The Imperial Japanese Army was one of the most brutal armies that the world had ever seen. They didn’t just kill. They tortured, looted, and randomly murdered innocent civilians during their World War II rampage.

Many would remember the Rape of Nanjing, where over 300,000 were killed, with over 30,000 women and children raped during the massacre from 1937 to 1938.

While these atrocities are certainly not a competition on who was more abused or which country suffered the most casualties, a World War II massacre that has been forgotten is the Rape of Manila. Known in the Philippines as the “Panggahasa sa Maynila,” it is a lesser-known Japanese war crime in the Philippines, virtually unheard of elsewhere.

In a massacre where the death toll is estimated to be in the 100,000 to as high as 500,000 military personnel, men, women, and children were killed, along with 20,000 or more women and children raped by multiple Japanese soldiers.

A Painful Memory For Those Who Remember

In February 1945, the US Armed Forces along with the Filipino Guerrillas were closing in on retaking Manila when the US Army had landed at the Lingayen Gulf a month earlier.

General Douglas MacArthur ordered Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger to advance to Manila with the Sixth US Army and the 37th Infantry Division commanded by Major General Robert S. Beightler.

American troops crossing the Pasig River, 1945 ( Source:
American troops crossing the Pasig River, 1945 (

By February 5, they were nearing Manila with multiple US Army components and Hunter ROTC Filipino guerrillas, some of which were the 187th and 188th Glider Infantry Regiments of Col. Robert H. Soule, the parachuting 11th A/B Division’s 511th Regimental Combat Team led by Col. Orin D. “Hard Rock” Haugen (a badass nickname if we do say so ourselves), 1st Cavalry Division, and the 11th Airborn Division.

Note that many more divisions were involved in the Battle of Manila. In the same month, the Santo Tomas Internment Camp would be liberated.