Battle of Baguio (1945)
|Capture of Baguio|
|Part of World War II and the Allied Liberation of the Philippines|
|Commanders and leaders|
|General Walter Krueger
Major General Innis P. Swift
Major General Percy W. Clarkson
Major General Robert S. Beightler
Colonel Russell W. Volckmann
|General Tomoyuki Yamashita
Lieutenant General Fukutaro Nishiyama
Major General Noakata Utsunomiya
Major General Bunzo Sato
|Casualties and losses|
|Over 2,000 killed|
The Battle of Baguio occurred between 21 February and 26 April 1945, and was part of the greater Luzon campaign during the Allied liberation of the Philippines at the end of World War II. During the battle, American and Philippine forces recaptured the city of Baguio on the island of Luzon from a Japanese occupation force. One of the last tank engagements of the Philippine campaign took place during the battle. Baguio later became the scene of the final surrender of Japanese forces in the Philippines in September 1945.
Prior to World War II, Baguio was the summer capital of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, as well as the home of the Philippine Military Academy. In 1939, the city had a population of 24,000 people, most of whom were Filipinos, along with other nationalities, including about 500 Japanese. Following the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941, the Japanese used Camp John Hay, an American installation in Baguio, as a military base. In October 1944, American soldiers landed on Leyte, beginning the liberation of the Philippines.
General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the commander of the Japanese Fourteenth Area Army, transferred his headquarters to Baguio in December 1944, planning to fight a delaying action against the Americans to give time for Japan to defend itself. In early January 1945, American forces landed at Lingayen Gulf. Thereafter, the American Sixth Army conducted two campaigns, one against the Japanese forces east of Manila, and the second against Yamashita's forces in northern Luzon.
Between late February and early April 1945, the Allied forces, primarily consisting of the United States Army's 33rd Infantry Division, with assistance from regiments of the Philippine guerrilla force United States Army Forces in the Philippines – Northern Luzon, advanced towards Baguio. By late March, the city was within range of American artillery. President José P. Laurel of the collaborationist Second Philippine Republic, having moved to Baguio from Manila in December 1944, departed Baguio on 22 March, reaching Taiwan on 30 March; the remainder of the Second Republic government in the Philippines, along with Japanese civilians, were ordered to evacuate Baguio on 30 March. Yamashita and his staff relocated to Bambang. A major offensive to capture Baguio did not occur until mid-April, when United States Army's 37th Infantry Division, minus the 145th Infantry Regiment, was released from garrisoning Manila to launch a two-division assault into Baguio from the west and south.
During the Allied drive towards Baguio from the west, a six-day battle was fought at Irisan Gorge and the nearby Irisan River. This battle involved one of the last tank-versus-tank engagements of the Philippines campaign, between M4 Shermans of the U.S. Army's Company B, 775th Tank Battalion and Type 97s of the IJA's 5th Tank Company, 10th Tank Regiment.
In mid-April, 7,000 civilians, including foreign nationals, made their way from Baguio to American lines. Among them were five cabinet members of the Second Republic; Brigadier General Manuel Roxas was "freed", the other four were captured as collaborators. On 22 April, Major General Noakata Utsunomiya, who had been left in command of the defense of Baguio by Yamashita, ordered a withdrawal from Baguio. On 24 April, the first Allied forces – a patrol of the 129th Infantry Regiment – entered Baguio.
Yamashita, along with 50,500 men of the Shobu Group, held out against the American advance in northern Luzon until 15 August 1945. On 3 September 1945, one day after the official Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay, Yamashita formally surrendered Japanese forces in the Philippines at Camp John Hay's American Residence in the presence of lieutenant-generals Arthur Percival and Jonathan Wainwright.
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Baguio and Camp John Hay fell on 26 April, under the concerted attack of the 33d and the 37th Divisions.
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After garrison duty in Manila, 5–26 March, the Division shifted to the hills of Northwest Luzon, where heavy fighting culminated in the capture of Baguio, 26 April.
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- U.S. Army footage of the battle of Baguio via Archive.org