12 Feb 45 - The Philippine General Hospital complex, all its buildings of reinforced concrete, extended west along the north side of Herran Street about 550 yards to Dakota Avenue. North, across Padre Faura Street lay equally sturdy buildings of Philippine University. All hospital buildings were clearly marked by large red crosses and contained many Filipino patients now held hostage by the Japanese. XIV Corps had initially prohibited artillery fire on the buildings, but lifted the restriction on 12 February when the 148th Infantry discovered that the hospital was defended. The presence of the civilian patients did not become known for another two or three days. (S. p. 286)

13 Feb 45 - The 148th Infantry, having fought every step of the way from the Estero de Paco, began to reach Taft Avenue and get into position for an attack on the hospital. Its left flank extended along Taft Ave from Herran south four blocks to Harrison Boulevard, the 148th Infantry-12th Cavalry boundary. The infantry's extreme right was held up about three blocks short of Taft, unable to advance until the 129th and 145 Infantry overran the New Police Station strongpoint. The Japanese had all the east-west streets east of Taft Avenue covered by automatic weapons emplaced in the hospital and university buildings. The 148th could not employ those streets as approaches to the objectives. Accordingly, the regiment prepared to assault via buildings and back yards on the east side of Taft. (Ibid)

14 Feb 45 - The 2nd Battalion, 148th Infantry, (with 2nd platoon, Co. C, 82nd CMB, attached) at the cost of 22 killed and 29 wounded, could make only negligible gains in trying to push west across Taft Avenue. The Japanese stopped the American battalion with mortar, machine gun and rifle fire from the Science Building and adjacent structures at the northwest corner of Taft and Herran, from the main hospital buildings on the west side of Taft between California and Oregon, and from the Nurses Dormitory at the northwest corner of Taft and Isaac Peral. (Ibid)


4.2 OP party rings bell on sniper

Still east of Taft Avenue and moving south with the 2nd Bn., 148th Infantry, through a residential area on a narrow street parallel to and one or two blocks east of Taft, the 2nd platoon, Co. C's OP party was hugging walls and darting from cover to cover of any wrecked vehicle or debris available. The members were strung out attempting to keep 10 yards apart. One would stay put until the one ahead had dashed to new cover and all movements were running erratically, bobbing and weaving. The equipment visible (not as easy to hide as in the jungle) made all of the party targets: Butler's Tommy gun, Phillips' SCR-300 radio, Ward's bazooka, and Shaeffer's 3.5-in. Rocket backpack.

At an intersection with another narrow street was a church on the southeast corner – the steeple made it a suspicious, scary sight. Darting around the corner of a wall that bordered the narrow sidewalk, diagonally opposite the church and with lots of noise from rifles, machine guns, and 60-mm. mortars, Butler jabbed his left hand vigorously pointing toward the steeple and fired a short burst at it, alerting the rest of the party to the potential hazard. Then, WHAM! Butler sensed, rather than heard, the thud of the Jap's bullet as it struck the wall above his head. Without thinking, he dove head first off the sidewalk into the street. A very narrow gutter (drainage space along the curb, called a jube in Iran and where Indonesian women, their teeth stained red from the beetle nut and their flowing skirts held high, squatted to urinate in Noumea, New Caledonia) offered the lowest depression for cover against the sniper. With only his left kneecap in the gutter, the rest of him struggling to get into it off the sidewalk and the inability to get his head lower and still keep the "steel pot" on it, Butler was no longer a moving target (fortunately, the gutter was dry.) He was "dead meat" for the sniper.

No church bell ever sounded sweeter than the bell from that belfry, as it and the belfry's other occupant(s) were blown to Hell by Ward's bazooka. The bell banged and clanged on the pavement below to herald a fanatical Nip enroute to Shinto Heaven.

Forward, or die, the OP party cautiously moved in broken-field mode toward Manila Bay behind the slowly advancing infantry. Maybe 100 yards short of Taft Avenue was a bunker on a corner, covered with earth, from which grew grass. Thinking it might provide welcome cover, Butler darted for it, only to find it was packed tight with wooden boxes of ammunition.

During the night, a tremendous explosion rocked the area. Next morning that bunker loaded with Jap ammunition was gone. In its place was a water-filled crater with one Filipino corpse on the lip of the crater. There may have been more and they may have attempted to remove some boxes, which probably were booby-trapped. The corpse most likely was one of two or more in the party and he was far enough away to be killed by concussion without disappearing in the blast.

The progress made by the 148th Infantry during the 14th had depended largely upon heavy artillery and mortar support. The 140th Field Artillery fired 2,091 rounds of high-explosive 105-mm. ammunition, and 4.2-inch mortars of the 82nd Chemical Mortar Battalion expended 1,101 rounds (almost 14 tons in one day) of high explosive and 264 rounds of white phosphorous. The white phosphorous, setting some fires in a residential district south of the hospital, helped the advance of the 3rd Battalion on the left (south), but neither this or the high-explosive shells appreciably decreased the scale of Japanese fire from the hospital and university against the 2nd Battalion. (S. pp. 286-87)

16 Feb 45 - In the midst of the fighting in the stadium area, south of Harrison Blvd. in the 1st Cavalry Division area – see Map 6  – the 1st Cavalry Brigade, less the 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry, passed to the control of the 37th Division. General Beightler directed the brigade to secure all the ground still in Japanese hands from Harrison Park north to Isaac Peral Street – fifteen blocks and 2,000 yards north of Harrison Boulevard – and between the bay shore and Taft Avenue. The 5th Cavalry, under this program, was to relieve the 148th Infantry, 37th Division, at another strongpoint while the 12th Cavalry, less the 2nd Squadron, was to make the attack north along the bay front. The 12th's first objective was the prewar office and residence of the U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines on the bay at the western end of Padre Faura Street, three blocks short of Isaac Peral. (S. p. 279)

Also on the 16th, the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry, relieved the 3rd Battalion which had made the large wide sweep to the beach (see Map 6 above) and would now hold that beach while the 12th Cavalry took over its sector to the north.

Company C, 82nd CMB, would continue 4.2-inch mortar support to the 148th Infantry elements in contact and would furnish that support to the 5th Cavalry and 12th Cavalry units as they replaced the infantry.

17 Feb 45 - With the aid of support fires, the 2nd Battalion, 148th Infantry, smashed its way into the two most easterly of the hospital's four wings and overran the last resistance in the Nurses' Dormitory and the Science Building. (Ibid)

Frankel reports: “Before noon the 2nd Battalion had entered both the Hospital and the Nurses' Home (Dormitory)... Shortly after 1300, the battalion reported occupation of the Science Building, Administrative Building, the Nurses' Home (Dormitory), and the forward part of the Hospital.” (F. 37th, p. 281)

An estimated seven thousand civilians were rescued in the (hospital) area, two thousand of them being removed that afternoon while battle casualties were hustled across the open area on litters. These civilians were of American, European, and Oriental extractions and were frightened and bewildered. The Japanese had held them so that Americans would not use large-caliber guns. When the Yanks finally forced their way into the Hospital, some of the Japs became crazed and belatedly attempted a wholesale slaughter of the noncombatants. (F. 37th, p. 282)

Shortly after a C-ration lunch, the 2nd Battalion, in the face of point-blank machine-gun fire, rushed down corridors of the Hospital and by 1430 held two wings as well as the Dispensary. The Japanese still clung to the cellar. Through the middle of the day, fighting at close quarters ripped the sector. Later in the afternoon the battalion pulled up to the middle wing of the hospital and established a forward observation post (OP) in the Nurses' Home (Dormitory). (Ibid)

18 Feb 45 - Map 6 shows the OP of the 2nd platoon, Co. C, 82nd CMB, in the Nurses' Dormitory at the northwest corner of Taft and Isaac Peral, the northeast point of the Philippine General Hospital complex, which point passed to 1st Cavalry Division control on 23 February. This was the first "elevated" observation post used by the 2nd platoon during a month of scurrying, like the rats we were seeking to destroy, through city streets and yards, and firing on the many strongpoints encountered by the infantry and the cavalry. All previous OPs were on the street, wherever the assault infantry company or cavalry troop commander chose to control the advance of his troops and designate targets for the 4.2s.

By this time vehicles were coming across the Pasig on pontoon bridges and McClelland sent the 2nd platoon jeep with two men of the company communication section, the jeep-mounted reel of wire and two field telephones, with the ¼-ton trailer. In the trailer were two 5-gallon cans of water, a case of C rations and a case K rations. Fortunately the trailer tarp was tied down to hide that loot. The OP could remain in the Dormitory and maintain contact with the supported company or troop commander. Once one phone was hooked to the wire reel and strapped to a concrete support pillar in the dorm, the two men with jeep, one phone, and the wire reel were sent to join the commander; the trailer stayed at the foot of the fire escape. It also helped that Butler could talk to the troop commander and advise him of the situation as seen from a stationary position 30-40 feet above street level.

There was still no wire across the Pasig from gun position to OP, so Phillips with the SCR-300 remained on the 3d floor of the dorm, but stayed well to the rear where he could extend the antenna out a rear window space. Ward and Shaeffer were stationed, with bazooka and carbines as guards for the OP and the trailer, at the foot of the fire escape. From our Bougainville days, we all knew not to expect more than two hours sleep at a time. Easy to remember: 2 on, 2 off. Not that any target for a bazooka was anticipated but, if there should be one, it was less likely to appear on the 3rd floor than at the foot of the fire escape.

The Dormitory was a very sturdily built, reinforced concrete structure with high ceilings (about 15' high) and huge openings where windows used to be. All stairwells and interior walls were gone and access was only by fire escapes on the side away from the street. Concrete pillars, about twenty inches wide on each of the four sides, were spaced uniformly about every ten feet in each direction. They may have marked the arrangement of rooms at one time, but no rooms existed when the OP was established. The Japs may have removed all walls and other debris and tossed it out into the courtyard, perhaps in preparation for fortifying the Dormitory as a strongpoint guarding the approaches to Intramuros.

Also occupying the 3rd floor OP, which had been established during the afternoon of the 17th by 2nd Battalion, 148th Infantry, was an artillery sergeant directing 105mm. artillery fire. Others, mostly officers, occasionally climbed the fire escape for a view of the Bay and surrounding features. One morning a Lt. Col. came up about dawn, stood in a window space looking south with his binoculars, and was promptly shot through the head. End of story, never learned who he was or where from. Frankel mentions a Lt. Col. Richard D. Crooks, who had been commander of 1st Battalion, 129th Infantry, and “...had been killed by enemy rifle fire while making a forward reconnaissance on February 14.” (F. 37th, p. 284) The 148th Infantry had not secured the Nurses' Dormitory until the 17th.

19 Feb 45 - At 1100, the 12th Cavalry, having relieved the 148th Infantry troops along the bay, launched its attack north by the 1st Squadron, opposed by considerable rifle, machine gun and 20-mm. machine cannon fire from the High Commissioner's residence and from private clubs and apartment buildings north and northeast thereof. (S. p. 279)

20 Feb 45 - Behind close artillery support, the cavalry squadron attacked early and by 0815 had overrun the last resistance in the High Commissioner's residence and on the surrounding grounds. The impetus of the attack carried the squadron on through the Army-Navy and Elks Clubs and up to San Luis Street and also through most of the apartments, hotels, and private homes on the east side of Dewey Boulevard from Padre Faura north to San Luis. Only 30 Japanese had been killed in this once-important Manila Naval Defense Force command post area; the rest had fled into Intramuros or been used as reinforcements elsewhere. The 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry, lost 3 men killed and 19 wounded during the day. (S. pp. 279-80)

Discrepancy: In the above account, Smith describes the cavalry's action at the High Commissioner's residence as “Behind close artillery support...” Kleber and Birdsell quote the 37th Division assistant chief of staff, G-3, after witnessing the chemical mortars in action before the High Commissioner's residence, as saying that “direct support infantry weapons, particularly 4.2-inch mortars, falling close to our own lines, were found to neutralize the enemy where penetration took place.” This report by Kleber and Birdsell is in the context of their summation of the actions by the 82nd Chemical Mortar Battalion in support of the XIV Corps from Lingayen Gulf to Manila. (K&B. p. 506)

Note: The above by Kleber and Birdsell is followed immediately by a summation of actions on Luzon by the 85th Chemical Mortar Battalion, which had landed near San Fabian in the Lingayen Gulf on 28 January with the 1st Cavalry Division. (Ibid)


4.2s rake Manila Hotel and MacArthur's penthouse

19 Feb 45 - During daylight, Butler had registered his platoon's battery of four 4.2-inch mortars, still firing from Malacanyan Palace, on several potential targets beyond the friendly front lines as shown on the 18th (Map 6). This usually consisted of firing a few WP rounds on intersections or buildings clearly in Japanese hands. The five-story Manila Hotel, with its visible penthouse, was a prime suspect. Registration was done only with the number 1 mortar-all others would fire parallel to it, unless directed to "close sheaf," in which case they would adjust onto number 1's impact, or "open sheaf by X yards," whereby they would spread the fire X yards left from each other. The registration on the Manila Hotel was limited to the area between a concrete wall and the hotel buildings. The penthouse was an ideal observation post for the Japanese, although there were no enemy guns visible from the Dormitory.

20 Feb 45 - The 148th Infantry had been relieved by the 12th Cavalry along Manila Bay, while the OP of the 2nd platoon, Co. C, 82nd CMB, remained in place. The OP came under fire from 20mm. or 40mm. Japanese guns firing from the grounds of the Manila Hotel west of Dewey Boulevard (Map 6). After dark, shells impacted on the outer wall of the Nurses' Dormitory, fortunately not entering through the wide window spaces. The location of the OP may have been disclosed by the fatally unfortunate action of the Lt. Col. who was killed on the 18th. As the Jap guns fired, their flashes illuminated the yellow wall of the Manila Hotel just behind. Apparently, the Jap gunners were in the process of registering on the Dormitory.

Sergeant Mills was given the order to start firing HE on the registered data, "volley 1 round and walk it out at 10-yard increments." Advised that the target was the guns firing at the OP from between the wall and the building, plus the 5-story hotel and its penthouse, he calculated charges and elevations to keep a steady stream of four HE shells moving from the wall, across the courtyard, and up the building at about 10-yard intervals. Butler's observations satisfied him that the first two volleys were effective against the Jap guns. He was then able to "fine tune" subsequent volleys to keep them moving up the new west wing and onto the penthouse. By the fifteenth volley (60 rounds of HE) the penthouse and any OP it housed were destroyed. No more fire from that source.

 Having had the Manila Hotel under observation from late afternoon on the 17th throughout the night of the 20th, with no fire directed against it prior to the rolling barrage of 4.2s from 2nd platoon, Co. C, 82nd CMB, it is surprising to read from Smith:

The South Port area lay just northwest of the Manila Hotel, the next objective. In preparation for the attack on the hotel, the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion intermittently shelled the building and surrounding grounds throughout the night. A patrol of Troop B dug in along the northern edge of Burnham Green to prevent the Japanese from breaking out to reoccupy abandoned bunkers in the open park area.

With artillery support and the aid of two 105-mm. self-propelled mounts and a platoon of medium tanks, the 1st Squadron dashed into the hotel on the morning of 21 February. ... Nevertheless, the hotel's eastern, or old, wing was secured practically intact by midafternoon. Some Japanese still defended the basement and the new (west) wing, but the cavalrymen cleaned them out the next day. The new wing, including a penthouse where General MacArthur had made his home, was gutted and the general's penthouse was demolished. (S. p. 280)

The author, Lt. Jack Butlerpictured at the OP atop the nine-story Great Eastern Hotel, Rizal Avenue, Manila, 23 February 1945. Butler commanded 2nd platoon.

Comment: The 82nd Chemical Mortar Battalion did not operate through corps or division artillery fire direction centers; the 4.2s had been found to be more responsive to the infantry/cavalry by dealing directly with the "client." In that the above-described action by the 2nd platoon, Co. C, 82nd CMB, was against a "target of opportunity" in the face of hostile fire against its OP, there was no need to notify the artillery any more than with any mission in support of infantry or cavalry units. Smith's writing, published in 1963, would have relied in large part on after-action reports, the filing of which was pretty much a matter for commanders to decide. As noted, Carlisle's Lines From Luzon has shortcomings. As 82nd CMB S-3 (Operations), he would be the one most likely to know what the firing units were doing. On the morning of the 21st, following the 4.2-inch mortar fire on the Manila Hotel the previous evening, Butler left Phillips in the Dormitory OP with the SCR-300 radio and the OP field phone. He would receive and relay communication between Butler and the mortar position north of the river at Malacanyan Palace. The 2nd platoon jeep and wire team was called in from the 2nd Battalion, 148th Infantry, which had been relieved in that sector by 5th Cavalry troops.

Butler went with the jeep and telephone team west toward the bay and north until he located a 12th Cavalry troop commander and his command post (CP) about 500 yards south of the Manila Hotel, which his troop was then assaulting. The captain was sitting on a sidewalk with his back to a garden wall, a field phone and runners keeping him in touch with his platoons and the squadron CP. His patrols had reported earlier that the west wing of the hotel (closest to the beach) had no windows and Jap resistance was concentrated in the basement. There seemed to be no immediate need for further 4.2 support, so the 2nd platoon OP party returned to the Dormitory and reported to McClelland at his CP, co-located with all three firing platoons of Company C, 82nd CMB, on the Palace grounds.

Note: On 22 February, General MacArthur watched the battle and was horrified to see his home (the penthouse) set afire. He entered the hotel, escorted by machine-gunners and found the penthouse and its contents had been reduced to ashes (Richard Connaughton, et al, The Battle For Manila, Presidio Press, Novato, CA, 1995, p. 156).

Kleber and Birdsell have nothing more to say about 82nd CMB in Manila after the quotation they attribute to the AC of S, G-3, 37th Division, regarding the effectiveness of 4.2-inch mortars at the High Commissioner's residence (see 20 Feb 45, above). Smith, however, includes action by Company I, 145th Infantry, (on 22 Feb 45) in which “...4.2-inch mortars (of Co. A, 82nd CMB) and 81mm. mortars (infantry) plastered the roof and upper floors (of the City Hall) with indirect fire.” (S. p. 284)































Manila Central Post Office - from the north bank, looking south,



























Crossing the Pasig River




























New Police Station

















The Jai-Alai Building, Taft Avenue. Mayor Lim did what WWII could not.


























Rizal Baseball Stadium