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Battle of Peleliu, 1944 (Paperback)

Three Days That Turned into Three Months

WWII Frontline Books Photographic Books Colour Books WWII Photographic Books Frontline: WWII Military

By Jim Moran
Frontline Books
Series: Images of War
Pages: 256
Illustrations: Black and white illustrations + 4 colour plates
ISBN: 9781526778215
Published: 31st August 2021

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After the Allies had defeated the Japanese in the Solomons and the Dutch East Indies, the capture of the Philippines became General MacArthur’s next objective. For this offensive to succeed, MacArthur felt compelled to secure his eastern flank by seizing control of the Palau Islands, one of which was Peleliu. The task of capturing this island, and the enemy airfield on it, was initially handed to Admiral Nimitz.

The Palau Islands, however, formed part of Japan’s second defensive line, and Peleliu’s garrison amounted to more than 10,000 men. Consequently, when the US preliminary bombardment began on 12 September 1944, it was devastating. For two days the island was pounded relentlessly. Such was the scale of the destruction that the commander of the 1st Marine Division, Major General William H. Rupertus, told his men: ‘We’re going to have some casualties, but let me assure you this is going to be a fast one, rough but fast. We’ll be through in three days – it may only take two.’

At 08.32 hours on 15 September 1944, the Marines went ashore. Despite bitter fighting, and a ferocious Japanese defence, by the end of the day the Marines had a firm hold on Peleliu. But rather than Japanese resistance crumbling during the following days as had been expected, it stiffened, as they withdrew to their prepared defensive positions. The woods, swamps, caves and mountains inland had been turned into a veritable fortress – it was there where the real battle for possession of Peleliu was fought.

Day after day the Americans battled forward, gradually wresting control of Peleliu from the Japanese. Despite Major General Rupertus’ prediction, it was not until 27 November, after two months, one week and five days of appalling fighting, and a final, futile last sacrificial charge by the remaining enemy troops, that the Battle of Peleliu came to an end.

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 Jim Moran

About Jim Moran

Born in 1954 in Sheffield, England, JIM MORAN lives in Yorkshire. Following a grammar school education, Jim has had a forty-year-long career as a civil engineering surveyor working on major highway and airbase construction projects, both in the UK and overseas. Jim has been a student of the history of the United States Marine Corps, amassing a huge collection over the past forty years. He has assisted Hollywood productions on uniform and equipment details for Flags of our FathersThe Pacific (HBO mini-series) and Windtalkers. Jim is an associate member of the Second Marine Division Association, US Marine Raider Association, Marine Corps Association, and US Marine Corps League as well as being the 'on-board' historian to the US Marine Corps League, Det 1088 (UK).

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