The Case of General Yamashita:
Memorandum for the Record

Courtney Whitney
Brigadier General, U. S. Army
Chief, Government Section




The genesis of revisionism of the Battle of Manila is the book "The Case of General Yamashita" by A. Frank Reel (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1949). In it Reel, one of the six counsel for Yamashita, reargued his submissions with the benefit of hindsight, dollops of authorial infallability, and lightning fast editorial scissors, crafting a persuasive meme that continues to attracts a coterie of partisan intellectuals of following generations.

Reel's argument relied on a series of false assumptions - chief amongst them that Yamashita never intended the battle to play out as it did, that he was hamstrung by poor communications and control, that the troops remaining in Manila went "rogue", and that none of the evidence directly linked him to what occurred. Also argued were the legal defenses that (a) the military tribunal was not a proper tribunal (b) the charges did not state that Yamashita had committed, authorized or knew of any atrocities, and that the tribunal's rules did not guarantee a fair trial.

The Case of General Yamashita: A Memorandum (presented here) was written in November 1949 by U.S. Army Brigadier General Courtney Whitney and represents a stinging rebuttal to Reel (and, years later, his acolytes) taking exception to  Reel’s use of the dissenting opinions in the Yamashita decision to “support his post-judicial contention that Yamashita was irregularly tried and unjustly executed.”

Those who seek a better argued and balanced view of Command Responsibility than Reel's might consult Maj. William H. Parks paper, also available at this site.

Reel, a labor union lawyer from Boston, became more trenchant in his views as the years passed, and by 1974 was asserting that General MacArthur had scripted the trial and the verdict. He was active in Democratic politics, which should come as no surprise.

Courtney Whitney, described by William Manchester, as an "ultraconservative Manila corporation lawyer", co-drafted the Constitution of Japan. He continued to practice law after retiring from the Army with the permanent rank of Major General.

  The document is presented here in four parts.





Memorandum for the Record

Supplement to the Memorandum




Appendix A - Decision of U.S. Supreme Court
  Appendix B - Notes on the case of General Yamashita, from Law Reports of trial of War Criminals, United Nations War Crimes Commission  
  Appendix C - Review of Trial Record  








"History is Important - otherwise revisionists would not spend so much time trying to change it."

- Paul Whitman -