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    San Manuel Pangasinan Province | Luzon Philippines
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Carl R. Thien 1945

Click For Enlargement
Carl R. Thien 1945

Click For Enlargement
Carl R. Thien 1945

Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2005
Lat 16° 3' 56N Long 120° 40' 0E  San Manuel is an inland town located at an elevation of 216' / 65m above sea level in the 6th District of Pangasinan Province in the Ilocos Region of Luzon in the Philippines. To the east is San Nicolas and the start of the Villa Verde Trail.

Wartime History
During January 1945, the road between San Manuel and San Nicolas was impassible to vehicles. After the January 9, 1945 U. S. Army landing at Lingayan Gulf and advance inland, San Manuel was defended by the Japanese Army "Shigemi Detachment" commanded by Brigadier General Shigemi. This detachment had over 1,000 men, mortars and machine guns and was ordered to counter attack against the U. S. Army landing.

On January 17, 1945 after the Japanese were defeated at the battles in Urdaneta and Binalonan, the remainder of the "Shigemi Detachment" withdrew to San Manuel with forty Type 97 Chi-Ha tanks and five Type 95 Ha Go light tanks plus supporting infantry. To defend the town, the Japanese dug in forming a fan shaped defensive line with 75 earthen emplacements for thirty tanks that were dug into the ground as fixed positions protected by rifle and machine gun pits at key points around the outskirts of the town.
The remainder of the tanks force were held in the town as mobile reserves. Also defending was the 2nd Mobile Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion equipped with fifteen 75mm guns, some 47mm anti-tank guns and fifteen mortars.

Battle of San Manuel
On January 19, 1945 the Battle of San Manuel began with a five day U. S. Army artillery bombardment of enemy positions and the town in preparation for the assault. On January 23, 1945 the U. S. Army 25th Division, 161st Infantry Regiment supported by M4 Sherman tanks from the 716th Tank Battalion captured the hills to the south of town in preparation for an assault against San Manuel.

On January 24, 1945 the U. S. Army by the 1st Battalion supported by six M4 Sherman tanks made a first attack but was halted by a drainage ditch and defending 47mm anti-tank fire. During the first attack, one M4 Sherman was lost and four more were disabled and one was immobilized. American casualties were 8 Killed In Action (KIA) and 63 Wounded In Action (WIA).

Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion attacked from the south towards town. The first assault was stopped by three Japanese tanks. A second attack gained a foothold in town and destroyed five Japanese tanks. On January 25, 1945 the Americans again attacked reinforced by the 1st Battalion and 3rd Battalion and engaged in difficult house-to-house fighting in town.

On January 26, 1945 in the morning a dozen M4 Sherman tanks assaulted the area, firing on the remaining Japanese tanks from a safe distance and destroyed most of them. By January 27, 1945 the remaining Japanese tanks were pushed out of the town into the hills and had no escape route. As remaining Japanese resorted to suicide attacks, a Japanese sapper managed to destroy a M7 Priest using a mine attached to a pole and was killed in the blast.

On January 28, 1945 at 1:00am the remaining thirteen tanks attempted a suicidal banzai attack. Their attack failed to break the U. S. line and resulted in the loss of ten tanks with the other three retreating into the hills. By 1:30pm the Japanese defenders abandoned San Manuel after loosing all their armor, heavy weapons and 750 Killed In Action (KIA) including C. O. Brigadier General Shigemi and Colonel Maeda.

After four days of intense close-combat the 161st Infantry Regiment liberated the town. For their gallantry in the battle for San Manuel, Company E and Cannon Company earned the Presidential Unit Citation. After the battle, the U. S. Army 32nd Infantry Division arrived in San Manuel then proceeded to San Nicolas.

M7 Priest
Destroyed January 27, 1945 by Japanese suicide sapper using a mine attached to a pole

Type 95 Ha Go
Disabled and abandoned in San Manuel at the end of the battle

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Last Updated
December 20, 2020


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