The Last Campaign: Mindanao (March 1999)
In the battle for the Philippines, Manila was finally liberated. This still left around 50,000 Japanese soldiers on the southern side of Mindanao. Mag. Gen. Roscoe B. Woodruff's division landed unopposed on Mindanao on April 19, 1945.
The article is filled with details of the fighting, but the following is what I found most interesting:
An example of souvenir hunting is given in the story about an attack on a Filipinio house. The house was shot at and a grenade thrown inside. There was one dead Japanese soldier. An American soldier then went through the Japanese soldier's back but failed to find a Japanese flag, and he cursed the guy and called him unpatriotic.
There is also an example of the Japanese forces killing civilians in the story about how some civilians were herded into a house and then the building was blown up.
Another example of souvenir hunting is given when an American soldier with a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) fires at a wounded Japanese lying in the grass. He puts ten shots into the guy, probably nine more than was needed, and then claims the samurai sword and pistol the guy was carrying, along with some papers written in Japanese.
An example of Japanese killing themselves rather than being taken prisoner is covered in a story about a Japanese soldier walking into a shack and then blowing it up with his own hand grenade.
I know that the battles themselves are important, but I still find little tidbits of information like the above more indicative of what was really going on. The fanaticism of the Japanese, the souvenir hunting of the Americans, the treatment of civilians by the Japanese, all this goes to show just how personally brutal the war was in the Pacific.
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