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Richard G. Trefry Archives Exhibits

American Public University System’s Richard G. Trefry Archives contain documents and items that represent the history, development, and progress of the institution as its recorded memory.

Battle of Manila Photographs

Dublin Core


Battle of Manila Photographs


Battle of Manila; Philippines Campaign; World War II


The Trefry Archives presents a collection of snapshots taken by an unknown American G.I. in the days or weeks following the Battle of Manila during World War II. These 12 photos show the breathtaking destruction of the city and the impact that it had on its inhabitants.

World War II brought with it destruction and devastation that likes of which have not been known by modern mankind. Millions perished either through the acts of Fascist regimes or through the churn of militaries, civilian and soldier alike. Whole cities would be leveled, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden.

Manila, the "Jewel of the Orient", was another such city that faced near annihilation during the war. But unlike the devastation wrought upon those other cities in Japan and Germany, Manila's destruction did not come from above but through a vicious month of some of the most intense urban combat seen in either the Pacific or European theaters. Street by street, building by building, Japanese forces contested the advancing allied forces of Filipino and American troops in a month long Battle the wrecked the city and punished its inhabitants. As the last building fell to the American forces early in March of 1945.

The damage to the Philippines capital was near total. Anywhere from 100,000 to 250,000 civilians died as a result of either mass executions perpetrated by Japanese forces or through American bombardments. Seemingly no building was left untouched.

To provide context to the photographs, we have created a story map that places the photos in their locations around the city of Manila and as you click on the pictures will walk you through how the battle progressed. 

The Archives would like to thank John Tewell and the valuable assistance he provided in identifying buildings in the photographs as well as providing background information. If you are interested in additional photos of Manila and Filipino culture, please check out his Flickr page.




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Located at the APUS Richard G. Trefry Archives

Collection Items

Manila City Hall
On the approach to City Hall, mortars were used to try to soften up resistance bunkered in the building. When that failed, American troops set fire to the building, which failed to drive out all but 200 Japenese soldiers. Entry through the eastern…

Finance Building
The Finance Building was the last building to hold out in the Battle for Manila. Along with the Legislative and Agriculture Buildings, they covered the approach to the SE portion of Intramuros. As it was easier to attack these buildings after…

Post Office Building
The assault on the Post Office took place simultaneously as the one on City Hall. The Post Office was five stories of earthquake proof reinforced concrete, which made it nearly impervious to direct artillery, tank and tank destroyer fire. The inside…

General Douglas MacArthur
The campaign to retake the Philippines from Japanese occupation was a lengthy and complicated matter. The Battle of Manila was just oneevent in the overall whole of the campaign and it took place while other actions were taking place elsewhere in the…

University of the Philippines, Medical Science Building
The Medical Science Building was made of reinforced concrete, which enabled it to withstand artillery fire. Japanese troops stationed in the buildings were able to cover the approaches to the building with machine gun emplacements at the foundations…

Post Office Building
The horse-drawn carriages lined up in front of the Post Office are called Kalesa. You can see on the rounded wing of the Post Office that the roof is missing as well as extensive scorching. Artillery and other fire damage can be seen on the front of…

Intramuros from across the Pasig
Intramuros, or the Walled City, is a walled area within Manila. Built by the Spanish in the late 16th century, the wall surrounding this section served as a barricades against any potential foreign invasions. The walls in places were eight feet thick…

Intramuros, Walled City
A large pile of rubble of the wall of Intramuros can be seen in front of Letran College. This was a breach point in the wall that American soldiers used to enter into the Walled City. Damage can also be seen to the trees lining the walls. Letran…

Letran College in Intramuros
Pictured is Letran College (Colegio de San Juan de Letran) with the damaged walls of Intramuros before it. Letran was the site where American units rendezvoused upon entering the Walled City. The building was damaged during the initial artillery…

Rizal Avenue in Manila
This portion of Manila saw little street fighting as compared to action which occurred across the Pasig at the government buildings and Intramuros. As the Allied Filipino and American forces made their way into the city, Japanese troops guarding the…
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