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Sept 15 1944 Operation Stalemate II Battle of Peleliu


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Down From Bloody Nose Ridge


Bloody Peleliu: Unavoidable Yet Unnecessary

Jeremy Gypton


Purpose and Planning

The American assault on Peleliu, in the Palau Islands, had the highest casualty rate of any amphibious invasion in terms of men and material in the entire war in the Pacific. Peleliu was viewed as a potential threat to General Douglas MacArthur's invasion of the Philippines; its airfield would enable Japanese planes to strike at American landing and support ships and menace troops once on the ground in the Philippines. Clearly, from MacArthur's perspective, the almost 11,000-man garrison there had to be eliminated before his forces could move, unhindered, on his primary target. Thus, the strategic legitimacy of the Peleliu operation was established. American amphibious doctrine well-developed and tested from operations from the Gilberts to the Marianas was up to the task, as well. The 1st Marine Division, a veteran of the Pacific theater, was also ready. Peleliu, however, proved to be quite different from the many previous battles in several fundamental ways, and would end with a high death toll, questionable strategic gain, and yet valuable insights for future operations.







Bloody Peleliu

Only two minutes off schedule, on 15 September 1944, the first troops began landing at 0832, with the 1st Marines on the far left, 5th Marines in the middle, and 7th Marines on the right (southern) end of the beaches.(11) The regiments on the flanks were to move inland and wheel outward, while the 5th Marines was to push across the airfield to the eastern side of the island. Should this be accomplished as planned, the entire southern end of the island better than half the entire land mass would be in American hands, and the rest of the operation would be over quickly. Rupertus, apparently brimming with confidence in his men and himself, declared that Peleliu would be taken by the 1st MarDiv in only a few days.


The Japanese, during the Navy's bombardment and Rupertus' blustering, had hunkered down in their caves, bunkers, pillboxes, and trenches, waited out the preliminary fires, and then assumed their well-protected, well-hidden positions. Compared to earlier island assaults, few Japanese were arrayed directly opposite the beaches. Most were just inland, on the flanks of the beaches, and in the steep mountains immediately north of the airfield. COL Nakagama's troops demonstrated a great deal of discipline in not firing wildly at landing craft while they were far out to sea, and in doing so reveal their positions to naval fire. During the 3 day bombardment, they also held their fire for the same reason. Consequently, the vast majority of positions, and virtually all those holding heavy weapons, were unscathed as of D-Day







Do yourself a favor...

From Guadalcanal to Peleliu

Tribute to PFC Joseph L. South

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