The United States Manila Mint: A Type Set of the Coins & Medals of America's Forgotten Mint
Manila the Approach March: U.S. Army Engineers Bridge Unfordable Rivers to Keep the Advance Moving





Coin Details

Origin/Country: United States
Item Description: Manila the Approach March 1C 1937 M USA-PHIL
Full Grade: NGC MS 64 RD
Owner: JAA

Owner Comments:

The pictures on this page were taken by my father in early February 1945 during the approach march to Manila.

The first picture shows one of the many highway and railroad bridges which were destroyed by the Japanese to slow the American advance.

After securing Ft. Stotsenburg and the important Clark Field Air Base the XVI Corps attacked south through the Central Plains toward Manila.

The Central Plains between Ft. Stotsenburg and Manila is crossed by many deep and broad rivers. The main bridges over these rivers were the route 3, route 5 and Manila Railroad bridges. In order to slow the American advance the Japanese destroyed these bridges as they retreated.

The Route 3 and Manila Railroad crossing at Calumpit are located twenty-five miles below Clark Field and about an equal distance from Manila. This was an important XVI Corps objective because the crossing at Calumpit was "a flat land defile through which passed the only highway and rail connections providing direct access to Manila from the western side of the Central Plains. To the northeast of Calumpit lies the formidable Candaba Swamp, passable only to light vehicles even in dry weather; to the south and west are virtually impassable swamplands, fish pounds, and marshy river deltas forming the northern shore of Manila Bay. Although the Japanese had destroyed the bridges at Calumpit XVI Corps had to secure the crossing sites before the Japanese took advantage of the natural defense opportunities afforded by the deep, unfordable Pampanga to block the western approach to Manila." (Ross, 1993 page 211)

The destroyed bridges in the first photo are the Route 3 and Manila Railroad Bridges over the Pampanga River at Calumpit.

The bridge the second picture is a Heavy Pontoon Bridge constructed by XIV Corps engineers over the Pampanga River at Calumpit. Note the troop trucks crossing the bridge.

One of the major problems the XIV Corps faced during the drive to Manila was logistical in nature, deriving from the speed of the advances, the distances covered, the chronic shortages of motor transportation, and the destruction of bridges. To span the many rivers on the way to Manila, Sixth Army engineers leap-frogged bridging equipment southward, sending pontoon and heavy treadway bridging forward as Baileys and other semi-permanent crossings were erected over the Agno and other streams back to Lingayen Gulf. By a complex continuation of such processes, the engineers assured a constant flow of supplies and heavy equipment down Route 3 behind the 37th Division. (Smith.1993. Pages 232-233)

Original letters written by my father during the Luzon Campaign

Smith, Robert Ross, "Manila: The Approach March" in U.S. Army in World War ll. The War In the Pacific: Triumph in the Philippines, (Center of Military History United States Army, Washington D.C., 1993) pages 211-236.

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