal destruction of a building in advance of the area of friendly troops became essential,” as the 37th Infantry Division Report After Action put it. [xxv]

The Japanese defensive positions U.S. troops encountered in the Paco district were well developed, as they would be for the rest of the battle. Japanese observers were present in almost every building. At street intersections, machine gun pillboxes were dug into buildings and sandbagged so as to cover the intersection and its approaches. Artillery and anti-aircraft weapons were placed in doorways or in upper story windows. Most streets and borders of streets were mined, using artillery shells and depth charges buried with their fuses protruding an inch or so above the surface. The streets were a fireswept zone forcing Americans to move between streets and within buildings. Americans entered and searched each building and house, top to bottom, and neutralized whatever enemy they found. [xxvi]

Besides controlling the urban terrain with fires, the Japanese in the Paco district and points west had fortified particular sturdy public buildings as urban strongpoints. In some cases, these buildings were mutually supporting. The first of the urban strongpoints the 37th Infantry Division encountered was the Paco Railroad Station. The Japanese had machine gun posts all around the station, and foxholes with riflemen surrounded each machine gun post. Inside at each corner were sandbag forts with 20mm guns. One large concrete pillbox in the building housed a 37mm gun. About 300 Japanese troops held Paco station. The Japanese placed observers in the Paco church steeple, and the station could not be approached until the Paco School and other neighboring positions had been cleared. [xxvii]

Americans inched forward to within 50 yards of the Paco station building, set up a bazooka or BAR, and pounded the building as riflemen rushed forward covered by fire. The station was finally seized at 0845 on 10 February after 10 assaults. Between the Provisor fighting and the Paco station fighting on 9 and 10 February, the 37th Infantry Division suffered 45 killed in action [KIA] and 307 wounded in action [WIA]. [xxviii]

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html
The bitter fighting at the New Police Station went on for eight days, until 20 February. On 17 February, the relatively fresh 145th Infantry Regiment replaced the battle-worn 129th Infantry Regiment. The first tanks arrived on 14 February to assist the Americans. Tanks were not present earlier in this part of the city because they could not cross the Pasig. Once committed, they were used for direct-fire bombardment on the New Police Station and in later operations.

The American method was to bombard the resisting structure with tanks and 105-mm guns and howitzers, then to conduct an assault. Sometimes the Japanese defenders counterattacked, driving the Americans out, in which case the whole process was repeated. The Japanese had trenches and foxholes outside the buildings and numerous sandbagged machine gun positions inside. U.S. artillery reduced the exterior walls to rubble, but infantry still had to go into the buildings and clear them room by room and floor by floor. The preferred American method was to fight from the roof down, but the troops were unable to do this at the New Police Station, probably because no structures were near enough to give roof access. Thus, they had to work from the ground up. Japanese defenders cut holes in the floors and dropped grenades through them. They also destroyed the stairways to prevent access to upper stories. Nevertheless, the145th Infantry Regiment managed to secure the New Police Station strongpoint by 20 February. [xxix]

From 20 to 22 February, the 145th Infantry Regiment repeated this exercise a block to the east at the City Hall and General Post Office. At the City Hall, the regiment employed the usual method of having artillery pound the exterior walls and then assaulting into the structure that remained. As at the New Police Station, the process of bombardment and assault had to be repeated several times. Americans in the assault made generous use of “submachine guns, bazookas, flame throwers, demolitions, and hand grenades.” At one point when Japanese resistors in a first floor room refused to surrender, the Americans blew holes in the ceiling, put flamethrowers through them, and annihilated all of the defenders. Americans sometimes had to fight their way into prepared positions in the darkened basements of these buildings. By the evening of 22 February, the 145th Infantry Regiment had fought its way through the worst of the strongpoints to the walls of Intramuros. [xxx]

Meanwhile, the 148th Infantry Regiment was fighting its way through the Philippine General Hospital and the University of the Philippines, operating parallel to and just south of the 129th Infantry Regiment and its follow-on 145th Infantry Regiment (see Map 2). The tactical battle here was similar to that elsewhere, but complicated by the fact that there were still civilian patients in the hospital. When the 148th Infantry Regiment discovered this on the afternoon of 16 February, it tried to limit its artillery fires to Japanese positions in the foundations of the hospital buildings. During the day of 17 February, the 148th escorted 2,000 patients out of the hospital, and 5,000 more that night. [xxxi]

On the morning of 19 February, the 5th Cavalry Regiment, having been assigned to the 37th Infantry Division from the 1st Cavalry Division, relieved the battle-worn 148th Infantry Regiment. The 5th Cavalry Regiment continued attacks in this sector on the University of the Philippines strongpoint. The Japanese here not only had established the usual defenses of sandbagged machine gun nests, but also had cut firing slits through the foundations just above the ground and put machine gun nests on the flat roof. After assaults on Rizal Hall, the 75 Japanese survivors of the original complement of 250 committed suicide on the night of 23 February. The next morning, the 5th Cavalry Regiment made the final assaults into University Hall, so concluding the strongpoint fighting for the 148th Infantry Regiment and the follow-on 5th Cavalry Regiment. For these units, as for the northerly 129th and follow-on 145th Infantry Regiments, the hardest strongpoint fighting was now over, and U.S. forces had secured Manila south of Intramuros. [xxxii

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html
By 23 February, the 37th Infantry Division had fought its way to the eastern wall of the Japanese stronghold of Intramuros and was prepared to assault it. Intermittent bombardment of the fortress began on 17 February. There was then a focused bombardment from 0730 to 0830 on 23 February, the day of the assault. This preparation employed an abundance of 105mm and 155mm howitzers, 75mm tank guns, 4.2-inch mortars, a few 8-inch howitzers, and other pieces; in other words, it was almost all of the 37th Infantry Division’s artillery assets. The 8-inch howitzers proved most effective against the thick walls of Intramuros. Thirty machine guns were used for the artillery preparations, of which 26 were trained on Japanese machine gun positions and four were reserved for targets of opportunity before and during the assault. Overall, 7,487 high explosive shells were dropped on Intramuros. [xxxvi]

At 0830, a red smoke signal was fired to mark the end of the artillery preparation and the beginning of the assault. Ten minutes later, a second bombardment began placing a smokescreen east to west across the central section of Intramuros to obscure the north-lying assaults from Japanese gunners in the south-lying Legislative, Finance and Agriculture Buildings (see Map 3). The 129th Infantry Regiment assaulted southward across the Pasig in engineer boats at 0830, the first troops disembarking at 0836. Simultaneously the 145th Infantry Regiment assaulted the east wall. Japanese fires within Intramuros evidently were less intense than in earlier encounters because the heavy bombardment had destroyed or disorganized them. Both the 129th Infantry and the 145th Infantry Regiments therefore moved easily through the breached walls and then through the streets of Intramuros. The 145th Infantry Regiment’s progress was soon blocked, however, by the flow of 2,000 refugees, women and children, from Del Monico Church on General Luna Street where the Japanese had been holding them. Many would be evacuated from the west gate of Intramuros by a truck convoy of the 37th Quartermaster Company. Male civilians had evidently been separated by the Japanese, detained in the Intramuros’ old citadel, Ft. Santiago, and executed there en masse. By nightfall of 23 February, the 129th and 145th Infantry Regiments held nearly all of Intramuros and would secure the rest the next day. [xxxvii]

The hardest fighting in Intramuros was the 129th’s effort to capture Ft. Santiago in the northwest corner of the old walls. They fought room to room, and then through subterranean dungeons and tunnels, using flamethrowers, phosphorus grenades, demolitions and bazookas. In some cases, they poured gasoline or oil through holes in the floor then ignited it to flush out the die-in-place defenders. The regiment did not secure the last of the fort’s tunnels until 1200 on 25 February. [xxxviii]

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html
On 1 March, the 5th Cavalry Regiment made a surrender appeal to Japanese survivors. When there was no response, the regiment employed demolitions and burning gasoline and oil against remaining defenders. An artillery preparation was applied against the sole remaining Japanese position, the Finance Building, on 28 February and 1 March. A surrender appeal this time garnered twenty-five Japanese responses. After more artillery preparation on 2 March, the 148th Infantry Regiment assaulted the building. They cleared the last of the Japanese defenders from the elevator shaft on top of the building on the morning of 3 March. [xli]

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html

The American method, once area artillery fires and tanks became available, was to pulverize the building they faced and then to assault into the remains. They used bazookas and flamethrowers against machine gun nests. They used abundant light suppressive fire weapons, grenades, and mortars, as well as small arms. Sometimes U.S. assaults failed because of withering fire or counterattacks, in which case troops would pull back and repeat the process. Tanks and tank destroyers were used in a direct-fire role for the artillery preparation. Their use beyond that was evidently limited by mines, rubble and the heavy concrete walls of the buildings themselves. Tanks could not follow infantry into the cellars and onto the roofs. Americans in Manila evidently learned to use their assets as they went along and used them to full advantage. Casualties suffered by the 37th Infantry Division when artillery restrictions were first lifted from 10-12 February averaged twenty-six KIA per day. By the period 21-23 February when the division was fighting at City Hall and assaulting Intramuros, casualties were down to six KIA per day on average. [l]

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html
The tactical battle of Manila, like many other urban conflicts, was a tale of fire and water. On 5 February, the 37th Infantry Division was stymied by raging fires that it had no way to fight or bring under control. The possibility of fire is endemic to urban environments. Manila showed that firefighting may be a feature of urban warfare for ground forces. The Manila fighting also demonstrated that urban warfare may have an amphibious war aspect. Both the 37th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division repeatedly had to cross rivers and esteros in assault boats and on pontoon bridges, often under fire. Though little came of it, the Japanese defenders attempted an amphibious envelopment of American lines on 7 February, using barges on Manila Bay. The final Manila operation for Americans was the search on 6-7 March by elements of the 129th Infantry Regiment, deployed on landing craft, of 32 ships sunk in the harbor where Japanese continued to resist. [li] The amphibious element is not unique to Manila. Almost all great cities are situated on a river or harbor or both. Urban fighting usually requires some projection over water.

Several artillery issues at Manila are characteristic of urban warfare. To avoid counterbattery fire, Japanese defenders put 75mm guns on trucks and moved them after firing. A shell passing through a target was a concern in Manila; shelling a building could jeopardize friendly troops on the other side. This is a case where sort of urban operations would necessitate more coordination than other forms of ground warfare. Some other artillery issues are more difficult to resolve. When is it justified to use massive area artillery bombardment, or air bombardment, when civilians may be present? It is a question that probably must be answered case by case. Commanders may be prudent to think through this question before they are in an operational situation. Study of the Manila battle may help them to do that.

Manila offered some tactical lessons for armor. Urban warfare is often siege warfare. Driving tanks around the city in itself will not bring victory but it may achieve the first stage of victory, which is to isolate the enemy. Within Manila, tanks were useful for direct artillery fire and to suppress pillboxes in the open. Tanks could not get into the buildings, however, just as tanks cannot get into caves. Tanks accompanied infantry to the wall. Once through the wall, infantry were on their own. Tank movement was inhibited in Manila. Tanks did not reach the 37th Infantry Division until 14 February because they could not cross the light pontoon bridges over the Pasig. Japanese defenders had mined approach routes, so mine clearing operations delayed tank movement every time lines moved forward. Electromagnetic mine detectors did not work because of all the metal already present in debris on the street. [lii] Sometimes rubble thrown down by the giant artillery bombardments obstructed the tanks. Tanks were useful in Manila, but not as decisive as they would be in maneuver battles over open ground.

http://corregidor.org/bom/drtmhuber_b.html

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 22 Apr 2005 16:35

WalterS wrote:I wish to take issue with the Moderator who started this thread for choosing the title :"Was Manila the Dresden of SE Asia, and was that a warcrime?" What is meant by "The Dresden of SE Asia?" Is Andy H implying that Manila was not a military objective? That it was undefended? That there was no reason to attack because the war was almost over? Those claims, all false, are often made by critics of the Dresden bombing. I am astonished that a Moderator of this forum would even try to make this connection between Dresden and Manilla. It is false and perjorative.
Hi Walter

I hold my hands up to the provocative thread title and the thought behind it was rather lame and simplistic.

What I wanted to see was wheather those critics of Dresden would also be critical of Manila battles based upon the article quoted and the logic they use when discussing Dresden-large civilian (disputed) death toll's, was it a worthwhile military objective etc etc.

If I caused offence then I'm sorry Walter

Regards

Andy H

JariL
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Post by JariL » 25 Apr 2005 08:51

Thanks for the quotes David! Based on the above, it seems that general MacArthur misjudged the situation but that he did so based on information that was basically sound but due to insubordination on the Japanes side proved terribly wrong.

Regards,

JariL

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Alp Guard
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Post by Alp Guard » 10 May 2005 14:43

I found this site today. Just horrible! :cry:

http://battlingbastardsbataan.com/som.htm

Sorry, if this one has been posted before.

Larry D.
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Post by Larry D. » 10 May 2005 15:24

Good find. I used to know a fine group of vets from the 511th Parachute Infantry/11th Airborne Division who took part in the liberation of Manila. This tale of horror is very consistent with the stories they used to tell us at a YMCA summer camp that I attended between 1947 and 1954. One of them was the camp director, Weldon B. Hester, who had been a Major in the 511th. He said the horrors he witnessed "would live with him for the rest of his life." The massacre of Manila was very similar to the massacre of Nanking in December 1937 that was related in great deal by author Iris Chang in a best-selling book about 10 years ago.

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