MANILA: THE DRIVE TOWARD INTRAMUROS

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By
ROBERT ROSS SMITH

Iwabuchi Entrapped

Although patently determined at the end of January to defend Manila to the last, Admiral Iwabuchi apparently wavered in his resolution during the week or so following the arrival of the first American troops in the city. On the morning of 9 February, two days after the 37th Division began crossing the Pasig, the admiral decided that his position in the Manila area had deteriorated so rapidly and completely that he should devote some attention to evacuating his remaining forces. Accordingly, he moved his headquarters to Fort McKinley, evidently planning to direct a withdrawal from that relatively safe vantage point. This transfer precipitated a series of incidents that vividly illustrates the anomalies of the Japanese command structure in the metropolitan area.

About the same time that Iwabuchi moved to Fort

 

McKinley, the first definite information about the course of the battle in Manila reached General Yokoyama's Shimbu Group headquarters. The Shimbu commander immediately began planning a counterattack, the multiple aims and complicated preparation of which suggest that Yokoyama had so little information that he could not make up his mind quite what he wanted to, or could, accomplish.

Estimating the strength of the Americans in the Manila area at little more than a regiment, General Yokoyama apparently felt that he had a good opportunity to cut off and isolate the Allied force. Conversely, he was also interested in getting the Manila Naval Defense Force out of the city quickly, either by opening a line of retreat or by having Iwabuchi co-ordinate a breakthrough effort with a Shimbu Group counterattack, scheduled for the night of 16-17 February. Not knowing how far the situation in Manila had deteriorated--communications were faulty and Admiral Iwabuchi had supplied Yokoyama with little information--Yokoyama at first directed the Manila Naval Defense Force to hold fast. The question of a general withdrawal, he told Iwabuchi, would  be  held  in  abeyance  pending  the  outcome  of  the