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(Part of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Manila.)


The massacres committed by Imperial Japanese troops on the civilian population of Manila in February 1945 are among the more horrifying tragedies of World War II in the Pacific theater. Approximately 100,000 civilians in the City of Manila were killed indiscriminately and deliberately. According to the XIV Corps Inspector General’s report on the Manila atrocities, the following war crimes had been committed:

  • Bayoneting, shooting, and bombing of unarmed civilians—men, women, and children—with rifles, pistols, machine guns, and grenades.
  • Herding large numbers of civilians—men, women, and children—into buildings, barring the doors and windows, and setting fire to the structures.
  • Throwing grenades into dugouts, where unarmed civilians were taking cover; burying alive those who were not killed by the grenades.
  • Assembling men into large groups, tying their hands, and then bayoneting, beheading, or shooting them.
  • Theft from civilians of money, valuables, food, and the looting and burning of their homes.
  • Blindfolding and restraining Chinese and Filipino men, and then beheading them with a sabre on a chopping block.
  • Torturing both military prisoners of war and civilians by beating, kicking their faces, burning, and making them assume contorted positions for long periods of time until they lost consciousness, to make them reveal information.
  • General disregard of the rights of prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.
  • The taking of as many as a hundred girls at a time by force to serve as “comfort women” to Japanese troops.
  • The killing of refugees, doctors, and nurses at the Philippine Red Cross Headquarters, disregarding the rights of the Red Cross under the Geneva Convention.

With little or no reason at all, Japanese soldiers would shoot, bayonet or throw hand grenades at groups of helpless civilians. The streets were further fortified with minefields and pillboxes, leaving many civilians no choice but to stay in their homes. For those who attempted to leave or even cross the streets, the Japanese would mow them down with machine guns. Many of these atrocities were mentioned in the War Crime Trials against the commanders of the Imperial Japanese Forces.

“The enemy’s fury knew no bounds against those who defended the cause of our freedom. Being a child, a woman or an old person was no deterrent to the bloody and murderous designs of the barbarians of the Orient. Fortunately, all this has passed and I firmly believe that above these ruins shall finally emerge the Filipino people, free and dynamic, who will work for their prosperity and happiness, in complete peace and fraternity with all nations.”

— President Sergio Osmeña, interview with Antonio Perez de Olaguer, published in El Noticiero Universal, Barcelona, Spain on June 22, 1946.

Listed below are documented locations of atrocities committed by the Japanese against Manileño civilians during the Battle of Manila. It does not include sites where indiscriminate Japanese sniping happened and sites of executions by the roaming death squads, both of which took thousands of civilian lives.

Date Site Casualties Accounts
February 3, 1945 Dy Pac Lumber Yard

Juan Luna and Morga Streets, Tondo, Manila

115 civilians (body count done by the Americans on February 7, 1945)

“Civilians were herded into trucks. They were tied and forced to wait. They were transferred into small groups to the lumber yard where they were bayoneted and shot.”

– Jose Custodio, military historian

February 4, 1945 Unknown cigarette factory, Manila Around 44 civilians from Dee Cho Lumber Company

“Japanese Soldiers tied fifty civilians. They were bayoneted afterwards. Only 6 survived.”

– Report of the XIV Corp Inspector General’s Office

Beginning February 6, 1945 Fort SantiagoFort Santiago

Intramuros

(Photo courtesy of Life Magazine.)

Approximately 600 men (according to NHCP Historical Map); 3,000 men according to some survivor accounts

“We were surrounded and drenched with gasoline. A few survived and escaped. I am one of those few survivors, not more than 50 in all out of more than 3,000 men herded into Fort Santiago and, two days later, massacred. They were bombarded by a cannon placed at a distance of a hundred meters from their prison building. The Japanese had been clearing the decks of potential opponents during what seemed to be the inevitable battle for the Walled City.”

– Dr. Antonio Gisbert, massacre survivor, as quoted by Connaughton’s book The Battle for Manila
“When the American forces surveyed Fort Santiago on February 23 and 24, 1945, they found four hundred corpses who appeared to have died through bayonet wounds, gunshots, and hunger. They also found a stack of fifty dead bodies, their hands tied to their backs. They further discovered more horrifying images in every cell. For instance, they saw three putrefied bodies. In another one, 58 tubercular patients’ cadavers were piled together. Survivor’s account narrated that these patients were fed with insects and human urine. Fort Santiago serves as a reminder of more than fifteen thousand heroes and civilians who were entrapped in the walled city as a result of Japanese ignominy.”

– Antonio Perez de Olaguer, El Terror Amarillo en Filipinas

February 8, 1945 La ConcordiaLa Concordia College

Calle Herran (now Pedro Gil), Paco

(Photo courtesy of Mr. Manuel Angelo Carreon.)

Approximately 2,000 refugees, casualties unclear

“At 2: 30 in the afternoon, La Concordia came under fire from the Japanese artillery based at the Paco Parish Church. In the evening, the roof of La Concordia college main building was blown off. Hundreds lay dead as they were hit by shrapnels or falling debris. Those who tried to flee the premises were shot by the Japanese patrols.” – Alfonso Aluit, from the book By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II

February 9, 1945 ErmitaColorado Street, Ermita

(now Agoncillo Street, Ermita)

(Photo courtesy of Mr. John Tewell.)

Elpidio Quirino’s family

“It was February 1945…. Quirino had gathered his wife and children about him on that fateful day of 9th February 1945 in the family residence on Colorado Street, Ermita, to plan their escape from the area. It was four o’clock in the afternoon. The Japanese had transformed the neighborhood into a holocaust of fire and death. A barrage of shells hit the roof of the Quirino residence. As the house burned, Elpidio decided to escape with his family to the home of his mother-in-law, Mrs. Concepcion Jimenez Syquia, on the same street. In a desperate attempt to get out of the hell-hole, Elpidio ordered his son, Tomas, to lead the group. Doña Alicia cuddled her two daughters, infant Fe and Norma. Another son, Armando, carried the family valuables, including jewelry. All the members of the family then dashed towards the Syquia residence. Tomas and Victoria led the group. Half-way across the street, four Japanese marines, camouflaged with leaves, machine-gunned them. Looking back, Tomas saw the bodies of his mother and two sisters lifeless on the ground. Mrs. Quirino died hugging Fe, while Norma lay dead beside her. Armando tried to retrieve their dead bodies but was stopped by the machine-gun fire.”

“Elpidio’s failure to join his family that night caused him much anguish. The following day he was told of Armando’s death. A bullet had hit the boy’s temple. Tomas, wounded in the thigh, suffered from shock. Quirino himself narrowly escaped from a Japanese bayonet thrust and machine-gun fire. Only he, son Tomas and daughter Victoria survived the massacre.”

– Salvador Lopez, President Elpidio Quirino’s biographer

February 9, 1945 St.Paul-CollegeSt. Paul College Chapel

Calle Herran (now Pedro Gil Street)

(Photo courtesy of Mr. Lou Gopal.)

Approximately 250 civilians in the chapel; 600 civilians in the entire school

“At around 5 o’clock, family groups composed of at least 1,000 people were brought to a large hall in St. Paul’s college. Meanwhile, the Japanese were passing around rice and wine and candies to the refugees. Rosario Fernandez, one of the refugees, was in the back of the crowd when she heard a loud explosion followed by terrified screams. Witnesses noted that the chandelier over the middle of the hall was wrapped in in black cloth and was tied with a rope. When the crowd had gathered in the middle to partake the cases of rice wine and candies, someone tugged on the rope and the chandelier fell to the floor. Several were crushed and wounded in the explosions. Others stampeded to the exit as the hall burst into flames.”

– Alfonso Aluit, from the book By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II

February 9, 1945 Calle San MarcelinoVincentian Central House

Calle San Marcelino (now San Marcelino Street near St. Vincent de Paul Church)

(Photo courtesy of Mr. John Tewell.)

6 priests, an acolyte and unknown number of Chinese residents

“The Japanese broke in at the establishment and tied the residents to prevent them from escaping. The victims were led near the bank of Estero de Balete and were machine gunned and bayoneted.”

– Rolando de la Goza and Jesus Ma. Cevenna, from the book, Vincentians in the Philippines

On or about February 9, 1945 Herran overlooking PacoUnknown garage at the Paco District

Manila

(Photo courtesy of Mr. John Tewell.)

Around 250 civilians (according to the XIV Corps report)

“Three hundred Filipinos who took refuge in an open garage were tied by Japanese soldiers and were shot. About fifty of this group survived.”

– Report of the XIV Corp Inspector General’s Office

February 10, 1945 Asilo de loobanAsilo de Looban

Paco, Manila

Less than 10 civilians

“About seven thirty in the morning, a shell fell over the children’s dining hall of the asylum. It killed and wounded many. Shortly afterwards, a sound of gunfire was heard all over the hall. The chapel and the rest of the offices were filled with thick smoke and the roof was in flames.”

February 10, 1945 German clubGerman Club

San Luis Street (now T.M. Kalaw Avenue near San Marcelino St.)

(Photo courtesy of Mr. Lou Gopal.)

Approximately 100 civilians; in the vicinity of the club, 1,500 civilians

“‘Early morning, the German Club caught fire and the refugees in the dugouts were choking from thick smoke. Mr. Ohauss, the manager of the German Club, was seen pleading the Japanese in behalf of the refugees. A group of women with babies were also seen kneeling before the Japanese to let them go. But they were repulsed. The children were bayoneted, babies were thrown away, and women were abused by the Japanese. Anyone who would run away was shot.”

– Alfonso Aluit, from the book By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II

February 10, 1945 Don Pedro and Concepcion Campos Residence

1462 Taft Avenue

The Campos family and at least 120 refugees

“At 8 o’clock in the morning, a band of Japanese knock at the door. Mrs. Campos and her daughter Pilar opened the door and were immediately shot down. The 120 refugees were then called out to go to the garden. As the people walked out of the house, the Japanese started firing at them. Mrs. Maria Campos – Lopez, Mrs. Concepcion’s sister-in-law, was cooking breakfast then when she saw a Japanese soldier splashing alcohol all over the room, on the pieces of furniture and on the drapes. Without a word, he lit the room on fire. The people in the house dashed for the exits but were greeted with machine gun fire outside. Mrs. Lopez ran to the adjoining property and survived. Later, she was joined by Pilar Campos who was seriously wounded.”

– Alfonso Aluit, from the book By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II

February 10, 1945 Price Residence

Colorado corner California Streets (now Agoncillo and Escoda Streets respectively)

Approximately 100 civilians

“Massacring and killing without cause or trial of over one hundred men, women, and children, all unarmed non-combatant civilians, wounding and attempting to kill thirteen others, and wrongfully destroying and burning of home of the Dr. Price House, Ermita, Manila.”

– U.S. Brig. Gen. Courtney Whitney, from The Case of General Yamashita: A Memorandum

February 10, 1945 Red-CrossPhilippine Red Cross

General Luna and Isaac Peral Streets (now General Luna Street and U.N. Avenue, respectively)

(Photo courtesy of Mr. Lou Gopal.)

65 civilians; including doctors, nurses, and German Jews

“A squad of Japanese entered the Philippine Red Cross building and began to shoot and bayonet everybody they found in the building. The Japanese soldier fired two shots at Mr. M. Farolan as he hid under his desk, but the bullets passed between his feet.  The soldier then shot a young mother with her ten-day baby and the baby’s grandmother, Mrs. Juan P. Juan.”

– Report of the XIV Corp Inspector General’s Office

February 11, 1945 tabacalera-Paco-ManilaTabacalera Building

Isaac Peral (now U.N. Avenue), Manila

(Photo courtesy of the Philippine Star.)

50 civilians

“Killing without cause or trial forty-three unarmed non-combatant civilians, and attempting to kill twelve others, at the Tabacalera Cigar and Cigarette Factory and The Shell Service Station, Ermita, Manila”

-U.S. Brig. Gen. Courtney Whitney, from The Case of General Yamashita: A Memorandum

February 12, 1945 Carlos Perez Rubio Residence

150 Vito Cruz Street (now Pablo Ocampo Street)

Approximately 26 people

“At 10 o’clock in the morning, the Japanese entered the Perez- Rubio residence. They ordered Jose Balboa, Don Carlo’s gatekeeper, to the main house. With eight others, they were machine- gunned by the Japanese. Balboa fell to the ground but was not hit. He forced himself out the window and fell to the ground. A Japanese saw him and slashed him with a bayonet. He was hit but he was able to flee. Florencio Homol, Don Carlo’s sister’s houseboy, was asked to join 40 others in the Perez- Rubio’s garden. The Japanese lined them up and divested them of watches, rings, and other valuables. Afterwards, they asked everyone to gather furniture, rug, and drapes into the hall. They doused the pile with gasoline and set it on fire. Everyone rushed to the exit but were met with machine guns. Homol was able to dashed away to safety.”

– Eyewitness account by Florencio Homol written by Alfonso Aluit, from the book By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II

February 12, 1945 De la SalleDe La Salle College

Taft Avenue

(Photo courtesy of Corregidor Then and Now.)

41 civilians comprised of former students, residents and 16 Christian Brothers

“Shortly after lunch, a band of Japanese inspected De La Salle College for they suspected that the premise was a sniper’s nest. When they found nothing that interest then, they grabbed Mateo,  Anselmo Sudlan and Panfilo Almodan outside of the building. Shortly after, they returned inside and pushed the two refugees into the hall. They were seriously wounded. Afterwards, a large band of 20 Japanese stormed through the gate. The Japanese commander yelled and a rifle shot reverberated across the hall. Victoria Cojuangco dashed from the cellar upon hearing his son’s warning. He was toting his adopted son, Ricardo, but they were still met with bayonets outside the cellar door. Mrs. Cojuangco was mortally stricken but survived. Her son Ricardo died.”

– Alfonso Aluit, from the book By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II

“In another room, Servillano Aquino and his wife were visiting Antonio Cojuangco Jr. who was recovering from illness. Dr. Antonio Cojuangco was also in the room. When they heard the screaming and gunshots outside the room, they locked themselves in. Shortly after, the Japanese were banging the door and they didn’t have a choice but to open it. The Japanese started with stabbing the nurse, Filomeno Inolin. Dr. Cojuangco dashed to the chapel but a Japanese sprang after him. Aquino lunged at one Japanese to get hold of his rifle. But the Japanese was quicker, and he was stabbed many times with a bayonet until he passed out.”

– Alfonso Aluit, from the book By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II

Early February, 1945 8960007540_3ce9266d94_oScottish Rite Temple

Taft Avenue

(Photo courtesy of Mr. John Tewell.)

Unknown number of civilians

“ … more than one hundred people executed at the Masonic Temple.”

– Roderick Hall, from his memoir Manila Memories

February 14, 1945 AteneoAteneo College

Composed of Manila Observatory, Auditorium, Gymnasium, Laboratories, Industrial Engineering, and LibraryCalle Padre Faura (now Padre Faura Street)

(Photo courtesy of Manuel Angelo Carreon.)

100 refugees; composing of men, women, and children

“Incendiary bombs were launched by the Japanese to set fire to the tower of the school. The fire in the building created panic to the refugees, which resulted to at least 100 deaths of men and women. The children were crushed by the stampeding crowd. In addition to the fire, the Japanese were also hurling bombs into the building.”

– Antonio Perez de Olaguer, El Terror Amarillo en Filipinas

February 18, 1945 Isaac PeralMoreta House

Isaac Peral Street (now U.N. Avenue)

Around 40 civilians

“Japanese soldiers separated the men and women. The women were raped and those who resisted were either bayoneted or shot. The Japanese soldiers threw grenades to the men, killing them and burning the Moreta residence.”

– Report of the XIV Corp Inspector General’s Office

February 19, 1945 palacioPalacio del Gobernador

Palacio Real

PHOTO: Massacre site on the lower right

142 civilians, comprised of Filipino and Spanish residents

“The Japanese constructed two spacious caves, fortified with concrete and massive wooden posts. At least 125 persons were herded to the caves, including Spanish civilians. At least 17 hostages were led to the second cave. A Japanese soldier handed one of them, Laurentino de Pablos, a jute sack tightly sewn up from which wires ran out. De Pablos and Emilio Canceller, another hostage, cut the wires when the Japanese soldier demanded it back. Furious, the Japanese started hurling grenades through the caves’ ventilation holes. From the outside, the Japanese sealed the opening, thus, suffocating those who survived the grenades.”

– Alfonso Aluit, from the book By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II

February 19, 1945 4146916218_3718309645_oFront of Manila Cathedral

Intramuros

(Photo courtesy of Mr. John Tewell.)

Around 125 civilians, including about 37 priests

“As they reached the front of the cathedral, they were forced inside a large structure constructed of stout timbers. The Japanese then lobbed hand grenades in through the air holes. “

– Jose Custodio, military historian

February 21, 1945 ROTC Armory

University of Manila

Patients from San Juan de Dios Hospital and Quezon Institute

“This evening, another band of Japanese came upon the tuberculosis patients. By the light of a torch one of them held high, the Japanese bayoneted the survivors one-by-one.”

– Alfonso Aluit, from the book By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II


Bibliography

Aluit, Alfonso. By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II. Makati City: Geba Printing, 1994.

Connaughton, Richard, Pimlott, John, and Anderson, Duncan. The Battle for Manila. Makati City: Platypus Publishing, Inc., 1995.

Gaerlan, Cecilia. “Remembering the Past and our Greatest Heritage,” from The Asian Journal, May 16 2014 issue. Retrieved on February 4, 2014.

Lichauco, Marcial P. Dear Mother Putnam: A Diary of the Second World War in the Philippines. Hong Kong: C.B.L. Fung, 1997.

Lopez, Salvador P., Elpidio Quirino: The Judgment of History. Manila: President Elpidio Quirino Foundation, 1990.

Office of the Inspector General, XIV Corps. “Report of Investigation of Alleged Atrocities by Members of the Japanese Imperial Forces in Manila and other parts of Luzon, Philippine Islands” (9 April 1945), from battleofmanila.org. Retrieved on January 21, 2014.

Olaguer, Antonio Perez. Terror in Manila: February 1945. Manila: Memorare Manila 1945 Foundation, Inc., 2005.

Parsons, Peter C. “The Battle of Manila: Myth and Fact,” from battleofmanila.org. Retrieved on January 21, 2014.