POSITIONS IN THE PHILIPPINE GENERAL HOSPITAL AND UNIVERSITY CAMPUS AREA
Sketch No. 25

 

 

 

 

Looking south, across the Pasig into the Intramuros. The setting of fires across the landscape was more than simple bloody-mindedness by the Japanese. They were using deliberate atrocity as a tool of war.

 

Sketch No. 19 - Attack by XIV Corps South of the Pasig River.

 

On the 21st the 12th Cavalry penetrated the Manila Hotel, where intense hand to hand fighting took place. At 1800 the enemy was holding the mezzanine floor while American forces held the lobby. It was not until 1645, 22 February that the Manila Hotel was completely cleared.

 

Looking south, across the Pasig River. Along the PASIG, however, information disclosed that the strongest enemy defenses were between the Mint and the Jones Bridge, and that West of the Mint the wall was lightly defended.

 

The rear of the picture reads:

Japs Fire Manila

Panoramic view shows extensive damage done to the city of Manila, gem of the Pacific, as Jap demolition experts set fire to buildings in a desperate effort to stop American advance.

Credit: Acme Photo by Stanley Troutman, for the War Picture Pool

 

 

Sketch No. 26 - Map of Intramuros Gates

THE CAPTURE OF MANILA: THE DRIVE TOWARD INTRAMUROS
13 - 22 February, 1945

 

 

 

THE CAPTURE OF MANILA: ELIMINATING THE LAST RESISTANCE
23 February - 3 March, 1945

 

Elements of the 37th Division continued to push to the West, but the progress was slow. The 3d Battalion 129th Infantry, moving along the South banks of the PASIG, gained only 400 yards on the 15th of February against sharp enemy resistance from machine-gun and 20-mm guns in well concealed pillboxes. At the close of day on the 15th, the 3d Battalion had straightened its line to run South from the PASIG RIVER along the East edge of the Military Hospital to San Marcelino, thence South on San Marcelino to join with the 1st Battalion. (See Sketch No. 24).

Sketch No. 24

The 1st Battalion of the 129th Infantry had succeeded in getting into a building at the intersection of Isaac Peral and San Marcelino Streets on the 15th, but withdrew under the cover of darkness. This building was later identified as the New Police Station and, similar to all new buildings in MANILA, was of earthquake-proof construction. On the morning of the 15th, the attack against the building was launched again, supported by heavy mortar concentrations, direct fire from 105-mm self-propelled guns, and medium tanks. Troops penetrated the building through heavy machine-gun fire and secured the ground floor capturing 5 machine guns and repulsing a counterattack. By 1800 on the 15th, the enemy had been cleared from all the building except the basement. On the 16th, the entire building was secured. The following photograph shows the nature of the defense of the building.

 

While elements of the 1st Battalion were reducing the New Police Station on 15-16 February, a similar fight was in progress in the Santa Teresa College area East of San Marcelino. Supported by artillery, 81-mm. and 4.2 mortars, self-propelled 105-mm, and medium tanks, on the 17th of February Company B, 129th Infantry, employing close-in infantry assault tactics, succeeded in neutralizing the enemy in one of the buildings near the college. On the 18th of February, the 129th Infantry (less 2d Battalion) was relieved in place by the 145th Infantry (less 2d Battalion). Thus, on the latter date, the 3d Battalion 129th Infantry was on the right of the line with the 1st Battalion 145th Infantry on the left. This latter unit immediately launched an attack against the Santa Teresa College and secured the building on the same day.

The 148th Infantry, between the 129th Infantry on the North and the Cavalry on the South, found that it could move with its left much more rapidly than with its right. On the 15th of February the 3d Battalion, on the South, had pushed to the line Mabini - Carolina streets, two blocks East of MANILA BAY. On 17 February the 1st Battalion, which had relieved the 3d Battalion on the 16th, attacked North and seized positions along Herran Street from MANILA BAY to Wright street, where contact was made with the 2d Battalion. The 2d Battalion, in the North of the regimental zone, continued slow but relentless destruction of enemy positions at the Philippine General Hospital and the University of the Philippines. In these latter positions, the enemy defended by employing 40-mm, 20-mm, dualpurpose.guns and grazing fire from machine guns.

In Manila the Philippine General Hospital occupies a large city block between Taft Avenue on the East, Dakota Avenue on the west; Herran Street on the South, and Faura street on the North. There are several buildings on the site, of which the Science Building and the Medical School are on the South, the Hospital proper in the center, and the nurse's quarters on the North. Across Faura Street to the North and abutting on Taft Avenue is the campus of the University of the Philippines. It was around these humanitarian and cultural centers that one of the hardest fought battles of MANILA took place (See Sketch No. 25).

At 0830 on February 17th, the 148th Infantry launched a determined attack to secure the Hospital and the University. The 1st Battalion drove North and seized the buildings along Herran Avenue, while the 2d Battalion in fierce hand to hand fighting secured the Science Building at 1150, the Nurses Home at 1730, and the two Eastern wings of the hospital at 1330. In the hospital proper, the 2d Battalion found several thousand interned eivilians, 2000 of whom were liberated in the afternoon, and an estimated 5000 throughout the night. In face of point blank machine-gun and rifle fire the Battalion drove to positions from which it could neutralize enemy guns in the University of the Philippines. On the night of the 17th - 18th the enemy was driven from the west wing of the Hospital, but occupation of the wing was denied the American forces by enemy fire from the Medical pahool and the Observatory. At 0900, 18 February, the 1st Battalion, supported by tanks and tank destroyers, secured the Medical School and permitted Company E to occupy the West wing of the hospital. Company C on the extreme left of the 1st Battalion pushed North along MANILA BAY and secured a line along Faura Avenue from the Bay to Dakota Avenue. This company received rocket fire from the High Commissioner's House at 1455. The situation at sunset on the 18th showed a line running along Faura Avenue from MANILA BAY to Dakota, while in the Hospital grounds the enemy stubbornly refused access to the Convent (Southwest grounds). It was along this line that the 1st Cavalry Brigade (less 1 Squadron) took the left and the 5th Cavalry the right. The 5th Cavalry continued the reduction of the Medical Building, which was finally secured on 20 February after vigorous close-in assault action in which flame throwers were employed. After the reduction of the Medical Building the 2d Squadron ot the 5th Cavalry, which was on the lett ot the regimenta1 front, pushed on to Faura Street where it came under enemy fire from the grounds of the University of the Philippines. The Squadron succeeded in occupying the East building (Marked A, on Sketch No. 25). The 1st Squadron 5th Cavalry moved East along Isaac Peral from Taft to Camillas Streets, making contact with elements of the 145th Infantry. At 0830 on the 20th the 1st Squadron launched an attack on the University Building, by 1130 had secured the 1st floor of the building, and by 1630 occupied one-half of the 2d floor. At 1630 the building exploded, evidently trom mines emplaced by the enemy. The Japanese resisted stubbornly in all buildings of the University until 1645 22 February when all resistance was eliminated.

While the 5th Cavalry was reducing the University of the Philippines, the 1st Squadron of the 12th Cavalry attacked the High Commissioner's Home at 0730 20 February, and by 1000 had cleared the house and reached Isaac Peral Street. At 1100, the Army and Navy Club and the Elks Ciub were secured, and patrols were sent through the Burnham Green area to the vicinity of the Manila Hotel. They found the area heavily mined and fortified, but positions unoccupied. Outposts in the Burnham Green area received heavy machinegun and rifle fire from the INTRAMUROS on the night of 20-21 February. On the 21st the 12th Cavalry penetrated the Manila Hotel, where intense hand to hand fighting took place. At 1800 the enemy was holding the mezzanine floor while American forces held the lobby. It was not until 1645, 22 February that the Manila Hotel was completely cleared. (See Sketch No. 19).

While the 148th Infantry and the Cavalry were fighting in the Hospital and University area, the 129th Infantry (less 2 battalions) continued to meet opposition from fortified buildings West of San Marcelino Street, until relieved by the 3d Battalion 145th Infantry on 18 February. The 129th Infantry was then assembled at Caloocan on the North side of the PASIG, while the 145th (less 2d Battalion) was in position South of the PASIG with the 3d Battalion on the North and the 1st on the South. While attacking the New Police Station at 1600 February 18th, the 1st Battalion met flanking fire of 40ˇmm and 20-mm caliber from the San Pablo Church, which positions were assaulted but had to be abandoned during the night of 18 - 19 February. On the 19th another attack was launched against the San Pablo Church area, and by nightfall one-half of the Convent Building had been secured. By 1800 on the 20th, both the Church and the Convent were reduced. The 3d Battalion 145th Infantry attacked North and West from a line of departure on San Marcelino Street at 1230 19 February, and after fierce hand to hand fighting against strongly emplaced enemy, by 1435 had seized the Y.M.C.A. and Manila Trade School, and was on the Eastern side of the Metropolitan Water District Building. Patrols moving along the South bank of the PASIG reached a point 200 yards Southeast of Quezon Bridge when they drew enemy fire from the Post Office (GPO) and the Ice House. Continuing the attack on the 20th, the 3d Battalion met resistance from the Girl's Dormitory (Southeast corner of Taft and Ayala) and the Normal School diagonally across the street. These buildings were brought under fire by tanks, mortars, and 76-mm guns of tank destroyers, and the Girl's Dormitory was secured. The Normal School could not be entered until 1300, 21 February, but after one and oneˇhalf hours of intense hand to band fighting this last building was cleared.

The City Hall was another building difficult to reduce. Company K 145th Infantry penetrated the City Hall 20 February, entering through a breach made in the East Wall by point blank fire from M-7's (105-mm howitzer). The company found the building heavily fortified and withdrew to allow a heavy concentration of white phosphorous shell to be brought down upon it. On February 21st, Company I entered the City Hall only to find that further penetration was denied by numerous heavy concrete walls and sand-bagged, barricaded doors. At 1800 on the 21st of February the troops again withdrew to permit direct fire from l55-mm howitzers, 76-mm and 75-mm guns. On the 22d, another point blank artillery preparation was fired, after which the 3d Battalion again forced entrance into the HaIl. After fierce hand to hand fighting from room to room, complete command of the roof was secured at 1145, and at 1450 the building was in our hands with a total of 206 counted enemy dead. The Metropolitan Water District Building was secured by the 3d Battalion at 0920, 21 February, (by Company I while Company L reduced enemy rifle fire from the Botanical Gardens and entered the Metropolitan Theater at 1405 the same day. Company B 145th Infantry entered the Ice House at 1630 and after using intense point blank fire from 76-mm guns and tanks, destroyed remaining pockets of enemy within the burning building. Another direct fire preparation was laid on the General Post Office, after which Company B entered the building. Fierce close-in fighting from room to room during the night secured the first two floors by 1145 22 February,  and the top five floors by 1220 that day. On the 2d fioor our troops destroyed a 75-mm gun. At 1800 on the 22d the enemy still held a small area in the West half of the basement which was soon cleared by flame throwers and pole charges.The American flag was then raised over the building. At sunset on the 22d, the line ran from the PASIG along the West side of the GPO South along Taft Avenue to Isaac Pera1 Street, thence West along Isaac Pera1 to Dewey Boulevard, thence North along Dewey Boulevard to the Northeast corner of Manila Hotel, thence West to the Bay. (See Sketch No. 24).

Further tightening of the ring about the INTRAMUROS necessitated a decision as to how the Walled City would be invested. Wallace Field, and government buildings in the triangle enclosed by Taft Avenue, Gral Luna, and Burgos streets conclusively proved that penetration of the walls from the South and East would be more expensive in American lives than an amphibious attack across the PASIG RIVER. Information obtained from escapees from the INTRAMUROS also disclosed that the major defenses within the wall itself were directed toward the South and East. These defenses consisted of mined areas, barbed-wire obstrutions, and tank traps, all of which were covered thoroughly by machine guns and mortars. Along the PASIG, however, information disclosed that the strongest enemy defenses were between the Mint and the Jones Bridge, and that West of the Mint the wall was lightly defended. (See Sketch No. 26).

Escapees from the Walled City had also told of an elaborate tunnel system by which troops could move from one part of the city to another and also within the wall itself, hence it was appreciated that, regardless of the direction of the attack upon the City, the enemy could move reinforcements quickly from one locality to another without them being subjected to harassing artillery fire.

It was well known that corralled within the Walled City were many non-belligerents, the majority of whom were women and children. Foreseeing that the occupation of the INTRAMUROS was necessary for the complete reduction of MANILA, the Corps Commander, on the 16th of February, requested the Commanding Officer of the Japanese forces to allow the internees to leave the City. This message, reproduced below, was broadcast in Japanese from the North side of the PASIG at 1330 16 February, and followed by radio on frequencies which the enemy could receive.

"Your situation is hopeless -your defeat inevitable. I offer you an honorable surrender. If you decide to accept, raise a large Filipino Flag over the Red Cross Flag now flying and send an unarmed emissary with a white flag to our lines. This must be done within four hours or I am coming in. In event you do not accept my offer, I exhort you that, true to the spirit of the BUSHIDO and the code of the SAMURAI, you permit all civilians to evacuate the INTRAMUROS by the Victoria gate without delay, in order that no innocent blood be shed."

This message went unheeded by the Japanese commander. However, prisoners of war subsequently captured stated that many of the Japanese soldiers desired to give themselves up after hearing the broadcast, but were forbidden to do so by their officers.

Receiving no response from the plea to evacuate the civilians, plans were immediately formulated for the invasion of the Walled City. The possibility of aerial bombardment of the area was considered, but was rejected as inadvisable because of the civilians interned therein; therefore, the reduction would have to be done by artillery and smallarms fire, and assault by rifle troops. Two days after the broadcast of the Corps Commander, artillery was brought to bear upon targets within the INTRAMUROS. Besides targets which were definitely known to be enemy observation posts, mortar and artillery emplacements, there was the ponderous task of breaching the wall. The ramparts surrounding the old city were of stone blocks laid in a mortar of 16th century vintage, which had become more formidable with age. The wall was 40 feet thick at the base, and tapered through 16 feet of height to a width of 20 feet at the top. Certain information had indicated that the masonry had been tunnelled by the Japanese to permit shifting of machine guns among the emplacements.. However, it was not believed that throughout the entire length of the wall this had been done. It being impossible to tell which part of the rampart was hollow and which was not, tactical consideration alone was the basis for choosing the place for making the breach through which advancing infantry could penetrate the city.

For the breaching, two points were chosen on the East wall of the City. One was North of Parian Gate, and the other between Parian Gate and Victoria Gate. One breach was made by 8-inch howitzers using indirect fire, and the extreme accuracy of this weapon is attested by the relatively clean cut made in the masonry as shown in accompanying photograph. 150 rounds of 8-inch howitzer shell were used in blasting this gap. The other breach was made by direct fire from 155-mm howitzers using 150 rounds, followed by 8-inch howitzers firing 29 rounds to clear the debris. The breach made in the wall by the fire of 155-mm howitzers of the 756th Field Artillery Battalion is shown in the following photograph.

On the 19th of February, the walls had been successfully breached, and the 129th Infantry was assembled at CALOOCAN. It was definitely decided that the assault upon the INTRAMUROS would initiate with an amphibious crossing of the PASIG RIVER by the 129th Infantry, while the 245th Infantry moved overland West and through the breaches made by the artillery. The 129th Infantry was to enter the INTRAMUROS through the openings in the wall in the vicinity of the Mint. The tide in the river, which reached the high point in early afternoon, was a factor which could not be overlooked. Both banks of the PASIG RIVER had been walled with rubble, and at low tide it would be quite difficult for troops to scale the river banks. The tide could not be the controlling factor.

 

 

 

Images below are courtesy via the John Tewell Collection