Luzon

Lt.General E.M. Flanagan

“The advance had been so swift that the Japs who had the steel-trussed span mined were caught on the far side of it. They attempted to get to their detonator but our fire from the west bank of the Palico killed six and forced the rest to withdraw toward Tagaytay Ridge. Capture of the bridge allowed us to keep moving ahead. Its destruction would have seriously delayed us since our engineers did not have the equipment to replace it. Bypassing would have been difficult because the Palico River flows in a deep, steep-sided canyon, as do most of the Luzon Rivers.”___ Gen. E.M. Flanagan

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, Luzon

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.

Nichols Field, Luzon, February 1945

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.

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.

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.

Luzon and the 11th Airborne

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” and “Dear Miss Em” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frederick H. Alvet – Catharpin, VA; USMC, WWII, Purple Heart  /  US Army, Korea

Sanford K. Bowen – Ashland County, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc. # 35308473, I Co/3/157/45th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Reipertswiller, FRA)

Luxembourg-American Cemetery

Frank Cota – Archdale, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT/11th Airborne, (Ret. 24 y.)

Elizabeth Elliott, Toronto, CAN; Women’s Royal Air Force, WWII

Patrick Francis – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., Silver Star, Purple Heart

George Gilbert – Indianapolis, IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fire Controlman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Leslie C. Hallock – Duncan, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co B/188th/11th Airborne Division

Gerald R. Helms – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt. # 36306478, Co E/325 GIR/82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Katerbosch, NETH)

Wilbur F. Newton – Mound City, MO; US Navy WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 3760544, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Robert Novotney – Kadoka, SD; US Navy, WWII, APO & PTO, fireman, USS Bearss (DD-654)

Winfield W. Scott Jr. – Colorado Springs, CO; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, pilot, West Point grad ’50, West Point superintendent, Lt. General (Ret. 40 y.)

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About GP

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

Posted on April 4, 2022, in SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 108 Comments.

  1. Goede informatie over de zware strijd in Manilla

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another good history lesson, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent information. 🙂

    Like

  4. The parallels between this and what Putin was attempting (and may still be) are remarkable. Beyond that, it’s always interesting to me to read about the role bridges play, both in war and in peacetime. It’s a reminder that building, repairing, and maintaining bridges is critical. Those attempting to destroy the bridges between past and present, or bridges of understanding that have been built over time, are creating as much havoc as any military force.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Your post memorize me and also make me rivise some of such incidents that I forget. Interesting post deqr

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It wears me out just reading about their fighting. The cartoon summarized well what our soldiers went through.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was in Luxembourg. Something extraordinary if you go there!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. An awfully magnificent achievement

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Greetings….Good article! The fight on Nichols Field marked the end of my dad’s relatively brief but intense combat experience with the 11th Airborne. He was an original trooper with the 511th PIR and survived the banzai charges in the muddy mountain jungles of Leyte. But on Luzon at Nichols Field things were a bit different from Leyte. He was serving as a scout for H company and separated a bit from the rest of the men. The terrain was flat and the tall Kunai grass was thick. But the ground was so hard that he could only manage to dig a 6 inch fox hole. The next morning they dealt with a patrol of Japanese soldiers and got into an intense fire fight. Apparently the top of his helmet caught a piece of schrapnel and he was paralyzed. Had he been an inch taller I wouldn’t be writing this. Anyway, as I have written when they lifted the skull fragment from his brain the paralysis went away. He lived until he was 90 years old with a titanium plate in his skull.

    On Mon, Apr 4, 2022, 3:23 AM Pacific Paratrooper wrote:

    > GP posted: ” “The advance had been so swift that the Japs who had the > steel-trussed span mined were caught on the far side of it. They attempted > to get to their detonator but our fire from the west bank of the Palico > killed six and forced the rest to withdraw toward” >

    Liked by 2 people

    • And we are also happy with your father’s recovery and service. Thank you for his story, it helps with your father being remembered and the story of the 11th A/B being told!!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Fascinating account of the events, GP. I can’t help but draw parallels with what’s going on in my old country now.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Fascinating history and writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Very informative and interesting. This is my first time here I am linking you as you have excellent posts and these things should never be forgotten. I wish more Americans showed such interest and patriotism as those here that visit. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you very much. And I agree, patriotism should never go ‘out of style’! People today fail to remember how they got their freedoms, they just feel entitled.
      I’ll look forward to your future visits, Layla.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow to the planning of the victory parade!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Stubborn defence and attack…and the poor civilians in the midst of it all…

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Always great review and reminders for me. Thanks, GP

    Liked by 2 people

  16. The fight for Manila must have been terrible. Nichols Field is now Manila’s international airport where I land when visiting. I’ll be thinking of 1945 if I get back. It may be some comfort to know that the Manila American Cemetery is absolutely immaculate and a magnificent tribute to the sacrifices of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Thanks for your posts.

    Liked by 4 people

    • That is very good to hear. It shows respect.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good to know that about the Manila American Cemetery.

      Liked by 2 people

    • McCrae’s poem comes to mind:
      “In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row . . .”

      I’ve visited both the Luxembourg and Punchbowl cemeteries. We and our Nisei friends placed flowers on Ernie Pyle’s grave on Memorial Day. My mother was a faithful reader of Ernie’s column.

      Liked by 2 people

      • An excellent comment to John. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Perhaps more of McCrae’s poem is in order:

          In Flanders fields the poppies blow
          Between the crosses, row on row,
          That mark our place; and in the sky
          The larks, still bravely singing, fly
          Scarce heard amid the guns below.

          We are the Dead. Short days ago
          We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
          Loved and were loved, and now we lie
          In Flanders fields.

          I’ll omit the final verse. It is little known that McCrae tossed the draft into a wastebasket. My guess is he decided the last verse was inappropriate, regretted it, and discarded the entire poem. That final verse seems afterthought, anyway–opening and closing with ‘Flanders fields,’ as above, denotes a complete poem.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I was going to send you one, but when I typed in ‘Poem’ on my search bar, I re-read so many that I’ve found that meant a lot – I couldn’t choose.

            Like

  17. I have seen documentary film of the street fighting in Manila. Hard work for both sides, GP.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. A “victory parade” while people are still fighting and being killed and haven’t surrendered does seem a bit premature.
    Not that it hasn’t been done before.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I can still remember when I saw my first cemetery like the Luxembourg-American Cemetery. It was the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial at Madingley near Cambridge. It contains just under 4,000 casualties and I can still remember to this day how tragically young they all were.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. The photo of the cemetery sent chills down my spine. Says it all…….

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I always wondered about some of MacArthur’s declarations. It’s almost as if he believed that to say it would make it happen. Thanks, GP.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Thank you, GP, for keeping the memories alive.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. “Regarding Manila as indefensible”–I couldn’t help but think of the indefensibility of Ukraine against the mighty Russian army.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Glad to read about how the troops entered Manila. Most of the books about the Battle of Manila concentrate on the destruction of the city.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well, it did get quite destroyed between the actions of both sides.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Some Filipinos nowadays blame the Americans for its destruction. Some believed it was the Japanese. If you read most WWII stories, they often mention Warsaw but not Manila. I don’t read much about European theatre anymore except D-Day.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Europe was always considered the WAR and I never understood that. It was explained to me that most emigrants to the US were from there and could relate to the names and places. Americans had no idea where the Philippines were or even Pearl Harbor for that matter. They were too busy trying to survive the Great Depression.

          Liked by 2 people

  25. Great post, GP. I’m always impressed with the planning and execution that goes into huge battles, and in awe of the fortitude of the men who fought those battles.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. By this time, almost everything was indefensible. So many lives lost due to a stubborn reluctance to lose. Apparently, this is a lesson mankind refuses to learn. “Planning a parade” made me a little angry on behalf of the men who wouldn’t live to see it.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. MacArthur’s parade reminds me of Eisenhower’s alleged answer to whether he was acquainted with MacArthur. “Yes,” he reportedly replied. “I studied dramatics for seven years under General MacArthur.” I will give MacArthur full credit for his understanding of the Japanese during the Occupation. Love “As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, “Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it’s dying on Nichols Field.”

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Interesting post! I read a book about the battles in the Philippines some years ago. I can’t remember the title but I really enjoyed it. Much of my next novel takes place on Luzon and in Manila, so my research has rekindled my interests in the history of the Philippine Islands.

    Liked by 7 people

  29. so many lives lost

    Liked by 1 person

  30. How many lives would have been saved if orders had been followed 😉

    Liked by 4 people

  31. Your article and the Luxembourg photo reminded me of the American Cemetery in Manilla as it was in 1990 – so beautiful hiding so much pain and death.

    Liked by 8 people

  32. Thank you, Ned.

    Liked by 1 person

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