28 days: The aftermath (75 years)

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    CARNAGE. “It has been variously estimated that Manila was 50 to 80 percent destroyed. “General Eisenhower reported that Manila had suffered more devastation than any capitol except Warsaw…Harbors were wrecked, shipping destroyed, and other towns and areas devastated.” [Leo S. Cornish, Jr. The United States And The Philippine Hukbalahap Insurgency: 1946-1954. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, 08 March 1971]

    February 1945: Rape of Manila. “There were massacres perpetrated in anticipation of a Japanese withdrawal or of an Allied attack. These were not limited to prisoners of war, although many prisoners were massacred under these circumstances, apparently to prevent them from being liberated by the Allied forces. Civilian internees and members of the civilian population were also massacred under such circumstances. Massacres of this type occurred in the following places: … Irisan Area, Philippines (April 1945); Calamba, Philippines (February 1945); Panghulo, Philippines (February 1945); Tapel, Philippines (July 1945); and Barrio Dinwiddie, Philippines (August 1945). Massacres of this kind were very numerous in Batangas Province of the Philippines. They were committed among others at the following places: Barrio San Indres (January 1945); Bauan (February 1945); Santo Tomas (February 1945); Lipa (February and March 1945); Taal (February 1945); Tanauan (February 1945); and Rosario (March 1945). When it became apparent that Manila would be liberated, massacres of this type were committed all over the city as well as rape and arson.” [International military tribunal for the Far East, War Ministry Building, Tokyo, Japan, Judgment of 04 November 1948]

    Who was responsible for this destruction? “The familiar fatalistic mental attitude on the part of the Japanese was as apparent in city fighting as in combat in any other type of terrain where this enemy has been encountered. He has been indoctrinated with the offensive spirit to such an extent that, when forced to the defensive, his only objective is to live as long as possible. His communications were faulty; positions, while sometimes mutually supporting, did not provide for continuous prepared areas behind which he might retire, nor a route of withdrawal over which he might conduct the bulk of his forces to an assembly area from which to launch an attack at an opportune time against an enemy with extended lines of supply and communication. Thus he could not be maneuvered out of his position, but had to be exterminated in place.

    “The main purpose of the enemy in defending Manila was threefold: first, to effect maximum attrition of American fighting power by utilizing the advantages of natural and man-made defenses within the city; secondly, to delay the occupation and utilization of the Port of Manila as long as possible; thirdly, to cripple the city as a base for future military operations and as a center for civilian production and governmental control. This third objective was covered in Manila Naval Defense Force (MNDF) Order No. 43, dated 3 Feb., 1945, which reads in part as follows: ‘…3. A special order will be issued concerning the demolition of the water system and the electrical installations’.

    “The overall defenses of Greater Manila were entrusted to Rear Admiral Iwabuchi, Mitsuji.

    The forces north of the Pasig River were commanded by Col. Noguchi, former adjutant of the Fourteenth Army, who had under his control two provisional Army battalions and one provisional Navy battalion. Those south of the river were under the direct control of Iwabuchi.”

    “Goaded by their failure to put an end to guerrilla activity in Manila, the Japanese, in desperation, determined to take positive action by declaring that all Filipinos, women and children included, found in the battle areas were to be considered guerrillas and were to be exterminated.” [Japanese Defense of Cities as exemplified by The Battle for Manila . A Report By XIV Corps. Published By A. C. of S., G-2 Headquarters, Sixth Army, 01 July 1945]

    Thankfully, some were rescued. “MANILA, Feb. 5.— American troops entered Manila, capital of the Philippines, on Saturday night and now control a large part of the city, including the business and administrative centre. A flying column of tanks and motorized infantry, under orders from General MacArthur to ignore all risks, reached Santo Tomas University at 5 p.m. yesterday and in a movie-like rescue freed 2,700 British, American, Australian, and other civilians who had been interned there since January, 1942.” [Jack Percival, Sydney Morning Herald, February 6, 1945]

    It was the Liberation of Manila. “Luzon—In U.S. Sixth Army’s XIV Corps area, 37th Div extends E to take responsibility for most of Manila N of the Pasig, thus releasing 5th and 8th Cav Regts, which are to clear E suburbs as far S as the Pasig. Ordered to attack across the Pasig at once, 37th Div turns over part of its zone to a provisional organization, Special Security Force, and crosses 3d and 2d Bns of 148th Inf in assault boats.”

    “In U.S. Eighth Army area, 11th A/B Div, with arty and air support, begins drive on Nichols Field.” [United States Army in World War II. Special Studies. Chronology: 1941-1945. Compiled by Mary H. Williams]

    It was the Battle for Manila. “For the American Army, Manila represented a significant change in the nature of the ground war in the Pacific Theater. Unlike previous island and jungle battles, Manila entailed a multi-division corps attack in a major metropolitan area.

    The battle of Manila marked the first and only time in the Pacific War in which American troops met the Japanese in a struggle for a major city. In the spring of 1945, American Army commanders viewed the experience as a glimpse of fights awaiting them in large cities of the Japanese home islands. Surveying the aftermath of the battle for Manila, General MacArthur vowed, ‘…by these ashes [the enemy] has wantonly fixed the future pattern of his own doom’.” [THE XIV Corps Battle for Manila, February 1945. A thesis presented to the Faculty of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Kevin T. McEnery, CPT, USA]

    How should Japan take this historical fact? On January 26, 2016, the Emperor of Japan publicly declared: “During World War II, countless Filipino, American, and Japanese lives were lost in the Philippines. A great many innocent Filipino civilians became casualties of the fierce battles fought in the city of Manila.” [https://www.kunaicho.go.jp/e-okotoba/01/address/speech-h28e.html]

    The Emperor’s statement and the Battle for, Rape of and Liberation of Manila should be of interest to United Nations Fund for Population Activities Country Director Iori Kato who told the audience at the Philippine Women’s University during the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust last 27 January 2020: “Seventy-five years on, neo-Nazis and white supremacists are resurgent, and there are continued efforts to diminish the Holocaust and deny or downplay the responsibility of perpetrators.” [https://pia.gov.ph/features/articles/1033547]