The Case of General Yamashita:
Memorandum for the Record
Brigadier General, U. S. Army
The genesis of revisionism of the Battle of Manila is the book
"The Case of General Yamashita" by A. Frank Reel (Chicago: The University
of Chicago Press, 1949). In it Reel, one of the six
counsel for Yamashita, reargued his submissions with the benefit of
hindsight, dollops of authorial infallability, and lightning fast
editorial scissors, crafting a persuasive meme that continues to
attracts a coterie of partisan intellectuals of following generations.
Reel's argument relied on a series of false assumptions - chief
amongst them that Yamashita never intended the battle to play out as
it did, that he was hamstrung by poor communications and control, that the
troops remaining in Manila went "rogue", and that none of the evidence
directly linked him to what occurred. Also argued were the legal defenses
that (a) the military tribunal was not a proper tribunal (b) the charges
did not state that Yamashita had committed, authorized or knew of any
atrocities, and that the tribunal's rules did not guarantee a fair trial.
The Case of General Yamashita: A Memorandum (presented here) was written in November
1949 by U.S. Army Brigadier General Courtney Whitney and represents a
stinging rebuttal to Reel (and, years later, his acolytes) taking exception to
Reel’s use of the dissenting opinions in the Yamashita decision to
“support his post-judicial contention that Yamashita was irregularly tried
and unjustly executed.”
Those who seek a better argued and balanced view of
Command Responsibility than
Reel's might consult Maj. William H. Parks paper, also available at this
Reel, a labor union lawyer from Boston, became more trenchant in his
views as the years passed, and by 1974 was asserting that General
MacArthur had scripted the trial and the verdict. He was active in Democratic politics,
which should come as no surprise.
Courtney Whitney, described by William Manchester, as an
"ultraconservative Manila corporation lawyer", co-drafted the Constitution
of Japan. He continued to practice law after retiring from the Army with
the permanent rank of Major General.
The document is presented here in four parts.