Battle of Manila – Nadir of Japanese Barbarism, 3 February-3 March 1945, Miguel Miranda

Battle of Manila – Nadir of Japanese Barbarism, 3 February-3 March 1945, Miguel Miranda

The battle of Manila was one of the few urban battles fought by the Americans during the Pacific War, and left large parts of the city in ruins. This account of the battle has been written by an inhabitant of the city, some of whose family was caught up in its events, so there is a personal connection to these events, as well as a detailed knowledge of the city.

We begin with a look at the Japanese conquest of the Philippines, one of the more disasterous American campaigns of the war, and one that MacArthur was luck to escape from with his career intact. It was MacArthur’s genuine commitment to the Philippines that brought the Americans back to the islands in October 1944, when they landed on Leyte, and we trace the campaign in the Philippines from Leyte to Lingayen Gulf on Luzon, and from there to Manila. We get good material on the Japanese side of events where possible, although the nature of the final battle means that we don’t have much from the defenders of Manila. Although the Japanese Army’s high command on Luzon wanted to abandon Manila, the Naval forces that were actually defending the city appear to have decided to stand and fight (although we don’t really know much about their motives as their already obscure commander disappeared during the battle.

The account of the battle itself gives us a good picture of how brutal it was, with the Japanese very firmly dug in to a series of defensive positions, which required heavy artillery fire to destroy. At the same time the Japanese were still carrying out a series of atrocities, murdering an unknown number of civilians.

I could have done without the author’s ponderings on the current political situation in the area – this sort of thing never ages well, and it rather distracts from the good work that has come before by drawing attention away from the main topic of the book. Apart from that this is an excellent account of one of the largest land battles of the Pacific War, but one that rarely gets the attention it deserves.

1 – MacArthur’s Bitter Defeat
2 – Leyte to Lingayen
3 – Desperadoes
4 – The Angels
5 – Encirclement
6 – The Genko Line
7 – Bloody Hell
8 – Intramuros
9 – A Country in Ruin

Author: Miguel Miranda
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 128
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2019

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