Maj. Gen. Robert S. Breightler, Commanding General, 37th Divisions, directing tank-infantry attack, 16 March 1944. (Photo taken on Bougainville.)


Gen. Griswold and Gen. Harmon (in helmet) being briefed on the tactical situation by 3d Marine Div. officers (Photo taken on Bougainville.)

The proposals inevitably had repercussions. So far, General MacArthur had severely restricted the employment of air in the metropolitan area. In late January and early February Marine Corps SBD's had bombed or strafed a few pinpointed targets in the North and South Port Areas and had also hit some obvious Japanese gun positions in the open areas of Luneta Park and Burnham Green. One or two strikes may also have taken place against specific targets within Intramuros, but all in all it appears that planes of the Allied Air Forces flew no more than ten or twelve individual sorties against targets within the city after 3 February. Before that time both carrier-based and land-based aircraft had presumably limited their strikes to targets within the port areas and to oil storage facilities in Pandacan and Paco Districts.5 Of course some bombs had gone astray during these strikes and had caused damage within Intramuros,6 while additional damage within the Walled City had resulted from both American and Japanese artillery fire the first two weeks of the battle for Manila.

Knowing and understanding General MacArthur's position on the destruction of Manila--and large sections of the city had already been battered beyond recognition--Krueger sought the theater commander's views on the proposed air attacks, stating that XIV Corps' request would be approved unless MacArthur objected.7

General MacArthur did indeed object:

The use of air on a part of a city occupied by a friendly and allied population is unthinkable. The inaccuracy of this type of bombardment would result beyond question in the death of thousands of innocent civilians. It is not believed moreover that this would appreciably lower our own casualty rate although it would unquestionably hasten the conclusion of the operations. For these reasons I do not approve the use of air bombardment on the Intramuros district.8

Griswold and Beightler were not willing to attempt the assault with infantry alone. Not expressly enjoined from employing artillery, they now planned a massive artillery preparation that would last from 17 to 23 February and would include indirect fire at ranges up to 8,000 yards as well as direct, point-blank fire from ranges as short as 250 yards. They would employ all available corps and division artillery, from 240-mm. howitzers down. In addition, 75-mm. tank weapons, 76-mm. tank destroyer guns, and infantry 105-mm. self-propelled mounts would be used for point-blank fire. Organic infantry 81-mm. and 60-mm. mortars and 4.2-inch chemical mortars would add the weight of their fires, while from high buildings such as the City Hall and office buildings on the north side of the Pasig infantry heavy and light machine guns would blanket the walls and interior of Intramuros before the assault.9 Just how civilian lives could be saved by this type of preparation, as opposed to aerial bombardment, is unknown. The net result would be the same: Intramuros would be practically razed.

The bombardment of Intramuros in preparation for the actual assault began on 17 February when 8-inch howitzers, with indirect fire, started blasting a breach in the east wall, which, at the point of breaching, was 40 feet thick at the base, 16 feet high, and about 20 feet across the top. This was by no means the first artillery fire directed at Intramuros. In support of previous operations throughout the city, 37th Division and XIV Corps Artillery had earlier fired on pinpointed targets, mainly Japanese artillery and mortar positions, throughout the Walled City. Considerable damage to the ancient buildings had already resulted, and by the time the assault preparation began most of the Japanese artillery and mortars had long since been knocked out.10

The 8-inch howitzers of Battery C, 465th Field Artillery Battalion, made a neat breach in the central portion of the east wall between Parian and Victoria Gates with 150 rounds of high explosive. Later, a single 155-mm. howitzer of the 756th Field Artillery, firing at a range of about 800 yards, started blasting away to form the planned breach south of Quezon Gate. With 150 rounds this weapon produced a break 50 feet long that extended about 10 feet down from the top of the wall. An 8-inch howitzer smoothed out the resulting pile of debris at the outer base of the wall with 29 rounds of indirect fire, making an easy ramp.

The 240-mm. howitzers of Battery C, 544th Field Artillery, began bombardment to breach the north wall and knock out a Japanese strongpoint at the Government Mint on the morning of 22 February, 8-inch howitzers lending a hand from time to time. The 76-mm. guns of a platoon of the 637th Tank Destroyer Battalion used point-blank fire from across the Pasig to blast footholds along the south quay and in the rubble along the river's bank in order to provide the assault troops with landing points.11

Throughout the night of 22-23 February, in advance of a final barrage before the infantry assault the next morning, 37th Division and XIV Corps Artillery kept up harassing fires against the walls and interior of Intramuros.12 Meanwhile, during the 22d, more guns moved into firing positions. As of morning on the 23d artillery to fire in support of the assault was disposed as shown in Table 3. In addition, many of the 105-mm. SPM's of the 37th Division's three cannon companies took up positions along the north bank of the Pasig or east of Intramuros. The 148th Infantry set up twenty-six heavy and light machine guns in buildings north of the river to provide cover for the men of the 129th who were to make the amphibious assault. The 145th Infantry, which was to attack overland from the east, would have cover from its own machine guns, which would fire from such points of vantage as the upper floors of the City Hall.



Units and Their Locations Weapons

North Bank of Pasig  
  Battery B, 136th Field Artillery 4 155-mm. howitzers
  6th Field Artillery 12 105-mm. howitzers
  Platoon, 637th TD Battalion 4 76-mm. guns
East of Intramuros  
  Battery A, 136th Field Artillery 4 155-mm. howitzers
  Battery A, 140th Field Artillery 4 105-mm. howitzers
  One piece, 756th Field Artillery 1 155-mm. howitzer
  Six tanks, 754th Tank Battalion 6 75-mm. tank guns
  Two platoons, 637th TD Battalion 8 76-mm. guns
Division and Corps Artillery at Rear Positions  
  Companies A & D, 82d Chemical Mortar Battalion 24 4.2-inch mortars
  135th Field Artillery 12 105-mm. howitzers
  82d Field Artillery 12 105-mm. howitzers
  Batteries B & C, 140th Field Artillery 8 105-mm. howitzers
  Battery C, 136th Field Artillery 4 155-mm. howitzers
  756th Field Artillery (less 1 weapon) 11 155-mm. howitzers
  Battery C, 465th Field Artillery 4 8-inch howitzers
  Battery C, 544th Field Artillery 2 240-mm. howitzers

Source. Relevant sources cited in n. 12.