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Lat 7° 4' 23N Long 125° 36' 46E Davao is located on the southeast coast of Mindanao in the Philippines. Borders Davao Gulf (Davao Bay, Davao Harbor). Also known as "Davao City". Until 1967 located in Davao Province until subdivided into three provinces and since located in Davao de Sur Province.
During the prewar era, Davao had the largest expatriate Japanese population in the Philippines.
On December 8, 1941 Japanese aircraft from Ryujo attacked Davao Harbor, but found no targets or opposition. This was the first air raid in the Philippines, hours before the air raid on Clark Field. News of the raid did not seem to reach Luzon or American commanders. Returning, one bomber ditched due to engine trouble, and the crew was rescued. At the start of the Pacific War, many Japanese residents were imprisoned and a few killed by Filipinos.
On December 20, 1941 destroyer Amatsukaze landed Japanese troops at Davao, supported by aircraft from Ryujo. Sporadic resistance met the landing at the shore, but was dispersed by fire from the destroyer, which dispersed the opposition and set a fuel tank on fire. By February, life had returned to normal, aside from the Japanese ships using the harbor.
Captain Hara recalls in Japanese Destroyer Captain:
"The streets of Davao had not been damaged they were crowded with crews from other warships anchored in the harbor. Housewives of Japanese residents in the city set up refreshment stands with signs reading 'please help yourself to coffee and tea Served by your fellow countrymen."
After the Japanese occupation, Davao was targeted by American bombers. Starting in late December 1941, B-17s bombed shipping in Davao Harbor on two occasions. During January 1942 B-17s again bombed shipping in Davao Harbor on two occasions. On April 13, 1943 during the "Royce Mission" B-25 bombed Davao. Afterwards, American aircraft were not within range of Davao until September 1944 and resumed bombing missions until May 1945.
American missions against Davao
December 8, 1942 - May 8, 1945
During April 1945, the bulk of Japanese on Mindanao were defend the southeast corner of the island, including the 35th Army's 100th Division and Naval units. The Japanese opted to abandon Davao and instead defended to the north and northwest of Davao.
On May 3, 1945 the U. S. Army 24th Infantry Division advanced from Digos occupied Davao, meeting only scattered resistance. With the liberation of Davao, the last major Philippines port held by the Japanese was liberated. In total, the 24th Infantry Division covered 115 miles in fifteen days. Afterwards, American forces engaged the Japanese forces to the north and northwest of Davao. Meeting stiff resistance, reinforcements from the the 41st Infantry Division at Zamboanga were required and an overwhelmed force was required to neutralize the Japanese in the middle of June 1945 with the remaining defenders fleeing further inland to the north.
In 1967, Davao Province was subdivided into three provinces and Davao City became part of Davao de Sur Province, and no longer the provincial capital. Today a center of trade for southern Mindanao and the second largest city on the island.
Davao Airfield (Sasa, Francisco Bangoy)
Prewar airfield occupied by the Japanese, still in use today
Matina Airfield (Navy No. 2)
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