Excerpts from documents cited above

 The series of documents called Japanese Monographs was ordered by the US occupation government in Japan to assemble a history of the various campaigns and battles of the war from the Japanese side, based on surviving records and the memories of officers who had survived. The work was done under the aegis of the Military History Section, General Headquarters, Far East Command. While the order was issued in October 1945, Monograph 114 was completed only in 1952 – one of the last monographs in the series.

 According to the monograph, the Manila Naval Defense Force was activated on December 15, 1944; simultaneously, Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi was appointed its commander.


Excerpts from Japanese Monograph 114 - Philippine Area Naval Operations Part IV January-August 1945

 Manila Defense Plan: To deny the enemy from using Manila Bay and the air bases in Manila vicinity by holding on to Corregidor and Manila to the last. By this means, it was hoped to turn the tide of operations on Luzon to some degree for the better, at least to delay the next attack by the enemy. The Navy was prepared from the start to defend Corregidor and Manila at all costs, but because of the Leyte operations and the policy of giving priority to air combat preparations for that area, the strengthening of the ground defenses for Manila and Corregidor was not realized until the middle of December 1944; moreover, the tendency had been to leave the responsibility of defending the entire area of Luzon (except Corregidor) in the hands of the Army.

 [When the U.S. Forces landed at Lingayen on 9 January, Iwabuchi] effected a further strengthening of battle preparations, and amidst the confusion of the reorganization of units and the reinforcement of positions, Manila was quickly transformed from a rear base into a fortress for a last-stand battle. [Conferences were held to discuss Army and Navy cooperation and sectors, as well as to decide on policy towards Manila’s defense] This policy provided that the Manila defense operation would be conducted by the naval force under the command of Rear Admiral Iwabuchi and that an element of the Army units would be placed under his command.

First Phase of the Battle of Manila – to 10 February

[1 February] In accordance with a set plan, Rear Admiral Iwabuchi ordered the destruction of the Manila wharves and other installations. He instructed his men: “You men must carry out effective suicide action as members of special attack units to turn the tide of battle by intercepting the attacking enemy at Manila.”

With the advent of enemy advance, guerrilla uprisings flared up throughout the city and all the telephone lines were cut. Japanese Army units in the North Sector were left incommunicado and the Ayala and the Quezon Bridges were demolished.

 The Navy left an element of its strength in the sector north of the river to check the enemy from crossing the river. Shimbu Group headquarters placed the Army units in Manila under the command of the Navy and withdrew to Montalban. Meanwhile, Luneta Park located in the center of Manila was under artillery fire.  

On 4 February, except for the defense troops in the harbor area, the Japanese Army units to the north of the Pasig River withdrew successively across the river. The area to the north of Azcarraga was occupied by the U.S. forces and fire had broken out throughout the entire area north of the river. [the fire was set by Japanese forces] On the southern front, in the Paranaque area, U.S. paratroopers jumped off on the morning of the 4th. That evening, a strong enemy force attacked the Paranaque Bridge and effected a breakthrough in one push [sic they were stopped and continued on the 5th]. Another enemy element advanced to the Pasay sector but they were repulsed by the adamant action of the defense of defense unit stationed there. In the South Sector, a company commander led a charge with about 30 men against the advancing enemy but very little was achieved.

 On 5 February, the enemy in the North Sector concentrated its main body in the Quezon area, by his time they were already using Caloocan airfield. The pressure of the enemy forces from the north became very strong, particularly their mortar fire which increased in intensity. All during this fracas, the civilians were scurrying around seeking shelter or were trying to evacuate from this city. Filipino guerrilla bands harassed the Japanese forces which endeavored to counter but had difficulty in distinguishing them from the Filipino civilians. Artillery fire was directed at the enemy located near the Malacañang Palace but even this became ineffective as shells ran short. Finally, the Banzai [Jones] and Santa Cruz Bridges were destroyed by the Japanese forces to impede the advancing enemy.

 On the 6th and 7th of February, pressure in the East Sector increased steadily. The enemy effected a break-through at Cubao crossroads and the position of the Japanese force in the East Sector became very weak.  As a result of the penetration by the American force from Cubao, the Japanese force which had been penetrated and overrun carried out suicide attacks against the enemy tanks. Now with the destruction of key positions and confused fighting which ensued, command became impossible. Therefore, the Sector commander ordered a withdrawal toward Marikina.

 Also on the 7th, the battle line formed by the Pasig River became very critical when the enemy commenced crossing the river near the Malacañang Palace and the San Miguel Beer Brewery Company. On the evening of the 7th, the Japanese force threw its entire reserve in the Pandacan sector toward the Tabacalera Cigar Company to strengthen their attacks. In spite of all these efforts, a part of the south bank was occupied by the enemy.

 On the 8th, bitter fighting was waged in the Pandacan area and the Japanese withdrew to the Paco Station line. The fighting continued near the cigar company and Nakanojima (Isla de la Convalecencia). On the 9th, however, the line connecting the Paco Station, the arsenal and the Formosa Electric Power Company fell to the Americans. On this day, Read Adm. Iwabuchi dispatched a staff officer to the Shimbu Group headquarters to explain the battle situation. [Lt Cmdr Kayashima] The routing of the East Sector Unit and the loss of the Pandacan Sector had unfavorable effects on the Japanese force defending the city.

The South Sector Unit had established a position extending from Fort McKinley to Nichols Field and was checking the American force advancing from the south. However, the position was steadily penetrated from the shore side and the American force advanced to Nichols Field on the 6th. On the 7th, the line from the airfield to the bay, defended by the 3rd Battalion, was intercepted and isolated fighting was waged all along this position.

 On the 10th, the enemy attacking from the south, penetrated the southern sector of Pasay. Being pressed eastward from the coast, the 3rd Battalion steadily withdrew toward Fort McKinley.

 By 10 February, fierce fighting was raging in the Paco, Pandacan, and Malacañang areas in the northeastern sector. The Japanese forces relied mainly on suicide charges which, in effect, were futile in stopping the enemy advance. They laid a bridge across the Pasig River near Guadalupe and launched a drive to cut off the route of retreat of the Japanese force but which actually isolated the 1st Battalion in the Neilson Airfield area. However, an element of the battalion on the eastern section of  the airfield managed to withdraw toward McKinley.


Battle of Manila, Second Phase (After 11 February)

 By this time, the bulk of the Japanese strength disposed in the suburbs of Manila had retreated eastward, while a force composed of four naval and two Army battalions was enveloped within the city. With this force, Read Adm. Iwabuchi was determined to defend the city to the last ditch.

By 12 February, the enemy had completely encircled the city. The north front was the Pasig River; the east front was the line connecting Luna, Paco Market and Paco Creek; and the southern front was the line running east and west of the Polo Club. Enemy artillery shells fell over the besieged Japanese troops and about half of the guns in position were damaged before effective use could be made of them.

 Regarding the operation of the main body of the Army force situated in the positions east of Manila, the following message was received by Read Adm. Iwabuchi from the Base Force staff officer who had been dispatched to Shimbu Group headquarters and had returned to Fort McKinley.

 One battalion each will infiltrate and conduct charging attacks in the Novaliches, Quezon, Marikina, Mandaluyong and Pasig areas. Battalions will depart on evening of 13th and charge at midnight of the 16th. The Manila Defense Force should then conduct a daring charge with its entire complement to effect a breakthrough of the envelopment.

 The South Sector Unit, which had withdrawn to McKinley, conducted nightly attacks against the Nichols and Neilson Airfields to contact the besieged forces in the city but failed.

 On 13 February, fighting ensued on the line north and south of the Paco Cemetery and the line connecting Singalong and Rosario. On the 14th, with the support of fierce artillery fire, the enemy advanced to the east front of the Central Sector. By the 15th, enemy tanks had advanced from the vicinity of the Paco Market to the line formed by Taft Avenue.

 The situation had become very critical at this stage and Shimbu Group headquarters at Montalban being gravely concerned, sent the following message to Rear Adm. Iwabuchi at Base Force headquarters in Manila:

 Counterattacks in our area are making some progress. The Noguchi and the Manila Defense Units (both Army defense units) will conduct a surprise charge in accordance with the previous order. The Manila Naval Defense headquarters hereafter will be located at McKinley. Maintain close liaison with Shimbu Group headquarters and strengthen and secure the defense of the vicinity.

 A little later, another message was received from the Base Force staff officer who was at McKinley:

 Today, Shimbu Group headquarters has ordered your headquarters to move to McKinley. In view of the increasing difficulty to effect a breakthrough, it is urgent that you move immediately, tonight (15th). Will the headquarters move?

 Rear Adm. Iwabuchi replied, “The headquarters will not move.” Then he sent a message to the Commander in Chief, Southwest Area Fleet at Baguio:

 In anticipation of disruption of communications, I hereby submit this message to you. I am overwhelmed with shame for the many casualties among my subordinates and for being unable to discharge me duty because of my incompetence. The men have exerted their utmost efforts in the fighting. We are glad and grateful for the opportunity of being able to serve the country in this epoch battle. Now, with what strength remains, we will daringly engage the enemy. ‘Banzai to the Emperor!’ We are determined to fight to the last man.

 From Rear Adm. Iwabuchi to Shimbu Group headquarters:

 In view of the general situation, I consider it very important to hold the strategic positions within the city. The transfer of the headquarters will hinder the execution of operations. We have tried to make ground contact with Fort McKinley but failed. Escape is believed impossible. Will you please understand this situation?

 By 16 and 17 February, the north front was the old fort [Intramuros]; the east Taft Avenue, and the south, the line extending east and west near the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

 On the 17th and 18th, the following radio messages were exchanged between Rear Adm. Iwabuchi and Shimbu Group headquarters:

Shimbu Group to Rear Adm. Iwabuchi:

 The Shimbu Group will consolidate the fighting near Manila and make preparations for fighting in the rear positions. In coordination with the attack by the Group, the Manila Naval Defense Force (including the Noguchi Unit) will, after the night of the 17th, destroy the enemy and effect a breakthrough with its entire strength; consolidate the fighting front along the Marikina River to check the eastward advance of the enemy and make preparations for subsequent movement to eastern positions…

 Shimbu Group to Read Adm. Iwabuchi (on the 18th):

 The Kawashima and Kobayashi Units will suspend attacks on the perimeter of Manila. After the night of the 18th, they will conduct penetrating charges. The night of the 18th will be the best time for your breakthrough. Fort McKinley apparently is holding secure although encountering enemy attacks.

 Rear Adm. Iwabuchi to Shimbu Group:

 We made plans for a breakthrough but it is definitely difficult to do so in one night. It is very clear that we will be decimated if we make an attempt. We can hold out another week if we remain entrenched as we are. What is vitally important now is to hold every position and inflict severe losses on the enemy by any means. Fixed positions are our strong advantage. If we move, we will be weak. Therefore, we will be able to hold out as long as possible and then make a desperate charge with all our strength [banzai charge]. We are grateful for your trouble. We believe it is expedient to charge the enemy. Therefore, in conducting the main operation, please conduct your plan without considering us. It would be appreciated if you could neutralize the enemy mortars.  

Shimbu Group to Rear Adm. Iwabuchi:

 Confused fighting is being waged at Sakura Position (Fort McKinley), but it is holding out. More than 1,000 persons were evacuated from Sakura to Antipolo. Boats will be ready every night on the south bank of the Pasig River.           

 Shimbu Group to Read Adm. Iwabuchi:

 We received your opinion on the breakthrough. According to our experience at Lingayen, it is not difficult to break through the American force at night. It is hoped that your headquarters (with the necessary strength) will attempt to withdraw toward Pagonci [?] or make a detour by going south by sea, and then north by land. One battalion has infiltrated Caloocan and another is in action at Quezon. Regardless of whether or not the headquarters will attempt a breakthrough,  a strong raiding charge with men from various units will be carried out from the night of the 21st against the enemy artillery at Caloocan.

 On the 18th, the positions of the Japanese force in Manila were practically all destroyed by the enemy artillery and resulting fire. Base Force commander, Read Adm. Iwabuchi, then ordered:

 At 2300 hours tonight, all Army and Navy personnel will make a last desperate charge. Each unit will take three days’ supply of ammunition and provisions. Naval units will assemble at the headquarters by 2200 hours.

 However, enemy artillery fire was concentrated at the headquarters area from 2200 hours and the surprise charge had to suspended as the units were unable to assemble.

 On 19 February, every fortress was in ruins, but fighting continued sporadically, and by the 21st, the only positions held by the Japanese were the headquarters, the City Hall, Manila Hotel, the former 4th Air Army office, and the area surrounded by the Pasig River. That night, about 300 persons managed to escape on landing barges from the harbor and landed near Malabon.

 At dawn on 26 February, Read Adm. Iwabuchi and the other officers with him committed suicide. The battle for the defense of Manila ended with almost the complete annihilation of the Japanese forces in Manila.

[Note that there is nothing on civilian atrocities]