Chapter XVI
Manila: The Last Resistance

After the fighting at the strongpoints, the seizure of Intramuros must in some ways have been anticlimactical to the troops involved. Clearing the Walled City was primarily a victory of U.S. Army artillery, tanks, and tank destroyers over medieval Spanish walls and stone buildings. The subsequent reduction of the government buildings represented the triumph of the same weapons over modern, American-built, reinforced concrete structures. Thus, the investiture of Intramuros and the government buildings was a classical siege conducted with modern weapons. But this is not to detract from the part the infantry--and the dismounted cavalry fighting as infantry--played in these final phases of the battle for Manila. The artillery alone could not win the fight; as usual the last battle belonged to the infantry. Infantry had to move in to secure the ground the artillery had prepared, and infantry took many casualties before the battle ended.


Plans and Preparations

Plans for the attack on Intramuros were long in the making, and from the beginning planners had to take into account a number of closely interrelated tactical considerations.1 Available information led to the conclusion that the Japanese defenses were strongest on the southern and eastern sides of the Walled City and that the Japanese expected attack from these, the most logical directions. Japanese garrisons in the Legislative, Finance, and Agriculture Buildings just across Padre Burgos Street southeast of Intramuros could cover these approaches. The 37th Division could, of course, take the government buildings before launching an assault on Intramuros, but it would be easier to attack the government buildings after Intramuros fell.

Conversely, planners deemed it feasible to strike into Intramuros from the west, since Japanese defenses along the west wall, across Bonifacio Street from the Manila Hotel and the South Port Area, appeared weak. But in this case, American troops would first have to clear the South Port Area and then, advancing from the west, would have to attack toward much of their own supporting


artillery. The artillery's best positions for close support were on the north and northeast, across the Pasig, and on the east, in the area south from the General Post Office to the City Hall, and much of the artillery ultimately did fire from these areas.

About halfway from the northeast to the northwest corner of Intramuros the ancient wall ended, providing direct access into the Walled City at the Government Mint. The only other obstacle on the north was a low sea wall running along the south bank of the Pasig, and Japanese defenses along the north face appeared weak except at the northeast corner. Planners therefore decided that there would be an excellent chance to execute a successful amphibious assault from the north bank of the Pasig against the north-central side of the Walled City. The planners realized that a prime requisite to such a move would be the emplacement of artillery, tanks, and tank destroyers to provide extremely close support for the attacking infantry.

Since the 37th Division knew that the Japanese had devised an elaborate tunnel system to move troops quickly from one section of Intramuros to another, the division considered it necessary to make more than one assault in order to keep the Japanese off balance and to divide their forces. The division selected a point near the northeastern entrance, Quezon Gate, as the site for the second assault. Because the Japanese blocked and covered both Quezon Gate and Parian Gate, 200 yards to the south, from strong pillboxes just inside the walls, the division decided it would have to employ heavy artillery to blast an additional point of entry through the thick wall just south of Quezon Gate.

An assault near Quezon Gate would require especially strong artillery support, because the Japanese had major defenses near the gate and because they could subject the attacking troops to enfilade fire from the three government buildings to the south. Therefore, artillery would have to neutralize the government buildings during the assault on Intramuros, and smoke would be laid between the government buildings and the east wall of Intramuros to conceal the attackers' movements. Finally, the 1st Cavalry Brigade, operating to the west and southwest of Intramuros, would thwart any attempt of Japanese troops to escape from the Walled City.

Planners devoted considerable attention to the problem of timing the attack. They gave thought to night operations, both to achieve surprise and to ease some of the problems of amphibious assault. Earlier artillery fire had crumbled the sea wall in many places along the south bank of the Pasig and, as a result, much of that bank along the north side of Intramuros was rubble strewn. At high tide, which would occur during the dark of early morning and again in the early afternoon of 23 February, LVT's could make their way across the rubble, while landing craft could float over it in some places to put troops ashore on the quay that ran along the north side of the Walled City.

But the tide could not be allowed to become the controlling factor. The element of surprise to be achieved during the night high tide was not of great moment, for the Japanese knew an assault was imminent and would be prepared for it no matter what the hour. Moreover, a two-pronged attack into such a small area demanded the closest


possible co-ordination between artillery support and infantry action, as well as among the various infantry units. Such co-ordination could not be achieved in a night assault.

Planners also decided that the attack could not wait for the afternoon high tide. If the Japanese defenses proved especially strong the assault troops might be unable to gain a foothold within Intramuros before dark, a circumstance that might well lead to the inevitable shambles of a night withdrawal. Having weighed all the factors the 37th Division, with XIV Corps concurrence, finally decided to launch the assault on both the north and the northeast at 0830 on 23 February.2

Having disposed of the problems of time and place, corps and division planners still had to determine how to prepare the way for the infantry. General Beightler, who realized that the attack on Intramuros and the government buildings would probably prove costly, began to think in terms of employing aerial bombardment to raze the Walled City and the other objectives as well. Griswold, the corps commander, agreed to this plan with some reluctance after he had concluded that Intramuros was so strongly defended that the assault there might produce prohibitive casualties unless preceded by intensive aerial bombardment.3

After XIV Corps had made unsuccessful attempts to induce the Japanese within Intramuros to surrender or at least to release the many Filipino civilians they held hostage, General Griswold informed Krueger of the aerial bombardment plan. The corps commander asked Krueger for all the dive bomber squadrons of Marine Air Groups 24 and 32 (from Mangaldan Field at Lingayen Gulf) and for a squadron of Fifth Air Force P-38's equipped to conduct napalm strikes.4

The proposals inevitably had repercussions. So far, General MacArthur had severely restricted the employment of air in the metropolitan area. In late January and early February Marine Corps SBD's had bombed or strafed a few pinpointed targets in the North and South Port Areas and had also hit some obvious Japanese gun positions in the open areas of Luneta Park and Burnham Green. One or two strikes may also have taken place against specific targets within Intramuros, but all in all it appears that planes of the Allied Air Forces flew no more than ten or twelve individual sorties against targets within the city after 3 February. Before that time both carrier-based and land-based aircraft had presumably limited their strikes to targets within the port areas and to oil storage facilities in Pandacan and Paco


Districts.5 Of course some bombs had gone astray during these strikes and had caused damage within Intramuros,6 while additional damage within the Walled City had resulted from both American and Japanese artillery fire the first two weeks of the battle for Manila.

Knowing and understanding General MacArthur's position on the destruction of Manila--and large sections of the city had already been battered beyond recognition--Krueger sought the theater commander's views on the proposed air attacks, stating that XIV Corps' request would be approved unless MacArthur objected.7

General MacArthur did indeed object:

The use of air on a part of a city occupied by a friendly and allied population is unthinkable. The inaccuracy of this type of bombardment would result beyond question in the death of thousands of innocent civilians. It is not believed moreover that this would appreciably lower our own casualty rate although it would unquestionably hasten the conclusion of the operations. For these reasons I do not approve the use of air bombardment on the Intramuros district.8

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 240-mm. howitzers down. In addition, 75-mm. tank weapons, 76-mm. tank destroyer guns, and infantry 105-mm. self-propelled mounts would be used for point-blank fire. Organic infantry 81-mm. and 60-mm. mortars and 4.2-inch chemical mortars would add the weight of their fires, while from high buildings such as the City Hall and office buildings on the north side of the Pasig infantry heavy and light machine guns would blanket the walls and interior of Intramuros before the assault.9 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.

The bombardment of Intramuros in preparation for the actual assault began on 17 February when 8-inch howitzers, with indirect fire, started blasting a breach in the east wall, which, at the point of breaching, was 40 feet thick at the base, 16 feet high, and about 20 feet across the top. This was by no means the first artillery fire directed at Intramuros. In support of previous operations throughout the city, 37th Division


and XIV Corps Artillery had earlier fired on pinpointed targets, mainly Japanese artillery and mortar positions, throughout the Walled City. Considerable damage to the ancient buildings had already resulted, and by the time the assault preparation began most of the Japanese artillery and mortars had long since been knocked out.10

The 8-inch howitzers of Battery C, 465th Field Artillery Battalion, made a neat breach in the central portion of the east wall between Parian and Victoria Gates with 150 rounds of high explosive. Later, a single 155-mm. howitzer of the 756th Field Artillery, firing at a range of about 800 yards, started blasting away to form the planned breach south of Quezon Gate. With 150 rounds this weapon produced a break 50 feet long that extended about 10 feet down from the top of the wall. An 8-inch howitzer smoothed out the resulting pile of debris at the outer base of the wall with 29 rounds of indirect fire, making an easy ramp.

The 240-mm. howitzers of Battery C, 544th Field Artillery, began bombardment to breach the north wall and knock out a Japanese strongpoint at the Government Mint on the morning of 22 February, 8-inch howitzers lending a hand from time to time. The 76-mm. guns of a platoon of the 637th Tank Destroyer Battalion used point-blank fire from across the Pasig to blast footholds along the south quay and in the rubble along the river's bank in order to provide the assault troops with landing points.11

Throughout the night of 22-23 February, in advance of a final barrage before the infantry assault the next morning, 37th Division and XIV Corps Artillery kept up harassing fires against the walls and interior of Intramuros.12 Meanwhile, during the 22d, more guns moved into firing positions. As of morning on the 23d artillery to fire in support of the assault was disposed as shown in Table 3. In addition, many of the 105-mm. SPM's of the 37th Division's three cannon companies took up positions along the north bank of the Pasig or east of Intramuros. The 148th Infantry set up twenty-six heavy and light machine guns in buildings north of the river to provide cover for the men of the 129th who were to make the amphibious assault. The 145th Infantry, which was to attack overland from the east, would have cover from its own machine guns, which would fire from such points of vantage as the upper floors of the City Hall.

The final preparatory barrage lasted from 0730 to 0830 on the 23d. Using both area and point fire, the artillery, tanks, TD's, SPM's, and mortars plastered the walls of Intramuros and covered the entire interior except for a section roughly three blocks wide and four blocks long in the west-central portion of the Walled City. At 0830 the



Units and Their Locations Weapons

North Bank of Pasig  
  Battery B, 136th Field Artillery 4 155-mm. howitzers
  6th Field Artillery 12 105-mm. howitzers
  Platoon, 637th TD Battalion 4 76-mm. guns
East of Intramuros  
  Battery A, 136th Field Artillery 4 155-mm. howitzers
  Battery A, 140th Field Artillery 4 105-mm. howitzers
  One piece, 756th Field Artillery 1 155-mm. howitzer
  Six tanks, 754th Tank Battalion 6 75-mm. tank guns
  Two platoons, 637th TD Battalion 8 76-mm. guns
Division and Corps Artillery at Rear Positions  
  Companies A & D, 82d Chemical Mortar Battalion 24 4.2-inch mortars
  135th Field Artillery 12 105-mm. howitzers
  82d Field Artillery 12 105-mm. howitzers
  Batteries B & C, 140th Field Artillery 8 105-mm. howitzers
  Battery C, 136th Field Artillery 4 155-mm. howitzers
  756th Field Artillery (less 1 weapon) 11 155-mm. howitzers
  Battery C, 465th Field Artillery 4 8-inch howitzers
  Battery C, 544th Field Artillery 2 240-mm. howitzers

Source. Relevant sources cited in n. 12.

support fire ceased, and the infantry assault began. Ten minutes later artillery began firing again, this time laying the high explosive, smoke, and white phosphorus along a 100-yard-wide strip between the east and west walls to seal off the southern third of Intramuros and prevent the Japanese in that area from observing movements to the north or sending reinforcements northward. This fire lasted approximately half an hour. Table 4 gives the amounts of artillery fire expended in support of the assault. The total weight of the artillery fire was roughly 185 tons, to which the 4.2-inch mortars of Companies A and D, 82d Chemical Mortar Battalion, added about 45 tons--over 3,750 rounds--of smoke and high explosive.13

XIV Corps Artillery reported that by reason of their great accuracy the 8-inch howitzers were the best weapon used against the walls while the 240-mm. howitzers, with their heavier and more powerful projectile, proved most effective against buildings. With 155-mm. howitzers, considerable advantages seemed to have accrued by employing unfuzed high-explosive shells to open


Caliber Rounds

High Explosive Armor Piercing Smoke and White Phosphorus
75-mm. tank guns 450 150 . . . .
76-mm. TD guns 450 150 . . . .
105-mm. field artillery howitzers 4,753 . . . . 93
155-mm. field artillery howitzers 1,723 . . . . 23
240-mm. howitzers 39 . . . . . . . .
8-inch howitzers 72 . . . . . . . .
     Total 7,487 300 116
Source: Relevant sources cited in n. 12.

fissures in the walls, since the unfuzed shells penetrated more deeply before explosion than did those with impact or delayed fuze settings. The fissure thus opened was easily enlarged by subsequent employment of high-explosive shells with delayed settings.

The Assault

Troops of the 3d Battalion, 129th Infantry, had begun loading aboard assault boats manned by the 117th Engineers about 0820 on 23 February, their line of departure the mouth of the Estero de Binondo, opposite the Government Mint.14 (Map 7) The first boats reached the south shore unopposed between 0835 and 0840, and the infantry quickly dashed through and by the Mint into Intramuros. Putting its left on Beaterio Street, which ran northeast to southwest, the 3d Battalion swung its right toward Fort Santiago, at the northwest corner of Intramuros. The battalion established contact with the 145th Infantry about 0850 at Letran University, at the northeast corner.

As the American troops drove further into Intramuros, the Japanese began to recover from the shock of the artillery bombardment and to offer scattered resistance from isolated machine gun and rifle positions. Company I, 129th Infantry, on the left, and Company L, in the center, reached the west wall shortly after 1200, having suffered no casualties and having killed only 10 Japanese on the way. The battalion soon isolated resistance in its sector to Fort Santiago, toward which Company L, attacking along the west wall and through adjacent buildings, turned. Company K had some difficulty reaching the west wall in the area south of Fort Santiago but got its right on the wall to make contact with Companies I and L late in the day. In concert, the three rifle companies cleared the west wall north from Beaterio Street. About 1830 Company K


Map 7
The Capture of Manila
Eliminating the Last Resistance
23 February-3 March 1945

made contact with elements of the 1st Cavalry Brigade in the South Port Area, beyond the west wall.

Company L had a nasty fight on its hands at Fort Santiago. The preassault artillery bombardment had demolished the outlying defenses of this ancient Spanish citadel and had also battered the walls of the fort proper. The Japanese inside had retired into inner recesses, a few undamaged outbuildings, some subterranean dungeons, tunnels, and holes. One by one, the 129th Infantry reduced the separate strongpoints--no co-ordinated defense existed--with fragmentation and white phosphorus grenades, demolitions, bazookas, and flame throwers. In a few instances engineers poured gasoline or oil into holes and dungeons and then ignited it. Company L had actually surrounded and entered the fort quickly, but faced a bitter battle throughout the afternoon and had to leave mopping up for the morrow.

The 145th Infantry's experiences during the day were not dissimilar. Clambering across the breach south of Quezon Gate and then through the gate itself, the two leading platoons of the 2d Battalion,



145th, were within Intramuros at 0833 without a casualty. Following troops walked through Quezon and Parian Gates unopposed, and by 1030 the battalion had secured the first two blocks southwest of Quezon Gate and had cleared the damaged building of Letran University. Fifteen minutes later the 1st Battalion came through Parian Gate. The two units then started southward with the 2d Battalion's right on Beaterio Street, in contact with the 129th Infantry, and the 1st Battalion's left along the east wall.

Progress slowed as troops sought cover from automatic weapons and rifle fire originating in the southern section of Intramuros. At 1300 the two battalions were four blocks southwest of Quezon Gate and had established a line stretching from Beaterio almost to the east wall. At this juncture the advance stopped as the Japanese began letting nearly 3,000 civilian hostages dribble out of San Augustin and Del Monico Churches, farther south. The refugees were women, children, and some Roman Catholic nuns and priests. There were very few male civilians in the group--the 129th Infantry had discovered most


of the men dead in Fort Santiago's dungeons, where the Japanese had murdered them.15

After the civilian evacuation was complete, American tanks and self-propelled mounts fired on Japanese positions within the two churches and at other strongpoints in the southwestern section of Intramuros, including a few pillboxes. Against stubborn opposition, troops of the 145th Infantry were unable to reach the south or west walls before dark, and the two battalions halted for the night generally two blocks short of the west wall and four short of the southwest corner of Intramuros.

The casualties of the 145th Infantry's two battalions for 23 February numbered about 15 men killed and 45 wounded; the regiment had killed some 190 Japanese and captured 20 Formosan labor troops.16

By 1030 on 24 February the 145th Infantry had compressed the last resistance in its zone into the Aquarium, located in a bastion off the southwest corner of Intramuros. Since Japanese holed up in the government buildings across Padre Burgos Street covered the Aquarium's outer walls with rifle and machine gun fire, the 145th Infantry was hard put to devise a plan of attack until the 1st Battalion discovered a tunnel connecting the bastion to the main wall. Company C used the tunnel as an assault route, while the rest of the Battalion provided fire support for the attack from the south wall and Cannon Company SPM's conducted a preparatory shelling. The Japanese neglected to defend the tunnel approach, and Company C, employing hand grenades and bazookas liberally, broke into the Aquarium with little trouble. The final assault began about 1600. An hour and a half and 115 dead Japanese later, the 145th Infantry had overcome the last organized resistance within Intramuros.

The 3d Battalion, 129th Infantry, on 24 February, finished mopping up at Fort Santiago, and continued to mop up and patrol in its zone until noon the next day, when it had to withdraw to get out of the line of fire of artillery units supporting infantry attacks against the government buildings to the east and southeast. The battalion returned to Intramuros when this fire ceased and resumed its search of the rubble until the 145th Infantry relieved it about noon on the 27th.

The casualties of the 3d Battalion, 129th Infantry, were amazingly low considering the opposition the unit met at Fort Santiago. The battalion reported that it lost about 5 men killed and 25 wounded in Intramuros; it killed perhaps 500 Japanese, 400 of them at Fort Santiago alone. The 145th Infantry suffered more heavily at Intramuros from 23 February through 1 March, when the regiment passed to the control of the Provost Marshal General, United States Army Forces in the Far East, for police duties in Manila. The 145th Infantry's casualties were approximately 20 men killed and 240 wounded, while the regiment killed or found dead some 760 Japanese.

The 37th Division's total losses--roughly 25 killed and 265 wounded--during the reduction of Intramuros were quite low in comparison to the Japanese losses. The infantry units alone



killed over 1,000 Japanese and took 25 prisoners. This hardly provides an accurate figure of Japanese strength in Intramuros. All infantry reports are extremely generous to the supporting artillery and mortar units--both the infantry records and eyewitness accounts indicate that the artillery preparation fire from 17 February through the morning of the 23d killed many hundreds of Japanese. It would not, indeed, be surprising to learn the Japanese garrison numbered over 2,000 troops on 17 February.

Manifestly, artillery had done an unusually effective job at Intramuros, and one proof of the effectiveness of the bombardment was the fact that American infantry casualties were so low in comparison with the Japanese losses. That the artillery had also almost razed the ancient Walled City could not be helped. To the XIV Corps and the 37th Division at this stage of the battle for Manila, American lives were understandably far more valuable than historic landmarks. The destruction had stemmed from the American decision to save lives in a battle against Japanese troops who had decided to sacrifice theirs as dearly as possible.

The Government Buildings

While part of the 37th Division had been clearing Intramuros, other troops of that division as well as the men of the


attached 1st Cavalry Brigade had been devoting their attention to the government buildings and to the South Port Area. Between 23 and 25 February the 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry, and the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, cleared the South Port Area against opposition that was relatively light except at one strongpoint.17 Most of the Japanese troops in the area were Formosan, Chinese, and Korean labor personnel, of whom almost 250 surrendered on 24 February alone. With poor morale and poorer armament, they inflicted few casualties upon the cavalrymen, who finished their job rapidly.

Far different was the action at the government buildings, where the 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry, and elements of the 148th Infantry had contained Japanese forces during the fighting for Intramuros and the South Port Area.18 The imposing, columned façade of the Philippine Commonwealth's Legislative Building--the Philippine Capitol--fronted on Padre Burgos Street opposite the southeast corner of Intramuros and lay 150 yards south of the City Hall. About 100 yards south of the Legislative Building was the Bureau of Finance, and another 250 yards to the south-southeast, near the intersection of General Luna and San Luis Streets, lay the main building of the Bureau of Agriculture and Commerce.

Despite the fact that the Japanese in the three buildings had advantages of position and elevation that permitted them to endanger American and Filipino movements over large areas of Manila, the XIV Corps and the 37th Division at first considered starving the Japanese garrison out. But the two headquarters soon decided this would take too long. Information from prisoners and Filipino hostages who had escaped from the buildings indicated that the Japanese garrisons in the three structures had sufficient strength, ammunition, food, and water to withstand a protracted siege. Moreover, to permit the Japanese to hold the buildings would unduly delay the development of base and headquarters sites in the area that Japanese machine gunners and riflemen could dominate. Accordingly, Generals Griswold and Beightler reluctantly concluded that they would have to call upon their battle-weary troops to assault the buildings.

The strength of the three Japanese garrisons is unknown, and it is probable that the numbers of Japanese within each building varied considerably. The headquarters of one of Admiral Iwabuchi's Central Force battalions had operated in the Legislative Building,19 and the garrison there probably numbered over 250 men as of 23 February. Apparently, the garrisons in the other two buildings were smaller, but permanence of abode was not one of the characteristics of the Japanese naval troops in the three structures. During the last phases of the battle for Manila Japanese control had broken down almost completely, and even before the siege of the government buildings and Intramuros Japanese troops had rather aimlessly wandered


back and forth between the buildings and Intramuros and among the three buildings.

Architecturally similar to the old Senate and House Office Buildings in Washington, D.C., the three government structures were modern, earthquake-proof edifices constructed of heavily reinforced concrete.20 The oblong Legislative Building, with wings four stories high and a central portion rising another two and a half floors, was constructed around two open courtyards. The Finance and Agriculture Buildings, both five-story trapezoids, each featured a central courtyard. The buildings were strong not only by virtue of their construction but because all approaches to them led across wide open ground. Sandbag emplacements and barricades of other types blocked all readily accessible doors and windows, and window-emplaced machine guns covered all approaches. Interior fortifications were similar to those XIV Corps troops had already encountered throughout Manila.

The XIV Corps-37th Division plan of assault called for intensive preparatory bombardment of each building by 155-mm. howitzers, Cannon Company 105-mm. SPM's, 75-mm. tank guns, 76-mm. TD weapons, and 4.2-inch and 81-mm. mortars. Upon the completion of bombardments, the 148th Infantry, 37th Division, would attack first the Legislative Building and then move on to seize the Finance Building. The 5th Cavalry would simultaneously reduce the Agriculture Building. Artillery fire was to begin on the morning of 24 February; the first infantry assaults would not take place until the morning of the 26th. Undeniably, the preparatory bombardments would lead to the severe damage, if not the destruction, of all three buildings, but again XIV Corps really had no choice.

The 155-mm. howitzers of the 136th Field Artillery Battalion, providing point-blank fire at ranges from 150 to 800 yards, proved the most effective weapon during the preassault bombardment.21 To the artillerymen concerned, the credit and honor that thus accrued to them was hardly commensurate with the risks involved. Bringing its weapons forward to exposed positions where only the thin gun shield provided any protection from Japanese fire, the 136th Field Artillery gained a quick appreciation of the facts of life as seen by the infantry and cavalry. By the time the last of the government buildings had fallen, the artillery battalion had lost 5 men killed and 54 wounded to Japanese machine gun and rifle fire.

Shortly after 0900 on 26 February, following a final hour's artillery preparation, troops of the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry, entered the ground floor of the Legislative Building from the rear, or east.22 Inside, the Japanese conducted a



defense as stubborn as that the Americans had encountered anywhere in Manila, and by 1300 the 1st Battalion had secured only the first floor of the north wing and the first and second floors of the central section. Then, "exceedingly heavy resistance" stopped the attack completely.23 Since it appeared that further effort could produce only many casualties and little or no progress, the troops withdrew behind smoke. The day's attacks had cost the 148th Infantry 2 men killed and 52 wounded.

On the morning of 27 February artillery and mortars attempted to smoke the Japanese out of the building. This failed, and 155-mm. howitzers and 105-mm. SPM's thereupon resumed point-blank fire for about two hours. At the end of this bombardment, the north wing had been demolished and the south wing had been damaged beyond repair. Only the battered central portion, roofless and gutted, still stood above its wings like a ghost arising from between toppled tombstones.

Just after 1400 on the 27th the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry, attacked again and by 1600 had retaken the sorry remnants of the first floor. The battalion cleaned out the rest of the building except for isolated pockets in the basement by 1800, and completed mopping up before noon on the 28th. By that time the battalion had lost another 7 men wounded.

Meanwhile, the 5th Cavalry had assaulted the Agriculture Building. On the 26th, behind artillery support, the



regiment attacked twice, but fire from a suicide-bent detachment of Japanese riflemen in the nearby San Luis Terrace Apartments forced the cavalrymen to seek cover after they had lost about 5 men killed and 30 wounded. The next day, losing another 15 men wounded, the 5th Cavalry cleaned out the apartment house and a few neighboring buildings in preparation for another assault on the Agriculture Building on the 28th.

Action on the 28th began with a three-hour preparatory artillery bombardment on the following schedule:

0800-0900 155-mm. point-blank fire from the west and north
0900-1000 75-mm. tank fire and 76-mm. tank destroyer fire, also point-blank, from the south and east
1000-1100 155-mm. point-blank fire from the west and north

The howitzers, tanks, and tank destroyers, so as to avoid endangering troops attacking the other two government buildings, aimed none of their fires higher than the first floor. As a result, much of the Agriculture Building collapsed on its own first floor. By 1100 the bombardment had disintegrated the entire northeastern corner and had damaged beyond repair the rest of the building. The destruction appeared so complete that as the cavalrymen moved in from the south they felt that not a single Japanese could be alive amid the mass of twisted steel and concrete rubble.

Encountering no opposition, the troopers easily gained access to the remains of the first floor, but soon ran into strong resistance from pockets at the northwest and southeast corners. A tank mounting a flame thrower thereupon


came forward to reduce a pillbox at the southeast corner of the building, while other tanks lumbered forward to cover all sides of the structure with point-blank 75-mm. fire. Using small arms, bazookas, and portable flame throwers, the 5th Cavalry cleared the above-ground ruins by dusk, but left a few Japanese hidden in basement holes. On 1 March, after a surrender appeal had failed, demolitions and burning gasoline and oil took care of the last Japanese resistance.

The 5th Cavalry reckoned that it had killed at least 150 Japanese during the assault, that artillery fire had killed many more, and that riflemen had cut down others as they tried to escape during the preceding five nights. The 5th Cavalry's own casualties during the reduction of the Agriculture Building were 7 men killed and 75 wounded.

Just as the 1st Cavalry Division had had the honor of first entering Manila, the 37th Infantry Division now had the honor of reducing the last organized resistance within the city, that in the Finance Building. Throughout 28 February and 1 March 155-mm. artillery, 105-mm. SPM's, 76-mm. TD's, and 75-mm. tank guns lambasted the Finance Building from all angles. About 1430 on 1 March the fire stopped as a loudspeaker blared forth an invitation to surrender. Twenty-two Japanese responded.24

After another bombardment lasting from 0800 to 1000 on 2 March, the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry, began an assault, but halted when three more Japanese came out under a white flag. The Japanese remaining inside took advantage of the lull to open up with machine gun and rifle fire, catching many of the assault troops in exposed positions. Completely disgusted, the infantry withdrew for a final artillery and tank barrage, which lasted until 1300. At the end of this concentration the Finance Building was a shambles; the portions not knocked down seemed to be standing only from sheer force of habit.

What proved to be the final attack began at 1300, and by dark only a small pocket on the top floor remained to be eliminated the next day. This last effort cost the 148th Infantry 1 man killed and 13 wounded. About 75 Japanese were killed within the Finance Building on 2 and 3 March.

Late on 3 March, after he had made sure that all opposition in the Intramuros and government buildings area had been eliminated, General Griswold happily reported to General Krueger that organized resistance in the Manila area had ceased.25 This information the Sixth Army commander relayed to General MacArthur the next day.26 The Battle of Manila was over.


The cost of retaking Manila had not been light. XIV Corps lost over 1,000 men killed and 5,500 wounded in the metropolitan area from 3 February through 3 March. The breakdown among major units is shown in Table 5.

The Japanese lost some 16,000 men killed in and around Manila. Of this


Unit Killed Wounded Total Casualties

37th Infantry Division 300 2,700 3,000
1st Cavalry Division 250 1,250 1,500
11th Airborne Division 210 865 1,075
XIV Corps troops 250 750 1,000
     Total 1,010 5,565 6,575
Source: Based upon a study of relevant corps, divisional, and regimental sources, all of which, as usual, provide contradictory and irreconcilable information.

total the Manila Naval Defense Force lost at least 12,500 men, the remainder of Admiral Iwabuchi's 17,000-man garrison having escaped across the Marikina River. The other 3,500 men killed were members of various Shimbu Group units overrun on the periphery of the metropolitan area or chopped down during the abortive counterattack effort.27 Japanese equipment captured in the Manila area, either intact or damaged, is shown in Table 6.

The cost of the battle for Manila cannot be measured in military terms alone. The city was a shambles after the battle was over--much of it destroyed, damaged beyond repair, or reparable only at great expense in time and money. The public transportation system no longer existed; the water supply and sewage systems needed extensive repairs; the electric power facilities did not function; most of the streets needed repaving; 39 of 100 or more large and small bridges had been destroyed, including the 6 over the Pasig River.

The University of the Philippines and the Philippine General Hospital were largely irreparable. Lower class residential districts north of the Pasig and upper class apartments south of the river had been destroyed; the Philippine Commonwealth's government's center had been wiped out; the 400-year-old landmark of Intramuros had been nearly razed; severe damage had been inflicted on the economically important installations in the North and South Port Areas; the industrialized Paco and Pandacan Districts had been badly battered. Many buildings still standing would ultimately have to be torn down as unsafe for occupancy. Millions upon millions of dollars' worth of damage had been done and, as a final shocking note of tragedy, an estimated 100,000 Filipino civilians had lost their lives during the battle.

In brief, Manila's economic, political, and social life would have to start over almost from scratch. For a city left in Manila's condition there could be no return to normalcy--instead, a new normalcy would ultimately develop. The Battle of Manila was indeed over, but its effects would long be felt.



Caliber and Type Number

7.7-mm., 7.92-mm., and 13-mm. machine guns, various mounts a600
20-mm. dismounted aircraft machine cannon and antiaircraft weapons 990
25-mm. machine cannon, various mounts 110
37-mm. guns, various mounts 15
40-mm. antiaircraft guns, various mounts 15
47-mm. antitank weapons 5
75-mm. field artillery and antiaircraft guns 10
76-mm. (3-inch) naval guns 15
100-mm. and 105-mm. guns and howitzers 10
120-mm. dual-purpose naval guns 60
127-mm. (5-inch) guns 5
150-mm. (6-inch) weapons 5
150-mm. mortars 5
200-mm. rocket launchers 5

a Minimum estimate.
Source: XIV Corps Arty Rpt Luzon, p. 10; 37th Div Arty Rpt Luzon, app. 4, Japanese Arty in Sector of 37th Div During Advance to and Capture of Manila; XIV Corps, Japanese Defense of Cities, p. 11; 11th A/B Div Rpt Luzon, p. 29; 1st Cav Div G-2 Summary Luzon, p. 40. The calibers listed for some of the artillery pieces are open to question--for example, the 6-inch vs. 150-mm.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (15) * Next Chapter (17)


1. General sources for planning information are: XIV Corps Rpt Luzon, pt. I, pp. 114-19; XIV Corps, Japanese Defense of Cities, pp. 24-25; Beightler Comments, 18 Mar 57. Headquarters, 37th Division, actually did most of the detailed planning for the assault, consulting closely with XIV Corps headquarters during the process. The division's complete plan was presented to and approved by Griswold only the day before the actual assault.

2. 37th Div FO 30, 22 Feb 45; Beightler Comments, 18 Mar 57.

3. Entry timed 2010 16 Feb 45, 37th Div G-3 Jnl, 16 Feb 45; 37th Div, Synopsis of Plan for Capturing Walled City, 16 Feb 45, 37th Div G-3 Jnl File, 15-19 Feb 45; Rad, Support Air Party with 37th Div to Fifth Air Force, 0845 17 Feb 45, XIV Corps G-3 Jnl File, 17-18 Feb 45; Teletype Msg, Griswold to Krueger, 1410 16 Feb 45, XIV Corps G-3 Jnl File, 15-16 Feb 45. General Beightler. (in Beightler Comments, 18 Mar 57) denied that he ever had any intention of razing the Walled City and other objectives, but merely wanted to raze a small portion of Intramuros at the northeast corner, site of the initial assault. This is not borne out by the messages cited above, and it is certain that General Griswold believed it was Beightler's intent to raze all of Intramuros.

4. XIV Corps Rpt Luzon, pt. I, pp. 114-16; Teletype Msg, Griswold to Krueger, 1410 16 Feb 45.

5. Practically no information on air operations in the Manila area after 3 February can be found in available documents, although earlier strikes by carrier-based planes are well documented. For the period 3-23 February, see: Teletype Msg, G-2 Sixth Army to G-2 XIV Corps, Mission Rpt, 10 Feb 45, XIV Corps G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 10 Feb 45 (Classified Folder); Boggs, Marine Aviation in the Philippines, p. 86; 37th Div Rpt Luzon, p. 57.

6. A Third Fleet photograph, taken during a strike by Third Fleet planes, also showed a bomb hole in the roof of the Legislative Building.

7. Rad, Krueger to MacArthur, WG-417, 16 Feb 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 14-16 Feb 45.

8. Rad, MacArthur to Krueger, CA-50503, 16 Feb 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 16-18 Feb 45. It is interesting to note that this radio implies that General MacArthur did not know that both land-based and carrier-based aircraft had previously hit parts of Manila.

9. 37th Div FO 30, 22 Feb 45; 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 77-79.

10. Entry timed 0930 13 Feb 45 and Entry timed 0930 17 Feb 45, 37th Div G-3 Jnl, 13 and 17 Feb 45; XIV Corps Arty Rpt Luzon, p. 11.

11. XIV Corps Rpt Luzon, pt. I, pp. 116, 119-20; XIV Corps Arty Rpt Luzon, p. 12; 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 77-79; 756th FA Bn Rpt Luzon, p. 6.

12. The remainder of the subsection is based upon: XIV Corps Rpt Luzon, pt. I, pp. 120-21; XIV Corps, Japanese Defense of Cities, p. 25; XIV Corps Arty Rpt Luzon, pp. 11-12, 16; 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 77-81; 37th Div Arty Rpt Luzon, p. 12; ibid., app. 5, Action in Manila; ibid., app. 6, Preparation for Assault on Intramuros; ibid., app, 7, Arty Direct Fire Positions; 37th Div G-3 Per Rpt 46, 22-23 Feb 45, XIV Corps G-3 Jnl File, 23-24 Feb 45; ACofS G-3 Sixth Army, Rpt on Obsns of Attack on Intramuros, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 22-23 Feb 45.

13. No breakdowns between the two types of 4.2-inch ammunition can be found, nor do available records contain complete information on the ammunition expenditures of the infantry 105-mm. self-propelled mounts, infantry mortars, and infantry machine guns.

14. The principal sources for this subsection are: XIV Corps Rpt Luzon, pt. I, pp. 120-26; 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 77-83; 37th Div G-3 Per Rpts 46-49, 23-26 Feb 45; 117th Engr Bn Hist, 4 Feb-3 Mar 45, pp. 5-6; 129th Inf Hist 1810-1945, pp. 67-68; 129th Inf Rpt Luzon, p. 7; 129th Inf S-3 Per Rpts, 23-27 Feb 45; 145th Inf Rpt Luzon, pp. 30-33; 145th Inf S-1 Jnl, 23 Feb-4 Mar 45; 145th Inf S-3 Jnl, 23 Feb-4 Mar 45; 145th Inf S-3 Per Rpts, 23 Feb-4 Mar 45.

15. The fact of this atrocity is well documented in such sources as USA vs. Yamashita.

16. Entry 1434, 1840 23 Feb 45, 145th Inf S-3 Jnl, 23 Feb 45.

17. For saving his troop commander's life at the cost of his own during the fight at this strongpoint, the Customs House, Pfc. William J. Grabiarz of Troop E, 5th Cavalry, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

18. Background and planning information in this section is from: XIV Corps Rpt Luzon, pt. I, p. 187; XIV Corps, Japanese Defense of Cities, pp. 22-23; 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 81-84; 37th Div, Field Msg 4, 27 Feb 45, 37th Div G-3 Jnl File, 25 Feb-6 Mar 45.

19. Hashimoto Statement, States, II, 278-81.

20. The exterior of the Finance Building, for example, bore a striking resemblance to the Old Senate Office Building in Washington.

21. Information on support fires comes mainly from: 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 83-86; 37th Div G-3 Per Rpts 47-51, 24-28 Feb 45; 37th Div Arty Rpt Luzon, pp. 12-13; ibid., app. 7, Arty Direct Fire Positions; 136th FA Bn Rpt Luzon, pt. I, pp. 19-23.

22. Further information on the reduction of the buildings is from: XIV Corps Rpt Luzon, pt. I, pp. 130-34; 148th Inf Rpt Luzon, pt. I, pp. 9-10; 148th Inf S-3 Per Rpts, 25 Feb-2 Mar 45; 148th Inf S-3 Jnl, 25 Feb-2 Mar 45; 148th Inf S-1 Per Rpts, 26 Feb-3 Mar 45; 5th Cav Rpt Luzon, pp. 27-29; ibid., an. 4, Casualties; 5th Cav S-2/S-3 Jnl, 26 Feb-1 Mar 45; 5th Cav S-2 and S-3 Per Rpts, 26 Feb-1 Mar 45.

23. 37th Div Rpt Luzon, p. 85.

24. The 148th originally planned to attack at 1430 on 1 March, but the surrender appeal postponed the effort. 148th Inf, Plan for Assault on Finance Bldg, 28 Feb 45, in 37th Div G-3 Jnl File, 25 Feb-6 Mar 45.

25. Rad, Griswold to Krueger, 2030 3 Mar 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 1-3 Mar 45.

26. Rad, Krueger to MacArthur, WG-107, 4 Mar 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 3-5 Mar 45.

27. These figures are estimates based upon a study of relevant Japanese and American sources previously cited. As might be expected, the claims of all U.S. units engaged provide a total divorced from reality and far greater than the strength of the Japanese garrison in the metropolitan area.

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation