MANILA: THE LAST RESISTANCE

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By
ROBERT ROSS SMITH

After the fighting at the strongpoints, the seizure of Intramuros must in some ways have been anticlimactical to the troops involved. Clearing the Walled City was primarily a victory of U.S. Army artillery, tanks, and tank destroyers over medieval Spanish walls and stone buildings. The subsequent reduction of the government buildings represented the triumph of the same weapons over modern, American-built, reinforced concrete structures. Thus, the investiture of Intramuros and the government buildings was a classical siege conducted with modern weapons. But this is not to detract from the part the infantry--and the dismounted cavalry fighting as infantry--played in these final phases of the battle for Manila. The artillery alone could not win the fight; as usual the last battle belonged to the infantry. Infantry had to move in to secure the ground the artillery had prepared, and infantry took many casualties before the battle ended.

Intramuros - Plans and Preparations

Plans for the attack on Intramuros were long in the making,

 

and from the beginning planners had to take into account a number of closely interrelated tactical considerations.  Available information led to the conclusion that the Japanese defenses were strongest on the southern and eastern sides of the Walled City and that the Japanese expected attack from these, the most logical directions. Japanese garrisons in the Legislative, Finance, and Agriculture Buildings just across Padre Burgos Street southeast of Intramuros could cover these approaches. The 37th Division could, of course, take the government buildings before launching an assault on Intramuros, but it would be easier to attack the government buildings after Intramuros fell.

Conversely, planners deemed it feasible to strike into Intramuros from the west, since Japanese defenses along the west wall, across Bonifacio Street from the Manila Hotel and the South Port Area, appeared weak. But in this case, American troops would first have to clear the South Port Area and then, advancing from the west, would have to attack toward much of their own supporting artillery. The artillery's best positions for close support were on the north and northeast, across the Pasig, and on the east, in the area south from the General Post Office to the City Hall, and much of the artillery ultimately did fire from these areas.

About halfway from the northeast to the northwest corner