Slag van Angaur, September 1944

Slag van Angaur, September 1944

Slag van Angaur, September 1944: generaal Paul J Mueller

Generaal -majoor Paul J Mueller, bevelvoerder van die Amerikaanse aanval op Angaur

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Slag van Anguar



Slag van Angaur

Die Slag van Angaur was 'n geveg van die Stille Oseaan -veldtog in die Tweede Wêreldoorlog, wat van 17 September 1944 tot 30 September 1944 op die eiland Angaur in die Palau -eilande geveg is.

Angaur is 'n klein vulkaniese eiland, slegs 4,8 km lank, geskei van Peleliu deur 'n seestraat van 9,7 km. 'N Baie klein inheemse bevolking het geleef deur boerdery, visvang en fosfaatmynbou. In die middel van 1944 het die Japannese 1400 troepe op die eiland gehad, onder die algemene bevel van die bevelvoerder van die Palau Sektorgroep, luitenant-generaal Sadae Inoue.

Die swak verdediging van die Palaus en die potensiaal vir die bou van die vliegveld het dit aantreklike doelwitte vir die Amerikaners gemaak na die vang van die Marshall -eilande, maar 'n tekort aan landingsvaartuie het beteken dat die operasies teen die Palaus nie kon begin voordat die Mariana -eilande veilig was nie.

Angaur is die tuiste van die groot slagterrein van die Tweede Wêreldoorlog en daar is baie Amerikaanse en Japannese gevegsrelieke oor die eiland versprei. Van tot 1909 tot 1954 het fosfaatwinning op Anguar plaasgevind, oorspronklik deur Duitsers, toe Japannees en uiteindelik Amerikaners. Angaur is die enigste plek in Mikronesië waar wilde ape afstam van makake wat tydens die Duitse besetting vrygelaat is. So word dit ook Monkey Island genoem.


Die Stamford Historical Society bied aan

Die gevegte

Die Slag van Angaur

Die Slag van Angaur is van 17 September tot 30 September 1944 op die eiland Anguar in die Palau -groep gevoer. Paul J. Mueller het die Amerikaanse troepe van die 81ste Infanteriedivisie bevel gegee teen luitenant -generaal Sadao Inoue vir die Japannese, wat

1400 troepe op die eiland. Die veldtog is genoem Operation Stalemate II. Angaur is 'n vulkaniese eiland van drie myl lank, geskei van die naburige eiland Peleliu deur 'n seestraat van ses myl breed. Dit is die mees suidelike van die Palau -eilande, 500 kilometer oos van Mindanao. Die eilande van die Palau -groep was swak verdedig en het goeie potensiaal vir die bou van 'n landingsbaan. 'N Tekort aan landingsvaartuie het die Amerikaanse inval vertraag totdat die Mariana -eilande in die noorde veilig was. Op 11 September begin die bombardement van die eiland deur die USS Tennessee, kruisers en duikbomwerpers van die USS Wasp. Die landing volg op die 17de. Amerikaanse magte het aan die noordoostelike en suidoostelike kus geland, waar hulle myne teëgekom het wat die opgang vertraag het. Na die uiteindelike oorwinning oor die laaste Japannese enklawe deur die 322ste bataljon, het die geveg geëindig. Japannese troepe het ook in grotte ingegrawe. Amerikaanse magte was nie bereid om lewens te spandeer om die grotte te beveilig nie, maar het eenvoudig stootskrapers gebruik om hul ingange te verseël.

Angaur was die basis van die 494ste bomgroep, 7de lugmag met vier eskaders van Liberator B-24's (864ste, 865ste, 866ste en 867ste bomskader). Hulle het in November 1944 met missies begin vlieg.

Die Amerikaanse magte het 260 dood, 1354 gewondes en 940 ongeskik weens 'n ongeluk of siekte opgedoen. Die Japannese het 1338 vermoor en 59 gevange geneem.


USS Tennessee

USS Wasp
Jack Palmer Slag van Angaur
Stille Oseaan en aangrensende teaters 1943 (kaart)

Inleiding
Veterane
Gevegte
Stamford Service Rolls
Tuis Front
Stal foto's uit
Openings dag


Vergete verhale in Amerikaanse geskiedenis: die slag van Peleliu

Dit is die eerste in 'n reeks plasings wat ons bel Vergete verhale in Amerikaanse geskiedenis. Dit sal gebeure, mense, idees en plekke uit ons geskiedenis uitwys waarvan u moontlik nie weet nie, verhale wat aspekte van die geskiedenis wat u reeds leer, belig. Ons hoop dat hulle u begrip van ons geskiedenis sal verdiep en u sal help om meer opsies by u lesse te voeg.

Die Slag van Peleliu

Op 15 September 1944, na 'n paar dae van swaar vloot- en lugbombardemente, het Amerikaners van die 1st Marine Division - 'n veteraan -eenheid wat met onderskeiding by Guadalcanal geveg het, geland op die strande van Peleliu, 'n klein eiland aan die suidelike punt van die Palau -ketting. Palau lê noord van Nieu -Guinee en die oostelike kus van die Filippyne, en was die tuiste van 'n landingsbaan en verdediging vir meer as 11.000 Japannese troepe.

Generaal Douglas MacArthur, wat sy ligging en die vliegveld opgemerk het, beweer dat die Japanse garnisoen daar vernietig moet word voor sy beplande inval in die Filippyne, wat in Oktober 1944 sou plaasvind. – wat geglo het dat die eiland geïsoleer kan word met lugaanvalle en skepe, en dat die mariniers die Filippyne beter kan binneval - MacArthur het admiraal Chester Nimitz oortuig dat die operasie noodsaaklik is. Die 1ste Mariene Afdeling sou op die eiland beland na 'n gebruiklike dae lange bombardementfase, en generaal William Rupertus, bevelvoerder van die 1ste Mariene Afdeling, verseker beide sy troepe en sy meerdere dat die eiland in 'n kort tydjie in Amerikaanse hande sou wees paar dae. Die weermag se 81ste infanteriedivisie sou bystaan ​​om die mariniers by te staan ​​indien nodig, hoewel Rupertus die weermag afwys en nie sy vertroue verborge maak dat sy mariniers die taak alleen sou doen nie.

Peleliu pas skoon in die konteks van Amerika se "Island Hopping" -veldtog. Dit was 'n klein eiland omring deur koraalriwwe en bedek met digte plantegroei. Dit was meestal plat, of so blyk dit uit die paar lugfoto's en ou kaarte, en die Japannese garnisoen daar kan deur die Amerikaanse vloot afgesny word van ondersteuning en herverskaffing. Wat Amerikaanse beplanners egter nie geweet het nie, sal 'n groot aantal probleme veroorsaak sodra die mariniers die strande tref. Rupertus se "twee tot drie dae" sou maande word, en sy manne sou die hoogste slagoffers onder 'n mariene afdeling van die oorlog kry. Ten volle 'n derde van die mariniers wat gepleeg is, is dood, gewond of as vermis gelys.

Hoe kon die inval so verkeerd geloop het? Sedert Guadalcanal het Amerikaners hul amfibiese landingstaktieke vervolmaak. Ondanks die stywe Japannese weerstand, het invalle op die eiland byna roetine geword in die ontwikkeling en oplossing teen die somer van 1944. Nou, by Peleliu, reageer die Japannese verdedigers nie soos tydens vorige amfibiese aanvalle nie.

Die Japannese verdedigingstaktiek het verander. In plaas daarvan om die Amerikaners op die strande te ontmoet en hulle te probeer oorweldig met golwe van 'banzai' -aanklagte, het die Japannese besluit om 'n langer geveg te voer, wat meer slagoffers veroorsaak en moontlik die Amerikaanse opmars na hul tuiseilande afgestomp het. Kortom, die Japannese het hul verdedigingsmodel herkalibreer en myle tonnels in die berge op Peleliu gegrawe - terreine wat deur digte blare versteek was en onbekend was aan Amerikaanse magte. In plaas daarvan om die strande te verdedig, sou hulle dit afstaan ​​aan die mariniers, wat een keer aan wal sou blootgestel word aan kwynende, volgehoue ​​aanvalle van verborge bunkers, tenks, infanterie en honderde mortiere en gewere wat in 'n heuningkoek van grotte versteek was wat uitkyk oor die strande en die vliegveld . In plaas daarvan om die Amerikaners te probeer keer om 'n vastrapplek op die eiland te kry, het die Japannese probeer om die mariniers vas te gryp, nadat hulle geland het, en geweier om hulle te laat gaan, en 'n situasie te skep waarin die enigste manier 'vorentoe' sou wees om voort te gaan veg, terwyl hulle mettertyd baie troepe verloor. Die Japannese het aanvaar dat hulle hierdie eilande sou verloor, maar hulle sou dit nie doen voordat hulle 'n vreeslike prys van die Amerikaanse indringers geëis het nie.

Toe die 1ste Mariene Afdeling dus land, in plaas daarvan om die eiland binne enkele dae te verower, ontdek hulle ruwe terrein bo alles wat hulle verwag het, 'n vyand wat skaars benadeel is deur die vloot- en lugaanvalle voor die inval, en 'n nuwe en onverwagte verdediging beplan.

Die geveg by Peleliu is einde November 1944 amptelik verklaar, alhoewel Amerikaanse troepe tot in 1945 steeds ongevalle ondervind het, aangesien Japannese verdedigers, wat in grotte versteek was, geweier het om oor te gee. Die operasie, wat iets soos die oorlogsoorlog in die Eerste Wêreldoorlog in die trope geword het, is vinnig oorskadu deur die Amerikaanse inval in die Filippyne, en MacArthur se dramatiese "terugkeer" daar. In Europa het die aandag gefokus op die mislukte lugaanval in September in Holland, en dan die vertraagde operasies namate die weer draai. Ondanks die ernstige gewonding van die 1ste Mariene Afdeling, wat eers in April 1945 weer gereed was vir die geveg, en beduidende ongevalle vir die weermag se 81ste Infanteriedivisie veroorsaak het, het Peleliu feitlik uit nuusdekking verdwyn. Die meeste studente in die geskiedenis - toevallig of andersins - weet min daarvan.

Wat maak dit dan die moeite werd om te studeer? Peleliu is die moeite werd om minder te oorweeg vir wat Amerikaanse magte daar gedoen het en meer as gevolg van wat Amerikaanse magte later in reaksie daarop gedoen het. Die invalle van beide Iwo Jima en Okinawa-groter, strategies belangriker en meer bekend-is beplan op grond van die lesse wat by Peleliu geleer is, en die bewustheid van die verskuiwing in die Japannese taktiek. Amerikaanse ervarings by Iwo Jima is ontleed en gebruik om die invalplanne vir Okinawa aan te pas. Peleliu het in elk geval Amerikaanse beplanners aangemoedig om hul modelle te besoek, wat waarskynlik bygedra het tot meer suksesvolle operasies.

Tog kan u Peleliu ondersoek na die impak wat dit op sy veterane gehad het. Verskeie uitstekende gevegsherinneringe vertel wat daar gebeur het. Eugene Sledge was 'n mariene infanteris op Peleliu en Okinawa, en skryf: Met die ou ras , "'N eerlike, diep persoonlike weergawe van sy ervaring in die oorlog in die Stille Oseaan. Sledge het chemie op universiteitsvlak onderrig en sy boek later in sy lewe geskryf. “ Broederskap van helde , ”Deur Bill Sloan, is 'n wonderlike verhaal en ontleding van die geveg, vanuit 'n meer tradisionele historiese perspektief, hoewel met 'n menigte persoonlike verslae. “ Cowboy Down: 'n WWII Marine Fighter Pilot's Story , Deur Glenn "Bud" Daniel, vertel van die geveg vanuit die perspektief van 'n jong vegvlieënier wie se eerste gevegservaring op Peleliu was, en wat sy eenheidsbevelvoerder - en Marine Ace van Guadalcanal - uit die lug sou sien skiet langs hom. Osprey Publishing ’s “Peleliu 1944: The Forgotten Corner of Hell” is ook 'n goeie, kort verhaal van die veldtog.

Dienslede in die Stille Oseaan het 'n wrede en intense ervaring beleef. Diegene wat op die grond geveg het, het die ergste daarvan gesien. Alhoewel die Slag van Peleliu byna vergeet is in die hoofstroomgeskiedenis, het ons ons militêre belangrike lesse oor oorlogsgeveg geleer. Eerstehandse verslae van die geveg toon hoe dit was vir die 'Grootste Generasie' om die las te dra. As u op soek is na 'n nuwe insig in die Tweede Wêreldoorlog - 'n bietjie buite die pad, maar tog belangrik - is die Slag van Peleliu u aandag werd.


Lesse van Peleliu

Die Slag van Peleliu het gelei tot die hoogste slagoffersyfer van enige amfibiese aanval in die Amerikaanse militêre geskiedenis: Van die ongeveer 28 000 mariniers en infanterietroepe wat betrokke was, het 40 persent van die mariniers en soldate wat vir die eiland geveg het, gesterf of gewond, altesaam ongeveer 9 800 mans (1 800 dood in aksie en 8 000 gewondes). Die hoë koste van die geveg word later toegeskryf aan verskeie faktore, waaronder tipiese geallieerde oorvertroue in die doeltreffendheid van die voorafbomende vlootbomaanval, 'n swak begrip van Peleliu se unieke terrein en te veel selfvertroue van die bevelvoerders van die see, wat geweier het om erken hul behoefte aan ondersteuning vroeër by Bloody Nose Ridge.


Peleliu vasgevang, maar die geveg gaan aan

Die mariniers en die weermag het Peleliu beheer, maar die Japannese was nog lank nie klaar nie. Japannese troepe het steeds die Umurbrogol Pocket, die komplekse grot en rotsvesting, wat ideaal was vir 'n fanatiese en selfmoordverdediging, gehou. Mariene infanterie-, pantser- en artillerie -eenhede het die sak gehamer tot 15 Oktober, toe hulle deur die weermag -eenhede uit die 81ste afdeling verlig is. Hierdie troepe het 'n uitmergelende en woeste veld-tot-erf stryd deur die kronkelende heuwels gevoer, waarvan die suidelike hange die naam "Bloody Nose " gekry het.

Om die Japannese uit hul grense te verdryf, is nuwe aanstootlike seige tegnieke ingestel, insluitend napalm wat deur die lug laat val is, vlamwerpers wat op tenks en Amtracs gemonteer is, en brandstofolie wat in die grotte ingepomp word, gevolg deur fosforgranate om die olie aan te steek. Sandsakke is gebruik om klein versterkings ("sand vosgate ") te bou wat vorentoe gedruk is om skerpskutters te frustreer totdat hul posisie oorweldig kan word. 'N Petrolpypleiding is van 'n tenkwa na pomppompe geloop om honderde voet voor in Japannese verdedigingsgebiede te gooi. Klein pakkies -haubits is gebruik om leeg in Japannese grotte en pilbakke af te vuur.

Terwyl die weermag die Peleliu -verdediging verlaag het, het die Amerikaanse vloot patrollies gehou om te voorkom dat Japannese versterkings die eiland van garnisoene in die noordelike Pelaus bereik. 'N Tifoon in die eerste week van November het die rit vertraag, maar daarna het die weermag die laaste Japannese bron van vars water op die eiland gevang. Op 27 November is die sak skoongemaak en Peleliu is ná 74 dae veilig verklaar.

Die stryd om Peleliu en Angaur het die mariene en weermag -eenhede in 'n van die moeilikste gevegte van die hele oorlog geplaas vir 'n klein gebied van twyfelagtige waarde. Twee en 'n half maande se geveg op Peleliu en Angaur het 1,252 mariniers gedood en 5,274 gewond, terwyl die weermag 542 dood en 2,736 gewond is. Agt mariniers het die Erepenning ontvang vir aksies op Peleliu. Byna al die Japannese verdedigers is dood, met slegs 302 gevange geneem.


Slag

Bombardement van Angaur deur die slagskip Tennessee, vier kruisers en veertig Douglas SBD Dauntless duikbomwerpers van die vliegdekskip Wesp [1]: 68 begin op 11 September 1944. Ses dae later op 17 September land die Amerikaanse 81ste Infanteriedivisie - onder bevel van generaal -majoor Paul J. Mueller - aan die noordoostelike en suidoostelike kus. [1]: 67–68 Beide RCT's is gedurende die nag teenaanval. [1]: 69 Beide RCT's het die volgende dag gekoppel. [1]: 69 Teen die einde van die derde dag, 19 September, was die belangrikste gebied van Japannese verset noordoos rondom Romauldo Hill, sodat die 323ste RCT na Ulithi gestuur is. [1]: 70

Weerstand het verstewig toe die Amerikaners vorder op "the Bowl", 'n heuwel naby die Salome -meer in die noordweste van die eiland waar die Japanners hul laaste standpunt wou neem, nadat die res van die stad Angaur en Saipan ingeneem is. [1]: 61 Daar was nog 'n klein posisie waar die Japannese ongeveer 400 soldate in 'n verdediging op die suidoostelike hoek van die eiland, rondom Beach Green, gehad het, wat op 20 September [1] geneutraliseer is: 70 na 2 dae van harde gevegte en ongeveer 300 Amerikaanse slagoffers.

Vanaf 20 September val die 322ste Infanterieregiment herhaaldelik op die Kom, maar die 750 verdedigers het hulle met artillerie, mortiere, granate en masjiengewere afgeweer. Geleidelik het honger, dors en Amerikaanse skulpvuur en bombardemente die tol geëis van die Japannese, en teen 25 September het die Amerikaners die kom binnegedring. In plaas daarvan om te veg vir die besit van die grotte, het hulle stootskrapers gebruik om die ingange te verseël. Teen 30 September word gesê dat die eiland veilig is, hoewel die Japannese nog ongeveer 300 soldate in die Bowl en omliggende gebiede gehad het wat amper vier weke lank gehou het. [1]: 70 Teen die einde van die eerste week van Oktober, 1944, het die uitgerekte konflik ontaard in geringe patrollie-optrede met sluipery, hinderlaag en uitgebreide booby-vang wat deur beide kante gebruik is. [2]

Die verdedigingsbevelvoerder van die eiland, majoor Goto, is op 19 Oktober [3] vermoor om die besit van 'n grot te behou. [1]: 70–71 Die laaste dag van gevegte was 22 Oktober met 'n totaal van 36 dae se geveg en die Japannese weerstand uit hul grotte met plofstof, tenks, artillerie en vlammenwerpers. Die 81 infanteriedivisie het uiteindelik die hele Angaur meegeneem, al het hulle meer slagoffers gely as wat hulle aangerig het. [1]: 71


Die inval van Angaur

Op 17 September 1944 het die 3de Amfibiese Groep die 322ste en 321ste Regimentele Gevegspanne van die Amerikaanse 81ste Infanterie "" Wildcat "-afdeling op die eiland Angaur geland om die fosfaataanleg en die vliegveld te beveilig en te voorkom dat Japannese artillerie Peleliu beskiet. Teen die 22ste, en na hewige gevegte, het die twee RCT's die Japannese verdedigers na die noordwestelike hoek van die eiland gedwing, maar toe begin die geveg ernstig.

Die noordwestelike hoek van Angaur is oorheers deur Romauldo Hill, maar dit kon nie effektief benader word sonder om deur die pynlike terrein van 'n groot steengroef daaronder te gaan nie, deur die Wildcats 'The Bowl' genoem. Verder het die kom slegs een ingang, wat hulle vinnig 'The Bloody Gulch' genoem het. Met die Japannese wat skulpe gooi na die Seabees wat die vliegveld bou, moes al drie geneem word.

Die 322ste RCT het die Bloody Gulch beveilig ná drie woedende en duur frontaanvalle, wat almal die aanleg van 'n pad vir tenks en stootskrapers sou dek. Toe die ingang veilig was, het die gevegte vir The Bowl en The Hill 'n ander benadering aangeneem. Die Japannese is ingegrawe soos op Peleliu, maar die terrein het beteken dat slegs een RCT op 'n slag kon veg. Die beperkte troepe moes anders gebruik word.

Die 322ste RCT het besluit om die Japannese te begrawe.

Toe 'n tonnel- of bunkeringang ontdek is, het die Wildcats dit beslag gelê. Hulle het dit dan met rookpotte en napalm van die vliegveld ingepak en met 'n stootskraper verseël. Dit word dan aangesteek en waar die rook en hoesende Japannese elders op die heuwel of in die bak verskyn, is die proses herhaal. Na 'n paar dae val die Japannese sterk teenaanval toe hulle die benadering van 'n stootskraper hoor of voel. Die laaste gat is 'n maand gevul en 1 614 ongevalle later, op 23 Oktober.

Die 322ste moes Angaur self beveilig omdat die ander RCT's elders nodig was. Op 26 September 1944 laai die 323ste RCT op die USS Storm King en word noordwaarts gestuur om die Ulithi -atol te beveilig, sodat MacArthur 'n diepwatermeer naby gehad het vir sy inval in die Filippynse eiland Leyte. Die res van die 321ste is op 23 September van Angaur afgehaal, sodat hulle gestuur kan word om die eerste mariene afdeling op Peleliu te help. Teen 27 September was die 321ste besig om te veg vir Bloody Nose Ridge. Die stryd sou uiteindelik al drie RCT's van die 81ste Wildcat -afdeling verteer.


Slag van Angaur, September 1944 - Geskiedenis

Deur Eric Niderost

In die vroeë oggendure van 15 September 1944, die amptelike begin van die twee maande lange Slag van Peleliu, het 'n kragtige vloot van Amerikaanse vlootskepe sy gewere op 'n klein koraal-eiland in die Palau-ketting opgelei. Die skepe het die slagskepe ingesluit Pennsylvania, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee, en Idaho, ondersteun deur 'n magdom swaar en ligte kruisers. Toe H-uur aankom, het die gewere losgebrand, terwyl hul snuiters baie rook en vlamme uitspuit, en die donderende geluid was so groot dat 'n man bo-op sy longe moes skree om gehoor te word.

Die manne van die 1st Marine Division was reeds in hul landingsvaartuie en wag op hierdie voorlopige bombardement om die Japannese verdedigers van die eiland verder te versag. Die meeste mans was veterane en het vroeër ontbyt geëet met biefstuk en eiers. Tog het die suur reuk van dieselolie, gekombineer met die skerp stank van gestorwe kordiet uit die vlootbomaanval, sekerlik die mees gevegsverhardde leerskak veroorsaak.

Sommige van die mans het hul gesigte verdoof vir 'n oerwoud -kamoeflering, en die oorlogskorrespondent Tom Lea het onthou dat hy 'n geverfde vegter met 'n grimmige vasberadenheid oor 'n geweer sien kyk het, "sy groot hande ... in die laaste oomblikke voordat die harde senings opstaan ​​om dood te maak. ”

Hierdie eerste golwe was in 'n verskeidenheid vaartuie, veral LVT's (Landing Vehicle, Tracked). Hulle is ook amfibiese trekkers genoem, of amtrack. Sommige mariniers het hulle 'alligators' genoem.

Net voor ons word Peleliu deur 'n bestendige reën van skulpe geteister. Vlamme skiet hoog in die lug met elke ontploffende oor-ontploffing, en dik rookspoelers styg om 'n polsende swart gordyn te vorm wat die strande soos 'n donker kleed omhul. Die naderende mariniers kon hoop dat die Japanse verdedigers uitgewis is deur die intensiteit van die bombardement. Dit was immers die derde opeenvolgende dag van beskieting, en die Japanners het nie met hul eie gewere geantwoord nie.

Maar sulke hoop was veels te besielend. Binnekort het die Japannese artillerie met 'n wraak op die naderende landingsvaartuig oopgegaan, die nabye gemis wat gekenmerk is deur hoë watergeisers. Dit was die eerste wenk dat Peleliu dalk nie die relatiewe uitstappie is wat sommige bevelvoerders voorspel het nie. Die Slag van Peleliu sou 'n moeilike moer wees om te kraak, en sommige het dit later die moeilikste veldtog van die Pacific Theatre genoem.

MacArthur versus Nimitz

Peleliu is 'n klein eiland van ongeveer ses myl lank en twee myl breed en het iets soos 'n kreefklou. Dit is deel van die Palau -ketting, wat die westelikste "stert" van die Caroline -argipel vorm. Trouens, Peleliu was een van die kleiner eilande van Palau, maar sy vliegveld het dit 'n enorme strategiese belangrikheid gegee - of so het dit aan die begin van 1944 gelyk.

Teen 1944 was die Japannese duidelik in die verdediging. Die Verenigde State het die inisiatief gekry, en die tegniek om eilande te spring, was duur, maar dit was ook effektief. Admiraal Chester W. Nimitz se magte sukkel deur die groot dele van die sentrale Stille Oseaan. In 1943 val Tarawa op die Gilbert -eilande aan Amerikaanse magte, dan Kwajalein en Eniwetok in die Marshalls 'n paar maande later.

Die Marianas was die volgende teiken, en Tinian, Saipan en Guam was veilig teen die somer van 1944. Daar was veral bevrediging oor die bevryding van Guam, wat voor die oorlog 'n Amerikaanse besitting was. Uiteindelik was die doel die inval en verowering van die Japannese Eilande. Maar hoe sou die Amerikaners hierdie doel bereik? Die Stille Oseaan was groot en die moontlikhede eindeloos. Die debat het gegroei, verskerp deur die uiteenlopende menings en botsende persoonlikhede van die Amerikaanse topbevelvoerders.

Amerikaanse mariniers in amfibiese tenks en amtraks vertrek op 14 September 1944, een dag voor die Slag van Peleliu, na 'n Amerikaanse bombardement van die eiland.

Terwyl Nimitz-eiland in die noorde spring, maak generaal Douglas MacArthur bestendige vordering in die Stille Oseaan. Dit was 'n lang, moeilike slaggat sedert Augustus 1942, toe Amerika sy eerste groot offensief by Guadalcanal begin het. Sedertdien het MacArthur deur die Solomons gegaan en toe die grootste deel van Nieu -Guinee oorgeneem. Dit was geen geheim dat MacArthur die Filippyne wou bevry nie, maar sommige van sy vlootkollegas was dit nie eens nie.

Om die impasse op te los, ontmoet president Franklin Roosevelt MacArthur en Nimitz in Hawaii in Julie 1944. Elke man het sy plan en sy visie aan die opperbevelhebber voorgelê. MacArthur wou die Filippyne bevry en dit as 'n springplank gebruik om na Okinawa en daarna na Japan te gaan. Nimitz wou 'n meer direkte, "rapier-agtige" stukrag hê wat die Filippyne heeltemal sou omseil.

Nimitz het voorgestel dat Okinawa en Formosa (Taiwan) eerder die primêre teikens is. Hulle sou dien as bewonderenswaardige verhooggebiede vir die inval van die Japannese Eilande. Die admiraal het ook gedink dat Amerikaanse magte die Chinese vasteland moet binnedring. 'N Groot deel van die Japannese leër was in China gestasioneer, en soms was die Amerikaners se Chinese bondgenote onder Chiang Kai-shek onder druk.

Na deeglike oorweging het Roosevelt die idees van MacArthur aanvaar. Die Filippyne sou 'n belangrike opstap op pad na Japan wees. Maar MacArthur se planne vir die Filippyne druk skielik die Palau -ketting, en veral Peleliu, in die kollig. Die Palaus was ongeveer 600 kilometer oos van die Filippyne, en Japannese vliegvelde daar kan die regterflank van MacArthur bedreig. Daar is besluit dat Peleliu geneem moet word en die gevaar geneutraliseer moet word.

The Battle of Peleliu and “Operation Stalemate II ”: Ironic in Hindsight

Die Slag van Peleliu het 'n kodenaam Stalemate II gekry, 'n naam wat agterna ironies lyk, omdat die veldtog aanvanklik met relatiewe optimisme beskou is. Die belangrikste taak om die eiland te beveilig, is gegee aan die 1st Marine Division, 'n grootliks veteraan -eenheid wat in Guadalcanal en New Britain opgetree het. Die 1ste Mariene Afdeling het bestaan ​​uit die 1ste, 5de en 7de Mariene Regimente (infanterie) en die 11de Marines (artillerie -ondersteuning).

Genl.maj William Rupertus.

Die sekondêre doelwitte van die veldtog sou deur die 81ste infanteriedivisie van die Amerikaanse weermag behartig word. Die 81ste sou Angaur -eiland neem, 'n deel van die Palau -ketting wat net suid van Peleliu geleë was. Die afdeling is in 1942 heraktiveer, en die poging van Palau sou die eerste smaak van die stryd wees vir die groen troepe. Maar hul primêre missie behels meer as net Angaur. Hulle sou ook 'n reserwe vir die 1ste Mariene Afdeling voorsien indien nodig.

Dit hang alles af van die mariniers. As die poging van die Marine tot 'n val kom of onverwagte weerstand teëkom, is die 81ste gereed om hulle te hulp te kom. As die Marines die situasie egter goed onder hande gehad het, sou die 81ste vry wees om sy eie missie by Angaur uit te voer.

Generaal -majoor William Rupertus, bevelvoerder van die 1st Marine Division, was optimisties oor die komende veldtog en vertrou dat sy mariniers die eiland binne 'n paar dae kan beveilig. Hy was 'n ou-leerskool en was deurdrenk van die korps-tradisie en baie territoriaal wat ander takke van die weermag betref. Hy wou eerlikwaar geen deel van die 81ste hê nie, sodat die weermag nie die glorie van die mariniers sou steel nie.

'N Te optimistiese plan

Die mariniers is meegedeel dat hulle die vyand kort sal werk. Die eerste mariene afdeling sou immers 'n versterkte een wees, groter as die meeste. Tog het 'n paar offisiere twyfel, twyfel wat nie deur die heersende optimisme rondom die hoofkwartier verdwyn is nie. Die duimreël, gebore uit lang en bloedige ervaring, was van mening dat 'n suksesvolle amfibiese inval die vyand met drie tot een moet oorskry. Op papier sou die afdeling ongeveer 28 000 of so wees, terwyl die vyandgetalle ongeveer 10 000 by Peleliu was.

Die Amerikaanse landings op Peleliu het op strande in die suidweste van die eiland plaasgevind. Terwyl hulle hul weg oor die smal stuk grond beveg het, moes die Amerikaners Japanse verdedigers uitroei wat vasbeslote was om tot die dood toe te veg.

Dit het geklink asof die drie-tot-een-verhouding gehandhaaf word, maar hierdie strelende syfers was ietwat minder as akkuraat. Kolonel Lewis "Chesty" Puller, bevelvoerder van die 1st Marine Regiment en 'n groeiende legende in die Corps, het daarop gewys dat die getalle artillerie en ander spesialiste insluit. Daar was slegs 9 000 gewere in die afdeling-en dit was die voetstappende, lankmoedige geweermaatskappye wat uiteindelik die verskil tussen oorwinning en nederlaag sou beteken.

Puller se besware is deur sy hoër offisiere geïgnoreer of verminder. Generaal Rupertus verwerp Puller se bekommernisse en bly 'n soort vrolike vertroue uitstraal. Rupertus het gedink dat die eiland binne ongeveer vyf dae na die aanvanklike landing veilig sou wees. Namate die gebeure ontvou, sou Puller en sy eerste mariniers die gevolge van die generaal se volgehoue ​​optimisme ondervind.

Fukkaku Taktiek in die Absolute Defense Zone

Intussen was die Japannese nog lank nie ledig nie. Trouens, Peleliu sou die bewysgrond wees vir 'n groot verandering in die Japannese taktiek. In die vroeë maande van die Stille Oseaanoorlog het die Japannese weermag 'n ywer gehad wat dikwels fanaties geword het. Bushido - die manier van die kryger - was die ideaal, 'n verpersoonliking van die samoerai -gees van ouds. Verwoede nasionalisme wat deur skril propaganda gevoer word, het Japannese soldate met minagting na die Amerikaanse “rooikop-barbare” laat kyk.

In die eerste jare van die oorlog was dit gebruiklik dat Japannese troepe elke sentimeter grond betwis. Samurai-swaarde waai, Japannese offisiere sou banzai-aanvalle deur mense-golf lei, net om dit deur masjiengewere, gewere, artillerie en mortiere af te sny. Dit het gou selfs vir die mees tradisiegebonde Japanners duidelik geword dat die ou aannames verander moes word. Die samoerai -gees kon nie die vyand se moderne wapens oorkom nie.

In Maart 1944 het luitenant -generaal Sadae Inoue in Tokio met die Japannese premier Hideki Tojo vergader om toekomstige bedrywighede te bespreek. Tojo, wat ook oorlogsminister was en 'n bekende hardloper teen die Verenigde State was, was realisties genoeg om te sien dat veranderinge aangebring moes word. Dit was duidelik dat Japan eenvoudig nie die hulpbronne het om Amerika beslis te verslaan nie. Die beste waarop gehoop kon word, was 'n onderhandelde vrede.

Tojo bepleit wat later bekend gestaan ​​het fukkaku taktiek. Dit was 'n uitputtingsoorlog wat die Amerikaners ten duurste in bloed en skat sou laat betaal vir elke posisie wat hulle verkry het. Die Japannese sou natuurlike kenmerke tot hul voordeel gebruik deur pilskaste en bunkers te bou te midde van koraalriwwe en rotsuitstortings. Hulle sou ook van natuurlike grotte gebruik maak en dit vergroot om honderde soldate te beskerm.

Peleliu was deel van die Absolute Defense Zone, letterlik 'n laaste beskermende kordon wat die Japannese Eilande bewaak het. Tojo het gehoop dat die Verenigde State geen maag sou hê vir 'n lang, uitgerekte wedstryd nie. Wit gebloei, sou die Amerikaners gretig wees om na die onderhandelingstafel te kom. Hulle kan selfs toegee aan Japan se wrede verowering van China en Suidoos -Asië.

Vergroot Peleliu se natuurlike verdediging

Generaal Inoue is aangestel as bevelvoerder van die Palau -distriksgroep, en vlieg gou na sy nuwe opdrag. Die Palau -ketting bestaan ​​eintlik uit ongeveer 100 eilande versprei in 'n wye boog wat van suidwes na noordoos oor 100 myl van die Stille Oseaan loop. Die Japannese administratiewe sentrum vir Palau was geleë op Koror, ongeveer 40 kilometer van Peleliu af. Koror was die hoofkwartier van Inoue, maar opnamesvlugte van Palau het hom oortuig dat Peleliu en die naburige Anguar die belangrikste vyandelike teikens sou wees. Die eilande was klein en relatief geïsoleerd, maar hul vliegvelde het dit belangrik gemaak.

Tydens die opskudding in die Slag van Peleliu het Amerikaanse mariniers die Japannese soldate wat 'n sterkpunt beman het, geblaas. Die natuurlike grotte van die eiland is dikwels versterk en het die Amerikaanse opmars tot 'n kruip verminder.

Inoue was 'n ervare beampte wat geweet het dat hy 'n goeie man op Peleliu nodig het. Sy keuse val op kolonel Kunio Nakagawa, bekend as moedig en 'n uitstekende taktikus. Vir alle doeleindes sou Nakagawa volledige operasionele beheer hê by Peleliu, met min of geen inmenging van hoër offisiere nie. Dit was 'n uitstekende besluit uit die Japannese oogpunt, want dit was Nakagawa wat grootliks verantwoordelik was vir die hardnekkige verdediging van Peleliu.

Rekeninge verskil effens, maar kolonel Nakagawa sou na verwagting ongeveer 10 000 verdedigers onder sy bevel hê. Nakagawa probably placed greatest reliance on the men he knew best, his own 2nd Infantry Regiment (Reinforced). The 2nd Regiment had fought in China, and its the noncommissioned officers, always the backbone of any army, were tough and experienced. There were also naval personnel and some Korean construction workers.

The island’s geography greatly helped Japanese strategy. The southern end of the island was fairly level and covered with scrub, while the proposed Marine landing beaches to the southwest were shaded by coconut palms. Nakagawa posted one battalion of troops there, but they were expendable, meant only to delay and bloody the enemy.

Nakagawa’s real defense would center on the Umurbrogol Mountains, a rocky chain of craggy hills, draws, and ravines that formed the island’s backbone. “Mountains” is a misleading term, since the highest peaks only reached around 300-500 feet, but the Umurbrogols dominated Peleliu and provided an excellent vantage point from which to observe enemy movements.

The Japanese made Umurbrogol even more formidable by expanding its maze of natural caves, blasting out galleries in the sharp-edged coral and rock that could accommodate anywhere from a dozen to 1,000 men. Many of the caves had openings that concealed firing embrasures, and some were protected by sliding steel doors. These caves not only bolstered the defense, but also provided protection from the American naval bombardment that Nakagawa knew always preceded amphibious assaults.

Surviving the Artillery Barrages

The Americans had little inkling as to what was in store for them. Aerial reconnaissance photos, usually reliable, proved deceptive in hindsight. From the air Umurbrogol seemed a gently undulating series of hills, green and lush with tropical vegetation. But the jungle vegetation muted Umurbrogol’s sharp coral ridges, sinkholes, and craggy peaks. Only after this jungle mask was removed by naval bombardment was the full labyrinthine horror revealed.

The assault on Peleliu began when Navy warships initiated a three-day artillery barrage of the tiny island. In addition to the shelling, aircraft from nearby carriers dropped 500-pound bombs. It is estimated that the Navy fired 519 rounds of 16-inch shells and 1,845 rounds of 14-inch shells during this preliminary softening up of the target. But in the end it was all sound and fury signifying nothing. The Peleliu caves made excellent bomb shelters, so all the Japanese had to do was hunker down and wait out the bombardment.

To American observers scanning the beaches with field glasses, watching great pulsating pillars of smoke rise high into the sky, the bombardment was a success. In fact, Admiral Jesse Oldendorf soon declared he had “run out of profitable targets.” The illusion was reinforced by superb Japanese fire discipline. Not one of Nakagawa’s guns replied to the bombardment, which fostered the illusion that most if not all of the defending artillery had been knocked out.

First Contact With the Enemy

Chesty Puller’s 1st Marines were assigned the northern (left flank) beaches, which planners code-named White Beach 1 and 2. Once ashore, they were to guard the 5th Marines’ flank and at the same time push inland. At a certain point the 1st Marines would pivot, striking northward into the Umurbrogols, which planners merely called “high ground.”

Marines aboard amtraks on the way to Peleliu

In contrast, the 5th Marines would be in the center, landing on Orange Beach 1 and Orange Beach 2. Their initial mission would be to secure the airfield, which was one of the main reasons why the Americans were trying to take the island in the first place. The 5th Marines were commanded by Colonel Harold “Bucky” Harris. He was new to the regiment but was also a career officer with extensive prewar experience.

The 7th Marines, Colonel Herman “Hard-Headed” Hanneken commanding, would anchor the left (southern) part of the assault on what was code-named Beach Orange 3. They would cut across the island, isolating and eventually securing Peleliu’s southern reaches.

The Marines landed at 8:32 am on September 15, 1944, just two minutes behind schedule. The first wave was preceded by armored amphibian tractors (LVTAs) mounting 75mm howitzers. Their main mission was to engage and ultimately neutralize artillery positions or other strongpoints missed by the naval and air bombardment.

The 1st Marine Division advances on Peleliu.

The LVTAs and following LTVs plowed through wire-controlled mines lurking around the island like a lethal necklace. These devices were not true mines, but aerial bombs adapted for the purpose. Luckily the naval bombardment had cut many control wires, rendering them useless. Even those that were still intact failed to detonate, mainly because their operators had been blinded by smoke.

It was the last bit of luck the Marines would experience for many a long day. As soon as the LVTAs and LVAs came within range, they were hit by a deadly barrage of 47mm fire supplemented by sprays of 20mm machine-gun bullets. Much of the fire came from the right and left flanks, where Nakagawa had built concrete emplacements.

The landing craft had to run a gauntlet of enfilade fire, and many shells tragically found their mark. Twenty-six LVAs took direct hits within the first 10 minutes, and no less than 60 were destroyed or damaged within the first hour and 40 minutes. The beaches and shallow reef waters were littered with burning wreckage, and some Marines abandoned their crippled alligators and waded ashore carrying water and ammunition.

The 1st Marines ran into trouble almost immediately. A Japanese 47mm shell scored a direct hit on Colonel Puller’s LVT, nearly killing him. Another Japanese shell wiped out his entire communications section, hampering his command capabilities. Erger was om te kom.

Tanking “The Point”

Fighting was heavy all along the landing beaches, but the flank units, the 1st Marines on the left and the 7th Marines on the right, took the most punishment. Combat artist Tom Lea recalled, “I saw a wounded man near me … His face was half bloody pulp. He fell behind me, in a red puddle on the white sand.” Private First Class E.B. Sledge of the 5th Marines grimly remembered, “Shells crashed all around. Fragments tore and whirred, slapping the sand and splashing into the water a few yards behind us.”

Puller’s 1st Marines started inland but had advanced only 100 yards from shore when they encountered a 30-foot-high coral ridge. The ridge, soon christened “the Point” by the Marines, was honeycombed by numerous Japanese defensive tunnels and emplacements. Japanese engineers had opened holes on the coral, then resealed them, leaving just enough room for the snout of a machine gun or other weapon to poke out.

Peering cautiously from the cover of an embankment on Peleliu, a U.S. Marine raises his Thompson submachine gun while a companion scans the horizon in another direction.

The 1st Marines could scarcely believe their eyes the Point was not on any map and apparently had not been even targeted by U.S. Navy guns. Quite apart from holding up the advance, the Point also was raking the landing beaches with fire. It had to be taken, but frontal assaults were proving costly. The only way to get the job done was to move around the flank and take it from behind.

Colonel Puller assigned this daunting task to Captain George P. Hunt of K Company, a veteran officer who had seen active service on Guadalcanal. K Company moved off at once, but the going was anything but easy. There were many reinforced concrete pillboxes that seemed to spring up on every side like malevolent mushrooms. The men of Company K knew their business and resorted to a simple but effective formula. Pillbox embrasures were blanketed by small-arms fire and smoke, enabling Marines to get close enough to throw explosive satchels or rifle grenades into the slits.

The Point was finally won when its principal fortification, a large reinforced concrete blockhouse mounting a 25mm gun, was finally taken. A Corporal Anderson launched a rifle grenade into the blockhouse, which ricocheted off the 25mm gun muzzle and landed deep into the casement, setting off the ammunition stored there. A series of spectacular explosions gutted the blockhouse, flames and smoke rising into the stifling tropical air. Some of the defenders, their uniforms ablaze, tried to escape the holocaust. They were cut down by Marine bullets.

Holding Hard-Fought Ground

Hunt had taken the Point, but he was isolated and night was falling. For the next 30 hours Company K clung to its hard-won prize against furious Japanese counterattacks. The Japanese assaults were flung back, though at heavy cost. When Hunt and his men were relieved, Company K was a decimated shadow of its former self. The captain had only 18 men remaining at the Point, clinging to real estate made precious by its cost in lives. In overall numbers Company K, once numbering 235 men, had only 78 survivors.

In the center, the 5th Marines were making good progress, though the Japanese contested every inch of rock and coral. By the afternoon of the first day, the 5th Marines had reached the airfield, one of the major objectives of the campaign. But Nakagawa was not going to give up the airfield without a fight, so he launched a major counterattack with tanks and infantry.

Covered by a Sherman tank and its 75mm cannon, American Marines move cautiously forward during an assault on a Japanese bunker. Resistance was unexpectedly tenacious at Peleliu and caused some observers to question the benefit of the operation.

This was not a crazed banzai charge but a serious and disciplined effort led by around 15 Type 95 Ha Go light tanks. Unfortunately for the Japanese, the tanks got too far ahead of the infantry, save for a handful of soldiers clinging to the outside of the hulls. The Americans were expecting just such an attack and were ready for it. Marine artillery soon found its mark, the effort supplemented by the firepower of M4A2 Sherman tanks. All the Japanese armor was soon knocked out, and the supporting infantry slaughtered or forced to fall back.

“Maintain Momentum”

The Americans were on Peleliu to stay, but it was obvious to anyone who opened his eyes that the conquest of the island was not going to be the cake walk everyone expected. Yet, General Rupertus continued to be almost pathologically optimistic in the face of slow progress and mounting casualties. By D-day plus three, the 1st Marines had suffered 1,236 casualties, but Rupertus was still urging Puller to “maintain momentum,” as if this oft-repeated mantra would itself bring victory.

Although there was hard fighting all over the island, the Umurbrogol “meat grinder” was probably the worst. On the second day, temperatures reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, and later soared to as high as 115 degrees. Intermittent rains brought no relief—only a muggy, steam bath atmosphere that sucked the moisture out of every pore and wilted the toughest leatherneck. Heat prostration became as deadly as enemy bullets.

Rupertus continued to insist that the situation was well in hand and that Peleliu would fall in a few days. Yet, casualties were getting so high almost anyone who was able-bodied enough to carry a rifle was being put into the battle line. Engineers, pioneers, and even headquarters personnel were sent up to fight.

African American Marines also came forward to volunteer for combat duty. They were men of the 16th Field Depot, support troops who brought up supplies and ammunition. At the time, African Americans were in segregated units, in this case specifically the 11th Marine Depot Company and the 7th Marine Ammunition Company. It was a time of widespread racial prejudice within the military, but because of the crisis their services were readily accepted. The black Marines also helped evacuate critically wounded men under heavy fire.

General Rupertus’s misplaced optimism gave the green light for the Army’s 81st Division to begin its invasion of Anguar on September 17. The Anguar operation was a success, secured with relatively light casualties, at least by Pacific War standards. Its mission essentially accomplished within a few days, the 81st stood ready to assist the Marines in securing Peleliu. Rupertus continued to refuse all assistance.

“I Just Wanted to Kill”

By September 23, the 5th and 7th Marines had finished their assigned tasks. The airfield was secured and the southern end of the island in American hands. After that date Marine fighter aircraft began to arrive on the island, where they provided air support for their beleaguered comrades on the ground.

But the 1st Marines continued to take heavy casualties, enduring some of the heaviest and most brutal fighting of the entire Pacific War. Umurbrogol’s steep valleys, narrow ravines, and rocky draws were death traps where every inch of coral was paid for in blood. Days of bloody, ceaseless combat were scarcely relieved by a few hours of fitful sleep at night.

The cost of taking Peleliu to secure the southern flank of General Douglas MacArthur’s advance against the Philippines is questioned to this day. Here, the bodies of dead Marines bear mute testimony to the cost and ferocity of the battle.

Some leathernecks found their emotions numbed by the sheer horror that surrounded them in this living hell. Love, honor, and friendship were rendered meaningless, and before long nothing was left, not even basic human decency. One 1st Marine Regiment veteran recalled, “I resigned from the human race. We were no longer human beings. I fired at anything in front of me, friend or foe. I had no friends. I just wanted to kill.”

Holding Hill 100

On September 19, Puller’s 1st Marines were still battling their way into the Umurbrogol, also called “Bloody Nose Ridge.” Around noon, Captain Everett Pope of Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines was ordered to take Hill 100, a knob of high ground that dominated a path called the East Road. Company B had landed with 242 men and was now down to 90 effectives, but this was typical for the 1st Regiment, which was being bled white.

After hours of hard and bloody fighting, Pope and his men managed to reach the summit of Hill 100 only to realize that existing maps were wrong. Hill 100 was not an isolated knob, but part of a ridge that connected to a higher knob 50 yards away. The Japanese held that higher knob, and they soon began pouring fire down on Company B.

The Japanese also opened up from a parallel ridge to the west, exposing Company B to a deadly cross fire. Pope knew he was in a perilous situation he was completely surrounded by the enemy and cut off from help. He might have attempted a breakout, but in the end elected to stay. This ground had been bought at a heavy price, and the exposed position of Company B might actually blunt Japanese attacks on the rest of the battalion below.

Pope and his men set up a defensive perimeter that the Marine captain later recalled was about the size of a football field. Company B did have some mortar support, but since they were surrounded they only had what ammunition they originally took with them. There were about two dozen Marines left to hold Hill 100.

During the slogging advance across Peleliu, U.S. Marines blast the Japanese soldiers manning a strongpoint. The island’s natural caves were often fortified and reduced the American advance to a crawl.

The sun went down, beginning a new phase in the battle for the hill. The Japanese launched a series of counterattacks that lasted all night. It was a time when the sounds of men screaming for help or crying in pain mingled with the staccato chatter of gunfire, a terrible cacophony that echoed and re-echoed through the darkness.

Fighting became hand to hand. At one point Lieutenant Francis Burke and Sergeant James McAlarnis were attacked by some Japanese soldiers at close quarters. One Japanese thrust a bayonet into Burke’s leg, but the lieutenant pummeled his assailant with his fists. While Burke was occupied, McAlarnis used a rifle butt on a second attacker. The two Marines then pitched the Japanese bodies down the slopes.

Dawn came, probably the most beautiful morning the survivors had ever seen. Toward the end of the fight Company B’s ammunition was so low the men were pitching rocks at the enemy—not that they expected to hit anybody hard enough to do damage. The captain later explained that the Japanese would delay an attack for a moment, thinking the rocks were grenades. To keep the enemy off balance the Marines occasionally threw a real grenade, part of their ever-dwindling supply.

At last, even courage had to give way before superior numbers. The Japanese were getting ready for yet another attack, but Pope received orders to withdraw from Hill 100. In the end only nine men, Pope included, successfully made it back to American lines. For his heroism, the wounded Everett Pope won the Medal of Honor. Hill 100 was not retaken until October 3, almost two weeks later.

Stubborn Interservice Rivalry

General Rupertus continued to reject any notion of help from the Army’s 81st Division. Rupertus would fall back on the same shop-worn optimism that the Marines would take Peleliu “in a few days.” But Rupertus’s superior was not so sure. Maj. Gen. Roy Geiger, commander of the III Amphibious Corps, landed and personally inspected the 1st Marine Regiment’s positions.

General Geiger was appalled. It was plain to see that the 1st Regiment was a regiment in name only, chopped up and pulverized by the Battle of Peleliu meat grinder. Even Chesty Puller was exhausted, worn down by the constant strain of trying to achieve nearly impossible objectives with dwindling manpower.

Geiger had seen enough. The Corps commander made his way to Rupertus and told him that the Marines were going to get support from the 81st Division. By some accounts the interview was heated because Rupertus refused to accept the fact that his division was being decimated. Interservice rivalry also played a role, because Rupertus stubbornly considered Peleliu to be a Marine operation exclusively. It was almost as if he did not want the Army to share the “glory.”

The 81st Division’s 321st Regimental Combat Team landed on Peleliu’s western beaches on September 23. The 1st Marine Regiment was withdrawn entirely from the campaign. It would take some time for the men to rest and recuperate and for the shattered regiment to rebuild. Estimates vary, but the Japanese inflicted roughly 1,672 casualties on the 1st Regiment in less than 200 hours. The 1st Battalion of the 1st Regiment suffered a 71 percent casualty rate only 74 men from nine rifle companies were left standing.

The Army Takes the Show

By the end of September, the Japanese were confined to the Umurbrogol Mountains, their last-ditch redoubt. Once again, it was a matter of clawing though heavily defended ridges and underground caves. Fighting was so heavy that General Geiger decided to withdraw the decimated 5th and 7th Marine Regiments, in other words, what remained of the original 1st Marine Division. They were withdrawn the third week of October.

It was now an Army show, but the fighting did not lessen in intensity. The Umurbrogols were surrounded, and the Japanese defensive perimeter slowly shrank to a pocket about 400 by 900 yards. By the end of September, Peleliu’s airfield—dubbed MAB (Marine Airbase Peleliu)—was fully operational. Grumman F6F-3N Hellcats and Vought F4U Corsair fighter-bombers provided close air support for the advancing Americans.

The island was so small that it took less than 15 seconds to arrive on target after takeoff, not even enough time for the Corsairs to retract their landing gear. At one point there was a bombing run on a Japanese strongpoint only 1,000 yards from MAB, close enough for bomb fragments to pepper the airfield.

Gathering souvenirs after overrunning a Japanese command post on Peleliu, u.S. Marines reflect the strain of intense combat in their faces. Japanese flags, often emblazoned with slogans and good wishes from the home town of enemy soldiers, were highly prized.

The contest dragged on into November, though it was plain the Japanese were fighting a losing battle. Japanese forces in the northern Palaus had tried to reinforce Nakagawa’s dwindling garrison, but with limited success. A convoy of approximately 15 Japanese barges loaded with troops attempted to run the American gauntlet of ships and airplanes. They were discovered, and most were sent to the bottom. Some 600 bedraggled Japanese made it ashore, but without most of their equipment.

A Late Surrender

The last weeks amounted to what was essentially a siege. American forces used flamethrowers and napalm to great effect, and heavy artillery and air attacks provided essential support. Eventually, armored bulldozers collapsed cave entrances, entombing Japanese soldiers within the bowels of the earth.

Peleliu was finally secured by the end of November 1944, when organized Japanese resistance ceased. Colonel Nakagawa committed suicide after ordering his regimental flag burned. Virtually the entire Japanese garrison of 11,000 was wiped out. The record shows that 202 prisoners were taken in the campaign, and only 19 of these were Japanese. The rest were Korean or Okinawan laborers.

The Peleliu campaign was one of the bloodiest of the entire Pacific War, but it had a curious postscript. On April 27, 1947, Lieutenant Tadamichi Yamaguchi led 26 survivors out of hiding and handed over his samurai sword in a token of surrender. Yamaguchi and his men made the last formal capitulation of World War II, a conflict that had ended 20 months before in 1945. (Get the inside story on Pacific battles both famous and forgotten with WWII History magazine.)


Aftermath [ edit ]

Airfields were being constructed as the battle was still being fought, but the delay in the start of the Palaus operation meant that the airfields were not ready in time for the start of the Philippines operations in October 1944. Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. had argued before the invasion of the Palaus that the operation was unnecessary, and military historians have agreed with him, suggesting that the main benefit was the combat experience gained by the 81st Infantry Division.

During the fighting, Seabees created an airstrip that would house B-24 Liberator bombers of the 494th Bombardment Group, 7th Air Force which engaged in frequent bombings of the Philippines and other Palau Islands. Ώ] : 91

The 81st Division moved on directly to the battle on Peleliu to aid the 1st Marine Division, which had encountered extremely stiff resistance in the central highland of that island. They would remain on Peleliu for another month taking the island and mopping-up.


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