24/36
[ stop the slideshow ]

Life Mag page 1

Life Mag page 1 _.jpg Life Magazine coverThumbnailsLife Mag page 3aLife Magazine coverThumbnailsLife Mag page 3aLife Magazine coverThumbnailsLife Mag page 3a

February was a month of new battles for U.S.
forces. The biggest battle was being fought on Ger-
many's Western Front, where the Allies began a new
winter offensive last week. The sharpest was being
'carried to the Japanese on the tiny island of Iwo,
only 675 miles from Tokyo). The war passed great
emotional milestones in February too. Manila was
taken and its starving U.S. prisoners were rescued.
In Manila the emotion ran highest at the place where
the greatest number of imprisoned Americans were kept.
This was Santo Tomas.

When the Americans first reached Santo Tomas
on the night of Feb.3, it was quiet and dark in the
camp. There were a few scattered shots from the
Japanese until tanks broke through the wooden fence.
A few minutes later one of the internees appeared
and said, "I'll lead you in." Among the first men
into the camp was LIFE Photographer Carl Mydans.
When Mydans walked into the main building, where
he and his wife had spent the beginning of their
internment three years ago, he was greeted by a hysterical
crowd. The 3,700 Americans who had spent three
years in Santo Tomas were finally delivered.

The men who liberated Santo Tomas had sighted
on their objective from 60 miles away. Six days before
the main U.S. forces entered Manila, Brig. General
William C. Chase of thee 1st Cavalry Division picked
a mechanized squadron of 700 men to crash through the
university grounds. Charging down the roads and carabao
paths, the squadron brushed through most Japanese positions
on the way. When it encountered heavy Japanese fire the
men dismounted and worked with tanks to push through.
Wherever the column stopped, ecstatic Filipinos came out
with flowers and eggs for the soldiers. In the evening
of the third day, the Americans broke into Santo Tomas.