The Battle of Bamban Hills was fought in 1945, on the strategic rough mountains north of Clark Field in the Philippines and overlooking the vast plains where the important Japanese-built air strips were located and used during the air campaign in WWII. 

By end of December 1944,  the Japanese Army and Navy Air Service had already lost their man strength of their air forces in both the conventional and special attack suicide operations, with the American air operations on these airfields kept unabated. 

With the loss of the aircraft, the remaining army and navy air force crews were combined and formed the Kembu Group composite division defending the Clark Air Center and the mountains fortified with tunnel defense system.  Bamban was located north of Clark Field and the Bamban Hills to the west, all fortified with tunnel defenses.

General Douglas MacArthur made his promised of I SHALL RETURN, and was at the Bamban with his 40th Division in the last week of January 1945.  It was the beginning of the brutal fights of the Bamban Hills, and with a month-long battle from hill to hill, finally, on February 25, 1945, the highest peak of the Bamban Hills overlooking Clark was captured by the 40th Division, after brutal combat, with the support of artillery, tanks, and air. 

Three soldiers from the 185th US Infantry, Company B, 1st Battalion, went to the summit of Hill 1700 under heavy fire, and raised the American flag at 10.25 a.m.; symbolizing the victory over a committed enemy in Luzon.

Bamban Historical Society made a pilgrimage and re-enactment on Hill 1700 in honor of the American soldiers and the Filipino and Aeta Negritos who supported the operation in 1945.  After the flag raising, the Filipino flag was also hoisted on the summit and a Japanese flag was carried on top; all the 3 flags represented the soldiers who fought and died in Bamban Hills 1945.

This video documented the Bamban Historical Society’s flag raising on Hill 1700, accompanied by an American former serviceman, Gene Eiring, who is a WWII veteran descendant.  The video is an account of the WWII history of the forgotten battle of Bamban Hills.

Rhonie Dela Cruz

Bamban Historical Society

Bamban WWII Museum

Center for Japanese Pacific War Studies


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