Manila – Pearl of the Orient

When Corregidor fell, 1941

When Corregidor fell, 1941

Manila 12/26/1941

Manila 12/26/1941


The capital region of the Philippines went an invasion from Brunei, then the Spanish landed in the 15th century. It endured several Chinese revolts, a British occupation, a Sepoy mutiny and their own revolution when the Americans showed up.

In 1941 General MacArthur declared Manila an Open City and in 1942 the city fell to Japan.

a camoflaged gun in Manila

a camoflaged gun in Manila

Manila activity map

Manila activity map


Japanese General Yamashita never had any intention of defending the capital city. It was a vast area of highly flammable buildings and far too populated to feed. From his command post, 125 miles north of Manila, he ordered Admiral Iwabuchi to remove all of his troops from the city – he refused to comply. Instead of retreat, he took thousands hostage and all communication between the two men ceased. Japanese Gen. Yokoyama estimated the American strength in Manila to be little more than a regiment and the fighting continued.

18 February 1945, an unusual situation was discovered in Manila when three soldiers were returning to their headquarters in a mansion set on Dewey Boulevard South. A few blocks away, the troopers entered a house only to discover three Japanese men in robes and talking while they drank their tea. Somehow, they had been operating out of that house without realizing that the American HQ and General Swing were so close. It seemed incredible they were not discovered before. The three men were killed trying to escape the building.

The commander of the 188th regiment turned his unit over to Gen. Pearson, now commander of the 187th, and they were incorporated into the Task Force and set out to attack Mabato Point. This zone sat two thousand yards south of Fort McKinley and held the Japanese Southern Forces Abe Battalion on the northwest shore of Laguna de Bay. This position gave the enemy an excellent vantage point of observation and fields that could be set on fire. As with the rest of the Genko Line, this area had been prepared by Japanese and Filipino workers since 1942 and had fortified tunnels. G-2 estimated about 800 of the enemy were hold up on Mabato.

Pearson put the 187th traveling along the railroad tracks and other regiments and battalions to other areas. When each unit was set, mid-morning on this date, Company B of the 187th launched the attack. The 457 Parachute Field Artillery was there to support with their pack 75s. Later that afternoon, air strikes were called in because the enemy was so well defended. When napalm was used, the fires used up so much oxygen that the enemy soldiers in the tunnels began to suffocate.

19 February, the Task Force struck again, but were having difficulty due to Japanese mortar fire. Finally, the mortar observers were located where they hid in the trees and sharp shooters took them out. A Japanese medical officer surrendered and through a Nisei interpreter informed Pearson that there were about 400 more Japanese in the area. A Filipino volunteer went to the enemy with a message of truce, giving one half hour of cease fire time for anyone to surrender. The end result has conflicting stories, but the fighting did continue. The surviving 15 officers of Abe Battalion were marched by their commander to the Point and committed hara-kiri. By 21 February, all resistance on Mabato Point had ended, but the Japanese were far from defeated in the Philippines.

G.I.s going door-to-door in Manila

G.I.s going door-to-door in Manila

G.I.s crossing the Pasig River

G.I.s crossing the Pasig River

Photos and data with the assistence of Rakkasans by Gen. Flanagan; The U.S. Army; Wikipedia & Manila Hub. Thank You.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 18, 2013, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Thanks for posting this. It’s really fascinating. I’ve realised recently that (like most people probably) my knowledge of history is really limited to a particular geographical area (Britain mainly), and it’s easy to forget that wars were fought, people lived and died, in places I hardly think about. My partner is going to Manila soon for the first time and we’ve been trying to find out more about the Philippines.

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  2. I was in Manila about a year ago. I believe there is a special relationship between the US and the Philippine Islands.

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  3. This history is an evident that one will never forget. Thanks for sharing

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  4. Great photos and post on a time in history that is too quickly being forgotten – thanks (and for visiting)!

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  5. The honesty and accuracy of your posts amaze me. You record what your research has found, not with any particular “slant” or “spin”. I respect that completely. Continue to be the reporter, not the historian.

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    • Thank, Judy. I said in the beginning I would do my utmost to keep my thoughts out it, unless otherwise stated as mine. I feel it is only right to report the facts as I find them and cooberate them.

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  6. Thanks Gail.

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