Smoke rises in Manila – February 27, 1945
Catastrophic World War Two events like the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Normandy landings have become well-known landmarks in popular culture. Yet compared to an episode like Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Manila has been largely forgotten. This is tragic, because it was one of the most devastating confrontations of the entire conflict.
Manila has historically been known as the “Pearl of the Orient” and was once regarded as among Asia’s most beautiful cities. It was a place of blended cultures – including Spanish, Asian and American traditions. What’s more, it was a city rich with incredible architecture and artworks. Just before the outbreak of WWII, Manila was a vibrant, cosmopolitan place with a population of over one million people.
However, in February 1945, it became the scene of some of the most violent and terrible urban fighting of WWII and the setting for the second most destructive Allied involvement of the entire war – surpassed only by Warsaw. By the end of the battle, over 100,000 civilians, including many women and children, had been killed. The city was destroyed, and many say it has never recovered.