Battle of Manila (1945)

‘Angels of Bataan, Corregidor’ freed

Army nurses found at Manila camp
By Frank Hewlett, United Press staff writer

SANTO TOMAS PRISON CAMP, Manila (Feb. 4, delayed) – The long ordeal of the “Angels of Bataan and Corregidor,” the U.S. Army nurses who cared for American and Filipino wounded in the black days of Jap invasion, is ended at last and all are accounted for.

U.S. troops who liberated this civilian internment camp found them. For all their reasons to celebrate, they would not pause in their newly-found work of mercy. Instead, they kept on the job, caring for the wounded in the fight to free Manila.

Penicillin new to them

By way of rejoicing, they reveled in again having clean bandages and an abundance of drugs, brought to them by cavalry units, to work with.

Imprisoned in these islands since early 1942, they knew nothing of penicillin. They thought soldiers were joking when they promised that a large American hospital unit would arrive within a few hours, and their work would be ended.

Two of those happily working tonight survived Jap bombings on Bataan. They were Rose Marie Hogan, of Chattanooga, Oklahoma, and Rita Palmer of Hampton, New Hampshire.

Tried to escape

Some of the nurses freed at Santo Tomas were taken there after unsuccessful attempts to escape.

About 100 Army nurses were caught in the Philippines when the war began, and every effort was made to evacuate them when it became clear that all was lost. Only two groups reached freedom, one by submarine, another by Navy flying boat.

A third group got as far as Mindanao Island before their flying boat was disabled. Many months later, they were brought to the Santo Tomas camp, where they joined other nurses in caring for the sick.

Editorial: The enemy we face

Manila has fallen and the fall of Berlin seems imminent.

But these signal victories do not mean the end of the war. They do not even mean we are near the war’s end.

While we are feeling jubilant about the way the wars in the Pacific and Germany are going, let us pull up and go back a few days to another Page One story.

We mean the story about the rescue of 510 Allied prisoners who were cooped up by the Japanese in Luzon Island horror camps.

Not the story of the rescue, which was dramatic and heroic, but the subsequent truth which resulted from that rescue – the grim tales told by the rescued. The eyewitness stories of how the Japs executed American and Filipino prisoners for trivial or imaginary offenses. How hundreds, and perhaps thousands, died of neglect in these so-called prison camps. How the prisoners were beaten and subjected to dozens of sadistic, barbaric cruelties by their Jap custodians. Of the rotten food they were given. How they were starved. How the Japs laughed at their misery.

We are up against a fiendish enemy in the Pacific. No reasonable American mind possibly can understand the degraded and excessively savage mind of the Jap. But we must try to understand it. If we are to win that war, we must not wince in the slightest. It will be a desperate, barbaric war until the last Jap is killed or driven into cringing surrender.

And while we are wising up to the insanely savage Jap, let’s not forget the Nazi. While the Nazi may possess more finesse and may pretend more respect for the international rules of warfare, he also is a hopeless barbarian. We cannot relent with him, either in the vigor with which we prosecute the war or in the terms of his surrender, any more than we can soften up for the Jap.

Our enemies are vicious, last-ditch fighters. They will stop at nothing. Neither dare we.

The Pittsburgh Press (February 7, 1945)

Sea of fire sweeps Manila

Trapped Japs burn city as U.S. troops stalk them in streets

MANILA, Philippines (UP) – U.S. troops fought fire and the Jap enemy through the streets of burning Manila today in the final tragic act of the capital’s liberation.

Several thousand Japs, scattered in isolated pockets throughout Manila, were dying in a welter of flame and gunfire. The enemy apparently was determined to destroy much of the city before surrendering it to Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s liberating army.

The cornered enemy blasted and burned everything about them in a frenzy of senseless destruction that began at sundown Monday, after they had blown up most of the water pumping stations to hamper effective firefighting.

Whole areas of the city were engulfed in a roaring sea of fire as the flames spread from the downtown business section into the northern districts, roasting Filipino civilians and Jap suicide squads alike.

The conflagration mushroomed from block to block throughout Monday night and on into daylight Tuesday, fed by exploding gasoline and munitions dumps.

Tokyo radio said that U.S. troops in Manila have fallen into a “most clever and well-prepared trap.”

The Japs shelled Santo Tomas and Bilibid Prison internment camps, where thousands of Allied civilians who had been interned by the Japs still were sheltered. In midafternoon, the Japs made four direct hits on the main Santo Tomas University building.

Buildings were burning on all sides of Santo Tomas, but the camp not yet was touched by fire and its water pumps were working.

Stalk Jap survivors

Grim-faced U.S. infantrymen and Filipino guerrillas stalked the survivors of the Jap garrison through the streets, finishing them off with gun, grenade and bayonet. Others were dynamiting buildings to create fire-gaps that might check the flames.

The Japs estimated at several thousand, faced three U.S. divisions, but they apparently were committed to a suicidal stand and there was little prospect of a general surrender. Every sniper and isolated pocket of resistance probably will have to be cleared out before Manila finally is liberated.

It was estimated that Jap destruction and the ravages of battle have caused two billion dollars damage in the city.

The Japs still had a number of mortars and some artillery inside Manila and had anti-aircraft batteries operating around Nichols Field to the south, where units of the 11th Airborne Division ran into tough opposition as late as Monday night. One U.S. plane was shot down by enemy flak over Manila Monday.

Hard fighting ahead

Gen. MacArthur, who returned to Manila today, ordered divine thanksgiving services. He told huis men that “you will shortly complete the liberation of the Philippines,” but it was plain that some hard fighting lay ahead in Manila, and elsewhere on Luzon, despite the fact that the Japs are so scattered and broken that their position is militarily hopeless.

Vanguards of the 11th Corps who sealed off Bataan from the north over the weekend and started down the east coast of the peninsula were reported meeting stubborn resistance south of Dinalupihan and it was expected that the several hundred enemy troops on Bataan would dig in for a finish fight.

Far to the north, the Japs launched a heavy counterattack against U.S. positions northeast of Rosario Sunday night, but were repulsed with heavy losses. Bitter fighting was also continuing around San Jose, to the southeast, where the Americans were pushing up into the Caraballo Mountains, as well as in the bypassed Munoz area farther south.

U.S. Liberator bombers staged another heavy raid on Corregidor Monday, dropping 180 tons of bombs without aerial or anti-aircraft opposition.

Other bombers pounded the Aparri and Tuguegarao airfields to discourage any Jap idea of moving in aerial movements.

The New Delhi radio quoted Tokyo as saying that U.S. troops have landed on Bohol Island, midway between Leyte and Cebu in the south-central Philippines.

Peggy, Corregidor heroine, rescued in Manila camp

Army nurse was mentioned by Lt. Kelly, of PT-boat fame, in They Were Expendable

SAN FRANCISCO, California – “Peggy,” the Army nurse who was left behind on Corregidor when Lt. Robert Bolling Kelly of the famed Torpedo Squadron Three had to depart on his PT-boat for the southern Philippines, has been saved.

Peggy and Lt. Kelly were the hero and heroine of William L. White’s famous book, They Were Expendable, and millions of Americans thrilled to their tragic story when they read the book or its condensation in Readers’ Digest or saw the movie.

“Peggy” had a job to do on Corregidor and Lt. Kelly thought, as he left her, that their end would be the same, for both were expendable. But neither of them was.

Rescued in Manila

Peggy. identified as 2nd Lt. Beulah Greenwalt, has been rescued from Santo Tomas internment camp in Manila, relatives were informed today.

Peggy was a cute brunette, about medium height and had a firm way of telling you what to do, Lt. Kelly said.

Peggy was one of 14 Army nurses who had served on Corregidor during the agonizing last days of the Philippines battle in 1942. She arrived in Manila in 1941 after serving at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco.

Met in hospital

Lt. Kelly is now a lieutenant commander on the staff of Rear Adm. W. L. Ainsworth. commander of destroyers, Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor.

He was married last summer in Massachusetts and with his wife is en route to the West Coast after serving at a Miami PT base.

Lt. Kelly was one of the band of brave PT pilots who blasted Jap ships from the Philippines waters and covered Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s trip out of Corregidor.

He met Peggy in the Corregidor hospital. Their “dates” were mostly spent sitting at the mouth of the huge tunnel in “The Rock” and they talked about what would happen to them, and whether they would get out.

He last saw Peggy at the PT base in March. Peggy came for dinner with the crew. He knew then he was leaving her – but – in a way you don’t tell anybody.

Peggy telephoned him March 11, when they had planned to discuss a “date.” But Kelly had received orders making that night the time for departure.

He told Peggy it was goodbye. He couldn’t tell her where he was going or if he was coming back. The connection was broken by two generals who wanted to talk to each other and he never spoke to Peggy again. His boat sneaked out of the harbor early that night.

Three planes were later sent from Australia. One got through but one plane, with Peggy aboard, cracked up. Kelly didn’t know then whether she was a prisoner or perhaps was in the hills with the few who managed to carry on the fight.

Lt. Kelly said he still remembered her last words when he told her goodbye. She only said it had been very nice, speaking in a voice that seemed to come from far away.

He always hoped, Lt. Kelly said, that what the generals had to say to each other was important.

Shells strike Santo Tomas as MacArthur visits camp

General embraced by Manila internees – 100 cavalrymen form guard of honor
By William Wilson, United Press staff writer

SANTO TOMAS INTERNMENT CAMP, Manila – Gen. Douglas MacArthur visited this camp today amid bursting mortar fire, as 3,600 newly-liberated prisoners, cheered.

It was the general’s first visit to Manila since he left for Corregidor three years ago.

Gen. MacArthur was accompanied by an honor guard of about 100 troops of the famed 1st Cavalry Division, many of whom had stormed Santo Tomas only three days before to free the internees.

The cavalrymen presented arms as Gen. MacArthur drove up in a staff car. The general wore khaki with five silver stars in a circle on his collar and his gold-braided cap of a Philippine field marshal.

Entering the lobby of an ancient Santo Tomas University building where U.S. prisoners were housed, Gen. MacArthur was warmly embraced by several of the women internees.

Gen. MacArthur, who was escorted by Brig. Gen. William C. Chase, of the 1st Cavalry Division, embraced Mrs. Carl Seals, wife of Gen. Seal’s, who was shot down in a plane attempting to escape Corregidor and is now a prisoner of war.

“Oh, General, I’m so glad to see you and your troops. You and they were magnificent,” Mrs. Seals said.

“I’m glad to be here, Mrs. Seals,” Gen. MacArthur replied. “I’m a little late, but we finally came.”

Mrs. H. L. Harris, widow of a colonel who died on Corregidor, also embraced Gen. MacArthur.

Mrs. Walter Stevenson of London, who was an old friend of Gen. MacArthur and of his father, could hardly talk. She could hardly remember her own name.

Mrs. Eda Knowlting of Columbia, Pennsylvania, whose husband, Edward, is also an internee, grabbed Gen. MacArthur and kissed him on the cheek.

“Mrs. Knowlting, I can’t tell you how glad I am to be here. I wish I could have made it sooner,” the general said:

On the second floor, Gen. MacArthur shook hands with a group of Bataan nurses.

The Japs shelled and sent mortar fire all night into the university ground. No one was killed, but a few internees were wounded.

A few minutes before Gen. MacArthur arrived, three mortar shells burst against a university building. As the general’s party drove away, more mortar fire fell on the university grounds.

Tokyo reports –
U.S. warships shell Corregidor

Landing on island in bay expected
By the United Press

U.S. warships have been bombarding the fortress island of Corregidor at the entrance to Manila Bay for two days, Radio Tokyo said today.

The enemy report followed speculation from Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters on Luzon that a landing on the island was expected soon to unlock Manila Bay to American shipping.

Tokyo suggested that the bombardment might be the prelude to an American attempt to force the strait north of Corregidor, though it seemed unlikely that U.S. ships would enter Manila Bay while the island remained in Jap hands.

The Tokyo broadcast said Corregidor was under attack by U.S. naval guns yesterday and had also suffered a “violent bombardment” Monday.

The broadcast said:

This is understood as an indication of the enemy’s design to reach Manila by going through the strait north of Corregidor via the water route.

The island had been under air attack for nearly two weeks.

It was at Corregidor that the original American garrison of the Philippines made its last organized stand in 1942. The island fell to the Japs May 6, 1942.


Simms: MacArthur wants status clarified on next phase of war in Pacific

His task ends with Philippines drive
By William Philip Simms, Scripps-Howard foreign editor

WASHINGTON – Official Washington is saying that there is much more between the lines of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s “Manila-has-fallen–on-to-Tokyo!” statement than in the lines themselves which, of course, is saying a great deal.

The fall of Manila, said the General, marked the end of “one great phase of the Pacific struggle and set the stage for another” – the final phase which, no doubt, will end in the Son of Heaven’s palace in the heart of the Jap capital.

But, it is asked, who will command the Allied forces in this final “great phase”? Gen. MacArthur, himself, seems to be asking the same question. In effect, he says that his Southwest Pacific task being largely accomplished, he is ready for further assignment. “We are ready in this veteran and proven command when called upon,” he said.

Wants status clarified

Gen. MacArthur is supreme commander of Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific – land, sea and air. This includes everything from Australia up to and including the Philippines. But Adm. Chester W. Nimitz commands the Army and the Navy northward of the Philippines. Thus, China and the main islands of Japan are outside Gen. MacArthur’s theater of operations.

For these and other reasons, the General’s pronouncement is widely regarded as a strong hint that he would like to have his future status clarified. There remains, of course, much work to be done in the Southwest Pacific but, barring the unexpected, it should be mostly of a mop-up nature which does not require the permanent supervision of a five-star general.

Gen. MacArthur’s capture of Manila in 94 days from his landing on Leyte has amazed the experts. When he went ashore on October 20, most of them were convinced the war in Europe would be over before he even landed on Luzon.

Knows the Far East

Aside from his military qualities, one reason for Gen. MacArthur’s success is his thorough knowledge of the Far East, its terrain and the workings of the Oriental mind. He went to the Philippines immediately after graduating from West Point in 1903, then on to Tokyo where his father, a lieutenant general, was attaché. As his father’s aide, he was sent on a number of missions elsewhere in the East and acted as observer in the closing phases of the Russo-Japanese War.

He served several tours of duty in the Philippines after the First World War – as commander of the District of Manila, then of the whole Philippine Department, and finally, on loan from the United States, as marshal of the islands in charge of national defense under the late President Manuel Quezon.

Has flair for dramatic

Critics charge that Gen. MacArthur has a flair for the dramatic. There is some truth in this. In 1918, for instance, while his command, the famous “Rainbow Division,” was marking time, he penetrated the German lines with a small patrol. His only weapons were a pair of pliers and a swagger stick. He returned with a Boche colonel as his prisoner, prodding him along with his little stick.

Gen. MacArthur is tall, well dressed and distinctly handsome. Some people object to this. His first year at West Point was made hell for him on that account. However, through sheer ability, he won the respect of the academy, graduating with the finest scholastic record in 25 years.

These items seem to be symbolic of the man and his life. Like the late Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France, he may be dramatic, but he usually brings home the bacon. And his victories seem to have been won at a minimum of human life.

Filipinos cry: ‘Burn Tokyo’

By Rodolfo Nazarino, United Press staff writer

The following dispatch was written by a veteran Filipino member of the United Press staff in Manila whose home was among those burned by the Japs.

MANILA, Philippines (Feb. 6, delayed) – Widespread fires touched off by the cornered Japs in a final orgy of destruction left thousands homeless in Manila today.

The joy of liberation for Filipinos after three years under the Jap heel remained undimmed by this final catastrophe, however. Even as refugees left their burning homes with bundles and domestic animals, they cheered advancing American troops.

Cries of “Burn Tokyo!” were raised.

The largest fire started in the Escolta business district and swept northward, occasionally branching out to the east and west as the wind changed.

Stores, offices and residences on more than 20 streets were destroyed. Frequent explosions were heard as the flames reached dynamite or time bombs planted by the Japs.

Few persons were believed injured, however, because the fire began in daylight.

Refugees crowded into the American-held northern part of Manila, creating a major relief problem. Food was scarce.

Reliable reports said the Japs arrested officers of the Manila Fire Department to prevent them from putting out the fires.

Editorial: MacArthur

Manila is Gen. MacArthur’s victory. Americans and Filipinos personalize it. That does not detract a bit from the glory due his officers and men. But his departure from the Philippines had been the symbol of our defeat. His promise to return was the symbol of our hope. His arrival back in Manila has all the glamor, compensation and justice which we yearn for in life but usually find only in fiction. His instinctive ability to dramatize a situation makes it about perfect.

Not that his colorful personality carried him back to the Philippines from Australia. That was military genius. He is a great general. Few ever have doubted that and none lately. He had to contend with almost every conceivable obstacle – including, in the beginning, divided authority and grossly inadequate weapons. Only a superb commander could have gone so far on so little.

Though the enemy knew his objective to be the Philippines and though the route he had to take was clear of all, nevertheless he managed repeatedly to surprise the Japs. He did that all the way from the tip of New Guinea to Manila.

Another characteristic of the superior commander is ability to get maximum results with a minimum expenditure of lives. We cannot recall any major campaign in which American casualties were so low, either absolutely or relative to enemy losses.

An outstanding feature of this campaign – and an unexpected one in view of Gen. MacArthur’s earlier training and experience as a ground general – has been the brilliant use of airpower. With his air chief, Gen. Kenney, he did things with airborne troops and planes which seemed impossible at the time and which since have been followed on other fronts.

But perhaps his major achievement, if one can be singled out, was to weld three brave but highly individualized – and sometimes mutually jealous – forces of land, sea and air into a unified amphibious team. Without that one-for-all-and-all-for-one operation none of the battles of this campaign could have been won, and the Stars and Stripes would not be whipping proudly in the Manila breeze today.

Under the circumstances, the public hardly is prepared for recent hints that Gen. MacArthur has finished his job and earned retirement. His reaction to that is: “On to Tokyo. We are ready in this veteran and proved command when called upon. God speed the day!”

Just what part Gen. MacArthur is to play next in the many-sided campaign required to knock-out Japan, of course, is not for him or for the admiring public to decide. That is for the Commander-in-Chief to determine, on recommendation of the chiefs of staff and their overall strategy in cooperation with our allies. There are plenty of hard jobs ahead, including reconquest of the vast Southwest Pacific.

But, whatever his future assignment, we should be assured that it will be an important one. To drop a winner would be unthinkable.

Völkischer Beobachter (February 8, 1945)

Der Kampf um die Hauptstadt der Philippinen

Tokio, 7. Februar – 20 Panzer, 23 Geschütze und 24 Kraftwagen der Amerikaner wurden von japanischen Infanteristen in den letzten 24 Stunden Kampf in den nördlichen Vororten von Manila zerstört oder erbeutet. 1.600 Mann feindliche Truppen wurden getötet. In der Nacht zum 4. Februar griffen japanische Marineinfanterietruppen im nordöstlichen Vorfeld der philippinischen Hauptstadt US-Panzer an und zerstörten nach japanischen Frontberichten zehn Panzer und Panzerwagen.

Eine amtliche Mitteilung des japanischen Hauptquartiers vom Dienstagnachmittag teilt mit:

Teile feindlicher Truppen drangen am 3. Februar abends vom Norden her in ein Gebiet der Stadt Manila ein. Japanische Truppen bekämpften den Feind, wobei sie wichtige Punkte innerhalb und außerhalb der Stadt in Besitz behielten.

Nach einem weiteren Bericht der Japaner haben die Nordamerikaner ihre Truppen auf Luzon am 4. Februar in der Gegend von Ada östlich von Nasugbu durch Absetzen von Luftlandetruppen aus 70 Transportflugzeugen verstärkt.

„Es ist dringend notwendig, dass Japan, China und Mandschukuo ihre gesamte Kraft darauf konzentrieren, die anglo-amerikanischen Feinde zu zermalmen,“ erklärte der neue Botschafter von Mandschukuo bei der chinesischen Nationalregierung, Li Shakeng. In einem Interview, das er im Anschluss an die Überreichung seines Beglaubigungsschreibens den Pressevertretern gab, betonte er, dass er sich voll und ganz für die weitere Festigung der freundschaftlichen Beziehungen zwischen China und Mandschukuo einsetzen werde. Es sei notwendig, dass die drei ostasiatischen Länder Japan, China und Mandschukuo Hand in Hand arbeiten zur vollständigen Vernichtung der Anglo-Amerikaner und für die Wiedergeburt Ostasiens.

Die Entwicklung der Kämpfe auf Luzon und das Eindringen der Amerikaner in Manila wird von der Tokioter Presse mit der Versicherung kommentiert, dass den Amerikanern auf den Philippinen noch gezeigt würde, „was eine Blutoffensive ist.“

Die Zeitung Asahi meint, dass selbst die Ennahme Manilas durch die Amerikaner dem Feind zwar ein gewisses Propagandamittel in die Hand gebe, aber je näher die feindlichen Truppen an die Stadt herankommen, um so günstiger werde anderseits die dortige Stellung der Japaner, die nur auf die geeignete Gelegenheit zum Losschlagen warten. Yomiuri meint, die Amerikaner wollen auf den Philippinen eine Basis für eine Invasion in Japan selbst schaffen. Japan aber werde den Feind an seiner schwächsten Stelle treffen und ihm hohe Menschenverluste zufügen.

Yamashita verteidigt Manila

Tokio, 7. Februar – General Yamashita, der Oberkommandeur der japanischen Truppen auf den Philippinen und Eroberer von Malaya und Schonan (Singapur), leitet persönlich die Verteidigung von Manila.

The Pittsburgh Press (February 8, 1945)

Yanks shelling Japs in south half of Manila

Japs report U.S. tanks crossing river

MANILA, Philippines (UP) – U.S. troops killed off the last Jap resistance in northern Manila today and loosed a heavy artillery barrage on the surviving enemy forces holed up in the blackened, burning southern half of the capital.

Tokyo reported that U.S. forces, including amphibious tanks, began crossing the Pasig River at a point west of Malacanang Palace. A Tokyo broadcast said the Japs were “fiercely attacking the enemy.”

Vanguards of the U.S. 11th Airborne Division were cutting their way slowly into the Jap rear from the south, but the main U.S. forces were stalled temporarily along the north bank of the Pasig River, which bisects Manila from east to west.

Last bridge blown up

American hopes for a quick thrust across the river to wipe out the surviving enemy were dashed Tuesday night when Jap sappers blew up the last of the four Pasig bridges – the Jones span leading into the old Walled City.

Their foray nullified the work of a daring American naval officer who a few hours earlier had dashed through a hail of gunfire to remove a spluttering demolition charge from the bridge.

Cut off from all supply and reinforcement, the Japs still were fighting back defiantly in the southern half of the city, battling desperately to hold the 11th Airborne Division and hurling artillery and mortar fire across the Pasig River into northern Manila.

Some of the enemy shells were landing in the Santo Tomas University grounds. were thousands of liberated American internees were quartered.

At the same time, Jap demolition squads were roving wantonly through the southern city, dynamiting and burning homes and waterfront installations, even in the Walled City.

Most of the fires set by the enemy in the northern section were brought under control by U.S. 37th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions in their street-to-street cleanup of that half of the capital.

Mass along bank

The 37th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions were massed all along the north bank of the Pasig. but the wide and swift-flowing river was under heavy enemy fire and it was believed likely that the Japs would be able to hold out until the 11th Airborne Division breaks into their main positions from the rear.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s communiqué indicated that the 11th Airborne Division was still some distance from the river bank Tuesday, and elements of the 11th Airborne were still meeting stiff resistance from bypassed Jap troops around Nichols Field, four miles south of the city limits.

Far to the north, other U.S. forces were making good progress into the hills northeast of their Lingayen Gulf beachheads.

Units of the 32nd Infantry Division cut the Balete Pass road leading into the Cagayan Valley, closing the main escape route for sizeable Jap forces holding out in the Lupao-Munoz-Rizal triangle 17 to 30 miles farther south.

The communique revealed that the Japs have lost 48,000 killed, wounded or captured since the landing at Lingayen on January 9, against U.S. casualties of 7,067.

Meanwhile, the softening-up bombardment of the forts guarding the entrance to Manila Bay was stepped up with a 204-ton air raid on Corregidor and a smaller attack on nearby Caballo Island.

Capture of Manila hailed by Russians

By the United Press

The Soviet Navy publication Red Fleet today hailed the U.S. liberation of Central Luzon and Manila as a “great victory for the Allies.”

The Americans are now in a good position to “sap the Japanese military strength,” the article said. It heralded the conquest as “the final and decisive stage” of the battle for the Philippines.

Editorial: After three years–

Consider, for at least a moment, the story of Frank Hewlett, United Press war correspondent in the Philippines, and Mrs. Hewlett.

On New Year’s Eve, less than a month after Pearl Harbor, Frank Hewlett, the UP man in Manila, having suddenly found himself in the midst of a war, followed the dictates of duty and separated himself from his wife to “cover” Gen. MacArthur’s withdrawal to Bataan Peninsula.

Mrs. Hewlett, at her own insistence, remained in Manila, where her services as a nurse were in demand.

Came the dreary weeks of inevitable defeat on Bataan, followed quickly by the siege of Corregidor and, for Mr. Hewlett, escape from the Philippines to cover the war elsewhere.

For three years Mr. Hewlett has been covering the war in the Pacific. He has seen it from its most disastrous days to the new days of triumph. And throughout, he was unaware of Mrs. Hewlett’s fate.

Except for the fact that he is one of the best of the war correspondents, Mr. Hewlett’s story is only another item in the whole grim episode which began with the surprise Jap attack on Manila and now has been brought to a climax by Gen. MacArthur’s return.

But to us at home, it surely can serve as convincing example of the sacrifice and day-by-day torture to which so many thousands of our citizens – those in the Philippines and those with relatives and friends in the Philippines – have been subjected. It is an inspiring story of courage and patience against insuperable odds. Let’s treasure it as such.

Background of news –
Manila, 1898 and 1945

By Bertram Benedict

As Manila falls into American possession, thoughts inevitably go back to the day in the war with Spain when the American flag flew over the city.

In each case, the Philippine capital lay open to capture because of a naval victory several months before – in 1945, the Battle of Leyte Gulf; in 1898, the Battle of Manila Bay. In each case the city was only lightly defended. But there the similarity ends. In fact, reading today of the capture of Manila in the Spanish-American War makes it seem 470 rather than 47 years ago.

At the outbreak of war in 1898, the U.S. Navy was divided into two parts, an Atlantic squadron and a smaller Pacific squadron under Cdre. Dewey. Dewey’s fleet wouldn’t be considered much of a fleet today. None of his six ships was over 6,000 tons, two were under 3,000, one was unprotected by armor. There were also a revenue cutter and two supply ships.

The commander of the Spanish fleet in the Pacific, Adm. Montojo, also had six ships, none over 3,500 tons, five under 1,500. There were a so-called battleship, two protected cruisers, two gunboats and something with a wooden hull which had to be towed because its machinery wouldn’t work. Several other Spanish warships at Manila were unfit for action because they were undergoing repairs.

Harbor entered May 1

The Spanish fleet sailed for Subic Bay to find out if this were a stronger position; not liking the setup there, Montojo took his force back to Manila. Dewey’s intelligence facilities were little better; he had to send several of his ships to Subic to find out if the Spaniards were still there, before making for Manila.

The American fleet entered Manila Harbor early in the morning of May 1. The shore batteries did not open fire until most of the fleet had slipped by. The Americans waited for the dawn, then opened fire on the Spanish ships at a range of about two and one-half miles, The American fleet sailed back and forth opposite the Spanish ships, and the Spanish gunners weren’t able to score any hits of consequence.

This was the pre-smokeless era, and after several hours the Americans had to stop firing for the smoke to lift so that they could see how much damage they had inflicted. When the smoke cleared, it was seen that the Spanish fleet had been badly damaged; another hour of firing finished it off completely.

Waited three months

Manila then lay open to capture, but Dewey had no troops to occupy the city; he therefore waited patiently in the harbor for infantry to come. It was three months before the troops sent out from San Francisco reached a total of 15,000. They landed unopposed. In the meantime, Aguinaldo, leader of the Filipino native force, had surrounded and besieged Manila with about 14,000 men.

Finally, on August 7, Dewey and Gen. Merritt sent a joint note to the Spanish commander at Manila. ordering him to surrender. He had some 13,000 men but no real facilities for resistance; he asked and was refused time to consult Madrid: on August 13, the Americans advanced, managing to keep the Filipino army out of it; the Spaniards fired only a few shots as token resistance, and then surrendered the city.

On the day before, a truce to all hostilities had been signed, but word had not reached the Philippines, so that Manila, like New Orleans in 1815, was an American victory won after the war was over.

Völkischer Beobachter (February 9, 1945)

Die Kämpfe in Manila

Tokio, 8. Februar – Den im Norden Manilas eingedrungenen feindlichen Truppen ist es gelungen, ihre Bodengewinne zu erweitern, aber die wichtigsten Punkte sind nach wie vor fest in japanischer Hand. Durch heftige Gegenangriffe werden dem Feind Verluste an Mannschaften und Material zugefügt. Von den feindlichen Landetruppen, die vom Süden her gegen Manila Vordringen, ist es nur einem kleinen Teil gelungen, den Südteil von Manila zu erreichen.

Im Gebiet von Clark Field behaupten sich die Japaner nach wie vor. Artillerie und Infanterie stehen in heftigen Angriffen. Die Zahl der Toten des Feindes sowie der Verwundeten wird auf etwa 7.000 geschätzt, während die Japaner nur geringe Ausfälle und Schäden hatten.

In Anbetracht der Kriegslage Verlegte die philippinische Regierung ihren Sitz nach Nordluzon.

The Pittsburgh Press (February 9, 1945)

Manila battle in bloodiest and last stage

Yanks storm Japs south of river

MANILA, Philippines (UP) – The Battle of Manila entered its last and bloodiest phase today as U.S. infantrymen swarmed across the Pasig River to root out and destroy the Japs trapped in the southern half of the city.

Doughboys of the 37th “Buckeye” Infantry Division crossed the Pasig in amphibious tanks and on pontoon bridges late Wednesday and quickly established a wide bridgehead on the south bank opposite the Malacanang Palace.

The Japs put up only weak resistance along the river bank, but they stiffened later Wednesday night and fought back savagely with mortar artillery and rifle fire.

Jap position disintegrating

Their position was disintegrating rapidly however and it was believed that all organized opposition would be crushed within a very few days at most. the advancing 37th Infantry Division was deep into the southern half of the capital early today and herding the Jap survivors back slowly into the waiting guns of the 11th Airborne Division moving up from the south.

Radio Tokyo said today that a third column of Americans was grouping troops and tanks at Quezon, 12 miles northeast of the Philippines capital, “in an attempt to make a detour around east to cut off the Japanese garrisons from the main forces in the ridge positions.”

The main body of the 11th Airborne Division was reported slightly north of Nichols Field Wednesday night, but forward elements apparently were well north of the enemy-held air base and cutting into the rear of the Manila garrison.

Flames rage

The desperate street battle was going ahead under a great pall of smoke and flame that blanketed the entire southern half of Manila. The Japs were still burning and wrecking wantonly inside their narrowing pocket and it was feared that the port and a vast area of the central city would be burned to the ground before the last enemy has been killed.

Tokyo broadcasts said Japs have evacuated all but a skeleton force from Manila and indicated that the Philippine presidential palace was among the buildings destroyed by their demolition squads.

The main business section of the city was reduced to blackened ruins, although most of the fires in the northern half had been brought under control and life in that American-held area was returning to normal.

Supplies pour in

Troops, supplies and ammunition were pouring into the city at a terrific rate following the repair of the bridges north of Manila, and there was little likelihood the remaining Japs could hold out for long.

Meanwhile, other U.S. troops practically completed the job of cutting Luzon in two along a line running southeastward from the Lingayen Gulf beachheads 110 miles north of Manila.

Units of the 25th and 6th Infantry Divisions wiped out the last Jap resistance in Munoz, Rizal and Lupao, 75 to 85 miles above the capital, after one of the bitterest fights of the campaign.

Blast 42 Jap tanks

In Munoz alone, the victorious Americans counted 1,242 enemy dead, along with 42 knocked-out tanks, 62 armored cars and 22 guns. The armored losses raised to more than 200 the number of Jap tanks destroyed on Luzon amounting to about two-thirds of the tank strength of the Jap 2nd Armored Division.

That was the only armored division the Japs had on the island, and Gen. MacArthur’s communiqué asserted that its remaining elements are now so scattered that they are no longer an effective fighting force.

Corregidor was bombed again by U.S. heavies on Tuesday, while other raiders hit enemy supply dumps at Divilacan Bay, on the northeast coast of Luzon.

Strong formations struck heavily at the Jap Fabrica Air Base on Negros Island in the central Philippines, causing widespread damage and starting fires that raged out of control for seven hours. Fabrice Airfield was believed to have been the source of repeated Jap raids on U.S. positions on Leyte Island.

Relatives to hear from internees

WASHINGTON (UP) – The Red Cross said today that 3,500 letters from civilian internees liberated at Santo Tomas, Bilibid and Santiago in the Philippines will reach relatives in the United States soon.

Red Cross workers delivered 4,400 messages from home to 2,708 Americans at Santo Tomas and an unestimated number to internees at Bilibid and Santiago. These messages were collected by Red Cross chapters in this country shortly after the invasion of Leyte last fall.

The Red Cross said comfort articles such as soap, toothbrushes and razors had been distributed to 3,677 internees at Santo Tomas. Fifteen Red Cross women workers from Leyte and Dutch New Guinea have received priorities to fly to Manila to aid in caring for the released internees and homeless Philippine civilians.

Japs destroy large section of Manila

Flames unchecked for six days
By Ralph Teatsorth, United Press staff writer

MANILA, Philippines – Fire and battle have disfigured Manila horribly in the past week and vast areas in the ancient city lie in blackened ruins today.

By the time the last Japs have been killed here, many parts of the center of the city and the port area will be unrecognizable and will have to be rebuilt entirely.

Huge fires set by gunfire and Jap demolition crews have been raging unchecked for six days and nights, casting a great pall of smoke and flames over the city that can be seen for miles.

Life is beginning to return to normal in the liberated northern half of the capital, but the booming of artillery and the occasional rattle of machine-gun fire are constant reminders that the war is still only a few hundred yards away.

Views destruction

I viewed the center of the city yesterday from the top of Bilibid Prison and the Malacanang Palace. Both were still under artillery and mortar fire, but had suffered only slight damage.

The greatest visible damage appears to have occurred in the main business district on the north bank of the Pasig River. Fires have leveled most of that area, including the Philippines National Bank, the National City Bank, the Jap and Philippine bazaars and the big department stores.

The Binondo, San Nicolas and Santa Cruz areas extending more than a mile inland from the harbor on the north side of the river also have been burned out. The Great Eastern, Marco Polo and Central Hotels and the Santa Cruz Church are among the familiar buildings destroyed in those sections.

Church blown up

The fire line ran roughly between the river and Azcarrage Street as far east as Bilibid Prison, but a section of the city between Bilibid and the railroad terminal also was burned to the ground. Wednesday night an entire city block just south of Santo Tomas University caught fire and was destroyed.

The fine San Sebastian Cathedral, whose towering steel spire was fabricated in Liege, Belgium, is still undamaged, but a church in the Binondo district, which the Japs used as an ammunition dump, has been blown sky high.

The Yaunco market district, where American tourists used to buy Philippine rugs, and the San Nicolas warehouse area both were burned.

Port area blasted

Air Force observers report that most of the port area south of the Pasig River has been destroyed by Jap demolitions, which began on January 6, as well as by American shellfire.

Manila’s famous Army and Navy Club and the high commissioner’s building, both south of the port area, are believed to be intact but the Yacht Club in which the Japs had emplaced artillery has been wrecked.

Many Jap bodies and smashed vehicles still litter Quezon Boulevard, and many more are being piled up in the Pandacan District, where the oil companies were located before the war. Bitter fighting is going on there today.

Adviser to Chiang freed from Japs

LONDON, England (UP) – The British radio reported today that W. H. Donald, famous adviser to Gen. Chiang Kai-shek, had been released from internment in Manila.

The report said Mr. Donald was captured by the Japs when they overran the Philippines but they never learned his identity.

Mr. Donald, an Australian, was known by Allied authorities to be a prisoner but the fact was kept secret because it was feared the Japs would execute him if they discovered his identity.

The Pittsburgh Press (February 10, 1945)

Cornered Japs battling fiercely inside Manila

Enemy falls back for death stand inside old walled city as 2 Yank divisions attack

MANILA, Philippines (UP) – Jap resistance in southern Manila flared with renewed violence today as the cornered enemy fell back slowly toward the waterfront for a death stand inside the old walled city.

Fighting through a choking pall of smoke that covered virtually all South Manila, elements of two U.S. divisions hit the Jap front and rear in the Pandacan and Paco districts below the Pasig River.

Japs lash back

The converging attack was squeezing several thousand Japs slowly westward toward the burned-out port area, where they were expected to make their last stand behind the massive walls of the old Spanish city – the Intramuros.

After yielding the Pasig River crossing opposite the Malacanang Palace to the U.S. 6th Infantry Division almost without a struggle, the Japs lashed back suddenly at their pursuers with artillery, mortars and rifle fire.

Battle below city

At last reports, the 37th Infantry Division and vanguards of the U.S. 11th Airborne Division advancing from the south were rooting the Japs from their street barricades and ruined houses in a hand-to-hand battle that outdid in sheer ferocity anything Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s troops have experienced since they entered Manila a week ago.

Tokyo, after announcing that all but a skeleton force had been evacuated from Manila, began boasting that the Americans had fallen into a trap in the capital. That version appeared purely a propaganda invention, however, as front dispatches said Gen. MacArthur was moving overwhelming force into the city and that its complete liberation could not be delayed long.

More than 20 miles south of Manila, equally heavy fighting broke out around Tagaytay, where a pocketed Jap force launched two counterattacks against units of the 11th Airborne Division. Both thrusts were beaten off with serious losses to the enemy.

Northwest of Manila, vanguards of the 38th Infantry Division pushed 10 miles down the west coast of Bataan from the recaptured Olongapo Naval Base to reach Moron.

Seventy to 75 miles north of Manila, the hard-fought Pampanga River crossings at Rizal and Bongabon were finally secured by the U.S. 6th Infantry Division continued its advance up the Villa Verde trail leading to Imugan and the Cagayan Valley, after smashing Jap defenses five miles north of San Nicolas.

Planes aid Yanks

U.S. medium bombers and fighters worked over the enemy in close support of the advancing ground forces on all sectors, and joined in with light naval units in a coastal sweep that wrecked a great number of small Jap craft.

At the same time, Gen. MacArthur’s heavy bombers dropped 56 tons of bombs on Jap troop concentrations in the northern part of Cebu Island. Other fighters and heavies ranged more than 500 miles north of Manila to bomb and strafe the Heito barracks on Formosa and Jap rail and road traffic on the island.

In those and other forays over southern waters, the American airmen sank five to six enemy vessels, and destroyed at least six Jap planes.