Race for Manila begins
By the beginning of February, 1945, the US Navy reported: since 19 June 1944, the Japanese have been losing 50 shipping vessels per week. The US B-29’s, after bombing Singapore harbour, demolished the enemy shipping vessels there. The US Air Force had begun to bomb Japan’s homeland as well. Japan felt that if they beef-up their forces in the Philippines and were to drive the Allies off the islands, the United States would be forced to ease up on their bombardments. Enemy replacements and war materiel began to pour onto Luzon.
3 February, 1945 is considered the starting date for the battle for Manila. The Japanese are actually trapped in the city between the 11th Airborne Division moving up from the south and XIV Corps from the north. This battle will go on all through the month with some of the most ferocious fighting of the war.
While advancing, the 11th A/B encountered heavy barrages from machine guns, mortars, artillery and grenades streaming from tunnels and caves above the highway. After the enemy was eradicated, the command post dug in on the side of the road. In the middle of the night, they were attacked. Headquarters Company used flame throwers and rifle fire to fend them off.
My father would wrinkle his nose at the mere sight of a flame thrower on tv. He said, “Once you smell burning flesh, it stays with you. There’s nothing worse. Everytime I see one of those things flare up, even in a movie, I can smell the fuel and flesh all over again.
The 11th A/B continued on to Tagatay Ridge where they would come upon more of the enemy. Colonel Soule directed the artillery of the 674th and the 675th while the final assault was made by the infantry. The troopers went uphill through the Mount Cariliao-Mount Batulao defile. This was Shorty Ridge; the eastern area that needed to be free of Japanese before the 511th made their jump. (The regiment had to be capable of meeting up with the rest of the division within twenty-four hours of their landing.) The forward Command Group of the Headquarters Company went through a mile of enemy territory to destroy the resistance on the ridge and make that first contact.
A mere two hours later, the Command Group followed along the fire-swept road and set up the division command post on the ridge. The Reconnaissance Group, right behind them, did not rest, but continued on toward Manila. The Command Group then folded in behind and set up another command post while under heavy fire. It was here that the plans for attacking Manila and Nichols Field were developed.
General Swing now had a supply trail stretching 70 miles and he began to fine tune the missions of some of the units. Colonel Hildebrand and the 187th were sent to Nasugubu and patrol the main supply route. Hildebrand was also put charge of thousands of guerrilla fighters, not an easy job in itself. All in all, him and his regiment had been given a very large task. They were staring into the jaws of the noted Genko Line. (which will be explained soon.)
4-11 February 1945, US President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Churchill and Russia’s Joseph Stalin met at Yalta in the Crimea for a conference. It was decided that when Germany is defeated, Russia will declare war on Japan. It was clear to all that Stalin was already putting in a claim for territory (the spoils of war) after the Allied victory.
(Click photos to enlarge )
Posted on December 19, 2012, in Letters home, SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged 11th airborne, Army, family history, History, Luzon, Military, Military History, Pacific War, paratroopers, war, war letters, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.