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    Cebu Island Cebu Province Philippines
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US Army March 26, 1945

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US Army Aug 19, 1945
Cebu Island encompasses Cebu Province in the Central Visayas (Region VII) in the Philippines. To the east is the Cebu Strait. Offshore to the east is Mactan Island and Olango Island in the Bohol Strait (Cebu Strait) and beyond BohoI Island and beyond is Leyte. To the west is Negros.

On February 13, 1565 Spanish explorers led by Miguel López de Legazpi arrived at Cebu to become the first Europeans to reach the Philippines having departed departed Mexico the previous year. After establishing themselves, Filipinos reported rich resources to the north. In 1570, Legazpi dispatched two of his commanders: Martín de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo to explore northward to Luzon.

During the prewar period, Cebu and Bohol were part of the Philippine Army 8th Military District. Also, the USAFFE 81st Division was based at Cebu.

Wartime History
On December 8, 1941 a H5K2 Emily flying boat from Toko Seaplane Base bombed Cebu City. On April 10, 1942 a force of three warships and eleven transports landed 12,000 Japanese Army "Kawaguchi Detachment" troops at seven points on southern Cebu. By May 17, 1942 organized resistance on Cebu ceased. During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Filipino guerrillas continued to operate on the island during the occupation.
As early as August 1942 former USAFFE soldiers assassinated a Filipino collaborator in barrio Tig-baon. During another combat in 1943, guerrillas engaged Japanese for a day and a half at Ligid-Ligid.

A force led by Harry Fenton (American radio DJ on KZRC) and James Cushing (American mining engineer). Civilian volunteer guards assisted the group, and they succeeded in attacking Babag in Cebu City on February 23, 1943. By 1944, his group had absorbed other groups and was known as "Cebu Area Command", headquartered in the mountains at Tabunan. Acknowledged by SWPA HQ and designated "8th Military District" and Cushing given the rank of Lt Colonel.

In early April 1944, Filipino guerrillas captured Vice Admiral Fukodomei and the "Koga Papers". Later in the war, guerrillas even gained control of the southern part of Cebu before the Americans arrived. During the war, Cebu guerrillas reportedly killed more Japanese than in any other part of the Philippines. In Toledo especially, Filipino guerrillas resisted strongly and inflicted many casualties on the occupiers.

After the American victory at Leyte, some Japanese escaped by boat to Cebu.  Among them was General Suzuki, who reached Cebu City on March 24, 1945 and took command of the 13,000 Japanese troops then on Cebu.  He was later killed when attempting to get to Mindanao. Troops in the central and northern parts of the island were under the command of Major-General Takeo Manjome. Another 1,000 troops were located in the far north of the island, most survivors from Leyte.  Well equipped and supplied, the Japanese had prepared excellent defenses, and planned to abandon the south of the island where guerrillas had control.

American missions against Cebu
April 7, 1942–June 2, 1945

American Liberation
The American liberation was code named Operation Victory II. Prior to the landing, the Japanese had heavily mined the anticipated landing beaches were and dug anti-tank ditches to hamper vehicles.  These defenses were reported by Filipino guerrillas to the Americans, but no preemptive action was taken against them.

On March 26, 1945 the supporting U.S. Navy (USN) 7th Fleet conducted a large scale shore bombardment prior to the amphibious landing by the U.S. Army Americal Division at Talisay. A defensive mine field knocked out ten of the first fifteen landing craft ashore and killed and wounded many. Blocked, men, vehicles and supplies crowded the beach area while engineers rushed to clear a safe pathway. Despite the confusion, the Japanese failed to cover the beaches with anything larger than small arms fire and were unable to exploit the situation.  After an hour, the minefield was adequately cleared and the advance continued. On March 27, 1945 although Cebu City was liberated, American forces encountered stiff resistance in the hills behind the city.

One of the first large scale Japanese surrenders of the Pacific War occurred on Cebu. On August 19, 1945 Japanese  officers commanded by Lt. General Kataoka of the 35th Army arrived in Cebu city to begin surrender negotiations.  On August 28, 1945 Maj. Gen. William H. Arnold of the Americal Division accepted the surrender of 10,000 Japanese on the island. In the course of this grueling struggle, the Americal Division incurred 410 men killed and 1,700 wounded. Another 8,000 men were classified as non-battle casualties, most of whom succumbed to an outbreak of infectious hepatitis. In turn, some 5,500 Japanese soldiers lay dead.

Cebu City
Occupied by the Japanese, liberated by the Americal Division on March 27, 1945.

Talisay (Talisay City)
Located to the south of Cebu City site of U.S. Army landing on
on March 26, 1945.

Located to the south of Cebu City, site of initial Japanese landing.

Mactan Island
Located off Cebu Harbor and Cebu City includes Opon Airfield
(Mactan, Mactan-Cebu International Airport).

Located to the northeast of Cebu City

Camotes Island Group
Located between Cebu and Leyte to the southwest of Ormoc Bay.

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Last Updated
May 13, 2021


March 1945

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