While it’s now common knowledge that the Japanese willfully employed chemical and biological warfare against the Chinese several times throughout the war, lesser-known is the fact that they would have also used the same weapons against the Filipino and American forces in Bataan.
Frustrated by the stubborn defense being put up by the Fil-Am forces, the Japanese planned to unleash hundreds of millions of plague-infected fleas into the Bataan Peninsula. As fate would have it, the surrender of the Bataan defenders in April shelved the Japanese plan for biological warfare. However, the Japanese never really disavowed the use of bio-warfare—they also tried to pull off the same plan against the Americans in Saipan and Okinawa.
9. Manila Became The Second Most Devastated Allied Capital In World War II.
In the midst of the brutal month-long Battle of Manila, the Japanese massacred and raped civilians, aside from looting and destroying several homes and buildings. Continuous American carpet bombings and artillery barrages also contributed to the city-wide devastation and helped usher in bloody close-quarters urban fighting.
In the aftermath, an estimated 100, 000-500, 000 Filipinos lost their lives in just four weeks. Only the Polish capital of Warsaw undoubtedly suffered more death and destruction after it was occupied first by the Germans and then the Soviets. In addition, Warsaw also suffered after a failed uprising in 1944 resulted in the Germans killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and razing 85% of the city to the ground.
8. A Disobedient Japanese Officer Started The Battle Of Manila.
Hard to believe as it may sound, the Japanese originally did not intend to fight the Americans to the death in Manila.
Tomoyuki Yamashita, head of all Japanese forces in the Philippines, had ordered his men to evacuate the city and head to the mountains of northern Luzon where they could engage the Americans in a defensive fight reminiscent of Bataan. He gave the order under the belief that he could not defend the city well (it was situated on flat terrain and had many wooden, flammable structures) nor could he feed its one million residents.
However, his instructions to evacuate were ignored by Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi who felt he shouldn’t have to follow orders from an army general. Also, Iwabuchi wanted to redeem his honor after the battleship Kirishima which he personally commanded was sunk in an earlier battle. Suffice to say, Iwabuchi ordered the remaining Japanese forces to dig in and fight the Americans to the last man.
7. The Moros Also Fought An Effective Guerrilla War Against The Japanese.
While much has already been said about the daring exploits of guerrillas who fought the Japanese in Luzon and the Visayas, the contributions of the Moro fighters towards the war effort are not as well-disseminated. However, the Moros really did more than their fair share of containing or dislodging the Japanese in their areas of responsibility.
Led by the likes of legendary Moro guerrilla leaders such as Busran Kalaw, Salipada Pendatun, and Gumbay Piang, the mostly blade-wielding Moros struck fear into the hearts of the Japanese occupiers with a combination of guerrilla tactics and juramentado attacks (which was ironic considering the Japanese themselves came from a culture which emphasized bladed weapons).