The Atlantic ran a photo series of the battle of Midway and for the Aleutian islands where the Japanese invaded the "US" during World War II. The article can be found HERE.
The photo below is my favorite. It portrays the chaos of battle brilliantly. Four Japanese airplanes are in the scene, two little more than dots in the distance. A fourth you can't really see, but you can observe the smoke arising from the ocean where it crashed. The airplane in the foreground has just dropped a torpedo aimed at an American warship.
I remember as a youngster watching the "Victory at Sea" series of black and white films about the Pacific naval battles. They were set to a classical music theme, and, of course, were intensely patriotic for the American cause.
Most Americans are familiar with the Bataan Death March, but not the battle for Manila. Many Filipinos are critical of the way America waged war: relentless power and destruction. The final battle in Manila was for the Intramuros, where the Japanese had tied Filipinos up on the outside of the buildings as human shields. They hoped to forestall the relentless bombardment they knew was coming.
But the US was in a hurry, so they rained artillery shells like, well . . . rain.
The two atom bombs dropped on Japan were simply an extension of the same war strategy that said the Japanese will never surrender, so we must defeat them with force. This was the lesson learned on island after island in the Pacific, and the Aleutian islands, where Japanese would fight to the end, then kill themselves rather than surrender. The Atlantic photo series has a gruesome rendition of this.
Many blame the US for dropping the two atom bombs.
They don't blame the Japanese.
Same regarding Manila.
I find that interesting.
Usually a battle is a reflection of a series of events that have much deeper meaning. It is a transaction, an event, isolated from the chain of meanings that lead to war, or the strategies for fighting that war. If you adopt the strategy of ending the war as quickly as possible to prevent massive loss of life, you rain artillery on Manila and drop A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The discussion should be about that strategy.
Not the specific battles that were its execution.
And, even deeper, one should probe the frictions that led to war in the first place. Where, exactly, was the first mistake made? And who made it?
I'm not a student of the war, but I suspect numerous mistakes were made by both the US and Japan leading up to the war. After that, the clash of cultures and hates could not stop anything but brutal submission, one to the other.
Manila was simply the largest city on the road to Nagasaki.