February 1945 (1) – Manila

Nichols Field bombing, 6 Feb. 1945

The 6th and 8th Armies on Luzon were repeatedly in close and brutal combat with the Japanese.  By dawn on 4 February the paratroopers ran into increasingly heavy and harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At the Paranaque River, just south of the Manila city limits, the battalion halted at a badly damaged bridge only to be battered by Japanese artillery fire from Nichols Field. The 11th Airborne Division had reached the main Japanese defenses south of the capital and could go no further.

US Army on Luzon, February 1945

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.

11th Airborne Div. path into Luzon

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.

Entering Manila

The final attack on the outer Japanese defenses came from the 11th Airborne Division, under the XIV Corps control since 10 February. The division had been halted at Nichols Field on the fourth and since then had been battling firmly entrenched Japanese naval troops, backed up by heavy fire from concealed artillery. Only on 11 February did the airfield finally fall to the paratroopers, but the acquisition allowed the 11th Airborne Division to complete the American encirclement of Manila on the night of the twelfth.

Corregidor, aerial view

As February opened, the 7th Allied Air Force continually bombed Iwo Jima, Marcus Island and Corregidor, while the 5th Allied Air Force not only targeted Corregidor as well, but Cavite, Cebu City, enemy positions on Mindanao and Borneo.

[Actually, since 15 June 1944, the US Navy and Army Air Forces together began naval bombardments and air raids against Iwo Jima, which would become the longest and most intense in the Pacific theater.  These would contain a combination of naval artillery shellings and aerial bombings that went on for nine months.  On 17 June, the, USS Blessman sent Underwater demolition Team 15 (UDT-15) toward Blue Beach for reconnaissance. The Japanese infantry fired on them, killing one American diver. On the evening of 18 June, the Blessman was hit by a bomb from a Japanese warplane, killing 40 sailors, including 15 members of her UDT.]

Unaware of Kuribayashi’s tunnel defense system on Iwo Jima, many of the Americans assumed the majority of the Japanese garrison were killed by the constant bombing raids.   “Well, this will be easy. The Japanese will surrender Iwo Jima without a fight.” – Chester W. Nimitz

References: “Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne Division by Gen. EM Flanagan Jr.; US Army History: Luzon; Pacific Wrecks & US Navy records; “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Horace Ashenfelter – Phoenixville, PA; US Air Force, pilot / Olympic Gold medal / FBI

Dominick Bove – Wilmington, DE; USMC, WWII, PTO, 3rd Division, Bronze Star

Marshall Clark – Frewsburg, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Donald Dammert – Cincinnatti, OH; US Navy, WWII

James Holton – Alma, GA; US Army, Vietnam

Ray Jones – Greenwood, WV; US Army, WWII

John Peter Jr. – Belleville, IL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, medic

Donald Solin – W.AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO, pilot

James Speed – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 74023

Bruce ‘Bear’ Whitehouse – Bloomfield, NJ; US Army, Korea, 73rd Tank Battalion

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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 15, 2018, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 93 Comments.

  1. https://wp.me/p9JKqc-H
    Please like and follow my blog

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    • I may in the future follow, but for now I will read a post when I can, you are informative. I have hundreds on my follow list and it takes half a day to get through my Reader page. I prefer to read one or two posts at a time rather than just click on 20 and never read at all – no one wins that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. Thanks for sharing, not yet been born during the war😊 will read more posts in your interesting site!😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am curious how much unexploded shells, etc. are still left out there?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating insights as always GP. You finished it off with chilling flare with that comment about the tunnels. Have a wonderful Wednesday. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wat ging het er hier ook weer hevig aan toe.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Iwo Jima was definitely underestimated, appears to have been a lot of cases of misdiagnosed outcomes in that area of operations.
    Emu

    Liked by 1 person

    • Military intelligence wasn’t what it is today. You could SKYPE home and have them ask WikiLeaks what the enemy was up to! LOL [maybe our guys should do that today?]

      Liked by 1 person

      • gp, They now carry head cams into battle, battle over, film downloaded and can be sent anywhere, Vietnam era was the Media War in the living rooms, today you can actually broadcast live your head cam battle scene home to mom and dad, seriously mate, check it out.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I just learned things I didn’t know about Admiral Nimitz. I knew he was a Texan, born in Fredericksburg, but I didn’t know that it was his grandfather who owned the Nimitz Hotel, which was turned into a museum, and now has become the National Museum of the Pacific War.

    His remark about Iwo Jima seems to carry echoes of something I read in his biography on the Texas Historical Association site:

    “After two years’ training as a passed midshipman aboard the U.S.S. Ohio, he was commissioned an ensign and given command of the old Spanish gunboat Panay in the Philippines. After transfer to the destroyer Decatur, he ran the ship aground and was court-martialed, reprimanded, and denied his request for battleship duty; he was assigned to a submarine instead.”

    I suspect that was a formative series of events for him.

    I didn’t know about the conflict between Nimitz and MacArthur, either. From what I’ve read, MacArthur’s plan was to use the Allied forces in the Pacific to retake the Philippines, then strike Japan from there. Nimitz wanted to bypass the Philippines, and instead take Taiwan. There are some interesting “what if” articles that take up the question of what would have happened had Nimitz been the sole commander in the Pacific.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All true, Linda. MacArthur not only had the obsession to return to the P.I., but he was wary of leaving such a huge force in the rear behind him if he went directly to Taiwan. Nimitz was quite nervous about introducing Mac to Halsey too (two very strong personalities) – but those 2 met and 5 minutes later were best of friends. I never read Nimitz’ history, so I never knew he ran the Decatur aground – good stuff, I’ll have to get into it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I look forward to these history lessons.
    Lest We Forget!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was in Manila some years ago. There’s really not much left from before the war. Seems they messed it up quite well.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “Well, this will be easy. The Japanese will surrender Iwo Jima without a fight.” – Chester W. Nimitz
    A definition of understatement. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Interesting that the Japanese deployed seamen to fight as infantry. Backs to the wall desperation – and bushido and so on, I suppose. But militarily it was a lost cause and that made it stupid and criminal.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh no- NEVER say it’s going to be easy!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Astonishing what went on. There’s no way to fathom what these men went through – unless you there. But we must try. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Excellent, GP I loved Nimitz’s comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ah, such hubris on both sides. Why do military commanders think they can win when the facts suggest otherwise or at least suggest substantial sacrifices of their soldiers? It’s so heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sir, thank you for the wonderful history lesson, I am going to reblog this article for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Another great informative post…much appreciated…thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. GP, would you add a friend to the Farewell Salutes?
    AMS1 Robert Lishness, Lexington Park, MD, US Navy P-3 Metalsmith, Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
    Bob passed away Friday. We were stationed together in VP-8, VP-11 and NAS Patuxent River, MD, and were friends for over thirty years. Bob was a great Sailor, Metalsmith, and Patriot.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Throughout history one of the major objectives of the military was to destroy roads and bridges to halt any advancement of supplies or equipment. These similarities keep me reading as I look for background within the story. Thanks for all you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. The Pacific theater holds a strong interest for me. The post of yours that I just read along with this one and the book I just read really gives me a multilayer picture of what was happening during that part of WWII, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. ““Well, this will be easy. The Japanese will surrender Iwo Jima without a fight.” – Chester W. Nimitz”

    Even an Officer as fine as Admiral Nimitz could be wrong – and in this case, he was terribly wrong …

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Good article–as usual. Love the ‘situational awareness’ humor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The looks on their faces are something else, eh?!!
      I see you lucked out in the Army /Navy basketball games yesterday!! The men won for the Army and the women won for the Navy!!

      Like

  23. I believe I read on your blog before that General MacArthur had made premature statements about an easy victory on the battle field and organized victory parties. Perhaps a case of underestimating the tenacity of the Japanese combat troupes or even more likely to make a propaganda show of his accomplishments as general of the US war efforts in the Pacific.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You probably did, Peter. Quite a few of Mac’s communiques show it and Gen. Eichelberger complained about it on Leyte. I don’t know for certain what his thoughts were, but I do know the Filipinos liked him for grand style – the rest was probably propaganda.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I always admired Admiral Nimitz, but looks like he was way off base on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. This is ‘living history’ GP. There is no better historical source than first hand accounts. Terrific work my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. The Battle for Manila was brutal where the Japanese engaged in an orgy of massive destruction of buildings, killing people and raping Filipino women. It was on the same scale as Warsaw with so much destruction and loss of life. Warsaw’s destruction is well known but Manila’s destruction is not and that gets me so upset when I read talks of Warsaw in WWII as if it was the only city that was destroyed.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Good read and thanks for sharing pictures as well. Growing up I was fascinated by the history taught taught in Indian schools about the World war. Sadly enough it never quite covered what transpired in the Pacific corridor. Being an ardent history lover (especially WW2) it wasn’t until I landed in Manila a few years back that I got to see what remains today of so much that transpired. Having made multiple trips around Corrigedor island, visiting the American War Cemetery in McKinley hill to walking around Intramuros in Manila, no tourist guide captured the story so well as I read in your blogs. Thanks for the insights and keep it coming.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I thank you very much for such an elaborate compliment, I’m speechless. I can fully understand your education as mine was as well. With us in the US, the European side of the war was basically considered ‘the world war.’ I knew better of course since my father fought there. I knew even less about the CBI until I was older. It is a shame our schools don’t do a better job.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Planning a victory parade before the assault on the city? That sounds a lot like MacArthur.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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