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    Peleliu Island (Beliliou)  Palau (Republic of Palau, Belau, Pelew)
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USN / USAFF c1944

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Steven Narisi 2004

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USMC September 1944
Peleliu Island is located at the southern end of the Palau Islands in the Republic of Palau. Also spelled Beliliou in the local language. The island is only five square miles in land area. To the north is Ngesebus Island and Kongauru Island and to the southwest is Angaur Island.

Prior to World War I, Peleliu was a German colony. After World War I, the League of Nations mandated Palau to Japan administered by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). During March 1922 Palau became been the headquarters of the Japanese South Seas Colonial Administration with a civilian administration. Contrary to the League of Nations mandate, the Japanese military developed Palau into a military base.

Wartime History
By September 1944, roughly 6,000 Japanese defended Peleliu. Starting in June 1944, U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-24 Liberators and U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft conducted bombing missions against Peleliu prior to the amphibious landings then flew close air support missions until the conclusion of the battle. Contrary to what American planners believed, Peleliu was heavily fortified.

American and Japanese missions against Peleliu
June 9, 1944 - November 29, 1944

On September 15, 1944 the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) 1st Marine Division made an amphibious landing on the southwest corner of Peleliu. On the first day, a portion of Pelilu Airfield was captured and by D+2 was liberated and repaired for use by American aircraft. For a month, Japanese defenses on Umurbrogol Ridge (Battle of Bloody Nose Ridge) hauled the Marines advance. The two month battle became one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War with over 20,000 casualties. On October 13, 1944 organized Japanese resistance ended on the island, although some groups of Japanese soldiers continued to hold out for the remainder of the war and conduct harassing attacks.

Orin Whitman 1st Marine Division recalls:
"The Marines called for help, [on Peleliu] on 23rd and [from Angaur] we relieved some of the marines they were shot up bad, major Ray Davis lost 71% of his battalion any one who survived Peleliu should have some kind of metal, It was tough there. also went to Leyte PI but it was nothing like Peleliu. Went on to japan and was home 28 of Feb. 1946. Went back to peleliu in September 1999 for the 55th anniversary. The Island didn't look the same but lot of the pill boxes, bunkers, air strip,guns and gun emplacements were just as we left them, Peleliu was one hell of a place in 44, no way I can describe it."

After the Pacific War, a small U. S. contingent remained on Peleliu. By early 1947, only 150 U. S. Marines were stationed on the island with 35 dependents. During the end of March 1947, a group of 33 Japanese soldiers led by Lt. Ei Yamaguchi attacked a Marine patrol with hand grenades. Luckily, none of the Americans were injured but reinforcements were called in to hunt down the holdouts. With a Japanese Admiral sent to convince the group the war was over, the hold emerged in two groups during late April 1947. Their commander, Lt. Ei Yamaguchi turned over his sword and battle flag to the Americans. In 1994, he returned for the 50th anniversary.

White Beach / Bloody Beach
On September 15, 1944 "White Beach" was the site of the initial US Marine landings. There is a huge blockhouse inland of White Beach that has been renovated into the new Peleliu museum. During the battle, the blockhouse was heavily fortified and delayed the advance of the 1st Marines. Supporting arms failed to neutralize the position and it finally took the 14" guns of a battleship to destroy the fortification! Maj. Ray Davis then moved his CP group near the structure and the blockhouse was used as the 1st Battalion aid station.

Orange Beach
Located on the south-west corner of the island. On September 15, 1944 the USMC 5th and 7th Marines landed at this beach. Today, wreckage remains on shore.

Peleliu Airfield
Built by the Japanese, captured by American forces in September 1944.

Hill 100 (Pope’s Ridge, Walt's Ridge)
Ridge located to the north of Peleliu Airfield

TBM-1C Avenger Bureau Number 16956
Pilot Baxter crashed September 13, 1944

Japanese Memorial
Tori gate and park area

US Army 81st Infantry Memorial
Simple memorial of two stone pillars and a white cross

Umurbrogol (Bloody Nose Ridge)
The American drive was halted for a month at this ridge by stubborn Japanese resistance. Wreckage includes an American Tank.

M4 Sherman Tank
Disabled by a mine, flipped on its side

LVT(A)-1 Landing Vehicle Tracked
Abandoned on Peleliu

War Museum
A small war museum in the main village, Klouklubed.

Bunkers and Japanese Headquarters
Japanese bunkers and headquarters building are also tucked into the jungle regrowth.

Japanese Supply Ship
This is a recently discovered shipwreck. The ship has depth charges, gas masks, helmets, forks and pots in the compartments and cargo holds.

A6M Zero
Ditched in shallow water offshore

A6M Zero
Upside down, ditched at Tim's Reef

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Last Updated
December 14, 2018


Map 1944

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