Harrison Park to the Manila Hotel

When the 5th and 12th Cavalry Regiments reached Manila Bay in Pasay suburb on 12 February, completing the encirclement of Admiral Iwabuchi's forces, they immediately turned north toward the city limits.7 (Map - The Drive Toward Intramuros) The first known Japanese strongpoint in this area was located at Harrison Park and at Rizal Memorial Stadium and associated Olympic Games facilities near the bay front just inside the city limits. The park-stadium complex extended from the bay east 1,200 yards to Taft Avenue and north from Vito Cruz Street--marking the city limits--some 700 yards to Harrison Boulevard, the 1st Cavalry Division-37th Division boundary. On the bay front lay the Manila Yacht Club and the ruins of Fort Abad, an old Spanish structure. Harrison Park, a generally open area surrounded by tree-lined roadways, was next inland. East of the south end of the park lay a baseball stadium similar to any of the smaller "big league" parks in the United States. Due north and adjacent to the ball field was Rizal Stadium, built for Olympic track and field events and including, inter alia, a two-story, covered, concrete grandstand. Still further east, near the banks of a small stream, was an indoor coliseum, tennis court, and a swimming pool, reading south to north. Beyond the small stream and facing on Taft Avenue lay the large, three-story concrete building of La Salle University. The 2d Naval Battalion and various attached provisional units defended all these buildings.

The 12th Cavalry and the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, took two days to fight their way north through Pasay suburb to Vito Cruz Street, rooting out scattered groups of Japanese who had holed up in homes throughout the suburb.8 During the attack, the 2d Squadron of the 12th Cavalry extended its right flank across Taft Avenue to Santa Escolastica College, two blocks southeast of La Salle University.

On the morning of 15 February, after an hour of preparatory fire by one battalion of 105-mm. howitzers and a second of 155-mm. howitzers, the 12th Cavalry forced its way into La Salle University and the Japanese Club, just to the south of the university on the same side of Taft Avenue. The regiment also made an unsuccessful attempt to get into Rizal Stadium. Meanwhile, the 5th Cavalry's squadron drove north along the bay front, forcing Japanese defenders caught in the open at Harrison Park into the stadium. Late in the afternoon cavalrymen broke into both the baseball park and the stadium from the east but were forced out at dusk by Japanese machine gun, rifle, and mortar fire.

The 5th Cavalry cleared the baseball grounds on 16 February after three tanks, having blasted and battered their way through a cement wall on the east side of the park, got into the playing field to support the cavalrymen inside. Resistance came from heavy bunkers constructed all over the diamond, most of them located in left field and in left center, and from sandbagged positions under the grandstand beyond the third base-left field foul line. Flame throwers and demolitions overcame the last resistance, and by 1630 the 5th Cavalry had finished the job. Meanwhile, elements of the 12th Cavalry had cleaned out the coliseum, Rizal Stadium, and the ruins of Fort Abad. The two units finished mopping up during the 18th.