Excerpts from documents cited above
series of documents called Japanese Monographs was ordered by the US
occupation government in Japan to assemble a history of the various
campaigns and battles of the war from the Japanese side, based on
surviving records and the memories of officers who had survived. The work
was done under the aegis of the Military History Section, General
Headquarters, Far East Command. While the order was issued in October
1945, Monograph 114 was completed only in 1952 – one of the last
monographs in the series.
According to the
monograph, the Manila Naval Defense Force was activated on December 15,
1944; simultaneously, Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi was appointed its
Excerpts from Japanese Monograph 114 - Philippine Area
Naval Operations Part IV
Defense Plan: To deny the enemy from using Manila Bay and the air bases in
Manila vicinity by holding on to Corregidor and Manila to the last. By
this means, it was hoped to turn the tide of operations on Luzon to some
degree for the better, at least to delay the next attack by the enemy. The
Navy was prepared from the start to defend Corregidor and Manila at all
costs, but because of the Leyte operations and the policy of giving
priority to air combat preparations for that area, the strengthening of
the ground defenses for Manila and Corregidor was not realized until the
middle of December 1944; moreover, the tendency had been to leave the
responsibility of defending the entire area of Luzon (except Corregidor)
in the hands of the Army.
[When the U.S.
Forces landed at Lingayen on 9 January, Iwabuchi] effected a further
strengthening of battle preparations, and amidst the confusion of the
reorganization of units and the reinforcement of positions, Manila was
quickly transformed from a rear base into a fortress for a last-stand
battle. [Conferences were held to discuss Army and Navy cooperation and
sectors, as well as to decide on policy towards Manila’s defense] This
policy provided that the Manila defense operation would be conducted by
the naval force under the command of Rear Admiral Iwabuchi and that an
element of the Army units would be placed under his command.
First Phase of the
Battle of Manila – to 10 February
[1 February] In accordance with
a set plan, Rear Admiral Iwabuchi ordered the destruction of the Manila
wharves and other installations. He instructed his men: “You men must
carry out effective suicide action as members of special attack units to
turn the tide of battle by intercepting the attacking enemy at Manila.”
With the advent of enemy
advance, guerrilla uprisings flared up throughout the city and all the
telephone lines were cut. Japanese Army units in the North Sector were
left incommunicado and the Ayala and the Quezon Bridges were demolished.
The Navy left an
element of its strength in the sector north of the river to check the
enemy from crossing the river. Shimbu Group headquarters placed the Army
units in Manila under the command of the Navy and withdrew to Montalban.
Meanwhile, Luneta Park located in the center of Manila was under artillery
On 4 February, except for the
defense troops in the harbor area, the Japanese Army units to the north of
the Pasig River withdrew successively across the river. The area to the
north of Azcarraga was occupied by the U.S. forces and fire had broken out
throughout the entire area north of the river. [the fire was set by
Japanese forces] On the southern front, in the Paranaque area, U.S.
paratroopers jumped off on the morning of the 4th. That evening, a strong
enemy force attacked the Paranaque Bridge and effected a breakthrough in
one push [sic they were stopped and continued on the 5th]. Another enemy
element advanced to the Pasay sector but they were repulsed by the adamant
action of the defense of defense unit stationed there. In the South
Sector, a company commander led a charge with about 30 men against the
advancing enemy but very little was achieved.
On 5 February, the enemy in
the North Sector concentrated its main body in the Quezon area, by his
time they were already using Caloocan airfield. The pressure of the enemy
forces from the north became very strong, particularly their mortar fire
which increased in intensity. All during this fracas, the civilians were
scurrying around seeking shelter or were trying to evacuate from this
city. Filipino guerrilla bands harassed the Japanese forces which
endeavored to counter but had difficulty in distinguishing them from the
Filipino civilians. Artillery fire was directed at the enemy located near
the Malacañang Palace but even this became ineffective as shells ran
short. Finally, the Banzai [Jones] and Santa Cruz Bridges were destroyed
by the Japanese forces to impede the advancing enemy.
On the 6th and 7th
of February, pressure in the East Sector increased steadily. The enemy
effected a break-through at Cubao crossroads and the position of the
Japanese force in the East Sector became very weak.
As a result of the penetration by the American force from Cubao,
the Japanese force which had been penetrated and overrun carried out
suicide attacks against the enemy tanks. Now with the destruction of key
positions and confused fighting which ensued, command became impossible.
Therefore, the Sector commander ordered a withdrawal toward Marikina.
Also on the 7th, the battle
line formed by the Pasig River became very critical when the enemy
commenced crossing the river near the Malacañang Palace and the San Miguel
Beer Brewery Company. On the evening of the 7th, the Japanese force threw
its entire reserve in the Pandacan sector toward the Tabacalera Cigar
Company to strengthen their attacks. In spite of all these efforts, a part
of the south bank was occupied by the enemy.
On the 8th, bitter
fighting was waged in the Pandacan area and the Japanese withdrew to the
Paco Station line. The fighting continued near the cigar company and
Nakanojima (Isla de la Convalecencia). On the 9th, however, the line
connecting the Paco Station, the arsenal and the Formosa Electric Power
Company fell to the Americans. On this day, Read Adm. Iwabuchi dispatched
a staff officer to the Shimbu Group headquarters to explain the battle
situation. [Lt Cmdr Kayashima] The routing of the East Sector Unit and the
loss of the Pandacan Sector had unfavorable effects on the Japanese force
defending the city.
The South Sector Unit had
established a position extending from Fort McKinley to Nichols Field and
was checking the American force advancing from the south. However, the
position was steadily penetrated from the shore side and the American
force advanced to Nichols Field on the 6th. On the 7th, the line from the
airfield to the bay, defended by the 3rd Battalion, was intercepted and
isolated fighting was waged all along this position.
On the 10th, the
enemy attacking from the south, penetrated the southern sector of Pasay.
Being pressed eastward from the coast, the 3rd Battalion steadily withdrew
toward Fort McKinley.
By 10 February,
fierce fighting was raging in the Paco, Pandacan, and Malacañang areas in
the northeastern sector. The Japanese forces relied mainly on suicide
charges which, in effect, were futile in stopping the enemy advance. They
laid a bridge across the Pasig River near Guadalupe and launched a drive
to cut off the route of retreat of the Japanese force but which actually
isolated the 1st Battalion in the Neilson Airfield area. However, an
element of the battalion on the eastern section of
the airfield managed to withdraw toward McKinley.
Battle of Manila,
Second Phase (After 11 February)
By this time, the
bulk of the Japanese strength disposed in the suburbs of Manila had
retreated eastward, while a force composed of four naval and two Army
battalions was enveloped within the city. With this force, Read Adm.
Iwabuchi was determined to defend the city to the last ditch.
By 12 February, the enemy had
completely encircled the city. The north front was the Pasig River; the
east front was the line connecting Luna, Paco Market and Paco Creek; and
the southern front was the line running east and west of the Polo Club.
Enemy artillery shells fell over the besieged Japanese troops and about
half of the guns in position were damaged before effective use could be
made of them.
operation of the main body of the Army force situated in the positions
east of Manila, the following message was received by Read Adm. Iwabuchi
from the Base Force staff officer who had been dispatched to Shimbu Group
headquarters and had returned to Fort McKinley.
One battalion each
will infiltrate and conduct charging attacks in the Novaliches, Quezon,
Marikina, Mandaluyong and Pasig areas. Battalions will depart on evening
of 13th and charge at midnight of the 16th. The Manila Defense Force
should then conduct a daring charge with its entire complement to effect a
breakthrough of the envelopment.
The South Sector
Unit, which had withdrawn to McKinley, conducted nightly attacks against
the Nichols and Neilson Airfields to contact the besieged forces in the
city but failed.
On 13 February,
fighting ensued on the line north and south of the Paco Cemetery and the
line connecting Singalong and Rosario. On the 14th, with the support of
fierce artillery fire, the enemy advanced to the east front of the Central
Sector. By the 15th, enemy tanks had advanced from the vicinity of the
Paco Market to the line formed by Taft Avenue.
The situation had
become very critical at this stage and Shimbu Group headquarters at
Montalban being gravely concerned, sent the following message to Rear Adm.
Iwabuchi at Base Force headquarters in Manila:
our area are making some progress. The Noguchi and the Manila Defense
Units (both Army defense units) will conduct a surprise charge in
accordance with the previous order. The Manila Naval Defense headquarters
hereafter will be located at McKinley. Maintain close liaison with Shimbu
Group headquarters and strengthen and secure the defense of the vicinity.
A little later,
another message was received from the Base Force staff officer who was at
Today, Shimbu Group
headquarters has ordered your headquarters to move to McKinley. In view of
the increasing difficulty to effect a breakthrough, it is urgent that you
move immediately, tonight (15th). Will the headquarters move?
Rear Adm. Iwabuchi
replied, “The headquarters will not move.” Then he sent a message to the
Commander in Chief, Southwest Area Fleet at Baguio:
of disruption of communications, I hereby submit this message to you. I am
overwhelmed with shame for the many casualties among my subordinates and
for being unable to discharge me duty because of my incompetence. The men
have exerted their utmost efforts in the fighting. We are glad and
grateful for the opportunity of being able to serve the country in this
epoch battle. Now, with what strength remains, we will daringly engage the
enemy. ‘Banzai to the Emperor!’ We are determined to fight to the last
From Rear Adm.
Iwabuchi to Shimbu Group headquarters:
In view of the
general situation, I consider it very important to hold the strategic
positions within the city. The transfer of the headquarters will hinder
the execution of operations. We have tried to make ground contact with
Fort McKinley but failed. Escape is believed impossible. Will you please
understand this situation?
By 16 and 17
February, the north front was the old fort [Intramuros]; the east Taft
Avenue, and the south, the line extending east and west near the Rizal
On the 17th and
18th, the following radio messages were exchanged between Rear Adm.
Iwabuchi and Shimbu Group headquarters:
Shimbu Group to Rear Adm. Iwabuchi:
Shimbu Group will consolidate the fighting near Manila and make
preparations for fighting in the rear positions. In coordination with the
attack by the Group, the Manila Naval Defense Force (including the Noguchi
Unit) will, after the night of the 17th, destroy the enemy and effect a
breakthrough with its entire strength; consolidate the fighting front
along the Marikina River to check the eastward advance of the enemy and
make preparations for subsequent movement to eastern positions…
Group to Read Adm. Iwabuchi (on the 18th):
Kawashima and Kobayashi Units will suspend attacks on the perimeter of
Manila. After the night of the 18th, they will conduct penetrating
charges. The night of the 18th will be the best time for your
breakthrough. Fort McKinley apparently is holding secure although
encountering enemy attacks.
Adm. Iwabuchi to Shimbu Group:
made plans for a breakthrough but it is definitely difficult to do so in
one night. It is very clear that we will be decimated if we make an
attempt. We can hold out another week if we remain entrenched as we are.
What is vitally important now is to hold every position and inflict severe
losses on the enemy by any means. Fixed positions are our strong
advantage. If we move, we will be weak. Therefore, we will be able to hold
out as long as possible and then make a desperate charge with all our
strength [banzai charge]. We are grateful for your trouble. We believe it
is expedient to charge the enemy. Therefore, in conducting the main
operation, please conduct your plan without considering us. It would be
appreciated if you could neutralize the enemy mortars.
Shimbu Group to Rear Adm.
fighting is being waged at Sakura Position (Fort McKinley), but it is
holding out. More than 1,000 persons were evacuated from Sakura to
Antipolo. Boats will be ready every night on the south bank of the Pasig
Group to Read Adm. Iwabuchi:
received your opinion on the breakthrough. According to our experience at
Lingayen, it is not difficult to break through the American force at
night. It is hoped that your headquarters (with the necessary strength)
will attempt to withdraw toward Pagonci [?] or make a detour by going
south by sea, and then north by land. One battalion has infiltrated
Caloocan and another is in action at Quezon. Regardless of whether or not
the headquarters will attempt a breakthrough,
a strong raiding charge with men from various
units will be carried out from the night of the 21st against the enemy
artillery at Caloocan.
On the 18th, the
positions of the Japanese force in Manila were practically all destroyed
by the enemy artillery and resulting fire. Base Force commander, Read Adm.
Iwabuchi, then ordered:
2300 hours tonight, all Army and Navy personnel will make a last desperate
charge. Each unit will take three days’ supply of ammunition and
provisions. Naval units will assemble at the headquarters by 2200 hours.
artillery fire was concentrated at the headquarters area from 2200 hours
and the surprise charge had to suspended as the units were unable to
On 19 February,
every fortress was in ruins, but fighting continued sporadically, and by
the 21st, the only positions held by the Japanese were the headquarters,
the City Hall, Manila Hotel, the former 4th Air Army office, and the area
surrounded by the Pasig River. That night, about 300 persons managed to
escape on landing barges from the harbor and landed near Malabon.
At dawn on 26
February, Read Adm. Iwabuchi and the other officers with him committed
suicide. The battle for the defense of Manila ended with almost the
complete annihilation of the Japanese forces in Manila.
[Note that there is nothing
on civilian atrocities]