Battle of the Philippines

U.S. Army Nurses, captured by the Japanese at Bataan and Corregidor and held as POWs at the Santo Tomas internment camp compound, are freed after three years imprisonment. They climb into trucks as they leave Manila for ships to take them home to the United States. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. February 1945.

A composite hull M4 Sherman tank of Company ‘B’ U.S. 44th Tank Battalion named 'Battlin Basic’ with soldiers, most likely from the 37th Division, on the outskirts of Manilla. February 1945.

On the evening of February 3, 1945, a Sherman tank barreled its way through the front gates of the University of Santo Tomas, in Manila, Philippines. The tank, named the “Battlin Basic” by its crew, belonged to the U.S. 44th Tank Battalion and was the first glimpse of liberation for over 4,000 civilians – mostly Americans and British citizens, including Australians and Canadians – interned at the university from January 1942 to February 1945. Santo Tomas was the largest of several internment camps established by the Japanese throughout the Philippines and liberated in February 1945.

The Battle of Manila, which raged throughout the month of February 1945, cost the lives of over 100,000 Filipinos and completely destroyed Manila, considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world at the time and commonly referred to as the Pearl of the Orient. According to General MacArthur, next to Warsaw, Manila was the most devastated city in WWII.

(Colourised by Allan White from Australia)

A Filipino civilian looks over the bodies of those killed in the Ermita district during the Battle of Manila. The one month battle fought from 3 February to 3 March 1945 between American and Filipino forces against the Imperial Japanese, culminated in a terrible bloodbath and total devastation of the city, was the scene of the worst urban fighting in the Pacific Theater, and ended almost three years of Japanese military occupation in the Philippines. Manila was officially liberated on 3 March 1945, but large areas of the city had been leveled. The battle left 1,010 U.S. soldiers dead and 5,565 wounded. An estimated 100,000 Filipinos civilians were killed, both deliberately by the Japanese forces and accidentally from artillery and aerial bombardment by the U.S. military. Over 16,000 Japanese troops were killed. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. March 1945.

“The first "Women Guerrilla” corps has just been formed in the Philippines and Filipino women, trained in their local women’s auxiliary service, are seen here hard at work practicing on November 8, 1941, at a rifle range in Manila.“


when you have been ordered by King Charles the Fifth to cross the whole world for land discovery but your Captain Magellan gets killed during a battle in an island in the Philippines so you have to return back to Spain

A collection of photographs taken during and after the Battle of Manila Bay by Joseph L. Stickney in May 1898.

Filipino refugees, forced from their homes during the Battle of Manila, seek safety amongst U.S. forces in Intramuros, the old historic district of Manila. The Battle of Manila, also known as the Liberation of Manila, was fought from 3 February to 3 March 1945 by American and Filipino forces against the occupying Japanese forces. The one-month battle, which culminated in a terrible bloodbath and total devastation of the city, was the scene of the worst urban fighting in the Pacific Theater and ended almost three years of Japanese military occupation in the Philippines. Manila, National Capital Region, Luzon, Philippines. February 1945. 


The Type 1 Ho-Ha (一式半装軌装甲兵車 ホ) was a half-track armoured personnel carrier (APC) based on the German Sd.Kfz. 251/1, and was used in limited numbers by the IJA in ww2.

 The Type 1 Ho-Ha was initially deployed to China for operations in the ongoing Second Sino-Japanese War, but were never in any great numbers. It was later deployed with the Japanese reinforcements in the Battle of the Philippines in 1944.

 The Ho-Ha had a crew of three and could carry twelve passengers, 3 more than it’s German cousin.

 The Type 1 Ho-Ha carried three Type 97 light machine guns as standard armament, one on each side, just to the rear of the driver’s compartment and a third mounted to the rear as an anti-aircraft weapon. 

A unique feature of the Ho-Ha was that it had a towing hitch used to tow artillery. It is estimated that less than 100 were ever made.

 Unlike their German counterparts, the Japanese Army felt that, even though it went 32mph (50kph), the APC was too slow and inferior to traditional troop trucks.


USAF history of the Thunderbirds.
On 19 September 1985, the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron was consolidated by Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) with the 30th Bombardment Squadron, a unit which was organized on 13 June 1917.

During its operational history, the 30th served in World War I as a training unit in France, its mission to train fighter pilots to go into combat on the Western Front. The squadron was almost torpedoed on its troop ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines on 7 December 1941, it was almost wiped out in the 1941 Battle of the Philippines. Some members of the squadron fought as an infantry unit and were captured by the Japanese, being subjected to the Bataan Death March. The squadron was withdrawn to Australia, being reformed and later attacked Japan as a B-29 Superfortress squadron in 1945. It was awarded nine Presidential Unit Citations in World War II. During the Korean War, the 30th attacked North Korean targets with B-29 Superfortresses.

Present-day USAF Thunderbirds carry the lineage, history, and honors of the 30th on active duty.
6 – F-16C Fighting Falcons
2 – F-16D Fighting Falcons

Pedro Cerono, a Filipino civilian, points to some of the skulls of Japanese soldiers killed in action that he found in the jungle three months after forces of Japan surrendered to the forces of the Allies. Tupelo, Cagayan province, Luzon, Philippines. 23 November 1945.

At a Roadblock on the Road to Bataan by Don Millsap

The M3 Stuart of SSgt Emil C. Morello charges a Japanese roadblock while reconnoitering enemy positions in the Philippines, December 26, 1941. His tank was eventually disabled, and after playing dead through the night, he and his crew managed to escape through Japanese lines and reach Bataan, earning Morello the Silver Star.

(National Guard)


On this day seventy years ago began  one of the most gruesomeand tragic battles that befell the Philippines. It was not because the battle was not won. It was. But it was won at a great price.

A mere two generations ago, one would hear from the elderly a Manila that was shining free city of the Orient. Many people have called it by various names. Manila the Pearl of the Orient—reminiscent of that line that Rizal wrote on his Mi Ultimo Adios. Manila, the Queen of the Pacific, as was so named by an early American documentary on the City of Manila.

A photo of the pre-war Manila

The city was probably one of the best cities in Asia at the time. When the Imperial Japanese forces conquered the city on January 2, 1942, they exclaimed that it was indeed more advanced than any city they had in their homeland. No one could attest that Manila, situated perfectly on one of the best harbors in the world, with one of the best entrepots on that side of the Pacific, was a true cosmopolitan city, and the unchallenged capital of the country.

It had been three years since Japan had occupied the country. The city in its paled glory had been languishing in food supplies, as the price of rice and other commodities skyrocketed to new heights due to extreme inflation.

The struggling Japanese Empire, still resolute in holding onto its illusion of a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere despite the fact that the Allied forces have made a foothold in Leyte since October 1944, was prepared to sacrifice its soldiers die—lest the Americans make Manila a base of operations to launch an invasion of the Japanese homeland.

At around this time, civilians all over the city wonder at the curious structures that the Japanese have set up on all the street corners and intersections of Manila. Unknown to the civilians, these structures, pillboxes and minefields, are hidden alcoves were Imperial Japanese soldiers would shoot from a slit opening of these boxes to kill anything on sight.

At daybreak, smoke rose up from the burning warehouses at the Manila North Harbor, torched by the Japanese, as the Allied forces, both coming from the north (from Lingayen) and the south (from Nasugbu, Batangas) encountered fierce Japanese resistance in Novaliches and Cavite respectively. 

As the city impatiently awaited the coming of the liberation forces, it was the Filipino guerilla Manuel Colayco who led the Allied northern forces to the University of Santo Tomas. The oldest Western-style university in Asia have been used by the Japanese as an American internment camp where 1,500 malnourished American prisoners-of-war are encamped. Since the electricity had been turned off by the Japanese due to American air raids, the campus was in pitch black darkness.

 At around 7:30 to 8:00 pm shots were fired near the gates of UST. Grenades were thrown. The Allied troops finally reached UST at around that time (AVH Hartendorp say it was at 8:40 pm).

The hero, Manuel Colayco, however didn’t make it. A Japanese sniper shot him to his death, but he died a hero. The fighting stretched all the way to Far Eastern University, a stonesthrow away from Bilibid Prison, another POW camp. FEU was heavily fortified by the Imperial Japanese forces, but it could not be helped.

The liberation forces finally arrive in the city and no one, not even the despotic Imperial Japanese soldiers could stop it. 

It seemed that the city would be freed in a couple of days. But the worst is yet to come.

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Manila 1945, the gruelling battle for the liberation of the city that lasted from February 3 to March 3, 1945.