A truck trundles past the Philippine General Hospital after the Battle of Manila. You can see that a portion of what’s left of the roof is caving in. (Photo courtesy of LIFE Magazine.)
The main difficulty of liberating the hospital had been the presence of civilian patients who were still inside.
Miguel P. Avanceña recounts his experience of the war:
We were resigned to the thought that we would die before the Americans arrived. There was almost no food and water for the thousands trapped inside the hospital.
A heavy barrage suddenly came crashing down on us, preceded by the all-too-familiar distant booming of cannons. Count six seconds and the shell would either hit you or fly overhead. By midmorning, the barrages came in quick succession. Machine-gun fire from both sides suddenly opened up in a deafening duel.
Heavy fire peppered the building with bullets without letup. There was a crash of exploding shells against concrete and the sound of ricocheting shrapnel and bullets. We were crouched under the elevator, but showers of sparks from exploding shells and shrapnel so terrified us that prayers asking God to save us filled the basement.
Then, as if by magic, all noise stopped. We heard the stomping of boots on the concrete floor over our heads as Japanese machine gunners set up weapons right on top of us. As they fired, responding heavy machine guns sent them scurrying to the back of the PGH compound. [Read more]