In the month long battle for Manial over 1,000 American soldiers died, more than 16,000 of the 17,000 Japanese military personnel died and at least 100,000 Filipino civilians were killed, with some estimates suggesting up to 200,000 may have died. Of these civilians many were killed by the U.S. artillery fire, while tens of thousands were massacred by the Japanese, bayoneted or burned alive, often after being raped and tortured. The commander of Japanese forces in the Philippines, General Tomoyuki Yamashita, was later tried for war crimes and executed.

Back in the 1980’s I knew a veteran of WWII who had served with the RAF. Towards the end of the war his unit had been deployed to Singapore and was there when British prisoners of war liberated from Japanese prisoner of war camps began their journey home. He never told me what they told him, but to the day he died Jimmy refused to have anything Japanese in his house. He had no issue buying German made products, yet it seemed the brutality of the Japanese military was of a different order.

Manila itself was razed to the ground, destroyed as completely as Berlin or Tokyo. Only a handful of buildings survived or were worth restoring. Manila was once renowned for its fine Spanish architecture, and under American rule neoclassical and art deco style dominated. Today, after the destruction of the war, the rapid rebuilding, and the chaotic expansion of the city, nobody could call Manila beautiful, and I speak as someone who loves the place.