Word had been received by higher authority that interned at the University of Santo Tomas were some 4,000 American citizens and Allied subjects, and it was also understood that there might be some Allied prisoners held at MALACANAN PALACE. It was believed that, when the pressure was put upon the Japanese within the city of MANlLA, the enemy might make some effort to harm these internees. It was, therefore, concluded that one of the first objectives within the city proper was the campus of the University, and the Palace. The mission of rescuing these internees was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, which Division in turn made up a "flying column" consisting of the 2d Squadron of the 8th Cavalry and the 2d Squadron of the 5th Cavalry. At dawn on the 3d of February troops of these Squadrons left SANTA MARIA, and moving South met negligible resistance until they reached the bridge at NOVALICHES across the TULIAHAN RIVER, where they found the bridge set for demolition and the fuses burning. The quick thinking of a young lieutenant saved the bridge, and the column moved on to Grace Park meeting negligible opposition. Despite the fact that the advance of the "flying column" had been virtually unopposed, it was well known that on both sides of the road there were small groups of the enemy. These groups were obviously a delaying force whose mission was to hold and permit the enemy to destroy as much of MANILA as possible before the arrival of the main American forces. The "flying column" reached Grace Park too late to save the hangars and other air-field equipment, which was already ablaze when the troops arrived.

The "flying column" proceeded to Santo Tomas, diverting en route one troop of Cavalry and a platoon of the 44th Tank Battalion to MALACANAN PALACE. Both of these groups received sporadic small arms and automatic weapons fire, and the larger group met such stubborn resistance at the Far Eastern University that the soldiers retraced their steps and approached Santo Tomas from another direction. Arriving at the entrance of the University they found the portals locked. The gates were quickly forced by tanks, and the troops of the Cavalry swarmed into the university grounds. Here they were met by enemy small-arms and automatic-rifle fire. Armor was needed. The tanks, however, could not go through the gates, and to enter the campus it was necessary to crash through the walls surrounding the University. Once inside, Cavalrymen supported by tanks quickly eliminated small enemy pockets and liberated all the internees except 221, who were held as hostages in the Education Building. Barricaded within this building was Colonel Hayashi who commanded Santo Tomas, and who let it be known to the American Forces that he would hold the internees as hostages until he and his garrison were granted safe conduct from the university grounds. At daylight on the morning of the 4th the Japanese were given safe escort from the Education Building to a point south of the campus where they could rejoin their own forces.

By this act, the lives of all the American internees were saved.

Troop F of the 8th Cavalry and one platoon of Company B of the 44th Tank Battalion had gone to MALACANAN PALACE, met only sporadic rifle fire, and after having entered the palace grounds without opposition, found only Filipino police guards and some attendants who willingly surrendered.

The 3,766 internees of Santo Tomas were found to be in an emaciated condition, and had not the American forces arrived as soon as they did, the next few days would have recorded many deaths. Apparently the enemy did not intend to make a defensive stand North of MANILA, and had informed the internees of Santo Tomas on January 7, two days before the landing at LINGAYEN, that they were going to leave the city in order to avoid bloodshed, and that they were giving to the Santo Tomas internees seven tons of corn husks, two tons of soy beans, and 1½ tons of casaba. That food, the Japanese stated, should suffice for 15 days, and from January 7 until subsistence arrived from American sources on 5 February, it was all the internees had to eat. By nightfall on 5 February PCA Unit No. 5 had issued 20 truck loads of American rations to the starved internees.

While the "flying column" was securing Santo Tomas and Malacanang Palace, the remainder of the Cavalry Division continued to move Southward. The 1st Brigade Combat Team, consisting of the 5th Cavalry (less 2d Squadron) and the 12th Cavalry, had established its CP at NOVALICHES at 1800 3 February. The 5th Cavalry (less 2d Squadron) moved from SANTA MARIA to NOVALICHES to arrive at the latter place 1800 3 February, while the 12th Cavalry protected the lines of communication from CABANATUAN to CABU. The 2d Brigade Combat Team (BCT), consisting of the 7th Cavalry and 8th Cavalry (less 2d Squadron), ' moved to the vicinity of NOVALICHES. (See Sketch No. 15). The advance of the Division further was interrupted by the demolition of a bridge at NOVALICHES, which had been successfully accomplished by the enemy after the "flying column" had passed. However, by the 5th of February, passage across the river had been made, and the 5th Cavalry (less 2d Squadron) continued Southward from NOVALICHES and assembled at Grace Park at 1800 February 5th. The 7th Cavalry (less 1st Squadron and Troop "G") also arrived at MANILA on the 5th. The 1st Squadron of this regiment protected the line of communications from BALIUAG to CABANATUAN. Throughout the 6th of February elements of the 1st Cavalry Division continued to reduce by-passed pockets of enemy. On the 7th of February the Cavalry units at Santo Tomas were relieved by the 37th Infantry Division. The area West of the SAN JUAN RIVER was secured, and the BALARA filters were captured.

While the "flying column" of the 1st Cavalry Division was moving into Santo Tomas, the 37th Division pushed down Highway 3 in the face of constant enemy small-arms and mortar fire. At every stream crossing the bridges had been destroyed. It was necessary to cross on improvised rafts and by amphibian tractors which had followed the Division from LINGAYEN GULF. On the night 3 - 4 February the 3d Battalion of the 148th Infantry passed through the 2d Battalion at CALVARIO and secured MALANDAY at 0415 in the morning. By 1645 on 4 February the Battalion held the railroad station at CALOOCAN, and the 2d Battalion followed close behind the 3d Battalion into MANILA. Pushing on toward the PASIG in the late evening of the 4th, elements of the 148th Infantry reached Bilibid Prison. They forced the outer door, and wandering through the records room heard the sound of American voices. Upon investigating they discovered 800 American prisoners of war. These prisoners had been abandoned by their jailors, and inasmuch as the city was still filled with enemy snipers, they had been left within the prison walls for their own protection. Outside, the fighting continued from building to building and street to street. As elements of the 148th pushed forward, buildings previously mined were demolished by the retreating enemy. Throughout the night of the 4th - 5th of February the sound of explosions was incessant, and the sky was ablaze from burning buildings. On the 5th the smoke and dust were so intense, and the heat from burning structures so terrible, that little progress could be made. The flames came so close to Bilibid Prison that on the night of 5 - 6 February the released prisoners of war had to be evacuated.

The 1st and 2d Battalions of the 145th Infantry continued Southward on February 3 and 4 on the MANDALAY -MALINTA Highway, and at 1500 on the 4th were in the vicinity of TINAJEROS. The 2d Battalion, moving over Highway 51, and the 1st Battalion, following the 148th on Highway 3, had moved to MABELO and POLO and had engaged an unknown number of the enemy. The boundary between divisions, which by Field Order No. 4 went from SANTA MARIA to BALINTAWAK, thence due South to the PASIG RIVER, gave all of the metropolitan area to the 37th Division. It being apparent that the enemy was not making his defensive stand outside the city but would probably do so in the heart of the metropolitan area, the Corps Commander on the 3d of February decided to divide equitably the city proper and change the boundary to run from SANTA MARIA to TULIAHAN, thence along the TULIAHAN RIVER to MANILA RAILROAD, thence along MANILA RAILBOAD to the terminus, thence South to the PASIG RIVER. (See Sketch No. 19, page 91).

The enemy strength in greater MANILA was estimated to be 18,000. Of this number three fourths were supposed to be navy personnel, and one fourth army. From various sources and from the nature of his resistance at the entrance of the city, it was deduced that within the city itself (1) there were few if any organized combat units, (2) the enemy defense would be of a passive nature, (3) enemy communications were crippled, (4) most enemy weapons had been recovered from destroyed aircraft and sunken ships, and (5) there was no enemy reserve or mobile combat force. As it was later prove, the enemy expected the American forces to approach from the South. ' Thus as the two divisions moved into the city from the North, Rear Admiral Mitsuji Iwafuchi, the overall defense commander, found his organized positions facing the wrong way, his poorly-equipped troops about half the strength of the American forces, his command deprived of communications, and his forces without hope of assistance from air or naval units. However, the stubborn resistance of the garrison did credit to his truculence as a fighter, and the ruthless destruction of property was a reflection of the tenacity of his efforts.

No doubt when peace comes the enemy will argue that it was American shells that destroyed MANILA, but such arguments can be refuted by unquestioned evidence. As the troops of the 37th Division approached the PASIG they were met on every side by the sound of explosions and falling buildings. That these demolitions were previously planted and installed is authenticated by captured Order No. 43 dated 3 February from the Imperial Naval Defense Command: "(1) The South, Central and North forces must destroy the factories, warehouses, and other installations and material being used by naval and army forces, insofar as the combat and preparation of naval forces in MANILA, and of the army forces in their vicinity will not be hindered thereby, (2) The demolition of such installations within the city limits will be carried out secretly from the time being, so that such action will not disturb the tranquility of the civil population or be used by the enemy for counter propaganda. Neither large scale demolition nor burning by incendiaries will be committed, (3) A special order will be issued concerning the demolition of the water system and electrical installations".


Sketch No. 18 Strongpoints along Quezon Blvd.


From the piles of fallen debris, from sand-bagged entrances and barricaded windows, the approaching American troops were met on every hand by devastating machine-gun and small-arms fire. Tanks were indispensable in the reduction of such emplacements, and due to unavoidable delays in crossing the streams, it was not until the 6th of February that the 37th Division was able to reinforce its infantry by armor. However, the enemy had foreseen this eventuality and at various points throughout the city North of the PASIG had organized definite centers of resistance. In the Binondo District at the Plaza Calderon, there was a mine field with street barricades across a bridge of the Estero de la Reina. One of the strongest positions North of the PASIG RIVER was located in vicinity of the Far Eastern University at the intersection of Quezon Boulevard and Azcarraga Avenue. (See Sketch No. 18). This particular center of resistance was presumably intended to prevent American troops from entering the Bilibid Prison and crossing Quezon Bridge. It consisted of mine fields, staggered steel rails, and truck bodies as impediments to armor, and was protected by machine guns and 20mm dual-purpose guns.

The 148th Infantry in its rapid advance to the heart of MANILA had bypassed a group of enemy in the Chinese Cemetery. On February 5th, the 145th Infantry (less 3d Bn) entered the city, engaged this pocket, annihilated it, and moved on to the North bank of the PASIG RIVER. The 148th Infantry did not reach the banks of the PASIG RIVER until the 7th, but by 1500 on that day had started assault elements across the river without opposition in vicinity ot the Presidential Palace. By the night of the 7th, troops ot the XIV CORPS were disposed as follows: the 1st Battalion 129th Infantry was in vicinity of San Lazaro Race Track; the 2d Battalion was on the North bank of the PASIG RIVER from the Presidential Palace to the Eastern edge of Santa Mesa; the 3d Battalion was in BALARA securing rear areas; the 145th Infantry was holding the PASIG RIVER line from MANILA BAY to the Presidential Palace, with the 1st Battalion and 2d Battalion (less Co G) abreast, the 2d on the West; Co G was in the North tip of the Tondo Peninsula, and the 3d Battalion was in the vicinity of POLO. The 3d Battalion 148th Infantry had successfully crossed the PASIG RIVER and was being followed by the 2d Battalion. The 1st Battalion l48th Infantry remained in reserve; the 5th Cavalry, which had been at Santo Tomas since February 3d, moved to Santa Mesa and prepared to proceed South of the river; the 12th Cavalry continued patrolling the lines of communication from CABANATUAN to SANTA MARlA; the 7th Cavalry was protecting NOVALICHES DAM and BALARA FILTERS, and was moving to secure the SAN JUAN reservoir by 1800 7 February; elements of the 8th Cavalry forded the SAN JUAN RIVER at Espana Extension, and at 1800 on the 7th were crossing the river near St. Joseph's Academy. Thus at 1800 7 February, the forces of the XIV CORPS were moving in an envelopment to the East to rout the enemy from MANILA. Along the banks of the PASIG, elements of the 37th Infantry Division held the line, with elements of the 148th effecting a crossing of the river at the Presidential Palace. On the left of the 148th, the 8th Cavalry was moving in the arc of a circle through Del Monte to reach the North bank ot the PASIG. (See Sketch No. 19).

As the 2d Battalion of the 145th Infantry moved West toward MANILA BAY, Co G became engaged with a group of Japanese who withdrew to the tip of the TONDO Peninsula where they were supported on February 7 by 75mm gun and automatic-weapons fire. Throughout the 8th, 1 platoon of Co G, reinforced by elements of the Cannon Company and heavy machine gun platoons, engaged the enemy in bitter house to house fighting. The remainder of the Company at 1415 had repulsed an enemy amphibious landing effected from large barges which came in from the Bay at the West end of Mariones Street. During the night of 8 - 9 February all of Companies G and F were moved to the tip of the TONDO Peninsula, and at daylight 9 February they attacked enemy concrete emplacements with rocket launchers and pole chargers. At 0955 the peninsula was secured. The 2d Battalion was then assembled in the vicinity of the TONDO RR Station.

The 3d Battalion 145th Infantry, after completing its work in the STOTSENBURG area on 31 January, had moved South to occupy the line HAGONOY - MALOLOS, which it accomplished on 2 February. When Corps Field Order No. 9 directed the seizure ot MANILA, this Battalion moved South on the road West of Highway 3 and at 0600 on 4 February made contact with an enemy force at MABOLO. After a four hour fire fight against machine-gun and mortar fire, the Battalion secured MABOLO. At POLO (See Sketch No. 16) another enemy torce was contacted. Machine-gun and mortar fire stopped the further movement of the 3d Battalion. At 1500 on 5 February the enemy launched a counterattack with an estimated 250 men. The attack was completely repulsed, and 200 enemy were killed by sma1l-arms fire. At 0450 on the morning of the 6th, the enemy launched a Banzai charge against the battalion position. The attack was repulsed, and enemy losses were 50 killed.

It was believed that Japanese forces in the POLO area were of such size that it would take more than the 3d Battalion to defeat them. A study of the map also showed that the area was a natural collecting point for escapees from MANILA who desired to move to the East and join the SHIMBU forces. Later, prisoners of war testified that they had received instructions to make their way Eastward by such a route. The remaining elements of the 37th Division being engaged in MANILA,






Sketch No. 19 - Attack within Manila
 South of the Pasig R.




The presence of US troops at Sto. Tomas began to draw Japanese artillery fire.  This view is from Espaņa Blvd on Feb. 7.


Aware that the rescue of the civilian internees was a U.S. priority which would  bring American forces to the internment camps, the Japanese targeted Sto. Tomas and, later, the Philippine General Hospital. It was the deliberate use of war crimes as a weapon of war.    

Civilian internees, American soldiers and nearby Filipinos were killed and injured during the barrage that lasted through the day until the early morning hours of the next day.

A young girl that was standing in front of Santo Tomas internment camp when the first Japanese shell hit, was the first casualty.

In this picture she is getting plasma administered by civilian internees trying to save her life. Her wounds were too severe and she later died.

During the Japanese shelling of Sto Tomas some shells hit buildings just outside of the camp area, starting fires which, without a water supply to extinguish them, began to sweep through the area. Many Filipinos that were trying to save some of their belongings were wounded and killed.

University of Sto Tomas center right. Picture was taken on Santo Mesa Boulevard during the Battle for Manila, Feb. 1945



The cililian internment camp at Sto. Tomas was the first major objective in the retaking of Manila.


Conquering U.S. tank crews show off their machines to excited liberated internees at Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines, Feb. 1945


U.S. Soldiers listen to Mr. Bernard Herzog as he tells them of his days as an internee at Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines, Feb. 1945

Mr. Herzog lost 78 pounds and is suffering from beriberi. From left to right is Pfc Arnold Senstrom of Roseau, Minnesota; Sgt. Frank Duer of New York City; Pfc Joseph Lewandowski of Depew, New York; Mr. Herzog of Marysville, California, who was a in the Philippine as a tourist when he was taken prisoner; T/5 bill Tksack of Allentown, Pennsylvania; T/5 Clifton Griffin of Gram, North Carolina and Pvt. John Rogie of New York City.





Images  are courtesy via the John Tewell Collection