Skip to comments.1945 Battle of Manila (Anti-US Military BARRF Alert!)
Posted on 01/31/2005 7:21:27 PM PST by qam1
THIS February will mark the 60th anniversary of the unwarranted death of over 100,000 civilians whose lives were sacrificed in the 1945 Battle of Manila. The casualty count was that immense because advancing US troops and their commander, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, did not consider that these non-American civilian lives deserved to be protected and secured by US troops whose role after all is to absorb the risk of war. But I wonder if anyone has even cared to remember this national tragedy?
Next to Warsaw, Manila registered as the city most devastated by World War II. Early accounts obviously peddled by the victors had imputed the enormous civilian casualty to acts and atrocities perpetrated by retreating Japanese forces. But historians had since debunked this reason. It was the US relentless bombardment and razing of Manila coupled with the callous disregard for civilian lives that turned any inhabitant in no mans land a sitting duck for the remorseless American assault on the Philippine capital city in 1945.
However, this is not to deny the fact that Japanese forces had indeed committed some of the most barbaric and the most vicious atrocities that matched the brutishness of the ancient savage. The retreating Japanese forces showed no mercy. They raped and they slaughtered with wanton abandon. Babies were flung to the air and skewered by bayonets as they fell. Samurai swords swished in a mad harvest of decapitated heads.
But for all the terrifying stories of Japanese atrocities, the greatest number of civilian casualties was dealt by the careless and cold-blooded American bombardment. Post-war photos bear testimony to the virtual annihilation of all landmarks south of the Pasig River. The US forces were situated north of the Pasig River and by February 1945, there was hardly any Japanese air force to contend with. Manila was held by Japanese marines who were cut off from the main Japanese force that retreated to Northern Luzon with the legendary Tiger of Malaya, Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, to make their last stand there.
MacArthur liked to avoid unnecessary engagement of troops. For the most part, his Pacific campaign strategy dubbed the envelopment strategy avoided unnecessary troop engagement and instead isolated enemy bases from their supply lines. MacArthur posited: Never take with bravado what you can attain with strategy. And that is exactly how over 100,000 innocent lives ended up as sacrificial lambs to MacArthurs troop preservation strategy. Instead of sending in US troops whose job is to take combat risks and minimize civilian casualties MacArthur opted for the deployment of the artillery and the air force to clear the Japanese held section of the city. In the process, Japanese defenders as well as innocent civilians were killed; with the greatest number of casualties being those of the civilian non-combatants.
Yet days earlier, the US commanders opted to send their troops to secure American prisoners in the University of Santo Tomas. How else can we view this contrast in US military approach except to conclude that the lives of US troops may only be risked when Americans and only American lives are on the line?
If you happen to be one who still believes in the old propaganda line that the 1945 Battle of Manila was a battle for Filipino liberation, you may want to read The Battle for Manila by Anderson, Connaughton and Pimlott. Well-researched and insightful, the book dissolves the propaganda myths and opens ones mind to the truth and ugliness of this episode of the Pacific theatre of the war. Liberation gave the Battle of Manila a noble sounding cause but in reality it was a mere retaking of lost US strategic territory.
The Filipinos easy gullibility to the propaganda cover-up surrounding the facts behind the 1945 Battle of Manila clearly exposes our shallow sense of history. Ironically, we keep quoting a favorite Filipino maxim: ang hindi marunong tumingin sa pinanggalingan ay di makakarating? sa paroroonan (one who cannot appreciate his origins will not get to his destination). Somehow the meaning of this otherwise profound advice has been narrowly confined. Many people understand it to be only about repaying a personal debt of gratitude (or utang na loob) rather than looking back at ones historical roots.
Having such a superficial sense of our own history, it is not surprising to see educated Filipinos having a better grasp of the American, French and Russian Revolutions rather than their own 19th century Philippine Revolution. Lets not even go that far barely 19 years after the historic and awe-inspiring 1986 People Power revolt, many of our youths hardly even look back to try to grasp and understand that shining moment of our nations history.
Over 65% of the Philippine population is young and many of them now even think that living conditions were better during the Marcos era. I cant blame them for thinking thus. Three years into her presidency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is certainly making it look like life was a bed of roses during the Marcos term. A nation that regards Marcos as a good leader can only have a very shallow sense of history. It means that people can only appreciate and recall things relevant to their particular generation as though these things existed in a vacuum and unconnected with the historical tapestry of the past.
The baby boomers like me who lived through our heyday as the second most prosperous Asian country after Japan, (this was before Marcos became president) know the truth about the Martial Law era. But to the Gen Xers and Gen Yers who did not live through the early 60s, Macapagal-Arroyos dismal performance makes Marcos, and even Estrada, look good. The fiscal numbers and the misery index easily rationalize that impression.
Three different generations bearing different perspectives to the national problem indeed create what it takes to be a divided people. This is the stiff price we are now paying for not knowing our history and the truth about our problems. Knowledge and information in the head more than money in the pocket are what separate the haves and the have-nots. Collect all the wealth and divide it equally among the people and in ten years time the more knowledgeable and better informed will again emerge as the upper class in the socio-economic ladder.
During the 1950s, one heard many stories about the personal tragedies that Filipino families suffered in the 1945 Battle of Manila. Up to the mid-50s, many Filipinos continued to seethe with so much hatred for the Japanese it became prudent for a Japanese to avoid visiting Manila. A decade after the war, I remember how my mother would shake with rage every time she saw any Japanese. She relived the loss of her dear father, our Scottish grandfather who came here in the early 1900s, fell in love with the country and our grandmother, and decided to call the Philippines home.
It was February 14, 1945 and my mother and her family were in the relative safety of a bombed houses basement near the De La Salle College which was also the site of a massacre of civilians by the Japanese. The main Japanese defense line was just meters away in Vito Cruz and it was obvious that shells raining around the area were US shells directed at the Japanese. Our grandfather was felled by one such shell that exploded behind him, a shell that was fired upon the orders of, ironically, a fellow Scot (Douglas MacArthurs roots are in Scotland and his biography acknowledges how MacArthur took immense pride in his Scottish lineage). Our family knew that our grandfather was felled by an American shell but still the strong emotions were reserved for the Japanese who invaded this hitherto perfect paradise and showed brutality never before experienced in the hands of previous invaders and colonizers.
On Valentines Day, 1945, a day dedicated to love, our Scottish grandfather, 1920 and 1921 Philippine Open Golf Champion Ian Macgregor was killed. It was typically Celtic of him to die on the eve of Allied victory.
Many Filipinos who suffered personal losses from Japanese atrocities during the 1945 Battle of Manila have long forgiven the Japanese for the anguish that they inflicted. To forgive is Christian and laudable. But as a people we should never forget. Forgiving allows you to move on. Forgetting dooms you to repeat the traumatic experience.
You may email William M. Esposo at: email@example.com
What kind of dumb@$$ comes up with stuff like this? O_o
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Obviously the idiots who write this have no idea how MacArthur loved the Phillipine people, and he was revered by them as well.
Yet another Leftist attempt to rewrite history.
"Next to Warsaw, Manila registered as the city most devastated by World War II."
Ummm...I think the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki might disagree with you a bit, there.
and London and Dresdan
Moral equivalence, blechh.
Staggering in its ignorance.
No joke. Not to mention the fact that the Phillipines are more pro-US than most US states. :P
The survivors from Nanking, Stalingrad, and Leningrad would like a word with the author. Wait there's the phone again.....yes, we have Korea on the line....and Ethiopians gassed by the Italians.....Singapore.....
This author is an idiot.
Oh, just like the Chinese in Shanghai? or the Okinawan's ? How about singapore? ALL were brutal atrocities, over 500,000 murderd at these sites alone.
NO, they have not forgiven or forgotten !
I am just sticking to the good guys. On the Axis side you have Hiroshima and Nagasaki (too obvious), Tokyo and Dresden (firebombing), Berlin, Hamburg, Yokohama, Kawasaki, etc.
Side note, See the other articles on the page,
* How the Philippines fails to sell itself abroad
* Dancing with disasters
* Bow in shame
* Why we have been marked out for elimination
* Men spawn more grievous spells of suffering
Geez, I thought our Newspapers were depressing
Blaming the U.S.' "failure" to send more ground troops into Mailla on Gen. MacArthur is what to me proves the leftist perspective of the author.
Gen. MacArthur loved the Philippines. He was denied the proper resources to defend them from Japanese invasion by Washington, specifically ulber partisan Democrat Roosevelt, who feared a presidential challenge from MacArthur, and Roosevelt's handpicked successor, "Republican" Gen. Eisenhower. Even a PBS bio about MacArthur saw blatant politics in that move.
When MacArthur came to liberate the Philippines, he had substantial Naval and Marine resources, but few Army soldiers. Not knowing at the time whether a land invasion of Japan would be necessary, it's absurd to suggest that MacArthur should have expended his armies when aerial bombardment would suffice militarily. Yet the horrific arocities make quite plain that eliminating the Japanese presence was absolutely necessary. Allowing 30,000 to die while saving hundreds of thousands AND defeating the enemy who is committing such atrocities is the only sensible option. Be rest assured that MacArthur was anguished by any civilian casualty, whether inflicted by freindly fire, or Japanese savagery.
The Manillans there loved MacArthur, and this bonehead is angry that they did. But they were there, and they understood what was happening.
This guy, and the candidates he espouses, e.g. Raul Roco, are stealth Marxists.
Yeah, the residents of Agana (Guam), Tokyo (Japan), Dresden (Germany), Stalingrad (Russia), etc., might put up an argument, too.
The author is obviously Filipino-centric in his viewpoint. Reasonable to still hate the Japanese for what they did, but stupid to hate the Americans for stopping them. Thank goodness that territory isn't our responsibility any more, with idiots like that living there.
'it was obvious that shells raining around the area were US shells directed at the Japanese'
The King has no conscience.
THIS is what the Twentieth Century Atlas has about World War II casulaties in ALL of the Phillippines
Guess they all died in the retaking of Manila < /sarcasm>
Many Filipinos want to rejoin the United States as the 51st State!! If "they" hate us, why would they want that?
They don't hate us...
I remember my grandmother telling me that in WWl there was this story about the Huns. She was not German but she seemed to think that it was later accepted that this was war propoganda. Now whenever I read that about any army (no matter how obviously atrocious they were)I wonder if those particular stories are made up. ...
But I like this line from one of your links
"For the Philippines, it's better to be bigger by becoming a member of the United States than being a beggar by remaining a member of the United Nations."
But about Statehood, The Philppines have a population of 86,241,697, So if they ever did become a state they would get ~¼ of the Seats in the House of Representives, So I don't think we would go along with it.
We would have to split them up into three or four states, IMHO.
Good synopsis. The Battle of Manila was brutal and vicious, the only "big city" land battle of the Pacific War, and compared to our forces in the ETO, our combat troops in the Philippines had little or no training or experience in urban warfare.
Unlike battles like Stalingrad, where most of the civilian population was evacuated beforehand, Manila was crammed full of civilians; those who were trying to get away from the battle were a lot of the ones being slaughtered by the Japanese, and some of the ones staying in the city were unfortunately, killed in American air and artillery bombardments.
War is Hell. We won the war. Japan surrendered unconditionally.
God Bless Gen. MacArthur, he was brilliant commander and strategist.
And when the bombardment started, who prevented the Manila residents from leaving the city and avoiding the bombardment? Not the Americans. The Japanese. The Japanese were using these civilians as a human shield, deliberately digging in among the civilian population, so the responsibility for any deaths resides with the Japanese.
This article meets the modern definition of "stupid": "Something SO dumb only a Lefty would believe it".
Yes I remember hearing how the atrocities committed by the 'frightful Hun' during the First World War were just propaganda. The only thing is that recent research has proven that they were true! The Germans did massacre many Belgian civilians during their occupation and did 'rape' the city of Louvain. It would be a bit difficult in the light of their behaviour twenty years later that the German army became such a bunch of barbarians over night. And please spare me the claim that the Wehrmacht were honourable soldiers and that it was just the SS that committed atrocities, the regular German troops and policemen were fully involved in slaughtering innocent civilians.
The Japanese however made the Germans look like Sunday school teachers. If you don't believe what they did then read Iris Chang's 'The Rape of Nanking'it even has photos for the disbelievers.
While theres a lot of BS in this article. Theres also a lot of truth to it.
The whole invasion of the PI was unnecessary.
US plans called to hop over PI to Japan.
MacArthur convinced the Prez. to let him keep his I Shall Return promise.
The lives lost on all sides was nothing more that a photo op for MacArthur.
MacArthur was a bumbling primadonna idiot.
Not only did he lose the PI having superior forces and the initiative. Just to prove the first time wasnt a fluke. He almost did the same in Korea.
The Filipinos already have an American territory, anyway. It's called Guam. Why would we give them 1/4 of the Congress in exchange for territory we would have to stretch like hell to defend and 80 million more poor people that would be begging for federal aid?
Yeah, what a deal that would be, where do we sign? /sarcasm
Good lord, just reading the 'here's the what the U.S. will do for us' list on this link: http://philippinegovantigraft.homestead.com/StatehoodA.html gives me nightmares. The worst is the part where they claim that U.S. law enforcement will reduce corruption. Yeah, because it's worked so well in King County, Chicago, and D.C.
No, I'm not pushing any opinion. Just had a historical question...
Japan didn't surrender unconditionally.
Hirohito should have danced on air like his generals. He was every bit the war criminal Tojo was. And until the Japs take down their Yasukuni shrine museum b.s. about how the Rape of Nanking was a police action to restore order, and how they were forced into the war, I'm not about to buy into Japan as a peaceful country that should be allowed to rearm, either. Roosevelt wasn't my favorite president by any means, but he never fired a shot at the Japs and I'll be darned if I'll ever forgive their sneak attack on us or their poor treatment of our soldiers and American internees.
Want to have a little fun next time you hear one of these leftist revisionists from the PI speaking out for there people?
Ask them Are you from Japan ? You look Japanese! If they give you a blank look & answer No Im from the Philippines. Try once more and say Oh you look Japanese
If there not going for your throat by then. You know they havent got a clue.
Oh, c'mon, Leningrad was a squirtgun fight! :P
Well, that would be 80 million hard working conservative Catholics.
You tell me. :P
One of those 56 pillars is engraved with the word:
"Fifty-six granite pillars celebrate the unprecedented unity of the nation during WWII. The pillars are connected by a bronze sculpted rope that symbolizes the bonding of the nation. Each state and territory from that period and the District of Columbia is represented by a pillar adorned with oak and wheat bronze wreaths and inscribed with its name; the pillars are arranged in the order of entry into the Union, alternating south to north across the plaza beginning adjacent to the Field of Gold Stars. The 17-foot pillars are open in the center for greater transparency, and ample space between each allows viewing into and across the memorial."
Jeez forgive me! I just answered your historical question...
Not many know how connected MacArthur felt with the Phillipino people. To say that he ignored their safety during the battle to re-take the Phillipines is absolutely incomprehensible.
How is this measured? What about the Russian/Ukranian cities of Stalingrad, Leningrad, Rostov, and Kiev which were torched. I am sure I am missing many more.
Manila was savaged, but by the Japanese.
Uh, I think the residents of Stalingrad may want to quibble over that idiotic statement!
no thanks, of course. I've had some Snopes warnings going off, but obviously the Japanese were well capable of such atrocities.