National Press Club

World War II Battle for Manila detailed at American Legion Post 20 meeting

November 14, 2018 | By Ken Dalecki | kdalecki@hotmail.com

Author James M. Scott speaks at a Nov. 14 meeting of the National Press Club American Legion Post 20.

Author James M. Scott speaks at a Nov. 14 meeting of the National Press Club American Legion Post 20.

Photo/Image: Rex A. Stucky

James M. Scott, author of "Rampage," a stirring account of the 29-day battle for Manila in early 1945, told a Nov. 14 luncheon meeting of the National Press Club American Legion Post 20 that the U.S. Army realized it was occupying a crime scene once the fighting ended.

Scott told of how Japanese Rear Adm. Sanji Iwabuchi surprised Gen. Douglas MacArthur when he refused to abandon the city to spare its destruction as MacArthur had done during his retreat to Bataan three years earlier. Iwabuchi's 17,000 soldiers battled surrounding U.S. forces in an urban bloodbath that destroyed much of the historic city.

American soldiers soon realized the ground they captured in house-to-house fighting was more than a battlefield; it was a crime scene, Scott said. More than 100,000 civilians were killed in the battle and slaughtered in systematic brutality reminiscent of the more famous Rape of Nanking. Some 1,000 U.S. soldiers died, as did virtually all of Iwabuchi's men. Iwabuchi committed suicide and his superior, Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, was hanged as a war criminal in 1946.

Luncheon attendees included Patrick A. Chuasoto, deputy chief of mission at the Philippine Embassy, and Mindy Kotler Smith, congressional liaison for the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society. Post 20 luncheon speaker programs are open to all Club members. The Post's next meeting will be at noon on Monday, Dec. 3, at which candidates for Club offices will speak.